I’ve had a lot of time to think lately. Which, depending on how you take it, could either lead to good things or bad things. I’m going to count this towards good things.

One of the new themes in my thought process revolves around the walls we build up around life. Reading The Untethered Soul, I’ve pushed further and further up against the concept of the self and found it more and more wanting. I know that’s something I’ve said before. And I know that it’s something that most people disagree with me on [in addition to vegetarianism and a grand transhumanist future], but I’ll push forward nonetheless, in hopes that someone somewhere can glean something from this little essay.

The image that keeps coming to mind for me now involves building a bigger and better house on a certain piece of property. Assume that at birth, you’re given a certain square footage of land. The work of life is building a house there. But as a child, you can’t build anything all that fancy, especially without the help of your parents, siblings, and other authority figures. Slowly, as you pass through the terrible twos and onto mid-childhood, you begin to create things of your own: you populate the house with imaginary friends, you put up your own pieces of artwork, remodel some of the basic infrastructure of the house. Still, at this point, most of the modeling involves copying the works of others, mainly your parents and your siblings.

Slowly, as you reach adolescence, the focus of your house moves from your family to your peer group. Suddenly, it’s more important that your floor plan match your friends, or that you have the posters of your friends instead of the portraits of your parents. Someday, probably around 16 or 17, you realize that you want to create a home all your own, made how you want it, not how your parents, friends, whoever want you to want it. ‘Liberation’ through self-expression is just around the corner. To show who you are, you require the purchase of goods and services.

Someday, though, you may find that the house you’ve loved for so many years is beginning to show a great deal of wear. The roof is leaking, the gutters could use a new paint job, and you certainly need to oil the hinges on the front door. You slowly make all of these repairs, but no matter how hard you try, more and more problems keep cropping up. As soon as you fix one, ten more take its place. The hydra of home repair!

The story continues on like that for most people, making repair after repair of this home for the rest of their lives. Things calm down after a while, and slowly you begin to except that the house has a few issues. It gives it ‘character,’ you think. Much the same sort of character that you had initially tried to infuse into it by means of snazzy posters and fancy vases.

We all know how the story ends, of course. The homeowner has to move out, to a bigger and better place [call it Heaven, oblivion, another ‘home,’ whatever. I don’t know, and I’m fairly certain noone else does either]. And soon the house falls into massive disrepair. Pretty soon the house is completely gone, all that remains is the rubble. And as more time passes, the rubble itself turns to dust, and the land returns to the state it was in before you moved in.

This little allegory makes a simple analogy between your psyche and the ‘house’ you built. I imagine that most people could relate to the different stages [I can only hypothesize about the later stages via observation of pop culture / the people around me]. I also imagine that most people would agree with me that the house, or their psyche, has changed throughout these different stages. They have thought in qualitatively different ways over the course of their life. You need only read Piaget’s studies of young children’s lack of a sense of conservation of mass to see this secondhand.

However, I would depart from this pretty typical view in two ways. One, I would propose that the lot of land itself in this story is just as important, but most often overlooked, as the house itself. And I would secondly propose that knowledge that the lot is important lends itself to building a better house.

The first point is pretty easy to prove, but it’s importance can be overlooked. Especially as I continue to push this house metaphor far beyond the limits I meant for it to hold. Without the lot, you have no house. In this allegory, the lot symbolizes your consciousness. Where here consciousness is defined as what’s left after you take everything else away. If you could remember your state of being while your in the deepest of deep sleep, what would you experience. If you take away all of the physical inputs to the world, all of your emotions, all of your thoughts, what are you left with? What is the canvas to which all of your experience is painted? It’s the thing that all sentient beings share: I AMness. The ‘simple feeling of being’ as Ken Wilber puts it. Once you forget about yourself, or yourSelf, it’s all that’s left.

And this is the lot. When you get down to it, the you that you identify with can’t possibly be the you that you think you identify with. You aren’t your body: all the cells ‘you’ own have cycled in and out of existence at least 2 times by the age of 21. You aren’t your emotions: the way you feel now probably bears little resemblance to what you felt just 2 hours ago. You aren’t your thoughts: you can’t even control your thoughts, they just bubble in and out of existence while you [really they, being your many selves] continue to make a story weaving all these thoughts together. You certainly aren’t your past: the past is only memories that have no real existence outside of your head. And of course, you can’t be a future that hasn’t even happened yet.

What does that leave you with? Well, not very much and everything all at once. It leaves you with the theater through which all of this drama called your life has played through. It leaves you with the ‘person’ behind the scenes that has watched the whole play, but hasn’t partaken in any of it. It leaves you with your Self, with a capital S, the only part of you that hasn’t changed throughout your entire life. The only part that won’t change, can never change. Only at death do you and the Self part, and then you won’t know the difference, because without the Self, the Observer, you can’t very well be aware of much of anything.

So then, which do you think is more important, all the cells, thoughts, rules, feelings, memories, etc. that you’ve built up over the course of your life? Or the background on which they all rely? A loaded question, sure. And one that doesn’t have an obvious answer. Because obviously both are necessary to have existence as we know it. But the house usually gets all the credit. Never the lot.

I think I’ve proved my first point now, so I will move onto the second point, which may be harder to prove but easier to swallow. How does knowing you are the lot and not the house help things? As the house falls to shambles, or is in transition from one addition to the next, what good does it do you to know that you aren’t the thing in flux, but rather the very ground, perhaps with a capital G, that the house is built on? Well, I would guess that the answer to that question should be quite obvious: if you aren’t the house, then you need not worry while it falls apart, while builders renovate it, or while it stands in stasis. Regardless, if you are the lot, you have no worries.

And without any worries, suddenly you’re open to a whole new world of possibilities. Has that divider between the kitchen and the family room always bothered you? But you couldn’t force yourself to take it down because, well, it’s always been there and you can’t quite recall if it lends structural support to the house? If your realize your identity as the lot, or even if you just realize that the lot is there, you can in fact tear that wall down without the fear of destroying anything. You may well destroy the house. But the land upon which the house is built, that can’t be destroyed.

And again, without those worries, you can build a bigger and better house. You can keep pushing onward and upwards, reaching for better and more innovative architectural wonders, without fear that you might ‘mess up’ yourself, your house.

The trick, then, to all of life’s problems is to realize that you are in fact that lot. The house is just there for a brief little stay. No need to worry about keeping up repair. You may or you may not [it gets more interesting when you decide to keep up], but in the end it doesn’t matter. As long as you identify with the Ground, all worries can wash away.

The Brain as Prism

September 24, 2007

Here’s that post I promised you from last week. About consciousness and the mind-brain dilemma.

First, it should be noted that what I’m doing here is purely speculation. I don’t have a degree in neuroscience [yet], and I certainly haven’t reached any sort of level of contemplative mastery [also yet]. Luckily that doesn’t mean I can’t look at a little info, toss it around in my head, and possibly come out with something interesting. So here it goes!

The study of consciousness in any sort of ‘scientific’ form really just got its legs during the end of this century. Coming from a physicalist perspective, Western science has tried to narrow down the possible origins of consciousness. Surely we’ve come a long way from the Egyptians who thought the brain was a giant waste of space and the heart is the seat of all intelligence [mmm, brain slurries!]. And yet Western science still has a ways to go towards explaining how subjective experience arises.

Let’s put it this way: it’s entirely possible that you could have a ‘zombie’ person that went about their day, doing all the things that a normal person might do, and yet that zerson would have no subjective experience of what’s going on. Another word for zerson is robot.

Yet, we all know that at the very least we all experience subjectivity, and we therefore assume that others too must experience it. If all this whirlwind of activity goes on in my head, and you seem to act in a similar manner to me, then you too must experience this subjectivity. Now, that’s a hypothesis. One that I don’t know if you can actually check. Kind of weird. But not the main point yet.

As Western science has become more and more powerful, with new technology and theory intertwining to provide a complex picture of the interaction between subjective experience and objective correlates in the brain, the general assumption upon which all consciousness studies rest is that the brain creates the subjective experience. That it’s a matter of direct causation, and that we just haven’t quite figured out how all the flashing of neurons can create the colorful experience we all know and love [and I mean the colorful part literally. It’s the old question about the color red: does it have any objective significance? Or is it just a subjective thing? Yes, there is a objective wavelength associated with red. But the redness is purely subjective, only attributable to beings with our specific eyes, brains, etc.]

The reason we make that ‘brain = mind’ jump is because when we see firing in the brain, the subject also reports [either through actions or words] a certain emotion, thought, or behavior. Simply, I think of a loved one, and a certain part of my brain lights up on an fMRI. But just because two things happen co-incidentally does not mean that one causes the other. It means that both are happening at the same time.

An alternate hypothesis, in the works for a very long time [about as long as people have been sitting in diapers on cushions, meditating] is that there is a unique part of the universe, separate from matter-energy, something we might call the substrate consciousness (SC). This SC pervades all things, much like vacuum energy can be found anywhere, even in ’empty’ space. [NOTE: please excuse my mixing of different topic areas as if I know what I’m talking about. I don’t, but this is what’s coming to me as I write.] This hypothesis then posits that the mind stems from this consciousness. And if this is true, then the brain must be thought of as a prism, not a flashlight. Western science claims that consciousness comes directly from the brain, as light from a flashlight. Eastern wisdom [and all contemplative practices in general] posit that consciousness is a given, and that the brain merely directs the substrate consciousness, bending and dividing it much like a prism.

Now, the brain makes a very complicated prism, as made clear by the abundance of subjective experiences made available to humans, not to mention other animals. Every brain filters a very unique personality, spawned from a unique combination of genes and life experiences. The brain then can be studied as a way to see how consciousness may differ from person to person, as Western science already does.

I suppose this is all just a matter of world play and metaphor. Do you want to see the brain as a filter or a generator? Living life for so long seeing the brain as a generator, I find it a pleasurable experience to see it as a filter. All the facts of science still hold, except for the Hard Question of where the subjective experience comes from.

And this change of metaphors creates a whole new outlook on all things related to life, also opening a whole avenue of possibilities previously made ‘impossible’ by the laws of physics. If there really is a fundamental aspect of reality not yet discovered by scientists, as Buddhist contemplatives would argue, then perhaps some of the oddities of human myth and legend could be rationally explained.

Take reincarnation, for example. The traditional view that every person has an individual soul that moves from body to body seems a little far out. But consider that the interaction between the brain and the mind changes the substrate consciousness in some way, just as a physical interaction with an electric would change the field strength. Then that change could, upon interaction with a similar brain, manifest itself in the recollections of past lives. In fact, one might suppose that all past lives [and by that, of course, we mean past memories of those lives] still exist in some form in the substrate the consciousness.

Of course, this also leaves open an explanation for psi phenomena: if everyone is just a filter, an antenna of sorts, for one pervading medium, then it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a message being sent through that medium, perhaps in a wave-like fashion [but that’s also a metaphor, because we don’t actually know what the medium, let alone the method of motion, is like], from receiver to receiver.

As I said earlier, all of this is extremely speculative. Well, at least in the manner I’m going about discussing it. But it really does open whole new branches of thoughts / possibilities, in addition to entirely novel ways of looking at existing phenomena and experiences.

Take this all with a grain of salt. A very interesting grain of salt that merits further scientific investigation and personal reflection.

PS – I hope at this point the meaning of the previous post becomes clear. Just as in a dream there is the substrate consciousness [the consciousness of the dreamer] manifesting through the persona in the dream as well as all the different individuals encountered in the dream, waking life could be thought of as the substrate consciousness [in this case, a pervading ‘something’ that has yet to be identified] manifesting through the persona [YOU] and as well as the different individuals encountered in the waking life [ME, and everyone else in the world]. Carrying this metaphor further, we can think of the subjective experience of everyone stemming from one universal ‘something,’ which we all the substrate consciousness, and only seeming to stem from many different sources because, just as in a non-lucid dream, we do realize the unity of it all. Yeah, I just thought that was pretty cool. And worth reiterating.

September 23, 2007

To clarify this point: other people and objects in my dream are not manifestations of my mind as one more character in the dream; rather, they, like myself in the dream, are manifestations of my substrate consciousness, while I am asleep outside the dream. The dreamed self’s mind still seems to be local, but in a lucid dream the dreamer is aware that his or her mind pervades all people, things, and events. So the lucid dreamer is, so to speak, localized as the dreamed persona, but nonlocalized in the knowledge of the self as being the dreamer. Another way of saying this is that as a dreamed persona, one engages in intersubjective relations with others in the dream, but with the recognition of oneself as the dreamer, one knows all these encounters to be intrasubjective. A lucid dreamer is aware of both these perspectives, and in the awareness that transcends the duality of self and others in the dream, enters into an “I-thou” relationship with the other, who is none other than the self.

– From Contemplative Science by B. Allan Wallace

Heady stuff, for sure. But, since I still haven’t written that post I promised, chew on this one for a bit: what if waking reality is just another layer of this onion? Not in the Matrix sense of ‘this is all a dream that I am making up,’ but rather, ‘this is all just a dream of a larger dreamer,’ where that dreamer is consciousness itself.

Philosophical and speculative? Sure. But you have to live a little!

And the greatest part: neuroscience hasn’t disproven this hypothesis yet! That’s why they call it the “Hard Problem” of Consciousness.

This is when you really start deciding who you are.

This is when you choose a look. This is when you start saying “dude” all the time, and without scare quotes, or only sometimes and heavily ironized, or maybe not at all. This is when you get your first tattoo and stud, or go for the cords and the blue oxford shirt. This is when you decide to study hard, to get top marks, even though it takes a lot of time — or you decide to blow it off and cruise with Bs, or drop out entirely and fuck ’em all. This is when you decide that you are the kind of person who really cares about the environment or gender equality or you decide that taking political positions is just so affected. If you’re more or less embedded in a minority niche, ethnic or economic, or both, this is when you decide to negotiate the dominant culture or, because the very idea of that is humiliating, you commit to the enterprises that belong to you already. This is when you get invested in team sports, or attach yourself to a skateboard and join the crew down at the financial center plaza. This is when you dabble in a bit of both, or several, because you’ve got other ideas, you’re not sure exactly what, sort of a loner-artist-type thing developing — but there’s examples of that in every third thing you read and see as well, so you’ve got the company of reflection even when you “go your own way,” because that’s such a category too, there’s no escaping it, this side of madness anyway, and even then, half the school shooters in the heartland saw themselves as Neo in The Matrix, or something along those lines, didn’t they?

Above all, this is when you choose the music you will live by, a soundtrack to accompany the performance of your life.

~ On High School, from Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It by Thomas De Zengotita

Fucking insane. All that stuff really does go on during high school. All the creation of identity. That must be why everyone in middle school yearbooks looks more or less the same: the same bland, childish clothes, hair, face. Except for the few rare exceptions that have already ‘high schooled’ ahead of their time.

And I don’t see a way to escape. Yet. It seems like no matter what direction you go, you’re still stuck in your label, even if it’s just the label of having no label. The identity of having no identity.

‘This is the soundtrack for our movie. Would you tell me when we get to the best part? I’ll play it for you.’

Ugh. What an ironic age we live in.

So, I’m totally going for a post a day quota for this summer. I don’t know how long that will last [or really if you would want it to], but there’s only one way to find out. And besides, you gotta keep busy!

Today’s topic: your self. It’s neither yours, nor a self. Discuss!

Okay, but seriously. This is apparently this body-minds philosophical / practical question of the moment. And I’ve probably beat this dead horse to the point that I got its heart beating again. Maybe that’s why I should talk about it again.

I don’t have any new angles. Yet. Well, maybe a little one. Namely, I’ve been thinking a lot about how one would go about living in the world without a self [or in more typical terms, without an ego]. I mean, the person wouldn’t be a zombie. That would be pre-ego, not post-ego [and there’s no going back!]. Which got me to thinking more about some of the realizations I’ve had lately, and in the past, about how everyone lives in the center of their own universe. I don’t know if it’s possible to realize that maybe you’re life isn’t the most important, interesting, original, etc., on the planet. I don’t know if that would make any biological sense [well, altruism does, so I stand corrected]. But I imagine that would be what enlightenment is like. Because enlightenment basically just means realizing that, experientially [not cognitively, like I have down pat], there is no self. At least, no nuclear self that somehow everything revolves around.

I keep coming back to this problem because it seems to me like the most important one that a person can face. At the same time, if there is no qualitative difference between someone who realizes this and someone who doesn’t, is all the hand-wringing really worth it? It’s similar to the difference between a [healthy morally] Christian and an [healthy morally] Atheist. Both worldviews lead to near identical behavioral patterns. Though in the end one may be MORE true [atheism, hack cough…], maybe that doesn’t matter as long as they lead to the same end [moral action, empathy, altruism, contemplation, etc.].

Hrmph. I’m listening to a podcast about nonviolence [from a class at UC Berkeley {dude, they have an entire class on nonviolence at UCB… that’s f’in sweet!}]. The professor talks about a class on meditation and how he wanted to get it approved as a lab class for the nonviolence course. Needless to say, it didn’t pan through with the powers that be [even the ‘liberal’ academics, well the administration at least, are light years behind the times]. But it’s a novel idea. That meditation is to life what labs are to science. In which case, this entire post is just smoke and mirrors. All I need to do is sit.

So sit I will. But while you’re still at your computer, check out this little campaign. You’d think it were a jest. But no. It’s for real. Narcissism probably is the leading cause of death in the world. Go figure.

I totally gotta make me a bumper sticker from that campaign. And one for “God _less America.” Sweet!

PS – Dude, I still can’t get over Eve. That was totally worth all the thousands of years of our fallen state. Right on, brother!

I read this really awesome essay by neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky [okay, a whole series of really great essays, but this one stood out in the pack] called Circling the Blankets for God. In short, it’s about two disorders: schizophrenia and OCD.

What do those two things have to do with religion? Okay, just think about this: what do most religious leaders claim? Direct communication with God [whatever their culture might call him]. How do they communicate with him? They see him. Or they hear him. Or maybe he sets a bush on fire and talks to them.

What’s the definition of someone that’s schizophrenic? Someone who sees, hears, smells, tastes, or feels something that isn’t there. Think A Beautiful Mind, but for real. Do you see the connection here? I mean, it’s clear as day. The person is ‘seeing’ God, who isn’t there. The only difference between someone certified crazy and someone who’s a saint is that the saint says the invisible person he’s talking to is God. That’s a rather thin line, my friend.

Now to the even more fun revelation: OCD. Think about this for a second: how many times do you have to say a Hail Mary for a sin? How many times must you go through the rosary before you’ve completed the prayer? How does crossing yourself protect you from, well, whatever [note: all these things are Catholic-biased, but only because that’s my background. I would imagine that just about every religion has their own crazy rituals]. What do OCD’s do? They repeat something some ‘magic’ number of times. Wash your hands 14 times or the germs will get you! Check the door lock 7 times or maybe it won’t lock. Or they perform some ritual before doing something. Rub a magic talisman before going out. Pat a spot on the wall before answering the phone. I mean, hello! Almost a one to one connection.

But the really neat thing, the rub as it were, is that most religious people probably aren’t certified schizophrenic / OCD [I would hazard to say that we’re all just a little bit schizo / OCD {I sure know that I am}]. And yet the mentally-ill managed to convince everyone else that what they ‘knew’ was right. That their little voices or their little rituals actually worked. If you try something ten times and it works one of them, well then, it worked!

If nothing else, it makes you think.

I’ll leave you with this fun little section from the essay:

An extraordinarily modern, familiar cast to the suffering of an obsessive compulsive is found in the case of the sixteenth-century Augustinian monk named Luder, whose writings have survived into our time. Anxious and neurasthenic, troubled with a relationship with a stern and demanding father, plagued with a variety of seemingly psychosomatic disorders, the young man had been caught one day in a frightening thunderstorm while walking alone, suffered a panic attack, and vowed to become a monk if he was allowed to survive.

True to his vow, he became a novitiate and threw himself into the rituals with a froth of repetition, self-doubt, and self-debasement. He described his dis-ease with the German word Anfechtung, which he defined as a sense of being utterly lost, a sense of anxious lack of mooring in every circumstance. He carried out each monkish ritual to perfection, urging himself to ever greater concern for detail, ever greater consciousness of God throughout the act, ever greater contrition for his own inadequacies . . . and would invariably find fault and have to start over again. The first Mass that he led was an agony of anxiety, as he was filled with fears of leaving out details, of saying something blasphemous. His spare hours of silent meditation were filled with obsessive, heretical thoughts, for which he confessed at length day after day. “I often repeated my confession and zealously performed my required penance,” he wrote. “But I was always doubting and said, ‘You did not perform that correctly. You were not contrite enough. You left that out of your confession.’ ” At one point, his father confessor, no doubt exhausted with having to hear hours of confessions each day with Luder, endless reportings of evidence of failings and God’s justifiable anger, finally turned to the young monk with an exasperated, shockingly modern insight: “It is not God who is angry with you. It is you who is angry with God.”

History gives us a final hint of this monk’s affliction. He washed and washed, and it was all futile. “The more you cleanse yourself, the dirtier you get,” he summarized plaintively. The vein of obsessive-compulsive anxiety is readily apparent in this young man, who would come to be known by the more modern version of his name, Martin Luther.

Amen.

On CNN recently, they had a segment on how (or how not) atheists have been under (on the) attack in this country. Here’s the first part of the segment from YouTube:

Okay, that’s pretty fair and balanced. I wouldn’t say there’s too much of a slant. Both atheists and a Christian get to talk. Very American.

But then the next segment comes on, here:

Okay, totally NOT fair and balanced. First, no atheist in sight to give his / her opinion. Instead, we get three Judeo-Christians, one Judeo and two Christians, blathering on about how atheists should just “shut up.” Okay, well, the guy from ESPN says they should be able to talk [even though they’re so OBVIOUSLY wrong].

Sorry, but why should the atheists shut up? This is a Christian nation, huh? Last time I checked, we didn’t have a State Religion. I’m pretty sure that was half the point of coming over here. And if you’re going to pull that, “but the founding fathers had it in mind” card, sorry, not so. At least not Jefferson, or Washington, or Franklin. You don’t get much more founding father than that.

I just don’t get it. If CNN is the “liberal media,” then why are they having a ‘debate’ about atheism that’s so inherently one sided? Just goes to show you how far right the liberals have gone. Sigh.

PS – I don’t agree with militant atheism. It’s kind of like militant communism. Both the ideas, minus the militant part, are great. But just add that m word and you have a recipe for disaster. Plus, why be an atheist? Or even a nontheist? Why define yourself by something that you don’t think about? At least in my case, I wouldn’t call myself an atheist or an agnostic, really. I don’t honestly give much thought to God [and I would wager a good amount of money that most “Christians” don’t either]. I’d prefer to think of myself in more positive (as in not the negation of other) terms, like a humanist. Or even more fun, a transhumanist.

But on that note, here’s some militant atheism I do so enjoy. Judith, by A Perfect Circle:

You’re such an inspiration for the ways
That I’ll never ever choose to be
Oh so many ways for me to show you
How the savior has abandoned you
F*ck your God
Your Lord and your Christ
He did this
Took all you had and
Left you this way
Still you pray, you never stray
Never taste of the fruit
You never thought to question why

It’s not like you killed someone
It’s not like you drove a hateful spear into his side
Praise the one who left you
Broken down and paralyzed
He did it all for you
He did it all for you

Oh so many many ways for me to show you
How your dogma has abandoned you
Pray to your Christ, to your god
Never taste of the fruit
Never stray, never break
Never—choke on a lie
Even though he’s the one who did this to you
You never thought to question why

Not like you killed someone
It’s Not like you drove a spiteful spear into his side
Talk to Jesus Christ
As if he knows the reasons why
He did it all for you
Did it all for you
He did it all for you

[Thanks to Integral Options Cafe for pointing me to these videos]

because I can’t for the life of me understand the theist’s argument!

Check out this dialogue between Sam Harris (one of my secular heroes [swoon]) and Dennis Prager, a radio talk show host and advocate of the Judeo-Christian flavor of religions. It’s pretty short, should only take about twenty minutes to read (okay, maybe that’s not short, but if you’re interested, it’s worth it).

So much argumentum ad hominem goes on in this between both parties. But at the same time, Prager just goes on and on about how the Judeo-Christian god has to be the right one. And he also talks about how immoral atheists are. Here’s an example quote:

My argument is that unlike Judeo-Christian America, secular societies—generally meaning those of Western Europe—lose their will to survive (by not reproducing), and stand for nothing (they were largely morally worthless in the Cold War against Communism and are worthless or worse in helping to keep Israel alive against Muslims who vow to exterminate the Jewish state.) When people realize this, they may conclude that something that is necessary for society to survive—belief in the God of Israel—may in fact exist.

No, they don’t lose their will to survive. They just realize that maybe, just maybe, quantity does not equal quality, especially in a finite world with finite resources. Then, earlier, he asserted that maybe they were just too “selfish” to have more than one child. Double what? Too selfish to have too many children. This guy really has the complete reverse of any of the values I have.

You’ll have to read the entire correspondence to understand my confusion. And if you do read it and aren’t confused by Prager’s argument, please explain it to me.

And I’m being completely honest and sincere here. If someone could explain why he thinks the way he does (other than the obvious developmental perspective that he’s at the lower, mythic stage of development while Harris is at the rational stage), I’d be greatly obliged.

Because, honest, just three years ago, I believed much more strongly in a “god” than I do now. But even then, it was a more deist, distant god, and most certainly NOT a specific flavor of god.

I don’t think this has added anything to the conversation, but at least it gave me a crack at using my writing skills.

I hope everyone has a great Friday. TGIF (ironic, I know). :)

Quotation

November 28, 2006

“… when it is not in our power to determine what is true, we ought to act according to what is most probably.”

– Descartes from A Discourse on Method


This Descartes guy knows what he’s talking about! We’ve finally gotten to something in CIE (other than the Gita) that I find useful. Go figure it’s the last thing we’re going to read this semester.

Though, yeah, that whole “cogito ergo sum” thing is baloney. If there’s one thing that we shouldn’t base our life philosophy on, it’s thought!

Quotation

November 28, 2006

Enlightenment is not an attainment, Dan. It is a realization. When you wake up, everything changes and nothing changes. If a blind man realizes he can see, has the world changed?

– From Way of the Peaceful Warrior