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My Beliefs and Practices that lead to a Good Life

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Posted on Nov 25, 2012 10:26:59 AM PST
Alan says:

Occult is a term also used in medicine to describe a hidden or yet to discovered illness that may be lurking within a patient. This is, of course, an esoteric usage.

Posted on Nov 25, 2012 10:41:52 AM PST
Alan says:
It seems to me that the Bible has matters back to front. Adam in Eden does not represent the starting point of perfection from which we have fallen and been cast out. Hell does not represent the final destination of the damned. Instead Hell represents our starting point, our intellectual, emotional and spiritual immaturity. Adam is our goal, our destination, the ideal of wisdom and enlightenment that we struggle to attain through our reason, experiences and insights. Life is often a painful and difficult journey of personal and spiritual growth, we are all have the God-given gift of reason but we are not given wisdom, we have to find that for ourselves. It is our responsibility to use our reason in the pursuit of wisdom as best we can. In the process I believe we will do good with our lives and enhance the happiness of others as well as of ourselves.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 11:55:23 AM PST
Astrocat says:
Alan, yes, exactly. I had forgotten about the use of "occult" in medicine. Good point.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 11:56:27 AM PST
Astrocat says:
Beautiful, Alan. And not only that, but the god of the garden was the charlatan, while the serpent was the serpent of wisdom. It was the serpent who told the truth, and the god who was obfuscating.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 12:08:07 PM PST

Nice. We are not fallen, but rather we are rising.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 12:10:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 25, 2012 12:10:34 PM PST
Astrocat says:
Paul, yes, and we have been "rising" out of the mud and into the air - like the lotus - for billions of years. We're not done yet, by any means, but it's been a fascinating experience so far, and I have no doubts it will continue to be so.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 1:59:24 PM PST
Lao Tzu says:
Paul, I respect your study of behavioral science. I am also in that field, as an implementer, not a researcher.

I have to say I am disappointed by the introduction of the new-agey stuff you mention, that our minds somehow add up to a "great mind".

I read a summary of Edelman. He says nothing about mind existing outside the brain in his theory of consciousness, so I assume you tacked this on.

"In my present view, when we die the lower concrete categories of our minds drop away because they are no longer being activated by sense organs. Our higher abstract categories continue and eventually reconnect with physical reality to gradually shape a new identity in a new environment similar to our previous identity insofar as the new circumstances offer reasonable approximations."

What evidence do you have of this, Paul?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 2:15:11 PM PST
Alan says:

The serpent seems to be a symbol of wisdom in many cultures. I rather like Norse mythology where the great world snake encircles the world and has its tail in its mouth, when it lets go it will signal Ragnarok, the mutual destruction of the Gods and the powers of evil, and the end of the world, to be superseded by a better.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 2:18:59 PM PST
Astrocat says:
Alan, that's very similar (not in imagery but in the esoteric sense) of the story of the breathing in and the breathing out of Brahma, which is the source of inspiration for the oscillating universe. The universe is created by the "Big Bang", or whatever, is breathed out and out and out, and eventually the inbreathing begins and it all goes back in a pralaya, a long sleep, where nothing is materialized. Then there is another outbreathing - another Big Bang - and the whole process starts over again. Each time, however, the whole process is on a "higher" turn of the spriral. The prevalence of such stories throughout time indicates to me that the deepest truths are hidden in them, and through a study of the correspondences between the different stories tells us if we're on the right track.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 2:19:28 PM PST
Lao: I am surprised, delighted, and dismayed by the interest this topic has aroused judging by the number of posts. Dismayed because I originally thought I would reply to each post. Then to only those I wanted to have a discussion with. And now simply any post I want to respond to. You are the lucky or unlucky guy.

You wrote of Buddhism from an abstract point of view---its effect on capitalist production, invention etc. and you, here I'm guessing, probably don't believe it is an unalloyed good. I'll be interested in whether my guess is right.

I am primarily interested in Buddhism as it affects my personal life. The alternative translation of clinging or hanging on as the cause of suffering is the one I prefer to the wanting translation. I see Buddhism's effect on my personal life as totally positive. In my "formal," once a day posts, addressed to the world in general I detail some of my Buddhist practices thinking others might bnefit from them, not in terms of producing more and better goods, or even in terms of getting richer, but rather in terms of their having a happy personal life. Does Taoism do something for you in the terms I just specified? Or is your interest in it mainly abstract and intellectual? Can you tell me anything from your study of Taoism that might beneift me personally. Can anyone reading this tell me something from their religion that might make my life better?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 2:25:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 25, 2012 2:26:03 PM PST
Astrocat says:
Albert, I'm hoping you're speaking to each of us on this thread, because I'm answering.

Each person is a complex construct of many talents, skills, understandings, interests, likes, dislikes and so on. No one can tell you what will make your life better because you are a unique individual. Christians will try to do so, telling you that you just have to "accept Jesus as your personal saviour" and all will be well. Muslims would say that you must embrace the Qur'an and practice the 5 Pillars, and so on. I can tell you how my practice has affected my life, but it might be completely wrong for you.

That said, I'll give it a go, at least. The recognition that there is only One Life and we are It in incarnation, that everyone and everything in existence is a manifestation of that Life, has been, for me, the one, single eye-opening and heart-opening recognition. By accepting that premise I know that every one I meet is me in a different guise. I cherish them all because there is only that One Life and it is Compassion and Joy and Love, and so those are the component parts of my own being, as they are the component parts of all other beings, in all the kingdoms of nature and beyond.

I think if everyone had that one realization, all wars would cease, pollution, overpopulation, all the ills of the human race that have so affected our planet, would end and we would have "heaven" on Earth.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 2:46:15 PM PST

In "The Remembered Present," Edelman takes the view that we are entitled to any view we choose regarding consciousness because there is no evidence for any view and perhaps no way we will ever know. Later, in "A Universe of Consciousness" co-authored with Tononi, he expresses support for the more standard science view that consciousness is a biological emergent. From my point of view, the emergent view requires some kind of argument about how biology can create the property of consciousness. Without such an argument, it is just an unsupported belief. I have not seen even a hint of how this would happen. In the universal consciousness view, this property pre-exists everything and doesn't need to be explained.

The universal consciousness view constitutes a very different view of reality in which all of material reality is an emergent from consciousness -- or our reality is in fact a virtual reality and we are virtual beings. Here's a link to a paper by an information scientist in New Zealand regarding that possibility. I think this is the right link, but I can't check it right now because that would blow me off Amazon.

Proof? Probably not possible since the underlying information base is beyond our objective reality. Can beings in a virtual reality escape from it to inspect the underlying software? Perhaps Tron could, but not us. There are some cognitive scientists and philosophers who do support some kind of universal consciousness. Consider the Australian philosopher, David Chalmers, who identified consciousness as "the hard problem." It is more than just a "new-agey" concept.

Also, remember that we are posting in the religion forum. It is okay to speculate philosophically when talking religion. When I talk science, I simply take consciousness as an unexplained given, as Edelman did in his earlier book.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 3:02:20 PM PST
I just thought maybe you were new here and didn't understand how this is all supposed to work.I'm sorry if it sounded like I was giving you a hard time. (Is that enough first person for you?) :)

Posted on Nov 25, 2012 3:29:03 PM PST
Slowing myself leads to the good life, to fewer mistakes, more efficiency, less wasted energy. Many could benefit from slowing. Many say they want to. Many who try find they don't want to. Many don't know how to.

Making up my mind, or yours, to slow does nothing. I believe that very specific narrow efforts to slow work. Example, I worked on slowing my thinking while lying in bed awake for about a half hour. I started inging with each breath. Inging is my name for starting each breath with a gerund, such as breathing, hearing, feeling ,sensing smelling, seeing, etc.

Then I continued during the rest of the breath, concentrating on a slow, leisurely, complete exhalation, with whatever words somewhat described what I was experiencing. Whadda ya know---I was also slowing my breathing while doing a concentration/awareness exercise at the same time!! Talk about efficiency and multi-tasking!!

I believe Gestalt therapy can help lead to the good life. My previous paragraph could be seen as describing the basic gestalt here and now exercise.

Gradually, I realized I was letting my thinking be too talky. I didn't have to, and couldn't possibly put my complete experience into words. I believe realizing the almost total inadequacy of words to describe our experience helps us live a good life. Realizing how vastly complex and complicated my experiences and my being are has contributed to my good life.

Since I couldn't completely describe anyway, I started cutting down on the number of words running thru my brain. Just the gerund and one other word. I was slowing my thinking, and gradually experiencing more inner silence. Then I cut down to just the gerund, and listening to or seeing (my eyes were shut) whatever else was going on in my brain. Ah, very pleasant, very quiet, very relaxed all of which were contributing to my good life at those moments.

Another model post!! Or am I being grandiose. Us manic tend to do that.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 3:34:48 PM PST
I'd say it differently, Nancy, but no argument.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 3:40:34 PM PST
I would like answers to my questions, so my answer is "No."

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 5:52:06 PM PST
You're a hard man to please.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 6:31:59 PM PST
Lao Tzu says:
Albert, I don't have the time to describe Taoism, except like Buddhism, it is a practice, not an intellectual exercise.

I recommend the book "The Tao of Pooh" (like Winner the Pooh). It is brief and enjoyable.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 6:38:35 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 25, 2012 6:40:06 PM PST
Lao Tzu says:
Paul Whitmore says: the emergent view requires some kind of argument about how biology can create the property of consciousness. Without such an argument, it is just an unsupported belief.

Lao says: Paul, I would like you to tell me why the old "bash someone's skull in" experiment is not conclusive that the consciousness is caused by the brain.

If someone's skull is bashed in consciousness ends. This is all the proof anyone would ever need that consciousness is produced by the brain. Anyone that is, who isn't wish-thinking their way into some sort of afterlife. The fact that we don't know the mechanisms of what happens in between is irrelevant to this conclusion, truly.

A corrolary finding is that no evidence of consciousness of dead folk has ever passed even the slightest scrutiny.

Ever see "Crossing Over with John Edwards"? Know what the techniques of cold reading are? I hope so.

Consciousness certainly exists, and it is very interesting, but we don't need to posit an "overmind" to investigate it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 7:29:14 PM PST

Obviously, if you destroy someone's brain, they will cease to perceive, move, or think and hence will have nothing of which to be conscious. And yes, I am familiar with the techniques of cold reading. But I never claimed that we can communicate with disincarnate spirits. That is your sock puppet argument.

There are other issues to consider.

For instance, consciousness lags (see Libet) the corresponding neural activity by a split second. We have already made our decison before we know what it is. So what is the evolutionary purpose of consciousness?

Your argument simply dismisses how the experience of consciousness comes to be. Edelman's earlier view was that we could explain it any way we wanted because it was beyond science. He has changed his view but he still doesn't explain how the experience occurs or even how science will study it.

Your implied claim that the experience of consciousness arises as a biological emergent is just as much an act of faith as any other claim about how consciousness arises. When we don't know, we just don't know. One kind of ignorance is not more factual than another kind of ignorance. They are all equally ignorant.

We experience all the things we study in science in our consciousness. You and I can observe the same phenomena and consciously experience it at the same time. That is what science does. However, when we study consciousness itself, you can observe your consciousness and I can observe my consciousness, but we cannot observe each other's consciousness. We can only respond to what each of us reports as his experience. We cannot compare direct experiences.

I did not posit an overmind as a necessary way of investigating mind. Again, this is the religion forum. We are not investigating, we are speculating about. At no time did I suggest that my views about mind constitute science. Science can study the content of mind by making inferences about neural activity in the thalamocortical system, but mind per se is beyond science, at least for now.

Did you read the paper in the link I gave you? And, no, it is not about psychics and such. It is about information theory and current theory in physics.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 10:48:45 PM PST
Re; Alan's post.

Not nice at all, but time-wasting.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 10:50:09 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2012 3:26:48 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 26, 2012 4:36:43 AM PST
Alan says:

Clearly from your perspective I have got things back to front. However they work better for me that way and make more sense. Why would God have created us with the gift of reason if he did not want us to use it to acquire knowledge and seek wisdom i.e. the eating of the metaphorical apple. The biblical account of the creation tells us that everything created was good. Knowledge is good, reason is good, wisdom is good, philosophical, scientific, artistic and cultural endeavours are good, spiritual growth is good. We need to be able to differentiate good from evil, so that we behave ethically and morally.

To be denied this leaves us unable to reach our human potential, we will be condemned to remain as infants. The Bible has God denying us this knowledge and has the serpent encouraging us to accept the responsibility of intellectual and spiritual growth. It is this that persuades me that the Bible is back to front.

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended for us to forgo their use." Galileo Galilei.

It may be that the authors of this allegory altered an earlier version to make it consistent with their own world view, or perhaps they failed to properly understand its underlying meaning and what it teaches us about the human condition.


I thought the following quotation from Handel's Oratorio 'L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, ed Il Moderato" might sit well here. Handel's musical setting of this is ravishingly beautiful. I have left instructions for it to be played at my funeral. It is very consoling.

"As steals the morn upon the night,
And melts the shades away;
So truth does fancy's charm dissolve,
And rising reason puts to flight
The fumes that did the mind involve,
Restoring intellectual day."

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2012 4:57:41 AM PST
Irish Lace says:
Got it. I was actually reading it as diss kism. Now I know! Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2012 6:07:29 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 26, 2012 6:36:44 AM PST
This is the same Handel who set music to "I know that my redeemer liveth", but then composers are not always known for intellectual honesty.

As regards your Adam perspective, it is wildly heretical.
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
Participants:  23
Total posts:  263
Initial post:  Nov 23, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 27, 2012

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