Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Philosphy

Disclaimer: This is a long one, even for me. I am not sure it will even make sense to anyone who has the obstinance to try to make it through the whole thing. Oh well, I can only get better at writing this kind of stuff, so I had to start somewhere.

Also, for some of you reading this, it may be a more palatable entry if you replace the word “universe” with “God” whenever you encounter it throughout the rest of the entry.


It’s a typical Southern California day outside today. Blue skies, warm but not uncomfortably warm. I was sitting in my car after lunch preparing myself mentally to return to the office, and I started staring at these two palm trees against the pale blue beach sky. I started to think about how those trees just looked like an old content couple happy to have grown alongside each other, happy to have existed, resigned to the fact that they were only playing their role in a larger scheme. I guess I had my mini Bodhi Tree moment although The Buddha probably wasn’t sitting in a Subaru at the moment of his enlightenment. I will attempt to share my thoughts, although it is always difficult to communicate a moment of transcendence:

I found myself staring at those trees and thinking about how intelligent the universe must be at a sub-atomic level. The universe knew 14 billion years ago to release all of this energy and matter and left a consciousness vibrating throughout everything. I thought about how the universe set a few parameters for itself (physical and metaphysical laws that we may or may not understand) and began organizing itself, based on the conscious intentions that it had infused into everything that was present after the “big bang”. Sub atomic particles came together to form matter and the matter clustered just perfectly to create the solar system and planet Earth. Did Earth form because it is just one of the billions of permutations that were possible as a result of the cataclysmic birth of a universe? Maybe, if you want to leave things up to mathematical probability…but even given that theory, the consciousness of the universe must have understood its own potential for spawning a planet (or millions of planets) capable of sustaining more organized systems of discrete consciousness, i.e. capable of sustaining life. Whether the Earth is the singular intention of the universe or one of billions of statistical inevitabilities doesn’t really matter. I believe what matters most is that the intelligence and consciousness had a desire and that desire has been manifesting for as long as the desire has been present.

Then I began to think of myself. I am a human being, but what is that? Although I am not the universe, I am of the universe and every single conscious thought or notion has implications on a universal level. I have within myself the power to send out energy that touches every corner of the universe. As a matter of fact, thinking of the universe in terms of a three dimensional space is merely a human concept, a product of my experience-limited awareness and consciousness. Now by experience-limited, I don’t mean there is a boundary of awareness that I cannot cross. What would be the point of drawing an arbitrary line in the sand and telling myself I cannot cross it? I simply mean if the universe contains all there is…there is really no describing it relative to something else. But we tend to try to simplify all abstractions with limiting terms whether it be math, love, or the universe.

I continued to think to myself while watching those trees. Are those two palm trees self aware in the way that I am? I assume that those palm trees are one of countless manifestations of the intention of all the released energy and matter reacting over the last 14 billion years. Those trees are perfect products of the energy and matter that created them, just as I am a perfect product of the energy and matter that created me. Was it the chemical nature of sexuality in my parents, their love, their lust, their desire to affirm the goodness of life by perpetuating it, their reactions to the psychic pressure of wanting to do what was expected and/or normal in their estimation? Perhaps it was all those things coming together and more that resulted in me, a perfect emanation of the consciousness of the universe after 14 billion years of experience (apparently on a two for one deal…twins are evidence that the universe is a bargain shopper).

Here is where it gets interesting (thanks for reading this far if you are still here). Every single feeling I have is a result of that 14 billion years of organization and experience, a perfectly produced and finely honed aspect of consciousness. My desire for love and comfort is a perfect manifestation of consciousness. My fears are perfect products too. Shame, guilt, rage…they may seem like pointless destructive emotions but in the same way that humankind harnesses the destructive power of combustion to create energy, these “destructive” emotions have creative potential too. But it is important to realize that no matter what the emotion, it is a carefully measured reaction of consciousness. Emotion is probably the most powerful form of consciousness there is, for it trumps pure rationality every time How amazing that with six billion people on the planet, that nearly all of us have the same basic psychic structures that allow us to experience love, grief, and a whole gamut of other emotions. Their universality is a testament to how perfect our natural emotions and feelings truly are. Our entire emotional world is a perfect reaction to the environment and our own perfect programming, much the same way that those palm tress have a perfect reaction to rich soil, wind, rain, and sunshine. A tree losing its leaves due to strong winds is natural. A child bawling its eyes out over something an adult might consider unimportant is just as natural. An adult’s emotional reactions are still just as natural and perfect. Of course along the way to adulthood, our environment (that is also infused with consciousness) will shape how we process feelings, but our feelings will never stop being genuine messages of consciousness, a sincere and unambiguous language of the soul.

But it is not just my feelings that are a perfect product of the last 14 billion years. My thoughts and choices are perfect products too. No, I am not saying that every thought and idea that I have is ideal for the betterment of society, but my mind is a natural aspect of me being a human, just as the roots are a natural aspect of those two palms being trees. If the roots expose the trees to a toxic substance in the dirt below, the trees will be poorly affected, but the roots are doing what they are meant to do. It would be pointless for the rest of the tree to resent the roots. In that sense any thought my mind produces at any moment is a product of what the universal consciousness (working inside of me and outside of me) has infused me with up to that point. My mind is doing its job no matter what thought it conjures or what choice it makes. The branches and leaves of the tree are organized to choose to grow toward the light, but the tree cannot grow in complete darkness. My mind is the same way. It will produce the best thoughts and choices given what it has access to. My mind and my thoughts are doing nothing but manifesting the desire and will of the consciousness that exists in the trillions of sub-atomic consciousness packets all uniquely organized within me.

The fact that I have a conscience, and a sense of morality is a product of my perfect thoughts and the perfect thoughts of those who helped teach me. My choices that have tested my conscientiousness and morality have also been perfect. The repercussions such as guilt, shame or lack thereof I have experienced as a result of those actions has been the perfect feedback that has shaped future decisions. I have been born into a society that has laws with discrete repercussions to be carried forth if I am found guilty of violating these laws. These laws function to influence my perfect thinking, but more importantly they work to influence the perfect thinking of those who may not have been infused with the same conscience and morality. Those who fear the results of other’s decision are having a perfect emotional reaction, but what other choice do we have but to respect the legitimacy of other’s conclusions. We can throw people in jail, but we can never have the authority to damn someone to hell, except maybe ourselves. I guess I could judge a law breaker as good or bad and speculate about what is wrong, but I would have to have some kind of personal knowledge about being consciously amoral to identify the wrongness wouldn’t I? How could I conceive of an evil in someone else greater than the evil I can conceive of in my own heart? If I consider myself basically good, but I have acted selfishly under certain conditions, why am I any different from anyone else? I mean if we aren’t all inherently perfect, than we are all inherently imperfect, which basically still means we are in no position to decide one kind of imperfection is worse than another. I just find it hard to be believe in my own inherent perfection without assuming that everyone else has the same thing.

Although I will never know what goes on inside of others, I have a fairly strong feeling that every human being is feeling and thinking for themselves, that we are all naturally programmed to make choices based on an ultra-complex algorithm that seeks optimum results for the individual given their desires, experiences, and inborn inclinations. (Only a sociopath would have desires, experiences and inclinations that drive his algorithm to make choices that completely disregard other human beings.) All of our choices are just products of this algorithm which varies from person to person. Of course, I assume that most of us arrive at a point where we realize that we can expose ourselves to certain things that will shift the output of our own algorithm, but we only arrive at this point by virtue of indwelling intelligence and instinct. We are not born with any sense of responsibility for what we expose ourselves to. Somehow we are infused with enough organization of consciousness (and blessed by a particular environment and set of circumstances that are a result of that same kind of organization of consciousness) that we succeed in coming to the awareness that we might all be algorithms. By the time we realize that we are algorithms, our algorithms are very sophisticated, and we also realize that we are quite inexperienced at programming.

Essentially, I consider the beginning of my self-determinism to be the moment we stop questioning and resenting certain aspects of our algorithms that we didn’t like, and accept the state of the algorithm in its totality. At that point we began slowly learning what inputs create what outputs and some crude methods for modifying the coding. (Incidentally, the modern American mind[main]frame often arrives at the conclusion that it is easier to control the inputs to the algorithm in the first place and thus the typical American mental algorithm spends most of the time figuring out how to control the external world that produces the inputs, rather than fuss around with the code. I have observed that the more focused I am on controlling the external world, the less faith I have in my ability to impact how my own algorithm processes those inputs I am trying to control. e.g. if I don’t trust myself to get through some kind of failure without feeling shame, the harder I will work to not input the experience of failure in the first place.)

Now some may say, “Kacy, you are reducing yourself to nothing but a product of fate, a predetermined chemical reaction simply being governed by entropy.” My statement is so what if I am? Why can’t the same laws that govern how oxygen reacts with iron to create rust, be at work within me in a form that is so complex (and evidence of the grand intelligence of all matter) that it creates free will. Why can’t free will be the product of entropy? Perhaps free will is nothing more than the awareness that we are perfect beings and thus constrained by nothing but ourselves? As my friend Rod always says, “the one thing you can never fail at is life.”

There is saying (I think from Aikido) that says “there are many paths to the top of Mt. Fuji. Similarly I imagine there are a lot of ways to change our algorithms, some for the good and some for the bad I am sure. I think the different spiritual and religious disciplines are often time-tested processes that create certain results in terms of how they impact the algorithm. I imagine that some will always feel most content traveling the path that appears to be well populated with fellow pilgrims. Of course when it comes to the algorithm, some of us are always going to be “open source” types who will develop our own implementations drawing from wherever and striking out on their own path all together. I would like to think the universe intended for things to be just as they are. As a natural result the intention manifested the universe in the first place has unfolded through consciousness to produce some people who chose the well documented path, and it has also produced some who experiment more in their journey, or we would not have the well worn paths we have today. Maybe the universe has to create conditions that spawn a few thousand “megalomaniacal naval gazers” writing unremarkable blogs in cyberspace in order to spawn a Jesus, a Buddha, a M.K. Ghandi, a M.L. King, Jr. Then again, as far as the universe goes, I am probably just as much a part of its intention as anyone else, even those guys…

mr. wilson


nuwavesoul said...

"That you exist is a miracle and proof enough of your perfection", The second palm tree says to the first. The second palm tree than bows in the presence of the first.

Anonymous said...

This is a very enjoyable post! I was a little careful of the adjective, as I would nor judge it - I did enjoy!
Is the universe not wonderful !!

PS I am happy to have taken the time to read it.........Live well

chad said...

You seemed to have said a lot in this post, but after reading it for the third time today, I realized that you actually only expressed a few themes. I have a couple of observations and comments, and I hope they generate a response.

The first comment is regard to your treatment of human will. As I was reading about the many algorithms, inputs, and responses that you describe human existence with, I found myself saying…Hey, he is discounting free will, but then you spoke to that issue as follows:
Now some may say, “Kacy, you are reducing yourself to nothing but a product of fate, a predetermined chemical reaction simply being governed by entropy.” My statement is so what if I am? Why can’t the same laws that govern how oxygen reacts with iron to create rust, be at work within me in a form that is so complex (and evidence of the grand intelligence of all matter) that it creates free will. Why can’t free will be the product of entropy? Perhaps free will is nothing more than the awareness that we are perfect beings and thus constrained by nothing but ourselves?
I guess that sums it up. I find it hard to accept that what I call “my free will” is not really mine or free. However you are able too accept that.

My second comment is the one I would like you to speak to if you are so inclined. Ironically, you assign human characteristics to the universe that “released all the energy and matter” 14 billion years ago. You use phrases like “how intelligent the universe must be” and that the universe “set parameters for itself” and “began organizing itself”. You also said “the consciousness of the universe must have understood its own potential” The reason I find these comments ironic is because they not only assign human characteristics to the universe, but they assign the human characteristics associated with free will to the universe. The universe seems to have free will, and “organized itself” using its “intelligence”, but we are mere products of that universe. Do you agree that it is ironic that you have used the human construct of free will to describe how the universe willed itself into existence, but you suggest that the construct is one only contrieved in the minds/algorithims of self-aware humans?

Your other half on the two-for-one set of algorithims,

“We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”
~ A little more irony from Isaac Bashevis Singer

Anonymous said...

I think that we always have free will. We have the freedom to accept or not accept any thought, information or action.
And then we have the freedom to change what we accept, based on further information.
In the process we need to understand that we will be accepting the consequences of the application of said free will.