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Atheism with Thuse

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

Atheism with Thuse

Post by Nick_A » October 6th, 2009, 10:08 am

Hi Thuse and welcome to Online Philosophy Club.

I will be trying to clarify your beliefs rather than argue with them so as to paint a broad picture of atheism as you define it intellectually as well as feel it personally. The idea is to get beyond the details to better understand the big picture.

How did you adopt atheism as your primary philosophy? Was it something you grew up with as a part of you family or was it a philosophy that you discovered and found attractive?

What is the primary appeal of atheism for you now and why do you prefer it to agnosticism? What is it that offers sufficient proof to you that there is no conscious source of existence?

Atheism seems to be a very broad term to include differing degrees of disbelief. Atheism has been defined as:
the doctrine or belief that there is no God
a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
How strong is your belief that the "I don't know" of agnosticism is insufficient?
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

Re: Atheism with Thuse

Post by Thuse » October 6th, 2009, 12:54 pm

Hi Nick_A

First of all thank you for the welcome and for the invitation to discuss my views with you. I will do my best to clarify my beliefs, however, I should perhaps offer a small disclaimer that my views are not necessarily representative of all atheists of course, which is as varied a philosophy as the next.
Nick_A wrote: How did you adopt atheism as your primary philosophy? Was it something you grew up with as a part of you family or was it a philosophy that you discovered and found attractive?
I should probably talk about Christianity first, since although it is obviously not equatable with theism in general, it was important in structuring my personal atheism. I was fairly casually raised a Christian and very interested in theology, philosophy and even mysticism from an early age. Eventually, I became incredibly dissatisfied with Christianity, feeling that it had no intellectual substance as to how, why and what we are doing here in this Universe. Most of the people I would ask difficult questions to did their best to discourage me as much as possible; something I found particularly odd as, if this really were the truth, surely it would have all the answers. I quickly found that it did not, and did away with it, but not so readily my actual belief in god just yet.

Like most people, I just want to know what truth is. A concept that has stuck with me is to imagine a man born on a desert island, completely alone, who survives and lives there in isolation for his entire life. Lets say that this man is philosophically minded and instinctively decides to try to answer the big questions of life. It is unlikely to me that he will conclude, spontaneously, that there is a god who also visited the Earth thousands of years ago in human form and died for his sins etc. You can't ascertain that with logic and introspection alone. Within the Christian tradition, if this man didn't work this out exactly this way, he will burn in hell for all of eternity, since no-one gets into heaven except through J.C. I felt this was definitely a bit harsh and not representative of an all-loving god, and was partly involved in my abandonment of Christianity. However, it is an idea that has always stuck with me - I am only interested in truth that is accessible for all people. We all have an equal right to it, and only the truth that can be found by each of us seeking within, not turning without, is the kind of truth I am seeking.

After reviewing the various arguments that I am sure we are all familiar with and thoroughly bored of, I felt that a god was not necessary to explain existence. In my teenage rebellion, I acknowledged to myself that I no longer had any reason to believe in a deity. Much to my surprise, I was not struck down by lightning or anything particularly dramatic. I did, however, suddenly feel a unique kind of freedom. Like I had been clinging on to something pointlessly that I didn't previously want to accept. For the first time, my total existential independence struck me. I saw how a total chaotic mass of energy had self-organised itself over billions of years, and now here I was, in awe of this concept. It was a truly liberating experience and one where any conception of a god was totally unnecessary. Existence was seen as so much more delicate and unified, a singular self-sufficient whole rather than a play-thing of any external figure. Everything simply made sense to me in a godless universe, when nothing had made sense before. I felt that atheism is simply what happens when you accept things as they are. If one does this, a concept of god simply doesn't come into it. At least, that's what happened with me.
What is the primary appeal of atheism for you now and why do you prefer it to agnosticism?
As above, the appeal to atheism for me is that I feel it doesn't require any further speculation about anything. There is no mental clinging to any vague idea (including that god categorically does not exist); it is merely that nothing beyond what is observed is assumed. I don't feel, for instance, I need to sit down and decide whether invisible teacups exist. Why would they? Who cares if they do anyway - it has no effect on my existential status whether they do or don't. This is how I view the question of a deity.

Agnosticism is the belief that we simply don't know and/or can't know. The problem I have with it is simply that that isn't good enough for me. Ultimately the agnostics have the upper ground - they are right. No-one can ever know whether there is or is not a god. But that's far too boring if I'm honest, and has no real existential value for me personally. The question of god is essentially an answer to the question "why are we here", and relates to the questions of who we are and what we should do etc. If we say "I don't know", fine, but these other questions still need answering. I feel that agnosticism, in this sense, misses the point.
What is it that offers sufficient proof to you that there is no conscious source of existence?
When asked about my atheism, I often say that I don't know that there is no god, I just have no reason to suspect that there is. This is true in an everyday sense; however there is a metaphysical sense in which I can say that I am sufficiently convinced that I know god can't exist, which I will try to explain.

Simply put, I consider the statement "god exists" to be meaningless in all possible situations. Take your definition of god in the question, a "conscious source of existence". If there is a source of existence, then it necessarily precedes existence, because it is the source of it. Therefore, there is no sense in saying it 'exists' - it produces existence, therefore, before it produced existence, there was nothing that existed, including it. Therefore, god cannot exist - the notion itself is meaningless. This is really the basis of my atheism.

The only alternative to this would be a conscious source that produced the conscious source of existence. However, this very quickly leads to an infinite regression.

I find it very interesting that you would define god as a conscious source of existence. If there were a god, we would fundamentally share two things in common - consciousness and being. Ultimately, I am not my name, my job, my skin etc. What I am is consciousness, "I", and being, "am". If god is, then he must also say "I am". Therefore, we are equal in the sense that we both would share the two fundamental properties that compose our existence. So why call him god?
Atheism seems to be a very broad term to include differing degrees of disbelief. Atheism has been defined as:
the doctrine or belief that there is no God
a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
How strong is your belief that the "I don't know" of agnosticism is insufficient?
As above, I consider that god's literal 'existence' to be a metaphysical impossibility, in my opinion. This does not rule out the possibility of a 'being' that is beyond both existence and nonexistence. However, such a being would not be part of a theistic belief system - as theism is the view that god exists. Therefore, I can be personally certain that the premise god exists is false, which would categorise me as an atheist rather than a theist or agnostic.

The question of the insufficiency of "I don't know" is related to what I see as the insufficiency of theism. I have been both a theist and an agnostic once, and in both cases they required this clinging to an abstraction about something that cannot possibly be known. Since both amount to mental abstractions, they only serve to remove one from reality further, as far I can see. When one drops any theistic notion, there is strange sense of being grounded, finally, in what is, not what might be. It is a joyful feeling, not the conflicted feeling brought by both theism and agnosticism. So primarily, agnosticism is existentially worthless, at least to me. Whether god exists or not, it has nothing to do with the fact "I am".

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

Post by Nick_A » October 6th, 2009, 4:01 pm

Hi Thuse

You mentioned that your "views are not necessarily representative of all atheists of course, which is as varied a philosophy as the next."

My own experiences with atheism has made me aware that there is both an emotional expression and intellectual expression of atheism. The emotional side denies while the intellectual side demands proof. Would you say that your need for truth is more an intellectual, emotional, or a balanced need?

I'm not being critical here but rather further understanding the basis of your letting go of previous conditioning. Was your source of disappointment more intellectual or emotional?
As above, I consider that god's literal 'existence' to be a metaphysical impossibility, in my opinion. This does not rule out the possibility of a 'being' that is beyond both existence and nonexistence. However, such a being would not be part of a theistic belief system - as theism is the view that god exists. Therefore, I can be personally certain that the premise god exists is false, which would categorise me as an atheist rather than a theist or agnostic.
So your atheism seems to be a rejection of a personal God or deity that controls existence but not necessarily a conscious source that doesn't exist but rather IS. Existence is in time and space but you seem to accept the possibility of a source outside time and space that doesn't exist but rather IS within which the process of existence occurs.

Would your atheism accept the possibility of a "Transcendent unity of Religions" that requires a quality of consciousness that as we are, we are incapable of comprehending. Does your atheism reject this diagram:

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

From this perspective, any of the major traditions exist at different levels of quality reflecting different degrees of Man's understanding. The Christianity of the exoteric level, man made Christianity, would be different then the Christianity of the transcendent level that initiated with a conscious source. Could your rejection be the healthy rejection of misconceptions normal the exoteric level which is not to deny the potential for the human experience of a higher reality?
Ultimately, I am not my name, my job, my skin etc. What I am is consciousness, "I", and being, "am". If god is, then he must also say "I am". Therefore, we are equal in the sense that we both would share the two fundamental properties that compose our existence. So why call him god?
I've understood "I Am" in relation to God as the expression first of "I" which is conscious unity: "No Thing." "AM" is the results of the lawful involution or fractioning of a conscious source into universal laws and denser levels of materiality that allow for the functioning of Creation.

When we say "I Am," it must be followed by something we feel related to. It cannot stand alone for us because there is no lawful expression of "I." We cannot create "Am" but rather Am is created for us through our attachments to the external world. Does your atheism reject this distinction between us and a conscious source capable of creation into span and scope of "AM?"
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 » October 6th, 2009, 5:48 pm

Nick_A wrote:Hi Thuse

You mentioned that your "views are not necessarily representative of all atheists of course, which is as varied a philosophy as the next."

My own experiences with atheism has made me aware that there is both an emotional expression and intellectual expression of atheism. The emotional side denies while the intellectual side demands proof. Would you say that your need for truth is more an intellectual, emotional, or a balanced need?
I'm not one for sentimentality, so I would like to think that my emotion doesn't have much say in it. Intellectually, I know that absolute proof doesn't exist, and can accept the possibility that a god could exist and a proofless Universe such as this one would still be the case. What I'm really interested in is the existential side. I agree with the Buddha when he said that "all is suffering". I don't think he just meant that everybody dies, everything decays etc. I think he was also referring to the notion that the very fact of existence brings with it a kind of gap we have inside of us, a vague feeling of separation. We try to fill this gap with everything, sex and drugs being the most common and the most fun of course, but also god. Unfortunately, these things do not permanently fill this existential hole. Not even a god can fill it - precisely because a god requires separation, and separation cannot be amended with more separation.
Was your source of disappointment more intellectual or emotional?
As above, neither, although there is little in exoteric religious ideology that I find intellectually satisfying. It was simply the disappointment that, if I was honest, this thing I was looking for was not god-shaped.
So your atheism seems to be a rejection of a personal God or deity that controls existence but not necessarily a conscious source that doesn't exist but rather IS. Existence is in time and space but you seem to accept the possibility of a source outside time and space that doesn't exist but rather IS within which the process of existence occurs.
Something that IS only exists in contrast to something that IS not. So something that IS still implies separation at a fundamental level and therefore, implies conflict. Conflict is just not something I am seeking.

The kind of entity that you are describing I simply would not try and describe. Any form of conceptualisation of such a being, should it be/exist etc. at all is, in my view, obsolete, for this reason.
Would your atheism accept the possibility of a "Transcendent unity of Religions" that requires a quality of consciousness that as we are, we are incapable of comprehending. Does your atheism reject this diagram:
My impression is that this diagram is highlighting that all religions have more or less the same conclusion at a high enough esoteric level, which is certainly not something I disagree with. It is also clear to me that, just as the exoteric is metaphorical, so is the esoteric. Much than can be said about god in the ancient days can be said of consciousness today.

You also note that there may be a part of consciousness that we are incapable of comprehending, which I certainly agree with.
From this perspective, any of the major traditions exist at different levels of quality reflecting different degrees of Man's understanding. The Christianity of the exoteric level, man made Christianity, would be different then the Christianity of the transcendent level that initiated with a conscious source. Could your rejection be the healthy rejection of misconceptions normal the exoteric level which is not to deny the potential for the human experience of a higher reality?
I think the Christian might be rather upset if he were to find out his religion was of a lower level of quality than another. However, all religion is metaphor, even the esoteric. It is all ultimately description. No matter how good a description is of a strawberry, I much prefer real strawberries.

You have said above that there is an aspect of consciousness we cannot comprehend, which I assume you are effectively equating with god, at least in terms of our relationship with it. I would note then that, "man's understanding" is a contradiction in terms. The only level of understanding could be his understanding that he cannot understand. So rising through the ranks of more and more not understanding is not something that I find particularly appealing, personally. From this perspective, debating about who has more quality of not understanding than another would seem to miss the point somewhat, in my opinion.
I've understood "I Am" in relation to God as the expression first of "I" which is conscious unity: "No Thing." "AM" is the results of the lawful involution or fractioning of a conscious source into universal laws and denser levels of materiality that allow for the functioning of Creation.

When we say "I Am," it must be followed by something we feel related to. It cannot stand alone for us because there is no lawful expression of "I." We cannot create "Am" but rather Am is created for us through our attachments to the external world. Does your atheism reject this distinction between us and a conscious source capable of creation into span and scope of "AM?"
While you say that "I am" must be followed by something we are related to, any relationship conversly implies separation. "I am", taken on its own, implies a more fundamental separation between that which knows that "I am" and its own expression - or in your view, between god and his creation. All separation implies conflict - thus there is an implication of conflict between god and his creation just by the fact of their (non)existence. I would say that we all seek peace and harmony i.e. the absence of conflict. So, to answer your question, I would indeed reject any distinction between us and god (them), since it is counter to balance. I would also note that 'am' denotes being, rather than becoming. Attachments to the external world encourage becoming, which is contrary to being. Also, by adding anything to the end of "I am" is itself an attachment and implies separation and multiplicity, which is contrary to the singularity and unitary nature of "I". Both I and Am are singular and self-referential. If we can say it, and god said it, it ultimately refers to the same "I am". Thus, the notion of an independent separate god is denied, if we follow this idea.

(As a side, I would be very interested to know why you call the stage of the formation of the 'unity of consciousness' "no thing"? In my experience of similar esoteric descriptions, no thing precedes the emanation of any object, as per ain and ain soph in Kabbalah, for example. "I" is often the first object, like the first expression of object Shakti from subject Shiva (god) in Tantra, or consciousness-in-movement arising from pure consciousness in Advaita. I would of thought no thing might be more appropriately designated to god prior to self-expression. I personally consider this an important distinction and so clarifying this would greatly help me understand your perspective.)


Many people who take your view consider it the reality behind theories like the big bang etc. From my atheistic perspective, I simply consider it more likely that the metaphors we have created with the aid of empiricism etc. are more accurate than those discovered by the ancients. The explanations they have provided would be exactly what would be expected if they were attempting to explain the birth of the Universe by their own contemporary standards. What you refer to in your model sounds much like the involution/evolution of consciousness of Sri Aurobindo. If consciousness evolves, why not metaphors?

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

Post by Nick_A » October 6th, 2009, 8:50 pm

Hi Thuse

The reason I was asking about emotion didn't have anything to do with sentimentality but rather emotional need. As an atheist, do you believe in emotional intelligence. Where the intellect measures and compares quantities, the theory is that the emotions have the potential to experience "FEEL" objective quality

Plato explained objective morality in terms of objective quality. The idea is that objective morality exists in us as soul knowledge or something we are born with that the soul is attracted to.

http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Anci/AnciBhan.htm
Plato realises that all theories propounded by Cephalus, Thrasymachus and Glaucon, contained one common element. That one common element was that all the them treated justice as something external "an accomplishment, an importation, or a convention, they have, none of them carried it into the soul or considered it in the place of its habitation." Plato prove that justice does not depend upon a chance, convention or upon external force. It is the right condition of the human soul by the very nature of man when seen in the fullness of his environment. It is in this way that Plato condemned the position taken by Glaucon that justice is something which is external. According to Plato, it is internal as it resides in the human soul. "It is now regarded as an inward grace and its understanding is shown to involve a study of the inner man." It is, therefore, natural and no artificial. It is therefore, not born of fear of the weak but of the longing of the human soul to do a duty according to its nature.
Does your atheism accept the potential that a human being can be drawn to and have the potential to open to objective morality if indeed it exists? If so it means that a person could rightfully deny the earth as easily as they do higher consciousness.

I'll incorporate Simone Weil into our discussion since she is one of the few that grew up as an atheist and died a Christian mystic. Though she died at 34, she was intelligent enough to be admired by Leon Trotsky and considered one of the brightest minds in the Marxist party in France. Yet she became an intellectual influence on Pope Paul V1.

She wrote:
"To believe in God is not a decision we can make. All we can do is decide not to give our love to false gods. In the first place, we can decide not to believe that the future contains for us an all-sufficient good. The future is made of the same stuff as the present....

"...It is not for man to seek, or even to believe in God. He has only to refuse to believe in everything that is not God. This refusal does not presuppose belief. It is enough to recognize, what is obvious to any mind, that all the goods of this world, past, present, or future, real or imaginary, are finite and limited and radically incapable of satisfying the desire which burns perpetually with in us for an infinite and perfect good... It is not a matter of self-questioning or searching. A man has only to persist in his refusal, and one day or another God will come to him."
-- Weil, Simone, ON SCIENCE, NECESSITY, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, edited by Richard Rees, London, Oxford University Press, 1968.- ©
Does your atheism value the needs of the heart Simone describes as: "satisfying the desire which burns perpetually with in us for an infinite and perfect good.."

Does your atheism accept that the needs of the heart, when allowed to open, cannot be satisfied by the false gods of the earth but requires a union with a quality that transcends our earth?
Something that IS only exists in contrast to something that IS not. So something that IS still implies separation at a fundamental level and therefore, implies conflict. Conflict is just not something I am seeking.
Could you elaborate here. I meant that God outside of time and space doesn't exist but rather IS and existence occurs within isness. God's Isness has no contrast since existence is within God.

The expression of God is all within NOW. We perceive relative time so only retain the experience of memory of the past and anticipation of the future. Yet if the process of existence occurs within NOW, it would be safe to say that we only experience an illusion of it.

Does your atheism allow for the possibility of NOW being a vertical direction that measures the vertical quality of being in contrast to our life that continually reacts in relation to stimuli along the horizontal line that connects the past with the future?

I'm trying to better understand how you appreciate quality. Is quality strictly subjective or does objective quality exist that some sensitive to it can be drawn to. Simone Weil wrote something revealing:
In order to obey God, one must receive his commands.
How did it happen that I received them in adolescence, while I was professing atheism?
To believe that the desire for good is always fulfilled--that is faith, and whoever has it is not an atheist.
- Simone Weil, First and last notebooks (last notebook 1942)
(Oxford University Press 1970) p 137
She is referring here to the influences of objective morality she was so sensitive to rather then an instruction from a being in a white beard.

But she raises an interesting idea that an atheist may be rejecting false God's but actually feels the essential connection between man and the influences of higher consciousness.

Could your atheism accept this possibility.
So rising through the ranks of more and more not understanding is not something that I find particularly appealing, personally. From this perspective, debating about who has more quality of not understanding than another would seem to miss the point somewhat, in my opinion.

Socrates exclaimed: "I know nothing." Though he knew he was surrounded by ignorance, he came to understand that he was wise because he knew his ignorance in contrast to objective reality. His associates could not experience this in themselves but rather lacked the humility to experience their ignorance. Simone Weil seems to be saying the same with her rejection of false gods. What is your opinion of Socrates? Was he really wise or just a misguided dreamer?
(As a side, I would be very interested to know why you call the stage of the formation of the 'unity of consciousness' "no thing"? In my experience of similar esoteric descriptions, no thing precedes the emanation of any object, as per ain and ain soph in Kabbalah, for example. "I" is often the first object, like the first expression of object Shakti from subject Shiva (god) in Tantra, or consciousness-in-movement arising from pure consciousness in Advaita. I would of thought no thing might be more appropriately designated to god prior to self-expression. I personally consider this an important distinction and so clarifying this would greatly help me understand your perspective.)
This relates to the Christian concept of God simultaneously as one and three. As One, God is outside of time and space. The initial division into three begins the involutionary process of unity into diversity forming the levels of reality that comprise creation. The universe and ourselves as a microcosm of it, exists as levels of reality reflecting different qualities of consciousness. One and three exist simultaneously one within the other. The symbol of the points of a triangle touching the circle it is enclosed within indicates the relationship.

No-thing is consciousness without contents within which every-thing is potential.
What you refer to in your model sounds much like the involution/evolution of consciousness of Sri Aurobindo. If consciousness evolves, why not metaphors?
Does Simone's observation here resonate with your atheism? It raises the question if man is evolving into new and uncharted territories or acquiring the quality of being that remembers our origin. Is it possible? It raises the question if secular evolution is the end all or if fixation on it just denmies Man's objective potential. Does you atheism admit the potential for both or does it deny Simone's description of progress
"Nothing can have as its destination anything other than its origin. The contrary idea, the idea of progress, is poison. Simone Weil
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 » October 7th, 2009, 5:54 am

Nick_A wrote:Hi Thuse

The reason I was asking about emotion didn't have anything to do with sentimentality but rather emotional need. As an atheist, do you believe in emotional intelligence. Where the intellect measures and compares quantities, the theory is that the emotions have the potential to experience "FEEL" objective quality
Sorry, I misinterpreted. Well, I believe that qualitative experiences are totally subjective. Objective reality is without quality; quality is only applied afterwards. In a sense though, I do think qualities reflect reality in that they are totally indescribable. So, no, I don't think one can feel objective quality, because I can't accept that such a thing exists if there is no subject to experience it.
Plato explained objective morality in terms of objective quality. The idea is that objective morality exists in us as soul knowledge or something we are born with that the soul is attracted to.
Plato realises that all theories propounded by Cephalus, Thrasymachus and Glaucon, contained one common element. That one common element was that all the them treated justice as something external "an accomplishment, an importation, or a convention, they have, none of them carried it into the soul or considered it in the place of its habitation." Plato prove that justice does not depend upon a chance, convention or upon external force. It is the right condition of the human soul by the very nature of man when seen in the fullness of his environment. It is in this way that Plato condemned the position taken by Glaucon that justice is something which is external. According to Plato, it is internal as it resides in the human soul. "It is now regarded as an inward grace and its understanding is shown to involve a study of the inner man." It is, therefore, natural and no artificial. It is therefore, not born of fear of the weak but of the longing of the human soul to do a duty according to its nature.
Does your atheism accept the potential that a human being can be drawn to and have the potential to open to objective morality if indeed it exists? If so it means that a person could rightfully deny the earth as easily as they do higher consciousness.
Well, as above I don't believe in objective morality, nor agree with Plato that there is such a thing as a soul. I think the commonality among moral codes are easily explained by fairly boring evolutionary factors. I also believe that the human being is fundamentally being and consciousness. Being and consciousness can be observed to embrace all things with indifference, and I feel that what we refer to as love and compassion is ultimately the embracing of all things. In other words, acting compassionately is not an objective moral fact, rather a 'purer' expression of what we are. This is how I reason the commonality among moral codes and the joy that comes from helping others. Moreover, I do not see any possibility for an individual soul, since everything in the Universe is co-dependent. In a very meaningful sense, we are all part of the same being, so acting compassionately towards others in necessary because those others are not different from us. For me, none of this implies objective morality, nor does it bring up the authoritarian aspect of such a morality.
I'll incorporate Simone Weil into our discussion since she is one of the few that grew up as an atheist and died a Christian mystic. Though she died at 34, she was intelligent enough to be admired by Leon Trotsky and considered one of the brightest minds in the Marxist party in France. Yet she became an intellectual influence on Pope Paul V1.

She wrote:
"To believe in God is not a decision we can make. All we can do is decide not to give our love to false gods. In the first place, we can decide not to believe that the future contains for us an all-sufficient good. The future is made of the same stuff as the present....

"...It is not for man to seek, or even to believe in God. He has only to refuse to believe in everything that is not God. This refusal does not presuppose belief. It is enough to recognize, what is obvious to any mind, that all the goods of this world, past, present, or future, real or imaginary, are finite and limited and radically incapable of satisfying the desire which burns perpetually with in us for an infinite and perfect good... It is not a matter of self-questioning or searching. A man has only to persist in his refusal, and one day or another God will come to him."
-- Weil, Simone, ON SCIENCE, NECESSITY, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, edited by Richard Rees, London, Oxford University Press, 1968.- ©
Does your atheism value the needs of the heart Simone describes as: "satisfying the desire which burns perpetually with in us for an infinite and perfect good.."
I would certainly say that my atheism values these needs, in fact this desire she is references sounds much like that which I mentioned earlier. To be honest, she sounds a lot more like an atheist to me in the above paragraph rather than a theist.
Does your atheism accept that the needs of the heart, when allowed to open, cannot be satisfied by the false gods of the earth but requires a union with a quality that transcends our earth?
As above, I would call what you refer to as the needs of the heart the unbridled self expression of our nature. I am not interested in union with something that transcends our earth. I am only interested in being what I am as fully as possible. I do not seek anything to complete me; I seek to understand that I am already complete. If such a union could take place, it could not possibly effect my being, which is mine alone. So it would be of no value to me.
Something that IS only exists in contrast to something that IS not. So something that IS still implies separation at a fundamental level and therefore, implies conflict. Conflict is just not something I am seeking.
Could you elaborate here. I meant that God outside of time and space doesn't exist but rather IS and existence occurs within isness. God's Isness has no contrast since existence is within God.
Is-ness is simply another way of saying existence. Something that IS exists. There are not two types of existence. To say that god IS is an affirmative statement, therefore, the negative is implied. If we say that the negative, IS not, is not implied simply because its god, then we have to assume that contrast and negation doesn't come from god in which case he is not omnipotent.

This description attempts to categorise something that is not categorisable; it is bound to lead to contradiction. This is what I mean when I say that all metaphors, however high in quality or esoteric, are simply metaphors good for a purpose then to be thrown away. The description is not the described in my view.
The expression of God is all within NOW. We perceive relative time so only retain the experience of memory of the past and anticipation of the future. Yet if the process of existence occurs within NOW, it would be safe to say that we only experience an illusion of it.
So I assume that we are part of god's expression? Well, as expressions of god, we are necessarily imitations. We may be art, but all art is eventually false - it is not the real thing. I'm am more interested in the real thing than an imitation. I can ascertain by introspection that my essential nature consists of "I am". I conclude that we are ultimately that and do not see any need to invoke an external creator for, which the same could be said, that expresses us.
Does your atheism allow for the possibility of NOW being a vertical direction that measures the vertical quality of being in contrast to our life that continually reacts in relation to stimuli along the horizontal line that connects the past with the future?
I see that NOW is not anything other than NOW. A "vertical direction that measures the vertical quality of being" is something other that NOW. So, no, my personal atheism couldn't acknowledge this possibility. Moreover, I don't feel being can be measured. In a sense, it itself is a measurement of what 'is'.
I'm trying to better understand how you appreciate quality. Is quality strictly subjective or does objective quality exist that some sensitive to it can be drawn to.
Strictly subejctive. I find the idea that only those sensitive to objective quality to be odd and ultimately quite elitist. Often times it is not unusual for theist to explain non-believers by claims of their lack of sensitivity. I am only interested in a truth equally accessible to all, rather than a select sensitive few. The 'truth' of our being is exactly that - in fact it is already the case, whether accepted or not. Sensitivity is not required.
Simone Weil wrote something revealing:
In order to obey God, one must receive his commands.
How did it happen that I received them in adolescence, while I was professing atheism?
To believe that the desire for good is always fulfilled--that is faith, and whoever has it is not an atheist.
- Simone Weil, First and last notebooks (last notebook 1942)
(Oxford University Press 1970) p 137
She is referring here to the influences of objective morality she was so sensitive to rather then an instruction from a being in a white beard.

But she raises an interesting idea that an atheist may be rejecting false God's but actually feels the essential connection between man and the influences of higher consciousness.

Could your atheism accept this possibility.
It an interesting quote, however, it seems odd to simply redefine the word atheist for her own purposes. In her definition, I wouldn't be an atheist, but by the dictionary's and most people's definitions I would.

In any case, there is no fundamental difference between accepting instructions from a man in a white beard and claiming sensitivity to objective morality. The latter is simply a more refined and modern way of saying the former. Both amount to the speaker claiming that they are essentially 'special' and can feel god's message more clearly than the next person. As above, truth that is not accessible to all and equal to all is of no interest to me. Obviously, Weil is happy receiving commands from god. Quite frankly, I am not interest in a commanding god anymore than a child crying for his toys. Nor am I interested in 'obeying' any such god. My being is untouchable and not under the supreme command of anything; same for everyone else's being. Not even god can touch it, so I have no interest in being submissive to a hypothetical creature that ultimately has no power over me.

The connection Weil refers to I certainly feel, however, I don't consider it to be as you describe as a connection between man and a higher consciousness. I consider it to be the fundamental unity between individual being and 'universal' being, so to speak. So, I would specifically call Weil's god 'not god'; yet, as I still feel this connection she refers to, I can only assume that her views on atheists are mistaken.

She also mentions that the belief that the desire for good is always fulfilled is based on faith, but I would disagree. As I mentioned earlier, I am of the opinion that 'good' is an expression of what we really are, and ultimately inevitable - something cannot be kept from being itself. I observe this on a daily basis; so I disagree with such a definition that faith must come into it, let alone a significant other, thus negating Weil's definition of (not) an atheist.
Socrates exclaimed: "I know nothing." Though he knew he was surrounded by ignorance, he came to understand that he was wise because he knew his ignorance in contrast to objective reality. His associates could not experience this in themselves but rather lacked the humility to experience their ignorance. Simone Weil seems to be saying the same with her rejection of false gods. What is your opinion of Socrates? Was he really wise or just a misguided dreamer?
Socrates was, to me personally, the first great philosopher. I don't think that anything Socrates said has any bearing on what Weil has said. Socrates encouraged people to think for themselves and question authority. Weil is encouraging people not to think for themselves, but to be guided by emotions, and not to question authority, but to completely submit to idealised invisible entities and obey their every command. I see no similarity between Socrates and Weil. Socrates felt that the oracle must have called him wise because he knew only that he knew nothing. Weil seems to think that her 'sensitivity' allows her to know what is objectively desired by a god she knows exists - I would certainly not describe this attitude as 'humble'. These are completely opposite views, in my opinion.

It is worth noting that one of the reasons Socrates was put to death was for blasphemy - including such claims that even the gods were subject to goodness.
This relates to the Christian concept of God simultaneously as one and three. As One, God is outside of time and space. The initial division into three begins the involutionary process of unity into diversity forming the levels of reality that comprise creation. The universe and ourselves as a microcosm of it, exists as levels of reality reflecting different qualities of consciousness. One and three exist simultaneously one within the other. The symbol of the points of a triangle touching the circle it is enclosed within indicates the relationship.

No-thing is consciousness without contents within which every-thing is potential.
Thank you very much for clarifying this for me, I am always grateful to have help understanding different viewpoints. This sounds very similar to the Kabbalistic view of creation. I assume you would describe yourself as a Gnostic Christian?
Does Simone's observation here resonate with your atheism? It raises the question if man is evolving into new and uncharted territories or acquiring the quality of being that remembers our origin. Is it possible? It raises the question if secular evolution is the end all or if fixation on it just denmies Man's objective potential. Does you atheism admit the potential for both or does it deny Simone's description of progress
"Nothing can have as its destination anything other than its origin. The contrary idea, the idea of progress, is poison. Simone Weil
I feel this quote is a bit more insightful to me, personally. I would say she is being a little dramatic calling progress 'poison', although I do see where she is coming from. I can observe that all things return to their source - we return to the Earth etc. I assume the idea is, in the beginning was god, then there were some ripples in the void, and material reality emanated forth. This reality 'evolves' into more and more grosser levels, eventually with the aim of getting back to the subtlety of the source. Well, physics tells us that the source of the Universe was likely a point of infinite singularity, pure potentiality. I observe quite readily that the Universe 'progresses' in a pattern of increasing complexity and increasing entropy. I feel I can conclude that the inevitable endpoint would be a return to this point of infinitely dense complexity/potentiality. The Universe seems to follow a pattern of expansion/contraction. So, I would agree with Simone's description, only I use to different metaphors, which I believe to be more up to date.

I would say that I am not interested in acquiring being, in my view it is not something I acquire but already have. And memory of my origin does not really effect my being here, now. "I am"; finding out where "I was" is of little to no importance to me, and hardly, I feel, the singular 'point' of the entire Universe. So I don not think that views on secular evolution is a distraction; rather conceptions that there is an objective point to it all, other than simply to be as fully as possible, is the fixation that inhibits us from realising our potential. That would be the view I take in regards to my atheism.

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

Post by Nick_A » October 7th, 2009, 7:14 pm

First let me say Thuse that I appreciate your sincerity and disposition. I've had some disappointing experiences with emotional atheists as when I began a thread on RDF called "NOW." The unnecessary hostility prevented any sort of discourse. It is not your way or mine which makes our discussion both meaningful and beneficial for clarification.

I'd like to pursue this concept of objective quality which you reject. Where we both admit the reality of being and consciousness, it is the relativity of being for me that determines objective quality if it exists. From this perspective, the higher the quality of being, the higher the vibration and the closer to the Absolute or the source of creation. Relativity of being exists both within one cosmos or level of reality as well as defining the qualitative difference between cosmoses themselves. Involution is movement further into creation or unity into diversity while evolution is the movement of diversity towards unity. I know this is hard to explain so I'd like to borrow a bit from Jacob Needleman's book: "A Sense of the Cosmos." To read the first chapter which is sufficient to get a glimpse of the idea.

http://www.rawpaint.com/

Just click on Library at the far top right and look for:
Jacob Needleman's Chapter One: The Universe
The Universe as A Teaching
Pragmatism and Desire
A Conscious Universe
What Is Consciousness?
Microcosmic Man
The "Parable" of Geocentrism
The Face of Reality
Against the Literal Mind
Heliocentrism
Where Bateson studies Mind as a scientist from the outside, Jacob Needleman observes it as a philosopher and metaphysician, from within. This first chapter from his book, A Sense of the Cosmos; The Encounter of Modern Science and Ancient Truth (Doubleday), presents us with the possibility that the Universe is a living teaching. Don't mistake this for another "New Age" criticism of science. Needleman has the greatest respect for science and for the search for truth that is the heart and soul of science. Be sure to read section 4, What Is Consciousness? Needleman's challenging reflections imply that there are states, levels or qualities of consciousness that can be developed within us. What is more, the implication is that this development is the purpose of both the Cosmos and Great Teachings.


From Part One: The Universe as a Teaching
How to think about this equation of the universe and a great teaching? It is tempting, for example, to see a teacher such as Mohammed or Bodhidharma, who brought Buddhism to China in the sixth century A. D., as the bearer of an extraordinary energy which is distributed to the world in the form of ideas, actions, events, schools, factions and the organized efforts of the community of followers. To compare this sort of pattern to a universe would require that we think of reality not in terms of things but as a ladder of processes, a great movement and exchange of energies. A teaching would then be a copy of this cosmic process on the scale of human time on earth. To receive such a teaching in ourselves, one's own life would have to become yet another copy of this process.
From Part Three: the conscious universe
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?
So if the universe is created as a ladder of processes, relative quality of being is what establishes the relevance of these processes. If there is relative quality of being reflecting a ladder of processes where one cosmos fits within another on this chain, then outside the top of the ladder is the source of relative being that creates this ladder taken as a whole as the eternal process of creation maintained through the continual complimentary flows of involution and evolution.

I put this out there to suggest why I believe in a source and also why the dominant interest in the results of fragmentation natural for science finds it so easy to discount the efforts towards the experience of wholeness.
In any case, there is no fundamental difference between accepting instructions from a man in a white beard and claiming sensitivity to objective morality. The latter is simply a more refined and modern way of saying the former. Both amount to the speaker claiming that they are essentially 'special' and can feel god's message more clearly than the next person. As above, truth that is not accessible to all and equal to all is of no interest to me. Obviously, Weil is happy receiving commands from god. Quite frankly, I am not interest in a commanding god anymore than a child crying for his toys. Nor am I interested in 'obeying' any such god. My being is untouchable and not under the supreme command of anything; same for everyone else's being. Not even god can touch it, so I have no interest in being submissive to a hypothetical creature that ultimately has no power over me.
Would you accept the possibility that your personality is not necessarily an expression of the essence of your being? Your personality is the sum of conditioned reactions to external stimuli. But suppose your essence is responding psychologically to objective inner conscius influences? Then it is just doing what is natural rather then reacting in a conditioned mechanical sense. Consider these two quotations from Simone Weil:
"Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith: in this sense, atheism is a purification. I have to be atheistic with the part of myself which is not made for God. Among those men in whom the supernatural part has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong."
"An atheist may be simply one whose faith and love are concentrated on the impersonal aspects of God."


The idea here is that normal secular existence doesn't require anything but dualistic thought which is actually superior for secular existence. However, becoming conscious of a triune reality that allows for the inner experience of levels of reality requires opening to a quality of intellect through pondering that is beyond our normal associate thought. It adds the vertical dimension to horizontal dualism.

Simone Weil is known as the "New Saint" because she is the saint with a scientific mind. It isn't that she abandons critical thought but rather knows when it has reached its limit through creating contradictions.
"When a contradiction is impossible to resolve except by a lie, then we know that it is really a door." Simone Weil
This is a critical point. It is more natural to avoid contradiction and lie our way around it. She discovered that it is a door that leads to understanding through conscious pondering that allows for reconciliation from a higher conscious perspective. In this way it is related to a Zen koan.

The point I'm making is that levels of reality allow us To explain a lot of what appears senseless. it isn't elitist to be open to the idea of levels of reality as described in Plato's classic cave analogy and what is meant by being attached to shadows on the wall. If Man is capable of a conscious quality of being that transcends our normal reactive animal nature, then the underlying intent of religion becomes clear IMO: awakening to verticality.

Is your atheism open to the possibility of levels of reality and the relativity of being and specifically human being?
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 » October 8th, 2009, 5:23 pm

Nick_A wrote:First let me say Thuse that I appreciate your sincerity and disposition. I've had some disappointing experiences with emotional atheists as when I began a thread on RDF called "NOW." The unnecessary hostility prevented any sort of discourse. It is not your way or mine which makes our discussion both meaningful and beneficial for clarification.
Thank you, I similarly appreciate your tolerance and openness to discuss alternative viewpoints, even when they are in direct contrast in many respects. As to RDF: it is no secret that the folks over there are known to be somewhat intense in their scrutiny, often with negative results. That said, I think it is worth noting that, much in agreement with the quote in your sig from our friend Weil, the theist who seeks to convert the atheist and the atheist who seeks to convert the theist both ultimately do so, I believe, out of a kind of compassion rather than hostility (though it might not always appear that way). Both sides believe the other is basically suffering unnecessarily because of a lack of understanding, and both sides really have the other's best interests at heart. Perhaps by acknowledging the ways in which people’s ideas and motives are similar, rather than in conflict, I agree is a better direction.
So if the universe is created as a ladder of processes, relative quality of being is what establishes the relevance of these processes. If there is relative quality of being reflecting a ladder of processes where one cosmos fits within another on this chain, then outside the top of the ladder is the source of relative being that creates this ladder taken as a whole as the eternal process of creation maintained through the continual complimentary flows of involution and evolution.
The problem I see is that being is not an attribute that comes in types, whether absolute or relative. Being is only absolute; it is the necessary condition for anything. Being is not a quality, but the substrate from which all quality arises. It makes no sense to talk of relative being. By calling it relative being, it necessarily must be relative to something; in this case absolute being i.e. god. Yet that only means we have begged the question and created an inconsistent case for god. We are the ones defining these terms, then filling in the gaps, but it doesn’t mean that the terms refer to anything. Unless something can be shown or at least reasoned to be more than something else, I can only consider the basic premise is unsound.

It is also not clear from the writings why exactly the relevance of this process is established by the relative quality of being. That is still a subjective, not objective, assessment. Inevitability in this case does not equal objective purpose.

There is also the point that a process is a thing. A transformation of energy is a thing and this is not something science denies. I think the conception that science compartmentalises reality is certainly true, but less and less so as we realise that the individual parts cannot be ultimately considered separately from the entire works. The author makes exactly the same fallacy he criticises, by compartmentalising the Universe into a set of fractal processes anyway. There is also the fallacy of composition, since no justification is given as to why these processes should be considered as ladders, why god is at the top, why the processes ‘evolve’ and so on. So, I can’t really consider this description as valid nor as a justification for a supreme being.
I put this out there to suggest why I believe in a source and also why the dominant interest in the results of fragmentation natural for science finds it so easy to discount the efforts towards the experience of wholeness.
Fair enough, I would add however that the belief in a source is not necessarily something I have an issue with, rather the attributes of that source (e.g. intelligence/ consciousness/ benevolence etc.) is.

As above, however, I obviously don’t personally think this is a justified argument. Moreover, the notion of an experience of wholeness seems nonsensical to me. We are whole already, and what we are experiencing is whole already, since everything is what it is, even in your own system. Therefore, the only thing that could reasonably prevent one from experiencing wholeness would be misconceptions regarding the nature of being and experience, since only wholeness can be experienced.
Would you accept the possibility that your personality is not necessarily an expression of the essence of your being? Your personality is the sum of conditioned reactions to external stimuli. But suppose your essence is responding psychologically to objective inner conscius influences? Then it is just doing what is natural rather then reacting in a conditioned mechanical sense.
Well, the way I see it is that ‘my’ being is ‘your’ being too, there is only one being – reality is singular. So, everything, including personality, is an expression of being; literally, everything is something that “be’s”. So, again, I also don’t believe it is possible for anything to have an essence, since nothing exists in isolation. Being is not an essence per se; since essence is a quality, and being is not a quality but the potential and necessary state of all qualities. Moreover, there is no essence of being – being, literally, just is. It is fundamental. At least, I think so.

I’m not sure I understand your question: surely an “objective inner influence” is, if inner, subjective? Also, how is reacting in a conditioned, mechanical sense unnatural? I don’t understand how it is you are inferring objective influences here, and how you know those objective influences to be conscious. Whatever you may be perceiving, you do so via your own consciousness, so you can surely only infer what you already knew – that you are conscious. How do you know that this is god influencing you? So, of course, I can accept this as at least possible, but I just see no reason to consider that as a possibility yet.
Consider these two quotations from Simone Weil:
"Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith: in this sense, atheism is a purification. I have to be atheistic with the part of myself which is not made for God. Among those men in whom the supernatural part has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong."
"An atheist may be simply one whose faith and love are concentrated on the impersonal aspects of God."


The idea here is that normal secular existence doesn't require anything but dualistic thought which is actually superior for secular existence. However, becoming conscious of a triune reality that allows for the inner experience of levels of reality requires opening to a quality of intellect through pondering that is beyond our normal associate thought. It adds the vertical dimension to horizontal dualism.
Okay, it seems you are possibly inferring that a nondualistic view is necessary, which I certainly agree with. However, this is confusing since there is nothing nondualistic about what has been said so far, it is certainly entirely dualistic. So your criticism of dualistic thinking when considering the “vertical dimensions” would surely apply to your own model (in fact, the distinction between vertical and horizontal dimensions is itself dualistic). But as there is no such thing as nondualistic thought, one cannot ‘ponder’ nonduality – though this might be me being pedantic here over your choice of words, I do acknowledge the difficulty in trying to express what you are trying to describe. In any case, the conclusion of nonduality is that, obviously, there is no duality. Therefore, there is no higher dimension of experience, higher quality of being nor vibration of consciousness etc. that is different from what is being experienced right now. Nor is there any god, since there is simply no ‘other’. It is the dualistic mind itself that thinks otherwise and seeks to become rather than be. So, as I think its important to be frank, I would respectfully say that if your model tries to include nonduality, it could only do so at the expense of its negation, in my opinion.
Simone Weil is known as the "New Saint" because she is the saint with a scientific mind. It isn't that she abandons critical thought but rather knows when it has reached its limit through creating contradictions.
"When a contradiction is impossible to resolve except by a lie, then we know that it is really a door." Simone Weil
This is a critical point. It is more natural to avoid contradiction and lie our way around it. She discovered that it is a door that leads to understanding through conscious pondering that allows for reconciliation from a higher conscious perspective. In this way it is related to a Zen koan.
The point of a Zen Koan is indeed that it cannot be answered by a dualistic thought process. However, the point of all Koans is to realize the problems of dualistic thought, and subsequently abandon all those conceptions that are structured dualistically. Including of course those conceptions of higher, as oppose to lower consciousness; vertical, as oppose to horizontal dimensions; and, ultimately, god, as oppose to not-god. As a side, note that Zen also lacks a theology, metaphysic or dogma.
The point I'm making is that levels of reality allow us To explain a lot of what appears senseless. it isn't elitist to be open to the idea of levels of reality as described in Plato's classic cave analogy and what is meant by being attached to shadows on the wall. If Man is capable of a conscious quality of being that transcends our normal reactive animal nature, then the underlying intent of religion becomes clear IMO: awakening to verticality.

Is your atheism open to the possibility of levels of reality and the relativity of being and specifically human being?
I think what you refer to as levels of reality, I would label levels of perception, since reality just is, it is not something that comes in levels, since all levels would be included in it. I would agree in this sense, and do not consider this elitist; the elitism I was referring to was of the kind where person A doesn’t believe person B’s dogma simply because she is ignorant/stupid/weak/lacking sensitivity etc. Atheists are as guilty of that kind of elitism as theists in my view, and it is always unnecessary.

Let’s be honest; ultimately you would consider me to be like the prisoner in Plato’s cave, since I am not a believer in your philosophy. I think that’s fair enough; so, I equally don’t think it’s unfair if I openly admit that I feel exactly the same, that you are mistaking the dancing shadows of the flame as reality itself. In my opinion, the shadows are words, concepts and descriptions which are all simply attempts by the mind to grasp and categorise something out of its depth – god is one such category. In my view then, the underlying intent of sincere religions, if interpreted correctly, is not to awaken to anything, but to realise that one is already wide awake, and not seek completion, but acknowledge that one is already complete.

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

Post by Nick_A » October 8th, 2009, 10:24 pm

Beyond physical needs, it seems that we are motivated both psychologically and intellectually. It would be enlightening exploring this with you

What is Man according to your atheism? Does organic life on earth including our species as a whole serve an objective universal purpose or is it just a meaningless perpetual motion machine that has somehow developed on our planet?

Are you as an atheist attracted to the potential for emotionally experiencing possible objective human meaning and purpose and a higher conscious experience of what Plato called "forms" or are the details of relationships between phenomenon sufficient for meaning.

Read these two quotes referring to Beauty. Could you describe how they resonate with you. Do you completely reject either one or are they related in any way for you that could indicate a potential union of science and religion?
Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is "mere". I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern — of which I am a part... What is the pattern or the meaning or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent? ~ Richard P. Feynman
"Beauty is the only finality here below. As Kant said very aptly, it is a finality which involves no objective. A beautiful thing involves no good except itself, in its totality, as it appears to us. We are drawn toward it without knowing what to ask of it. It offers its own existence. We do not desire something else, we possess it, and yet we still desire something. We do not know in the least what it is. We want to get behind beauty, but it is only a surface. It is like a mirror that sends us back our own desire for goodness. It is a sphinx, an enigma, a mystery which is painfully tantalizing. We should like to feed upon it, but it is only something to look at; it appears only from a certain distance. The great trouble in human life is that looking and eating are two different operations. Only beyond the sky, in the country inhabited by God, are they one and the same operation. ... It may be that vice, depravity and crime are nearly always ... in their essence, attempts to eat beauty, to eat what we should only look at." Simone Weil
Where Richard Feynman is concerned with the details of his experience of beauty, Simone Weil is referring to what the experience of beauty both masks and indicates. Are these two perspectives mutually exclusive for your atheism?
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 » October 9th, 2009, 3:25 pm

Nick_A wrote:Beyond physical needs, it seems that we are motivated both psychologically and intellectually. It would be enlightening exploring this with you

What is Man according to your atheism? Does organic life on earth including our species as a whole serve an objective universal purpose or is it just a meaningless perpetual motion machine that has somehow developed on our planet?
I consider that Man, Homo Sapiens, is a species of ape typified by his ability for self-awareness and abstract and logical thought. This is not really according to my atheism however, rather, scientific fact and empirical evidence etc.

To me, life on Earth is neither serving an objective purpose nor is it a "meaningless perpetual motion machine". Firstly, by objective purpose I imagine that you would be referring to the involution/evolution of matter. Even if this is the case, that would not be an objective purpose, since purpose is by definition a subjective assessment. It is not possible that meaning could exist independently of minds, it is an abstraction by its very nature.

Secondly, life is certainly not a meaningless perpetual motion machine for two main reasons - namely, that there is certainly no such thing as perpetual motion as it would violate the laws of thermodynamics and, moreover, that life is not actually a machine, it is a kind of process. Life is what we refer to as the cyclical processes of self-organising organic material with the ability to self-replicate. There is no machine called life, life is simply a word we have defined to refer to complex collections of vibrations that have certain capacities, such as reproduction, growth etc. To think of life as something over and above this is a misunderstanding of the term. Subjectively, this process is very meaningful. At the most fundamental observable level, it is essentially an incredibly complex interaction of energy transformations that complexify into self-correcting feedback patterns we would call organisms. That this natural process can be traced and observed to be entirely self-perpetuating (not at all the same as perpetual motion) and not requiring any kind of creator, I find incredible and personally very meaningful; although obviously that is simply a subjective assessment since objective meaning is a contradiction in terms.

Since this process is entirely self-sustained and causal, there is no room for free-will nor any genuine choice beyond a pre-determined set of inter-related events. So, the concepts of seeking purpose and ‘a point’ are really only products of the mind and have no actual effect or impact on what actually happens and contributes to this process as a whole.
Are you as an atheist attracted to the potential for emotionally experiencing possible objective human meaning and purpose and a higher conscious experience of what Plato called "forms" or are the details of relationships between phenomenon sufficient for meaning.
Well, as above, I consider objective meaning is a contradiction in terms. Moreover, an "emotional experience" is, by definition, subjective! So, as an atheist, I can't be personally be attracted to something that can't really exist. I also feel I have answered above that the harmonic relationships between vibrations can be interpreted very meaningfully by themselves, I think.

Nevertheless, I imagine this answer is missing the point as to what I am really being asked in the second part of this question - which is how can I as an atheist deny at least the possibility that a higher state of consciousness is possible that allows an individual to connect with a supreme being? This is what I interpret as the basis of this part of the question, so I would like to try to answer that and hopefully make my view more understandable. Only, I reiterate it is only a view, however confidently I may assert it.

The concept of higher consciousness is a fairly modern buzzword that originates from two main sources. The first is the counter-culture of the sixties, who popularised the term to refer to intoxication and to imply a sense of superiority to the lower-consciousness of the establishment. It is of course clear now in hindsight that these individuals were far from enlightened. Since then, it has been regularly adopted by various new age groups and quasi-religious writers, again purely because of its implications of elevation, superior height and essentially the betterment over the mere lower consciousness of the common man who doesn’t follow belief X or religion Y etc. Promises of higher consciousness sell an awful lot of books, this much is obvious. Much of this comes from the fact that most mystical schools of thought do indeed work on consciousness and have simply been misinterpreted by pop-mystics who refuse to do the hard work to mean that their consciousness literally changes into something else. As a result of the basic but ultimately necessary inferiority complex of theists, it is a word often thrown around really as a projection of their own insecurity and secret frustration over not achieving these alleged states.

However, this is really just a basic misinterpretation of esoteric and mystical schools of thought. The aim of these schools has always originally been to remove delusions, including those of higher and elevated consciousness, and to enable the adept to let go of the inconsistencies of their own cognitive minds. The great irony then, is not that a higher consciousness was ever the case, but a kind of return to the basic consciousness that is the foundation for all other states. The point was always to remove one’s misconception and realise that their fundamental unity with the rest of existence has always been the case – as the Yogis say, “you are that”; as the Gnostics say, “the kingdom is within you”; as the Buddhists say “everyone is Buddha” and so on. So, the confabulation of these ancient ideas has resulted in an entire generation of ‘seekers ‘ being, conversely, those furthest away from their own aim, lost in conceptions and ideas given to them from books rather than their own questioning and research. As it turns out, there is nothing to be gained, achieved, acquired – rather, this aspect of the mind that perceives itself as incomplete is the part that was always intended to be removed so that the realisation that one already is connected can be had, rather than some higher connection with an external patriarch. At least, this is what I think, and why I am uninterested in becoming something else, only in being what I am.
Read these two quotes referring to Beauty. Could you describe how they resonate with you. Do you completely reject either one or are they related in any way for you that could indicate a potential union of science and religion?
Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is "mere". I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern — of which I am a part... What is the pattern or the meaning or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent? ~ Richard P. Feynman
"Beauty is the only finality here below. As Kant said very aptly, it is a finality which involves no objective. A beautiful thing involves no good except itself, in its totality, as it appears to us. We are drawn toward it without knowing what to ask of it. It offers its own existence. We do not desire something else, we possess it, and yet we still desire something. We do not know in the least what it is. We want to get behind beauty, but it is only a surface. It is like a mirror that sends us back our own desire for goodness. It is a sphinx, an enigma, a mystery which is painfully tantalizing. We should like to feed upon it, but it is only something to look at; it appears only from a certain distance. The great trouble in human life is that looking and eating are two different operations. Only beyond the sky, in the country inhabited by God, are they one and the same operation. ... It may be that vice, depravity and crime are nearly always ... in their essence, attempts to eat beauty, to eat what we should only look at." Simone Weil
Where Richard Feynman is concerned with the details of his experience of beauty, Simone Weil is referring to what the experience of beauty both masks and indicates. Are these two perspectives mutually exclusive for your atheism?
As to your first question, I don’t think science and religion can ever be unified, since if religion had a basis in science it would no longer be religion but science.

Moving on, both quotes have a poetry to them which is attractive. Hwever, I feel they are talking about two literally opposite things on closer inspection. Feynman, a man I greatly admire, is talking about finding beauty in the world when accepting it as it is. He is saying that the greatest wonderment comes when things are understood as they are, rather than seen in terms of the misconceptions thought about them. He is inferring that the questions “why” of things and the meaning of things are not really answerable questions, and will not be asked of things when they are properly understood. Weil, on the converse, seems to be praising ignorance of her own perceptions. She wants to get behind beauty – but actually, there is nothing behind beauty. Beauty is a subjective assessment, not an objective fact, this is evident by the fact that not everybody sees the same beauty, and some people even see beauty everywhere when we look properly. Weil desires something more of beauty erroneously, and then decides that whatever is behind it must be god. This is not a very coherent or sensible conclusion.

As an atheist, if I’m honest, I feel almost sad, that she cannot appreciate the beauty for what it is, as it is. She seeks something more and creates an idea of a god, which becomes more important to her than what is right in front of her. Whether the idea is valid or not is not even important – it is an idea. It is unfortunate, but her ideas have now become her focus rather than the beauty of the world. So in truth, I see no relationship between the two views. One is humbly pursuing truth and accepting the beauty of the world as it stands; one is choosing mental conceptions over what is and looking for more than the plentiful that is already present, rather than feeling the gratitude and wonderment of a world that stands by itself.

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

Post by Nick_A » October 9th, 2009, 8:07 pm

To me, life on Earth is neither serving an objective purpose nor is it a "meaningless perpetual motion machine". Firstly, by objective purpose I imagine that you would be referring to the involution/evolution of matter. Even if this is the case, that would not be an objective purpose, since purpose is by definition a subjective assessment. It is not possible that meaning could exist independently of minds, it is an abstraction by its very nature.
The Ouroboros is a symbol I understand to represent eternal recreation which life on earth does as the cycle of birth and death. One thing we know life on earth does is to transform substances through its bodily processes. Life on earth for me consists of parts of a living machine the purpose of which is to transform substances for the process of involution both for the earth and further into creation. I'm not saying I am right but rather how I appreciate the purpose of organic life on earth.

Man is the highest form of animal evolution. Animal life as reactive machines do not require consciousness but just the ability to react in accordance with the quality of substances its nature is capable of transforming. Man has the potential to awaken to the direction of conscious evolution which I believe all the ancient traditions initiating with a conscious source in their pure sense seek to help us with.

Machines carry out or aid in processes within. The universe as a perpetual motion machine since it is sustained by the source beyond time and space. The universe within the confines of relative time and space appears to function as a perpetual motion machine since its source is beyond its limitations.

Naturally since I believe in the universe as consisting of levels of reality, it is easy for me to appreciate this transformation of substances as what sustains the processes of involution and evolution that connect levels of reality

This is an essential difference between us.
In Buddhism, knowledge of the universe that sustains meaning and what a man can psychologically align with is called the dharma. In Christianity this knowledge is called wisdom and was part of the beginning. Wisdom or objective meaning then is conscious experiential knowledge of the interaction of essential universal laws.
You say that we can be attracted to what doesn't exist. Do you think Simone at fourteen was attracted to fantasy or a reality most are unaware of? This was the beginning of a letter to a friend when she was near death. Her brother she refers to was three years older and Andre Weil became one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the twentieth century ending up in that famous think tank in Princeton University together with those like Einstein.
At fourteen I fell into one of those fits of bottomless despair that come with adolescence, and I seriously thought of dying because of the mediocrity of my natural faculties. The exceptional gifts of my brother, who had a childhood and youth comparable to those of Pascal, brought my own inferiority home to me. I did not mind having no visible successes, but what did grieve me was the idea of being excluded from that transcendent kingdom to which only the truly great have access and wherein truth abides. I preferred to die rather than live without that truth........
As it turns out, there is nothing to be gained, achieved, acquired – rather, this aspect of the mind that perceives itself as incomplete is the part that was always intended to be removed so that the realization that one already is connected can be had, rather than some higher connection with an external patriarch. At least, this is what I think, and why I am uninterested in becoming something else, only in being what I am.
Why call it an external patriarch? Simone is referring to what is for us the higher conscious world of forms. Must we refer to deities in white beards or can we contemplate ourselves as a middle between above and below. Consider the Gospel of Thomas:
(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."
Jesus refers to a conscious connection and not a deity. But the point is that without the initial striving to impartially consciously begin to "know thyself" all our speculations are meaningless.

We are back to this question of emotional intellect. Simone was attracted emotionally to something that wasn't in the world. It is what allowed her to retain the necessary purity to witness herself. She observed:
"Purity is the power to contemplate defilement.”
Does this power exist? Do you think it is possible that we could begin to objectively "know thyself" from a higher conscious level that is not part of this lower reactive self and in turn this quality of consciousness could be noticed from above?
As to your first question, I don’t think science and religion can ever be unified, since if religion had a basis in science it would no longer be religion but science.


How do you resonate with the following quote? Is it pure fantasy or something that could eventually be considered common knowledge?
I believe that one identical thought is to be found--expressed very precisely and with only slight differences of modality-- in. . .Pythagoras, Plato, and the Greek Stoics. . .in the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita; in the Chinese Taoist writings and. . .Buddhism. . .in the dogmas of the Christian faith and in the writings of the greatest Christian mystics. . .I believe that this thought is the truth, and that it today requires a modern and Western form of expression. That is to say, it should be expressed through the only approximately good thing we can call our own, namely science. This is all the less difficult because it is itself the origin of science. Simone Weil....Simone Pétrement, Simone Weil: A Life, Random House, 1976, p. 488
Referring to the quotes, perhaps they are not mutually exclusive. Feynman is concerned with things as they are. Simone would say that everything is connected so every-thing must be considered in context. Does the note fa on the musical scale for example have an objective existence? No, it is defined in the context of the note directly above and directly below. Its harmonious placement is related to what is directly above and below it.

The world of forms is like this. Its expressions that we call things has a higher existence within which they exist as potentials. The intellect isn't initially drawn to it but the emotions are through its attraction to objective quality. The psychological experience of beauty suggests a greater truth beyond the beautiful while associative intellect normally used by science isn't concerned with it.

Say you and I are observing a beautiful naked woman. If we stand too far back she loses beauty and if we are too close she also loses beauty. If you sit on her with a magnifying glass looking for the source of the beauty it will be lost. Beauty then for me is an emotional experience that seems to connect levels of reality. It indicates a quality that our normal intellect and physical needs are unconcerned with.

My scientific chess playing minds appreciates Feynman and the artist and spiritual quality in me appreciates Simone. For this reason I don't see them as opposite but rather complimentary and connecting the above and below. Could your atheism allow for an eventual reconciliation between these qualities of reason?
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 » October 10th, 2009, 8:56 pm

The Ouroboros is a symbol I understand to represent eternal recreation which life on earth does as the cycle of birth and death. One thing we know life on earth does is to transform substances through its bodily processes. Life on earth for me consists of parts of a living machine the purpose of which is to transform substances for the process of involution both for the earth and further into creation. I'm not saying I am right but rather how I appreciate the purpose of organic life on earth.

Man is the highest form of animal evolution. Animal life as reactive machines do not require consciousness but just the ability to react in accordance with the quality of substances its nature is capable of transforming. Man has the potential to awaken to the direction of conscious evolution which I believe all the ancient traditions initiating with a conscious source in their pure sense seek to help us with.

Machines carry out or aid in processes within. The universe as a perpetual motion machine since it is sustained by the source beyond time and space. The universe within the confines of relative time and space appears to function as a perpetual motion machine since its source is beyond its limitations.

Naturally since I believe in the universe as consisting of levels of reality, it is easy for me to appreciate this transformation of substances as what sustains the processes of involution and evolution that connect levels of reality

This is an essential difference between us.
What you refer to as the involution/evolution of matter, I call the tendency towards increasing complexity and increasing entropy originating from a source of infinite density. So, I think actually while our definitions here different, the meaning and thing we are referring to is the same. We differ in that I don’t consider reality as anything other than unified; but what I would call an essential difference between us is, ironically, that I perceive no essential difference between us. The process that makes up existence, being unified, is a whole from which the parts cannot be separated from or taken in isolation in any absolute sense. So, the difference between us might simply be that you see separation where I see none.
Quote:
In Buddhism, knowledge of the universe that sustains meaning and what a man can psychologically align with is called the dharma. In Christianity this knowledge is called wisdom and was part of the beginning. Wisdom or objective meaning then is conscious experiential knowledge of the interaction of essential universal laws.
Is this Weil? With all due respect, she’s talking... sillyness. The Dharma cannot be ‘known’ at all, so it is not ‘knowledge’ of the Universe nor anything like it. Its analogy in Christian mysticism is the Logos, not ‘wisdom’. Moreover, conscious experiential knowledge is, by its very nature, subjective. So a subjective experience of objectivity is a contradiction in terms.
You say that we can be attracted to what doesn't exist. Do you think Simone at fourteen was attracted to fantasy or a reality most are unaware of?
To be honest, I see no valid reason to think so and nothing has been offered so far by her except appeals to emotion. Furthermore, there is only reality, to talk of a multitude of reality is senseless – reality is the thing that is multiple. So, I can’t think she was sensitive to a different reality, because there is necessarily no such thing!
This was the beginning of a letter to a friend when she was near death. Her brother she refers to was three years older and Andre Weil became one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the twentieth century ending up in that famous think tank in Princeton University together with those like Einstein.
Quote:
At fourteen I fell into one of those fits of bottomless despair that come with adolescence, and I seriously thought of dying because of the mediocrity of my natural faculties. The exceptional gifts of my brother, who had a childhood and youth comparable to those of Pascal, brought my own inferiority home to me. I did not mind having no visible successes, but what did grieve me was the idea of being excluded from that transcendent kingdom to which only the truly great have access and wherein truth abides. I preferred to die rather than live without that truth........
So, to me, it seems she was sad and in a moment of weakness created an idea to find comfort in rather than deal with her problems. People often demonstrate this kind of weakness, I can’t really hold it against her. It’s easier to take drugs than deal with life, just as it’s easier to steal than work for a living. Weil simply refuses to embrace life and be courageous, but instead rejects life (the very one she alleges god gave her) preferring death over the life she already has if she can’t have certain conceptual accessories– not very grateful to her creator is it?

Unlike Weil, I do not consider men to be ‘great’ who selfishly generate brownie points to assure their own ascension to something they only know as an idea, and refuse a life they should be grateful for. In contrast, I consider the great men to be those who act compassionately for the sake of compassion itself and the betterment of other beings, rather than solely to be awarded with access to an idealised afterlife like the ‘great’ men Weil is fantasising about. Perhaps if she had decided that this life, here and now, can be heaven or hell if we so choose, she would have felt a bit more empowered than self-absorbed. In any case, fine for the great men, what of the meek, the weak, the mentally disabled, the mentally ill? Are they not ‘great’ enough to enter Weil’s kingdom? What kind of bigoted, heartless, discriminative monster must god be to deny access to all his children, which, in his eyes, are supposedly created equally? To be honest, he sounds like a being not worthy of worship at all. Weil may be eager to obey such a petty entity, but I’m simply not interested complying with such a hypothetical figure. In this sense, we differ as complete opposites in that I consider the great man to be one who chooses freedom, while she considers them to be the ones that choose slavery.

I can understand that she may have such, in my opinion, childish ideas at fourteen, but it seems from her other writings that she never quite grew out of what I see as these pre-pubescent ideals. Perhaps if she had only read other Christian mystics like Meister Eckhart, she wouldn’t have been in this mess; but, it seems to me that she never took the time to appreciate anything other than her own metaphysical meanderings.

I should note that I am indeed being fairly harsh in my criticism of Weil. I can only say that anything other than honesty I would consider worthless and not truly representative of my views. In truth, my personal view is that I see no fundemental difference between Weil and myself, nor anything else. So, if my words against her seem strong, they are no stronger than ones I would desire be used against myself were I to fall into such traps of the ego as I perceive her as doing. I am a firm believer in the 'golden rule', and am simply putting it into practice, despite appearances. It is not my intention to offend nor debase the image of someone who may have contributed and enriched the lives of many. But, in what I suppose is simply my own arrogance, I would rather be true to my thoughts and risk offensive, than retain my poise and present myself dishonestly.
Why call it an external patriarch? Simone is referring to what is for us the higher conscious world of forms. Must we refer to deities in white beards or can we contemplate ourselves as a middle between above and below. Consider the Gospel of Thomas:
Quote:
(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."


Jesus refers to a conscious connection and not a deity.
Personally, I don’t think this is what Jesus says at all in the above quote. The way I see it, he never says anything about “a conscious connection”, nor anything like it. He says, fairly clearly, that the kingdom (i.e. heaven) is inside each of us and outside each of us, i.e. not elsewhere as Weil mistakenly believes. So, ‘the kingdom’ is not transcendent at all, but immanent, as I mentioned above.

Further, I personally think you are misinterpreting him here. He says, specifically, that by knowing yourself you will come to know ‘the father’. Lets think about this. In other words, he is saying that knowing thyself is equivalent to knowing the father – that is, that the two are not separate things. Knowing one will allow you to know the other, not because the act itself spontaneously creates an ethereal connection to Jehovah he simply forgot to mention, but because the two are one in the same. He is saying there is no external somethingrather, but that which you seek is already you.
But the point is that without the initial striving to impartially consciously begin to "know thyself" all our speculations are meaningless.
So why speculate about “conscious connections” and “levels of reality”? Perhaps it would be best to know thyself, which, as Jesus so precisely says, is the very thing that is being sought.
We are back to this question of emotional intellect. Simone was attracted emotionally to something that wasn't in the world. It is what allowed her to retain the necessary purity to witness herself. She observed:
Quote:
"Purity is the power to contemplate defilement.”


Does this power exist? Do you think it is possible that we could begin to objectively "know thyself" from a higher conscious level that is not part of this lower reactive self and in turn this quality of consciousness could be noticed from above?
Well, I don’t think “defilement” really exists objectively. The world is not “defiled”, everything is as it should be. To assume otherwise, as Weil does, would assume that creation is imperfect. Since a perfect being cannot create something imperfect, god is imperfect, defiled and necessarily not all-powerful. So, Weil has managed to contradict her entire theology in one sentence.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not really interested in Weil’s self-indulgent elitism and claims of superiority hearing about how pure she is. Truth not accessible to all is no truth worth acquiring. So Weil can keep her purity to herself. So far, she has demonstrated a complete ignorance of Buddhism and even Chirstian mysticism. More than that, she has totally misinterpreted Jesus, the one guy you’d intuitively think she might examine with a little care. So, I can’t really take her “insightful” one-liners, (especially when, as mentioned above, they negate everything else she believes) too seriously.

In regards to the higher consciousness, as I mentioned before in my last post, I take higher consciousness to simply be a term referring to the common misinterpretation of various religious philosophies, mainly propagated by authors who themselves are simply repeating the words of others who haven’t even had the alleged experiences to begin with.

This is the most complete answer I can give since, in all honesty, why you consider knowing thyself, an entirely subjective process, as something objective is unclear to me.
How do you resonate with the following quote? Is it pure fantasy or something that could eventually be considered common knowledge?
Quote:
I believe that one identical thought is to be found--expressed very precisely and with only slight differences of modality-- in. . .Pythagoras, Plato, and the Greek Stoics. . .in the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita; in the Chinese Taoist writings and. . .Buddhism. . .in the dogmas of the Christian faith and in the writings of the greatest Christian mystics. . .I believe that this thought is the truth, and that it today requires a modern and Western form of expression. That is to say, it should be expressed through the only approximately good thing we can call our own, namely science. This is all the less difficult because it is itself the origin of science. Simone Weil....Simone Pétrement, Simone Weil: A Life, Random House, 1976, p. 488
She is once again close, and once again incredibly far. Only one? Surely, as any scholar of comparative religion will tell you, there are many more than that. Although, I think it is now clear that Weil is no scholar of comparative religion – for one, she is equating the dogma-less Tao The Ching with the dogma of Christianity, which is an obvious contradiction.

I imagine the ‘one thought’ she is referring to is the very same Jesus was referring to regarding the lack of separation between…well, you know. She very nearly brushes profundity here; although, it would be all the more profound if the same thing hadn’t already been said with more clarity, accuracy, research and sincerity 30 years earlier by Huxley when he wrote the Perennial Philosophy. Once again, it seems Weil has failed to do her research.

As per her praise of science, I would actually agree that science should do a good job of approximating truth – after all, if is truth, then why would science not derive it. However, the meaning and application of said truth is not something science, religion nor conceptions of god can derive; this is for the individual to decide alone, in my view. If no agreement can be made, then it will not be truth worth having.
Referring to the quotes, perhaps they are not mutually exclusive. Feynman is concerned with things as they are. Simone would say that everything is connected so every-thing must be considered in context. Does the note fa on the musical scale for example have an objective existence? No, it is defined in the context of the note directly above and directly below. Its harmonious placement is related to what is directly above and below it.
On the contrary, I think Feynman is precisely acknowledging the interconnection and context of all things simply by acknowledging them as they really are. It is Weil who seeks to disrupt this, by tearing reality apart conceptually, creating self-imposed schisms that speak of anything but harmony. For her, the interconnectivity and harmony of all things is not enough. Unable to become empowered herself, she invokes an external non-apparent deity to submit to. She determines herself to be like the note, something that is only defined in terms of what it is lesser than. Thus, she can never know the true independence that comes from, conversely, acknowledging the complete lack of it and interdependence of everything. To Weil, F is F because G and A surround it. To Fenyman, F is F also because the sea is blue.
The world of forms is like this. Its expressions that we call things has a higher existence within which they exist as potentials. The intellect isn't initially drawn to it but the emotions are through its attraction to objective quality. The psychological experience of beauty suggests a greater truth beyond the beautiful while associative intellect normally used by science isn't concerned with it.
I think that in the 3000 years since Plato, the theory of perception, neurology and development of empiricism have come a very long way. To me, it is beyond any reasonable doubt that, were he alive today, Plato would recount his theory of Forms in light of it being effectively disproved empirically, mathematically and logically on numerous occasions. It is unlikely that the Athenic libraries Plato may have accessed had many books on Quantum Mechanics, for example.
Say you and I are observing a beautiful naked woman. If we stand too far back she loses beauty and if we are too close she also loses beauty. If you sit on her with a magnifying glass looking for the source of the beauty it will be lost. Beauty then for me is an emotional experience that seems to connect levels of reality. It indicates a quality that our normal intellect and physical needs are unconcerned with.
When I see that women, I see her beauty wherever I stand. When I look under the microscope, I see the beauty there too. I see beauty everywhere, when I look properly. If we see beauty in different places, then does that not necessarily indicate that beauty is subjective? If beauty is an emotional experience for you, are emotions not subjective? If beauty is a quality then it is qualitative – beauty is then subjective in your own description.
My scientific chess playing minds appreciates Feynman and the artist and spiritual quality in me appreciates Simone. For this reason I don't see them as opposite but rather complimentary and connecting the above and below. Could your atheism allow for an eventual reconciliation between these qualities of reason?
I think you have hit on something very interesting here, so my answer might be a bit lengthy, apologies. Okay, so we can say (if we humour a more scientific metaphor) that your right-brain favours Weil and your left-brain favours Feynman. Using an ancient metaphor, we can call your right-brain (archetypically) feminine and your right-brain masculine.

The archetypal masculine traits are logical, reason, rational, objective and so on, so it is easy for you to relate to Feynman in this sense, while the various feminine counterparts you mention allow you to realte to Weil in that way. However, the negative atrributes of the archetypal feminine are emotional, subjective, irrational, illogical, idealistic, passive, random which are all, by your own admission at several points, very adequate adjectives to describe Weil’s thinking. Note however, that the negative male aspects like arrogance, aggressiveness, domination and so are entirely absent from Fenyman’s quote – in fact, he is using a combination of the two. His view is wholistic, yet objective, analytical, yet poetic, rational yet imaginative etc.

Remember that left/right brain, feminine/masculine, negative/positive, ying/yang even involution/evolution etc. are all referring to fundamental binary states that are referred to in all mystical schools of thought (equivalent to the Shiva/Shakti distinction in yoga for example). The aim, according to all these schools, is to unify these two states of matter/brain/energy/mojo juice whatever, and create a balance, a harmony, rather than a dissonance between the two.

So, now when we review what Feynamn and Weil have said, we can see clearly that Feynman is displaying a fairly good attempt at the unification of the two. His understanding is demonstrating a balance between a male interpretation and female interpretation, or unification of left brain/right brain. Now, if we turn to Weil, we can see that her view is irrational (technically), emotional, subjective etc…yet we can also see that it lacks any of the corresponding attributes, e.g. logic, reason, objectivity, rationality, order and so on. It is clear that her view represents a complete dissonance between these two kinds of mind – not what we expect from a ‘spiritual’ master who has, most importantly, alleged to mastered herself. She appears quite overrun by all the negatives of one state of mind, totally unbalanced by the positives of either.

This also enriches Fenyman’s view – we can see his left-brain traits of independence and dominance, while balancing them with right-brain tendencies such as respect for nature and appreciation for (what he likely sees as) the ‘divine’. Weil, on the other hand, desperately seeks what she is lacking – a powerful, male archetype to submit to, ready to control and create masculine order from her feminine chaos. She seems to be seeking nothing more than a big string father-like figure that she can readily drop to her knees for and be at his service. Perhaps she merely seeks an aspect of herself, which she is projecting externally. As JC says, she will surely only find that by inquiring within, not without.

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

Post by Nick_A » October 11th, 2009, 1:13 am

Hi Thuse

I appreciate your sincerity. This is the value of interviews. rather than several people beginning to be nasty, I can further understand our differences through your sincerity.
What you refer to as the involution/evolution of matter, I call the tendency towards increasing complexity and increasing entropy originating from a source of infinite density. So, I think actually while our definitions here different, the meaning and thing we are referring to is the same. We differ in that I don’t consider reality as anything other than unified; but what I would call an essential difference between us is, ironically, that I perceive no essential difference between us. The process that makes up existence, being unified, is a whole from which the parts cannot be separated from or taken in isolation in any absolute sense. So, the difference between us might simply be that you see separation where I see none.
I think you misunderstood me. Creation for me begins with matter of such a fine density and high vibratory rate that it is not recognizable for us. It is usually described as a undetectable higher form of white light for want of a better explanation.

Creation for me is the act of slowing vibrations and the increasing density of matter within creation. The process of involution is the gradual division of unity into diversity.

I can easily understand how vibrations can slow down but I cannot see how they can begin to speed up. It seems to go against Newton first law of motion. Without a source, why would vibrations increase?
For her part, Simone Weil, in one of her last essays, wrote:
"Toujours le même infiniment petit, qui est infiniment plus que tout."

[Always the same infinitely small, which is infinitely more than all.]
This seems like an absurdity. However assuming that consciousness without contents is of such a high rate of vibration, we can see that as it slows and fractions of the Absolute are produced, infinity is created.

Where I see the unification in interconnected levels of reality, you see it as one whole without levels.
Is this Weil? With all due respect, she’s talking... sillyness. The Dharma cannot be ‘known’ at all, so it is not ‘knowledge’ of the Universe nor anything like it. Its analogy in Christian mysticism is the Logos, not ‘wisdom’. Moreover, conscious experiential knowledge is, by its very nature, subjective. So a subjective experience of objectivity is a contradiction in terms.


No, this isn't Simone. I understand the dharma as:
dhar·ma (därm, dûr-)

n.
1. Hinduism & Buddhism
a. The principle or law that orders the universe.
b. Individual conduct in conformity with this principle.
c. The essential function or nature of a thing.
2. Hinduism Individual obligation with respect to caste, social custom, civil law, and sacred law.
3. Buddhism
a. The body of teachings expounded by the Buddha.
b. Knowledge of or duty to undertake conduct set forth by the Buddha as a way to enlightenment.
c. One of the basic, minute elements from which all things are made.
Doesn't science seek to understand "a. The principle or law that orders the universe." I believe we can grow to understand it but the question is how?

Wisdom is speaking here:
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water...
When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth... when he gave the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him...
Now therefore harken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.
Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
(Proverbs 8:22-33)
For me then, wisdom like the dharma is objective experiential knowledge of the interactions of universal laws and always was. To live by the dharma is to live in accordance with the benefits of these laws.
To be honest, I see no valid reason to think so and nothing has been offered so far by her except appeals to emotion. Furthermore, there is only reality, to talk of a multitude of reality is senseless – reality is the thing that is multiple. So, I can’t think she was sensitive to a different reality, because there is necessarily no such thing!


Again, I appreciate your sincerity. I've felt it not to the degree of Plato or Simone but enough to convince me of a reality that I've had a glimpse of. Plato writes of the normal response to people like this in the cave analogy:
[Socrates] And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the cave, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.
Is this fantasy for you and these men would be right to think this man nuts or could there be more to it?
So, to me, it seems she was sad and in a moment of weakness created an idea to find comfort in rather than deal with her problems. People often demonstrate this kind of weakness, I can’t really hold it against her. It’s easier to take drugs than deal with life, just as it’s easier to steal than work for a living. Weil simply refuses to embrace life and be courageous, but instead rejects life (the very one she alleges god gave her) preferring death over the life she already has if she can’t have certain conceptual accessories– not very grateful to her creator is it?
Her problem was described by Albert Camus as a "lucid madness for truth." How then does she deal with it? She did so by living life in the raw in ways we would be unwilling to do. We don't need reality like she did. She wrote:
"Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached."
"There is no detachment where there is no pain. And there is no pain endured without hatred or lying unless detachment is present too."
She was willing to give up the pleasures of attachment to acquire the detachment necessary for the pure living experience that could led to truth.

The Red Virgin: A Poem of Simone Weil by Stephanie Strickland won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry in 1993. She wrote in the intro:
"Weil came to her philosophical and religious ideas by a path that included elite university training, factory work, potato digging, harvest in the vineyards, teaching philosophy to adolescent women, partisanship in trade unions, anarchistic Socialism, pacifism, rejection of pacifism, a conversion experience that did not lead her to joining ... a religion, exile in New York City, and employment by De Gaulle's government-in-exile in London.

Weil used her body as a tool as well as a weapon. She threw herself under the wheels of the same issues women are starving for answers to today: issues of hunger, violence, exclusion, betrayal of the body, inability to be heard, and self-hate. ...

"Weil, our shrewdest political observer since Machiavelli, was never deceived by the glamour of power, and she committed herself to resisting force in whatever guise. More 'prophet' than 'saint,' more 'wise woman' than either, she bore a particular kind of bodily knowledge that the Western tradition cannot absorb. Simone Weil belongs to a world culture, still to be formed, where the voices of multiple classes, castes, races, genders, ethnicities, nationalities, and religions, can be respected. To achieve this culture is an impossible task, but, as Weil would remind us, not on that account to be forsaken.

Today we look to Weil for hope, for meditation, for the bridge a body makes. She knew that the truth had been 'taken captive,' and that we must 'seek at greater depth our own source,' because power destroys the past, the past with its treasures of alternative ideals that stand in judgment on the present."
Rather then using philosophy for escape, Simone used her body to verify the human condition. Who does this? Philosophers like to sit at desks and write books. Simone is acquiring experiential understanding.

We, or at least I, cannot be like these special people with such a need for truth. Yet they can be an inspiration and allow us to sincerely question what is necessary to further experience what the heart calls us to. If I need wisdom, am I willing to pay the price through conscious detachment for the sake of impartiality? Have you had the experience of the heart calling us to understand just as the intellect does?
I can understand that she may have such, in my opinion, childish ideas at fourteen, but it seems from her other writings that she never quite grew out of what I see as these pre-pubescent ideals. Perhaps if she had only read other Christian mystics like Meister Eckhart, she wouldn’t have been in this mess; but, it seems to me that she never took the time to appreciate anything other than her own metaphysical meanderings.
Don't forget that Simone Weil died at 34 and was a Marxist and atheist for much of her life. There was no reason for her to read the mystics. As she explains, it was to her advantage not to do so:
I had never read any mystical works because I had never felt any call to read them. In reading as in other things I have always striven to practice obedience. There is nothing more favorable to intellectual progress, for as far as possible I only read what I am hungry for at the moment when I have an appetite for it, and then I do not read, I eat. God in his mercy had prevented me from reading the mystics, so that it should be evident to me that I had not invented this absolutely unexpected contact.
She later learned that her first mystical experience was surprisingly similar to what those like Meister Eckhart wrote of.

As her writings became discovered they were gradually organized into books. Would Notre Dame for example review a nut job?

http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=3261
Further, I personally think you are misinterpreting him here. He says, specifically, that by knowing yourself you will come to know ‘the father’. Lets think about this. In other words, he is saying that knowing thyself is equivalent to knowing the father – that is, that the two are not separate things.
But this is not what is written. Instead Jesus says:
"When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known,"
This is a big difference. For me it is important to become known. Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems like for the atheist, it is important to know through introspection.

How do you understand skepticism? Do you distinguish between skepticism and doubt or are they the same? I've come to appreciate that skepticism in contrast to doubt is an emotional attitude that denies impartiality.
"The poison of skepticism becomes, like alcoholism, tuberculosis, and some other diseases, much more virulent in a hitherto virgin soil." Simone Weil
For someone who valued critical thinking so much it is obvious that she is not referring to doubt. Rather she refers to a negative attitude that closes us off to greater understanding.

My own experiences with RDF for example, proved to me how strong the negative attitude of skepticism is. Yet I don't believe it is necessary and a person could be an atheist without such negativity and express a healthy doubt instead. Could you expand on this and whether you think I'm wrong or right.
Well, I don’t think “defilement” really exists objectively. The world is not “defiled”, everything is as it should be. To assume otherwise, as Weil does, would assume that creation is imperfect. Since a perfect being cannot create something imperfect, god is imperfect, defiled and necessarily not all-powerful. So, Weil has managed to contradict her entire theology in one sentence.
Defilement doesn't mean bad but rather less perfect. Creation must be imperfect to serve its purpose. Cosmological involution is just increasing degrees of imperfection where the imperfections of mechanics are witnessed by a higher conscious degree of conscious perfection and in turn, known from above.
Well, I don’t think “defilement” really exists objectively. The world is not “defiled”, everything is as it should be. To assume otherwise, as Weil does, would assume that creation is imperfect. Since a perfect being cannot create something imperfect, god is imperfect, defiled and necessarily not all-powerful. So, Weil has managed to contradict her entire theology in one sentence.
Perhaps we understand consciousness differently. What is your take on part 4 of chapter one of Jacob Needleman's "Sense of the Cosmos?"
What Is Consciousness?

I realize that our task would be much easier if from now on we could be working with a precise definition of the word "consciousness." But it is important to stay flexible toward this question of the nature of consciousness. The word is used these days in so many different ways that out of sheer impatience one is tempted to single out one or another aspect of consciousness as its primary characteristic. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that our attitude toward knowledge of ourselves is like our attitude toward new discoveries about the external world. We so easily lose our balance when something extraordinary is discovered in science or when we come upon a new explanatory concept: Immediately the whole machinery of systematizing thought comes into play, Enthusiasm sets in, accompanied by a proliferation of utilitarian explanations, which then stand in the way of direct experiential encounters with surrounding life.

In a like manner, a new experience of one's self tempts us to believe we have discovered the sole direction for the development of consciousness, aliveness or--as it is sometimes called --presence. The same machinery of explanatory thought comes into play accompanied by pragmatic programs for "action." It is not only followers of the new religions who are victims of this tendency, taking fragments of traditional teachings which have led them to a new experience of themselves and building a subjective and missionary religion around them. This tendency in ourselves also accounts, as we shall see later, for much of the fragmentation of Modern psychology, just as it accounts for the fragmentation in the natural sciences.

In order to warn us about this tendency in ourselves, the traditional teachings--as expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita, for example--make a fundamental distinction between consciousness on the one hand and the contents of consciousness such as our perceptions of things, our sense of personal identity, our emotions and our thoughts in all their color and gradations on the other hand.

This ancient distinction has two crucial messages for us. On the one hand, it tell us that what we feel to be the best of ourselves as human beings is only part of a total structure containing layers of mind, feeling and sensation far more active, subtle and encompassing (like the cosmic spheres) than what we have settled for as our best. These layers are very numerous and need to be peeled back, as it were, or broken through one by one along the path of inner growth, until an individual touches in himself the fundamental intelligent forces in the cosmos.

At the same time, this distinction also communicates that the search for consciousness is a constant necessity for man. It is telling us that anything in ourselves, no matter how fine, subtle or intelligent, no matter how virtuous or close to reality, no matter how still or violent--any action, any thought, any intuition or experience--immediately absorbs all our attention and automatically becomes transformed into contents around which gather all the opinions, feelings and distorted sensations that are the supports of our secondhand sense of identity. In short, we are told that the evolution of consciousness is always "vertical" to the constant stream of mental, emotional and sensory associations within the human organism, and comprehensive of them (somewhat like a "fourth dimension"). And, seen in this light, it is not really a question of concentric layers of awareness embedded like the skins of an onion within the self, but only one skin, one veil, that constantly forms regardless of the quality or intensity of the psychic field at any given moment.

Thus, in order to understand the nature of consciousness, I must here and now in this present moment be searching for a better state of consciousness. All definitions, no matter how profound, are secondary. Even the formulations of ancient masters on this subject can be a diversion if I take them in a way that does not support the immediate personal effort to be aware of what is taking place in myself in the present moment.

In all that follows in this book, we shall continue to speak about levels of consciousness and intelligence within man and within the universe, for this idea is crucial in any attempt to reach a new understanding of science. But I wish, for the reader and for myself, that this more inner, personal meaning of the idea be constantly kept in mind.
Do you distinguish between consciousness and contents of consciousness?
So, now when we review what Feynamn and Weil have said, we can see clearly that Feynman is displaying a fairly good attempt at the unification of the two. His understanding is demonstrating a balance between a male interpretation and female interpretation, or unification of left brain/right brain. Now, if we turn to Weil, we can see that her view is irrational (technically), emotional, subjective etc…yet we can also see that it lacks any of the corresponding attributes, e.g. logic, reason, objectivity, rationality, order and so on. It is clear that her view represents a complete dissonance between these two kinds of mind – not what we expect from a ‘spiritual’ master who has, most importantly, alleged to mastered herself. She appears quite overrun by all the negatives of one state of mind, totally unbalanced by the positives of either.
So I guess what it boils down to is that I believe in our great universe being structured on levels of reality. If this is true then these levels can be appreciated as connected by objective quality where the higher the cosmos the greater the conscious quality, and closer to the source. It would not be surprising for Simone to have become inwardly aware of this structure so naturally sees beauty as a separation that indicates a higher conscious reality.

Richard Feynman is being very logical about it so naturally leans towards fragmentation as a response to beauty without being drawn to levels of reality. It is sufficient to see a beautiful fruit and dissect it into parts where levels of reality are unimportant. Would you agree?
She seems to be seeking nothing more than a big string father-like figure that she can readily drop to her knees for and be at his service. Perhaps she merely seeks an aspect of herself, which she is projecting externally. As JC says, she will surely only find that by inquiring within, not without.
Simone simply seeks truth. She wrote.
"Yet I still half refused, not my love but my intelligence. For it seemed to me certain, and I still think so today, that one can never wrestle enough with God if one does so out of pure regard for the truth. Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms.
This is the key. Much of what is in the world is based on imagination. As such there is a great divide between science and religion. She experientially learned that it doesn't have to be. I believe she is right. The trouble is that I don't have her lucid madness for truth. I'm not willing to live in the raw.

From "Gravity and Grace"
"A test of what is real is that it is hard and rough. Joys are found in it, not pleasure. What is pleasant belongs to dreams." Simone Weil
Sadly her attitude suggest that she is more of a man then I am.

How about joining me in a shot of good scotch. Somehow now it seems appropriate. :)
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 » October 12th, 2009, 12:45 pm

Hi Thuse

I appreciate your sincerity. This is the value of interviews. rather than several people beginning to be nasty, I can further understand our differences through your sincerity.
Thank you. I am grateful for your tolerance and patience towards my views, and thank you for appreciating my honesty even when I may be critical of things very important to you.
Quote:
What you refer to as the involution/evolution of matter, I call the tendency towards increasing complexity and increasing entropy originating from a source of infinite density. So, I think actually while our definitions here different, the meaning and thing we are referring to is the same. We differ in that I don’t consider reality as anything other than unified; but what I would call an essential difference between us is, ironically, that I perceive no essential difference between us. The process that makes up existence, being unified, is a whole from which the parts cannot be separated from or taken in isolation in any absolute sense. So, the difference between us might simply be that you see separation where I see none.


I think you misunderstood me. Creation for me begins with matter of such a fine density and high vibratory rate that it is not recognizable for us. It is usually described as a undetectable higher form of white light for want of a better explanation.

Creation for me is the act of slowing vibrations and the increasing density of matter within creation. The process of involution is the gradual division of unity into diversity.

I can easily understand how vibrations can slow down but I cannot see how they can begin to speed up. It seems to go against Newton first law of motion. Without a source, why would vibrations increase?
Apologies if I misunderstood you.

The second law of thermodynamics relates to entropy, which we can simply describe as the measurement of order in a system. Entropy basically means that any time there is a transfer of energy into information, some of that energy can never be used again (since energy is never actually destroyed). Most of the things around us can be thought of energy as information – or energy in-form. When energy takes form, entropy means that the collective well of useable energy in the Universe depletes a bit. This means two things – first, that the energy is not infinite (otherwise entropy would not exist) and second that the energy will necessarily run out someday.

If we look back at the Universe’s timeline, I think we can see an increase of information and a decrease of energy that is measured by the direction of entropy. First we have stars, then constellations, then galaxies, solar systems, planets and eventually life. Life gets more complex, builds computers, microchips etc. etc. What we see here is an increase in complexity regarding information or simply energy taking form. As energy takes form, it follows a pattern of becoming denser and smaller. Think of the progress of microchips – more and more information can be fit into smaller and smaller spaces, following Moore’s Law.

So, remembering entropy, this ordering of information must be counteracted by an increase in chaos, disorder etc. Eventually, if, we take this process to its logical conclusion, we will be left with an infinite amount of information packed into an infinitely dense space. This is also what is considered by physicists to be what the Universe was prior to the Big Bang. The next step in this process may be a big explosion, where the energy is then redistributed and the process starts again – this theory of the Universe as on in an eternal cycle of expansion/contraction is a popular contemporary model.

So, to answer your question, finally, information requires energy to vibrate at a higher level since it is the creation of order. Disorder is a lower vibration of the fundamental particles of the Universe, which eventually return to unusable potential energy. We can visualise this process as an expansion/contraction of all the particles in the Universe. It gets denser and denser with each contraction (high vibration) and is counteracted by entropy and the increase of disorder which itself continues similarly as an exponential process of expansion (low vibration) – until the whole thing ‘bangs’. Kind of like Cosmic hyperventilation, with each in and out breath getting bigger each time. So, an increase in complexity is an increase in order and vibration.
Quote:
For her part, Simone Weil, in one of her last essays, wrote:
"Toujours le même infiniment petit, qui est infiniment plus que tout."

[Always the same infinitely small, which is infinitely more than all.]


This seems like an absurdity. However assuming that consciousness without contents is of such a high rate of vibration, we can see that as it slows and fractions of the Absolute are produced, infinity is created.
I think it would be better to actually experience consciousness without contents before we assume it exists, and is god. Remember that, paradoxically, consciousness is fundamentally without actual content. All objects of mind are created from the raw material of consciousness – so, in a sense, consciousness is always without content and always of itself. Might this be an interpretation of the realisation of objectless consciousness the ancients spoke of? That it is already the case?
Where I see the unification in interconnected levels of reality, you see it as one whole without levels.
Perhaps – I think what you see as coming in different levels, I just call reality. So, even if you are correct, I would still call the whole interconnected thing reality, so it my just be a different use of terms.
Quote:
Is this Weil? With all due respect, she’s talking... sillyness. The Dharma cannot be ‘known’ at all, so it is not ‘knowledge’ of the Universe nor anything like it. Its analogy in Christian mysticism is the Logos, not ‘wisdom’. Moreover, conscious experiential knowledge is, by its very nature, subjective. So a subjective experience of objectivity is a contradiction in terms.


No, this isn't Simone. I understand the dharma as:
Quote:
dhar·ma (därm, dûr-)

n.
1. Hinduism & Buddhism
a. The principle or law that orders the universe.
b. Individual conduct in conformity with this principle.
c. The essential function or nature of a thing.
2. Hinduism Individual obligation with respect to caste, social custom, civil law, and sacred law.
3. Buddhism
a. The body of teachings expounded by the Buddha.
b. Knowledge of or duty to undertake conduct set forth by the Buddha as a way to enlightenment.
c. One of the basic, minute elements from which all things are made.
Okay, I see the confusion here. The word dharma is used in two distinct ways, which can often get confusing to Western interpreters. There is ‘Dharma’ with a big ‘D’ and ‘dharma’ with a small one. Dharma with a big D is the ‘way’ of the Universe, the underlying principle that orders it. It is equivalent to the Christina ‘Logos’ and literally identical to the Taoist ‘Tao’. The Dharma cannot be known, since it is far beyond the comprehension of a mere human mind. One can however learn to be more ‘in tune’ with it, or align with it as you have said. But it cannot be made an object of mind or knowledge - this is absolutely fundamental. It is something you can be, not something you can see.

Then there is dharma with a small ‘d’. This word can mean a number of things: teachings, principles of, laws, systems, sermons etc. So, for instance, the Buddha talked a lot about Dharma, the way of the Universe. However, his teachings are also referred to as dharma, small d, which simply means the teachings of the Buddha. For instance, in India, Buddhism is actually called ‘buddhadharma’, which simply means the way/teachings/philosophy of the Buddha. It does not refer to the Universal Dharma with a big D, however.
So, in the definitions above, we can see how a, b, 3c would refer to ‘Dharma’, while 2, 3a, 3b and so on refer to ‘dharma’.

So, knowing the Dharma itself is impossible. But knowing various dharmas is relatively easy. So, it is true that Dharma cannot be known and is not analogous to wisdom, but certainly many dharmas can.
Doesn't science seek to understand "a. The principle or law that orders the universe." I believe we can grow to understand it but the question is how?
I certainly think science seeks to understand this principle, however, whether such a thing is even possible or foreseeable cannot be determined. Certainly, if this principle is the Dharma of Buddhism/Hinduism, the Logos of Christianity and the Tao of Taoism, then it certainly cannot be known or understood at all. So, the question of how to understand it becomes obsolete. The only question that remains is how to not obstruct it. That’s okay too.
Wisdom is speaking here:
Quote:
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water...
When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth... when he gave the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him...
Now therefore harken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.
Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
(Proverbs 8:22-33)


For me then, wisdom like the dharma is objective experiential knowledge of the interactions of universal laws and always was. To live by the dharma is to live in accordance with the benefits of these laws.
Hopefully, I have cleared up above that you cannot be referring to the Dharma as an object of knowledge. But certainly, one can live in accordance with it, but never know it literally. It far too vast to be subjected to the mind.
Quote:
To be honest, I see no valid reason to think so and nothing has been offered so far by her except appeals to emotion. Furthermore, there is only reality, to talk of a multitude of reality is senseless – reality is the thing that is multiple. So, I can’t think she was sensitive to a different reality, because there is necessarily no such thing!

Again, I appreciate your sincerity. I've felt it not to the degree of Plato or Simone but enough to convince me of a reality that I've had a glimpse of.
Well, I would be very wary of following people who espouse the truths of experiences you yourself have not had. Perhaps I have glimpsed certain things myself, yet I have a very different viewpoint to you. Therefore, we should be wary even of our own experiences.

It seems you are very set on having these experiences of higher consciousness, conscious connection, seeing the levels of reality and so on. These are all ultimately objects, they are mere perceptions, they are relatively insignificant compared to the nature of that which perceives it, the Subject, which I refer to (trivially) as being and consciousness. The fact of our being and the fact of our consciousness are surely unscathed by whatever is presented to them. They remain peaceful, silent and indifferent to experiences of the ‘white light of the void’ that many have read about in books. While often such anecdotes might give us something to aim for, they also take us away from whatever is happening right here and now.

Remember that Jesus had his moment of doubt on the cross, and Buddha died from food poisoning. That is to say, that even those considered enlightened are still subject to the same human weaknesses as everyone else. Another Buddhist saying is that, if you see the Buddha on the road, kill him. Why? Because, there is no-one who is not a Buddha, so anyone claiming to be the one and only enlightened being is lying and misleading you to think that there is anyone who is not already enlightened. Jesus meant something similar when he said we should become like children to enter the kingdom, a kingdom he later revealed in the gospel of Thomas you posted earlier to be within each of us and in the world we are already in. In other words, the innocence of a child, the lack of conceptualisations and appreciation for life as it comes is what he is suggesting must be done for ‘enlightenment’. These concepts of higher consciousness etc. are not present in the various teachings of the ancients, but are a totally modern invention that completely misses the point. It distracts people with unnecessary concepts, instead of immersing themselves totally in the only reality – this one. How can you retain any concept of god that is separate from his creation? What is all artwork, if not simply a reflection of, and part of, the artist?
Plato writes of the normal response to people like this in the cave analogy:
Quote:
[Socrates] And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the cave, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

Is this fantasy for you and these men would be right to think this man nuts or could there be more to it?
If I am interpreting you correctly, it’s incredible to me that you are comparing Weil and, I presume yourself, to this man that can see and not the prisoners. Look at the first sentence – how they competed in measuring the shadows against the wall. That’s what I think you both are doing, comparing shadows of whose consciousness can get higher than the others, even though neither of you seem to have had any of these experiences you are grasping for. While some of us are content chasing shadows, others will seek the light. While it may be bright, even burning sometimes, it has a reality that the shadows can never have. They are mere reflections. Once we see shadows as simple reflections, and seek not that which they reflect but the light which illuminates all objects instead, we may finally be free of our chains with the realisation that all bondage is self-created.
Quote:
So, to me, it seems she was sad and in a moment of weakness created an idea to find comfort in rather than deal with her problems. People often demonstrate this kind of weakness, I can’t really hold it against her. It’s easier to take drugs than deal with life, just as it’s easier to steal than work for a living. Weil simply refuses to embrace life and be courageous, but instead rejects life (the very one she alleges god gave her) preferring death over the life she already has if she can’t have certain conceptual accessories– not very grateful to her creator is it?


Her problem was described by Albert Camus as a "lucid madness for truth." How then does she deal with it? She did so by living life in the raw in ways we would be unwilling to do. We don't need reality like she did. She wrote:
Quote:
"Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached."

Quote:
"There is no detachment where there is no pain. And there is no pain endured without hatred or lying unless detachment is present too."


She was willing to give up the pleasures of attachment to acquire the detachment necessary for the pure living experience that could led to truth.

The Red Virgin: A Poem of Simone Weil by Stephanie Strickland won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry in 1993. She wrote in the intro:
Quote:
"Weil came to her philosophical and religious ideas by a path that included elite university training, factory work, potato digging, harvest in the vineyards, teaching philosophy to adolescent women, partisanship in trade unions, anarchistic Socialism, pacifism, rejection of pacifism, a conversion experience that did not lead her to joining ... a religion, exile in New York City, and employment by De Gaulle's government-in-exile in London.

Weil used her body as a tool as well as a weapon. She threw herself under the wheels of the same issues women are starving for answers to today: issues of hunger, violence, exclusion, betrayal of the body, inability to be heard, and self-hate. ...

"Weil, our shrewdest political observer since Machiavelli, was never deceived by the glamour of power, and she committed herself to resisting force in whatever guise. More 'prophet' than 'saint,' more 'wise woman' than either, she bore a particular kind of bodily knowledge that the Western tradition cannot absorb. Simone Weil belongs to a world culture, still to be formed, where the voices of multiple classes, castes, races, genders, ethnicities, nationalities, and religions, can be respected. To achieve this culture is an impossible task, but, as Weil would remind us, not on that account to be forsaken.

Today we look to Weil for hope, for meditation, for the bridge a body makes. She knew that the truth had been 'taken captive,' and that we must 'seek at greater depth our own source,' because power destroys the past, the past with its treasures of alternative ideals that stand in judgment on the present."


Rather then using philosophy for escape, Simone used her body to verify the human condition. Who does this? Philosophers like to sit at desks and write books. Simone is acquiring experiential understanding.
I have been doing a bit of research on Weil since our last discussion. It seems her above eulogy forgets to mention the part about how she effectively killed herself out of stupidity, in addition to her questionable mental health and various reports that she may have actually been mentally ill her whole life – including from her coroner. It also doesn’t mention the fact that she was anti-education in general, anti-learning and literally anti-intelligence. She actually criticised intelligence. So, no, it seems clear she didn’t seek understanding, she openly admitted she abhorred it.

Weil was severely physical ill her entire life. Finding herself in a difficult body forcing her to struggle with everyday living, it is not difficult to see how she spent her days fantasising about a beautiful kingdom in the sky she arbitrarily assumes the existence of, where everything will one day be better. So, actually I would disagree, it seems fairly obvious to me that her philosophy was nothing more than an escape.

There are lots of people who have done considerably more than Weil in their lifetimes without these odd claims of purity, superiority and specialness nor deciding the point of life is to have certain experiences they have never actually had themselves, like Weil did. Take Gandhi, for instance. He was a theist whose social contributions surpass nearly anyone’s, yet at no time did he make himself out to be a ‘brilliant’ martyr. Nor did he claim a direct link to god because he was so much purer than anyone else. In fact, he once said “god is in the rock, too” – something that couldn’t be further from anything Weil has ever said. Perhaps he was just a foolish old man, not sensitive to the higher levels of reality that Weil was the first human being to ever discover. Personally, I don’t think so.

And I think it is in err to think that philosophers simply sit around and write books. Plato, Weil, Jesus, the Buddha…these people are all philosophers. Perhaps if Weil had valued intelligence, knowledge, education, understanding and generally getting information from somewhere other than her own thoughts, she would have realised that that is clearly untrue. Further, had she read a relevant book that wasn’t one of her own, she might have saved herself the embarrassment and nonsensical contradiction of being anti-philosophy and anti-knowledge…then going on to be a philosopher and write books.

Apparently her detachment from material things could be extended to food, which resulted in her suicide, but not detachment from the products of her own mind. So, her final philosophy then, her take on the meaning of life itself, was: that we should all just believe everything we think and starve ourselves to death. I fail to see this as very constructive philosophy or a particularly ‘positive’ contribution to mankind.
We, or at least I, cannot be like these special people with such a need for truth. Yet they can be an inspiration and allow us to sincerely question what is necessary to further experience what the heart calls us to. If I need wisdom, am I willing to pay the price through conscious detachment for the sake of impartiality? Have you had the experience of the heart calling us to understand just as the intellect does?
I believe my interest in this subject matter is more than simply intellectual, yes. I think we all feel a subtle feeling of separation, which we seek to rectify, initially by seeking elsewhere. Eventually, we find it was not outside ourselves we should have been looking at all. I think that we can use people as inspiration, yes, but must be careful not to get attached to our images of them. Weil is not you, and Weil’s path is not your path. I say, be your own leader. You are fundamentally independent, precisely because you are fundamentally dependent. I also think that perhaps a lack of attachment (not the same as detachment, which I personally view as Weil and your own mistake) should be applied to our concepts too; for instance, the concept of connecting consciously to higher levels of reality, perhaps.
Don't forget that Simone Weil died at 34 and was a Marxist and atheist for much of her life. There was no reason for her to read the mystics.
No, but surely she should of read the Bible at least, since usually what Jesus says is considered important by Christians. Apparently, not in her case.
As she explains, it was to her advantage not to do so:
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I had never read any mystical works because I had never felt any call to read them. In reading as in other things I have always striven to practice obedience. There is nothing more favorable to intellectual progress, for as far as possible I only read what I am hungry for at the moment when I have an appetite for it, and then I do not read, I eat. God in his mercy had prevented me from reading the mystics, so that it should be evident to me that I had not invented this absolutely unexpected contact.


She later learned that her first mystical experience was surprisingly similar to what those like Meister Eckhart wrote of.
Let’s say Weil wanted to be a biologist. And she decided not read what any other biologists had ever done. Likely, she wouldn’t get very far. Obviously, the exact same thing has happened with her mysticism. Eckhart was busy studying the DNA, while she couldn’t even spell photosynthesis yet. Her arrogance here is only self-defeating.

I find interesting the part where god, in his mercy, prevented her from reading books, getting an education and avoiding ignorance. Then god, in his mercy, instead endowed her with massive physical impairments, possibly insanity, tuberculosis, then murdered her by starvation. How merciful of him.

Personally, I see absolutely no similarity whatsoever between her writings and Meister Eckhart’s.
As her writings became discovered they were gradually organized into books. Would Notre Dame for example review a nut job?
Well, if the various historical accounts are correct and she was literally nuts, then yes, I suppose they would. I don’t recall Nietzsche’s madness ever preventing him from getting a book review. In fact, lunacy often sells. Personally, I don’t care whether she was nuts or not, I care that she propagated ignorance, condoned existential martyrdom and self-pity and persuaded many a sincere seeker to escape reality and live in their own minds instead, much to the detriment of all involved.
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Further, I personally think you are misinterpreting him here. He says, specifically, that by knowing yourself you will come to know ‘the father’. Lets think about this. In other words, he is saying that knowing thyself is equivalent to knowing the father – that is, that the two are not separate things.


But this is not what is written. Instead Jesus says:
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"When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known,"


This is a big difference.
This can only be understood in context. The full quote is:
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.
So, he clearly in the first sentence states that heaven is inside you and outside you, right now. Therefore, heaven as an external transcendent kingdom does not exist. Therefore, Weil was mistaken and the proof is right here.

Then he says, when you know yourself you will become known andrealise you are the sons of the father. The sons of the father does not mean simply children of god, in the normal sense, that would not be new/profound nor would it be a correct interpretation. He obviously means sons of god, as in how Jesus is commonly described. When Jesus is referred to as the son of god, he is necessarily assumed to also be god – both man and god. Throughout the entire Bible, the epithet ‘son of god’ literally means one who is both man and god. Jesus is saying that we are all the son of god. Therefore, we are all god, and all is god. Weil, again, is mistaken.

This is not a novel interpretation; this is reiterated repeatedly throughout the gospel of Thomas. For instance, v77, Jesus:
I am everywhere. From me all came forth, and to me all return.
Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me there,
So Jesus, i.e. god, says he is everywhere and in all things. Obviously this includes humans. Therefore, god is not apart from his creation, and we are all god, already. I think that god is, surely, the highest authority on this matter, so you don’t need to believe me, its right there, coming from his own lips. This is similarly in complete contrast to Weil's preachings.

Take this from v5:
Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you
It surely sounds like here he is saying know the reality you are experiencing, not some other hypothetical level of reality. I mean, he literally says the one ‘in front of your face’. I don’t think he could be clearer than that. I don’t think that Weil could be further away from that.

Again, this is reiterated in V113:
" His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?"

“It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Rather, the Father's kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don't see it."
So, according to Weil, we are all essentially slaves to a, I think its fair to say in Weil’s case, sadistic master, and had better pray we are pure enough to get into his kingdom one day OR we are all god, and heaven is right here and now, according to…god.
For me it is important to become known. Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems like for the atheist, it is important to know through introspection.
I would certainly think so, I think this goes without saying. Introspection, to me anyway, is so incredibly important. People like Weil would surely have benefited so much if they only searched within themselves, rather than without.
How do you understand skepticism? Do you distinguish between skepticism and doubt or are they the same? I've come to appreciate that skepticism in contrast to doubt is an emotional attitude that denies impartiality.
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"The poison of skepticism becomes, like alcoholism, tuberculosis, and some other diseases, much more virulent in a hitherto virgin soil." Simone Weil

For someone who valued critical thinking so much it is obvious that she is not referring to doubt. Rather she refers to a negative attitude that closes us off to greater understanding.
Skepticism and doubt are, I think, interchangeable. There is nothing I see in Weil’s writings to suggest that she ever doubted the validity of her imagination in approximating truth. There is nothing in her writings that demonstrate she valued critical thinking either.

I think the idea that doubt and/or scepticism is a negative attitude is surely false. In Weil’s mind, god created us all, gave us these minds and our inquisitiveness. Would he really not expect us to doubt and be sceptical? Are we not simply behaving according to the very nature Weil alleges he granted us? What kind of petty god would give us a thirst for knowledge, then expect us to randomly guess what to believe then just cross our fingers, have faith and never be sceptical? What is the difference between this and pulling the legs of a spider? I see none. Weil sees none. But Weil is happy to be the spider. Hell, she’s even grateful. I don’t think that makes her a very suitable role model, in my eyes.
My own experiences with RDF for example, proved to me how strong the negative attitude of skepticism is. Yet I don't believe it is necessary and a person could be an atheist without such negativity and express a healthy doubt instead. Could you expand on this and whether you think I'm wrong or right.
I think anyone on RDF, even the most hardened atheist or materialists, even me, suffer the same kind of intense scrutiny. Perhaps, what you perceive as negative scepticism is only negative because it questions things you already hold to be true. The extreme, intense scepticism about circuitry that makes your toaster work and boils your kettle so you could eat your breakfast this morning you wouldn’t perceive as negative. The Internet you are using would not have been possible without a scepticism much more intense that anything suffered by you or, trust me, myself too on RDF.

I think this interview is about honesty, and I have done my best to be honest so far, so it would be silly to stop now. I think, personally, that the reason you perceive any kind of scepticism regarding your beliefs is because it makes you aware that they are doubtable. Further, it makes you aware that, deep down inside, you don’t know if you are right. You take something on faith, and the presence of scepticism is a reminder of how shaky the foundations of that faith really is. The Zen Buddhists say enlightenment is like seeing your father in a crowd; you have absolutely no doubt that its him/it. Well, lots of people on RDF, I imagine, saw your enlightenment, and yet they doubted it. Even, most likely, you doubt it, at least a little. What does that tell you?

When I, for instance, criticise people like Weil, I really do it not (just) because I’m an asshole. I do it because I believe she is preventing people from freedom and from, ultimately, truth – since whatever truth is, it isn’t her. That’s what I believe, so I do everything I can to defame her because I truly want to do others a favour – because, essentially, I think she is wrong. I think you are wrong too. That’s okay though, you think I’m wrong, so we’re even. Everybody else thinks everybody else is wrong. Atheists on RDF are no different from this, but they have a different burden than you. You see, they don’t believe in a variation of an afterlife, or a variation of god, and they don’t have your open-minded tolerant position that there are many ways to the truth. They see your truth as no truth, not a different kind. So, to the atheists on RDF are really trying, despite appearances, to do you a massive favour – to get you out of what they see as your illusion, and get you appreciating this, the only life they see you as having. What to you is negative scepticism is, on another level of reality (;)), an incredibly compassionate thing, whether they are wrong or right. People have strange way of not being able do anything but love, whether they realise it at the time or not. Humans are funny like that. So, really, the negative scepticism is exactly that, superficially. If you can see beyond appearances though, they do it because they really want to help, not discourage.

The truth, surely, is so great that it would be able to withstand the greatest scepticism, the most intense doubt. I think it is fair to say that Weil and your own truth does not fair well in these conditions. Perhaps this is indicative as to the quality of your truth.
While patience over there is often rare, one needs be fairly thick-skinned to survive.
Absolutely, and I appreciate that you are such thick-skinned. In light of some of my own less patient words above, it should be noted that one can only give back what they receive, many, many times themselves.
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Well, I don’t think “defilement” really exists objectively. The world is not “defiled”, everything is as it should be. To assume otherwise, as Weil does, would assume that creation is imperfect. Since a perfect being cannot create something imperfect, god is imperfect, defiled and necessarily not all-powerful. So, Weil has managed to contradict her entire theology in one sentence.


Defilement doesn't mean bad but rather less perfect. Creation must be imperfect to serve its purpose. Cosmological involution is just increasing degrees of imperfection where the imperfections of mechanics are witnessed by a higher conscious degree of conscious perfection and in turn, known from above.
Okay, but says who? Did you work this out from introspection? Critical thinking? The sayings of Jesus? Did you see it in a vision?

Or…are you just repeating someone else’s words?
Perhaps we understand consciousness differently. What is your take on part 4 of chapter one of Jacob Needleman's "Sense of the Cosmos?"
I think my take can be summed up when he said
Thus, in order to understand the nature of consciousness, I must here and now in this present moment be searching for a better state of consciousness.
So, in order to understand consciousness, he assumes the existence of some other type of consciousness for no particular reason. Furthermore, by searching for another state of consciousness, he is anyway other than here and now in this present moment – that couldn’t be further from the truth. So, this sentence is a total contradiction and really demonstrates his wrong thinking and faulty, misguided assumptions. Why look anywhere else for consciousness? Notice how it follows you everywhere you look. He makes the classic mistake of confusing the contents of consciousness with consciousness itself. It is like the light of a projector screen. He is more interested in renting a good movie, to see on the projector. Finding the “highest movie” there is. All the time, the light from the projector shines through, illuminating all the movies. No matter what movie he finds, the light from the projector is what gives them life. This light brings forth all the form of all the movies, but has no form itself. And its always right there, shining away. But he just hasn’t noticed yet.
Do you distinguish between consciousness and contents of consciousness?
On a relative level yes. However, technically speaking, the contents of consciousness are composed of consciousness itself. The various objects of mind are internal but projected externally, and consciousness is that which composes them. So, in an ultimate sense, the subject and object are not distinct. For all intensive purposes, consciousness is reality; at the very least, the only possible reality that can be experienced. Even an experience of an anthropomorphic god sitting on his throne or what have you would need to be mediated through consciousness. So, even an experience of some external being, higher reality and so on is still beheld and subjected to by consciousness. Consciousness is basically totally awesome like that.
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So, now when we review what Feynamn and Weil have said, we can see clearly that Feynman is displaying a fairly good attempt at the unification of the two. His understanding is demonstrating a balance between a male interpretation and female interpretation, or unification of left brain/right brain. Now, if we turn to Weil, we can see that her view is irrational (technically), emotional, subjective etc…yet we can also see that it lacks any of the corresponding attributes, e.g. logic, reason, objectivity, rationality, order and so on. It is clear that her view represents a complete dissonance between these two kinds of mind – not what we expect from a ‘spiritual’ master who has, most importantly, alleged to mastered herself. She appears quite overrun by all the negatives of one state of mind, totally unbalanced by the positives of either.


So I guess what it boils down to is that I believe in our great universe being structured on levels of reality. If this is true then these levels can be appreciated as connected by objective quality where the higher the cosmos the greater the conscious quality, and closer to the source.

It would not be surprising for Simone to have become inwardly aware of this structure so naturally sees beauty as a separation that indicates a higher conscious reality.
I doubt you believe that bread is literally the body of Christ, right? Probably because ideas like that are dated and no longer relevant metaphors. So, something more modern might be that we need to “align the vibrations of transcendental consciousness and harmonise our frequencies with the objective ultra-noumenal resonance within the multi-dimensional supra-reality matrix”. That will surely get us to god right? Maybe. But all I have said here is “god left a trail of god juice through all the realities that pure people can tune into and find their way back to him”. That sounds a lot less sexy, don’t you think?

Compare with “god is in the rock, too”. I think this is a humbler alternative.
Richard Feynman is being very logical about it so naturally leans towards fragmentation as a response to beauty without being drawn to levels of reality. It is sufficient to see a beautiful fruit and dissect it into parts where levels of reality are unimportant. Would you agree?
No, not at all. He doesn’t dissect anything in his quote. Weil is clearly doing the dissecting. Fenyman is embracing unity of all levels. Weil is creating nonexistent conflict between them. Fenyman examines his beauty and, not understanding it, accepts and appreciates it anyway. Weil examines hers and, not understanding it, concludes for some reason that it is gods way of leaving existential arrows that she must follow by vibrating faster and connecting to a bunch of things she can’t see and doesn’t have any reason to believe in. I think a bit of logic, rational though, critical thinking etc. wouldn’t go amiss here. I think the risk of ‘fragmentation’ by being rational and logical is a lot less than believing the first thing you come up with and deciding its truth, and the meaning of life, for no apparent reason.

Fragmentation equals conflict. Conflict equals separation. Weil talks only if separation between in here and out here. Feynman sees no such separation. As such, he is without conflict. Weil is the mother of it.
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She seems to be seeking nothing more than a big string father-like figure that she can readily drop to her knees for and be at his service. Perhaps she merely seeks an aspect of herself, which she is projecting externally. As JC says, she will surely only find that by inquiring within, not without.

Simone simply seeks truth. She wrote.
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"Yet I still half refused, not my love but my intelligence. For it seemed to me certain, and I still think so today, that one can never wrestle enough with God if one does so out of pure regard for the truth. Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms.
No, what she is doing is not seeking Truth. She says in this quote that Christ is Truth. Wait, what? Lets say, I say this potato is Truth. I am now going to seek this potato by going swimming. Therefore, according to you, I am now seeking Truth. You see, truth is something you find out. Randomly declaring something to be the truth, for no reason, then finding odd ways to seek that specific truth you’ve already declared, is not seeking truth.

In any case, she seems to be saying that she gave up her intelligence. That is not surprising. Notice how she tells us what Christ ‘likes’, as if she actually knows, even though she obviously hasn’t heard a word he ever said – especially in regards to my quotes of him above. JC quite clearly contradicts basically every principle Weil has in her philosophy, so I wouldn’t take her to be an authority of what he likes or doesn’t.

When does Christ say anything about giving up intelligence, reason, intellect, critical thought, cognition, doubt, scepticism and rational thought? Lets say I present you with a theory, but tell you first that I have given up all of those things. What would you think? Would you accept whatever I said as the truth? I pretty sure you wouldn’t. Christ says, as above, “enquire within”. He doesn’t say, “read Weil’s books, cultivate purity and then create a conscious connection to higher frequencies of reality by abandoning rational though, logic, reason and critical thinking”.
This is the key. Much of what is in the world is based on imagination. As such there is a great divide between science and religion. She experientially learned that it doesn't have to be. I believe she is right. The trouble is that I don't have her lucid madness for truth. I'm not willing to live in the raw.
Well, according to some sources as mentioned above, that lucid madness for truth may have been, it turns out, actually just madness.

Well, you believe her, that’s your right. I think you are right that much of the world is based on imagination though. I find it somewhat more likely, personally, that Weil’s arbitrary decision that the way to truth is by traveling up dimensional planes of existence to be one such imagination about the world. It seems unlikely that Jesus, aka God, would not just forget to mention this, but say only things that completely contradict it. To me, it doesn’t seem likely that Weil worked out something that god himself did not.
From "Gravity and Grace"
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"A test of what is real is that it is hard and rough. Joys are found in it, not pleasure. What is pleasant belongs to dreams." Simone Weil


Sadly her attitude suggest that she is more of a man then I am.
Well, dreaming is certainly something I think she knows a lot about. And I hope that her dreams granted her, if nothing else, pleasure.
How about joining me in a shot of good scotch. Somehow now it seems appropriate.
Cheers! Lets drink to Truth, which we are all a part of, whether we know what it is or not.

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

Post by Nick_A » October 12th, 2009, 11:40 pm

I would agree that as vibrations slow the material interactions become more complex as matter itself becomes more dense. But as a believer in levels of reality I see it as a a conscious descent similar to the idea of the relationship of trees to a forest. Where a tree exists as an individual, it loses its individuality as part of a forest.

From this perspective a galaxy like the Milky Way is defined by a quality or vibrational frequencies of its materiality. Suns as expressions of a galaxy have a denser defining level of materiality. So the sun consists not only of its own materiality but that of the galaxy it involved from. A planet like our earth has a defining material density that includes chemical elements but within it, also contains the basic materiality of the sun which has within it the base materiality of the milky way. In this way what we know of as atoms contains atoms of a frequency beyond our perception. The idea is that just as cosmoses exit one within the other, qualities of matter defined by their vibrational frequencies and densities do likewise.

When Jesus says that I am within the Father and the Father within me, it is a cosmological expression.

Imagine a log in a pond. The log is in the water. At the same time the water of the pond is within the log.

Cosmology is the same and explains why:
So, he clearly in the first sentence states that heaven is inside you and outside you, right now. Therefore, heaven as an external transcendent kingdom does not exist. Therefore, Weil was mistaken and the proof is right here.


This means we have an indication of this higher reality through beauty for example but it is a conscious quality our inner life is capable of evolving towards

So you'll understand where I'm coming from, when a person begins to feel that the source of meaning the heart is attracted to comes through our inner world they experience what is called metanoia.

http://www.katinkahesselink.net/christi ... ianity.htm
Largely ignored by church teaching is the sevenfold nature of all things, spoken of many times in scripture, from the seven days of creation to the seven seals of Revelation. This is the law of transformation, - of creation.

7. understanding (comprehension)
6. knowledge (science and conscience) {-- KINGDOM
5. receptivity (directed attention)

4. intellect (conditioned thought / metanoia) { -- CHANGE

3. emotion (automatic feeling)
2. senses (physical senses) { -- ORDINARY HUMANITY
1. superstition (imagination)
The Bible, or anything else, can be approached through any of the seven levels. It is only with metanoia, - a change from automatic, conditioned thinking, to conscious thought, that an entrance into the higher levels (the Kingdom of Heaven) can be made. John the Baptist was at the pivotal point, but had not entered. Jesus said John was the greatest of once-born men, but that the least in the kingdom was greater. So this state has levels. Levels 1, 2, and 3 are those of ordinary humans. Level 4 is the dividing line between unconscious, conditioned thinking and the birth of a new process of thought that is conscious. Levels 5, 6, and 7 are the levels of the kingdom, -- the highest potential of humanity where there is peace, order, and unity. Lower humanity falsely believes it has the higher qualities of real experience, real knowledge, and real understanding, thus it sees no need for effort to change.

The Gospels teach, above all, that the purpose for human life is to enter this higher state, rather than to try to reform the world. Jesus did not concern himself with worldly government or institutions, other than to recognize them for what they are, (Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's). Neither did he try to reform the religion of his time. He fulfilled it by showing what it was supposed to be. The kingdom is not of the world (levels 1, 2, and 3), but of a higher reality. The baptism of Christ is one of fire (spirit). The entire message of Christ through Jesus was about this higher potential that he called the kingdom of heaven.
Life for us in Plato's Cave is at the first three levels where we are enchanted with the external world or shadows on the wall. Level 4 is beginning to smell the coffee. Levels 5, 6, and 7 pertain to Man's possible conscious evolution.

Esoteric Christianity is a very broad term. My interests are within one branch that is more meaningful for me. Part of its meaning is intellectual where I've learned of universal laws and how they determine the external world as well as my inner world.
So Jesus, i.e. god, says he is everywhere and in all things. Obviously this includes humans. Therefore, god is not apart from his creation, and we are all god, already. I think that god is, surely, the highest authority on this matter, so you don’t need to believe me, its right there, coming from his own lips. This is similarly in complete contrast to Weil's preachings
Yes, God is in all things and all things are within God. It is a cosmological relationship. Divine love and consciousness permeate the universe but at levels of reality within us that we've become closed to.
"Know what is in front of your face and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you"
Yes, this is the problem. How to get out of our own way when we are in Plato's Cave. My question is if as an atheist you sense that you are in Plato's cave, governed by imagination?

I don't know of anyone with a greater power of attention than Simone Weil. It is what allowed her to experience what was in front of her face. The value of conscious attention is the best kept secret in a world so attracted to technological escapism.
"Attention consists of suspending our thought, leaving it detached, empty and ready to be penetrated by the object. It means holding in our minds, within reach of this thought, but on a lower level and not in contact with it, the diverse knowledge we have acquired which we are forced to make use of. Above all our thought should be empty, waiting, not seeking anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object which is to penetrate it."

"Absolute unmixed attention is prayer. "
Try this and you will see how hard it is. This quality of attention requires a quality of consciousness that exists in us only in potential. That is why when it is pure it becomes prayer which is just a call from the deeper parts of ourselves for help from above. Conscious attention and imagination including self deception are mutually exclusive. Living in imagination, we cannot retain conscious attention and quickly lose it.
So, according to Weil, we are all essentially slaves to a, I think its fair to say in Weil’s case, sadistic master, and had better pray we are pure enough to get into his kingdom one day OR we are all god, and heaven is right here and now, according to…god.
Yes, as creatures of reaction, we are slaves. Our condition is not hopeless since we can awaken to the human condition and consciously participate as normal for human meaning and purpose within the necessity of Creation.

As an atheist, how do you appreciate "awakening?"
The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?

- Thoreau, Walden
I Am Awake
When the Buddha start to wander around India shortly after his enlightenment, he encountered several men who recognized him to be a very extraordinary being.
They asked him, "Are you a god?"
"No," he replied.
"Are you a reincarnation of god?"
"No," he replied.
"Are you a wizard, then?"
"No."
"Well, are you a man?"
"No."
"So what are you?" they asked, being very perplexed.
"I am awake."
Buddha means "The Awakened One". How to awaken is all he taught.
For me, awakened Man to a sufficient degree is part of conscious humanity. Sleeping man is in slavery, while awakened man is free to participate in universal purpose to a greater degree than a horse does. Simone describes it in what I believe to be as an inspired piece of writing:
“The sea is not less beautiful to our eye because we know that sometimes ships sink in it. On the contrary, it is more beautiful still. If the sea modified the movement of its waves to spare a boat, it would be a being possessing discernment and choice, and not this fluid that is perfectly obedient to all external pressures. It is this perfect obedience that is its beauty.” “All the horrors that are produced in this world are like the folds imprinted on the waves by gravity. This is why they contain beauty. Sometimes a poem, like the Iliad, renders this beauty.” “Man can never escape obedience to God. A creature cannot not obey. The only choice offered to man as an intelligent and free creature, is to desire obedience or not to desire it. If he does not desire it, he perpetually obeys nevertheless, as a thing subject to mechanical necessity. If he does desire obedience, he remains subject to mechanical necessity, but a new necessity is added on, a necessity constituted by the laws that are proper to supernatural things. Certain actions become impossible for him, while others happen through him, sometimes despite him.” Excerpt from: Thoughts without order concerning the love of God, in an essay entitled L'amour de Dieu et le malheur (The Love of God and affliction). Simone Weil

Skepticism and doubt are, I think, interchangeable. There is nothing I see in Weil’s writings to suggest that she ever doubted the validity of her imagination in approximating truth. There is nothing in her writings that demonstrate she valued critical thinking either.
You just don't know Simone. Her struggle with imagination and its effects upon not just her but with humanity in general are legendary.
“Imagination and fiction make up more than three-quarters of our real life”
We are so used to it that we underestimate how true this is.
"Nothing is so beautiful and wonderful, nothing is so continually fresh and surprising, so full of sweet and perpetual ecstasy, as the good. No desert is so dreary, monotonous, and boring as evil. This is the truth about authentic good and evil. With fictional good and evil it is the other way round. Fictional good is boring and flat, while fictional evil is varied and intriguing, attractive, profound, and full of charm." Simone Weil From "Morality and Literature,”an essay published in Cahiers du Sud, January 1944
It took me a while to admit this but in reality I didn't know what the "good" was. It had been defined for me but in reality I was oblivious of it. It is no wonder then what I view of as evil is so exciting. it must be so if what we often call "good" is just a more boring form of evil. Both deny the experience of reality which is essential for the impartial search for meaning that leads to the "Good."

This is why I believe that the Stoics were attracted to apatheia. They realized the dangers of emotional attitudes like skepticism on reason, healthy doubt, and consciousness. Apatheia in Christianity I Believe is more reasonable in that it agrees with the destructive nature of these negative attitudes but doesn't deny the value of "feeling" that these negative attitudes and emotions mask.
I think the idea that doubt and/or skepticism is a negative attitude is surely false. In Weil’s mind, god created us all, gave us these minds and our inquisitiveness. Would he really not expect us to doubt and be skeptical? Are we not simply behaving according to the very nature Weil alleges he granted us? What kind of petty god would give us a thirst for knowledge, then expect us to randomly guess what to believe then just cross our fingers, have faith and never be skeptical? What is the difference between this and pulling the legs of a spider? I see none. Weil sees none. But Weil is happy to be the spider. Hell, she’s even grateful. I don’t think that makes her a very suitable role model, in my eyes.
Where Christendom believes in the personal God, Simone is far more Panentheistic. In fact she contends that one of the main reasons Christianity devolved into Christendom or man made Christianity was because of the influence of the Hebrew God

http://www.cesnur.org/2002/slc/bauer.htm
5. In Simone Weil's life, religion played a dominant role in the years following the mystical epiphanies she experienced in 1938. Long before, however, her wish to partake in the suffering of the distressed led her to a life-style of extreme austerity. It was under these circumstances that, in 1937, Simone Weil became increasingly attracted to Christianity, a religion she considered to be in its true essence a religion of slaves, and therefore in utter contradiction to the actual form it had taken in history. On this assumption, Simone Weil objected against Catholicism -- the denomination she knew best and respected the most --[21] that it had ended by perverting itself for the sake of power. The historical "double stain" on the Church that Simone Weil denounces originates in the fact that Israel imposed on Christian believers the acceptance of the Old Testament and its almighty God, and that Rome chose Christianity as the religion of the Empire.[22] Despite its universal redemptive mission, the Church became from its very beginnings heir of Jewish nationalism and of the totalitarianism inherent in Imperial Rome. As the spiritual locus in which both traditions of power displaced the religion of powerless slaves, Christianity became the actual negation of its own foundational leitmotiv: the self-annulment of divine omnipotence by the godly act of kenosis or self-abasement.
When I, for instance, criticise people like Weil, I really do it not (just) because I’m an asshole. I do it because I believe she is preventing people from freedom and from, ultimately, truth – since whatever truth is, it isn’t her. That’s what I believe, so I do everything I can to defame her because I truly want to do others a favour – because, essentially, I think she is wrong. I think you are wrong too. That’s okay though, you think I’m wrong, so we’re even.
OK so we're wrong. Is it a crime to need to get to the bottom of it. Is there anything wrong with consciously witnessing through ones power of attention? You believe that Simone is preaching escapism but actually she is experiencing conscious witnessing. They seem more similar the more we value imagination.

Her conscious attention is the same as an expression of Karma Yoga. Read this description of karma yoga:
Karma-Yoga is the science of action with non-identifying. This phrase must be remembered by everyone. It must not be changed into "the science of action without identifying". The essence of the idea of Karma-Yoga is to meet with unpleasant things equally with pleasant things. That is, in practicing Karma-Yoga one does not seek always to avoid unpleasant things, as people ordinarily do. Life is to be met with non-identifying. Life becomes a teacher, for life taken by itself is meaningless, but taken as an exercise it becomes a teacher. It is not life that is a teacher, but ones relation through non-identifying makes it become a teacher. Nothing can change being so much as this practice - namely to take the unpleasant things in life as an exercise...................................................................
Escapism is living in La La Land while Simone is acting with non-identifying. In this way the reality of life enters us free of our psychological filters including negative attitudes.

Simone didn't purposely starve to death. She just saw no reason in her condition to go on living. Here is an account from a wiki discussion
I assume we all agree that she was a most independent woman...a forminable discussant [she scared Simone de Beauvoir by unmasking bourgeois tendencies according to Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter].

So, how does this fit the end of her life. She was really sick - TB. They had collapsed the lung and it did not good at all. The dr. wanted to do it again. She refused [what today would be call the 'right to refuse treatment' - especially frutiless treatment. He got mad that she would not just acquiese [like any patient, especially woman was expected to do] and so when she died he signed the death certificate that she died as a result of self starvation.

Here is where Pretrement comes in...documents the testimony of her nurse, some friends who would bring food in etc. Even goes to her confessor, 2nd doctor etc. Now, I have had some friends who have died and almost none of them wanted to each anything near the end...cancer, TB etc. there is a natural loss of appetite.
Simone Weil cannot be classified. It is what makes her so valuable. She forces us to keep an open mind. She is hard to take but for those unafraid to damage their ego, she is a valuable influence. She is far more intelligent then me with a heart far more developed than mind. I can either huff an puff about it or be open to learning with the open mind she so prized.

She wasn't against education. She was for education. Modern education is against education because it denies what Simone knew as to the value and purpose of education:
Weil lamented that education had become no more than "an instrument manipulated by teachers for manufacturing more teachers, who in their turn will manufacture more teachers." rather than a guide to getting out of the cave.


This is the problem. Education seeks to justify cave life when it should teach knowledge in the context of leaving the cave. But without either realizing it or teachers capable of it, were stuck.

Here a person writes a theses on education referring to Simone Weil. Simone wasn't anti knowledge. Rather she was pro human perspective within which the intellect has a place.

http://web.utk.edu/~unistudy/ethics96/eaj.html

What creates human perspective for you as an atheist? For me. part of our human perspective comes through the influences of higher consciousness. Do you believe that human perspective is strictly the combined results of heredity and societal conditioning?

I will be going for one of my visits to Montauk Long Island to refresh with the great Atlantic Ocean until Saturday when once again I can look in.

Hopefully I can reply to you then as we gradually explore human perspective both for the individual and as a society from our respective perspectives and clarify our beliefs and differences.

Until then, stay well

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

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