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possibility

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Everything posted by possibility

  1. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    My son has many trusted teachers to go to, plus his father is a teacher at the school, and I also work there. We are monitoring this very closely - believe me - and we're continually surprised when teachers mention that bullying has occurred. My son has no poker face - if he's upset, afraid or angry, he will show it. But he genuinely loves being at school, has friends and does well in all his classes. There is no particular kid who is tormenting him, either. There was a few years ago (his parent was the one I mentioned) but we quickly put a stop to that. His father was also very small in his early teens, and was bullied - he coped by joking back or picking fights, and was prepared to take a beating for it, although he caused enough damage that eventually they grew wary of him. But he knows his son will not choose that path. As a teacher, too, he knows what's available in the form of help or 'protection', where these options lead and what they will teach his son long term. I know he will 'raise holy hell' if he ever catches a kid in the act, but he's confident there has been no lasting negative impact on his son. There is no right or wrong here. What a kid should have to go through is not set in stone anywhere, as far as I can see. You may think these other choices are ones that should be taken, but I am not so sure they will benefit him long term. Why do you consider it 'unhealthy' to absorb humiliation if you agree it's a natural reaction that everyone experiences? I would never insist that anyone absorb humiliation or pain, but why must we try to avoid feeling what is natural? We are motivated to avoid or otherwise respond to pain, humiliation and loss as if we are somehow entitled to live our lives free of them. As humans we are more than capable of withstanding all three to a much higher degree than we often choose to. I think Jesus showed us that as much as he taught us anything else about what it means to be human. But when we place him on a pedestal and focus on his divinity, I think we fail to understand what taking up the cross and following him really means. Or perhaps we don't want to.
  2. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    Thormas I realise this thread has changed direction again, but if you'll indulge me a little longer... I have the opposite experience: that once the victim of bullying, one would never stoop to that behavior. It is not merely the experience of being bullied (which is never in a vacuum), it is our prior experiences, the security and love of family and friends (and the resulting sense of self) before, during and after being bullied. Again, my experience is different. It also doesn't just happen because you are bullied. I agree - I said it was one of several possible outcomes, based on my understanding of those who bully. You said you have not seen it happen, based on your understanding of victims of bullying. I don't see this as an opposite experience of the same thing at all. But when you say 'that behaviour', your words seem to potentially limit what you mean by bullying to a particular behaviour. I recognise that may not be so in all cases, and that, as you say, it comes down to the surrounding experiences. Yes, they would never stoop to that behaviour, but often they may also resolve to never finding themselves in a position of diminished power or helplessness again. The strategies one might employ to avoid that position amount to maintaining control or gaining the upper hand in some situations, while actively avoiding others. So a kid who changes school as a result of bullying can actively avoid a bullying situation at his new school by, for instance, surrounding himself with 'friends' over whom he feels he has an advantage. This can even carry on peacefully and without incident as long as everyone understands their place. But if one of these 'friends' threatens his sense of security (by disagreeing with him or being friends with someone else he doesn't like, for instance), he may often employ bullying tactics (different to those he experienced, of course) to try and restore his advantage and therefore his sense of security. He won't see it as bullying, though - it is self-protection because he is the one who feels threatened. But if he cannot admit to feeling threatened (which would mean admitting fear), he may project his fear outward, blaming the other kid for being the cause of the rift. This may not always happen - but it does happen. ...to teach them also to seek help or protect themselves seems right (and self-protection in a continuum from the joking back to the aforementioned lawyer). But why does your kid get a detention if they are actively trying to avoid a bullying situation? I agree on the bigger picture but if the bully doesn't see it........... The self-protection continuum you mention are tactics to either actively avoid bullying situations or regain the upper hand. But it seems to me that you have to position the one employing these tactics as a victim of bullying in order for many of them (not all) to not be seen as 'bullying' tactics in themselves. In the same way, I've had discussions with parents who insist that their child's repeated physical humiliation of my son is categorically not bullying, but the normal 'rough and tumble' behaviour of 'friends'. The fact that my son is at a physical disadvantage by being much smaller apparently does not make their son a 'bully'. So I have to position my son as inherently inferior and therefore a 'victim' in order for the action to be recognised as bullying. And the detention I mentioned was in reference to my son taking the option of striking back, not avoidance - when a much bigger kid the same age is sitting on top of you 'just for a joke', there are limited options available to make it stop (particularly when you have a speech impediment that makes it difficult to use words in stressful situations). He chose an effective self-protection tactic, and copped a detention (along with the other kid) for 'fighting'. He was nine at the time. That kid stopped, but it was far from the first or the last incident. I have taught my son, now thirteen, to understand that these bullying incidents are less about his size than about the fears we all experience and the desire to feel secure and in control of the situation, often by any means available. You may not agree with me here, and that's fine. We have also discussed other bullying-type incidents he's witnessed (between kids as well as between adults) in the same way, although I have not labelled any of them 'bullying'. My son knows he is small, but he knows that his smallness is not the cause of the bullying he experiences, just as another kid's sexual orientation is not the cause of him being bullied: to think that way is to invite self-hatred, and then suicide can become a real risk. But he also understands that the other kid is not the cause, either. If my son thinks he has to actively avoid every kid who might decide to pick him up, hold him down or throw him around 'for a laugh', then his potential will be limited by fear. If he sees every incident as a vicious and unprovoked attack by a 'bully', then he will learn to see himself as a 'victim', and process his feelings of humiliation and fear by directing them outwards in search of someone to blame. But if he recognises humiliation and fear as natural reactions that everyone experiences, then he can consciously choose to avoid, absorb or otherwise respond to the humiliation without positioning himself as a 'victim' or the other kid as a 'bully'. From my position as a protective parent, and from the point of view of the teachers who look out for him and actively try to 'protect' him, he still gets 'bullied', sometimes to the point of tears. But if you talk to him about it, he doesn't see it that way. These incidents are isolated moments that appear to have no lasting impact on his 'sense of self'. He doesn't take it personally, and has forgotten about it within moments. He is often genuinely surprised that any of us think it warrants discussion after the fact. So no, I'm not forcing him to be a martyr or a counsellor. I would not dream of limiting his choices in these situations any more than they already are in his mind. My aim is to teach him that there are more choices in every situation, not less. Thanks for the discussion. I have learnt so much.
  3. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    I'm not talking about conscious fear - the kind of fear you might actually admit to - such as in extreme or life-or-death situations. I'm talking about subconscious fear hidden by structures. When we have internalised the structures of behaviour that our job requires, for instance, we would automatically never choose to do anything that may risk our job, thereby ensuring we never have to consciously fear for our job. This is how we 'eradicate' fear. We have constructed all these eternal, definitive but essentially abstract concepts of family, society, nation, religion, laws, expectations, language, labels, meanings, etc that give our world a sense of stability and safety it wouldn't otherwise have. As long as everyone around us adheres to these structures and expectations, we believe that we have no need to fear. It's only when we recognise all these structures for the illusions they are that we are confronted with the true fragility of our existence: we recognise that we are vulnerable creatures that must rely on the delicate balance and cooperation of the entire universe in order to simply live out our brief existence, let alone achieve anything. Then we can start to understand the subconscious fear that motivates us to build and insist on the 'actuality' of these structures, as well as the unlimited potentiality that is available to us when we have the courage to see beyond them. But again, this my worldview, and I don't expect you to agree. As for the risk of becoming the bully - I have never seen that happen. It might, I have never seen it.. Most bullies I have encountered either had previously been bullied or were currently victims of bullying or oppression in a different environment (at home, previous school, bus, street, etc). Others were taught 'survival' strategies (ie. gaining the upper hand) by a parent, older sibling or 'mentor' who had been a victim of bullying, out of concern for their safety, or taught to fear or feel threatened by a certain type of person, attitude or behaviour, and to take steps to counter, control or eliminate that threat. Bullying starts with fear - it doesn't just happen because someone suddenly decides to be mean. I agree that bullying can be horrible but I have to tell you a slap up side the head is no longer bullying, it is assault, a physical attack on another (small, sure but in a school situation or schools sanctioned activities - not acceptable). And that's what I would have my lawyer tell the principal and the parents of the bully when we met and that, if it ever happens again (if they look at my kid sideways) - all legal hell will break loose. I am aware of that - I was citing the example from Matthew 5 of an action that is intended to insult or provoke without physical harm. Let's not get the lawyers involved just yet. Sorry, but the kid has nothing to understand in the moment when s/he is slapped (and will they finally feel bullied when they get a kick to the kidneys, a fist to the nose, a push down the stairs, a full out beating on the streets?). I simply disagree: one can understand why another is a bully and feel compassion - but how long does this understanding and compassion have to last if they fear going to school or they are humiliated at all or could be physically harmed or driven to suicide - because sometimes all the understanding and compassion in the world won't stop someone? Where is the compassion that is driven to protect the one being bullied in this scenario? The fight might quickly go out of some bullies but not all bullies. Am I supposed to be afraid? Am I supposed to think that what I've been teaching my children may eventually get the snot beaten out of them or leave them at the mercy of bullies, unless I also teach them when it's 'justified' to either strike back or seek protection? My children are well aware these options are available - I don't need to tell them that. Fight or flight is an instinctual response. They've even taken the option at times - and copped a detention or two from school, but no reprimand from me in those situations. I'm not insisting they choose compassion over fighting back - I'm only making them aware of the bigger picture, so they understand they have a choice to seek an interaction without fear, violence, hatred or oppression on either side. This is about awareness. It's less about the action they choose than the choices they have available. By the way, what leads you to believe that there would be a situation where all the understanding and compassion in the world won't stop someone from causing harm? Compassion is also about stopping any or further harm to others (who also deserve compassion) and then addressing, with understanding, why the bully bullied. But, sometimes, just like the mother protecting the kid from touching the hot oven, you just have to say (or shout), "No!"  What you describe here is addressing fears first and compassion second. Nothing wrong with that, but let's be honest about what it is. None of this is simple but I lean to the innocent first. You talk about these situations as if you are viewing them objectively. From your position as a teacher, or as the one bullied, I understand that you did what you believed was most effective and most compassionate within what was required of and available to you in the situation as you saw it. And you are confident that the vast majority of human beings (including myself) would probably 'justify' your actions and would feel 'justified' in the same actions in those and similar situations. But that doesn't make it an objective view. There is frequently more to each situation than we choose to be aware of in the moment. The decisions we make to block that awareness are often so ingrained that they occur in our subconscious - like driving a car. They make it easier to choose instantly from the unlimited potentiality present in each moment by limiting our awareness of that potentiality. We position ourselves as teacher, as witnessing adult, responsible for the children involved as well as onlookers, answerable to parents, conscious of our limited capabilities in the moment. We can't afford to be as compassionate towards the bully as to the bullied, we don't have time to consider how they got to this point in their life, because we are obliged by our position in that moment to determine (judge) and then prioritise the 'innocent'. We seek to prevent pain, humiliation and loss (ie. to love) hierarchically because our position in time, space, society, etc prevents us from loving unconditionally. But I am not in that moment now, and I was never in that moment. It means that I'm in no position to 'judge' the actions or decisions of the individuals who were in that moment. The moment is in the past, and nothing I do or say now will ever change that moment. But it also means that I am free to view the situation without obligation: while everyone is driven by their position to protect the one being bullied, I am at liberty to feel compassion for the bully in my experience of interacting with the situation as described at this moment. That doesn't mean I have no compassion for the one being bullied. In my position as a parent, as someone who works in a school, who has experienced bullying, etc - I completely understand and recognise the need to protect the 'innocent', to put a stop to the violence, and to prioritise compassion for the one being bullied. I have never said that the one being bullied should have done anything differently, or that you or anyone else in these situations should have done anything differently either. Neither am I denying the one bullied any compassion at all. They have plenty of compassion from you and others, both in that moment and in this one - and all of it fully deserved. But I believe I am called to love unconditionally, to be aware of where there is a lack of compassion, and to be 'God' in that moment - to express God's love wherever love is lacking. If this expression of love occurs in a different spacetime, I don't believe that lessens its significance to 'God' as such. If it is not in keeping with what I am expected (by you or anyone else) to do or say given my position in a given moment, then I will wear whatever consequences that may bring. But I won't be afraid to love the unloved. Here is what interests me in this moment: given that the compassion I might express towards the position of 'bully' in my present interaction with a situation you experienced in the past cannot actually affect the situation or the past itself, do you believe it has an impact on your present interaction (or anyone else's present interaction, for that matter) with the same situation?
  4. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    I understand that your position as a teacher made you fearful of the repercussions should you choose not to step in, and I believe it is still possible to be compassionate while restraining or otherwise preventing damage (especially as a teacher, where your options for 'handling' a student are limited anyway). You were protecting your interests - your position as a teacher requires you to protect the student being bullied as a priority, and ensure that the bullying stops without obvious harm to either student. You are motivated by fear, not necessarily for yourself but for your job: which includes your obligation to your students' future, parent expectations, the school, etc - this is perfectly understandable in the immediate circumstances. I would never expect a teacher who felt physically capable of stopping a fight to remain passive in this situation, even if they wanted to. But the 'fight' only starts when someone retaliates, and continues only as long as either side feels 'wronged' and capable of 'righting' it. In retaliating, sometimes you get lucky applying a force that matches the one against you, and you reach a point of mutual respect. Often you fail to match the force, so the bullying continues, and your feelings of humiliation, powerlessness and fear escalate. Sometimes you tip the scales too far and become the 'bully'. It takes courage to 'stand up' to a bully. I think retaliation can be a risky option, and it's not the only one available. Bullying always starts small, so it's important to nip it in the bud. If the kid being bullied is offended or insulted by a slap to the right cheek, for instance - if he feels humiliated or oppressed by it, then he reacts with humiliation or fear, which further attracts the bully by offering him an opportunity to gain power and control he probably fails to get elsewhere. But if the kid being 'bullied' understands the reasons behind the slap - the powerlessness, fear or lack of control felt by the bully - and has cause to feel compassion towards their behaviour rather than humiliation or fear, then he has no need to react to the attack, and therefore doesn't feel bullied. He can even offer the other cheek - not out of fear, but out of compassion - confident that the pain, humiliation or loss is tolerable, and that he gives it freely. The fight then quickly goes out of the bully - he may laugh or try to pretend he got the upper hand, or even try to escalate it himself - but he'll know he didn't really get what he thought he wanted. Compassion is not about giving someone what they want or what they ask for, but about understanding and addressing what they need - what their request or demand really means to them, despite how they communicate it.
  5. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    I believe a natural motivation as a human being is not to hurt or exclude people, but to protect our own interests - as Thormas says, our self centredness. We attack others when we sense a threat to our interests, to the 'solid foundations' of our world, and we will use whatever we have at our disposal in order to regain control of our situation. Religion was the 'power' that the Pharisees wielded, and they misused it in the same way that the popes of Luther's time (and many others) misused it: to protect their own interests and remove any threats to their sense of control (over themselves as well as others). It's what it seems Trump has been doing with his power, almost on a daily basis. It's what we would expected most (but not all) people to do with the power or ability they have - especially if, for instance, someone starts shooting nearby...
  6. I've been in discussions on another thread with Thormas, but I wanted to highlight this particular one separately to avoid further diverting an already off topic discussion that we’ve been enjoying, as well as hopefully attracting some diverse viewpoints on the subject. I took a look at a number of short videos interviewing David Bentley Hart: including one where he discusses the question 'Is God a person?', and another in particular where he talks about 'the being of God'. I have transcribed relevant quotes here, and all the descriptors below are Hart’s own wording from the videos, but if you’re interested in the context, then the links are here: https://youtu.be/oSHoDqF0xaY https://youtu.be/A_v1JtrrI54 Hart applies a number of descriptors to his 'classical view of God', a this view he believes is the “most coherent”, but throws up a straw man at the suggestion that those same descriptors could apply to anything else: So I'm going to pull on the thread because it's there... The notion of ‘potentiality as God’ certainly seems like a stretch at first glance. But the more I have been looking into it, the more sense it seems to make. I don’t propose it as an alternative to God, but as a way of developing a better understanding of this apparent mystery we have named ‘God’, and how it relates to this all-important question of how we should live. Hart goes on to state: So let’s explore this (and I've included descriptors from the above quote as well as other descriptors offered throughout these two videos): I propose that potentiality (understood as a whole and in relation to quantum theory): is not temporal; is not composite or ‘dissoluble into parts on which it is dependent’; is not ‘a being among beings’ or ‘dependent upon some larger sphere of actuality’ (despite Aristotle’s argument); is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient; is logically necessary; 'knows, loves and relates’ to us all. The base definition I have used for potentiality is from the Cambridge English Dictionary (online): "An ability to develop, achieve or succeed that is natural or has not been used." As far as I can see, potentiality seems to fit all of Hart’s descriptors for God. So I’d be interested to hear from others on this particular convergence of thought between science and theology.
  7. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    Thormas Please try not to take my comments about general human tendencies and behaviour personally - they are in no way directed towards you. We want to believe the best of humanity and of society, including their laws and procedures. When you speak of society and humanity in general, I believe you speak of the best of us - the ideal. Those who don't live up to this ideal are anomalies - 'they' are individuals whose thoughts, words and actions temporarily position them apart from humanity as an idealistic whole. They are redeemable (as are we all), but have strayed nonetheless. You believe yourself to be a member of this idealistic whole, and those thoughts, words and actions that might lead you astray are frequent diversions in an otherwise virtuous life. Please don't read judgement into any of these descriptions, either. I once saw the world as you did, and the fact that I no longer do is a change that I would not necessarily claim to be an improvement, either. I believe you to have a clear understanding of reality: of the world as a whole, of humanity and of your own capabilities. When I speak of society and humanity in general, though, I speak of our weaknesses and fears - our mob mentality, instinctive tendencies, interpretation of laws and procedures that make it easy, justifiable and even necessary to withhold the love we are capable of giving. I believe that being fully aware of these fearful tendencies in ourselves as well as in others is a key to compassion and unconditional love. I include myself in this view of humanity, because I want to be honest about how far I am and can go from unconditional love in each of my thoughts, words and actions. Those actions that strive to be 'Christ-like' I see as individually so. They stand apart from both my sense of 'self' and of 'humanity' because I understand them to be frequent acts of courage in an otherwise fearful life. That I believe my worldview to be more accurate is only a symptom of my worldview. That I see the seeds of pain, humiliation and loss in almost every thought, word and action is no reflection on you, nor is it a criticism of 'humanity' as such. It is what it is. When you say that 'bullying must be stopped', for instance, I understand that you personally would not advocate the many and varied methods of 'stopping' that bullying that often cause harm to the so-called 'bully'. What I believe you mean is always the most 'ideal' way of preventing any further harm, and I'm sorry that I haven't made that understanding perfectly clear. What I'm reacting to, therefore, is not my sense of your personal values, but the words 'bullying must be stopped', and what that can and often does mean, in my worldview, to the fearful, mob-like majority. When I mean you personally, I say 'you'. When I mean my view of humanity in general (which is rather less idealistic than your own), I say 'we'. I'm sorry that this has not been clearer. FWIW, my personal reaction to my child being bullied (and it has occurred many times) is to teach my child to understand various reasons for the bullying behaviour, including that child's sense of self-worth, their own past experiences of bullying and subsequently learned methods of coping and protecting themselves from harm, which can then harm others. My child is then able to communicate from a place of awareness and compassion, instead of as a victim. It's been surprisingly effective from the age of seven to fifteen so far...
  8. Thanks for your comment, FireDragon. I'm making a connection that I'm pretty confident Hart would never make himself, let alone other Orthodox Christians. Like Thormas, his focus is on God as pure actuality, backed up by rationalistic argument by Aristotle and Aquinas. Regardless of whether or not the source of his 'knowledge' is grace, he nevertheless presents it as reason. It's essentially a 'chicken or the egg' argument - I'm just exploring the 'egg' side of the argument, because I think it has merit in the light of quantum theory and consciousness studies. Incidentally, would you say that the nature of pure and absolute potentiality is 'unknowable'?
  9. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    How do you propose we actively refuse to accept it? By 'justifiably' condoning or causing pain and suffering to those who would cause pain and suffering? Is that Loving no matter the consequences? I'm not saying there is an easy answer, or that we should stand by and allow bullying, racism, war, rape or murder to happen at all. But individually we need to recognise that our lack of love in return - whether in condemning the person(s) directly or indirectly with our thoughts, words or actions, or in condoning or demanding pain, humiliation or loss inflicted on them as 'justice' - is not the way to God. Despite what seems to be the case short term, on a long term basis we will not stop bullying with bullying, war with war or murder with murder...only with Love no matter the consequences. Yes, there will be pain, humiliation and loss, and much will seem undeserved - but there will be anyway, and seeking to avoid it ourselves (believing it to be undeserved) invariably inflicts it on others, who also seek to avoid it and in doing so inflict it on others, etc... The difference is that we can become aware of when this occurs and choose individually to 'accept' rather than deflect the pain, humiliation and loss that comes our way - neither condoning nor contributing to it in any way, justified or otherwise. And we can show others the same path.
  10. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    I agree, and didn't say it was a correct interpretation. I only wanted to address the assumption that I intended to take random snippets out of context. I agree that the Torah should be understood as essentially correct but not literally so, and this illustrates the point that whatever words are used (in verbal and written accounts of Moses' revelations or Jesus' teachings or even in human 'judgement') can only point to a subjective and limited experience of the truth - they cannot definitively state it. However, I don't believe Jesus was only arguing against the literal interpretation - or that his examples were as 'absurd' as you might think. I recognise that from a broader, societal perspective, Jesus' call to 'turn the other cheek', for example, to love those who persecute you, might seem 'absurd'. But at the level of personal interaction with the world, the words also point to individual acceptance of suffering as a part of life, rather than the active avoidance and retaliation that assumes: 'I don't deserve to suffer - others do'. Jesus then follows through on this call by willingly accepting pain, humiliation and death himself beyond what anyone would deserve: suffering inflicted by others without cause. In my opinion, this call is also reflected throughout the Old Testament, from the stories of Cain and Joseph to Job and Ecclesiastes, as well as in Buddhist teachings and more.
  11. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    Fair enough, but that was not my intention. I agree these were brief examples, but I believe my interpretation reflects their original context, and I wouldn't suggest that context be ignored. Neither did I intend to make any 'sweeping conclusions' myself - I only queried that this expectation might not be as 'clear' as one might assume. It was an invitation to demonstrate this clarity, and to weigh in on the original question. You have done neither, but that's your choice.
  12. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    Hi Burl I'm not sure where this is so 'clearly' laid out as an expectation of mankind. I would have thought "Judge not, that Ye not be judged" and "turn the other cheek" suggested an expectation to refrain from judgement or any approximation of justice? I am expected to make adjustments to my own way of being, to my future actions, in relation to the covenant, and to interact with others in recognition of their potential to do the same - but in my opinion judgement is a form of measurement that invites one to interact with the decision (conclusion based on past actions) instead of the potentiality. Jesus speaks against human judgement of individuals (which both leads to, and seeks avoidance of, suffering), and instead speaks to a final judgement which is God's. The original question was whether the term judgement was to be understood as 'a conclusion or decision' (the standard English definition) or alternatively as 'a moment of chaos, presenting opportunity and danger' (which I understood to be more warning than judgement).
  13. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    I don't deny this, and I'm not dismissing their value. I just don't think we should confine ourselves to these sources. In appreciating the diversity of the universe, we can welcome the subjective experiences of the anomalous and the marginalised as indicative of the potentiality that exists beyond our current understanding. This how we have grown to accept the diversity of gender identity, for example. Humility is a strange word - it suggests an acceptance of limitation. I am aware that I cannot definitively 'know' potentiality in terms of subjective experience, such is its infinitude. That would be like striving to 'know' Pi in terms of its full digital expression - any articulation of it would either be an abstraction or an approximation at best. Yet we 'know' that a number exists which, for all intents and purposes, is 'infinitely diverse' in its expression. At any moment we can choose to accept the symbol, confine or expand it to x decimal places or strive to actualise the absolute potentiality of its unique expression, confident that it can occur even if we 'know' that no full actuality will occur in time or space. In all but the last option, there is danger in losing sight of the infinity of its full expression, in settling for or believing the chosen approximation as actual. That the frontiers of science and mathematics refuse to settle for anything less than this last option is an admirable quest, in my opinion. That both scientific and religious thinkers very often choose to settle within certain apparent limitations is unfortunate.
  14. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    I understand that the Word of God is always redemptive, but the word 'judgement' as written in both the Old and New Testament seems to always follow the action rather than preempting choice as in your examples, and also suggests a conclusion or decision in its context. I don't think I'm reading that into the text, and I'd be interested in hearing a non-catholic point of view on the use of 'judgement' in scripture, for clarity. I can see, however, how 'judgement' implied by Catholic tradition and read into the text can be interpreted in the way you describe. But that discourse can also be interpreted by fundamentalists, atheists and anyone who has not read Baum, in terms of the commonly held understanding of 'judgement' outside of this 'loving' interpretation. Because of this, I will continue to distinguish 'warning' from 'judgement' according to commonly held understanding of the terms rather than Baum's interpretation of Catholic discourse. I sincerely hope you don't mind.
  15. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    I like this. I believe that love is the actualising of potentiality, insofaras we are aware of that potentiality. For you that potentiality appears to be limited to Human, so that (eventually) divinity is dwelling in humanity, whereas for me it is unlimited: 'humanity' as a limitation falls away and we become all, divinity, love. I hope I'm following your understanding of these terms, but I get the feeling this is not quite what you mean.
  16. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    I have to admit, I have not come across this definition of judgement before. I always thought the common understanding of judgement was: an opinion or conclusion; the decision of a law court or judge. Your description of 'a moment of chaos', where opportunity and danger are presented, and the other examples you offer sound more like a warning than a judgement to me - and in that definition I would wholeheartedly agree. I'm all for warnings - they're a vital communication tool, as long as they are interpreted as a warning instead of as a 'judgement'. It appears that is not always the case, and I'm intrigued that you see it that way. The potential misunderstandings here are enormous. Thank you.
  17. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    I understand that it doesn't look that way from your perspective, and is certainly not what you mean. And I'm not trying to twist your words - only to demonstrate how they can be twisted. In my opinion, any description of a human being as 'less than' invites humiliation, loss and pain (ie. infliction of suffering) from those who choose to interact only with the condemnation without recognising the potentiality of the human being to which it is attributed. I don't doubt that you recognise that potentiality yourself even as you say (or write) the words, but your words alone don't communicate that recognition to others who would interact with them, and you can't expect everyone to assume any sense of compassion from the word 'inhuman'. It is this kind of misunderstanding that quickly leads to discrimination, regardless of your intentions. I honestly don't mean to start a fight. As I mentioned before, my day job requires me to be alert for possible ambiguity or misunderstanding that enables audiences with different experiences/agendas to read the same wording in either a neutral or a negative light, and to bring it to the author or speaker's attention before the communication goes out.
  18. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    Working within the 'framework' of Christianity or the 'reality' of how most humans react is too restrictive to get a sense of the truth, though - don't you think?
  19. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    Fair enough. It seems there are certainly individuals and teams who are working towards some kind of formula or algorithm - who believe that it's at least possible to determine - if that's what you mean. My understanding of the physics, mathematics and informational science doesn't stretch far enough to even guess how close they are. I imagine there are also many funding agendas that keep threatening to derail genuine progress. But the speculation is fascinating. I do have the benefit of a specialist maths teacher nearby to give me the basic gist when I get stuck, though. It's been fun to delve into the possibilities, but sometimes my brain hurts.
  20. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    Again, you misconstrue me. I never said that potentiality = success. I said that potentiality was the ability to develop, achieve or succeed. That is not the same thing as success, although there can be no success without it. This term 'human', verb or noun, is a moving goalpost: there is no universally recognisable line between what 'human' is and is not. It's fuzzy at best. It might seem clearly delineated in your mind, but that is entirely subjective - and the assumption that such a distinction exists has long been the source of undue suffering. The potentiality still before us (or within us) is the potentiality not to be or do 'human' but to be or do anything - it is limitless, because it is actualised not alone in ourselves but through our interaction and interconnection with the entire potentiality of the universe, absolute potentiality, God. What puts any perception of our 'humanity' in danger is to believe ourselves or others unchangeable, actualised, devoid of potentiality or limited by names and labels (I'm only human, she's just a girl, etc). We can make ourselves new with every moment, every interaction and every experience - we only have to see the potentiality around us. They were all human. I think you might need to read the bible again, and check that you're not reading judgment into the text. Jesus did not judged the priest or the Levite, nor did he judge the Samaritan. He simply provided an opportunity to learn the answer to the question: "who is my neighbour?" We are the ones who have added the title 'The Good Samaritan', enabling judgement of the other passers by as 'not good'. The point of the story is to draw attention to our desire to label others, to judge them and perceive or assume limitations on their potentiality - not the potential to be 'good' or 'bad' (these terms were not applied by Jesus), but the unlimited potentiality to be other than or more than 'Samaritan', for instance - to be 'neighbour' - and to see potentiality in others - not just a Jew or a stranger, but a fellow human being in need of compassion and care - and interact accordingly. Jesus effectively turned the common judgements or prejudices of the time on their heads - the two men whose labels may imply goodness and righteousness did not act righteously, while the man whose label at the time implied enemy interacted as 'neighbour'. Nor did Jesus judge the woman labelled and thereby condemned by the crowd as 'adulterer'. He already saw her potentiality beyond her 'sin'. He invited the crowd to see her as they see themselves (as more than their sin), and then told the 'woman' to recognise that potentiality and not define herself by past sins. And again, he did not judge the crowd either, but reiterated what was said in Luke: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." It is the crowd and the reader who judge here, not Jesus. I would hope that anyone who interacts with such individuals, or even talks about them, would withhold any judgement, as is their responsibility as a compassionate human being. You probably think I'm being unrealistic to suggest this, given the way society (and indeed Christianity) operates to protect itself from danger or 'evil', and yet this is what Jesus did and what he taught. Sure, it takes courage - more than we have at times - but I would think that this is what we should strive for. I acknowledge that it sounds rational, if that's what you mean by 'holds water'. I guess I also understand why you so strongly believe it - after all, it appears to govern our laws and our sense of safety - but I can't say I agree with your statement of this view. You make a distinction between what these actions do: they don't 'define us' (hopefully not?) yet they 'tell us who and what we are'? I don't see much of a distinction here. I accept that our actions, particularly consistent ones, may reflect a perception of who or what we were, but they have no bearing on who or what we are at this moment, unless we choose to interact with the 'self' in this way. Likewise in our interaction with others. As I said before, we can make ourselves new with every moment, every interaction and every experience, and in focusing on this instant and ever-present ability to change (not just the actual, perceived change over time), we can glimpse absolute potentiality, not just in ourselves, but in others and in all things. It is a civilised society's right and responsibility to condemn Hitler's actions and stop them. But you cannot confidently say that anyone would not be Hitler if they had the exact same (not just similar) circumstances of birth, upbringing, education and life experiences. To dismiss Hitler's humanity is to dismiss the possibility of another human being coming to power, with the support of the people, whose view of the world is so limited or distorted that his subsequent words and actions could bring about so much pain, humiliation and loss - not to mention the possibility of millions of human beings agreeing with him, admiring him and facilitating his mission to 'make his nation great again'...oh, wait... It seems that, for the most part, we continue to believe that we (and all the people we love, respect and associate ourselves with) are fundamentally different in our essential makeup to Hitler. We prefer to separate him out as some horrible anomaly - and yet it seems here we go again... I think perhaps we're closer here. On the one hand we can be called 'human', but on the other hand we are so much more. We are given the entire universe and we can make it more. Too often, we only see the faults, the limitations. If the rock is not seen for what it can be (ie. potentiality recognised) then work cannot start: there is no further actualisation and therefore no movement, no change - only a rock and unseen potentiality (not nothing). Whether potentiality is seen or unseen, ignored or rationalised away, it is still there, and all things are still possible. The rock may just have to wait for someone more aware of potentiality to come along - they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. If what is shaped is not possible (rather than what is possible not shaped), to me this is nothing - or rather, nothing but illusion. Here we delve into mathematics a little, because shape, movement and change can be reduced to mathematical equation. So if an equation cannot be solved, then it cannot be true, and therefore the hypothetical shape, movement or identifiable point seems impossible to graph, and you have nothing but a bunch of symbols that look like they mean something, but actually point to nothing - just an undefined space on a graph. This is what I think 'pure actuality' might look like without potentiality. But then again, mathematics recognises potentiality even here: the ability of an equation to be solved, even if we never actually solve it. With things like imaginary numbers, it also recognises the significance of 'looking' beyond what is actual, to a potentiality that doesn't require interaction (observation) in order to be. And I believe that our unlimited potential remains before us to facilitate the 'creation' of universal beauty and harmony out of the diversity of the unfolding universe, by recognising the oneness and potentiality, not of 'humanity', but of all matter. Our interaction with the life, words and actions of Hitler as a human being, for instance, just as we interact with Jesus' story, enables us to recognise the falseness of perceived limitations and develop a greater awareness of this underlying ability to succeed: to achieve beauty and harmony from diversity. In this way Hitler's unlimited potential remains before him even 'after death'. Most of people just don't see it that way. So be it.
  21. Again, I get where you're coming from. There really is no need to 'do' anything at all. And yet, there is still interaction with the temporal world. These interactions that feed the poor, support orphans, recycle recyclables, drive an electric car, etc - they aim to minimise impact and reduce suffering in recognition of the significance of these structures that are nevertheless illusion. There is no 'I' that accomplishes this, and yet there are structures that enable these interactions to occur and for such interactions to be communicated to those areas of consciousness that may be 'still asleep'. It seems like a matter of 'going with the flow' for you now. I don't know if you have any ties to the temporal world by way of work, marriage or family commitments, or if they share your perspective, but this has been an interesting journey to take with a husband and two young children. There is a recognition that my obligation to these three human beings above all others is illusion, but also that a commitment to them is very real from their perspective. It creates a situation that must be handled carefully in order to minimise impact and reduce suffering. I guess that's where I'm coming from. In the words of Joseph Campbell:
  22. OK...please ignore my reference to Einstein's theory - I'm fond of thinking outside the box, but I occasionally lose track of the box altogether...
  23. I'm also familiar with this experience, Joseph - and there was a time when I thought that simply recognising the act of witnessing or observing rather than being the body or mind itself was enough. But a bunch of tough questions hit me at that point, that perhaps best starts with: okay, where to from here? Is it a case of rejecting the temporal world as illusion, dismissing thoughts and body senses, and aiming to return to the oneness that is pure awareness? If so, then why is consciousness in the temporal world to start with? Or is it the temporal world in the field of consciousness? (Sorry, I'm not clear on your description) Or do we resume our place in this temporal world and aim to guide the rest of consciousness to recognise this oneness with us? If this is the case, then what are we expecting to happen in the amazing event that we do accomplish this global sense of unity in consciousness? What does this accomplishment look like in the temporal world? How does it work? And will we have enough time to achieve it, or is the 'lure' of the temporal world working against us? So what I'm really asking is: What is the ongoing nature of the relationship between pure awareness (God), the temporal world and this field of consciousness?
  24. Well, now that I've looked at it again, it is 'matter' that I am talking about as potentiality, isn't it? So perhaps it's not a straw man after all. Hart's expression of "what would that mean, anyway?" is telling, because we're not entirely sure what 'matter' is or means. What we are learning, and what the interviewer alludes to but doesn't pursue (owing in part to a dismissive remark from Hart about the supposed contingency of matter), is that there is a relationship between matter and quantum theory. But I'll get to that. You keep twisting potentiality to read 'what is potential', but this is incorrect, and I have tried to explain this before. 'Potential' is an adjective, and is therefore conditional - it is an awareness of absolute potentiality, but one that is necessarily limited to a particular point in spacetime, namely the subject or noun in question, from the point of view of the 'observer' (who is also in spacetime). Potentiality may speak of developing and achieving, but this developing and achieving does not occur in potentiality, but in actuality. Any actual development from A to B is both dependent on and dissolvable into composite parts (including limited awareness of potential), but that's not potentiality. Potentiality is merely the ability to develop - an ability that exists independent of time, space or any actuality at all. There is no occurrence of anything (no movement, no action, no change) in potentiality, because there are no constituent parts - there is just potentiality. This potentiality is not 'nothing', it is not dependent, either - but it is logically necessary and it is omnipotent. Actuality relies primarily on the existence of potentiality in order to exist at all, let alone achieve anything. Aristotle, and by extension Aquinas, also misunderstood the nature of potentiality when 'speaking absolutely'. They said that it is matter that changes and moves, but matter at the sub-atomic level has always been the same across the universe - it is form (actuality) that changes, that moves in time and space and interacts with other forms. We can see this in the way everything around us changes and moves in shape but not in matter, and we especially see it in mathematics, where both form and movement/change can be reduced to mathematical formula, to equation: a statement of relationship between actualities: (variables and constants). This understanding of matter as constant then suggests that we re-examine Einstein's Theory of Relativity: which states energy (e), or the unfolding of the universe, as the nature of the relationship between matter (m) as a variable and the speed of light (c) as a constant. If we look at matter as a constant instead, and also take into account the role of the 'observer' as understood in quantum theory, then the unfolding of the universe is more likely to be the nature of the relationship between matter as a constant (ie. potentiality or God) and the variable position of the observer (consciousness) in whatever formula (equation determining form, movement and change) that the relationship between space and time works out to be. And from there I say 'good luck' to physicists and mathematicians, who have a much better chance than me of working out the details. But I don't need to know the formula in order to understand the nature of the relationship. Because that relationship is the unfolding universe that 'I' observe (and also participate in both consciously and unconsciously) from my uniquely subjective, continually variable and highly conditional position in time and space - this subset of actualising potentiality. Actualising potential is not a must, therefore, but a 'choice' - one that we make in every moment of every day, whether or not we are even remotely aware of making it. The more we develop our awareness of the trajectory of our position in relation to both spacetime and the absolute potentiality that exists both within and beyond each actuality, each element of 'reality' we observe in our momentary awareness of that position, the more we can make conscious 'choices' that actualise absolute potentiality, not just our limited view of conditional potential in time and space. But whether we do or don't makes no change to potentiality, which exists and remains constant independently of what 'I' do, and makes all things possible regardless of whether or not anyone or anything acts or 'chooses' to act at any particular time or place. This is the nature of God.
  25. possibility

    Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

    Hi Thomas Oh no - I've written a novel again.... But have 'most of us' ever taken the time to look for this self? Descartes was reacting to what was being taught at the time: that "everything I know, I learned from the senses" - he took an important step forward: the recognition that I am not my body or my senses, that these are deduced as trustworthy or rejected as false by 'the thinking self'. However Descartes didn't feel the need to move beyond this (it was revolutionary enough for the 17th century), to further recognise that I am not my thoughts, either, but that these thoughts come and go as separate from my perception of 'self'. To declare "I think therefore I AM" is to believe that 'I am my thoughts'. Follow Descartes method of enquiry further: Have you ever experienced a thought that you just had to disown? One perhaps that you dismissed as 'evil', crazy, illogical or simply unkind, that you couldn't possibly bring yourself to entertain for more than a moment? And yet that thought appeared, even momentarily, before you rejected it? If 'I' can reject thoughts, then who or what am 'I' that rejects them? Certainly not 'the thinking self'...I suggest you keep looking... I think perhaps you are misunderstanding me in this instance, because this is not my assumption at all. I don’t believe that consciousness is a product of the brain, and I continue to hope that you take a look at Blackmore and Harris so you get a better idea of where I’m coming from on this question of self and consciousness. However, I don’t think that consciousness (or this particular mystery) is ultimately beyond the reach of science, either - although I agree that it's certainly beyond the reach of physicalism/materialism, and won't be accounted for in a purely physical study of the brain. I would hope that your view of science and the scope of scientific enquiry is not that narrow. As much respect as you may have for Hart's intellectual ability, his purpose is to attack physicalism/materialism in science, and so his awareness of the potentiality of science has narrowed to where his argument has the most impact. To a hammer, everything is a nail. In the interests of accepting what particular words mean, i thought I'd offer some widely accepted definitions (from the Cambridge English dictionary): Potential: someone's or something's ability to develop, achieve or succeed. Potentiality: an ability for development, achievement or success that is natural or has not been used. The difficulty you're experiencing with potentiality appears to come from your understanding of 'potential' as being necessarily attributed to something or someone - thereby assuming that 'potentiality' must also be attributed, rather than be in/for itself. But you're assuming a limitation where one doesn't exist. Forget the Absolute for a moment. When potentiality is considered as absolute, it is understood as the natural ability for development, achievement or success that is universally present, regardless of whether or not it has been used by someone or something. This is my current understanding of God. Potentiality is set only by the name we have given it. It's more than a seed when it's being a plant. 'Seed' is merely a descriptor, a label for the action of 'being that which fits the description of seed' - a subset of actualising potentiality that we define by our interaction (senses and thoughts that arise in consciousness) with this subset in spacetime. When it is labelled or defined as 'birdseed', we interact with it as if it is pet food, and readily forget that it ever had the potentiality to be 'a plant'. So it often comes as a surprise when this birdseed falls into a puddle of water and sprouts, and we're reminded that this potentiality has not been destroyed by our interaction with it as 'pet food'. Likewise the man in prison who becomes 'more than they were' (and your words here are telling) manages to pleasantly surprise us. We are reminded of the potentiality present within the 'him' we observe to at least be 'fully human' (whatever we determine that to be), and that in our past interaction with the label of 'criminal' or 'monster' - even with his name and all the expected continuity of self that implies - we have failed to see God in him. I don't believe we are ever justified in our judgement or condemnation of an actualising potentiality, regardless of what the structures of society tell you - and I think Jesus was pretty clear on this, too. To 'strip someone of their humanity', to say "they have not acted human and therefore are not human', is a destructive interaction that generates rather than prevents pain, humiliation and loss. A person should never be defined by their actions. How do we reconcile a heroic and an inhuman action from the one person? How many times have we heaped praise on someone for one heroic deed, revered them as 'the best of humanity', only to later discover that they're far from being a hero in other areas of their life? The fireman on 9/11 could simultaneously be a wife abuser or child rapist. Your supposed distinction between human and actualised or accomplished human, somehow define by what they do, does not hold water. Who are we to judge? In my opinion we are Adolph Hitler in very different circumstances, and any attempt to deny that possibility is false. Condemn the action, but love the person. To say "it is not we who have done it" is also false. There is no objectivity in judgement, no God-given distinction between good and evil. Personally I don't label Hitler as inhuman - I fully acknowledge his humanity in every action, and I think it's vital to do that in order to prevent history from repeating itself. Absolute potentiality is the ability to develop, achieve or succeed beyond a definition in spacetime (perceived actuality), regardless of whether or not it is used. To recognise that potential in any element of the universe is to recognise God. So a chunk of rock sitting idle for seventy years, declared 'riddled with faults' and rejected several times, could be recognised and nurtured with conscious interaction to become one of the most profound manmade expressions of absolute potentiality I have ever experienced: in Michelangelo's statue of David. What you've written is not the same as what I said. "The Absolute" are your words, and while I personally don't believe it adequately portrays what it is we're attempting to understand here, I've been referencing the name you've given because it connects your perspective of 'God' to mine. But now I realise that I'm not making myself clear. The word 'absolute' is an adjective, a descriptor for something that is 'true, right and the same in all situations, and not dependent on anything else'. As a noun it is a philosophical term: 'a value or principle which is regarded as universally valid, or which may be viewed without relation to other things'. Neither of these definitions is a complete or satisfying image of 'God' to me, and I've yet to find an accepted definition for 'absolute' or 'mystery' that portrays the fullness of 'God' in/for itself. So I have to assume that your use of "the Absolute" is a placeholder in the same way that "God" or "the Mystery" are placeholders for what you experience as both absolute and currently a mystery, and much more. Possibility: a chance that something may happen or be true. Potentiality: an ability for development, achievement or success that is natural or has not been used. The difference in these two words (in my opinion) speaks of substance, goodness and personal relation in the latter that seems to be absent from the former, and also absent from the terms you've been using. It is the capital letters that attempt to add back in what is missing in these terms, but for me the sense of inadequacy remains. A subset of interconnected energy in motion includes what is understood as body, brain, memories, thoughts and senses. It can be called 'self', but that is an illusion as such, not least because the subset is only ever definable in the past and changes from moment to moment. It can interact with another subset called 'apple', for instance, in such a way that it ceases to be definable as 'apple' and part of that energy in motion is absorbed into the original subset without altering the concept of 'self' that is perceived in consciousness, and a single thought can also interact without altering the self in any way. Yet other interactions with subsets, senses and thoughts can profoundly alter or distort perception of the self to the point where it is drastically inconsistent with the subset (eg. anorexia). So I think this concept of self is not what it seems (but neither is it necessarily more/less), and that an actual self does not exist, but is only perceived by consciousness at any one point. Reality: the state of things as they are, rather than as they are imagined to be. I don't know if I believe that such a thing as Absolute Reality exists, because I don't believe in an objective reality. My broadest awareness of 'reality', of things as they are, is more or less what I have described to you, but I am also aware that how I see the unfolding of the physical universe may have many similarities but is always going to be at least slightly different to how you see it. There is no reality (no state of things as they are) that is true, right and the same in all situations, or considered universally valid. Any gain in awareness, any sharing of experiences or knowledge, any actualisation at all is only achieved through interaction in spacetime. Potentiality is absolute - it is not dependent on anything else - and yet the actual development, achievement or success of anything lies in awareness of and interaction with other subsets of potentiality - from the rocks I walk on and the air I breathe to the frogs in my garden, to family, work colleagues and yourself. This means operating a complex interface of physical, biological, social, cultural, political and language constructs built by a long history of interactions to define, label, divide and control what is perceived, as well as recognising that awareness of the constructs and of the underlying 'reality' (such as I perceive it) will vary with each interaction. So I recognise you, for instance, as words on a screen that point to an individual human being (with subjective experiences and operating within a unique set of circumstances) that points to a subset of actualising potentiality (energy in motion, aware of unique thoughts and senses arising in consciousness) that points to the absolute potentiality in which you and I, Jesus and Hitler, the factory workers who put this iPad together and the mosquito that attacked me last night, are irretrievably interconnected. But it's just as easy to read the words on the screen and forget or ignore their connection to a human being at any one moment, let alone their (and my) connection to the infinite possibilities of the unfolding physical universe across time and space... Thanks again for the discussion, and for your patience. This has been so useful to me. I'd like to also open a particular topic on Hart's discussion (in two recent videos I saw) of 'the being of God', and 'God as Person' in relation to this, just as soon as I work out how to start one...
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