Page Two Of A Continuing Dialogue With
KONRAD: Let me tell you how I stand with respect to your Actualism. According to Objectivism, there are two so-called metaphysical axioms. One is the existence, and the second is consciousness.
RICHARD: Why the use of ‘metaphysical’ axioms ... even ‘so-called’ metaphysical axioms? Both existence (this material body and this material world about) and consciousness (this body being aware of being a material body in the material world about) are definitely physical ... not metaphysical at all. Religious, spiritual and mystical ‘States Of Being’ are indeed metaphysical ... as is the abstract world of logic. But please, not this physical body being here ... and its awareness of being here. This is all very obviously temporal.
KONRAD: Why are these two terms called ‘metaphysical axioms’? Because they are so basic that you cannot derive them from something more fundamental, but you also cannot deny them without using them. To give a simple example: if you deny the existence of existence, then this denial exists, and so uses exactly that what it denies. In the same way if you deny consciousness, then you must be aware, be conscious of this denial, and therefore this denial only makes sense when there is a consciousness that understands this denial.
RICHARD: Good ... this body physically being here on this physical planet and this body being aware that it is here is thus logically proved. Also, empirical observation shows that both existence and consciousness of existence is self-evidently factual. Therefore it is not all a dream as metaphysicians would have us believe. This is an excellent point to start from.
KONRAD: Now, in general, you can say that the East is mainly consciousness oriented, and the West is existence oriented. The East was completely immersed with questions about consciousness. It hoped to find all answers to human suffering in consciousness itself. The ideal of ending all suffering, is denoted by the term ‘enlightenment’, and as such they have made many discoveries, the greatest being that of Buddha of ‘the process’. However this may be, in general the East tried to find happiness by recognizing that happiness is a state of mind, and was directed to finding methods, or, at least means, to induce it in the mind. So the question of having total control over consciousness is the focus of the East.
RICHARD: I can agree in general to what you say ... except for your last statement: ‘total control over consciousness’. The whole point of enlightenment is for the ‘controller’ to dissolve (death of the ego) and thus negate the necessity for control. Otherwise it is a discipline, a practice ... something that ‘you’ (as ego) have to do from moment-to-moment.
KONRAD: They have succeeded, but only up to a point. The greatest thing the East could achieve was total peace of mind by finding a way to ending all suffering. This ending of all suffering can be achieved by igniting the process of enlightenment, as discovered by Buddha.
RICHARD: Oh, no way is this historically correct ... spiritual enlightenment was around long before Mr. Gotama the Sakyan came on to the scene. His contribution (if he actually existed as an historical figure) was to do away with god(s) as being ultimate and a personal soul. Buddhism arose out of Hinduism (the same as Christianity arose out Judaism) and later came back to Hinduism in the form of Advaita Vedanta. He did not discount life after death, though.
KONRAD: But is ending of all suffering identical with happiness? Or, to say it differently, is the ending of a negative itself a positive? My answer to this question is: No, it is not. Therefore, let us take a look how well the West, with its orientation on existence, has done in that respect.
RICHARD: Firstly, before we do look at the West ... Buddhism does not profess to totally eliminate suffering, only personal sorrow. Their ultimate condition exists after physical death ... it is called Parinirvana. Buddhism maintains that because of the intrinsic duality of being manifested in a body, then universal sorrow continues to exist after Nirvana is attained ... for as long as the physical body is still alive. And, secondly, the bliss of Nirvana is not because of the ending of what you call a negative (suffering) it is because of the ending of the ego that causes the suffering (personal sorrow).
Anyway, the bliss of Nirvana is nothing but a gloss pasted over the top of universal sorrow in order to make physical life bearable ... eliminate ‘me’ totally (which means the end of universal sorrow) and the need for bliss ends too. And the need for love and compassion too ... but that is another story.
KONRAD: The West is mainly existence oriented. They also strived for happiness, but not by control over consciousness, but by finding ways to control existence. There is a Western equivalent of Buddha, and that is Aristotle. For he discovered logic and rational thinking. This tool turned out to be THE tool that can give us complete control over existence, and even has done it.
RICHARD: Not ‘complete control’ over existence, surely? (And there is that word ‘control’ again). And where has it already ‘done it’? Human beings can work with existence and have some degree of input into what the physical environment can produce; the environment then changes according to this input and humans adjust their next input accordingly ... and so and so on. Nowhere in all this is there any ‘complete control’ ... and there never can be ‘complete control’ of any organic process. It is all trial and error, based upon past experience, and to the degree that something works to produce the desired effect, then that is the degree that any input is successful. Nature is not abstract; nature does not fit into a mathematical equation; science can only go so far ... the rest is up to the human’s ability to adapt to the ever-changing environment.
KONRAD: From it science and technology emerged. Now the question is: has it led to happiness? You would expect me to say now: no it has not. But then you are mistaken. Logic IS the way to happiness. Ruthless application of logic, and transformation of our environment can bring us intense joy and happiness.
RICHARD: You say ‘can bring’ ... has it already? Do you live ‘intense joy and happiness’ twenty four hours a day, seven days a week? If not, then this is theoretical only ... this hypothesis needs to be demonstrated.
KONRAD: But there is a problem. For this one-sided approach of control over existence produces an analogous question as that one of the East. The question is: is the construction of unlimited positives something that also ends the negative? And then I say, No, it is NOT. So both the West AND the East have failed to bring an end to that what you call ‘the human condition’.
RICHARD: Indeed they have not ... I could not agree with you more (except that it is not a question of ‘positives’ supplanting ‘negatives’ ... as I have already indicated above).
KONRAD: Man needs two things. Man needs ways to end suffering AND needs ways to bring happiness.
RICHARD: I could be cheeky and say that woman needs it too. However, the ending of ‘me’ in ‘my’ entirety – both the ego in the head and the soul in the heart – is both the ending of sorrow and malice and the instantaneous beginning of happiness and harmlessness for the remainder of one’s life ... twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
KONRAD: Now let me return to you and your Actualism. Actualism is the ultimate outcome of the Western orientation on existence. The west has made a subdivision between the outside world and the inside world. Now what you have done is incorporating Man himself, as individuals, into the outside world, by pointing out that we are not psychological entities ‘trapped’ in our bodies, but we ARE these bodies. And therefore we are existents, like rocks, plants, and animals. In your words, we are not WHO’s, but we are WHAT’s that believe to be who’s. And by stating it in these terms you point out, that the division the west has made between the inside world and the outside world is false. There is only an outside world, and we are part of it. We are ‘what’s, and not ‘who’s.
RICHARD: Indeed ... I am this flesh and blood body being conscious. I am the carrots and the beans and the cheese eaten and the air breathed and the water drunk. There is no separation whatsoever betwixt this body and anything or anyone else. Everything and everyone is the very self-same stuff that this physical world – and this material universe – are. I did not come from outside this universe – there being no outside to infinity – nor was I put here by some metaphysical god for some inscrutable reason. We all come out of the ground ... and this earth is the very stuff that this universe is. We are as infinite and eternal as the universe that we are made up of ... and we can be conscious of this as an actuality. I am this very tangible universe experiencing itself as a sensate and reflective human being.
KONRAD: This vision leads to a complete reevaluation of our inner life. For, seen from this metaphysics, everything that happens inside of us, including the capability to act purposefully, is looked upon to be no more and no less than a tool of the body. The body is the important thing, and everything else that is imagined is just confusion.
RICHARD: What else is there but this very palpable physical existence ... except fanciful abstraction?
KONRAD: Especially the idea that we are ‘who’s’. You represent the ultimate step of a philosophy that is totally existence oriented.
RICHARD: It is not a philosophy ... it is an accurate description of an on-going and fully-lived experiencing of life ... complete with consciousness operating perfectly well as apperceptive awareness. However, I am somewhat intrigued by your statement in another post that Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti constantly espoused this point of view. Viz.:
Perhaps you could find the time to post a few quotes of Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti where he explicitly states that you are a not a ‘who’ and that what you are is only this body being conscious. What about those times where he would leave ‘the body’ under the watchful eye of two women and ‘go away’ somewhere to be ‘worked upon’ by ‘them’? Also, it was reported that a few days prior to his physical death he said that he would soon be able to ‘go to that mountain-top’ and ‘see for himself’ what was there ... after physical death. None of this conveys the impression to me that he considered himself to be nothing other than the flesh and blood body. Quite the obverse ... he obviously fancied himself to continue on long after the body was cremated.
He also said, just prior to physical death, words to the effect that he was a manifestation of a particular intelligence that would not manifest itself temporally for another few hundred years. This is so similar to Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s belief that, along with other statements that he made throughout his life, it is quite understandable that Buddhists claim him to be one of them. But, then again, so do the Advaita Vedantists ... Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti had realised that he was Brahman ... and hinted that he was ‘The Buddha’. It is all recorded in print, if you take the time to read through the material.
Do you actually know what you are talking about, Konrad?
KONRAD: And since the essential nature of existence is a movement from indeterminateness to determinateness, or, to say it in other words, the emergence of information, this causes a mind who goes into that to absorb every form of information that exists.
RICHARD: If you say so, Konrad ... but that is not my experience. Existence is already always perfect as-it-is and is not moving from ‘indeterminateness to determinateness’ at all. Also, I only gather enough information to suit my requirements ... like writing to a logician, for example. I have no intention of spending years studying logic ... male logic is as useless as female intuition when it comes to uncovering the ‘mystery of life’. The only understanding worthy of the name is an experiential understanding ... which means actually living what is being spoken each moment again.
KONRAD: This causes our mind to generate all of the integrations that it can possibly form, without any bias, and thus to generate as much sensate beauty as it can possibly generate. Or, to say it simple, since this metaphysics puts NO barrier to ANY information that can possibly reach our mind, it generates as much sensate beauty as possible.
RICHARD: Maybe your mind does ... but that is not what happens here. I have no interest in beauty whatsoever ... and you already know this as you and I have communicated before. Look through the archives if you will ... you will see that I toss beauty out along with love and compassion and truth and any god whatsoever.
KONRAD: In other words, your metaphysics is a way to happiness. In fact, he represents the endpoint of the Western quest of happiness. No metaphysics can generate so much happiness as yours.
RICHARD: Well, well, well ... except for the word ‘metaphysics’ and the word ‘Western’ it would appear that you understand me (at least intellectually) ... oh no ... wait for it ... there is a ‘but’ coming.
KONRAD: So I see clearly, that you have found the ultimate road to happiness. But why, then, am I not a follower of you, or, at least a sympathiser? It is because of the above question. Is the possibility to generate a maximum of positiveness also an end of the negative? Again, I repeat, NO, it is NOT.
RICHARD: You can repeat it all you like, Konrad, but repetition of an incorrect understanding – however logically right it may be to a dualistic mind – will not make it so in actuality.
KONRAD: You may have found a way to happiness. But you have NOT found a way to end suffering.
KONRAD: Your discovery is in fact the Western version of the process of enlightenment.
RICHARD: And just what ‘version’ would that be, now?
KONRAD: It is something totally different, but it is analogous in the sense that it is its most extreme outcome.
RICHARD: Well now, is it the same ... or is it totally different? Which sentence is your final conclusion ... or are you hedging your bets?
KONRAD: In ‘the process’ there is only consciousness, and existence is ignored.
RICHARD: Whoops ... you have just shot yourself in the foot according to your own logic as detailed above. Here, let me copy and paste it for your edification:
It sounded pretty good to me when I first read it ... how is it for you upon reflection?
KONRAD: In your Actualism, there is only existence, and ultimately it will lead to a denial of consciousness.
RICHARD: In this actualism there is both existence and consciousness ... have you not noticed this yet? Only I describe this freed consciousness as apperceptive awareness ... look through the writings if you will.
KONRAD: Much of this denial can already be found in you yourself. You deny the moments when you suffer.
RICHARD: And what moments would these be?
KONRAD: You have not overcome suffering, but you over flood your suffering with your happiness.
RICHARD: No, I have not ‘overcome’ suffering ... not at all. I have eliminated the root cause of suffering. Thus I do not need to ‘overflood’ anything ... happiness and harmlessness are the spontaneous results of psychological and psychic suicide.
KONRAD: You deny that you can be irritated, annoyed, and even angry, while it is perfectly clear, even from your writings, that, at times you are.
RICHARD: And where in my writings is this ‘perfectly clear’? And what is this ‘even from your writings’ bit, anyway? Is this another one of your ever-changing realisations ... or one of your about-face insights?
KONRAD: You do not feel your psychological disturbances, not, because they are not there, but, because when they arise, you focus your attention to something that gives you pleasure and delight.
RICHARD: Golly ... you seem to know more about me than I do. Is that really how I operate? Am I that befuddled?
KONRAD: And, of course, you deny the accomplishment of Buddha, ‘the process’. For you think you have no need for such a thing, because you run away from your own moments of discomfort.
RICHARD: Firstly, I do not deny Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s accomplishments ... just that he would not take the ‘final step’. Secondly, I praise the ‘process’ as a means to an end ... whereas you have taken it to be the end. Thirdly, what ‘moments of discomfort’ would these be, now?
KONRAD: Do you know, why it is so difficult to stop smoking?
RICHARD: I stopped smoking for five years back in 1979 ... and it was very easy. The physical withdrawal symptoms only lasted for three days and were not much of a problem at all ... after that it was down-hill all the way.
KONRAD: This is because smoking is a way to redirect your attention to something pleasant when you feel stress. Whenever there is stress, you can focus your attention to smoking. At a certain point this focusing to smoking in a stress situation becomes so automatic, that the stress not even enters consciousness. This is the principle of addiction. The particular thing you are addicted to does not matter. Only its capacity to redirect attention from suffering is important. Some means are better than others, and some are outlawed, while others are not. Still, the principle is the same.
RICHARD: And if there is no stress – ever – in your life? Where does your theory go to then? And I also drink coffee ... what dreadful secret does this information reveal to you? However, I do not touch alcohol – or any other drug – whatsoever. What does this indicate?
And will I get any brownie points for being a teetotaller?
KONRAD: Something similar is present in your metaphysics. You have, thanks to your metaphysics, far more sources of sensate pleasure than anyone else. But your redirection to these sources is so thoroughly automated, that you do not even feel your own psychic disturbances, although they are in plain sight of everybody who has a dialogue with you.
RICHARD: So we have ‘psychic disturbances’ too ... is there no end to your list of defects (or should I say ‘no end to your imagination’)?
KONRAD: I have followed your involvement with Mailing List in the past, and almost everybody on it saw both your frustration, AND your denial of this fact. Only you yourself do not see it.
RICHARD: Let us add ‘frustration’ to the list by all means ... this character analysis that you are wasting your time with is fascinating, to say the least.
KONRAD: And that is not all. There is even a more serious problem with your metaphysics.
RICHARD: Look out, folks ... there is more to come!
KONRAD: Suppose someone follows your metaphysics completely, and live it. Then, psychologically speaking, they have definitely found a way to sensate beauty. But this can only be experienced as long as they themselves are an existent. This means, that when they are confronted with death, there is instant realization that they will lose all of it. And since the happiness is so intense, this means a loss that is proportional to their happiness. This problem is the fundamental problem of happiness in every form. If you have found it, the realization that you are a finite being with only limited time at your disposal causes the very sources of happiness to transform into potential things you will lose, and therefore to psychological pain.
RICHARD: Ah, so you do believe in life after death after all. I did ask you in an E-Mail months ago and you replied in the negative then. Is this another of your sudden insights ... or were you lying to me then?
KONRAD: This fact is clearly realized in the East. It has caused a disaster there, for it has caused the East to be even hostile to the whole idea of happiness. To strive for happiness is at the same time to strive for something, that makes you to be attached to existence, and therefore to suffer when you realize that in death everything ends.
RICHARD: Yet I am on record as having written: ‘without physical death I could not possibly be happy’. I will leave it to you to work that one out.
KONRAD: Their solution: deny the world. But then you deny your own potential to be happy. This solution is at the root of for example the tremendous poverty you can find in India. It is no coincidence that this country that is the most spiritual in the world is at the same time one of the poorest. However, while the solution of denying your potential to be happy might be wrong, and it is, this does not make this problem of happiness less real. There is a real problem with happiness, and it has everything to do with our finiteness.
RICHARD: If one lives fully – which is to actually be here as this body at this moment in the universe’s eternal time and this place in this universe’s infinite space – one experiences infinitude for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, for the remainder of your life. It sure beats the specious immortality so beloved of the mystics ... who long for physical death to release them from this much-derided ‘finite’ existence.
You can always use your logic on this one, Konrad: If eternity exists, where do you think it is located? Only before birth and after death? Does eternity stop happening whilst you are alive and breathing? What kind of eternity is that? Is it an intermittent eternity? No? Is it already here ... now? Yes? No? If no, then where is it?
KONRAD: I have tried to make this problem clear to you, but you were totally blind to it. You put all kinds of things forward that had nothing to do with this problem when I addressed it, showing that you did not want to think about it. This is much like the drug addict who does not want to consider a life without his drug. He rather denies, lies, cheats and steals than even consider that another life might be healthier. In the same way you do everything to evade confrontation with this basic problem of happiness, and shows behavior that is much like a drug addict’s behavior.
RICHARD: Have I read this too quickly ... are you now adding denial, lying, cheating and stealing to the list of Richard’s defects? Are you likening me to a drug addict? There is no end to your prescient abilities ... for how else could you know all this?
KONRAD: You are the ultimate example of somebody who puts existence totally above consciousness. Experiences of informational integration causes the phenomenon of sensate beauty. (Chills along your spine because you hear beautiful music, etc.) These kinds of experiences is what you live for.
RICHARD: This becomes more and more ridiculous as you go along, Konrad. You may get ‘chills along your spine’ but I do not. I am not interested in ‘beautiful music’ ... it is all about pathos. It is designed to ameliorate suffering; where there is no suffering there is no ‘beautiful music’ ... just a pathetic tugging on other people’s heart strings. And what does ‘informational integration’ mean when it is at home?
KONRAD: K and Buddha are examples of individuals who put consciousness totally above existence. But doing this causes you to deny that happiness must be allowed to have a place in our lives too. Both ways, when taken as exclusive ways, are out of balance. Buddha’s way leads to the end of suffering, and your way leads to happiness.
RICHARD: My way leads to the extinction of any identity whatsoever. ‘My’ demise is the ending of sorrow and malice (what you call ‘suffering’) and the instantaneous ushering in of happiness and harmlessness.
KONRAD: Now I assert, that in order to have a completely balanced life, Man needs both. So what we need is some way of life that allows us to become happy, without at the same time cause the very happiness to become a potential source of pain in the face of death. THIS is the field in which I am operating. Therefore I assert, that we need both the orientation of Buddha, and your orientation. But in a way, whereby the disadvantages of both do not cause problems.
RICHARD: First fully understand Richard’s orientation – and probably Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s as well – then we may be able to have a fruitful conversation.
Until then you will be chasing after a ‘balanced life’ ... somewhat like a juggler.
KONRAD: I hope you liked it to hear at least something of me.
RICHARD: I do indeed, Konrad ... please write whenever you have something new to say as I am only too happy to examine any proposition that we have not already covered.
The Third Alternative
(Peace On Earth In This Life Time As This Flesh And Blood Body)
Here is an actual freedom from the Human Condition, surpassing Spiritual Enlightenment and any other Altered State Of Consciousness, and challenging all philosophy, psychiatry, metaphysics (including quantum physics with its mystic cosmogony), anthropology, sociology ... and any religion along with its paranormal theology. Discarding all of the beliefs that have held humankind in thralldom for aeons, the way has now been discovered that cuts through the ‘Tried and True’ and enables anyone to be, for the first time, a fully free and autonomous individual living in utter peace and tranquillity, beholden to no-one.