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> Is That All There Is?, The Philosophy Thread
stargazer
post Oct 6 2009, 06:54 PM
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Again, do you have a situation in mind when discussing free will? I think it might help to flesh out the concept. Free will and biological determinism are pretty broad concepts.


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culturehandy
post Oct 6 2009, 07:06 AM
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Hmmm, that's a good questiong, I never thought about it.

how about free will. Let's start with that.


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stargazer
post Oct 5 2009, 07:12 PM
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Are you talking about free will vs. determinism, CH? Can you give an example.


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culturehandy
post Oct 5 2009, 07:17 AM
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here's one to toss out there.

What about the concept of "choice". Is choice a reality or is it something we think we have, but in all reality choice is just nice idea when we really don't have "choice".

I have my thoughts, but I'm going to wait.


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stargazer
post Sep 27 2009, 05:37 PM
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QUOTE(crazyoldcatlady @ Sep 27 2009, 03:02 PM) *
but then, i started thinking: yes, everyone does something for a reason, but what if they keep doing the same things over and over again for the same reasons? (i.e. no attempt to change their reactions as formed by their "reasons".) can you truly forgive someone who is always going to react in the same way because "that's the just way s/he is?"


The very notion of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So, we know the person is not going to change and now the ball is in your court. What are you going to do? It really comes down to how you want to handle things in your life. Acceptance is a bitch, you know. I know my father will continue to live his life by his own narcisstic, self-centered rules, but, it doesn't mean I have to follow them which I don't. He's had to adapt to me 'cause he know I have no problem with cutting off ties. I know who I am and I know the type of relationships I want in my life. Again, you have to look at yourself on this one. Why are you so willing to forget yourself and give into others? What does that say about you? I've gone from feeling powerless in my relationships to feel empowered by the choices I can make for myself.

QUOTE
what is trust? can trust and self-preservation co-exist?


Again, I think this topic connects with the above statement. For some reason, though, the issue of change seems connected with the issue of trust, forgiveness, and compassion. These issues need to start with yourself. You can't trust or be understanding of others if you can't do these things for yourself. I know it sounds trite but it is true. When I was ignoring my own gut instinct and living other people's truth, I was more unsure, confused, shut down, closed off of an individual. The more I began to remind myself the positive choices I've made for myself, things began to shift for me. So, I believe those things can co-exist if one is willing to look in the mirror and see what kind of energy they are sending out. Like attracts like.

I'm in the middle of reading this article from Shambhala Sun which deals with how human suffering is the result of our belief in permanence. How do we learn to trust and continue living with the notion that change is continually happening?

Which makes me realize we are back at cocl's question. Full circle! smile.gif

ETA: On snap, a good article! I hope everyone reads it. Made me think about our attachment to the self. Lots of things for us to talk about.


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crazyoldcatlady
post Sep 27 2009, 03:02 PM
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QUOTE
But when I realise people say and do these things for so many complicated reasons (everything from their upbringing to their past relationships to the fact that for all I know, they really might pee their pants if they don't get home 5 minutes faster) then I can let go of my anger at them and continue my day.


this first time i read this line, it put a different perspective on the separate-the-person-from-the-act. i actually sort of got it.

but then, i started thinking: yes, everyone does something for a reason, but what if they keep doing the same things over and over again for the same reasons? (i.e. no attempt to change their reactions as formed by their "reasons".) can you truly forgive someone who is always going to react in the same way because "that's the just way s/he is?"

i knew a dude back in school who was in a wheelchair all his life, and he was a snarky sonofabitch. it was funny, at first, how he ragged on people--"oh, that's just Bob being Bob"---and he sort of got this free pass to say whatever he wanted because he was in a wheelchair and life had handed him a bum deal. after a while, it's like, i don't care who you are or what happened to you, at the end of the day you're still a DICK.

::shrug::

QUOTE
When people re-enter my life, it is good to hear how that person is doing, but, I'm not so quick to make myself available to them, especially if I felt I've been hurt. If Friend X is asking for forgiveness, well, she needs to understand that she may not be forgiven by you. It's really on her. So, what is her intention? Is it to obtain your friendship again or she is working on making amends with the people she's felt she has hurt with her behavior? You can be upset at the behavior and accept her apology in order for you to heal from the relationship. I guess I don't see forgiveness meaning you can go back to how things were before or force some type of relationship that can never be. I'm sure you've made changes during this time as well.


i can't help but think Friend X has ulterior motives now for trying to re-enter my life (esp. since her fiance called me last night). i *trusted* her and she blew that out of the water--multiple times, in retrospect. and since this isn't the COCL-therapy-hour, i'm just going to open the floor to the discussion of trust.

what is trust? can trust and self-preservation co-exist?
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angie_21
post Sep 26 2009, 04:34 PM
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cocl, I've always interpreted that idea (that "in order to forgive someone, you have to separate the person from the act. hate the act, not the person") slightly differently. I think of it more in terms of anger management, for example when a family member says something I consider racist of offensive, or when someone cuts me off in traffic. It's horrible that people harbor nonsensical prejudices, and its horrible that people endanger eachothers lives to save 5 minutes during rush hour. But when I realise people say and do these things for so many complicated reasons (everything from their upbringing to their past relationships to the fact that for all I know, they really might pee their pants if they don't get home 5 minutes faster) then I can let go of my anger at them and continue my day. Instead of being angry at the person, I can think of things I can do in my life to stop those actions from happening in the world. It doesn't mean you should let toxic people stay in your life, but that if you do have to cut them out, you at least won't have to harbour resentment towards them because you can realise that there are reasons (not excuses, just reaons, good or bad) for why they treated you badly. Or like anarch said, it's about letting go of negative feelings that are only hurting you and preventing a relationship from progressing.

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stargazer
post Sep 23 2009, 04:50 PM
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Interesting topic, cocl! smile.gif

Reading your comment about your Friend X, I was reminded of this scene in 28 Days where Viggo Mortenson asked Sandra Bullock what was the worst thing she did when she was using drugs. She became really defensive and would not answer his question. I always remember what he said, "Those are just things you've done. They don't make up who you are."

Forgiveness is something I've been working on for the past year. I'm a pretty forgiving person by nature. There are relationships I've ended because they've run their course. It could've been my fault. It could've been their fault. We might've been a toxic combo. Either way, things needed to end. I guess if you view the ending of relationships in buddhist terms of living with impermanence, then people, things, situations are continually ending or dying. People, maybe the same people, will re-enter our lives and, hopefully, if we are aware to life's lessons....we are better prepared to handle those situations. Just like anarch's great example of her relationship with her father. When people re-enter my life, it is good to hear how that person is doing, but, I'm not so quick to make myself available to them, especially if I felt I've been hurt. If Friend X is asking for forgiveness, well, she needs to understand that she may not be forgiven by you. It's really on her. So, what is her intention? Is it to obtain your friendship again or she is working on making amends with the people she's felt she has hurt with her behavior? You can be upset at the behavior and accept her apology in order for you to heal from the relationship. I guess I don't see forgiveness meaning you can go back to how things were before or force some type of relationship that can never be. I'm sure you've made changes during this time as well.

I guess you bring an interesting question, Do people really change? Or, with therapy, self help books, life experience, support, etc, do people build skills to adapt to their environment? While their past displayed the impact their free will had on their life (loss of relationships as a result of their behavior), can their free will to make choices to display compassion, kindness, and forgiveness actually change them?

I believe human kind are pure and good by nature. I think when an individual can use their free will to live a life of compassion, kindness, and forgiveness, then they are onto the journey of returning to one's true Self. In a sense, returning home.

I hope it doesn't sound like I've come to a conclusion by any means. It is something I've thought about alot this year. Dead Man Walking is a good movie to watch to consider the issue of forgiveness.


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anarch
post Sep 23 2009, 12:42 PM
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QUOTE(crazyoldcatlady @ Sep 22 2009, 06:16 PM) *
i was thinking about trying to divorce her from her actions, but her unfavorable actions are too pervasive and consistent to totally separate from the person. if Friend X were to completely stop the cunty behavior, Friend X wouldn't be Friend X anymore, by definition.

i know this thread is more about philosophy than my own personal life, but that's just the situation that got me thinking about forgiveness, and who/what defines the Self. it's like we've been saying, if all our external cues, interactions, and ingrained beliefs are stripped (caster) or proved false (learning of adoption, aliens), would the template still be there? would your Self essence/Truth still prevail?


"Amputated," heh, that's exactly what I did with my dad at one point. It felt great. Good description. I cut him from my life and wrote him a letter explaining that I was doing it because I didn't want his toxic behaviour in my life, and if at some point he wanted to be in my life, he'd have to shape up by going to therapy, and I told him I thought and had faith that he had it in him to face up to the damage he'd done. (That last part was a complete and total lie, but I put it in because I thought if I told him what I really thought, that he was too gutless to do it, then that would just solidify the worthless self-image that was causing his self-centred, thoughtless, hurtful behaviour in the first place.) He didn't mention the letter for about a year and I thought, Yeah, just as I thought, gutless. Then his gf told me that he was still thinking about it and he'd like to talk about it, so I thought, Hmmm, maybe he's too terrified to go to therapy on his own. So when we met, I offered to go with him. He agreed. I actually have a relationship with him now (something that for about 10 years I thought would never, COULD never happen.) He still says thoughtless asshole stuff but now he'll listen and usually apologize when I call him on it.

So the Dalai Lama's remarks resonated with me because I interpret them as "forgiveness" as 1. a letting go of negativity (as much as possible, anyway, and of course it can't happen all at once, but it can happen gradually) towards the other person that we do to nurture our own peace of mind, and 2. an opening of space that explains to them that their actions were or are assholish or thoughtless and hurtful, and that I won't tolerate more actions of that pattern, and 3. an opening of another space that offers to them the possibility that they can really, genuinely change away from doing mostly asshole behaviour to behaving mostly with care, thoughtfulness, consideration, and compassion.

So my own resolution for the Dalai Lama's approach is that, yes, choices and actions do define who a person is, up to the point that I or someone else points out to them that the larger pattern of their choices and actions = asshole or cunty behaviour, and points out that better ways to behave exist. Then, if they really change themself (yeah, I think English needs a nongenderspecific singular pronoun), to me that suggests that there was a higher self, a template, lurking inside but afraid to come out. I

Someone who keeps carrying on with the asshole cunty behaviour after that, or makes superficial changes and then backslides and makes more superficial changes and backslides again and so on, well, I happily keep them amputated, but when thoughts of them cross my mind, I hope, in a distant kind of way, that there might be some point down the long road where somebody else explains it to them, or they have some profound experience that shakes them up, and this time the lightbulb finally lights up and they let their higher self out of the closet. So...yes, one's negative actions do speak to the inner self. And,? the inner self nevertheless contains the potential to do better? (well, I'm not sure I'd apply that to psychopaths, serial murders, pedophiles etc)

"if Friend X were to completely stop the cunty behavior, Friend X wouldn't be Friend X anymore, by definition." (sorry I haven't figured out how to do the quote thing for more than one instance)

well I think sometimes about people I'm no longer in contact with who I behaved badly towards, and I wish I could run into them so I could apologize for my shitty behaviour back then. I mean, in many ways I feel that I'm the same person I was 10 or 20 years ago, but in just as many ways I'm different, and I think a better person. It's like I'm more the me I was meant to be now, than I was back in my teens or 20s when I was trying to figure out what "me" meant, and often confusing "me" with who my family or certain "friends" or stupid women's magazines or tv/movies etc, expected me to be. Or who I *thought* I wanted to be, but it turned out I was just buying into other people's ideas of what I needed to be happy and fulfilled.

I dunno. I can't tell at this point if I'm making sense. I thought I was, when i started typing! Anyway, thanks, it's interesting talking about these things.
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crazyoldcatlady
post Sep 22 2009, 05:16 PM
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after reading anarch's dali lama article, one thought keeps coming to me:

he says in order to forgive someone, you have to separate the person from the act. hate the act, not the person.

my question is, don't your acts *define* who you are? don't your words and actions speak to your inner self? how can you really separate the two when one is essentially contingent on the other? your action (or inaction) is what defines you to other people. if you didn't know me, how would you be able to describe me?

i'm chewing this over now, because i have a friend i amputated from my life a few months ago over her actions. she's come back around, asking for forgiveness (which are still sort of coming with an asterisk). i was thinking about trying to divorce her from her actions, but her unfavorable actions are too pervasive and consistent to totally separate from the person. if Friend X were to completely stop the cunty behavior, Friend X wouldn't be Friend X anymore, by definition.

i know this thread is more about philosophy than my own personal life, but that's just the situation that got me thinking about forgiveness, and who/what defines the Self. it's like we've been saying, if all our external cues, interactions, and ingrained beliefs are stripped (caster) or proved false (learning of adoption, aliens), would the template still be there? would your Self essence/Truth still prevail?
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girltrouble
post Sep 20 2009, 09:22 PM
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as a side note, star, from everything i've read, caster's parents new nothing about her being intersexed. the only way anyone knew was because she got genetically tested. intersexuality can be something that one goes their whole life not knowing. we are taught that sex is a binary, although intersexuals prove it isn't, but sex is more complex than a, b or c. there are (if i remember right) 8 different determinates of sex, and they are not always one or the other, sometimes it's 60% male 40% female, or vice versa, more or less. for them to single her out is to make up a rule because she was too fast, and that was not something they cared for. as someone pointed out on facebook, her testosterone level was only 3 times the average woman, which is about the same as the average woman during menopause. and cocl, i agree, it's not only heart breaking, but it's hauntingly so. i just feel heartsick when i think about it.


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stargazer
post Sep 20 2009, 10:05 AM
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QUOTE(girltrouble @ Sep 19 2009, 11:18 PM) *
identifying who we are when everything else is stripped away... is not so easy. i can't help but think about that runner who, from everything she and her family knew was a female, and in a very public way was outed as being intersexed. to me that is such a fundamental stripping away of everything you know about yourself. having transitioned, i still cannot fathom how painful that must have been. but if that happened to you, what exactly would you know about yourself? when even the most basic things are subject to change. i try to think of other huge changes that would be similar, like finding out you are adopted, but that still doesn't approach the very concrete sort of personal alienation from your own body, and disillusionment of identity that she must have experienced. in that sort of experience, what is truth? what do you know? is there even a template?


GT, that's what I've been thinking about this past week, in terms of gender or things we believed to be true about ourselves based on information other people have give us. So, would it hurt Caster Semenya's parents to have told her the truth when she was younger about being intersex or being "kind" by withholding information about being intersex and having this information shared so publicly without knowledge of the truth for herself? No wonder she is on suicidal watch. You question your whole existence!

Not to compare her situation to Ted Bundy, but, alot has been said that part of his motivation/hatred of women stemmed from finding out, by discovering his birth certificate, that the woman he thought was his mother was his grandmother and his sister was actually his mother. So, does secrets, withholding of truth about one's origins lead to insanity, depression, neurosis, etc....does the mind just splinter off with an inability to compute such information??

anarch, thanks for the link about forgiveness quote!

cocl, i've never heard that about saints leaving their scents behind.


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crazyoldcatlady
post Sep 20 2009, 07:04 AM
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QUOTE
identifying who we are when everything else is stripped away... is not so easy. i can't help but think about that runner who, from everything she and her family knew was a female, and in a very public way was outed as being intersexed. to me that is such a fundamental stripping away of everything you know about yourself. having transitioned, i still cannot fathom how painful that must have been. but if that happened to you, what exactly would you know about yourself? when even the most basic things are subject to change. i try to think of other huge changes that would be similar, like finding out you are adopted, but that still doesn't approach the very concrete sort of personal alienation from your own body, and disillusionment of identity that she must have experienced


i couldn't fathom that, either. she's apparently on suicide watch, and that just breaks my heart. the way the whole thing went down was insensitive (understatement of the year) and, frankly, abusive. one of the people involved in her care said she's emotionally responding as if she were a rape survivor. i can see the parallels.

QUOTE
hallucinatory smells don't weird me out, it strikes me as being similar to a "phantom limb" where a person whose had a part amputated, but still feels the sensations. sense of smell strikes me as being similar. but what do i know


you're right, they're both a sort of neurons-misfiring/wires-crossing sort of vein. i think i just ascribe more gravitas (as said in a keifer sutherland voice) to the smell hallucinations, because it always reminds me of the catholic belief that people who are/are about to become saints leave scents around the living (i.e., waft of flowers in the dead of winter).

QUOTE
"Forgiveness, I feel, means not to forget what they have done. But forgiveness means do not keep your negative feeling towards them. So, as far as their action is concerned, sometimes you should use your intelligence. You deliberately have to take countermeasure, but without negative feeling


that resonants on a personal level. i'm trying to learn to forgive without having those residual stabby feelings. i got me some sunday reading to do, thanks for the link wink.gif

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anarch
post Sep 20 2009, 01:04 AM
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I agree that we can make our own hells right here right now. And heavens, too.

I said to my qi gong instructor once that "We are the choices we make," and he said, "Well, that's one theory..." Further reading lead me to the understanding that he meant that that "choices" idea was over-invested in the idea of self as ego, whereas I'm pretty sure he subscribes to the "we're all one with the universe" idea behind nirvana, the idea that if we learn to let go of identifying ourselves with our job or status or talents or bodies or pleasures and hatreds, we'll recognize a True (using your T/t distinction, star) consciousness that is at once oneself, and merged with the universality of others' consciousnesses, too.

QUOTE(angie_21 @ Sep 14 2009, 07:37 PM) *
Star, I think that's why people were so quick to hate Palin, she's an easy target, especially for women who are afraid of ever coming across as being anything like her. It's hard not to dislike someone who embodies, or at least appears to embody, so many of the stereotypes we want to be rid of. But how many of those stereotypes were more in our heads that in reality?


I object to her because she cheerfully whipped up and legitimized hateful bigots by conflating Muslims, dark skin, terrorists, and commie-fascist-urban-educated-socialist-liberal-evildoers. And that rape kit policy, which, given the demographics of rape in Alaska, means yet one more way that aboriginal women are told that the government considers them absolutely worthless. For starters.

Thinking about this stuff about interacting with people whose behaviour you find reprehensible reminded me of something I heard the Dalai Lama say once, when someone asked him if he'd forgiven the Chinese government for taking over Tibet. He said something about how it's possible to forgive, and at the same time, take strong counter-action...ok I've just googled and here's a link, "Forgiveness, I feel, means not to forget what they have done. But forgiveness means do not keep your negative feeling towards them. So, as far as their action is concerned, sometimes you should use your intelligence. You deliberately have to take countermeasure, but without negative feeling.
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girltrouble
post Sep 19 2009, 11:18 PM
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hallucinatory smells don't weird me out, it strikes me as being similar to a "phantom limb" where a person whose had a part amputated, but still feels the sensations. sense of smell strikes me as being similar. but what do i know?

identifying who we are when everything else is stripped away... is not so easy. i can't help but think about that runner who, from everything she and her family knew was a female, and in a very public way was outed as being intersexed. to me that is such a fundamental stripping away of everything you know about yourself. having transitioned, i still cannot fathom how painful that must have been. but if that happened to you, what exactly would you know about yourself? when even the most basic things are subject to change. i try to think of other huge changes that would be similar, like finding out you are adopted, but that still doesn't approach the very concrete sort of personal alienation from your own body, and disillusionment of identity that she must have experienced. in that sort of experience, what is truth? what do you know? is there even a template?


cocl-- i loved your masochist line. you're too funny.



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"what a swell farewell party! we said goodbye to everything, including the lining in my stomach." - garvey, from the film, born bad

"That's one career all females have in common, whether we like it or not: being a woman. Sooner or later, we've got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we've had or wanted." --margo channing, all about eve
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stargazer
post Sep 19 2009, 10:12 PM
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QUOTE(crazyoldcatlady @ Sep 19 2009, 04:58 PM) *
and if everything you knew was upended, i'd like to think that at least you'd know your own... essence? (soul?) if you're stripped of everything that defines you, can you at least identify your template?


For me, the Truth is what you identified above. Your essence stripped away from everything that defines you. The truth is the social conditioning from the various systems and institutions one belongs to.

Oh, and I spell g-d after having a student who was orthodox jew explain to me the rational of this spelling for those orthodox jews, meaning, his name is too sacred and g-d addresses him publicly while maintaining his sacredness.


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crazyoldcatlady
post Sep 19 2009, 04:58 PM
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star, i'm curious, why do you use "g-d" instead of "god"?

is there really a truth *or* Truth? if everyone has their own truth, who verifies what is the Truth? (if a tree falls in the forest...)

and if everything you knew was upended, i'd like to think that at least you'd know your own... essence? (soul?) if you're stripped of everything that defines you, can you at least identify your template?

tree, i believe in reincarnation too, because i'm a masochist tongue.gif

just one last note on Perception and senses. at work i encountered a case of a woman who had a brain tumor. it was causing her smell (gustatory) hallucinations ("pine needles", "dog poo", "gasoline"), and this just fucked with my head. visual, auditory hallucinations... for some reason those aren't as strange to me (probably because both can be induced with medications and alcohol and what not). but imagine walking around randomly smelling things that aren't there.
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stargazer
post Sep 19 2009, 12:00 PM
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QUOTE(crazyoldcatlady @ Sep 14 2009, 08:49 PM) *
Just because we can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and it's almost frustrating to think we can't be omniscient or that we have a very narrow definition of the world around us based on the limitations of our senses.


EXACTLY! Our perception, senses, judgment, etc. can lead us to make some missteps as well. I've been thinking about the difference between truth and Truth. Almost along the lines of blind faith and what we choose to believe that we put so much power into people, things, situations that they are real to us. If you watched this season of True Blood, the last couple of episodes dealt with this topic. So, if we stopped believing everything that has been taught to us about religion, gender, roles, the universe...would you still know who you are? how would this information challenge our relationships with others?

tree, my colleague felt that there is a hell. Not everyone goes to heaven. But, i argued if g-d is all forgiving, then isn't everyone going to heaven. Pema chodron had made a comment along the lines that hell in our present life and if we can realize the power we have with choices (such as meditation) then we can acknowledge that heaven is all around us. So, heaven is not something we have to wait for in the afterlife, but, a feeling we can experience in the here and now. I agree more with Chodron's understanding of heaven, then anything I learned growing up. It seems to acknowledge the power in every day life, such as nature, animals, humans. It is a shared power. I think belief in transformation and habitual patterns from a past life can be helpful in what one needs to learn right here and now in order to make changes to lead a life one can be content with.

I guess with the brief references with religion made here and there...I think dogma, organized religion, spiritual practices, can be really useful with helping to give some individuals direction with connecting with a spirit, deity, goddess, g-d, etc. I think these schools of thought become tainted and corrupt with some individuals who use their beliefs over others. Eh, but that might be for another thread.


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stargazer
post Sep 18 2009, 04:41 AM
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tree, ugh, I've been pondering that question all week. I've been using the conversations with my colleague (who is christian and attends bible study) to talk about this topic. I will share our discussions when I have a chance to post more this weekend. Oh, I also have a quote by Pema Chodron who makes a similar statement to your statement about hell.

Good to see people participating in this thread! smile.gif


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"I'm not impressed easily. Wow! A blue car!"-Homer Simpson
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angie_21
post Sep 15 2009, 07:58 PM
Post #40


Hardcore BUSTie
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Posts: 662
From: Alberta


QUOTE(crazyoldcatlady @ Sep 14 2009, 07:49 PM) *
what else *can't* we see? Dogs hear what we cannot, butterflies see colors we can't. Just because we can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and it's almost frustrating to think we can't be omniscient or that we have a very narrow definition of the world around us based on the limitations of our senses.


I'm jumping on the Perception topic! I took a really fun optional course in high school that was called Theory of Knowledge. We spent a lot of time talking about that kind of stuff. For serious geeks only lol. We can only ever imagine what other animals see & feel, never mind that they might think. It's probably something we wouldn't really recognize as thought. Never mind what other people see and think. Color in itself is only the way that our brain interprets certain wavelengths of light - for all I know, the wavelength I call "blue" might look completely different to you than it does to me!

If you're interested in this topic, I can suggest a lot of really neat stuff I read about in my undergrad anthropology classes. First is how the human brain learns & construct language, especially grammar. This is going to sound weird, because there's no way to sum up mountains of studies in a couple sentences, but... The languages we learn to speak in our childhood, and the way they are constructed, appear to have a huge influence on how our brains interpret patterns in the world, how we communicate successfully or unsuccessfully with others, and a ton of cognitive processes that feel instinctive to us. It shows how strongly our early childhood development can influence the way we interact with and interpret the world. Another cool, and strongly related topic is the evolution of grammatical language & "art" in human prehistory.
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