Scientific-Gnosticism Memetic-Shamanism

Cycles of Life and the Contrast Principle

Published by under Uncategorized on April 10, 2008

The secret to happiness is thankfulness. Thankfulness is the ability to see the good of every situation. To see the good in every situation one must be able to change focus from broad to narrow and back again at will and to have patience.

All things that live do so in cycles and harmonics of cycles. From meal to meal, and from days to seasons to years and from extinction events to ice ages, life is all about cycles. This is very well known but there are few that can quantify what is common about those cycles. Strength and unity versus growth and diversity; times of little and times of plenty; fact and probability; logic and reason; life and death.

Those who have had little can see that the rich are often unhappy because there is nowhere to go from the top. The very best becomes mediocre and mundane. Those that are rich can see that the poor are often unhappy because they do not understand how simplicity and peace can be the most valuable things in the world. The young see the old and how they do not appreciate their freedoms and the old see the young and realize how they cannot see their freedoms either.

Every thing in the world can be seen as a problem or adversity or can be seen as an opportunity, blessing or challenge. Our experience in life is entirely up to us. It is our focus and thankfulness. There is one thing that that always stays the same about life: it always changes. The changes can be met with open arms or fear and loathing. Every change brings us a shift in perspective and can give a better ability to appreciate life or it can become an excersize is yearning for something other than what we have.

Yearning and unmitigated desire are the source of unhappiness in every person’s life. A focus on what “could be”, was, or “might have been” is the essence of thanklessness for what “is”. A focus on how things might or will be better some day is the very best way to miss out on every little joy of now. Even sadness about the loss of a loved one can turn into a passion to honor them, their life and what they stood for or it can become an obsession with one’s own personal loss.

There are many versions of a story that relate a single bit of wisdom that has endured the ages but I prefer the one where a king is building a new monument in a city to inspire his people and asks all the wise men of the kingdom to help him bring humility to the people in times of plenty but hope to them in times of need. One phrase was written upon the monument: “This too shall pass”

That single bit of wisdom is a lesson of focus. Enjoy every moment for what it holds and know that change is coming. When things seem all lost, know that there is something to be appreciated now and there will be more to appreciate in the future. When you are at the highest of hights, cherish it and share it with others because it will pass away. If you grasp onto it too tightly it will hurt you more when it is gone. Greed is pain.

When you seek to break the cycle of life you also seek to break the renewal it brings. When you attempt to unbalance life, the balance finally comes and it is that much harsher. When you seek only plenty and ease you become fat in spirit. You become weak and unhealthy of mind. Seek out challenge and face it head on. Embrace hardship as an exciting challenge. Live in the moment of even the pain and focus on the lessons it brings just as you would any other workout. Know that there will be a time of relaxation, freedom and enjoyment so long as you are in the moment to enjoy them instead of pining for something else.

Memories are the bones of the spirit. Good memories should not be something to long after but a lesson about the inevitable goodness of the future. Harsh memories shouldn’t bring fear and trepidation but a proof of survival and triumph. You made it through and you will continue to.

There is a strange dichotomy of focus that is hard to grasp but the sum of which is optimism or pessimism. We must keep a view that considers the whole of our lives and the smallness of the moment, while we must also focus on the experience of every small moment and the precious gift of experience whether it be triumph or disaster.

If you experience nothing but pleasure throughout your life, nothing is pleasurable; it is all mundane. If you only see what you are missing you cannot see what you have. A rollercoaster is no fun without both the ups and the downs. It’s time you enjoyed the ride with a moment by moment love of both the challenge and anticipation and the experience itself. Every fearful and difficult experience can either show you how you are able to eventually overcome or you can be thankless and decide it’s proof that the future will “be bad too” and thereby befoul the good experiences when they come because of your search for the evils of every moment.

When you feel like there is nothing in life that you can control you may be right with one exception… you can control how you perceive it. You are the source of your joy or sadness.

Perfection is Imperfect

Published by under Uncategorized on March 19, 2008

What is perfect? Many of us spend our lives searching for the perfect mate, the perfect car, the perfect cup of coffee, the perfect life. Do we realize what we are asking for though? Picture in your mind a perfect tree. No, not a general idea, I mean every branch and leaf. Nature has already figured out that perfection is a state of versatility not a moment of configuration. When you ask for perfection, most of the time, you are requiring fate to produce something that is actually imperfect because of your short-sighted view of the universe. If a tree had one particular configuration then it might be too tall and stiff to stand alone against the wind or too short to get light in a forest. The leaves might not gather light properly at certain latitudes or be too vulnerable to the wind because of the configuration of hills around it.

What about a perfect tool then? Certainly a tool can be perfect, it’s designed to be so… What on earth could be wrong with my 1/2″ wrench?
Well, it could be a 3/4 bolt.
Then I’ll pull out my 3/4.
But what about metric?
I’ll buy another set.
A stripped bolt.
My locking pliers?

You’ve added flexibility because no tool is perfect without the perfect job/situation to match it. The more perfect a tool is for one job the more imperfect it is for other jobs. If you could have only one tool would it be a 1/2 wrench or a medium sized pair of pliers? The pliers are not really perfect for most any job but it will certainly do a lot more jobs. You can be dissatisfied with the lack of a perfect job it does or you can be happy with how much it does pretty well. Every situation, posession, relationship is similar to this in that there are always ways in which it is imperfect. The perfect toolbox or toolshed would have to contain everything in the universe because only then could it be prepared for absolutely every eventuality. The pursuit of perfection will lead to constant dissatisfaction in an attempt to own and control everything in the universe.

Every law ever made also creates some injustice because of the infinite possibilities of the universe creating unforeseen situations. To every rule there are exceptions. Nature shows us this through the diversity of life. Each life form is perfect inside its environment and situation but imperfect for other situations. As environments change, life must evolve or be eliminated because of obsolescence.  Even the individuals within a species adapts to its particular resources, dangers, surroundings and experience to become the perfect tool for their particular job. Individual variance is necessary for survival in a number of ways. If all individuals of a species were the same, the situation and niche they could fill would be hyper-fragile and narrow. If a disease appeared that could kill one it would kill them all. Just like a law, each individual is perfect for many situations but certainly not all.

Each individual person is perfect for their upbringing, experiences, and genetics but they may also be narrow in their usefulness. There is a balance of flexibility and specificity that each of us maintains. The pursuit of perfection is the pursuit of narrowness and specificity. It is specialization and the more specialized something it is, the more situations it is imperfect or even useless for. A flexible person may be suitable for many situations but be a more imperfect tool for the job than a specialist.

With this in mind, there is no such thing as a perfect person because there is no such thing as an unchanging universe. There is no such thing as a pursuit of perfection there is only an adjustment between specialization and generalization. Each has flaws. Each can only be judged for merit based on a particular configuration of the universe and because the universe always changes, the judgement of merit can only be accurate for a single instant of time.

In light of how we are utterly at the mercy of the seeming randomness of universe (see The Illusion of Free Will) all we can control is our own ability to adapt and change with the times. We must copy nature and become the most effective configuration for the moment and future. We must accept the limitations of current configuration and embrace change.

We must love the moment and love our current selves and love what we are to become. We cannot know the future specifically so we cannot plan for the future specifically. That is a formula for failure. We can remain open to the change we will inevitably encounter and remain able to change between specialized and generalized as we re-examine our environment each day. But because the only thing we know about the future is that it will change, we are what we hope and try to be. Failure does not exist so long as we continue to try. Each mistake made is one less we must make on the road to success.

Give up your illusion of control over the universe and stop trying to make it fit your current configuration. Appreciate what you have and embrace what you can and will be. Be satisfied with your trying and do not feel guilty that you do not have god-like powers of controlling your situation. To be perfect we must also be imperfect. You will always be imperfect but if you remain flexible you will also be perfect.

The Illusion of Free Will

Published by under Uncategorized on February 19, 2008

When speaking about the mechanistic nature of the universe to a friend I commented on the illusion of free will and he responded with: 

“I know I can’t imagine this world not having free will in humans; or, at least, free will in myself. (As for others, well, you all look like you have free will, so I’m prepared to assume that you do; it certainly makes more sense of people’s actions that assuming that they don’t.)”

To which I responded: 
Yeah, I gave up the sacred ground of free will long ago. For one thing the idea of free will fosters thoughts of superiority and inferiority. It’s fosters the naive belief that people get what they deserve. “The poor are poor because they didn’t work hard enough. The rich are rich because they are better.”
One thing that I share with religious and non religious people is this. Is there a future? Do you know that future? Of the myriad of seeming possibilities, only one will come true therefore proving all the others to never to have been possibilities. It’s just a small and fallible demonstration of immutable past and future. Have I mentioned the movie 12 monkeys?
The real reason to give up the idea of free will is chaos theory and the butterfly effect. You can see it everywhere you go and in everything on the planet. You believe you have the simple choice to go to work or not but that choice is only an expectation, not truly a choice. Your prediction of the event does not make it actually possible. Your prediction and intent could be utterly thwarted by a butterfly in Brazil 2 weeks ago. It flapped it’s wing suddenly which caused a frog to go for it, which caused a snake to strike the frog, which spooked a cow walking past, which started a herd running, which kicked up a dust cloud, which added to the precipitation value of a cloud which gathered water and energy and more clouds on it’s trip over the ocean, which started a torrential downpour in home town, which caused another driver not to see a puddle that caused him to hydroplane and slam into your careful driving and kill you. Your life was in the hands of that butterfly… or the chain of events that went even further back that led to the butterfly.
Every moment of your life has a history that is intricately tied to the rest of the universe in billions of ways.
If you think you brain some generator of magic then you can believe in free will. If you believe your brain is only a complex machine then you know that it works on principles and reactions. Inputs lead to outputs. Your life experiences as a child were not of your making yet they made you who you are and gave you the opinions you have. Without that information could you make the same decisions? Is your life really all that different as an adult than you were as a child or do you simply believe yourself more in control? Brains are simply a mixing pool for events. Like a stone in a river, you are moved and shaped by the river and you are part of the river itself and effect the motion of the individual particles nearby. Without the stones to guide it, it wouldn’t be a river. Without the force of the river to dig up the stones, they wouldn’t have been there to guide it. Random numbers clump. In the real world they become a feedback loop and therefore an accretion engine.
Where did the river begin? When the first two drops came together? No, they had to have somewhere to go. What made that “somewhere to go”? The addition of all the events in the universe is the only and eventual answer. The beginning of the universe was the start of the river.
There is no such thing as random. Random is another word for magic. There is only complexities nested in complexities surrounded by complexities. That which seems random is only random to us because we cannot know the billions of interacting events spider-webbing out across eons that contributed to the final product.
If you have done programming then you know that a random number generator is actually not random. It is simply a complex equation with an input and an output. If you know the input and the formula you can perfectly predict the output. Even if you have 80 billion random number generators starting at random times seeding off each other… the output is never ever truly random.
 Therefore, you must forgive others and yourself for wrong-doing. You must not take too much credit for your achievements and you need not believe others better than you because they have achieved more. They had different starting conditions and different advantages and disadvantages. Did you know there is a gene that causes a person to experience less pleasure than normal and causes their brain to start out in a condition that normal people would only reach after damage from drugs? Did you know this causes them to seek out drugs? Did you know they literally can feel more pain and less pleasure from exactly the same stimuli as others? Did you know that a few small changes to your brain chemistry can cause you to feel a more excruciating torment than you can imagine? Did you know people who abuse drugs are in a cycle of living hell. They don’t use drugs to feel good, they use them to feel normal. They always did.
 It begs a question of why even try. But since we do not know the outcome we do not know if we might be successful. If we sit in a corner and chant “I give up” then it was your destiny to fail. If you try hard and succeed then it was your destiny to succeed. It was your destiny to try. Simply because it seems we have no choice from an outside view, it doesn’t mean that trying isn’t valuable from our perspective. All we can do is try and never stop trying. Never seeing past failures as anything more than a random number generator failing to pay out instead of some personal fault or some proof that trying doesn’t work. The purpose of trying is simply making yourself available to fate. Being there for the payout. We must never believe that past failures truly predict future ones. We must give up our supposition of control over the world and simply do our best knowing that we are only making ourselves available and that it is simply the nature of the universe that thing go wrong and things go right. You suffering or triumph really has little to do with you. Give up guilt and shame, vanity and hubris, they are all false assumptions.
The starving children don’t deserve to starve and the rich CEO doesn’t deserve to thrive. All we can do is focus in finding the good and happiness in the lives and the things we have and if we have the strength to try to shoulder the burden a little for those less fortunate. We should not give more than we need nor take more. We should always strive to need less to be happy and by doing so we automatically help shoulder the burden because we can begin to produce more than we consume and do so easily.
You can see the infinite in the finite and the inverse. Those who assume free will become incensed at the assumed intent of harm. If dog they have trained usually doesn’t disturb food but jumps up and eats the thanksgiving turkey. That dog was purposely being bad and deserves a good beating in their mind. A child may see a leaf blowing in the wind and think the leaf is purposely evading it. If one of today’s robots weld a perfect line, we can think of it as intending to do so, though we still know there is no intent. Recently a specialist in AI who is also a science magazine author chatted with what he thought was a human occasionally for 2 months before figuring out it was a very complex chatter program. He was no different than the child with the leaf. Ever noticed that children under 8 have all the same sayings and gestures as their parents?
In the end, if you believe in free will you must also believe that your brain is magic. You must disregard the fact that we know how memories are made. You must disregard that chemicals can utterly alter your perception and your experience of life. You must disregard that we know so much about the brain that a chip can now be placed in a human’s head that can control a cursor on a screen via thought alone. You must believe that your experiences did not shape and create you. That your neurons cannot be numbered. That your decisions are not based on experience. You must believe in some spark of magic.
Magical thinking is the enemy of truth and the seed of all that which is evil in the world. Ignorance.

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