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There's no substitute for discernment
Published by Jeremy6d on July 28, 2011 3:20pm.  Category: General

Bring4th is a wonderful place. I love being able to see the variety of ways people realize spirituality in their lives, the different viewpoints they bring to table, the ways they can help me think differently about my own spiritual life. Most of all, though, the very text-based discussions in the forums present challenges to my systemic thinking -- challenges that can help me get away from a mechanical, rule-based understanding of the Law of One and help me realize that the magic lies in the potentials, in the infinite possibilities, and not doing things "the right way".

 

However, text-based discussions of spirituality have certain disadvantages. Research has suggested that well over 50% of our communication is non-verbal: tone of voice, facial expression, emphasis on words, body language, etc. The written word filters out quite a bit of nuance, and this often detracts from spiritual conversations online. Such a sensitive and subjective topic demands a light touch and careful judgement of the temperments involved, and I'm sure we've all noticed the tendency of online conversations to become hostile. It happens much less frequently here than elsewhere, but it certainly is not unheard of.

 

Hostility is rather easily recognized, but there's another issue with online communication: it's tendency to emphasize words as truths themselves and underemphasizing context, meaning, and dialectic dynamics. Because we're often attempting to persuade one another in these conversations, we continually rely on reducing positions to easy abstract thought complexes we can either rationally defend or attack. There's nothing inherently wrong with defending or attacking a point of view, but if we do not take care to understand the other side as more than an abstract, composed position, we risk playing an elaborate and distracting game.

 

In this confused soul's opinion, the worst examples of this are attempts to turn Ra's message into a dogma. True, words do have meaning, and Ra's words should not be twisted to accommodate our every belief and preference. But that means that we must be allowed to express preferences and opinions unsupported by the material -- in other words, we must be free to think what we think without being told it is unacceptable or outside the Law of One's confines. To paraphrase A Course In Miracles, we must release the need to be right.

 

The need to be right makes us place more emphasis on rejecting points of view than searching for the truth in them. Systematizing the message of Ra into a set of rules does not represent the kind of loving, curious, inwardly-directed, self-confident spirituality that was always the hallmark of their communications and admonitions. As I wrote in an earlier post, we should see Ra as a teacher, not a prophet. They came not to reveal, but to inspire. There is still much about spirituality and our experience that they did not address that, nevertheless, is absolutely real and part of our path.

 

Let us use this online resource as a way to expand upon the mission of Ra instead of codifying it into an ersatz religion. Nothing is lost, nothing is threatened. When people come here to learn about the material, I'd argue that the most important thing to convey to them (beyond the infinite love inherent in the lessons and in ourselves) is the enormous responsibility they have for figuring these matters out themselves. Ra, Q'uo, and other Confederation entities constantly stress the importance of our individual discernment in significating those pieces of information vital to catalyzing our spiritual evolution.

 

Of course, we can teach, too. There are concepts in the Law of One we can help newcomers understand. But we must never forget it is each entity's unique privilege to learn for herself. And if we forget that it is our privilege to see how this love and light gets refracted by the one-of-a-kind prism of each entity coming to this material, to ourselves learn from that unique perspective, and to observe it's reaction within us, then we hold something precious and inspiring back from ourselves.



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Why I'm Not an Elitist: Egalitarianism in Context
Published by Jeremy6d on January 20, 2011 4:32pm.  Category: Philosophy

Many on the right assert that elitism is an approach to social problems that recognizes inherent differences in individuals. Elites belong in leadership positions where their natural talents can be used to best benefit society. Most people are not cut out for responsible positions within the social apparatus, according to their argument.

 

Understood in this narrow sense, I do not find elitism dangerous as an abstract analysis. Indeed, there are a vast variety of competencies inherent in people, whether through their choosing to develop them or whether they come "naturally" (whatever you think that means). That some should gravitate to a place where their talents are best used is not a problem; it is a core purpose around which we associate.

 

The problems enter in when a mere measurement of talent distribution is expanded into an individual or group identity. Without elitist pretensions, there is no need for a purposeful elevation of the more competent over the less. There is no need for institutional structures that maintain elite predominance. Why go to great lengths to stress differentiation between non-elite and elite if those differences are obvious?

 

In other words, it appears that elites are elite due to their ability to render some sort of service to others. But over time, elites come to be served byothers. This happens because, instead of the elite status being a matter of demonstration and service, it turns into a status existing in and of itself. If the elite status cannot be commonly seen, then it must be imposed. Hence, institutional structures like royal families, aristocratic classes, and executive professional networks maintaining exclusive access to power. The elite become an identity, not a competency.

 

The importance of coercive structure to elevate these elites cannot be underemphasized. Societies are narrower than the humans they comprise. They select for qualities, talents, and characteristics they value based on their imperfect understandings at a given time. For societies to develop, they cannot simply perpetuate the same patterns for which they select; they must broaden their appreciation for underutilized talents, unappreciated qualities. The elite, in order to maintain their position as a matter of identity, must arrest this progress as a matter of preserving their status. Service to society is once again hampered.

 

I can imagine elite apologists saying that certain individuals are more valuable to society than others. For whatever reason, their talents are rarer. The loss to society of an improperly elevated talent is worth the danger of codified supremacy. The values informing this distinction between individuals are arbitrary but inherent in the social body. But this views the danger of elitism only in terms of its social consequences. It does not speak to the consequences to the so-called elite individual.

 

Talent within the self is not alone sufficient. It must be developed and actionable in order to useful. After all, if elites are distinguished by their usefulness to society, then their talents must be realized or the elite status is illegitimate. In a very real sense, the only legitimate use for a concept of elite is the service by the elite to the net benefit of society.

 

If one's sense of identity comes from the opinion that one is elite as a matter of what one can do, and not what one does do, it can hamper this striving to develop the talent. It can invert the pattern of service and squander the talent through demanding that others serve the elite. This then becomes a mere power relationship and, as earlier mentioned, will require recognition by society through coercive means in the end.

 

I'd argue that egalitarianism is not the argument that everybody is equal in talents. Instead, egalitarianism is the argument that what constitutes virtue is service, not identity, and that human potential is the basis for moral equality. It is through the kinetic that the potential is demonstrated and work is performed, if accomplishing work is the point in the first place.

 

What counts as "talent" is after all a normative construct. It isn't important at all, in the end, whether everybody has the same capabilities; what is important is that we understand genuine service, and that we cultivate a society that sees value in service to others so that potential is realized wherever it lay and not be squandered by mere institutional momentum.

 

The egalitarian approach has perhaps one construct on top of this: that perhaps potentials of import are not so easily perceived by us mortals, and therefore the safe bet is to value all instead of directly ordering the social body to select for the obviously desirable talents. Rousseau may have been correct that institutions corrupt man, but it seems more important to me that they may promote the development of individual talents based solely on their value to institutions. Obviously, human potential is broader than the society can integrate at a given moment. We can have faith in people, or we can have faith in leaders - this is the insight of the anarchist.



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The Unique One and the Universal
Published by Jeremy6d on August 16, 2010 6:02am.  Category: General

Over the past two to three years, I've engaged in many conversations featuring the appeal to moral principles asserted to be held in common. Some who've known me for a while may notice that over this period I've begun to distance myself from appealing to these moral principles as a basis for my arguments. This has been a rule I've adhered to largely from both my own investigations of my beliefs as well as the influence of Max Stirner's "The Ego and Its Own" (or, as Shawn Wilbur correctly points out is a better translation of the title, "The Unique One and Its Property").

 

Stirner taught me that abstractions and concepts ("spooks") often rule us just as completely and arbitrarily as corporeal authorities, and that true freedom requires one to break free of all preconceived notions of propriety, convention, and duty. This philosophy is often called "egoism" and is treated by many as a form of nihilistic realism culminating in an almost Nietzschean "will to power". All constraints on the ego are to be discarded in order for the self to express itself fully through its property, its ideas.

 

This causes understandable concern in many. The search for perfect and complete freedom is framed in terms that are positively anti-social. If adhering to ethical codes or moral laws or legal statutes or social conventions should displease you, why not throw them all out? After all, what makes them all more valuable than your own happiness? And I find this a hard argument to reject without appealing to other spooks.

 

Indeed, I've come to realize that my own moral beliefs are undemonstrable and, therefore, I often have no compelling argument to make. For example, I believe the non-aggression axiom is a valid construct - it makes sense to me and seems to align with my innate sense of justice most of the time. But there's no way to fashion a logical argument for this position outside of the conventions instilled in us through a lifetime of social experience, the nature we can claim to share (whatever that means), or the rhetorical power with which I can persuade, or make demands on, you.

 

If I want you to accept the axioms I accept, I don't know where to begin, other than to presume you're like me in important ways that allow my sensibilities to transfer over to you. The belief that we share common access to a universal basis for truth is the precondition for any persuasive, rational debate. It underlies the motivation for reaching out to you at all, because I assume you have the innate ability to reach the same conclusion I did - somehow. If I believe my position is true, I believe that you are compelled to accept it if you're honestly accessing that same store of truth.

 

The idea that you and I are similar, that there's an inner truth available to both of us that underlies our common interest in peace and harmony, and that this common truth is mutually accessible, is typically consigned to the domain of the religious, the mystical, the arena of doctrines requiring blind faith (though it has its secular versions, such as the rationalism of the Enlightenment era). And yet, the more deeply I've studied the arguments of libertarians (and I certainly believe this applies to any political ideology, or for that matter any belief system, bar none) the more clearly I see that ours is distinguished from others not by our beliefs per se so much as our constructions of that universal truth we expect others to access. Hence our outrage when they appear not to, because they are not simply disagreeing with us; they are challenging our own certainty in the truth at which we've arrived. After all, we would not reach out to them in the first place if we did not believe they (A) are honest with themselves and us, and (B) have equal access to that store of universal truth.

 

What's weird about the typical construction of Stirner's argument that appears to predominate in libertarian and anarchist circles is the emphasis on the quest to banish every kind of spook - only to make room for the primacy of another. It typically presumes a particular conception of the individual lying nascent and pure under these layers of spooks (particular at least to the degree that the spook's restriction of it is identifiable) but never questions whether that conception of the individual as described by Stirner is itself a spook. Stirner advocates for this ego to dominate in exactly as arbitrary a manner as any other ideation can elevate itself within the psyche. In pushing for a radical individualism, Stirner seems to be convincing the reader not to abandon all the chains and limitations of the various spooks so much as to adopt one really powerful spook to rule them all, and let that ascendency be named "freedom".

 

But what next? If you follow his ideas to their logical conclusion, a totally different construction can emerge. What if we, as the unique ones, create ourselves - not merely limit ourselves, though that seems to be part of it - through the duties, moral codes, and other constructs we assume? What if that is the character of our creative task? Perhaps casting off the spooks gets us down to the core of our being, but must we stop there? Or do we channel that core to others as an expression, a unique composition of identity and "will to self-definition"?

 

Perhaps all of us unique ones are defined not simply by our mere uniqueness at the root of it all, but the way in which we fit together as irreplaceable components. The ego as Stirner described it may in fact not be the unique one - it may be the spook we empower to protect ourselves from the inner truths others are constantly counter-demonstrating to us. If we are threatened by others' constructions of their inner truth, it is only because we rely on the certainty of identification with our own spooks, which stand in for a more honest, rigorous, and continuous exploration of the self.

I maintain that the genuine political act is the quest for self-knowledge, or rather, a continual dedication to increasing honesty with oneself. The rest is arbitrary expressions people choose in order to get at that essential heart in others - indeed, if they didn't assume the existence of that heart they wouldn't bother to make the effort! Too often, they mistake the expressions for that which is being expressed, that which is truly being sought by all of us with various degrees of fidelity. You can argue ethics, morality, and logic all day with others and not convince anybody of anything nor discover anything that helps you better understand the human condition, because it is a condition of billions of unique truths, all equally valid.

 

In the same way that Nietzsche dared the individual to will himself to power, one can dare to create oneself by choosing his spooks, his constraints, his individual expressions of the universal as he understands it. It is an act of consummate creativity to define your own moral and ethical context as an expression of universal truth. The key, however, is to recognize that others do the same, and to see the interpersonal dialogue as a continuation of the meditation on the unique one - not some challenge to your ego. You approach the universal through the individual, not as a rejection of it.

 

If I express frustration with those who advocate for universal principles, such as particular conceptions of human rights, justice, moral codes, etc. it is not because I reject the reality of a transcendent universal truth, but with the manner in which they appeal to it, as if their conception were binding on me. In fact, it is precisely because of my firm grasp of what it means for a truth to be universal - that it has no need to be forced on another, either through the brute force of rhetoric or that of violence. We are each equally the conduits of the universal if we're worth convincing at all. In order for me to be assured that I am articulating something "true", the last thing I want to do is to extract your consent to my position. Above all, I want your honest feedback to help me integrate your unique insight into my search. The earnest seeker of truth places a higher value on testing it than merely believing in it.

 

Stirner closed his magnum opus with the phrase, "All things are nothing to me," as if that were the end of the matter. Be that as it may, creativity and freedom end up manifesting most universally as the ability, nay, the daring to make something of that nothing, and to do it in the unique way only you can. That is a magnificent and glorious idea to me - indeed, it is what I believe I am, and what I believe you are.

 

It is why I will never demand you are compelled by some universal law "out there" to adopt my beliefs. Such arguments amount to hand waving, and no honest person resorts to them knowingly. For the precise reason that I believe some things are universal, I dare to trust you to find it yourself, in your own unique way - and if you can construct it better than I, then the benefits accrue to us both. It is in that manner of unique togetherness we approach a less distorted, more useful conception of the unnameable principle which impels us to associate in the first place.



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A Science of Self
Published by Jeremy6d on February 23, 2009 6:14pm.  Category: General

One of the arguments I'm making in the same thread that inspired the last post is not to get dogmatic about the teachings of Ra.  While the Law of One provides several interrelated concepts that serve as a self-reinforcing system, it is not a religion.  I have several reasons for bringing this up.

 

  • The self is the measure of all spiritual progress.  In other words, it is only in the context of your own spiritual path that the suggestions of Ra have any merit.  Embrace or reject Ra's teachings based on whether they work, not because they say so.
  • There is great utility in constructs like polarity, the archetypes, etc.  They help you focus on certain aspects of self.  But in the process, they will also de-emphasize other parts of self.  That's what these constructs are supposed to do, certainly, but don't forget to have an experience of your inner self free of constructs, philosophies, etc. as much as possible.  There are depths of your soul that the Law of One cannot capture - that no philosophy can capture.
  • I'm interested in an approach to the Law of One that mirrors Don Elkins' approach to the Ra contact.  I like the idea of a rigorous approach to the self where the Law of One concepts are tools, not boundaries.  But even more than that, it's impossible to know and trust the concepts in the Law of One unless you prove them experimentally in your own life.  Don't just swallow the philosophy - live it, and let your life be a living experiment in these concepts.  Not only will you better understand them, but they will have a meaning and significance that you cannot arrive at through pure intellectual study.
Many people who embrace the Law of One have clearly taken it as their primary paradigm for interfacing with the self.  Obviously, they find the Law of One useful, and they should not be criticized for doing what they find useful.  I simply am cautioning that there is more to yourself than simply what can be gained through applying Ra's teachings.  
Use Ra as a starting point, not as an end.  We are all teachers and students of the Law of One, and if we take that seriously then we don't need a sixth density contact to continue learning.  There is more to the Creation (read: yourself) to experience than Ra could possibly have communicated!  Take that exploration seriously by vetting the tools you use, you pioneer of the soul. Smile

 



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The Amorality of Polarization
Published by Jeremy6d on February 22, 2009 3:11pm.  Category: Polarization

A very interesting thread in the Strictly Law of One forums discussed a perception among some members that service to self is often misunderstood in our circles.  To this I can't agree more: we don't understand anything, as Ra often reminds us.  But the members in question were complaining that there is often a mental equivalency in students between "evil" and the Service to Self (STS) path, and they wondered whether it might be more complex and nuanced than this?

 

My two reactions to this line of inquiry are (1) yes, it is of course more nuanced, and (2) why the defensiveness, the identification with STS on a level that makes one so touchy?  I remember first trying to internalize the systems that Ra explains in the material and going through episode after episode of confusion in my attempts to contiunally integrate all of this abstract language and reevaluate my role in the Creation accordingly.  What I can understand in all this is a discrepancy between the idea that we are all one, and yet we're on the side of the "good guys" and they're the "bad guys".

 

I agree that this kind of mentality can seem prominent at times, for many reasons.  First, it is one distortion in a world of distortion.  We should expect exactly this kind of misunderstanding in a world where humans have to "unlearn" the good vs. evil myth.  Given all the distortions we are trying to balance in our path through the Creation, this one seems no better or worse than any other, is it?  It's just another construct we embrace as an alternative to seeing all as one.

 

Second, there is an underlying trend among students of the law of one to see polarity as an identity.  We are either STS or Service to Others (STO) according to this idea.  It's easy to see where this comes from: third density centers around a choice of polarity, and this choice governs future evolution through the densities.  Given that, it seems like the choice is a pretty important part of oneself.

 

However, the problem with this approach is that in third density we don't usually (or ever) have conscious access to this choice.  Third density is typically where we collect catalyst that moves us in one direction or the other, but this choice gets made at a much deeper level.  So to say that our third density personalities "own" this choice in a way that gives ourselves an identity worth defending against the other polarity is a bit of a stretch.

 

Furthermore, STS and STO signify approaches to the Creation in my view.  Our choice isn't about whether we choose to join a team so much as how we choose to think of ourselves and the Creation.  STS promotes a mentality that sees the individual self as the dominant partner with the Creator, and because this is fundamentally untrue, this position must be constantly reasserted, usually through the abrogation of free will in others.  STO promotes a mentality that sees the individual self as a co-equal partner with the Creator, and that "all is well" so that it is about learning about oneself through otherselves and vice versa so that the whole Creator can better know itself.

 

The takeaway is that these are philosophical and energetic configurations, not identities.  Especially in third density, regardless of our Choice, we could be emphasizing either one on a moment by moment basis as we process our catalyst.  Sure, we will eventually choose to specialize in one configuration over the other, but choosing STO doesn't mean we will never serve ourselves.  It just means that, given two paths, the work we are willing to do conforms most to one or the other.


But it is still work that needs to be done: catalyst to process, emotions and thoughts to ground, service to be done according to our moment by moment choices.  It is not a static thing we sign up for, but a way of understanding our approach to the Creation in a fundamental manner.  Therefore, while I agree that the equivalence of STS with "evil" is not ideal, I see a deeper danger in seeing oneself as "STO" or "STS", since the identification is inconsistent with the authentic Choice that will be made, and it can be distracting from the real work we have to do.



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