10-01-06 10:01  •  Another B'hai

Seb: You know, I really like your postings, but what you dont understand is the prophets from God are all share the same throne.

No god. No prophets from god. Just quotes from books about something some guy once said.

Seb: The Bab and Baha’u’llah teach that as a human being your first responsibility towards God is to recognize the manifestation for this day and age, the second is to follow his laws.

As a rational being of any kind your responsibility is understanding truth by learning to observe and reason.

Seb: I'm not sure what you mean by “no [G]od.. No prophets from [G]od. Just quotes from books about something some guy once said."

That seems pretty straightforward. You are assuming a god but there is no evidence to support that assumption. Without any god your prophets from god are just people who like wise made wild unsupportable claims.

Seb: When I said that "the prophets from God are all share the same throne" I was referring to the other great messengers from God such as Moses, Abraham, Krishna, Noah, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohamed, and the Bab.

Oh, the buddha is on the record as not claiming to be a prophet from god and refused to be acclaimed as associated with deities or otherwise other than a normal human who had awakened. In fact he thought the whole question of deities non-productive and unworthy of consideration. It is one of his distinctive features as a spiritual icon.

Seb: Bahaullah is the divine messenger sent from God for this day and age. If you accept this then you understand that everything he says comes from God. And the quote that I presented, in case you missed that, was from a tablet written by Bahaullah.

As I said, just some quotes from a book some guy wrote. You would do as well to quote "Stranger in a Strange Land." I find Heinlein's quotes a bit less pretentious and I like that he is honest about it being fiction.

Seb: In addition I dont know why you were attacking my sense of reasoning.

If it helps us find a middle ground you should know I find your presentation at least as offensive as you seem to find mine. The hubris of pretending to know gods. The ursurption and subordination of other faith traditions. The presumption that the self-agrandizing Bahaullah is even worthy of note. If we let emotion and irrationality rule here the matter is hopeless.

Rationality creates a path through the morass but one must abide by observation and reason if there is to be any hope of arriving at consensus.

Seb: everything I believe in comes from my own investigations and understanding.

I've no doubt you have read books and talked to people who claimed authority in these matters.

But all of it hinges on the presumption of god and I find that presumption extrordinary, unfounded and unsupportable.

Without justifying this presumption, everything that follows from it is just talk at best and at worst it is deliberate deception for the accumulation of power, influence and wealth by a few neferious and/or insane church "authorities."

In your own words: "your first responsibility towards God is to recognize the manifestation for this day and age, the second is to follow his laws."

Where of course the best manifestation is yours and his laws are what your people say they are.

That is the abdication of rationality to the dictates of an authority. It is madness no matter how benignly it manifests.

Observation and reason tempered with the verification and consensus of others who know how to observe and reason is the cornerstone of rationality.

Frankly I see no actual god here. I only see more humans vying for top "god."

09-29-06 9:29  •  Road Map

Clarion: You seem to feel religion is of no use. I like to think of religion as a road map. Once you can see your destination then the map is unnecessary. You can't blame the road map if you make the map more important than the destination.

May we develop patience and tolerance for our fellow travellers, and focus on our own path to unity consciousness.

Road maps and paths, unity consciousnesses and destinations. Everybody's off to some where else, some when else, something else, some one else.

Get this person, this time, this place.

Figure out how to do this, or that, whatever you think you are seeking, will just be this all over again.

09-24-06 9:11  •  Marriage Contract

Joe: I think human behavior is all geneticaly hardwired. Marital infidelity, for example, can eaily be understood both as deriving strongly from genetic predisposition, and being extremely normal from a statistical standpoint. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't object to it, though; it is a violation of contract, and violation of contracts is agreed to be bad, in principle, even by people who sign them and then don't follow through.

If we must use business jargon I would say a marriage is not a contract (an agreement concerning goods or services and renumeration for such). I would say marriage is a partnership (an agreement to work together for a common purpose sharing risks and rewards).

In fact I would go so far as to suggest the mistaking these two positions is a prime cause of failure for a marriage. Contracts are inherantly tit-for-tat and limited in duration. Partnerships have varying degrees of give and take and look to the long term.

09-18-06 8:10  •  Is there...?

Lara: Do you think it is possible or impossible that there is a larger consciousness or intelligence in play?

Your sentence isn't really intellegible to me as it stands. I know that isn't terribly satisfying but that is the best answer I can give you concerning what you ask.

However, if by "larger consciousness or intelligence" you mean a super natural deity (aka god), I would have to say that as I currently understand those ill-defined terms, I see absolutely no reason to posit the question at this time. Not "yes there is," "no there isn't," or even "I don't know," but "why should I wonder about that?"

09-18-06 8:10  •  Memory and Mind Control

D'zoner: I posit there is no way that the physical brain is the storage mechanism for human memory. Memory must be stored in an astral plane or something!

It's just common sense. How else can you account for the demonstrated capacities of a human being in operation AND the storage of her memories? The physical structure of the brain alone is hopelessly inadaquate.

Nope, it works just fine. Also you highly underestimate its complexity and capacity.

D'zoner: Now, I don't mean someone who 'remembers' an incident while telling her friends what happened, I mean someone regressed by a trained and experienced person using known and effective techniques over a period of time.

I'm a qualified person and have regressed people before. It is quite interesting. Thanks to cat scans and such, we know the person uses the peception centers of the brain to create the imagry and sense of being there, possibly using some of the same functions as we use while dreaming.

But, while certain details may well be fully accurate, much of the experience is fabricated too in order to flesh out the experience. Also, with careful language use one can cause all manner of spurious fabrication up to and including completely false memories which never happened. This is why testimony ellicited by these means is suspect and often inadmissable in court.

D'zoner: The point is there is an exact duplicate, an utterly complete data set recorded of the entirety of everything a person experiences in life!

That just isn't the case.

I'm afraid that just because you find it difficult to understand how it could be, that does not mean that it can only be explained by the supernatural.

D'zoner: You obviously have never looked at the human brain. It has less capacity than a modern hard drive, and yet we have perfect recall!

For what it's worth my bachelor's was in cognitive science, though I specialized in artificial neural systems.

There really is just no comparing the brain and any computer in terms of actual function. At a high level there are certain similarities, hardly a surprise since one invented the other, but even there it is better to think in terms of analogies rather than exact correspondence.

Also, while you can recall an astounding amount of information, the vast majority of a memory is reconstructed no matter how clear it seems. This is why "eye witnesses" are so unreliable. We are storing not images, but distributed patterns of activation which we use to represent our sensations, thoughts and feelings, depending on where and how the pattern manifests in the brain.

Jeff: So there is storage? Of some sort? Not actuals, but at least enough to recreate?

It would be more accurate to say the neurons, which are one-celled animals, learn how to sing electric harmonies which resemble how they sang before, close enough to be generally useful to the whole.

Remember, what you are seeing when you look isn't the actual photons. Only the retina sees that. What you see is the harmonies of activation which result from that.

One way to think of it is that your brain creates the Matrix and your mind is "Neo" living inside it.

It happens to be built in real time from actual data gathered from the world, but the anaolgy is pretty close in many ways and its possible to play games with known glitches, optical illusions for example.

D'zoner: Oh yeah, Mister Science? Give this a go. Give me the benefit of the doubt. Accept I was able to, from a distance, energize and deenergize a group of people sitting at a cafe table. Take them from listless quiet sitting there to a lively engetic talkative gestulating state. and back down again. and back up again. and to any state in between. Like I controlled their energy level with a rheostat. How do you suppose that would be possible?

I'm glad you feel you can control people, but if you really can control them then you should contact a psych student and set up a demonstration and then work out a controlled double blind study.

But have you considered that people naturally have increases and decreases in their social energy, particularly when ingesting stimulants? If you are looking at them and "trying" to change their energy level, eventually you will seem to "succeed" when in fact the level would have changed any way.

Jeff: I think the most likely explanation would be an unfortunate psychotic episode, marked by delusions of grandeur and narcissism.

I strongly doubt this as a likely explanation.

It is far more likely a confusion of cause and effect with a bit of magical thinking to spiff it up a bit.

If you concentrate on "affecting" a something which represents a random walk, then it is easy for it to seem like you actually are "affecting" it, particularly if you haven't studied it enough to realize the nature of what is happening.

The classic example is "cloud busting" where you stare at a small cloud and "bust" it up so that it goes away.

When you add to the the fact that people telegraph their mood and pending actions via facial expressions and other nonverbal cues, it is easy to see how one could come to believe they had special powers.

D'zoner: Your reasoning is good.

Lord knows, I met a great many what I considered 'posers' in that Seattle cafe. But I'm telling you, I sat there and controlled their energy level like I was turning a rheostat up and down.

If you think this is something other than definitely possible, then I think you lack in capacity of curiosity, courage of exploration and fluidity of reality and depth of experience.

In other words.

A poser.

So, you pose an extrordinary claim which lacks any supporting evidence and for which there are far more reasonable explanations, yet I'm the one who lacks "in capacity of curiosity, courage of exploration and fluidity of reality and depth of experience?"

Thinking you can change people's energy levels is nice. I'm sure it lets you set yourself apart. But until you can *prove* that you can change people's energy levels it just isn't that interesting. That is one of the strengths of science, taking what you think is true and actually letting you prove it is so.

In the meantime all I see are extrordinary claims based on anecdotal passing observations in which you didn't do any kind of investigation. You simply leapt to a particular conclusion which fit your particular view.

Now I'm not saying extrordinary things don't happen or that there aren't things which happen that we don't understand well or at all, such as fire walking for example. What I'm saying is that nothing you have said makes me think that your case is one of those. What you propose seems to far more likely be the result of a misinterpretation of the events.

I know that isn't as sexy as being able to control people, but that's the way it seems based on what you've said so far.

Also, since you are the one claiming powers, you would be the poser and I would be the one who is skeptical of your posing.

09-18-06 7:10  •  Sick Sister

Still Shiney: I take care of my lil sis, and she has FAS, RAD, a growth hormone deficiency, tourettes, hyperflexive, Pica (which makes her eat any random object she finds), and has been diagnosed as Bipolar and Type two shizephrenic. I live in a little shithole redneck community where the rent is cheap, so that the $1,000 a month I get from the state to care for her will pay my bills. I GET NO LOVE!!!!

What should I do?

That's a hard row to hoe.

My cousin is keeping her sister now, but her mom kept her 'til she died a couple years back and my cousin is in her late 30's now and a bit of a spinster. Also, the one she's looking after is not in as bad a shape as what you describe.

I'd say if you can't get help from the rest of the family you are going to have to make some hard choices about what you want to do with your life and what conditions you are willing to live under.

You have my sympathy and love.

Still Shiney: Thanks man. I need a break! Taking care of Rose is WORK. If I fuck around and leave a bottlecap on the floor, she'll chew it up like a peice of gum while I'm pissing. She's a pretty tough little shit. The woman who had the job before me was 260 lbs. and quit because Rose broke and dislocated the woman's jaw.

I was 11 when my mom adopted Rose. The doctors told us they didn't expect her to live through the month. My dad's here too, but he doesn't help much in that department cuz he works pretty much ALL the time.

Its a bitch finding the point of balance and knowing where to draw the line.

If I'm hearing this right, your mom chose to adopt her and she is a danger to caretakers.

Have you considered that she may be more than you guys can handle and needs to be committed?

Still Shiney: I think it would be best for me to go elsewhere and pursue a fortune, and then REALLY take care of Rose.

You can't take care of another if you can't take care of yourself.

Also I imagine this has a pretty negative effect on your social life.

You sound young and it speaks very highly of your character that you are willing to shoulder so much of this burden, but I think you really need to consider if this is how you want to spend the best years of your life and if she is the one you want to live with as a companion.


Still Shiney: To me, letting my sister go to an institution is simply not an option.

Fair enough.

Still Shiney: The thought of casting her aside like you suggest kinda made me ill when I read it.

I'd would be less than forthright if I did not mention it given what you have said of her condition and behavior.

She is lucky to have you for a brother.

As I said, what you are doing says a lot about your strength of character.

09-17-06 7:10  •  Fresh Outrage

Backstory: By citing an obscure Medieval text that characterizes some of the teachings of Islam's founder as "evil and inhuman," Benedict inflamed Muslim passions and aggravated fears of a new outbreak of anti-Western protests.

Mack: Can you believe this pope? Benedict is concerned---as most of us are---with the plague of "holy wars". However, he doesn't seem to realize he's the visible head of a Church responsible for a few and thus his remarks inspire the obvious rejoinder, "Physician, heal thyself!" Granted, the Church hasn't decleared a holy war in recent memory. Still, his message would be much stronger if he said, "It is wrong to kill in God's name and whenever Christians have done it, they have been wrong."

It would be better for a non-sectarian source to speak on the history of both Islam and Christianity in this regard.

Glad you asked.

They both suck. They are both false.

Mack: Both of your judgments may be true, but they don't offer a detailed take on the history of Islam and violence, and Christianity and violence.

They both suck is detailed enough for the moment.

Mack: For you, maybe, but you're too easilty satisfied.

I'd be a xtian if I was easily satisfied.

Mack: The issue is history and the use of 'jihad.'

That is your surface issue. The underlying deep issue is that they both suck.

Arguing about which sucked first or which sucked hardest in the past or which sucks most now is just a distraction from the fact that they both suck and need to be abandoned for things which do not suck.

Erik: Sure, they both suck, and are false. This does not mean that the Pope's words were false.

It means that his words are an attempt to dodge the real issue: he is the head dude of one of the suckiest orgs in the whole world. He has sacrificed the last of his freedom and humanity to become the epitome of what the person he worships hated most about religion.

What a fool.

Erik: Religions suck. But right now, at this time in history, it's Islam that sucks the biggest weenie.

They all suck. It is inherant in the system of religion. Some have their suck dormant, some have it dominant. But thinking one is worse or better is like saying, oh that shit over there doesn't smell as bad as this shit here.

The point is, it's all shit. It all sucks. It is time to stop messing around in the shit and get on with becoming civilized and intellegent as a species.

Mack: Religions can be distinguished from one another by their teachings, histories, etc. Saying "they are all shit" is a strange claim for someone keen on science to make.

Not really.

Shit can be distinguished by is constituents, its color, its size, etc. and yet it is still all shit.

Mack: in what appreciable sense do they all equally suck? By "appreciable" here I mean measureable. Being different, how can they be equal? Religions can't suck EQUALLY if there are measurable DIFFERENCES between them.)

You aren't reading carefully. I did not say they equally suck. You inserted the equally and then attacked your strawman like a pit bull.

They all suck. Even the ones which suck less, still suck. Quantifying the suckiness doesn't alleviate it. Identifying the suckiness doesn't alleviate it. Only abandoning the suckiness alleviates it.

Mack: What we need is a set of principles for moral behavior that speak to real human needs without positing a supernatural source.

Oh, you mean like the buddha posited 2500 years ago, or like Epicurus posited 2300 years ago?

Mack: That, I think, would be a good long step to a more peaceful world.

Alas, not so far.

Mack: This was the point Erik made when he said they may all suck, though not equally, and you said they DO all suck equally.

Read what was actually said and not what you want it to say.

I said the point is they all suck.

At no point do I say that they suck equally.

My point is that getting caught up in issues of quality misses the point that they all suck, which is the key understanding here. While the Poop didn't come right out and say it, his actions speak louder than his words here and point out just how it all sucks and has sucked since before the dawn of history.

It doesn't matter what the quality of the shit is that you have in your hand, you still have shit in your hand.

Throw the religion away and wash your hand.

09-14-06 6:10  •  Mentor

Sara: Do you have any advice for a novice in SanFran? I have tried the mentor thing, but I always seem to either get fruitcakes who can barely manage their own lives or people into power trips.

There is always a lot of that. It is just a matter of becoming active in the community with people who care about that sort of spiritual experience and then sorting the wheat from the chaff.

The mind states people are good folks - mindstates.tribe.net - a good number of them are in SF. You might start with that tribe and see where it leads. Generally the ayahuasca crowd is pretty serious about what they do also.

Personally I look at the whole person in terms of a mentor. If they wouldn't make a good friend, they won't make a good mentor.

Also, a mentor is mainly on the offering side. If they are doing too much asking, they aren't ready to mentor.

09-14-06 3:54  •  Who Loves Unconditionally?

Will: I've read what you have written about unconditional love, but I have a question. Who exactly is doing the loving and who is the recipient of this love?

You are trying to be too clever here. There is no great mystery...it means you and the people you love with.

Will: But the body-mind-personality matrix normally thought of as "I" is conditioned by nature and thus inherently unable to love unconditionally.

You are fishing for excuses to avoid having to try. There is no requirement for a certain level of performance or even meeting a particular standard. All that is needed is the will to try and willingness to refine that effort through practice. Getting it wrong is the first step and in the end the best that can be expected is to get good enough.

Will: How can unconditional love occur in the world of duality, with the unavoidable play of opposites?

Duality is one of the ways we understand reality, but it is not the fact of reality. It is more about how our minds and language work. There are very few true opposites. Electrons and positrons, protons and antiprotons...most of the things we think of in dualistic terms are actually gradients of presence and absence - light/dark or hot/cold, or they are merely mental/emotional abstractions without inherent actuality - like/dislike or mine/not mine.

Love has no opposite just as it has no set form. It is what you make it with those you love. Choose to impose conditions and it is conditional that much. Choose to not impose conditions and it is unconditional that much. But it is never wholly one thing or another, which is why it is so interesting as a way to be.

Will: But...if...

"If" is not the path to unconditional love. "If" is the path to regret and suffering.

Will: All is recognized to, most fundamentally, be one.

All is not one. All is not two.

Will: When our consciousness is grounded in our true identity...

There is no other identity that you are ever grounded in. There only is thinking that there might be.

Will: ...unconditional love is inherent to our being who we are!

There is no inherent nature of this sort. You must choose your nature and make it your own through practice.

Will: So it seems to me that the focus of our practice should be continually bringing our consciousness back to the remembrance of who we actually are. When we know that all other things are understood.

Focus on practicing remembrance of who you were, or wish you were, and that is what you will understand. If you wish to understand unconditional love, that is what you must practice. There is no easy short cut here. You only become what you do. You only understand what you consider.

Read more in the Archives.