11-17-06 11:10Help with Death

Wolf: I have a friend, an older woman in her 70's. She just lost someone very dear to her and she is having a very difficult time dealing with it.

I had thought that she would handle this much better, but I think as she gets older, and is alone, she is having serious fears surrounding death.

What I am looking for is the most sublime proverb or poem that puts death into perspective. She responds well to that type of communication. Can you help?

There is only one proverb for her at a time like this.
Go to her. Be with her. Show her again and again that you are her friend and you will be with her. Be patient. It will take time to get past the loss and hurt and you don't want to compete with her grieving.

If she likes proverbs or poems, don't bring one to her.
Bring some books of them and ask her to help you find some.

Let me know what she finds.

Wolf: thankyou Swarm...wise simple words of love...

11-12-06 12:11Let Us B The Light

God Star: Let us also be grateful to the Ascended Realms of Light, angels and guides, mostly unrecognised and unacknowledged, never failing to extend to us the gifts of their energy, presence and love. Let us release our fixed patterns about when, from whom and in what manner we will be presented with Universal Truth. Know that each receives in his own way and that there is no set or right way.

May your inner Lantern Light the way Home.

Believe nothing on the faith of traditions,
even though they have been held in honor
for many generations and in diverse places.
Do not believe a thing because many people speak of it.
Do not believe on the faith of the sages of the past.
Do not believe what you yourself have imagined,
persuading yourself that a God inspires you.
Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests.
After examination, believe what you yourself have tested
and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto.


Be lamps unto yourselves.
Be refuges unto yourselves.
Take yourself no external refuge.
Hold fast to the truth as a lamp.
Hold fast to the truth as a refuge.
Look not for a refuge in anyone besides yourselves.


11-08-06 12:01Self Interest

Shmendrick: Ideologies change. When I was a retail worker I was a Socialist, because I thought in a Socialist system I'd at least have a place to live. When I got a better job and a few nice things in life, I became a more center-leaning liberal, because I thought it served my interests better than Socialism. If I started some buisiness and turned out to be good at it and got very rich... I have a feeling that my ideological expression of those interests would change as well. This principle I am sure is roughly the same for most people.

The principle is selfishness, even though its expression changes as your self-interests change. A lot of people use selfishness as the basis of their principles. It's necessary to start somewhere and oneself seems a reasonable starting place.

You might try enlightened self-interest next. If you have strong allies/communities it serves you better than just seeking your own personal benefit.

Shmendrick: I illustrated the personal example merely to give the meat to the notion that people choose philosophies according to their self interest.

Some do. Some don't. Some it's a mix.

There is more to choices and interests than just self.

Shmendrick: Even enlightened self interest is a kind of selfishness Swarm. And I would think that most people think their self interest is enlightened.

I said it was a step up, not something radically new. It is self-interest but it is blended with interest in others as well.

Just self-interest results in sub-optimal solutions.

Choosing the solution which is best for you and best for the group results in the optimal solution. (ref. John Nash)

Everyone seems to always feel the need to justify their selfishness and all it does is point out how it ultimately lacks satisfaction on its own.

Shmendrick: Only in retrospect can anyone truly judge whether their choices were truly enlightened or not.

Only in retrospect can you know if they were successful. But you can know going into it if you are considering just your interests or if you are considering other's interests as well.

11-08-06 11:08Rational

Promo: You said, "To be rational, a claim must at least be public and subject to verification. 'I own a cat' is a rational claim."

Well, those are not the criteria provided by formal logic.

Formal logic is a subset of rational language use.

Promo: if you talk to god, theres simply no doubt left in your mind thats what happened, and theres no way to express why in verbal language.

I have had the "talking with god" experience and I disagree with your glib assessment.

Promo: If i give you a miracle, will you be happy? no.

Give me one and we'll see.

Promo: Likely you'd simply deny it, or science analyze it away.

Excuses are not miracles.

Promo: Just because i have private experiences of god does not mean that i am in any way obliged to offer you proof. I can point down the same path i walked down, and you can take it or leave it.

If you kept your private experience private then you would hear no complaint from me. If you really didn't care what others thought of your experience then this conversation would not happen.

You had some experiences and you think they are really snazzy, fine. But if you want me to agree that they are actually experiences of an actual god I will need more than just your personal excitement.

Rationally in this case means at a minimum publically and with external verification.
Demonstrating means producing objective public evidence.

Promo: Thats not rationalism, its appeal from popularity, or, tyrany of the majority.

You are mistaken. Verification is not just a matter of popular opinion.

11-06-06 9:06Atheists vs. Fundamentalists

Kelly: I know that atheists would bristle at being told that their worldview is similar to that of modern religious fundamentalists, but it's true. Hardcore atheists and religious fundamentalists have exactly the same mindset.

I think that in order to achieve your premise you have to over-simplify both positions to the point where neither side would recognize themselves any more.

The fact is atheists and fundimentalists don't have similar world views at all.

What they have is similar levels of passion, but you fail to show any relevant salient features to those passions. Just being passionate about a position doesn't mean that one arrives at that passion by the same means, holds the passion in the same way, or uses the passion for the same ends. Demonstrating a few of these would lend versimilatude to your claim.

Kelly: As I said, both groups believe that there is only one valid, "true", reality, that is objectively real and can be explained within the realm of literal, material evidence.

Fundimenatalists and atheists may both use words like "true" and "literal" but they do not mean the same things by those words at all. Also, you are mistaking a materialist, naturalist or realist (its hard to pin down exactly which here) for an atheist.

This is a good example of where the subtlety of both positions seems lost to you. Fundimentalists believe there is only one *revealed* understanding of reality. It is *revealed* in the bible and its truth comes from the fact that it is contained in the bible. "Truth" for them is a matter of conforming to the authority of the bible which they claim to be the "literal" word of their god.

An atheist just says that the fundimentalist's claims to have a real god are steaming piles of the brown stuff. The bible is just another book of old myths and all it reveals is that people are extremely gullible. (Speaking of gullible. Did you know that most dictionaries don't have a definition for gullible? Check a couple and see.)

Atheism itself says nothing about truth or about reality.

Now it is true that most atheists are also materialists, naturalists or realists as well (though the reverse is not necessarily true - not all materialists, naturalists or realists are also atheists.)

These philosophies make claims about reality and have epistomologies, but while these may have words in common with the fundimentalists, such as truth or reality, those words have little or nothing in common with the fundimentalist usage. Admitedly this can be confusing, but that is the nature of competeing views.

Also, just because views compete, that doesn't mean that they are both equally true, equally valid or equally deserving of consideration. The fundimentalist position inherantly denies any competeing view which questions its authority or its conclusions. The M, N or R views don't require conformance with their views, though it may seem that way if they are just given a cursory glance. They only require conformance with reality. As long as you can show such conformance, then your views are inviolate for these philosophies.

In other words, the fundimentalist position is inherantly closed. Only their bible counts as a valid authority and all else is denied. The M, N and R philosophies are open to anyone who can show they are successfully discussing reality.

Letting the fact that both sides are passionate blind you to this fact is a grave error.

Science is willing to study prayer in order to see if, and try to prove that, the cliams of religion are true.

Fundimentalists only try to prove science is false because it competes with their authority and dares to point out thier glaring errors.

Kelly: Both the evolutionary process with it's chance and accident AND the idea of a universe with purpose and meaning can exist at the same time in my view.

Only the fundy says they can't.

The M, N or R side only says "Look, see how they are actually working instead of making unsupported claims that they have to work the way you want them to."

11-06-06 9:06Perfect Crap

Rene: Can crap be perfect? I think the existence of crap is perfectly good evidence there is no perfect creator.

Or, "perfect" is a solely a mental construct without any meaning that ties into an actual referant.

Applying "perfect" (solely a mental construct) to "crap" (a referant to an actual substance) is an error of kind.

You can only correctly apply such mental constructs to other equally solely mental constructs and expect a rationally intelligible statement, such as a perfect circle is one where x^2 + y^2 = r^2.

"Crap" is what it is. Saying it is perfect doesn't mean any more or less than saying it is imperfect. These are not the kinds of qualities which actual objects have. At best one could say that they have ideas about what crap ought to be like and actual crap meets or falls short of this ideal, but "perfection" really applies to the ideal, not the "crap."

Errors of kind are unfortunately both insidious and ubiquitous in philosophical discourse. It is, perhaps, the single largest source of unresolvable conflict over ideas, particularly when a single word is used to describe things in multiple scopes.

If a fundimentalist actually had the convition of his faith, then he would realize that reality and "revealed truth" are wholely diferent kinds of understandings which have no intersection. "God" is unreal. Science deals only with what is real. Never the twain shall meet and neither has anything to say about the other except when it tries to step out side its appropriate realm.

Expecting the bible to mean anything real is like expecting a twenty-sided die to solve all your disputes at a biker bar.

Errors of kind can get messy when reality is involved because bridges, walls and angry bikers just don't care about the authority of the bible.

11-06-06 8:06Meditation Technique

Phil: What's that meditation technique for not freezing to death...?

You invision a ball of golden fire in your hara. Once you've got that going so your belly feels warm, envision it flowing through your veins like rivers of fire until you feel nice and toasty. Don't overdo and remember you are burning calories.

Once you get good you should be able to lie in a snow bank, wrapped in a wet sheet, in the Himalayas and melt down to the ground and dry the sheet.

But I wouldn't start there.

My best, back when I was interested, was being able to take my coat off without discomfort for a while in the winter.

11-06-06 7:06Stuck

Hadra: As Buddhists, we need to ask ourselves - "What is it that keeps us stuck?"


11-06-06 6:06Atheism - Belief System?

Kelly: You have mentioned that Atheism is not a belief. I would call it a Belief System.

Calling it a belief system implies it is both a belief and there is a system. Unfortunately neither is true.

It is the denial of a belief and there is no system since it is just a singular denial.

I'm not sure why that point seems to ellude people so, but just start thinking for a moment. What beliefs are you able to ascribe to an atheist who is just an atheist?

All you can really say is that they refuse the theistic claims of the theist. There really is nothing else there. They aren't positing any replacement belief. They aren't saying what you should believe. In fact you really don't know anything about them except that one refusal.

Kelly: I suppose there are some people who call themselves atheists who do not deny a spiritual element of existence, just God or other divine conciousnesses, but I think they would be small minority.

That doesn't make them less atheists or nonexistant.

Kelly: Atheists I've spoken with tend to not like the term Belief System because they want to claim that their view of the nature of existence is based on provable truth, not beliefs.

This is just not true. Atheism doesn't posit any views of nature. You are mistaking materialism, naturalism or realism for atheism. It is unfortunately a common mistake since most atheist fall into one of these camps and most atheist are as philosophically naive as most theists. However, you don't have to accept M, N or R to be a completely valid atheist. If fact you can be wholely irrational and still be an atheist. ***ALL you have to do to join the club is tell the theists they are full of it for whatever reason or non-reason you care to.*** While again a solid minority, there are mystics who are atheists because they have realized that all claims and understandings of god are false. A-theism, not in the sense that they are against "god" but in the sense that they are against theism.

Kelly: The problem with this is that there is no scientific test that can determine whether the universe has a purpose or not.

First, what you are railing against has nothing to do with atheism. Science, for example, includes numerous theists.

Second, purpose is something found only in beings who can cognize. If you find a god and show it can cognize there is no rational atheist who would object. Atheist only care that you refuse to produce any gods. Since the universe is generally unable to cognize, except for extremely rare pockets of cognition such as people, it clearly has no purpose itself. Now if you do find a god, he could reasonably claim he had a purpose for the universe. Of course maybe he didn't.

Kelly: Athiests, scientists - they just choose to believe that ALL of the experiences, visions, revelations, etc regarding a spiritual aspect of existence that people have experienced throughout time are just hallucinations, lies, or otherwise not valid, even though there is no proof that this is the case.

Actually "they" don't. There are mystic scientists and mystic atheists. They happen to be rare, but then actual mystics are rare even among theists (who usually can't stand them). The only people who act as you claim are radical skeptics. Confusing skepticism with science or atheism is a very common mistake. They are completely different positions even though people often make use of all three.

But even a skeptic will grant that the experience was in fact an experience. It is the conclusions about that experience (like "it was god") which are doubted.

BTW, no proof is exactly the objection which all the complaints hinge against. All you have to do is give actual and verifiable proof and even the most radical skeptic will fall in line behind you. Proof is all they are asking for. Thomas got it and they are quite willing to forgo a bit of "blessed are they" to get some too.

No proof means no case means all claims are thrown out.

Kelly: Athiests don't have proof of no god - they just believe that it is so.

No, they have learned by trial and error and thousands of years of false claims that no proof is the refuge of liars and scoundrals of the worst sort, like the nice rev Haggard. Unfounded belief degrades and it can be used, and has been used, to justify any and every depravity known to man - in the name of god of course. Epistomologically there is absolutely no diference between your claims of god and the claims of god of al Qeda.

Kelly: I would be fine with athiests, as long as they admit it is just their belief and not the capital T Truth that there is no doubt of.

Neither atheists nor scientist have any use for "T"ruth, nor are they ever free from doubt. Both of those are the realm of the religious.

What science needs, and constantly looks for, is reason to doubt. Science is truth by the trial of the fire of doubt. The way that something is accepted as provisionally true in science is first you doubt it in every possible way you can think of and then you do your best to prove what you though was true actually was wrong. It is only after you have done your very best to prove it wrong *and* let everyone who cares have a shot at proving it wrong too, it is only then that you accept it *may* be true. And anyone can take another crack at it if they care to.

This is what pisses the religious off about science. No authority is sacred and especially no bibles or claims by preachers are sacred. All is subject to question and doubt, and proof is the only standard.

And unlike religion, science delivers. Are we using science or prayer to communicate at a distance?

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