07-24-06 1:41  •  Cutting the Cords

Deva: Do you know about cording? It's when others connect their body energy to your body energy through a psychic channel.

I heard about this recently and I think that I am corded into my ex-boyfriend. I can't seem to let go of him. There are a lot of reasons why I believe I'm having trouble letting go, but at this point I don't know what else to do. Can you help me cut these cords?

Don't put energy into thinking and feeling about him.

In the relationship you have a lot of positive energy bound up in each other that you get used to feeding. In a breakup, usually there is a lot of negative energy.

The trick is to realize that really its all just energy. You think nice about him, it's thinking about him. You think bad about him, it's thinking about him. You try to stop and even the trying is thinking about him.

Breaking the cord is not thinking about him.

If you meditate in a buddhist style then you are familiar with how it feels to have a thought and just let it be so that it unwinds and dissipates.

If you aren't, here are the basics:

First, recognize what you are doing. Try to do this all the time, but practice for 5 minutes or so just sitting calming watching your breath as what you are doing and just do that.

Second, recognize a distraction for what it is as soon as you find yourself distracted. "Oh! this is about my ex, not watching my breath." Be soft about it. There is no right or wrong or guilt or need for even a second thought. There is just recognizing you are distracted.

Gently let yourself go back to recognizing what you are doing.

Just keep at this and the energy will dissipate. It may seem the distractions are relentless at first, but each time you recognize and return they will be reduced until you are at peace and focused. It takes time because you must learn to make it a habit so don't rush, just let it grow as the distractions fade.

Deva: But, my boyfriend was my connection to Source/ God/ Universe...and now I'm not sure how to make that connection on my own.

This is easy. You have just forgotten that you are your connection to Source/ God/ Universe. You are the holy one. You are the temple. Its always there. Just don't get distracted and you can't miss it.

07-24-06 11:02  •  Delusion

John: If I suspect someone may be mired in delusion, shouldn't I say something? Of course, my saying something -- even if I am right in my assessment (which is a big 'if') -- might not actually help the person in delusion, not be a good exercise of 'upaya' - skillful means ....what should I do?

If you don't mind them being pissed at you, say what you think.
If you don't mind them continuing along as they are, wait 'til they ask.

A fair compromise is asking them a question. It's more risky that having them ask you, but if it is well formed they may not despise you when you are done.

Either way, first check that you are actually setting a good example.

07-18-06 12:01  •  Suffering

I've had several readers ask about suffering, and currently my understanding goes like this:

It was not all desire the buddha was down on. He is said to have framed it as "desire for what cannot be" and "denying what already is" that is the desire which causes suffering. I'm aware that some expand this to all desire, but I disagree and find that falling into asceticism.

When asked if suffering is evil, the buddha is said to have said that without suffering there are no buddhas. The zennies talk about the burning ball of doubt you cannot swallow and cannot spit out which leads to awakening.

In that vein, a zen master advised, never trade your poverty for riches.

All of this seems to be dancing around a point that Epicures came right out and said: hunger is the best spice.

The four noble truths are often disparaged as being too negative.

But with a bit of help from Epicures...

Life has lacks.

Lacks are the means by which we appreciate things or suffer by them.

We can directly effect whether we appreciate or suffer from what we lack.

Morality, wisdom and attention are a means to achieve this control.

07-17-06 4:00  •  Hearing Voices

Geoffrey: We all have voices in our heads; perhaps some of them relate more to the autonomous set of systems in the brain and as such feel like an external voice. Perhaps this is what is labeled "god" by some people.

I don't think this kind of delusion in of itself is grounds for considering someone "mentally ill" or specifically "schizophrenic." Do you?

Actually, real "hearing voices" is pretty rare, and hearing god's voice is not just a simple delusion which can easily be ignored.

As Hermione said, "Even in the wizarding world, hearing voices isn't a good sign."

Geoffrey: But we would be stretching the term "mental illness" or "schizophrenia" to meaninglessness if we included functioning delusional people, and we'd probably include almost everyone! So I don't see your point.

My point is that hearing voices, not imagining or pretending, but actually hearing voices in your head is generally considered a troubling development which seems mainly limited to schizophrenics, people with multiple personality disorder and religious people.

My other point is that thinking you have a direct line on god and that he is personally involved in micro-managing your life is generally also limited to schizophrenics, megalomaniacs and religious people. It too is considered a troubling development.

Religious people hearing "god" tell them to do atrocious acts have a troubling history of not telling "god" to piss off. You can go to any state's prison for the criminally insane and find these people, or just look at our illusterless president or any tv-angelist for "functional" yet still highly dangerous examples.

Now, since god isn't telling me directly who is holy, who is merely functional, and who is insane...I have to wonder how I'm supposed to tell them apart?

Personally I can't see god bothering to get personally involved in micro-managing anyone's life. That sort of activity is evil in an employer. It would be even more evil in a deity. This leads me to conclude that only functional and insane are the possible choices left.

Now I do know there are a few truly functional people out there with these issues. I had a friend who was a fully functional MPD person. All her subpersonalities were best friends with each other and with the dominant voice and she lived quite well this way. She wasn't delusional about it and could see they had her limitations and weren't "angels" or "god."

The coupling of troubling mind issues and delusions that it is "god" makes for a scary combination. I have only to look at history to see just how scary. Sure while they are functional there is some sunshine and roses, but the disconnect with reality means they can not only kill with a clean conscious like a psychotic, but do it with zeal and the fervant belief they are "saving you" in the process.


Geoffrey: I think there are people whose relationship with "god" is more sophisticated and subtle then a voice that micromanages their lives.


Geoffrey: Like I said before, I think it's probably often a misidentification with semi-autonomous structures of the brain often labeled "intuition" or something akin to that.

I thought that as well, until they started using imaging to trace down where the actual activity is. It is spurious activity in the hearing center of the brain, not activity in the areas associated with intuition or imagination. It is persuasive in part because it seems like a real voice.

Geoffrey: Not everyone who feels they hear god is being literal or feels they are being told what to do by an external force.

Thank god. ;) Unfortunately the ones who are, are often the driving force in the organization. Nothing like a touch of insanity to give a sense of purpose, clarity and drive.

A.C.L.U. 5:00  •  Responsibility of Religion   Blogging - Shara

Annie: You say that "Religion" is responsible for societal problems, but religion is not an individual nor living matter. Those who prescribe are. One individual may hit me but another will "turn the other cheek." Rather I would condemn individuals for their individual actions.

So, do you hold with the 'few bad apples' theory, and would see no one ranked higher than a sergeant punished for Abu Ghraib?

Annie: in regards to Abu...I personally am holding everyone responsible. They all had a hand in it. Those that made the rules, those that enforced the rules and those that watched and said nothing. But you know how the military is...total obedience and to a young soldier it is difficult to break rank even when common sense tells them they should.

Studies of Nazi Germany have concluded that human beings, German or not, all had a tendency to rationalize violence if they believed it was their duty to do so.

Annie..in regards to Christianity...I personally am holding everyone responsible. They all had a hand in it. Those that made the rules, those that enforced the rules and those that watched and said nothing. But you know how Christianity is...total obedience and to a young believer it is difficult to break rank even when common sense tells them they should.

...human beings, German or not, all had a tendency to rationalize violence if they believed it was their Christian duty to do so.

Annie: Can you elaborate on this violence and hatred you speak of? Is there something going on over where you live that the rest of the country doesn't know about? Is there gang wars out side the Methodist church or are those damn Catholics throwing the bread of Christ at innocent bystanders again?

Conservative Christians Biggest Backers of Iraq War

07-14-06 4:00  •  Purest, Highest Love

Bill: Unconditional Love is Pure Love, the highest form of love.

Love with conditions or negativity is less than Pure Love.

"Pure," "highest," and "without negativity" are conditions.

Bill: The love is not granted or withheld based upon it being "Pure", "Highest" or "without negativity" it just is those things.

But it is. To limit it to those things is to inherently deny the impure, lowest and negative. "Pure", "Highest" and "without negativity" are inherently terms of differentiation and exclusion.

Unconditional love is undifferentiated, like the tao. An expression of one love, accepting even of the impure, lowest and negative.

Bill: Unconditional love is accepting of the impure, lowest and negative in those we love. Impure, lowest and negative are not characteristics of the love however.

Neither is pure, highest or without negativity.

Cat: I'll step in here, Mr. "get in the way of progress".

Without clear understanding, there is no actual progress.

Cat: Actually Pure, Highest and Without Negativity are states of being, not conditions.

Being is not just pure, highest or without negativity any more than love is pure, highest or without negativity.

By imposing dichotomy you implicitly impose conditions to exclude what fails to meet your choices.

Sure, you don't like that your being and love contain both pure and impure, highest and lowest, negativity and its lack; but that is what makes them complete and whole.

This is why the taoists say that when you choose good you have already made evil. The more you want the less you actually have.

So in choosing to think pure, highest and without negativity you must defend it with little digs like "Mr. 'get in the way of progress.'"

Cat: Okay, I was being a jerk when I said that. But when it comes to Unconditional Love, if you have doubts, you doubt yourself.

Doubt is no less a part of the game than love is.

Cat: If you are willing to take a look at your doubt and release it, then perhaps you will get past your own conditioning and experience the pure, highest, Love I speak of.

My experience of love is complete and very real even though it reads like a fairytale romance. True love, down-and-dirty love, steady-by-your-side love, do-as-you-please love, the hot and sweaty stuff-of-life love, and the cool and trusted tuck-you-into-death kind of love.

When I say it is pure and impure, highest and lowest, negativity and lack of negativity, I'm not speculating. I'm speaking from my direct experience. "Pure" and "highest" is not the all-encompassing unconditional love. Its just a way to try and feel superior.

Cat: Unconditional Love is a great power!

Lust for power is not unconditional love. You can have one or the other, but not both.

07-14-06 3:00  •  Sucks to be God

Mark: There is but one God, I say, and he does not stand (or sit enthroned) in opposition to any other one. Yet it could still be true that this IS the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that although Hindus may be loved by this God as much as any other people, they may know much less of him than do Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

What do the Js, Cs & Ms know about God that the Hindus do not know?

Mark: For starters, if the one God is the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," who inspired the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and no others, then Hindus would be wrong about what is and what is not sacred scripture. Conversely, if the Hebrew and Christian scriptures are NOT inspired by God, then Jews and Christians may know less about God than do Hindus. I don't know how one could argue they know the same amount when much they say disagrees.

They are both equally wrong and therefore both know the same amount about god - nothing.

Mark: At the very least, I agree that God has no religion. How could he? There's nothing and no one for him to worship; nothing to be revealed to him.

Sucks to be god.

Mark: No, God lacks nothing that worship and revelation might provide. He is sufficient unto himself in a way no man can be.

Wow, it double sucks to be god.

Nothing new, nothing to be learned, no peers, no challenge, nothing to strive against, no sweetheart, no end, ultimately responsible for all pain and suffering, blamed for all that goes wrong, and lameass worshippers begging and pleading for petty miracles.

Near as I can tell, hell is being the xtian god.

Lack is the spice of life.

07-14-06 2:00  •  Self-Sacrifice ¹ God

Ricardo: Swarm, when I asked why anyone would sacrifice themselves for the group without religion, you said, "First and foremost, bonding with one's social group is genetically based and that includes self-sacrifice for the group when needed."

Well, my response is, it's illogical to be a slave to your genes.

You godders and your bondage fantasies.

I am a cooperative. Consciousness, genetic heritage, social behaviors - it all pulls together to work out the best possible life for me, passing on my genetic material and my social group. Self-sacrifice for the group works in a lot of situations. It doesn't always end in death and it creates very strong bonds with those you help. It works so well and has worked for so long that some of it has gotten hard-coded genetically, just like our proclivity for language.

The answer to all your "why's" is because it works well and has worked well since long before religion got invented.

Ricardo: You also said, "Wanting something to endure is part of caring for it, even if you don't personally benefit."

But I say, if you allow that love to be more important than your own existence, how can you say that is not God?

Easy, love is not god.

A drunk allows booze to be more important than their own existence. Is booze god?

Ricardo: But why should an atheist care about the good of species?

The point is they do.

Atheists care about the species, they care about what is right, they care about doing good and being moral because those are human traits which religion tries to usurp.

Jeff: I agree with Swarm. Even if you believe in Heaven, there is no reason to think a return on investment in the afterlife is morally superior to one in this one. Deferred reward remains the same motivation, and there's nothing spiritual about that.

Exactly, just more reward-and-punishment-based, "What's in it for me 'morality'." If anything the religious are just being wildly gullable since they let their rewards be in the mythical "next world."

"Just do as I say now and you can have whatever you like in the Next Life™." Talk about a cheap date.

Personal sacrifice of all kinds is an extremely common genetic and social trait. It doesn't require faith or reason.


Ricardo: Oh yeah right. I tell you, without a spiritual frame of reference an individual is best served to use morality only when it works in his favor, and not when it requires sacrifice without a return in his life time for example.

Well, except for being totally wrong you would have had something there.

When it comes to moral understanding, there are three stances seen as the bottom rungs: behavior out of fear, behavior for reward and obeisance to authority. These of course are the cornerstones of religious morality: fear of god's punishment, lust for god's reward and obedience to god's authority. It's no wonder you have trouble understanding how an atheist who is free from these weights dragging his morality down would behave. It is no doubt very scary for you to consider that some one might understand what is correct behavior and choose to do it just because it is correct, in spite of your deital threats, bribes and claims of ultimate moral authority.

A moral person outside your god's control must scare the bejebus out of you.

Ricardo: It valid for the individual to help a neighbor that lost his job by giving him some money. The individual can expect that the neighbor may possibly recover, get a new job and be in a position to help him at some future date. The individual would however be wise not to help a random homeless person in another country who will never be able to repay. If you can justify it otherwise I 'd like to hear it.

See what mental moral turpitude all this god stuff leads to? You just have to paint atheists as greedy loathsome immoral sinners like you. I've helped neighbors without thought of reward, given the homeless a handout without thought of repayment. It's no big deal.

Ricardo: You claimed that morality exists because "it works well and has worked well since long before religion got invented." That's just silly. It was emergence of spiritual beliefs and abstract thought that differentiated man from his ape ancestors.

Nope, not even. There was a lot that happened before gods, and Big Daddy gods like yours are a real recent invention. You can see it happening in the bible as Moses flees the Aten persecution and converts his jewish slaves to monotheism. Before Aten, they worshiped a golden calf like everyone else in the area they were from.

Ricardo: You asked, "Is booze god?" Well, there is reason why alcohol is refered to as "spirits".

Spirit: n. ... Plural form spirits "volatile substance" is an alchemical idea, first attested 1610; sense narrowed to "strong alcoholic liquor" by 1678. www.etymonline.com/index.php

The reason was ignorance.

Ricardo: From a scientific point of view, alcoholism is a disease, likewise, without anything spiritual and in the absence of an equal return, love is a delusion, a chemical reaction designed to delude the individual for the benefit of the culture. You Swarm having this life as your only existence would be wise to limit love to a commensal activity.

You are one sick puppy. Luckily, freed from the shackles of your deity, I have the kind of love that most only dream of.

07-14-06 1:00  •  Swarm's position on religion

Will: I've been reading you for awhile, and it seems like your position is, if we take God out of the picture, then ultimately what we do or don't do is a matter of personal preference and what makes us happy.

That's hardly my position.

I basically see it as a matter of choosing to be as aware as possible of the actual reasons why something is done and if it is justified; and, being responcible for those actions which you have control over.

Since there is no actual god hanging around, its not possible to take or put god in the picture. All there is, is people talking about their fantasies of god, written or verbal. I find fantasies of god to be a poor source of morality since they can and have been used to justify any position, no matter how vile and harmful.

Without turning this into a dissertation, I basically find that a mix of Epicures' philosophy, the Buddha's philosophy, science, pragmatism, and utilitarianism works well for both myself and those I interact with. That may seem like a mouthful, but they are all basically saying the same thing from differing angles.

Reduced to a few pithy statements, here are some of the basics.

Do what is good. Don't do what is ill. Learn to do better.
What is good alleviates suffering. What is ill causes unnecessary harm.
You learn to do better by finding out.
To find out: observe what happens, consider that, test your understanding and share it with others you respect for verification.
The optimal solution to a problem is to do what is both best for yourself and best for the group.
Truth is accurately describing something.
The ultimate foundation of existence is reality.
Good enough is good enough.

I suppose that's enough for the moment.

Will: But, people do things that make them happy. I'm not sure why "believing in God" should be any different.

Because the Abrahamic faiths don't make *us* happy. They don't even make themselves happy for the most part and they cause tremendous suffering and death. They are fundamentally religions of fear, ignorance, greed, exclusion and oppression. History is quite clear what happens when they sieze power, and it is not pretty.

Will: Well, nothing is particularly clear in history if we consider how manipulated and unrepresentational media tends to be.

Media is a modern invention. But if you look at when xtianity was in its accendency you see nothing but horrible conditions. European burquas, crusades, witch trials, the inquisition, the repression of science and philosophy, censorship, the repression of medicine, the repression of individual freedoms, etc, etc.; and, none of the supposed benefits of "higher morality." Instead corruption so rampant that it was noted even in a time of authoritarian rule and corruption.

The more I study that period, the more I realize just what is at stake once more. The book hasn't changed and neither have the players.


Will: Okay, so you laid out your code of ethics, but without God, why do you *follow* that code of ethics?

Because it works well and works well across the board.

Will: Why not just party your life away seeking constant pleasure?

Just constant partying and pleasure doesn't work well.
Partying and pleasure have their place as a part of life, not its totality.
Other stuff is fun too and even what isn't fun has its place.

Will: You said the Abrahamic faiths don't make *us* happy. Yes, the bloodiest wars are often fought over religion. But religious beleifs ("faith") provide a tremendous comfort for some. Believing in God is certainly a source of increased happiness for me.

*Us,* not just the victors, not just some, not just you. Its a belief of exclusion and it doesn't work well for the whole of humanity.

Will: But it works for me, so I just go with it.

Is your pleasure all you care about?

Will: I think that it's the tool used by the morally bankrupt to seize power and control the masses.

When was the last time the morally bankrupt used chess to seize power and control the masses?

Its emphasis on blind obedience, confusion of fantasy with reality, weak morality and easy justification of villany makes it an attractor, incubator and festering pustual of moral bankruptcy, coated with a creamy frosting of good deeds done by the brainwashed minions.

Will: If you took religion away, the power-seekers would just find another tool to use.

At least they'd have to spend some time looking instead of having it ready-made.

Will: The Romans did pretty well just with bread and circuses.

The Romans used religion, and even that fell apart when they got xtianity.

Will: Eugenics had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with science, and it was misused.

Eugenics had everything to do with religion trying to use science as a new means of imposing itself on the world. Luckily science is self-correcting.

Will: Making Organized Religion the scapegoat for all the world's problems would run a terrible risk of ignoring what may be more fundamental problems with humanity. I have no idea what those might be, but I don't want to ignore the possibility.

Let's fix this one and see what pops up.

Will: Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe an atheist society would be a happy utopia.

Unlike church-run Europe during the dark ages, the Epicurian Garden Societies were as close as humans get to happy utopias. They worked and worked well, without god at all. Then the church gained power and crushed them as heresies.

Read more in the Archives.