Here is another sample of exercises I do. This time indoors. I do these things because I enjoy them…and that is all that matters. Find your passion in life….You are here for only so long…
Is life meaningless?
Inherently, yes. Subjectively, no.
As we hurl ourselves into the future, we seem to make more questions for ourselves than we answer. In the finite time we have, it would be impossible to aggregate and assess all the universe’s information to allow for a deduction of why we exist. So what do we do? Find comfort in faith? Hedonism? Altruistic compassion for others?
‘In A Nutshell’ offers a poignant perspective on what it dubs Optimistic Nihilism. I thought you might enjoy it:
The other day, I was experiencing some terrible inner storms.
I do not wish to share the particulars with you, no offense (we are but acquaintances you understand). Though I think and feel that the way I escaped the clutches of depression, sadness, and feelings of aimlessness, may be of use to you (if not you, then someone I hope).
Straight to the point, I want you to know that the circumstances and conditions of your life may contribute to shaping you, but they do not make you who you are.
It is true that life will knock us off our axis every now and then. Unforeseen conditions such as illness, the loss of someone we love, and some event that catalyzes a search for a sense of self are inevitable manifestations of this world. Why should we blame ourselves for these things? Would it be tenably correct to presume that we do not choose these caliginous clouds that metaphorically ‘rain’ on our inner flame?
Perhaps we do indirectly or directly create the difficult conditions and circumstances we face, but when these conditions are obviously not our making, it may be a waste of time to place blame.
Here is my epiphany: You are completely responsible for your own mind. Really… and your mind is the source of all anguish and joy that you have ever experienced.
It occurred to me in a dark and silent hour (sitting zen) that our perceptions of a hostile world, and how we choose to react to said perceptions, often generate a great deal of pain. Though these perceptions of the world might be accurate here and there, it is important to realize how our reactions to their poignancy can make us suffer.
It is helpful to realize that we choose our reactions to our surroundings just as much as we choose our perceptions.
It is my understanding that nothing in and of itself has value, except that which the mind has ascribed to it. This is not an allusion to nihilism, but a light to the truth that is internal responsibility. By keeping our internal mirror clear, we can learn to react appropriately to difficult feelings and thoughts (i.e. reactions that reduce suffering and are productive).
You hold the power to shape your inner world. When you decide to take responsibility for it, you will have taken that first essential step down the path towards mastery of the self.
Origins of Hermetic teachings: No known date, though they are inferred to be much older than the extant texts containing the teachings which were “collated” in the Egyptian city of Alexandria between 2nd and 3rd century CE (common era). –Freke, T. & Gandy, P. (1999). The Hermetica. pxvi.– Just how old these teachings are purported to be varies among authors, but it is certain that the Hermes Trismegustus (thrice great Hermes) is a Greek personification of the ancient Egyptian sage Thoth to whom the teachings were attributed, thus suggesting a much greater antiquity. It has been argued that the teachings are nothing more than pastiches of select parts of other religions deigned together by Greek scholars, but “all the modern evidence suggests that [they do] in fact express Egyptian beliefs filtered through the understanding” (Ibid.) of these scholars.
Origins of Daoist Teachings: The philosophies of Daoism are firstly attributed to Lao Zi, though a debate still swirls as to whether this sage ever existed. However, the work attributed to this man is confidently dated to the 4th century BCE (before common era).
The Hermetic writings speak of the origins of the universe as arising out of Atum, the one.
Daoism speaks of a primary principle, the Dao, from which all has originated.
In Hermeticism, Atum is divided, and from this division the four elements of nature are created. “By Atum’s will, the elements of nature were born as reflections of this primal thought in the waters of potentiality.”
In Daosim, the primary principle is divided as Yin and Yang, from which the Wu Xing (five elemental manifestations) are derived. “[H]aving no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth”.
In Hermetcism, Atum, the one, “embodies everything” but is embodied by nothing. He is without name for all names are his own.
In Daoism, the Dao that can be named is not the Dao.
Ray Kurzweil has made the prediction that within 12 years humans will have begun the process of merging their biology with the very technology that rests within their smart-phones, leaving them smarter, healthier, and more immune to decay than ever before.
While evoking optimism and excitement on the surface, this prediction beckons the question of just what objective humanity is seeking. For Kurzweil, the promise of life extension is certainly on the horizon. This is the man, one could argue, who fits the character of the aging professor out of the film Prometheus. You know, the guy who was cryogenically frozen or something until he reached the lair of humanity’s creator whom he thought would bring his aged body back to the vigor of his younger years.
Like him, Kurzweil has been taking careful steps to preserve the little life he has left, taking some 150 vitamin & mineral & enzyme supplements daily. Apparently he thinks that if his biology can hold out just long enough for the technological singularity to occur, he will attain immortality.
My take? I say dream on.
The rule of the universe is mutability. Change and impermanence is the nature of all. Even if technological progress can afford us miraculous life-extension modalities, they won’t permit identity to go on forever. Consciousness will change, and if identity will change, then why does one wish to cling to life? Also, bear in mind that the creation of AI really marks the advent of a new, unprecedented form of consciousness. To merge with this AI will constitute the abrogation of one’s concept of self. Immortality in this respect kind of defeats the whole point doesn’t it?
Secondly, it must be understood that these technologies will not be accessible to the whole of humanity as suggested in the Daily Mail. All throughout history it has been observed that the greater achievements of the sciences tend to be dispensed to the wealthy, privileged, and powerful. It is only after the powerful have satisfied themselves that the bread-crumbs of technological opulence are then thrown down to the ‘precariat’.
What must also be kept in mind is the reality that technological improvements are actually hampering further progress as we devastate the very ecosystem which we depend on for sustenance. I don’t find any reason to be optimistic about Kurzweil’s predictions. What I see is a man who fears his own death, and will meet it one way or another.
Within the Bansenshukai, Fujibayashi offers up the wisdom of Wu Zi who said that if you put your life above all, ‘you are sure to die’. I resonate with this precept. Do not seek after immortality, but rather, do away with your fear of death. Only then can you live life well.
The dance of the amber electric haze of our cities might incline one to believe that we are more connected than ever before. Human beings have never dwelt so close together nor with so many means to communicate.
Yet, as it turns out, none of the novelties of modern existence can truly be said to have made a significant impact on improving our relationships with others. Despite the numerous connections one can bounce an electric signal down for the sake of socialization, loneliness is now considered an ubiquitous disorder with deadly characteristics, reputedly increasing mortality risk by 26%.
So why all the loneliness? Why aren’t people reporting more connectivity with one another rather than feelings of isolation?
I could spatter this page with studies culled from publicly available databases, but the answer is pretty obvious. We are more isolated because of the fast-paced, novelty ridden, ‘adhere to your schedule because there isn’t enough time in the day’ society we have built around ourselves. We are isolated because the information explosion has polarized and fractured ideologies into depths that make it difficult to really agree with anyone anymore. We are feeling so lonely because our individuality has made us an enemy to every other cell in the metaphorical organism of the human collective.
The corollary of increased individuality is degraded solidarity.
To illustrate this concept, consider the condition of the human collective as the tissues of an evolved organism. In an ideal state of homeostasis, all tissues of the organism interact with one another in common interest (keep the organism alive). The blood feeds the heart oxygen, the heart pumps the blood, the kidneys clean the blood and regulate the division of red blood cells, etc. The organ tissues are harmonized in the solidarity of keeping the organism alive. But alas, the cells of each tissue have now decided (in light of new information and technology) that they no longer wish to maintain solidarity at the tissue level – that is, the cells of say a muscle have taken a liking to being something other. In favor of being an individual, the deviant muscle cells throw off the chains of their prescribed cellular function and fixate their ambitions on becoming true individuals. Well now, what do you have?
The result of such cellular individualism in an organism is known as cancer. The cell de-specializes. It loses its common function to the rest of the cells. In accord with this analogy we might say that global individualism means the disintegration of the whole organism (which means the disintegration of the world – its nations and peoples), and this is exactly what is mentioned in the latest NIC Global Trends report of the U.S. intelligence community.
Because of information technology, cultural diffusion now carries on at an advanced rate. It used to be that for one to assimilate certain characteristics of a given culture, such as language, etiquette, religion, etc., one would have had to come into direct contact with that culture – or at least translate some texts. This spatial impediment to the diffusion of culture and identity no longer exists now that we have the world-wide-web, and as cultural elements are shifted here and assimilated there, individual identities can become extremely complex if not contradictory.
In such a world, isolation is the natural effect of the proliferation of pastiche personalities with which one cannot relate.
But digressions aside, we are lonely because we have forgotten how to truly communicate with one another. It is one thing to send an email to a friend, or like his/her posts, it is another to call, and it is yet another thing entirely to show up at the person’s door just to ask how he/she is doing.
As we get more integrated, it is most necessary that we sharpen our aptitudes for genuine communication. If the cells of your body didn’t communicate effectively, you’d be fast-approaching death as you read this.
Q: Why Should I concern myself with developing a means of defense?
A: So that you might better protect yourself and your loved ones, as well as your country.
Q: But say I am without family, or have been expatriated from my nation, what then is the reason for a means of defense?
A: To protect yourself is what remains.
Q: So, as inferred from what you say, the cause to self-defense is the defense of values, yes? To defend my family is more or less to say I value my family. To defend my country is to more or less say I value my country, likewise with my own life.
A: To defend or protect a thing is to simultaneously assert value of the thing. So if you value your life, you might consider learning how best to protect it.
Q: I do value my own life and so I shall protect it. I value my family as well, so I shall also protect them. But what am I to do if I must choose between protecting my family and protecting myself?
A: To obviate such a decision, one should first strive to acquire a means to defense that prevents such circumstances from arising. If such circumstances could not have been prevented then you must know whether you value your own life more than the lives of your family. If you value more the lives of your loved ones, then sacrifice yourself if it is certain doing so will spare them. If you value your own life more, then sacrifice your family if you can live with shame.
Q: I cherish my family more than my own life. So I will sacrifice myself in defense of them. But what if I am to choose between defending my family and my nation? What then?
A: First one must assess what is of greater value. You love your family. This means you do not wish any harm on them. But you must realize that to neglect the defense of your nation whilst it is embattled without and within is to permit a great possibility of harm to your family which might arise from such chaos. You depend on your nation for many things with which the support of your family, with love and devotion, is instituted. And so, it is wiser to bring peace to the nation with your life than it is to withdraw support from it so that you may personally protect your family. Know that great enemies will come to exist in the stead of your nation should you let it fall – and this means greater threats to the prosperity of your family.
Q: So it is wiser to defend my family than it is to defend myself, and wiser still to defend my nation than it is to defend my family?
A: If it accords well with your values.
Q: I value peace within the nation, for this peace is a benefactor to my family and myself. But what if I am embattled within? How do I keep my inner weather in order?
A: You must recognize the nature of your inner conflict.
Q: I have much fear. I fear outer conflict. I fear the death of my family. I fear my own death. What is the nature of this fear?
A: We fear as an impetus to protect life or values. Fear is functional, to a degree. It prompts us to avoid that which is perceived as a threat to our well-being. But understand that fear can become pathological, manifesting as irrational phobias which are without a functional basis. It is natural to fear the death of what you love, just as it is natural to fear your own death. However, it is not natural to be preoccupied with notions of death, though death itself is a most natural component/t to this existence. If you wish to bring cessation to this fear of death, you must examine why death frightens you. By understanding death, you will understand your fear.
Q: I fear death for it is perceived as the final end to existence. It is a passing away into non-existence…annihilation.
A: This may be so. But regardless of the reason for your fear, it may ease your suffering to realize that life is occurring whilst we ponder this notion of death. While we occupy our minds with the fear of death our tangible existence is slipping away with the sands of time. Death is not yet. But we make it seem so near as we reflect on our own impermanence. Reflection on the nature of death is good. But I advise you to contemplate it down to its essence and then let the fear go, bringing your attention to the present of your life. You also say you fear the death of your loved ones, but this fear will not serve to keep death away indefinitely. It is the nature of this universe that things are seeded with impermanence. Death will come. This is inevitable. But the while you spend worrying about the death of your family is squandering those precious moments that could be spent in focus on the joy of existence – for it is now, and death, not yet.
Q: I thank you for your wisdom. Now I have a question concerning how best to fight my enemies. What is the greatest means to self-defense?
A: If you desire to know the superior way of self-defense, you must first learn to identify the greatest enemy. By studying the characteristics of the greatest enemy, you may learn how best to defeat it. In learning how to defeat this great enemy, you will have attained the superior method of self-defense.
Q: I see, there is wisdom even in these words venerable sage. Indeed who could contend with me once I have defeated the greatest enemy in the land? I will find this enemy and study his ways. Where do I begin my search?
A: You will do well to look within.
Q: I don’t understand. Point the way venerable sage so that I might hunt this enemy down and learn to defeat him and arise to greatness!
A: The greatest enemy is your own mind. Within the mind all enemies are created.
Q: Nonsense. I have true enemies that created themselves. They have brutalized my family. Some have stolen away my property, and the least have sought to disrepute my name. How can you insist that these enemies were my own creation?
A: Without the mind, how can you denote an enemy? Without the mind, what enemy can be observed? Without the mind, there is no enemy. To understand this is to understand that all things are without value. It is the mind that incites value. It is the mind that classifies, separates, and disparages. The mind is the source of all hatred, resentment, and enmity. Fujibayashi Yasutake admonishes that you have “an enemy and an ally nowhere else but in your own mind.” 1 Therefore I say it is most wise, in the cultivation of a superior defense, to study your own mind. When you master mind, there is no enemy that can rise against you. Natori Masazumi has written something to this effect, stating that by understanding the nature of mind you can come to subdue those who threaten your existence without weapons or armor.2 If you study your own mind, you can apprehend the motivations of your perceived enemies and manipulate the situation accordingly. What more evidence of this truth is necessary?
Q: I stand corrected. I shall study my own mind so that I might understand myself and my enemies.
- Cummins, A. & Minami, Y. (2013). The Book of Ninja. p.50
- Cummins, A. & Minami, Y. (2011). The True Path of the Ninja. p.169-170
It is clearly an outstanding human characteristic and exemplary of an unmitigated arrogance that despite the best efforts of science and its associates, there remains the prevalent conviction among populations that this universe was manufactured exclusively to satisfy the whims of humankind.
In the West, this sentiment is partly derived from interpretations of holy texts, codifying man as privy to dominion over earth. Others agree with their own subjective, ego-centric perspectives relating humankind to the exceptional status of nature’s highest creation. For some, notions of anthropocentrism actualizes the unsustainability of our current paradigms of consumerism and infinite economic growth which by their very premise, threaten sustainable ecology.
One opinion contending with conventional views of our place on this earth is sobering. Nature has not subsumed humankind to a categorical exceptionalism -which is to say nature’s laws still apply to us.
We are an intrinsic development of nature, and as such, we are subject to its laws, cycles, and tides. To dissociate from this disposition is to deny reality for the appeal to a chimerical fantasy that doubles one’s vulnerability to the vicissitudes of the universe.
When crises emerge in our societies, there will be no resolution magically dispensed from a placated, anthropomorphic god of the heavens. The answers to our crises are to be uncovered through synergy between ourselves and natural law. We should flow with the currents of nature instead of hoping to nullify their potencies through fervent belief.
To accede with this idea does not imply a regression to previous states of civilization – doing away with the fruits of technological progress as “naturalists” would assume, nor should it suggest religion as wholly rubbish, but it does connote the necessity of a greater clarity in perception that crisis and dissolution of conventional paradigms are implements of nature’s induction of change.
Nothing stands beyond the principle of impermanence. All things undergo change and if we somehow realize a method of living in coterminous relation to this principle, much worldly suffering will inevitably cease.
This coterminous relationship I speak of is nothing more than the adaptive function of species to prevailing circumstances through change.
When heavy weather precipitates torrents of rain, does not one find it to his benefit that he should build a roof? When the seasons change from the heat of summer to the cold of winter, should not one duly change his/her habits accordingly? If ecological crises furcate from a paradigm disproportional to the resources and the capacities of species of earth, should not the preceptors of such alter their endorsement to others of it?
The challenge however, to behaving in accordance with natural law, is associated with our human propensities. We are creatures of habit, therefore the necessity of change conflicts with the inconvenience of change. But what greater inconvenience visits us when we fail to build our roofs before storms arrive!
It is here that we can hear the echoes of Darwin’s odes of natural selection- that the species with increased capacity to adapt to prevailing conditions is more likely to survive. Though I do not entirely endorse Darwin’s theory of evolution, I am inclined to confess that one cannot reasonably deny that our species holds its consummate function of adaptation in faculties of intelligence.
From our intelligence have come formulations of antibiotics, weapons, innovations in agriculture, and multitudes of tools welcomed for their contribution to our subsistence. What other premise is needed to substantiate the importance of thinking and education?
One object of the human psychology that appears to be ubiquitous is an individual’s existential imperative to affirm a purpose to his existence through an appeal to the concept of an omnipotent and omniscient deity. Atheists take hold of this notion in argumentative supplantations of deity believer’s views by pronouncing that believers believe on a basis predicated by their unaddressed fear of meaninglessness stemming from the lack of a universal creator. The acknowledgement of this meaninglessness would precipitate cataclysmic shifts in their world perspectives.
With this assertion of atheistic ideology I have no contention, for it is evident what importance purpose conferring beliefs are to any individual. My contention is with the atheist declaration that God does not exist, which belies the rationale inherent in their crusades against anthropomorphic divinities described and defined by religious doctrines. Indeed, that falsehood and contradiction saturates these books can be demonstrably ascertained to the inquiring intellect, but from the refutation of the validity of these holy texts, must it follow that one should throw out all mentions and sentiment of God altogether? What I mean to allude to is that the general concept of God – what we perceive God to be – need not be abrogated, but only redefined in accordance with our expanding knowledge of the Universe (an agnostic view).
A common premise as an adjunct to the atheistic refutation is that God is anthropomorphic; a definition inferred from some holy texts which depict the divine architect as jealous, malevolent, vengeful, and at the same time all-loving. These attributes seem to be projections of human qualities and as such one can reason that God is all in the head. But I wonder, what would be spoken by an atheist to the innovation of the God concept that God is not some anthropomorphic power removed or outside of its own creation, but rather enfolded into the entirety of the Universe? What would be said to the expression that everything, from light to darkness, the macrocosmic to microcosmic, inclusively every single particle, is god?
Tersely explained, the reconciliation with aberrations in the ethics of god that beset mankind with disease and genocide would be inevitable, for all shades of good and evil would be derived from the One. Even the physical laws so dogmatically declared as the principles that would lead us out of the caves of a numinously orchestrated world could not escape that they too, along with hatred, the irritation of cutting oneself while shaving, and the existential crisis in man, are all the expressed content of the one.
To be straightforward, such a view gives great latitude to the advances of an ideology of divine architecture. Under such, we would no longer be denizens of a world separated from the hand of light and love, but the subjective experiencers of God defining itself in finite dimensions as opposed to the infinite depths of its formlessness. We might realize that from this placid formlessness and unquantifiability arise all the forms of the Universe.
Other ramifications include the recognition of two diametrically opposed aspects of any duality are as a whole unto itself. No longer would the perception of good and evil give rise to the systems which seek to stomp out the negative for the positive of a immutable morality, for the God concept precludes substantiation of absolutes in moral code. What would better suit the resolution of morally impelled disputes among peoples but a relativistic morality where the right choice circumscribes the situation at hand? Such a morality would reflect the nature of the Universe in its ability to change and accommodate circumstance rather than hold to rigidly immutable principles.
‘We cannot know the infinite for we are finite creatures.’ True or false?
If consciousness is infinite by form, dimension, and substance, and we, being possessive of consciousness are thereby intrinsically related to the infinite of consciousness, what cannot be understood or known?
The barrier to accepting this extraordinary notion is our own preoccupations with the belief that we understand consciousness. We pretend that it is just a phenomenon of gray and white cortical matter neatly connected by an elegant array of synapses and neurotransmitters. But it is more than this.
In fact, the very science that has elucidated the nature of our brain has contradicted the materialistic theory on the nature of consciousness. Quantum mechanics has drawn out avenues of inquiry which have lead to the notion that consciousness and matter can and do affect one another.
We do not understand consciousness, we only understand our own limited theories of consciousness.
What we do know of consciousness now, as evidenced in the lecture given by Dean Radin PhD, is we have much to reconsider respecting the nature of deep reality.
Sir Roger Penrose, a physicist of notable merit has come forward to share his claim that humans do in fact possess souls that may live on indefinitely after death of the physical body.
According to the article by The Sun, Penrose maintains that microtubules of the human body are containers of the information that comprises the soul, and that quantum theory supports the notion of an after-life.
Behind his claim are researchers of the prestigious Cambridge and Princeton universities, as well as the Max Planck Institute who have applied the concept of a wave-particle dualism to the nature of the human body and consciousness.
They posit that although the body dissociates with biological death, the substance of consciousness perpetuates onward in subatomic space.