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The spiritual quest

Phoenix

The spiritual quest
April 09, 2012, 01:17:08 AM
This is my view regarding the spiritual quest of the human condition.

Stillness of mind is characterized by mindfulness rather than aloofness. How is it achieved? First, one's inner correlations--one's beliefs, attitudes, intentions and desires--must be in harmony, they must be coherent and cohesive. When they are in conflict, they produce thought haphazardly, because there is friction, unrest, like a loop or chain reaction. In order for one's inner correlations to be in harmony, one's beliefs, attitudes, intentions and desires must be scrutinized and deliberate. One must have a sufficient base of philosophical understanding to serve as a point of reference whereby priorities and order may evolve; in other words, one must understand the process of how one's inner correlations influence and interact with one another and with external reality. And this is all perfectly practical and logical too, as indecision and lack of clarity confuses desires and hampers intentions, efforts and results--therefore this is a main starting point, perhaps the superior one, to the spiritual quest of the human condition for all people (lots of people of faith circumvent it totally but they are not right-hand path they are simply in ignorance).

As one progresses down this path, unanswered philosophical or spiritual questions create disharmony in one's inner correlations, as one is undecided in what orientation to align themselves. For the person living an examined life, these unanswered questions directly influence their daily attitudes, desires, thoughts and actions, because they live a purposive life that is ordered, as well as possible, according to priorities. Meaning, truth, emotion, logic, these all serve to form priorities by acting as foundational points of reference, depending on how one approaches and answers the over-arching philosophical or spiritual questions of their paradigm; some people may orient themselves around logic and truth exclusively, for example. Eventually, as the questions remain unanswered and grow increasingly daunting, some turn to faith, some settle for compromise, some fall into ignorance, and some fall into the grips of existential crisis (or a combination thereof).

Confronting these questions in existential crisis through logic is the left-hand path, whereas turning to faith is the right-hand path. Some seek out the confrontation, for others the confrontation seeks them out, and many turn to faith in the trial of it; this is understandable, as the marketplace of ideas today is a poor source of help as one seeks to find answers to the questions, and society's influences distractingly and obfuscatingly affect one's life and state of awareness. Those who succeed in overcoming their existential crisis through logic generally do so by making assumptions or leaps of faith and by trusting in experiential learning, finding some inner source of spiritual power / identity and / or developing some hodge-podge philosophical or spiritual paradigm... it really isn't too pretty. Many turn to faith, some maintain makeshift left-hand path paradigms, some become Buddhists, some become nihilists, some become atheists or agnostics, etc.

In today's marketplace of ideas I particularly appreciate Buddhism, as it hinges on logic and experiential experimentation and only makes assumptions insofar that the human condition which is experienced is indeed the human condition. Or if it does not assume, if it does not make a leap of faith per se, then it accepts that there exists no other real foundational points of reference beyond logic and experience, therefore it accepts those two as sufficient because they are all there is. It is at this point where I may be tempted to disagree with nihilism: what is, is, can we not say that is sufficient, must we poke further holes into its emptiness?

However I do not disagree with nihilism this way, because my left-hand path paradigm takes the Buddhist logic and experiential understanding of the human condition and expands on it by pursuing the logic end further. If the nihilist accusation is that logic cannot unequivocally confirm the solidity of experience, then the sought after defense is a logical framework establishing the nature of the human condition and how it arises, so that the human condition becomes in effect a priori. It is along this vein of thinking that my path travels, and I believe I have succeeded in establishing said framework. I believe this marks the true and proper course of continued left-hand path evolution.

I explain the beginning of this new logic in the first chapter of a text I'm working on:

Quote
Much confusion in the marketplace of ideas revolves around what initially seems like a paradox regarding the nature of eternity, or more specifically regarding the question of whether eternity begun at one point or whether it has just always existed. Considering the old analogy of eternity being in causal terms a function of dominoes toppling over in sequence, the preceding domino always causing the proceeding domino to topple, on one hand it seems eternity must possess a beginning point whereby the first domino topples over and triggers a chain reaction, yet on the other hand it seems eternity cannot possess a beginning point for any such chain reaction cannot ‘just happen’ but rather itself requires a preceding trigger / domino. Or, to employ a classic phrase, if God created everything then who or what created God?

First, let us be sure to consider eternity in causal terms. It can be and often is argued that, in many ways, eternity is not like a flow, sequence or chain reaction, that it is in fact non-linear, and that it is flawed to apply to it the concept of a beginning point. Perhaps the perceived linear quality of causal continuity is only derived by our minds by a manner of geometric analogy and in real experiential terms there is nothing linear about it. For our present purposes, however, eternity is taken to constitute a continuum strictly and exclusively in the sense that the principle of causality is real, that reaction is necessarily always contingent with action. For our present purposes, the point is only that eternity possess a flow, a direction, insofar as reality is causal in nature, insofar as an action ripples through time affecting that which has yet to occur (the 'future') rather than that which has already occurred (the 'past').

Some would in fact dispute even this, citing scientific hypotheses and studies (in quantum mechanics, etc) suggesting the relationship between cause and effect could, however bizarre it may sound, actually be relative in nature in that effects may somehow influence their own causes before they happen. It must be still further clarified, then, that for our present purposes what is important is not how the potential outcome of burnt toast could perhaps affect the possibility or probability of one ever inserting the bread into the toaster in the first place, rather what is important is that the heating coils of the toaster are only capable of burning the bread, not of 'unburning' the bread. Even if the sequence of animation were somehow played out or unfolded in reverse order, still only the animation's perceived order would be reversed, while the actual interactions to which the animation's rendering pertains—the underlying causal correspondences—would retain their continuity: the heating coils of a toaster could never unburnt toast.



This basic but important fact that there is a continuity to eternity’s unfoldment insofar as reality is causal in nature is shown in figure A,  where this continuity is represented by a line and directional arrows and where each instance of causal sequence, each proverbial domino, is represented by a black dot. To be perfectly clear, figure B shows that the continuity does not have to be straight or linear, it amounts to the same thing, as the directional arrows remain all in the same direction. Figure C shows an impossible scenario, where the arrows are reversed as if the heating coils could actually render toast unburnt. Furthermore, let us pretend that in fact figure C were actually possible, if eternity’s continuity were to unfold both ‘forwards’ and ‘backwards’ in time simultaneously, as shown in figure D. Normally, as shown in figure E, a given domino X impacts on a given domino Y. However, as shown in figure F, if eternity were to unfold both ‘forwards’ and ‘backwards’ in time simultaneously, then every domino would simultaneously impact on both ‘future’ and the 'past' dominoes as well as be impacted by both 'future' and the 'past' dominoes equally—an absurdly impossible scenario as everything would be 100% relative without any points of reference or foundation.

What all this demonstrates, beyond a doubt, is that if the ‘past’ is not constantly being writ as much as the ‘future’ is, if the distant tail end at the beginning of eternity is not in movement constantly regressing further backwards into time, then that end of eternity must be static, a fixed point, a point of original creation! The paradox as to whether or not eternity possesses an initial beginning point has been solved, we now know that it must possess one, however the question still remains as to how just exactly this original domino could have ever come about in the first place.

Following this (and which I have yet to formally put into writing), I believe the only possible explanation as to the initial arising of eternity / reality is that first there was emptiness, and then emptiness realized its own emptiness more fully, manifesting in convention. This is a very complex point, not merely a clever use of terminologies, and requires a certain level of stillness of mind and considerable contemplation to fully grasp. It can be explained in words, but experience of stillness and emptiness is necessary in order to fully comprehend the meaning of the words--not in the sense that one must make a leap of faith in the validity of experience, but in the sense that to some extent language is too limited to fully explain it, at least insofar as I am able to wield the paintbrush of language (but one can grasp things logically in their mind in a way beyond words and language, still without relying on experience).

Furthermore, and specifically to address a nihilist accusation surely to be made, I identify the source of initial arising of eternity / existence to be emptiness because it is the only possible option not in the sense that it is the only option my limited human mind can presently conceive of, but in the sense that arriving to the solution through the process of elimination transcends the limits of the human mind behind the equation if part of the equation itself, part of the process of elimination, involves a systematic, logical, a priori theory of deconstruction down to indeed the first instance that any possibility were even ever possible in the first place. It is crucial to grasp the a priori thread leading from causal continuity to the beginning of eternity.

I do not expect these last two paragraphs to be very persuasive, but it is the best I can do at this time, and I write them more in order to tell my story as part of this thread than to necessarily persuade. Having realized this basest common denominator in Emptiness within an infallible logical framework, I can then deduce various truths about the human condition, in terms of Emptiness being that which sprouts the individual agent of consciousness and underlies the human condition. I write this in order to more fully illustrate where I'm coming from in my forum exchanges with you. (And I use the term "you"... liberally.)

Re: The spiritual quest
April 10, 2012, 02:08:31 PM
Disclaimer: subjective thoughts following

From my lay forays into the quantum theory, combined with a light grasp of Kantian Transcendental Idealism, I wonder if questions like this aren't just meaningless. Let me clarify, quantum mechanics seems to have found some aspects of reality that do not grok with "common sense": action at a distance, negative pressure, time slows while an object travels quickly [ill never understand why speed is so special]. Therefore, it seems highly likely that there really ARE aspects of reality that we cannot understand using our well tried and tested tools.

However, Kant saves us from complete epistemic breakdown as he shows that we must be in some way related to the objects of perception in order for perception to occur. So, there exists something like us in the world.

Combining these thoughts helps us see that there are things we can currently know, and know very well, but QT seems to be showing a few aspects that are outside our usual methods.

I wonder if questions like eternity are impossible to answer because understanding it requires the use of tools we don't currently have. Perhaps this is the stillness to which you refer.

Re: The spiritual quest
April 10, 2012, 03:32:25 PM
"We" must be totally related to the objects of perception in order for perception to occur, but neither the objects nor ourselves are necessarily perceived accurately.

If all objects emerge from the interactions of quanta, and quanta are in any way problematic for our understanding, then this says a great deal about the ability of the human mind to comprehend more complex patterns before more simple ones.  Either that, or going down to the quantum level passes some line of distinction between micro- and macro-aspects of reality, by which terms I mean to say that our level (macro) is intelligible to us and operates by various principles which we can claim to "know", whereas the lower levels (micro) have fundamentally different modes of manifestation, and, thus, different physical possibilities/"laws" (though the laws of the higher levels originate in those of the lower).  If we assume that space and time are infinitely divisible (this is debatable), then below the level of what we currently recognise as "quanta" there are yet more objects to be discovered, perhaps operating by progressively less "physical" laws.

As a minor aside, does anybody else find it fantastic that our range of capability of understanding extends beyond what is immediately useful to humans?  Before we could even manipulate atoms in any way, we could understand their properties and place in the universe; before we had the technology to journey into the stars, we gained an understanding of the celestial objects we had watched since our origin.  Furthermore, I find it very interesting that our physical sciences are now entering realms which seem unsuitable for our intelligences, realms which may prove to be outside of that range of capability of understanding.

Re: The spiritual quest
April 10, 2012, 04:48:20 PM
The term 'spiritual' seems, here, to be describing something it is not.
Spiritual, is the subtraction of words and thoughts from what exists, and attending to the perception of it, instead.
It is more about appreciation, than it is about analysis and theory.
Most of all, it is simplicity.

It is certainly not a quest.
To go looking for it, whatever it is, is the surest way of being unable to find it.

Re: The spiritual quest
April 10, 2012, 04:55:04 PM
Eternity didn't arise from emptiness. It is emptiness. But a living emptiness. A breathing one. When it breathes out the universe expend. When it breathes in, the universe recede. You can see it like a circle where its center is the biginning of the manifestation.

Well, that's the way I see it.

Re: The spiritual quest
April 10, 2012, 05:00:52 PM
That is beautiful enough to be the way it is.
It makes perfect sense, without attempting to.
That, my friends, is Spirituality.

Phoenix

Re: The spiritual quest
April 10, 2012, 10:46:53 PM
I wonder if questions like eternity are impossible to answer because understanding it requires the use of tools we don't currently have. Perhaps this is the stillness to which you refer.

With all due respect, you agree with my argument, or you don't?

Science hypothesizes, whereas my philosophy is a priori - two completely different things.

What are scientists themselves saying? That the universe is backwards? That it is illogical? That it is chaotic and insane? That it is utterly beyond any hope of comprehension? That it's useless to continue investigating? That current scientific theories are suddenly useless? That we must turn to faith because logic has broken down? That the whole universe could explode tomorrow because it's total random chaos and it's a miracle it's even lasted this long? No, they are saying that current scientific theories are in the process of radically changing, and that there's a lot we don't currently understand.

The term 'spiritual' seems, here, to be describing something it is not.
Spiritual, is the subtraction of words and thoughts from what exists, and attending to the perception of it, instead.
It is more about appreciation, than it is about analysis and theory.
Most of all, it is simplicity.

It is certainly not a quest.
To go looking for it, whatever it is, is the surest way of being unable to find it.

Let's not insist on a universal definition of the word "spirituality", an inflexible label is a false label(ler). What it means to me is that it deals with matters of spirit, and I interpret spirit to mean Emptiness, or more generally the inner life: the metaphysical inner life in thoughts and paradigms, philosophy and psychology, and, interconnectedly, the physical inner life, the experience itself, the feelings and energies, and the manipulation of energy flow and conscious control agency orientation.

As for calling it a quest, I was merely speaking in a general way of how from birth to death one embarks on a grand sort of search or adventure and hopefully comes to spiritual realization.

That is beautiful enough to be the way it is.
It makes perfect sense, without attempting to.
That, my friends, is Spirituality.

Actually it's poetry, and bad poetry at that.

Phoenix

Re: The spiritual quest
April 10, 2012, 11:01:42 PM
If we live in a spiritual reality then the term "spirituality" a false one when it's used due to humans being ignorant of spirituality and considering spirituality as something separate from life or external.

Truth is indeed simple but it's surrounded by infernal complexities--especially in this day and age--and is only simple when realized from a perspective of wisdom. To achieve this level of realization one cannot cut through the complexities surrounding truth by ignoring them in blind faith, one cannot ignore the facts and patterns in question.

Furthermore, on the left-hand path, faith is not employed at all.

Re: The spiritual quest
April 10, 2012, 11:23:45 PM
You would get further by exploring what you don't understand. Dismissing it with empty criticism only guarantees immobility.

Re: The spiritual quest
April 10, 2012, 11:49:08 PM
I conclude the 'left hand path' is for leftists.
Hardly surprising it makes no sense.
Take what is, turn it into something it never was, insist that the result is 'reality'.
There's a reason the right is called the right.
It may not be entirely right, but it is certainly closer to it than left.

Phoenix

Re: The spiritual quest
April 10, 2012, 11:56:54 PM
You would get further by exploring what you don't understand. Dismissing it with empty criticism only guarantees immobility.

I think we can all agree on this.

Take what is, turn it into something it never was, insist that the result is 'reality'.

I'm not attempting to define reality, are you?

Re: The spiritual quest
April 11, 2012, 12:04:14 AM
I see you, yourself are unable to.
I suggest reasons why this is so.

Phoenix

Re: The spiritual quest
April 11, 2012, 12:10:27 AM
I see you, yourself are unable to.
I suggest reasons why this is so.

Please don't side-track the discussion. I don't believe I'm attempting to define reality. If you disagree with this, please elaborate as to how you see me attempting to define reality.

Re: The spiritual quest
April 11, 2012, 12:19:27 AM
I see you attempting to suggest that I am, as if that is the latest excuse for ridicule.
I didn't actually read your OP, so I can not comment upon it.
I took one look, saw the diagrams, the length, and what I knew about you already, and saved myself the trouble.
By the way, would you like me to forward the contents of your private-message barrage to the Global Moderator, so he may see all the things you said about him, or shall we just agree to be tolerant of each other?

Re: The spiritual quest
April 11, 2012, 12:40:00 PM
I hope you've learned something from this Transix, generally speaking, posting lengthy philosophical texts on forums is a waste of time.  Usually people do something like respond to the title of the thread without reading the post.  

Anyway, I will attempt to respond to some of the post, although I don't really have time to do it justice.

The first part of your post discusses the pursuit of truth, or at least coherence.  This is the natural function of human intelligence when left to its own devices.  You suggest two alternatives, one either settles for a semi-coherent system based on religious concepts in order to appease the need for consistency in thought, or one attempts to reach some higher truth by logical deduction.  I think the important point here is that logic itself can only function in the presence of premises, which must be derived from experience, it cannot draw anything out of itself, which you mentioned.  The most fundamental metaphysical truths are only knowable insofar as we are identified with their objects, that is to say, we know reality insofar as we are real, we know being insofar as we possess it, we know insofar as we are knowledge.  The extinction of the ego and therefore the identification of our consciousness with reality as such leads to higher knowledge.

Once you start talking about eternity we get into more difficult territory.  The word eternity signifies to me a state which transcends time completely, and would in fact be identified with the emptiness that you describe.  It has very little to do with the temporal state.  Reality is causal yes, but the temporal world arises from reality without reality being affected thereby.  The First-Cause contains all of its effects and remains unmodified.  What appears as emptiness in relation to the diversity of the world is in fact infinite fullness or plenitude.

These ideas stem from Advaita Vedanta, Platonic metaphysics and the Religio Perennis as expounded by Frithjof Schuon.

Quote
If it were necessary or useful to prove the Absolute, the objective and trans-personal character of the human Intellect would be a sufficient testimony, for this Intellect is the indisputable sign of a purely spiritual first Cause, a Unity infinitely central but containing all things, an Essence at once immanent and transcendent. It has been said more than once that total Truth is inscribed in an eternal script in the very substance of our spirit; what the different Revelations do is to “crystallize” and “actualize”, in different degrees according to the case, a nucleus of certitudes that not only abides forever in the divine Omniscience, but also sleeps by refraction in the “naturally supernatural” kernel of the individual, as well as in that of each ethnic or historical collectivity or the human species as a whole.
 (…) The essential function of human intelligence is discernment between the Real and the illusory or between the Permanent and the impermanent, and the essential function of the will is attachment to the Permanent or the Real. This discernment and this attachment are the quintessence of all spirituality; carried to their highest level or reduced to their purest substance, they constitute the underlying universality in every great spiritual patrimony of humanity, or what may be called the religio perennis; this is the religion to which the sages adhere, one which is always and necessarily founded upon formal elements of divine institution.