Me, Myself and I

I’ve been thinking about my Self lately; mostly about how to reconcile the beauty and freedom of selflessness with the necessity of maintaining a healthy self-image to deal with the pressures of everyday reality. Looking to both positions seems kind of contradictory.  On the one hand, releasing attachment to the self opens awareness to full realization of the here and know in all its complexity. And, although not all one experiences is of a positive nature, un-attachment makes it possible to maintain perspective, to reach a reasonable understanding, without creating a “story line” in which “I” am the protagonist.

On the other hand, I am led to believe that without a healthy, confident self I probably won’t fare too well out in the world, socially speaking. The meek may inherit the earth, so it’s said, but in the meantime one should expect some serious bullying.  I suppose, maybe, like much else, the problem may just be a matter of degree. Perhaps the self is nothing more than the subject of the perceptions, emotions and thoughts we experience rather than the independently existent entity that leads to narcissism and tunnel vision.

As nice as it would be, intellectually (and emotionally, too), to be absolutely sure one direction is better than the other, I guess I must be content with attempting to balance the ideas. It just goes to show, I suppose, living an examined life takes some work.

me, myself and I








I’ve been engaged for the last eight minutes or so maintaining awareness of the reality before me; not focusing on anything in particular, just contemplating the here and now. Thoughts occasionally enter, generally from the left, and pretty much pass right through and out to the right. Sometimes a thought gets stuck on its passage through so I have to give it a nudge so as to bring myself back to the here and now.

Traveling, as I am, down the road right now, the here and now is changing by the second; probably not an ideal situation for meditation; kind of distracting, really. And, having traveled this road numerous times before familiar objects come suddenly into view that bring thoughts to mine; thoughts that need to be ushered out stage right, lest I be drawn into thoughts of past circumstances and lose the here and now. Even as I concentrate on the here and now ‘veneers’ of association supervene adding layers of meaning that I gently, lightly erase without disturbing the here and now.

I’m up to about ten minutes now and my concentration is kind of fading in and out. With effort I know I can bring it back, aware, as I am, of the enormous benefits of mindfulness.


Dreams and Consciousness

I’ve been reading about dreams lately. Not about Freudian interpretations like what it might mean to dream about being naked in public but, rather, about the nature of consciousness. Rather about, if, in deep dreamless sleep, one is still conscious and how in terms of consciousness one experiences dreaming.

Most of my dreams, the ones I remember, I recall upon awakening as experiences in which I’m present as a participant. Lucid dreams, on the other hand, are ones in which, in the dream, I might find myself standing outside the action viewing myself participating in whatever adventure my sleeping imagination might decide to conjure; which, I guess, is like out of body experiences.

OBE’s have been recorded over time immemorial by all sorts of people and have sometimes been interpreted as an actual second or astral body separating from the physical one to go onto adventures of it’s own. A terrific thought, I must admit, but neuro-scientists are dubious.

Apparently one can acquire, overtime, the ability to dream lucidly and I’m thinking about trying to obtain such a skill. I think it might make my dreams of nakedness less distressful, you know, being a member of the audience.


The Singularity

I’ve been reading lately about the technological singularity. As I understand it, the TS is that point in time when artificial intelligence becomes self-generating, independent of human manipulation and progresses to an understanding of the nature of reality beyond anything now imaginable.

The idea is, as far as I can tell, that AI, in the not too distant future, will evolve to the point of being capable of superseding the limitations of human intelligence to such a degree that it will provide nearly limitless knowledge. Many of the presently undecipherable mysteries of our lives and universe will be understood.

One might even think of this super-intelligence from a religious perspective: a lifting upwards out of the abysmal darkness of ignorance into the shining light of revealed truth.  Sort of a scientific Rapture, I guess.

Assuming humankind will be integrated into this new super-knowledge, I wonder how people will react? Those of a religious nature, I imagine, will be busy re-interpreting their doctrinal sources and those of a more scientistic bent will probably be in rapturous awe. The dilemmas and anxieties humankind faces these days will be eliminated, easily solved, or reduced to triviality. Before long Newoman with her god-like immortality will be hard pressed to remember what the hubbub and to-do was all about.

Still, one has to wonder what new and unimaginable dilemmas will replace current concerns. Knowing the nature of humankind, it’s hard to believe there won’t be something significant to worry about.

The Rapture


I’ve been working on my compassion lately. That is, on increasing my ability to care about others. Which, for me, is no easy task; I seem naturally inclined to take offense, find fault, nitpick, make quick judgments based on appearance, you name it and I’m inclined to fit the bias.

I’m much more comfortable being alone with my thoughts and activities than I am around others, particularly when there are large numbers of others. Even around my friends there’s a limit to how long I find companionship a good thing.

Of course, I do understand, from a purely pragmatic standpoint, the need at times to stand in the presence of another sentient being or two………

But, right now my concern is compassion; I know it must be true that there is common bond among us all; we all desire happiness, to be accepted by others, even liked. And the fact that we go about achieving these ends in a lot of different ways doesn’t change the essential fact of the matter.

So, I will meditate on compassion, work to understand those I’m inclined to abhor, those who exploit others for their own selfish gain, and those who consume excessively to the detriment of the world we’re all dependent on. I’ll start by focusing on the beauty of nature, the source of our common existence. I’ll meditate on those past civilizations that have striven to raise all citizens above mean existence, fought injustice, and respected all. And, if I backslide, if my thoughts return to the anti-social, greedy and subversive I will try and remember that everyone, whether they presently realize it or not really just want the same thing I do: serene existence.

meditation mandala

Emotional Intelligence

I just read this article on line which listed nine things that indicate emotional intelligence. It makes me think I may not be too emotionally bright.

One of the things an emotionally intelligent person should have according to the list is a large emotional vocabulary. I find it annoying that anyone would equate emotion with intelligence; the arrogance of the author in such an assumption I find quite irritating. When I think of it, I become almost livid with outrage at such a presumption. What’s this idiocy with the ubiquity of making lists, anyway?

But, clearly the writer of the article only meant to be helpful. When I think about it I feel a bit ashamed and regretful at my unexpressed outburst. I am humbled and moved toward a sense of penitence even though I didn’t actually express my anger. Guilt over my potential outburst makes me quite anxious that I’ll be thought of as hot-headed. I suspect there are those in the playroom that see me as a perturbed individual as it is. I find the whole issue discouraging. It makes me melancholy to the point of tears.

Luckily, I have friends who find me delightful and raise my self-esteem. They make my life, on the whole, quite a happy one, blissful really.

But, as I say, I’m really not an emotional doll, to any significant extent, so I’m inclined to ignore the whole idea of emotional intelligence. I am, though, a bit suspicious of list makers.


Evolutionary Truth

I guess it’s pretty well known, evolutionary theory being what it is, that humankind is closely related to the Chimpanzee. In addition to physical likeness the species share complex cultural structures, emotional being, technologies of tool use and that’s not to mention nearly identical genomes.

Anyway, I was reading the Natural News the other day and came across an article that suggested our Simian cousins prove to be smarter than the average high school student. According to the article ape intelligence is a bundling of skills related to learning, tool usage, understanding of quantities and ability to reach conclusions based on evidence and reasoning, whereas high school students largely run their lives based on drama, jealousy, sex and emotional reactions to simple stimuli such as corporate logos on basketball shoes.

Further, the article states that, while Chimpanzees are acutely aware of their surroundings, humankind tends to diminish their awareness through alcohol and drug use which says something about which species has the greater capacity for survival. It kind of makes me wonder which species deserves the label troglodyte.

I’m thinking that maybe I should view Planet of the Apes again and perhaps take it more seriously.

evolutionary truth

Platonic Love

I’ve been thinking about Plato’s Symposium lately. The short book details a social get-together of a group of Greek intellectuals each speaking about the nature of love. Apparently these old guys felt the need to discuss philosophy while consuming large amounts of wine. Anyway, the speech I like best is Aristophanes’ explanation of the origins of love.

He offers that humankind began as spherical beings with four arms, four legs, two faces and opposing genitalia. There were men and women but mostly hermaphrodites. These beings were so complete in themselves, so capable and without need they pretty much ignored the gods, which was a mistake because Zeus took particular umbrage at their arrogant self-satisfaction and split them all in half. Each man became two men, each woman two women and each androgynous one became one man and one woman.

These new beings found themselves lost without their companion half, found themselves subject to all sorts of human foibles, insecurities and fears, which, I suppose, made them more attentive to the gods, at least for a time. The upshot of this bizarre episode was an innate yearning on the part of each new individual to reunite with his or her missing half, which, according to Aristophanes, marked the beginnings of romantic love.

When I think about it, as wonderfully imaginative as his story is, it kind of makes sense that some men and some women would seek soulmates of common gender even though the majority, having been androgynous to begin with seeks union with the opposite sex.

Anyway, as you might expect, Socrates gets the last word and explains in his speech that love of Man, true love, is much deeper than the physical attractions of youth, that, through love, man has access to Absolute Beauty and Goodness which lead him to ultimate truth and bring him as near immortality as Man may ever come.

I bet Socrates and the Buddha would have gotten along well had they known each other.

With Greek Philosophers

With Greek Philosophers

Seeking Common Ground

Public discourse sure seems divisive these days. There seems to be a lot of people holding pretty strong oppositional opinions on a host of contemporary issues. The disagreements appear to be pretty deep; not just apples and oranges but more of a God/Satan divergence; a profound philosophical divide beyond any sort of reconciliation; neighbor versus neighbor has led to political gridlock. I’m inclined to level some of the blame for the situation on football; it’s all come down to a position of win or lose.

Which has led some wise pundits to suggest we need a change of attitude; a spirit of compromise along with a sense of civil exchange of ideas; allow the other side their dignity while articulating your own point of view clearly and calmly and try to avoid taking the issues personally.

I grant you this isn’t an easy task when you know for certain the other side is clearly wrong. I wish I could tell you I’m immune to this discordant dilemma but reading the news from the perspective of my favored aps keeps me regularly angry at the other side, and, I suspect, the other side is similarly seething while absorbing the bias of their favored sources.

The conundrum brings me back to a need to spend more time on my meditative practices: focus on by-passing the Self, allowing disquieting thoughts to evaporate, strive for ultimate nature of being, seek absolute truth. It’s difficult but I can think of no better solution and maybe I’ll eventually reach a point of toleration for those on the other side.  Besides, political issues shouldn’t really be taken all that seriously, should they?  And religion…..what about religion?

common ground3



Why Question?

In my ongoing interest in understanding more fully what is, I’ve been thinking about Socrates’ admonition: ‘An unexamined life is not worth living.’ What I think he must mean is one should continue to question. Not in the sense of total skepticism but with the understanding things change: situations, contexts, nuances offer new perspectives on commonly and generally held beliefs. And, new perspectives can lead to renewed energy and enthusiasm, adding dimensions to what I may have previously seen as pretty one-dimensional.

But, I suppose, at the same time questioning too vigorously may very well lead to profound uncertainties which will lead some who would prefer to just latch onto the Truth and leave it at that to lock up the box within which their knowledge is kept.

I guess those with such a mindset may be driven by an innate fear of the unknown, those for whom the terror of living is so overwhelming that they seek certainty at all costs, grasping with white-knuckled ferocity at dogmatic beliefs and limiting their community to others of similar ilk while denouncing those who don’t share their view, becoming pseudo-tribal as it were. And, by assuming such a stance, securely locking up the box of their understanding, distorted as it must be, resigning their conception of existence to remain in stasis until the farm is purchased.

Maybe it all comes down to intellectual capacity, and, as arrogant as that may sound, those of expansive vision, while less sure of ultimate outcomes, must surely lead a fuller, deeper consciousness, energized by the plethora of possibilities such an openness offers.

So, I guess I have to decide whether to live contentedly and securely if a bit unimaginatively inside the box or to break down the walls and revel in the uncertainty of infinite possibility. Such a decision, for me, is pretty easy to make.