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Subjectivity, Reality, Illusion, And Meaning


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Guest billmc

Life to me is subjective here

 

Granted.

 

Perhaps life in this world is more of an illusion (as in an erroneous perception of reality) than it seems to be.

 

Hmm, I'm not sure why God or Reality would want to play such a "dirty trick." :)

 

Why would God want either a world that is all illusion OR, in Christian vernacular, create humans in such a way that they can't perceive reality as it is?

 

Perhaps this goes back to the "Maybe God isn't fair" topic and God is just "playing games" with all of us until the Plieadians become sentient enough that he can play with them? :D

 

Seriously, though, would you see value in "Plato's cave"?

 

I understand that, just like me, you see things the way that you do and you have your reasons for doing so. But, just speaking for myself, I wouldn’t have approached the struggle of the couple who lost their son by telling them that either this world or their perception of it is an illusion. I know that this is a strong theme in both religion and philosophy, but, again imo, I think there is strong evidence that reality is real and can be somewhat known and understood. Just because we have to remain humble and say that “we see through a glass darkly” doesn’t mean that we are completely blind, does it?

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Hmm, I'm not sure why God or Reality would want to play such a "dirty trick." :)

 

Why would God want either a world that is all illusion OR, in Christian vernacular, create humans in such a way that they can't perceive reality as it is?

 

I don't think it is a question of the world being all illusion or what God wants as much as what the world appears to be as far as our perceptions are concerned modified by a myriad of things. It seems to me that humans are sentient beings and at least in the present state are dependent on experiencing this world with at least 5 senses. In my experience, you can put 10 random people through the same experience and get a different story from each. To one a smell may be desirable to another it might be repulsive. To one a person is beautiful, to another the same person may not quite be so. To one person broccoli taste great and is good, to president Bush, "broccoli is bad. etc . etc. What is real and what is illusion? An Illusion is nothing more than "The condition of being deceived by a false perception or belief".

 

Perhaps broccoli is neither good nor bad, perhaps broccoli is just broccoli and people are neither beautiful or ugly, they are just people that look different. To me, we all seem to live in the same world but a slightly different reality molded by our senses, genetics, predispositions , conditioning, etc. . We are the way we are and i personally do not choose to say, " God, why did you make me the way i am? " or "why does the world seem so illusive at times" , i just accept the illusive nature of the creature known as man and his many false perceptions of the world as reality.

 

 

Perhaps this goes back to the "Maybe God isn't fair" topic and God is just "playing games" with all of us until the Plieadians become sentient enough that he can play with them? :D

 

:rolleyes::)

 

Seriously, though, would you see value in "Plato's cave"?

 

Seriously, i am not familiar with Plato. Intellectually, i am not very well read and don't mind being so, I really can't answer that question.

 

I understand that, just like me, you see things the way that you do and you have your reasons for doing so. But, just speaking for myself, I wouldn’t have approached the struggle of the couple who lost their son by telling them that either this world or their perception of it is an illusion. I know that this is a strong theme in both religion and philosophy, but, again imo, I think there is strong evidence that reality is real and can be somewhat known and understood. Just because we have to remain humble and say that “we see through a glass darkly” doesn’t mean that we are completely blind, does it?

 

I think you do a much better job at approaching such situations. Some of the things i hold as views are often better left unsaid. My use of the word illusion is a trigger to many, therefor i would not tell that couple anything, i would probably send you if you were available. Some things are very hard to receive and that is why accidents, killings, murders and 'bad' things that happen are difficult to explain to those who experience them and still say God exists.

 

I am not blind to the suffering of others nor any that i have experienced myself in the past but i am at peace with both reality and even how others wish to perceive it. To argue that the the world is illusion or the world is real seems to me to be of no avail. It seems to me that to reside in ones being and giving up the objective outlook would be agreeable to all. I am thankful for what is, no longer feel a need for a search, or explanations, and God to me is no longer a belief system.

 

Ah shucks Bill, Perhaps i should have been a cowboy and learned to rope and ride. :) I might have been better at it. :lol:

Joseph

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To Joseph,

 

As you well know, I am somewhat passionate about some things...okay, many things...okay, most things...okay, everything...so I ask that you please forgive my over-zealousness and, seeming, know-it-all attitude on this subject. As far as I'm concerned, we are just sharing friendly banter between friends, okay? God-willing, the universe will still be here tomorrow, whether we agree or not. :D If it's not, let's meet somewhere else to revise our theories, okay? :)

 

It is, imo, presumptuous for us to think that any of us have all of this stuff figured out, given that the universe is about 4.5 billion years old and that, as near as we can tell, writing down our "know-it-all attitudes" began to occur only about 6000 years ago, and given that we only have less than a century for most of us to try to figure life out, if we can. Perhaps the preacher of Ecclesiates was correct and it really is all vanity.

 

To me, we are essentially speculating from a point of ignorance, all of us. It is perhaps analogous to someone trying to give a complete description of the entire Macy's Christmas Parade when they have only watched 2 seconds' worth of it on TV. We simply have an extremely small, finite sample from which to form our conjectures. We work with what we have. That's the best that we can do. So, and I'm mostly reminding myself here, we need to remain humble about what we think we know. We have, perhaps, one piece to a 1000-piece puzzle. What can we know for sure?

 

At the same time, we are meaning-seeking creatures. I don't think we can help it. Our brains and hearts look for patterns, for reasons, for answers to the question of "why?" Is there, can there really be any meaningful answers to "why?" Or is all we really have the cosmic equivalent of my father's favorite answer: "I said so, that's why!" I don't know. I have my opinions. And you know what they say about those. But that is all I have.

 

Just a couple of brief comments, if I may. Hope you don't mind if I parse your response in offering these.

 

In my experience, you can put 10 random people through the same experience and get a different story from each.

 

True. I've heard that no two witnesses to a car crash will give the same exact account of what happened. But all witnesses should agree that there was a car crash - not a train wreck or an airplane crash or a collision of the planets. Despite *some* differences, there should be some commonalities, some shared opinions about what *really* happened...unless we get the lawyers involved. :lol:

 

To me, we all seem to live in the same world but a slightly different reality molded by our senses, genetics, predispositions , conditioning, etc.

 

Okay, this is, to me, an important consideration, at least to me. In your opinion, is reality really slightly different or is it the perception of reality that is slightly different?

 

Granted, perhaps you think we are simply arguing semantics here, but is the distinction between different points-of-view really because of "different" points of view or do subatomic particles really shift and change depending upon the observer?

 

Seriously, i am not familiar with Plato. Intellectually, i am not very well read and don't mind being so, I really can't answer that question.

 

Briefly (if I understand it correctly), Plato believed that we humans actually exist in a "perfect unchanging state" in heaven. Our perceived "changing life" down here is merely an illusion, like shadows of people cast by the light of a fire upon the walls of a cave. It's an interesting point-of-view. Thus endeth the history/philosophy lesson. :P You can look into it further if you're interested.

 

I think you do a much better job at approaching such situations. Some of the things i hold as views are often better left unsaid. My use of the word illusion is a trigger to many, therefor i would not tell that couple anything, i would probably send you if you were available.

 

I can't tell if you are being patronizing in this remark or not. But, if not, let me assure you that I would *not* be the right person to send because I would offer them 5 different "explanations" for their consideration and then tell them that they can choose. In times like that, people want comforting answers, not multiple-choice options. ;)

 

I am not blind to the suffering of others nor any that i have experienced myself in the past but i am at peace with both reality and even how others wish to perceive it.

 

I know that about you, Joseph. You are a kind, compassionate soul. But, yes, you say some things that make no sense to me. At least not where I am in my journey. The fault is probably mine. I don't understand your "language" yet. I want to learn it, but I'm not sure where to begin.

 

To argue that the the world is illusion or the world is real seems to me to be of no avail.

 

This is what I mean by not understanding your language, Joseph. To me, the "reality of reality" is foundational, as is the reality of God. I don't mean endless arguing about it. I'm not at all in favor of that. I am for reasoning, not for arguing. But if, to you, it doesn't matter whether reality is real or not, then anything I might have to say about how to respond to or deal with or live with reality is "of no avail", it doesn't matter, it is meaningless. It is like discussing what clothes the shadows on the wall of the cave are wearing. :huh:

 

I am thankful for what is, no longer feel a need for a search, or explanations, and God to me is no longer a belief system.

 

I feel the same, but, in an odd twist, because God became, for me, "more real" than less.

 

Ah shucks Bill, Perhaps i should have been a cowboy and learned to rope and ride. :)

 

Just like Gene and Roy? :D

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To Joseph,

(snip)

At the same time, we are meaning-seeking creatures. I don't think we can help it. Our brains and hearts look for patterns, for reasons, for answers to the question of "why?" Is there, can there really be any meaningful answers to "why?" Or is all we really have the cosmic equivalent of my father's favorite answer: "I said so, that's why!" I don't know. I have my opinions. And you know what they say about those. But that is all I have.

 

Well you kind of put me in a corner with that either Or question but i'll say ( and this is not original) that the things and answers in the life of a person can have meaning (importance) as parts of the whole, but a discrete meaning of life, itself, and answers aside from those things, cannot be discerned. So a person's life and his answers has meaning (for himself, others) as the life events resulting from his achievements, legacy, family, etc., but, to say that life, itself, has meaning, or meaningful answers is a misuse of language, since any note of significance, or of consequence, is relevant only in life (to the living), so rendering the statement erroneous. (Logical positivism)

 

JosephM, on 17 August 2011 - 01:31 PM, said: "In my experience, you can put 10 random people through the same experience and get a different story from each."

 

True. I've heard that no two witnesses to a car crash will give the same exact account of what happened. But all witnesses should agree that there was a car crash - not a train wreck or an airplane crash or a collision of the planets. Despite *some* differences, there should be some commonalities, some shared opinions about what *really* happened...unless we get the lawyers involved.

 

Certainly but my point made was not that there were no commonalities but rather as long as human perceptions are involved through the 5 senses, reality is colored. Everyone might have held in commonality at one time that the world was flat which they verified by their limited senses and data available at the time. But even commonality is not reality. And as i said an Illusion is nothing more than "The condition of being deceived by a false perception or belief". By that definition, Do we live in a world of illusions (false perceptions)? Do we not all have different beliefs? Is reality more than One? In my experience, Yes, Yes, and No to the questions. How would you answer?

 

Okay, this is, to me, an important consideration, at least to me. In your opinion, is reality really slightly different or is it the perception of reality that is slightly different?

In my view, Reality is One. Beliefs and perceptions create ones illusion of the world.

 

Granted, perhaps you think we are simply arguing semantics here, but is the distinction between different points-of-view really because of "different" points of view or do subatomic particles really shift and change depending upon the observer?

In my experience, different-points-of-view are all colored and fabricated to a degree or to quote a partial summary of the Pali cannon that i think would agree "a state of delusion worn like a costume with multiple fabricated viewpoints with each self-sustaining itself in a self-perpetuated state of self-ignorance"

 

Briefly (if I understand it correctly), Plato believed that we humans actually exist in a "perfect unchanging state" in heaven. Our perceived "changing life" down here is merely an illusion, like shadows of people cast by the light of a fire upon the walls of a cave. It's an interesting point-of-view. Thus endeth the history/philosophy lesson. You can look into it further if you're interested.

 

I can personally relate to what you are saying Plato believed. That could be one way to describe an experience. Of course, at this stage of my life, i have no interest in studying Plato. My experience has shown me that removing perceptions and fixed beliefs exposes reality and not intellectual study although it does seem to me that study can bring one to a wall, so to speak, where one has to let go to go further.

 

I can't tell if you are being patronizing in this remark or not. But, if not, let me assure you that I would *not* be the right person to send because I would offer them 5 different "explanations" for their consideration and then tell them that they can choose. In times like that, people want comforting answers, not multiple-choice options.

 

I was certainly serious although it does appear that way when read again. Perhaps i have more confidence in your ability in that area than you? But if you think i am mistaken, i'd find someone else less abstract than myself.

 

I know that about you, Joseph. You are a kind, compassionate soul. But, yes, you say some things that make no sense to me. At least not where I am in my journey. The fault is probably mine. I don't understand your "language" yet. I want to learn it, but I'm not sure where to begin.

 

I am most guilty of saying many things that make little sense to many others so you are not alone in that perception. There is no fault on your part and more probably poor languaging on my part. It is better to taste, feel, and see than to learn my language.

 

Joseph said.... "To argue that the the world is illusion or the world is real seems to me to be of no avail."

This is what I mean by not understanding your language, Joseph. To me, the "reality of reality" is foundational, as is the reality of God. I don't mean endless arguing about it. I'm not at all in favor of that. I am for reasoning, not for arguing. But if, to you, it doesn't matter whether reality is real or not, then anything I might have to say about how to respond to or deal with or live with reality is "of no avail", it doesn't matter, it is meaningless. It is like discussing what clothes the shadows on the wall of the cave are wearing.

 

"Argue" is a poor word choice on my part. Reality is to me real but it seems to me, reality is not reasoned nor is it perceived by the thinking mind and can only be subjectively experienced by the senses. Apart from the 5 senses which are in the body, does the world even exist? The 5 senses feed the mind. Apart from the mind , can there be a world of form? While one may call what they experience in the world as reality,and find agreement with others, is that reality or just perceived as reality? I guess i do side with Plato although his words i have not heard of before.

 

Joseph said ...."I am thankful for what is, no longer feel a need for a search, or explanations, and God to me is no longer a belief system."

 

I feel the same, but, in an odd twist, because God became, for me, "more real" than less.

Yes, and i might add, if you would allow me to mince words, perhaps God never became "more real" but rather your perception of God and subjective experiences have changed so indeed for you God seems more real.

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Guest billmc

Hi Joseph.

 

Certainly but my point made was not that there were no commonalities but rather as long as human perceptions are involved through the 5 senses, reality is colored.

 

I guess my hang-up is the way that you use the word "reality". For me, I would call it "the perception of reality". Yes, I am a subjective creature. I perceive reality through my 5 senses (as well as a couple more esoteric ones), but it is my perception, not reality itself, that is colored. A simple illustration: A friend of mine suffers from mild color-blindness. Where I see a green light in a traffic signal, he sees a gray light. Does the light actually change to gray for him? No, the overwhelmingly majority of people (including the designers) would say that it is green. Is this an important distinction? Yes, I think so. More in a bit.

 

A while back, we had a member of this forum who believed that we could know truth absolutely. While I agreed with this participant that, yes, there was absolute truth - reality as God knows it to be, we can only know truth subjectively. The member disagreed and insisted that his/her belief system guaranteed him/her knowledge of absolute truth. For this participant, absolute truth was one either knew or did not know. For me, absolute truth is known only to God but we can know more as we journey along the way as a truth seeker. Likewise, reality as reality really is (aren't words fun?) is known only to God, the source of Reality. But we can seek to explore, to understand, and to know reality more.

 

Everyone might have held in commonality at one time that the world was flat which they verified by their senses. But even commonality is not reality.

 

True. Reality is not determined by majority vote. Reality needs to be continually tested in the light of new knowledge and further growth and understanding.

 

And as i said an Illusion is nothing more than "The condition of being deceived by a false perception or belief". By that definition, Do we live in a world of illusions (false perceptions)? Do we not all have different beliefs? Is reality more than One? In my experience, Yes, Yes, and No to the questions. How would you answer?

 

I suppose my answer depends on your use of the word "world". Are you referring to our physical planet or to our worldview?

 

If to our planet, my answer is, no, our planet is not an illusion, it is real; yes, we have different beliefs; and, no, there is only one real planet that we share but the goal is for us all to understand our planet as best as we can.

 

If to our worldview, my answer is, yes, we all live within our own worldview that is a mixture of reality and false perceptions; yes, we have different beliefs; and, no, there is only one Reality but different worldviews that are closer to or further away from that one Reality.

 

In my experience, different-points-of-view are all colored and fabricated or to quote a partial summary of the Pali cannon that i think would agree "a state of delusion worn like a costume with multiple fabricated viewpoints with each self-sustaining itself in a self-perpetuated state of self-ignorance"

 

Sorry, over my head. :( But I would disagree with the Pali canon that it is "all or nothing", that we live in total ignorance. To me, we live in a mixture of reality and perception.

 

Reality is to me real but it seems to me, reality is not reasoned nor is it perceived by the thinking mind and can only be subjectively experienced by the senses. Apart from the 5 senses which are in the body, does the world even exist?

 

I believe so. I believe the earth was here long before there was a conscious life-form here to perceive it. And it will most likely be here long after the human race has expired or moved on. A tree that falls in the forest without a human there to hear it still makes a vibration in the air.

 

I guess one area where you and I disagree irreconciliably, Joseph, is that you seem to disdain reasoning and the thinking mind, while I believe some of our greatest progress as humans has come about because we used our God-given reason to think about and understand ourselves and our world better. If it wasn't for reasoning and thinking, we would still believe that the earth was flat, that the sun goes around the earth, that demons cause epilepsy, that bad weather and illnesses are the punishments of God. One ancestor of Progressive Christianity, the historical/critical approach to the Bible, came about through reasoning and thinking concerning the scriptures. So I find it odd that you disdain it so much. This doesn't mean that I worship reasoning and thinking, I just believe that they are tools that our Creator has given us to understand ourselves and our world better. If I wanted to give up reasoning and thinking, I would go back to the "blind faith" of my youth where I was forbidden to question, to seek, to understand. Christians were supposed to "believe", not think. But I won't be doing that unless senility takes over. :lol:

 

Apart from the mind , can there be a world of form?

 

Yes, I believe so. That is, to me, reality - existence apart from human perception.

 

Yes, and i might add, if you would allow me to mince words, perhaps God never became "more real" but rather your perception of God and subjective experiences have changed so indeed for you God seems more real.

 

I agree. God never changed, but my perception and experience of God did (and continues to do so). But if I understand what you are saying, and feel free to correct me if I don't, you believe that if all humans disappeared off the earth tomorrow morning, God would no longer exist. I don't find that believable...or worth believing.

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Why would God want either a world that is all illusion OR, in Christian vernacular, create humans in such a way that they can't perceive reality as it is

Isn't this undone by "Natural Christianity" approach to knowing the revealed God?

 

Joseph's observation that you cannot ask "does God intervene?" because God is neither subject nor object is relevant. How would you even know that the world is an illusion? I wonder about making the potential of "non-reality' become actual or real.

 

But what makes sense to me is an evolving God and evolving universe. Therefore no absolutes or universals or Realities. Open up all your senses take it all in. That is God and that's what you can know about reality. and if you want you can think about it but that is not reality.

 

Take Care

Dutch

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Guest billmc

Hi Dutch.

 

My quote: "Why would God want either a world that is all illusion OR, in Christian vernacular, create humans in such a way that they can't perceive reality as it is."

 

Isn't this undone by "Natural Christianity" approach to knowing the revealed God?

 

Yes, that is exactly my point. It would be like Dorothy going behind the curtain in the Great Hall in Oz and discovering another see-through image, this time of a man turning cranks and pushing buttons. Of course, as the film says at the end, Dorothy's experiences all happened in her head, none of them were "real".

 

While I don't take the Bible as literally as I used to, I never find any of the biblical writers admonishing people to look into the heavens and then telling them that what they see is all an illusion in their heads. Granted, at certain places in the Bible people do look skyward and see some strange things. But even the gospels don't say that Jesus' ascension is an illusion. The Bible tells it as a literal event.

 

At the same time, other writers in the Bible do say that this world is not real, that it is all an illusion, a big mindjob. For them, it is the "unseen" that is real. The seen is either fake or temporal. And this is where, to me, the "super-natural" god comes in. For the supernatural god, nature is essentially worthless. It is a mere toy for him to intervene "down" into in order to use his "super powers" to make people go "Wow!" and worship him. The supernatural god is not one with nature because he is "over" it. The Gnostics believed that the physical realm (that which we can perceive with our sense) is evil. Only the unseen spiritual realm is good. And this is why faith is paramount. Faith is required because it is believed that the material universe is too evil to bear witness to god. So the focus shifts from the God of a good creation who "handiwork" can be seen to a god who can only be "believed in".

 

Joseph's observation that you cannot ask "does God intervene?" because God is neither subject nor object is relevant.

 

I agree.

 

How would you even know that the world is an illusion? I wonder about making the potential of "non-reality' become actual or real.

 

I don't know. I remember a few years ago when I went to one of my first star-parties. Someone there had a BIG telescope and, thankfully, it was very dark that night. I got to see the Andromeda galaxy for the first time. I was floored! Up until that moment, I had only seen it in books and movies. But then, through the "miracle" of modern science, I was finally able to see it for myself. It was real. It was there. It was really there. And I was in awe at, not only the sight, but how long ago that light that enabled me to see the Andromeda galaxy left it on it's way to Corinth, Texas. Amazing!

 

Call me hard-headed, call me deluded, call me decieved by my five senses and my reasoning-thinking brain, but I won't deny that Andromeda was there. I simply can't do it. To me, God is just as much the Creator of Andromeda as he is of the Milky Way. Seeing Andromeda was a "sacred moment" for me. Whether you meant it this way or not, Dutch, I opened my senses and took in the experience. It made me feel part of it all. Very small, very insignificant, and very thankful to be here.

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Hi Bill,

 

I suppose my answer depends on your use of the word "world". Are you referring to our physical planet or to our worldview?

 

If to our planet, my answer is, no, our planet is not an illusion, it is real; yes, we have different beliefs; and, no, there is only one real planet that we share but the goal is for us all to understand our planet as best as we can.

 

If to our worldview, my answer is, yes, we all live within our own worldview that is a mixture of reality and false perceptions; yes, we have different beliefs; and, no, there is only one Reality but different worldviews that are closer to or further away from that one Reality.

 

Whether i refer to our planet as the world or your worldview makes no different in my view. Neither one is available to you without your mind/senses. Is the physical planet real without the mind? lets say yes as debating it is to no avail. Yet isn't it only real to you because of the senses/mind telling you so? How can you be certain? You said Plato said it was not. How come he came to a different conclusion than you if it is obviously so? Perhaps Plato was delusional ? :D

 

Sorry, over my head. :( But I would disagree with the Pali canon that it is "all or nothing", that we live in total ignorance. To me, we live in a mixture of reality and perception.

 

Well i don't see an 'all or nothing' in the statement of the Pali Canon or the words "total ignorance" but it is most human for anyone to disagree with such a statement as it makes. Perhaps they too (the writers) as Plato see the world as illusion. Who is right? After-all my mind says i see it and touch it and feel it and it quacks like a Duck so it must be a Duck. :mellow: That is why i said i would not argue either way but i do personally experience the world as viewed by the mind as illusive in nature.

 

I guess one area where you and I disagree irreconciliably, Joseph, is that you seem to disdain reasoning and the thinking mind, while I believe some of our greatest progress as humans has come about because we used our God-given reason to think about and understand ourselves and our world better. If it wasn't for reasoning and thinking, we would still believe that the earth was flat, that the sun goes around the earth, that demons cause epilepsy, that bad weather and illnesses are the punishments of God. One ancestor of Progressive Christianity, the historical/critical approach to the Bible, came about through reasoning and thinking concerning the scriptures. So I find it odd that you disdain it so much. This doesn't mean that I worship reasoning and thinking, I just believe that they are tools that our Creator has given us to understand ourselves and our world better. If I wanted to give up reasoning and thinking, I would go back to the "blind faith" of my youth where I was forbidden to question, to seek, to understand. Christians were supposed to "believe", not think. But I won't be doing that unless senility takes over. :lol:

 

Oh, i don't think we are irreconcilable Bill. You have come too far in the last 4 years for such a statement. Who knows where tomorrow will bring us? :wub: I might even change my view. :mellow: Disdain seems like such a harsh word. I didn't think i had (disdain) haughty contempt for reasoning and the thinking mind, While i may be familiar with some of its limitations that one must pass through. I am certainly thankful for the thinking mind and the opportunity to use it constructively. I respect it and from personal experience am also aware and somewhat familiar not only with its limitations but of its devices that it uses to also use me as if i am that. (ego)

 

I agree. God never changed, but my perception and experience of God did (and continues to do so). But if I understand what you are saying, and feel free to correct me if I don't, you believe that if all humans disappeared off the earth tomorrow morning, God would no longer exist. I don't find that believable...or worth believing.

 

Yes. I guess i will have to correct you. Never believed as such to the best of my recollection. But if i gave you that impression in something i said, i will be happy to take the fall for such ignorance on my part.

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I don't know if this is actually going to add anything to the thread, but I gotta put in my 2 cents.

 

Someone once told me "reality is 98% perception", and for me, that makes sense. Yes, there was a car crash, yes, one car ran a light. From there, it depends on perspective. Was the red or maroon? Was the light red when the drive ran it, or yellow, and for how long? Perception gets distorted as Joseph said, through our experience, our genetic makeup, our "baggage", etc. Even how distracted we were when we thought we saw the crash.

 

I'm no great philosopher, and I will admit to being rather lazy when it comes to philosophy because I really don't care "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin". Still, I experience a different reality when I'm deep in contemplative prayer or meditation, when I'm into a really good book, and when I'm just sitting around doing nothing more exciting than cuddling my cat. Each reality is "real", each is different, yet I'm still the same me. So what happens at those times? Is it simply that my focus at that time has changed?

 

I will confess that, yes, I use relaxation and "positive self-talk", and sometimes after a session, I'm actually surprised that I am where I am! That's how much my reality for that short time changed.

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Guest billmc

I don't know if this is actually going to add anything to the thread, but I gotta put in my 2 cents.

 

Hey, Yvonne, that's my line! :D

 

Perception gets distorted...

 

I agree.

 

I'm no great philosopher, and I will admit to being rather lazy when it comes to philosophy because I really don't care "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin".

 

IMO, we're all philosophers, my friend. But your reference to the proverbial angels dancing on the head of a pin is one of the reasons that I outgrew my old faith -- it was focused on the "supernatural" while ignoring the real world. It wasn't about making a real difference in people's lives here, it was about going to a supposed "more-real place" after we die for which there is, imo, no evidence.

 

I, too, do certain things to "escape reality" from time to time. But I'm hesitant to call those things other realities. But that's just me.

 

Good to have you in the conversation!

Edited by billmc
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FWIW (and frankly not much), I think there is an objective reality to the physical universe. However, this reality is relative to the perceiver and the context in which it is perceived.

 

I also think there are some matters -- like the existence/nonexistence of god(s) -- that are beyond our ability to empirically ascertain and any claims made about it are subjective. That does not mean the claim is false, foolish or irrational although some are more logically reasonable than others. However, this does, IMO, imply that there should be a measure of humility and recognition that is it subjective.

 

George

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Guest billmc

To Joseph,

 

Whether i refer to our planet as the world or your worldview makes no different in my view. Neither one is available to you without your mind/senses.

 

Granted. My experiences of my worldview and what I consider to be material reality are both subjective, perceived, filtered by my senses and culturally conditioned.

 

Is the physical planet real without the mind? lets say yes as debating it is to no avail. Yet isn't it only real to you because of the senses/mind telling you so?

 

Yes, but I make the distinction between “real to me” and “real.” When I was very little, I was, for a time, convinced that there was a monster in my closet. It was “real to me.” But it wasn’t really there. It was in my mind. And it was only through examining the “real world” with my senses and my common sense that I came to realize that the monster was a product of my imagination. So the way for me to be free of my superstition was to compare and align what was “real to me” (in my mind) with what was “really real” (existed, or, in this case did not exist, outside of my mind).

 

How can you be certain?

 

I can’t. To me, life is not about certainty, it is about meaning. That’s why I’ve said that if none of it is real, then it is all meaningless. And I have to grant that such may be the case, as I’m not certain about anything. If I had to wait to make decisions until I was absolutely certain, I would be paralyzed. I move forward and live my life based upon the best criteria available to me. That involves quite a bit of faith, faith that I am living in and responding to the real world, not to imaginary phantoms that exist only in my mind.

 

I am not 100% absolutely certain that the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not exist. I cannot prove that it does not exist. But my senses and the lack of convincing evidence lead me to not put much stock in the FSM. But if it is a reality to others, more power to them as long as they don’t try to harm me or my family by sacrificing us to the FSM.

 

Oh, i don't think we are irreconcilable Bill. You have come too far in the last 4 years for such a statement.

 

I wasn’t referring to our friendship, Joseph, just my perception that I value reason and intellect as a good tool for understanding reality and that you seem not to trust it. I apologize for using the word "disdain." I shouldn't put words in your mouth (or out from your keyboard). I don't know what words accurately reflect your view on reason and intellect. Perhaps the paragraph below says it best?

 

While i may be familiar with some of its limitations that one must pass through. I am certainly thankful for the thinking mind and the opportunity to use it constructively. I respect it and from personal experience am also aware and somewhat familiar not only with its limitations but of its devices that it uses to also use me as if i am that. (ego)

 

Thanks for the clarification, Joseph. I agree with you that reason and intellect have limits, can be used towards bad ends, and can exhibit control. This is why I describe them as a tool. I don’t use them for everything, but I do think they come in handy in evaluating belief systems and in understanding the material realm.

 

Yes. I guess i will have to correct you. Never believed as such to the best of my recollection. But if i gave you that impression in something i said, i will be happy to take the fall for such ignorance on my part.

 

I think (or hope) that I understand you to be saying that everything we think or view as real is a perception of our own mind. Our senses take in the world around us, our mind filters that information in certain ways that, at least to us, makes some kind of sense, and then presents that information to us as “reality.” No matter what we do, we experience reality subjectively and all we ultimately have is the “perceived reality” in our minds. If that is what you mean, and again correct me if I misunderstand, then I agree 100%.

 

My point is that despite the fact (if it is fact) that we all live in our own little “perceived realities”, there still exists, outside of us, the real world that our senses initially observed and took in for processing. That reality is there whether we believe in it or not. It exists. It is real. Therefore, and this is an important point for me, it is crucial that we try to align our “perceived reality” inside us as closely as possible with what really exist outside of us.

 

We don’t have to do this. It is not required. We can live inside of our “own little world” if we so choose. We can never give much thought or consideration to the outside world. We call this “selfishness.” Or we can live in our own little world in fear that the outside world will try to destroy our little “perceived reality”. We call this “paranoia.” Or we can live in our own little world and pretend that the outside world is fake and that only our imaginations are real. We often call this religion. Or we can lose all distinction between the world inside us and the world outside us and abandon any ability to consider or ascertain what is really real. We usually call this “insanity.” And we have many things around us to help us live this way if we so choose – drugs, religious practices, blind faith, entertainment, etc. – all things designed to help us escape or deny reality.

 

But, to me, God created the world, not an illusion, and loves the world, not an illusion. If this is true, then we must engage the world as being real. Perhaps this is, in an ironic twist, a huge leap of unwarranted, blind faith on my part, to think that what exists outside of me is actually there. Yes, I could be deceived by a god who is just playing a cosmic joke on all of us. But it makes no sense for me to give to Compassion International if all those children are mere illusions. It makes no sense for me to be involved with Habitat for Humanity if people are just figments of my imagination. It makes no sense for me to donate clothes to Goodwill and to make sandwiches for our local Food Pantry if the poor and hungry in our community are not really real. It makes no sense for me to even be here on this community chatting about issues that we think are important if all of you fine people are nothing but shadows on a wall, perceptions of my own mind with no real substance.

 

To me, Christianity, progressive or otherwise, has been and will always be at its best when it takes the real world seriously and tries to make a real world difference. If all we are doing in trying to love God and to love other is pandering to self-delusions that exist only in our minds, why bother? Might as well pass the peyote. <_<

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To Joseph,

(snip)

I wasn’t referring to our friendship, Joseph (snip)

Neither was i.

 

I think (or hope) that I understand you to be saying that everything we think or view as real is a perception of our own mind. Our senses take in the world around us, our mind filters that information in certain ways that, at least to us, makes some kind of sense, and then presents that information to us as “reality.” No matter what we do, we experience reality subjectively and all we ultimately have is the “perceived reality” in our minds. If that is what you mean, and again correct me if I misunderstand, then I agree 100%.

Yes

 

My point is that despite the fact (if it is fact) that we all live in our own little “perceived realities”, there still exists, outside of us, the real world that our senses initially observed and took in for processing. That reality is there whether we believe in it or not. It exists. It is real. Therefore, and this is an important point for me, it is crucial that we try to align our “perceived reality” inside us as closely as possible with what really exist outside of us.

 

Oh, yes it is there alright but is it outside us and is it what it seems? Do you really know what you are seeing as outside is not illusive? In my view, it is still illusive to you no matter how you test it with your senses. You may look at a tree and feel a tree and say "there is a tree" because you have given it a name and may think that you know what a tree is because you have given it a name and know and have studied some things about it but your perception is till not absolute reality, it is only the perceived world that attempts to find agreement with perceived others. Most all religions attempt to point beyond the perceptions or the perceived world for which words fail.

 

When you look at the tree, you see an image that your senses/mind associates with that label tells you it is separate from yourself. Your mind makes judgements and put adjectives to the tree like beautiful, green, crooked, straight, colorful, tall, short, bushy, etc. You make think it is blocking a good view, it looks like it needs water, its dying, or a myriad of other thoughts. If you could stop your mind from thinking, which you can and have under certain conditions, you would 'see' in awe that without nouns, pronouns and adjectives that in reality that tree is not separate from you or any other thing you see. You would recognize that tree not as a tree but as an extension of yourself. That to me, is the real world and it is known not by thinking but by being that.

 

We don’t have to do this. It is not required. We can live inside of our “own little world” if we so choose. We can never give much thought or consideration to the outside world. We call this “selfishness.” Or we can live in our own little world in fear that the outside world will try to destroy our little “perceived reality”. We call this “paranoia.” Or we can live in our own little world and pretend that the outside world is fake and that only our imaginations are real. We often call this religion. Or we can lose all distinction between the world inside us and the world outside us and abandon any ability to consider or ascertain what is really real. We usually call this “insanity.” And we have many things around us to help us live this way if we so choose – drugs, religious practices, blind faith, entertainment, etc. – all things designed to help us escape or deny reality.

 

it seems to me, with your thinking mind, you are living in your own little world even when you give thought to what you consider the outside real world. You do what your thinking mind perceives to be what needs to be done according to your perceptions of the world. And those perceptions are colored by your evolutionary conditioning and such. True, imaginations are not more real than your perceptions as they both come from mind. I certainly do not advocate withdrawing to imaginations or doing nothing. Your mind perceives the hunger and starving in the world and may think that if only i had X amount of dollars i could feed all the poor and starving in the world. Now if you do have extra to share that to me would be a good thing to do which i personally advocate. But all the money in the world will not solve the poor being with you. So the mind may say, well then whats the use? I might as well not give. (it goes from one extreme to the other, the mind that is) I would personally advocate giving.

 

To me, denying reality is not escaping to drugs, entertainment, religion, blind faith, etc which have their consequences. Denying reality is claiming life is what it seems to be to a conditioned mind. That the soul and God and the world are separate. That form is required for Life, that perceived death has power over you and that we are not already One.

 

I might fit under your category of insanity so lets keep this private OK :lol:

 

 

 

But, to me, God created the world, not an illusion, and loves the world, not an illusion. If this is true, then we must engage the world as being real. Perhaps this is, in an ironic twist, a huge leap of unwarranted, blind faith on my part, to think that what exists outside of me is actually there. Yes, I could be deceived by a god who is just playing a cosmic joke on all of us. But it makes no sense for me to give to Compassion International if all those children are mere illusions. It makes no sense for me to be involved with Habitat for Humanity if people are just figments of my imagination. It makes no sense for me to donate clothes to Goodwill and to make sandwiches for our local Food Pantry if the poor and hungry in our community are not really real. It makes no sense for me to even be here on this community chatting about issues that we think are important if all of you fine people are nothing but shadows on a wall, perceptions of my own mind with no real substance.

 

Perhaps you may have a dislike for the word illusion and replacing it with its definition might mellow it a bit. Yes, i believe God created a world that contains humans, subject to a mind that can see a world falsely or is capable of perceiving a world that is illusory. It seems to me to be human is to have this quality. Without a mind can one say the world as we seem to see it even exist? Could the world be merely the thoughts of God or a dream he is having even as our dreams at night? If i call your dreams illusory or of an illusive nature would i be incorrect?

 

It seems to me, you assume that knowledge of an absolute reality that would make this life more of a theater play or world filled with many erroneous or false perceptions would make doing such acts as you mention of no avail to a person. Perhaps to you that is true. I would think that most Buddhists would disagree with you. Those that follow the Pali Canon, live a life of compassion as it is key to freeing oneself from bondages of the mind to see reality. Consider this also.... I relate as a PC yet ... I am playing my part, doing what i am appointed to do and what is placed in my power or destiny to do yet knowing that i live in this ephemeral and temporal world of form that will perish with the using and am fully aware that it is not absolute reality that i perceive yet regularly support multiple orphans/families i have never met, seniors that cannot support themselves and donate money to care organizations and don't even go to church. Whether i am a shadow on the wall or not makes no difference to me.

 

 

To me, Christianity, progressive or otherwise, has been and will always be at its best when it takes the real world seriously and tries to make a real world difference. If all we are doing in trying to love God and to love other is pandering to self-delusions that exist only in our minds, why bother? Might as well pass the peyote.

 

I think you are entitled to that view. Personally i find i am at my best when i don't take life here or the world too seriously. It seems easier that way to perceive what others need and find the wisdom to help them. I don't believe that is pandering to self delusion. Delusion is to me, more in placing my trust in the erroneous perceptions of life than to act out of being which compels Love even to shadows. Life here to Plato's shadow world may be more in the doing from being than in the results?

 

Hope this is all taken in good spirits and you don't call the white coats on me. :D:P

Joseph

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Guest billmc

Hi Joseph.

 

Oh, yes it is there alright but is it what it seems? Do you really know what you are seeing as real?

 

I would have to know everything about it with 100% absolute certainty to be able to discern between what it *really* is and what it *seems* to be. But, as I’ve said, we don’t live with 100% absolute certainty. We heavily depend on learning as much as we can and then working from what we do know, not from what we don’t. We make as good of guesses as we can. Call me stupid, but I trust that reality is not out to purposefully deceive me. It doesn’t make sense to me that God would give us this wonderful creation, our sense of self, our senses, our minds, and all the other wondrous things that go along with being human and then tell us, “Don’t trust what I gave you, My gifts to you will deceive you.”

 

Most all religions attempt to point beyond the perceptions or the perceived world for which words fail.

 

Perhaps so. But even their attempts are perceptions.

 

You would recognize that tree not as a tree but as an extension of yourself.

 

To me, then, this would be a “self-centered” point-of-view or religion. The “self” is what is important. The tree is not appreciated for what it is as God’s unique creation, it is only acknowledged as an extension of the self.

 

Now if you do have extra to share that to me would be a good thing to do which i personally advocate.

 

Given your point-of-view, I don’t understand why you think so.

 

I would personally advocate giving.

 

Again, I don’t understand why.

 

I would think that most Buddhists would disagree with you.

 

Certainly. Most Buddhists don’t believe in God. It is a “god-less” religion. To me, that denies Reality and, therefore, it is not surprising that they wouldn’t find my notions worth listening to.

 

Those that follow the Pali Canon, live a life of compassion as it is key to freeing oneself from bondages of the mind to see reality.

 

Again, this seems to me to be self-centered. I.e. “My beliefs, religion, and/or philosophy are good only in what they can do for *me*, enlighten *me*, free *me*, make *me* feel at one with the universe.” Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the worth and rights of the individual. And I believe we each have the right and responsibility to discover and live according to the religion, philosophy, or non-religion that we find the most meaningful as long as it doesn’t harm others. But I question the value of religions, philosophies, and secular paradigms where the “self” is at the center and the welfare of others is given little consideration. I just don’t see how that can lead to the betterment/longevity of humanity or our world.

 

Hope this is all taken in good spirits…

 

Certainly. Well, not with 100% absolute certainly, but with relative, perceptual certainly. :D

 

Upon reflection, I think I’ve said all I wanted to say about this subject, Joseph. I appreciate you hearing me out. And I appreciate your input. You’ve given me much to think about (yes, I know I shouldn’t, ha ha!) and this conversation helps me to know which direction(s) Progressive Christianity is going.

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Wow, I've been missing out on a great conversation, right up my alley. :D

 

This is obviously a huge subject for consideration, so I'd just offer a few suggestions based naturally on where my own thoughts and emotions have guided me.

 

First, on the "illusory" nature of reality. I think there's a lot of confusion about this from religious philosophy, because that "reality is an illusion" is often stated without any context. From what I've been able to ascertain, it doesn't mean simply that nothing exists, but rather says something about the nature of existence from the perspective of a mind having achieved a state of clarity. After all, "illusion" does not mean non-existence, it means that the way something was taken to be does not actually exist that way. I think we are all realists in one way or another.

 

Another thought that comes to mind is that reality need not have a property called "objectivity" in order to exist. For instance, one can think in terms of inter-subjectivity and still affirm realism. It would just mean that reality is lived from the inside-out rather than from the out-side in as if from a detached observer. I tend to think that by our very existence we are co-creative with reality (after all, we are not isolated beings). Meaning and language, from this view, would not serve only to "represent" an external world that's independent of them, but are themselves an expression of the very unfolding of reality here and now. I tend to think of reality as "touch". Reality touches us. Our words "touch", affirming our reality there, now here, then, now presently.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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(snip)

First, on the "illusory" nature of reality. I think there's a lot of confusion about this from religious philosophy, because that "reality is an illusion" is often stated without any context. From what I've been able to ascertain, it doesn't mean simply that nothing exists, but rather says something about the nature of existence from the perspective of a mind having achieved a state of clarity. After all, "illusion" does not mean non-existence, it means that the way something was taken to be does not actually exist that way. I think we are all realists in one way or another.

(snip)

Mike,

 

Thanks for bringing the word "illusory" into a clearer perspective. The word itself seems to always conjure up in mind its own context through past conditionings.

 

Joseph

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Hi Joseph.

 

I would have to know everything about it with 100% absolute certainty to be able to discern between what it *really* is and what it *seems* to be. But, as I’ve said, we don’t live with 100% absolute certainty. We heavily depend on learning as much as we can and then working from what we do know, not from what we don’t. We make as good of guesses as we can. Call me stupid, but I trust that reality is not out to purposefully deceive me. It doesn’t make sense to me that God would give us this wonderful creation, our sense of self, our senses, our minds, and all the other wondrous things that go along with being human and then tell us, “Don’t trust what I gave you, My gifts to you will deceive you.”

 

Bill, Most of the views i have expressed are not through a lot of research. They were for the majority obtained through watching my mind. I believe that anyone who watches their mind long enough will come to somewhat similar conclusions by discovering its nature. There seems to me to be nothing wrong with the mind. It just like an innocent hardwired computer and even some of them are wired differently with more capabilities than others just like our minds. It processes data and acts innocently according to the programming. While the mind does a fantastic job it is the programming or conditioning or software so to speak that could be considered imperfect or flawed (though i would personally not say that because everything to me is perfect for this moment in time and is evolving) The mind itself has no way of telling for itself what is true and what is false. Watching your minds programming can reveal alot about itself. In fact to me, the mere watching and recognizing its working is transforming in itself. It is not a question of God or Reality being out to deceive you as much as it is about who one think they are by identification with their mind as if it is a separate self, that deceives us. If and when one allows a shift in identification to the watcher of the mind rather than the mind and its programming, a clarity comes forth and the question you pose of God deceiving us as a bad joke or deception disappears in self ignorance. Perhaps one will find that they themselves were the designer or co-creator of that self in both mind and body and laugh at the absurdity of being deceived? Perhaps not? Strike that from the record. i leave that to self discovery.. :D

 

To me, then, this would be a “self-centered” point-of-view or religion. The “self” is what is important. The tree is not appreciated for what it is as God’s unique creation, it is only acknowledged as an extension of the self.

 

How could anything be more loving or appreciated than to see everything as an extension of ones true Self? How could one not appreciate the tree which is an integral part of the Self? For me, nothing in creation is more important than anything else. Each has its function and is loved equally.

 

 

Given your point-of-view, I don’t understand why you think so.

 

Again, I don’t understand why.

 

These comments are yours in regard to my advocating giving and serving in spite of a belief that the world is perceived as illusory. I would ask you to consider reading Mikes Post above mine for a clearer context of the word " illusory" rather than any possible past conditioning to it you may have.

 

Certainly. Most Buddhists don’t believe in God. It is a “god-less” religion. To me, that denies Reality and, therefore, it is not surprising that they wouldn’t find my notions worth listening to.

 

In your view that may be so. i would ask you to consider talking in depth to Derek here who is most knowledgeable both in Pure Land Buddhism, some other sects of Buddhism and also Christianity.

 

Again, this seems to me to be self-centered. I.e. “My beliefs, religion, and/or philosophy are good only in what they can do for *me*, enlighten *me*, free *me*, make *me* feel at one with the universe.” Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the worth and rights of the individual. And I believe we each have the right and responsibility to discover and live according to the religion, philosophy, or non-religion that we find the most meaningful as long as it doesn’t harm others. But I question the value of religions, philosophies, and secular paradigms where the “self” is at the center and the welfare of others is given little consideration. I just don’t see how that can lead to the betterment/longevity of humanity or our world.

 

i think most all here on the board feel the same as you including me. I think the key is discovering the difference in self and Self but that is another thread and i think we are in agreement in what you say above even though you previously say you don't understand how one can believe in the illusory nature of the world and at the same time as serving and caring for others. I'm okay with your view even though i see it differently.

 

 

Upon reflection, I think I’ve said all I wanted to say about this subject, Joseph. I appreciate you hearing me out. And I appreciate your input. You’ve given me much to think about (yes, I know I shouldn’t, ha ha!) and this conversation helps me to know which direction(s) Progressive Christianity is going.

 

Ok Bill. this can be a trying subject and i hope you enjoyed the discussion along with Yvonne, Dutch, George, Mike and myself. Perhaps it will continue and you will jump back in. BUT before i go i would like to have the ADMINISTRATOR comment on 1 subtle sentence.... being... "and this conversation helps me to know which direction(s) Progressive Christianity is going. " Your bad as in :ph34r: Here is his disclaimer.

Joseph (as Member)

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

In no way shape or form do the comments or views expressed in this thread by the individual by the user named JosephM represent the direction of PC or speak for Progressive Christianity, the TCPC forum, its management or employees. Further more , all views regardless of the author when spoken of as a member are strictly the views of that individual and do not represent any offical view of PC.

JosephM (as Admin)

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

PS Bill, don't make me have to do this again... :P

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In Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy, the young Sophie receives lessons in philosophy from an unknown teacher. She lives her life awaiting the return of her father, spends time with her friend, does her chores, etc, all while receiving strange and intriguing lessons from an eccentric person. In the end, she finally meets her teacher and discovers that she, her entire world, and everyone in it exists in somebody else's mind. How's that for a reflection on reality?

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First, I'll admit I'm finding this thread a bit mind-boggling, but, for some reason I really cannot explain, do not know how it relates here, what keeps forming in my mind is something someofyou have probably encountered before....

 

Among certain groups of people, when someone starts asking questions about their traditions of reliigious faith and beleif, the originas and validy of such,etc. They use a metaphor that seems to them to triumphantly end all potential for question or doubt....

 

" It's impossible to wreck a train that has already gone by."

 

And while they are standing there obviously feeling very smug and pleased with themselves in their reasoning that ends all arguement, I'm standing there looking at the empty tracks and wondering, "and just how do you know there ever WAS a train?"

 

Jenell

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Guest billmc

To Joseph,

 

Ok Bill. this can be a trying subject and i hope you enjoyed the discussion along with Yvonne, Dutch, George, Mike and myself. Perhaps it will continue and you will jump back in. BUT before i go i would like to have the ADMINISTRATOR comment on 1 subtle sentence.... being... "and this conversation helps me to know which direction(s) Progressive Christianity is going. " Your bad as in :ph34r: Here is his disclaimer.

Joseph (as Member)

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

In no way shape or form do the comments or views expressed in this thread by the individual by the user named JosephM represent the direction of PC or speak for Progressive Christianity, the TCPC forum, its management or employees. Further more , all views regardless of the author when spoken of as a member are strictly the views of that individual and do not represent any offical view of PC.

JosephM (as Admin)

 

Yes, Joseph, my bad. I'm sorry. :(

 

Likewise, my posts *always* reflect only my own understanding, only my own "reality". :D

 

Peace,

billmc

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Hi Bill,

 

To me, life is not about certainty, it is about meaning. That’s why I’ve said that if none of it is real, then it is all meaningless.

 

I really do agree with this sentiment. I suppose it depends on what one takes to be the relationship between meaning and reality. If meaning is itself something which stands over-against the world, it would seem that reality is lost either way. I like something Myron (minsocal) pointed out in his thread on Process Philosophy, to paraphrase according to how I understood it, that Kant believed in a top-down view of mind and meaning -- that we only know reality indirectly, and our meanings are something projected onto that reality. Whitehead, however, suggested a bottom-up view, where mind constructs reality from the bottom-up. I really like this approach, as it places no true divide between meaning and reality. It makes a lot of sense to me. Whitehead, by the way, was a robust realist.

 

The well-known founder of idealism, George Berkley, wrote that "to be is to perceive or be perceived" - all that existed are minds and ideas within minds. Yet for him, this did not mean that everything was unreal. In fact, because the world came from the very mind of God, nothing could be more real. I don't necessarily agree with Berkley's "to be" statement as stated. But if we approach reality with the "bottom-up" view, perhaps we can venture to say that "to be is to be meaningful". Existence presupposes meaning.

 

Certainly. Most Buddhists don’t believe in God. It is a “god-less” religion. To me, that denies Reality and, therefore, it is not surprising that they wouldn’t find my notions worth listening to.

 

I think Buddhism probably has more in common with your concerns than you may think. Though Buddhism is essentially non-theistic, it has very many similarities with the Christian contemplatives, at least that I see. Some of these similarities may be superficial, others not. The thing about Buddhism, at least regarding its largest schools, is that it tends to take a layered approach to teaching. You have instructions that are meant for initiates, others meant for those midway on the path, and others who are at the final stages -- and for all the many stages in between these. The highest teachings have traditionally been kept away from newcomers because of some the very concerns you express. It is easy to misunderstand the teaching that "all things are illusory" and take it to simply mean that nobody exists and there's no need for morality. Many Buddhist masters have stated that it is better to side with common-sense realism than to misunderstand the ultimate teachings. By this they mean it is better to "err" on the side which doesn't deny the validity of doing good things for others and being a compassionate person.

 

Peace,

Mike

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In Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy, the young Sophie receives lessons in philosophy from an unknown teacher. She lives her life awaiting the return of her father, spends time with her friend, does her chores, etc, all while receiving strange and intriguing lessons from an eccentric person. In the end, she finally meets her teacher and discovers that she, her entire world, and everyone in it exists in somebody else's mind. How's that for a reflection on reality?

 

A real mind blower.

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Seeing Andromeda was a "sacred moment" for me. Whether you meant it this way or not, Dutch, I opened my senses and took in the experience. It made me feel part of it all.

 

It is the way I meant it. Here, now is reality. everything else is not reality because it is at least one abstract step away from the experience.

 

Dutch

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Guest billmc

Hi all,

 

I’d like to apologize to this forum for the tone of my posts in this thread. Although I hold firmly to the views that I expressed here, the way I expressed those views became increasingly adversarial and even demeaning towards Joseph, which was totally unwarranted. There should be (and is) room in Progressive Christianity for different points of view, for various understandings and interpretations of things. While we share many commonalities, we must each walk the path that we feel is best for us. Our differences need not divide us, they can foster appreciation and respect for the other and even serve to help us grow on our own path. I forgot this. I forgot that the goal of my journey is, not to be right, but to be compassionate. So I apologize to Joseph and this community for my attitude in this thread.

 

Sincerely,

billmc

Edited by billmc
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Perhaps i should be the one to apologize as it seems to me, it takes two to tango. Also i think Bill deserves greater respect than i have showed him publicly in this thread not only as a fellow human but for his compassionate posts throughput this forum,.his encouragement of others and his service as moderator. I sincerely believe he communicates well with others passing through the same pitfalls in the process of discovery. Being more abstract than most, i hereby yield to not only Bill and his posting style and clarity but to all those who certainly speak with much greater clarity than i.

 

Joseph

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