On Mailing List ‘A’ with Respondent No. 16
RICHARD: This is the only moment that I am actually alive. All past ‘me’s and all future ‘me’s have no actuality at all. I am only ever here, now.
RESPONDENT: This sounds like the mental state of a dog or cat or horse or chimp etc. It always seemed to me that the Zen type of existing totally in the moment was like an evolutionary regression. Birds and fish achieve this mental state quite well and effortlessly.
RICHARD: So, are you actually here some other time than now, then? How do you manage to do that? Prestidigitation? Or befooling yourself? Why do you deny a fact? What is the point of refusing to see the obvious and live in an illusion? And why is the fact of only ever being here now as an actuality somehow linked, in what can only be a derogatory manner, to the mental state of an animal? As far as human beings can ascertain, animals can not think and reflect as we do ... for example: having a history to discuss with other animals and compare notes. Or: being aware of their impending death and talk about that with their compatriots in an effort to understand life, the universe and what it is to be an animal? Other people before you on this list have tried to compare me with animals ... to no avail. It is, if you will excuse me being frank, silly to the extreme. No dog or cat or horse or chimp or bird or fish, etc., can operate this keyboard and put words together like I do. It is nonsensical to dismiss something another writes so cavalierly.
Also, I am on record as saying emphatically that there is not the slightest trace of religiosity, spirituality, mysticism or metaphysicality in me whatsoever, so to liken what I write about to the ‘Zen type of existing totally in the moment’ is an error. I do not subscribe to any Zen tenets at all, for Zen is a religion, when all is said and done ... and I do not ‘live in the moment’ . I have been writing about ‘I’, the self – and ‘me’ the Self – ceasing to exist totally. There is this flesh-and-blood body only ... there is no ‘I’/‘me’ in this body. How then can this be translated as ‘living in the moment’ if there is no ‘I’ to do so? I do write in English words, you know, and they quite clearly convey what my experience of life is to one who takes to time to read what they actually say ... instead of jumping to pre-conceived ideas about what is written and rushing to the keyboard to come up with the same-same stuff that others have done before you.
But then again, maybe you have not been following the thread and are unaware of all this.
RESPONDENT: As far as living in the moment is concerned; in writing this E-Mail I am very much focused in the present moment while cognisant of what has been said in the past about the subject I’m addressing and my progression toward the goal of completing my thoughts and this post.
RICHARD: Oh, so you are ‘cognisant of what has been said in the past about the subject’ ... so what then is your excuse for acting as if you do not know what I written about these subjects before?
RICHARD: Of all the hamburgers I have ever eaten or will ever eat, only this one actually exists. This hamburger and I – and all that is around and about me at this moment – are it what we are living for. To experience this moment in time and this place in space fully is the whole point of existence. I am the universe experiencing itself as a sensate, reflective human being.
RESPONDENT: Ah, when we get into the realm of reflection then, I believe, we are not entirely engrossed in the moment at hand. Reflection requires one to be somewhat removed from the experience. Reflecting on an event and being totally immersed in one cannot coexist.
RICHARD: There is no ‘I’ within this body to be either engrossed or removed. I was talking of apperception, wherein ‘I’ am temporarily in abeyance, and there is only this body happening at this moment. Apperception, according to the Oxford dictionary definition, is when the mind perceives itself. Not ‘I’ perceiving ‘my’ mind ... the mind perceiving itself. This is not a thoughtless state like those spiritual people advocate, for the brain is patently capable of thinking its own thoughts. Therefore reflection is not only possible, but is a delight ... for there is no ‘I’ in there messing things up with its petty worries and demands. There is no ‘I’ to be ‘totally immersed’ , hence no problem regarding reflection. It is the brain thinking and reflecting, not an ‘I’.
RICHARD: Only this moment exists. This moment has no duration.
RESPONDENT: Then how can it exist ?
RICHARD: By being here now.
RICHARD: This physical universe is infinite and eternal. It has no beginning and no ending ... and therefore no middle. There are no edges to this universe.
RESPONDENT: But there are boundaries to the universe and it is finite.
RICHARD: Ah, I see that you believe in the latest cosmological theories ... maybe those regarding the big bang and the big crunch? They are only theories, you know, not fact. They are based on mathematical models ... which require increasingly frantic coefficients to prop up their postulations. No scientist has ever actually seen their ‘expanding boundary’ of the universe through a telescope ... nor has anyone ever been there and come back with a souvenir teaspoon embossed with ‘Greetings From The Edge Of The Universe’.
There have been many people throughout human history who have hypothesised about the universe having a beginning and an end – to make it fit into their cosmogonical model – without any success. It was Mr. Albert Einstein, if I remember correctly, who came up with the fatuous observation that if one shone a torch out into space it would eventually shine on the back of one’s head! Some early Greeks had the earth supported by their god’s shoulders – Atlas – while the Hindus had it supported on four elephants standing on a turtle’s back swimming in the cosmic ocean ... or some such thing; Mr. Yeshua the Nazarene was a flat earth god ... and so on. Such is the stuff of genius.
All the while, of course, the universe has remained both infinite and eternal.
I will skip your next four observations as they were only sarcastic attempts to perhaps achieve some notoriety as being a wise-cracking one-liner of the Mr. Bob Hope ilk. Unfortunately they did not have the redeeming feature of being at all funny ... and did nothing to contribute to an intelligent two-way discussion and a sharing of experiences about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being living in the world as-it-is. To wit:
RICHARD: But then again, ‘I’ am by nature cunning and deceitful. ‘I’ will do anything but face the fact of ‘my’ own demise. With ‘my’ psychological ‘death’, however, comes release from the fears of physical death. All of the unnamed terrors surrounding death arise from apprehension as to what will happen to ‘me’ as a ‘being’. I regard death with equanimity; when it happens I will welcome it as I do the oblivion of deep sleep each night. Like sleep, it is an agreeable actual occurrence.
RESPONDENT: ‘Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage. Rage against the dying of the light’ – so wrote Dylan Thomas. Fear of death is life preserving and is part of our instinct to survive and precedes any ‘apprehension of what will happen to ‘me’ as a ‘being’’. That apprehension is merely a psychological afterglow of the instinctive fear.
RICHARD: This is a bit at odds with your earlier statement: ‘our human instinctive behaviour is proving ruinous to the planet and so we need to be able to consciously amend our ways or continue ruining things’.
Personally, by the extirpation of the self – and the Self – I have eliminated all of those debilitating instincts which blind nature endowed me with at birth. Consequently I experience that I am more free than a bird on the wing ... being totally without the instinctual fear and aggression, for example, I find that my life is blithesome and gay. Having abolished malice and sorrow forever, I am both happy and harmless ... and will be for the remainder of my days.
RICHARD: The search for meaning amidst the debris of the much-vaunted human hopes and dreams and schemes has come to its timely end. With the end of ‘me’, the distance or separation between ‘me’ and ‘my’ senses – and thus the external world – disappears. To be the senses as a bare awareness is apperception, a pure consciousness experience of the world as-it-is.
RESPONDENT: Again, I believe, this is how other animals naturally exist.
RICHARD: Are you seriously suggesting that animals search for meaning? That they have dreams and schemes? That their sense of self – albeit a rudimentary one at that – can come to an end? That they can have an experience of apperception – a pure consciousness experience – and then set out to achieve the goal of self-lessness? Are you for real? Or are you pulling my leg and I have obligingly risen to the bait?
I look forward to a more fruitful discussion on these matters.
RICHARD: The extinction of ‘I’ in any way, shape or form ensures the elimination of every single anti-social urge or impulse – let alone behaviour in action – thus freeing oneself to the enjoyment of the harmless pleasures of life. Like eating a hamburger if that is one’s predilection. Rape is not harmless. This is all pretty basic stuff ... can you raise your level of debate a bit, please?
RESPONDENT: Neither is eating a hamburger. Just ask the cattle.
RICHARD: Actually, I was talking about having eliminated malice – what is commonly called evil – from oneself in its entirety. That is, the ‘dark side’ of human nature which requires the maintenance of a ‘good side’ to eternally combat it. By doing the ‘impossible’ – everybody tells me that you can’t change human nature – then one is automatically harmless ... which does not mean abstaining from killing. It means that no act is malicious, spiteful, hateful, revengeful and so on. It is a most estimable condition to be in.
As for killing cattle: the very fact that one is alive means consuming nutrients ... and staying alive means that something, somewhere, must die in order to supply these nutrients. This is a fact of life ... and the marvellous thing about a fact is that one can not argue with it. One can argue about a belief, an opinion, a theory, an ideal and so on ... but a fact: never. One can deny a fact – pretend that it is not there – but once seen, a fact brings freedom from choice and decision. Most people think and feel that choice implies freedom – having the freedom to choose – but this is not the case. Freedom lies in seeing the obvious, and in seeing the obvious there is no choice, no deliberation, no agonising over the ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ judgment. In the freedom of seeing the fact there is only action.
When it comes to the consumption of nutrients there are many and various beliefs one can hold dearly to. There are people who will not eat red meat at all ... only white meat and fish. Then there are people who will not eat any flesh of warm-blooded animals at all ... only fish and reptiles. Then there are people (vegetarians) who will not eat any meat at all, but will consume eggs and dairy products. Then there are people (vegans) who will eat only vegetables, grain and seed. Then there are people (fruitarians) who will only eat fruit. Then – as we go into myth and fantasy – there are those who live on water and air ... and finally those who live on air only!
As in regards to ‘asking the cattle’ : Some vegetarians maintain that as a carrot (for example) does not scream audibly when it is pulled from the ground there is no distress caused by the consumption of vegetables. Yet the carrot indubitably dies slowly by being extracted from its life-support system – the ground is its home – and is this not distressing on some level of a living, growing organism? It all depends upon the level, or degree, of ‘aliveness’ that one ascribes to things. Vegans, for instance, will not consume eggs as this prevents an incipient life from being born. Fruitarians go one step further and say that, as the consumption of carrots prevents them from going to seed and sprouting new life, vegetables are to be eschewed entirely. Then, as the eating of grain and seeds also prevent potential life-forms from growing, they will eat only the flesh of the fruit that surrounds the kernel and plant out the embryo plant-form (I have been a fruitarian so I know full well what I am speaking of).
The obvious fact is clearly demonstrated by taking all this to its ultimate consideration. What will one do – as a fruitarian causing no pain or the taking of life of anyone or anything – about those pesky things like mosquitoes, sand-flies, cockroaches, rats, mice and other ‘vermin’ that invade my house? Put up screens? What about outside? Will I slap them dead ... or just shoo them away? What will one do if attacked by a snake, a crocodile, a shark, a lion and so on? Do as the Revered Scriptures say and turn the other cheek? Will I humbly submit to my fate and be mauled severely myself – or even killed – simply because of a religious injunction, a moral scruple, a noble ideal, a virtuous belief, a passionate opinion, a deeply held ethical theory? In other words, have animals and insects been given the right, by some inscrutable god, to do with me whatsoever they wish? Is my survival dependent upon the non-existent benevolence of all those sentient beings that I am not going to cause distress to?
What then about germs, bacteria, bacillus, microbes, pathogens, phages, viruses and so on? Are they not entitled to remain alive and pain free? If one takes medication for disease, one is – possibly painfully – killing off the microscopic creatures that one’s body is the host too. Some religions – the Jain religion in India, for example – has its devout members wearing gauze over their nose and mouths to prevent insects from flying in and they even carry small brooms to sweep the path as they walk so that they will not accidentally step on some creature. It can really get out of hand. For instance, small-pox has been eradicated from the world by scientists as a means of saving countless human lives ... is this somehow ‘Wrong’? What is ‘Right’ in regards to what I do in order to stay alive? If I do none of these things then I will be causing pain and suffering to myself ... and I am a sentient being too. It is an impossible scenario, when pursued to its ultimate conclusion.
And then there is the matter of one’s fellow human beings. Some of them – in fact at times a lot of them – are desirous of invading the country that one is living peacefully in, with the avowed intent of killing, torturing, raping, pillaging and subjugating oneself and one’s fellow citizens. If one holds a strong and passionate belief in not causing any pain and suffering to other sentient beings then one must be more than a fruitarian ... one must be a pacifist as well. This amounts to hanging out a sign – if everybody else in the country one lives in adopts this specific belief – which says, in effect: ‘Please feel free to invade us, we will not fight back, for we hold firmly to the principle of not causing pain and suffering to any sentient being whatsoever’ (the Tibetan situation is a particular case in point). Thus anarchy would rule the world ... all because of a belief system handed down by the Saints and the Sages, the Messiahs and the Avatars, the Redeemers and the Saviours, the Prophets and the Priests, century after century.
All this is predicated upon there being an enduring ‘I’ that is going to survive the death of the body and go on into the paradisiacal After-Life that is ‘my’ post-mortem reward for being a ‘good’ person during ‘my’ sojourn on this planet earth. It is ‘I’ who is the ‘believer’, it is ‘I’ who will cause this flesh-and-blood body to go into all manner of contorted and convoluted emotion-backed thoughts as to what is ‘Right’ and what is ‘Wrong’, what is ‘Good’ and what is ‘Bad’. If it were not for the serious consequences of all this passionate dreaming it would be immensely humorous, for ‘I’ am not actual ... ‘I’ am an illusion. And any grand ‘I’ that supposedly survives death by being ‘Timeless and Spaceless’, ‘Unborn and Undying’, ‘Immortal and Eternal’ am but a delusion born out of that illusion. Thus any After-Life is a fantasy spun out of a delusion born out of an illusion ... as I am so fond of saying.
When ‘I’ am no longer extant there is no ‘believer’ inside the mind and heart to have any beliefs or disbeliefs. As there is no ‘believer’, there is no ‘I’ to be harmful ... one is then free to not eat meat, or eat meat, as the circumstances permit. It is an act of freedom, based upon purely practical considerations such as the taste bud’s predilection, or the body’s ability to digest the food eaten, or meeting the standards of hygiene necessary for the preservation of decaying flesh, or the availability of sufficient resources on this planet to provide the acreage necessary to support the conversion of vegetation into animal protein. It has nothing whatsoever with sparing cattle any distress.
If you have followed this discussion thoroughly you will have seen for yourself that avoiding eating cattle is born out of holding on to a belief system that is impossible to live ... as all belief systems are. I am not trying to persuade you to eat meat or not eat meat ... I leave it entirely up to the individual as to what they do regarding what they eat. It is the belief about ‘causing harm’ by eating cattle that is insidious, for this is how you are manipulated by those who seek to control you ... they are effectively beating you with a psychological stick. And the particularly crafty way they go about it is that they get you to do the beating to yourself. Such self-abasement is the hall-mark of any religious humility ... a brow-beaten soul earns its way into some god’s good graces by self-castigating acts of redemption.
Holding fervently to any belief is a sure sign that one is being controlled.
RICHARD: Why is the fact of only ever being here now as an actuality somehow linked, in what can only be a derogatory manner, to the mental state of an animal?
RESPONDENT: All I’m saying is – what’s the big deal about being here now if that’s the only place there really is to be? Also, the heightened conscious state that you and others talk about seems to me to be more of a mindless state that I associate with other animals.
RICHARD: The ‘big deal’ about being here now – which means to be without an ‘I’ in any way, shape or form – is to be living in perfection. One has eliminated malice and sorrow by eliminating the self, the identity, thus one is happy and harmless. The benefits are, of course, enormous: not only is one living a life free of sadness, loneliness, grief, despair and depression – leading to suicide in some cases – there is the social benefit of peace on earth. This means no more wars, murders, tortures, rapes, domestic violence or child abuse. It means a life of ease and enjoyment forever ... akin to what might be described by some as ‘heaven on earth’.
This does not sound to me at all like the ‘mindless state associated with other animals’ .
RICHARD: As far as human beings can ascertain, animals can not think and reflect as we do.
RESPONDENT: Right, they think and reflect as they do.
RICHARD: Your facetiousness betrays a stubborn refusal to face facts ... to the detriment of yourself and others.
RICHARD: There is this flesh-and-blood body only ... there is no ‘I’ in this body. How then can this be translated as ‘living in the moment’ if there is no ‘I’ to do so?
RESPONDENT: Okay, so you’re not living at all. Fine.
RICHARD: Now your sarcasm shows a certain stupidity about facing facts ... to the detriment of yourself and others.
RICHARD: Only this moment exists. This moment has no duration.
RESPONDENT: Then how can it exist?
RICHARD: By being here now.
RESPONDENT: What is it exactly that is being here now?
RICHARD: This moment in time.
RESPONDENT: We can see that galaxies are speeding away from one another. We can see back in time to when the universe was just a young thing. We see that stars die while new ones are born. The universe evolves. What is infinite is eternal. What is eternal does not evolve. Therefore the universe is not infinite. However, what makes the universe possible may indeed be something of an infinite, eternal nature.
RICHARD: Now I understand ... you believe in a Creator God. Of course, for you, the universe can not be infinite because a god is infinite ... and you can not have two infinities. Therefore you chose belief over fact. Oh well, so it goes.
Also, ‘we’ do not ‘see that galaxies are speeding away from one another’ , scientists see a ‘red-shift’ occurring which indicated, as Mr. Fred Hubble postulated in 1934 (if my memory serves correct) that the galaxies were moving apart. He later (1939??) questioned his own hypothesis (hypothesis: ‘unproved theory, educated guess’). Humans can not ‘see back in time to when the universe was just a young thing’ because no one can see into the past. There are mathematical models that have created the belief among most cosmologists that the universe was once created by a ‘Big Bang’ ... but it is a belief only. They too believe in ‘Creation’ ... a belief which colours their thinking (or rather, their imagination, for none of their speculation is factual).
Yes, stars do die and new ones are born ... and spectacularly at that. But the universe does not evolve ... it is the contents of the universe that are born and die and evolve. The universe itself is infinite and eternal ... properties that you (and the cosmologists) attribute to an unknowable divinity.
RESPONDENT: Our instincts for self-preservation, aided by our brain power, are in the process of gobbling up the planet. This does not contradict the fact that the instinct for self preservation, manifested in the fear of death, is life preserving. I brought this up to point out that that was behind your ‘apprehension as to what will happen to ‘me’ as a being’. The instinct is for self preservation and the propagation of the species without bound. There is no instinct for preserving the environment. Or for preserving life in general. Once we connect our survival to the preservation of the environment then our instinct for self preservation might be enlisted on behalf of all our interconnected ecosystems.
RICHARD: Our instinct for self-preservation, ‘by gobbling up the planet’ , can hardly be succeeding in its designated task of being ‘life-preserving’ if it is – as you point out – in fact destroying the environment and the eco-system. This instinct – which is put in place by blind nature – is what is leading humans to their eventual extinction as a species. Blind nature is not at all concerned about our survival, either as an individual or as a species, it is only concerned with the survival of the fittest. These blind instincts, which served us well in the primitive stage of life, are now detrimental to our well being and can – and should – be dispensed with.
It is also our instinct for self preservation which has led to so many wars. Hardly a salubrious state of affairs I would say. However, the elimination of self in its entirety is the automatic elimination of instincts – which are not set in concrete – thus global peace on earth is highly possible ... unless, of course, people continue to believe that some fictitious god is going to step in and save us all from ourselves.
We are on our own ... our future prosperity is entirely in our own hands.
RESPONDENT: Animals have no self to begin with as a human has self. As I see it a bird a dog or a cat look out on the world and see it for what it is. They don’t question what they see. They don’t question their motives, or appetites, or second guess their actions, they live and experience life unfettered by the introspection that humans are capable of. Therefore, I think this affords them a pure conscious experience of the world in terms of their particular existence. Or, to apply your words, there is no separation between an animal and its senses. They are their senses as a bare awareness, a pure consciousness experience of the world as-it-is.
RICHARD: Obviously you can not remember having had a pure consciousness experience, for if you did you would know that it is not at all like how an animal experiences itself. Animals experience a full gamut of emotions and passions including fear and aggression and rage and anxiety and longing ... which is hardly the stuff of a pure consciousness experience. Animals do not have peace-on-earth and never will until they develop the ability to think and reflect and – most importantly – act sensibly about their situation. But, then again, they would probably also start off wasting this ability by believing in some metaphysical entity who is going to do all the work for them about saving themselves ... some big Mummy or Daddy up in the sky who will step in and look after them.
They would probably also consider themselves to be ‘mature adults’!
RESPONDENT: Perhaps your post is about resolving your own inner conflicts (I know, you don’t have any, uh, I must’ve forgot) But I can’t see how it all was instigated by my remark. I didn’t say there was anything wrong with eating meat just that it was not a harmless thing to do. I am a carnivore and while not apologetic about it I find a certain amount of humility in the fact that another living thing is butchered for my benefit. That another animal’s life becomes my life I am grateful to that animal. I can enjoy eating a steak as a celebration of life, of its interconnectedness, its interdependence, its very existence.
RICHARD: You are right in that I do not have any inner conflicts, the post was for any other’s clarification and edification. It was easily ‘instigated by your remark’ because yours was a remark typical of the hypocrisy of people weeping crocodile tears over animal butchery ... all the while millions of their fellow humans are slaughtered in terrible wars whilst they personally do nothing about the root cause. ‘I’, with ‘my’ malice and sorrow am that cause.
So you are humble about eating a steak ... and ‘grateful to that animal’ , eh? As I am sure that the animal can not appreciate your gratitude and humility, then these feelings must surely be arising in order to assuage and pacify your extant feelings of culpability and guilt – at a guess, that is – or maybe some other feelings, whatever they are. Otherwise why the gratitude and humility ... to say nothing of the typical New Age lecture on celebrating life, being interconnected, and so on?
RESPONDENT: Now, a couple of your remarks from the above paragraphs: [Richard]: ‘As for killing cattle: the very fact that one is alive means consuming nutrients ... and staying alive means that something, somewhere, must die. It is the belief about ‘causing harm’ by eating cattle that is insidious, for this is how you are manipulated by those who seek to control you’. You’re saying here that eating cattle doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that they’re killed? And it’s only a belief that any harm is done to a particular steer so you can eat No. 15’s hamburger with such gusto?
RICHARD: Quite frankly, I fail to understand how you can get ‘eating cattle doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that they’re killed’ out of what you copied and pasted of my writing. I see that I wrote that ‘something, somewhere, must die’ . That sounds to me that I am aware that eating cattle has a lot to do with them being killed. What is your point?
And no, it is not that it is ‘only a belief that any harm is done’ ... because, as I wrote: ‘the very fact that one is alive means consuming nutrients ... and staying alive means that something, somewhere, must die’. It is the elimination of malice and sorrow from oneself that renders one harmless ... not refraining from eating meat. It is the belief in non-violence – called ‘ahimsa’ in India – that is insidiously harmful, for it gives the appearance of absolving the ‘I’ from culpability about all the suffering on earth. And the erroneously absolved ‘I’ lives to see another day, only to wreak its havoc on this otherwise magnificent planet that we all live upon. And if one does not have that particular belief, then they have to resort to feeling gratitude and humility towards the dead animal ... an exercise in futility that also allows the ‘I’ to get away with its continued mischief.
‘I’ will do anything to survive.
RICHARD: Otherwise why the gratitude and humility ... to say nothing of the typical New Age lecture on celebrating life, being interconnected, and so on.
RESPONDENT: I’m not really at all familiar with New Age stuff. And you can go back a long way and find a reverence for life and its interconnectedness in the myths of many a primitive people. But you’ll probably look down on their wisdom, too. Amazing how such an enlightened being can be so condescending!
RICHARD: But the whole ‘New Age stuff’ is but a re-hash of all the discredited stuff that goes ‘back a long way’ ... there is nothing new about ‘New Age stuff’ , it is all about finding ‘a reverence for life and its interconnectedness in the myths of many a primitive people’. That is what ‘New Age’ is ... it is the ‘Old Age’, actually.
Of course I ‘look down upon their wisdom’ ... their wisdom has had thousands of years to demonstrate its efficacy and has failed miserably. There is no peace on earth, even after all this while of very earnest peoples, throughout the centuries, assiduously practicing the ‘tried and true’ which promises – but never delivers – Peace On Earth. Just take a look at the news on television or the headlines in any newspaper. There are as many wars, murders, tortures, rapes, domestic violence incidents and child abuse now as there was then ... not to forget all the sadness, loneliness, grief, depression, despair and suicides. The ‘tried and true’ has a lot to answer for ... it is the ‘tried and failed’.
And I am not an ‘enlightened being’ ... let alone ‘condescending’ . I am pointing out the facts and actuality of what is going on and what has been going on, that is all.
RICHARD: And no, it is not that it is ‘only a belief that any harm is done’ ... because, as I wrote: ‘the very fact that one is alive means consuming nutrients ... and staying alive means that something, somewhere, must die’. It is the elimination of malice and sorrow from oneself that renders one harmless – not refraining from eating meat.
RESPONDENT: What does malice and sorrow have to do with eating meat? (You go off on so many tangents.) And you can eliminate malice and sorrow all you want, but it does not change the fact that life is interconnected. And to be aware of that fact might not do anything for a particular steer but it gives one a healthy perspective on the nature of things so one would not be apt to mindlessly decimate other life forms out of false feelings of superiority and/or the false belief that they are expendable without consequence to ourselves.
RICHARD: The elimination of malice and sorrow renders one harmless, so it is not a tangent, it is germane to the discussion. The whole thing about not eating meat comes from that ‘non-violence’ trip – ‘ahimsa’ in India – about trying to be harmless by not killing anything ... all the while being malicious and sorrowful in feeling and thus thought. Merely suppressing the deed (being ‘non-violent’) does not exonerate one from being a harmful person ... it merely makes one look that way from the outside. Inside, one may be churning away with barely suppressed anger and rage ... or grief and resentment or whatever. There invariably comes a time when the ‘non-violent’ vegetarian can restrain themselves no longer and they burst out in a paroxysm of raging violence or whatever which they will later regret, of course, and in tearful and heartfelt remorse probably ask their god for forgiveness ... but it is too late, for the damage has already been done. A ‘non-violent’ person is not harmless, for they can not be trusted, if provoked enough, to remain calm and harmless.
As for ‘the fact that life is interconnected’ ... well that is the problem, is it not? Humans are all connected via a psychic web – a network of invisible ‘vibes’ – that leads to incredible power-trips between competing members of society. A person may be nice to your face, for example, but the intuitive feeling is that they hate your guts ... this is the interconnectedness in action. It is a powerful force – an ‘energy’ – that seeks to control by psychic manipulation and leads to the most horrific consequences ... as has been the sorry demonstration of history. The elimination of the psychic entity – ‘I’ the self as an ego and a soul – is the ending of interconnectedness. One is then, for the first time, a free individual beholden to no one ... and free from both being controlled and being a controller. In other words, one is happy and harmless ... by having extirpated malice and sorrow completely. The enlightened people merely transcend malice and sorrow – they sit above it in a cocoon of love and compassion – and never eliminate them. And so the wars go on ... and on and on.
I do not have a ‘false feeling of superiority’ towards animals: I am superior. And they are indeed expendable without the slightest trace of ‘consequence to ourselves’ (apart from the dependence we have on being a part of a healthy ecological food-chain, which can be easily maintained with a little more research and thought). I have already written about all the killing that we do anyway in self-defence ... mosquitoes, sand-flies, cockroaches, rats, mice, snakes, crocodiles, sharks, lions, germs, bacteria, bacillus, microbes, pathogens, phages, viruses and so on. It is impossible to be harmless by being ‘non-violent’. The belief in ‘non-violence’ is one of the most pernicious and insidious beliefs that one can hold, for it creates the illusion that one is harmless when one is not.
RESPONDENT: I’m glad you have a place where you can go off and disappear. I wish I did. Until then I’m stuck with myself and my relation to the rest of the world.
RICHARD: I do not have to ‘have a place where I can go off and disappear’ for I am happy to be here all the time ... here and now. It is ‘I’, the parasitical self, that needs to go off and hide from time to time, for it is an alien ... and it knows that it should not be here inside the body, wreaking its mischief in disguise.
You say it well: ‘I am stuck with myself and my relation to the rest of the world’.
RICHARD: The ‘big deal’ about being here now – which means to be without an ‘I’ in any way, shape or form – is to be living in perfection. One has eliminated malice and sorrow by eliminating the self, thus one is happy and harmless. The benefits are, of course, enormous ... not only is one living a life free of sadness, loneliness, grief, despair and depression – leading to suicide in some cases – there is the social benefit of peace on earth. This means no more wars, murders, tortures, rapes, domestic violence or child abuse. It means a life of ease and enjoyment forever ... akin to what might be described by some as ‘heaven on earth’. This does not sound to me at all like the ‘mindless state associated with other animals’.
RESPONDENT: First of all your posts would be a lot clearer, simpler and shorter if you didn’t try and second guess everything and over-read into what people are saying. I implied that animals have a more limited mind than we do. Not that they were entirely mindless .
RICHARD: First of all I would like to point out that I did not ‘second guess and over-read into what people are saying’ because you did not ‘imply that animals have a more limited mind’ at all ... you clearly stated: ‘a mindless state that I associate with other animals’. Yet now you write, with a sublime disregard to what you did write previously, that animals are ‘not entirely mindless’ . Of course they are not ... but that is not what you originally wrote.
RESPONDENT: As far as achieving an existence on another plane or the discipline of a Zen master, no, my dog can’t do that.
RICHARD: You see, you may tell me I am second-guessing and over-reading, but what you did say, on the 27 November, was: ‘This sounds like the mental state of a dog or cat or horse or chimp etc. It always seemed to me that the Zen type of existing totally in the moment was like an evolutionary regression. Birds and fish achieve this mental state quite well and effortlessly’. Please note that I, for one, clearly see the word ‘dog’ in there ... yet now you are saying that your dog can not ‘achieve this mental state quite well and effortlessly’ . So why not stop trying to wriggle out of it by accusing me of something I just did not do and admit that you were wrong? Then we can drop this nugatory topic and go on to discuss something of substance.
RICHARD: There is this flesh-and-blood body only ... there is no ‘I’ in this body. How then can this be translated as ‘living in the moment’ if there is no ‘I’ to do so?
RESPONDENT: Okay, so you’re not living at all. Fine.
RICHARD: Your sarcasm shows a certain stupidity about facing facts ... to the detriment of yourself and others.
RESPONDENT: No, it shows my inability to understand what you’re talking about. Perhaps you could try to explain it better for my enlightenment rather than to ridicule me. One expects better from enlightened beings, but maybe that’s not fair. But then, life’s not fair.
RICHARD: I have repeatedly stated that I am not an enlightened being, so why persist with this line of argument about how I should respond according to some ancient protocol? As for me ridiculing: you see, by not being encumbered with enlightenment’s etiquette, I am thus free to meet sarcasm with whatever is an appropriate response. And as for me explaining: I had already done so ... the above sentence was snipped out of my clear explanation, vis: ‘I do not ‘live in the moment’. I have been writing about ‘I’, the self – and the Self – ceasing to exist totally. There is this flesh-and-blood body only ... there is no ‘I’ in this body. How then can this be translated as ‘living in the moment’ if there is no ‘I’ to do so?.’ As I was reminding you of what I have already written in this thread – which you said that you had been following – I rather rashly assumed that you knew that ‘I’ in little quotes referred to the psychological entity, also known as the ego or the soul, that lived a parasitical existence within the body ... and had no substance whatsoever. Any identity as a self (ego) – a mental construct backed by emotion – is an illusion that normal people (unenlightened people) hold to as being real, and any identity as a Self (soul) – a mental construct backed by passion – is a delusion that abnormal people (enlightened people) hold to as being truly real.
When this identity is seen for what it is, the illusion and delusion disappear, then there is no ‘I’ to be ‘living in the moment’ ... there is only this flesh-and-blood body being here at this moment in time. When I use the first person pronoun I am not referring to ‘who’ I am – the metaphysical entity within – but ‘what’ I am ... this very physical body only.
RICHARD: Only this moment exists. This moment has no duration.
RESPONDENT: Then how can it exist?
RICHARD: By being here now.
RESPONDENT: What is it exactly that is being here now?
RICHARD: This moment in time.
RESPONDENT: Yeah, okay, that’s a nice tautology.
RICHARD: I could not resist ... it was such a tautological question ( ‘what is it exactly that is being here now?’ ) that there was no other answer possible. Perhaps you had better get your dog to ask the questions next time.
RICHARD: There are mathematical models that have created the belief among most cosmologists that the universe was once created by a ‘Big Bang’ ... but it is a belief only. They too believe in ‘Creation’ ... a belief which colours their thinking (or rather, their imagination, for none of their speculation is factual).
RESPONDENT: And what makes your speculations factual?
RICHARD: Nothing at all. When I speculate I know it to be nothing but that – a speculation – and I say so. Other people, making speculations, start believing in them ... and the action of believing in something somehow makes it appear to be true. They then take this ‘truth’ to be a fact ... which is the mistake many eminent scientists make. Mr. Einstein’s ‘General Theory of Relativity’, for example, was just that – a theory – and not a description of something actual ... a fact that many people overlook in their rush to believe in someone else’s ‘truth’.
RICHARD: Yes, stars do die and new ones are born ... and spectacularly at that. But the universe does not evolve ... it is the contents of the universe that are born and die and evolve. The universe itself is infinite and eternal ... qualities that you (and the cosmologists) attribute to an unknowable divinity.
RESPONDENT: Again, if something is infinite, by definition, there can’t be anything else other than whatever that infinity is. Infinity exists as a unit inseparable undifferentiable, unchangeable. Nothing could exist in it that was different than the whole. But what is it? Do you think that infinity is empty space?
RICHARD: No. I said that the universe – which is space and everything in it – is infinite. That is: infinite ‘empty space’ and an infinite number of bodies in that ‘empty space’ . It is these bodies that are ‘born and die and evolve’ ... it is matter rearranging itself into a different form.
Great stuff, is it not? Personally, I am so glad to be able to be alive and living in this era wherein all kinds of discoveries have been made which threw off the stranglehold religion had upon the Western mind for centuries (people used to be burnt at the stake for much less heretical writing than what I do). This emerging clarity of Western thought has been swamped recently by the insidious doctrines of the Eastern mind creeping into scientific research ... but I am confident that it is but a passing phase.
It is sobering, however, to realise that the intelligentsia of the West are eagerly following the pundits of the East down the slippery slope of ‘spiritual science’ and ‘spiritual philosophy’ ... thinking that it has nothing to do with religion. ‘Spirituality’ is the religion of the East, thus any wisdom designated ‘True Wisdom’ translates easily as ‘God’s Word’. The trouble with people who discard the god of the West is that they do not realise that by turning to the Eastern spirituality they have effectively jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. If it were not for the appalling suffering engendered it would all be highly amusing.
The Christian conditioning actually sets up the situation for a thinking person to be susceptible to the beguiling philosophies of the East. At the end of the line there is always a god of some description, lurking in disguise, and wreaking its havoc.
RESPONDENT No. 28: We first suppose changes are relative, not absolute to some other state. You don’t have an absolute reference (the beginning you claim) where everything is set up in an initial position. As I type this E-Mail, I don’t need to go back a thousand years to see something is changing in my screen. It’s just that I see changes comparing two states separated by a finite time period.
RESPONDENT: YES, by a FINITE time period. In a finite time period we can see one thing following another. If time never had a beginning, though, there’s really no point at which to begin to measure time. Infinity, eternity is by definition measureless. All time would be the same time with no beginning and no end. At any point in eternity there would be an eternity of time before and after it. No time could be any different from any other time. There could be no successions, no series of any kind. An infinity of spacetime means no beginning and no end to spacetime. Therefore, no boundaries whatsoever, boundary-less and measureless. An infinite spacetime is that which always was and always will be at once, at one time everywhere, infinite. One time, one space, indivisible. Infinite spacetime could not increase itself from point A to point B for that would infer a boundary around spacetime which would invalidate its infinite nature. Infinite spacetime would in all directions be simultaneously the same everywhere. Actually there would not be any direction at all in an infinite spacetime because each and every point would be the centre, as each and every point would be surrounded by an infinity of spacetime. Therefore, no changes could occur in an infinite spacetime because there could be nothing other than the one infinite spacetime. So spacetime must have had a beginning. If there was a beginning to spacetime that would mean there was nothing at all preceding it. So, spacetime would then have to proceed out of nothing. Nothing does not mean empty space, nor a perfect vacuum. Nothing means no thing at all. No space at all. No thing. And how could anything have a beginning in nothing? This is not possible. So, there must be no beginning to spacetime. Lots of questions. The mystery prevails. Absolute explanations are a matter of one’s Faith. There is no logical necessity for one particular Faith or another. Though there might be a logical necessity for having faith, for constructing a belief system.
RESPONDENT No. 28: Now, consider changes being absolute to something. The only thing we could take as absolute is Everything, Infinity, Truth, call it whatever, for we (not you) believe there is no beginning.
RESPONDENT: I have no problem with whatever you may or may not believe. Whatever you believe to be the truth is true for you. My point is that there is no logical necessity to what one believes as some have maintained there is. The problem is that what one believes to be the truth one must believe it to be the absolute truth. But if one believes that, what matter if I do not, or anyone else does not, see it. You may look upon us a poor unfortunate lost souls and that’s just fine with me. Again I’m not arguing with what anyone believes but only with the logic of it. If it’s ones belief that their Faith does have a logical necessity to it then one has the burden of proving that. And so far nothing here has yet convinced me of that logical necessity. If anyone has a positive logical argument absolutely proving the infinite nature of things, that is, an argument which does not rely on disproving the possibility of a finite universe in order to posit an infinite one, please post it.
RICHARD: Shall I summarise what you are saying for clarity? Vis.:
As I see it, you are adopting a stance of not being able to know certain things ( ‘the mystery prevails’ ) because, as you maintain, there are some things that just cannot be known with an absolute certainty ( ‘absolute explanations are a matter of one’s Faith’ ). You state that anyone claiming to definitely know these things must be holding a belief ... you state categorically that it is a matter of faith for them ( ‘whatever you believe to be the truth is true for you’ ). As I understand it, someone with your position, vis a vis the ‘hard questions’, is called ‘agnostic’ ... given that the definition of the word ‘agnostic’ is that such a person believes that the subject under discussion can not be known one way or another (‘gnostic’ can also mean ‘undecided’). The people I have met personally, over many years that I have discussed these matters, who embrace this position have invariably been firmly convinced that this course of inaction is the intelligent approach ( ‘my point is that there is no logical necessity to what one believes as some have maintained there is’ ). Mostly they have been academics ... it is a variation on that hoary adage: ‘he who says he does not know, really knows’. I guess it makes them feel intellectually comfortable.
Being agnostic about something believed unknowable – whilst satisfying to an intellect desiring to maintain that ‘there is no logical necessity to what one believes’ – amounts to supposition. You can not know, as an absolute certainty, that there are some things that are ‘unknowable’. Such a stance is, in itself, a postulate (just try saying: ‘I believe it is unknowable’ and then try saying: ‘I know it is unknowable’ ... and you will get my point). Therefore, you fit your own criterion for others where you classify them as ‘believers’. If you are scrupulously honest with yourself – intellectually and logically – then you will experience what it feels like to have a ‘logical necessity to what one believes’ . For you, it is logically necessary to believe that there are some things that are unknowable.
Therefore, as you said in point No.7 above: ‘if it’s one’s belief that their Faith does have a logical necessity to it then one has the burden of proving that’ , it behoves you to prove that your faith does have a logical necessity to it. I, for one, can see its logical necessity ( ‘so, spacetime must have had a beginning’ versus ‘so, there must be no beginning to spacetime’ ) ... but as I am not at all impressed by such abstract logic, I call it a cop-out to be agnostic as a logical necessity. Please, I am not nit-picking or trying to trip you up: for something like twenty five years I was agnostic and it is an apparently satisfying position to be in ... until one day I realised just what I was doing to myself. I was cleverly shuffling all the ‘hard questions’ under the rug and going around deftly cutting the ‘believers’ down to size (which is all so easy to do). But I had nothing to offer in its place – other than ‘it is unknowable’ – and I puzzled as to why this was so. Finally, I ceased procrastinating and equivocating. I wanted to know. I wanted to find out – for myself – all about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being.
I now know.
RESPONDENT: If anyone has a positive logical argument absolutely proving the infinite nature of things, that is, an argument which does not rely on disproving the possibility of a finite universe in order to posit an infinite one, please post it.
RICHARD: Simple. As you have so aptly demonstrated the limitations of the highly revered abstract logic when it comes to dealing with absolutes may I suggest you deal only in facts and actuality and not in illative comprehensions ... which are but a product of the mind’s imaginative faculties. The brain is quite capable of seeing for itself without imagination; in fact without the ‘I’ – that sense of self which is but a psychological entity that gives birth to vivid fancy and fantasies – it does the job a whole lot better. Rid yourself of the ‘I’ that is currently inhabiting your body as a centre around which everything revolves – which manufactures edges into the bargain – and you will apprehend for yourself that this physical universe has no boundaries either in space or time (or ‘spacetime’ if you wish to believe in the current theories that are held by the physics community to be true). It is ‘I’ that creates the impression of ‘finiteness’ ... and then challenges others to prove them wrong. There is no such thing as a physically finite universe; it is ‘I’ who creates this impression in ‘my’ mind ... ‘I’ can only think in terms of duality. To think logically is to think in terms of opposites ... and logic is limited inasmuch as it cannot encompass infinitude. Therefore, it is up to those who propose an edge, a boundary, a beginning or an ending to demonstrate the veracity of their belief. Until then, the universe will go on being what it is: a boundless, limitless, immeasurable infinitude.
With no ‘I’ to mess things up you will understand apperceptively that physically, and thus factually, this actual universe has no ‘inside’ as there is no ‘outside’. Therefore there is no centre (no middle) and thus, with infinity, somewhere as a place is no ‘where’ (nowhere) in particular. There is no measurement possible with infinite space, for there is no reference point (an edge) to compare against. Living on planet earth, humans measure space in comparison to the localised distance between here and there. It is this measurement that is relative, not the universe. ‘Here’ is, as a fact, anywhere in infinity.
So is it too with time. As there is no beginning and end to time, there is no middle. ‘Now’ as a fixed point has no ‘when’ (nowhen) in particular (it is whenever we humans agree to make it). There is no measurement possible in eternity, for there is no reference point (before a beginning) to compare against. Living on the planet earth in localised daylight and darkness, humans measure time in comparison to the period between now and then. It is this measurement that is relative, not time. Just as ‘here’ is anywhere in infinity, so too is ‘now’ anywhen in eternity.
Thus, just as we humans living on this planet are moving from nowhere to anywhere in infinite space, so too are we coming from nowhen and proceeding to anywhen in time. As it is any measurement that is relative, not the substance of space and time, consequently, when ‘I’, the psychological entity called the self, disappears as a measurer (a reference point), measurement ceases to be a reality and the actual becomes apparent. Then, and only then, is one being alive here as an actuality in space and living now as an actuality in time.
None of us are coming from somewhere or going anywhere for we are always here and it is already now. We are never not here and it is never not now. Where else could we be but here? When we move from ‘here’ to ‘there’, as we are moving we are always here ... and when we arrive ‘there’, we are here. Similarly when else could it be but now? As we wait for ‘then’ to become ‘now’, while we are waiting it is always now ... and when ‘then’ arrives, it is now.
Being alive is ambrosial, to say the least.
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.