Atheism with Thuse

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Thuse
Posts: 34
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 3:16 am

Post by Thuse » November 22nd, 2009, 7:02 pm

Hey Nick_A,
Nick_A wrote:Hi Thuse
Hey Nick_A, how you keep your posts so relatively short is beyond me.
It's from hangin with the right women. You have to get the word in while you can. :)
Hehe... maybe this is another difference between us - our definition of the "right" women :wink:
I recently discovered this maverick philosopher

[…]

He seems like he has paid his dues and trying to retire from the intellectual side of philosophy in order to experience something more basic.

Would an atheist believe this to be a good idea or just a waste of time in pursuit of "understanding?"
I’m not exactly sure what your asking or implying here.

I believe in integrating all aspects of the body-mind in our pursuit of knowledge.

A purely intellectual approach (e.g. scientific materialism), or a purely emotional approach (e.g. Weil) are both equally incomplete. In philosophy and science, incomplete is necessarily both inaccurate and invalid.

Since I already integrate these things, it is not necessary for me to go through an entire life of academia in order to retire and figure this out – I have already figured this out. If your man here is just a slow learner, that doesn't really have much relevance to me.

The means towards a direct apprehension of reality, is not reserved for the intelligent or educated, it is universally accessible.

You still have to work incredibly hard for it, but it will never come from being exclusively intellectual (or exclusively emotional).

Understanding is conceptual and thus, ultimately dualistic, which is no good if, as I claim, reality is nondualistic. This is why the traditions differentiate between “wisdom” and (conceptual) “understanding”.

The “suchness” of this singular moment, the fullness of pure being, the ever-presence of Emptiness – these are things that are “larger” than the finite mind and the finite emotions, therefore cannot be grasped completely by them, ever.
He appreciates Simone Weil so he cannot be all bad.
My philosophy professor at University was even more qualified than this person, yet he was a scientific materialist and a Naïve Realist. So, authority does not imply accuracy.

You misunderstand my position on Weil, which is why you seek to defend her.

I have understood Weil.

I have examined her with an open mind, evaluated the evidence and concluded that she is at an earlier stage of personal development, which is not relevant to me.

I conclude that I have nothing to gain from Weil, anymore than a student studying calculus has to gain from learning subtraction again.

However, you are insisting that I have not understood her, which is obviously not true.

It seems the reason you are doing this is simply because your belief system cannot compensate for someone like me – one who understands Weil, but does not agree with her.

That is to say, you have an idea that Weil is infallible, and that everything she says is true, and that she was an awakened being or equivalent.

I have proven this to be false, by offering lots of evidence and examining her with an open mind.

You are unable to accept this, presumably because you have too much emotional and psychological investment in her being correct.

So, you are forced to lie about me, and say I haven’t understood, when in fact it is clear that I have. For your ego, this is easier than admitting the truth and developing your position in anyway.

In other words, your denial is purely psychological; this has nothing to do with me, nor my evidence, nor my understanding, nor, actually, Weil and her ideas. It exists, entirely, in your head.

As a result, you are closed, in a way I am not, and I am open, in a way you are not.

The difference between closed and open is simply a matter of awareness. All I am asking you to do is be aware of the situation as fully as possible, which you are not prepared to do.

Also, note this difference between us: when I call people “closed”, I present reasons and evidence for this, while you simply assert it, simply on the basis that they have questioned your authority.

So, constantly reasserting her worth is actually for your own benefit, not mine. It is just like finding some mud in your milkshake and adding more milkshake to compensate – you are still the one who has to drink it. It was what Freud called “denial”.

So, it really is your loss, not mine. I will do my best to show you why, but can never do more than that. In the end, all I can say is: good luck.
First, you can never close the gap between religion and science, because currently much of your beliefs are refuted by science. So, it does no good for you to keep on trying to do something that is impossible.
This is what I mean. You believe something has been established which is clearly not the case. It is a form of condemnation to insist it has been refuted.
It has been refuted. It is as simple as that. I insist it, because it is the case.

Entropy, for instance, proves that energy is conserved and finite.

This means that there are no “truly” closed-systems – which means that nothing is literally, or ontologically, separate.

Therefore, ontological separation is categorically falsified, refuted, proved wrong, from an empirical, scientific and logical standpoint. That is all there is to it.

If you have still not understood why this is “clearly” the case, I would be happy to go over it in more detail for you.

However, whether or not you understand it or accept it, it doesn't change the fact.

Also, understand that I am not "merely asserting something", but providing evidence for an assertion. These two things are not the same. Dishonesty is not constructive.
Just the idea that the essence of religion concerns the quality of the moment and something science cannot measure should be sufficient to appreciate why science cannot refute the essence of religion and the relative objective quality of a moment.
Let me simplify things, because you are confusing your own claims here.

The following are four separate claims of yours, which I either refute or claim to have refuted (in the case of 3.):

1. Independently and inherently existing entities – this has been disproved in literally any way it could be. This is even disproved by something as simple as causation, and the exchange of energy.

2. Ontological separation – see above. This is categorically disproved, for the same reasons.

3. Exclusively Objective quality/values etc. – This has not been refuted or disproved. I argue from a philosophical and integral position that this is false; but I argue that; I cannot and have not proved that. This is a philosophical, not scientific, point, like the first two.

4. “Levels” of Reality exist – this I claim is a category error. Whatever is in levels is reality and you are confusing a metaphor with its reference. If , however, you feel that reality literally is split into distinct levels, then this would be empirically i.e. scientifically falsified beyond doubt for the same reasons as 1. and 2.

So, it seems you are confusing what I am saying and your own arguments. I have never claimed that Objective values etc. existing is refuted by science – it isn’t.

However, distinct levels of reality, ontological separation and inherently existing entities have been completely refuted beyond all reasonable or possible doubt.

I also argue that your entire misunderstanding comes from mistaking appearance/metaphor for reality, which you refuse to be "open" to as a possibility.

Despite the reasons I have shown, apparently I am not "capable" of knowing these things - which is why I urge you sincerely to have a good read of that site “integralscience.org”, and you will see what I mean, from many educated people who are not me. Or simply research these things, and you will understand them.
Science refutes what it can but must come to admit its limitations as to the objective quality of a moment.
It is precisely because of what you perceive of as ignorance of your subjective experience that you view science as limited; therefore, perhaps we can agree that this limitation of science might be rectified if it were to integrate the subjective.

However, I note that you are committing hypocrisy here, and that your argument is self-refuting, for two reasons.

First, that you accuse, rightly, science of being limited because it neglects the subjective. However, you neglect it, science, or the objective. So, you are limited in exactly the same way, only in opposition; thus your argument is completely self-defeating and fails.

Second, that “objective quality” is experienced subjectively by you. So, you are experiencing something you claim is objective, but ultimately, this is based on subjective experience. Thus, your problem is exactly the problem of science – how to infer objectivity on something experienced subjectively, whether it be data, or, as you claim, quality.

So, in this sense, your argument is meaningless, and also self-defeating.

Also, it is obviously hypocritical to assume that your subjective experience of objectivity is valid, but science’s is not. The assumption is unjustified in both cases.
It is a politically incorrect quality that I have the highest regard for concerning the real meaning of philosophy.
Perhaps then, when you are able to see past your projections and admiration, you will be able to see her works with an open and less emotional eye, and admit the inconsistencies therein.

You may even drop these false assertions about the “real meaning of philosophy” or how people disagree with you because your ideas are “politically incorrect”, which are completely untrue. In spite of everything, I will keep my hopes up that you do.
I agree. Any legit spiritual path begins with the assumption of our own nothingness. Secularism cannot do this. If it does it just leads to nihilism which is even worse.
I am a secularist, but I am not an absolutist.

So, not only does secularism, in my case, not lead to nihilism, it cannot possibly. I am not limited to extremes in this way.

Hence, you are mistaken.
So our connection to higher consciousness is blocked and social idolatry, science, and technology provides our experiences of meaning and purpose. I am doubting the beauty of social idolatry or the "Great Beast." It is no wonder that I will provoke my share of growls.
You provoke growls not because you “question the status quo”. You are fond of this idea because it makes you feel special, self-important, like a hero/rebel etc. Unfortunately it isn’t true.

You get responses that you do because you only read biased literature, you completely ignore contradictory data to your beliefs, you repeat yourself and ignore previous points, you patronise your audience even when talking about things that they are clearly more informed about than you in and you proceed to make arrogant, self-righteous claims about how you “question the status quo”.

Despite these psychological games, in the end it is simple – you can't fool me, nor yourself, nor anyone else. Your avid reinforcement of perceived self-image is irrelevant; what you believe is only ever for your own benefit.

So, in these kinds of games, you are both the winner the loser and the one keeping the score. You decide your own level of growth, no-one else.

If you transcend yourself for a moment, you will see that I do not show you these things for my benefit. Whether you accept them or not effects only you, and you alone. But you do not seem to realise this.
It will give me a chance to ask questions and share some ideas with people that are open to dropping their defense mechanisms. So hostility from one direction is balanced by knowing others who aspire to more then the usual.
Then I hope they inspire you to drop your own defence mechanisms better than I have been able to.

Eventually, I think you will be able to perceive, clearly, that you say artificial things like "knowing others who aspire to more than usual" simply to evoke a response, which you can then falsely claim is negative, and persist in your illusion.

I believe that having the courage to realise this will be liberating, and is not something that you are justified in being afraid of.

In addition, you should note that you accuse me of hostility and being closed, when in fact I am neither being hostile nor closed.

Therefore, you are currently unable to differentiate between these things; hence, no amount of gatherings will be beneficial for you to this end, if you cannot yet differentiate between the two.
"The relative value of the various religions is a very difficult thing to discern. It is almost impossible, perhaps quite impossible. For a religion is only known from inside. Religion is a form of nourishment. It is difficult to appreciate the flavour and food-value of something one has never eaten." Simone Weil
How do we deny what we haven't eaten?
I was a Christian for most of my early life, so I have had more than a few mouthfuls.

The argument is defeated by virtue of the simple fact that I have shown that I know things about Christianity that neither Weil nor yourself knew.

It is also defeated because, if the value of a religion can only be known from the inside, then knowing this can only be known from the inside. Yet Weil is admitting that she did not know these things from the inside about many other religions. Hence, the argument is nonsensical.

So the point is refuted.

Anyway, I think you have missed my original point – I am saying that you need to actually do these things before forming opinions about them. Otherwise, the argument is no more meaningful than your opinions of a movie you haven’t seen yet.

In my case, I do not deny nor affirm anything I “haven’t eaten”.

In contrast to Weil and yourself, I choose not to talk nor speculate about things I have no direct experience of.

I am not this assertive because of lack of reasons to be so, I assure you.
It doesn't deny the value of meditation but rather appeals to the whole of a person allowing one to experience the value of living their philosophy. We need more than meditation but also the ability for presence so as not to be sucked out by a quickening culture. In this way and with the help of Grace, we can preserve some of the good acquired through meditation and grow towards understanding rather then the continued obsession with knowledge which leads to selfish manipulation.
However, you don’t meditate, nor seem to understand clearly what it actually is, so none of this is more than speculation nor is it meaningful.

Moreover, if you understood what meditation is and means, you would not be saying any of this. Nothing is acquired during meditation at all.

So, your statements are both unjustified and actually false.

I claim that if you decide to actually do these things your opinions will change rapidly.
When you refer to the Trinity, you are expressing exoteric traditions of Christendom. For anyone that appreciates how ONE and THREE can simultaneously exist, they must be open to levels of reality.
Yes, when I refer to your concept of the Trinity, I refer to the exoteric idea of the Trinity.

For anyone who appreciates the value of self-knowledge, they will stop repeating empty words and start seeking within instead.
Your link to the Tetralemma does not include the third term necessary for the included middle
I am perplexed. I have rarely met such intense resistance.

I will explain once more, but if you again choose not to read my actual words, then surely I can do no more.

To summarise: you are wrong. The third term of the Tetralemma is the Law of the Included Middle.

Dr. Nicolescu states:

“Our understanding of the axiom of the included middle -- there exists a third term T which is at the same time A and non-A -- is completely clarified once... “

So, the law of the Included Middle is: “a third term T which is at the same time A and not-A.”

To repeat – Included Middle = both A and not-A.

The Tetralemma’s third term is: “a third term T which is at the same time A and not-A.”

To repeat - third term of the Tetralemma = both A and not-A.

Let’s compare and contrast. This is the most important bit.

Included Mid. = both A and not-A.
3rd Tetralemma = both A and not-A.

Do you see here that the Law of the Included Middle is the 3rd term of the Tetralemma?

To illustrate this:

The Law of the Included Middle adds a third term to two pre-existent axioms.

1. A
2. Not-A
3. Both A and Not-A ← this one is the Included Middle

The Tetralemma is exactly the same as this, but with one extra term:

1. A
2. Not-A
3. Both A and Not-A ← this one is the Included Middle
4. Neither A nor Not-A

So, review the above diagrams, and you will see that 1., 2. And 3. are identical in each case. You will also see that 3., in both cases, is the Law of the Included Middle. You will also see that the Tetralemma includes an addition 4th term.

I really don’t know how to make this any clearer.
Without the third term, I cannot see how they are the same.
Well now you will have seen they are the same, because the third term is there.
I am willing to admit that I could be wrong.
Good, you are wrong. We all are sometimes. Accept it and move on.
Are you willing to admit the same?
Not necessary, see above.
We cannot change what we DO since it is just the normal reactions of our being, but man has the capacity to change what he IS.
You cannot change what “is”.

Whatever is, “is”.

If it is not “is”, then it is not “is”.

This is trivially true.
What this means is that there is no energy or information in your body-mind, nor anywhere else, which is not part of the original potential that it arises as a form of. In short, there cannot be any amount of energy or information, anywhere, that is separated in any ontological sense at all.


This clarifies our difference. A cosmos in creation is a level of reality and lawfully distinct from others. While the materiality of a cosmos contains the materiality of cosmoses above it, it has its own unique vibratory frequency that defines it. Man on earth is of one cosmos with the potential to be normal for a higher cosmos. I find it surprising how open atheism to mechanical evolution but is closed to conscious evolution. I've always thought that if atheism is open to conscious evolution, it suggests a quality of consciousness beyond our comprehension.
This is not a difference between you and I.

This is a difference, maybe the key difference, between you and science.

This is what science has proven, the opposite it has disproven.

So, you can never unify science and religion, if this is what you think.

Put another way, science will be “open” to this when you disprove thermodynamics.

Or…

You can just be open to the idea that you are wrong.

In which case, you will see that you are wrong.

Then you will not need to disprove thermodynamics. Yay.
It isn't that I deny mysticism but rather know that our problem is what goes on in daily life. We are not ONE. As a plurality we are dominated by the chaos of the interactions of the lower levels of our being. I am concerned with the human condition that can be helped from above.
Yet you know none of the following things:

1. That we are not one
2. That we are a plurality
3. That we are dominated by the chaos of lower levels of our being
4. What the human condition actually is
5. That there is something above that exists and can help.

Since you do not known, cannot know, and provide no reason for why you might know these things, beyond that you were told abut them, people will respond to you with “growls”.

I repeat: it is not, as you suspect, because you are a valiant, noble spiritual warrior, here to save mankind from the ignorant beasts who are jealous of your awakening; to mega therion.

Actually it is just because you offer no plausible reason for any of this, beyond that you read it in a book.
My disagreement with atheism is that it assumes anything can change through teaching secular values.
Atheism doesn’t teach people secular values though.

Atheism is not an institution, it is a theological position.

So the disagreement doesn’t exist.
As I've said, I agree that atheism serves to purify religion.
Well then maybe you should actually listen to atheists like me then, and we will purify you and your religion.
At the same time it rejects a relative quality of the moment that neither denial or science can measure.
Nor can you either, obviously. This is the point.
OK, I'll try it your way. I just don't see the difference. If someone asks me if I deny there is a cow in the kitchen, it would be the same as someone asking me if I refute that there is a cow in the kitchen.
If your girlfriend asks you if you cheated on her, and you say no, to which she replies, “So, you are denying it?” what might that imply?

But I am glad you are going to try it “my” way, as this is how the word is defined. “Refute” and “denial” are not synonymous; otherwise we wouldn’t have both words.

Actually, “refute” often means ‘categorically disproven’ in an overly formal context.

So, perhaps, “contest”, “question”, “challenge” or similar may be better, to avoid confusion.
From your experience with atheism, “Is the [contesting] of objective moral values common among atheists?”
Yes.

The idea of values implies an evaluater, which is subjective.

Often, what most Christians refer to objective values are in fact subjective – except it is god that is the subject, the evaluater, in this case.

Since most, but not all, atheists simply lack belief in a god or gods, there cannot be any objective “evaluater” for most of them, though not all.

Some do believe in objective moral values however, and others in that values that are inherent genetically, for instance, may be called objective.

However, usually in a religious context, these are not the kind of values referred to – especially because many theists wouldn’t even deny that at least some values come about via genetics and evolution (e.g. “don’t have sex with your siblings”).

However, atheists like myself debate it on different grounds; in my case, that nothing, including values, are exclusively subjective nor objective, because reality isn’t.
Would you say that there may be more sensitivity to potential word connotations with atheism then in Buddhism for example?
No, why would there be?

The word is defined a certain way. If I say, “I have a Tuesday in the board-room at 3pm tomorrow”, I would be using the word “Tuesday” instead of “meeting”. It doesn’t matter if you are a Buddhist or an atheist, “Tuesday” does not mean what “meeting” means, because humans have not defined it that way.

Ultimately, since no-one is offended, the sensitivity is simply one of linguistics.

So, perhaps those less familiar with the English language, whether Buddhist, atheist or Christian, would be less sensitive to it i.e. aware of it.

Peace,

Thuse.

Nick_A
Posts: 2391
Joined: April 19th, 2009, 11:45 pm

Post by Nick_A » November 23rd, 2009, 2:11 am

Hi Thuse
Hehe... maybe this is another difference between us - our definition of the "right" women


Perhaps a case can be made for a man needing both a wife and a mistress.
“My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher.” ... Socrates.
A wife becomes the pain in the ass necessary to help in the good of awakening we forget while the mistress soothes are damaged egos when we witness our inability and hypocrisy, :)
However, you are insisting that I have not understood her, which is obviously not true.
I have a hard time grasping what she means other than with intellectual superficiality. For example, could you understand the truth of this observation?
Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude. –Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p.55)

That is to say, you have an idea that Weil is infallible, and that everything she says is true, and that she was an awakened being or equivalent.
Simone's value is not to create belief but to invite esoteric thinking: a quality of pondering. Of course she is not infallible. She didn't surrender to the Great Beast. Her "lucid madness for truth" as defined by Albert Camus, could never allow her to do so. She invites us to question in a new way and her brilliance won the admiration of both Leon Trotsky and Pope Paul VI. Who else could be an intellectual inspiration for a communist and a pope? It takes a lot of openness and the willingness to sacrifice both your vanity and self importance to be open to what she's brought.
Therefore, ontological separation is categorically falsified, refuted, proved wrong, from an empirical, scientific and logical standpoint. That is all there is to it.
Nothing has been proven. From your atheistic perspective, can you accept the possibility that Jacob Needleman is right in Chapter One of his book: "A Sense of the Cosmos" Could the universe be structured as a conscious hierarchy? I've bolded some parts that I'd like your feedback on in particular.
Part Three

A Conscious Universe

The scale of the universe is awesome. Our sun, which is more than a million times greater in volume than the earth, is, as everyone knows, only a tiny speck in the unimaginable vastness of the Milky Way. Hundreds of billions of such suns make up this galaxy, most of them far greater in size than our own. And the galaxy itself is but a tiny speck among countless billions of galaxies that occupy the cosmos that science perceives.

Each sun is an ocean of energy, one tiny fraction of which is enough to animate the life of our earth and everything that exists upon it.

Every second there pours forth from the Sun an amount of energy equal to four million tons of what we call matter. Since the planets of suns capture so little of this energy, all of outer space is in reality a plenum of force that is largely invisible to us, yet life giving.

To set our minds reeling, it is enough to contemplate the bare distances that astronomy has measured. Light, traveling at 186,000 miles a second takes eight minutes to reach us from the sun--but four years from the nearest star, 27,000 years from the center of the Milky Way, and 800,000 years from the galaxy Andromeda. Yet Andromeda is now considered a member of what is called the local cluster of galaxies, beyond which lie countless stars and groupings of stars thousands of times more distant from us than Andromeda.

As with size, energy and distance, so with the reaches of time. Astronomers say the earth is some five billion years old, which means that the entire history of mankind, as we record it, is but a fraction of a second in the time scale of earth.

It is no exaggeration to say that in this picture of the universe man is crushed. within cosmic time he is less than the blinking of an eye. In size he is not even a speck. And his continued existence is solely at the mercy of such colossal dimensions of force that the most minor momentary change in these forces would be enough to obliterate instantly the very memory of human life.

Ancient man's scale of the universe is awesome, too, but in an entirely different way, and with entirely different consequences for the mind that contemplates it. Here man stands before a universe which exceeds him in quality as well as quantity. The spheres which encompass the earth in the cosmological schemes of antiquity and the Middle Ages represents levels of conscious energy and purpose which "surround" the earth much as the physiological function of an organ such as the heart "surrounds" or permeates each of the separate tissues which comprise it, or as the captain's destination "encompasses" or "pervades" the life and activity of every crewman on his ship.

In this understanding, the earth is inextricably enmeshed in a network of purposes, a ladder or hierarchy of intentions. To the ancient mind, this is the very meaning of the concept of organization and order. A cosmos--and, of course, the cosmos--is an organism, not in the sense of an unusually complicated industrial machine, but in the sense of a hierarchy of purposeful energies.

Here it is important to note that even in terms of physical astronomy ancient man did not use the word "earth" in the way we do. In his astonished and astonishing book, Hamlet's Mill, Giogio de Santillana explains how misled we have been to think that the wise men of old actually thought the plane earth was flat. Cosmic phenomena were described, and their laws were expressed

in the language, or terminology, of myth, where each key word was at least as "dark" as the equations and convergent series by means of which our modern scientific grammar is built up...

What was the "earth"?

In the most general sense, the "earth" was the ideal plane laid through the ecliptic. The "dry earth," in a more specific sense, was the ideal plane going through the celestial equator...the words "flat earth" do not correspond in any way to the fancies of the flat-earth fanatics who still infest the fringes of our society and who in the guise of a few preacher-friars made life miserable for Columbus...(Moreover), the name "true earth" (or of "the inhabited world") did not in any way denote our physical geoid for the archaics. It apples to the band of the zodiac, two dozen degrees right and left of the ecliptic, to the tracks of the "true inhabitants" of this world, namely, the planets. (2)

We have misunderstood these cosmological schemes of the past. What we call "geocentrism" was never meant to establish the earth merely as the spatial center of the great universe, but principally to communicate its place as an intersection of primary and secondary cosmic purposes and forces. The medieval mystic Meister Eckhart likens the earth to a station of cosmic reality through which there passes all the powers of Creation on their way to complete unfolding. "Earth...lies open to every celestial emanation. All the work and waste of heaven is caught midway in the sink of earth." (3)

In the Hermetic writings the hierarchical structure of the cosmos resembles that of an organism: cell in the service of tissue; tissue in the service of organ; organ in the service of the whole (governed by a supreme consciousness or intelligence). At each level of being there are "gods" or "angels" or, to use less uncomfortable language, "purposeful energies." From this point of view, the ancient spatial descriptions of the cosmos are meant to be understood symbolically.

Likewise, the word "sphere," used in describing the forces and purposes at different levels, is never meant merely to be taken literally. The very idea of the circularity of movement in "the heavens" can be understood to mean not only the encompassing nature of these progressively higher influences, but their eternal nature. The circle is, among many things, a symbol of that which "eternally recurs," that which is not subject to time and change as we know them.

Obviously, there is a great difference between contemplating a universe which exceeds me in size alone or in intricacy alone, and one which exceeds me in depth of purpose and intelligence. A universe of merely unimaginable size excludes man and crushes him. But a universe that is a manifestation of great consciousness and order places man, and therefore calls to him.

So much is obvious, for a conscious universe is the only reality that can include human consciousness. And only when I am completely included by something does the need arise for me to understand my relationship to it in all the aspects of my inner and outer life. Only a conscious universe is relevant to the whole of human life.

Undoubtedly, one contributing factor in our misunderstanding the cosmos of the ancient teachings is our habitual assumption that a conscious universe is somehow more comforting, a psychological crutch. Giorgio de Santillana also speaks to this in Hamlet's mill:

[MAN] is unable to fit himself into the concepts of today's astrophysics short of schizophrenia. Modern man is facing the nonconceivable. Archaic man, however, kept a firm grip on the conceivable by framing within his cosmos an order of time and an eschatology that made sense to him and reserved a fate for his soul. Yet it was a prodigiously vast theory, with no concessions to merely human sentiments. It, too, dilated the mind beyond the bearable, although without destroying man's role in the cosmos. It was a ruthless metaphysics. (4)

"Ruthless" not in the sense of hostile to human hope, as many scholars have concluded by applying modern presuppositions to the interpretation of these ancient texts which speak of Nature as replete with "demons" and "darkness." The universe of the traditional teachings, such as Hinduism and Judaism, is "ruthless" in that it is ruthlessly responsive to what man demands of it and of himself. For whatever man expects from external reality reflects what he asks or fails to ask of himself.

We must explore this thought further, for it can help us to see why the idea of a conscious universe appears to modern man as naive, as either a daydream or a nightmare. Science, as we know it, searches the universe for order and pattern. To pursue this search carefully, objectively, the scientist struggles to be free of his feelings, his inclinations to believe. He may follow hunches--what he calls "intuitions"--but in the final analysis he wishes for proofs that will compel the intellect, and only the intellect. The entire organization of modern science, the community of experimenters and researchers, the teaching of science in the schools, the training of specialists, is based on this ideal of proof that compels the mind.

Looked at in this way, we may conclude that the practice of modern science is based on a demand for human fragmentation, the division between thought and feeling. Searching for an outer unity, the scientist demands of himself an inner disunity. Perhaps "demands" is not the right word. We should simply say that in his practice the scientist endorses the division and inner fragmentation from which all of us suffer in our daily lives.

We now see why a conscious universe makes no sense to modern science. In the ancient teachings, higher mind or consciousness is never identified with thought associations, no matter how ingenious they may be. If these teachings speak of levels of reality higher than human thought, they are referring, among other things, to an order of intelligence that is inclusive of thought. Consciousness is another word for this power of active relationship or inclusion. Can the power to include ever be understood through a process of internal division and exclusion? Fascinated by the activity of thinking, and drawn to it to the extent of psychological lopsidedness, is it any wonder that we modern scientific men almost never directly experience in ourselves that quality of force which used to be called the Active Intellect, and which in the medieval cosmic scheme was symbolized by a great circle that included the entire created universe?
Perhaps levels of reality and ontological separation are not as far fetched as you assume. Can you be open to ponder the ideas?
So, not only does secularism, in my case, not lead to nihilism, it cannot possibly. I am not limited to extremes in this way.


It just means that you haven't experienced your own nothingness. Taken wrongly it can lead to nihilism If you don't matter, then what?
You get responses that you do because you only read biased literature, you completely ignore contradictory data to your beliefs, you repeat yourself and ignore previous points, you patronise your audience even when talking about things that they are clearly more informed about than you in and you proceed to make arrogant, self-righteous claims about how you “question the status quo”.
At least I don't kick dogs and push little old ladies down the stairs. :) The bottom line is that I question self importance and our lack of willingness to see the harm of it. I support those willing to "annoy the Great Beast" in pursuit of a higher reality beyond its domain. This is unacceptable to the idolatry of either atheism or secular Interfaith so growls are to be expected.
I was a Christian for most of my early life, so I have had more than a few mouthfuls.

The argument is defeated by virtue of the simple fact that I have shown that I know things about Christianity that neither Weil nor yourself knew
.

To be a Christian is extremely rare. I tend to believe that you were connected to some sect of Christendom.
It is also defeated because, if the value of a religion can only be known from the inside, then knowing this can only be known from the inside. Yet Weil is admitting that she did not know these things from the inside about many other religions. Hence, the argument is nonsensical.
Simone experienced Christianity on the inside which is why she couldn't join the Catholic church though respecting its origin. That is why she is loved as the patron saint of outsiders.
Moreover, if you understood what meditation is and means, you would not be saying any of this. Nothing is acquired during meditation at all.
Of course there is. If one is not completely relaxed for example, you cannot meditate.

Again, my interest is in both the truth of and how to become able to further what Jacob Needleman describes. It is beyond meditation
We are neither pure spirit, nor pure egos and animals. We are that which relates these two levels or forces together. The meaning of our life in the material world—how we eat, how we work and raise families and create—only emerges when it is connected to the spiritual world. The meaning of spirit appears when it’s related to our life in the world. While we’re on this earth, we are meant to be in relationship to these two worlds. The real meaning of life comes when you feel and know that there is a connection.
My interest is in acquiring the connection between these levels of reality which I maintain needs help from above.
The Law of the Included Middle adds a third term to two pre-existent axioms.

1. A
2. Not-A
3. Both A and Not-A ← this one is the Included Middle

The Tetralemma is exactly the same as this, but with one extra term:

1. A
2. Not-A
3. Both A and Not-A ← this one is the Included Middle
4. Neither A nor Not-A
You can say that T is both A and not A but what is it? The included middle includes both extremes A and not A. That is why it is represented as the apex of a triangle. What is T for the tetralemma? You could just as easily say it is the exact middle between the extremes where though included, neither exists or you can say that it is the apex of the triangle that includes the fullness of both extremes. which do you mean?
You cannot change what “is”.

Whatever is, “is”.

If it is not “is”, then it is not “is”.

This is trivially true.

It happens all the time in nature. When a tadpole becomes a frog it changes its isness. It is the same when a caterpillar becomes a moth. As a caterpillar it has one quality of isness. It becomes another through the process of metamorphosis.

It is suggested that it is the same with Man accept that it is a conscious change of isness into a higher quality of being rather than a mechanical one that is common for nature. In Christianity it is known as re-birth.
Yet you know none of the following things:

1. That we are not one
2. That we are a plurality
3. That we are dominated by the chaos of lower levels of our being
4. What the human condition actually is
5. That there is something above that exists and can help.
Quite true. They are hypothesis that must be verified through inner empiricism. For example when I witness that there are times when I am thinking one thing, feeling another, while sensing something different, it is obvious that I am a disconnected plurality.
Atheism doesn’t teach people secular values though.
OK, to put it differently, does atheism accept values? If so, what values does it accept and on what basis are they acceptable?

Do you as an atheist believe that the world would be better off without religious influences? If so, what would be the ideal society for atheism and why would people be inclined to accept its values?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

Thuse
Posts: 34
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 3:16 am

Post by Thuse » November 27th, 2009, 12:50 pm

Hey Nick_A, apologies once again for the delay in getting back to you.
Nick_A wrote:Hi Thuse
Hehe... maybe this is another difference between us - our definition of the "right" women


Perhaps a case can be made for a man needing both a wife and a mistress.
Those are some strong Christian values you have there I see.

Is there a distinction between the love of god, or god's creation, and the "true" love between two people for you?
A wife becomes the pain in the ass necessary to help in the good of awakening we forget while the mistress soothes are damaged egos when we witness our inability and hypocrisy, :)
Perhaps we are not so different afterall :wink:
However, you are insisting that I have not understood her, which is obviously not true.
I have a hard time grasping what she means other than with intellectual superficiality. For example, could you understand the truth of this observation?
Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude. –Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p.55)
Perhaps the intellect has positive aspects too, such as helping us separate a person’s subjectivity from the content.

I think that, in order to analyse something like this openly, we need to use our intellect, not just our emotions – doing this means we can remove Weil’s prejudices and assumptions (about god and so on), whether true or not.

When we do this, we see that she saying that suffering makes us aware of the human condition, is a necessary part of human existence and should be appreciated for what it is.

In this light, this is not a new nor necessarily profound message, which we can see by employing a non-superficial aspect of the intellect. Only then should we employ our emotional analysis, but not apart from our intellect, in communion with it.

If I were to report this observation, I would not use words like “god” and “gratitude”, if you were to report it you would use different words too.

This is because people’s conscious and subconscious conditioning effects their expression, and it is the intellect that can separate the meaning from the conditioning.

So, there is a medium (Weil) and a message. The medium is not the message.

If we abandon our intellect, we risk confusing the medium with the message, and assuming concepts like “god” and emotive assumptions like “gratitude” are intrinsic to the message, when in fact they are not.

So this is how I would use both emotion and the intellect non-superficially to understand this statement.
It takes a lot of openness and the willingness to sacrifice both your vanity and self importance to be open to what she's brought.
However, your definition of what constitutes “vanity” and “openness” is simply acceptance or not of Weil’s ideas. Yet, this is not how these things are defined.

You don’t even mean being “open”, you mean “believing”.

So, this is where I would argue your medium (your conditioning) is being confused with your message, even to yourself.

I have examined her with an open mind, assimilated the evidence, and concluded that she is of no use to me, nor is she able to be aware of her own discrepancies.

This is not being “vane”, nor is it being “closed”.

However, it seems you are resistant to recognise this, and are unhappy because I don’t believe her.

Therefore, you feel the need to infer that others and I are vane and closed in order to put us down; but ultimately, this is just a kind of defence mechanism, and is not true.
Therefore, ontological separation is categorically falsified, refuted, proved wrong, from an empirical, scientific and logical standpoint. That is all there is to it.
Nothing has been proven.
That you keep reasserting this instead of acknowledging the evidence shows that no evidence will ever be good enough for you.

This is because your belief is not based on reason.

So, there is nothing that I, nor anyone, could ever do to show you why ontological separation is disproven – you are not currently prepared to consider that as a possibility anyway.
From your atheistic perspective, can you accept the possibility that Jacob Needleman is right in Chapter One of his book: "A Sense of the Cosmos" Could the universe be structured as a conscious hierarchy?
As a metaphor, yes.
I've bolded some parts that I'd like your feedback on in particular.
In this understanding, the earth is inextricably enmeshed in a network of purposes, a ladder or hierarchy of intentions. To the ancient mind, this is the very meaning of the concept of organization and order. A cosmos--and, of course, the cosmos--is an organism, not in the sense of an unusually complicated industrial machine, but in the sense of a hierarchy of purposeful energies.
The Universe is not an organism – it doesn’t reproduce, for example.

I am actually one of the few atheists who currently believe that intelligence, consciousness and “life” in a loose sense may be inherent in the Cosmos, fundamentally, much to the dismay of both atheists and scientists alike. However, I cannot call it an organism, nor can I infer these kinds of beliefs are (currently) scientific - they are not. They are not unscientific either, however.

I admit these suspicions are intuitive, philosophical and based on subjective reflection, not necessarily empirical data. I will always make this clear, so not to mislead an audience nor simply assert things without justification – like Needleman is doing here, when he calls the Cosmos an organism, which is misleading to those unfamiliar with biology and cosmology.

Note that he uses “ladder”, “network” and “hierachies” interchangeably – this suggest he is describing the Universe metaphorically, not literally.
In the Hermetic writings the hierarchical structure of the cosmos resembles that of an organism: cell in the service of tissue; tissue in the service of organ; organ in the service of the whole (governed by a supreme consciousness or intelligence). At each level of being there are "gods" or "angels" or, to use less uncomfortable language, "purposeful energies." From this point of view, the ancient spatial descriptions of the cosmos are meant to be understood symbolically.
Note where he says, “are meant to be understood symbolically”. Why do you take it literally? Do you see that there is no difference between saying the Cosmos is “like an organism” and saying Reality “is like it is separated into levels”?

It is odd for Needleman to use Hermeticism in his argument.

Hermeticism concludes that we are all one. We are not governed by a supreme intelligence; we are the supreme intelligence, since “all is mind”.

So, he is not only misstating Hermetic ideas, he is picking and choosing from Hermeticism what he uses as evidence for his point.

Therefore, we have shown that his philosophy cannot be perennial as a result, despite his claims elsewhere, because perennial philosophy does not pick and choose; if it did, it would not be “perennial”.

Either:

a) Hermeticism is a valid example, in which case his argument is defeated because it argues that we are one.

Or

b) It is not a valid example, in which case his argument is defeated because he no longer has any exemplary evidence (historical/anecdotal).

So we have shown it impossible for his argument here to be valid or meaningful.

It is also inaccurate, because there is no difference between the governing intelligence and the thing governed in Hermeticism (“all is mind”), which Needleman has, presumably purposefully, not mentioned.

Again, this will be misleading for those not familiar with these traditions and relying on Needleman for a historically and factually accurate account. People in academic positions, like Needleman, should be more responsible and not this careless.
Undoubtedly, one contributing factor in our misunderstanding the cosmos of the ancient teachings is our habitual assumption that a conscious universe is somehow more comforting, a psychological crutch.
The ancient teachings he himself has referenced (i.e. Hermeticism, Esoteric Judaism and Hinduism) do not believe that the Universe is conscious, but that it is consciousness itself. All of them state this, clearly. So, he is factually wrong here too.

It is ironic here that he would talk about the misunderstandings of the ancients, when this is what he is doing.

There is a immense difference between a conscious Universe and a Universe that is consciousness/mind.
The universe of the traditional teachings, such as Hinduism and Judaism, is "ruthless" in that it is ruthlessly responsive to what man demands of it and of himself. For whatever man expects from external reality reflects what he asks or fails to ask of himself.
Esoteric Judaism believes the Universe is consciousness manifesting itself into grosser levels of manifestation. Therefore, these traditions are in contrast to what Needleman is asserting. He should know this, he wrote an introduction to a book on Kabbalah.

Hinduism, believes the exact same thing – that the origin of the Universe is consciousness-at-rest, and that it manifests itself as consciousness-in-movement for the purposes of self-realisation.

So, in both traditions, there is a distinction between “a conscious Universe” and a Universe that is consciousness.

Needleman is confusing the two concepts, and the teachings – he even refers to a conscious Universe being equatable with the Universe as a manifestation of consciousness (the latter being in accord with the teachings he mentions), which implies he has not fully understood these teachings at all.
Looked at in this way, we may conclude that the practice of modern science is based on a demand for human fragmentation, the division between thought and feeling. Searching for an outer unity, the scientist demands of himself an inner disunity. Perhaps "demands" is not the right word. We should simply say that in his practice the scientist endorses the division and inner fragmentation from which all of us suffer in our daily lives.
It seems that Needleman is as against separation as I.

There is every indication that Needleman is aware the notions of “levels” is metaphor, a description, an appearance.

Perhaps you have not understood him?
We now see why a conscious universe makes no sense to modern science. In the ancient teachings, higher mind or consciousness is never identified with thought associations, no matter how ingenious they may be. If these teachings speak of levels of reality higher than human thought, they are referring, among other things, to an order of intelligence that is inclusive of thought. Consciousness is another word for this power of active relationship or inclusion. Can the power to include ever be understood through a process of internal division and exclusion? Fascinated by the activity of thinking, and drawn to it to the extent of psychological lopsidedness, is it any wonder that we modern scientific men almost never directly experience in ourselves that quality of force which used to be called the Active Intellect, and which in the medieval cosmic scheme was symbolized by a great circle that included the entire created universe?
The belief that “modern science cannot make sense of a conscious universe” is simply not true.

There are multiple scientific theories that posit that either matter is fundamentally conscious, that consciousness is even more fundamental than matter, that matter is consciousness or that the Universe is dependent on consciousness in some way.

Therefore, the possibility of a conscious Universe of a Universe of consciousness is not senseless to science.

Remember, I even posted links to several scientific studies and institutions that are researching this right here in this thread; so even you cannot deny this assertion of Needleman’s is false.

Needleman is showing here that he has not understood science, modern theories nor the current state of evidence.

He is making a false equation here, between scientific consensus and modern science. Of course, most scientists do not believe that consciousness extends beyond the brain. However, this does not equate to “modern science”, nor the scientific method, but simply the opinions of scientists. This is very clumsy philosophy.

Again, the equation of “consciousness” with a “conscious universe” and a “higher mind” is a gross misunderstanding of the ancient teachings.

It is obvious that these things are not equatable, even to someone unaware of the actual ideas – just by how these things are usually defined. This is the biggest error in his chapter, and one of significant proportions.
Perhaps levels of reality and ontological separation are not as far fetched as you assume. Can you be open to ponder the ideas?
Needleman says nothing with regards to ontological separation, nor does he imply that these “levels” are literally intrinsic to reality, and not simply a form of description.

I see no reason to assume that a tenured professor would do something as drastic and irrational as deny thermodynamics, causation or physics, which would need to be done to assert ontological separation.

Remember, it is not a case of being “far-fetched”, it is a case of being physically impossible.

Nor do I “assume” it - science confirms it, nothing to do with me.

From reading this, I actually think you have simply not understood him.

I wonder: would you be open to ponder this possibility?

In addition – do you really think I haven’t already pondered these things? Do you think that I know all these things by chance perhaps?
So, not only does secularism, in my case, not lead to nihilism, it cannot possibly. I am not limited to extremes in this way.


It just means that you haven't experienced your own nothingness.
You are an authority on my experience and the experiences of all other people.

You know everything that I have ever experienced.

I could not have experienced this, because you say I could not have experienced this.

You know what all others and I have and have not experienced, while all others and I do not.

Your absolute authority on the experiences of all people is beyond question.

To question your authority would be equal to condemning you.
Taken wrongly it can lead to nihilism If you don't matter, then what?
I believe all extremes are two aspects of a fundamental completion.

I do not become attached to either extreme, but see them from an inclusive, not exclusive, perspective.

Nihilism, the belief that there is no objective meaning or purpose, is one extreme.

Absolutism, the belief that there is objective meaning or purpose, is another extreme.

I am not an absolutist, nor a relativist. I am not a monist, nor a dualist.

I am a not-two-not-one-ist. So I am not both, not one nor neither of these things.

The question “is meaning objective?” is within the context of the duality of subjective vs. objective, too.

It implies a dualistic “either/or” scenario – one can only answer such a question by entering into duality of “yes/no”.
You get responses that you do because you only read biased literature, you completely ignore contradictory data to your beliefs, you repeat yourself and ignore previous points, you patronise your audience even when talking about things that they are clearly more informed about than you in and you proceed to make arrogant, self-righteous claims about how you “question the status quo”.
At least I don't kick dogs and push little old ladies down the stairs. :)
I know. I am not saying you are a bad person.

You do not seem to me to be a bad person at all.

I am saying that negative responses can be hostile, or they can be critical.

I am saying that criticism can be mistaken for hostility.

I am saying that I think you have made, and are making, this mistake.

So I am saying that you mistake negative hostility for constructive criticism.
The bottom line is that I question self importance and our lack of willingness to see the harm of it. I support those willing to "annoy the Great Beast" in pursuit of a higher reality beyond its domain. This is unacceptable to the idolatry of either atheism or secular Interfaith so growls are to be expected.
I am an ignorant fascist.

I condemn you because of your willingness to question consensus.

I value, above all, my own self-importance.

I am in denial of your supreme truth and supreme awakening, because of my inability to know your complete superiority to all other beings.

I only view your beliefs as unacceptable, because they threaten my atheistic idolatry.
To be a Christian is extremely rare. I tend to believe that you were connected to some sect of Christendom.
I was never a true Christian because you define what a true Christian is.

I was part of a sect of Christendom, which is a distorted exoteric version of true Christianity, both of which you define.

I could not of been a true Christian, because it is extremely rare, and I am too ignorant to have been one, because you say I am.

You know everything about me.
Moreover, if you understood what meditation is and means, you would not be saying any of this. Nothing is acquired during meditation at all.
Of course there is. If one is not completely relaxed for example, you cannot meditate.
Meditation is the cessation of mental associations and distinctions.

Acquiring implies an acquirer; relaxing implies a relaxer.

If there is something acquired, there is something acquiring.

If there is something acquiring and acquired, there is an association with the acquirer and acquired.

If there is something acquiring and acquired, there is a distinction between the acquirer and acquired.

If there is mental association and distinction, then there is not meditation.

When there is no-one acquiring and no-thing to be acquired, there is meditation.

Therefore, nothing is acquired during meditation.
Again, my interest is in both the truth of and how to become able to further what Jacob Needleman describes. It is beyond meditation
Meditation is not beyond anything.

Everything is beyond meditation.

Including Needleman.

Including riding a bike.

Including this sentence.

So it is not difficult to be beyond meditation.
We are neither pure spirit, nor pure egos and animals. We are that which relates these two levels or forces together. The meaning of our life in the material world—how we eat, how we work and raise families and create—only emerges when it is connected to the spiritual world. The meaning of spirit appears when it’s related to our life in the world. While we’re on this earth, we are meant to be in relationship to these two worlds. The real meaning of life comes when you feel and know that there is a connection.
My interest is in acquiring the connection between these levels of reality which I maintain needs help from above.
You say:

- Your individual ego seeks these things.

- The nature of your ego is separation, or disconnection (plurality).

- Your ego seeks connection; non-plurality.

Therefore, you say that a separated ego seeks non-separation.

You ask: How does something separate become non-separate?

Or:

How does something become that which it is not?

You answer: something can become that which it is not by becoming that which it is not.

I say:

- This is not an answer but a restating of the problem.

- Something cannot become that which it is not.

- The thing that seeks to become already is that which it seeks to become.

- Separation is not reality.

- A non-separate ego seeks non-separation.

Therefore, I say that the illusion of separation is the problem.

I ask: How does something non-separate perceive itself separate?

I answer: when there is no seeker, and nothing sought, there is non-separation.

However, I am a fascist and ignorant, therefore I am wrong a priori.

I am not wrong by virtue of my argument.

I am wrong by virtue of not being Nick_A.
The Law of the Included Middle adds a third term to two pre-existent axioms.

1. A
2. Not-A
3. Both A and Not-A ← this one is the Included Middle

The Tetralemma is exactly the same as this, but with one extra term:

1. A
2. Not-A
3. Both A and Not-A ← this one is the Included Middle
4. Neither A nor Not-A
You can say that T is both A and not A but what is it?
I am not sure what you are asking. I think you are asking what this represents, “actually”, so to speak.

All things in reality have a dual aspect on the apparent level. We have agreed this.

This is logical, but also metaphorical for various aspects of existence. I think we have agreed to this.

Therefore, following this notion of complex metaphor, transcending logical duality is more than simply symbols, but a metaphor for, among other things, an internal process.

-------- This line represents your notion of the division between exoteric, above this line, and esoteric, below it --------

“T” is the beginning of the transcension of this dual aspect. Not-two.

“T” is the union of the dual aspects, we have agreed to this.

-------- This line represents my notion of the division between exoteric, above this line, and esoteric, below it --------

A fourth term, “TT”, is the beginning of the negation of the transcension of the union of the dual aspect.

“TT” is the negation of the unitive dual aspect. Not-one.

When this fourth “meta-transcension” occurs, there is nothing left to transcend. The process becomes self-reflexive.

Not-one, not-two.
The included middle includes both extremes A and not A. That is why it is represented as the apex of a triangle. What is T for the tetralemma?
The same as T for the Included Middle.
You could just as easily say it is the exact middle between the extremes where though included, neither exists or you can say that it is the apex of the triangle that includes the fullness of both extremes. which do you mean?
If positive A, then A. not-A.

If negative A, then not-A.

If positive A and not-A, then both A and not-A. ← If we stop here, we have an incomplete pattern. Positive, negative, positive, ?. This would not be considered “logical”.

If negative A nor not-A, then neither A nor not-A. ← if we continue, we have a complete pattern. This would be considered “logical”.

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

So, for every affirmative, there must be its negation. For every both, there must be its neither.

If T represents the fullness of Emptiness, then TT represents the Emptiness of fullness.
You cannot change what “is”.

Whatever is, “is”.

If it is not “is”, then it is not “is”.

This is trivially true.
It happens all the time in nature. When a tadpole becomes a frog it changes its isness. It is the same when a caterpillar becomes a moth. As a caterpillar it has one quality of isness. It becomes another through the process of metamorphosis.
Nature is always in flux. Everything is in motion, nothing is at rest.

On the Quantum level, fundamental units of matter are flickering in and out of existence; they are unstable – at no two moments is anything the same “thing”.

Not only does the caterpillar change into a moth but, at every single moment, the caterpillar is never the same caterpillar, nor the moth the same moth.

Therefore, the distinction between “moth” and “caterpillar” is arbitrary.

On the level of appearance, a significant change has occurred.

On the level of cells, atoms and energy, no change has occurred that is substantially different than what is always occurring – change is constant.

If you could see the caterpillar’s atoms, you would not notice it had changed into a moth.

So, change is constant, therefore, nothing is permanent – there is no “isn-ness” that is ever fixed.

If I say that a caterpillar exists, I am not referring to anything fixed – the caterpillar is never the same caterpillar at any two points.

For instance, the caterpillar will always be older/younger than the other at any two points; therefore, the notion that “a caterpillar exists” cannot be literally true, because there is no finite point in which it simply exists in a changeless state.

Therefore, here is nothing constant that “is” that can change.

If is-ness is defined as something physical, then when a caterpillar changes into a moth, it does not change its is-ness any more than it does from one moment to the next.

Therefore, if isn-ness is physical, then there cannot be such a thing as is-ness at all, because nothing physical is constant.

If, however, is-ness is not physical, then it cannot change – it “is”. If is-ness is something that is constant, then it must be constant, and if it changes, it is not constant. If it is not constant, it is-not.

Therefore, the isn-ness you are referring to either does not exist, or exists, but cannot change.
It is suggested that it is the same with Man accept that it is a conscious change of isness into a higher quality of being rather than a mechanical one that is common for nature. In Christianity it is known as re-birth.
As above, is-ness that can change, is not is-ness, and, in reference to a physical change, there is nothing that “is”, in a fixed, constant sense, that could change at all.

So, one cannot change their is-ness. In Science, Theology, Ontology and Philosophy this is known as “impossible”.
Yet you know none of the following things:

1. That we are not one
2. That we are a plurality
3. That we are dominated by the chaos of lower levels of our being
4. What the human condition actually is
5. That there is something above that exists and can help.
Quite true. They are hypothesis that must be verified through inner empiricism. For example when I witness that there are times when I am thinking one thing, feeling another, while sensing something different, it is obvious that I am a disconnected plurality.
It is obvious to you, because this is your interpretation. There are many things that are not obvious to you, however.

For example, you do not seem to have noticed that the observation, the awareness, the witnessing, whatever, is constant throughout this.

That is, your awareness is neither disconnected nor plural, only the objects of your awareness are, including the object “I” that is a “disconnected plurality”. You think one thing, sense another and feel another, yet your awareness is always present – thus there is nothing disconnected nor plural about awareness.

Nor are you actually consciously witnessing (“inner empricism”) – if you were, you would consciously witness the thought “it is obvious that I am a disconnected plurality” arise and fall with all the other mental objects.

However, you are attached to it as though it is somehow more than the other objects. This is not non-attached conscious witnessing. This is known as “thinking”.

Conscious witnessing is about witnessing without attachment; simply witnessing reality arise within awareness from moment to moment. We have agreed to this.

If this is so, it is necessary that we avoid self-identification with thoughts (e.g. within “my” awareness) and avoid judgment (e.g. “I am a disconnected plurality”). This is why it is called conscious witnessing, not conscious judgment.

Eventually, there is awareness of even the witness itself arising within awareness, at which point we begin to approach the end for which conscious witnessing is a means.
Atheism doesn’t teach people secular values though.
OK, to put it differently, does atheism accept values? If so, what values does it accept and on what basis are they acceptable?
Atheism is an absence of belief.

People can be atheists, and are, but still believe in objective morality or objective values/meaning.

So, atheism as it stands does not accept or reject values. It is not a moral philosophy; it is just a theological position.
Do you as an atheist believe that the world would be better off without religious influences?
Yes, eventually. No, immediately.

Religion was necessary for our development, just like puberty is necessary to be an adult. You wouldn’t want to go through either forever, though some do.

I believe once one has learnt from religion, assimilated its use, one can transcend it.

This is not the same as rejecting it as “delusion”, as, admittedly, most atheists do.

The word “religion” means “to get back to, to return”. Once one has returned, religion has served its purpose – just like the boat served its purpose in getting us across the shore.

From an integral perspective, society “evolves” over time in a series of successive “levels”. In this context, we can simplify this progression briefly:

- The first level was magic. (Spirits/magicians cause storms) – non-rational.

- From magic, the second level, religion was formed. (Gods cause storms) – pre-rational.

- From religion, the third level, science, was formed. (Weather patterns cause storms) – rational.

As each level increases, so does understanding, accuracy, relevance and consciousness.

The higher levels react overtly negatively to the lower levels, and the lower levels to the higher ones.

The “higher” levels, like science, persecute and humiliate the lower levels. They act negatively from a position of superiority.

For instance, the way religion used to treat magic, and the way science now treats religion. They are anti-tradition, anti-remembering and anti-history. They fear the past.

The “lower” levels deny and resist the higher levels. They act negatively from a position of inferiority.

For instance, the way magic used to treat religion, or the way religion treats science today. They are anti-progression, anti-development and anti-change. They fear the future.

Each level believes itself to be the truth or the only way to truth, it believes the other levels are inferior/lacking and it believes itself to be an end rather than a means.

The central point of all levels is the inability to see itself as a level.

Integral theory seeks to integrate all levels, see itself as a level and anticipate a next level (post-integral). It is the dynamic, integral fourth level in this simplified description. This is the trans-rational.

An atheist has the potential no religious person has of viewing religion from an objective, impersonal position. Contrary to Weil’s statement, it may be that the value of a religion can only be known from the outside.

This is why religious people do not perceive their own stage. It is also why they react emotionally and deny this, rather than use rational debate – they are pre-rational rather than rational.

Most atheists are at the third stage in terms of worldview – purely scientific.

While this stage is superior in terms of accuracy, description etc., it is still a limited, not integral, stage.

Just as the religious, positive atheists and scientific materialists do not perceive their own stage. The notion of “higher” should not be confused with “better” – simply more developed/complex.

Since I am believer in integral theory, religion (and atheism) is seen by me as a discreet stage of growth that repeats on the social level and on the individual level.

So, in this sense, in order to facilitate growth, we must eventually transcend religion and its influence.

Eventually we will, since the transition between stages is a kind of evolution, and wholly natural.

This is my opinion.
If so, what would be the ideal society for atheism and why would people be inclined to accept its values?
Most atheists would argue that an ideal society would abolish religion completely.

I disagree; I believe that religion, and the psychology of religion, are very useful areas of study.

I believe an ideal society would recognise that the individual and the society are inseparable.

I believe an ideal society would recognise that the individual and the society grow through progressive stages, of which magical thinking, religious thinking and scientific thinking are but a stage.

I believe an ideal society would seek to integrate all aspects of all levels into a coherent, functional worldview.

Following rules and “objective” values, whether literally objective or written in law, has no bearing on the morality of a person.

For example:

60% of people in England are atheist or agnostic.

30% of people in North America are atheist or agnostic.

However, there is no equivalent discrepancy between the crime rates in either country.

That is, the English are not less moral than the Americans, nor the Americans less immoral than the English.

Therefore, being given values, whether by god or by the state, has absolutely no bearing on whether the individual follows them.

This suggests that values are only followed when the individual has self-determined them.

Therefore, I believe the ideal society would not need to force people to accept its values. I believe the ideal society won’t need objective values at all.

Peace,

Thuse.

Nick_A
Posts: 2391
Joined: April 19th, 2009, 11:45 pm

Post by Nick_A » November 28th, 2009, 3:59 pm

Hi Thuse

Hope the holiday was good for you. I'd like to clarify some things about me. My interest isn't in proving another wrong but rather to understand better in the real meaning of the word which implies more than just intellectually. You wrote:
However, your definition of what constitutes “vanity” and “openness” is simply acceptance or not of Weil’s ideas. Yet, this is not how these things are defined.

You don’t even mean being “open”, you mean “believing”.

So, this is where I would argue your medium (your conditioning) is being confused with your message, even to yourself.

I have examined her with an open mind, assimilated the evidence, and concluded that she is of no use to me, nor is she able to be aware of her own discrepancies.

This is not being “vane”, nor is it being “closed”.

However, it seems you are resistant to recognise this, and are unhappy because I don’t believe her.

Therefore, you feel the need to infer that others and I are vane and closed in order to put us down; but ultimately, this is just a kind of defense mechanism, and is not true.
Simone would be the first person to question beliefs. This is the error of the secular church in her eyes.
"In the Church, considered as a social organism, the mysteries inevitably degenerate into beliefs."
It is beliefs that cause the trouble since they deny the impartial pondering function and creates idolatry. I am saying that it is far more difficult to become open then is normally believed. Both of us are controlled by from pride and vanity. It is the human condition. You take this as a put down and it isn't. It is just the human condition.

It doesn't make me happy or unhappy that you don't appreciate Simone. I use her because she is not associated with any modern movement and even the English translations from the original French project real force of an exceptional being.
Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude. –Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p.55)
You say that you understand this but I've learned it is far deeper then first considered. Consider these comments

http://www.integralscience.org/loveknowledge.html


The Path of Love and Devotion

Be drunk on love, because love is all that exists. ...It is Love and the Lover that live eternally—Don't lend your heart to anything else; all else is borrowed. –Rumi (Teachings of Rumi, p. 73)

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. –Jesus (Gospel of Mark, 22:37-38)
Across all traditions and times we can hear mystics pouring their hearts out to the Divine in ecstatic poetry. Their unanimous testimony is that God is love, and that the path to God is the path to and in love. What could more fully and deeply be the essence of the mystical path of self-surrender than love? If we are to pass through the gateway of mystical death, if we are to die in order to be reborn, what power could possibly allow us to surrender our lives, if not the power of love? The greatest commandment, Jesus tells us, is to love God with all of ourselves, to love God to death, to our death, to the point where we have died so completely to ourselves that God lives in and through us.

Clearly, this is no sentimental love, all comfortable and cozy. Far from it! This radical love is a raging fire in the heart that burns us up from the inside out, ultimately consuming our very self. As Rumi tells us,

Love's like a black lion, famished and ferocious, who only drinks the blood of the hearts of lovers. Love seizes you tenderly and drags you towards the trap. ...No one can escape his chains by trickery or madness; no sage can wriggle out of his nets by wisdom. –Rumi (Teachings of Rumi, p. 81)
This is no path for the faint of heart. If we imagine that the path of love is an easy one, constantly filled with heavenly perfumes and sublime ecstasies, we will be very shocked the first time we are badly burned by love's fire, and we will not go very far along the path unless we willingly dive back into that fire, and embrace the purifying passion of eternity. We must be willing to love, even through the most extreme pain, suffering, and affliction. Even when it seems impossible for us to endure, even when it is impossible. Like Christ, we must be willing to literally die for the love of God, we must cling to supernatural love above all else, and trust God's love completely and unconditionally with all our heart, mind, and soul.
What is the secret to this capacity for such profound love? It seems that in order to love so deeply and completely, in order to endure this radical purification of the heart, we must already have a saintly capacity for loving God. The wonderful truth is that we do—there is in everyone a seed of sanctity in the depths of the heart, and we need only take refuge in it, and have faith in its power. If we do not, we will falsely imagine that we are powerless in the face of affliction, and allow it to overrun our soul. We will be like a man who has forgotten that he is actually the king, and stands by watching as injustice and suffering spread throughout the kingdom. In other words, the key that unlocks the door to the depths of love is the realization or faith that the capacity for divine love is already in us. Simone Weil, a modern mystic, explains it this way:

Extreme affliction...is a nail whose point is applied at the very center of the soul. ... But through all the horror he can continue to want to love. ... It is only necessary to know that love is a direction and not a state of the soul. If one is unaware of this, one falls into despair at the first onslaught of affliction –Simone Weil (Waiting for God, p. 134-135).
If we imagine that it always feels good to love, then we will not realize that it is love that rips our hearts open, and makes us vulnerable to the horrors of the world. Love is not a feeling. Love is a willingness to open our hearts to pain and suffering and to bear it. So when we willingly open our hearts to the experience pain and suffering, when we face affliction rather than turn away from it, we are manifesting the purity of love, which is to be highly vulnerable. As Simone Weil says,
Purity is...highly vulnerable in the sense that every attack of evil makes it suffer, that every sin which touches it turns in it to suffering –Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p. 66).
Pure love is not only vulnerable to contact with evil. It is also vulnerable to separation from goodness. Just as pure love does not push away evil, but turns it into suffering, pure love also does not cling to goodness, but turns the separation into longing. In Simone Weil's words,
To love purely is to consent to distance, it is to adore the distance between ourselves and that which we love. –Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p. 58)
So, with pure love we are vulnerable to suffering due to both contact with evil, and separation from goodness. In both cases, the intensity of the suffering is in direct proportion to the depth and purity of the love.
To the ego, this is insanity. The last thing the ego wants is more suffering. Why on earth would someone want more love, if it only makes one vulnerable to deeper suffering? The mystic's answer is that suffering, when purified and transmuted in the inner alchemy of the sacred heart, is recognized to be a manifestation of divine love itself. So when the mystic prays to God for suffering and welcomes affliction with open arms, this is not some sick masochism or martyr complex, but is rather an acknowledgement of a deep mystical truth. The mystic knows that affliction is the fuel of the fire of love, and that suffering is this fuel burning in the heart, feeding the sacred fire to grow even stronger. For the mystic, this fire of purification is what burns away the residues of attachment and aversion in the soul, and allows God's will and grace to more perfectly become manifest there. This is why Simone Weil writes,

Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude. –Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p.55)
Anyone can thank God for joy. But the mystic thanks God just as much for suffering, because suffering is an opportunity to purify the heart and deepen the capacity for love. And when suffering becomes so unimaginably extreme, when it becomes so incomprehensibly intense that it completely overwhelms our own capacities, then we have been given the greatest blessing. For, like the cursed death that is at the same time the blessed resurrection, here is the place of the crucifixion where our total powerlessness as human creatures becomes completely undeniable and obvious, where we are finally emptied of every last trace of our self will, and a space is opened in the soul for God's supernatural power to flood in. Simone Weil elaborates:
The irreducible character of suffering which makes it impossible for us not to have a horror of it at the moment when we are undergoing it is destined to bring the will to a standstill, just as absurdity brings the intelligence to a standstill, and absence [brings] love [to a standstill], so that man, having come to the end of his human faculties, may stretch out his arms, stop, look up and wait –Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p. 102).
Because this kind of irreducible and horrific suffering finally brings the will to the point of perfect surrender, this moment of grace is described by Hadewijch of Antwerp as follows:
He who knows Love and her comings and goings has experienced and can understand why it is truly appropriate that Hell should be the highest name of Love. ...For she ruins the soul and mind to such a degree that they never recover. –Hadewijch of Antwerp (Son of Man, p. 274)
Forever ruined, the soul has passed through the mystical death, and is reborn in the life divine. Thereafter, it is God who lives in and through the purified soul, bringing peace and love more fully into the world.
I'll be the first to admit that this is far beyond me. I am not a mystic. Yet it has the scent of truth both emotionally and intellectually. People are BSing about love all the time but love of God is something that only a certain few are capable of and Simone was one. I take the gradual approach or what Prof. Needleman described as Intermediate Christianity or becoming able to be open without flooding it with imagination. Those like Simone are awakening influences because they disturb our sleep. That is why they are hated by society as a whole. Who likes alarm clocks? But every little bit a person does to awaken I maintain has a positive influence not only for them but for humanity as a whole since it serves to be a part of the conscious connection between man on earth and higher consciousness. It helps keep the door open.

I am not trying to prove you wrong? What sense would it make? It is more important for me to better understand. Can we agree not to assume we are out to get one another?
Hermeticism concludes that we are all one. We are not governed by a supreme intelligence; we are the supreme intelligence, since “all is mind”.


Are you asserting that the human mind is the mind of God? There is no higher mind then mine? If this is true, the universe is in trouble. :) The "will" that allows the soul to receive from above and give to below is our potential.

The Emerald Tablet is an essential expression of levels of reality. Consider a popular translation:

From Fulcanelli (translated from the French by Sieveking)

1) This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth:-
2) As below, so above; and as above so below. With this knowledge alone you may work miracles.
3) And since all things exist in and eminate from the ONE Who is the ultimate Cause, so all things are born after their kind from this ONE.
4) The Sun is the father, the Moon the mother;
5) the wind carried it in his belly. Earth is its nurse and its guardian.
6) It is the Father of all things,
6a) the eternal Will is contained in it.
7) Here, on earth, its strength, its power remain one and undivded.
7a) Earth must be separated from fire, the subtle from the dense, gently with unremitting care.
8) It arises from the earth and descends from heaven; it gathers to itself the strength of things above and things below.
9) By means of this one thing all the glory of the world shall be yours and all obscurity flee from you.
10) It is power, strong with the strength of all power, for it will penetrate all mysteries and dispel all ignorance.
11a) By it the world was created.
12) From it are born manifold wonders, the means to achieving which are here given
13) It is for this reason that I am called Hermes Trismegistus; for I possess the three essentials of the philosophy of the universe.
14) This is is the sum total of the work of the Sun.
[Sadoul 1972: 25-6.]

As above, so below is basic cosmology and is manifested as the levels of included middles. Hermes refers to the three essentials rather than one mind. Do you read this differently than I do?
Needleman is showing here that he has not understood science, modern theories nor the current state of evidence.


Is it possible that you are underestimating Jacob Needleman? You seem to suggest that you understand these things but is it possible that you overestimate your understanding? I admit that I always do. I can read and think I understand and all of a sudden I see I do not and a new opening begins. Have you done the same?
You are an authority on my experience and the experiences of all other people.

You know everything that I have ever experienced.

I could not have experienced this, because you say I could not have experienced this.

You know what all others and I have and have not experienced, while all others and I do not.

Your absolute authority on the experiences of all people is beyond question.

To question your authority would be equal to condemning you.
Are you sure you are not my ex wife? :)

It isn't a matter of questioning my authority but rather regardless of me if you have experienced your own nothingness? I know I am the wretched man and a walking mass of contradiction. Yet according to as above, so below, there is this potential to be a direct reflection of the higher "good" Plato refers to.

This has been my experience with atheists. Questioning is threatening. Does it have to be? Even if something is phrased wrong, must the atheist assume the worst as though I am out to get someone or put them down?

I think that is one of the problems with debates. One can win a debate but cannot win a discussion. Like Simone, I appreciate finding and experiencing the contradiction that is the door. It has been my experience that atheists like to debate so will think the other wants to defeat them or put them down. It may be with some but it isn't that way with me and others I know. Is there any way to change this?
So I am saying that you mistake negative hostility for constructive criticism.
Does this have to be the case? Can you and I discuss without the necessity for constructive criticism? I don't feel the need to do it and I'm trying to better understand this. Before criticizing you I'd have to understand you better. So rather than criticize, I prefer to ask questions and state my beliefs where appropriate. What is the attraction of constructive criticism in preference to discussion? Constructive criticism begins with right and wrong. Is it possible that discussion can include the capacity to put oneself into the position of another and through a Socratic dialogue, reveal the depth of questions?
Again, the equation of “consciousness” with a “conscious universe” and a “higher mind” is a gross misunderstanding of the ancient teachings.

It is obvious that these things are not equatable, even to someone unaware of the actual ideas – just by how these things are usually defined. This is the biggest error in his chapter, and one of significant proportions.


This would make a good separate discussion.
I was never a true Christian because you define what a true Christian is.

I was part of a sect of Christendom, which is a distorted exoteric version of true Christianity, both of which you define.

I could not of been a true Christian, because it is extremely rare, and I am too ignorant to have been one, because you say I am.

You know everything about me.


Again, why be defensive? It is also extremely rare to be a real human being. You would say nonsense but the following makes sense to me from the intro to Jacob Needleman's "Time and Soul"
Some years ago I was walking in downtown San Francisco—in the financial district-- with a great friend, a learned Tibetan scholar who was helping some colleagues and me translate one of the most beloved sacred texts of Tibetan Buddhism, The Life of Milarepa. My friend had lived a long time in North America and was a frequent visitor to the United States. He was a layman, married and a father; he did not hold religious office and was not materially supported by a religious community. He had to make his way in the same world as the rest of us; he wore neither the robes, nor the social "armor," of a lama or guru. One sensed in him the depth of Asian wisdom uniquely joined to the raw experience of the conditions of modern, Western culture with all its shocks and temptations, all its psychological, social and financial pressures, its tempo, its brilliance and its darkness. He was outwardly and inwardly a man who lived in and between two worlds—one an ancient, spiritually determined society and the other our own culture with its progressively diminishing understanding of the being of man.

We were discussing the Buddhist idea of what it means to be a human. One of the most compelling expressions of the Buddhist notion of humanness concerns the rarity of the event of being born into the world in human form, in contrast to the other forms of existence that Buddhism recognizes: animals, plants, denizens of hell, "gods," "goddesses," "angels" and demons of all kinds. In the symbolic realism of the Tibetan tradition human beings occupy a uniquely central place in the whole cosmic scheme, precisely intermediate between the "gods"(who themselves are victims of "higher" illusions) and the ghosts and denizens of the lower worlds. In this central cosmic place, containing within himself all the impulses and forces of all the worlds, man alone has the possibility of working to escape from samsara, the endlessly turning cycle of illusion and suffering.

I was asking my friend about one of the most striking ways that the Tibetans express the uniqueness of the human condition. Imagine, they say, that deep in the vast ocean there swims a great and ancient turtle who surfaces for air only once every hundred years. Imagine further that floating somewhere in the ocean is a single ox-yoke carried here and there by the random waves and currents . What are the chances that when the turtle surfaces, his head will happen to emerge precisely through the center of the ox-yoke? That is how rare it is to be born as a human being!

In the middle of our conversation, I pointed to the crowds of men and women rushing by on the street and I gestured in a way to indicate not only them, but all the thousands and millions of people rushing around in the world. "Tell me, Lobsang," I said, "if it is so rare to be born a human being, how come there are so many people in the world?"

My friend slowed his pace and then stopped. He waited for a moment, taking in my question. I remember suddenly being able to hear, as though for the first time, the loud and frenetic traffic all around us. He looked at me and very quietly replied:

"How many human beings do you see?"

In a flash, I understood the meaning of the story and the idea. Most of the people I was seeing, in the inner state they were in at that moment, were not really people at all. Most were what the Tibetans call "hungry ghosts." They did not really exist. They were not really there. They were busy, they were in a hurry. They—like all of us—were obsessed with doing things right away. But right away is the opposite of now—the opposite of the lived present moment in which the passing of time no longer tyrannizes us. The hungry ghosts are starved for "more" time; but the more time we hungry ghosts get, the more time we "save," the hungrier we become, the less we actually live. And I understood that it is not exactly more time, more days and years, that we are starved for, it is the present moment. Through our increasing absorption in busyness, we have lost the present moment. "Right away" is not now. What a toxic illusion!
You refer to the mechanical transition between religion and science but if the real problem is our "hungry ghosts" or other descriptions that deny the conscious connection between the above and below - spirit and body, that allows one to become themselves, this is just adaptation and not evolution.

I know this would be insulting to atheists or secular Interfaith that is not open to experiencing the human condition. But if true, am I just to ignore it and support people feeling good? I'll agree that speaking of these things at cocktail parties is out of place. But there are those open to the idea that they are dual natured. They have a spiritual part as well as an animal part with the potential for consciously connecting them with the help of the materiality of grace and serve a conscious purpose. It doesn't seem right that these qualities of ideas must be excluded from such formats but it is obvious that they would be ridiculed into meaninglessness and as such causing more harm than good.

So I am back to this question of having come to agree with Simone that atheism serves a necessary purpose of purification. How can it be discussed without arousing insult? Atheism is like our associative mind. It must become able to submit and allow for a higher form of intellect to begin: pondering.
"The role of the intelligence - that part of us which affirms and denies and formulates opinions is merely to submit." Simone Weil
Intelligence as normally defined has to appreciate its limits and neither drift into the imagination of secular religious expression or the denial of whatever lies above science. This is not so easy.

Is there any way that atheism could accept that we have a corrupted quality of inner life described in Buddhism in descriptions such as hungry ghosts and in Christianity as demons? If it could, would it be possible for the atheist to admit the potential good of freedom from these limitations? Is it possible that atheism could admit at least the possibility of this very vague term grace without connection to a personal God that could serve as help from above for a person's awakening to their human condition?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

Thuse
Posts: 34
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 3:16 am

Post by Thuse » December 3rd, 2009, 4:14 pm

Hey Nick, again, sorry for the delay. It is not intentional. I have been incredibly stretched for time recently, I hope you don't consider it rude.
Nick_A wrote:Hi Thuse

Hope the holiday was good for you. I'd like to clarify some things about me. My interest isn't in proving another wrong but rather to understand better in the real meaning of the word which implies more than just intellectually.
Sure, I know that.

Personally, I think that it is a good thing though, if you can prove me wrong. If you can, do.

My interest is "getting to the bottom of it", too. In order to do this, it means I have to analyse and dismiss things that are not it. If these things are sometimes your beliefs, that doesn't mean I am trying to prove you wrong, just understand what is not-truth. It is not anything more than that.
You say that you understand this but I've learned it is far deeper then first considered. Consider these comments

http://www.integralscience.org/loveknowledge.html
Personally, I don't see how my understanding was any different, essentially, or less "deep", by extension than this.

My understanding of esoteric traditions, including esoteric Christianity, is that god is not separate from the Universe. Usually, god is both immanent, as reality, and transcendent, as more than the sum of its parts.

In this regard, I feel that if I can try to express love for all beings, then it doesn’t actually matter whether or not god exists. If he exists, then love for anything is love for god, and love itself is god, as the essay you posted states. If he doesn’t exist, then no harm can surely come from actions born of love. Obviously though, it is easier to BS about, than actually do, as you rightly mention. But I am trying to balance out my BS, where I can.

Eckhart said that the truth is so noble, that he could do away with god, and keep the truth. As we both know Eckhart, it is unlikely that he was being heretical here – rather, I interpret him to mean that the notion of god is secondary to what is implied by his hypothesised existence. Put another way, if god is love, and god is truth, then truth is love. That is, the practise of love is more important than the love of god.

Those like Simone are awakening influences because they disturb our sleep. That is why they are hated by society as a whole. Who likes alarm clocks?
I love alarm clocks! Especially the kind that really wake you up from a deep sleep.

However, an alarm clock that is asleep itself can never wake another up.

So, this is why I feel I can ignore Weil’s ringing. I have much louder alarm clocks now. What do I need with a quieter one? I think you assume I have not got one already you see, but I think you are mistaken.

Obviously I don’t hate her, I just feel I have nothing to gain from her whatsoever.

I think we have possibly agreed that I am a more intellectual kind of person, while you are perhaps somebody more emotionally orientated, both of which have negative and positive consequences.

Since Weil was very focused on emotions, in a positive sense, she doesn’t appeal to me very much. I need something to be grasped on an intellectual level for it to makes sense to me. I understand that the intellect is limited, but I feel that emotions are equally limited. This is why I seek a balance between the two – I look for something to appeal intellectually as well as emotionally.

So, perhaps I am simply closed to her ideas, but I don’t think so, I believe I have clarified precisely why they don’t appeal to me, rather than blindly dismissed them. I believe that it is dangerous for people to get lost in the medium, instead of the message, so this is why I felt it necessary to concentrate on her flaws – I believed that would simply be more positive.
But every little bit a person does to awaken I maintain has a positive influence not only for them but for humanity as a whole since it serves to be a part of the conscious connection between man on earth and higher consciousness. It helps keep the door open.
Fair enough.

I think that every time somebody forms opinions about things that they have no experience of, but start believing they are absolutely true, that this has a negative influence not only for them but for humanity as a whole.

I think that is a sure way to stay dreaming, in fact.
I am not trying to prove you wrong? What sense would it make? It is more important for me to better understand. Can we agree not to assume we are out to get one another?
If you did prove me wrong, great!

My antagonism is only due to the fact that you are making claims I feel certain are false.

If you make claims about me, either by inference or directly, such as that I am fascist, I feel I have a right to defend myself, and prove you wrong, if I can. I feel it is important to prove this idea wrong, because I believe that an idea such as this one, if wrong, is very harmful. I am not out to get you, but I am out to get ideas like this one, and I cannot hesitate to destroy them, if I get the chance. I believe it is the right thing to do, and to say nothing is the wrong thing, and I do not want to do the wrong thing.

If you make claims that I feel I know are false, such as ontological separation, then I believe it is helpful to point out that these are false. I do not associate you with your ideas, so when I attack these ideas, I do not intend to attack you personally. I do only what I would want done to myself, and what I do to myself. I cannot have one measure for myself, and another for everyone else, this would be hypocritical. I would rather be insensitive than a hypocrite.

We both want to get to the bottom of things, and I go about that by digging, both inside and out. You gave me the impression that you seek truth at all costs, so I thought that you would be okay with digging.

I think actions must be put in the context of beliefs, sometimes, if we are to understand a person. Although you might not, somebody with your beliefs might feel that, irrelevant of what I say, I am one of god’s creations, and god may even have intended our meeting to test you in some way. Hence, you are able to put up with me. For myself, I do not see you as anything different than me, what’s more, I do not see existence as anything more than a kind of game, which always ends the same way. So, this is why I can be very intense and dispassionate when I leap onto your beliefs uninvited – it is just how I choose to play the game, and I believe we all end up in the same place in the end anyway.
Hermeticism concludes that we are all one. We are not governed by a supreme intelligence; we are the supreme intelligence, since “all is mind”.


Are you asserting that the human mind is the mind of God? There is no higher mind then mine? If this is true, the universe is in trouble. :) The "will" that allows the soul to receive from above and give to below is our potential.
I am not asserting it necessarily; Hermeticism asserts it.

Hermeticism states: “all is mind” – so, effectively, yes, the human mind is equal to the mind of god, if he exists, since “all is mind”, according to Hermeticism.

Note that this is true whether the all-mind is god’s mind or not.

This should not be surprising. Most, if not all forms of esoterica and mysticism assert this, for instance:

- Esoteric Hinduism and Yogic philosophy: “Tat Tvam Asi” (literally: “thou art that”, where “that” is Brahman, or “god” effectively) or “Tat Tvam Brahman” (“Thou art Brahman”), or “all indeed is Brahman”, or “atman is Brahman”, or “Brahman is consciousness” i.e. the individual’s consciousness.

- Sufism: As Mansur_al-Hallaj said: “I saw my Lord with the eye of the heart. I asked: Who art Thou? He answered: Thou. “ (Sufism : The Mystical Doctrines and Methods of Islam (1976) by William Stoddart , p. 83) or as Rumi commented, “Hallaj said, I am God, and told the truth! The ruby and the sunrise are one.”

- Esoteric Christianity: “We shall find God in everything alike, and find God always alike in everything.” – Eckhart, and “The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God's eye is one eye” – also Eckhart.

This is to name just a few traditions that equate the individual with the absolute, such that the mind of all men is in fact the “mind of god” effectively. So, according to these guys, yes, your mind is the mind of god and there is no “higher” mind.

How can the individual’s mind be equal to the “mind of god”, but the “mind of god” not equal to the individual’s mind? Well, this is why it is called “mysticism”. As Eckhart might have said, “He, she and it are god, but god is not he, she or it.”

Note of course that either there is a transcendent unity between religions, or all of these people are asleep or ignorant – it cannot be both.

I would be interested to know what you make of all of this. Perhaps we can at least agree than many, if not most, esoteric traditions make an equation between the individual and the absolute, and many if not all call the realisation of this unity the highest form of awakening.
The Emerald Tablet is an essential expression of levels of reality.

As far as I can see, nowhere in the Emerald Tablet does it say anything about levels of reality.

“As above, so below” does not necessarily imply that reality is fragmented, any more than to say, “there is an airplane above me and I am below it” does. In fact, it implies exactly the opposite, that the two are connected.

Is this really not obvious to you? To me personally, and all others that I have read, the notion of non-separation is readily apparent from the outset.
Consider a popular translation:

From Fulcanelli (translated from the French by Sieveking)

As above, so below is basic cosmology and is manifested as the levels of included middles.
Also, as far as I can see, Fulcanelli’s translation says nothing of levels, included middles, and implies from the outset that there is no such thing as separation, just like all the other translations.

It seems to state, like all the other translations, that there is only the “one” thing, and that all things come from and are implied to be inseparable from this one thing. Though there looks like lots of things (plurality), there is still only one thing.

In addition, Fulcanelli’s translation is problematic, because it was translated from the French, therefore, was rendered twice. A more recent translation of Fulcanelli’s offers, for lines 2 and 3:

“2) that which is below is like that which is on high, and that which is on high is like that which is below; by these things are made the miracles of one thing.
3) And as all things are, and come from One, by the mediation of One, So all things are born from this unique thing by adaption.”

Here, it states again quite clearly in the second sentence of line 2 that the “One” in addition to all things are in fact “one thing”, not two or three things.

So, even in keeping with the original Fulcanelli translation, there is nothing that infers, relates to or suggests levels of reality, included middles or anything similar at all. But maybe I'm wrong.

In any case, compared to all other translations, there is no mention of separation, but the opposite, which is maintained in Hermeticism as well as by scholars, even in fact in Fucanelli’s translation. See any and all examples here:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/alc/emerald.htm

As you will see on that page all the translations correlate in that they negate separation, levels or plurality quite clearly.

But maybe they are all wrong too.

Of course, if all things are born from one thing by adaptation, then surely it is this one thing that is adapting?
Hermes refers to the three essentials rather than one mind.
He actually states openly that he is talking about the three essentials of his philosophy, not the Universe. He is not talking about three “levels” of reality, but of his testament.

Otherwise, he would be contradicting himself when he equates the “One” and all things in the first part of the text.
Do you read this differently than I do?
Sorry, I should have been more specific: that quote is actually from the Kabalion, another Hermetic text, also allegedly written by Hermes Trismegistus:
1. The Principle of Mentalism
"ALL IS MIND; The Universe is Mental."--The Kybalion.

This Principle embodies the truth that "All is Mind." It explains that THE ALL (which is the Substantial Reality underlying all the outward manifestations and appearances which we know under the terms of "The Material Universe"; the "Phenomena of Life"; "Matter"; "Energy"; and, in short, all that is apparent to our material senses) is SPIRIT which in itself is UNKNOWABLE and UNDEFINABLE, but which may be considered and thought of as AN UNIVERSAL, INFINITE, LIVING MIND. It also explains that all the phenomenal world or universe is simply a Mental Creation of THE ALL, subject to the Laws of Created Things, and that the universe, as a whole, and in its parts or units, has its existence in the Mind of THE ALL, in which Mind we "live and move and have our being."
http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/kyb/index.htm

If you are not familiar with this text, you might want to check it out, there is a lot there that I think would resonate with you.

Again, here it seems clear that “the all” is the container and not-separate from the “parts”. Hence, once more Hermeticism ‘denies’ levels or separation of any kind.

Note again that the commentary suggests that plurality and a multiplicity of things, e.g. levels, is in fact the level of appearance, i.e. exoteric, which correlates precisely with the other traditions I mentioned, and possibly even Needleman, if I interpreted him correctly.

So, we don’t read the texts differently; I am simply trying to compare multiple translations, as oppose to only one, and research other Hermetic texts, also as oppose to only one, that put the Emerald Tablet in context.

Hence, this is why I stated that “all is mind” according to Hermeticism.
Needleman is showing here that he has not understood science, modern theories nor the current state of evidence.


Is it possible that you are underestimating Jacob Needleman? You seem to suggest that you understand these things but is it possible that you overestimate your understanding? I admit that I always do. I can read and think I understand and all of a sudden I see I do not and a new opening begins. Have you done the same?
Of course I do, I always do this.

I don’t know why it is necessary to ask me this. I explained, carefully and clearly, where he is wrong and why he is wrong.

So, there is no reason to assume I have underestimated or haven’t understood him - it is abundantly clear that I have, unless it can be shown otherwise.

Whether you feel I understand this or that is not actually that relevant, because I have explained my analysis, rather than simply asserted some opinions. The points are there, irrelevant of your personal opinions about me.

If someone does something, it doesn’t matter if you think they are attractive or ugly, they still did the thing in question.

So, it doesn’t matter if you think I don’t understand him, I still showed his ideas and assertions to be false in certain places.

Sure, maybe I have underestimated him, but neither of us have any reason to believe that, you see.

Maybe I just got stung by a bee; but see no bee, feel no sting, so why assume that I did?
You are an authority on my experience and the experiences of all other people.

You know everything that I have ever experienced.

I could not have experienced this, because you say I could not have experienced this.
It isn't a matter of questioning my authority but rather regardless of me if you have experienced your own nothingness? I know I am the wretched man and a walking mass of contradiction. Yet according to as above, so below, there is this potential to be a direct reflection of the higher "good" Plato refers to.

This has been my experience with atheists. Questioning is threatening. Does it have to be? Even if something is phrased wrong, must the atheist assume the worst as though I am out to get someone or put them down?
All I actually did here was to restate your points by asserting them.

So, that you are inferring all of this onto me is actually just you, and nothing to do with reality and what I said.

Since I have been questioning myself and you considerably during this thread, it is somewhat odd to suggest I am threatened by questioning. Would you call a biologist threatened by life? Is a cook threatened by food? Is an artist like yourself threatened by art? Surely these are ludicrous assertions.

To write this way was actually for my own benefit, although you might not understand why, not to make a “point”.

However, it is undeniably interesting that even here, by restating your assertions, I have failed to meet your impossible standards of acceptability. Just by repeating what you said, I am still being defensive etc.

I deny it and say, “You would deny it, because you are ignorant and asleep.” I assert it, and you say, “You are threatened by me.” I point out that this attitude is childish and nonsensical, and you tell me, “Stop being so defensive.” Nothing I can say or do can ever be acceptable to you; which, coincidentally, reminds me of my ex-girlfriend.

Of course, what you will now say is, “It isn’t a case of being acceptable or not but of becoming open to the truth that…” etc. I feel there is no way to have an open and meaningful discussion with you, it seems.

With reference to why people “assume the worst” - when you tell people you don’t know that you know more about them, their experiences and their lives than they do, that they are ignorant fascists, in denial and full of negative emotions, and you say this irrelevant of what they actually say or do, then there is simply no good in that to assume. It is not assuming something negative, you are actually saying incredibly negative things.

This is seen by people like myself as a negative and false perspective; and when you look through that perspective, you only see negative and false things. So, it is not surprising that you see negative situations that do not exist beyond your perspective.

It is like dust on your binoculars – the dust is not actually there when you look at the sky, but it seems as though it is everywhere you look. Removing the dust, clear vision. Ah, the sky!

I can say this with confidence because I know that at least some of it is not true, such that I am a fascist or persecuting you. So, if I am ignorant, wrong about everything, etc., none of that matters, the point still holds that your perception of others is clouded in this way. You are the source of this negativity, it is not really there in reality.

So, assuming the worst, to you, is simply restating your claims, to everyone else.

What might that suggest?
I think that is one of the problems with debates. One can win a debate but cannot win a discussion. Like Simone, I appreciate finding and experiencing the contradiction that is the door. It has been my experience that atheists like to debate so will think the other wants to defeat them or put them down. It may be with some but it isn't that way with me and others I know. Is there any way to change this?
It is odd that you decide to conclude that the apparent errors in your thinking are because I am being too honest, therefore, I should not be so honest. I would not conclude this from the premises, myself.

I do not want to “defeat” you, and I know that you are not trying to “defeat” me anyway. I have nothing to win in this discussion. I only want to defeat your negativity. If I don’t try to do that, what good am I to anyone?

I am just trying to show you some of what I think are these doors you enjoy so much.

Surely this is better than to just make comments and infer that you are ignorant and closed without explaining why, as you have done to me.

This is what those I know do for me, what I do for them, what I constantly do to myself and what I would wish done to me.

I must question you, I must seek truth, because I claim to do these things. If by seeking truth I am forced to first establish and remove not-truth, and in the process you see this as a problem, then this is simply something I have to accept. I do not see it as a problem, you see. I see it as a positive thing.

Some people are open rivers – you can flow within and without one another, effortlessly. Others have dams built at their openings. In order to get through the dam, you must break it down – you cannot get to the river otherwise. How to break it down, if not by force? Water is itself soft, but seems heavy to the dam.

So, sometimes, force is necessary. To plant a seed, you must first break the ground – resistance will occur but eventually, roots will form, and growth will prevail. Whether you are around to see it or not. But the true gardener does not plant for rewards, to win anything, but for the love of transformation and growth.

If you claim that you support questioning, seek truth and to get to the bottom of it, can you be surprised if people take you seriously?
So I am saying that you mistake negative hostility for constructive criticism.
Does this have to be the case? Can you and I discuss without the necessity for constructive criticism? I don't feel the need to do it and I'm trying to better understand this. Before criticizing you I'd have to understand you better. So rather than criticize, I prefer to ask questions and state my beliefs where appropriate. What is the attraction of constructive criticism in preference to discussion? Constructive criticism begins with right and wrong. Is it possible that discussion can include the capacity to put oneself into the position of another and through a Socratic dialogue, reveal the depth of questions?
Socrates took others' beliefs and showed them to be false. That is what a Socratic dialogue is! And it is also what I have been trying do to your beliefs, showing them to be contradictory or false where I can. So, I think maybe you have a misunderstanding of what a Socratic dialogue is.

If your intention was that I should follow your lead and simply make assertions, ignore whatever you say and call you ignorant if you don’t agree with me, then that is not my style nor something I view as constructive.

You are inferring that you have not criticised my beliefs. In fact, you have even done what I have not: criticised me as an individual, instead of my beliefs.

I seek truth, and I try to get to the bottom of it. Without sensitivity, and without hesitation. If you were not willing to do this, then perhaps you should not have said you were.

If you were being insincere, then you cannot hold it against me for not realising this. If we cry wolf, we must accept the consequences. If we claim truth, we must be prepared for people to test that, and, sometimes, destroy that too. Yet, do we then cry over spilt milk? Do we cling to rubble, or build a stronger home?

A philosophy must be lived, always, everywhere, not just spoken. Otherwise, I am a hypocrite. So, I live my philosophy, not just speak it. If I did otherwise, I cannot have self-respect. I if have no self-respect, how could I possibly respect you?

I view this as a discussion, so I do not know what you had in mind. I feel the best way to present my point of view is to express it actively, rather than simply assert it.

Criticism is gold for someone who seeks truth. Surely, if we seek truth, then we must be prepared to encounter falsity more often? Why is this to be feared? When we dig for treasure, do we not expect to get rid of the mud first? Or were you expecting a mud fight from me?
I could not of been a true Christian, because it is extremely rare, and I am too ignorant to have been one, because you say I am.

You know everything about me.


Again, why be defensive? It is also extremely rare to be a real human being. You would say nonsense but the following makes sense to me from the intro to Jacob Needleman's "Time and Soul"
Again, it is incredible that you would accuse me here of being defensive.

I have literally just repeated what you have said to me, as well as the necessary beliefs that you must have in order to make these assertions. Nothing more.

Whatever more you perceive, is your addition alone. I gave you a blank page, you did the rest. That was not my intention, but that was what happened.
I completely agree with this, actually.

I do not necessarily claim that I am not a “hungry ghost”.

It doesn’t actually matter whether I am or not, you claim not, only because I do not have faith in your beliefs.

So, if I were not a “hungry ghost”, there would be nothing I could say nor do to persuade you of this. That is the only reason. That, to me, is non-sense.
You refer to the mechanical transition between religion and science
I am really not sure what you are talking about.

I have said that religion evolved into science.

When we evolved from apes, we did not wake up to find ourselves human, having mechanically changed in a moment.

I also said that that description was a severely summarised one.

It was a fluid, progressive process. There is nothing mechanical about it.

Do you ever ponder the possibility that emotive language like this muddies your understanding of ideas?
…but if the real problem is our "hungry ghosts" or other descriptions that deny the conscious connection between the above and below - spirit and body, that allows one to become themselves, this is just adaptation and not evolution.
Adaptation is evolution.
I know this would be insulting to atheists or secular Interfaith that is not open to experiencing the human condition.
You can play this game, if you want. “Repeating patterns of conditioned behaviour.”

But I promise you that lies and negativity will not achieve anything.

I know that you know this, really.

So come on, now. Let go and let's grow.
But if true, am I just to ignore it and support people feeling good? I'll agree that speaking of these things at cocktail parties is out of place. But there are those open to the idea that they are dual natured. They have a spiritual part as well as an animal part with the potential for consciously connecting them with the help of the materiality of grace and serve a conscious purpose. It doesn't seem right that these qualities of ideas must be excluded from such formats but it is obvious that they would be ridiculed into meaninglessness and as such causing more harm than good.
You should come to one of my cocktail parties then.

Here, you are inferring that I am one of these people, even thought I am not, that I am ridiculing you, although of course I am not, and so on and so on and so on.

These claims are indirectly about me, yet they are both not true and made without reason.

What do you want me to say? What would be acceptable to you? I can’t agree, because that is defensive, I can’t disagree, because that is ignorant.

However, I can’t comment on this objectively, because none of it is true, which I have gone to great lengths to show. So what do I say?

I don’t believe that Socrates, where he having this dialogue with you, would simply nod and say, “Sure, I respect that, let’s hug”.

I think he would slap you round the face with a wet fish, and tell you to snap out of it.

So, that should explain my attitude a bit better.
So I am back to this question of having come to agree with Simone that atheism serves a necessary purpose of purification. How can it be discussed without arousing insult?
More loaded questions. What's the point?

Do you see how, by answering this, I am acknowledging I was insulted, even though I was not, and by not answering I am being defensive, even though I am not?

You are going to tell me I am offended, angered and insulted, tell me I am being defensive, negative and emotional, irrelevant of anything I say; so, it doesn’t really matter if there is a way to not be insulting.

Of course, I am not insulted, offended, angered nor defensive about anything you have said.

I am not ignorant, a fascist, closed or persecuting you either.

But you know all this, really.

This is just a game that you are playing. And all games are about pretending.

But I know you’re pretending, and you know you are pretending.

So, why keep playing?
Atheism is like our associative mind. It must become able to submit and allow for a higher form of intellect to begin: pondering.
How do you know that atheism is not the result of this higher intellectual pondering?

How do you know I have not already engaged in this higher intellectual pondering?

What reasons do you have to actually assume any of this, other than the assumption that you are superior to me?
"The role of the intelligence - that part of us which affirms and denies and formulates opinions is merely to submit." Simone Weil
Intelligence as normally defined has to appreciate its limits and neither drift into the imagination of secular religious expression or the denial of whatever lies above science. This is not so easy.
You are saying that being intelligent denies one the ability to accept your ideas.

I do not think you have really thought about this, intelligently.

I define intelligence as the ability to interpret, process, integrate and redistribute information. The higher the capacity to do this, the higher the intelligence. So, there is no apparent limit to this.
Is there any way that atheism could accept that we have a corrupted quality of inner life described in Buddhism in descriptions such as hungry ghosts and in Christianity as demons?
I think it is obvious to most people that inner life is corrupted for many in a lot of senses.
If it could, would it be possible for the atheist to admit the potential good of freedom from these limitations?
I don’t think anybody should give up his intelligence in order to believe something.

I think that when spiritual practitioners talked about transcending the intellect, they meant the actual thought process itself.

They did not mean that, if your intelligence conflicts with an idea, then it is true.
Is it possible that atheism could admit at least the possibility of this very vague term grace without connection to a personal God that could serve as help from above for a person's awakening to their human condition?
You seem to be asking me five separate things here - whether it is possible for atheism that grace exists and is valid, whether god exists and helps from “above”, whether connection to god is possible, whether awakening exists and whether humans are not already aware of their condition.

Respectively:

I have said that I feel that Weil’s grace is just a different interpretation of what I consider the origin of morality, so I believe this possible personally.

Not all atheists simply deny that god does exist – like myself, who merely does not take active belief in either god’s existence nor nonexistence. So, of course.

If god exists, could we connect to him? Sure.

Does awakening exist? Well, I think so, definitely. I just disagree as to what is meant by that word.

Are humans unaware of their human condition? I think we have agreed here, so sure.

Can they become aware of the human condition? Well, I think I am, so certainly.

So sure, all these things are possible, why not. Maybe this is all a dream. Maybe I am a figment of your imagination. Maybe I just got stung by a bee.

Maybe the only way to find out is to find out.

Peace, and I really mean “Peace”,

Thuse.

Nick_A
Posts: 2391
Joined: April 19th, 2009, 11:45 pm

Post by Nick_A » December 5th, 2009, 11:08 pm

Hi Thuse
Eckhart said that the truth is so noble, that he could do away with god, and keep the truth. As we both know Eckhart, it is unlikely that he was being heretical here – rather, I interpret him to mean that the notion of god is secondary to what is implied by his hypothesised existence. Put another way, if god is love, and god is truth, then truth is love. That is, the practise of love is more important than the love of god.
Are you suggesting that the wretched man is capable of Agape love much less love of God?
So, this is why I feel I can ignore Weil’s ringing. I have much louder alarm clocks now. What do I need with a quieter one? I think you assume I have not got one already you see, but I think you are mistaken.


What is the alarm clock for the Atheist and what does it awaken you to?

You assert Simone's reliance on emotion. How do you as an atheist appreciate Simone's appreciation of mathematics?
“Mathematics alone make us feel the limits of our intelligence. For we can always suppose in the case of an experiment that it is inexplicable because we don't happen to have all the data. In mathematics we have all the data and yet we don't understand. We always come back to the contemplation of our human wretchedness. What force is in relation to our will, the impenetrable opacity of mathematics is in relation to our intelligence.” Simone Weil
My antagonism is only due to the fact that you are making claims I feel certain are false.

If you make claims about me, either by inference or directly, such as that I am fascist, I feel I have a right to defend myself, and prove you wrong, if I can. I feel it is important to prove this idea wrong, because I believe that an idea such as this one, if wrong, is very harmful. I am not out to get you, but I am out to get ideas like this one, and I cannot hesitate to destroy them, if I get the chance. I believe it is the right thing to do, and to say nothing is the wrong thing, and I do not want to do the wrong thing.
I would agree. But where have I called you a fascist. Why be anatgonistic just because you believe me wrong?
I would be interested to know what you make of all of this. Perhaps we can at least agree than many, if not most, esoteric traditions make an equation between the individual and the absolute, and many if not all call the realization of this unity the highest form of awakening.


All I can say is that I am far from alone in my conception of the great chain of being, levels of reality within it, and relative being within ourselves as a microcosm.
From this perspective, levels of being exist within all the great traditions. You can believe me misguided but I don't see why antagonism is necessary. I'm happier with my sources and you are happier with yours. We can only get to the bottom if it through becoming able to "Know Thyself." As of now I cannot see why the Am of "I Am" should disappear

A tree exists in the world of the forest. The Forest exists in the world of the planet. The planet exists in the world of the solar system and so on up. Just because we can consciously experience at the level of the sun (son), is not to say that the tree doesn't exist. Rather I believe it simultaneously exists at a lower level of reality.

I may be wrong but it is far more logical for me then presuming life on earth doesn't exist.
“As above, so below” does not necessarily imply that reality is fragmented, any more than to say, “there is an airplane above me and I am below it” does. In fact, it implies exactly the opposite, that the two are connected.


Why can't the sun and moon be both connected and separate just like the notes mi and fa on a musical scale are both connected and separate?
Colours are the deeds of light, its deeds and sufferings. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
Colors are just a vibrational frequency less then the white light of its origin. They are both connected and separate.
Again, here it seems clear that “the all” is the container and not-separate from the “parts”. Hence, once more Hermeticism ‘denies’ levels or separation of any kind
.

The article on vibrations asserts the universe consisting of vibrational frequencies. They are the same in that they are vibrations but separate in their frequencies.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/kyb/kyb11.htm
So, it doesn’t matter if you think I don’t understand him, I still showed his ideas and assertions to be false in certain places.

Sure, maybe I have underestimated him, but neither of us have any reason to believe that, you see.

Maybe I just got stung by a bee; but see no bee, feel no sting, so why assume that I did?


But this is the problem. You assume that you've proven his ideas and assertions wrong in certain places. I don't believe so. Can you respect my views even though you believe me wrong?
With reference to why people “assume the worst” - when you tell people you don’t know that you know more about them, their experiences and their lives than they do, that they are ignorant fascists, in denial and full of negative emotions, and you say this irrelevant of what they actually say or do, then there is simply no good in that to assume. It is not assuming something negative, you are actually saying incredibly negative things.
But suppose none of this is true? I assert that the universe is structured on levels of reality called cosmoses and it is just this that reveals Man's objective meaning and purpose as a vertical connection between cosmoses. It is only negative from the lower perspective that protects its importance. This has nothing to do with ignorant fascists. If I believe this to be true, it isn't a put down of anyone else. I am just trying to come to grips with the human condition as it exists in me that connects animal and spirit.
I do not want to “defeat” you, and I know that you are not trying to “defeat” me anyway. I have nothing to win in this discussion. I only want to defeat your negativity. If I don’t try to do that, what good am I to anyone?


What is so negative about this essential Christian perspective that human meaning and purpose is beyond the confines of the earth? This is nothing to complain about. I'm just happy that I've experienced it.
Socrates took others' beliefs and showed them to be false. That is what a Socratic dialogue is! And it is also what I have been trying do to your beliefs, showing them to be contradictory or false where I can. So, I think maybe you have a misunderstanding of what a Socratic dialogue is.
I agree with the following explanation of a Socratic dialogue. If we see how rare it is for a website, the problem is obvious. Rather then trying to understand, the need on these sites is to prove the other wrong in support of the given agenda.
The Socratic Method encourages participants to reflect and think independently and critically.

The Socratic Dialogue is practiced in small groups with the help of a facilitator, so that self-confidence in one's own thinking is enhanced and the search for truth in answer to a particular question is undertaken in common.

No prior philosophical training is needed, provided participants are motivated to try the method, are willing to contribute their honest thoughts and to listen to those of others.

The questions, drawn mainly from ethics, politics, epistemology, mathematics and psychology, are of a general and fundamental nature.

The endeavour of the group is to reach consensus, not as an aim in itself, but as a means to deepen the investigation.
You are inferring that you have not criticised my beliefs. In fact, you have even done what I have not: criticised me as an individual, instead of my beliefs.
What did I say that is so bad about you? If you mean that I agree with Simone that an atheist has not yet opened higher parts, it is not critical. It was this way with me. I am not critical of myself. When I experienced an additional inner direction it clarified essential questions for me. There is nothing to be critical about.

My only criticism of atheism is its spirit killing influence in public education. But that is a societal issue.
I view this as a discussion, so I do not know what you had in mind. I feel the best way to present my point of view is to express it actively, rather than simply assert it.

Criticism is gold for someone who seeks truth. Surely, if we seek truth, then we must be prepared to encounter falsity more often? Why is this to be feared? When we dig for treasure, do we not expect to get rid of the mud first? Or were you expecting a mud fight from me?
I agree but must add that we must understand what we are criticizing. Jacob Needleman describes his classroom experience with students when he proposed this experiment. Two students had to sum up the position of the other to their satisfaction before responding. It could make discussion meaningful

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSOs4ti0sm0

It does us no good to be critical yet it can be meaningful to open as Prof. Needleman suggests.
I am really not sure what you are talking about.

I have said that religion evolved into science.

When we evolved from apes, we did not wake up to find ourselves human, having mechanically changed in a moment.

I also said that that description was a severely summarised one.

It was a fluid, progressive process. There is nothing mechanical about it.

Do you ever ponder the possibility that emotive language like this muddies your understanding of ideas?


It may but then again religion and science may be separate yet connected. The essence of religion teaches how to evolve emotionally and science seeks to understand the scope of universal laws. Simone describes it well.
"To restore to science as a whole, for mathematics as well as psychology and sociology, the sense of its origin and veritable destiny as a bridge leading toward God---not by diminishing, but by increasing precision in demonstration, verification and supposition---that would indeed be a task worth accomplishing." Simone Weil


Makes sense to me. Yet if true, it requires both the atheist and spiritual person to admit their limitations when they reject the other. Easier said than done. "Therein lies the rub."
Adaptation is evolution.


A basic disagreement. For me, evolution is an upward change of being while adaptation includes the alternatives of a given level of being.
I am not ignorant, a fascist, closed or persecuting you either.
Of course not. I am just describing my experiences with secularism. But of course it is not universal. It would be like me saying this is what women do. If it were my experiences with women it would be true for those experiences. But if I were discussing the unity of science and religion with Simone it would be silly to say this is what women think. The bottom line is that the more a person has come to experience their nothingness in relation to their transcendent potential, the less there is to be insulted about. Atheism and secular Interfaith are usually society oriented inviting earthly idolatry that psychologically requires its defense. You are not this way but it is what I've experienced as a whole.
How do you know I have not already engaged in this higher intellectual pondering?
Perhaps we are appreciating pondering differently. How do you define and practice pondering?
I define intelligence as the ability to interpret, process, integrate and redistribute information. The higher the capacity to do this, the higher the intelligence. So, there is no apparent limit to this.


I define intelligence first by the ability to experience reality. To do this requires the intelligence of the body, emotions, and head. When the external world is experienced with the whole of oneself it makes the expression of intelligence possible. Without it, we are just BSing. An intelligent person is one who has experienced reality with the unified whole of themselves and having the ability to express it in accordance with objective human meaning and purpose. Needless to say that where conditioned intelligence is common, human intelligence is very rare.
I don’t think anybody should give up his intelligence in order to believe something.
I agree. Deep religious philosophical belief should be an expression of intelligence. But as I just mentioned, it is very rare.
Maybe the only way to find out is to find out.
Agreed, but how do we do it? I maintain that it begins with the attitude that allows a person to impartially be open to the conscious experience of oneself. The purpose isn't to judge but just to gently impartially make the conscious attempt to experience oneself free of judgment and the desire to change.

What would be your first step?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

Thuse
Posts: 34
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 3:16 am

Post by Thuse » December 9th, 2009, 1:51 pm

Hi Nick
Nick_A wrote:Hi Thuse
Eckhart said that the truth is so noble, that he could do away with god, and keep the truth…I interpret him to mean that the notion of god is secondary to what is implied by his hypothesised existence.
Are you suggesting that the wretched man is capable of Agape love much less love of God?
I am more suggesting that, as I interpret it, Eckhart was possibly hinting that the conception of god is secondary to “Absolute truth”.

I think that the truth Eckhart refers to is his idea that god and the individual are inseparable. So, an idea of god, as separate, is secondary to the realisation of god, as inseparable. When Eckhart realises himself as one with god, he can then do away with god all together.

Ultimately, I believe and have tried to show that Eckhart, on an absolute level, equated the individual with the absolute. So, effectively, love of god and agape are actually the same thing, if understood correctly, I contend.

This is why love for god, but rejection of man’s wretchedness, for instance, would actually be mutually exclusive, in this interpretation.
So, this is why I feel I can ignore Weil’s ringing. I have much louder alarm clocks now. What do I need with a quieter one? I think you assume I have not got one already you see, but I think you are mistaken.


What is the alarm clock for the Atheist and what does it awaken you to?
Not to evade your question, but I think that, actually, the messenger is irrelevant. All that is important is that the message is transmitted.

I personally think that many if not most atheists are not very familiar, if at all, with the kind of alarm clocks we mean.

For me, personally, none of my alarm clocks are or were usually atheists in the sense that word is normally understood. People like Alan Watts, Krishnamurti (both Jiddu and U.G.), Ramesh Baleskar, Ramana Maharishi, the Buddha, D.T. Suzuki, Bodhidharma, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Rumi, Bruno, Nagarjuna, Shankara, Ken Wilber, Gurdjieff, Aldous Huxley and many others have all served and serve to “wake me up” in some sense. This may be simply because they appeal to the way my individual brain functions – they may not work this way for everybody, just as Weil does not work for me.

However, in my experience, most atheists are either unaware, or totally uninterested, in these kinds of people/ideas.

Moreover, also in my experience, most atheists are often hardcore scientific materialists, claiming science as the most trustworthy benefactor of reality. Obviously, this is not uniform, simply a trend.

Thus, presumably it would be science that could be the only feasible alarm clock for many atheists – yet, since science has concluded for quite a while now that materials in a literal sense do not exist, and that there does not seem to be any fixity anywhere, the prevalence of materialism among atheists is perplexing.

So, in many ways, many atheistic attitudes are both independent of science and of any remotely mystical-bent philosophy, and instead based primarily on appearance and sense-perception.

In this sense, I am unsure not only if an alarm clock of the kind we mean exists for atheists, but also if it even can. In any case, it seems to me that the nature of the clock is unimportant - a tuna sandwich will wake us up, if the time is right.
You assert Simone's reliance on emotion. How do you as an atheist appreciate Simone's appreciation of mathematics?
I agree.

I think that mathematics show the limits of the human mind in its current form, although, not intelligence itself. It is feasible that a being intelligent enough could grasp all of mathematics, while a human today could not. This is indicative to me of a limitation of the human mind, rather than intelligence.

For example, god is obviously possible in some sense metaphysically, as is his god-like intelligence. If a limitless being is possible then so to would be a limitless intelligence, or else we are acknowledging god is limited in some way.
My antagonism is only due to the fact that you are making claims I feel certain are false…
I would agree. But where have I called you a fascist.
You have inferred often that questioning is threatening to me, that I seek to persecute and condemn those who question consensus and that I am unwilling to expand myself to incorporate or consider new ideas, all of which seem to be false claims and not evidenced by anything I have done or said.

Somebody who did these things would be a fascist, therefore, to call myself, all atheists and all secularists these things is equal to calling us fascists, in my view.
Why be anatgonistic just because you believe me wrong?
Ultimately, because I am a flawed human being.

Although, I would say that my actions have nothing to do with right and wrong. Whether I think you wrong or right is inconsequential to whether you actually are wrong or right. I am uninterested in right and wrong.
I would be interested to know what you make of all of this. Perhaps we can at least agree than many, if not most, esoteric traditions make an equation between the individual and the absolute, and many if not all call the realization of this unity the highest form of awakening.


All I can say is that I am far from alone in my conception of the great chain of being, levels of reality within it, and relative being within ourselves as a microcosm.
Personally, I disagree.

I believe that you have misunderstood these ideas, in the sense that you believe a metaphor (levels of reality) to be a reality. I have already admitted that I share a similar view regarding a great chain of being, and descriptive, non-literal levels within it. I contend no relevant tradition considers reality to be fundamentally fragmented, only relatively so.

In other words, I believe that you have confused the relative description (plurality) with the “absolute reality” (non-plurality). I can provide as many more examples as is needed to at least qualify this assertion.

If this is correct, then you are “on your own” in that you have not fully understood what the relevant traditions state i.e. you think them to say something they do not, which is why I am providing so many examples to prove this.

I mention this not to be antagonistic, nor argumentative, but just to ask you to consider the possibility that appearance does not equal reality.
From this perspective, levels of being exist within all the great traditions.
Yes, metaphorically, of course. In the traditions it is called the “relative”, or “exoteric”, perspective.

Every single one of these traditions, every one, teaches that ultimately, there is no fundamental division between the individual and the absolute. I have provided an example of this for each of the traditions mentioned there.

It seems you are not disposed to consider this when I communicate it. So, from that very same website (my bold):

“when one attains states of enlightenment one doesn't see this anthropomorphic entity [god] standing separate to oneself and to the universe

“It is suggested that there are three levels of Understanding… At the middle level (episteme), words and concepts can be used to describe the Absolute Reality. And these descriptions are good as long as we don't confuse them for the Reality in Itself.

“the various mystical and esoteric traditions of the world are…unanimous in affirming that behind and beyond, including but also transcending, these dualities and polarities, there is the Absolute Reality in Itself.”

http://www.kheper.net/integral/The_Absolute_Realit y.htm

And most importantly:

the Absolute Reality is not a "level" of reality at all; for to interpret it as such would be to relativise It, whereas It is beyond all relativity and relationships; the essential Reality behind all the other realities. It is eternal, infinite, ever-perfect, ever-blissful, and totally unitary. It is the Brahman, Atman, Buddha-nature, Tao, the Absolute, Godhead of various philosophies and theologies.

http://www.kheper.net/integral/unmanifest_absolute .html

So, according to this website, we see that the traditions acknowledge that Reality, in the Absolute sense, is not fragmented, not split into levels, not plural. To think so is to confuse the relative with the Absolute, as this source states.

I am not trying to prove you wrong, but simply present to you the possibility that you may have missed something, that is all. Like two mathematicians working on a theorem, if one contends the other’s sum it is only good manners to try to show the working out.
You can believe me misguided but I don't see why antagonism is necessary. I'm happier with my sources and you are happier with yours.
As above, I do not believe you misguided at all, it simply seems that you have not fully pondered these sources, as they are in agreement with what I have been saying.
We can only get to the bottom if it through becoming able to "Know Thyself." As of now I cannot see why the Am of "I Am" should disappear
Yes. However, if an aspect of ourselves is obstructing our view, and we do not yet know this aspect, not yet recognise it, then we cannot possibly see clearly.

I think that, if we become fixated on the notion that “I” will not disappear, or “am” will not disappear or “I am” will not disappear, then we have merely gotten attached to another idea.

Instead, it is better not to assume anything at all. We should not presume to know simply because we cannot “see” it any other way. It is all attachment that is problematic, even if that is attachment to an idea that is potentially accurate. This is simply because no idea is completely accurate. From Kepher again:

“It is suggested that there are three levels of Understanding what the Absolute Reality is. These are (form the highest down) "that" or "suchness", "The Absolute", and anthropomorphic "God"…

At the highest level, words and concepts are left behind, there is only the ineffable…To say that the Absolute without qualities is more real or a more accurate description than the Absolute with qualities is to miss the point entirely. This is the central limitation of the [sic] rational mind, it cannot convey or encapsulate those realities which are above and beyond it. And while words and concepts can imperfectly indicate or hint at It, they can never truely [sic] describe it.

It seems then that, according to this website which you have shown to trust, we are not to assume any ideas regarding the Absolute; and, in fact, all descriptions are inaccurate, including “the Absolute”.

This implies by extension of course that any and all descriptions, for instance “levels of reality”, are intended to be a stepping stone, a guiding metaphor, but not the reality.

If we do not remove obstructions, then there can be no progress. This is why I place emphasis on first removing mental obstructions, personally. I do not consider it trivial, myself, but consider it to be precisely the beginning of “knowing thyself”.
“As above, so below” does not necessarily imply that reality is fragmented, any more than to say, “there is an airplane above me and I am below it” does. In fact, it implies exactly the opposite, that the two are connected.


Why can't the sun and moon be both connected and separate just like the notes mi and fa on a musical scale are both connected and separate?
The level of “appearance” in mystical philosophy does not only refer to what is seen with the eyes, but quite literally everything that is grasped at all by the senses, including the mind. So, even the Universe as vibrating energy is an appearance, not reality, even though we do not see it as such, according to the traditions.

Generally, there is a distinction in esoteric traditions between form and the formless, though it may also be called the manifest and the unmanifest, or similar. The words are not particularly important.

Form, such as the sun and moon, appear to us, thus, they are appearance. And, on the level of appearance, they are separate.

However, on the so-called “higher” levels, both the sun and the moon are seen as a manifestation of the unmanifest – the formless in form.

So, it is true that they are two, separate. However, it is also true that they are one, not-separate.

Not-one, not-two.

There is a Zen koan that demonstrates this difficulty of dualistic grasping called Shuzan’s staff.

The Zen master Shuzan held up his walking stick to the lay-monks in his monastery one day and said, “If you call this stick a staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a staff, you ignore the fact. Now, what do you call it?”

In Buddhism, as you know the formless is called Emptiness. Shuzan is pointing out to the monks that, ultimately, this mere staff is still none other than Emptiness, formlessness, the unmanifest, the unborn, whatever we want to call it.

However, he is simultaneously pointing out that, as we perceive it, it is “clearly” a separate staff. How could we make sense of anything if we did not distinguish between staff and no-staff?

This koan, among other things, highlights the problems of description. Just like a student who would miss the point by becoming attached to either the idea of staff (form) or no-staff (formless), so might one when becoming attached to the idea of sun (form) or not-sun (formless), or levels (form) or no-levels (formless).

So, it is not only that sun and moon are separate and connected, but also that, ultimately, they are completely non-separate and non-disconnected.
Colours are the deeds of light, its deeds and sufferings. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
Colors are just a vibrational frequency less then the white light of its origin. They are both connected and separate.
Yes, when impacting with our retina.

Just like notes are sounds when impacting with our eardrums.

In what sense can a colour be separate from its origin, if it only seems different from its origin because it appears that way to our senses?

Moreover, in what sense is a colour separate from us, if we are needed to perceive it as colour?

Who is the master that makes the grass green?

These are all questions I would ask.
Again, here it seems clear that “the all” is the container and not-separate from the “parts”. Hence, once more Hermeticism ‘denies’ levels or separation of any kind
.

The article on vibrations asserts the universe consisting of vibrational frequencies.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/kyb/kyb11.htm
Yes. This is also chapter 9, which, when we remember it within the context of chapter 1, we see that even the multiplicity of vibration and plurality is still part of the “All”, of course. Hence, plurality is not “ultimate”.
They are the same in that they are vibrations but separate in their frequencies.
Not quite. They are separate in their frequencies yes, but the same in that they are manifestations of the “All” (aka the formless). In this metaphor, it is the All that is doing the vibrating.

That is, relatively speaking, there is a separation for apparent frequencies, but absolutely, there is only the “All”, which is manifesting itself as plurality, but is not essentially plural.

This is why the first statement is “All is mind”. All other statements must be read in context of this – frequencies, vibrations, words and descriptions are still part of the all that is mind, according to Hermeticism.
So, it doesn’t matter if you think I don’t understand him, I still showed his ideas and assertions to be false in certain places.

Sure, maybe I have underestimated him, but neither of us have any reason to believe that, you see.

Maybe I just got stung by a bee; but see no bee, feel no sting, so why assume that I did?


But this is the problem. You assume that you've proven his ideas and assertions wrong in certain places. I don't believe so. Can you respect my views even though you believe me wrong?
Of course I respect your views. I just don’t respect closed attitudes.

For instance, he is wrong to call the Universe an “organism”. This is not a matter of opinion; it is simply how the word is defined. We define an organism as something with certain capacities, some of which the Universe does not have. Therefore, he is wrong in this sense. If he had said, “the duck orbits the Earth”, you would agree he is wrong, in that he means “moon” not “duck”. This is no different, except that you are not emotionally attached to the notion of the moon, nor of a duck, so you have no problem agreeing here.

Another example of course was to misstate the tenets of Hermeticism, Judaism and Hinduism. I have corrected this, and established this to be the case. Again, not a matter of opinion, rather, just a correction of the facts.

You have not explained why you feel this is wrong, but instead asserted that you simply do not want to believe so. I feel this is not a judgment based on anything other than clouded emotion, so it is not something I can “respect”. That does not mean I do not respect you and your views, just that I do not respect what I perceive as “ignorance”.

So, perhaps if you would be willing to respect my ability enough, you would be aware of this. If you can show where I was mistaken in my corrections, I would be grateful, and that would be respectable, even if we should still disagree. Otherwise, it is not helpful to simply ignore them, tell me I am still wrong and suggest that I don’t respect you.

Perhaps you are too hung up on these ideas of “right” and “wrong”. Why does it always need to be about right and wrong? I am human, and sometimes, I am wrong – I do not think this a bad thing, just part of the “human condition”.

However, as a human, I am also right sometimes too. Would you be open to this possibility?
With reference to why people “assume the worst” - when you tell people you don’t know that you know more about them, their experiences and their lives than they do, that they are ignorant fascists, in denial and full of negative emotions, and you say this irrelevant of what they actually say or do, then there is simply no good in that to assume. It is not assuming something negative, you are actually saying incredibly negative things.
But suppose none of this is true? I assert that the universe is structured on levels of reality called cosmoses and it is just this that reveals Man's objective meaning and purpose as a vertical connection between cosmoses. It is only negative from the lower perspective that protects its importance. This has nothing to do with ignorant fascists. If I believe this to be true, it isn't a put down of anyone else. I am just trying to come to grips with the human condition as it exists in me that connects animal and spirit.
I am saying that, if people like myself raise issues with these ideas, rather than engage a healthy discussion or consider their points meaningfully, you assume that, because they do not agree, they must be closed or ignorant.

Since you assume, for no good reason at all, that I am of a “lower” class than yourself, you are not prepared to appreciate anything I have to offer in terms of discussion.

Okay, that is your choice, but this is still not a positive, or accurate, assessment nor attitude. This is what is technically defined as ignorance, and it is this attitude that I perceive as negative, not your actual philosophy.

Of course, now that I point this out you tell me that, because of my supreme ignorance, I would say something like this, so your dismiss it without actually thinking about it whatsoever. It is perhaps better to actually read what I have said, consider it, rather than hand-wave it away like this. It may be that I am supremely ignorant, on a lower level than yourself and so on…yet also correct, in this case.

In short, you have not considered that precisely what keeps one in a “lower perceptive” is the sincere belief he is in a “higher” one.
What is so negative about this essential Christian perspective that human meaning and purpose is beyond the confines of the earth?
Nothing.

What is negative is to be willingly closed to new information, because we have arbitrarily dismissed the source as unworthy of our consideration – even when he himself presents sources that otherwise would be.

What is negative is the relentless judgement of others while avoiding any personal self-reflection instead.

In my opinion, these are negative attitudes, and thus, I call them so.
I agree with the following explanation of a Socratic dialogue. If we see how rare it is for a website, the problem is obvious. Rather then trying to understand, the need on these sites is to prove the other wrong in support of the given agenda.
How can we reach a consensus, if you are unwilling to explore?

Rather than comment further, I have simply highlighted a part that I urge you to consider carefully (my bold).
The Socratic Method encourages participants to reflect and think independently and critically.
Although, I should note that this is not some sly comment in your direction – rather, I am asking you to consider that precisely what I have been doing is reflecting, thinking independently and critically, and encouraging this from all parties.
You are inferring that you have not criticised my beliefs. In fact, you have even done what I have not: criticised me as an individual, instead of my beliefs.
What did I say that is so bad about you?
To refuse that somebody has anything to offer you, because you believe yourself to be superior to him in all ways, without actually knowing this, is a negative way of thinking.

To infer that somebody is a fascist, because he is actively doing what you profess to do (seeking truth, getting to the bottom of it etc.) is a hypocritical and negative way of thinking, also in my opinion.

Your main cause for rejection of considering any information I present is based on your judgment of me, rather than a judgment of the actual information.

I am not significant. What is significant, I believe, it is the attitude itself, not who it is directing it nor at whom it is directed, which is harmful.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSOs4ti0sm0

It does us no good to be critical yet it can be meaningful to open as Prof. Needleman suggests.
I believe you are confusing being “critical” with “thinking critically”.

I am thinking critically about your beliefs. This is how I show my respect for you and your beliefs. If I do not bother to think about them critically, then it is not particularly respectful, because it says, “these are not even worth my time”.

If I am to think about your beliefs at all, then I can only do so critically.

If I am to think about your beliefs non-critically, non-analytically, then I am not thinking, I am listening to my own thoughts about your beliefs.

From the video:

“[When people are in a discussion] They discover that they’re not able to listen as much as they thought. They are listening to their own thoughts. About two-thirds of the time, it is their own mind that they are listening to.”

Exactly the very thing I have been doing this thread is what Needleman is suggesting. If I did not do this, no semblance of intelligent interaction could take place.
The essence of religion teaches how to evolve emotionally and science seeks to understand the scope of universal laws...if true, it requires both the atheist and spiritual person to admit their limitations when they reject the other.
Religion is emotional, science is intellectual.

Without the essence of both, there is imbalance.

“It requires…the…person to admit their limitations when they reject the other”

Yes. This is exactly what I have been trying to establish.
Adaptation is evolution.


A basic disagreement. For me, evolution is an upward change of being while adaptation includes the alternatives of a given level of being.
Okay. I was only referring to how these two words are defined scientifically.

Evolution is gradual change over time. Adaptation is gradual change over time, although usually a shorter time. Hence, this is why I equate the two.
I am not ignorant, a fascist, closed or persecuting you either.
Of course not. I am just describing my experiences with secularism. But of course it is not universal. It would be like me saying this is what women do. If it were my experiences with women it would be true for those experiences. But if I were discussing the unity of science and religion with Simone it would be silly to say this is what women think. The bottom line is that the more a person has come to experience their nothingness in relation to their transcendent potential, the less there is to be insulted about. Atheism and secular Interfaith are usually society oriented inviting earthly idolatry that psychologically requires its defense. You are not this way but it is what I've experienced as a whole.

I do not think there is anything wrong with acknowledging your experiences, of course, this is simply stating the case. However, I do feel there is something negative about assuming somebody to be of a certain predefined type, simply because of our limited experiences. To say that “all women are not men based on my experience” is one thing, but to say “all women are ignorant and closed-minded based on my experience" is another.

I only ask - what use is there generalising about entire sub-groups of people at all? Has this ever ended well at any point in history?

Do you not see that, by assuming an atheist couldn’t possibly show you something that you didn’t know prevents the possibility that you would be open to it if they did?

I very much appreciate your sincerity and honesty and respect you for that. It is refreshing.

However, I still personally believe that there will never be any justification for holding prejudices against entire groups of people, simply by virtue of being in that group, and nor will there be any justification for condemning others, because that is, however we dress it up, what you are doing, while refusing to critically examine yourself first.

I think that, as long as you believe this, you are closed to many, many things – this is a simple fact. If you do not cling to beliefs like this one, you will be open, this is also a fact.

So, I would say that it is fundamentally your choice – either be open, or be closed. Which is of more benefit?
How do you know I have not already engaged in this higher intellectual pondering?
Perhaps we are appreciating pondering differently. How do you define and practice pondering?
Note how, instead of answering my question or considering it, you have chosen instead to assume that, “I must not appreciate it properly”.

How can I answer your question, if you will not even consider mine?
I define intelligence first by the ability to experience reality. To do this requires the intelligence of the body, emotions, and head. When the external world is experienced with the whole of oneself it makes the expression of intelligence possible. Without it, we are just BSing. An intelligent person is one who has experienced reality with the unified whole of themselves and having the ability to express it in accordance with objective human meaning and purpose. Needless to say that where conditioned intelligence is common, human intelligence is very rare.
Okay, but then, you are then defining even yourself as unintelligent.

I think that there is absolutely no point or benefit in forming opinions about things we have no experience of whatsoever. I think it is better to forget our notions of imaginary states (since until we are in them they only exist in our minds), achieve those states instead, then we have some precedent to talk about them.
Maybe the only way to find out is to find out.
Agreed, but how do we do it? I maintain that it begins with the attitude that allows a person to impartially be open to the conscious experience of oneself. The purpose isn't to judge but just to gently impartially make the conscious attempt to experience oneself free of judgment and the desire to change.

What would be your first step?
I should say first, respectfully, why I disagree with your first step.

It requires many assumptions, for instance, that one can consciously experience themselves, or that one is not consciously experiencing themselves already, or that freedom from judgment is possible etc.

For me, it is irrelevant whether these things are actually true or not – all that is important is that they are assumptions, not yet founded in experience and not self-derived (they refer to a situation that has not even occurred).

I believe that the first step then, is to attempt to ascertain what cannot be doubted. This needs to be done intellectually, simply because emotions cannot think.

I believe that, wherever you begin, you will always end up at the same place eventually – consciousness (and/or awareness). So, if finding a way there is the first step, then exploring awareness is the beginning, in my opinion.

Peace,

Thuse.

Nick_A
Posts: 2391
Joined: April 19th, 2009, 11:45 pm

Post by Nick_A » December 12th, 2009, 12:09 am

I'm trying to determine how to proceed. I consider man on earth as including the physical body that the Bible calls the temple of the Holy Spirit. Yeats referred to himself trapped in the body of a dying animal. As we are, I believe this to be essentially true as the body follows the cycles of dust to dust. With the soul as our potential and burdened with a fractured heart, there does not seem to be much choice.

Yet I understand that there is this possibility of conscious evolution where are being can reconcile from a plurality into a higher unity and become a living soul that is in the image of the Father.

You write that "god and the individual are inseparable" but for me we are not an individual. As a plurality, we are the wretched man.

As you know, my concern is if what Jacob Needleman asserts in the preface to "Lost Christianity is possible and if it is, can an atheist and believer find common ground to pursue it rather than remain in opposition?
What is needed is either a new understanding of God or a new understanding of Man: an understanding of God that does not insult the scientific mind while offering bread, not a stone, to the deepest hunger of the heart; an understanding of Man that squarely faces the criminal weakness of our moral will while holding out to us the knowledge of how we can strive within ourselves to become the fully human being we were meant to be -- both for ourselves and as instruments of a higher purpose.

But this is not an either/or. The premise --or rather, the proposal -- of this book is that at the heart of the Christian religion there exists, and has always existed, just such a vision of God and Man. I call it "Lost Christianity," not because it is a matter of doctrines and concepts that may have been lost or forgotten; nor even a matter of methods of spiritual practice that may need to be recovered from ancient sources. It is all that, to be sure, but what is lost in the whole of our modern life, including our understanding of religion, is something even more fundamental, without which religious ideas and practices lose their meaning and all to easily become the instruments of ignorance, fear, and hatred. What is lost is the experience of oneself -- myself, the personal being who is here, now, living, breathing, yearning for meaning, for goodness; just this person here, now, squarely confronting ones existential weaknesses and pretensions while yet aware, however tentatively, of a higher current of a higher current of life and identity calling to us from within ourselves. This presence to oneself is the missing element in the whole of the life of Man, the intermediate state of consciousness between what we are meant to be and what we actually are. it is perhaps the one bridge that can lead us from our inhuman past toward the human future.
Even if there is no belief in higher purpose, is it possible by just the efforts as described by Prof. Needleman, that man's connection to higher consciousness will reveal itself?

Do you think it is possible?
However, I still personally believe that there will never be any justification for holding prejudices against entire groups of people, simply by virtue of being in that group, and nor will there be any justification for condemning others, because that is, however we dress it up, what you are doing, while refusing to critically examine yourself first.

I think that, as long as you believe this, you are closed to many, many things – this is a simple fact. If you do not cling to beliefs like this one, you will be open, this is also a fact.

So, I would say that it is fundamentally your choice – either be open, or be closed. Which is of more benefit?
Maybe I am missing something? But what if Simone is right? Why not consider the possibility?
Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith; and in this sense atheism is a purification. I have to be an atheist with that part of myself which is not made for God. Among those in whom the supernatural part of themselves has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong.
- Simone Weil, Faiths of Meditation; Contemplation of the divine
the Simone Weil Reader, edited by George A. Panichas (David McKay Co. NY 1977) p 417
Someone could say that it is elitist and condescending to consider such things but again, suppose she is right?

I can admit that I may be wrong but can you admit that Simone may be right? It seems it would have to be in order for an atheist to be open to what Prof. Needleman suggests.

So I want to devote this post to inviting you to describe how the believer and atheist could work together for the future of humanity as explained by Prof Needleman when he wrote in the preface to "Lost Christianity:

What is lost is the experience of oneself -- myself, the personal being who is here, now, living, breathing, yearning for meaning, for goodness; just this person here, now, squarely confronting ones existential weaknesses and pretensions while yet aware, however tentatively, of a higher current of a higher current of life and identity calling to us from within ourselves. This presence to oneself is the missing element in the whole of the life of Man, the intermediate state of consciousness between what we are meant to be and what we actually are. it is perhaps the one bridge that can lead us from our inhuman past toward the human future.

In other words, instead of arguing about what to DO, to become open to the experience of what we ARE by gradually developing consciousness.

My gut feeling is that this would annoy both fundamentalists in religion and atheism. But if were to be tried, it could benefit both the person and humanity as a whole.

Yet resistance is strong. What would you suggest that would gradually lessen resistance?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

Thuse
Posts: 34
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 3:16 am

Post by Thuse » December 15th, 2009, 9:03 pm

Nick_A wrote:I'm trying to determine how to proceed. I consider man on earth as including the physical body that the Bible calls the temple of the Holy Spirit. Yeats referred to himself trapped in the body of a dying animal. As we are, I believe this to be essentially true as the body follows the cycles of dust to dust. With the soul as our potential and burdened with a fractured heart, there does not seem to be much choice.

Yet I understand that there is this possibility of conscious evolution where are being can reconcile from a plurality into a higher unity and become a living soul that is in the image of the Father.

You write that "god and the individual are inseparable" but for me we are not an individual. As a plurality, we are the wretched man.

As you know, my concern is if what Jacob Needleman asserts in the preface to "Lost Christianity is possible and if it is, can an atheist and believer find common ground to pursue it rather than remain in opposition?

Even if there is no belief in higher purpose, is it possible by just the efforts as described by Prof. Needleman, that man's connection to higher consciousness will reveal itself?

Do you think it is possible?
Absolutely; I think that the essence of what Needleman describes, this grounding of consciousness as a presence, the total awareness of oneself in the present moment, is a fundamentally positive, and absolutely necessary, beginning, for sure.

I also think that by doing this, many things “reveal themselves”, so to speak.

I simply believe that psychophysical, or “spiritual”, growth is prevented to a significant extent when we use conditioned ideas and presumed concepts as filters for experiences.

This is why I try to argue the benefits of not taking Needleman, or anyone’s, descriptions absolutely.

I think that, even if what he is saying is true, believing it to be true first would still have negative results, because it would be a kind of attachment. This is why I say I do not believe it, but maintain that I am still open to it. Do you think this is a negative attitude to have?
Maybe I am missing something? But what if Simone is right? Why not consider the possibility?
Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith; and in this sense atheism is a purification. I have to be an atheist with that part of myself which is not made for God. Among those in whom the supernatural part of themselves has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong.
- Simone Weil, Faiths of Meditation; Contemplation of the divine
the Simone Weil Reader, edited by George A. Panichas (David McKay Co. NY 1977) p 417
Someone could say that it is elitist and condescending to consider such things but again, suppose she is right?
I am certainly willing to consider that she is right, and do of course.

If she is right, then this is a problem for me, as an atheist. If she is right, then for me to think her wrong is fundamentally detrimental to my personal growth.

As a result, it is imperative not that I wonder “what if” – because concluding either possibility of right or wrong is not helpful to me – but only that I find out immediately whether she is in fact correct.

The only way to do this is to analyse her statement critically in every way I can. What is important is that I act, and I can only act if I know the truth, or at leats what is not-truth.

The essence of what she is saying is that atheists are spiritually unawakened. What is implied is that athesits are spritually unawakened precisely because they are athesits.

What I need to do is discern what is meant by this, and discern whether or not I am indeed spiritually unawakened, because if this is true, I am in trouble.

So, I need to analyse the statement. I presume that if I am spiritually unawkened, but it does exist, then I must necessarily be a) ignorant of spirituality and b) ignorant of spiritual experiences.

As to a), I believe that I can demonstrate that I am at least not ignorant of spirituality in general, so am confident that I am not unaware in this sense.

As for b), while I cannot demonstrate it objectively, I know for myself that I am not unaware of the variety of spiritual experiences directly. I am not an enlightened being, of course, but I have indeed studied and practised, both independently and under the guide of various professional practitioners, the means to achieve specific mental states and, like any experiment or technology, these things have had certain results, which everyone who does these experiments knows.

So, in this regard, I know for myself that I am not unaware of “spiritual” states of mind directly, and thus am confident that I am not ignorant in this sense too.

Therefore, reasonably, I cannot include myself in the sector of atheists that Weil mentions, because neither intellectually nor experientially am I ignorant of these things. Thus, I do not feel it is necessary to continue to ask, “what if”, as I have reached a satisfactory answer.

This is not a case of an atheist who has no or limited knowledge of spiritual theory and states – in such a case, I agree that such a person must not take a side on the issue with any certainty.

However, I am not such a person, and know for myself that I have an authority to make an informed decision about the accuracy of Weil’s statement. And, as a result, I have made an informed decision that she is inaccurate.

I do not see much point in continuing to ask, “what if?” even after this, because I have already arrived at the only answer it is possible for me to arrive at. That is, she could only still be right if, for example, my entire life was a hallucination. However, I cannot know this, nor can anyone, so I see no point in continuing to consider it.

I can only ask you, what else would you have me do?
I can admit that I may be wrong but can you admit that Simone may be right? It seems it would have to be in order for an atheist to be open to what Prof. Needleman suggests.
I am happy to admit that she may have been right. As above, the kinds of Universes were this could be true, while seemingly unlikely, are still possible.

It is just that I, personally, simply need a reason or reasons to continue believing in something.

For example, I have no reason to believe that a buffalo is in my room, right now. All the signs that a buffalo is in my room right now are lacking, and all the signs that one are not in my room are present.

So, I believe that it is more helpful to conclude that there is no buffalo in my room. Otherwise, I prevent action by saying, “perhaps I shouldn’t move, or the buffalo that may be in my room will attack me”. This would not be very productive, so I can only assume what all the evidence suggests.

In exactly the same way, I believe it is more helpful to conclude that Weil is wrong here. Otherwise, I prevent action by saying, “perhaps I should not continue my efforts at personal growth, as I may be an ignorant fool”. This would not be very productive either, so I can only assume what all the evidence suggests.

To me, this still doesn’t mean that I am not open to the possibility. I guess I do not equate belief with consideration.

I would ask: do you believe there is a buffalo in your room right now? If not, why not? If you do not believe this, does it make you closed? If not, is it fair to call me closed for not believing something exactly analagous to this?
So I want to devote this post to inviting you to describe how the believer and atheist could work together for the future of humanity as explained by Prof Needleman when he wrote in the preface to "Lost Christianity”.

In other words, instead of arguing about what to DO, to become open to the experience of what we ARE by gradually developing consciousness.

My gut feeling is that this would annoy both fundamentalists in religion and atheism. But if were to be tried, it could benefit both the person and humanity as a whole.

Yet resistance is strong. What would you suggest that would gradually lessen resistance?
I think this is a really important question, so my answer may be a bit long-winded.

First of all, I think that, if we can better understand the way awareness functions, we can better understand why people are resistant to opening it and, more importantly, how to alleviate this resistance. As I have mentioned, I believe recognition is always the first step.

I think that awareness has the capacity to focus, intently, on a singular point in the mind, which we call “I”, or the ego.

This point of contraction, in keeping with this metaphor, becomes, effectively, “me” and often even becomes equatable with not only our being but also our entire spectrum of awareness.

If somebody has lived their entire life acting, thinking and doing as though they were this concentrated point of awareness, it is possible that, when somebody tells them to “open” or “expand” their consciousness they are, either consciously or subconsciously, associating that with the destruction of self.

So, if somebody has fully believed themselves to be an isolated ego, spent their life maintaining this self-image and become completely accustomed to it (it follows us everywhere, afterall) then it is understandable that, when they are told something as seemingly positive as “open” oneself, they react considerably negative; since, to someone who associates the ego with everything they are, it is interpreted as the most negative, nihilistic and destructive suggestion possible – “destroy everything that you are”. Naturally, the most basic mechanism we have, the will to survive kicks in – which bypasses the rational and logical sectors of our brain.

If this is the case, then if people understand this process, we would perhaps have a new light to shine on the resistance of many.

In light of this, perhaps then the only way to lessen resistance is to develop an understanding that resistance is not born of ignorance, nor condemnation, though these things may be products of it.

As a result, surely the only way to lessen resistance is to be open it, sympathetic to it, understanding of it, instead of simply mirroring it with a resistance of our own.

Of course, this is much easier said than done.

There are other problems, such as the simple misidentification of resistance.

For instance, I have tried to spend most of my life dedicated to expanding my consciousness, developing myself and so on, which has brought me to certain conclusions about what I am, and what I am not. One such conclusion, just as an example, is that I am not a physically separate being from anything else. Perhaps, tomorrow, I will develop myself further and believe something else, but this is currently the best model I have access to.

Now, as a result, I disagree with the notion that I am a fundamentally isolated entity. I do not resist this possibility, but believe I understand this perception in a new way. To somebody like yourself, I appear to be resisting, not because I resist the possibility, but because I do not currently accept the notion that I am fundamentally separate to be true.

I just want to state that I bring our case up not to continue any kind of disagreement, but just present a problem regarding resistance that perhaps you can help me with.

In this kind of situation, I honestly don’t know what to do. If I cannot, to myself, reasonably agree with you, and can explain why, but am at least open to the possibility, will you still always perceive this as being resistant? How can I prevent this perception?

When I encounter resistance from people, I understand also that, because I am a flawed human being, and my words will ultimately be tainted by my ego, conditioning and so forth, that even if I really did know some authentic truth, I may still experience this resistance, as I am an imperfect medium.

So, because I know this about myself, when I experience resistance, I do only what I can do – which is reflect on myself.

I first ask if resistance is justified, since it may be resistance for a good reason.

Second I ask what this resistance says about me. Again, I recall what Yeats said that, “if the truth can be told to be understood, it will be believed”.

Instead of assuming that the other is resistant because they don’t understand, I instead assume that either I am not speaking the truth, or that I am not making it be understood. In both cases then, I believe this way I can bring about something positive from resistance – which is the encouragement to reflect on oneself and try to improve next time.

Ram Dass once said, “I help other people to help myself, and I help myself to help other people”. I think that is the greatest attitude, and really, the only one that we can have.

I feel that if I can adopt this attitude, then I can still be completely wrong, but minimise the negative results of my ignorance. Of course, I’m not all the way there yet, as you may have noticed :wink:

What do you think?

Peace,

Thuse.

Nick_A
Posts: 2391
Joined: April 19th, 2009, 11:45 pm

Post by Nick_A » December 16th, 2009, 5:14 pm

I'm beginning to think that our basic misunderstanding comes from this idea of "believing in." We are both sensitive to it but are expressing it differently.
This is why I try to argue the benefits of not taking Needleman, or anyone’s, descriptions absolutely.

I think that, even if what he is saying is true, believing it to be true first would still have negative results, because it would be a kind of attachment. This is why I say I do not believe it, but maintain that I am still open to it. Do you think this is a negative attitude to have?
I have been emphasizing Prof. Needleman and Simone Weil because they are not associated with any particular movement. Part of the reason is to avoid this question of "believing in."

Simone had often been referred to as the sister of Andre Weil. Everyone respected his genius. Then after a while some referred to him as the brother of Simone Weil. Andre now said something important after his sister's death. He said that people are beginning to treat her as an idol which disrespects his sister. She fought against the effects of idolatry all of her life. Ponder her ideas impartially but do not demote her into an idol. You will ruin the good she has brought to the world.

Prof Needleman emphasizes the importance of doubting everything in the cause of inner empiricism. the last thing he would want is for anyone to believe in what has not been verified through inner empiricism.

If I have given an indication that it is necessary for a person to blindly believe, it wasn't intended. To be open is not to believe but rather to invite living impressions with sensory sensitivity and emotional neutrality.

I may have been confusing by posting the dangers of skepticism which isn't impartiality but rather an emotional bias. A skeptic by definition would be incapable of inner empiricism because of emotional preconceptions. Yet inner empiricism requires being open to the experience of oneself at the expense of our favored preconceptions.

So it seems we agree as to the dangers of "believing in."

Simone's refusal to "believe in" is what kept her away from the church and her refusal to believe in personal gods. She wrote concerning herself at fourteen:
Of course I knew quite well that my conception of life was Christian. That is why it never occurred to me that I could enter the Christian community. I had the idea that I was born inside. But to add dogma to this conception of life, without being forced to do so by indisputable evidence, would have seemed to me like a lack of honesty. I should even have thought I was lacking in honesty had I considered the question of the truth of dogma as a problem for myself or even had I simply desired to reach a conclusion on this subject. I have an extremely severe standard for intellectual honesty, so severe that I never met anyone who did not seem to fall short of it in more than one respect; and I am always afraid of failing in it myself.
She had something inside, "born inside" that she did not want to prostitute by belief in dogma and a personal god. I read a bit of this in you. I don't see how you could be as involved as you are with these question inside if you were dead inside. Perhaps you are demanding the same intellectual sincerity Simone was demanding.
No human being escapes the necessity of conceiving some good outside himself towards which his thought turns in a movement of desire, supplication, and hope. consequently, the only choice is between worshipping the true God or an idol. Every atheist is an idolater--unless he is worshipping the true God in his impersonal aspect. The majority of the pious are idolaters.
- Simone Weil, First and last notebooks (last notebook 1942)(Oxford University Press 1970) p 308
The true god in the impersonal aspect is that which we cannot know or outside of time and space and what is referred to in Panentheism. Worshiping doesn't mean buttering a god up but rather acknowledging that the source of true inner freedom does not initiate with the Great Beast or the reactive life of the world of which we are a part but rather conscious life that adds an additional vertical dimension to human existence that animals lacking the spiritual part are incapable of.

It is ironic that religious battles including atheism are battles of opposing idolatries. Yet idolatry is what keeps us in Plato's cave.
The only way to do this is to analyse her statement critically in every way I can. What is important is that I act, and I can only act if I know the truth, or at leats what is not-truth.
But what of the contradiction? The authentic spiritual calling and the tendency to escape into fantasy are very similar without experience and the experience doesn't come through analysis but only through direct experience.

Jacob Needleman is coming out with a new book "What is God." on December 24, 2009 according to Amazon. I read two promo paragraphs from the intro:
To think about God is to the human soul what breathing is to the human body.

I say to think about God, not necessarily to believe in God—that may or may not come later.

I say: to think about God.

I clearly remember the moment something deep inside me started breathing for the first time. Something behind my thoughts and my desires and fears, something behind my self, something behind “Jerry,” which was and is my name, the name of me, from my earliest childhood.

I can say this now, more than sixty years after my first conscious experience of this second breathing, this first breathing of the soul.

Let me explain.

If this is true it is beyond analysis but rather an intellectual experience above our normal linear associative thought. I know I had such an experience so know that no amount of intellectual debate would have lead to it. This is the concluding paragraph posted:
More and more, as I see it now, this heartless way of thinking about God and ultimate reality dominates the mind of the contemporary world. For God or against God, “belief” or “atheism,” it makes no difference unless the inner yearning—or whatever we wish to call the cause and source of the “second breathing”—is there. And it can so easily be there, just as it can so easily be covered over and ignored, perhaps for the rest of one’s life. God or not God, “belief” or “science”—it also makes no real difference for my personal life unless the call of the Self and its need to “breathe” is heard and, ultimately respected. Not only can thought about ultimate reality make no difference to the world or to my personal life unless we hear and respect the call of the Self, but such empty thought can bring down our personal and collective world, even our Earth itself. When thought races ahead of Being, a civilization is racing towards destruction.

This the problem with religious debates and condemnation over respective idolatry; we do not verify our inner reality. But you can see how popular religious debates are on Internet sites and the artificial declarations of commonalities. Their hypocrisy is revealed all the time but we love the joy of argument. The question is at what cost?

The more I've become aware of this problem, the more I've become aware of the value of art and especially art that contains the element of "awe" that allows us to temporarily be free of our imagined self importance. consider this account of P. D. Ouspensky's impressions of the Sphinx as recorded in Jacob Needleman's "A Sense of the Cosmos:
Yellowish-grey sand. Deep blue sky. In the distance the triangle of the Pyramid of Khephren, and just before me this strange, great face with its gaze directed into the distance.

I used often to go to Gizeh from Cairo, sit down on the sand before the Sphinx, look at it and try to understand it, understand the idea of the artists who created it. And on each and every occasion I experienced the same fear and terror of annihilation. I was swallowed up in its glance, a glance that spoke of mysteries beyond our power of comprehension.

The Sphinx lies on the Gizeh plateau, where the great pyramids stand, and where there are many other monuments, already discovered and still to be discovered, and a number of tombs of different epochs. The Sphinx lies in a hollow, above the level of which only its head, neck and part of its back project.

By whom, when and why the sphinx was erected--of this nothing is known. Present-day archaeology takes the Sphinx to be prehistoric.

This means that even for the most ancient of the ancient Egyptians, those of the first dynasties six to seven thousand years before the birth of Christ, the Sphinx was the same riddle as it is for us today.

From the stone tablet, inscribed with drawings and hieroglyphs, found between the paws of the Sphinx, it was once surmised that the figure represented the image of the Egyptian god Harmakuti, "The Sun on the Horizon." But is has long been agreed that this is an altogether unsatisfactory interpretation and that the inscription probably refers to the occasion of some partial restoration made comparatively recently.

As a matter of fact, the Sphinx. is older than historical Egypt, older than her gods, older than the pyramids, which, in their turn, are much older than is thought.

The Sphinx is indisputably one of the most remarkable, if not the most remarkable, of the world's works of art. I know nothing that it would be possible to put side by side with it. It belongs indeed to quite another art than the art we know. Beings such as ourselves could not create a Sphinx. Nor can our culture create anything like it. The Sphinx appears unmistakably to be a relic of knowledge far greater than ours.

There is a tradition or theory that the Sphinx is a great, complex hieroglyph, or a book in stone, which contains the whole totality of ancient knowledge, and reveals itself to the man who can read this strange cipher which is embodied in the forms, correlations and measurements of the different parts of the Sphinx. This is the famous riddle of the Sphinx, which from the most ancient times so many wise men have attempted to solve.

Previously, when reading about the Sphinx, it had seemed to me that it would be necessary to approach it with the full equipment of acknowledge different from ours, with some new form of perception some special kind of mathematics and that without these aids it would be impossible to discover anything in it.

But when I saw the Sphinx for myself, I felt something in it that I had never read an never head or, something that at once placed it for me among the most enigmatic and at the same time fundamental problems of life and the world.

The face of the Sphinx strikes one with wonder at the first glance. To begin with, it is quite a modern face. With the exception of the head ornament there is nothing of "ancient history" about it. For some reason I had feared that there would be. I had thought that the Sphinx would have a very "alien" face. But this is not the case. Its face is simple and understandable. It is only the way that it looks that is strange. The face is a good deal disfigured. But if you move away a little and look for a long time at the Sphinx, it is as if a kind of veil falls from its face, the triangles of the head ornament behind the ears become invisible, and before you there emerges clearly a complete undamaged face with eyes which look over and beyond you into the unknown distance.

I remember sitting on the sand in front of the Sphinx--on the spot from which the second pyramid in the distance makes an exact triangle behind the sphinx--and trying to understand, to read its glance. At first I saw only that the Sphinx looked beyond me into the distance. But soon I began to have a kind of vague, then a growing, uneasiness. Another moment, and I felt that the Sphinx was not seeing me, and not only was it not seeing, it could not see me, and not because I was too small in comparison with it or too insignificant in comparison with the profundity of wisdom it contained and guarded. Not at all. That would have been natural and comprehensible. The sense of annihilation and the terror of vanishing came from feeling myself in some way too transient for the Sphinx to be able to notice me. I felt that not only did these fleeting moments or hours which I could pass before it not exit for it, but that if I could stay under its gaze from birth to death, the whole of my life would flash by so swiftly for it that it could not notice me. Its glance was fixed on something else. It was the glance of a being who thinks in centuries and millenniums. I did not exist and could not exist for it. And I could not answer my own question--do I exist for myself? Do I, indeed, exist in any sort of sense, in any sort of relation? And in this thought, in this feeling, under this strange glance, there was an icy coldness. We are so accustomed to feel that we are, that we exist. Yet all at once, here, I felt that I did not exist, that there was no I, that I could not be so as perceived.

And the Sphinx before me looked into the distance, beyond me, and its face seemed to reflect something that it saw, something which I could neither see nor understand.

Eternity! This word flashed into my consciousness and went through me with a sort of cold shudder. All ideas about time, about things, about life were becoming confused. I felt that in these moments, in which I stood before the Sphinx, it lived through all the events and happenings of thousands of years--and that on the other hand centuries passed for it like moments. How this could be I did not understand. But I felt that my consciousness grasped the shadow of the exalted fantasy or clairvoyance of the artists who had crated the Sphinx. I touched the mystery but could neither define nor formulate it.

And only later, when All these impressions began to unite with those which I had formerly known and felt, the fringe of the curtain seemed to move, and I felt that I was beginning slowly, to understand.
He allows us to feel the relativity of time and our insignificance within it. We use the word eternity without regard to what it means. Yet the Sphinx gives him this brief impression of a scale of time we can have no conception of. This is what art can do for us and analysis cannot.

So how do we know what to reject other than the obvious?
What I need to do is discern what is meant by this, and discern whether or not I am indeed spiritually unawakened, because if this is true, I am in trouble.
We are both in trouble. We can awaken for brief moments and real art can inspire these moments. However we quickly descend back into our normal habits and these habits continue to live our lives for us. This is the human condition. You are willing to admit something many atheists are not.
I can only ask you, what else would you have me do?
All we can do is to strive to become aware of and admit the human condition within you as it is in me. We have flashes of human potential that is not part of life on earth Plato referred to as the Beast. I know it as the science of idiocy where a person becomes aware that compared to human potential they are an idiot. When they tell their friends, these friends think they are an idiot. It has been confirmed but it is just this idiocy that is the beginning of wisdom and what Socrates referred to as "I know nothing"

So scientifically, is there a better beginning than gradual inner empiricism or the impartial efforts to "Know Thyself" so as to inwardly grow towards human potential perspective and human meaning and purpose if it does exist?
I think that awareness has the capacity to focus, intently, on a singular point in the mind, which we call “I”, or the ego.
I agree. Our normal reactive quality of attention is like this. As a plurality, this "I" doesn't exist other then as a potential. As a plurality reacting to external influences, all aspects of this plurality will appear when their individuality is called for. We say "I am angry" for example when in reality anger is within me. When spiritual parts capable of consciousness are active, they can experience other aspects of our common presence that are not. The question for me is if we can have a reactive quality of attention that allows our participation in life and also a conscious quality of attention that retains awareness of our reactive attention that could become a quality of our potential "I."
For instance, I have tried to spend most of my life dedicated to expanding my consciousness, developing myself and so on, which has brought me to certain conclusions about what I am, and what I am not. One such conclusion, just as an example, is that I am not a physically separate being from anything else. Perhaps, tomorrow, I will develop myself further and believe something else, but this is currently the best model I have access to.
I would only add that appreciating myself as a microcosm allows me to ponder the possibility that I am simultaneously part of something and also potential individuality: "I"

A tree is both part of a forest and also an individual tree. I consider myself the same. This is why I agree with the transcendent unity of religion. From our potential vertical conscious perspective we are as one within it but with the potential to express our connection with it while existing as part of the Great Beast. In this way we are in the world but not of it.
In this kind of situation, I honestly don’t know what to do. If I cannot, to myself, reasonably agree with you, and can explain why, but am at least open to the possibility, will you still always perceive this as being resistant? How can I prevent this perception?

When I encounter resistance from people, I understand also that, because I am a flawed human being, and my words will ultimately be tainted by my ego, conditioning and so forth, that even if I really did know some authentic truth, I may still experience this resistance, as I am an imperfect medium.
This is why people join in groups. When people become aware of these limitations, the question becomes how to open to accept a higher quality of communication that invites what we normally suppress. This can never work with those caught up in political correctness but for those needing to understand, honesty is required including admitting that we are imperfect mediums
Instead of assuming that the other is resistant because they don’t understand, I instead assume that either I am not speaking the truth, or that I am not making it be understood. In both cases then, I believe this way I can bring about something positive from resistance – which is the encouragement to reflect on oneself and try to improve next time.

Ram Dass once said, “I help other people to help myself, and I help myself to help other people”. I think that is the greatest attitude, and really, the only one that we can have.

I feel that if I can adopt this attitude, then I can still be completely wrong, but minimise the negative results of my ignorance. Of course, I’m not all the way there yet, as you may have noticed

What do you think?
We can only genuinely express what we ourselves inwardly rather then intellectually understand. It took me a while to grasp the truth of this since I've always been an admirer of ideas without considering what they effect in me. They can both awaken and create greater imagination.

If Plato and Jesus are right, the closer one gets to the truth, the more the world will reject it. From this perspective oratory will always be more inspiring then truth to begin with. This impression only changes after a while. When I read this observation from Jacob Needleman, I realized why this lie is necessary.

http://www.conversations.org/issue.php?id=0&st=jer ry_n
What does he mean by a "numinous experience"? In Plato's Republic there is the famous Allegory of The Cave. Socrates says that the person who finally comes out of the cave and sees the Truth-the reality of the sun-is obliged to go back down into the cave and try to help the cave dwellers. He is obliged. That doesn't mean it's nice to do that, it means it's part of the law. You don't keep it for yourself, you must share it. Then that touches on the question of skillful means, which is another root of this question-a big root out there, having to do with the transmission from one person more attained to one less attained. This is matter of communicating in a way that actually helps you feel something, touch something, glimpse something in your heart and your intuition. It troubles you in a right way, intentionally. So skillful means. I'm just trying to expose the roots of this question.

RW: Yes. It is helpful.

JN: The Buddha goes to help people who are suffering in hell, and in order to communicate to those who are living in hell, he has to speak in the form of a lie. He speaks the truth in the form of a lie because they would never understand the truth as it is. A famous example of that is called "the lie of kama" which is love. "The Kamatic lie" which is how you communicate the truth. People are asleep. People are deluded. If you tell them really straight out what the situation is... He likens it to a house being on fire where there are children in the house on the second or third floor. You've got to get them out but they don't know the house is burning. You might try to scare them, you could try to plead with them, but they might not listen to you. You have to say something that will really make them listen. You tell them there are toys in the street. Jump! They would be afraid to jump, that you might not catch them. There are many toys down here! And so they jump and you catch them. They see then that there are no toys, but their lives have been saved. So you have to communicate knowing the levers that you have to press. Skillful means could be called, aesthetic communication. That could be part of the roots of this whole big question. Do you know Kierkegaard's thought at all?
All I can say is that you are raising an important question. On the one hand a person who has experienced the human condition that keeps us in slavery is obligated to help. Yet this help is rejected more often than not since it means the death of corrupted egos that don't want to die.

The Bible suggests not to throw pearls before swine. This is not a secular insult but rather the observation that the neck of a pig is fixed. It cannot look up. When people become fixed in their attachment to the earth, these esoteric ideas must be corrupted which often does more harm than good.

We have to develop "skillful means." But this requires what we are talking about to live in us.

This is why Simone is so attractive to those sensitive to what she brings. She writes from the purity of experience. I remember one man's account of meeting Simone. Initially she was a turn off to his normal preconditioned idea of what she should be like. Then he wrote that she was the opposite of others he had met that appear wonderful at the beginning but are revealed only later. Simone appeared as unkempt but only after a while did he become aware of the essential beauty underneath this appearance.

What you are asking thought is also a big question for me that those like Jacob Needleman and Simone Weil have made me more aware of. We've lost the balance between the quality of our being and the quality of our intellect and as a result Man as a whole is an endangered species. Science controlled by secular idolatry and the necessity of its corrupt egoism can lead to our destruction. How then is the reality of the human condition in the light of human conscious potential introduced into society that invites the concerned to join in efforts to "know thyself" for the purpose of a solid psychological foundation. Can the idolatries be left at the door so that people could genuinely share as to the nature of the human condition and the benefits if not the necessity of coming to grips with it?

What do you think?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

Thuse
Posts: 34
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 3:16 am

Post by Thuse » December 19th, 2009, 10:03 pm

Hey Nick,
But what of the contradiction? The authentic spiritual calling and the tendency to escape into fantasy are very similar without experience and the experience doesn't come through analysis but only through direct experience.
I agree, which is why I place such emphasis myself on direct experience.

All I meant in that paragraph was that I was trying to explain how I am able to detect that Weil’s generalisation is not literally true, at least not in my case. Also, the actual statement was one Weil made as a result of her own analysis, not direct experience – we cannot directly experience the internal states of other people.

I think that all things, including spiritual experiences, should be in agreement with analysis, not in conflict with it.

If our experiences contradict our analysis, we have to be very careful which one we decide to throw away first. Personally, I don’t throw away either – but simply try to do better analysis until they are not in conflict.

Without analysis and intellectual examination, it is surely just as easy to “escape into fantasy”.

So, I think what is necessary is a balance.

*snip Needleman quote*

If this is true it is beyond analysis but rather an intellectual experience above our normal linear associative thought. I know I had such an experience so know that no amount of intellectual debate would have lead to it.
Sure, I have mentioned this a couple of times in this thread.

There are many varieties of “mystical” experiences, but they often involve, or start to involve, a transcendence or liberation from the dualistic trappings of the mind.

The cognitive mind is always dualistic, because thinking itself and all intellectual activity is dualistic, or linear.

Hence, while I am sure we can find value from having different kinds of intellectual experience, I belief that actually going beyond the entire confines of the dualistic, linear and associative mind is of much greater benefit.

In this regard, I believe we should approach what you call “higher” intellectual experiences with the same non-attachment as we do with “lower” intellectual ones, or else we prevent moving “up” the scale and eventually moving past the dualistic intellect altogether. I presume that this may be more towards what Needleman is alluding to.
This the problem with religious debates and condemnation over respective idolatry; we do not verify our inner reality. But you can see how popular religious debates are on Internet sites and the artificial declarations of commonalities. Their hypocrisy is revealed all the time but we love the joy of argument. The question is at what cost?
Do you think it may be hypocritical, also, if we judge this as a problem? Perhaps it genuinely is a problem, but I mean that, by judging it as so, one would be placing oneself in a position of authority one cannot know oneself to have.

If one were to decide these people are wrong, though they don’t know they are, and assume they are right, though they don’t know they are, then surely there is no difference between the two, and both are simply contributing to the problem.

I believe that instead, we should concentrate on removing our own idols, rather than concerning ourselves about how, and when, others remove theirs.

Also, I believe that debating, even arguing, out of choice, is a positive thing. If our arguments are solid enough, then they will become the focus, rather than our assessments of the other person. If not, we can learn to improve them and rectify their, and our, weaknesses. If we debate to achieve something, we are likely to become frustrated. If we debate only to learn, then I think we can’t lose.
consider this account of P. D. Ouspensky's impressions of the Sphinx as recorded in Jacob Needleman's "A Sense of the Cosmos:

*snip*

He allows us to feel the relativity of time and our insignificance within it. We use the word eternity without regard to what it means. Yet the Sphinx gives him this brief impression of a scale of time we can have no conception of. This is what art can do for us and analysis cannot.
Sure, again, I am in total agreement, and have also tried to bring up this idea a couple of times.

I think just as art can do things the intellect cannot, the intellect can do things art cannot, too.

The mind has many abilities which are all valuable in their own right, but also lacking in their own right too.

I think the key is balance. Understanding the limitations of analysis is one thing – but, it would not be reasonable to abandon analysis because it is limited.

If our analysis disagrees with something, I think we should throw that thing away, not throw analysis away. There are things analysis cannot touch, just like there are things that art cannot touch, but that just means we shouldn’t approach them with those tools, but others instead.

Critical analysis does indeed reach a point beyond which it can go no further – but, actually getting to that point is something only analysis can do.

So, just like if we find something blocking the road, we remove the obstruction, we don’t throw our car away. In the same way, when analysis shows something to be false, I think we shouldn’t throw away analysis, only the obstructions instead. Analysis serves as a tool to identify those obstructions.
So how do we know what to reject other than the obvious?
The answer is very simple, I think – reject everything.

When we reject everything, what we are left with is the only thing that cannot be lost. What is the only thing that cannot be lost? Well, surely the only thing something can never lose is itself.

So, I believe that, if we want to “know thyself”, we must reject everything; simply because, if it can be rejected, it is not the self, and if it cannot be rejected, it is.
What I need to do is discern what is meant by this, and discern whether or not I am indeed spiritually unawakened, because if this is true, I am in trouble.
We are both in trouble. We can awaken for brief moments and real art can inspire these moments. However we quickly descend back into our normal habits and these habits continue to live our lives for us. This is the human condition. You are willing to admit something many atheists are not.
Sure, though, I was able to discern for myself that Weil was not correct in her generalisation, at least not in my case. So, I do not feel I am in trouble in that regard. Though, in many other regards, certainly.

I feel I should also say, while I respect your opinion, my own opinion is that we shouldn’t make judgments on the experiences of others based on ours alone.

I believe, and try to, only ever talk about things that I have myself experienced, rather than assume what others have experienced.

For instance, if art inspires you to awaken yourself for brief moments, but you eventually come back “down” again, then that is a good thing, for you. Also, if you believe you are unable to move beyond this, then again that is relevant for you.

However, this is not actually true for me, nor I suspect for others.

In this sense, by using our experience as a template by which we measure others, we risk limiting not only ourselves, but also other people, if we assume that our experience is the limit of all others.

I don’t say this to be critical, but just as a reminder that when we limit others, we perhaps only really limit ourselves – and this is surely true irrelevant of whether the assumed limitations are justified or not.
So scientifically, is there a better beginning than gradual inner empiricism or the impartial efforts to "Know Thyself" so as to inwardly grow towards human potential perspective and human meaning and purpose if it does exist?
I would say that, a scientific, or empirical, method concerns, as you mentioned, “impartiality”.

A scientist cannot be very good if he assumes what the result of his experiment will be – especially if he has never done the experiment before.

If we assume that, by knowing thyself, we will “inwardly grow towards” this and that, we are not being impartial. In fact, we are making assumptions about the results of our experiments before we have done them. This is also true if we assume these things won’t happen, of course. It is that there is a preconception at all that may be damaging for the scientist, not what the preconception is, nor whether it is actually true or false.

I mention this because, if we want to approach any of these things scientifically/empirically, we need to minimise assumptions as much as possible, and simply do the experiments impartially i.e without preconceptions, or desires of the result.

So, if I am to give a honest answer, it could only be that a scientific approach would not assume anything regarding the results of the experiment, until the experiment had been performed.

To seek self-knowledge, and that alone, first, instead of self-knowledge and then some, would be, in my opinion, a better beginning from the viewpoint of a scientific methodology.
The question for me is if we can have a reactive quality of attention that allows our participation in life and also a conscious quality of attention that retains awareness of our reactive attention that could become a quality of our potential "I."
Jesus, Buddha, Weil…they all came when their names was called. This would be very difficult, if they had no reactive centre! So, I think that your aim is most likely achievable.

Personally, I think that this line of thinking is not actually helpful if we want to “know thyself”.

We are further dissecting the self by following this notion, because we are separating experience into, first, a reactive center, second, a conscious quality of attention and third, another “I” that is experiencing this, as in, “The question for me (1) is if I (2) can have a reactive quality of attention (3)…” and so on.

That is a lot of assumptions, and a lot of conflict and disconnection. Which is surely unhelpful it what we want is no assumptions, no conflict and connection.

In other words, I think that, in my opinion, the important thing is that we focus on “knowing thyself”. If we can do this, we needn’t worry about conscious connection and reactive centers too much – that stuff will come by itself. Or it won’t. Either way, we have only one way to find out.

We need to find the identity of just one “I”, before we start making more – surely we have enough problems already, with just the one.

This is what I feel introspection is really about – when questions like this arise, we should not wonder, “Can I have another I that is not not-I but more like big-I…” but simply ask: who is asking this question? Hence, we intro-inspect, we turn the looker onto itself, constantly.

The answer to that question, the ever-elusive “who”, is the subject of which all of this concerns. So, in my opinion, without an understanding of this “who”, without self-knowledge, all other questions are not only secondary, but ultimately meaningless – because we cannot talk about something meaningfully if we don’t know what, or who, it is.
When people become fixed in their attachment to the earth, these esoteric ideas must be corrupted which often does more harm than good.

We have to develop "skillful means." But this requires what we are talking about to live in us.
I think you are correct in most of what you have said here myself, definitely. However, I personally interpret the necessary course of action differently.

As we are mentioning Buddhism, according to the Bodhisattva’s vow, the most compassionate thing we can do is liberate ourselves first, for the benefit of all sentient beings. Until then, we surely have no right to infringe, initiate or influence others who do not wish to seek these things, however good our intentions may be. Perhaps even then, we will still have no right.

So, I think it is best not to worry about skilful means, but simply worry about “knowing thyself” first and foremost, in my opinion. I think that, as you say, we need to actually live it, demonstrate it, and let people see for themselves, if they want to.
How then is the reality of the human condition in the light of human conscious potential introduced into society that invites the concerned to join in efforts to "know thyself" for the purpose of a solid psychological foundation. Can the idolatries be left at the door so that people could genuinely share as to the nature of the human condition and the benefits if not the necessity of coming to grips with it?

What do you think?
I think that the greatest idols we have are the ones we cannot see. Just like they say that the greatest trick the devil pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.

I think that, until we can be sure we our rid of our own “idolatry”, we are not much help to anyone. Like a psychiatrist trying to cure a depressed patient, when he is depressed himself.

I also think that, the thing about what you call “idolatry” is that, as long as it exists, it is invisible – because, as soon as we see it clearly, it can’t survive, we literally cannot keep holding onto it. Conditioning only exists as long as it is unseen.

What I am saying is that, maybe we cannot leave our idolatry at the door in any sense, because if we knew we had them, we wouldn’t have them.

I believe that, when we are ready to look, we see, and we find. Without meaning to sound grandiose, this is the way it has always been. The best we can do is make room for those who are willing to explore and leave little breadcrumbs along the road – as those who walked it before us have done for us. And those who walked it before us seem to be more interested not in telling us the answers, but telling us where we can find them.

“Knowing thyself” is something that we, obviously, can only do on our own, ultimately.

I also believe that the only solution to conflict is not discussion, even if positive, but the active erasing of conflict within oneself. Peace can only create more peace. If we all do this, then by engaging in a process that is totally individualised, we have actually achieved something collective. Hence, I feel that this is both the highest, and perhaps only, priority.

Then again, the short version for me would simply be: I don't know, because I am still a conflicted being in many respects.

What I do, personally, is try to work on myself, because that is the only thing I have the authority to decide as useful. I would very much like the kind of situation you are talking about, but if I am honest as it would require me to be, I would not be able to know for sure if my "idolatry" had been, or even could be at this point, left at the door.

So, it would be kind of a catch 22 in my case, as despite my best efforts at being honest and my sincerity towards what you are suggesting in principal, precisely because of this, it would mean I would not be able to include myself in this kind of communication, as I can not guarantee my own freedom from conditioning I cannot see. Does that make sense?

Peace,

Thuse.

Nick_A
Posts: 2391
Joined: April 19th, 2009, 11:45 pm

Post by Nick_A » December 21st, 2009, 2:11 am

Hi Thuse

It seems we agree on a lot but there is still Simone's observation that you must reject and I must accept since I felt it myself. Perhaps it is useful to discuss it further.
Do you think it may be hypocritical, also, if we judge this as a problem? Perhaps it genuinely is a problem, but I mean that, by judging it as so, one would be placing oneself in a position of authority one cannot know oneself to have.

If one were to decide these people are wrong, though they don’t know they are, and assume they are right, though they don’t know they are, then surely there is no difference between the two, and both are simply contributing to the problem.
But this is precisely the source of Socrates' wisdom as expressed in the Apology. He knew that those around him were proud of knowledge but lacked understanding so in reality knew nothing. Socrates was wise because he experienced it and was willing to admit it. This is really what it means for the supernatural part of a person to open. They experience their nothingness.

Does this place one in a position of authority? it depends upon a person's need. Simone needed objective truth so was willing to experience her nothingness. Yet such an attitude in relation to secular differences and philosophical assumptions without having opened leads to what Socrates came to see.

Was Socrates misguided when he came to see that those he mentioned were all were equally misguided but his wisdom was having the psychology capable of experiencing and admitting it? Some would think this insulting but our nothingness in relation to the potential of our being is perfectly natural for man on earth. It only appears insulting when we glorify our nothingness.
I would say that, a scientific, or empirical, method concerns, as you mentioned, “impartiality”.

A scientist cannot be very good if he assumes what the result of his experiment will be – especially if he has never done the experiment before.

If we assume that, by knowing thyself, we will “inwardly grow towards” this and that, we are not being impartial. In fact, we are making assumptions about the results of our experiments before we have done them. This is also true if we assume these things won’t happen, of course. It is that there is a preconception at all that may be damaging for the scientist, not what the preconception is, nor whether it is actually true or false.

I mention this because, if we want to approach any of these things scientifically/empirically, we need to minimise assumptions as much as possible, and simply do the experiments impartially i.e without preconceptions, or desires of the result.
You are referring to the value of inductive reason but cosmology presents a skeleton that we are invited to make alive by inner empiricism.
"In our attempt to reconcile the inner and outer world, however, we do come up against a very real difficulty, which must be faced. This difficulty is connected with the problem of reconciling different 'methods of knowing'.

Man has two ways of studying the universe. The first is by induction: he examines phenomena, classifies them, and attempts to infer laws and principles from them. This is the method generally used by science. The second is by deduction: having perceived or had revealed or discovered certain general laws and principles, he attempts to deduce the application of these laws in various studies and in life. This is the method generally used by religions.. The first method begins with 'facts' and attempts to reach 'laws'. The second method begins with 'laws' and attempts to reach 'facts'.

These two methods belong to the working of different human functions. The first is the method of the ordinary logical mind, which is permanently available to us. the second derives from a potential function in man, which is ordinarily inactive for lack of nervous energy of sufficient intensity, and which we may call higher mental function This function on rare occasions of its operation, reveals to man laws in action, he sees the whole phenomenal world as the product of laws.

All true formulations of universal laws derive recently or remotely from the working of this higher function, somewhere and in some man. At the same time, for the application and understanding of the laws revealed in the long stretches of time and culture when such revelation is not available, man has to rely on the ordinary logical mind."
Cosmology presents the laws and we are invited to verify them in a top down fashion through deductive reason. Cosmology is the hypothesis we attempt to impartially verify. As I understand it, inductive reason natural for man must result in the same reason the Tower of Babel collapses. The foundation includes imagination natural for the corruption of our being so the result is just turning in circles as is natural for life in our universe expressed in our being or even worse creating something demonic within ourselves.
This is what I feel introspection is really about – when questions like this arise, we should not wonder, “Can I have another I that is not not-I but more like big-I…” but simply ask: who is asking this question? Hence, we intro-inspect, we turn the looker onto itself, constantly.

The answer to that question, the ever-elusive “who”, is the subject of which all of this concerns. So, in my opinion, without an understanding of this “who”, without self-knowledge, all other questions are not only secondary, but ultimately meaningless – because we cannot talk about something meaningfully if we don’t know what, or who, it is.
I see it differently and the difference is a meaningful question.
This is what I feel introspection is really about – when questions like this arise, we should not wonder, “Can I have another I that is not not-I but more like big-I…” but simply ask: who is asking this question? Hence, we intro-inspect, we turn the looker onto itself, constantly.

The answer to that question, the ever-elusive “who”, is the subject of which all of this concerns. So, in my opinion, without an understanding of this “who”, without self-knowledge, all other questions are not only secondary, but ultimately meaningless – because we cannot talk about something meaningfully if we don’t know what, or who, it is.
What is the who in introspection? As usual Simone Weil sheds light. From "lectures on Philosophy:
"Introspection is a psychological state incompatible with other states.

"1. Thinking about things of the world precludes introspection.

"2. Very strong emotion precludes introspection.

"3. All actions which require attention preclude introspection.


"To sum up, thought, action and emotion exclude examination of oneself.


"[therefore] introspection results in one's taking notice, for the most part, of what is passive in human thought. By the very fact that one keeps a watch on oneself, one changes: and the change is for the worse since we prevent that which is of greatest value in us from playing its part."
What IMO a wonderful contrast between self consciousness and consciousness of self. I may be wrong but I read you as uniting the looker and the looked. Yet consciousness of self allows space between the looker and the looked that invites the awareness from above that was previously posted in the Gospel of Thomas?.

When introspection is an exercise in becoming self conscious, it is no wonder that a person can become their opposite by compensating for an undesirable perception. I return to the question if it is possible to consciously witness oneself in the frenzy of life as opposed to being limited to preconditioned introspection?
What I am saying is that, maybe we cannot leave our idolatry at the door in any sense, because if we knew we had them, we wouldn’t have them.
Not necessarily. We may have mice in the house but when we turn on the light, they hide. When the light is out then they come out.

It is the same with the light of conscious attention. When it is active, the demons of our idolatry remain in the background. When the light is off then they resume their dominance. This is the human condition.

Encouraging right speech in Buddhism isn't to deny this side of ourselves. The idea is not to cater to it. It is the beginning of an eventual inner confrontation between the real and unreal in our being.
I also believe that the only solution to conflict is not discussion, even if positive, but the active erasing of conflict within oneself. Peace can only create more peace. If we all do this, then by engaging in a process that is totally individualised, we have actually achieved something collective. Hence, I feel that this is both the highest, and perhaps only, priority.

Then again, the short version for me would simply be: I don't know, because I am still a conflicted being in many respects.

What I do, personally, is try to work on myself, because that is the only thing I have the authority to decide as useful. I would very much like the kind of situation you are talking about, but if I am honest as it would require me to be, I would not be able to know for sure if my "idolatry" had been, or even could be at this point, left at the door.

So, it would be kind of a catch 22 in my case, as despite my best efforts at being honest and my sincerity towards what you are suggesting in principal, precisely because of this, it would mean I would not be able to include myself in this kind of communication, as I can not guarantee my own freedom from conditioning I cannot see. Does that make sense?
So we are the same. You are describing the Wretched Man and I am the same. The fact that we can admit it is a necessary beginning.

Read this short article on right speech in Buddhism. Could it ever be possible on RDF? Why not?
For many of us, the most difficult part of practicing right speech lies in how we express our sense of humor. Especially here in America, we're used to getting laughs with exaggeration, sarcasm, group stereotypes, and pure silliness -- all classic examples of wrong speech. If people get used to these sorts of careless humor, they stop listening carefully to what we say. In this way, we cheapen our own discourse. Actually, there's enough irony in the state of the world that we don't need to exaggerate or be sarcastic. The greatest humorists are the ones who simply make us look directly at the way things are.

Expressing our humor in ways that are truthful, useful, and wise may require thought and effort, but when we master this sort of wit we find that the effort is well spent. We've sharpened our own minds and have improved our verbal environment. In this way, even our jokes become part of our practice: an opportunity to develop positive qualities of mind and to offer something of intelligent value to the people around us.

So pay close attention to what you say -- and to why you say it. When you do, you'll discover that an open mouth doesn't have to be a mistake.
For some reason it is just this mindset that is encouraged as justified. We can be hurt, disappointed, frustrated, and the whole nine yards, but must we be compelled by group thought to glorify it? How can we see what we lose by it? The fact that you and I are doing it proves it is possible.

You know RDF for example. What would it take for the dominant critics over there to appreciate what Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote? Without that willingness to listen as Prof. Needleman describes, what do we really get other then an exaggerated feeling of self importance? Simone Weil wrote:

"
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity."
Anyone who works on themselves sees how hard this is. Why pay attention to a pain in the ass or something unpleasant to see? I can find a hundred reasons not to do so yet those more enlightened claim it is the thing to do. I know they are right but my ego has its hundred reasons to avoid it.

It does seem that striving to "know thyself" is the key but the question is how to do it so as to get the objective results from the practice so we can be worthy of the name "Man."

Any suggestions?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

Thuse
Posts: 34
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 3:16 am

Post by Thuse » December 23rd, 2009, 6:42 pm

Hey Nick,
It seems we agree on a lot but there is still Simone's observation that you must reject and I must accept since I felt it myself. Perhaps it is useful to discuss it further.
I think it is true for most atheists personally, even most religious people in fact. I just know from my own experience that it is not true for me, personally. It is not simply a denial of the case - but actual experiential evidence that falsifies it that Weil could not have had.

To me, this doesn't make Weil "wrong" per se. I interpret her as being poetic, more than literal. Any generalisation about a large group of people (i.e. all atheists are X) is going to have anomalies. I believe Weil probably realised this, and was not intending to create some kind of "law" that was absolute.

In all fairness, your acceptance of it as being true is not actually based on experience, evidence or even reason, as you cannot be privy to the experiences of others.

While you say you have "felt it", you cannot have "felt" what I, for example, experience. So, you do not actually "feel it", either.

So, while I accept your point of view, you must acknowledge that as your opinion is not really based in reality but only in a commitment to the literal interpretation of Weil, I cannot sincerely be expected to take it meaningfully.

Further, if no reasoning at all, or even subjective feeling you have will effect this belief, then surely there can be no benefit to be had from discussing it? It seems that your mind is made up in this case quite independently of anything I could do or say - is this not so?
If one were to decide these people are wrong, though they don’t know they are, and assume they are right, though they don’t know they are, then surely there is no difference between the two, and both are simply contributing to the problem.
But this is precisely the source of Socrates' wisdom as expressed in the Apology. He knew that those around him were proud of knowledge but lacked understanding so in reality knew nothing. Socrates was wise because he experienced it and was willing to admit it. This is really what it means for the supernatural part of a person to open. They experience their nothingness.

Does this place one in a position of authority? it depends upon a person's need. Simone needed objective truth so was willing to experience her nothingness. Yet such an attitude in relation to secular differences and philosophical assumptions without having opened leads to what Socrates came to see.

Was Socrates misguided when he came to see that those he mentioned were all were equally misguided but his wisdom was having the psychology capable of experiencing and admitting it? Some would think this insulting but our nothingness in relation to the potential of our being is perfectly natural for man on earth. It only appears insulting when we glorify our nothingness.
In my opinion, I feel that the moral of that Socrates story is not so much to show up the arrogance/ignorance of Socrate’s contemporaries, but to demonstrate that wisdom lies in humility.

Socrates was wise because he was able to admit he knew nothing. This didn’t mean he had the authority to decide what was true and what wasn’t. He only knew that he knew nothing, but did not know about the internal states of others.

I personally don’t think that it follows that, by admitting the limitations of one’s knowledge, we therefore have an authority to judge the experiences and knowledge of other people.
I mention this because, if we want to approach any of these things scientifically/empirically, we need to minimise assumptions as much as possible, and simply do the experiments impartially i.e without preconceptions, or desires of the result.
You are referring to the value of inductive reason but cosmology presents a skeleton that we are invited to make alive by inner empiricism.
Actually, I was trying to make a case for deductive reasoning, and arguing against inductive reasoning.

Explaining a result in terms of a possible model is inductive.

Explaining results in terms of the only possible model is deductive.

Induction is about finding something probable. Deduction is about eliminating the impossible.

Having a hypothesis or theory beforehand (deduction) is not the same as the expectation of a result. I am arguing that an expectation of result can be damaging to the interpretation of the result, not that having a tentative hypothesis is. This is called confirmation bias.

I am also saying that in science it is suggested that a hypothesis or theory should make the least possible assumptions possible to explain the data. So, I was trying to answer your original question, in that as your data can be explained with much less assumptions than those you make, I imagine most scientists would consider your method problematic.
Cosmology presents the laws and we are invited to verify them in a top down fashion through deductive reason. Cosmology is the hypothesis we attempt to impartially verify. As I understand it, inductive reason natural for man must result in the same reason the Tower of Babel collapses. The foundation includes imagination natural for the corruption of our being so the result is just turning in circles as is natural for life in our universe expressed in our being or even worse creating something demonic within ourselves.
A theory must also be able to further incorporate new observations and contradictory ones. A single contradictory observation, and we have to abandon the theory. If we choose not to abandon or develop our theory with new observations, then that is our choice, but our method would no longer be empirical nor deductive, but selective.

If we choose a deductive, empirical method but do not follow it all the way through, we actually invalidate our experiment from a scientific perspective, irrelevant of the nature of the data we collect.
This is what I feel introspection is really about – when questions like this arise, we should not wonder, “Can I have another I that is not not-I but more like big-I…” but simply ask: who is asking this question? Hence, we intro-inspect, we turn the looker onto itself, constantly.

The answer to that question, the ever-elusive “who”, is the subject of which all of this concerns. So, in my opinion, without an understanding of this “who”, without self-knowledge, all other questions are not only secondary, but ultimately meaningless – because we cannot talk about something meaningfully if we don’t know what, or who, it is.
What is the who in introspection? As usual Simone Weil sheds light. From "lectures on Philosophy:
"Introspection is a psychological state incompatible with other states.

"1. Thinking about things of the world precludes introspection.

"2. Very strong emotion precludes introspection.

"3. All actions which require attention preclude introspection.


"To sum up, thought, action and emotion exclude examination of oneself.

"[therefore] introspection results in one's taking notice, for the most part, of what is passive in human thought. By the very fact that one keeps a watch on oneself, one changes: and the change is for the worse since we prevent that which is of greatest value in us from playing its part."
What IMO a wonderful contrast between self consciousness and consciousness of self.
I very much agree with what Weil says here.

I should clarify that the question I asked (“Who is asking this question”) was meant rhetorically. The process I am referencing is non-verbal and so is very hard to talk about, if at all, without metaphors like this.

This is also why Weil is describing it only in negative terms.
I may be wrong but I read you as uniting the looker and the looked.
No, you are absolutely right.
Yet consciousness of self allows space between the looker and the looked that invites the awareness from above that was previously posted in the Gospel of Thomas?.
Sure; my argument is that, what you are referencing here, a distinction between subject (looker) and object (looked), is the remainder of a very subtle kind of thought process. This distinction is a form of mental categorisation i.e. mental activity. Therefore, it is necessarily still a form of mental “clinging”, or attachment.

During introspective practices, I claim that an individual is able to cease/transcend this mental categorisation altogether, which is the aim of meditation, yoga, gnosis and so on (the word “yoga” actually means union – precisely the union of subject and object).

The transcension of all mental clinging, including to “self” or “looker”, is called the state of nonduality, or nondual awareness. It is accounted for in every major tradition, including Christianity. There cannot be, it is argued, a state of mind beyond it – it is the basis and source for all states.

A metaphor of describing this may be that nondual awareness is that within which the experience of “consciousness of self allow[ing] space between the looker and the looked” arises.

While this is probably an unusual claim for an atheist, I claim that, like any other kind of hypothesis, the appropriate experiments can be done and these results will emerge. That said, I also acknowledge that it not necessarily a scientific claim at all, as it concerns subjective experience, rather than publicly testable objects.

In regards to the gospel of Thomas, many scholars and mystics, including Christians, interpret him to be referencing precisely this state of mind. So,one can hold to this idea and not necessarily suffer any contradictions with the gospel of Thomas. Is there a specific passage you are referencing?
I return to the question if it is possible to consciously witness oneself in the frenzy of life as opposed to being limited to preconditioned introspection?
Sure, it is certainly possible to practice conscious witnessing even in the frenzy of life.

If one finds life to be distracting, one need only be consciously aware that one is distracted by the frenzy of life, and they will be back in the witnessing.

I think that the difficulty most people have is the association with the contents of mind. I claim that, with persistence, all obstacles can be overcome, even this one. As with most things, practise makes perfect.

It is the same with the light of conscious attention. When it is active, the demons of our idolatry remain in the background. When the light is off then they resume their dominance.
I agree completely for the most part, I guess I simply misspoke before.

I really like the metaphor of light, too. Awareness is like a light that dispels darkness by its very nature whenever it is shining.

However, I would only disagree with you that this is “the human condition” in an absolute sense.

If nothing in reality exists unto itself independently, then nothing has any intrinsic nature. If nothing has any intrinsic nature, then there is nothing that can persist.

Conditioning is no different – in actuality, I claim, conditioning, like everything else, has no intrinsic essence that persists constantly. It is a kind of illusion then, that makes things appear this way.

The Buddhists, of course, call this one of the meanings of “Emptiness”, and claim that when the Emptiness of all things is completely experienced, all kinds of conditioning ceases to appear constant (and thus becomes “extinguished” or “blown out”, which is translated as “Nirvana”).

Also, a human condition cannot be something that intrinsically exists either.

Therefore, the human condition is, like all other things, empty of intrinsic essence, substance or self.

Agree or disagree, perhaps it would still be useful just to keep this in mind – because, if this is true, then clinging to a constant, fixed human conditioning would be extremely limiting.
So we are the same. You are describing the Wretched Man and I am the same. The fact that we can admit it is a necessary beginning.

Read this short article on right speech in Buddhism. Could it ever be possible on RDF? Why not?
That’s a difficult question. In a way, I can’t really answer it without making many wide and unfounded generalisations about the people on RDF, which would make my answer not particularly meaningful.

In my opinion, I really don’t know. I have a completely irrational, unfounded faith-based belief that people are ultimately good. So, I hope this kind of thing is possible on RDF, and elsewhere.

Of course, I would be hard pressed to find anywhere on the web that this is actually the case.

Often the kind of vitriol, both in speech and action, that is directed there against religious contributors is, while not justified, understandable, to some extent. The majority of religious and theistic people that come onto RDF have the attitude that “they already know”. With such people, no growth, no true communication is ever possible. No kind of genuine openness can ever be achieved, with someone who believes themselves to know, a priori, that they are right. They do not come to debate, to communicate, but to “teach” and preach and patronise. An attitude like that is incredibly negative, thus, it is not necessarily surprising to me that negativity is received in such cases. "For every action…" So, perhaps it will be possible when both sides find the strength to be capable of it. I hope so. I can only try to do it myself in the meantime.
For some reason it is just this mindset that is encouraged as justified. We can be hurt, disappointed, frustrated, and the whole nine yards, but must we be compelled by group thought to glorify it? How can we see what we lose by it? The fact that you and I are doing it proves it is possible.

You know RDF for example. What would it take for the dominant critics over there to appreciate what Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote? Without that willingness to listen as Prof. Needleman describes, what do we really get other then an exaggerated feeling of self importance?
Well, I have had many debates, both constructive and otherwise, with people on RDF about Buddhism in particular and its value.

In my experience, the dominant critics do not really base their arguments in reason or evidence, but entirely on emotion. Although, I would say that, as I am bias in that I value what Thanissaro wrote.

Nevertheless, it is my opinion that the kinds of criticism that is usually directed at these sorts of things is hateful, rather than reasoned.

The problem is that, if Thanissaro’s words are already reasonable, logical and scientific anyway, which I would claim they are, then someone who criticised this would be being unresponsive to reason and, thus, unreasonable.

If you then pointed this out to them, you may upset them and create conflict – thus, you would be using “discursive speech”, not right speech.

So, to continue being reasonable is useless, and to point out their unreasonableness, if they get annoyed, is not right speech. So, it’s a difficult position.

I also wish I could say that, most of the time, I just keep trying to be understanding and reasonable. Unfortunately, I can’t say that – because most of the time, I fall into the latter category, exactly what Thanissarro is saying not to do. So, until my own hypocrisy is eradicated in this sense, I may not be the best person to comment.

The irony of course is that, if what Thanissaro says is correct, then it is things like lies and discursive speech that are responsible for this negativity in the first place.

In the battle between the positive and the negative, each side has its advantages. The negative always outnumbers the positive, for instance. However, the positive has its own advantage, which is that it can transform negativity into positivity, but not be transformed itself by negativity. No amount of darkness on the ground matters, if the sun is shining.

So, perhaps when we encounter negativity, irrelevant of whether we are "right or wrong", maybe we can bring something positive out of it aside from just the negative person's self-importance. If we can take the negativity and transform it, then we can actually be happy and positive when we encounter negativity. We can almost feed off it, use it to increase our positivity, and not let it get us down. Maybe this way ,we can break the cycle, and know that, even if we are wrong about our ideas, we are right in our attitude. I personally don't know of another solution.
It does seem that striving to "know thyself" is the key but the question is how to do it so as to get the objective results from the practice so we can be worthy of the name "Man."

Any suggestions?
I'm not sure what you mean by "objective results". Do you mean in terms of actual behavioural and psychological changes?

I read somewhere that, "the answer is always awareness, only the context changes." I really think this is true.

I think that certain egoic processes, once begun, need to finish. That is, actions done without awareness can still have consequences even when awareness is present. Thus, it is necessary only to continue the maintanence of awareness. Eventually, it will start to catch up, or at least, it seems to in my experience. So, my only suggestion would be to maintain awareness and let that "manifest" itself objectively in its own time. But as I am not sure exactly what you mean, I don't know if this is what you are referring to, so perhaps I should wait for you to clarify before taking it further.

Oh, and if I don't speak to you beforehand, have a happy Christmas :wink:

Peace,

Thuse.

Nick_A
Posts: 2391
Joined: April 19th, 2009, 11:45 pm

Post by Nick_A » December 24th, 2009, 1:42 pm

Hi Thuse
In all fairness, your acceptance of it as being true is not actually based on experience, evidence or even reason, as you cannot be privy to the experiences of others.

While you say you have "felt it", you cannot have "felt" what I, for example, experience. So, you do not actually "feel it", either.

So, while I accept your point of view, you must acknowledge that as your opinion is not really based in reality but only in a commitment to the literal interpretation of Weil, I cannot sincerely be expected to take it meaningfully.

Further, if no reasoning at all, or even subjective feeling you have will effect this belief, then surely there can be no benefit to be had from discussing it? It seems that your mind is made up in this case quite independently of anything I could do or say - is this not so?
Before becoming consciously aware and feeling the value of this inner vertical direction, I was one way. Everything seemed absurd without any sense so as a musician with a quick mind I compensated with expression and wit. When I opened to this new direction for me, it became clear that everything made perfect sense and couldn't be other. The experience was so intense that people asked me what was wrong with me.

My experience was not a literal interpretation. My experience was years ago. When I read Simone's remark about opening a superntural part fairly recently, I knew exactly what she was meant; I had experienced it.

From Plato's Apology:
Why do I mention this? Because I am going to explain to you why I have such an evil name. When I heard the answer, I said to myself, What can the god mean? and what is the interpretation of this riddle? for I know that I have no wisdom, small or great. What can he mean when he says that I am the wisest of men? And yet he is a god and cannot lie; that would be against his nature. After a long consideration, I at last thought of a method of trying the question. I reflected that if I could only find a man wiser than myself, then I might go to the god with a refutation in my hand. I should say to him, "Here is a man who is wiser than I am; but you said that I was the wisest." Accordingly I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed to him - his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom I selected for examination - and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and wiser still by himself; and I went and tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is - for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him. Then I went to another, who had still higher philosophical pretensions, and my conclusion was exactly the same. I made another enemy of him, and of many others besides him.

After this I went to one man after another, being not unconscious of the enmity which I provoked, and I lamented and feared this: but necessity was laid upon me - the word of God, I thought, ought to be considered first. And I said to myself, Go I must to all who appear to know, and find out the meaning of the oracle. And I swear to you, Athenians, by the dog I swear! - for I must tell you the truth - the result of my mission was just this: I found that the men most in repute were all but the most foolish; and that some inferior men were really wiser and better. I will tell you the tale of my wanderings and of the "Herculean" labors, as I may call them, which I endured only to find at last the oracle irrefutable. When I left the politicians, I went to the poets; tragic, dithyrambic, and all sorts. And there, I said to myself, you will be detected; now you will find out that you are more ignorant than they are. Accordingly, I took them some of the most elaborate passages in their own writings, and asked what was the meaning of them - thinking that they would teach me something. Will you believe me? I am almost ashamed to speak of this, but still I must say that there is hardly a person present who would not have talked better about their poetry than they did themselves. That showed me in an instant that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them. And the poets appeared to me to be much in the same case; and I further observed that upon the strength of their poetry they believed themselves to be the wisest of men in other things in which they were not wise. So I departed, conceiving myself to be superior to them for the same reason that I was superior to the politicians.

At last I went to the artisans, for I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and in this I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets; because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom - therefore I asked myself on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was, neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in both; and I made answer to myself and the oracle that I was better off as I was.

This investigation has led to my having many enemies of the worst and most dangerous kind, and has given occasion also to many calumnies, and I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess the wisdom which I find wanting in others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and in this oracle he means to say that the wisdom of men is little or nothing; he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name as an illustration, as if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing. And so I go my way, obedient to the god, and make inquisition into the wisdom of anyone, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the oracle I show him that he is not wise; and this occupation quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give either to any public matter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion to the god.
When Plato writes: "Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is - for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him. Then I went to another, who had still higher philosophical pretensions, and my conclusion was exactly the same. I made another enemy of him, and of many others besides him," isn't this a judgment? It became clear that these others sere just talking without understanding. It is insulting to who it is being spoken of but if true, experiencing how people are continually BSing is a necessary part of awakening and to admit it in oneself is the humility that can lead to wisdom.
A theory must also be able to further incorporate new observations and contradictory ones. A single contradictory observation, and we have to abandon the theory. If we choose not to abandon or develop our theory with new observations, then that is our choice, but our method would no longer be empirical nor deductive, but selective.

If we choose a deductive, empirical method but do not follow it all the way through, we actually invalidate our experiment from a scientific perspective, irrelevant of the nature of the data we collect.


But this is the value of cosmological levels of reality. Contradictions can be reconciled from a conscious higher perspective.

The question of evil in the world seems absurd if one believes in God. Why would God allow for evil? What purpose does it serve? It doesn't serve any purpose from a secular perspective. Yet from a higher perspective, evil is just the result of interactions of universal laws necessary to sustain the involutionary/evolutionary purpose of Creation. The reason for karma as an expression of this continuation then becomes clear.
During introspective practices, I claim that an individual is able to cease/transcend this mental categorization altogether, which is the aim of meditation, yoga, gnosis and so on (the word “yoga” actually means union – precisely the union of subject and object).

The transcension of all mental clinging, including to “self” or “looker”, is called the state of nonduality, or nondual awareness. It is accounted for in every major tradition, including Christianity. There cannot be, it is argued, a state of mind beyond it – it is the basis and source for all states.


This is tricky because I appreciate this non dual awareness when pure as containing the new direction I was speaking of. Father Sylvan explains it well in "Lost Christianity"
"It is extraordinary to think how much of the intellectual activity of man is actually a beginning contact with this force, this third person of the Holy Trinity. All efforts to think, being the call for confrontation between levels, are a first step towards the prayer to the holy reconciliation of presence. Thought begins with seeing, but ends, unfortunately, with the slavery to the mechanisms of conceptualization. Out of these conceptualizations, which are only the records left in the nervous system by moments of seeing, and which are needed as instruments of the energy of the spirit existing in the world, or the lower reality - out of these neural results of the spirit man erroneously tries to imitate the work of the spirit. but only the spirit can do the work of the spirit.

Thought, which means in essence seeing, exists on these many levels. There are no esoteric thoughts or esoteric ideas, as such; but there is esoteric thinking, an inner action which carries the energy of harmonization and reconciliation between levels........................
This idea of the essence of objective thought being a reconciliation of levels of reality that devolves into conceptualizations is virtually unknown in modern times. Yet for someone with this ability for both objective thought and subjective thought, the opportunities are enormous.

The difficulty of course is to reach an inner state that opens to the experience. I do believe Simone was referring to this when she wrote:
"Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it We must continually suspend the work of the imagination in filling the void within ourselves."
"In no matter what circumstances, if the imagination is stopped from pouring itself out, we have a void (the poor in spirit). In no matter what circumstances... imagination can fill the void. This is why the average human beings can become prisoners, slaves, prostitutes, and pass thru no matter what suffering without being purified."
This vertical direction allows us to "see" ourselves which leads to inner freedom. I am not asking you to believe it but just explaining my beliefs that I've had some experience with. I just don't think that if an atheist has such an experience they would remain an atheist. You may think this is judgmental, but if the experience is real, I don't see how it couldn't lead to a change in perspective.
In regards to the gospel of Thomas, many scholars and mystics, including Christians, interpret him to be referencing precisely this state of mind. So,one can hold to this idea and not necessarily suffer any contradictions with the gospel of Thomas. Is there a specific passage you are referencing?
3) Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."
This means levels of awareness for me with us in the middle. From this perspective "As above, so below" is actualized as the "middle."
Also, a human condition cannot be something that intrinsically exists either.

Therefore, the human condition is, like all other things, empty of intrinsic essence, substance or self.

Agree or disagree, perhaps it would still be useful just to keep this in mind – because, if this is true, then clinging to a constant, fixed human conditioning would be extremely limiting
I agree. the human condition is man as a plurality and in inner opposition lacking a harmonious connection between head, heart, and body. Man's evolutionary potential is inner unity or the development of the "soul" that now exists in us in potential as a seed. The conscious Reconciliation of inner plurality into unity a higher level of reality is I believe the basis of religion.

If the human condition were fixed, we would be hopelessly in Plato's cave. So the idea is to become capable of conscious detachment and freedom from clinging which is the beginning of a higher reconciliation.
Often the kind of vitriol, both in speech and action, that is directed there against religious contributors is, while not justified, understandable, to some extent. The majority of religious and theistic people that come onto RDF have the attitude that “they already know”. With such people, no growth, no true communication is ever possible. No kind of genuine openness can ever be achieved, with someone who believes themselves to know, a priori, that they are right. They do not come to debate, to communicate, but to “teach” and preach and patronise. An attitude like that is incredibly negative, thus, it is not necessarily surprising to me that negativity is received in such cases. "For every action…" So, perhaps it will be possible when both sides find the strength to be capable of it. I hope so. I can only try to do it myself in the meantime.
This is one of the benefits of you and I having this one on one. If we were conversing on RDF, it wouldn't be possible. I agree that those arguing religious beliefs when there supernatural parts are closed are just misguided and the atheists are right to feel it empty.

At least we know that we can discuss in the spirit of "right speech" which is a step in the right direction and I believe a worthwhile influence for any site that seeks to further communication.

When I began this post there were 57 previous with 1910 views. Maybe people want to see if we will kill each other or perhaps are curious to read how an atheist and a believer can converse. Since we are not killing each other, maybe others will be inspired to have a one on one just for the experience of trying to discuss with right speech rather then "win" a debate with any means possible including all the shouting down we are both well aware of.
I also wish I could say that, most of the time, I just keep trying to be understanding and reasonable. Unfortunately, I can’t say that – because most of the time, I fall into the latter category, exactly what Thanissarro is saying not to do. So, until my own hypocrisy is eradicated in this sense, I may not be the best person to comment.

The irony of course is that, if what Thanissaro says is correct, then it is things like lies and discursive speech that are responsible for this negativity in the first place.

In the battle between the positive and the negative, each side has its advantages. The negative always outnumbers the positive, for instance. However, the positive has its own advantage, which is that it can transform negativity into positivity, but not be transformed itself by negativity. No amount of darkness on the ground matters, if the sun is shining.

So, perhaps when we encounter negativity, irrelevant of whether we are "right or wrong", maybe we can bring something positive out of it aside from just the negative person's self-importance. If we can take the negativity and transform it, then we can actually be happy and positive when we encounter negativity. We can almost feed off it, use it to increase our positivity, and not let it get us down. Maybe this way ,we can break the cycle, and know that, even if we are wrong about our ideas, we are right in our attitude. I personally don't know of another solution.
We are not saints. But if we admit that we are sinners, it is a step in the right direction. Our egos get the best of us. But if we admit its dominance and don't justify it we become open to consciously minimize it and achieve a greater level of true understanding by not blocking and opening to different perspectives. Jacob Needleman called the ability to listen as the beginning of morality. I believe he is right and something I must become better at.
I'm not sure what you mean by "objective results". Do you mean in terms of actual behavioural and psychological changes?

I read a while ago that where science teaches us new relationships, esoteric efforts help us to remember what as a naturl part of our being we have forgotten. Objective results refer to this process of remembering or re-membering where the membered parts of the plurality are united, re-membered and a person can experience life with as Jacob Needleman describes, the whole of oneself.

A lot of New Age thought like a Course in Miracles for example denies materiality and the value of the sensory experience. A lot of materialists and atheists deny the value of higher conscious states and the potential for sacred emotions. I've become convinced of the value of experiencing life with the consciously balanced whole of oneself or "presence" and the value of this strange word "awakening" for the being of Man.

I further believe that the more one becomes open to experience with the whole of themselves, the more the natural balance between the essence of religion, the vertical direction, and science, its horizontal expression in the world, will become natural for the benefit of both the individual and society as a whole.

As an aside, are you attracted to classical visual art and does it make impressions on you?

I don't know what you are celebrating but have a happy whatever and raise a toast to you in the old Russian way.

Until later, all the best

Nick
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

Thuse
Posts: 34
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 3:16 am

Post by Thuse » December 30th, 2009, 10:02 am

Hey Nick. Hope you don’t mind the delay, just been busy over the holidays with relatives and that kind of nonsense.
Nick_A wrote:
My experience was not a literal interpretation. My experience was years ago. When I read Simone's remark about opening a superntural part fairly recently, I knew exactly what she was meant; I had experienced it.
Of course. Though I was not referring to your experience - what I meant was that, I presume you did not experience my internal state, nor the internal state of other people.

Interpreting Weil literally in her philosophical generalisations, and finding correlations between your experiences and hers, are not necessarily related.

So, finding correlations between her words and our experience does not necessarily mean that everything she ever wrote is therefore literal and absolute, nor necessarily that our personal experiences are the limit by which we can judge others.

In addition, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that people can have these kinds of experiences, but not adhere to your particular interpretation of Christianity. So, I think this should be taken into consideration.
When Plato writes: "Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is - for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him. Then I went to another, who had still higher philosophical pretensions, and my conclusion was exactly the same. I made another enemy of him, and of many others besides him," isn't this a judgment?
Yes; however, as I read it, he is making a logical conclusion rather than a judgment outright.

When the oracle announced that Socrates was the wisest man, he was originally perplexed.

He reasoned that, since he knew nothing, knowing nothing was what made him wise, as it could only be that. This is effectively deductive reasoning.

He also reasoned that, necessarily then, thinking we know a lot is what makes us not wise.

So, while he is judging others, he is doing so by forming a logical and systematic train of thought that arrives at that conclusion by itself.

I simply see a very different kind of thought process going on with Socrates judgments and your own.

Obviously, you relate to Socrates here. However, your judgments are not necessarily based on observation and evidence as his were (his presumption regarding the authority of the oracle notwithstanding), but on interpretations of observations, intuition and emotional responses or “feeling”. Socrates conclusion did not involve any of these three things.

Also, Socrates uses deductive logic to arrive at his conclusion. You are often using inductive logic to arrive at yours – for example, as above, you conclude that because Weil was right about certain things, she is therefore right about all things. This is a very extreme inductive argument.

So, while both are judgments of course, both are formed in very different, even opposite ways. As Socrates were based on a deductive form of reasoning, while your assessments depend more on a priori reasoning, I feel I am not being hypocritical by not favouring your method where I would Socrates.
It became clear that these others sere just talking without understanding. It is insulting to who it is being spoken of but if true, experiencing how people are continually BSing is a necessary part of awakening and to admit it in oneself is the humility that can lead to wisdom.
I agree with the last part, personally – that admitting it in oneself is what is really important.

I think it is not particularly important to observe the actions and reactions of others.

To me, what is most important, and perhaps most damaging if not noticed, is the process by which we (i.e. our own mental discriminations) judge them as so and what that tells us about our own way of thinking. I believe that this is much more important for personal growth. Their reactions are interpreted by us, therefore, serve as a mirror for our own processing only.

When I encounter somebody who I think is BSing without understanding, I try to notice and observe that very thought, and ask what it tells me about myself and my mind. What assumptions am I making about this person? Will these assumptions prevent me from absorbing whatever they are offering? What does all this tell me about my current state of mind? And so on.

In this regard, I do not consider our assessment of others as important so much as our awareness of that mental assessment in ourselves.
A theory must also be able to further incorporate new observations and contradictory ones. A single contradictory observation, and we have to abandon the theory. If we choose not to abandon or develop our theory with new observations, then that is our choice, but our method would no longer be
empirical nor deductive, but selective.


But this is the value of cosmological levels of reality. Contradictions can be reconciled from a conscious higher perspective.

The question of evil in the world seems absurd if one believes in God. Why would God allow for evil? What purpose does it serve? It doesn't serve any purpose from a secular perspective. Yet from a higher perspective, evil is just the result of interactions of universal laws necessary to sustain the involutionary/evolutionary purpose of Creation. The reason for karma as an expression of this continuation then becomes clear.
Sure, though, I don’t mean those kinds of contradictions.

I mean actual evidence that contradicts our previous experiments. Like the way water either boils at 100 degrees, or it doesn’t. If one day, water boiled at 99 degrees, then the original assertion would be false. There is no higher perspective where water boils at 99 degrees and 100 degrees. It would be one or the other.

For example, if an object within this Universe could be found to intrinsically exist, my entire metaphysical position would be contradicted (as would most of physics). This kind of contradiction is not of the logical type that may be reconciled from a different viewpoint, but of the empirical type. It cannot be reconciled.

Now my reaction may be that I reject this contradiction for whatever reason. I might argue that the contradiction is false, or the anomaly could be explained in some other way.

Nevertheless, whether I would be right or wrong in my dismissal of this object’s existence, my methodology can no longer be called “empirical” i.e. scientific, if I could not prove this. For it to be empirical, I would be forced to abandon my entire notions regarding intrinsic existence etc. pending further data.
The transcension of all mental clinging, including to “self” or “looker”, is called the state of nonduality, or nondual awareness. It is accounted for in every major tradition, including Christianity. There cannot be, it is argued, a state of mind beyond it – it is the basis and source for all states.


This is tricky because I appreciate this non dual awareness when pure as containing the new direction I was speaking of.
“Beyond” was probably not a good word to use. I did not mean to imply that it was beyond in the sense of “above” all other experiences.

What I meant was that no state of mind can exist without it. In other words, it is argued that no state of mind is “beyond” it in the sense that no state of mind exists independently of it – whether experiencing coffee or experiencing vertical directions.

Nondual awareness and “normal” awareness are, in this context, not two different things. Awareness is necessary in any experience, for any state of mind, or any state of consciousness. So, by nothing being beyond it, I simply mean that it is a necessary basis for all other states.

I would therefore agree that vertical directions, should they exist, would indeed be “contained” by awareness. So, it needn’t be tricky just yet.
Father Sylvan explains it well in "Lost Christianity"
Thought, which means in essence seeing, exists on these many levels. There are no esoteric thoughts or esoteric ideas, as such; but there is esoteric thinking, an inner action which carries the energy of harmonization and reconciliation between levels........................
This idea of the essence of objective thought being a reconciliation of levels of reality that devolves into conceptualizations is virtually unknown in modern times. Yet for someone with this ability for both objective thought and subjective thought, the opportunities are enormous.
Perhaps some of the problems others find in your ideas may not always be with the actual concepts, but the way in which they are presented.

In science and philosophy, for thinking to be objective, it would need to be publicly accessible by other subjects. So, if someone is capable of objective thought, it would mean that we would be able to interact directly with their thought in some way.

I presume this is not what you mean though. If not, then this may be why these things are unknown or criticised by people like me – because of the actual language used, not the concept. One of the keys to effective communication is a shared vocabulary, after all.

As a result, I am not exactly sure whether you mean either thought that literally exist independently of mind, or a kind of higher cognitive capacity or a subjectively accessible objective thought storage, like an “Akashic records”.

Might there be another more accessible term for explaining what you mean by “objective thought”?
"Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it We must continually suspend the work of the imagination in filling the void within ourselves."
This vertical direction allows us to "see" ourselves which leads to inner freedom. I am not asking you to believe it but just explaining my beliefs that I've had some experience with. I just don't think that if an atheist has such an experience they would remain an atheist. You may think this is judgmental, but if the experience is real, I don't see how it couldn't lead to a change in perspective.
I am not questioning whether your experience/s are genuine at all, nor even interested in questioning that necessarily.

It is only the way that we interpret our experiences that I am questioning. I believe that people can have the kind of experience you are talking about, but not necessarily interpret them the way you do, nor arrive at it the way you have.

Weil’s quote, to me, sounds much more familiar with reference to, for example, Buddhism, where the nature of the mind is considered empty (“void") and, upon relinquishing one’s attachment (“imagination”) this space is able to express its true nature (“grace”). So, I would simply interpret her very differently than you here.

For me, experiences, too, are ultimately devoid of any persisting essence. This means that any clinging to any experience, or idea of an experience as something absolute, is not the reality. A further note is that experiences rely on the duality of experienced and experiencer. Thus, literally, no experience can bring us past duality, and, therefore, separation.

I personally believe that, rather than a change in perspective, a change in behaviour is what is significant. The experiences themselves do not guarantee any genuine transformation – and often times people, having these experiences, do not realise this. For me, the experiences themselves are always transient and not as significant as how much is actually brought back from them.

In this sense, when people claim that their experiences have enabled them to do such and such, it is not these claims themselves that interest me, but the extent to which they are able to actual demonstrate this in practice.
In regards to the gospel of Thomas…Is there a specific passage you are referencing?
3) Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."
This means levels of awareness for me with us in the middle. From this perspective "As above, so below" is actualized as the "middle."
Fair enough. In response to your original question/point then, which was:
Yet consciousness of self allows space between the looker and the looked that invites the awareness from above that was previously posted in the Gospel of Thomas?.
I simply do not interpret Jesus as referencing this, myself. In my reading, he first establishes that the “kingdom” is both inside and outside of us (i.e. everywhere), rather than above (“in the sky”) or below (“in the sea”) (i.e. somewhere else). So, not only is the kingdom here and now, there is no distinction, or separation between the inner and the outer, both of which are the “kingdom”.

So, I literally interpret him to be saying the opposite – that there is no space or distinction between the looker and the looked, the inner and the outer.
Therefore, the human condition is, like all other things, empty of intrinsic essence, substance or self.
I agree. the human condition is man as a plurality and in inner opposition lacking a harmonious connection between head, heart, and body. Man's evolutionary potential is inner unity or the development of the "soul" that now exists in us in potential as a seed. The conscious Reconciliation of inner plurality into unity a higher level of reality is I believe the basis of religion.

If the human condition were fixed, we would be hopelessly in Plato's cave. So the idea is to become capable of conscious detachment and freedom from clinging which is the beginning of a higher reconciliation.
That seems to me like a much more life-affirming and empowering attitude than the often encountered Christian perspective that man is flawed for good.

Perhaps what you call plurality, I simply call disharmony or conflict.

If I interpret you correctly, for you, the unity exists in a kind of hierarchy, a set of levels, at the top of which the plurality eventually becomes unified.

For me, plurality and conflict are negatives, and when put together do not create something positive i.e. disharmony + disharmony = disharmony.

If plurality is, naturally, plural, then it may follow that it must necessitate an original unity in order to exist. For example, the plurality of sound arises and returns to the unity of silence. Silence is a necessary condition for sound to arise. So, in this sense, the unity is original, while the plurality is something that arises within it.

I claim that consciousness is like this. The nature of consciousness is a kind of “silence”, which is unified, and must be in order for plurality to arise within it.

Again, just like the way silence is the backdrop for all sound, and cannot disappear when sound arises, nor be created from the addition of sound, so to is the silent backdrop of consciousness, which is constantly present throughout the apparent experience of duality, and cannot be gained from the addition of plurality.

If it is “ever-present” like this, then logically it cannot be achieved, realised, gained or attained in any sense. Nor can it be lost, removed or separated.

Thus, it is reasoned that the reason for our misperception of what is already the case is due to attachment to plurality/duality.

So, it seems that we encourage the same method (remove mental attachments) but for different reasons. Different paths for the same result, perhaps.
This is one of the benefits of you and I having this one on one. If we were conversing on RDF, it wouldn't be possible. I agree that those arguing religious beliefs when there supernatural parts are closed are just misguided and the atheists are right to feel it empty.

At least we know that we can discuss in the spirit of "right speech" which is a step in the right direction and I believe a worthwhile influence for any site that seeks to further communication.
Sure. And I am glad that we can reach this kind of mutual understanding too.

I also think though that we shouldn’t let the majority give a bad name to the few. There are some very open minds on RDF also, who are very capable of meaningful and positive communication, in spite of differences. There are even many Buddhists over there, so right speech is not a totally alien concept.

There are many different kinds of discussions, and if one’s aim is to develop and test the strengths of one’s ideas, then RDF is very useful for this end. The opposition is the strongest around, and only the strongest survive. So, as a kind of high-level testing ground, it can be very positive towards growth.

My own attitude is that you only become a better player by playing stronger opponents – therefore, for me, a site composed mainly of highly intelligent and extremely well-read materialists who viciously disagree with me is a blessing.

So, while many kinds of discussion are not possible there, if the aim is to sincerely test and expand the strength of one’s beliefs in a “survival of the fittest” kind of environment, there are few better places in which to do this. Anything becomes a tool, if used correctly.
Our egos get the best of us. But if we admit its dominance and don't justify it we become open to consciously minimize it and achieve a greater level of true understanding by not blocking and opening to different perspectives.
Then the question is – who is consciously minimising it? The “minimiser” is itself the ego.

Perhaps not so different from what you are saying, I claim that, as long as there is an identification with any object, whether it be the ego, or the minimiser of the ego, we are moving further from the subject, or the self.

Although, I claim therefore that absolutely no effort can be made to minimise or control the ego, since the very one who would be asserting this effort is the ego. Therefore, the very attempt to dispel the ego only reasserts its dominance.

Instead, I would maintain that the only thing that can be done is to be more fully aware of this mechanism, and the ego itself. That’s it, just be aware of it.

If we are aware of it, we are aware that it is an object. If it is an object, we understand that it cannot be the subject. If we understand it is not the subject, we cease to identify with it. Thus, it loses its dominance.
I'm not sure what you mean by "objective results". Do you mean in terms of actual behavioural and psychological changes?

Objective results refer to this process of remembering or re-membering where the membered parts of the plurality are united, re-membered and a person can experience life with as Jacob Needleman describes, the whole of oneself.
Okay, sure.

For me, the process of experiencing life with the whole of oneself is not arrived at by uniting plurality but the process of perceiving it as without persisting essence in the first place.

So, I guess I can’t really answer the original question – how we can remember parts of a plurality and unite them – because I believe, in reality, there are no parts, only the illusion that there are.

Although, I believe that unity is original, rather than gained, and the process of realising this can be described, and is often described in Zen for instance, as a remembering.

So, nothing is added or achieved – instead, what is already the case is “remembered”. I know this doesn’t really respond to what you wrote, but is probably the only way I can really relate to the idea.
A lot of New Age thought like a Course in Miracles for example denies materiality and the value of the sensory experience. A lot of materialists and atheists deny the value of higher conscious states and the potential for sacred emotions. I've become convinced of the value of experiencing life with the consciously balanced whole of oneself or "presence" and the value of this strange word "awakening" for the being of Man.
I agree.

Ancient practises, such as yoga and meditative methods, encourage the student at certain stages to deny the material or physical and the senses. This is only meant as a temporary method however, with the aim of turning the mind into itself, and diminish attachment to material things. It is simply an exclusive means to a more inclusive end.

So, perhaps New Age thought such as a Course in Miracles has, as it so often does, misunderstood and misrepresented the entire point of the ideas it incorporates.
I further believe that the more one becomes open to experience with the whole of themselves, the more the natural balance between the essence of religion, the vertical direction, and science, its horizontal expression in the world, will become natural for the benefit of both the individual and society as a whole.
Sure, I agree with the essence of this, though I would only use slightly different words/concepts.
As an aside, are you attracted to classical visual art and does it make impressions on you?
Absolutely, sure – though, I can’t claim to be particularly well-versed on art history, so it is fairly superficial and immediately aesthetic, rather than a “heady” kind of interest.

I am probably most attracted to classical sculpture and architecture. I have always loved the representation of perfection, symmetry and proportion, as well as high technical skill involved in art production, so there is much that appeals to me in both Grecian classicalism and the Renaissance revivalism also. Of course, there is the overt relationship between these themes and the contemporary philosophy, particularly the incorporation or inspiration from Platonic ideals of form and absolute beauty, which are all fascinating to me – and I would guess may be related to why you mention it?

In all, I prefer modern art, to which I respond to and am impressed by much more personally than other forms. Classical art I think of as an approach towards ideal form and beauty, while modern art is often about finding beauty everywhere, the latter of which I relate to more easily I guess. Though, I am very interested in Japanese classical art too, which acts as a kind of median between these two aspects – the minimalism and immediate expressionism of modern art combined with the perfection and emphasis on form of classical art.

Then again, they way I appreciate art and the way it effects me personally is very non-verbal – so the more I talk about it, the more inaccurate my talk about it becomes, if that makes sense.
I don't know what you are celebrating but have a happy whatever and raise a toast to you in the old Russian way.
Na zdorovia, friend. I do basically celebrate Christmas, I guess I consider it more cultural than religious. A time to bond with the family and eat lots of great food. Not all atheists are Scrooges. Well, not always...

Peace,

Thuse.

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