WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 2017

Thinking about Thought

Or not

"Thought is something dead and can never touch anything living. It cannot capture life, contain it, and give expression to it. The moment it tries to touch life, it is destroyed by the living quality of life." — U.G. Krisnamurti

"Thought makes the whole dignity of man; therefore, endeavor to think well, that is the only morality." — Blaise Pascal

"There is no life without thought...To think is to listen. Listen." — Kogi mámas

Eric Lee, A-SOCIATED PRESS

TUCSON (A-P) — So thought is dead, destructive of life, makes us human (for better or worse), and without it there can be no life sustainable for us. Obviously true, every word above. It's the wise men and the elephant allegory. A word like 'thought' or 'elephant' can be considered from different perspectives. U.G. is speaking for all sentient beings who live without thinking and look at thinking humans to wonder, 'How's that working for you?' Not so well, obviously, which is why humans should give it up or at least endeavor to think well.

Thought, like technology, has been let out of the bag of biophysical possibilities. They go together and may well destroy us. Thought, with help from technology, may be viewed as the precondition for the current Anthropocene extinction event. For an encore we may preside over self-inflected extinction. Or maybe we'll understand the nature of things right and well and live accordingly — neither of which we have done yet, so time will tell.

Humans think about 'things', create apparently separate and permanent 'entities' as concepts which are in the saddle and ride mankind. From eyes opening from sleep to falling asleep, the human mind chatters endlessly to no avail (especially to no avail if extinction is the endpoint). Thinking well would be alternative as would be thinking only as needed, when appropriate, to leave room for awareness so the mind may listen and inform our thoughts. Instead of listening only to the stories we tell of ourselves served up in speeches or sermons, we could listen to Nature's stories. A few endeavor, but the 99% are not impressed and believe in majority rule, which could have a bad outcome.

Modern humans tell stories that other humans want to hear which largely excludes what is true but unpleasant. To tell stories based on like (believe it) and dislike (don't believe it), for and against, pick and choose, is to live in a self-referential dreamland. Humans may be entertained, but fail to live in Nature when forced to wake up from our dreamworld. If we were all brains in vats that were self-repairing, powered by geothermal, fusion (and, as backup, solar power), and fully automated to provide for our brains forever—a techno-utopian vision of life perfected in a virtual reality we could relentlessly 'Like' and 'Share' with others who were also virtual and practically perfect (Facebook in 22nd century), then dreamland might work if the vat machinery works forever, but don't count on it. The reality of biophysical limits may intrude. We may dream of the banquet now, then wake up to lamentation and sorrow. We may be living in Nature, without realizing it, as self-taught five-year olds with technology we are subsumed by, that temporarily distracts us from knowing who the Mother is that we are yet dependent on. What narrowness and immaturity of mind!

In the Pleistocene, as hunter-gatherers living in bands of maybe 20 - 50 others, we told stories around the campfire, but were forced to face biophysical reality on a daily basis as living in dreamland was not an option. Empire building was not an option. A good storyteller would be appreciated, but not believed. A leader might step forward as needed, then step back into equity. Social status would vary per merit, but not material reward significantly as no one would expect twice as much as another as a matter of course, much less ten to ten thousand times more. There was no place for princes, princesses nor palaces among the nomadic.

Everyday life trumped fireside narratives. The believing mind did not dominate human lives—because Nature did as she had our ancestors for nearly four billion years. With settled agrarian life, our potential for becoming true believers arose as did the elites to commit empire giving all the illusion of being special, exceptional for a time. Beliefs served the elites and allowed for the social control of larger than tribal sized groups numbering in the thousands on up to billions. Beliefs served to distract the commoners from their life of toil. Great was the power of belief and that of empires that arose and fell.

Modern humans would rather believe than know. Our daily lives are no longer grounded in Nature, our days are not spent within Nature's system, but spent serving empire's SYSTEM which prospers for a time by unsustainable resource extraction and by feeding its narratives to believing minds inculcated from birth to serve. It was not always so. To think well we must loose interest in the chatter, the chant, the cant, and listen to the Mother, Gaia, and serve the system of which we are but subsystems. We must endeavor to think well within limits, or there will be no life sustainable to serve the Earth system as the cosmic clock ticks off the millennia.

For thought to know its place, to stay out of the saddle, it must be silent at times to allow the mind to listen and thereby inform thought when there is need to think well. The endless chatter to no avail is like a hand that is always clenched to never open, a deformity without function, unlike a hand that can open when needed, and close when needed. Thought needs to both come and go as needed as it once did on the Pleistocene savannas, engaged daily by the what-is of Nature when our capacity for belief was willingly suspended as was, at storytime, our capacity for disbelief as default norm. Reclaiming our original nature to limit our believing minds and techno-industrial society, both in terms of size and technology, will violate no known laws of the universe.

 

 


"Those who dream of the banquet, wake to lamentation and sorrow. Those who dream of lamentation and sorrow wake to join the hunt. While they dream, they do not know that they are dreaming. Some will even interpret the very dream they are dreaming; and only when they awake do they know it was a dream. By and by comes the great awakening, and then we find out that this life is really a great dream. Fools think they are awake now, and flatter themselves they know— this one is a prince, and that one is a shepherd. What narrowness of mind! Confucius and you are both dreams; and I who say you are dreams— I am but a dream myself. This is a paradox. Tomorrow a Sage may arise to explain it; but that tomorrow will not be until ten thousand generations have gone by. Yet you may meet him around the corner." — Chuangtse, third century BCE

"The struggle between 'for' and 'against' is the mind's worst disease. When the Way is not understood, the mind chatters endlessly to no avail." —Jianzhi Sengcan, sixth century CE

Humans reject (don't believe) what is true but unpleasant and embrace (believe) what is obviously false but comforting. —idea: H. L. Mencken, twentieth century CE


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