WillowBear's Amble: Self and Others    
 Self and Others5 comments
picture26 Dec 2002 @ 12:45, by Ben Tremblay


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27 Dec 2002 @ 02:41 by jazzolog : Your Finger's On It
I commend your courage and perspicacity at those message boards. I recently found myself in a nest of them at another site---and I believe we might be somewhat surrounded here too. My wife puts on her breastplate every day and heads for About.com to wield her verbal sword against no-one-tells-me-what-to-do-ism. We have the true progeny of the Reagan Me Generation with whom now to contend. I read a letter in our local newspaper just last evening that said, "If we're going to bomb those Arabs, let's get on with it. Why all the stalling around?" Right. Nobody likes a show that drags: cut to the chase, and let's get to the next show! (My comment is parody, folks.) Your emphasis on the virtue of brother/sisterhood shines wherever you write, Ben. I love you for it!

==++--++--++== *long sigh* I /wish/ it were as virtuous as it can be made to sound, richard! But what I encounter soooo often is the "7 year old fighting off the bully" energy. Now, of course, than can be transformed into the realization that I'm fired by the same ignorant [read: needy, lonely, frightened] self-righteousness as the "bomb 'em til the rubble bounces" hawks, and /that/ can be the meat of feast offering ... 'course this pre-supposes the maintenance of something like mindfulness! ;-)

But the real nut of it for me is the stark honesty of "If we're gonna bomb 'em, let's get to it" ... it's /precisely/ the absence of sophistic cant that makes the situation so very very rich. "So fine, who's gonna be first to sacrifice their son for the sake of those viperous fat-cats' oil deals, /you/?! Or you just horny on playing /someone else's/ son like a video-game hot-shot?"

A slight lateral: one of the questions in the libertarian quiz had to do with military draft; how's /that/ for a tangled web?! And that was one of the questions I answered neither yes nor no ... "maybe" is just how I feel, with the following logic (which stems in part from my experience as "good to go" trained airborne): if /he/ is willing to suffer the ultimate in the name of armed conflict, why should I be so lame about a coupla years in stockade, since I'm so damned hi-falutin' principled? . . ben


While the guys with the guns, knives, and lubrication always make out no matter who's fighting (and who the f$%^&k cares, as long as the cash rolls in?) I'm thinking increasingly we are on the brink of a religious war, spun out by the reactionary---nay, regressive---ranks of all sides. Maybe war IS religious ultimately and perversely anyway... --- Richard


I think your "spun out by the reactionary ranks of all sides" is key: after all, it remains true that "a bayonet is a tool with a worker on both ends". The identity theory I've been trying to cobble together all these years (not terribly original ... basically an extension of the Buddhist idea that it's an elaborate effort to maintain the fictional "I") has one gapping hole: those who are sensitive to the good (by this I mean the idea that I can be very well in attending to the wellness of others) have certain channels of communication open that are not there for the truly terror-stricken, i.e. the compulsively grasping power junky. How do we placate the endlessly ambitious? ("The power elite only wants one thing: everything.") Does it necessarily come to a conflict of power? ("Understanding that conflict is sometimes inevitable, the sage commander avoids war.")

No frog benefits from bulls fighting in the swamp.

I suspect we need to make an end to war.

. ben . ==++--++--++==  

27 Dec 2002 @ 04:56 by ming : self-interest
Great you did the test too. And, yeah, there are some problems with the pure self-interest thing. First of all, there are a great many people who will prefer to better the greater whole, even if they have to go out of their way to do so. Enlightened self-interest maybe, but it certainly is a lot more than just serving one's own interests. I believe that there is a certain natural order that emerges if most everybody is free to go do what they think most needs doing. But that is quite a different thing than what emerges if everybody goes and does what puts them most ahead of everybody else.

==++--++--++== heh ... I almost gasped when I saw the gif on your page; I had done it years ago but lost track of it. And you know what? I can't be sure, but I think my results are very much like before, though I suspect the blah-blah logic [read: post-hoc rationalization] might have changed vernacular somewhat.

Yes yes yes, I do believe we're strumming the same chord here; at the risk of getting esoteric and arcane *if not downright scholastic ... kidding, /kidding/! *, for me it comes down to _prajna_ and _upaya_. Of course, having attained the _jnana_ of genuine enlightenment, all dualities dissolve, but on the plane where I spend my days, I can really see the crackling dynamic (what's the Fullerian term, tensegrity?) between _the skillful use of means_ and the _discriminative wisdom_ that's in-spired by an earty loving kindness.

"Learning without practice is like a rich man shackled to his wealth; practice without learning, like wandering blind and lost in a desert."

The "tragedy of the commons" scenario doesn't unfold /unless/ people are motivated and resourceful and practical and pragmatic and on and on ... all good things, right? From what I see, we're teetering and tottering between prideful ambition and unprincipled self-indulgence ... and it's that black/white yin/yang that we need to see into. *Oooh! How 'bout "The Tao of Effectiveness" ... but I suppose it's already been written.

All in all, I think it's a bundle of paradoxes, to be played with / worked at communally and resolved within. Now, how do I transform /that/ into right livelihood?!

p.s. I'm having "fear of success" type nightmares; the new IT techniques (SOAP, XSLT, web services etc etc) are enabling the sort of processes and methods I was trying to develop for use in R&D back in my hay days ... which means my experience is practicable, i.e. salable, ergo: it may be time for me to go dance with the other dragon again. (Yikes! That's what I get for leaving the monastery with thoughts of "householder" in mind! heh heh)

. ben . ==++--++--++==  

27 Dec 2002 @ 16:13 by ming : Paradoxes
I guess a problem is when we're separating these various aspects of life into separate, even opposite concepts. Trying to arrange things the best possible way, for maximum result, doesn't have to be opposite to doing what is best for everybody. Being entrepreneurial doesn't have to mean being personally greedy and self-serving. I do believe that if we all act rationally, the world would work. But I wouldn't define rationally as just being my personal self-interest. Like, in your example, the rational and reasonable thing to do for all who can to help build the dam. Maybe we just need a reframe of 'reason'.

I sort of believe, or hope deep down, that we'd really all want the same political arrangement, if we got clear on what it means. We all would like to be free to live our life the way we think is best (not just for ourselves) and we'd like things around in society us to be arranged in the way that best serves the most people. It is just that we get stuck in the details.


First off, you're right to draw attention to the downside of those too-neat distinctions ... this crude reductionism has real consequences in boundary conditions (and isn't "outlying data" where the really interesting stuff happens? *grin*) And your point concerning the disconnect between entrepreneurship and greedy ambition I think deserves amplification: it has been my belief that the wholesome engagement that so characterizes authentic entrepreneurship grounds personal experience and so mitigates against the more neurotic appeties. Well, otherwise, there's no up-side to anything /except/ the sovereign excercise of conspicuous power, such as the extravagant consumption of luxury!

And here's the source of my sadness: the disheartening degree to which people are automatized (yes? rendered robot-like?) ... like the in-duh-vidual in Scott Adams' newsletter who wonders "if Christmas might fall on Friday the 13th some year", or the MBA who heads out to buy extra stamps "before the prices go up". Of course these examples are comical, and can be explained away ... but I'm active in a lot of group work (or was, at least), and it's sometimes shocking just how zoned out people get. The sophsit's aim is to win the argument, rather than successfully defending or promoting a productive solution ... those two are worlds apart and entail a different set of tactics and methods.

But your comment has me pondering something else in the moment ... Teilhard de Chardin comes to mind [sp?] ... I find something near mystical in the fact that there is no solution other than heightened humanity, effective community, real health, authentic sanity, etc etc etc ... every technocratic / militaristic / mechanistic solution carries with it the seeds of enantiodromeia [wow, that was a stretch ... see W.I. Thompson's "Darkness and Scattered Light". I don't see anything in short-cut solutions except illicit comfort for those who care the least. It's very much as though the whole, in its unobstructed and endlessly patient generosity, will painstakingly attend to every barbaric alternative to truly humane development, even if that does call for various apocalyptic catastrophes.

We are moving sooooo quickly ... and that's very very new for us, and for the planet. Perhaps what keeps us from learning from our worst failures is lack of sufficient self-esteem, such that we are overwhelmed by shame. Perhaps, when we are strong enough, we shall engage in a fair and honest accounting, and draw the appropriate conclusions from that.

May '03 bring benefit to those of good will ... it's been such a long struggle. . . ben

addendum: your blog took me to Chomsky's {link:http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/NC022600.html|Taking Control of Our Lives: Freedom, Sovereignty, and Other Endangered Species} and the CoGlobalization homepage got me to find this:

"A thousand years ago or more we the Haudenosaunee, the Iroquois, were given the rules and processes of democracy. The principles of this democracy are: Peace in mind and community, Equity, which is justice for the people, and the power of the good minds, which embodies good health and reason." That's from {link:http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/OrenLyons.html#goodMinds|Spirituality, Natural Law, and the Ethics of Authority}


28 Dec 2002 @ 22:22 by ming : The Matrix
Supposedly the Iroquois were a big inspiration for several of the framers of the U.S. Constitution.

Anyway, I suppose what might make a difference is not necessarily something fuzzy and mystical. It might be something precise and it might be a technology. Probably an inner technology. Some approach that effectively would teach people to actually pay attention and notice the difference between frozen mental models and dynamic reality. And the difference between cognitive constructs that serve us, and those that harm us. Some tools for sanity. General Semantics is a study of that kind of thing, but much too academic for general consumption.

Maybe we just need to get people to choose between the red pill and the blue pill. Or, rather, we need to hand out red pills on the street corners.

==++--++--++== mmmmm a tasty set of concepts ... inspiration and praxis. But really, has it not been said clearly? What is lacking, for this garden ... seeds? hoes and rakes? Perhaps what's lacking is the doing of it, merely that.

What motivates someone to turn away from the crooked deal, and what's lacking when that person doesn't turn away? What's lacking for a person to open themselves to the moment; what's so overwhelming about the moment that sweeps us along? So long as we retain our individual free-will, we will manifest our falings and faults. How does this come to be seen as inevitably catastrophic? Are we so driven that we dare script a question of life or death for the planet itself? now, /that's/ hubris to the point of insantiy. I'd be satisfied with the stage of home, friends, family, garden, yard, field ... what ambition would call me to determine much more than that?

I've only had one thing escape me, and that is insight into pessimism. I look at how it all seems to come down to that and when I look further all I see is mistakne beliefs concerning how the world works. ("I can duck the consequences of this, because I'm really clever. And I can duck whatever consequences touch me by revelling in the rewards of this deed. And if there are consequences that I cannot duck, I can effectively ignore by deadening myself." So powerful, how coyote's unselfconsiousness holds him up after he steps off the cliff for only the short moment it takes for him to realize karma. And so good, that delusion cannot maintain itself. . . ben ==++--++--++==  

28 Dec 2002 @ 23:03 by strydg : constructs
all cognitive constructs both serve and harm. we pay attention for these constructs. consciousness is free disengaged from constructs. technology is construct. constructs cause frozen mental mode(l)s. yoga is the cessation of the mode(ification) of the mind, according to some translations of Patanjali. no pills. pills are constructs that cause frozen mental modes. pills may reduce pain temporarily but they have toxic side-effects or are habit forming, i.e. cause modification. Semantics is a modification of the ancient grammar. grammar is not just commas and periods. etymology and exegesis. technology is the stuff of general consumption. this is like handing out guns to people who don't know how to use them, which is literally and figuratively what we do.

==++--++--++== "all cognitive constructs both serve and harm" ... what struck me when I read this was how it's open to multiple readings. Might I not take it as evidence of a malevolent cosmos, where even my best presses me to doom? But to take a different tack entirely; unanticipated consequences aside, constructs that harm should be nulled out ... if they aren't, this can be taken to show that the system has lost its cybernetic quality, i.e. it is no longer self-regulating. Considering the unanticipated, action need not be perfect in order to be effective; waiting for the perfect moment or for enlightenment to engage in well-intentioned action is, in effect, nothing but excuse for not acting. "Enlightened action leaves no wake" is hardly a pragmatic moto for a house-holder (especially one with children!) The pessimist or the unfortunately naive might not be able stand the humbling entailments of imperfection but, except for these, we can see that acting authentically means opening to feedback (consequences, ramifications ... the stuff of response-ability) that is always rich though not always congratulatory.

When my leg is broken, I use a crutch. When I need to cross a stream, I get a boat or build a raft. Once my leg is healed, I discard the crutch; having crossed the stream ...

ben ==++--++--++==

our perception of the cosmos, because of our constructs, may be that it is malevolent. acting through constructs has effects, some intended and perceived as good, some unintended and perceived as bad if perceived at all. what goes around comes around. trying to make it better only makes it worse. self-regulation in the human organism may result in down-modulation of metabolism, energy, sensitivity, awareness. "cybernetic" is an artificial construct even if it is applied to living organisms. we don't really know all of the human organism's processes of self-regulation. we just like to think we do because the unknown in threatening.

these constructs are of the intellect which is an extension of the survival motive. if we are growing, as many say we are (by "we" I refer to the human race) it is through this survival ceiling. at the moment the news media communicate that which causes fear issued by our government because it is aware at some subconscious level that people can be controlled and attention focused in a specific way by fear and the threat to survival. some of us swallow this but it makes us sick. some of us don't swallow it because we won't settle for anything less than that which truly nourishes - forgiveness, acceptance, love.

we may not be tuned-in to the cosmos due to our pre-occupation with our addictive constructs, and so we perceive the cosmos as malevolent. but the cosmos just is. good and bad exist in our heads because of constructs. I'm not saying, either, that we should pull the plug on the whole thing. we must anticipate all effects of our constructs, both good and bad, and navigate accordingly.

note that the word "crutch" can be used to refer to something that somebody uses beyond its necessity. we use drugs like a crutch when we don't really need them (?) but we've become habituated. some consider religion a crutch and a drug.bc  

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4 Dec 2002 @ 15:13: The Duplicity of Complacence

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