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stargazer
I wanted this thread to be in the vein of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, quantum physics, the film What the Bleep Do They Know?, existentialism, connectedness, etc. I have alot of things I want to post, but, I thought I would see what others would want to contribute first.
anarch
Ooo! Oooo! I just finished My Stroke of Insight, a brain scientist's story about what it was like to have a stroke. That was cool in itself, but the thing that got me was that her stroke affected primarily her left brain, so that her right brain was in control in a way she'd never experienced before. It gave her nirvana, the thing that normally takes people like decades to achieve through meditation practice: floating in the present moment, aware of all her cells being one with the Universe and other life forms, feeling "fluid" and totally peaceful no matter what (ie, despite the usual day-to-day things that her left brain stressed out about every second). So interesting to have a physiological (contribution? "basis" probably overstates the case) for nirvana.

I haven't seen What The Bleep Do We Know, but it has been highly recommended to me. At the same time, I've also read scathing reviews by physicists saying that its idea of "science" doesn't hold up in any degree. I'm reserving judgment until I see it.

I Heart Huckabees might be appropriate for this thread too.

I don't remember much about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read it in high school. Except his observation that "we keep passing through little moments of other people's lives." I guess that stayed with me because it really got me out of my own head and into seeing situations from others' perspectives, where they were as central in their lives as I am in mine.

I do subscribe to the connectedness of everything, though I find that difficult to remember when I'm having trouble purging my house of fleas and also I'm beginning to wonder of Sarah Palin is the Antichrist ("death panels," for cod's sake) come to bring about Armageddon.

Looking forward to reading your ideas, star, and everyone else interested in this stuff.
crazyoldcatlady
okay, here's my recent obsession as of late:

i got into a discussion with some friends and family about fears. they gave the usual "spiders" or "heights" or "flying in a plane". I'm of the sort where spiders stay because they eat the pestilence, the higher the mountain the better, and planes are for jumping out of. i don't have many typical fears.

but the idea of alien existence freaks the fuck out of me.

i blame "Unsolved Mysteries", a major player in my formative years. the tales of rapists and murderers and little girl snatchers didn't scare me; it was the idea of looking out the window at night and being eye-to-eye with a wholly otherworldly being of unknown intentions.

of course, even the friend who was afraid of spiders made fun of me, but i justify my fear as such:

i'm neither ruling in nor out the possible existence of alien lifeforms.
but if it were shown or proven, think about how their mere presence would uproot everything we know about society and evolution, science (physics), the fabric of space (and time), RELIGION... everything we have taken for granted or as doctrine would seriously have to be reexamined, and life from then on would be a 180 from what it is now. not to mention... are the new beings malevolent or benevolent?

i wish i could real einstein, or hawking, and genuinely understand the cosmos through the lens of physics, but alas, my first intro to physics test in college was a hearty 32%.
stargazer
Yippee! Hopefully, we can get some more posters in here!

anarch, that books sounds interesting. Did she use her own subjective experience about experiencing nirvana or did she have medical tests to back up her claim? I'm interested to read what the differences are she noticed in her body. Btw, I *LOVE* I heart Huckabees.

Which leads me to crazyoldcatlady's post....

I think the potential of aliens is connected to existentialism. As humans, regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, we can be pretty grandiose about our existence. I think the symbolism of aliens suggests our own vulnerabilities, we are not all knowing or powerful as we think we are...another being is more advanced and can destroy us. The presence of aliens would challenge the concept and attachments we have as "humans" with all of our labels and roles, women, men, mother, father, wife, partner, husband....if we were to live in a society where those things didn't matter, then, we would potentially lose ourselves and experience nothingness. What is our purpose as humans if we are subjected to a system created by aliens?

Think of it this way...look at all of the chaos with the threat to the current system of our nation. Birthers, healthcare reform...people are really freakin' out. It is funny for people to have the threat of losing power in a hierarchial system and people start screaming at the potential of socialism.

So, if you review sci fi books and movies, the threat was the potential of humans being controlled and enslaved by aliens, or the unknown. Our purpose and meaning totally challenged from what we believed of ourselves. We live in a competitive society which creates an us versus them atmosphere with everyone and every thing. I wonder what it would be to start working from a place of understanding instead of dominance.

Great topic btw, cocl! smile.gif
kittenb
QUOTE
but if it were shown or proven, think about how their mere presence would uproot everything we know about society and evolution, science (physics), the fabric of space (and time), RELIGION... everything we have taken for granted or as doctrine would seriously have to be reexamined, and life from then on would be a 180 from what it is now. not to mention... are the new beings malevolent or benevolent?


Frankly, that is exactly the reason I want the aliens to find us. I am not an anarchist, by any means, but I would love to see humans really have to question themselves on a great cosmic level. Kind of a Childhood's End or The Day the Earth Stood Still. Basically, "Pull it together humans!"

Of course, I would rather not get aliens like in V or something like that. But god would I love proof or alien existance. Let everyone realize that, while maybe they were not wrong, they were not the only ones who were right. laugh.gif
auralpoison
QUOTE(anarch @ Sep 8 2009, 04:36 PM) *
I do subscribe to the connectedness of everything, though I find that difficult to remember when I'm having trouble purging my house of fleas and also I'm beginning to wonder of Sarah Palin is the Antichrist ("death panels," for cod's sake) come to bring about Armageddon.


Gee, I haven't thought about any of this kinda stuff since before I was old enough to drink.

Anyways, I've always kinda liked the idea of the Axiom of Causality:

"The Axiom of Causality is the proposition that everything in the universe has a cause and is thus an effect of that cause. This means that if a given event occurs, then this is the result of a previous, related event. If an object is in a certain state, then it is in that state as a result of another object interacting with it previously. For example, if a baseball is moving through the air, it must be moving this way because of a previous interaction with another object, such as being hit by a baseball bat."

Of course, I always used pool as an example.

And I probably shouldn't be listened to as I am kinda retarded.
treehugger
QUOTE(anarch @ Sep 8 2009, 03:36 PM) *
Ooo! Oooo! I just finished My Stroke of Insight, a brain scientist's story about what it was like to have a stroke. That was cool in itself, but the thing that got me was that her stroke affected primarily her left brain, so that her right brain was in control in a way she'd never experienced before. It gave her nirvana, the thing that normally takes people like decades to achieve through meditation practice: floating in the present moment, aware of all her cells being one with the Universe and other life forms, feeling "fluid" and totally peaceful no matter what (ie, despite the usual day-to-day things that her left brain stressed out about every second). So interesting to have a physiological (contribution? "basis" probably overstates the case) for nirvana.

I haven't seen What The Bleep Do We Know, but it has been highly recommended to me. At the same time, I've also read scathing reviews by physicists saying that its idea of "science" doesn't hold up in any degree. I'm reserving judgment until I see it.


I read that book too anarch! It was an amazing book. I should pick it up and read it again, but it's packed away. sad.gif Anyway, I strongly recommend it. I've seen parts of "what the bleep do we know" and it's interesting. Difficult to wrap around my brain, but interesting.
crazyoldcatlady
QUOTE
I think the potential of aliens is connected to existentialism. As humans, regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, we can be pretty grandiose about our existence. I think the symbolism of aliens suggests our own vulnerabilities, we are not all knowing or powerful as we think we are...another being is more advanced and can destroy us. The presence of aliens would challenge the concept and attachments we have as "humans" with all of our labels and roles, women, men, mother, father, wife, partner, husband....if we were to live in a society where those things didn't matter, then, we would potentially lose ourselves and experience nothingness. What is our purpose as humans if we are subjected to a system created by aliens?


i think that perfectly articulates my thoughts on it. i can't even add anything else because you hit the nail on the head.

what's "what the bleep do they know"?
stargazer
What the Bleep Do We Know?

cocl, your topic about aliens had me thinking about this scene from Dazed and Confused. Ha!
angie_21
I'm interested, but it's been so long since I thought about htis stuff seriously I don't know what I can contribute at the moment. I've been too wrapped up in political and economic events to think about things on a more meaningful level, and I think I'm starting to feel like something's missing.

QUOTE
The presence of aliens would challenge the concept and attachments we have as "humans" with all of our labels and roles, women, men, mother, father, wife, partner, husband....if we were to live in a society where those things didn't matter, then, we would potentially lose ourselves and experience nothingness.


I spent a lot of time in Anthropology studying how those life roles can vary between cultures, it's pretty neat. The fear of the alien unknown is pretty similar to the basic human xenophbia people have of other cultures... no one wants to believe there's more than one posisble set of values and meaning in the world, especially if it means that their own values and beliefs might be wrong!

QUOTE(auralpoison @ Sep 9 2009, 03:20 AM) *
"The Axiom of Causality is the proposition that everything in the universe has a cause and is thus an effect of that cause. This means that if a given event occurs, then this is the result of a previous, related event. If an object is in a certain state, then it is in that state as a result of another object interacting with it previously. For example, if a baseball is moving through the air, it must be moving this way because of a previous interaction with another object, such as being hit by a baseball bat."


That's my view on the world too! Yay!
anarch
QUOTE(stargazer @ Sep 8 2009, 08:00 PM) *
anarch, that books sounds interesting. Did she use her own subjective experience about experiencing nirvana or did she have medical tests to back up her claim? I'm interested to read what the differences are she noticed in her body.

So, if you review sci fi books and movies, the threat was the potential of humans being controlled and enslaved by aliens, or the unknown. Our purpose and meaning totally challenged from what we believed of ourselves. We live in a competitive society which creates an us versus them atmosphere with everyone and every thing. I wonder what it would be to start working from a place of understanding instead of dominance.

Great topic btw, cocl! smile.gif


She talks about the blood pooling over (and destroying) the part of her left brain that is primarily responsible for processing numbers and other kinds of linear thinking. I'm not sure about other objective measures, in fact I kept on wanting to know what scientists who've, say, studied meditation with the Dalai Lama or effects of tai chi on physical abilities , would say about it.

Couldn't help remembering mindblowing science fiction when reading your thoughts about aliens. Varley's "Press Enter" is not ufo-type alien, but still, can't get much more us vs them survival struggle than what he describes, and I'm sure I've read an analysis somewhere getting at exactly your point, that Press Enter and the like (that movie Independence Day, for a more recent example) encapsulates a survivalist xenophobic mentality that may not be the most productive way of perceiving the universe.

Then there' Butler's "Bloodchild" which presents a much more complex vision of humans working out a sort-of compatible existence with aliens even though it's morally questionable (the aliens' parasitic reproductive process involves using humans).
stargazer
angie, well, if you've read Jean Paul Sartre, then it might help make some additional connections between free will, politics, and human behavior. It's all relative! Can you describe some of the things you've been preoccupied with regarding politics.

anarch, there is research with meditation. There is also the Mindfulness Center with Jon Kabat Zinn regarding such type of research and study. I'm still thinking about what you proposed regarding the amount of connectedness of Sarah Palin. Lately, I will reflect on that scene with Mark Wahlberg and Dustin Hoffman in I Heart Huckabees where they talk about connectedness and Wahlberg keeps harping on the disconnections. I guess I'm more focused on the disconnections with Sarah Palin. If you think psychologically, then we can interpret my thoughts about Sarah Palin as projection identification. Meaning, there are parts of myself that I identify in Palin and since I find those parts unlovable or I reject them...I put them into Palin, thus, making her an undesirable object. So, I guess when I try to find some level of connectedness with someone I strongly dislike...I try to find some common ground and what of those traits I share or deny to my consciousness. Then again, sometimes, I just want to not like someone. A cigar is a cigar sometimes. wink.gif

The axiom of casuality is an interesting one. I would say that I often thought in a very black and white, dichotomous way during my college years. I felt during philosophy and political science class that I had to choose between free will and biological determinism. However, I do not see life as being one or the other. I think things happen on a continuum of biological determinism (things out of our control) and free will (the choices we make for ourselves).
crazyoldcatlady
QUOTE
QUOTE
The presence of aliens would challenge the concept and attachments we have as "humans" with all of our labels and roles, women, men, mother, father, wife, partner, husband....if we were to live in a society where those things didn't matter, then, we would potentially lose ourselves and experience nothingness.

I spent a lot of time in Anthropology studying how those life roles can vary between cultures, it's pretty neat. The fear of the alien unknown is pretty similar to the basic human xenophbia people have of other cultures... no one wants to believe there's more than one posisble set of values and meaning in the world, especially if it means that their own values and beliefs might be wrong


it's not so much humans' potential xenophobia that freaks me out as it is people's fear of science. i mean, we still have people thinking the earth is only 6000 years old, or that the dinosaur bones were placed by god to entertain us. imagine if there was a tangible being that arrived, giving us science and technology that for all intents and purposes, looks like magic. cletus and lurleen homosapien ain't gonna like that.

(or imagine going back even 100 years, and showing your great-grandparents your iphone. imagine their heads *not* exploding.)

it reminds me of that scene from the jodie foster movie contact (i always cry at the end, btw): the white-haired crazy religious zealot blows up the contact prototype and takes human lives, all to prevent progress/possible religious debunking/whatever his reasons were.

or, also in the science vein-- what if they taught us something about the universe that contradicted what we've always held true? i can only work from similies, but it'd be sort of like when the world's population thought that the world was flat, but then Columbus* proved it wrong. what if gravity was actually the result of marshmellow peeps, or that the fabric of space was made up of caramel? (heh, i got the munchies).

*i.e., all the people BEFORE columbus, the "C" word used as a catch-all term for everyone *but* him that proved it.


QUOTE
cocl, your topic about aliens had me thinking about this scene from Dazed and Confused. Ha!


i so wanna watch that movie now! ("That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.")


as far as the axiom of causality, does it imply that actions and results occur in a linear fashion, as in a causes b causes c? or that it's multifactorial? better yet, pulling out the heisenberg uncertainty principle and applying it generally, can we ever really know why something happens?
neurotic.nelly
*waves*

stargazer, this is the coolest thread. Is it cool to discuss conspiracies in this thread too?

For those that don't have time to read the book, here is Jill Bolte Taylor's amazing TED presentation on her book Stroke of Insight and her experience. Right Here!

Right now, the main topic is Extraterrestrials. I am of the aliens exist camp but here's my confusion about them. Since there is evidence that points to aliens already having established contact with us, and governments around the world having established contact, an example being that German's replicated UFO technology and that technology has been replicated by Russian, and U.S. governments - whereby they fly around in them and what not having got the technology from alien crash sights. The Germans were the first to replicate this technology more than three decades ago. So, much information is out there on the existence of Extraterrestrials, but its not in the main stream information circuits/media. My main question is why don't they show themselves more often to more people? Of course, there are answers. Some say that the more advanced civilizations live by a code of non-disturbance or something. Unless we ask they cannot intervene and some say even if we ask they could not interfere or impede upon our path. I could go on and on. Ex military and government personnel hold conferences around the world sharing information with each other, they write books, and try to get their information out.

I know what I sound like to people who only believe in the current paradigm that we are in. The current paradigm that encompasses everything from the mainstream science to whatever religious beliefs to atheism to everything that we know as humans living on the planet earth at this time/space reality. But here's a fact, there are 400 billion star systems in our galaxy alone. To me that equals good odds of life existing somewhere else than our tiny planet.

When the pope opened his mind publicly to the possible existence of Extraterrestrials I thought for sure they'd show themselves, but noooooooooooo!

I own I heart Huckabees. It's a fun movie!

Great thread. I am more interested in this kind of stuff than politricks these days.
anarch
QUOTE(stargazer @ Sep 13 2009, 10:25 AM) *
Meaning, there are parts of myself that I identify in Palin and since I find those parts unlovable or I reject them...I put them into Palin, thus, making her an undesirable object. So, I guess when I try to find some level of connectedness with someone I strongly dislike...I try to find some common ground and what of those traits I share or deny to my consciousness. Then again, sometimes, I just want to not like someone. A cigar is a cigar sometimes. wink.gif


Point taken, star. I had forgotten about that approach, or rejected it and let fury and resentfulness obliterate my awareness of it. Of course, there's no point in the principle if I'm only going to apply it to people who are easy to apply it to! Blargh. Fine. I'll just pause and be in the space of acknowledging that it's not easy in this current mental state to feel connectedness with people who behave like Palin or the MIL. It's not easy. Doesn't mean it's not worth doing, because it is. Not least because it's easier on me to let go of the fury after having been in it for long enough and just...acknowledge and move through to the steps that need to be taken.

nelly, thanks for that Jill Bolte Taylor link! I'll check it out later.
angie_21
aahhh, too much stuff to think about all at once!

I'm an atheist/agnostic when it comes to everything, including aliens. It'd be just awesome if they did exist, but I think also very terrifying because I don't think they would be anything like people, I don't know if they'd even be able to communicate with us, and they'd have way better technology (I took a great comparative literature class in science fiction, and Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky and Fiasco by Stanislw Lem resonated most deeply with me. They're awesome and deal with some neat existential issues, though Fiasco can be pretty boring to read at times). Either way, I'll let it affect my life when it happens, and until it does, I won't think much about it. Kinda boring I guess, but that's me.

I still need to see I heart Huckabees. One day I will catch up.

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 don't know, I know I hate her!

I don't think I've read Sartre, but I've definitely read of him! I will take a deeper look. As far as politics & the economy.. right now I'm pretty stressed out over the situation in Alberta, (we've gone from the province with the highest surplus to the province with the highest deficit in just a few short months - boom, 10 billion $$ "lost" supposedly to the bad economy) the government has been slashing health care spending, maybe my boyfriend's job in the public sector will be going soon, and I haven't been able to get steady work in over a year.. the conservative government is doing nothing but encouraging the problems to have an excuse to cut their public spending, including closing down a building in one of the few mental health care facilities in the province. Bah. And pushing through private health care bills in 2 months without allowing input from health care officials or the public. (sorry for being off topic. I'll stop now)
crazyoldcatlady
QUOTE
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 don't know, I know I hate her!


ich. and all this time i thought i hated her for being a cheap GOP Token Female Politician Hillary knock-off.

i don't want to be scatter-brained and jump around on topics, but today i was thinking about Perception.

i was in a conference where we were discussing why a certain type of mole appears blue, and it's because the structure/tissue type dictates that red and green wavelengths are absorbed, but blue is reflected back, and that's what we see. 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.

almost sounds like an argument for religion.

or aliens.

(look! i came full circle!)
treehugger
okay, lemme throw this one out there....

what if christianity is RIGHT...but just misinterpreted. For instance, I believe in reincarnation. Christians believe in hell/heaven/purgatory. Right? Sooo, my particular new age reincarnation theory is that you keep coming back here till you are enlightened or, until you "get it right". and then once you're enlightened you don't have to come back here and you spend eternity in, well, the Other Side.

Sooo....using that philosophy, hell is HERE. Right????
angie_21
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.
stargazer
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
stargazer
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.
crazyoldcatlady
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.
stargazer
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.
girltrouble
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.

anarch
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.
crazyoldcatlady
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

stargazer
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.
girltrouble
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.
crazyoldcatlady
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?
anarch
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.
stargazer
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.
angie_21
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.

crazyoldcatlady
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?
stargazer
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.
culturehandy
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.
stargazer
Are you talking about free will vs. determinism, CH? Can you give an example.
culturehandy
Hmmm, that's a good questiong, I never thought about it.

how about free will. Let's start with that.
stargazer
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.
culturehandy
I guess what I was thinking along the lines of is if humans really have the "choice" to do something or is it the illusion.

I'll have to again think this through a little more.
vermilionkiss
I think we have a choice.

I do believe that we enter this world with a purpose. We can decide to walk down our predetermined path or we can choose to ignore it and go another way. I think in order to die completely fullfilled, you would have to be enlightened enough to see the signs and read the signals that show you your way.

I also believe, ala buddhist style, that if you don't fulfill your purpose, you get to try again.
culturehandy
Fair enough, but lets say it is something that deviates from a cultural norm, you can make that choice, but the consequence would be becoming a social outcast and loosing your connection to your cultural. Now, with society being the way it is, this isn't that big a deal. but let's choose something like wearing a large dinosaur costume, on any day that isn't hallowe'en and acting like a dinosaur. This is something you choose to do, but there are social consequences to it that could result in your being judged by many.

In a small culture, this has more far reaching consequences.

Imagine living in a small town and choosing to do something that goes against the heavily engrained beliefs of the entire town.

In this fact, do we really have a choice or is our desire to be accepted by our peers more of a driving force?

crazyoldcatlady
this is why i love the RZA:

RZA on Colbert

"the truth out of season bears no fruit."

classic.

(CH- i haven't had time to post lately but i wanna come back around to discuss free will smile.gif )
MadameHooch
I believe there is choice,but the real mindfuck is we have to choose to choose. In order to follow one's heart and really get behind their causes, beliefs, and life style choices, they first need to CHOOSE to accept the possiblity of being a "social outcast."

I don't know why but I keep thinking about gay rights, and how some people believe that being gay is a "choice." That ticks me off to no end. I didn't choose to be straight anymore than my gay friends chose to be gay. UGH.

Yet, there is an element of choice there when a gay or lesbian person decides they are going to come out and live their life the way they truly want, or live a lie and continue on a "straight" path because they are afraid of rejection from friends and family, or themselves. Now, we see more people choosing the path that is true to their hearts and that in itself is a major choice - that's great stuff.
crazyoldcatlady
that is a mindfuck. i don't even think choices are binary; you can choose to, choose not to, or choose not to choose (when the choices are equally enticing or appalling, and allowing external circumstances to make the choice for you).

and is the idea of "choice" synonymous with "free will"?

on a day to day basis it seems like we have control over immediate circumstances ("choice"), but how much of our decision making process is affected by past events, or genetics, (or, if you believe in the ethereal, spiritual). if we make choices because we're ingrained or subconsciously influenced , is it really free will?
treehugger
my brain hurts. wink.gif
culturehandy
Plus, how much do external stimuli have to do with us making "choices" and our "free will".
stargazer
CH, what are the external stimuli you are thinking about?
crazyoldcatlady
basically, is anyone TRULY autonomous? can you make a decision or perform an act that is 100% unfettered and un-influenced? i don't think you can.

i'm taking ch's external stimuli to mean cultural and societal pressures (?). inasmuch that you can't escape either, i think we're always undully influenced. the point is to recognize those influences and their effect or potential effect on your choices.
culturehandy
Precisely COCL.
stargazer
cocl, I agree with your belief. I guess my concern would be if someone allowed those complexities of life to avoid making choices for oneself. I guess I'm thinking of the type of work I do. People who come seeking change, but, feel they are trapped by various circumstances, some of the -isms you described.

How would you work with that?
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