I was reading the beginning of a book on various philosophical topics that a friend just gave to me, and an idea quickly came to me. I was only about two lines into the introduction when the author was stating that Aristotle thought that it was intrinsic in humans to desire to acquire knowledge and this is why we value our sensory perceptions so much.
I had to stop and think about what a great observation he had made. I thought that our knowledge seems to be objective. We know of something, and that of is something external and outside of our being. Knowledge of the self would be emotion and feeling. Being sad would be the act of knowing how one is feeling. These objects of our knowledge that exist in the external world are acquired through the senses, these things that allow us to seemingly perceive the world as it is around us. So, if this is what gives us our knowledge of the world, then we clearly would have an attachment to our sensory perceptions. This is why the idea of losing sight, hearing, smell, touch, is frightening as it disconnects us from what we seek, knowledge.
I asked the question to myself – ‘what would happen if you removed each of your senses?’. What if you lost your sense of sight, your sense of hearing, your sense of smell, your sense of touch and your sense of taste? What would you experience? What would your existence consist of?
I can think of two important instances to ask that question, that of a newborn who suffers this affliction in the very moment of birth, or even earlier, and that of an adult, after having spent a fair amount of life with fully functional sense organs.
For the newborn, I am not sure, so I will not think about answering it yet.
As for the adult, I can’t help but believe that that person, who in his adult years, after accumulating many memories, having experienced thought, imagination, colour, smells, feelings, and everything that one has experienced throughout their life, would still be a thinking thing. I can’t help but think that even after losing the ability to sense the outside world, that one would still retain a mind. I do not believe a thinking mind is dependent on a completely different system, such as those of the senses. If our senses aren’t deceiving us and we are experiencing extended physical bodies as we perceive them, then the mis-formation and improper function of a select few molecules in our bodies, out of all of the remaining fully functional constituents of our body, shouldn’t have any physical affect on my mind or on my ability to think. Is one less able to think if they lose the sense of vision? Of hearing? Of touch? Of smell? of taste?. Then why would someone lose the ability to think when they lost all of their senses?
I don’t think that such a person would lose their ability to think. So, all that would remain would be a thinking thing, a thinking being – pure consciousness.
This experience that would remain would simply be thought; consciousness. Not 5% thought, not 50% thought, but 100% thought. Nothing other than thought/consciousness is what amounts to this existence as all of the senses have been removed. There is no other form of input into the mind outside thought itself, as the senses no longer communicate to the mind. This you that is pure consciousness, a purely thinking being, could still surely imagine previous memories, or use the imagination to create new people, new settings, new experiences. Much like a dream, daydream, fantasy, or, well, to be quite honest, any thought you have ever had in your mind.
In a dream, I am not sure if your senses are functioning. The dream itself is just as real as anything I experience in the waking life. In the moment, while I am “dreaming”, what I am experiencing is 100% real. I submit to the dream and it occupies my consciousness in the same way that waking life does. It comes to me without a choice, just as when I look out the window to see what is going on in my backyard, I have no choice but to see my picnic table and garden. I can’t filter it out of my mind, it comes to me and I am forced to perceive and experience it through my senses. Just as I am forced to experience and perceive my dream. The two, in their specific moments, are each just as real as the other. While dreaming, though, my physical extended body and the sense organs contained within are not experiencing the doings and happenings of my dream. When I dream of a friend, a family member or my girlfriend and wake up, I would not believe that my body which I believed to be fast asleep and in bed with eyes closed, was in the setting in which my dream took place, or that my eyes, the eyes of my waking life, were exposed to the people and places that were visually experienced by me while asleep. In short, my conscious experience of the dream was not produced by my sensory perceptions, it exists outside of my sensory experience, yet I am fully conscious of it and nothing else, in that moment.
I can hear things, feel things, taste things in dreams – none of which I believe to happen through the sensory organs of my extended physical body that exists in my waking life.
Is this not proof that my being, my existence, my soul, my mind, my whatever, does not require physical sensory organs and sensory perceptions in order to experience? Those dreams are experiences, and they were independent of any sensory organs and sensory perceptions. They may or may not have been created by the mind, but surely without a doubt they were experienced by the mind, and that experience, in the moment, was just as real as anything else I have ever experienced, if it wasn’t, would I not have realized that it wasn’t real, that it was in fact a dream in the moment?
We are able to experience similar things while in waking life through thought. I can close my eyes, or keep them open (which is personally more difficult) and visualize the face of a loved one. I can experience “hearing” someones voice, and if I wish for my mind to recall a taste, I can do that as well. But physically, in extended space, my sense organs and sensory perceptions are not producing these things. It is simply a product of my consciousness, of my mind, of my being. Now, despite being able to do this, to think of my girlfriends face, and visualize it, it can be difficult to maintain or even to bring about that experience, that visualization. It requires mental effort and concentration. It doesn’t happen easily. I believe the reason for this is that this process of creating an experience through the mind, through pure consciousness (as that is what it is, a creation of an experience) is made difficult as it has to compete with the sensory perceptions, which, without warning, constantly bombard and fill your experience, your mind, your consciousness, with all of the information that they gather. Right now, your consciousness is being bombarded with information gathered, collected and put together by so many cells in your body. This cell says there is this stimulation, but not that stimulation. Not only are your eyes telling you that there is a webpage with crazy thoughts right in front of you, but your eyes are also telling your mind what there isn’t in front of you. My arm is telling me that there is something putting pressure on it from underneath (resting on the arm rest of the couch), but it is also telling me that it is soft and not hard, that it is dry and not wet, the top of my arm is telling me nothing is on top of it, and my right thigh is telling me that nothing is really touching it. Just as those few areas of my extended body are telling me things that are and are not happening, so is every other part of my body, and all of that information is experienced by the mind, by consciousness.
That information is constant as well, it never stops coming in. It comes to our minds without warning and without notice. It just is. But thought, purposeful, deliberate thought, is much more difficult. To willingly decide to call up a visualization, or to recall a taste such as that of a strawberry, isn’t as simple as simply receiving perceptions. It is more difficult. BUT, it is still possible, and is still experienced. That is an important thing to note.
Now, when you are experiencing absolutely no senses, there are no sensory inputs to distract oneself from thinking. Thus, the intensity of thought, the magnitude of thought, the prevalence of thought, the strength of thought just is, and are unchanging – none of these things would ever change. The only distractions to mind, distractions to consciousness is the product of mind and consciousness itself. All that would exist would be thought, in perfect clarity, as there would be no sensory perceptions to distract these thoughts from being experienced. You would not and could not have a long thought, a short thought, or a thought of any length, as there would be no pause in thought, so each would simply flow from one into the other, just as our waking life seemingly does, flowing from one moment into another without pause.
So, what I am beginning to think is that if our sensory perceptions were taken away, or, if my sensory perceptions were all taken away right now, such that you could flash bright lights at me, play loud music into my ears, put food into my mouth, put something smelly in front of my nose, and pick me up and throw me around – I would not be aware or perceive any of those things. But I would be a thinking thing, and my thoughts would be just as real and just as vivid and simply just as everything in my waking life ever was. There would be no difference. I believe that it this transition, from experiencing a “real waking life” produced by your senses to experiencing a “real waking life” produced by your consciousness would happen instantaneously – this transition from living with the senses which act to create the reality I live in to the complete void of senses thereby living in a reality created by mind/thought/consciousness – without any sense of confusion. There is no confusion when one enters a dream, or when a dream changes. The instant the sensory perceptions became non-existent, the mind would be there seamlessly in continuation of the last thought, no matter what it was, and without any perceptions to interfere with the mind, the mind would experience whatever the object/subject of thought was, since the mind must always be fixed on and experiencing something.
Consciousness is all that is, there is nothing but consciousness. There is only consciousness, and so whatever is the content of the consciousness/thought (I can’t tell if it would be an object of thought or subject of thought. To me they both seem the same) is all that is experienced. To put it more succinctly, whatever you are conscious of is all that is. Currently, we subscribe to the belief and thought that we have extended physical bodies, those bodies have the ability to perceive through the senses, and so our mind, our being, our consciousness thinks thoughts, and thinks (or is witness to) our senses.
So why does this matter? It isn’t everyday that people lose their ability to perceive through their senses! Though it should be noted that there are sensory deprivation tanks that exist, one in Montreal which I wish to make use of. These tanks contain extremely high concentrations of salt water. The person goes inside and floats. The water is heated to the same temperature as the human body so that the ability to perceive a difference in temperature in your external surroundings becomes eliminated or greatly reduced. The tank is soundproof and completely dark, so there are no experiences of sound or sight. The calm floating position helps to remove as much as possible the perception of touch. Taste, well, don’t eat anything. People experience intense thoughts, some claim that this gets them “high”, some perceive various things which some would call “hallucinations”, some are able to reach their place of meditation almost instantly. Clearly, the ability to perceive still exists, and does still happen, but a drastic reduction in the amount of perceptions occurs. With this comes the increase in prevalence and fluidity of thought, as thought takes center stage and in greater ways becomes the context of experience and consciousness. Evidently, with the removal of the ability to perceive through the senses, what one is conscious of, the state of consciousness one is subjected to is completely different. How interesting.
So again, I ask, why does this matter? So what? I don’t expect to lose all of my sensory perceptions tomorrow and I don’t live my life in a sensory deprivation tank, how applicable is this?
I have no reason to believe that consciousness ever ends. If something exists, I can’t help but believe that it must always have existed and always will. Nothingness cannot possible make a transformation into something, as nothingness by its very nature is void of any and all qualities, thus how does a lack of qualities change? “What” could possibly be undergoing the transition into something, if that original “what” was nothingness? Nothingness is not a what, but a complete lack of existence. Oppositely, how can something that exists transform into nothingness? A transformation involving nothingness is absurd. I also have never not experienced consciousness, whether in waking life, in deep sleep, while dreaming, or even being knocked out. The subject/object of consciousness and experience changes, but even when experiencing pure nothingness such as a deep sleep is still an experience that your consciousness has. It never stops. I have no recollection of what my consciousness experienced before my current waking life, however I also have no recollection of my early years, and most of my life to date. I have only packets of recollection, discrete moments, but most of these things that I recall are the memories, not the actual moments themselves. To not have the ability to recall something that ones consciousness has once experienced does not mean that it was never experienced, as surely I am confident that I was “alive” the first few years (in fact all of my years) in this waking life, yet I cannot recall the vast majority of it. My inability to recall what my consciousness may or may not have experienced before this waking life does not imply that there was no consciousness experienced before this waking life. This is what I hold to be true. So, if consciousness, mind, my being, my essence, my existence, my soul my whatever, if it never ends and simply just is, then what should happen when this waking life, with this body that I claim ownership of (though I do not claim it to be who or what I am), should end? The physical body that I experience will one day decompose. All the constituents, the atoms, the subatomic particles, all will disperse and over time, will make up the constituents of other bodies, animal bodies, bodies of water, bodies of plant, bacteria, of atmosphere, of earth. But my true being, my soul, my consciousness, my existence, will continue. It might “think” and thus experience something similar, such as myself continuing the “life” that just “ended”, the consciousness might experience (“think” about) a whale, or past memories, or whatever. Just like a dream, or an active imagination.
There is also something to be said that everything is a product of mind, of consciousness. My mind, my consciousness is what creates this current experience. If we are to assume that we have a physical body and that matter does exist, it is perceived and created by my mind/consciousness via my body and sense organs. In this system, at the end of the day, it is my mind, my consciousness that gets the final say on creating what I experience. This is why some people can taste colours, can see physical objects when doing math, can see sound (see synesthesia). This is why some people “hear” or “see” things that others would say “don’t exist” (schizophrenia). The mind, our consciousness has the final say, and it creates our existence. So, with that said, our bodies and our concepts of this extended physical world that is extended in space and time is also a creation of our mind and consciousness.
I think that there might be something to be said about the infinite regress that could happen here that would imply the experience of infinite, of anything and everything. That your imagination, your consciousness is truly limitless. That you are only limited by your consciousness/mind. That this consciousness experiences an infinite number of experiences, thus plays out the entire universe (as each of these infinite number of experiences are contained within the universe), thus is the universe, thus creates the universe. Very similar to Brahman. Very similar to god being a playful being, one that likes to play hide and seek and lose himself in the roles that he plays, imagining himself to be a this, and a that, over and over forever, until one day he imagines himself to be a you, exactly as you are today, and thus creating you (that is to say, creating himself, god, the soul, Brahman).
I don’t know if it is an infinite regress, or at least maybe it is but in a different way. I think of this being, this you as the thing that creates everything that is experienced. If I lost all of my senses in this instant, surely my consciousness would ceaselessly and instantly continue existing without fail. Remember, I am not a vegetable, I am not dead, my body is fully functional, just a few proteins aren’t doing their jobs, and my brain, which is fully functional, just isn’t registering any of the senses. So, with the loss of all sensory perception experiences, the mind would continue taking full control and be the sole subject/object of your experience. This could be of a new existence, perhaps a “you” but somewhat similar, maybe making different decisions. Maybe of previous things you’ve done, repeating previous thoughts or experiences (essentially recalling memory), or perhaps you thinking about a completely different person, experience, whatever. Similar to a dream, how it might be a variation of your own life, or you dreaming yourself to be someone else, in a different time, in a different world, with different rules and different everythings.
Would this feel just as my waking life feels? Would this feel just as my dreams feel? My dreams feel exactly as my waking life does, only after waking up does it then feel like a dream. It is only after waking up does it then become perceived as a dream, and thus regarded and experienced as a dream. It was just as real as anything else I have ever experienced. This could help in explaining how I could be so scared within a dream that I wake up panicked. This could explain how my mind could somehow create something so unexpected that my mind could scare myself, that is to say, scare my own mind, the same mind that created the scary dream. It is absurd!
I think that this pure mind, pure consciousness, would think of something, people, things, objects, places, and those would be experienced, and could only be experienced, how anything is experienced – as a true experience. And so this mind would create for itself a brand new existence, a brand new reality, a brand new life. That new life may or may not have a body as well, with sensory perceptions, that would one day be taken away (whether in life or in the illusion of death of our physical bodies), and so the process is infinitely carried on, experiencing all possible things to be experienced, via thought, and thus is all coming from the same source, you – whatever that is (soul, consciousness, god, Brahman, pure being, mind ,whatever). So there would be only one thing, you. As you is also me, it is all the same source. There isn’t even a source as that implies something coming from something, but there is only one thing, no other somethings.
This is very similar to this idea that we are all one. That I am actually every single person on this planet, and I live out this life, and in the next life I will live out as my friend, then as my girlfriend, then as one of my ex-girlfriends, then as a teacher, then as some guy across the globe, etc. I don’t know if that is what I am describing here, but the potential is there. The only difference is that in what I am describing “life” is an illusion, and is just what your consciousness is experiencing in that moment, but it is temporary and constantly changing.
This also reminds me of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. This book was quite an interesting read. It blew my mind! I read it a few months ago and briefly, it is an instruction manual for Buddhists who wish to be freed from reincarnation, or to help with the transition to their next life. They wish to get off the cyclical treadmill and stop this whole birth-death-rebirth cycle. The key part in doing this is exactly like one technique to initiate lucid dreaming called Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD). In WILD, while one is lying down ready for sleep, one should project in their mind what they wish to dream about, and try to think about it/experience it. The person should be aware that they are trying to fall asleep, and hopefully as they fall asleep, their waking consciousness will continue seamlessly into their dreams, and they will remain “awake” while fully asleep. Perhaps it would be better to say remain “self-aware” while fully asleep. The result is the ability to recognize that you are asleep, as your body sleeps but your mind and consciousness flowed perfectly from waking state to sleep, so that your consciousness remained unchanged.
In the Tibetan book of the dead, followers of this technique practice many different things and constantly work towards this goal, all throughout their life and especially towards the end of ones life. Note: the book also lists an immensely large number of signs to tell when ones current life is coming to an end, it is quite fascinating. The idea is that it is of the highest importance to have a specific desire and mindset, a specific state of consciousness the moment that death comes, as whatever your mind/soul/being is conscious of in that moment, it will continue on afterwards. Just as one who is trying to lucid dream through WILD will become successful if at the moment of falling asleep if they are successful in maintaining the thought and focus on what it is they wish to dream of, thereby continuing the mere thought to a dream, one that can be controlled, the same is true for Tibetan Buddhists at the moment of death. Whatever the thought or subject/object of consciousness is of at the moment of death, according to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, that is what will follow in death in the next life.
I have been working on this thought for a few days now, and I can’t believe I haven’t thought of this earlier! I am so glad to have been exposed to the Tibetan Book of the Dead!
When I think of what consciousness is, and of our experience of consciousness, what I see consciousness as is one of those slide show cameras.
And all of what we “experience” are just the different slides presented to us, presented to our consciousness, as we are nothing but consciousness. So, in one slide you have your entire life, as it is playing out right now, in the next slide is the experience of a dream, in another slide is the experience of deep sleep, that is to say, of nothingness – but it is still an experience, the experience of nothingness, and then another slide for the following day of this waking life existence. To be, to exist, is to be conscious of whatever is presented to your consciousness. It comes to you, as if one of these slide show cameras is fixed to your eyes, and you are subjected to whatever the contents of the slide show is. Today I am forced to “see” myself write this blog post, tonight I will be forced to “see” whatever comes to me in sleep – perhaps a dream, perhaps nothingness, and if I were to lose all of my sensory perceptions, I would still be subjected to “see”, to experience and be conscious of whatever comes next on that slide show. In “death”, the slide show continues, as death would simply be the finality of the slide show that my consciousness identifies as “my life”. This is difficult, of course. Like a great book or movie that we don’t want to end because we find so much pleasure in, and have grown attached to, we don’t want our life to end. Like the book, we have identified with it. The ego knows itself through this life, and is attached to it. It is uncomfortable to think what the next slide holds for our consciousness, as we have been reading this book, watching this slide, conscious of this slide, of this life, for what we perceive as being so long. But our consciousness isn’t limited to this slide, to this book, to this one experience that we call “our life”. It continues, and in fact never ends. Consciousness will always be, and always has been.
This is something that I think to be true. I have questions though that still need answering. Using the slide show camera analogy, our experience would be the contents of the slides, and our consciousness would be the aperture through which we experience the existence (see the slides). My questions would be what moves the slides, is there control or reason to it? What is the nature of the slides? What is the nature of the camera? What is the nature of that interaction? Why is there a camera and slide show rather than nothing? Can there ever not be a camera? Is the slide show infinite? Is it cyclical?
This sort of metaphysics doesn’t mesh well with metaphysics of Abrahamic religions, at least not how they are popularly interpreted. This sort of metaphysics doesn’t mesh at all with a purely materialistic view that science holds. This sort of metaphysics is definitely congruent with Hinduism and other Eastern philosophies, but I am not quick to adopt those systems of metaphysics without careful examination. As Schopenhauer thought, one needs conviction based on reason not faith based on revelation. For now, I will continue to think and read. But this thought that came to me, from the first time lines of a book, I must say, has changed my perception of what it is to be.
You would never see a gazelle with an iphone.
It is true, you simply wouldn’t. Assuming that wild animals could use forms of distraction and entertainment such as ‘phones’, google glass, music on your headphones, and others that I can’t think of right now, they couldn’t nor wouldn’t.
What I mean by this is, the laws of nature wouldn’t allow for it. If an animal in the wild such as a gazelle, a rabbit, a mouse, a bird were to move through their environment, living their lives with a phone extended from their hands, walking without a sense of presence, that animal would surely not survive as long as other wild animals. By removing itself from its environment, at least consciously, it is hindered in its ability to to perceive any threats or dangers, and thus would most likely survive, on the average, less so than a wild animal without the entertainment of a phone.
It does not need to be a phone, but rather entertainment in general. If a rabbit were to graze in a field while listening to music, unable to hear what is going on in the world around it, it too will do so unsustainably, as surely it will meet its end sooner than a rabbit without music separating it from its environment.
Ok. So what is my point? Obviously this will never happen. I am just talking about something that has no meaning or application. But we are wild animals. We are wild animals that live in the world as much as any other living organism does on this planet. Yet we crave entertainment. Before it was kings that were to be entertained by court jesters, but today we have 600 channels of court jesters in our living rooms, and an internets worth (that is, almost unlimited) of court jesters in our phones. We are well beyond the ability and means of being over stimulated and over entertained.
Wild animals like gazelles exist and exist in the world, in the same way that we do. Wild animals don’t have phones though, but if they did, they would surely suffer from a shorter lifespan and thus to their detriment.
So I have to ask some questions now. Are we at greater risk to our safety with the usage of entertainment and devices such as smart phones? Are we somehow removed from the dangers of the world, so entertainment makes us less susceptible? Are we subjected to the same dangers as wild animals, or are we subjected to dangers of different qualities?
I think that at least for myself, a 29 year old man born in the Western world, living in a modern city, surrounded by concrete rather than other settings we would consider “nature”, I have less imminent or apparent threats than a gazelle in africa does. I don’t have to worry about wild animals coming out from every corner and trying to eat me. I do, though, have to worry about paying my mortgage, having money for and having the ability to purchase food, and these kinds of less natural things. One form of existence involves being a prey and is quite in the moment, imminent and apparent. It is quite physical and thus perceivable with the senses. The other form of existence involves the ability to belong and function in a system that isn’t as imminent or straight forward as a cheetah lunging at you. A cheetah lunging at you is obvious, the nature of this observation is known immediately, it is apparent and stares at you in the moment. Getting up in the morning and doing a function for over eight hours is less obvious and apparent. It involves knowledge of a system of function whereby one understands the rewards to come later, often every two weeks. These rewards then can be used to ward off undesired things such as homelessness, hunger, thirst.
I say this is less obvious, less apparent, and less imminent, as a wild animal outside of such a setting would acquire food when hungry, would find water when thirsty, and would fight for survival when in the presence of a predator, whereas for someone like me, my version of acquiring food when hungry is to acquire money in exchange for a service or good, bring that money to a physical location where food is exchanged for money, perform the exchange, then eat it. Rather than fighting for survival from predators, one’s major threat is to maintain a job or form of wealth that sustains the economies of their existence.
So, clearly the dangers are different, as well as the system in which dangers are presented to us. No longer will a crocodile or cheetah or lion be attacking us. This is an immediate, imminent and obvious sign of danger to our existence. If they are not as obvious, immediate and imminent to our existence, then that means that the dangers that we face to our existence must inherently be more difficult to discern and to become aware and conscious of, as compared to those of a wild animal.
To become aware of less obvious signs of dangers, one must be more aware of the forms of danger, in how they are presented to us in the world, and thus require more and greater knowledge.
In a way of living based on economies, one might not see a cheetah attempt to lunge at you, but one might see something such as signs of an oncoming recession in the stock market, or a rising cost of living, or reduced services that one is reliant on, or the rising cost of energies, or the troubles with obtaining clean water. None of these are obvious, none of these are apparent, none of these are imminent. They are not staring you in the face, as they happen for the most part separated from you. They happen elsewhere. They are only read about or heard about through other means; the newspaper, the tv, the internet, someone else having a discussion. This doesn’t happen in the animal world. There is no medium connecting the gazelle to the cheetah, that informs the gazelle of the attack. It simply happens, and is imminent and present and apparent. Like a gazelle that is in the moment, perceiving the cheetah’s oncoming imminent attack, an investor will pull his investments when signs of danger are coming, and relocate them to signs of less danger. One is imminent and apparent, the other requires knowledge, almost specialized knowledge as it has lost all of its apparentness, its immediacy, its obviousness.
So what are the implications for ourselves, for people like myself, who are not gazelles? Well, that means that dangers are becoming more subversive and harder to see. It requires more attention, more perception, more intelligence, more knowledge. As the dangers become more and more abstract and less obvious, natural selection will truly force humans that wish to become successful to become more intelligent, more perceptive, more knowledgeable, at least, statistically speaking (on the average).
So where do distractions come into play? What does the iphone and entertainment have to do with this?
For myself, I have the sense that our world, or rather the world that I am exposed to living in, in a city in Canada, is increasing the amount of, the duration of and the prevalence of entertainment. I have the sense that the trend that we are experiencing of increased quantity, duration and prevalence of entertainment has conditioned us to expect entertainment more often, to seek it more often for enjoyment, as it increasingly becomes an increasingly popular form of enjoyment and happiness. Essentially, it normalizes entertainment, and its place in our lives in such a way that it is increasingly sought after.
Inherent in entertainment is a detachment from the world, from your surroundings. Inherent in it is the opposite of education, of knowledge, or perception and awareness. We know this, as these are the reasons why the gazelle would not survive long if it was watching (read: fixated on) tv for hours, or if it was playing on its iphone for hours, or grazing in the fields or drinking from the watering hole with headphones on and listening to music. Let’s not even imagine if it was experiencing ‘augmented reality’ (as if reality could even be “augmented”) via google glass.
So, we have a way of living in the world that requires more attention, more knowledge and a higher ability to perceive, but we are increasing in our lives something: entertainment, which has the exact opposite affect. It decreases the amount of attention, knowledge we have, as well as the ability to perceive our world and surroundings.
The dangers that are manifested in the type of world that we are currently living, that is, one removed from nature, are harder and harder to see. They are less apparent. This requires more attention, not less.
I am not saying that entertainment is bad, in itself. Even animals in the wild play games. Entertainment is necessary, it is great, it is important. But a life dedicated to being entertained has its own dangers, especially in the context of an unnatural lifestyle.
So what are the dangers of living in a world that requires more analysis, a higher degree of perception and more knowledge in order to discern the subtleties of danger, all the while living in a manner where we are performing less analysis, being less perceptive and acquiring less knowledge due to our increased obsession with entertainment?
I was playing with my dog on the couch after a nice walk tonight. I decided to get up and walk to the kitchen to have something to eat before bed. I noticed there were dishes lying around so I decided to put them away. While I was doing this I started to think. I started to think about the $15 I had spent a couple of weeks back buying several t-shirts for my upcoming trip. I just got some completely plain t-shirts and a pretty awesome water proof wind breaker kinda jacket. $15! I then started to think about something that I often think about, going to work full-time at a job and making a salary above the poverty line. I didn’t think that it was necessarily something that I am planning to do in the near or foreseeable future, but still something came to me. I realized that I really enjoyed and had a healthy relationship with self-austerity. For so many reasons. And I thought how much more appreciated, then, I would be if I were to work full-time and collect a respectable salary.
It then came to me that having both times of less and times of more are quite important, perhaps even necessary in order to live a more enriching and appreciative experience.
I have never lived in a situation where running water or electricity has been impossible for an extended period of time to actually threaten or even discomfort my life. I will never truly know how lucky I am for these comforts, no matter how many times I think of what it would be like to live without them, and no matter how many stories I hear or books I read about others who don’t have these luxuries, I still will never know what it is to experience having to live without those things. I can only attempt to imagine what that experience would be like, and feel the sense of thankfulness that I feel. But I can’t help but feel that if I had lived through some sort of experience where I lacked these things, running water and electricity, whether for half my life, or perhaps a year, that I would be even more appreciative of what I had now, and that my level of enjoyment and appreciation would be even higher, and thus a more enjoyable experience would be had.
So I think that it is a key thing, throughout our existence, to experience without and with, in order to properly appreciate both. If one always gets everything they want, the act of getting what you want will itself, ultimately, diminish in enjoyment and value, thus leading to a lowered quality of life. It is for this reason that it is important experience the hardship of doing and being without, whatever that ‘with’ may be. It will surely increase your appreciation of what it is that you have.
This reminded me of ‘the middle path’. This Buddhist idea put forward by Siddhartha Gautama is somewhat related to this. I don’t see why I haven’t seen it before and made the connection. Something just struck me this time to think of it in this way. But it isn’t so much about taking a middle path, as it is taking different paths.
It is important to have differences in qualities, good, bad, easy, difficult, happy, sad, abundance and lacking. To only want positive qualities in your life would be missing the point, as eventually they would become meaningless and de-valued. In order to get a complete picture of life we need to experience it all. The good is only good in respect to the not so good. So with this, I am glad and appreciate all the not so good things that happen in life. It is these moments and experiences that create the good ones. A mouth left with a bitter taste will surely perceive sweetness much more pronounced than one left with a sweet taste. It is in the differences, the differential and the change that perceptions are more pronounced.
I came under the feeling that objectivity does not exist, that only subjectivity exists. I have been thinking about this for quite some time, but just this morning while walking my dog did I really look at this idea a bit closer.
My basic thought was that even when we try to be objective we can’t possibly eliminate previous thoughts, feelings, emotions, associations, no matter how hard we try. In the process of having to remove these from our consciousness, in order to be objective, it still shows that these subjective thoughts come to mind, and thus even after sending them away and disregarding them in the sake of being objective, you are still conscious of them.
I first started thinking this when I had the idea of how prosecutions and the legal system should work. I remember arguing that to be a juror should be a career in itself, but that is not relevant.
We want to be objective in certain instances and scenarios. It is something that, at times, is more valued than subjectivity. But is objectivity possible? First, we should ask what the differences between the two are.
Subjectivity is clearly a personal and inward reflecting looking at a thing. It is how “I” perceive the thing. It is how I personally relate to it. It is my relationship to the thing of interest. Whether I enjoy something or not is subject to my associations with it, how I feel about it, past experiences with that something, and with other things that produce similar experiences and feelings. If I go up high in the air and experience an uneasiness with how high that I am above the ground, this is produced due to my associations with my comfort level and my concepts of what it means to experience uneasiness. I only know uneasiness in relation to past experiences of being at ease, or even comfortable.
To be objective is to remove the self, and all sense of self and the associations that come with being a self, to that particular thing of interest. To objectively consider something, or experience something is to remove any and all associations that one might have. But how possible is this?
Can I objectively look at a tree? It isn’t so easy. To look at a tree and perceive it as a tree is not quite objective. In order to do so I would have to call on previous associations that I, myself, my being, have previously made in terms of what is and what is not a tree. To call it a tree is also to say that it isn’t a car, it isn’t the earth, it isn’t the sky, it isn’t me. By perceiving the tree and acknowledging that it is a tree is to associate my previous knowledge, my previous systems of understanding the world around me, as they relate to myself, and apply it to that tree. The mere fact that I recognize an object as a tree is subjective. To know something in a purely objective sense is to be lost in the object, free of any associations and perceptions outside the object – the object just is, and is meaningless to the observer.
In order to objectively experience something, in the purest sense, one must not be aware of the self. One must remove layer upon layer of associations, labels, systems and as the yoga sutras put it, subliminal activators from consciousness. To objectively experience something, the experience itself will come in the form of all knowledge and associations melting away, such that all that remains is the moment, the things that just are. In that moment will just be the object, and it will be indistinguishable from anything else, its surroundings and the self included. Essentially, in order to be objective, everything must coalesce and unite into a singularity, such that the “object” of interest can not be discerned from anything else, such that the “object” of interest becomes everything else, such that the “self” melts away, and there is no difference between “self” and “object” – everything just is.
This is exactly what the yoga sutras are speaking of, and they speak that to truly know the object, this is the means to do it. It is the purest form of truth, as any other association one applies to the object is simply a subjective association, and thus not pure truth.
So objectivity truly does exist, but I must say that it is extremely difficult and uncommon to achieve. Like when saying the word relish over and over and over so that it loses all meaning and no associations exist, albeit momentarily, it is only then that ‘relish’ is seen objectively, and even then not quite so.
So objectivity does exist, but we definitely do not experience it in a day to day way. We fool ourselves when we think that we are able to remove self from the equation. To remove self is to genuinely lose awareness of self, and such a thing is not commonly practiced for most of us.
Calls to Congress 499 to 1 against Syria war
Why it matters?
This article shows tweets and statements by dozens of members of congress in the US that reveal that next to nobody is in support of the war and intervention in Syria.
Rand Paul tells John Kerry in person this exact same thing. He also corrects Kerry by saying that in no uncertain terms that when one country bombs another is that not an act of war, while Kerry tries to spin the dialogue and change the meaning of war to ‘boots on the ground’.
It is well worth the watch.
I think that it is great that people are contacting their congressmen and letting them know how they feel, as congress will be deciding on whether or not to give approval to the Obama administration to attack Syria. Though, this is just a ‘theatre’ as Rand Paul puts it in the video above, as Kerry is adamant on attacking Syria with or without congress’s approval. Rand feels that congress has become just a show.
Why it matters?
Russian president Vladimir Putin has been quite vocal about not rushing into any military action in Syria by outside countries. He has been the leading ‘cool head’ in an environment of heated rhetoric and dialogue for action. He has consistently asked for evidence to back up the allegations the US has made against Assad of using chemical weapons in the civil war. Putin has also publicly stated that he would move for military intervention IF evidence actually does surface painting Assad as the culprit of the chemical attacks.
Putin, in this article, is calling out Kerry and the Obama administration. From the article:
“he accused the Obama Administration of lying to Congress, and said U.S. lawmakers were being suckered into approving a military strike against Syria. “We talk with these people. We assume that they are decent. But he lies,” Putin said of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “And he knows that he lies. That’s pathetic.”
Of course, in the west, Putin is being presented as being purposely irrational and incompatible to the USA’s efforts. This can be seen here:
Look at the very first statement made below the title of the article.
The United States declared on Thursday that it has given up trying to work with the U.N. Security Council on Syria, accusing Russia of holding the council hostage and allowing Moscow’s allies in Syria to deploy poison gas against innocent children.
Allowing Syria (Russia’s allies) to deploy poison gas against innocent children. Russia allowed Syria to deploy poison gas against innocent children. Russia, Syria, poison gas, innocent children.
You have to love the rhetoric.
The dialogue being presented is that the parties responsible for the chemical weapons attack are a forgone conclusion, according to the US. There is no longer any debate or dialogue in the media about whether there is evidence of chemical weapons use, or about evidence of who is guilty of that use. While there has been no evidence put forward, and the UN teams dispatched to Syria to determine IF a chemical weapons attack has even occurred or not still remains to produce any conclusive results. The usage of chemical weapons has not even been determined yet, let alone evidence of the parties responsible for them. Though that isn’t true, as there have been reports that the Syrian rebels (Al qaeda) have claimed responsibility for those attacks. But this is not presented in the mainstream media. Instead we get high quality journalism such as this from NBC:
Why it matters?
Read the article, or at least try it. This is what is being passed off as news these days from mainstream media outlets. The article has “body language specialists” to discuss how Obama “dominated” Putin with a firm handshake and with the way he buttoned or didn’t button his suit.
Does this seem like a news agency that respects their readers? I feel like you have to be a complete imbecile to read this and to take anything from it. The content is flaccid and weak.
But what can you expect from NBC news? While Reuters and other news agencies post articles that show how only 9% of Americans approve of military intervention (war) in Syria, we have NBC posting articles like this and news ‘stories’ that approval rating is at 50%. Why can this be expected?
NBC is owned by GE, General Electric. General Electric is one of the largest corporations in the world, and like most of the largest corporations in the world, they are in the business of war and war contracts.
in 2004 they were the 14th largest “Defense” contractors in the world at contracts worth just under 2 trillion dollars, found here. A break down of their contracts can be found here. Is it comforting to know that the news being brought to you concerning a developing war is coming from the same people who make trillions of dollars from war? Would it be in their best interest to be pro-war, or anti-war? Having a host of news agencies and forms of news media at their disposal, would it be in their best interest to provide “news stories” that were pro-war, or anti-war? One way of perceiving this is that you have a news company that has a separate branch of the company that deals with war. Another way of perceiving this is that you have a highly successful war contract company that also has an outlet to give the general public ‘news’. How do you perceive it? Which one appears more comforting to you?
Why it matters?
Since the late August ‘chemical weapons attack’ fiasco that has been in the media, there have been three other chemical weapons attacks that Assad has requested the UN to investigate. Besides that, there have been previous chemical weapons attacks before, and these chemical weapons attacks have been responsible by the Syrian rebels (Al Qaeda terrorists). Both the UN and Syria have previously provided evidence of and accused the rebels of this previous chemical weapons attack, but this seems to fall on the deaf ears of the US and their allies. Now Russia has come forward with this report also blaming the Syrian rebels (Al Qaeda terrorists) for the chemical weapons attack. I wonder if it will affect anything?
I have some questions I would like to stop and ask, and maybe we can all think about these questions and possible answers together.
I have to wonder why no attention is being paid to all the other chemical weapons attacks done in Syria?
Why was there no “red line” being crossed when the rebels used chemical weapons?
Why is there such a fast rush to go to war, to “punish” Assad, without any conclusive evidence?
The US states they have no desire for ‘regime change’ for Assad, they don’t mean to kill or remove him, so how will bombing his country “punish him”?
How will bombing people other than him punish him? How will killing more innocent people “punish” him? Are we to assume that these bombings of punishment will be so strategic (because the US is known for their accuracy, as evidenced by their 2% success rate with their drone attacks, leaving 98% of those dead from drone strikes to be innocent civilians) that there will not be any innocent casualties?
How does punishing someone for allegedly killing innocent people by dropping bombs on them and killing more innocent people form any semblance of sense?
Why would Assad use chemical weapons in a war he was easily winning? In the last 2.5 years, there have been over 100,000 casualties of war. 100,000 – just think of that, and now, why would Assad use chemical weapons to kill 400-500 people? The number of deaths being put forward by the UK, Syria, the UN, and Germany are in the 300-500 range, but the US media, who have no presence in Syria whatsoever, are claiming it is over 1,200 deaths. How can they say this? With what authority?
The Obama administration is making a pathetic appeal to emotion with rhetoric filled of words like injustice, morality, innocent children, and the breaking of international law which cannot go unpunished. The Obama administration feels it is their duty do hand out these punishments, and will do so whether congress approves, and now, will go it alone without the UN’s security council approval. The US seeks to punish one country for allegedly breaking international law but seeks to hand out that punishment by themselves breaking domestic and international law. The US demands the world respect international laws, but they themselves have no desire or need to follow them themselves.
Zbiigniew Brzezinski, served as US National Security Advisor to Pres. Jimmy Carter, participated in the formation of the Trilateral Commission, a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, and a chief foreign policy advisor to Obama and a former Political Science professor of Obama, said this in a book from 1972:
“Shortly, the public will be unable to reason or think for themselves. They’ll only be able to parrot the information they’ve been given on the previous night’s news.”
What do you think?