Making sense of the world

Friday, September 20, 2019

3:30 a.m. One more go at good and evil?

You have a continuing hunger to know things abstract that would theoretically structure meaning into your life.

Kind of awkwardly put, but yes. Anything wrong with that?

It isn’t a question of wrong, but of practicality. It is always a question of keeping such questions related to yourself, your life, your surroundings.

I realize that people tend to spin stories about the meaning of things.

Nothing wrong with that either. It is only natural to want to know. if you (that is, if anyone) were to wait until you had achieved certainty, demonstrable certainty, we mean, what could you know?

By “demonstrable” certainty I take it you mean provable.

Yes. Certainty is easy to come by, and requires only that at some point you close your mind to contrary evidence. But to prove it, or rather to be certain only of what is provable, is another matter. Your world will always be hedged round with uncertainty. Ours too.

Given that your world is part of ours, and vice versa, that isn’t astonishing.

You have come a way since the days when you thought we knew everything.

Yeah, I had you confused with teenagers.

That’s odd. We would have said the same about you.

In case the peanut gallery don’t know it, we traded these barbs with a smile. So then, how much can you tell us?

The one thing we say is not aimed at you, Frank, and for that matter is not aimed at anyone in particular. It is aimed at what we might call a tendency, call it.

I know where you’re going with this, and I agree in principle, but it isn’t all that easy to do.

Merely being aware of the temptation would be helpful, only it must be a continuing awareness, as it will be a continuing temptation.

Go ahead.

In trying to make sense of the world, each of you will inevitably make your own road map, and a map is always an abstraction, a simplification, in order to orient. In making your maps, don’t ignore all the map-making that has gone before, just because those maps were incomplete and were partially erroneous. So will yours be, but would you expect to better profit from no map, or an imperfect map?

Specifically, we refer to religious, philosophical, metaphysical maps. Discard them, or even remain in ignorance of them, at your peril. You aren’t the first people to concern yourselves with these things, and if you know things others did not know, so they also knew things you do not know.

But in practice, it’s hard enough to do.

We didn’t say it is easy. We are addressing more a desirable state of mind than a necessary accumulation of knowledge.

I’d boil that down to, “Don’t indulge in contempt.”

Not a bad maxim. You are always going to choose, which implies rejection as well as acceptance, but what is rejected may be rejected well or badly. Try to do it well.

What is transparently obvious to me in this linked communication may be less so to others, or to myself later [as indeed proved to be the case, transcribing this], I remind myself – so, what you just said may be summarized as, the process of choice always means that we reject the opposites of what we choose, and that rejection may come in the form of an attitude saying, “That’s ridiculous,” or “That’s evil,” neither of which is helpful, or it can come in the form of, “That’s not for me,” or even “That’s what would follow from these premises, but I don’t accept the premises.”

That’s right. In this case, attitude is all, because, remember, “exterior” does not exist in the absolute sense you think. What does exist, for each of you, is your own mental world, your own world of choice shaping your continued being.

We waste a tremendous amount of time and energy, don’t we?

Well, you expend a tremendous amount of time and energy; we aren’t sure you should think of it as wasted. But let’s spell out, a little, what you spend on.

Well, we’re always concentrating on things that have only ephemeral existence.

As opposed to?

Huh. Well, that’s a thought.

Sure. The temptation is to say, life (reality) consists of essential and inessential, significant and meaningless, permanent and ephemeral. But, does it, really? And if it did, could you surely distinguish one from the other?

Provisionally, we do just that, every day. I don’t see that we have any choice in the matter.

We’d say it differently. We’d say, day by day, you choose among limited options. What those options are, what those limits are, varies according to your past and present and future choices, including interactions physical and non-physical. But you do not have the luxury of deferring choice until you know. You are always choosing according to instinct, you might say, because you never have the knowledge that would be necessary to informed choice. And this is not only by design, but by benevolent design, for the “luxury” of deferred choice until you know would actually be paralysis.

Thus everything you do stems from your values, which stem from what you are. Those values tend to constrict your effective choices among experience.

We only admit into consideration data that matches what we already think.

Yes but no.

Haven’t heard that in a while.

It’s just that you need to express it more carefully. What you mean isn’t quite what you said.

Okay. I mean, we don’t easily believe things that contradict what we already believe, because if we did, we’d be starting over every day. But we don’t get to live our lives believing only what we already believe, because the world – the “external” world – keeps presenting us with contrary or overlapping and partly contrary data.

And, if you remember what “external” actually is –

You might spell it out for us a little.

Reality is all one thing. You are part of the world, which means, the world is part of you. Nobody lives alone, nobody crosses alone. You can absorb only that for which you have receptors – or else, why aren’t you listening to the news of the day on the planets around Alpha Centauri? But that means, nothing external can come to you “out of left field” as you always say except in the sense of being unexpected to your 3D awareness. World War II entirely transformed the lives of hundreds of millions who never had any direct part in it; it transformed nobody “by chance” or “accidentally” except in appearance. In fact, everybody in the world at that time had in common – that they were in the world at that time!

The concept stretches us a little farther than is quite comfortable, quite believable. It means that we are all one thing in a way that is less woo-woo than it usually appears, yet more woo-woo than it usually appears in other contexts.

You might try that again.

Well, just that when people usually say, “We’re all one thing,” they aren’t including their political foes, and politics in the Philippine Islands, and conditions in Chinese factories, and – oh, any of the millions of things that go on in the practical physical world. Usually it is said in a much more misty, starry-eyed way.

And you know this out of what research?

Okay, touché. These are my impressions.

Your limited sample though may not be taking account of millions of Christian and Muslim and Hindu and Buddhist and Jewish mystics and monks. Their view of the world may be quite unillusioned next to those few people you have met.

Okay.

It’s an important point, the same point we began with. You all create the world you live in, by what you select to become aware of. What you select is enabled both by what you consciously choose and by what you unconsciously are, which is the result of past choices. Therefore the world to you looks like internal and external, choice and constraint.

I feel like we never quite say it, never quite nail it down.

We can only point to the moon.

Yeah, and hope nobody bites our finger.

But you like to quote Kerouac, “What can’t be said, can’t be said, and it can’t be whistled, either.” But it can be hinted at, can be seen behind the screens, can be brought to mind by comparisons and allusions.

“And there’s our hour.”

Righteous persistence brings reward.

It is itself the reward, I think. Okay, thanks for all this, and see you next time.

 

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