“Ists” and “Isms”…

Soul mate. Betrothed. Life partner. Wife. She’d be the first one to admit she is not very philosophical, nor is she scientific, nor religious.

As we lay next to each other last night before hypnogogia set in, I was reading an interesting piece on HuffPost relating to the belief scale, from materialist science to fundamentalist religion and all points in between, she was checking what was going on in the “real world” over at Facebook.

As I read on, stroking my everlong beard and grunting in approval to what was being presented by the author, she turned to me and said something quite profound:

“What are you actually looking for? Why do you spend so much time trying to fit yourself into a certain category, why can’t you just be you? I don’t fit into any category and I’m not concerned by that, I live in the here and now and don’t care too much of the past and the future, living in the now is what’s importantly surely?”

Well knock me over with a set of meditation beads. I’ve read a lot recently (mostly of Buddhist orientation) but here was a statement which summed it all up in one breath. She is of course right (as wives always are of course) and living in the now is the most important thing, having supporting Buddhist principles (the Four Noble Truths) can also help in dealing with the now situation so it has not been wasted time by any means.

Living in synchronicity with everyone and everything in the Universe is something “we” should all aspire to (on the basis the “we” are all one anyway).

Snippets from the article in question below:

——————————————————————————————————————–

It’s time to use the power of the Internet to confront the two great strands of the modern world, the “two cultures”: the scientific, and the humanistic. Must these two cultures run on separate tracks? Must they be at war with each other? Or could conflict shift to comprehension?

We are not talking about making science into a religion, or religion into a science. We are talking about finding the unity in diversity that’s basic for a healthy community.

Both religion and science are key factors of life in our communities. There is no question that religion plays a crucial role in how humans make meaning, create community, act politically, and find mandates for how to live a good life. We can say the same thing about science. It, too, plays a crucial role in our life already because of all the science-based technologies we use. They shape how we live, what we consume, and what we want to, and can achieve.

Both religion and science shape the way we see the world, and for that reason they shape how we act in the world. We all carry a view of the world in our head and act in light of it whether we know it or not. The trouble is that religion and science create different, and in some respects opposing, views. The time has come to look at these views and see whether their contrasts really are a chronic, irremediable cause for conflict. Conflict between religion and science is dangerous, for it rends asunder the fabric of society and can degenerate into violence.

Of course, there is not just one science worldview and one religion worldview but as many as there are science-minded and religion-minded people in the world. Yet there are some typical features of the individual worldviews, and these are useful when we try to compare them and seek to understand their agreements and disagreements.

Take, for example, the typical worldviews of the following people:

The Classical Scientist
The world, including all things and all people, is but a collection of bits of matter that move about in space, impacting each other. There is no meaning or intention behind this, it’s just the way things are. If you think differently, you only project your own subjective values and feelings into the objective, and objectively meaningless, world. The worldview of the classical scientist is that of Newtonian physics: the universe is a giant mechanism that runs harmoniously, if meaninglessly, through all eternity. It’s the view of most of the people who consider themselves scientific. The classical scientist is on the science end of the scale. He is in direct opposition to the orthodox religionist, who, particularly if he is a fundamentalist, is on the other end.

The Orthodox Religionist
The world we experience is the work of a divine Creator. It’s not the entire world or even the highest world; it’s only the temporary world below, the precursor of the eternal world above. The earthly world derives its meaning from the will of its Creator, and human beings achieve their personal worth and ultimately gain their salvation by obeying His commands. The worldview of the orthodox religionist is shared by the devout Christian, Jew, and Muslim. The world is the creation of a transcendent God and testifies to His omnipotent will and spirit.

The Mystic
The entire world, with all things in it, is infused with spirit and consciousness. We are who we are, and everything is what it is, because of the divine spark we all embody. The entire cosmos is a whole and is holy in its entirety. The world of the mystic is the world of traditional peoples and Eastern religions. It’s a world infused by spirit and consciousness; all things are alive and everything that happens to them has deeper meaning. The mystic is on the religion side, but he is not at its end, for he is generally less explicit and dogmatic than either the classical scientist or the fundamentalist religionist.

The Atheist
The only things that are real in the world are the kind of things that we see with our own eye and grasp with our own hand. The rest is just talk, illusion or wishful thinking. The atheist’s worldview is clear-cut: only what we can see and touch is real, everything else is imagination or wishful thinking. The modern atheist is dogmatic on what he claims to be the side of science. He is opposed to all views that claim that reality has a higher dimension.

The New Scientist
We can know the world by following the scientific method: codifying and quantifying the data of human experience and applying the laws of reason to them. This gives us a complex world furnished not only by what we can touch and see, but also by quarks, black holes, and quantum fields, things too small, too large, or too subtle to perceive. The new scientist should be open to all ways of thinking about the world but tends to disregard or dismiss ways that don’t measure up to his concept of sound knowledge. The new scientist’s worldview is in principle open to everything we can experience and to everything we can rationally derive from experience, as long as it’s verified by repeatable observation and controlled experiment.

These are the prototypes of the principal kinds of world views people espouse today, even if they don’t espouse them as cleanly and starkly as this. They line up along a scale with science on the one end and religion on the other.

What about you and me, what kind of worldview do we hold? Only you can answer the question regarding your own view. Entering this “worldview café” doesn’t need to make you collapse your differences or become dominated by just one kind of view. Instead, it can create a better appreciation of your differences and a greater willingness to live with them.

After all, we all share the same planet and would best share it without ignoring, dismissing, or denigrating each other. A little more understanding could produce a good deal more tolerance and a greater will to live together in peace. This would be a good thing indeed in a world rent by incomprehension and miscommunication and rocked by occasional violence.

——————————————————————————————————————–

Based on the above, I would say that I was primarily a Mystic with New Scientist tendencies, but perhaps as my wife has said, I should focus on being me…

We are equal. We are One….

When one possesses the wisdom of the Buddha (in part of course, not in whole), it is easier to empathise with others, especially when confronted by aggression and anger.

When one truly understands that aggression and anger in others is merely a by-product of suffering, anxiety and disorder (dukkha), then the path to forgiveness is but a small step.

It is easy to sound self-righteous when when one is in a position of wisdom, so it is wise to choose ones words carefully when suggesting potential paths for others to take to potentially overcome what pains them; sensitively is required (and perhaps explaining to others that your are free from suffering is best kept to oneself).

Boldly sharing our own negative experiences and explaining how we obtained serenity and peace can often help in such situations.

We all learn by our mistakes and there are always solutions to resolve the root causes of such pain, one just needs to open ones eyes and see the reality of the situation and understand that the solution lies within. Nothing external can fix root cause problems; no pill, no drink, no drug, no advice can eradicate the suffering. Understanding our internal landscape is the key to peace and the gateway to a better life.

A situation happened in work yesterday which made me put in practice what I had learned from the Buddha (via the sage words of Steve Hagen). I had scheduled a meeting in a room at work, but when I arrived there were three occupants in the room. I very politely asked them to leave as I had booked the room in advance and the male turned around and started verbally abusing me, followed up by an aggressive confrontation whereby marched right up to be, putting his face in mine, staring deep into my eyes with such venom. I was in shock at first that such a thing had happened in a global corporation such as mine, promptly apologised to my guest (new customer) and advised that his actions were not representative of the attitude or principles of the company.

Initially I was livid, angry that someone had tried to use their authority / loftier position in the organisation to intimidate me and gain advantage (and my meeting room). After a moment of calm, I soon realised that the confrontation was a reflection on him and of his evident dukkha, so forgiveness was instant. Whether I seek out an escalation to make sure he is aware that his behaviour in our organisation is totally unacceptable is yet to be determined.

I could have given him confrontation back (and a previous version of me probably would have done that and then some) but instead chose not to. I am not a better man than him and he is not a better man the I. We are equal. The difference between us is that I am awake, I understand that it is dukkha that creates such situations, I am understand that dukkha exists and I am aware and in control of mine and he is not. Just because someone has received a better education (him being a privately educated attorney (so I found out) and me being comprehensively educated IT geek), just because someone is further up the chain of command (he being several grades above me (so I found out) in the organisation), just because someone is paid a significant amount extra (a + b = c) does not make him a better person. We are equal.

We. Are. All. Equal.

We. Are. All. One…

A New Hope…

The fact that Jeremy Corbyn has already been part of the “rebel alliance” (albeit within the Labour Party) for the last 40 years means that his transition to Obi Wan Kenobi status tomorrow as “Leader of the Opposition” should on paper be pretty seamless. He really is to coin Star Wars phrase, “A New Hope”, his deep routed socialist views in tune with the greater good and fairer distribution of health and wealth in today’s most complex society.

He will have his work cut out from the beginning should be be successful though, as many New Labour / ex Tony Blair sympathisers will no doubt convene secret meetings on the “dark side” of Westminster to oust him from the very off.

Many people are saying that Corbyn is simply not electable but I do not believe that this is the case. For decades now, there has been very little difference between the Labour and Conservative manifestos and as a result whether the Blues or the Reds win means very little when it comes to governmental policy in the end. I guess the rise of the Greens at the last election was an indication that people are beginning to change their views and vote for change. Real change.

Real change. Real change is what we could have under Jeremy. Given the fact that we will not be able to live out pre-Neolithic Revolution / Nomadic existences or move to Venus Project communes any time soon, we should turn to progressive politicians who see the bigger picture, who see the global picture, rather than focusing in on the self like all Conservatives and Republicans seem to do these days.

For those who seek out a change to Western politics and ideals, Corbyn could be the answer and if enough of us see that (here in the UK at least), then on that basis he is electable as Prime Minister of these green and pleasant lands. This could in turn lead to a political paradigm shift and steer us away from the zombie apocalypse.

Only 66% of the population voted at the last general election and I’m of the belief that the disenfranchised 34% could well be persuaded to vote, and that vote would be a vote for socialism. 34% in itself would almost be enough to get in out right, nevermind the safe Labour seats of Wallasey and other red flag bearing wards and boroughs. If Corbyn can bring that belief back, then he does stand a real chance of getting the keys to 10 Downing Street. 

For those who still do not see him as “A New Hope”, let’s compare our rebel alliance leader with one in a galaxy far, far away (coincidence or an odd case of synchronicty)?

Obi Wan Kenobi:


jeremy-corbyn-labour-leadership-election

Jeremy Corbyn:

Let’s take a look at Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto in brief:

Economy

  • An end to austerity, higher taxes for the rich and more protection for people on welfare.
  • A crackdown on tax avoidance and tax evasion, tax breaks for companies, and a Corporation Tax increase to reduce the deficit.
  • Introduce a “maximum wage” to cap the pay of top executives.
  • Quantitative easing for new large scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects, creating skilled jobs and genuine apprenticeships, knock-on effects for the supply chain.

Education & Health

  • Introduce a National Education Service, following the NHS model, with state-funded academies and free returning to to local authority control.
  • Tuition fees scrapped and replaced with grants.
  • Introduce universal childcare.
  • Eradicate PFI deals from the NHS by using government money to buy them out.

Foreign Policy & Defence

  • An International policy based on political negotiations not military solutions to secure peace.
  • Withdraw from NATO and opposition to air strikes against so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
  • The UK would not spend 2% of GDP on defence, as pledged by the current government.
  • The Trident nuclear missile system would be scrapped.

Housing

  • Introduce rent controls to help families on benefits to pay their rent.
  • Improved right-to-buy scheme, allowing tenants in council and social housing to purchase their homes at a discount.

Transport & Energy

  • Renationalise Britain’s railway network and opposition to the High Speed Rail Network.
  • Renationalise energy companies, regulating publicly run services which deliver energy supplies.
  • Introduce a moratorium on fracking which is dangerous to the environment.

European Union

  • UK to remain in the EU, but with a vision for a better Europe through a change programme.
  • Opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

I am hoping that by midday tomorrow that Jeremy Corbyn is the new leader of the Labour Party and if he is, I will sign up immediately and become an active member, only under the leadership and direction of a true socialist would I ever even consider doing that.

#JezWeCan

The Descent of Man…

Reality itself may well be an illusion, be it optical, aural or otherwise. Reality itself may well be a hologram, a projection from or of the singularity, the one true source.

If you (like me) believe in the theory that there is a central existential core that resides beyond the confines of the space-time-continuum, then what we currently experience as individuals and as a collective (both good and bad), continues to evolve the cosmic consciousness.

It seems that “humanity” is fast reaching a point (not in “time” nor in accordance to Arthur Eddington’s “Arrow of Time”) of high entropy; disorder. Each periodical or TV news bulletin displays the shock and horror in glorious Technicolor each and every day. There is a new publication in town and it’s called “The Daily Dukkha”.

On an individual level (another reference to the self I know), I am fortunate enough at the moment to not be suffering any dukkha at all; entropy is currently very low with me; order. One look outwards though and the world is full of dukkha and in particular the refugee crisis in the Middle East. By all accounts, Aleppo has been destroyed, the symbolism of the first ever civilisation on this planet ceasing to exist not lost with me.

Social evolution (in the modern “Ascent of Man” sense) truly began with the Neolithic Revolution (aka the Agricultural Revolution) which saw the development of farming practices, drastically changing “human” lifestyle, permitting far denser populations which in time formed towns and cities. Cities were centres of trade, manufacturing and with it varying degrees of military control and protection. Thus in 10,000 CE, Aleppo, the very first civilisation was born.

Before Aleppo, man lived a largely nomadic hunter-gatherer existence and a much simpler way of life. Before Aleppo, skirmishes were tribal, often over a patch of ground or natural resource. There was no greed, just a simple need for sustenance. As with things, it is desire that leads to greed, to dukkha, and Aleppo really was the origin of human desire, the metaphysical concept of wanting not needing “planted” firmly in the psyche of homo sapiens.

Over the millennium, desire has increased exponentially and as a result so has conflict, and today we see this conflict all too often. For me, the solution lies neither with geopolitics nor within religious doctrines, but within the self; if we all could see this and follow the principles as suggested by Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha), then things would really change (remembering that Buddhism is a philosophy and way of life not a religion). Too often these days do we seem to apply geopolitical band aids to resolve self-perpetuating situations, invariably making matters worse, much worse in fact. The descent of man seems somewhat inevitable.

However, where there is darkness there is also light. Many local projects have started to make a real difference to the lives of those affected by such dukka in Syria, Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq and there has been an outpouring of peace, love and understanding here. Sadly the government here in the U.K only took action once the British public had took matters into their own hands. That my friends will be the answer in the end, it will be the people who will take action for the greater good, not governments nor corporations. Humanity will realise at some point that it is only after the cessation of desire and greed that “things can only get better”.

Whether that is pre or post Apocalypse remains to be seen, but let’s hope that as a collective we can as one wake up before it really is too late.

The path is clear, but no eyes can see…

Each dawn that breaks gives one a renewed chance to wake up. Not from slumber in the literal sense, but metaphysically speaking. Each day that arrives brings about change; a day older (for sure); a day wiser (perhaps) and a day closer to death (depends on how you define death…).

Some people (by choice or otherwise) live in a perpetual state of the un-awakened, happy to continue to live out their existence without feeling the need (or having the capacity) to challenge the true nature of reality. As all human experience is subjective and individualistic, no one can truly say that their approach is right or wrong.

For those who choose to challenge the five senses and Einstein’s cosmological principles, the first steps are the most difficult as there is no set path to follow. What is clear is that something usually sparks a flame for knowledge, knowledge which is hitherto forgotten or as yet unknown.

Science, religion, philosophy and noetics seem to be the most logical places to start looking, and most quests invariably encounter all four. Like countless others, my quest had to start by looking inside myself. What I found wasn’t pleasant. What I found was suffering, anxiety, stress and disorder. What was more difficult to find, but not impossible, was the root cause of such pain. What I found was craving, wanting and desire. What was even more difficult was how and what to change. What I found however was the solution and for the first time in my life I could start to see true nature of reality emerging. This was my spiritual epiphany.

Over the course of just a few months, I came to the conclusion that my suffering, fueled through my own desires, could ease by diminishing this metaphysical concept known as the ego or the self and that sustained focus on my “ikigai“, (in my case the family) would yield a new peace within me. Through yoga, meditation, reiki and complimentary therapies, I would keep this inner light with me at all times, ready to distinguish the darkness should it return.

My path was now clearer, and it was only after reading Buddhism: Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen did I realise (without knowing it) that the path and resolution I had followed related to the Buddhist Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path:

  • The Four Noble Truths
    • The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction).
    • The truth of the origin of dukkha.
    • The truth of the cessation of dukkha.
    • The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha (the Eight Fold Path).
  • The Eight Fold Path

    • Wisdom
      • Right view (viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be).
      • Right intention (intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness).
    • Ethical conduct
      • Right speech (speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way).
      • Right action (acting in a non-harmful way).
      • Right livelihood (a non-harmful livelihood).
    • Concentration
      • Right effort (making an effort to improve).
      • Right mindfulness (awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness; being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion).
      • Right concentration (correct meditation or concentration).

Whilst I could concur that the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path were a set of principles that everyone true to themselves (forgive me for the use of the word self, Steve) and others should adhere to, what was missing for me was the true nature of reality. Nietzsche was not entirely complementary of Buddhism (as you would expect) and classified it as a subdivision of nihilism, which to some extent I can agree with.

But what is reality? What is it that our senses experience and translate into pictures, sounds, smells, tastes and feels, is it all an illusion? Does true consciousness reside within the brain? Is the true nature of reality hidden from view for a reason? All these questions puzzled me, so the path I took at the crossroads led me to noetics, and in particular the works of Ervin Laszlo and Anthony Peake (my conclusions detailed in The Noetic Nook).

One thing is for sure, life and human experience is subjective and there appears to be no single path to the truth. The key however is to awaken, awaken to the truth that it is desire that causes suffering and to put a stop to ones ego will yield rewards to ourselves and to those around us. We may never truly experience the true nature of reality until we depart from the physical plain, but what we do each day can reduce our physical (and mental) pain.