Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tsk, tsk

Pretty Lady is sorry to see that Voxy-poo is up to his self-indulgent little tricks again, and is bullying people with Asperger's. Of course, since the victims in question have Asperger's, they probably don't realize they're being bullied, but still, Voxy should know better. People who are struggling, in however dim a manner, with apparent ontological paradox, do not need someone coming at them with aggressively linear confrontation. The cognitive dissonance thus produced is likely to fuse their fragile little psyches even more determinedly shut.

Because, as Pretty Lady keep saying, over and over and over, it's a question of levels. Sometimes it seems to her that most people view the world as a fused, warty mass of physio-logo-psycho-emotiono sludge, and it is no mystery to her why they get so depressed. They persist in behaving as though any problem can be solved upon the same level at which it is created, which to her is obvious nonsense. To get perspective, one steps away. One steps away and regards the whole.

When Pretty Lady steps away from purported ontological paradigms which present her a sucker's choice, she notes a staggeringly obvious thing. That is, that the vast majority of persons who choose not to believe in God are, in fact, blazingly angry with Him. They are angry for the simple reason that evil and suffering exist. Since, on some level, they hold God responsible for this entire physio-logo-psycho-emotiono mess, they hold Him equally responsible for the evil and for the suffering. Their revenge is to decline to believe in Him. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo.

As if that helps.

Since, then, the obstacle to belief in God is, at root, an emotional one, one may argue Logos until the stars burn out, and nothing will have been achieved. One may have bolstered one's sense of ego-self, but as Pretty Lady has been explaining for quite some time now, bolstering one's ego-self is the whole entire problem.

So Pretty Lady shall, once again, put forth an ontological paradigm that eradicates the sucker's choice at the root, and see if those poor benighted souls like hers any better.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Right off the bat, here, we are presupposing that God is external to the equation; that there is God, and there is something outside of God to be prevented. This is unspeakably sloppy thinking. Pretty Lady dismisses this question on the basis of insufficient grounding.

Is he able, but not willing?

Pretty Lady recalls reading something about Free Will, in a document which purports to explain something of the motivations of God. She recalls that this freedom of will is allegedly bestowed by God onto those of His creation. So if we postulate that God is not separate from His creation, and has extended free will to that creation, then obviously the will of creation is equal and identical to that of God.

Thus the proper question to ask is, 'Are we able, but not willing?'

Then whence cometh evil?

Obviously, evil cometh from denying the will of God within us, which we are perfectly able to do, since our will is equal and identical to His.

So it seems to Pretty Lady that those persons who are permanently enraged with God over the question of evil are behaving in a similar way to that of Pretty Lady's former best friend, who, suddenly, out of the blue, accused Pretty Lady of 'taking pot-shots' at her. She was adamantly certain that Pretty Lady was out to undermine her, from motivations of envy and jealousy, despite a mountain of consistent evidence to the contrary. Moreover, she claimed to know Pretty Lady's motives better than Pretty Lady did herself, and declined to offer Pretty Lady an opportunity of explaining or defending her alleged 'pot-shot' behavior, but rather convicted and sentenced her without trial.

Pretty Lady's hands were tied, because there was nothing at all within Pretty Lady which could influence her friend's opinions, gleaned as they were wholly from the friend's own fantastic projections. Equally, when her friend offered to 'forgive' her for the alleged pot-shots, the offer was meaningless, because it presupposed the existence of a nonexistent offense which required forgiveness. Pretty Lady remained slandered.

Thus, Pretty Lady and her former best friend remain at outs, despite the absence of any concrete evil in their interactions. All that is required is for one of them to declare, 'But lo! I have made a mistake. I have committed an Error of Perception. You were not out to get me at all; it was only my own silly imagination.'


Magpie Girl said...

It must be an ontological/theological kind of day because my 8 year old was rapid fire questioning me about the problem of evil this morning!
I caught it here:

Chris Rywalt said...

Okay, PL, hang on a second. I think you're having logic problems.

If our will is equal to and identical to that of God (I'm using your capitalization here, although it's become my habit to use lowercase g), then evil cannot come from denying the will of God within us, since if we will evil then that is by (your) definition the will of God.

So basically you've just chosen to agree with the answer to the second question: "Is [God] able [to prevent evil], but not willing? Then he is malevolent." By saying that our will is God's will, you're saying that God is, in fact, malevolent -- because we're malevolent (at times).

There's also the assumption here that people could stop being evil if they just wanted to -- that we are, in fact, able to prevent evil. I think this is clearly incorrect. It imagines that humans can both recognize when they're committing evil acts and stop themselves when they do, neither of which is possible in every case.

The Cub Scouts have a great motto: "Do your best." If your worldview is correct, that should be our basic moral tenet. And, given the state of human affairs, that's pretty terrible.

Anonymous said...

...that the vast majority of persons who choose not to believe in God are, in fact, blazingly angry with Him

I beg to differ. For some of us, the notion of a big-daddy-in-the-sky is just deeply bizarre, unlikely, and unnecessary. I suspect it is a constitutional thing; you're either born with an innate sense that God is around, or you're not.

In my experience, atheists are neither more nor less likely to be angry than anybody else. You just hear more from the angry ones, for the same reason you hear more from angry people about almost everything; because the angry people are the ones motivated to make a lot of noise.


Doom said...

You write so well. I do enjoy reading along, following the flow of your thoughts, occasionally cracking the dictionary to ensure precision, and of course, seeing how I fit into the discussion or not.

I can say, about the last paragraphs, I have to check my emotions at the door sometimes, as I often feel beset when I shouldn't (and probably feel fine when I should know better, ah well). Sometimes I wonder if I am being belittled here, or there, but mostly in truth I am not. Though, I think if I thrumb the 'wine glass' just right (or more precisely, wrong), I certainly do receive an ear(eye)ful I might not enjoy. *laughs*

Oh, I am pretty much with you about atheism, or what passes for it today. Much shaking of fists at the heavens (in spite of there supposedly not being one). I try, very hard (and fail often enough), to just be with said people. I believe they have a grace, the ones I know personally, and a touch of the divine, as I do. And so, as it is, I try to be with them quietly. I do not wish to guide them, and I am no example (though my faith is strong, strong enough to be quiet with the wounded who cannot hear), I do enjoy their company. However, I have some small fear. Those who haven't given themselves to the Father cause me some fear. Still, many in my church cause me fear, perhaps more so. The ones who should know better and profess to do so yet show they do not... these I fear more.

Thank you for the thoughts, vocabulary check, and the kindness that seems to flow through you. I hope a ray of sunshine comes to you when you are ready to receive it. Be well.

Chris Rywalt said...

Also, I want to note, after reading Beck's comment, that, yes, I did not choose not to believe in God. I just don't. There's no choice on my part at all. I like to say that I'm just missing the Faith Gene, whatever it is that allows some people to hold beliefs. I don't think I believe anything at all (although I do sometimes use the phrase "I believe" as a purely rhetorical construction).

That's why I say I'm a secular humanist, not an atheist. I have no opinion at all on the existence of God, a god, or gods. I sometimes wish I did, because believing in some kind of afterlife would really make me feel a lot better. But all I can say is I have no idea if anyone's running the show.

I do think, if there is a singular god, and he's the god of the Christians, this universe totally sucks, and if I get to meet him, I'm going to tell him so. Or, as someone on your blog once put it, I'm going to go to Hell and give God the Finger on the way down.

But I honestly don't think the universe could possibly be run the way Judeo-Christian theology would have us believe. It just makes no sense to me at all. If there is a god, I certainly cannot imagine him putting things together ala the Bible. Hinduism has a certain charm to me -- it's so totally insane and chaotic, I can almost buy that as the world's organizing principle. And Buddhism, too, kind of works for me, in a logical sense, anyway. From what I know of them, which isn't a lot, really.

But the bottom line is I have no clue. I suppose I'll find out soon enough -- or else I won't.

Anonymous said...

My suspicion is that what theists interpret as atheists "shaking their fists at the heavens" are, in fact, atheists shaking their fists at the smug, right here on earth. ;-)

Not that I consider PL or Doom to be smug. I'm just sayin'. :-)

Also I think there's a huge difference between a theist who is angry at God and an actual atheist. One cares passionately and may very well be a big emotional mess. The other is perplexed at all the fuss.

If a real atheist is angry, I think their anger is toward authoritarian individuals and theocratic social systems that they believe are harmful to people.

Certainly I find the common theistic assumption that atheists are nihilist, angry, amoral, and dispairing to be fairly annoying.

A natural theist might indeed feel dispairing, or feel they've lost their moral compass, upon having their faith in God shaken. Also, if a person grows up steeped in a culture where all ethical questions, and really everything else in life too, leads back to God, I'm sure it's hard to imagine how it would be possible to have ethics without God.

But a natural atheist doesn't see what relevance some big super-natural Being might have to their sense of morality or purpose. Or to their sense of awe, reverence, joy, or compassion, for that matter.

At least, that's how I see it.

I guess I feel this way because for many years, I figured that I could not really be an atheist, because I'm not an asshole. Then I thought it through and could not find any logical or emotional connection between atheism and assholeness. The connection is a cultural assumption, not reality.

I think that having a relationship with God does give many people a motivation to be better and more joyful people. I also think that in our culture today, churches are the community where most people go to learn how to be better and more joyful people. So at their best, churches are a fabulous venue for growing as individuals and as communities.

But for me, I don't think any good can come of pretending to believe something that feels entirely false, in hopes that it will make me a better person. It would be a lie; and my moral sense is not OK with that.


Pretty Lady said...

Now, now, people. Settle down.

then evil cannot come from denying the will of God within us, since if we will evil then that is by (your) definition the will of God.

Obviously some clarification is needed. One can either act with the will of God, or block the will of God. When one blocks the will of God, one is plunged into unreality and projection, where lots of distressing things appear to happen within the ego-mind.

This is what the Course in Miracles says, at any rate. I am still testing its propositions in the labaratory of my own consciousness. I must admit, that every time I experience an instance of apparent separation, I later experience a 'whoops! gotcha!' moment when I realize that no, it wasn't really.

For some of us, the notion of a big-daddy-in-the-sky is just deeply bizarre, unlikely, and unnecessary.

Tsk, tsk. Haven't you been paying attention? Where did I say anything about sky-dwelling daddies? My personal experience of God is of an expansive, non-personal presence that is integral to all experience, consciousness, and existence. A saccidananda, as it were.

Yours may differ, of course. ;-)

Chris Rywalt said...

PL sez:
One can either act with the will of God, or block the will of God.

The trouble is that, in this essay of yours, you say that our will and the will of God are identical. Therefore you cannot, by definition, block the will of God, because even that blocking is part of the will of God.

Now, if you were willing to edge into Crowley territory, you could revise your theory here to state "Do as thou wilt is the whole of the law," adding the caveat -- which Crowley certainly did (his quote is often taken out of context) -- that the trick is knowing your will. "Do what thou wilt" doesn't mean everyone can just do whatever they want; it means everyone should follow their True Will, and if everyone does, there won't be conflict. Because that's what True Will is. Conflict comes from people following what you'd probably call their ego-will rather than their God-will.

The people who believe in the Course in Miracles would probably shit a brick to find themselves lumped in with Uncle Aleister, by the way.

Crowley's basic ritual for communing with the Holy Guardian Angel is the start for discovering one's True Will. Sadly, I have no patience for ritual magick, nor for trying to unravel most of Crowley's work. I do occasionally try to talk to my Holy Guardian Angel, but I'm never sure if it really does anything.

I've had much better success with e-mailing my unconscious.

Pretty Lady said...

The people who believe in the Course in Miracles would probably shit a brick to find themselves lumped in with Uncle Aleister, by the way.

People who follow the Course, by definition, find themselves lumped in with EVERYBODY. What is it about 'there is no separation' don't you understand?

Chris Rywalt said...

You're talking about people who successfully complete the course. I'm talking about people who buy the book, skim it, and then go on about their Christian lives. Which is probably most of the readers.

Pretty Lady said...

Well, then, they're not 'people who believe in the Course,' then. QED. You can't have it both ways.

Chris Rywalt said...

I believe in karate, but I haven't taken a class.

Pretty Lady said...

And actually, most Christians find the Course deeply threatening. They need to believe that they are Special and Different from everybody else, because Christ is the One True Way. The Course teaches that Specialness is what is getting in the way of salvation, and at that point the vast majority of Christians decide to throw the book in the garbage.

Jesus Christ was a True Radical, and this doesn't sit well with people who are innately conservative.

Pretty Lady said...

I believe in karate, but I haven't taken a class.

You believe, then, in the existence of karate, but you don't practice it. This is a crucial distinction with both religion and mysticism as well. You can read Buddhist philosophy, or the Course, for ever and ever amen, but if you don't practice it, you have no knowledge of it, and no call to judge its veracity or not.

Chris Rywalt said...

PL sez:
And actually, most Christians find the Course deeply threatening.

I think there are two basic approaches to religion, the political and the mystical. Most adherents of any religion are basically political. For them, anything like a miracle, or having someone write a book dictated by their god, or what have you, that kind of thing is fine as long as it's in the distant past. You're not allowed to have that kind of thing happening today.

Mystics accept all that as a matter of course.

Chris Rywalt said...

I'm not allowed to believe in something without proof? I can't believe that karate works, even if I haven't tried it myself?

Pretty Lady said...

Most adherents of any religion are basically political.


And of course you can believe in karate. It's just not the same as knowing karate.

Desert Cat said...

And actually, most Christians find the Course deeply threatening.

Izzat so?

It couldn't possibly be that a text purporting to be dictated by Jesus to an atheist Jewish psychologist in the mid-twentieth century explaining how he was completely misunderstood and misinterpreted by his own close disciples in the first century and all of his followers since then--and somehow it took him two thousand years to find a receptive ear to set the record straight that a variation of eastern mysticism was his thang all along--just doesn't ring true to his followers today?

Naw, we're just skeered that our speshull-ness is threatened.

Look, whatever the merits of CIM--and I'm not saying there are not any, for someone who wants to follow an eastern brand of spirituality at least--but, whatever it's merits, that's another Jesus there. I laid it aside because there are simply far too many glaring inconsistencies for the Jesus that I know and love and worship to have dictated that.

And no, Chris, I am not amongst those who believe that God does not speak today. He does, and he has throughout history. The lodestar is that contemporary revelation is never inconsistent with past established revelation. And on that test, ACIM fails in my estimation.

I could (but I have little inclination) take it apart line by line and show where it contradicts scripture. That may not matter to you, but it does to me. Follow it if you want. I hope it leads you where you want to go. I am not one to dissuade, recalling that I was very into Carlos Castaneda before I finally decided it led nowhere. I have enough to do just understanding the vast treasure that is the Bible.

If it's any comfort to you, your religion is on quite the fast track at the moment. Do a search on the "Alliance of Civilizations" and see what they're up to. "All is One" is looking to be shaping up to be the State Religion of the new global order.

Pretty Lady said...

DC! So pettish. Tsk, tsk.

It should be fairly obvious by now, DC, that Pretty Lady has no 'religion.' She has 'spirituality.' 'Religion' is a set of beliefs, rules and traditions that one subscribes to, hopefully in order to develop one's spiritual awareness; but, unfortunately, it has a tendency to get tangled up with political concerns, as you point out. Politics is the polar opposite of spirituality. This is why Pretty Lady may start with religion, but she feels it is very, very, very dangerous to end there.

Desert Cat said...

Ok that's fine, then "the starting point of your spiritual quest" is shaping up to be...etc.

It's funny though that every spiritual tradition has come up with what it holds to be a set of core truths that are naturally going to be different from and maybe even in complete opposition to those of another group, "exclusivist" beliefs if you will. And even the "all is one" movement has such an exclusivist tenent--namely that those poor sad egoist individuals who refuse to see their innate unity with everything and everyone else will be "separated", and left behind in the next great cosmic shift.

Hmm hmm. Hmm hmm.

I've got an essay simmering in the back of my head on the topic of how the separation of each thing from every other thing is vital to creation and the ongoing existence of the universe, and that the urge to smoosh everything back into one cosmic whole may represent a deconstructive drive against creation itself. (Interestingly, modern physics has uncovered some paradoxes that suggest the universe does not actually exist. So it's not so far-fetched.)

Maybe someday I'll shake it out of where it's rattling around.

Pretty Lady said...

'Urge to smoosh'? Now who is presupposing a sort of magical narcissism, in which a person's world-view has a hand in constructing, or in this case 'smooshing', that world?

Do you then contend, DC, that a person who makes an observation such as 'the earth appears to rotate around the sun' is actually physically causing the earth to rotate round the sun? Or would you allow this person's observations to remain as observations merely, and not as an attempt to direct reality?

Are you, furthermore, unfamiliar with Ken Wilber's axiom, 'In order to integrate, it is first necessary to differentiate'? That a strong ego-identity must be formed in order to transcend it? Or else transcendence does not occur, but rather a sort of pre-egoic narcissistic miasma, a 'smooshing' if you will?

My observational world-view, DC, takes these factors into account. I observe that a mystical worldview does not contradict other views, it merely encompasses them, on a transcendent level. It is a working model, not an attempt to direct things according to my wishes.

Pretty Lady said...

(Interestingly, modern physics has uncovered some paradoxes that suggest the universe does not actually exist.


Desert Cat said...

A whole planet?? Well. That'd be quite the accomplishment.

However, if I conceive of a sattelite design, execute the design, construct it and launch it into orbit, did it exist prior to my conception?

Or when you conceive and execute a painting--something new out of nothing--your worldview surely plays a role?

And yes, science has pretty well demonstrated that observation is causation. This is true at the subatomic level for certain phenomena, and it's frankly a mind-bending concept to me. Are you sure it doesn't operate at higher levels?

Pretty Lady said...

science has pretty well demonstrated that observation is causation....Are you sure it doesn't operate at higher levels?

DC, I think that the reason for this is that All Is One. I think that the perceived, physical universe is a projection of the universal Mind, filtered by the particular blocks and prejudices of the ego-self. I think that whatever physical worlds we 'create' are shadows of the Divine trickling through this filter.

You will notice that there's no 'smooshing' going on, here. I don't think I'm creating 'out of nothing,' I think that I'm assembling patterns on the other side of the wall between myself and God. Hopefully these patterns will lead me, and others, back to Him.

Desert Cat said...

You're going to make me regret my choice of the word 'smoosh' yet. No, I've not read Ken Wilber, but perhaps I may need to, if only to learn the language you're using. (Although I should note that particular observation about the necessity of a strong ego identity made its way into Castaneda.)

whatever physical worlds we 'create' are shadows of the Divine trickling through this filter.
Interesting way of seeing it.


What I mean to say is your patterns did not exist prior to your conceiving them. Or at least that's how I see it. It's part of what "made in His image" means to me--that we have a measure of the same creative power. That is perhaps rather different than seeing the process as a filtering of all that already is, though that has an intriguing truth to it as well.

Pretty Lady said...

Actually, I think my patterns DO exist prior to my 'conceiving' them. I think I'm channelling them. I have a strong sense, when the work is going well, of being guided. At the very least, I'm certain that I'm co-creating.

Many people who have achieved intuitive leaps in creativity, such as Einstein, report this sense--as though the idea had been dropped into their consciousness when they were literally thinking of nothing.

The Course makes a strong distinction between 'making' and 'creating.' The physical world is 'made' by projections of the ego-self; things that are made this way can be destroyed, and are therefore 'not real' in the sense that God is real.

Things that are 'created' are eternal, are of God, and are created by us as we are extensions of the mind of God.

This all makes sense to me without conflict, probably because I read Wilber before I read the Course, and am familiar with the concept of levels of energy-consciousness. He enumerates at least nine of them, from the material to the causal. Something may exist on a very solid, dense material level, and still be perceived to be a projection when viewed from higher states of consciousness.

Desert Cat said...

I read a piece by Wilbur on the net (an essay introducing his four quadrants scheme) and thought he sounded fairly brilliant.

Then I read some critiques of his work, and I see he seems to suffer the same "fuzzy brain" problem of the new agers he critiques.

Some critics' problem with Wilbur (even amongst those who admire his work) is that he is frequently guilty of hyperbole, and in the process makes the same pre/trans rational error that he stridently criticizes.

(BTW, it was interesting to me to find the source in Wilbur of the concept of trans-rational cognition I had learned about decades ago.)

The bottom line though is that Wilbur appears to be a Buddhist first, and has therefore assembled his concepts of the world in accordance with Buddhist principles--not unlike Christians who assemble their concept of the world in accordance with Biblical principles.

Pretty Lady said...

Thanks for the link, DC! I hadn't read that. Clearly my pet theoretician has more than a few flaws; if Wilber suffers from hyperbole disease, however, Mr. Geoff suffers from redundancy disease. I kept thinking I was going to get some new information, and instead kept reading the same thing over and over again.

It is true that Wilber is highly biassed toward Buddhism as a world-view; additionally, I think he suffers from the tendencies I have frequently noticed in Westerners who take up Eastern philosophy and practice--they scrape the fun stuff off the top, without regard for the ethical underpinnings of the society which produced it.

This is the reason that I made an effort to reconnect with my Christian roots after dating a Buddhist monk. I believe it is important to ground oneself in plodding, everyday ethics before engaging in mystical flights, or one ends up as an embarrassing atrocity like Adi Da, or whatever he's calling himself these days.

Generally I think that the field of transpersonal psychology is a raw new way of looking at the world, and as such is going to be prey to a lot of generalities, hyperbole, misinterpretations and revised theories for a long time to come.

Desert Cat said...

I would be curious to hear your take on this critique. It is written to those who are intimately familiar with Wilbur's work, and so my appreciation of it is limited by my limited knowledge of Wilbur.

Pretty Lady said...

From my initial skimming of it, I really like it. It mirrors some of my own struggles, as a spiritual artist trying to disengage from illusion at the same time as I try to manifest the divine in my work. I'll have to give it some closer attention, after Christmas shopping. :-)