09-25-05 5:25  •  Science: Less Wrong

J: Re: Science and Faith

I love science and love its child, technology. But I find its intent troublesome spiritually - that is to explain everything. Find Truth.

Let me set you at ease then. While science has an interest in understanding when things are true, it has nothing to do with Truth, which is left to philososphers and theologians.

Science is interested in being sufficiently less wrong enough to do things well enough to work.

That might take a second to wrap your mind around, so consider that two of the fundamentally and absolutely key basics of science are observation and measurement. Both of these are plagued by something called the "margin of error". Both observation and measurement are limited to the accuracy of the instruments used to make those observations and measurements, and no matter how refined the instrument it has a magin of error beyond which it cannot be used reliably.

Thus for the instruments of Newton's day, his laws of motion were sufficient. But as our instruments improved we noticed that there were errors, and so Einstein and Bohr corrected Newton's laws for the very large/fast and the very small. But they aren't Truth. They are just less wrong and good enough to work for what we are doing at the moment.

Consider the first cars. They were as wrong about what makes a good car as you could be and still get the job done. "Unsafe at any speed." Over the years they have been made steadily less wrong. Now the science of cars is at a point were I had a friend survive running into a concrete abuttment at 70 mph with only a sprained ankle.

Religion needs to be Right because they claim sole possession of the Truth.

Science just has to work.

09-23-05 4:30  •  Spiritual Technologies

Val: Swarm, you recently brought up some interesting ideas about spiritual technologies.

I think that is a useful term, and I am very interested in what you find useful. Technologies help people do things faster, and as such they are widly popular amongst us impatient and lazy folks.

What spirtual technologies are particular helpful in your path to self awareness?

Do you know why?

Are there spiritual technologies, types of meditation, etc. that you have found to be a waste of time or potentially dangerous?

I started out a great spiritual technology buff...hypnosis, NLP, guided visualization, mind machinces, various meditation techniques, various new age techniques, biofeedback, etc, etc, etc.

But I found over time that being faster, getting to a result or having a particular experience wasn't actually "it." My "highs" were sharper, faster, 'higher" but this proved a distraction from working on alleviating the depth of my "lows."

So I'm working more on balance and centeredness and making sure that I step with my feet no matter how far my eyes can see.

One thing I have noticed is the "secret" and expensive techniques are generally a waste of time and money. People who still want something have nothing to say and people with something to share are happy to do so with anyone interested.

I've also noticed the main "danger" is that you'll be pissed when you realize how much time and money you wasted.

A "the answer" doesn't seem present so its best to work with what seems to resonate with you. Also, fast and powerful seem inversely proportionate with actually effective.

Currently I just sit quietly. If I can't do that I listen or study my breath.


09-22-05 4:30  •  God and First Cause

Dr. Yo: You said that ultimately we must each be our own Light. And I agree with that - no hand-holding. However, this doesn't rule out the existence of God.

I like hand-holding as much as the next, but those "hands" have always been attached to living beings ... humans, dogs, cats, etc.

I neither rule in nor rule out any god(s). They just aren't relevant since they don't exist around here and aren't available for hand-holding.

In fact I don't really know what anyone means by the term. People bandy the word about, but I've yet to see it actually have any referant beyond an ill defined and much constested concept.

Before I can seriously considered something for hand-holding, it needs to exist and to claim to hold hands with what isn't there seems the height of delusion.

Dr. Yo: the rule of universal cause and effect...

In all regular marco events which testing for cause and effect is possible, it is found.

That doesn't hold for micro events though and it isn't possible to examine irrregular and unique events in a methodical manner.

So we have cause and effect in normal space time, but we don't *just* have cause and effect which prevents an entirely deterministic universe.

Dr. Yo: that *still* doesn't rule out the existence of a force (or forces) outside of the universe.

By definition there is nothing outside the universe.

"First cause" is an example of the difficulty of trying to force reality to conform with and early understanding of predicate logic in normal time/space.

If you hold with the big bang theory, there is no first cause because there is no time or space before the universe unfolds.

Even if you hold with the notion of a first cause it's really a red herring. It only shifts the problem from what caused the universe to what caused your first cause. Claiming the first cause is some uncaused, unexaminable god is simple to claim that cause and effect is not universal, removing the need for a first cause in the first place.

09-18-05 4:30  •  Struggling with Addiction

BR: Any compassionate wisdom for those of us struggling with addiction?

Half of the addiction is the desire for it.
Half of the addiction is the struggle against it.
Realize total unconcern about it and it will have nothing to do with you.

09-18-05 4:30  •  Bad Karma from Past Lives

R: When you encounter suffering, think to yourself:

I, from the past, accross innumerable eons, have become estranged from the root and follow after the branches, have flowed along in various existances, producing a great deal of ill will and hatred, antagonizing and harming others endlessly. Though there is no transgression on my part in the present, this suffering is the ripening of bad karma-fruits of my past lives. It is something that neither the gods nor men have put upon me. With satisfaction I will bear and accept it, with absolutly no ill will or complaining. The sutra says: "When you meet suffering, do not be sad. Why? Because you comprehend the underlying reason behind it."

I have always considered the whole "past life" BS to be the necessary lame aspect of buddhism which proves it to be a human endevor.

Shit happens, even to me.

I don't need to make up past life excuses as to why it happens to me. Nor do I need to pretend I understand the reasons behind it or that there even need to be reasons behind it.

I neither accept it nor reject it.

Instead, I act in accord with it.

09-18-05 4:30  •  Isn't Zen cold and unemotional?

S: Many times people will say that they don't like Zen because "it's cold or unemotional." Everybody has an emotional mind that revolves around their likes and dislikes. This is our nest. You like this nest, these emotions, and this like and dislike. However, the Buddha taught that our like-and-dislike mind is the source of human suffering.

There is no I-my-me, no "my likes/my dislikes". This is enlightenment. This is what the Buddha's enlightenment teaches.

There's a bit I feel that gets overlooked which can cause the misperception of coldness in zen.

The buddha did not teach against like and dislike. He was not a stone nor did he teach becoming a stone.

He taught that irrational, impossible and inappropriate likes and dislikes are what leads to suffering.

So disliking the past as it was, liking to live forever, these lead to suffering.

Liking a good fart at its moment and letting it pass freely only leads to strong smells.

It is obvious from the strong esthetic sense that pervades most of buddhism and zen in particular, that not all like and dislike are extinguished.

Enlightenment is really a perfection of the art of living. Having likes and dislikes which flow freely without hang ups in the expression of that art leads to the masterpiece of a life fully lived.

09-18-05 4:30  •  Desire vs. Compassion


Michael: Swarm,
desire -vs- compassion
can they co-exist?

Desire is about what you want.
Compassion is about what you do.


Sandy: Desire is instinctual.
Compassion is learned.

Actually as I understand buddhism, desire is what is learned and compassion is the natural result of abiding in the unborn.

Personally, I find they are both innate and we then learn to refine our expression of them. From as soon as they could make themselves known, both of my children have expressed both states.

Also, they now know that empathy is hard wired into most people's brains to one degree or another as part of our social primate heretige. One of the things which seems to make psychopaths and sociopaths act as they do is a misfunctioning of that area of the brain.

09-16-05 8:34  •  Choosing Relationship Problems

JM: Swarm, if a partner was immature and uncommited in the past, and, now older and wiser, you decide to 'rekindle,' what do you think the chances are it will work out?

It really depends on the people.

Personally, I would just sit down with the person and discuss how I feel, find out how they feel and see if there is mutual interest. I would want to go into it clear that both were willing to give it a try and I would not hold it against the other if they said no at any point.

Usually you know what the issues were before and so it should be easy to see if you have both grown beyond that or if they are still haunting you both.

My experience has been that usually the problems in a relationship are chosen by both people and what is chosen can also be not chosen.

JM: Hmm.

Can you give me an example of a 'chosen' problem?

I'm not sure I understand about how problems are chosen, Swarm.

Well the other day I said something to my sweety that ticked her off and it started to escalate so I chose to break off the encounter and get some space.

She was mad and kind of huffed around all day, which started getting on my nerves. She decided that wasn't working so she chose to have us sit down and talk about it.

We discussed our perceptions of the event and eventually came to an equitable solution that left us both satisfied with each other.

Now at each point we could have chosen other paths. The thing with relationship problems is they usually revolve around "being right," pride, and maintaining position.

I could have chosen to push for my being right or have the right to ask what I did. I could have chosen not to back down or allow her to have her say. She could have chosen to stay mad or decided not to listen to me.

Those are choosing the problem.

It could easily have lead to arguments, shouting at each other or even violence.

Instead we chose against the problem each time something started to get out of hand and each chose to give some rather than see the other hurt and in the end the mistakes and misunderstandings were cleared.

Relationship problems *always* involve both people. It may seem like its all the other person's issues, but if you are in an intimate relationship then that seeming is part of the problem because you are in it up to your heart.

At some point you have to decide if the problem is what you choose or your partner.

09-16-05 8:34  •  Love and Letting Go

Jo: I am in a situation, please tell me what you think.

First there's my mom. We are currently getting along but I feel no trust in her. She has always at least said she loves me, even through our hardest times, but she hasn't really been there for me much. I wonder if my loving her unconditionally leaves me open to the hurt she has again and again caused me.

And then there's a guy. I love him, we are not together. But I can see that it's the opposite I have with my mom. I am throwing a lot of unconditional love his way and he is so afraid to let it in because he has been hurt in the past. TRUST is a huge issue with love, giving and receiving.

There is an old saying...Actions speak louder than words.

You can love anybody you set your heart to love.

But having a relationship, particularly an intimate relationship, requires equal desire, courage and commitment from both partners.

It hurts when it is not there, but you must respect the other person's choices.

Life is too short to waste on people afraid of or incapable of loving you.

Let them know how you feel and give them the chance to step up, but if they can or won't it is time to get on with your life.

As for trust...

Jo: Wow..thank you Swarm..the Truth has a ring to it...

09-16-05 2:17  •  What is “Psytrance”?

Dutch: I got to figure out what the hell psytrance is...I am from the Old school and still go by the banner of "Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll"...having a hard time catching up with the latest Tecno stuff...

Psytrance (aka psychedelic trance) is a less melodic, less complex, harder, darker, slightly faster offshoot of Goa Trance, a style of dance music which was developed in Goa, India to blend the techno sensibilities of ravers with the acid sensibilities of hippy refugees from the west.

Kind of like "Dark Side of the Moon" that you can dance to for 8-10 hours.

If you are old school enough to have liked the Moody Blues, Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, Yes ... (well before they all went pop) then you'd probably fit right in. Just break out your old tie-dye, love beads and blotter and jump in with both feet.

09-16-05 10:16  •  Osho and Spiritual Technology

T: I saw my own self-awareness for a couple brief moments during a 7-day satori workshop designed by Osho. He must be on to something! I don't see any hook.

Any one can take a well-developed spiritual technology and show you your own self-awareness. It is a trivial process. You must look at what is packaged with that technology and where the one teaching it has gone.

The hook works like this -

"I gave you an interesting experience, therefore: these conclusions are true."

The hari krishnas are really milking this. They have worked out a nice blissful experience, therefore: Krishna is god and you should give them all your money.

T: Facts about Oshso are objective knowledge. But, we are debating subjective knowledge...

But there is no seperateness between them. My subjective knowledge is directly reflected in the objective objects I make. Likewise Osho's subjective knowledge was directly reflected in the scandals he made.

T: That is pretty amazing that you call it a trivial process. I have never heard that kind of statement before.

I'm glad I could help set you straight. I studied quite a number of such technologies back in my graduate days. Most eastern "mystics" use a pretty standard set of practices, at least at the entry level, and there has been some interesting work in the west as well.

The hard part is not the process, such as staring at a blank wall. The hard part is the years of day-in and day-out follow-through. Its the dealing with what you find, overcoming setbacks, overcoming breakthroughs, until you reach beyond the experience.

Technologies and the experiences they give are like buying a set of tools.

Getting them is trivial. You can purchase a set from any store in a few minutes.

It is learning how to use the tools and practicing with them day after day, year after year, that makes you a master.

P.S. There is tons of information on Osho aka Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh aka Acharya Rajneesh originally Chandra Mohan Jain.

Here is a couple links to get you started: