Fearless Reason

Fearless reason in an age of frightened absurdity.

Tag: Philosophy

A Fearful Journey

What follows is an account of my fearful journey, which in patchwork fashion can be found in the posts of this blog. For better or worse I am a political creature. I feel compelled to play a part, no matter how small, in the conversations and policies that shape our world. So I read avidly, share and post excessively on social media, and participate as much as I can in party politics and campaigns.

I have always been socially progressive, and registered as a Democrat when I turned 18 due to my disgust with the Bush administration and the wars – but I didn’t have any strong convictions about economic policy. While in college I found myself drawn to philosophical materialism, which lead me to a rather libertarian, survival of the fittest, economic philosophy. But I remained somewhat muddled through law school, still a Democrat because I believed in science, reason, and human rights – but increasingly seduced by the libertarian Republican movement lead by Ron and Rand Paul.

Fast forward to graduation, and my first job out of law school was representing the business of a former RNC chairmen. He made it clear when I accepted the job that I needed to be involved in Republican politics. I needed a job and was economically conservative, so I registered and became active in the party. Not long after that I had a rather abrupt spiritual awakening that is documented in this blog, which lead me to a panpsychic/pantheist view of the world, and ultimately to Buddhism. Since that time my economic libertarian leanings have been under constant assault. First transforming into a more moderate position, and ultimately to my current full flown progressive/democratic socialist philosophy. Economic libertarianism is incompatible with a moral philosophy that cultivates empathy and postulates that harm to others is harm to self.

Throughout these spiritual, moral, and philosophical transformations I remained active in the Republican party, in part because of professional/career pressures, but also because I naively or arrogantly thought I might serve as a voice of reason. Then this election cycle started and the procession of clowns running for President took stage and a tea party darling won the Republican bid for Governor. At that point I knew I was not a voice of reason, I was a whisper in a caucus of fools, and had become complicit in their hateful, ignorant, and misguided ideology.

So I went back to the Democratic party, knowing the futility of third party movements, now a fully formed progressive in every sense. As I become active in the party I see some of the things I disliked about the Republicans. I see some conservatives, some cynics and careerists, but I also see the burning light of people truly dedicated to progressive values and a better world. For me that is enough reason to stand and fight with them.

So I continue my journey, perhaps a bit less fearful than before, still striving to live a life of fearless reason.

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.

The Big Bang, Transcendent Consciousness and the Theory of Everything.

My mind often goes back and forth between the mundane happenings of everyday life and deeper often abstract philosophical questions. To the extent possible I try to integrate the conclusions of these different thought patterns – but my most recent musings in the philosophical realm have consumed my conscious thoughts over the last few days to the exclusion of all else. To the extent possible I will now share with you my thoughts as they relate to the Big Bang, Transcendent Consciousness and the Theory of Everything.

If that description alone did not scare you off – congratulations, you are in possession of a fearless mind and may appreciate what I have to say.

This story starts at the beginning, as so many stories do. But the beginning I speak of begins just prior to the Big Bang. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, modern physics postulates that the universe began in a singular bursting forth of matter and Being. Prior to this time there was was no time…or space for that matter…or matter…for that matter. At least not in any form we would recognize today.

At this point then, everything in the universe existed simultaneously in one “place,” at one “time,” as one singular point of BEING. From this point of BEING the universe was created, dimensionality occurred, and life as we know it came about. In this sense, everyone, and everything, is a direct descendent of BEING.

As this realization passed through my intellectual mind to my intuitive core, another idea occurred to me. An extension of the Big Bang Theory is the idea of an ever expanding universe, which ultimately will expand continually until it can expand no further – then like a rubber band the universe will rapidly implode to the point of BEING that was its origin.

Taken as true, what does this mean? Well we are fragments of BEING expanding from the center of the universe, and will one day return to that origin. Therefore, our separateness is temporal at best, and the Being of all things is intractably connected to all other Being, to which it will inevitably return. In short – separateness is an illusion of dimensionality. Without dimensionality, there is but singular BEING.

If you missed that leap in logic I apologize. This view presupposes that there are “dimensions” and that the primary difference between now, and prior to the Big Bang, is that prior to the Big Bang dimensionality did not exist. That being said, given this view, BEING is fragmented only by dimensionality.

Because dimensionality is such a critical aspect of this view of the universe, I began thinking about its nature. The view I find most compelling is that on a quantum level certain Being resonates at different “frequencies.” A view supported by the most recent concepts of quantum mechanics and the observation that quantum particles both exist and do not exist in one place at any given time. It may be that the quantum particles in some types of Being resonate more or less often, so that Being resonating at the same frequency can interact, but has difficulty interacting with Being resonating at a different frequency. This creates the impression of distinctness and dimensionally which separates Being. It also leads to the conclusion that prior to the Big Bang, BEING, or quantum particles all resonated at the same frequency and thus there was no distinctness and no dimensionality.

At this point I found that I had a theory of Everything, and as is my want, I attempted to apply it to my mundane existence.

My first observation was that I had basically reinvented the wheel of every major religion – especially Hindu, Buddhist and Native American thought. My second observation was that…maybe this was a good thing. It may be that intuition has been telling us for thousands of years what our rational mind could not yet grasp. Certainly, all religions have their faults and have often been abused and bastardized, but this could only be done by those who do not understand or fully appreciate the significance of these ideas. Because the world changes when you truly realize your distinctness is an illusion, and that your nature and the nature of all things is BEING.

My rational mind had carried me this far. Each supposition built upon the other in a logical and cohesive fashion, using the best data and theories of the natural universe at my disposal. It was only upon BELIEVING this proposition that I found myself irrevocably moved beyond the conscious state that has been my everyday life until this point, into one hitherto unexperienced.

I have never been a man of faith. I am a man of reason and logic. I observe, I draw conclusions, and look for the best possible explanations for the world around me. More importantly, I strive to be fearless in my use of reason, and try not to cling to paradigms and ideas that are no longer relevant, accurate or useful. So it was with fearless reason, which had long reinforced my separateness from all things, that it began serving the opposite purpose of making me a part of the whole.

Having made it this far I began reevaluating old ideas that had been formulated under the old paradigm of separateness, and began reevaluating them in the context of BEING. In so doing I rediscovered my soul. Under the paradigm of separateness I had discarded the soul, because it was incongruous and based on a number of metaphysical inconsistencies that I had hitherto been unable to reconcile. However, in the context of BEING, the idea of a soul became almost a logical certainty.

Assume that the universe and everything in it consists of BEING, which is divided only by dimensonality – which creates the illusion of separateness. Under this view, everything, including humans, exists multidimensionally. So there are aspects of the “self” that exist, but that resonate at different frequencies, so that not all aspects are aware of one another. In our three dimensional world we hear, touch and see Being that resonates at our frequency, but find it difficult to interact with other Being, that resonates differently and exists on a different dimension. Some people spend their entire lives increasing their awareness of other frequencies by harmonizing their own vibrations. Our societies call them Priests, Monks and Shamans, but they all strive for, if not achieve, greater unity with BEING.

If you take this view to its ultimate conclusion you realize that everything has a “soul,” or to put it more accurately, everything has Spirit or Being. In this way all things can be seen as fragments of Being on a path to greater integration and unity with its other dimensions. Put another way, the implosion from the initial Big Bang has already started, and humans and everything in the universe are on a path towards reintegration with BEING – integrating the multidimensional barriers that create the illusion of separateness. So when all Being resonates at the same constant frequency it will implode, and once more become BEING – without distinction of any kind.

Human consciousness exists primarily in a three dimensional world, but greater integration of Being may very well lead to an integration or connection to fourth and fifth dimensions which expand our consciousness to these dimensions and beyond.

In writing this I have attempted to follow reason where reason will go, and be fearless in my pursuit of it. Though this metaphysical account of the universe is different from the popular three dimensional one, or even a purely esoteric faith based conception, I believe it to be a rational and intuitively compelling account of EVERYTHING. If you follow this metaphysical framework to its ethical and logical conclusions, you end up in a bizarre intellectual and emotional landscape. I will leave to another post the transformations I have witnessed in myself, and the ethical implications I have drawn from this conception of reality. For now, I simply urge all who read this to attempt to view the world for a day using this paradigm – and more importantly, try to regard yourself, and everyone, and everything around you as full of the same Being, and realize that it is only the illusion of separateness created by dimensionality that distinguishes injury to others from injury to self.

End of an Era

It seems appropriate that my first post is about the end of life as we know it. Few topics so perfectly represent the generic melodrama of the popular discourse of the Absurd. What follows is a reasonable man’s dissent.

The “end of world” crowds have a secret. Whether their end of world scenario is religious, scientific, or economic; each group shares a common and urgent fear of living. To the desperate, hopeless and overwhelmed the end of existence can be an alluring proposition. It is the ultimate escapism, allowing not only escape from personal hardship, but an end to all human drama and uncertainty.

Yet mankind bounds, crawls and sometimes stumbles forward, day by day, and year by year; narrowly escaping one theory of desolation only to be faced with another.

The radical millenarian who sells all his worldly possessions and gleefully awaits the end of the world is by himself a relatively harmless and isolated figure.  The true and imminent danger to human survival is the agnostic millenarian. This is the man who is passively engaged with the world because he finds the future too disturbing or uncertain to contemplate. He lives for today and yesterday, and his contemplation of the future does not extend past a vague notion of tomorrow or next week. He is a creature of the eternal now, and only tentatively believes in tomorrow. He is a man dangerous not because of his beliefs, but because of his agnosticism. He is the Everyman.

Humanity faces dire but not insurmountable problems. To survive we will have to witness an end of life as we know it. But that does not have to be the end of the world. In fact, it could very well be the dawn of a new era, more prosperous and enlightened than all the others before it. Our true enemy is the inertia of now, and a belief that tomorrow, if it exist at all, will be but a version of today.

Tomorrow’s solutions to today’s problems will be found by fearless minds devoted to reason. It is trite to say, but to survive we must think outside of the box. The unthinkable must be thought, and the unimagined must be materialized. The business of everyday living has a way of moderating and dulling even the brightest and most innovative of minds. We are taught from an early age to go with the crowd, that normalcy is the ultimate aspiration, and that its definition is finite and small. The fearless mind must reject this proposition, and see it for what it is – the frightened absurdity of the doomed.

Let every person with imagination and fortitude devote themselves to one idea: Fearless reason in an age of frightened absurdity.