Musings

I often hear people tout “satori” or “flow state” as the foundation from which correct action will inevitably spring.  I’ve observed many who chase this state, believing that it will herald them to effortless glory and easy results, but they often seem to fall short of attaining their goals.  I have found it is much more effective to work in reverse:  when I buttress my actions with sound reasoning, evidence-based assessment, and strategy-oriented aggression, the focus on my self disappears, and I’m overtaken by a transcendent state of mind.    

I believe discipline and strategy form the bridge to a greater truth.  The feeling of effortless pleasure is simply the icing on the cake.

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34 thoughts on “Musings

  1. Satori isn’t so much a state as it is a transition into an awakened state. Enlightenment isn’t about chasing goals, its about realizing that everything is OK. Flow, on the other hand, is something that comes (to me) from intense concentration on a goal (usually while coding, in my case). Chasing either one is a fools errand.

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    • Thanks for the clarification. I guess my main point is that I’ve met people who make it a quest to chase all three, instead of tending to readily apparent needs and problems. They always seem to end up sabotaging themselves. And if their goal is to attain a nondualistic state of mind, then the chase is an automatic trap, for the chase requires dualism: the chaser, and the thing to be chased. 🙂

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      • You are right on the money. The more you chase enlightenment, the more it will slip through your fingers. Even a saint must eat. Enlightenment isn’t a thing to be had, it is a way of being.

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      • And the very idea of Enlightenment disappears with further investigation, or so I believe. I think “living in the present moment,” simplifies the concept, although there are layers and potential for misinterpretation nested within that phrase as well.

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  2. after a major in philosophy, Kent, and years of “sound reasoning, evidence-based assessment”, though I fell short on the “strategy-oriented aggression”, being too timid for so pugnacious a stance, I was beset by a profoundly tragic event that had me looking for the “more things in heaven and earth … Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”, found them, they cannot be dismissed, Kent – cheers, R ! chard

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  3. not for a moment did I think you were trying to dismiss me, Kent, but rather the “more things in heaven and earth … Than are dreamt of in [one’s] philosophy.”, which is to say that which is not strictly “sound reasoning, evidence-based assessment, and strategy-oriented aggression” – be it declared that I am thoroughly enjoying our rigorous and ongoing philosophical discussion – cheers, R ! chard

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    • Cool! Me too! Nested in my statements are the belief that through the exploration and deepening understanding of what is “mundane,” “basic,” or “functional,” one can glimpse and embody greater truths from a foundation of functionality. However, the opposite—the assumption that one knows a greater truth (The Secret” style magical paradigm)—seems to create cognitive dissonance by substituting immediate evidence and functional behavior with feel-good platitudes. Not to say that I don’t believe in magic, but I believe in Musashi’s way of practicality and practice first, which would lead to a deepened understanding of what transcends labels and names. I think the capitalization of Mystery in certain belief systems is entirely appropriate, for I believe it is through embodying/exploring principles through action that one can touch upon any possible nameless force that gave rise to those principles in the first place.

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      • you need to cool your jets, Kent, that’s a long, abstruse harangue for essentially trying to explain the difference between Socrates, who encouraged discussion, constant questioning, and the rigour of Plato, his maleficent, I think, Absolute, which, eventually, through imposition, via Christianity, and its consequent incontrovertible Dogma, that which you, and I, utterly, and vociferously, deplore – all you need is love, I think, but history has manifested that most require a saviour, indeed an, however irrational, Platonic Ideal, which often is, admittedly, politically dictated, tactically manufactured – those who don’t submit, however, are, note, Kent, the prophets, for better or for worse – thus, friend, beware – cheers ever, R ! chard

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      • Hmm…perhaps I’m mistaking the tone of your first two statements (this is an information-poor medium, so I could very well be) but they seem to be somewhat combative and authoritarian. I don’t feel I need to do anything necessarily, especially in the context of expression and discussion. I might be miscommunicating, so I’ll attempt to rephrase: I feel that if I turn away from discipline and evidence-based assessment, then it invites unpleasant consequences. From these two qualities/approaches, I see hints of deeper principles emerging, from which one can embody and come to understand more complex and abstract deductions about the nature of reality. The opposite, where one ignores (what seem to me) to be the consistent requirements of some sort of discipline and evidence-based assessment in favor of the idea that one can tap into a force that allows them to ignore said qualities seems to be untrue, from the vantage of my personal observations. Now, I’ll readily admit that certain traditions will reinforce those basic qualities (not all religion is bad, and neither is military, etc. etc.). But I’m of the opinion that in order to embrace higher levels of complexity and garner deeper levels of fulfillment, one must become more and more aware of where the principle must be kept alive by modifying the outward structures of tradition. When one fails to understand the principles and modify the outward structures of tradition, I would call that dogma, and I would call that of limited usefulness (we can open history books and see where religion fails, where military fails, etc. etc.). I’m not sure what your objection is to that.

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  4. first of all, Kent, let me apologize for sounding “somewhat combative and authoritarian”, a consequence of being opinionated, I guess, which II’ll agree I am, but not to the degree of not considering other thoughtful perspectives, thus our communication – my caution to you had to do with what I felt to be your, as you suggest,”miscommunicating”, too many abstractions were making a muddle of what I thought you might be saying, which nevertheless seems to be completely in accord with what I believe – my mentor has always been more than anyone else Socrates, who never stopped asking questions, I’ve been using his Socratic Method since way back when, it’s become part of my very personality, and I believe that’s what you’re recommending – I’m all for it, and for what, dear friend, you’re trying to do – cheers, R ! chard

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    • No apologies necessary! As I said, this is an information-poor medium, and when it comes to discourse, I try to proactively ensure that dominance doesn’t become an end-goal and keep things clinical and civil. I’m not interested in whether you actually WERE being combative and authoritative, I just try to clarify tone when I myself am confused about it, so that I can respond in an appropriate manner. Yes, I think we are both saying the same thing, and I think the heart of our exchange is actually a fruitful and productive one—through our different lenses, we clarify each others’ positions to ourselves, and are as a result able to refine our understandings of our own positions. Now I actually think abstractions are necessary over the course of time. I think ancient fables and spiritual texts are still practical when one frames them through abstractions. Now that’s not to say that the opposite isn’t true as well; without a honed perception that is capable of converting these abstract principles into effective action, they remain dead and useless. I believe this is the meaning behind Osiris giving Horus back his eye and propagating harmony—just as the son infused new life and an accurate vision of world into his father through his efforts, new generations can make old truths practical, when they successfully apply fundamental principles to modern-day contexts. Discipline, or the willingness to sacrifice short-term comfort for long-term harmony, seems to be one of these fundamental principles that works across time and cultures.
      (I’m out of my depth here with details on Horus/Osiris, but I think that’s the underlying functional meaning behind that).

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  5. about “clarify[ing] each others’ positions to ourselves, and [being] as a result able to refine our understandings of our own positions”, I’ll shake your hand on that with the utmost pleasure, Kent – about abstractions, however, I have my reservations, they are so easily misinterpreted, for instance, “through” which “abstractions” are you “framing” “ancient fables and spiritual texts”, and why, unless you believe parables to be abstractions, if so, I believe the reverse, that ‘”ancient fables and spiritual texts” illuminate, concretely, the abstraction – abstractions, truth, beauty, love, discipline even, are all in the eye of the beholder, but it’s hard to declare a table not a table when you behold it, though that not, I’ll admit, categorically – in other words abstractions need to be diligently dissected, preferably with tangible artefacts, to be effectively considered, Platonic Absolutes, I insist, are absolutely, and incontrovertibly, out, for being utterly illogical – cheers, R ! chard – psst: love your “Horus/Osiris” myth, had never heard of it, it will rule my consciousness for the next several days

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    • I get what you’re saying, I think. Religion has proven time and again to be full of perils and potential to propagate discord. Joseph Campbell addresses this by stating the proper way to view myths and fables is to focus on the connotation, rather than the denotation. Archetypes, after all, are foundational in writing, which is why the same stories are basically told over and over again, and why they resonate over and over again: because all those staid religious and mythical tales, have, at their core, a relevant abstraction which is still instantiated in stories today.

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      • you’re holding onto your word “abstraction”, even qualifying it with “relevant”, Kent, but though I’ll admit a moral charge is an abstract concept, it is also felt, where abstractions, truth, beauty, discipline, mathematics, Time, God/dess, to my mind, are essentially not – let’s find our “tool” moment on this word too, if you remember – cheers, R ! chard

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      • I would argue that the assertions that I’m “holding on,” and “qualifying” are subjective, and not valid objections. Regardless, it is clear that my argument hasn’t been convincing. Let’s see if I can approach this from another angle: I believe I can translate the abstraction of a divine entity who demands sacrifice into a functional paradigm. Here’s my attempt: you can translate this concept into the idea of a human bargaining with the future through discipline. He (or she) sacrifices short-term gratification for long-term fulfillment (discipline) in order to appease the deity (the future, or future iterations of past causations). I believe the Christ myth goes even further: it implies that if the individual is willing to commit the proper level of sacrifice, he/she could potentially redeem humanity and reach a transcendent state in the process.

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      • that’s the Protestant Ethic, full throttle, Kent, to which I don’t adhere, first of all, “a divine entity who demands sacrifice” is a presumption, I believe that should there be “a divine entity”, It must be benevolent, at worst indifferent, but to demand “sacrifice” is nearly tribal in its anthropological implications, that goes back to even before Homer – cheers, R ! chard – psst: but I’m all for “redeem[ing] humanity and reach[ing] a transcendent state “

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      • Whether it’s protestant or tribal is not my concern; simply because whether I find a way of thinking or group of people to be tasteful or distasteful is not an issue to me. I am seeking what is functional within ethical bounds, which I believe allows me to navigate between all sources of knowledge without being hindered by a value judgment of that source. I still stand by my point: I believe the abstraction underlying the idea of a divine entity who demands sacrifice can be extrapolated into a functional paradigm, that of sacrifice (the discipline to sacrifice short-term gratification for long-term fulfillment) and a divine entity (the future). I believe this abstraction can be instantiated into specific contexts and improve quality of life. In the past it might have instantiated in ways we now find unacceptable by certain tribes or certain religions, but in the present I actually think the abstraction as I have phrased it is fairly useful.

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      • what you’re saying is that you are following your tribe, Kent, which is not not admirable, but it is nevertheless conditioned by your context, which is to say, you are conditioned by your context – but I am reminded of the other paths towards self-realization, the paths of not only action, which you seem to propound, however merely, presently, theoretically, but of devotion, and wisdom, which offer viable alternate routes to fulfilment – cheers, R ! chard

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      • I believe you have misconstrued my statement into one that is “not admirable” according to your subjective judgment. I do not purport to follow or identify with Protestants (I’ve never read the Bible or participated in Christian ceremony), nor do I follow or identify with certain practices that seem to correlate with older and more subsistence-minded communities. I simply seek ethics-bounded functionality for the endeavors I’m engaged in right now. Whether that is Republican or Democrat, whether that is Christian or not, whether that is following my tribe or indicative of individualist thought…none of that matters to me. A specific example of this is my view of Jordan Peterson. I believe his view on truth is dogmatic, unproductive, and unduly influenced by his research into atrocities. I believe his point on political correctness is valid, but not strategic, as the link between political correctness and Stalinist death camps is possible in theory, but not relatable to me. (I would rather see him link it to unethical government fines and enforcement—that seems to me to be a more plausible negative outcome of unchecked political correctness). I believe his view on personal development—the way he links it to myth and his clinical practice, and academic understanding of psychology—is spot on. So I do not follow the “tribe of Jordan Peterson,” I listen to what he has to say, and then filter it through my own assessment. It is the same with Protestants and older subsistence tribes. I do not sacrifice small animals, nor do I go to church. If what I deem to be valid happens to coincide with a belief of theirs, then so be it. But I don’t believe that mode of behavior makes me a follower that is to be judged as “not admirable.”

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      • a few things, Kent, my “judgment[s]” must be “subjective”, I couldn’t be objective if I tried, nor could you, everything is in the eye of the beholder, for better or for worse, we will never reach full accord no matter how hard we try, only ever accommodation, even in love – secondly, I not for a moment “misconstrued [your] statement into one that is “not admirable””, I wrote “not not admirable”, a double, admittedly, negative, but to convey the exact opposite of what you “misconstrued”, ergo, I was absolving you, categorically, of any ulterior responsibility for your existential position, but it is a position, nevertheless, with moral consequences which must be considered – let me point out, Kent, that, were I finding offence in any of our sometimes apparently contentious interchanges, I wouldn’t be here, I am thoroughly enjoying, at present, this stimulating philosophical exploration, and hope you are too – cheers, R ! chard

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      • Ah, okay. Then the fault is entirely mine—I wasn’t rigorous enough in reading your statement. Ironically, I was misconstruer; I misconstrued “not not admirable” into “not admirable.” So that not only negates my prior response, but also confuses me; I don’t know whether you are asserting that I am engaging in an unproductive relationship with principles that parallel outdated/dogmatic/nonfunctional ways of thinking, or whether, if you take my sentiment at face value, you’re saying that I have productively utilized some isolated aspects of outdated/dogmatic/nonfunctional traditions. I also nested the implication that you found offense in my statement, which, upon further examination, is revealed to be erroneous; I was the one who misread YOUR statement and applied the implication of offense due to my misinterpretation of said statement. Sincere apologies for my lack of astuteness. Indeed, these exchanges help clarify my own understanding of my own beliefs, so I find them to be stimulating and enjoyable!

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      • Socrates would be proud of us, Kent, we should organise a symposium, it is only by confronting thorny issues, tests of our perspectives, that we can reach any kind of wisdom – dispatching an opponent
        merely delays the underlying fraught knot one’s worldview is caught up in – in a word, what I’m saying, otherwise, is that you seem to be operating from Original Sin, unconsciously or not, the pervasive North American ethic, your roots seem to be profoundly Puritanical, for better or for worse – I have a more Mediterranean outlook, owing to my Latin roots, I suspect, and reach for my bacchanalian pleasures, ecstasy and excess, for better, as well, or for worse, for I’m not coming round again, and I think I should be enjoying, despite trying indeed tribulations, prancing in the fields of the, however uncorroborated, Lord – cheers ever, R ! chard

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      • I wouldn’t identify myself with a Puritanical ethic, as I actually make sure I indulge on a regular basis, and then if the situation calls for it, on an irregular basis according to the circumstance (just because I tend to eat healthy and not drink doesn’t mean that I won’t eat whatever I want on the weekends, or have a drink if my friends stop by on the weekdays). I derive a great deal of satisfaction from achieving objectives and making sure I have the continued ability to help those around me physically, financially, or in a mental capacity. To that end, I employ the concept of discipline and sacrifice to ensure that I am not spending inordinate amounts of time tending to problems that have grown beyond my control. I wouldn’t say I’m driven by a Puritan ethic—as I’m not motivated by shame or guilt—as a military ethic, where I enjoy being able to step forth and help the community (team) at a moment’s notice. I’d say most of us, however, are unconsciously following some sort of religious ethic, where we presume there is some sort of benevolence underlying the universe, and try to mirror that benevolence through our day-to-day actions. Even though I’m agnostic, I still play out this ethic in my day-to-day actions. I have done drugs, I have gone drinking, had threesomes, etc. etc. The idea of living in some moral straitjacket is actually abhorrent to me, as it propagates unyielding dogma and reduces clarity and functionality.

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  6. if it’s there to experience, without evidently deleterious consequences for others, do it, Carlos Castaneda did peyote, for instance, and who’s blaming him, as did Timothy Leary his own psychedelic concoctions, as far as sex is concerned, there are always consequences, but at its most successful, it is a sacrament, whether with one, two, three, or even more, partners, go for the sacrament, which involves fully respecting the humanity of every single one of your partners, and enjoy, that’s, I think, in fact and indeed, Eden – cheers, R ! chard

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    • Indeed, I agree with you on those counts. Sex became a lot more enjoyable when I viewed it as something recreational, as well as a chance to propagate respect and harmony rather than dominance and validation. Have you done psychedelics? Those two got great things out of them and brought back valuable insights, but they pushed it a little too far, in my opinion, especially Timothy Leary. I think for all his insights, he didn’t express them as strategically as he could have, and as a result he became unhappier and more bitter, at least from what I’ve heard from his son.

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      • whenever I did acid, Kent, I saw God, for a while I did it every weekend, you can tell me if it’s muddied my brain – cheers, R ! chard

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      • Never did acid, but I’m a bit leery of it, and also with stuff that has to be mixed or refined. Not that I have anything against the substance, it’s just that I’m not sure if the person who’s in charge of the process is being as diligent as I like them to be. I’ve heard from people who’ve done acid and DMT that there is a range of quality, and the guy who guided me through my DMT supposedly produces “world-class” DMT. I’d be interested in doing LSD one day though.

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  7. it appears that they’re doing a study up here, microdosing hallucinogens, “said to be brimming with health benefits” according to the researchers, see http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/microdosing-pschedelics-study-1.4771647, so we might see the same thing happen to these that ‘s just happened with marijuana, suddenly it’s become medicinally productive, I get mine at the corner store, I’ve even got an account there, where they keep a tab for me should I be out the exact cash amount, they don’t take credit cards – we’ve come a long way from the 1970s, when all drugs were new and clean, but you could only get them from personal dealers, however illegally – cheers, R ! chard

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