Charles Darwin

We celebrate Darwin Day on February 12.
His discoveries brought
the human race
out from
under
the
thumb
of religious magic
and changed almost everything.

Hallelujah!

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i dream therefore i am

Below is my attempt to introduce some of the greatest insights ever dreamed, and they suggest there’s another mindset available to us, and as the mindset sets in, the sages say a person becomes harder and harder to offend.

Indian sages have described reality as having three parts:

The main reality is the world of truth. Truth is everything existing. Us too. All is truth. Only truth can exist. When a lie is told, it will always be true a lie was told. Situations cannot be any other way.

The next part of reality is non-truth. It is composed of nothingness: the total nonexistence of physical things, non-truth = non-being, non-existing

The last part of reality is dreaming and is called maya. The dictionary definition of maya is “the illusion or the appearance of the phenomenal world” which is to say dreaming is the illusion or the appearance of the world which comes about when we experience our surroundings via our senses.

Maya has no real existence because it’s not physical, but it’s also truth in a way because the dreaming actually happened. Maya is a combination of the first two parts of existence: the real and the not real together at the same time.

Why think about maya? We dwell on maya in order to realize we dream even when we are awake. The brain is full of maya and produces it automatically. Maya is the state between being and non-being developed by the brain.

Our minds interpret what we sense, so what we get is secondary and not primary. The primary is reality itself. And between the primary and the secondary the sages say a dream is formed. (The dream might be of having a better wife or wanting a more caring husband or thinking about a friend who’s a real friend or thinking of friend who might be an enemy or the dream of having a new car, etc., etc.) Dreams aren’t real but they have happened and are happening.

All of this means dreams don’t last but atoms do. The search for fulfillment could be called Let’s get to know the Atoms. Since dreaming keeps one’s identity in place, I dream therefore I am. By daily interrupting the unbroken dreaming habit, one can come to know truth.

What advice, if any, would you expect here? If you are searching for that something extra in life, start meditating

(classical meditation: relax by sitting comfortably with eyes closed and repeating a mantra and/or relax by sitting comfortably with eyes closed and paying attention to the breath)

and read what the sages have left for us. Do these things (daily is best) and you may experience being an actual part of the Universe knowing for sure you are not separate and knowing you belong.

Don’t rush because you are able to rush. The trip is the thing. Become constant with the philosophy “easy does it.” Life’s greatest adventure is not a dash for the finish line. Not having to complete life’s greatest adventure will bring it within reach. So be cool.

If you don’t know where to start, I recommend Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Informal talks on Zen meditation and practice) by Shunryu Suzuki. Also, the recorded conversations (in book form) of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh are excellent regardless of the mess he got into here in the U.S.

 

Spinoza (taken from Wikipedia)

The remaining twenty-one years of his life established Spinoza as the most dangerous man in Europe, read secretly everywhere in spite of the official prohibition of his few texts.

The most explosive of those published in his lifetime was the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus of 1670, a tract which portrayed God as the immanent cause of the natural world, and nothing more.

Employing his training as a Hebraist, Spinoza pointed out the startling coincidence between biblical authors and the ideas about God and law that they put forth.

Undertaking an extensive investigation of the motivations of each author, he showed that what generations had taken to be the deep truths of Scripture were really just the result of various authorial perspectives, and often ignorant ones at that.

Not understanding nature, and desiring the universe to be shaped according to their own personal natures, these authors called ordinary events miraculous and ventured absurd and self-serving notions of how God worked in the universe.

Pressing the point further, in the notorious Chapter VI, Spinoza argued against the reality of miracles, stating that they were either ordinary events viewed by people unschooled in the workings of nature or fits of imagination bleeding over into reality.

The God of Spinoza does not act in the world, does not have emotions, does not support one people over another, does not wish for things, and does not ask for worship. He is, rather, the substance underlying the universe, a completely indifferent source of natural law to whom prayers and sacrifice are nothing whatsoever.

This view of God, one who could not be bribed or pleased, and who offered neither punishment nor advice, was a trident in the heart of standard theology.

While theologians argued over aspects of God and definitions of good and evil, Spinoza offered the sober reality that, if even the authors of the Bible couldn’t clear away their local historical prejudices in interpreting God’s nature, a man coming thousands of years later, with an incomplete knowledge of the base languages involved and a totally different historical context, had no chance of saying anything except the pre-existing content of his own religious fancy.

Good and evil are just what we call things that are useful and appealing to us or not, but nature makes no such distinction. Tragedy is inflicted upon the innocent as often as triumph is meted out to the villainous, all following rigidly mechanical laws emanating from the structure of the universe, and there’s nothing to be done about any of it.

He would expand these ideas in his posthumous masterwork, the Ethics, which had to be smuggled out of his house in an unmarked crate lest it fall into the wrong hands and be destroyed in manuscript. It is a towering work which attempted to display Spinoza’s complete system with geometric precision, the philosophical counterpart of Euclid’s Elements. It was his final statement of belief, and if written in a more sober tone than the Tractatus, was even more radical in its content.

Since God is essentially just a nom de guerre for nature, and nature is governed entirely by mechanistic cause and effect, there can be no such thing as free will in any meaningful sense. Rather, there are just people, striving to actualize their personal natures to the fullest extent possible, and forming societies to do so.

When such people come across something that meets their needs, they have a natural tendency to think it was made specifically for them, and so they craft notions of Providence from crude matter, and when they are foiled in their ambitions, they seek an outer source to propitiate, and thus are born superstition and the power of priests.

Spinoza exhorts us to turn away from anything that demands the sacrifice of our reason, or the freedom to investigate the workings of nature. Any government or church that claims power over minds or knowledge of God’s thoughts is unworthy of its authority.

Each person must employ the full power of his or her reason to understand his nature, work against self-defeating desires, and pursue the needs of his particular self in joint purpose with his fellow human beings.

Because the universe is fully determined, along with our actions in it, there is no need to feel envy for those who happen to have done better, nor to feel superior to those who have had a rougher lot in life.

Instead, we are to approach other humans with compassion and understanding, realizing that their conception of good might not be our own, and that there is no way to judge one person’s path as objectively better than another’s.

In a Europe still finding its feet after the destruction wrought by the Thirty Years’ War, Spinoza’s call to relinquish self-satisfied superiority in favor of a broad-based sympathy was strikingly original, and formed the positive ethical core of modern humanism.

By combining scriptural critique with an uncompromising materialism, and welding both of those onto a new secular ethics of inclusivity, Spinoza produced the foundation of not only the Enlightenment, but the basic vocabulary of present humanism.

Throughout his life, Spinoza’s motto was caution. He kept the sensibilities of his Christian audience in mind, seeking to wean them of their dependence on Jesus Christ by degrees, focusing on the Old Testament and letting the implications trickle through to the New.

For all his caution, however, the consequences of his philosophy were plain to all, and Spinoza watched friend after friend turn vehemently upon him, upbraiding him for his arrogance in supposing that he, and he alone, knew better than thousands of years of religious experts.

He was called the most vile, foul, and dangerous human being in the history of religion. His friends, the Koerbagh brothers, were put on trial for espousing atheistic doctrines.

Van den Enden traveled to France to foment his beloved Normandy rebellion and was hung for his troubles. Leibniz, the greatest mind in Europe, eagerly sought him out in private, and condemned him vehemently in public.

And yet, his life went on, supported by a handful of true friends and a growing army of those attracted to his views but too afraid to be seen publicly defending him. He was never arrested, never driven from his home country, and lived, to all appearances, precisely the life he desired, a simple life of the mind.

When he died, it was suddenly, without warning, though his health had always been precarious. Within a year, his Ethics was published, along with some of the secret correspondence that had flown between his humble rented rooms and the rest of Europe.

Spinozism became synonymous with atheism, and his philosophical system proved fresh for generations of intellectual outsiders.

His comments about the consequences of linguistic degradation for religious exegesis found their way into Herder’s revolutionary linguistic theory, while his observations about humans crafting gods in their own image inspired Feuerbach’s dialectic critique of Christianity.

From being the outcast’s outcast, he has become the philosopher’s philosopher.

Thank you Wikipedia!

a way to health

We all have heard the story of a doctor telling a patient, “Exercise is the best prescription I could write for you.” This is correct and all of the research says it is.

And it’s because exercise does so many positive things for the human body and mind. I’ll not list these things because the important things to know are what to eat and how to best exercise.

Walking is the best exercise. Work up to walking two miles four-to-five times a week (the fresher the air the better). After walking a while, jog or run fifty yards then start walking again. It’s a nice break from walking and it’s strengthening your lungs and you are increasing your lungs’ capacity. And the running and the walking do the same for your heart. In about six months or so, you’ll be a “well oiled machine” in a sense: blood and lymph going to all the right places.

Work up to four fifty-yard runs during the two miles.

Here is a technique I got from Dr. Al Sears’ book PACE which changed my life for the better, plus there’s a lot more in the book than fitness…

Here’s the technique: beginning at the last twenty yards or so during the running or jogging phase of your walk, surge ahead by running at 80% to 90% of full speed and then for the last seven to ten yards, go 100% if you can.

The reason for the surge and then going all out: it tells your lungs to increase their capacity and makes your lungs, heart, and body stronger when the surges are done each time during your running or jogging phase.

I’ve found it’s better for my recovered back to run going uphill. I’m fortunate to live in a hilly area; it has become my gym.

A really neat thing happens when I exercises regularly. There comes a point where little or no discipline is needed to get out and exercise because my body prompts me, and I exercise because it’s going to be a treat.

And while I’m exercising, I know in a deep way it’s the best thing I can be doing for myself. I’m talking about satisfaction and relaxation. The prompts started happening to me after a year or so of exercising by walking and surging.

As one gets older, one should also develop some type of body building program to remain strong because physical strength is the main ingredient of independent living. I lift and maneuver a kettle bell during TV commercials and also hike up and down a flight of stairs four to five times during commercials. It feels great to sit down after doing the stairs. Being in shape allows one to begin or keep participating in sports, hiking, etc. while aging.

The next thing is diet. In his book Dr. Sears explains how to use the Glycemic Index (listed in his book) to sort out the best and worst foods to eat and why. I went from 224 pounds to 185 in about a year and wasn’t hungry unless I skipped a meal, and I have kept it off without effort for the past five years.

You don’t have to eat only perfect foods. I cheat often but the health-giving food I do eat and my moderate exercising allow me to not even think about what I eat, except sugar.

One should know refined sugar is not only empty calories but robs our bodies of the micro-nutrients which are taken away to clean up the mess the sugar causes.

Essentially there are only two things. I should eat very little sugar or food which turns into sugar as soon as I chew it (the Glycemic Index is the key to knowing what these foods are), and I shouldn’t eat processed foods if I can help it.

  • The information above comes from my experience and is not given as health advice. For professional advice to build a healthy and strong body with a strong heart and strong lungs, ask a professional trainer or look up Dr. Al Sears on Amazon and get his PACE book.

(Dr. Sears has not asked me to mention or promote his book. I mention the book because it’s full of high-quality information all should know.)

brainwashed

I remember my mother telling this story to her friends.

“When Marvin was very young, I didn’t cut his hair, and it got long, curly, and blond, and when we would ride the bus, many times we had to stand in the aisle.

“That put Marvin close to a sitting passenger, and occasionally, a person would smile at him and say ‘Little girl, where did you get such beautiful blue eyes?’ And Marvin would answer slowly ’God gave ‘um to me.’”

I didn’t know it at that time that I didn’t have a chance to choose what I thought was truth: I was already brainwashed. It seemed adults were right about everything.

Children believe what adults tell them as being true, specially when their care givers are faithful to what they believe is true.

I loved my dear mother and how she cared for me. I was lucky to be her child.

In the early 1990s, a good friend, who lived in Australia, out of the blue, recommended I read The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design by Richard Dawkins.

I read it and relaxed because it gave me more than enough reasons to ignore the magical idea of original sin and gave me the reasons why there was no need for a creator-God.

Understanding why a God was not needed to create the earth and its inhabitants sets us free from magical characters full of magical ideas and happenings.

All that was needed was a Big Bang and a lot of time.

Richard Dawkins, thank you.

Also, The Blind Watchmaker makes it easy to conclude this life is the only life we’re going to have. It’s up to all of the plants and creatures to figure out ways to enjoy it.

Was there a God responsible for the Big Bang? Anyone has a fifty percent chance of being right when answering this yes or no question.

I feel the odds of a supreme God being real as depicted in the Bible wishful thinking. Yet, I can’t know for sure, so I’ll go with the odds real magic doesn’t exist and put my faith in nature and science.

belief

To be or not to be is what we face all along the way.

Believing something will always be the same and then coming to believe the same something can do nothing but change…happens too along the way. It’s a shock but we get over it.

Is it that we can’t help believing?
Is this why disbelief
exists?

Belief plus
disbelief equals
just one of the dualities.

As has been said many times, everyone is entitled to their opinions, but no one is entitled to their own facts.

Why? We feel comfortable with beliefs because they can stay the same and facts are subject to change which is scary to many.

booby prize

Is learning how to accept what already is the case, the foundation of the house of happiness? Knowing what is so is constantly changing so it’s hard to keep up with.

Does love communicate naturally? Is health where you take part or loose it? Is knowledge a booby prize but too useful to suspend? Is the first and last truth an experience rather than an idea?

Is truth an idea as well as a physical thing?

What’s the greatest truth? The isness of existence? Or is it finding out what’s for supper? Is the greatest truth the current one?