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User Journal

Journal Journal: Right wing spin: Address them without speaking to them

I finally understand in my own terms what right wingers (the lock step kind) do these days that makes me so angry, and misleads the audience so much. Please mind that I am 26, so this could be a) obvious to you, b) the way it's always been, and/or c) only a minor piece. But it seems to me...

These days, when a liberal and a conservative talk or argue, usually the conservative just seems to be on this other level. I think the formula, mentally, for what they are doing is this: Speak to everyone except the liberal; Address the liberal while doing so.

This gives the false appearance that actual discussion is going on. The conservative is listening to the liberal to be sure, any point made is redressed for everyone who is not liberal, and the response is in that form.

I don't know what if any rhetorical trick or logical fallacy that is, but to me it smacks of elementary school playground trickery.

obligatory: not all 'pubs are evil, not all conservatism is dishonest.

But hey, it's fine for w to say that atheists aren't real americans, because that's just his way.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Atheism, Agnosticism, Buddhism, Superstition 4

Someone dropped a bomb on me here at Slashdot, and I realized I need write out what I think. Said bomb was a chiding for bringing "superstition and mythology into a practical discussion." Since I am an atheism-leaning agnostic, this stung more than a little.

I'll try to keep this light. First, I'm sort of trying to salvage my dignity here. I considered myself a pretty hard nosed realist. But I found myself on a razor's edge, rhetorically. In this thread about a desktop atomic fabricator. Read it if you care to. I got my @ss handed to me by fyngyrz on my own rhetorical stomping grounds. Namely, he said that buddhism is superstition. And that's where I found myself on the other side, wondering how I got flipped. So to sort out my thoughts, and maybe to refer people to someday, here's where I stand on some stuff.

Like I said, trying to keep this light. First, the question of "god". In a debate, I would take an agnostic position. But personally, I think "god" is a contrived idea. Outside, socially, I'm agnostic. Inside, atheist. Chalk it up to Occam's razor in the prime mover argument, and David Hume.

Let me cut to the chase. This is the conversation I had inside myself: How can I be dismissive of religion in general, but think buddhism is cool? Isn't that a huge logical contradiction? Specifically, buddhism has the concepts of karma and reincarnation, which in my own opinion are mystical and therefore unrealistic. Something has to give right?

The focus, the purpose, of buddhism is so-called enlightenment. Call it increased awareness in western terms. This is the difference as I see it between (for example) Christianity and Buddhism. For Christians, there's this big, magical guy named "God", and he defies all logic and physics and you HAVE to believe in him, or ELSE. In Buddhism, you close your eyes and do mental excercises (clearing the mind, or focusing it, as well as metta bhavana which has to do with excersizing compassion) which lead to an altered mental state. Now, I personally haven't achieved "enlightenment" (yet:). I have no proof that such a state exists, but I *do* have experience that meditation *does* result in an altered state. And people have done research showing that advanced students of meditation have brain activity that explains their subjective experiences while meditating (so called meditative bliss). Also, eastern practitioners talk about Buddhism in terms of science, and in terms of philosophy. They do not resort to saying "Oh, have faith" or threats of "believe me or else". Which brings me back to Christianity: I can't disprove "God", but no one can "prove" "God" either. So it's moot. If one takes the bible as a METAPHOR, then there's a lot that can be discussed. But I never hear people discussing it as metaphor- it's always "the word of God". Sorry, too 12th century for me.

Now, here's where I attack myself. Karma and reincarnation: Buddhism doesn't posit them in metaphoric terms. Karma is like a law of physics, and reincarnation is about as scientific as heaven and hell. So aren't I a hypocrit?

Sort of. (Ouch. Thank you fyngyrz! :)

So why don't I go get all baptized and be done with it? :) Okay. Rhetorically, Buddhism doesn't rely on Karma and reincarnation to get anyone to do anything. You can throw them out the window, and still meditate. You don't need to be afraid of negative consequences to have "Duty to buddha, duty to community, duty to self". I've been a little curious about these two ideas (karma and reincarnation) because they run counter to my thinking. Karma I can (if only to myself) let go, because I can think of it as an emergent condition of humanity; that things even out over time, not so much that if you kick an old lady, you'll get hit by lightening. But that leaves reincarnation. TOTALLY UNSCIENTIFIC!!! What do I do about that? This is what I think; Buddhism is about increased awareness through meditation. I read that the when the buddha (or anyone) gained the "final enlightenment", he passed "beyond all rebirth". This appears to be saying outright that people are reborn but enlightenment lets you break out of the cycle. My take is that this "rebirth" is a mental change; that usually people's viewpoints switch as they think about things, but in the "final enlightenment" one has reached a viewpoint from which switching is unneccesary.

This taking of something which is stated as literal opens up the prospect of saying "well yeah, but you could say the same thing about the bible" which unfortunately, means that now I have to look into that :) But I disagree with christians who say that there's LITERALLY a heaven and a hell, and a God and Devil, and that if I disagree I'm going to hell.

Okay, work is out now but I'll finish this later.

BTW, fyngyrz, you're tres cool. Your journal even has a bit about making moderation non-anonymous, which is an idea I had myself. I don't know you, but you made me think, and also, I like people who dismiss superstition as foolishness. I still consider myself one of them, but you've brought the light into my thinking on this area. Although I expect (from our limited back and forth) that you think I'm a monkey dancing around a fire with a bone in my nose :) I don't think buddhism is superstition, but then, neither do the christians I always seem to be at odds with think christianity is superstition.. That's something that doesn't bother me too much but I'll be thinking about it anyway because I'm a pedant too. Oh yeah, one last difference between buddhism and christianity... the buddha specifically told his followers NOT to proselytize or evangelize. *Sigh*, work is out, will flesh out related ideas later.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Partisan Politics

I'm sick of all the raging partisan zealot conservatives, so I've decided to become a raging partisan zealot liberal. I figure, if I'm going to be called partisan, by a bunch of partisans, I might as well be partisan. I see Bush/Kerry '04 as the most important political event, ever.

But being a raging zealot isn't easy! I thought the conservatives just laid on the BS and sat back. My main goal is to do to the republicans what they've done to me - silence them and make them look bad. But it's not easy! It's easy to mistake a conservative for a bush supporter. It's easy to make the mistake of empathizing. In assessing the need to be fair to people who aren't my enemy (not bush supporters), I can't forget that I'm pressing an attack. I have to be as loud and aggressive as the Bush administration and conservative talk show hosts. Unfortunately, I'm not comfortable with or good at making stuff up and passing it off as fact. So I have a weakness there. Plus, I'm just one geek in a sea of words. So I'm going to pick my battles. But I won't abandon my fellows; If I see a beleagered liberal, I'm going to jump in, even if it means getting my ass verbally handed to me. And I won't back down or apologize for saying things that piss people off unless I see reason to believe I am truly in error.

I'm not going to troll or flamebait, that would go against my cause. But I'm going to make a royal pain in the ass of myself until November 2. And I can't envision a future other than Kerry winning. If we elect John Kerry president maybe the pounding in my head that's been there since 2000 will go away. If Kerry doesn't win, I hope I die.

See you in the politics section!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sometimes you smile

Don't read the journal entry below titled "No end, just death". It's depressing. Last night someone I like told me to write my feelings down, that's where that entry came from. I have more to add to it but not here.

The perceptual condition or consciousness is the jewel of humanity. We have a capacity to turn hate into love and fear into courage. This is not mysticism. I have done "metta bhavana" (cultivating loving kindness) which is an exercize from buddhism:
0) Relax. Clear your mind.
1) Feel something good (love, etc) towards yourself.
2) Feel that good thing towards someone besides yourself, whom you like (spouse, child, parent, close friend, etc).
3) Feel that good thing towards someone you neither like nor dislike (eg. a stranger or marginal acquaintance).
4) Feel that good thing towards someone you dislike strongly or even hate. (eg, someone who hurt you in the past)

In the book where I read about metta bhavana it said that (paraphrasing) "The energy we experience as hate or as love is the same energy. We can turn our hate into love." I have discovered of myself that this is true. It seemed like a betrayal of myself at first, to love someone who attacked me, but after doing the practice I don't feel that way. I haven't done metta a lot (and I don't meditate nearly enough) but these things (metta, meditation) work. What they do, well, they clear the mind. Actually what they do is not describable and you have to do it to know, but anyone can do it, even children. And as for meditation: Meditation is what we call it when one brings one's self/mind to a stillness. If you do it right you'll experience .. yourself. Some thoughts may pop up, disturbing the stillness. That's ok. With practice your meditation will become a deep stillness. Beyond the everyday personal benefits of meditation, there is another realm which 99.999% of people don't acheive (I haven't either). A man named Gopi Krishna had a trancendental experience during meditation. I won't describe it here, you can look up Gopi Krishna on google or at the bookstore if you want to.

Also check out PD Ouspensky. I have to leave the computer now but may post more sometime...

To make a broad, unsupported conjecture: The thing called "God" in most western churches is either a circuit in the brain, and/or the collective being of conscious beings (perhaps the total life-force field). I know this sounds like mumbo jumbo; the field I'm talking about is not "the force" from star wars; besides the energy seen in Kirlian photography, I posit that a human mind keeps a map of many signals which we are not aware of; like when we listen to one person in a noisy room of conversations, we hear everything but only focus on the person we're talking to; I think that the ignored information also affects our thinking process. I'll go into this more tomorrow. I expect most people to either presume that I'm totally nuts, or to equate what I say to something religious. I'd rather be considered insane than religious. I don't believe in "God" as defined by churches. However I do believe that the collective being of humans has a being of its own, in a similar way that our bodies are made of cells or our brains of neurons, each discrete but comprising a larger whole. Nutty, huh? I'll phrase this better tomorrow.

Also, I feel that spiritualism needs to be separated from the supernatural. I think our drive to be optimistic is a natural part of our psyche which owes nothing to a supernatural creator, ghosts or an afterlife. I believe karma can be described in naturalistic and logical terms.

I'm going home to sleep now.

User Journal

Journal Journal: No end, just death 2

No heaven or hell and no reincarnation. The lies and torture and killing will never end. Death is no escape because oblivion offers no sanctuary. The moment lasts forever because an instant and eternity are equal. Misery, pain, regret, doubt. You are me and I am you. Every person is every other person. Justice is the worst mockery, and it never comes until it can defile what it was meant to save. Love is hate wearing a smile. Sick of living? So what? Someone said that dying was the easy way out, for cowards, but even that is too hard. Can't live, can't die, can't live, can't die. Wearing out like an engine full of sand that just can't seize, the Gnostics were right about the universe being evil but there's no deity to blame. There's blame that can never be assigned. We didn't choose this but it's our responsibility. Our task to suffer - not forever, no, if we had forever we might find a way to bear it or escape it. We suffer for a long long time then slip away with no apology or satisfaction. No light anywhere when we finally asphyxiate. All pain is the worst pain. All longing unfulfilled. Conflict, raging conflict that burns the fuel of being.. burning out from the inside unquenchably furious and angry. Die, live, die live die die die live live live, no escape. No compassion. You worthless weak nothing. I should step on your throat but I want you to wallow in total blackness and dehydrate from vomitting and crying, you shallow pathetic failure. You lived more than you should have and now you're going to live even longer, ha ha ha! Live! Don't die, live! That's your curse. Everything you know tells you to give up and you would but you can't because you don't know how, because you're hanging on to a lie that you *know* is a lie because your archaic reptilian hindbrain is too inferior to recognize that it has lost utterly, finally and is trapped in a cage that's too small pressing the food-button, the reward button, the water-button, and all three fire the pain response. You don't learn. You keep sucking down the pain always thinking, not hoping anymore but totally incapable of believing the reality. Pain pain pain. Ha ha ha! You can't even die, the shots keep you alive. Skin on bones, digesting the remains of your brain and organs but still living in a half nightmare with the other half in your sleep. Pain and perception. There's no words for this. Depression is miles above you, the experiment is probing reaches of your being that haven't been exercised for a billion years when simple animals squirmed in mud while being eaten alive by their sister organisms. There is no end, no punishment, no salvation, no rebirth anew. Your life lasts forever because you only experience while alive, the oblivion, the reward, you never get there like Zeno's paradoxical runner. You know how low I am, that I'm just dragging you down. You don't give a shit and neither should you. I wouldn't help you, I'd kick you as I pass just like you do to me. We deserve the pain because.. we're here. Pain is existence. No energy to hate or fear, no love no hope and no forgiveness. All consuming mind devouring god hating self targeting useless endless pain. And this pain isn't even the worst. Others suffer much more. How dare I-you-we breathe a word about our pain, this un numbable pain, which is only on millionth of one trillionth of the pain of the person SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU, who has two kids or none, who has parents with cancer or gravestones and who cares about their pain either? Fuck everyone. Especially me, for saying anything to break the tranquility of the shared lie that everything is fine, God is REAL, Love solves everything, wars can be won, the enemy is evil, democracy works, and we have only ourselves to blame. Fuck "fuck". Kill "kill". Die, "die". I'm annihilating right now. Still no change. The one thing that deserves punishment goes unpunished like a KKK rally in Missouri. Love your neighbor (but that's a joke). Have no gods before me (except money, power, casual hate). Honor thy mother and father (even if they beat you and spit on you and starve you they know everything and you'll always be NOTHING compared to mommy or daddy). Worship no false idols, except THIS one. Don't covet (fucking ha! I made a funny).

Give up. You never tried and you never will. Give up and die so someone else can move in, get bitter and give up in the same place a hundred million people have suffered worse than you and died ON THE SAME SPOT, with their skeletons buried and dug up and kicked into garbage. Die like a native american being killed by a settler because - because the settler can! Die in a group in front of a machine gun and fall still dying into the mass grave you just dug before the SS Nazi charges your family for the bullets that are still hot in you chest, your face, your throat. Die like a perfect lifelong saint who realizes in the last fleeting second that religion is merely a metaphor for the young, that the eternal reward expected and earned is nowhere to be given or taken. Hate God, Curse God, Defile and Blaspheme God, and still only silence and pain and death.



Journal Journal: The Mods must be crazy!

You are in the White Light of the Void. The stillness of meditation permeates this Place. Though the Void is essentially empty, you notice outlines of something not quite visible..
Exits: [B]ack, [F]orward, [H]ome

A level 1 buddhist monk is here.
A beige tower is here.

You hear music.
You hear laughter.

23/40 :go monk

The monk looks up from his meditations and smiles at you. He looks like he belongs here.

23/40 :scrye monk

A male centaur buddhist monk is not enchanted, carries no weapons, wears no armor, has no items, is not cursed. The monk is neutral-neutral.
The monk smiles at you.

23/40 :peer forward

You see the White Light of the Void.
A monk says: Do not try and bend the spoon, that's impossible. Instead, try to realize the truth; there is no spoon. Then you will see it is only yourself that bends.

23/40 :_

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