Posts Tagged ‘metaphysics’

Faith Through Nihilism

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

To most people, there are only two options: inherent belief to human purpose in the universe, or an absence of anything resembling purpose or belief. The latter are commonly called nihilists.

A sensible version of nihilism cuts to its core, which is distrust of all things perceived through the human mind:

Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence.

The fundamental separation here occurs through the recognition that values, communication and truth are proxies or intermediates for reality. Our brains will recognize conclusions about the world, encode them in tokens and share them with others, but then the tokens become more important than results in reality. The same happens with money, popularity, religion and systems of control.

For this reason, nihilism is not what most people think it is, which is giving up on knowing reality at all or caring about the consequences of our actions. Instead, it is a refusal to let the human symbols for reality supersede reality itself, a condition known as solipsism which is the root of most common human errors.

Since most people are solipsistic, they want an excuse to give up on reality itself, not its proxies. They do this by strengthening the proxies instead of focusing on reality, or cause-effect results in the world outside our heads. One way to do this is a fanatical “anti-relativism” that emphasizes devotional truths, but the other is fatalism, or proclaiming that all reality is pointless except that in the human mind.

The kiddie form of nihilism arises from this, and ends up being a brew of individualism and anarchism, or essentially an individual without obligations to be correct in his or her statements. This allows the individual to justify inaction and selfishness as some form of “higher truth.”

And so, what does nihilism say about faith? First, it rejects the idea of any belief; in other words, there must be a source of spiritual understanding based on the world and its patterns, much as we know anything else. Next, this spiritual understanding cannot be communicated, only achieved by those who go along the path of cumulative learning.

Nihilism thus rejects exoteric faiths, or those based on the idea that we can communicate metaphysical or spiritual understanding through tokens, or that faith can be adopted on that basis. Religious texts can inform our understanding, but the source of the understanding comes from finding similarities between what is there and what exists in the world.

The root of metaphysics through nihilism is the same radical skepticism toward humanity that is found in most religious texts. Most humans, being monkeys plus language, have low capacity for analytical thinking or any real passion. Instead, they focus on the ego, externalizing choice to factors such as bodily impulses, socializing with others, and following what the group does.

An examination of the external world however reveals a potent clue: patterns, not physical matter, rule the day. That is: matter arranged in patterns has properties beyond its immediate physical presence, and these patterns can appear in different forms of matter and have the same effect, which means that patterns are more important than materiality.

The classic example of this is a chair. It can be made out of wood, stone, metal, plastic or even human bones, and still serves the same function. The design of the chair — four legs, a platform and a back — is where the magic lies, not in the plastic or bone. In the same way, forms of organization of groups or ideas have greater power than what they are written on or the tokens used. The idea is all.

From this realization comes the first honest spirituality. When life is seen in terms of patterns, those patterns can be compared and arranged, showing how reality is structured. This is separate from purpose, because that is a choice of the individual human, but those choices reflect the moral composition, intelligence and honesty of those individuals.

In turn, this places an emphasis on thought, or at least thought that is consistent with the world around it, making it a continuation of the world in the mind. Here a fine line arises: the world is thought, but not just any thought, since most human thought is a closed-circuit feedback loop of the impulses of the body and ego, and unrelated to the broader world.

When one sees the world as thought, something better than inherent purpose emerges: a sense that the world is calculating, or transacting change toward an ongoing end like evolution itself. Our thoughts take the same pattern, which is that many options emerge and are slowly whittled down to a final model, which is then refined qualitatively or in terms of degree of efficiency, accuracy and elegance.

At that point, the world takes on a new perspective. Instead of the world being the cause of thoughts, thoughts — or the evolution thereof — are the cause of the world, and it reveals its tendencies toward beauty and goodness through the seemingly endless creativity of nature and the many possibilities it gives us.

Through eyes that have realized this truth, a forest becomes not just an object of beauty, but a sense of beauty joined to function, revealing a pattern of thought that emphasizes something we can only call holiness. It takes us beyond the requirements of mere utilitarianism and shows us that the universe points in a different direction, toward an experience of greatness and existential pleasure.

With that, we realize that life has given us a clue: it is not random after all, nor is it ugly. Instead, it is us that are ugly. We resist a world that would push us to greater heights because we fear losing control. And yet, the world tries for beauty, which is how we know that we are immortal and that striving for excellence is worthy. Only then do we join the eternal pattern of our cosmos.

Christian Reaction

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

As Neoreaction fades into a type of extreme Libertarianism that guarantees it will be absorbed by demotist forces with credit cards instead of ballots, more are considering the basic idea of Reaction itself: that modernity, based in equality applied by government, is a path to suicide and that we need cultural, religious and leadership guidance instead.

One form that appears fascinating is Christian Reaction, or the group of Reactionaries who base their worldview in a resurrected Christian nation instead of a purely leadership or cultural solution. The good side of this is that what they advocate is necessary and positive; the bad side is that sometimes, it can replace other things that need to be done, and become a scapegoat or false solution.

Where the Christian Reactionaries are most correct is at their core, which has two parts:

  • Morality. Civilizations die because their citizens become individualistic after there is too much tolerance for not-good people, usually during wartime or plagues when extra hands are needed. The natural tendency of civilization however is to increase social order, so that more survive, and to spare lives from the horrors of the pre-civilization era. The only way to restrain this natural entropy is to have a society that is morally alert to all transgressions, no matter how small, and constantly shedding those who are inclined toward any path other than good. This seems too extreme to most, so they settle for throwing out the extreme bad instead of generally removing the failed, and Christian Reaction has no patience for this.
  • Self-Discipline. Spiritual practice occurs through the denial of impulses and a redirection of that energy toward wholesome things. In particular, prayer and meditation increase focus, especially among the intelligent, who are otherwise prone to become chaos monkeys indulging in personal pretense and thus splitting society into many directions, few of which are relevant. Christian Reaction emphasizes personal growth through self-discipline and the necessity of it as a basis for society as a whole.

At the end of much of philosophy, we arrive at these two concepts as the only way to slow or prevent civilization decline. It cannot be done with authority alone, nor by filtering out the bad alone, because it is necessary to redirect the normal and intelligent toward the good, including things that seem “un fun” like chastity, relative sobriety, pride in tribe, and focus on moral goods — aspiration to excellence — above all else.

Unfortunately, Christianity today is a ruin and it has been for many centuries. In particular, the Catholic popes interfered with the absolute rule of the kings, introducing the kind of committee politics that specialize in making bad decisions in order to avoid upsetting the varied special interest groups sitting at the table. At this point, almost all churches are fallen, chasing Leftist ideals as a vain hope for restoring the people who once attended, forgetting that people come to church for the kind of discipline, purpose and guidance that only religion can provide.

In particular, the Catholic churches are worst about this, identifying with the victim narrative and opposing any kind of strong and healthy power that might compete with the church and papacy. This makes them toxic in every way and prone to thwarting the exercise of necessary changes. Traditional Western European focus is less Protestant than anti-Catholic, as we saw with the Nativist movements and the conversion of much of Europe. The popes thwarted the kings, and so sensible people ejected the popes.

Many on the Christian Reaction front call sensibly for a renewal of Christianity through a return to its core focus, including its Greco-Roman, Nordic Pagan and Hindu roots, among the many other influences that were compiled into the Bible. The point here is to not get caught up in specifics and rules, but look at the purpose of the religion, which is a meditative realism leading to transcendental understanding.

Some advocate a monistic Christianity. This is important because its opposite, dualism, argues for the presence of two worlds: a perfect heaven and an imperfect earth. This causes disregard of what happens in this world in anticipation of the next, and conveys the notion that the rules of this world are nonsense or illogical, both of which propel Christians toward emotional but unrealistic paths.

If Christian Reaction has its way, a future Christianity will be both more militant and more naturalistic. It will not fall into the easy excuses of being individualistic or ignoring the world. It will be an active, warlike Christianity that even Fred Nietzsche could approve of. For this reason, even metaphysical skeptics have reason to explore Christian Reaction.

Evidence Versus Logical Fact

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Bruce Charlton writes, as always, an insightful analysis of human mental self discipline. In it, he argues the following:

  1. Perception is regulated by conceptual understanding. What we know how to recognize in the flood of data coming in from our senses, we can mentally process. Everything else slips by into chaos.
  2. If true knowledge is possible, it must come from valid concepts. Because these can be shared between people, they must exist outside of people, or be in the world like neo-Platonic forms.
  3. Therefore, those who think purely in terms of concepts will be accurate, which means that we can think without evidence and achieve understanding of the universe.
  4. In essence, pure conceptual thinking is how we understand reality.

Charlton attributes this schema to Rudolf Steiner’s early philosophical book The Philosophy of Freedom, but alert readers here will recognize the actual root of this idea: Immanuel Kant and his idea of intuition as the basis of a priori understanding.

In my own writing, specifically the unpublished Parallelism, I expand on the basic concept of the black pill and how it leads to understanding reality.

Humans have big brains, and those receive stronger signals from themselves than the world, which is a problem especially because we know the world through our memories of it, encoded as tokens based on our conclusion of the relevant parts to us. This comes after we filter the world, as Charlton notes, through what we know to look for, living in “a representation of a representation” as Schopenhauer argues. We never come in contact with the raw data because it would be like trying to drink from a firehose and would paralyze our reaction times.

Consequently, any process of understanding involves separating what we know to be true from what is merely signal reflected back from our big brains. We have to navigate our assumptions, emotions, impulses, neurotic mental chatter and tendency toward quick absolute categorical judgments in order to do this, among other perceptual pitfalls and glitches.

At this point, we must consider “evidence” versus “logical fact.” Evidence is what we can derive from our perception, but as illustrated above, it is already heavily filtered through our conceptual outlook. Further, it is based on material factors, such as how parts of reality interact, but blind to pattern which represents the organization of reality and its structure (analogous to Platonic forms). Evidence therefore is best for figuring out how to do things like make gasoline engines or grow crops, but not so good when it comes to questions of understanding reality under the surface formed of the interaction of material objects, like seeds plus water equals plants.

Logical fact, on the other hand, consists of looking at the organization of these material parts and deriving principles about how they work. Mathematics and philosophy are the closest to this field because they analyze patterns and their transformation, but these become difficult because we are unsure that what seems logically true corresponds to reality, which is wily and has twists and turns and emergent complexities. Enter parallelism: the idea that patterns occur in parallel across multiple domains, including thought, energy and matter.

With parallelism, we can see what patterns recur in multiple places in our world, and use these as the basis for understanding new input. This works through a type of metaphor that is more exact than what we expect from language. It requires precision about the nature of each pattern and why it works as it does, animating the structure with an understanding of purpose.

At this point, we are starting to get somewhere. We have a way of knowing what is true beyond any immediate circumstance because we can see the pattern in multiple places and its function or role is consistent. At that point, we are able to discipline our thought to being like that of the universe, and in so doing, realize its logical basis. As discovered by the German Idealists, the universe behaves in a thought-like way, and appears to respond at the level of structure as we would expect thoughts to do so.

Now we have moved beyond materialism. We see first the world as a function of order or pattern, and next, that structure as resembling thought, which works by having multiple impulses and selecting whichever one is compatible with everything that already exists, or is parallel to the rest of structure. This enables us to see the universe as having an inherent mode of operation and intent, one that is initially foreign to the world of human intent, which reflects our interests within the structure as we perceive them without knowledge of that structure.

This in turn requires us to look into what the intent of the universe might be. It seems to specialize in making beauty out of nothingness, but also, by holding to a hard line of logical fact that punishes that which deviates from compatibility with its order. Through processes like natural selection and entropy, it destroys that which is disorganized and reshapes the rest into greater degrees of order, balance and efficiency.

From this vantage point, we can see the nature of a divine force or something like one: benevolent in intent, rigorously logical in method, and focused on urging us upward toward greater order, versus our tendency as human monkeys to scatter in divergent chaotic directions in pursuit of our personal illusions, desires and other artifacts of having a lack of focus toward the divine. We are evil not because we mean badly, but because our thought and thus behavior is not disciplined.

Since we have ventured into metaphysics, we might take a look at an old theorem of Plato’s. We can see cause-effect relationships in everyday life, but now we know that these are a product of a thought-like structure to the universe, which like a computation seeks to resolve a problem constantly in order to refine itself; think of a self-programming computer, always testing its own code to find what works better, and replacing the old code with the new, more precise algorithms.

This means that in addition to regular cause-effect relationships, there is a bigger cause-effect relationship formed of compatibility between patterns and a steady pressure toward upward organization. This no longer acts like self-interested material objects, but a purposeful Designer who is starting us as dust and working us toward a god-like level, or as close as we can get.

In addition, we know that this causal space of pattern is much larger than the physical objects in which it manifests, meaning that our material world is the smaller part, and the world of thought much larger, implying not a dualistic “second world” but an extension to this one formed of the patterns as the universe intends them, not our perceptions of them. In this space, which is so large as to be infinite, information matters more than material, and here we see that the presence of our minds as information agents can have applicability beyond our physical selves.

None of this was unknown to the ancients, but then again, instead of checking Twitter every thirty minutes, they were sitting in darkened caves in deep thought guided by regular breathing and a suppression of the chattering monkey creating a background hum inside our heads. Clarity of thought, and eventually metaphysical experience, came naturally for them.

As we look toward peeling back the layers of the onion that is modernity, realizing that it started from a lie and that the only way to beat it is to head in a contrary direction, it makes sense to return to this focus on meditative understanding of structure. It does not contradict the realistic imperative that we adapt to material reality, but shows us a stage in which to go once we achieve basic sanity, and a basis for a spirituality which does not — like almost all existing forms of religion — lead us further into the illusion of ourselves.

What it means to be secular

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

nightsky_at_the_heart_of_winter

In our time that is unnerved by any hint of life beyond the physical, the term “secular” has changed definition. It now means: completely removed from religion, based in materialism and the related arguments and nothing else.

Originally it meant something far more benign, which was “you don’t need religion to appreciate this.” That in turn implied a dual character to what was being discussed: it could be derived through physical means or metaphysical ones. It was not limited to one of the two ways of viewing reality.

As a parallelist, I see the material and the metaphysical as existing in a sort of unison. That is, the metaphysical includes the physical in a type of system we call monism. This means that whatever is ideal according to metaphysical means can also be derived with materialist means and the same truth will be reached. All that is required is honesty.

Perhaps it is time to recapture this word “secular.” It does not mean throw your religion away at the door. Rather, it means that you can get there with religion, or without, but the same logic, common sense, honesty and realism that get you any correct answer will get you there in either a metaphysical or physical context.

Here’s a great example of secular thinking:

I still believe that the ideas I espoused in my first post are self-evident and true regardless of religion, that they are based on reality and are thus immutable, but I found that the Bible is an incredibly realistic text. A lot of the platitudes that people had been parroting at me over the years — and that I foolishly took to be real Christianity — were, at best, misunderstandings of Scripture and, at worst, willful misrepresentations meant for personal gain.

I have traveled various paths to get here: atheism, paganism, occultism. What I discovered about these various paths and about secularism is that they all have “self” at the center. When you’re praying to a god in a pantheon or when you disavow God altogether, you’ve put yourself and your wants at the center of your universe. We can’t all be the center of the universe. It’s no wonder we can’t all agree on common goals.

While many in the Traditionalist community want to base the practice in religion alone, in my view (and that of others) this is a mistake.

Nothing in religion contradicts reality.

What we need is logical, clear and realistic thought. It will be compatible with both sides of the human perception coin.

Dharma

Monday, April 28th, 2014

deep_space

Christianity doesn’t get many things right, and doesn’t do many things well.
One thing it really does get right, though, is transforming the simple into the impenetrably complex.
And one thing, that it does really well, is drive its adherents away, in droves.
Why is this? Why do former Christians, and nominal Christians, fall so easily away from their religion?

One reason, of course, is the rise of atheism, and with it, the virulent style of atheist that is not content to simply ignore Christianity, but who must completely destroy it, ridiculing all things sacred, along with anyone who holds anything sacred.

Christians, confronted with this, are hard-pressed to find a workable counter. Often they go into reset-mode, and start quoting Holy Scripture as if their very lives depended upon it. Which has the entirely predictable effect of reinforcing the argument of the atheist, and driving him on to even greater destruction.

No. Sorry. Christianity is a modern-day fail. There may be truth in it, but that truth has become so flimsy and tenuous, so misunderstood by so many, that any power it once had is a sorry shadow of its former glory.

Like many, you may be saddened at its demise, while not being very affected by its absence. At least, not immediately affected, in a way that is very obvious. It leaves a big hole, though, and you may be all too aware of that.

The problem with Christianity is that it was designed around a lifestyle and a set of circumstances that no longer exists. It is archaic and unable to self-update. Every time it attempts to become more relevant, it further weakens itself, until it has come to resemble, more than anything else, a left-wing socialist dogma.

If you are happy with Christianity, as-is, fine. If you are happy to let it decline and bleed-out, well fine, too. If you are not, though, read on. I will present you with something clearer, simpler, more true, and more applicable, than Christianity both ever-was, or ever-will-be, again.

Dharma is an Indian word that has no direct translation into English. It is a central part of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. What it means, roughly, is:
Reality, and The Way Reality Works.

Forget the word ‘God’, for now, and replace it with ‘Reality’. The Divine Order that suffuses all of the cosmos, as well as the earth, the oceans, the solar system, and space. It all works in a predictable and demonstrable way. Nobody understands it, or how it happens, or works, because nobody can. It is not a thing that is remotely understandable, simply because it does not depend upon being understood in order to work.
That scientists expend vast amounts of time and resources trying to understand it, coming up with various theories and pseudo ‘proofs’ changes nothing. It is what it is, and that is that.

It is, however, something that demonstrably endures, and works. Another quality it has, is that it is somewhat bigger and more complex, than the human brain, or anything the human brain can conjure up. It is, in fact, so big and so impressive, along with being so utterly mysterious, that a human is either in awe of it, or a human is insane.

Mystery. Incomprehensible magic on a cosmic scale. From a neutron star to a hummingbird. From a galaxy to a frog. Beat that, Mr. Intellectual!

Dharma. The nature of things. The way that nature works. All of reality, able to continue on, forever, untouched by human hand or intellect. Dependent upon nothing but itself. Kneel, puny human, or die!

And so, in light of this, a human is advised to look out into the night sky, and see the myriad stars not as something alien, something out-there, but rather as oneself as part of it. To see the vast distances not as something frightening and distant, but as room to move and grow.

The latest buzz about space, is that it is some sort of super-fluid, and not just a nothingness. This may well be so. Spectral beings inhabit it, as deep meditation will show. They drift, float, bob to an unseen current, and display no hostility whatsoever. Resembling nothing so much as microscopic luminous plankton, of the deep oceans. Again: magic, mystery, wonder.

Dharma. Divine Order. It runs as it runs, and one is well advised to run with it, rather than counter to it.
The Angry God of Christianity, is Reality resisted. Biblical Truth is Dharma. Jesus, one who discovered Dharma. As did Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. As any man can, or could, but rarely does.

Nobody really has to become an enlightened being, since those few who have, show the way, read the maps, tell the Truth of It.

By living in accordance with Reality, one worships. And that is all worship is. Reverence for Dharma. The greater system. The way the greater system works. It is working, with joy, in a way that has one doing one’s best, for what one does, not for reward, but for the greater whole.

That all of this is true should not matter. It doesn’t even have to be. Lived accordingly, this belief-system yields the best results possible. That it is not a belief-system, should not matter. If one behaves as-if it is Truth, one achieves the same results.

It is Truth. As Reality is Truth. And its nature is not to be understood, but to be lived.
Not to be intellectualized, but to be manifested.
Not to be believed, but to be.
Dharma.

Dualism vs. Monism in a Nihilist Context

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

tintern_abbey

Could you enlighten me as to why you prefer monism to dualism?

This world may be a simulation. We may be figments of the imagination of a daydreaming god. We may be pure mathematics, or data in some cosmic computer. Or we could be physical beings, or some combination of the above. However, if this world has one characteristic to rely on, it’s this: it creates the same response to the same causal impetus.

That means if you pick up a ball and hold your arm up away from your body and drop the ball, it will fall — every time. Even if a friend sneaks a hand in there to catch it, it will begin falling first. If you put a support table under your hand so the ball doesn’t drop, the effect can be observed that the instant the table is removed the ball drops. The principle is consistent. Causality is consistent (although in multicausal cases there is some variability due to chaos and the inability to have consistent conditions like wind, uniformity of matter and the like).

Dualism posits that there is another world where there are pure rules that differ from the rules in this world. In other words, this world is a put-on, but it’s not the result of that other world, rather an inferior and unrelated copy to it. This breaks the principle of consistency. In addition, it rebukes the design brilliance of this world and encourages us to de-sacralize it. Further, it creates an arbitrary claim that can be manipulated by those for whom truth is a distant secondary concern to immediate reward through the work of others.

In my view, this world represents something utterly consistent with the logic that we have in our minds by intuition or can derive from experiments in the world, or even in our minds using arbitrary data. In fact, this world represents an optimization of design to take advantage of logic. A simple example is the sheer efficiency of trees: they are resilient, efficient, and highly effective at propagating themselves without wiping themselves out through overbreeding.

One interesting aspect of this logicality is that it does not aim for perfection. It shoots instead for things that work in every situation and, even if it takes many steps to get there, always get to an increasingly complex result. This means that if there are 100 seeds, nature does not guarantee that every one sprouts; it guarantees that absent truly blighted conditions, at least one will survive. Even more, it guarantees that in truly blighted conditions, something — if even bacteria or fungus — will survive, and begin the process of evolving until three billion years later it’s a human. That is the genius of nature’s design!

For this reason, I see our world as a logical optimum, and see it as unlikely and even laughable to posit a division between this and another perfect world. Especially when the other perfect world sounds like human wish fulfilment, such as the idea that judgment will occur over the bad and the good will be rewarded. Even more when it is suggested that, as in Heaven and Hell, this other world involves an eternity of doing the same stuff over and over again. It is discontiguous with the logic of this world and with logic itself that this world exists in that form, and that its activities are as described.

However, this is the nature of our thinking when pointing toward any world that is a correction to this one. We immediately turn to human ideas and judgments, desires and feelings. We shape it after what we wish were true, because after all it’s a correction. But that requires us to abandon logic and causality and instead focus on a world that seems like the creation of a personality itself, even though nothing else works this way.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s materialism, or the idea that matter is all that exists. I don’t want to go into a lengthy argument here, but since the organization of things follows logic, and thoughts follow logic, and logic stands both intuitively and as a self-referential architectonic whole, it seems to me that logic comes before matter. Meaning: the organization of matter is a product of logic, not the other way around. Thus materialism itself is nonsense and there is clearly an underlying thought-like logical order to existence. I think it more likely that we find something like a simulation, where we are logical aspects of some larger logical entity, than a standalone system regulated by matter; if anything, we probably exist in a universe which is so logical that the concept of nothingness had to be created, which in turn required the concept of somethingness, which in turn created what we know of today as matter.

Thus we have both dualism and materialism negated, which leaves us with monism, a system where matter and idea are part of the same continuum, and any perfection is found in this world and any additional “metaphysics” would be part of the same logical system. In this the whole is logically consistent, which fits with the principle of consistency seen in all things observed so far. However, this leaves us with a question: how is monism different from some form of idealistic materialism?

The best answer is found in the work of Immanuel Kant, who perceived that our minds “filter” a raw reality and come up with a limited version of that which our physical bodies can perceive and serve that up to us. We know that our minds will remove from our perception the anomalous and incomprehensible in everyday life, and that we navigate the world through memory and basically confirm our memory instead of perceiving anew. How much else is filtered out? How much is invisible to us because it is not physical in the sense that we commonly recognize?

Monism suggests to us that instead of a world made of personality and the judgment of that personality, like the Heaven/Hell dualistic world, we exist in a single continuum of which the visible physical world is but a small part. Thus what we see is logically consistent with all that is, but is only part of the story. The end result there is that we can posit additional layers or dimensions to our world without them being dualistic, in that they will obey the same logical rules that we see here and will be similar. They may be interwoven with what we know of as reality. Even more, without the imposition of time, there may be other directions in which we can travel through this raw reality-space.

This might explain why monism is not as popular as dualism. It’s harder to grasp, and although it’s more consistent, it’s less certain. It is also less satisfying than the idea of final judgment and slotting of people in Heaven or Hell, an image that I find comforting whenever I run into someone with bad or excessively selfish intent. But ultimately it is the only explanation that is logical and consistent, without which we are forced to consider our world as nonsense and treat it correspondingly badly, while leaving our futures in the hands of near-arbitrary conjecture, and denying the causal/logical idealism underlying all of existence.

How is this in any way compatible with nihilism?

Most people view nihilism as a form of hyper-materialism, or denial of all but the immediate and tangible. In my experience, what nihilism is in a sensible interpretation is a denial of human projection, and thus a focus on reality as it is. This then includes the aspects of it which we do not understand and are not easily grasped by humans. Both materialism and dualism make no sense under nihilism because they are impositions of the human perspective, e.g. touch and emotion respectively, and not a logical observational path from reality to the human. A sensible path is that we see reality, analyze it and understand it; projection is where we figure out what we want to find in reality, find an example of it, and hold it up to represent the whole. Both dualistic religion and the negation of it fall into this category.

While most people hold that nihilism is a rejection of anything other than the individual and its immediate desires, needs, emotions, feelings, judgments and autonomy, I see this philosophy as something that can be called “fatalism” because it has given up on anything larger than the individual, including society, truth, creativity, and the world as something outside of the human mental construction. It believes that human efforts at improvement are ineffectual or doomed. A more sensible version of nihilism is that it is a rejection of everything other than what exists. It is not concerned with emotions, judgments, feelings and/or desires, but instead is concerned with how the world works and how it can be interacted with. Where most people think of themselves first, and see the world as a manifestation of their will, the nihilist sees us as a manifestation of the world’s properties.

However, this does not imply a need to limit ourselves to the material, because since the world is a logical place defined by its consistency above all else, the only limit that matters is what is logical according to the order of this world. As logicality precedes materiality, the logicality is more important, and this implies layers of existence outside of the material which must also be considered. It is not sensible to call these “metaphysical” as they are part of the same spectrum of physicality, much like different colors are part of the same spectrum, including invisible colors that are outside the parts of the spectrum we can perceive.

In fact, this philosophy affirms nihilism by showing us the truth of the triad of traits normally associated with nihilism: nothing is true, nothing is communicated and nothing is known. That is because in this world, the option of truth is a subjective one; many choose to avoid truth, in fact most do. Similarly, people must be receptive to have communication occur, and must be able to recognize knowledge for it to do its work as knowledge. The grim fact of life is that truth only exists to those who know how to locate it, communication only occurs between similarly situated parties, and wisdom is only visible to the wise. But even that fact will be disputed by people who wish to believe otherwise.

While wildly misunderstood, nihilism in its only sensible form is a rejection of human projection. That requires that we pay attention to the world and its function, rather than our emotions, desires and judgments regarding it or what we wish it were like. This does not limit us to the visible world, or even only the tangible world, since we need to use logical thought to even construct those fully. Rather, we instead may even reject appearances and tangibility in favor of those logical constructions which fully explain the world, which is part of a consistent trend since the earliest evolution of humanity toward more use of mind and less reliance on appearance.

Dualism is an enhancement of the differences between appearance and structure. By creating a world of inconsistent structure in addition to this one, dualism posits that this world is entirely appearance, and the other world is entirely structure. In fact, both appearance and structure exist in this world, and if the other world is inconsistent with them, it is likely a world of appearance and not structure.

This creates the troubling implication that it is human projection and thus an affirmation of it would be a rejection of nihilism. On the other hand, materialism suggests no possibility of structure beyond the material, which creates clashes with the underlying idealism of the cosmos, creating a disconnect between appearance and structure which makes appearance seem to be an independent and important measure.

A nihilist of the Hollywood type is basically an extremely self-focused anarchist. This person’s justification is that they believe in nothing, thus they limit their concerns to what they know is “real,” namely themselves and their immediate desires only. Further, in theory this person is possessed by an urge to destroy, which makes no sense as that requires a positive valuation. It seems more like a description of a person having a mental health issue than thinking their way through nihilism.

Nihilism reduces itself from negation of everything because nihilism is in itself an affirmative act, a valuation of the world and a separation of what is actual from what is not. Thus even someone who tried to act out the Hollywood ideal and reject everything would soon find themselves both affirming some facts of the world, and rejecting some illusions of the self being absolute and separate from the world. A nihilist in the first seconds of nihilism might wander down the anarchist path, but within an hour of thought would be headed in a different direction.

Through this nihilism rejects another kind of dualism, which is the separation between human preference and reality. In this vision, which occurs exclusively in materialist thought, the human choice is somehow absolute and universal, where the natural world is viewed as random and/or illogical. This mirrors the projection of human thought onto a dualistic perfect world, which resembles human feeling and desires, as separate from a world where human feelings come secondary which is thus seen as appearance because it does not represent the “true” world of the personality. This dualism exists both in materialism and in metaphysical conditions.

For this reason, nihilism is not only compatible with monism, but is only compatible with monism. The false dualities of materialism and metaphysical dualism together represent the antithesis of nihilism, which is human projection. Further, to a realist, both dualism and materialism fail to deliver what is necessary for a logical view of reality and also show the influence of human projection, which means it is wisest to reject them and move on to something that is more representative of reality, even if it does not “appear” to be so.

A leap of faith past faith

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

An interesting trend from past years has seen people who are fundamentally atheists switching to religion.

They are doing it for practical reasons: our society lacks order, religion provides order. A village priest takes confession and knows how to best guide his flock. A church is a place of safety, a rock in a storm that doesn’t shift with the trends, and thus you can rely on it.

Indeed, churches are a lot like conservatism. We don’t believe we can distract ourselves with the novel and trendy because we don’t believe in distraction. We believe in picking our battles, applying ourselves and engaging with our inner heroism to make good results. It’s how we enjoy life.

Liberals and others look for happiness — maybe it’s under the rug? in the cookie jar? — which takes them to a different place. When one wants happiness, life becomes a habit of avoid things that aren’t what one thinks of as “happy.” At that point, it’s a shopping trip for face values that meet the internal wishful thinking of the individual.

Conservatives on the other hand see happiness as an emergent property. You don’t achieve it by crusading for it; rather, you do the right thing, and put your house in order, and find a transcendent purpose in life. Then one day you wake up and realize that you’re content. Then you enjoy being content. Finally you realize you’ve been happy for some time.

It’s almost like we believe in the world, life and the cosmos, where liberals have doubts. To them, life is more of a wretched task. They see most of it as threatening and ugly, so they retreat within. But like all runnings away, this one fails because it leaves them avoiding bad things, not seeking good things.

There are some who insist the antidote to this neurotic state is religion, and that religion can be sought through faith. What is faith? It’s essentially a belief that a God or something like one is the only possible way for this world to come together. It’s a listening to emotional intelligence and intuition. After all, young children intuitively believe in God.

However, some of us are not content with faith. We don’t argue against it, but for our own wiring, we need a logical underpinning to any religious faith we might adopt. But here is where we step off the treadmill: we aren’t talking Enlightenment-style linear logic here. We’re talking about something much older.

When ancient man thought, it was systematic but not linear. He simply considered all of the options not in an order, but by probing the edges of thought and immersing himself in a meditative multi-factor analysis. Modern thought instead operates like a simple matrix: isolate factors, compare each one before and actor, and ignore any synergistic effects which might point to an underlying cause. That is linear logic.

Holistic logic, which is what ancient man used, allows you to consider all the factors at once. Instead of hearing an isolated tone in a laboratory, ancient man heard symphonies. He demanded that his logic unite the stars, the gods and his own imagination. He did not want to reduce, deconstruct and isolate, but he wanted to combine, surge forth and create!

When we get past the modern mindset of linear logic, called rationality, we can begin to think clearly again. The energy spent forcing complex data into simple data structures is over. Instead, we join it all at once. The process called “mythic imagination,” by which we use our imagination to construct metaphorical narratives around the whole of reality, comes from this.

Mythic imagination beats scientific analysis for anything but materials science. It allows us to see patterns, and not just in isolation, but across time and beyond even the material world. At this point, we see how linear causality is only part of the story, and a complex causal system must underlie all that we see and feel.

At this point other puzzle pieces fall into place. We realize how much our thinking mirrors the process of nature. We realize how much of us is intuition, and how distant the body and its urges become when we think deeply. We begin to see the physical world not as a cause of itself, but as the surfacing of a wave, with a vast ocean of thought beneath it producing the impulse to create that wave.

Within this frame of mind, “faith” becomes something different. We see the order of the universe, and see how its origins operate. Then we take a deep breath and question the universe itself. It is a good universe; after all, from no obligation to create anything, it flowered life. This brings us a new kind of faith: the faith that the cosmos ultimately tends toward good.

In that moment, logic and emotion unite with imagination. This is a good place, with underlying causes, and those causes seem to conform more toward the metaphorical notion of a vast sleeping consciousness that dreams us all, and sweeps us up in its care so that we can access the opportunity before us.

Through this portal, we see all religions as metaphors themselves for describing this nature of reality, which is nearly inexpressible. We suddenly have no need for faith, for we have seen the probability of metaphysical origin to all. And thus we take a leap of faith, past faith, and comfort ourselves with the beauty of existence.

Origin of supernatural probabilities

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

A: There is something greater-than-material.

Q: But why?

A: Because it is good.

Q: Which part?

A: The whole. Ignore the parts: focus on how they fit together.

Q: Why does this matter?

A: To choose.

Q: Why?

A: Because we are part of it; there is only One and all are parts of that.

Q: There is no One Removed?

A: There is only One.

Q: But there is war and hatred.

A: Part of the One. Relationship between parts, interaction, process and context.

Q: But there is death.

A: Functionality is more important than persistence.

Q: What of the soul?

A: If it has been created, it exists in the One.

Q: Forever?

A: There is no time at that level. It is a state necessary for time, but not prior to it.

Q: But you are a nihilist.

A: I believe nothing is inherent, no truth can be communicated, and there are no universal values. All is choice. Choice is what defines us, and what in part effects what will be.

Q: Why choose this path?

A: Because the whole is good, I pursue the good, so more good occurs.

Q: Why do you care?

A: Because good is more beautiful than anything else.

Q: And there is no inherent purpose?

A: No inherent purpose, only an inherent process. The singular will becomes dumb parts and reconstructs itself. It is a non-linear, architectonic balancing of all parts against each other.

Q: And if I don’t want to believe?

A: That is your role, and is part of the One. Even opposing the One is One-ness, because you have emphasized its centrality.

Q: The One is divided against itself?

A: In order to be One, it must include both unity and division. All must be included; however, each must meet with the consequences of its direction.

Q: Do you have a metaphor?

A: Seeds scattered on a forest floor. Each chooses its path semi-arbitrarily based on where it lands. None must grow toward the light. Those that do, may prosper.

Q: What is “the light,” for us humans?

A: A unity of the material and tangible and the invisible, abstract and yet also real, while not projecting our own confusion onto reality.

Q: How do we reach that?

A: A process of thinking, testing and accumulating knowledge. The scientific method as a counterpart and parallel to natural selection. The process of thought itself.

Q: And what does that teach us?

A: Beauty is truth, and truth, beauty. The same order is present in all things. That which functions matches this order. High level function is beauty.

Q: And why should we care?

A: Because it is good.

Reality

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

There’s been a lot of talk, here, recently, about the nature of ‘reality’.
Philosophers have been going on about it forever, and the more people that become interested in philosophy, and philosophers, the more they go on about it, too.
Maybe that’s good, maybe not. But it can get a little tiresome, hearing people endlessly quote someone else’s view of this slipperiest of things, and their often uninformed opinions of it.

So here’s what I’m gonna do:
While other people have been busy leading more or less ‘normal’ lives, I’ve been not-so-busily engaged in living a completely different sort of life. A life of adventure, uncertainty, no little danger, and complete material poverty.
This has given me some rather unusual life-experience. I’ve done, been, seen and known things that very few people ever get to approach. And since I’ve just knocked back some rather good Mead, the traditional drink of warriors and shamans, I’m gonna hold forth on some of those more unusual things I’ve run into, along the way.
Well, OK, not some of those things, but rather one of those things…
Reality.

It probably started, many years ago, with an LSD trip. A tiny pill called a microdot: scarcely larger than a pin-head.
People who don’t know, think LSD is a drug. It isn’t. The dose one ingests is so incredibly minuscule that it couldn’t possibly have the effect it does, if were merely a drug.
No. LSD is a catalyst. It works in parallel with chemicals already present within the body, and increases their function many-many-fold.
That first LSD trip is the only one that counts. Subsequent experiences are like trying to shoot a hole-in-one, a second time. Not gonna happen, see?
The first one makes it unmistakably obvious that our everyday perceptions of life are almost totally arbitrary, and almost completely dulled-down. We may as well be sleep-walking, while dreaming the most boring of dreams, and one that never, ever changes.
That’s almost all I’m gonna say about LSD, since it’s a whole study in itself.
It’s a jump-start to consciousness, is all. Not consciousness itself.

Following the LSD experience, I chanced to read a weird book by some odd chap named Lobsang Rampa.
It was about the ‘third eye‘. That’s right. And you thought you only had two. Wrong!
Finding this third eye, however, is troublesome, and even now I’m not sure I know any more about it than I did then. But no matter. The point is, it caused me to embark upon a lifelong quest to plumb the depths – or scale the heights – of spirituality and consciousness. How many people do you know that have made a career of something like that? None, I’ll bet. So read on: you may never get another chance to read anything quite like this…

Drugs, of any kind, don’t do it. They are toxic, expensive, illegal, and can only hint at something that cannot be attained under their influence. Forget drugs.
The only thing that will do the trick is breathing. Yes, you read that right.
Westerners hardly breathe at all. Are you ever aware of your breathing, except when you are short of breath, or sick? No. If you are, you’re pretty unusual.
Anyway: to get anywhere, consciousness-wise, you gotta get down and breathe. Consciously. Deeply. Slowly, and deliberately. And you gotta do it for months!
Then you gotta clear everything out of your mind. Every image. Every sound. Every thought.
No memories and no hopes. No plans and no regrets. No expectations and no illusions.
Nothing.

Don’t try this at at home, unless you’re deadly serious. It’s actually dangerous. You can go insane. OK? You have been warned.

I did all these mildly dangerous things, over months, even years, along with many other things that may or may not have influenced the final outcome. Which went something like this…

“I” ceased to be human, and I ceased to be “me”. I became identity-less, and instead blossomed out into – first – a mountain. Then the mountain and the earth it rested upon. Then these things, plus the planet they were part of. Then the space they occupied. Then the whole universe, and beyond that, into everything, everywhere, always.

I started laughing, because of the realization that this was God. Not some moody old man somewhere in the sky. Me, it, this, everything. This was God. Aha! And how absurdly simple everything was, and that is why it is so invisible to people, who expect anything worth going-for, to be very complex and difficult to achieve.

Knowledge. What is knowledge? It is air in the lungs. It exists. With or without lungs to breathe it. It is there. Always. When you need some of it, it is there.
It is not something that can be owned, learned, taught, remembered, or kept.
Exactly like the enlightenment I was now experiencing.
What it is, when it is, and nothing more, or less.

Reality is reality, whether it is witnessed, lived through, experienced, or not.
It is the lattice that ties everything together. Pure energy. Pure consciousness.
Dumb-ass scientists are finally beginning to uncover this impossibility, on the quantum level.
They have gone to an awful lot of expense and trouble to “discover” this stuff, when all it needed was a bit of applied breathing.

Sub atomic particles have no default condition. They do what they feel like doing. They live.
You and I consist of these sub atomic particles. So does everything else.
God is their sum total.

Got it?

Don’t worry about reality, and what – exactly – it is.
You’ll never know, if you’re busy with trying to define it.
When you are able to detect it, you will no longer wonder.
You will have become it, and ‘you’ will no longer matter.
Not that ‘you’ ever did, in reality.

Mind your Ps and Qs

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Common to all cultures, disgust and taboo seem universal. What are the origins of curse words, vulgar language, dress codes, obscenity and censorship in general?

You might think some boring old men were sitting around one day and arbitrarily decided to ruin everyone’s good time for kicks. But it actually stems from a deep and sacred understanding of the metaphysical nature of reality.

For centuries philosophers have wondered if the world exists beyond our sensory perception. Perhaps life is a grand simulation orchestrated by a diabolical genius who resides in some netherworld. How do we know that reality is not only what we see, taste, smell, or feel?

The answer is so obvious that we don’t even notice it. We prove it to ourselves, time and time again, by noticing that our senses deceive us. When you put a stick in the water, it looks like the stick is bent, but it is not. When you cover something up, like the body with clothing, you know what is underneath even though you don’t see it.

The moon that is reflected in the water is not the real moon. The world that we see, taste, smell and feel is an illusion. A sacred illusion. A veil. Paradoxically, by proving the sensible world to be an illusion, by casting doubt on our own sensory perception, we also prove the firm substance of reality beyond the senses.

Although there is a reality beyond the senses, it cannot be completely and utterly understood in words or human terms. We can explain how water bends light to create the illusion of the stick, but we cannot explain why. It is ultimately a mystery. Since we ourselves are ultimately an aspect of reality, we cannot have the privileged perspective to view reality from outside of reality.

This realization shows up in many cultures across the ages. Human vocabulary is centered on the tangible, sensible world and the closest we can come to putting reality-beyond-the-senses into words is metaphor. Think of the Metaphor of the Sun, the Analogy of the Divided Line, or the Allegory of the Cave in The Republic. Here is a metaphor in Advaita Vedanta:

In the moonless night, a rope lying on the ground may be mistaken for a snake. We know that the rope alone is real, not the snake. However, the failure to perceive the rope gives rise to the false perception of the snake. Once the darkness is removed, the rope alone remains; the snake disappears.

Illusion is not the opposite of reality. It is a more subtle reality which enwraps the primary one and hides it. When we describe or explain how the world works, we are actually describing or explaining the illusion of reality, not reality itself.

So here is the paradox: by trying to expose reality-beyond-the-senses in terms of sensible description or rational explanations we introduce the concept that there is no reality beyond the senses. We have confused or conflated the question of “how?” with the question of “why?”

If you can imagine complete ignorance as total darkness, we can also imagine complete understanding as total blinding light. In both cases, we are incapable of seeing. This is why in the Allegory of The Cave, the adventurer has to go back into the cave, and his eyes have to adjust from light to darkness.

It is not enough to discover pure truth. The intangible, blinding light of truth must be turned into something beautiful, tangible and bearable for everyday use. Much like appearance hides the real reality, we cover the body to reflect this metaphysical truth.

We declare some things taboo or obscene to remind us of the boundary where appearance ends and reality begins. Curse words and vulgar behavior are cultural manifestations to remind us that there are limits and boundaries. Did you ever keep a secret with a friend? Have you ever winked at a girl? It’s in bad taste to blurt out the obvious. Some things must be left unsaid. This is the wink and nod of reality.

In order to truly affirm the mystery of life we must not give into the temptation to constantly expose reality. This is the mistake we have made with our intellectual enterprise of “figuring things out,” and “exposing” things. We must respect the boundaries of what we cannot perceive or know.

The people who think absolutely everything must be exposed probably enjoy telling kids that there is no Santa Claus. There is no Santa, there is no God, life is meaningless, give up on meaning itself!

We should be more concerned with what kind of culture/community/civilization we want to manifest. We can either be poets or we can be pornographers, we can be vulgarians or we can be virtuosos. A noble enterprise might be to render life a little more mysterious than we think it is.

It seems we have done away with all mystery and now we are disillusioned. Maybe we should stop trying to “expose” reality and instead honor it for the delightful mystery that it is.