j: wanderings on reading psychology

It seems like most of my journals as of late lack a specific focus. I have so many things on my mind and none of them seem quite like what I am hunting for.

I have been reading a book that was used as a textbook at UTK. I am guessing that it was a psychology textbook. It combines an explanation of psychological models with exercises to allow the student to apply them to her life. (It uses the female form of the ambiguous pronoun like J did in the handbook chapter. It still throws me to read it.) At the same time it is also conducting a synthetic process developing a new model that combines aspects of all of what they are presenting.

I am liking the book though I am reading it alot faster than I usually read and I am not retaining anywhere as near as much information as I usually do.

The last chapter was entitled “The Internal Rhetorical Wrangle.” One of the basic premises of the book is that people are rhetorical creatures and that they attempt to persuade one another through different means.

My head keeps going fuzzy alot as of late. I approach something and it seems as though my manner of approach is wrong. The things that I am reading about how people develop from childhood and learn to influence one another are things that I am not accustomed to thinking of terms in. I keep thinking that I am nearing a paradigm shift because I have gotten alot of information that challenges my way of seeing things. More than that my certainty doesn’t work like it used to.

I am disliking the sensations that I am experiencing now. I want to say something I think but I can’t see what.

I have been wanting alot to me a good little mentor student.

It did not seem consistent to me at the Christmas party when A said that it did not matter why I was doing the process, just at this point that I was doing it and then later she said that people doing things just to please her made her want to cry.

And M said in one of her journals that he had told L that she couldn’t do this for him.

How much does motivation matter? I am still wrangling with this question. Can you do the right thing for the wrong reason? No. My answer to that is not in question. The action and the intent are really inseparable.

This ties in with my paper on God though. (Ramaswami was very nice about failing me for ethics. He sent me a note saying that he liked my paper and my presentation but that I still failed.) In my paper I talk about why there is a qualitative difference in values. As A put the question why you couldn’t flip Kohlberg upside down and still have it be valid. Why is one value more valid than another?

The answer has to be God in some way shape or form. Even if God is nothing more than a genetic predisposition. The bugs aren’t quite worked out there and I don’t want to muck about there right now so I am going to move on.

The question for me has been one of to meditate or not.

The summer before I came to college I was a part of a traveling singing group that had a story of the life of John Wesley interwoven with it. As a part of that story these was the quote “preach faith until you have it and then because you have it you will preach.” At the time I though that it was a really unenlightened quote. (I am trying to avoid the use of the word stupid because it is so general.)

Around me I saw people who were spouting the thoughts of their parents and I was seeking something based out of myself which to believe in.

A new word that I learned in my reading is introjected. It is being used to describe a value which is added to a person’s value structure because of their relationship to a person who holds that value rather than anything about the value itself. I knew many people who had introjected aspects of Christianity and had never internalized their values.

The values were perfectly nice values but they weren’t real and it felt hollow to me. I didn’t like it and I didn’t want to live my life that way. At least I didn’t want to be aware of it.

Another thing that I have gotten from my reading is a new appreciation for the concept of socialization. At one time I really disliked it. (My English teacher fed me lots of stuff like The Trial, The Stranger, and A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich my senior year; is it any wonder I had a mistrust of socialization?) It doesn’t bother me so much now. I think in large part because my identity is stronger now. I still worry some now about being destroyed but not as much.

I learned some about a couple models of identification and identity formation. I thought that an Oedipus complex was simply a boy wanting to have sex with his mother, it’s more complicated than that.

What the authors are putting forth is the idea that the rhetorical process has shifted from one of persuasion to one of identification. I’m still working on what exactly the ramifications of that shift are. Again there is some mucking to be done there and I don’t want to do it now.

But back to meditation which is what I was trying to talk about when I was talking about “preach faith until you have it…” When I first got here and up until just a little bit ago it was important to me to have my faith in place before I acted on it. Meditation was something outside of what I was focusing on and it was important to me to be able to say that I didn’t have to be like everyone else. That I was choosing my faith rather than introjecting it.

It is frustrating to talk to people about it because I feel alot of social pressure to meditate. (I realized as I was writing that what a weird bunch of people I hang out with.) I know that the people around me value meditation and I want very much to be accepted by them and cared for by them; by all of you.

I do not want to use that pressure to order my life though. This was what I was saying at the Christmas party and I was presented with a several good reasons that I ought to start. On an analytical level I recognize lots of good reasons to start, but as I have learned through falling flat on my face several times just because something looks good on paper doesn’t mean that it’ll necessarily work out here in the real world.

This is a step for me in the F direction I think. Before if I thought that something was true than I would head for it come Hell or high water. Any difficulties that (mainly my feelings) I were had were weaknesses of character to be overcome and lost as I matured. I am still pretty stubborn and I think that I’ll get there eventually but I am certainly slowed down.

The VAX is starting to get funny on me. I’m gonna head out here in a sec.

What I wanted to talk about just a sec is whether or not a person can do wrong. I am currently of the opinion that they can’t. A person will react to the world according to their understanding and their experience of the source of value and they will make a decision based on that. There is a certain generic nature to people (or universality which sounds nicer) when viewed from here. We are products of our experiences and our capacities. It’s like Hanh’s pirate, I am the same as that pirate and as that girl. We are all shaped by the same things.

God matters here. People experience God as a knowledge of right and wrong. The interpretation of this experience is shaped by the person’s understanding of the world. This is how both the pirate and the girl and you and I can be experiencing the same knowledge and not know it.

This is also the reason that it doesn’t matter why I meditate. I come and I do the ritual for long enough and what is already there will become apparent. It is the same reason that the master can say to both of the students that the path of imposition is right and the path of acceptance is right and also that they can’t both be right.

If I knew better than to do what I am doing then I would not do the things that I do. Why? Because there is more to right and wrong than the dictates of a God off in heaven. Right and wrong are tied to reality and what is right is what is in tune with reality and is advantageous for a person. People do what is best for them. Always. In some sense a person always does what is best for them. How do you know right from wrong? Somewhere inside something tells you that for some reason. You follow that feeling. Sometimes there are questions and conflicts; you still go on something.

God does not play dice with the universe. You do not spontaneously make decisions. It is exactly that simple. You do what you do because it is right in your mind. Regardless of what you do in some way it is right in your mind. You have the opportunity to allow yourself to experience the divine (to be the divine) and that changes the functioning of your mind, still you have a right. The pirate has a right and the girl has a right. All of us have a right and they are all right in a sense because we all make them from who we are and they are right by virtue of the fact that we made them knowing of the divine in some aspect.

They are not equal though.

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