lj: bits and pieces and a bit of theology =)

I am wanting to write some. I do not have a real emotional backing to write, at least not anything that is easily identifiable as emotional.

I reckon that’s a good place to start.

About a month ago I “gave up on women.” I looked around at the girls who I knew and I decided that there was no-one around who I thought had the capacity to understand where I was coming from or who had the desire to learn. I decided that it was not realistic that I was going to find myself in a deep relationship with a girl anytime in the foreseeable future.

That was part of it at least. Another part of it was that I was not having very good luck getting involved with women either. What went on with L and I at the beginning of the semester really did hurt a lot and it was the most that I had allowed myself to get personally involved with a girl. I was with L dropping a lot of ego boundaries and when she said that she was not interested in a committed relationship it hurt.

I could certainly look at it rationally and see where she was coming from and the necessity of her position, but still emotionally I was damaged to a deeper extent then I had allowed myself to be damaged in a long time. My giving up women was partially driven by that pain and not wanting to experience it again. Which I do not consider to be entirely immature; I found out with L what it was like if I deeply involved myself with someone who was not looking for the same things out of a relationship that I was.

Which brings me to several things that I have been meaning to talk about by virtue of an intuitive leap. A while back I found out that there were going to be mentor book groups going on and I was interested in leading one. I found out that A had sent mail out to several people asking if they were interested in being leaders, and I was not included in that bunch. I sent her mail asking why she had not included me, and she said that she was not sure if I was ready to be a leader. I replied to her saying that I wanted to understand where she was coming from; that I could see several issues that I had that were potentially threatening and I wanted to know if what she was talking about was what I was thinking about. Also, I said that it hurt my feelings, but that I thought that it was a damaged ego and I did not blame her. I was trying to say that my feelings were hurt because I was trying to be honest about my reaction, though in retrospect it sounds very manipulative though I cannot identify manipulation as one of my motives.

Regardless, in her reply to that she told me not to get my feelings hurt. There have been several times when A’s responses have not been in line with my expectations. Not especially surprising since I am not omniscient and she is not static. It is how I hold my expectations of her and how I respond when they are not met that is of interest to me. She is an Authority for me to some extent. There is a cognitive aspect to having authorities that is very reasonable and rational; simply recognizing that another person has had a set of experiences that you have not and that they are a person worth of respect and that it is likely that they have something valuable for me to learn. There is that and I think that is mature. I am doing that some, but I am doing something else as well.

Part of the defining difference is containment; in what I am calling the mature version the person that I am interacting with has areas of expertise, but at the same time they are capable of being less developed and not an expert in other areas. That sense of a complex person is lost when the person is an Authority and I expect everything about them to be well developed. Also in the area of being a complex person, with Authorities they are not liable to being influenced by circumstances; their word is always Authoritative. Really that comes down to the essence of it, the difference between Authorities and authorities is that Authorities are not people, they are static formations that deliver right answers; authorities on the other hand are people just like me who are struggling with things just like me and are not perfect.

The thing is though that I do believe in a validity of comparison of values.

That would be for me the closest thing that I might even call a Commitment, and I think that it is simply being dualistic. To explain, during high school my senior year my AP English class did a ton of existentialism. Camus, Sartre, Dostoevski, Kafka, Tolstoy, Hesse, there was a lot of focus on the meaning of being alive and it was a big challenge to my way of seeing the world. I asked the question, “what is the meaning of life?” which was really asking “what am I here for?” The answer that I came up with was that if there was something “greater” than myself that ordered existence to a higher purpose then to serve that higher purpose was the meaning of life. So I headed off to find this greater purpose.

I did not have much luck. I could look at people’s actions and say that some people’s actions expressed their values more effectively than other people’s actions. I was looking at how people witnessed (as in Christian witnessing) to other people and they said that they were wanting to keep other people from going to Hell by trying to get them to convert to Christianity. Their value was in making people Christian. The thing was that this value was expressed in a variety of different ways and some of them worked better than others.

Part of the description of multiplicity in the book is that there is no distinction between better and worse. That is how I do not understand how what I was doing fits with multiplicity (I will get to how it fits in a second;) I from what Perry is saying the student either does not think in terms of the underlying values or is not willing to make the distinction between differing effectiveness of expressing values.

What I was doing that fits with multiplicity is that I said “ok, different people have different values, how do I tell which values are the right values?” And for a very long time I went around talking about my hypothetical friend who was smoking crack cocaine and beating his wife and believed that such practices were acceptable, by what right could I say that my values of not causing suffering and treating people with respect were any better than his values of using drugs and beating his wife to cope with his anger? Why are mine any better than his? What is the source of this difference?

This was the beginning of God falling apart for me. In the picture that I had of God from childhood he was a part of the universe much like myself. He was pretty much the big really powerful guy in the sky. He created man and the universe, but after that act of creation there was a degree of separation from them. I could say that God liked some values more than others, but I still had the question of whether there was any real difference or if it was still a matter of preference just on a larger scale. Because my God looked alot like me, saying that he preferred certain values over others just moved my problem to a different place. What I was looking for was something really absolute that made one value better than another.

I was then and am now a strong thinker and on the whole good at approaching a problem and considering possibilities. I am also however largely an analytical person and I was many more times so an analytical person when I was in high school. There is no analytical reason to hold one value higher than another. Analysis deals with systems and how the react to changes in different variables. It cannot tell you which state is better than any other. It can only tell you what the results of a change will be. Value is axiomatic by virtue of being external to analysis.

So, I went in very rationally (tools which had served me very well up to that point) and I promptly ran my head into a wall. I was completely stuck. I asked the question why is one value greater than another and there is no answer to that. The only answer that I have that comes close is that there is no such thing as value. The only basis for deciding one course of action over another is an evolutionary drive to survive. It is genetically encoded in us to stay alive and to stay comfortable. That may well be the case. I cannot think of any action that goes against that, and as “maturity” increases so does our capacity to survive and live a satisfying life, at least species-wise.

The thought that I was saying is the closest thing that I think I might have to a Commitment is what pulled me out of that morass. It was a morass because as I was saying that there was no difference between values I was saying that there was no meaning for my life and that there was essentially nothing greater than myself. There was no purpose to the pain that I suffered and there was no purpose to the pain that I saw around me. A big part of how I coped with being ostracized and picked on in high school was to solace myself with the thought that there was a God somewhere watching over me and making helping me out. To say that there was nothing greater than myself was to say that there was no guarantee that everything would work out ok in the end. There was no guarantee that even if I worked as hard as I knew how that things would come out ok in the end. Lots of just world issues that I had tied to the existence of God got torn at and it was very painful.

Not only that but there was a complete lack of motivation to do anything. Without some reason for one way of being to be any better than another I lost most of my motivation. I would look at something like not going to school and the thought “if you don’t go to school it will hurt your grades” would come up and my response would be “so what?” to which I would answer “if your grades aren’t good then you might have a hard time getting into college” and again “so what?” then “it means a lot to your parents that you do well in school, it will hurt them if you don’t” yet again “so what?”

It was much like the game that people play where they just ask the question “why?” over and over. The only difference was that my question was “so what?” rather than why and really it was a veiled form of “why does it matter?” over and over again, and the answer was always “I don’t know.”

It was very difficult being there. I felt empty and alone. It didn’t help a whole lot that no-one around me had any clue about what I was going through. The guy who I was closest to being friends with just made fun of me a lot for being whiny and asking all these questions that didn’t matter to him.

Now that I think about it, I think that a lot of my distrust of trying to communicate with other people and have them understand me comes from that time. Pretty much no-one was in the same area as me and try as I might to find someone to talk to I could not.

I wonder now looking back if I have not just retreated from those feelings of isolation and loneliness. In looking at my current model of reality it provides most of the security that I had with an anthropomorphic God except that it fills in some of the holes that made the old concept fall apart. I have a basis for a difference in values. Pretty much right now, God is reality.

My just world is still protected though. Right action is rewarded by a breadthening and depthening of experience. I have an understanding of something that Dick Houton was talking about Ken Wilbur; I would say that I am talking about Wilbur, but this is my understanding of a little bit of what Houton was saying about Wilbur, so it is several times removed and really shouldn’t be attributed to the man.

That qualification aside, the basic idea has to with how systems evolve into more complex forms. I really do not know about what other models there are. I would guess that one would be an expansive and adaptive model, like Darwinian evolution where the basic structure stays the same and it is adapted in order to fit the environment. Regardless, in Wilbur’s model, systems exist in chaos (a set of interactions of infinite complexity) and there are stable points for structures to exist along the continuum. For example, there are people which are comprised of organs which are comprised of cells which are comprised of atoms and so on and so forth downward. There is also the interaction upward of people comprise cultures which comprise national societies which comprise the world society and so on and so forth. Each one of the etceteras that is a conglomeration of subparts and a constituent of a larger whole is a stable point in chaos. In Wilbur’s model there are holons which are states formed by the unification of stable points along four axis. The evolution of holons occurs not by an expansion of an idea while maintaining the primary structure, but by the destruction of the structure and then the reformation at a higher state.

I really am massacring Wilbur I think, so attribute these thoughts not to him.

I went to the Four Quartets workshop last weekend and one part of the poem which was very meaningful to me was where Eliot was talking about waiting without love for you are not ready for love and waiting without hope for you are not ready for hope. The general gist behind the destruction of a holon in Wilbur’s model is described by Pirsig in Zen and the Art. It is that what stands in the way of knowing what you do not know is what you do know. All models of reality are false impositions on what is there. It is impossible to “know” reality in the analytical sense because of its complexity. It is however possible to create advantageous models of reality that can enable us to interact with it more efficiently.

Pirsig for example describes gravity as a ghost. It is not real he says. It exists only in the minds of men. Ten thousand years ago before there were men around to formulate the thought of gravity there was no gravity. That is not to say that things did not still have a natural attraction towards each other except that there were no things and there were no directions for them to move in. Everything that we think in terms of is in a sense false. At the same time it is in a sense true because we operate contextually.

This ties in with me to Sisyphus and the creation of meaning, because this paradigm of having an unreachable ultimate exists not only in the external physical world but also in the internal psychological world. Sisyphus is punished by the gods to spend his whole life pushing a rock up a hill. Each time as he almost reaches the top the rock slips from him and rolls back down the hill. He goes to the bottom and starts again. Camus writes about Sisyphus and says that Sisyphus’ life has meaning. I was given Camus’ essay during high school and I read it and it made no sense to me. How can his life have meaning if he realizes that he can never reach the top of the hill? How can a life with no attainable goal have meaning?

It reminds me of the question that is oftentimes asked in philosophy classes, “if philosophy cannot produce any definite answers then what is the point of it?”

Sisyphus’ struggle relates to my view of reality in that it is not possible to reach anything lasting. Life is an evolution. It is not simply a static circle where we are facing the same problems over and over again. That’s what I was seeing when I was into multiplicity. There was no better and no worse so there was no possibility for progression. There was nothing that was any better than anything else. Here I have the possibility of improvement and decline.

Except that really doesn’t encompass where I am at right now. Really there isnt even any improvement or decline. People are doing what people need to be doing. Things are happening like things need to be happening. I am a scientific determinist. People have absolute choice, but their actions are determined by their genetics and their experience.

I deviate from traditional scientific determinism though in that part of a person’s experience is the experience of God. God is what makes it more advantageous to love even when love is painful in the short term or smaller sense. Perhaps God for me is a social consciousness, perhaps it is something more mystical than that. I really don’t know what God is, but it is what makes it better to feed small children than to shoot them up with crack cocaine and beat them to death.

It is like what Thich Nhat Hanh talks about in his poem about the pirate and the little girl. If I had lived another person’s life it is likely that I would have ended up very much like who they are now. I am a product of my environment and my genetics. I can do whatever I want, but what I want is shaped by what I know and how I understand the world operates. My understanding of the world is shaped by my experiences and how I perceived them which comes from my personality, genetics, and from God.

God is love is another equation that is important to me right now. This social or even world consciousness that drives certain types of being over others, which I am calling God, drives me towards the most advantageous course of action. It is axiomatic for me right now that to act out of love is the most fulfilling (in the largest sense) way to act.

Here is where a problem set in. I have no idea about what it means to be loving. I do not have that word mapped to any way of being or thinking. I do not know how to learn it.

What I am doing right now is kinda hanging out and not really doing anything. I am acting from day to day and I do not think that I am doing a bad job of it. I am doing lots of things, but I am not trying to be a loving person. Again, I don’t know what it means to be a loving person. I know some of what it means to be a compassionate person and I act out of that oftentimes, but as for loving, not a clue.

A possibility that I consider is that this is what it means to be loving. I read a book by Carlos Casteneda a little while back called Journey To Ixtlan which had a Native American teacher in it who talked about having your action be like a rabbit in a burrow. The rabbit could pop up from any hole, you do not know ahead of time how you are going to act. The action arises from the situation and from God. There is no habit of mind or concept of love that shapes how you think. You simply act.

I don’t think that is where I am at though. I am kinda comfortable where I am at. Things do not pull me around like they used to. I am not as attached as I was. Like with women, I have someone who likes me right now and there is the realistic possibility even though she is a really nice person that I might not try to develop a relationship with her. That was never there in the past. If a person was half-way nice I would try to develop a relationship because I was attached to the idea of a relationship. The same way with friends. I had three different people call me last night wanting to go out and do something with me and I turned all three of them down. Even though it messed with what they wanted to do and hurt their feelings some I did it. I was not malicious about it or anything, I just said that I wanted to stay at home. That is very new for me. In the past I was driven by scarcity and fear of driving people away so that whenever anybody wanted some of my time I would give it to them even if I didn’t want to.

We study lots of things that talk about progression. Perry, Fowler, Kohlberg, Peck, Pirsig, Kornfield, Maslow, Rogers, Wilbur, etc. all of these people talk about progression in different ways and more than that this progression is usually something that occurs naturally rather than a forced imposition upon a more basic nature. Is a person’s basic nature God? That is the thought behind sitting and staring at a wall until everything goes away but God, is that what they think that they are doing? I think that is how it works. A person develops because of fear inhibitions to a basic nature which is God. That sounds too simple to me, though I cannot really think of a reason why it is.

What I have been doing as of late is just following my natural inclinations. I try not to know things unless it relates to something that I have experienced. At least I am doing this in relation to moral repercussions of actions. The complexity of the world that I live in requires me to have faith in other people to some extent and to exist without knowing everything about how the things around me work. At least if I am to continue living the life that I do now. I could move to the mountains and build my own shelter and hunt and grow my own food, then it would be me and nature. As it is, I ride in cars that are creations of other people and I have no real concept of how they operate. They are constructed on principles that I am unaware of, just as is my refrigerator and the computer that I am typing on now. I am in a sense operating on assumptions when I get into a car or work on a computer. I am trusting in the work of another person that they will operate like they are supposed to.

I am not doing that with things that are internal. I do not have faith that any particular way of being is right or wrong. I act according to what I experience. I do not hurt people maliciously because I do not enjoy hurting people, not because it is wrong. I enjoy my life a lot more now that I am trying to figure out my values and how to embody them rather than trying to conform myself to what I know is right.

Actually I had an interesting experience the other day. I have been spending a lot of time with J Pippin and we have done several things that are physically intimate, though nothing erotic (holding hands and such.) I enjoy doing physically intimate things with her, but I am not sure if I am interested in developing a relationship with her. My thinking about whether I want to do that or not are long and complicated and involve emotion as well as cognition, I am rapidly running out of time though and I am not going to go into it.

The long and the short of it is that I recognize that even though I have not been getting deeply emotionally involved the potential for her to is very high. She is not accustomed to the level of depth and intimacy that I use as a normal running level and my silence to this point as to whether I am interested or not is giving the appearance that I am interested. I have decided that I am going to figure out whether I am interested in a romantic relationship or not and if I am not then I am going to tell her.

This is different because I am choosing to curb an appetite for a higher good. It bespeaks of a hierarchy still extant internally, though I think an internally motivated one.

I have many more thing to talk about, but it is not 12:46 and S is due to pick me up at 12:45, so I am going to go and collect the bits of myself strewn about this house.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *