Fearless Reason

Fearless reason in an age of frightened absurdity.

Month: July, 2014

7 Billion Soul Mates and Counting

One for laughter. One for light. One for darkness, to cherish the night.
Hues of experience, reflecting perception.
Deceptions all, of infinite separation.

Energy in motion.
Breathing in a void.
Illumination dreaming in stardust.

7 billion soul mates and counting.
Each spark a twin flame.
Each flame burning in the night.

Heartless Folly

 “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.”

-Winston Churchill

I often wonder whether the partisan warfare in America is mere post-modern tribalism, or the result of a deeper metaphysical divide. For the most part, Conservatives respect tradition and are guided primarily by reason, while Liberals hold more respect for ideas and are primarily guided by passion. I will be the first to admit this line is often blurred, but at its core this seems to be the primary difference between the factions, and the divide is as old as civilization itself. 

Since childhood I have tended more towards reason than passion. My earliest proclivities were towards dispassionate analysis of problems and events, with an equal tendency towards ruthlessly oppressing emotional considerations. I don’t know whether these early tendencies were the result of genetics, environment, or karma; but with age I have come to realize wisdom without passion is as cruel and destructive as passion run amok. 

The divide between passion and wisdom seems to have reached a polarized crescendo in American politics, with both sides becoming foolish and callous in turn. We must recognize that true wisdom requires compassion, because only when we see the inherent connectivity of all things do we see a clear picture of reality. Wisdom without compassion is reason based on a faulty premise. It assumes we are disparate atomized beings with clear winners and losers, and the losers be damned. Similarly, compassion without wisdom forgets that we are at once connected and separate beings. If there is any point to our individuated experience of the universe it is to learn and grow, and our instructor is often pain and suffering. Passion uninformed by wisdom tends towards trying to eliminate pain and suffering, often at the cost of individual liberty and the freedom to make bad decisions and bear the consequences.

The partisans in America must recall that we need both wisdom and compassion, and that when one prevails over the other only dysfunction can ensue. As individuals and a civilization we must strive towards being wise and loving, balancing the passion and wisdom in ourselves; learning, growing, and evolving towards more perfect and integrated beings.

America the Beautiful

The hawks squawk and the doves quake. Darkness rises in the East like a memory from the last century. After the long lull of peace following the second World War, Americans have forgotten that there is darkness in the world, and that we were once the light.

America the bold. America the beautiful. Those words mean something to me. I am often critical of the United States. I fear for her. I fear that she has lost her way, lost her identify, and forgotten what made her the envy of the world. But I nevertheless find an unshakeable love for her – and an attachment and rootedness that goes beyond retail patriotism.

My family was among the first to settle this country, and for nine generations we have made it our home. I still feel a connectedness to the European cultures that came before their immigration, but I have always seen in America the realization of the promise of those cultures. America sprang forth from the Enlightenment with the hope and promise of fulfilling the best instincts of that era, free from the dysfunction and darkness of the past.

So when I criticize my country, I do so with love. I do so knowing she is capable of so much more than she has become. She is mine, and I am hers. I do not view my citizenship as transient, nor my fate as separable. We shall rise or fall together. America will realize the promise of her founding, or become another crumbling Empire to be relegated to the ashes of history; but I will be here, striving for a better tomorrow, until my flesh returns to the ground from which it sprang.

It has become all too fashionable to resent ones citizenship. The mark of education and culture has come to mean holding America in contempt. The endless criticisms come drolly, all in the comfort of the freedom being an American guarantees. These professional critics speak of America with detachment, as a thing they have no vested interest in, as though they just happen to live here and her fate is separate from their own.

I say to the professional critics, you are not separate from this country. You are this country, and you lose your right to criticize her the moment you stop seeing yourself as such. Turn your words into actions my friends. In many cases your criticisms are well founded. I do not find fault with your words. I would fight and die for your right to say them, regardless of their content. What I find fault with is your disengagement, your apathy, and lack of action. If every droll criticism were followed by an action to change this country for the better, America would soon be the bold and beautiful light of the world she was always meant to be.

We will once more be called to defend the light of Western Civilization. Darkness looms in the East, and we must rediscover our soul. We are not Despots. We do not spy on our own. We respect personal liberty, the right to self-determination, and human dignity above all else. That is the promise of this land, and that is the light we must bear and defend.

A False Dichotomy

Our paradigm determines what is possible. I spent most of my life as a hardboiled materialist. I was enough of a philosopher to temper that view with the acknowledgement that I could not know for sure, but I was Agnostic only in name. I felt certain the world of my five senses was all that there was, and that if there was more, I had no way of knowing.

I would describe this period in my life as the Age of the Machine. My worldview was mechanistic, so I viewed life as just another sort of machine – sometimes beautiful, sometimes tragic, but always blindly acting on programming.

Atheism did not make me immoral. Even with the view that humans are no more than biological machines I adhered to high levels of ethical and moral behavior. Even machines must observe rules for optimal functionality.

It was only after a rather spontaneous spiritual awakening that I came to realize my paradigm of materialism had made my world small and grey. The religion of materialism is internally logical and self-reinforcing. When we view ourselves as machines, we become machines. If the world of the five senses is all you acknowledge as real, then that is all you will perceive. The world of the five senses comes at us in a barrage that will not be ignored. You must either face the onslaught, or become its victim. The forces of physical violence and necessity do not require your belief.

Conversely, matters of the spirit and mind are far more subtle. One can neglect and ignore both for a lifetime, and never comprehend the consequences. However, to flourish and grow the mind and soul require our belief and devoted attention. Even as I have moved into the Age of Spirit, the senses remain a siren in the night, driving me to distraction on their rocky shores.

In all, I prefer life as a man rather than a machine. I prefer a world of infinite possibility to one of finite cause and effect. I prefer the subtle energies of spirit to the course lure of the world that cannot be ignored.

Even as I write this, I am struck by the false duality of my statement. I fully reject Cartesian dualism, and embrace a pantheistic view of the universe. Yet spirit and everyday life often seem irreconcilable.

I believe this conflict to be a result of the Cartesian dualism that has so permeated modern society, rather than any innate tension. Dualism posits that the world of the flesh and the world of the spirit and mind are fundamentally separate. You must choose to live the life of flesh, or chose the spirit and retreat to a monastery away from its temptations and distractions; a false dichotomy that splits men in two.

Fear is the Mind Killer

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
-Frank Herbert, Dune

Our life can be summed up as the culmination of our aversions and affinities. Aversion to poverty makes us toil and work. Affinity for meaningful and interesting work pushes us towards enjoyable vocation. This dialectic determines the trajectory of our lives.

When necessity is balanced with joy our lives are harmonious. When we do things that are necessary by ways and means that make us happy, life is good and balanced. Distortion and unhappiness creep in when affinity turns into obsession, and aversion becomes fear.

Fear is the mind killer. The truth of the above quote has always resonated with me. When we fear we cease to conceive of all that is possible, and become obsessed with that which we do not want to happen. This leads to paralysis of both thought and action.

In time I realized affinity is its own sort of aversion, and is a category of fear. When affinity becomes obsession or addiction we suffer from attachment to a desire to possess or achieve something, which is fear of dispossession or disappointment. Once fear creeps in worlds become small, and ones path to happiness becomes a knife’s edge, with fear and despair on either side.

It is better to be fearless. Do what is necessary in ways that make you happy. This is the totality of happiness. Be fearless. Accept the present as it comes, and do what you must to meet it. But do not become so attached to the present that you mourn its passing. This is fear, and fear is the mind killer. When you meet the present without attachment or fear – your world returns to its primal infinite nature. When you reside in infinite being, you abide in joy and harmony.

Awaken

We are sick, and have forgotten what health feels like. I am not speaking of individual vitality, though that certainly plays a role. I speak of cultural and spiritual degradation.

The West no longer exists as a culture or civilization. The Western World gave birth to democracy and the concepts of personal liberty and inalienable rights. These should have been our great contributions to global evolution towards peace, prosperity and human dignity. But we have been subverted, and our great contributions turned into cruel ironies.

Orwellian Doublespeak characterizes these once noble and ennobling values. Democracy is a choice between pre-approved corporately sponsored shills. Personal liberty is the freedom to be surveilled, interrogated, and routinely violated in mind and body. Inalienable rights are luxuries sacrificed on the alter of security.

We are sick, but there is a cure. As a culture we are addicted to fear, security, war and consumption. In short, we are addicted to the body and have forgotten our souls. But denying the soul’s existence does not make it go away. It merely sickens the body and mind. As a species we can be ennobled as spiritual being that create, love and learn – or we can be debased as bodies that consume, wage war and drift into sedentary unconsciousness. No one can deny you your soul, but the world is doing a very good job of convincing you that you do not have one.

The sleepers must awaken. We are not bodies to produce, keep safe, feed, and control. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience. What ennobles you? What lifts you out of your body and makes you feel joyful, light and alive? Identify these things and build your life around them. What degrades you and makes you feel like a body in motion trapped in space and time? Identify these things and remove them from your life and being.

Awaken and be free. Civilization is the culmination of individual actions, choices, and attitudes. A culture is defined by what it values. Right now we are addicted to the body and degrade the soul – so our civilization has become one of death and dysfunction. If we value the soul, and engage in those things that enliven and ennoble us, so to will our civilization be reborn and ennobled.