Richard’s Selected Correspondence
RESPONDENT: When I feel righteously angry I consciously want to go back to ‘feeling good’, but since I feel justified in my anger, it feels good to be angry, making it difficult to get back to ‘feeling good’.
RICHARD: One of the major issues the identity inhabiting this flesh and blood body all those years ago attended to very early in the piece was the indignation – ‘anger excited by a sense of wrong, or by injustice, wickedness, or misconduct; righteous anger’ (Oxford Dictionary) – which had dogged him from almost as early as ‘he’ could remember (‘he’ was often moved to indignancy because of injustice/unfairness whilst still in grade school for instance) as righteousness, being oh-so-readily justifiable, is such an insidious feeling.
RESPONDENT: To me, corrupt has always meant, by definition, being evil. But how do I see this anger as corrupt when I accept that there is no good and evil?
RICHARD: Just for starters: try seeing how the (readily justifiable) righteous anger, with all its feel-good virtuosity, precludes one from enjoying and appreciating this moment of being alive – the only moment one is ever alive – through being as happy and as harmless as is humanly possible via felicitously/ innocuously feeling good (rather than virtuously feeling good) ... instead of seeing righteousness as corrupt (and therefore, by a definition, evil) which depravity is further complicated by choosing to accept there is no good and evil even though the real-world, the world that maybe 6.0 billion peoples live in, is rife with it.
RESPONDENT: Most things that are corrupt can be seen as survival strategies, which means they could be seen as neither good or evil.
RICHARD: Indeed they could ... yet it is undeniable that maybe 6.0 billion peoples nurse malice and sorrow – and thus the antidotal pacifiers love and compassion – in their bosom.
RESPONDENT: How can I make myself see corruption when I don’t see things as good or evil?
RICHARD: Perhaps if I were to put it this way? Now that you have neatly solved the existential dilemma which has bothered theologians/metaphysicians for centuries (simply by redefining good and evil out of existence) ... where are you at?
Here is a clue:
RESPONDENT: What I am interested is in that you say anger disappeared for you after 3 weeks.
RICHARD: You are, presumably, referring to the following text:
RESPONDENT: So this time period or rather the culmination of it in, say, that last moment in that 3rd week is what interests/puzzles me. Was it one final time of doing above (your quote above) and then it just never came back again?
RICHARD: Yes ... it is very easy to break a habit once the very reason for its existence, its underlying cause, is exposed in the bright light of awareness.
RESPONDENT: Ok. If I understand correctly from that paragraph, your reason for getting angry was ‘I didn’t ask to be born’?
RICHARD: No, the very reason, the underlying cause, for the existence of anger amongst the whole suite of affective feelings was the basic resentment at having to be alive in the first place (as expressed in popular phrases such as ‘I didn’t ask to be born!’ and ‘Life’s a bitch and then you die!’ and so forth) ... whereas the reason, the trigger, for getting angry varied according to a range of situations and circumstances.
Here is what some dictionaries have to say about the word ‘resentment’:
RESPONDENT: My reasons seem to be different ...
RICHARD: If I may interject? Do you not see there is a distinction between me saying ‘the very reason for its existence ...’ (as in the underlying cause of anger itself) and you saying ‘my reasons ...’ (as in the triggers for getting angry)?
RESPONDENT: ... stuff like righteous anger or other person feeling superior and acting cocky and insulting/ castigating/ ignoring me, my point of view opposed, etc., or I feeling superior to the other and doing the same.
RICHARD: Sure, there is a whole rage of reasons for getting angry (which vary according to different situations and circumstances) ... maybe the following will be of assistance in regards righteous anger (aka indignation):
Put simply: nature is neither fair nor just – a volcanic eruption (for just one instance) does not discriminate between who or what it obliterates/destroys – and thus coupled with the basic resentment at having to be alive in the first place is the further grievance that life is inequitable/iniquitous.
IRENE: I cannot subscribe to Richard’s statement that right and wrong are of no concern. They are of importance in the capacity to distinguish and make our choices. We do share a plot of earth together and therefore we must come to some sort of basic agreement in order to be able to live in peace and harmony and not kill each other. For this to be possible, all involved must be able to count on some basic rules: this is what we consider right and this is wrong. It’s not only impossible to live with other human beings without knowing the difference, but it is putting your head in the sand if you deny it altogether as being of concern.
RICHARD: Goodness me ... ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are not merely a matter of ‘no concern’ to me. I am vitally concerned about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and seek to see them banished forever from the face of this otherwise fair earth of ours. I long ago abandoned ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ because far too many of my fellow human beings have been killed because of what is ‘right’ ... or savagely punished because they were ‘wrong’. To say that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are of importance because we will then be able to ‘live in peace and harmony and not kill each other’ rather belies the evidence of history, does it not? I would say that failing to learn the lessons of history is what qualifies for the phrase ‘putting your head in the sand’ ... rather than what I have done to simplify the issue.
It is far better – and much more understandable – to appraise one’s actions being either ‘silly’ or ‘sensible’. It is simply silly to drive on the wrong side of the road, for example, because of the obvious danger to one’s own life and limb and others ... not ‘wrong’ with all its judgemental condemnations of one’s implicit wickedness and badness. It is sensible to find out why one is driven to perform socially unacceptable acts, for instance, rather than to refrain from committing these deeds because such restraint is the ‘right’ thing to do. Because ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are emotive words loaded with reward and punishment connotations ... which is poor motivation for salubrious action anyway.
RESPONDENT: ... rules that govern the actions of the psyche, e.g. unresolved hurt will beget problems. Then it makes sense to say self-knowledge is the precondition of innocence.
RICHARD: ... would it be helpful to draw a distinction between two common uses of the word ‘principle’? (a) principles as rules or laws of cause and effect and (b) principles as rules or laws of moral and/or ethical values? <snip>
RESPONDENT: The rules that society has invented to control human behaviour may be as much an expression of how low we have sunk as a necessity to regulate human conduct.
RICHARD: Okay ... so rules (moral and/or ethical principles) are indeed human rules that human society has invented to control human behaviour ... which means that the ‘ground of reality’ they are embedded in (the ‘miracle of love’) is human love after all?
RESPONDENT: Here I have a number of problems. First I would like to differentiate your ‘(b) principles as rules or laws of moral and/or ethical values?’ I see that there is something behind those rules, which I described as a psychological principle of hurt begetting all the problems of the ego.
RICHARD: Aye, I got that the first time you said it (further above) and I responded: (a) principles as rules or laws of cause and effect.
RESPONDENT: The ‘rules of conduct’ are society’s response to a misreading of the principle. If we are sensitive to the reality of the principle we don’t need rules. In this view love is not human. Not a human invention.
RICHARD: I am not suggesting that love is a ‘human invention’ (as are morals and/or ethics) ... I am saying that if love is not a natural principle (as is the law of gravity) and not supernatural principle (as we have dismissed ‘the fantasy of God’ ) then love is human love.
KONRAD: Principles do not contain information. They are rules, that tell how to evaluate information, but they are themselves devoid of any informational content.
RESPONDENT No. 25: Could you provide a simple example?
KONRAD: Okay. Let us take an ethical principle, like ‘thou shalt not kill’. Does it tell that no killing is going on? No, of course not. Then does it tell, that killing IS going on? Again, the answer is: no. What, then, does it tell about the world? If you think about it, it says NOTHING about the world, nor about the human beings in it. Therefore, because it says nothing in terms of what is, or what is happening, it does not contain any information.
RICHARD: Sometimes it is helpful to take a less-emotive example so as to be able to see with the clarity that the absence of a vested interest brings. I would propose the ubiquitous ‘Keep Of The Grass’ injunction, to be found in Public Parks and Gardens anywhere I have been in the world, as being a suitable example. The information implicit in the command is
... and ... well (a.) to (h.) is just for starters. Therefore, contrary to what you say (above) I cannot comprehend that the injunction is devoid of informational content.
It seems to be loaded with information.
Anyway, the injunction ‘thou shalt not kill’ implicitly provides the information that there is (and has been) killing going on ... or else there would be no need for the commandment in the first place.
KONRAD: But this does NOT mean, that the ethical principle has no meaning. The meaning this principle has is as a criterion of evaluation. What it says, is that WHEN killing is going on, you should condemn it. And when somebody stops killing, you should welcome it. This ethical principle is therefore something to use to EVALUATE facts, but, as an ethical principle, it is ITSELF not a fact.
RICHARD: Likewise I cannot comprehend that contained in the injunction is the evaluative meaning in that one should condemn walking etc. on the grass and that one should welcome abstaining from doing so ... it may only imply that other peoples with the requisite ‘might is right’ force (those with the biggest guns) have decided it be so. In fact, the use of brute force to enable the so-called desired result shows that the evaluative power of the principle is not universal after all ... and may only reflect the dominant group’s particular mind-set.
If what you are saying is that a principle does not provide particular information about precisely what is going on – where, when, how and by who – then I agree. But if that were to be the case, as there is the hourly news up-dates to do that, then all that is being discussed is a trivial and obvious point.
KONRAD: It is interesting to see, that whenever somebody has accepted an ethical principle, he has, at the same time, created a source of emotions.
RICHARD: I would demur about principles ‘creating emotions’ (genetically-inherited emotions have been demonstrated to exist both in animals and in the infant human animal prior to cognition) and suggest instead that principles trigger these already existing genetically-inherited emotions. You may very well be confusing the effect with the cause (and thus making it into the cause in your mind) because, although principles do not create emotions, it is obvious that principles cultivate and refine the already existing genetically-inherited emotions.
Indeed, there is a name for this process: socialisation.
KONRAD: For, whenever somebody has accepted this principle, he has a negative emotional response when he sees killing going on, and a positive one when a war ends.
RICHARD: Indeed ... constant application of reward and punishment provide the necessary positive and negative emotional responses. However, this negates your proposal that it is the principle as being the source of the positive and negative emotional responses. The principle simply supplies the conceptual framework needed to justify the application of reward and punishment. Once again, it may very well be the dominant group that sets the criteria.
It would appear to me that the principle appeals to ‘something’ for its effect ... which means it must contain information of some nature.
KONRAD: But this response only occurs when killing is either observed, or imagined, (or the stopping of it).
RICHARD: Is there some other instance when this response can occur, then? When else can it occur? In the actual doing of the killing? If so, does it work to stop the killing ... as it is happening (before it is too late)? The ‘thou shalt not kill’ principle has presided over a lot of killing this century.
KONRAD: In both cases, the ethical principle forms a RESPONSE to something, be it an observed fact or a thought. But this does not mean, that it has itself informational contents. For it needs something that consists of information, before it can generate an emotion.
RICHARD: Now this is puzzling, Konrad, because you wrote (above):
Could you fill in No. 3 so as to explicate how something that contains no information (a principle) can evaluate something so as to create a source of emotions? Or, to put it another way: with what is the principle evaluating in order to cause someone to accept it – and on what basis – if there be no information in the principle? And, secondly, can the principle evaluate itself for inherent surety if it contains no information? If so – given that it contains no information – how does it do this self-referent appraisal? Thirdly, what happens in the jump that is appearing to happen between No. 2 and No. 4? For example: If a principle contains no information yet serves as a responsive mechanism (creating emotions in the process) how is it responding? Emotionally? And with what desired result? And what determines the appropriate result anyway if the principle contains no information? Which means, to what end (what result) does the principle aspire to? Does the principle not contain information about what it is assumed/predicted life would be like ... if only all peoples accepted it?
I still see loads of information.
KONRAD: This is an ethical principle. But there are more kinds of principles than ethical principles alone. For example, there exist, in physics, the laws of mechanics. You can ask the same questions. <SNIP>.
RICHARD: As I am not a physicist or mathematician, I would appreciate it if you could flesh this out before moving on to principles of physics in the laws of mechanics. And, as I personally have no need for morals, ethics, values, principles and so on, I have no expertise in ethics whatsoever and am very intrigued by the workings of your ethical system.
RESPONDENT: I would ask you a question: In your post-enlightened state, is there a source of morality and ethics in the individual, or are they all artificial?
RICHARD: All morality and ethics (externally reinforced internal control systems) are artificial ... and are only necessary for those who still nurse the malice and sorrow (born of the instinctual passions of fear and aggression and nurture and desire) to their bosom. When one is free from the human condition there is nothing that needs to be controlled by any society’s artificial mores.
RESPONDENT: What is the basis of ‘right action’?
RICHARD: Twenty four hour a day happiness and harmlessness ... which condition is the result of the total eradication of ‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul (the entire identity who is the product of the instinctual passions of fear and aggression and nurture and desire).
RESPONDENT: You said that all ethics are artificial ...
RICHARD: Indeed ... eliminate the identity in its totality and all its instinctual fear and aggression and nurture and desire vanish along with its demise. Hence no more malice and sorrow, therefore no need for ethics or morals or values or principles and so on. There is no one and no thing to need controls (either internal controls or external controls).
RESPONDENT: ... and by your seeming endorsement of situational killing you appear to be opening the door to a thousand shades of grey regarding human life that ultimately leads to an Auschwitz.
RICHARD: Not so ... it is just that, not only do I not ‘value another person’s life over my own’ but that I do not value their life over mine. Or to put it another way: I experience all people as equal and no one has more value than another ... and that includes me.
RICHARD: I am intrigued by your reasoning and wish to explore with you the implications and ramifications of a moral system that kills off those with ‘no fundamental character flaws’ and populates the planet with those who have a demonstrated ‘fundamental character flaw’.
RESPONDENT: Why do you keep omitting from the discussion the aspect of people working to right the wrongs in this world that lead to violence – are you purposely trying to skew the conversation?
RICHARD: No ... I am waiting for you to detail what these actions are that these peoples are busy doing. Vis.:
And you never did tell me ... and again:
Still no reply ... and once more:
I simply cannot have a discussion with you about ‘the aspect of people working to right the wrongs’ if you will not tell me what these workings are.
RESPONDENT: The actions that would lead to the destruction of those with ‘no fundamental character flaws’ are at the ending of the cycle of violence, not the beginning.
RICHARD: As the ‘cycle of violence’ has a 5,000 year recorded history (and maybe 50,000 – 1,000,000 years prehistory) I really do wonder where you imagine the beginning of the cycle was. Therefore, the ‘actions that would lead to the destruction of those with no fundamental character flaws’ is going on all the time – and has been going on all the time – and is not ‘at the ending of the cycle of violence’ at all. Consequently, those who you say have ‘no fundamental character flaws’ and who ‘will not pick up a weapon with the intent to kill another’ are going to continue to get killed off by those who you say do have ‘a fundamental character flaw’ like those martyrs at any given point in time in history. Therefore, you do seem to be promoting a moral system that kills off those with ‘no fundamental character flaws’ and populates the planet with those who have a demonstrated ‘fundamental character flaw’.
I am interested to know why?
RESPONDENT: If people were to work toward righting the wrongs that lead to violence in the first place, there would be no need to resort to killing in the name of self defence in the last.
RICHARD: Once again you do not provide any information as to what theses people are doing – or should be doing – to ‘right the wrongs’. And neither do you provide any information as to how they came to not have any ‘fundamental character flaws’ anyway ... other than that they ‘will not pick up a weapon with the intent to kill another’. What did they do to eliminate their ‘fundamental character flaws’ and how does it work? And when?
RESPONDENT: When we go against what we know in our heart and stomach is the wrong thing to do; when we choose to do it anyway, we will suffer the guilt (some may not). It is certainly not a ‘belief’, as you suggest, that I am the initiator of a wrong or right action. It is a fact. How do I know I know it is a fact? I can only know that by listening to the feelings I get when I do it. It is wrong because it ‘feels’ wrong. It is not just something that I have to be told. This is the essence of right and wrong. Are you suggesting that there is no right and wrong, that right and wrong exist only by judgement brought on by conditioning? Surely not!
RICHARD: After all your years of sincere self-investigation are you really going to go on record as saying that feelings are to be relied upon as the final arbiter for living a salubrious and sociable life? Feelings are notoriously unreliable ... people have been living according to their feelings for millennia ... just look at the mess the world is in. Calenture is no better than the conditioned judgement you rightly put aside.
‘Right and Wrong’ is nothing but a socially-conditioned affective and cognitive conscience instilled by well-meaning adults through reward and punishment (love and hate) in a fatally-flawed attempt to control the wayward self that all sentient beings are born with.
RESPONDENT: Did I really say all that, or did I actually say all that? Actually, I said that when one goes against what one feels is the wrong thing to do, one will feel guilt. I said that it is not a belief that I am the initiator of a ‘wrong’ action or guilt. That is a fact. I actually do it – I do not believe that I do it. It is the feeling that it is wrong that brings on the guilt. If I didn’t feel it to be wrong, there would be no guilt. Then, I went a little further to suggest that there is wrong because it ‘feels’ wrong. ‘Feels’ wrong was put into parentheses because it was meant to be ‘feel’ from the heart, from the real heart, not the actual heart, you know?
RICHARD: Oh yes, I understand only too well that you were referring to ‘the real heart’ ... and therein lies the problem. If something did not ‘feel wrong’ then there would be no guilt feelings, now, would there? I was suggesting that the conversation on guilt would be better served if one examined the underlying cause – the ‘feeling’ of Right and Wrong – rather than the effect ... which is guilt.
RESPONDENT: That which is alive can hardly breathe without bringing harm or destruction to some aspect of the environment, yes? The whole exercise of personal existence must be a heavy measure on the side of silliness when a larger view is taken toward its effect. Does it not seem silly that this body should eat while another starves?
RICHARD: 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’ judgement. 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.
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 ... and one is harmless only when one has 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. One is then free to kill or not kill something or someone, as the circumstances require. Eating meat, for example, 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 sentient beings any distress.
Thus ‘Right and Wrong’ is nothing but a socially-conditioned affective and cognitive conscience instilled by well-meaning adults through reward and punishment (love and hate) in a fatally-flawed attempt to control the wayward self that all sentient beings are born with. The feeling of ‘Right and Wrong’ 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 anyone 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 being ‘Right or Wrong’ 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 there is a wayward ‘I’ that needs to be controlled.
Give me ‘silly’ and ‘sensible’ any day.
RESPONDENT: Which act is sillier, to risk limb by driving against the tradition or putting that child on a bike around the next blind corner at risk by driving at all?
RICHARD: Being alive is a risk ... that is what makes it thrilling. As for cycling ... knowing that there are some drivers who hate cyclists, and consider that they should not even be on ‘their’ road, I look out on blind corners. I passed this kind of information onto my children – and anyone else who wants to listen – so I would recommend that this child that you refer to be advised likewise. Somewhere along the line, each person takes amenability for their own life and actions.
Do you see how you have taken a straight-forward matter-of-fact way of appraising a situation and attempted to turn it into morality? It is not a matter of merely substituting ‘silly’ and ‘sensible’ for ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ ... it requires a paradigm shift born out of the sincere endeavour to enable the already always perfect moment apparent via elimination of identity in its totality. As you are busy trying to foolishly prove that it does not work by fudging the issue – rather than seeing how it does work in delivering the goods – then you obviously have no interest in playing a part in bringing about peace-on-earth.
RICHARD: It is sensible to find out why one is driven to perform socially unacceptable acts, for instance, rather than to refrain from committing these deeds because such restraint is the ‘right’ thing to do. Because ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are emotive words loaded with reward and punishment connotations – which is poor motivation for salubrious action anyway – then one has dignity for the first time in one’s life. So, the question is: Is an actual freedom a silly freedom ... or a sensible freedom?
RESPONDENT: It is very sensible to refrain from doing what should not be done, regardless of the inclination. Then the question of ‘why’ can be looked at.
RICHARD: Yes ... do you see now how effective ‘silly’ and ‘sensible’ are? Because with ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ being absolute dictates from high ... you are not to question. You must obey. And how on earth can some one who lived 2,000 years ago know how to deal with modern-day life?
RESPONDENT: And does your freedom entail the total and complete erasure of the human consciousness that moves the common herd or just only the moral conditioning – the sense of right and wrong, good and evil?
RICHARD: Yes, the total and complete erasure of the ‘human’ consciousness ... not just conditioning. The moral conditioning – the sense of right and wrong and what you called the knowledge of good and evil – are well-meant endeavours by countless peoples over countless aeons to seek to curb the instinctual passions. By and large this enterprise has proved to be relatively effective ... only a minority of citizens fail to behave in a socially acceptable manner. And although well-meant, it is but an ultimately short-sighted effort to prevent gaols from being filled to over-flowing, because people are irked by the restraints imposed upon what they indulgently imagine is the freedom of the natural state. Now, while most people paddle around on the surface and re-arrange the conditioning to ease their lot somewhat, some people – seeking to be free of all human conditioning – fondly imagine that by putting on a face-mask and snorkel that they have gone deep-sea diving with a scuba outfit ... deep into the human condition. They have not ... they have gone deep only into the human conditioning. When they tip upon the instincts – which are both savage (fear and aggression) and tender (nurture and desire) – they grab for the tender (the ‘good’ side) and blow them up all out of proportion. If they succeed in this self-aggrandising hallucination they start talking twaddle dressed up as sagacity such as: ‘There is a good that knows no evil’ or ‘There is a love that knows no opposite’ or ‘There is a compassion that sorrow has never touched’ and so on. This is because it takes nerves of steel to don such an aqua-lung and plunge deep in the stygian depths of the human psyche ... it is not for the faint of heart or the weak of knee. For the deletion of the software package is the extinction of ‘me’ at the core of ‘being’. That is, ‘being’ itself expires.
RICHARD: It is the belief about being ‘Right or Wrong’ 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 there is a wayward ‘I’ that needs to be controlled.
RESPONDENT: Controlled by what?
RICHARD: A socially constructed conscience.
RESPONDENT: Controlled how?
RICHARD: By reward and punishment ... and by awe and dread.
RESPONDENT: Have we not elsewhere in your post eliminated the good me bad me duality?
RICHARD: This is a truly remarkable freedom.
RESPONDENT: Only if it is the right kind of freedom.
RICHARD: Goodness me ... I long ago abandoned ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ because far too many of my fellow human beings have been killed because of what is ‘right’ ... or savagely punished because they were ‘wrong’. It is far better – and much more understandable – to appraise one’s feelings, thoughts and actions as being either ‘silly’ or ‘sensible’. It is simply silly to drive on the wrong side of the road, for example, because of the obvious danger to one’s own life and limb and to others ... not ‘wrong’ with all its judgemental condemnations of one’s implicit wickedness and badness. It is sensible to find out why one is driven to perform socially unacceptable acts, for instance, rather than to refrain from committing these deeds because such restraint is the ‘right’ thing to do. Because ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are emotive words loaded with reward and punishment connotations – which is poor motivation for salubrious action anyway – then one has dignity for the first time in one’s life.
So, the question is: Is an actual freedom a silly freedom ... or a sensible freedom?
RESPONDENT: You were criticising the seemingly mild areas of morality I was asking about in comparison to the more serious ones that exist in the world. Now, speaking in a generality, you advise that we look upon our feelings, thoughts and actions simply being ‘silly’ or ‘sensible’. I was looking back on an action of rape performed yesterday, would I consider it to be ‘silly’??
RICHARD: Well, I consider it silly, of course ... but then again I wanted to be free form the Human Condition with all of my being. Therefore, I did not come up with silly intellectual objections. So, tell me: do you consider rape sensible then?
RESPONDENT: Wouldn’t you say that there are some things you might be able to call ‘silly’ and other things that you would not because they do not fit in that category no matter how much you try to fit them in.
RICHARD: Well, I would not, of course ... but then again I saw the utter necessity of becoming free of malice and sorrow. So, tell me: what things would you want to exclude from this category? Wars? Rapes? Murders? Tortures? Domestic violence? Child abuse? Sadness? Loneliness Grief? Depression? Suicide? Am I to gather that, according to you, these things are not silly? So tell me: do you consider wars and rapes and murders and tortures and domestic violence and child abuse and sadness and loneliness and grief and depression and suicide to be sensible then?
RESPONDENT: If I were to kill someone in a fit of anger, should I say to myself ‘darn! ... what a silly thing I just did’? ‘Should I clean up now or later?’
RICHARD: Well, only if you wish to remain a sorrowful and malicious psychological and psychic identity living a parasitical existence inside this flesh and blood body ... busily perpetuating all the wars and rapes and murders and tortures and domestic violence and child abuse and sadness and loneliness and grief and depression and suicide. So, tell me: do you consider murder sensible then?
RESPONDENT: I do agree with you that self condemnation is another way of playing god with ourselves.
RICHARD: Who are you agreeing with? I never said anything like that ... all gods are figments of a fertile imagination – an imagination fuelled by dread and awe – and it is therefore a meaningless statement. Is this an example of you being sensible?
RESPONDENT: And self-condemnation will not accomplish anything, but your statement is a little on the enabling side, don’t you think?
RICHARD: No, not at all ... it is particularly effective if your number one priority is to dig into the depths of your psyche and root out everything that is standing in the way of peace-on-earth, as this body, in this life-time. May I ask you a question? Do you consider yourself to be a rational and mature adult?
RESPONDENT: I have known for years that believing in god, soul, afterlife, and free will are all becoming increasingly suspect, but I would always think: hey what’s the alternative – to live a godless, nihilistic, unhappy life? Now I know from personal experience that removing superstition from life can clear the way to a abundantly happy life if one has a good secular philosophy(ies). I’m loving life as it is right now, and having a blast trying to leave a positive impact on this world right now and hopefully this effect will even pass on to the next generation. Actualism has been helpful in this journey, but I have serious doubts about it as a well rounded, all embracing philosophy. It is very sensible in some areas, but seems very narrow.
RICHARD: As actualism – the direct experience that matter is not merely passive – is not a philosophy then the question as to whether or not it is well-rounded and/or all-embracing and/or sensible and/or narrow one is irrelevant. For example:
RESPONDENT: I meant by philosophy the ‘love of wisdom’ ...
RICHARD: I am only too happy to re-phrase my response so as to be in accord with what you mean by saying that actualism is a philosophy: as actualism – the direct experience that matter is not merely passive – is not ‘the love of wisdom’ then the question as to whether or not it is well-rounded and/or all-embracing and/or sensible and/or narrow love of wisdom is irrelevant. And just so that there is no misunderstanding: actualism is not the love of an ideology either ... or of an idea, an ideal, a belief, a concept, an opinion, a conjecture, a speculation, an assumption, a presumption, a supposition, a surmise, an inference, a judgement, an intellectualisation, an imagination, a posit, an image, an analysis, a viewpoint, a view, a stance, a perspective, a standpoint, a position, a world-view, a mind-set, a state-of-mind, a frame-of-mind, a metaphysics or any other of the 101 ways of down-playing/dismissing a direct report of what it is to be actually free from the human condition and living the utter peace of the perfection of the purity welling endlessly as the infinitude this eternal, infinite and perpetual universe actually is.
RESPONDENT: [I meant by philosophy the ‘love of wisdom’] which is an experiential knowledge, application, and living of wisdom.
RICHARD: I am only too happy to re-phrase my response so as to be in accord with what you mean by saying that actualism is a love of wisdom: as actualism – the direct experience that matter is not merely passive – is not ‘an experiential knowledge, application, and living of wisdom’ then the question as to whether or not it is well-rounded and/or all-embracing and/or sensible and/or narrow experiential knowledge, application, and living of wisdom is irrelevant. And just so that there is no misunderstanding: actualism is not an experiential knowledge, application, and living of an ideology either ... or of an idea, an ideal, a belief, a concept, an opinion, a conjecture, a speculation, an assumption, a presumption, a supposition, a surmise, an inference, a judgement, an intellectualisation, an imagination, a posit, an image, an analysis, a viewpoint, a view, a stance, a perspective, a standpoint, a position, a world-view, a mind-set, a state-of-mind, a frame-of-mind, a metaphysics or any other of the 101 ways of down-playing/dismissing a direct report of what it is to be actually free from the human condition and living the utter peace of the perfection of the purity welling endlessly as the infinitude this eternal, infinite and perpetual universe actually is.
RESPONDENT: Actualism’s living w/o ego/soul falls under this description.
RICHARD: Au contraire ... it does no such thing.
RESPONDENT: Ok. One can call a philosophy of life simply empirical things like its healthy to get enough sleep, get movement in (i.e. reasonable exercise), eat a well balanced diet of foods, learn a language, play music, play chess (if one enjoys it of course), engage the mind in mathematics and science, learn to think, feel one’s feelings, etc.
RICHARD: As you have increasingly down-played actualism – the direct experience that matter is not merely passive – to the point of now equating it to vague generalisations, which you say can constitute a philosophy of life, about some unspecified health benefits of enough sleep, reasonable exercise, well-balanced diet, learning language, playing music, playing chess (provided it be enjoyable), mind-engagement in mathematics and science, learning to think, feeling one’s emotions and passions, and so on, there is obviously no point in me continuing to report/ describe/ explain what actualism actually is ... and what it is not.
RESPONDENT: OK Richard, could you just answer the only question I was really asking in the first place which is: this is the MAIN question I have here that you did not answer.
RICHARD: I did answer your question. Vis.:
Just because it is (presumably) not the answer you expected/ wanted/ whatever does not mean that I did not answer it.
RESPONDENT: Maybe, I’m not writing well.
RICHARD: You have been abundantly clear all along ... and you are not the first to have taken the report/ description/ explanation of life here in this actual world and endeavoured to turn it into, and/or relate it to, ethicalistic/ moralistic principles and/or values and/or virtues and/or standards and/or models and/or systems and/or conventions and/or norms and/or mores and/or maxims and/or axioms and/or postulates and/or dictums and/or directives and/or tenets and/or doctrines and/or policies and/or codes and/or canons and/or rules and/or regulations and/or laws, and so on, and you probably will not be the last.
KONRAD: Most people are completely ignorant about ethics, and questions pertaining to the distinction between good and evil. Not everybody is aware of the fact, that Ayn Rand has given an objective basis to ethics, and therefore for an objective distinction between good and evil. I connect an explanation of her ethics which basically shows clearly that the difference between good and evil is grounded in the objectively existing difference between life and death. Life and death also connect ‘Is’ and ‘Ought’. Read it, and you will receive an introduction to questions pertaining to human conditioning.
RICHARD: I have eliminated the need for conditioning. I have no need for ethics whatsoever.
KONRAD: Ayn Rand was also a novelist. Her two best books are ‘The Fountainhead’, and ‘Atlas Shrugged’. Especially ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is a very fascinating, although rather thick novel.
RICHARD: Back in 1985 I read every book that I could lay my hands on that Ms. Ayn Rand had written. I started with ‘Atlas Shrugged’. Her hero, Mr. John Galt, was personified as the archetype industrialist/ capitalist and Ms. Ayn Rand’s personal dislike of welfare recipients (possibly from her experience in the USSR) was patently obvious. She exemplified what is nowadays called an ‘economic rationalist’ of the ‘user pays’ ilk. With personal prejudices like that it would be difficult for her to think clearly ... as is evidenced by her complete ignorance of the fact that Mr. John Galt’s money to fund his community comes from a pool of millions of consumers desiring his invention. That is, not all of the 5.8 billion people in the world can invent something so desirable that other people’s buy it to the extent that vast amounts of money pours into their coffers. Capitalism is based upon some people being rich at other people’s expense. Her bigotry is particularly evident towards the end of the book in the fanciful scenes of the parasitical nature of welfare recipients. The book was an emotional appeal to what is currently evident in the world as ‘white male supremacy’ ... but only of the favoured few. It is an elitist position. Hence I have little regard for her further philosophising as you present it below.
MS. AYN RAND: ‘The first question is not: What particular code of values should man accept? The first question is: does man need values at all – and why?’
KONRAD: I see from your mail that this is exactly what you do and defend. You do not ask this question. Neither did I in the past, by the way. It is exactly this point that was so revolutionary about the understanding of the term ‘ethics’ as brought forward by Ayn Rand. I think that she was the first who had a clear understanding of the concept of ‘ethics’ in general. At least, she was the first who distinguished ‘ethics’ from ‘an ethics’.
RICHARD: This is because she needs ethics. Like you, she would presumably still get infuriated and have to have emotion-backed principles in order to manage to operate and function in a socially acceptable manner even when driven by the instinctual animal urges of fear and aggression that blind nature endows all sentient beings with. In other words: her writing shows that she is still a victim of the human condition ... like you she is encumbered by an affective ‘being’ that needs to be controlled.
MS. AYN RAND: ‘Most philosophers have now decided to declare that reason has failed, that ethics is outside the power of reason, that no rational ethics can ever be defined, and that in the field of ethics – in the choice of his values, of his actions, of his pursuits, of his life’s goals – man must be guided by something other than reason. By what? Faith / instinct / intuition / revelation / feeling / taste / urge / wish / whim. Today, as in the past, most philosophers agree that the ultimate standard of ethics is whim (they call it ‘arbitrary postulate’ or ‘subjective choice’ or ‘emotional commitment’)-and the battle is only over the question of whose whim: one’s own or society’s or the dictator’s or God’s. Whatever else they may disagree about, today’s moralists agree that ethics is a subjective issue and that the three things barred from its field are: reason-mind-reality. If you now wonder why the world is now collapsing to a lower and ever lower rung of hell, this is the reason. If you want to save civilization, it is this premise of modern ethics-and of all ethical history-that you must challenge’.
KONRAD: So Ayn Rand sees the ‘human condition’ as the result of taking rationality not seriously enough, and confusing certain irrational decisions for rational ones.
RICHARD: Nevertheless, like you, she would presumably still get infuriated and have to have emotion-backed principles in order to manage to operate and function in a socially acceptable manner even when driven by the instinctual animal urges of fear and aggression that blind nature endows all sentient beings with. In other words: her writing shows that she is still a victim of the human condition ... like you she is encumbered by an affective ‘being’ that needs to be controlled.
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.