A video journal about my particular journey through life.
Let it be insightful for you, if it feels right.
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We get much sharing over the years on NNH, and the phrase that stands out most often is some form of “there is no separation”. I want to question what it is that might be practical in that realisation.
My question supposes that we all have some basic necessities to remain alive. I guess that I am saying that we all have to live. Those that profess no-separation might say that we don’t have to live, that we are lived. I will go ahead with my proposition anyway, without getting tangled in too many abstractions. Or I’ll leave those abstracts for later.
What are some basics of life, based on perception?
- Something exists.
- Perception of what exists is an unknown mix of the existential and what we think about it.
- Life is always moving, death is always still.
- Life is a multiplicity.
What are the basics of life, based on assumptions?
- If nothing exists, then perceptions don’t exist, but they do.
- There seems to be no way to get outside of perceptions to verify what they are.
- We can never know what part of our perceptions are existing and what part are interpretation.
- Interpretation tends to verify itself as real.
- At least the interpretation part of perception could be classified as illusion.
- It must take constant movement to sustain life.
- Movement presupposes space to move in, therefore life only exists in space.
- It must take that multiplicity to benefit all, and make nature work.
What are the basics, based on preferences?
We spend much of our lifetimes observing the world around us and trying to understand what we see through our explanations. When there are no reasonable explanations we settle on “that’s just the way the world is, (that people are)”. With deeper insight we might realize what could be the causative factors for the trends that we observe.
One obvious thing we do see is the sharp division between wellbeing and deprivation. We tend to think that some people are better than others, and they know how to make more out of their lives. We do acknowledge some political, cultural or religious structures that slant the odds for who succeeds and who struggles. Some people start out with money, and some start with nothing.
“Truth that is ignored by friends is the deadliest weapon of the enemy."
Change Seems Inevitable
1. Society in the modern world changes. If those changes are in the direction that a researcher deems positive, that change is called development, or possibly intransitive development meaning it is happening by itself, (or by the collective agency of the players). If those ongoing changes are deteriorating social wellbeing, then the situation cries for transitive (or the interjection of proactive) development. If those interactions that are made on behalf of development are not delivering their promises, or if the side effects are more damaging than the positive goals that are able to be added to society, then Development Studies needs to be rethought. The possible motives of the developers should also be investigated, which I will look into below. I suggest that any effort put something into action should be judged only by the results on the ground for the parties involved, without much further justification.
I had been reading about the world monetary system, and I had asked a few of the participants at a conference on Rethinking Development Studies at Chiang Mai University last weekend what they thought the effect of money was on development theory. No one, it seems, has considered it in depth. They either did not understand me, or they thought that all currencies would be about the same. I am beginning to realise that development without currency and interest payment policy cannot have maximum effectiveness.
1. Academic circles in sociology have scarcely researched or tested attempts to investigate alternatives to the present monitory system. The kind of system that organises a society determines to a very large degree the measure of freedom and development, and mutual human relationships. The most prevalent reason for not thinking about the money system is the conviction that it cannot be changed. A money system has consequences that rise to the surface in human values. A system where greed and exploitation are built in, ends up destroying itself. It promotes the negative side of human beings with all its consequences rather than the positive side.
… globalization, the most thoroughgoing socioeconomic upheaval since the Industrial Revolution, which has set off a pandemic of retrogressive nationalism, regional separatism, and religious extremism. —Martin Filler
The world of humans and the individuals in it, run their lives upon a narrative. Individually we could call it our beliefs, whether expressed or unconscious. Collectively that narrative is the motivation for our collective actions, and the explanation for our past acts, along with their justification, a spin and a possible cover-up. It’s the intentional distortion of history. We refer to that narrative as the truth, or the lack of truth, depending on whether we are the dominant power or the marginalised group.
In order to run any organisation or any country or government an ideal narrative must be constructed. We can acknowledge that it is impossible to follow any narrative to the letter, and that those ideals should still be set high. All action is interpreted through beliefs, so that people may sincerely believe what they see and as they interpret it. We also know that many people distort the narrative to gain personal or national advantage, and to keep on doing what they are now illicitly doing. When the narrative and the perceived acts don’t align, we call it hypocrisy.
The study of how human identity is moulded is a big concern of social science because nations continually manage their rhetoric that “we are one national identity”. They know that being identified with something gives commitment toward that object of identification. Or at least they know that not feeling part of a social structure or a social process is the cause of much dissension.
A field that has studied identity is called Symbolic Interactionist Theory. It posits that without a relationship, without that human mirror, there is little that we can know about our own identity. Maybe in a non social situation (in isolation) identity is meaningless, or at least useless. Can we say that we have no identity in that situation?
What are these identities? They are centred in action and reaction and are based in thought, speech, belief, emotion, level of conviction, repetitive or non repetitive patterns, our seemingly closed or open attitudes, and how the other perceives that these identities impinge upon them. The identities are also in a hierarchy of importance to us and those not so important to us, (by how much we are identified with them). Another classification could be that they are “core identities”, which we may or may not be able to articulate, or social identities, group identities, roles that we play, or our own self image summed up from the recurrent patterns of all of the above.
(Or we go to any absurdity to escape a feeling.)
Let’s consider a few attributes of identity that are often separated as independent (or a semi-dependent) systems.
- Our bodily control system. The body functions pretty much by itself.
- Our bodily reporting system, pain, heat and cold, feelings of dis-ease, and other layers of feeling emotion, fear or alarm.
- Thoughts and the explanatory system.
- Memories and the repetitive system.
- The feelings and emotions that are evoked by thought and memory
- Our various calls to action and/or to hesitation, or to prudent avoidance of default action.
Actually our identity is the process of all these systems functioning together. Some system might be dominant for a period. We might try to deny certain of these partitions. (I call them partitions instead of parts, because that is what we are investigating.)
So many of our forum discussions are really about identity, and we have many theories and much to say about it, which we defend adamantly.
First let me address those who insist that there is no identity. I view that first as a discourse, and second as just another identity. Just look around at how you live life. If you are a no-identity person and need some easy demonstrations, you function through many discourses of identity, and never function as a no identity. In fact no-identity is non-functional in the life that we know.
Because you continually use identities, they are your truth. Kind of like “what you see (do) is what you get (who you are)”. At least you are not separable from an identity, so you might as well engage fully with it.
1. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that we are born into a discourse of identity. We are born into a family, society, often a religion, maybe our nation is dominant in our lives, especially if it is repressive, or at war. In our formative years we are rewarded if we imitate the prevailing discourses of identity. Our family want’s us to behave in a certain way. We must memorize (and practice) the tenants of our family religion. We get educated (or don’t) according to the habits and traditions in our area. We are continually told that we are the identity that is transmitted by that discourse.
What really distinguishes the non-duality crowd is that they are willing to deny what is absolutely most obvious to all 8 billion of the outsiders to this group. From their detached point of view they rely on logical constructs instead of empirical constructs. Here I won't go into how that might have occurred. "No doing, no doer, no time, no process, all appearances are projected mind”) Although I am not so sure that all of this is non-duality. Whether they deny process, or just deny “my process”, and it is true that all appearances do have A COMPONENT of projected mind. That’s the interpretation fraction. Even if that fraction is very big, who can know that is all there is? But non-duality is not saying there is nothing “out there”. It is only saying that it may be unapproachable in any pure state? This part gets confused.
Let’s investigate what ground of beliefs could bring someone to declare something that flies in the face of their own perceptions of every moment of life.
First is the notion of NOW. Now is a useful term when contrasted to the abuses of my childhood (the past) and my fear of next year’s tax returns, (the future). But I am sure that NOW is not very useful when speaking of one second gone by, or the next second approaching (or even micro-second).