Is Man Part of Nature

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Post by nandu » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:15 am

It would be logical to assume that myths developed along with the human psyche-as we slowly evolved into the complex creatures that we are today. Then it is no wonder that the myths of the primitive peoples are more nature-oriented than those of the civilised ones. We also see a predominance of animal deities and the Goddess in the earlier myths: the patriarchal, male chauvinist God who decreed that man is the lord of everything on earth entered the scene quite late.

This is very evident in my country. Kerala, even though part of India, was separated from the rest of the country by high mountain ranges so that we integrated with the rest of the country quite late. Consequently, we have a predominance of the Goddess and a number of matrilineal societies.

Nature is always associated with the Mother... the Great Mother, the mother of all Gods. Primitive man must have initially identified himself with the natural world around him-then, as his intelligence slowly evolved, he found himself in control over his fellow creatures. This is very evident in the mythologies around the world. The Levantine myths, the latecomers, did away with female deities altogether. Hindu and Greek myths do have Goddesses but they have all become consorts of different Gods (I am not forgetting Athene): an interesting result of the fusion of the male-centric myths of Middle Asia with the already existing feminine myths, I suspect.

We talk about Ecofeminism nowadays-are we about to go back to a woman-centric universe?

Nandu.
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Post by romansh » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:19 am

Andreas wrote:
Hi Andreas ... no apology necessary ... you had no choice ....
:lol: :lol:

Tell me Romansh, when we create our own hell or heaven do we have a choice?

This is a damn fine conversation by the way. The Matrix comes in my mind in so many opinions here. That is why I love storytelling.
The idea that we can "destroy" nature is laughable, as Michael Crichton rightfully pointed out in Jurassic Park. We can make it unlivable for ourselves, which is what we are currently doing. We have no control over nature; we only hallucinate that we have.
Nandu there is another good point Crichton makes in Jurassic Park. He says "I don't blame people for their mistakes but I do ask to pay for them." and so does the explorer pays for his mistakes. Like you said lets hope the next generations don't pay for our mistakes.
Hi Andreas ... good question, but I will give you an answer for the question I think you meant to ask. To answer your question my answer would be yes. In the same sense you can get a computer answer true or false. Though I have heard arguments against this, but I don't think this is too material.

Now the question I think you meant to ask ... "do we make choices freely?" The answer would be no. So in the end sadly we do not choose freely our own heaven or hell. Of course this is my opinion.

Your last quote from Michael Crichton, is my point exactly.
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Post by Andreas » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:43 am

Hi Andreas ... good question, but I will give you an answer for the question I think you meant to ask. To answer your question my answer would be yes. In the same sense you can get a computer answer true or false. Though I have heard arguments against this, but I don't think this is too material.
Hey Romansh. You are right, like a computer. If you think though about the computer being a creation of man it is only natural that it will inherent the way we think. Which brings us to many other cool topics like if the computer ever choose to rise against humans would that mean that the computer can make choices freely denying its creator way of thinking? For me, it is not how the computer thinks, it is why and how we inherent this way of thinking ourselves and can we change it?

Which bring us to the second part of your answer. I have to agree to you that we cannot choose our own heaven or hell but what we can do is realize that we have the ability to change the value. Like the oracle says in the Matrix " We already made the choice but we have to understand it too" but when we understand the choice we have the power to change it. Anyway, ofcourse, this is my opinion. At the end I don't know, maybe we can maybe we cant choose freely.
“To live is enough.” ― Shunryu Suzuki
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Post by noman » Wed Jan 20, 2010 9:22 am

(the one billion estimated number of species is pulled out of thin air. Nobody even knows how many species exist on earth at present. Estimates range from 10 million to 100 million. The average life span of a species – about 4 million years. An earth of highly diversified multi-cellular life – about 500 million years. These are all guesses. We just don’t know.)

-noman

* * * * * * *

You seem unwilling to acknowledge the best estimates of science when it defeats your argument. Perhaps you prefer the judging father over the indifferent Gaia mother? Do we know who has the final word on what is Moral? Do we know who has the final word on what is Art? Do we know who has the final word on Truth?...Beauty?... Justice...

- JJ


* * * * * * *

True values can only be derived by transcending nature.

- noman

* * * * * * *

I know I am being ignored, but I will ask again...
Who is the creator of these edicts?

It is a simple question. Why not answer it?

- JJ

Sorry JJ. Father sky and Mother Earth are both wrathful gods. They told me thou shall not ignore thy neighbor’s questions.

First, the easy question: the problem of estimating the number of species that have ever lived on earth. I put the first quote above in parenthesis to cover myself. I’m a stickler for making true statements. I didn’t want to say there have been 1 billion species that have ever lived without qualifying it with a best estimate statement. At present, estimates range from 10 to 100 million species on earth. That is an awfully large range considering all of the data we can collect to make this estimate. Our fossil records reveal an extremely small fraction of the species that have ever lived. It’s tough to even estimate what that fraction might be. There is something called punctuated equilibrium postulated by Gould and Eldridge. The global ecosystem can be stable for long periods of time. Few new species are introduced. But as Clemsy points out, there are these cataclysms – holocausts of species, followed by a proliferation of new species. We mammals owe our success to the K-T extinction 65 million years ago. There is also the problem of defining exactly what a species is. Nature doesn’t always provide definite boundaries between species.

There are quite a lot of definitions of what kind of unit a species is (or should be). A common definition is that of a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring of both genders, and separated from other such groups with which interbreeding does not (normally) happen. Other definitions may focus on similarity of DNA or morphology. Some species are further subdivided into subspecies, and here also there is no close agreement on the criteria to be used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species
So you can see there are a lot of problems trying to estimate the number of species that have ever lived. Some estimates go as high as ten billion. I was just trying to cover myself.

Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson referred to us as ‘the bulged-headed winners of the biological lottery’. It isn’t just our numbers, but the command of our environment. It far exceeds anything any other species has accomplished. We are reshaping the biosphere to suit us. We can even talk about exporting life beyond earth. The dinosaurs, for all of their longevity and success, didn’t leave us much more than their bones. So we have reason to feel a little smug at our success, temporary though it may be.

* * * * * * *

But the greater issue here is values. Where do they come from? It is probably safe to say that the dinosaurs and any other species that have ever lived didn’t grapple with this problem. But we do.

JJ wrote in his Myth of Self thread:
I feel perfectly at home being everything and nothing at the same time. Noman would say I obviously inhaled! But the truth of the matter is simply that the Catholic guilt just did not take with me.

- JJ
Honestly JJ – it is of little concern to me that if you think I am possessed of Catholic guilt. Like you said, ‘fleas on an elephants rump’ or something like that. But it is so revealing. In that same thread you railed against the ‘racist, sexists, genocidal slave-owners’. Is that not an appeal to a sense of guilt? A sense of shame?

BodhiBliss quoted Campbell quoting a medieval text:
And as Joe points out [in POM], every single act we perform has both light and dark consequences. The best we can do is lean toward the light.

- BodhiBliss
Yes, we must do our best to lean toward the light. Shame and a sense of guilt, and what we’ve come to call sin, is what it all about. When Adam and Eve gained a certain knowledge after eating some forbidden fruit, they were ashamed and began covering themselves up with fig leaves. (like that’s gonna help matters) They were ashamed. As Mark Twain wrote, ‘Man is the only animal that blushes – or needs to.’

You ask me JJ – Who is the creator of these edicts? That is the same question I asked you and Cindy (in the pomo thread). Where do your values come from? It’s a simple question. Why not answer it? The truth is none of us can answer this question. Moral philosophers have been trying for several thousand years. But there is no definitive and logical approach to morality. If there were, we would implement such training and all become saints in no time.

The best example of this problem is illustrated in the story of Parzival as told by Campbell. Parzival told a hermit Trevrizent he hated God. He told him he had done everything right, his whole life, everything by the book, obeyed every rule of knighthood, was faithful to his princess Condwiramurs, fought every battle with honor and courage, and still, in spite living what he thought was a perfect life, he was rejected by the Grail King from the Grail Castle. Why? Because, the story teaches, true virtue cannot be achieved by living a programmed life. Okay, so where does this virtue come from? It is a mystery. But Campbell liked to quote Karl Graf Dürckheim, who instructed us to become transparent to transcendence.

And whether we use the traditional metaphor of a ‘spirit man in the sky’ or the twentieth century notion of ‘the unconscious’, we are still left with the same mystery, the same questions, the same problems , and the same unbearable task.
P337 And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal – carries the cross of the redeemer – not in the bright moment of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.

- Hero with a Thousand Faces 3’d edition, Joseph Campbell, 1949
- NoMan
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Post by Cindy B. » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:11 am

romansh wrote:I think a slight improvement would be: Life is to understand that your heartbeat matches the beat of the universe, your nature matches Nature. I apologize profusely for this heresy. :roll:
I, anyway, can live with that, romansh. :wink: And in general I think that we two are coming from the same place re: this topic.

Cindy
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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Post by Clemsy » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:17 am

Cindy, this caught my eye from the POM quote:
. . .We have to learn to get back into accord with the wisdom of nature and realize again our brotherhood with the animals and with the water and the sea. To say that divinity informs the world and all things is condemned as pantheism. But pantheism is a misleading word. It suggests that a personal god is supposed to inhabit the world, but that is not the idea at all. The idea is trans-theological. It is of an undefinable, inconceivable mystery, thought of as a power, that is the source and end and supporting ground of all life and being. . .
This is significant. I've always felt uncomfortable about that label (and that definition is what is suggested in the movie Avatar) and am surprised I hadn't teased that bit out of POM before. I've been accused of pantheism before, and I use the word 'accused,' quite intentionally, as Campbell uses the word 'condemned.'

Once again we have that issue about thinking out of the 'personal god' box which limits, if not completely derails, discussion because most in the West just don't have the mental framework to contain the concept. This is a central idea in Campbell's work.
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Post by Cindy B. » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:09 pm

nandu wrote:It would be logical to assume that myths developed along with the human psyche...
Exactly. The human psyche, too, is a product of nature and rooted in our biology as are all other aspects of our experience and behavior. At the same time and given that we are inherently social creatures as well, expressions of the psyche are also shaped by our interactions with others and with the world around us. It’s the creative and imaginal capacities of psychic functioning that capture our internal experiences as physical and social beings of a particular sort which are then projected outward and give rise to our mythologies. Each of Campbell’s four functions of myth is rooted in such processes (biological, social, psychological) and are expressions of the human experience in myriad forms. That nature has endowed us with the capability to organize our experiences and lives in such complex ways speaks to the adaptability of such an endowment; yet when the old myths no longer serve collective adaptation as they did in our past, it’s the stirrings of the psyche that prompt alternative ways of imagining our experiences and lives, and reminds us of the need to put them into practice.

Clemsy wrote: Once again we have that issue about thinking out of the 'personal god' box which limits, if not completely derails, discussion because most in the West just don't have the mental framework to contain the concept. This is a central idea in Campbell's work.
Yet all around us are the signs of change. As Campbell said, “All this hope for something happening in society has to wait for something in the human psyche...” And as Jung said, “We are steeped in a world that was created by our own psyche.” Our collective psyche endlessly fine tunes, so to speak, and adaptive change takes time, of course. Meanwhile we can expect a bumpy ride since “the tribe” is now global. ;)


Cindy
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If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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Post by jonsjourney » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:19 pm

Honestly JJ – it is of little concern to me that if you think I am possessed of Catholic guilt. Like you said, ‘fleas on an elephants rump’ or something like that. But it is so revealing. In that same thread you railed against the ‘racist, sexists, genocidal slave-owners’. Is that not an appeal to a sense of guilt? A sense of shame? -noman
Actually, I was not saying anything about Catholic guilt within this thread, besides making a reference to what happened to me does not necessarily have anything to do with you. They are my opinions on social events that I see as being wrong. From where I stand, in this time, I can judge them as being wrong. The perspective is mine...looking backward. That being said...I can go on to comment within this thread's context...

Just because I am capable of experiencing a sense of what is right and wrong, whether that is expressed as guilt or shame, need not point to some external god figure, who literally exists, to provide such a moral compass. The question as to actual existence of god or not is beyond our ability to discern, so it is a rhetorical argument with no evidence of consequence capable of reaching a definitive decision. Because this is true, we must at least entertain the notion that certain principles have developed along the line of human evolution that provided us with successful strategies to survive.

It is possible that feelings such as guilt evolved in our brains to make us better social animals. We may need these feelings in order to put our selfish tendencies aside and reap the benefits of group/tribal existence. Other cognitive strategies, which we may consider "moral" such as prohibitions against murder and incest, are beneficial adaptations as well. Along the same lines, it is possible, that even a belief in god was a cognitive strategy in order to help us cope with our own knowledge of mortality. These ideas are possible and subject to scientific inquiry.

So I need not point to some external moral authority to justify an action or to prohibit another. Perhaps the "rules" were purely social constructions fulfilling a genetic calling toward cooperation, like language development. If language was a god-given human skill, why the necessity of so many different ones? That does not make sense from a "design" perspective. If there is only "one god", why all the different masks? Why would each culture develop their own masks that suited their own social circumstances? Would not "the divine" implant a single divine image that provided us with a single universal image, that brought us all into accord rather than tribal discord? Again, this does not make sense from a "design" viewpoint.

Science is not an absolute. But it is a method by which we can attempt to seek truth from cognitive perceptions. Perceptions can be false, such as the earth being the actual center of the universe, or only being 6,000 years old. We have seen the sun rise in the East everyday since we have been paying attention. Science tells us that the odds of it rising in the East tomorrow are very good. Science does not make the mistake of assuming it will absolutely be that way tomorrow. It will record the action and continue to build a consensus based on empirical observations, all the while being mindful of the paradox that the observer has a direct effect on the observed once we reach a certain point in the observation process. But like anything else, science has its limits and offers little psychological satisfaction for many when taken to its rational frontiers. Formulas on a chalkboard offer little more comfort in our existential reality than the words of a book that has no empirical foundation. Words can entertain or inform, and sometimes both.

Like it or not, we appear to be relative creatures, living in a relative world. The central peak of the world is right where you, and I, are standing at this moment. So when we are talking about Joseph Campbell, we should at least acknowledge that this was his take on the whole mess...
"There is a definition of God which has been repeated by many philosophers. God in an intelligible sphere - a sphere known to the mind, not to the senses - whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. And the center, Bill, is right where you are sitting. And the other one is right where I am sitting. And each of us is a manifestation of that mystery. That's a nice mythological realization that sort of gives you a sense of who and what you are"

Power of Myth, page 89
The mistake in blind subscription to a belief, be it science, religion, politics, or anything is that it blinds the believer. The message that the Earth is, for humans, the central peak of our existence has spiritual and psychological value. To approach the same idea from a pedagogical perspective is to cover our eyes, ears, and mouth so that we can feel better about the paradoxical nature of our existence.
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Post by noman » Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:17 am

The central peak of the world is right where you, and I, are standing at this moment. So when we are talking about Joseph Campbell, we should at least acknowledge that this was his take on the whole mess...

- jj
JJ – the reason I respond to your posts is because you complained about me ignoring you. Clemsy’s and Cindy’s posts are the peak of Campbellian understanding. But you just don’t get it. You are clueless. And then, in another thread, Cindy complains that I don’t respect you. But I can’t respect someone who is utterly f#*@&%g clueless. And I hope you respect my frankness. But the only reason I pursue it is because you said I was ignoring you.

The terrible thing about the slogan ‘follow your bliss’ is that it is construed as the slogan ‘look out for number one’. That was not Joseph Campbell’s meaning. Hitler’s ‘central peak’ was evil. Jeffery Dahmer’s ‘central peak’ was evil. Mahatma Gandi’s and Martin Luther King’s ‘central peak’ was good. It isn’t ‘ALL’ relative. There is goodness and there is evil. And it isn’t just a matter of being ‘right where you are.’ When we talk about Joseph Campbell, we should at least acknowledge that this was his take on the whole mess.

- NoMan
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Post by bodhibliss » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:00 am

noman wrote: But I can’t respect someone who is utterly f#*@&%g clueless. And I hope you respect my frankness. But the only reason I pursue it is because you said I was ignoring you.

The terrible thing about the slogan ‘follow your bliss’ is that it is construed as the slogan ‘look out for number one’. That was not Joseph Campbell’s meaning. Hitler’s ‘central peak’ was evil. Jeffery Dahmer’s ‘central peak’ was evil. Mahatma Gandi’s and Martin Luther King’s ‘central peak’ was good. It isn’t ‘ALL’ relative. There is goodness and there is evil. And it isn’t just a matter of being ‘right where you are.’ When we talk about Joseph Campbell, we should at least acknowledge that this was his take on the whole mess.
Noman,

I haven't visited this conversation since a passing post a day or two ago, so have only read your comment and the post you're replying to. I will take a look at what else has transpired in this conversation since then in a few moments, but must first take the time to speak frank and direct.

Not good, Noman.

I don't know if JJ will respect your frankness, but as the administrator responsible for all aspects of the Joseph Campbell Foundation website I will not and cannot tolerate your rudeness to another Associate, nor your blatant disregard of the Guidelines to our Conversations of a Higher Order. Even were your understanding of Joseph Campbell's take right and JJ's wrong (which would mean those most intimately familiar with Joseph Campbell and his work, including those who personally knew the man and those who are responsible for preserving his legacy, clearly don't understand him), your disrespect and incivility by no means qualifies as conversation of a higher order.

Normally I'd be sending you a pm - but your remarks are very public, so it's important to make clear to all that this is not the behavior we want modeled in these forums. Had you posted this earlier I'm certain Clemsy would have addressed this - but since it is well past the witching hour on the East Coast, I'll step in and point out what I'm sure you already know.

From the Forum Guidelines:

Respect Others: Should the opinion of another associate spark your anger or scorn, rather than your spirit or mind, please take a deep breath and consider before posting an ungenerous response. Flaming, the online equivalent of ranting, can seem terribly gratifying in the short term, but it is a very ineffective form of communication

The exact opposite of Respecting Others is telling another Associate you do not respect his opinion because he is "utterly f#*@&%g clueless!" I have to wonder about your understanding of the word "clueless," given the irony of your hope, expressed in your very next breath, that he will respect you.

Respect others' opinions: These are Conversations, not Conversions. 'Conversation' comes from the Latin words con ('with') and verso ('opposite'). We expect diverse opinions to be expressed in these forums, and welcome them. Remember, just because you disagree with what someone has to say doesn't mean they don't get to say it. Of course, it also doesn't mean you have to agree; if you chose to express your disagreement, do refer to guideline #1, however.

When you call someone clueless, you are not agreeing to disagree. Though I am surprised at your boldness, this does seem the logical extension of recent threads where conversion, not conversation, seems your goal. Even when someone else says that they can accept that you both just see things differently, and then tries to share how they reach their conclusions, you keep pressing and pushing the discussion into argument, not conversation. In the past few weeks you have told people who disagree with you that they believe in "hippie myths" (even when raising concepts thousands of years old); you've also pointedly noted that those who embrace the postmodern perspective are contemptible, even though several of your fellow participants had made clear they subscribed to the perspective you so vociferously condemn, and thus, by extrapolation, must deserve to have all those pejoratives apply to them.

That's certainly a violation of the spirit of the guidelines - but this is far more blatant and cannot be ignored.

Be polite: Most of our associates are fairly worldly, but they come from many different sets of cultural assumptions-indeed, they come from many different parts of the world. Please refrain from language whose only purpose is offense. If it helps, imagine your grandmother reading these forums-as perhaps she may, since other folks' grandmothers are. Please don't use any forms of expression that you feel would offend her ears. (Of course, one of our administrators' grandmother could swear like a sailor.)

Relying on asterisks and ampersands by no means masks your use of the term "fucking." You are not quoting someone or making a joke, but using offensive, emotionally charged language to convey a negative impression of another Associate.

Noman, you have participated in these forums for a long time. You know the guidelines, and are aware we are serious about maintaining a space where people feel safe to engage in discourse, and to disagree with others, without fear of being personally belittled and attacked. It's difficult to believe this is a simple inadvertent slip of the tongue.

As for Jonsjourney's understanding of Campbell being flawed, that is certainly debatable. Seems to me you are reading the word "relative" in literal, concrete terms.

When Joseph Campbell quotes Tat tvam asi - "Thou art That" - he means you, me, and, yes, Hitler are all That - we are all brahman (the transcendent divine), and have that godspark within. Some have phrased that as all are God - and God (which is not the personal god called Yahweh, but transcends all concepts), as Joe points out, is beyond male and female, light and dark, good and evil. He is not all Good - He is not even "he" ... God transcends what the rational human mind can conceive.

The more unconscious of our own true being that we are, the more we are driven by shadow. No surprise that Hitler and Manson were possessed by Shadow - they had no true self-awareness, but were driven by unconscious forces and an absolute certainty that their moral code was true and correct (both had strong albeit unacceptable moral codes that were violently enforced). They knew they were right.

Joseph Campbell advises us to say yea to it all - good and evil, joy and suffering, life and death - but just because we acknowledge that all is sacred on a transcendent plane does not mean we must acquiesce in, justify, or tolerate harmful, destructive behaviors on the earthly plane. You seem to think that is some sort of contradiction, that it's not possible to embrace the relative nature of life without condoning evil. Yet Campbell points out we are both the referee in a tennis match - sitting above the action, not taking sides - and a player on one side of the net or the other, both at the same time. Most of us have the second part of that metaphor down pat; Joe was trying his utmost to bring the first part to our attention. JJ seems to have got that.

Is Jonsjourney clueless? Is he saying Joe advocated we look out for Number One? I don't get that sense at all. If that's your opinion, you are welcome to it - but please keep it to yourself. There is room for disagreement, and for friendly, courteous discussion of those differences - but bad behavior in these forums will not be tolerated.

We all have appreciated your participation over the years, Noman, but I suggest you take a month off. We've found that a little distance and time tends to lessen volatility and lend perspective.

Peace,
bodhibliss
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Post by Evinnra » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:22 am

noman wrote:

Yes, we must do our best to lean toward the light. Shame and a sense of guilt, and what we’ve come to call sin, is what it all about. When Adam and Eve gained a certain knowledge after eating some forbidden fruit, they were ashamed and began covering themselves up with fig leaves. (like that’s gonna help matters) They were ashamed. As Mark Twain wrote, ‘Man is the only animal that blushes – or needs to.’

You ask me JJ – Who is the creator of these edicts? That is the same question I asked you and Cindy (in the pomo thread). Where do your values come from? It’s a simple question. Why not answer it? The truth is none of us can answer this question. Moral philosophers have been trying for several thousand years. But there is no definitive and logical approach to morality. If there were, we would implement such training and all become saints in no time.

The best example of this problem is illustrated in the story of Parzival as told by Campbell. Parzival told a hermit Trevrizent he hated God. He told him he had done everything right, his whole life, everything by the book, obeyed every rule of knighthood, was faithful to his princess Condwiramurs, fought every battle with honor and courage, and still, in spite living what he thought was a perfect life, he was rejected by the Grail King from the Grail Castle. Why? Because, the story teaches, true virtue cannot be achieved by living a programmed life. Okay, so where does this virtue come from? It is a mystery. But Campbell liked to quote Karl Graf Dürckheim, who instructed us to become transparent to transcendence.
And whether we use the traditional metaphor of a ‘spirit man in the sky’ or the twentieth century notion of ‘the unconscious’, we are still left with the same mystery, the same questions, the same problems , and the same unbearable task.
P337 And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal – carries the cross of the redeemer – not in the bright moment of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.
- Hero with a Thousand Faces 3’d edition, Joseph Campbell, 1949
- NoMan
Outstanding post NoMan, I am honoured to have the opportunity of reading your thoughts on this topic.

When it comes to contemplating what comes naturally it is indeed tempting to mistake the supremacy of nature over most of creation with the idea that everything in existence is therefore natural. It is not science in general that makes this mistake, rather it is those thinkers (scientists or not) who fail to recognise the immense significance of the particularity of each experience by each experiencer who get 'lost in the woods'. On page 19 of this thread my example relating the particular behaviour of my cat intended to stir the topic in this direction. In order to make a rationally compelling argument that transcending levels impart the know-how for individual discernment regarding what is natural, first it needs to be established that the particular (peculiar) is endowed with ability to discern.

In fact 'all roads lead to Rome' so when I ask for direction I know that whatever answer I am getting will lead me there - and that is the 'center is everywhere' position regarding finding directions to Rome. However, if I really need to get to Rome on time because my people are waiting for me with bated breath, I have to find someone who had been there already and knows the quickest way. Particular - and peculiar - moi must find a particular and peculiar other in order to save time and effort. This other is more often than not a transcending level of view - hence the significance of the personal relationship with the One.

P337 And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal – carries the cross of the redeemer – not in the bright moment of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.

- Hero with a Thousand Faces 3’d edition, Joseph Campbell, 1949
Must admit, if I were not allowed to ignore those who willfuly and repeatedly obstruct my journey to Rome, I too would rely on words that need typing asterix in their place . I could always call it legitimate self-defence. 8)

p.s. Have you noticed that Neoplato gone AWOL in the past couple of days so too boringguy in the past couple of weeks? In any case, you know where to find me if you need me :P
'A fish popped out of the water only to be recaptured again. It is as I, a slave to all yet free of everything.'
http://evinnra-evinnra.blogspot.com
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Clemsy
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Post by Clemsy » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:02 pm

Oh my. Evinnra, you seem to be inferring there are those here who are "willfully and repeatedly" obstructing you on your path to Rome, as it were. That's a strong accusation! However, in all my perusals of all these discussions, all I can find are some disagreeing with you.

It is, indeed, a point of view, though not one conducive to participation here, that disagreement can be interpreted as "willful obstruction," antagonism and intimidation. I'm glad you've refrained from using the kind of response noman has so uncharacteristically, and indefensibly, resorted to.

Of course no one is criticizing anyone's personal journey here, although it often happens that one who thinks differently is, indeed, seen as criticizing what another does or believes simply in doing or believing differently.

However, this is Joseph Campbell website, so you will find many take to heart one of Campbell's central themes from the Grail Quest:
Each entered the forest at a point he, himself, had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no path.
Cheers,
Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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romansh
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Post by romansh » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:11 pm

Andreas wrote:
Hi Andreas ... good question, but I will give you an answer for the question I think you meant to ask. To answer your question my answer would be yes. In the same sense you can get a computer answer true or false. Though I have heard arguments against this, but I don't think this is too material.
Hey Romansh. You are right, like a computer. If you think though about the computer being a creation of man it is only natural that it will inherent the way we think.
Hi Andreas
Firstly I carefully did not say "like a computer", for this would imply I have a very good idea (know) how computers "think". Frankly, I'm not even sure I "know" how I think. But you do raise an interesting point, Is the way computers "think" a refection of human thought?

In an everyday way I would say definitely not. To use Boolean logic to come to a decision makes my head ache. Even some of the simplest things like choosing a scale for an axis on a graph is intuitively easy. Writing out the Boolean logic is not simple. Now I would agree that code that goes into writing these programs is a product of of human thought but human thought is (almost) infinitely more complex. Hmmn - interesting!

If we look at the physical architecture of the computer versus the brain, there are definite resemblances. I would have look at history books to see if the current computers are inspired by the brain design or not. I think we are starting to move in that direction. But if I remember correctly it is only recently that we have understood that our brains likely process information in a binary format.

The point of this thread is are we mechanistic or not; when we look at the individual parts of us ... very definitely. But if we look at the resultant experience then, we tend to trust our experience.
Andreas wrote:Which brings us to many other cool topics like if the computer ever choose to rise against humans would that mean that the computer can make choices freely denying its creator way of thinking? For me, it is not how the computer thinks, it is why and how we inherent this way of thinking ourselves and can we change it?
Again I think the question is can we choose freely, never mind robots?

Your last question is complicated. For me the question becomes "where does the I (in the 'we') stop and the rest of the universe begin?"

:)
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nandu
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Post by nandu » Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:14 pm

Clemsy wrote:Of course no one is criticizing anyone's personal journey here, although it often happens that one who thinks differently is, indeed, seen as criticizing what another does or believes simply in doing or believing differently.
Clemsy, as Cindy rightly remarked sometime back, all of the conversations seem to be hovering around the single point of relativism versus absolutism. For the relativist, it's just a matter of a differing viewpoint; for the absolutist, it's a negation of everything which he believes to be right, hence an affront not to be taken lightly.

However, the relativist also gets angry at the thick-headed refusal of the absolutist to acknowledge his right to believe differently. I know-I've travelled that road, where the devil inside pokes one to refute a viewpoint held by another just to show him that his belief is just one among many, and there is no way to decide which is right, or whether a right one exists at all.

These are all not conducive to a conversation of a higher order. So what I do nowadays is that, whenever I feel an angry retort coming on, I refrain from posting till the mood has passed. Then you'll see whether the post is worth a reply. If it doesn't take the conversation forward, don't post.

Nandu.
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu
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bodhibliss
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Post by bodhibliss » Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:39 pm

nandu wrote:These are all not conducive to a conversation of a higher order. So what I do nowadays is that, whenever I feel an angry retort coming on, I refrain from posting till the mood has passed. Then you'll see whether the post is worth a reply. If it doesn't take the conversation forward, don't post.
I can't tell you how much we appreciate that attitude, Nandu - which, at one time, was simply the accepted understanding of everyone in these forums. The point of Conversations of a Higher Order is to be inclusive, invite participation, and welcome the exchange of differing viewpoints. It is not to try to convince others one is right, be confrontational, and win arguments.

That latter attitude is contrary to the spirit of Joseph Campbell.

I have to admit our commitment to inclusion sometimes leads us to tolerate rudeness far longer than we should, which serves only to encourage confrontation and poison the well, driving away the very people who are here because of their passion for Joseph Campbell's vision.

Joseph Campbell should be our model in these conversations. He fought absolutism his entire life, but always remained a gentleman. In one of his lectures toward the end of his life, as he described the drawback of concrete, moralistic thinking (specifically in terms of a literal reading of the Christian credo), a member of the audience shouted out his support for that limited perspective.

Rather than arguing with the man, Campbell simply smiled, nodded at the man, and said, "Good - for you."

Joe didn't say his heckler should change his beliefs: he acknowledged they work for his critic, but they don't work for everybody, and certainly not for Campbell. Nevertheless, he remained a gentleman throughout - no pejorative statements or snide remarks.

Thank you for reminding us that these are, indeed, conversations of a higher order.

Namaste,
bodhibliss
Last edited by bodhibliss on Sat Jan 23, 2010 8:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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