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Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

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6 hours ago, possibility said:

I never said this was religion at its core - only that it was something we tend to do in religion. It's something we tend to do in any search for knowledge - and again I'm not saying this is religion at its core, either.

You and I (and clearly Hart) recognise that when we talk about 'God', we aren't talking about a being, supreme or otherwise. I assume we recognise that the words of the bible refer to human experiences of 'God', and we strive to understand how these experiences and those of others relate to our own and contribute to a greater understanding of the mystery. We also recognise that it is this understanding that determines our beliefs and how we think we (and everyone else) should live.

But as Hart suggests, many theists and atheists and most who talk about God are actually searching for something to name, to know. One can present an unknowable, unnameable mystery, and we invariably add a (well-intentioned) capital letter to give it importance, to distinguish it from all other mysteries. We at least recognise this as a futile attempt to name the unnameable, to give substance or form to the formless. But suddenly this Mystery can now be interpreted as a noun in its own right - named and therefore something to know, to define, to worship or destroy, to gather evidence for or against, to build a relationship with, to defend with one's life or to use against others.

On 7/8/2018 at 6:59 PM, thormas said:

Fair enough on religion, I was just establishing that it is not (merely) about 'naming' something. And well said on "God" and the Bible. 

I don't know if Hart suggests this or even how accurate it is, however I think it is fair to say this is true for some but it is also fair to say that others seek (the) meaning of life.

One could add the well intentioned caps but this is not what Hart is doing. Rather, he is saying that there is a radical difference in god and "God." It is not an either/or for him, he is not shy is stating that to say that god is a supreme being is simply uninformed and, as such, wrong. However, I agree that the Mystery is unnameable and, further, that "God" is not a proper name (not sure whether Reality, in itself is formless, so I will pass on substance and form).

You lost me with the leap to the Mystery as noun. In the history of religion (history of the world) there is evidence that men thought they knew, named and owned or were owned by the god and defended what was theirs to the death (both theirs and others). However, those who agree with Hart know this has been and continues to be a mistake and is simply wrong.

6 hours ago, possibility said:

The 'flaw' here doesn't lie with atheism. 'Religions' can't be said to believe anything. Theologists argue such beliefs, and religious doctrine may even state it - the Pope may even say something to that effect - but none of these determine (let alone resemble) what each individual who adheres to that religion believes, thinks or says about 'God', or for that matter how they think they (and everyone else) should live. And that disconnect has only grown wider over the last couple of centuries.

On 7/8/2018 at 6:59 PM, thormas said:

I was simply responding to your comment about the atheist argument and that there is a flaw - as there is a flaw for theists, popes or otherwise, who conceive and speak of the Mystery as god and not "God. The doctrines should be understood as the insights, the efforts of a previous generation to say something about God but they have become 'truths of faith' and were to be accepted. So, for generations, much of what the Pope or the doctrines said, is what people believed.  I think that has and continues to change for some, hopefully for all in the future. So, we agree. 

6 hours ago, possibility said:

All evidence claims are a belief statement. As I understand it, 'evidence' is simply a high incident of shared experience (including first, second and third hand), and a 'thing' is an experienced point in spacetime. So when I talk about evidence here, I'm referring to documented, shared experience that demonstrates sufficiently reduced probability of a recognisable 'self' existing at any point in spacetime. Don't take my word for it, but don't dismiss the statement without exploring supporting documentation and/or conducting your own experiments.

It seems some differentiate between belief statements and evidence. For some evidence is proof and with proof, we are no longer dealing with (mere) belief (their sentiments not mine). However, as the Mystery is no-thing or object and, therefore beyond the reach of science, so too, is the mystery that is man - especially that 'part' of the human being that we most liken to "God" - the conscious self. Obviously, much of the human being is the proper study of science and science is to our great benefit. The brain is the valid object of science, however consciousness is ultimately beyond its reach. The higher incident of shared experience is that for most of us, except 'for a handful of cognitive scientists and philosophers' (Hart again) consciousness is quite real. As is the self. I side with Descartes," I think therefore I AM." The assumption (not sure if it is also yours) that consciousness is produced by the brain and that the study of the brain will ultimately account for consciousness speaks of a physicalism/materialism that I simply don't buy (believe). Again, I might be misunderstanding you.

6 hours ago, possibility said:

What about the idea that consciousness is simply the interaction of this energy in motion?

If so, then how could science ever get a handle on consciousness which,  by description, seems to be (part of the) Mystery? As long as this take on consciousness encompasses a participation in Consciousness (i.e. multiplicity of persons), it sounds intriguing. 

6 hours ago, possibility said:

This is where our language structures break down. Are you saying that absolute potentiality is not the same as 'the very possibility of all that is'? How can you be so sure that the Absolute is? I may have mentioned Actus Purus in passing, but I don't agree with Aquinas' argument, because it's built on an unprovable assumption that the Absolute is. I'm not saying that which is absolute has potentiality. I'm saying that it is potentiality - that potentiality alone has absoluteness.

I don't think it's language structure, I think it is first, accepting what particular words mean (basic definitions/word usage). If someone says that Reality is Absolute and Unchanging, those words (even acknowledging the limitation of language) have meaning. Potential speaks to movement from what is not (it is 'only' potential) to what is actual (actuality); movement is change; change speaks to that which is not total, complete, perfect - i.e. Absolute. Just using these words, I have been saying if someone says Reality is Absolute and Unchanging, yet speaks of fiction, illusion, ignorance and enlightenment then we are left with either that what we believed is Absolute and Unchanging, is not - or, if we hold that Reality is the Absolute, then there is something else going on (so to speak). So, what is it?

I am not sure of anything, this whole 'exercise' is my trying to get to the heart of what these words mean and, perhaps, surprisingly, what they suggest if examined closely. When I get to (already touched on) my take on things, it is always a statement of belief (never certainty because there is no object, no evidence, no surety).

Leaving all that aside, if the Absolute is potentiality that alone is or has absoluteness, what do you mean? The potentiality cannot be in/for itself (again suggesting becoming and change, unless that's what you are saying) and I have already acknowledged that the potentiality of the Absolute is (eternally) actualized in itself - so for what is its potential?

6 hours ago, possibility said:

This is an interesting point. Are you assuming the Law of Excluded Middle applies here? That a seed becomes a plant that becomes a flower, and that all other eventualities would constitute a failure to achieve this predetermined, limited potential that it cannot become other than? I don't believe this is how nature works. If I take the seed and give it to my pet bird, it could become nourishment for that bird, and it could be overlooked. If I then take the overlooked seed and give it water but keep it in a cupboard, primary school experiments prove that it could still become a plant (albeit a thin, sickly looking one). If I then take that poor plant and give it sunlight and care, it could become a flower that eventually fades, and it could also become food. Potential is not what should be, but what could be. It is the possibility of all that is. Interaction with everything else is what eliminates those possibilities.

At what point would you say that 'a human' is fully actualised? And considering that (until this point of said actualisation) one retains the potential to become human, at what point to do we label them an "animal", a "monster", and effectively destroy that potential? Who are we to label them or measure them as such - to fix them to that point in spacetime and declare it as definitive of who or what they are

Maybe we're looking at this all wrong. After all, Hitler was a human being, not a human becoming. In recognising him as such, we acknowledge our own potential to be other than whatever we determine 'human' to be. Perhaps 'human' is not necessarily a fixed state that one achieves, therefore, but a rather more diverse area of the dance than we imagined. And perhaps this potential that we attribute to 'becoming human' is not as limited or definitive as we might think. Perhaps no potential is initially as limited as we think...

Potential is a could but the could be is set. A seed is a seed is a seed be it as plant, pet food or a lab franken-plant. It is not ever not a seed.

However, man's potential is not set: it is yet to be but it could not be. On one hand,of course, we are all human beings and we cannot be other; we will never be a rock, tree or a dog. Yet, on the other hand, not all of us are (truly) 'human' beings. Human is not merely a noun, something you are; human is a verb, something you must do. We must do to be (or not do and not be). Just like one must dance to be a dancer; if one does not dance, he is not a dancer.

The potential is there form the moment we awake to consciousness; it is always our potential but it must be actualized (we must do) by us; if it is not, then, one has not become the only 'thing' they can be: human. And again, we recognize this truth in our everyday life and language. The child rapist, the wife abuser, the serial killer, the Hitler, the lone gunman attacking the school are called, inhuman, monsters, evil, the devil, we simply refuse to use their name (how telling is that?), animal, etc. We, strip them of humanity in recognition of what they have do. They look human, they are still not the rock, tree or dog, but they have not acted human, and therefore are not (human). Whereas, the fireman on 911, the swimmer who dies while trying to save the stranger, the teacher who stands in front of the shooter to protect her kids: on them we heap humanity, and we run out of words to express the reality of 'what' they are: the best of us, hero, great, what a special woman, what we should all try to be, the best we have to offer, a true man, etc. At what point does one become a monster or an animal (and are so labeled)? See above but I didn't say they destroyed their potential, only that it was not (yet) realized. It is still there, still before them. How many times have we heard of one who turns themselves around when in prison and becomes 'more' than they were?

Who are we? We are their fellows, we are the ones who live in community with them, we are the ones who suffer loss because of them, we are the one who clean up and repair lives after them, we are the one who build community, have families, and try to be human and 'humanize' our world. Plus, if not us, who? Plus, it is not we who have done it, it is a recognition of what the other has done and is. And who would have us not take their measure and condemn their action? Our 'judgement' or justice is fixed to particular actions in time and space but, as mentioned, anyone can define or redefine him/herself.

Hitler was a human being, in one sense, but he, and all, are becoming human, in the sense explained above. Human is a fixed state in that we, including Hitler and the rest, are human. However, it is not fixed in that it is not yet actualized or accomplished: to be human one must do (verb) Human.

Dancing is one yet many. There are many ways to dance (look at John Travolta movies, look at different cultures, times and ages) but dancing is always dancing from the old lady dancing at her great granddaughter's wedding, as she sits in her chair surrounded by family to Fred Astaire dancing, to Cagney, to ancient fertility dances, to native American dancing, to a little girl dancing for joy when she sees her mother. Dancing is dancing is dancing .........is one. There are many ways in the one but it is one. So too human: we look different, we sound different, we live in different times, cultures and lands - but human is human is human...........is one.  Like dancing, human looks different, there are many ways but the Way (to be truly human) is one and it is recognized.

6 hours ago, possibility said:

I'm sensing some frustration here (could be the exclamation marks?). And we keep coming back to this question of 'who'? You've clarified that you don't believe 'the Absolute' is a 'who' or a 'what' (despite your use of capitals), and I hope I've made clear that what you name 'the Absolute' I see as potentiality - the possibility of all that is. 

So, I present my confusing attempt to answer your question of 'who is the illusory one who writes in these posts to whom I respond?':

There is a subset of the unfolding universe, of interconnecting energy in motion or actualising potentiality in spacetime, experiencing 'sensations' and 'thoughts' as interaction of first, second and third hand experiences gained through interaction and interconnection in spacetime with recognised subsets of interconnecting energy in motion.

This particular subset (me) is driven by awareness of potentiality to interact with other recognised subsets of actualising potentiality in order to share experiences and interconnect throughout this unfolding universe, with a view to maximising awareness, and subsequently actualisation, of its absolute potentiality...

...I think

There is no frustration (this is fun), the exclamation marks are just that: exclaiming and emphasizing something and the caps (IT IS) because I refer to the Mystery.

Also, others seem to switch back and forth between lower and upper case, so at times I have followed their lead but I also use capitals to emphasize that which is, pardon the caps, Absolute Reality or "God" (also, caps don't make it a who or a what) - as I take Hart's point that there is a difference between "God"and god, as there is between Mystery and mystery (after all, what I might get for my birthday is also a mystery) :+}  Further, the use of the word 'who' is a convenient figure of speech and I, too, see the Absolute as the possibility of all.

If you see the Absolute as "the possibility of all that is" does that mean there is an all? And if there is (an) all then isn't there not only the Absolute? 

I'm not sure I follow or, therefore, agree when you say the Absolute is the potentiality of all. Possibility , yes. Potentiality, ??

So, first thanks for your answer. Do I read this correctly, that a 'subset' (by the way, interesting description), you, is and can interact with other subsets? So, is the me properly called self? And, is this me (self?) real or illusion? And, if illusion: fiction/make believe or more than it seems? And , why is it? It's 'why' can't be the need of the Absolute. And, finally, is Absolute Reality merely the unfolding of the physical universe?

Thanks.

 

 

Edited by thormas

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Hi Thomas

Oh no - I've written a novel again....

On 11 July 2018 at 1:48 AM, thormas said:

The higher incident of shared experience is that for most of us, except 'for a handful of cognitive scientists and philosophers' (Hart again) consciousness is quite real. As is the self. I side with Descartes," I think therefore I AM." 

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...

On 11 July 2018 at 1:48 AM, thormas said:

The assumption (not sure if it is also yours) that consciousness is produced by the brain and that the study of the brain will ultimately account for consciousness speaks of a physicalism/materialism that I simply don't buy (believe). Again, I might be misunderstanding you.

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.

 

On 11 July 2018 at 1:48 AM, thormas said:

Leaving all that aside, if the Absolute is potentiality that alone is or has absoluteness, what do you mean? The potentiality cannot be in/for itself (again suggesting becoming and change, unless that's what you are saying) and I have already acknowledged that the potentiality of the Absolute is (eternally) actualized in itself - so for what is its potential?

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.

On 11 July 2018 at 1:48 AM, thormas said:

Potential is a could but the could be is set. A seed is a seed is a seed be it as plant, pet food or a lab franken-plant. It is not ever not a seed.

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.

On 11 July 2018 at 1:48 AM, thormas said:

If you see the Absolute as "the possibility of all that is" does that mean there is an all? And if there is (an) all then isn't there not only the Absolute? 

I'm not sure I follow or, therefore, agree when you say the Absolute is the potentiality of all. Possibility , yes. Potentiality, ??

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.
 
On 11 July 2018 at 1:48 AM, thormas said:

Do I read this correctly, that a 'subset' (by the way, interesting description), you, is and can interact with other subsets? So, is the me properly called self? And, is this me (self?) real or illusion? And, if illusion: fiction/make believe or more than it seems? And , why is it? It's 'why' can't be the need of the Absolute. And, finally, is Absolute Reality merely the unfolding of the physical universe?

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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On 7/14/2018 at 2:30 AM, possibility said:

 

One's perception of the self is a thought along side of other thoughts. Further, I recognize all my thoughts are mine be they evil, crazy, illogical, unkind, or otherwise: We are capable of having such thoughts. If I have an unkind thought, I don't disown it, I try to overcome it and think, do and be better. It is I, the self, who thinks and acts; a particular thought is not the whole of the self but it is ‘mine.’

I believe that "God" (Absolute Reality or Mystery) is beyond the reach of science but it remains fun and important to try to understand 'everything' as that is who we are and what we do. My view of science is not narrow at all; I was just referring to two specifics that others mentioned on this site and/or discussed by Hart. Further, I disagree with your take on Hart as he appears to be highly respectful, even awed by science, seems very well read (in that and everything) but still recognizes its limitation. You see, in him, as a hammer, I see a laser or a scalpel.

I recognize there is potential in the universe and man. However, this is the potentiality of  a creation that is ‘initiated (created) and sustained’ by God: the (absolute) potentiality of the universe is not God. I believe that God is the creator’ but this belief does not suggest that God is involved in the minutia of creation as it realizes its potential. God is not involved in the seed becoming a plant and God is not in the bedroom when humans are trying to have a child: this is part and parcel of the created order, of nature with its laws and processes. God is not the absolute potentiality of all, rather God is the ground, the very possibility that there is anything, that it has potential and that all is sustained in existence. A further question is whether absolute potentiality (success) really is universally present? Has science weighed in on the absolute success of the universe?

The potentiality in humanity is always there but it is only actualized or man only 'becomes' (truly) human when he 'acts' human. Here, it should be obvious that I am using the word human to note more than species. As we discussed Spong’s idea that God is best understood as a verb, so too human is a verb: being human is doing human.  Any failure in being human’ is relative not (yet) absolute: the potential is still before us and waitsto be actualized. Actually, the Catholic concept of venial and mortal sin speaks to this: there are some action that put our humanity in mortal danger unless we change (metanoia) and become a new man or a new woman (human). This is the recognition that we can be the likeness’of God but to be like God, man must do what God is: this is incarnation, man embodying, doing and being (which is identical in God) what God is.

Society is telling me nothing in what I have said and it is in agreement with Jesus. Who was the human one in the parable of the Good Samaritan? Was it the ones who passed by the stranger in need, ignoring him, wanting nothing to do with him? Hardly and they are judged! There was only one 'good' man, only one truly human being who put aside any self-centeredness (sin) and was for the other; only one man did and was what the Father is (love). That is the point of the story. It is a judgment for all who have ears to hear: to look to themselves, to become new men and women, to become truly human (divine) beings. And Jesus was not shy about telling others, judging others: while the 'prostitute' is judged and condemned by the crowd, Jesus says, 'sin no more.' And if she rids herself of selfishness, she is sinless; she becomes more than she was. However, his words are first a judgment on the others and in this story, they heard, dropped their stones and their potential was, as always, before them. There is chaos in all judgment, one is presented with both danger and opportunity: drop the stone or throw the stone, sin no more or continue as you have beed doing. In the latter options, chaos follows.

Stripping some men and women of humanity by calling them monsters or animals, is the recognition of what they, themselves, have done and are (at that time). Plus, I am saying "they have not acted human and therefore are not human" in what I consider an academic like setting to present my take on this particular subject. However, the real time use of 'monster' or 'animal' or the decision to not use the name of a school shooter – is indeed a judgment (on both the actions and the person). I would expect that professionals 'counseling' or working with such individuals in a prison or hospital setting would withhold any judgment, as is there responsibility as professionals.

A person is judged by their actions and, although we all make mistakes, or 'blow it' at times - there is the further reality that what we do reflects who we are. Does it completely define us? Hopefully not: a one time act of cheating or stealing just as a one time act of kindness or heroism (your comment on the 911 fireman who abuses his wife) might not define one but a consistent pattern might indeed tell us who and what that person is. Certainly this view holds water if carefully considered and judged for what it actually says. 

It is a civilized society’s right and responsibility to judge Hitler and, as they did, stop him! And, we would not all be Hitler in very different circumstances. Certainly many had similar experiences but not all turned murderers on a small scale or maniacs on a global scale. We, in society, condemn the actions and therefore make judgments that include condemning the man/woman who is the actor of the actions. However, I agree that ultimately, only God can know (emotional, mental, societal, psychological and other factors) and judge the sinner. There is more to judgment but that too is another conversation. 

There is a human distinction between good and evil: some, not all, believe this distinction is based on the human 'insight' or 'experience' of God - and this includes, the aforementioned Jesus. However that there is such a distinction is so obvious, it does not require elaboration. I acknowledge Hitler’s inhumanity, or, better, lack of humanity in his (every) action and it is this recognition of human evil that is vital for history. 

To "recognize and nurture with conscious interaction to become" is exactly what I have been saying. Michelangelo took (rock, clay, paints) what was given and created more; so too, we are given the clay of our humanity and we can (must) make it more. On one had, of course, we are human, but on the other hand, we are not (yet): we have yet to shape, to create our Humanity. Too often, it remains riddled with faults, too often we are too busy to do the work, too often we excuse ourselves or are comforted by the excuses of others. If the rock is not seen for what it can be, if the work is not started, if what is possible is not shaped, then there is nothing: no creation, no beauty, no realization or actualization. This is us. 

I actually belief that our humanity, our potential to be human, remains before us, even 'after death' and that from the Hitlers and Stalins down to any (and all) of us who have not yet finished shaping (creating) beauty out of our rock, will have 'time' to finish until all humanity realizes its potential and Beauty (how or where or whatever happens, I have no earthly idea). 

Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fair enough on religion, I was just to be clear 

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