Ownership

In the news, it seems like there are a lot of very possessive people bent on possessing all they can. If I would be pressed to point my finger at the ‘root of all evil,’ I would say that it is the need to possess everything, for which money is only one of many symbols. We live in a culture that promotes this flaw and calls it success. Arguably now the most powerful man in the world, we have a character who amassed an empire based on the possession of one thing or another, one place or another. He’s a fitting symbol for this, I think. As a leader of millions of freedom-loving people, one might expect someone who at some point served his people, rather than possessing as much as possible and earning his celebrity status by ‘firing’ people who were not gifted enough to acquire more efficiently than others. His agenda is based entirely on possession.

What drives this sort of madness? Is it a fear that being in possession of our own selves (for we can no longer claim this) simply won’t be enough? Or more general, is it fear itself that drives the need to possess? The final lesson of life is death, in which we are parted from all we think we possess, and take only that with us that actually matters and belongs to us. Is it a fear of this moment that drives our culture? What does this say about our faith in what lies beyond, if we’re so afraid of it?

Socrates, a flight, and the world turns anew

Socrates, a philosopher I admire greatly, is credited as having said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” These are words I have taken to heart; and I know I am not alone, especially here in the blogosphere. However there is an addition I feel should be made, if one can be so bold as to propose wisdom to such a giant: While the unexamined life is indeed not worth living, a life dedicated to examination has not been lived. In all of my spiritual, intellectual and emotional journeys, this counts among my most valued lessons. It builds a circle, a healthy one, in which the Fool in the tarot cards starts with as much wisdom as he ends with … the idea here being not an accumulation of wisdom; but through experience, a transformation of wisdom. Thus ends the Major Arcana quite wisely with the World card.

For me, the World has turned anew, and this sable-feathered Fool is now focused on living and experiencing wisdom, rather than constantly examining it. Many thanks to all who have taken part in this journey, for sharing your wisdom with me along the way ,-)

Truthful questions

If we accept that a Truth exists; and only the divine, be it a god or many gods, is capable of recognizing or understanding it in its entirety; then would not every individual perspective regarding the divine not also provide a different perspective and thus understanding of the Truth?

If we accept that a Truth exists; and divinity is not required to either recognize or understand it; then would not every individual perspective of the Truth also provide us with a greater understanding of it?

If we reject the existence of a Truth, in favor of mundane truths that divinity is not required for recognizing or understanding; would not every individual perspective increase our recognition and understanding of these truths?

AI

Artificial Intelligence  – this article from Reuters, describing Elon Musk’s claim that we will soon have to implant technology into our brains just to keep up with the output of AI-enhanced computers of the near future, opens a philosophical side to the topic by asking whether or not augmenting our brains with computers will have an impact on our sense of humanity. I think this is a good question to ask, and I think it’s a discussion that needs to happen at all levels.

First, although I grew up with plenty of science-fiction, I’d like to clarify that I have very little fear of robot monsters prowling through time and space, subjugating life on our planet. I fear the human monsters of politics, economics and outright madness. Who commands the most money and influence will obviously command access to the better technologies; and will thus command a massive advantage over those who do not. Looking at the world today, I see a tendency to do this already, I worry over the potential to enhance it with the kind of AI Musk imagines for us. Flaws in any system, intentional or not, are to be expected – I’m wary of implanting something in my brain that might pick up a virus from an unfriendly group, government, corporation, or even a simple madman with time on his hands and a point to prove.

I think the Reuters article asks a valid question. My answer is that I do not believe AI itself will affect our sense of humanity. I believe instead that it will simply amplify our ability to act upon whatever sense of humanity we already possess. Looking at the world today, I can see where this could be both blessing and curse. Let us hope that our common senses of humanity and good-naturedness somehow evolve faster than AI technologies.

Relative Being, expanding

Some readers will already be familiar with my work concerning the meta-religion, On Relative Being, as I’ve mentioned it and linked to it a few times in this blog before. I have decided to expand this work by giving Relative Being its own series of pages in this blog, where I will further explore topics that I have previously only scratched the surface of. This will be a process – I’m not introducing this as a book, where all the chapters are already written – it is rather something I intend to add to as time progresses. I welcome input from readers when it comes to this meta-religion I’m in the process of creating; and as I have tried to build Relative Being to be a perspective all could share and take part in, I think it only makes sense when mine is not the only perspective represented during the process of its creation and refinement.

For anyone interested, I have created a link at the top of this blog (next to my About, Copyright and Paganism pages) that leads to a preface, a table of contents showing what will eventually be covered, and the individual explorations, themselves. All pages, with the possible exception of the table of contents, will be open to comment and discussion.

* Upon further reflection, I decided that a different name might be more appropriate and descriptive for this work, that being AEON (Animated Echoes of Nature). I have changed the name in the pages referred to in this post to reflect this, and edited this post on 13. May 2016 to clarify this change.

How would the world be if ….

An exploration of religious stories from an alternate reality.

That sounds almost like science-fiction … some might consider the the exercise pointless, while others might even think it blasphemy. Some might even think it pointless blasphemy; but I think the exercise has a point; and I think wondering what if is far from blasphemous, I consider it the cornerstone to any truly robust religious perspective. But what exactly am I warming up to? Well, I’ll start with a question of my own …. Continue reading

Sum, ergo ego

Elsewhere on the internet today, someone asked a question about why it seems like everyone is hating the ego these days. What I thought would originally be a short response turned out to be a little more involved – since I think this question and my response to it would fit here, I’m posting it :-)

“Funny how words get changed over the years. ‘Ego’ at its root simply refers to the self.

I think the problem is more with inflated egos than with ego itself; and I think a lot of people don’t understand the difference … it’s a sort of mass knee-jerk reaction, where people hear about the dangers of inflated and overly-gratified egos and think elimination of the ego is the best solution. I knew a man once who tried to kill a mosquito with a shotgun – it’s much the same with ego. There is also a trend in Western society to embrace elements of Eastern philosophy; which to some extent advocates an attempt to eliminate the ego. The attempt, like any attempt toward the ideal, is not designed to succeed – however through the process of attempting, the ego achieves a lesser state of gratification (this is why I say that Eastern philosophy advocates the elimination of ego ‘to some extent’).

In Western philosophy, the school of Stoicism, to which I adhere, pursues not the eradication of ego, but rather the replacement of the selfish ego with a more altruistic focus. This seems to me to be more in line with my concept of what is Natural … we all have an ego, it is a part of our Natural condition, and trying to sweep it under a rug and pretend like we don’t have one tends to solve nothing. I prefer the approach that allows this to be, yet focuses on ways to make the ego lean and healthy, rather than inflated to a point where it can serve no purpose other than its own continued inflation. Consumerism is, therefore, anathema for me – it does little more than promote excessive ego gratification for the purpose of making money that doesn’t belong to us anyway.

From psychology, we often hear about the perils of narcissism, and I’ve seen in a lot of places where people are confusing pathological narcissism with hyped-up egos … actually, the converse is true, as clinical narcissists tend to have egos that are locked in the darkest dungeons of their psyches. Such people find it difficult, if not impossible, to receive gratification from within and must therefore seek it from external sources. In a society fixated on consumerism, where there is a mass knee-jerk reaction that tries to vilify the ego and shame people for having one, it’s scarce wonder why narcissism seems to be getting closer to epidemic status.”