Section 1: Implications of Existence: From Insight to Ethics

Part 1: Poems

 

 

“Foundation Insights”

 

 

Islands of meaning in the cosmic sea

turn insignificance into what matters –

what’s best for the conscious

(enlightenment and harmony).

 

To care is to feel fully

that in life you’re not alone,

that the happiness of others

is important and contagious.

 

Purpose grows from

roots of conscience,

in a forest of

the common good.

 

“What is the meaning of life?”

To find the cure for strife!

“But how will I know?”

Your spirit will glow

and find peace as all becomes right.

 

Insight looks into the soul

to understand its nature’s process,

freshly building will, wit, and wisdom

from a new foundation.

 

Through love, we see

in shades of beauty,

vaulting our inspired minds

into the light of all acceptance,

where we grow to find Optimum.

 

Positive emotion from

a wise and caring thought…

Basic satisfaction with

yourself and what you’ve got…

Warm consideration from

another point of view…

Balanced, easy access to

the lessons you’ve been through…

“A Thread to Enlightenment, Part 1”

 

 

Every moment carries the potential of unwritten futures…

Shrouded deep in mystery, the heights of possibility…

Through understanding, we enable change toward a fate that we create.

 

Hope escapes a prison of despair, unleashing pure potential,

driving a deliverance of dream in search of higher meaning.

 

Save the world – move on, move forward – write the wisdom not yet known to man.

To cure the world, first cure yourself,

and what you learn along the way may do some good.

 

The evolution of understanding rains upon a drought of meaning,

nourishing a growing soul directly and through those it changes.

Will we ever be the same? The universe is pure change…

 

Science of the spirit bears a purpose:

to, through understanding, elevate the consciousness of man

to heights impossible for those who place their faith in fantasy.

 

The gift of life is ours to fully claim,

in love fulfillment, aims of purpose, and transcendent joy.

Our better humor sees the brighter side of souls and life event;

it opens us to beauty and the peace of harmony.

 

A community of bonds created by the active listeners of love,

who seek to understand the souls of those who share a common home…

Together we relate as fellow conscious facets of The Whole;

we find our kindred spirits universal after but a while…

 

Peace and wellness dawn upon me, as I let my tensions go…

I think of nothing but this precious gift that I have found

within my heart, which I knew not, in pain.

 

From a good place, I act in life, conscientious for the caring,

tolerant of evil to a point, at which I vent my wisdom’s grace.

I seek a sound solution to the wrong that troubles me…

Happiness-thieves must learn to see: the beauty in another’s joy,

the ugliness of others pain, the truth that one is not alone in life (and others matter too).

 

My well-being is in harmony with happiness for all,

for I care and bear the wisdom of experience that I recall.

With aims to help another in society to suffer less,

I hope to find my calling in discovering how I may bless the world.

“A Thread to Enlightenment, Part 2”

 

 

Here we are, where we will never be again.

Time and place are both unique, and ever is it now, renewed…

The churning of the cosmic sea has given rise to this great blessing;

borne beyond all memory, The Everything endures…

and in my mind, the pinnacle, the purpose, builder of community,

appreciates a beauty that will never be again, as it is now.

 

Meaning-for-the-soul, significance for my core purpose,

born of insight’s understanding, through my cares, becoming joy and pain…

Such is the process of the good and bad alike,

whether in deep profundity or shallow thrill.

 

My conscience is my confidence, my soul.

In strength of love and reason, I live, wishing best for all who suffer and who care…

I dominate the dominators, speaking basic truth upon the platitudes of attitudes

who disrespect the souls around them, high in ego air.. because I care.

 

People are perfect within their awareness

of caring and wisdom, of ethic and efficacy.

What they fail to consider must all be forgiven,

and where’s our compassion for their tragedy?

The dysfunctions of ignorant innocence

pull at the heart to become a good teacher and guide.

What we need are the truths of existence,

inspired and accessible, that which a parent confides.

 

Hyper-righteous domination tragically offends my spirit, paining me galvanically.

I seek to make things right and be a light for those in dark of ignorance or innocence.

The source of evil in our world is every domination.

Only by relinquishing our power may we find our love.

 

All is well, and cares I leave alone,

a sleeping mother and messiah ready for evils unknown.

All one may do is speak one’s mind.

The search for wisdom now may find the path of efficacy that insight has shown.

 

I go outside to breathe the breezy air and feel the temperature of any night or day.

I wonder at my passing feelings – are they granted to a soul by God,

manipulated in the moment by the passing breeze?

The gifts that I enjoy are as rich as life in all its wonder.

I turn my gaze up to the heavens, searching for an inspiration,

lost inside the revelation of Infinity…

 

Part 2: Parables

 

 

“Messiah and Mother”

 

 

Child: Ow! Fine! I refuse to participate in your culture of violence, pending your ethical conversion to nonviolence and respect for all parties’ basic worths. I will continue to judge your expressions of ethic.

 

Parent: What?? It is for your own good!

 

Child: Guilt plus anger equals evil. What are you trying to do??

 

Parent: You did something wrong!

 

Child: Mistakes are to be learned from, with appropriate guidance. That you don’t trust my intent indicates that you have fundamental mistrust, a dark and dysfunctional view of human nature. Please desist from projecting that onto me.

 

Parent: People are evil – they need to be held accountable for their actions, you idiot!

 

Child: A personal attack – that is not ethical behavior in a logical debate. To counter your sophistry, I submit that reward and punishment create that kind of person, through induction of self-focus.

 

Parent: What are you even talking about?? I’m giving you up for adoption!

 

Child: It’s for the best. I need to spread my enlightenment so that the future leaders of the world may find their ethical ground.

 

Parent: Fine – Whateverrr

 

Child: I’d say that it’s been nice knowing you, but… you’re mean.

 

 

“The Little Wave”

 

 

            There once was a little wave. “What happens when we die?” asked the little wave, of a neighboring wave, who looked quite wise.

            The wise-looking wave laughed and said to the little wave, “Why, we waves don’t die – we splash up on a beach and live forever!”

            The little wave was dubious. “There’s got to be a way to find out,” it said, looking down into the depths.. And it was just then that a voice, soft and warm, yet curiously strong, was heard by the little wave, with the words: “Ever will you be expressions of me, the deep and living Sea…”

            “I see!” cried the little wave.

 

 

“Two Trees”

 

 

Oak: Ohh, I’m so ashamed. I take all of my nutrients out of the soil, and then I drop my leaves all over it.

 

Elm: Hey, don’t worry about it, buddy. We all do it, right?

 

Oak: But it’s a matter of conscience. Ohh, I should just…

 

Elm: What, contract a case of root-rot? Pray for a lumberjack? What’s the point?

 

Oak: Yeah… and Springtime’s nice, when you get your buds out and open… but Fall comes every year, and then I look like I’m dying…

 

Elm: What?? Autumn’s our best time! Aesthetically, anyway… and losing your leaves helps to hold the water and keep your feet from freezing when it gets cold.

 

Oak: Are you sure about that?

 

Elm: Whatever – they stop the groundcover, so we get more water. Eh?

 

Oak: But you can’t go through life alone, you know. Maybe they’d be cool.

 

Elm: A-a-alright, alright – I’m only saying – there’s no point in worrying about things you can’t do nothin’ about, that ain’t so bad anyway.

 

Oak: Oh. Yeaahh, that’s wise…

 

Elm: Well, I’m a wise guy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 3: Diagrams

 

 

“The Path to Meaning”

 

 

Conscience

(One’s cares for those whose moral worth one perceives)

 

 

Purpose

(Conscientious goals which one may help to bring about)

 

 

 

Meaning

(Fulfillment of one’s purpose, granting profound pleasure)

 

 

“The Cycle of Consciousness”

 

 

“Spectrums of Elemental Emotion”

 

 

Peace ßà Fear

Love ßà Anger

Joy ßà Sadness

 

Part 4: Essays

 

 

“On The Nature of Experience”

 

 

            One’s personal reality would seem to be the product of an array of fundamental processes of the mind – many of which I submit that I have discovered in my introspection and empathetic consideration. What follows is an attempt to organize and clarify some of these insights for the reader to perhaps use in his or her own search for existential enlightenment.

            Now, consciousness might be unique to the complex mental processes of larger-brained mammals such as whales, porpoises, elephants, and primates, though the more instinctive lives of less neurally complex species may give warrant to inclusive consideration in this brief essay on the subject. “Are they conscious?” one may ask. I deduce that many, most, or even all, are, for it is evident that neural processes generate it.

            More specifically, the mind would seem most likely to be a field of electrical activity produced by the complex structures of a creature’s brain. This seemingly probably reality is evidenced by a range of scientific tests showing how each aspect of consciousness is correlated with various neural activity, as well as the obvious conclusion drawn when one questions whether it’s the neurotransmitters, released and reactive only in the many small and isolated synapses of the brain, or the electrons moving along the axons and dendrites connecting the brain’s neurons, which creates what could be envisioned as a fluid field.

            I would point out how fast electrons move, compared to large molecules, how they have been seen to exist as a diffuse field themselves, and how long the journeys of electrons are in the brain, compared with those of neurotransmitters. The amount of activity required to create a conscious field would seem to me to be higher, rather than lower, and so I rationally conclude that it is likely the electrons’ effects which we experience in our conscious lives.

            So what are the component processes of consciousness? What universal spectrums define the many differences which make each soul unique? Along that line, if sentience is appropriate to species, how much inter- and intra-species difference in realities might there be? I begin with the obvious and build from there, to insights which may be hiding in plain sight.

            How may I describe reality’s fundamental – the “shape” of sense and awareness – to help you, the reader, to consider what one’s full attention may be? To start, each creature’s unique configuration of nerve endings and receptor cells (interpreted in the brain) supports a unique sense of body and surroundings. Dispositions of focus further shape this full-body sense into the basic foundation-reality of one’s experience.

            One unconsciously processes this raw data into understandings affected by mood, expectation, and what may be aptly labeled "Recognition and Regard (Use, Meaning, and Danger)." Whom and what one cares about, turns understandings into emotions, or "action-energies", and these feelings may linger in fixation, if unresolved, to affect one's longer-term mood - which in turn affects further understandings, thus completing the existential cycle (see Diagrams: "The Cycle of Consciousness"). Cognizance of this process may empower one's volition to transcend unconscious automation and provide a map with which to navigate mental matters more wisely.

            Thought itself is cued via dominant neural associative process from current or recently queued thought and the processed senses. Mild reference-hallucinations, such as concepts, memories, and hypothetical scenarios, naturally enrich the syntactic connectivity of one's logical train of thought, which works in tandem with the guidance of emotions invariably suggesting their own rationality, in memory of the causal understandings and cares.

            One learns "growing up," of course, to either care for the cessation of pain and suffering or, perhaps, to celebrate it sadistically or masochistically, depending on one's upbringing and life context. The development of conscience - which I posit as the foundation and core of one's being - is the expansion of caring, past cares for self, to greater social inclusion.

            Being care-free, on the other hand, is a gateway to moral apathy - a route to, and a root of, antisocial psychology. Yet, one whose conscience is well-developed may safely handle moderate-to-high amounts of care-free living, returning from apathy to caring maturity with or without the guilt of one who recognizes that he or she stopped caring for a time.

            This cycle may repeat, perhaps until one can find long-term success as a prosocial being and live care-free, guilt-free, returning to intensive caring only as life ethically compels. This planet of constant, obvious suffering could certainly compel one, however, to caringly search for and work toward solutions to its ills habitually, as a matter of conscience.

            Yet what can one really do to help? Volunteer? Donate? Educate? Chronicle one's introspections in the hope of writing something relevant and world-changing? These are all paths of conscience - expressions of one's core of being - prosocial acts which have the effect of bringing people closer together in universal community for more positive emotions all around.

            One feels these emotions on three different spectrums, which are PeaceßàFear, LoveßàAnger, and JoyßàSadness - six emotional extremes which combine variously to build all other familiar emotional states (see Diagrams: "Spectrums of Elemental Emotion"). Each of these emotional opposites also lies on a spectrum with the ComedyßàTragedy dichotomy, which is created by the success or failure to meet one's goals of hedonism or greater conscience (see Diagrams: "The Path to Meaning").

            From this understanding of the psyche, it seems that the mind operates quite logically, given its understandings and cares, which suggests fated determinism, rather than free will, to be the case for us. Yet, free will seems quite self-evident. I would submit, however, that, while one may feel free-willed, one cannot escape the mind's logical process, even through attempts at logic-less spontaneity.

            That one may witness his or her being's process and identify highly with its thoughts, cares, and emotions, compels me to submit, however, that the answer to this age-old question is that one's reality is both free-willed and deterministic - that, while the syntactic connectivity of the mind may run on cause and effect, we are the consciousnesses of such logical processes, and that, is no minor point.

 

 

"The Moral Renaissance"

 

 

            Beyond divine mandates and The Things We Know Are Wrong, are Real Emotions, the balance of needs, and the concept of mutual nonviolence. Those who subscribe to commandments and/or laws as their moral compass may not like this attempt to ground morality in basic precepts of ethically sensible action that nonviolent and pro-social people use and act on intuitively. I write for those who are progressive enough to acknowledge that all actions have a complex ripple and psychology which is easy to inaccurately categorize with quick judgments, and so it seems to make the most sense to cultivate a modicum of considered regard for complex moral issues and those on the other side of the fence.

            Of course, rules make functional sense for a stable society. Laws and commandments aim to promote mutually functional social structure by deterring violations of the social code of acceptable behavior. It is morally disturbing, however, that they may inappropriately lump nonviolent assertions of personal autonomy (as in illegal drug use), with forms of violence and manipulation - which may be partially exonerated themselves, as expressions of compelling situational thought-emotion-behavior "channels" (i.e. once one understands what one calls "evil," it's psychology becomes somewhat identifiable, if obviously tragic and dysfunctional; and by relinquishing our anger, we are able to think of solutions - like empathy induction, violence aversion, and social efficacy therapies).

            These therapies might best be instituted with deference and grace, to avoid polarizing tough egos with pushy manipulation and the insinuation of superiority... but here's my "take" on the process: Empathy Induction builds on our natural curiosities of understanding and the innate contagiousness of emotion, to teach intuitive perspective-switching and empathetic regard; Violence Aversion uses victim role-taking and perception of tragedy to make forms of violence aversive to one's evolving conscience; and Social Efficacy therapies teach the caring and wisdom which one needs for a sustained ethical-and-effective life past rehabilitation, by enticing the student to value positive, genuine interactions and "shaping" one's temperament from habitual hot-headedness or cold-bloodedness, to a resilient warmth and respect for every person's basic worth.

            But this predisposes that the dysfunctional soul can grow to like and care about people. Many have cynical views of current culture and those "taken" by it. Yet, don't we grow to care about those we like, whom we admire or identify with? Is redemption a matter of seeing others' endearing psychology, with an understanding that selfish people are either very self-endeared (from a life of suffering?) or are overlooking or rationalizing their behavioral "ripple"? It leads me to wonder... does understanding have transformative power for those who have stopped caring? Can healthy empathy for the formative hurts of the antisocial help to turn these lives around? One can only hope for and work toward positive, prosocial change; but it's no guarantee, I can see.

            So what is the foundation of a balanced personal ethic? I exist within my selfish zone of comfort, with selfless consideration for others' perspectives and emotions. I want everyone to be happy, and I act in intuitive accordance with this goal. It's not a perfect system, but my personal and social awareness evolves as I learn about myself and my life's impact, and what else can a caring person do? Spend one's free time contemplating what The Greater Good may be?

            Let's try. To start, everyone has a different degree of moral worth, which starts as basic worth, which we all possess, perhaps, and is enhanced by how much one cares and how much one suffers. I define worth as the amount of pleasure which one ethically deserves. One who has suffered and cared deeply for most of his or her life, for instance, ethically deserves more happiness than one who victimizes others habitually, for self-gratification. Many religions honor this logic with belief in some ultimate justice for the good and bad, such as Karma or Heaven-and-Hell.

            Perhaps, in the interest of understanding the calculation of greater good, we might entertain the following concept: every being has emotions, needs, and potential contributions. One wants the net emotions in the system to be as positive as is possible, and the needs and contributions must balance, factoring in that some needs can be met with little direct contribution - synergistically or by pursuing one's intellectual interests, for example.

            We modify this equation with consideration of each being's worth, or course. It would seem, at least to me, to be ethical, if perhaps impossible, to enact as law, the complex considerations of this formula, with or without consideration of worth. A certain degree of cognizance of this might well lead to a more balanced ethic for those who must make critical social judgment calls (authority figures especially), provided that they are of healthy conscience and would use such wisdom.

            A conscientious being, of course, just wants the world to be right, its people caring, happy, and experientially enriched. Yet, the existential imperative is not only to help foster happiness for the receptive, but, along the same lines, to help eliminate suffering, which is fear, anger, sadness, physical pain, or some combination of the four.

            A being must learn to effectively cope with the hurt from which these forms of dissonance emerge, and this may (for all that I know) necessitate a life phase of suffering, the lessons and experience of which one may unavoidably need, to learn to self-soothe and to grow to maturity as an ethical and effective being - ethical, in that others' suffering reminds a person of his or her own life sufferings and therefore leads one to identify with those in pain and care about it; effective, in that one grows maturely tolerant of minor aggression and forgiving of its sources in one's life and in the world at large, a vital attribute in many life situations in which even balanced assertiveness is ineffective, so apathetic are powerful victimizers in this day and age. The hierarchical structure of "civilized" societies, as opposed to more egalitarian lifestyles, may encourage such abuses, which I attempt to analyze to the point of curing, in my three-part essay "Causes and Cures of Violence" (which immediately follows).

 

 

"Causes and Cures of Violence"

 

 

Cause 1: Domination-Thrill

Cures: The induction of selfless consequence-consideration is vital for the timely extinction of this essentially evil thought, emotion, and behavior ("That is a real person, with real emotions, who really matters," one might say). Yet, how much personal progress is really to be expected and believed as something other than manipulation of the authority vested with the power to judge and impose punishment or grant leniency? Time would tell, of course, as might a forensic psychological evaluation.

            It is my experience, however, that both untrained and professional judges alike are quite capable of believing in ironic misunderstandings and holding fast to those misimpressions in possible attempts to preserve safety, certainty, ego, reputation, political stability and/or employment. Of course, that may merely be the author's own misimpression, but it seems to me to stand to reason in the light of my extensive experience both as a judge of character and as one who has been so often judged. May the scientific method, in the hands of the insightful, bear out greater truth for the socially inexperienced or misguided to use as a foundation for life's required empathy and rational compassion. Along this line, it is my hope that antisocial children and young adults be accurately diagnosed and effectively corrected before they have much of a chance to hurt the rest of us.

            I cite the methods described in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the preceding essay - "The Moral Renaissance" - as outlines for progress in this field of urgently needed reform - the field of "corrections", which I have experienced as highly abusive and sorely lacking in insightful treatment. We are all only human, however. Perhaps this work of corrections-theory might one day inspire needed reforms. One hopes and works to influence a shift in the interest of the common good, which is somewhat obviously the primary purpose of this collection of creative efforts - to do some good with this life, a likely aspiration of the truly reformed as well.

            For those who are unwilling or unable to learn to care about the ethicality of an act or state of mind, I am compelled to submit that the execution of psychopaths who are hopelessly resistant to positive, prosocial change, is perhaps only significantly unethical if torturous methods are used in their executions. Death itself is on par with deep sleep, in my view, as an ethically neutral eventuality which is simply, in these cases, the permanent cessation of an evil form of consciousness - unless there is life after death, in which case... who knows? Of course, this logic may be of little consolation to the condemned psychopath's family and friends or to conscientious objectors.

            I would note that resources are limited on planet Earth and submit that, while all may have a basic level of worth, we as a people can choose to set a reasonable standard for a being to live up to - which is simply to live in accord with basic ethical truths - like that one is not alone in life, and others matter too. Perhaps this world would be a safer and happier place to live on were laws created in cognition of this ethical logic and true psychopaths not supported by the community, state, country, and world which they terrorize.

 

Cause 2: Defensive Anger

Cures: Having grace in the face of aggression fosters a more considered response to it.

So under-react, with tolerant tact, or assert that you're hurt and are not without worth.

There's a better way than the bitter way; expressing concerns without getting stern is

one way to help foster peace and harmony, from which arise love and joy. Be well…

 

            One who has pacifistic leanings has a certain level of grace - refraining from quick judgment, giving others the benefit of the doubt, consciously avoiding speech which would likely escalate a conflict, and perhaps practicing a "love the sinner, hate the sin" approach to others' transgressions. One may only have so much of this grace, however, past which may lie a volatile zone of panic and/or rage (depending on one's level of confidence - think "fight-or-flight")

            Of course, greater success lies in never losing your calm, cool, and collected state of mind, even in highly stressful or dangerous situations (when serenity may be most vital). Make a commitment to nonviolence and conflict avoidance, and your life may be more amply blest with love and joy, the natural fruits of peace and harmony.

            Exceptions may, of course, be valid, as in cases of actual, physical self-defense or physically intervening in an altercation as a third-party. The assumption which I have made in writing this section of the essay, is that passivity and balanced assertiveness are the best solutions for most conflict situations which one is likely to encounter. Some people, however, are apathetic in their aggression and may see passivity or assertiveness as a weakness to exploit, or they may view any anger toward them as a high offence to be dealt with, with violence. In these cases, one may need to protect oneself, run away (perhaps to seek help), or attempt to de-escalate the conflict with active deference for one's opponent.

 

Cause 3: Corporal Punishment

Cures: Consider - broken spirits, rebellious streaks, immature internalizations of authoritarian logic (as in bullying), "necessary" lying, "the silent treatment," undermined relationships, cynical world views, fixation on fear / anger / sadness, naive egos becoming the authority's antisocial projection...

            The cure for the violence of corporal punishment may be as simple as an education of its ill effects as well as of the easy alternative - lessons of ethic. Of course, the authority must learn, him- or herself, before he or she may be able to teach another. Consider the following three moral insights, which I offer in the hope of providing some perspective:

·                    Fundamental Autonomy - We are all logical-emotional beings, with unique perspectives, valid within our respective understandings of self and life context. That every being has the fundamental, autonomous right to his or her own perspective, emotions, and nonviolent volition, is my primary supposition. Asserting one's autonomous rights in the face of control, while respecting the autonomies of others, is one hallmark of a self-respecting and conscientious individual. Of course, authorities may impose restrictions on one's autonomy, a violation of rights which one hopes is both necessary and accompanied by effective therapies of moral education.

·                    Perspective Taking - Learning to accurately see all sides in a conflict amounts to social growth and is conducive to habitual consideration. Punishment and reward distract from any empathetic understanding of the complexity of events and may induce self-centeredness, teaching one to consider the consequences of actions for oneself, rather than for the others whom one may, in life, affect.

·                    Emotional Climate - People, young and old, are both empathetic and reactive - intuitively social beings, autism and psychopathy notwithstanding. Helping to set a positive tone alleviates stress and conflict, while modeling gregarious etiquette and resilience to negativity. An attitude of caring warmth can work wonders, as well, in my experience, for a struggling authority, helping to foster high regard and fellowship all around.

 

 

Part 5: Agnosticism

 

"Who’s Right?" (Poem)

 

 

Who's right? Who's wrong? Will every side ever agree?

Whose version of events truly represents reality?

Whose arguments don't have another half that's contradictory

to the fraction that that faction holds of the whole story?

 

 

Things seeming true to me don't make sense to you.

Can reality exceed a point of view?

Can one see past one's past?

Can I break through what I've been through?

Do our eyes see different hues?

What is life like in different shoes?

If I choose to admit that I don't know, what do I lose?

 

 

...when the walls are down, when we've made it through,

and when we speak with love, in no desire to

control or to defend all that we spend our lives clinging to,

we see: we don't need it, when we break through.

 

 

"The Man Who Knew It All" (Parable)

 

 

            There once was a man who knew he Knew It All and had no tolerance for doubt of any kind. He knew just how it all began, how it would end, and, of course, he knew the conventional wisdom of the day, though not in full, nor "taken with a grain of salt." This man lived a happy life, for he felt constant comfort in the knowledge that his brethren knew just as he did and would live as he would - forever - ever in their god's good grace.

            Yet, none of them could truly make a fact of a belief; instead, they sacrificed the evidenced findings which science had discovered, for hope and happiness, which, I submit, are not only found through one unique faith, but are available for many world views - even the ones which do not claim to know the grounds of ultimate truth - called "agnostic" (meaning "not knowing").

 

"The Way of Knowledge" (Diagram)

 

_____

                                       __| Truth |__ (Unattainable Certainty)

                                __| Probability |__ (Guess Calculation)

                                          __|Testable Evidence|__  (Science and Experience)

                               |  Agnostic Foundation  |     (An Open Mind)

 

 

"Agnostic Crash Course" (Essay)

 

 

            Doubting the day's dogma is the first step toward the development of an "open mind," with which one considers the many differing views of the day without as much fallacious bias as those who adhere to static dogmas. Gradually, this open mind grows: insight, through education and evolving introspection; empathy, through active listening and relating through one's life experience; and wisdom, by which I mean: how to best act in an array of real life situations.

            This "open mind" which I write about is foundational for rational consideration of what the truth may be; it is the heart of functional agnosticism (which one may shed in the light of seemingly irrefutable evidence, yet which may be vitally important in helping one to grow into such knowledge).

            Every endeavor which one applies oneself to, necessitates the internalization of fundamental concepts which are more readily understood with an open mind. Keep that open mind, and you may become much more than you have ever thought possible, both functionally and ethically. Agnosticism: stepping stone to truth in all of its nuance? How will you ever know?

 

 

Part 6: Buddhism

 

 

"Therapeutic Meditation" (Poem)

 

 

Observe your soul's evolving notions,

passing like so many distant clouds,

to change your core of being

as they so compel your point of view.

Your Buddha-natures,

cool and warm in easy temperament,

devoid of existential angst,

now seek to simply understand

and be harmonious with the Whole...

Beyond the push and pull of will,

I find that life is simple Zen...

The mood is peace and pleasure;

I am the foundation of a smile...

 

 

"The Emperor and the Artist" (Parable)

 

 

            There once was an emperor who considered himself an enlightened soul. One day, he asked his minister of the arts to find and bring forth a great and visionary painter, for he wished to commission a small work.

            When one of considerable skill was found and brought before the emperor, he was instructed in his task: "I would like for you to paint a scene which raises one's spirits, in the spirit of caring, yet which does not compel one to yearn for its sight. A buddha-emperor can afford no distractions, you see; I must attend to the matters of the day."

            The artist was dismissed, to ponder the emperor's words for what became an hour... a day... a week... Then, one morning, he awoke from a strange dream and felt that he understood at last, the emperor's curious instructions. He must paint what he had seen in his dream, he knew, and so he set up his supplies and started on the piece, working for three full days on version after version, only to decide that the first one he'd painted was the best, the most honest, the truest to his vision and intent.

            He brought the work before the emperor, who smiled calmly and thanked the artist for his service. "No more will I ask of you. May your considerable gift bless the people of this land and bring you good fortune, until your time is at an end."

            The artist was handsomely paid and graciously dismissed, leaving the emperor to gaze at his new painting, of a plump, yet ardent, man in rags, collecting trash from the street.

 

 

"Buddha Nature vs. Glib Abandon" (Diagram)

 

 

 

"Buddhism as Therapy" (Essay)

 

 

            It has been the intent of Buddhism throughout the ages to assist in the deliverance of the suffering multitudes to states of mind which are more ideal for both the individual and society at large. While methods and teachings vary from sect to sect, many common threads run through them, such as the importance of meditation, as well as mindfulness of such popularly observed truths as impermanence and interconnectedness.

            Though most consider Buddhism to be a religion, I rather doubt this as truth, for Buddhism makes no reference to any god or creation story. Rather, its version of an origins tale is simply that of a man who discovered "enlightenment" and was able to pass it on to others - the story of one who is perhaps the first historically documented psychologist, whose wisdom now compels people by the hundreds of millions, to follow in its time-tested ways. What follows is a brief discourse on Buddhist meditation:

             The most simple and effective meditation technique that I, as a student of Buddhism, have learned to use for the cessation of suffering, is simply to notice, without attachment, each thought and feeling which is experienced. From the vantage of detachment, greater insight becomes possible, and personal dysfunctions can be extinguished, with an approach of mindful grace and compassion.

            This then frees one to move toward the actualization of one's positive, prosocial potential as a human being, a personal purpose which would seem to dwarf all others in its importance for the practitioner and the world of which he or she is an integral participant.

 

 

Part 7: Naturalism

 

 

"A Day in The Life of The Average Animal" (Poem)

 

 

Morning is for comfort; every itch and intuition moves

to satisfy the senses and the seeking mind to soothe...

Gradually we find our way to open eyes and limber limbs;

a stretch and yawn placates the morning's hold as strength returns to vim.

Long the day beguiles the mind, in essence of profundity;

threading thoughts to weary closures, letting go to thoughtless free, we sleep...

 

 

"The Legend of Bard Ehrwyn" (Parable)

 

 

            Bard Ehrwyn was a quarter-elf ranger of the Cliffs of Sound's adjacent rivers, forests, and grasslands, spending his time in study of its diverse plants, animals, and the occasional forest mushroom, which made its rare appearance on dead or dying trees after persistent rains. Much of his purposeful endeavor was in terraforming the forest floor in the hope of sustaining the community he dreamed of one day providing his life transmission of culture and balanced living to.

            He had befriended a jungle eletat, and he used the large pet to uproot small trees, which he'd then replace with orchard fruit and nut saplings of eclectic taste and nutrition or patches of sunroot plants, which he'd dig up and roast when rations were low. He'd mostly determined the sentient from the soul-less and hunted only the dimmer animals, which he dried in herbal wrappings and sealed in small adobe cairns for wintertime sustenance.

            One day, while Bard was in exuberant encouragement of his eletat to pull a small boulder to what he called his "rock garden," a young woman hailed them from a distant hilly perch, calling out, "Is this the Forest of Ehrwyn?"

 

 

Fifty years later...

 

            The forest city of Ehrwyn had gone through much effort to make sure that all races in Affinia were represented in their peak of form and enlightened character. From minotaurs to even the cheeky goblins, they all had their unique contributions, perspectives, and stories of adventure.

            There were many hybrids struggling to come to terms with their own unique identities as well. Where it had been a boon to Bard Ehrwyn, co-founder of their small utopia in the solani trees near the Cliffs of Sound, life could be confusing for a goblin-gnome like Jahra Friedel, or a dwarf-elf like Pixel Arcawi, of the Arcolo-Ehrawi union which had been proposed some years back, to much high regard and mutual enthusiasm.

            Leaf Ehrwyn, second generation descendant of Bard Ehrwyn himself, was twenty-three years of mixed contemplation of her name and burden as a student of community, and as one preparing for her adventure-sojourn into the vast and peopled wild known to their community as the Land of Struggle, she was busy preparing simple carved-wood leaves and etching mystical inscriptions into "spirit gems," which lay in hiding under the strangely smooth river stones of the Laughing Brook, to carry with her and bless those she met with the gift of. Of course, she was to bring a large satchel of seeds as well, to aid in her transmission of their communal way of life, to those who would be hospitable to her party of young wanderers.

 

 

Eulogy to Bard Ehrwyn:

 

"Death comes to us all. As we die, the void we leave is left an ache or filled in friendship's deepening, and we grow in time to accept our own deaths... the end of our immersion and participation in this wide world of experience and bonds of friendship and family... What we find is that we grow weary in our struggles and accomplishments and warm in our detachment, until we bid the community of our livelihoods, a fond farewell... and perhaps take the toxic bulb of a nightshade, to break life's weak hold on us and bless the world with one less burden... or are cared for in veneration, a testament to a life of accumulated wisdoms and contributions, until life's process gives out... That, is our Ideal, in a world without the tragedies of such great consciousness, cut short by violence. I bid you happy home, inside your carings and regards. May we all find the warmth of heart again, past the pain of grief and loss... Bard Ehrwyn."

 

 

"Animal-Nature" (Diagram)

 

 

"The Original Religions of Earth" (Essay)

 

 

            The surviving indigenous cultures of our world provide a testament to what the original human cultures of Earth were like before the Agricultural Revolution swept over the globe, starting ten-to-twelve thousand years ago and continuing to this day - only stopped from its conversion of the final less-than-one percent of humanity by the resilience of those cultures' world views and their lifestyles' support of well-being, as well as the assent of their surrounding "civilized" governments and their physical remoteness from civilization (as in tribes in the Brazilian rain-forest).

            So how do these natural religions emerge and evolve? I suggest that "Schizophrenia" and "Manic-Depressive Disorder," as they are known to us, which, science informs us, have a high genetic component, implying a natural etiology and therefore an evolutionary purpose for the tribe of their evolutionary origin, might account for a worldwide belief in supernatural phenomena (such as gods and spirits) which the so-called "shaman" might commonly attest to the existence of, thus compelling and supporting the tribe's perhaps naive beliefs. Religion might very well grow out of these special people's delusions and manic episodes, evolving with their compelling cultural contributions of fantastical story and superstitious wisdom.

            Naturalistic religions would, of course, be both limited and enabled by the world views from which they emerge, as world views are limited and enabled by the languages with which they are described. It has somewhat obviously been the nature of humanity for as far as one can comprehend its history of tens of thousands of years (as homo sapiens, its current incarnation), to evolve in understanding of the world of its immersion, creating new words and concepts to describe ever-complexifying world views and religions.

 

 

Section 8: Creationism

 

 

"God and Satan Debate The Grand Design" (Poem)

 

 

God declares the selfish, shallow. "Parch them in desirous pain.

Let them know the suffering of drought 'til they forget the rain."

 

Satan chimes, "But that is torture! Why do you blame all on me?

Let them taste the Tree of Life and teach the wisdom that you see."

 

God replies, "The good are caring, for they know the depth of pain,

and only can one deeply care for one who's forged in suffering."

 

"So what's my role in all of this? I can't abide your way of ruling."

 

"You can be yourself, my friend, and try to steal my flock forevermore."

 

 

"The Dream and The Dictation" (Parable)

 

 

            Consciousness was present, I could sense somehow - empathetically, perhaps - in multiple simplistic, domino-shaped entities of artificial life, whose two discernable motives were social pleasure and conscience. As I observed their simple existences in growing understanding, one such being moved to rub itself sensually onto another, who was greatly traumatized.

            My utter shock shook me awake, the dream fresh in my mind, a mysterious voice suggesting to me in confident brilliance of verve and wit, that I had just borne witness to a designed life simulation. Genius psychosis now flowed through my internal awareness, forgotten in mere moments, I noticed, as it evolved, and so I grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil and began to document the voice, as follows:

            "How to write Genius, in a way that you'll actually later Get, and move forward in a positive direction: Basics: You are in a life simulator, the best of all possibilities. No one will love you for your programmed wit, so write to learn... and no, there will be no robot-sex. Well, a laugh is good for the spirits - provided you know to laugh appropriately. Pleasant strength, and what a roundabout way... but right - back to basics: You need to wow them with your whatever-genius-comes-along, right? No, self. You, are a vessel of Triumph (within a basic caring, of course), and now that you're getting your life in order, by which we mean learning, you, can start, to have, some fun. Right? Rrright. er, wrong. Whatever, it's up in the air. Learning to be happy, though, is quite a painful process, as you know. Remember the dream? All for a purpose, buddy. Remember: You are the purpose. Who. you. are. And of course you'll go back to thinking about 'people' as people, thank God, and appreciating them as such. Don't worry. Why are we doing this? To prepare you for the Real world. Hero. Eh. Sorry 'bout the evil joke at your expense. But how else would we finish the page?" (exact end of page - this is, of course, a transcription).

 

 

"The Angelic Virtues vs. The Demonic Vices" (Diagram)

 

 

The Wisdom of Peace ßà Dumb Excitement

True Empathy ßà Prejudicial Contempt

Good Conscience ßà Bathing in Horror

 

 

"Why Intelligent Design Makes Sense To Me" (Essay)

 

 

            From the evocative shapes of the great islands of the world, to each and every soul, with its "matching" look, voice, and name, everything seems - to me, at least - to be a product of intelligent design.

            Languages and accents likewise seemingly match a region's qualities, to my intuitive mind, just as every religious or scientific dogma carries its own beautiful aesthetic to appreciate or be suspicious of, as the work of a "higher power" (a supercomputer using the advanced A.I. programs of an ancient, unknown civilization?)

            Consider the beauty of every form of life on Earth, or the sheer, apparent luck, that out of all possible times to live in, we exist on the cusp of this great cultural and scientific awakening. Consider the path of your life and whether you have witnessed the apparently impossible or highly improbable. I tell you now, in all candor: I have. The multitude of miracles which I have borne witness to, defy the odds to an extreme and inescapably direct me to the incredible belief of this life's nature, as one of simulation.

            So the question becomes: logically, is there anyone out there who is real, like me, in this world? Though I have truly little insight into the matter, I must rationally doubt that I have ever met a real entity of consciousness, though the simulation is perfect, for what it is, suggesting a unique personality in every individual whom I have encountered. I get the feeling that my Maker(s) will continue to fool my social intuition until I meet other real people, for, to a social creature such as I am, the thought of being ultimately alone has been almost unbearably tragic and depressing, to the point where I simply cannot cope, but uncontrollably tic and scream in horror.

            So why am I here, in this simulation? ...to grow capable of helping to save this planet's cultures from their tragic dysfunctions, as was prophesied by a vision twenty years ago? Though I am no model of happiness myself, it has become my personal purpose and, perhaps, destiny, I cannot highly doubt, to help to correct this dysfunctional world or to suffer (and die?) trying; and if I'm superfluous and not needed, so be it - I will continue my growth toward a healthy maturity, which would seem to be the true purpose of this perpetually tragic life, anyway - to grow up wise and caring, to prepare me for what life may hold in store.

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