Philosophy Tuesday

When we see someone (including ourselves!) exhibiting hypocrisy, especially that of the jaw-dropping kind, it’s not uncommon to wonder, “Wow.  How can they shift and switch their values and beliefs so drastically?”

But here’s the thing:  they didn’t, and they aren’t.  The truth of it is that they never held that value or belief in the first place.

No matter how much or loudly they professed, no matter how dramatically they thumped on it, no matter how righteous they were about it, no matter how insulted and disgusted they acted, it was all just theatre.  It was all an act, using their words and indignations as weapons all uttered in bad faith as a cover up to their real intent.

There’s an ‘in order to’ happening here, something behind the supposed value or belief that is the actual driving force.  A different value or belief, one that is usually non-virtuous in nature and that does not lead towards possibilities of a just, equitable, and loving world.  Instead it is a value or belief or ‘truth’ that is mired in identity, biases, and in rigidly narrow views about the world and those within it.

And often they themselves may not even be fully aware of it.  Cognitive dissonance, the fact we are rational vs rationalizing creatures, the whole nature of hidden biases (that’s why they’re called hidden, after all), all of these can be in play to keep it obfuscated from everyone involved.*

Of course, some are fully aware of it and just don’t care.  They willingly bear false witness to further their aims, trying to hoodwink everyone into missing their actual intent and harm(s).**

Regardless of its exact flavour, rather than get bogged down in engaging with their current value/belief of convenience we can instead step back and look at what their actions are accomplishing, and through that see what’s really going on.  We can discover what is the actual guiding force.

And then we can engage directly with that.

 

* Which is why it would be so refreshing if they were at least aware and honest about it, especially when it’s trying to justify really shitty behaviour.

** And it might be a combo of being partially aware and partially not – rationalizing it so supremely well for themselves that they feel it right even if they don’t fully realize or fully own what’s actually driving it.  Especially if this clashes with one of their morals that they also wield as a cudgel elsewhere!  Again, it’d be preferable for the pretense to drop and just say what’s actually there and actually going on.

Philosophy Tuesday

We all have these its in our lives where,

Whether in the foreground

Or in the background,

We cannot escape it,

No matter what ground we go to.

 

We often say,

 “I’ve put it behind me…”

Yet when it comes up,

we react,

we resist,

we avoid,

we cry.

 

If we haven’t done the work

to complete it,

It is still there,

Like a monkey on our back,

Guiding us,

Hemming us in,

A barrier we constantly run into.

 

Even though we don’t think it is.

Philosophy Tuesday

On What’s So

What’s so is always just what’s so. What’s so doesn’t care what you think, feel, intend or wish; it will not bend. You can be freaked out or driven over what’s so, and it won’t change what’s so. If you’re late for an appointment, getting freaked out about it won’t have you arrive any earlier. If you’re having a bad day, being freaked out won’t change what’s so. That which you seek will not bring you satisfaction – aligning with what’s so will. When you’re upset, you’re never upset over what’s so. What’s so is just what’s so, and you’re upset.

If your house burns down and you get upset, does it bring your house back? What’s so doesn’t care if you’re upset; it’s up to you how you handle what’s so. There is no confusion in what’s so. When you don’t know you just don’t know – there is no confusion there. There’s nothing right or wrong about what’s so. What’s so is always open to different interpretations. There’s always just what’s so, and then you have an interpretation. What scares you isn’t what’s so, it’s your interpretation. The interpretation is never true; what’s so is real, the interpretation is not.

Who you’re being is just who you’re being, and what’s so doesn’t care if you’re happy with it or not, so why should you? When you’re not being with what’s so, that’s also just what’s so. Why should you concern yourself? Other people should always be the way they’re being; if you think they shouldn’t, that’s your interpretation. Bring yourself back to what’s so about them. Until you can be with what’s so, you can’t be with anything or anyone. You may have control over other people’s what’s so, but none over their interpretation – give it up.

If you take action or not, it’s still just what’s so. If it works out well or not, it’s still just what’s so. You can never make a right or wrong decision, or take a right or wrong action. Whatever you do will always bring you more of what’s so, and then you have an interpretation about it. Whatever you don’t have, so what? Whatever you’ve done or thought in the past, again so what? Whatever happens in the future is not to be feared. It’s just going to be more of what’s so. The challenge is to spend as much time in what’s so as you can. The chatter in your head is more interpretation, and it has nothing to do with what’s so. There’s nothing wrong with the chatter, it’s just you listening to a fantasy.

The thought that there is something wrong is an illusion; there is nothing wrong, there is only what’s so. Notice when you’re comparing what’s so to some fantasy of how it should be. Bring yourself back to what’s so and it will be OK. Ask yourself what’s so, and align with that. Align with what’s so and it will not matter. That is the foundation of transformation and satisfaction. Not aligning with what’s so is the only thing that will ever bring you hardship or suffering. Life in what’s so will bring you harmony, grace, and balance.

Ask yourself – what’s so about your situation?

— Werner Erhard

(This is great stuff.  And a great reminder that we can never deal with anything powerfully or fully until we are straight with ourselves about what’s so, free from the bits of our interpretation, wants, judgements, stories, narratives, and etc.  We need to bone up, mindful, get present, and be straight with what’s so, right now, in a “just the fact’s, ma’am” kind of way.  Then we can breathe, centre ourselves, engage our central selves, grab the reins of responsibility, and make our choices on who we are going to be, out of which will spring our actions and steps to take all in line with and dealing powerfully with what’s actually so.)

Philosophy Tuesday

As it is, we are not ever, really, but a singular identity.  We are an identity of identities.  And, by default, we are attached to each one of them.

That doesn’t mean however that there is a minimum number of identities that make up our “complete” identity.  Nor is it impossible that we get particularly attached to a particular one or a subset of ones that the rest are rendered nearly superfluous.

All attachments are pathways towards misery and all manner of deleterious ways of being and acting.  But the intensity of our attachments can vary, and the stronger the attachment, the more greased the pathway becomes.

So it is that if we only adopt a few identities to form our full identity-self, or if we become so overwhelmingly attached to only a few, then those identities, and those attachments, become incredibly strong indeed.  And that is where our pitfalls open up mightily.

The reminder here, then, is this:

Diversify Your Identity/Identities

It is a prod to avoid wrapping ourselves up in a single flag and instead spread ourselves broadly, creating a rich and networked set of identities that supports and empowers us and those around us.  If one is challenged, then our auto-defense-weaponry isn’t as likely to explode with full force, for it isn’t the end of us – we’ve got other identities that will live on.  The attachment is less and our freedom is greater.

And if that identity gets challenged, and we see that it isn’t, in actuality, working for us and those around us?  How fascinating!  We can complete it, set it aside, and create anew.

 

(Also, it pays to remember this earlier reminder as well:  Avoid basing your identity on beliefs or things and instead base it on values or intentions.)

Philosophy Tuesday

Two stonemasons are hard at work.

The first, when asked what they are doing, says, “I am chipping away at this stone.”

The second, when asked, excitedly says, “I am building a cathedral!”

Both are engaged in the same task.  They’re literally doing the same thing.  Yet they are having a vastly different experience of life.  While the first works in the context of a job, a task, a simple means to an end*, the second is works within a context that brings grandeur and fulfillment and creativity and pulls for their pride and self-expression.

Same circumstances, yet to each the stone looks different, the chisel looks different, the process feels different, and through all those they each, very likely, produce vastly different results in terms of speed, quality, and overall excellence in their work.  Not to mention which one goes home ready to zone out and which one is still energized at the end of the day…

Same task, but different worlds.  Not by luck or anything inherent but brought into being through invention.  Their individual invention.**

Tasks are tasks.  We get to create how we relate to them, who we will be, and ultimately influence how our day will go and feel.

 

*  That’s actually hidden within a subcontext, that itself is and contains an “in order to

** And if they/we don’t do it consciously, then they’ll simply invent what they already know, what’s already around them and copy their inherited contexts, whether they are empowering or not.

Philosophy Tuesday

So much of our lives seem to revolve around zero-sum games.  Certainly, many of the actual games we play reinforce that idea, that there is a single (even if it’s a team) winner and everyone else falls short.  Or as we get caught up in the false-gravity game of money and the economy of scarcity.  Or when we were young and told to share our toys or treats with a friend or brother or classmate – that was super clear, wasn’t it?  If I gave you half my cookie, then I had less for me (and certainly no more cookie was coming).

To be sure, there are zero-sum instances and games around, both the real and the ones we play (often inadvertently) as though they were real.  But it is well worth remembering that not everything is one, and it is even more fruitful to live as though zero-sum games are the exception.

Love, happiness, generosity, wellbeing, joy, passion, satisfaction, vitality, health, performance, productivity, laughter, kindness, fulfillment, peace… there are so many areas in life where the things are not finite, are not created and destroyed in equal measures.  They are abundant, never-ending, available to be pulled from, always gushing forth to allow us to drink from the proverbial firehose.

True, we may need to get over our own barriers to do so, and those barriers may be mighty indeed, but through this world of abundance and generosity we gain oodles of support and care, buoying us as we work our way to overcome or, even better, dismantle the barriers.

In this realm we get to play whole different kind of games, ones that have us build and grow and feel big and great and happy.  And while the Buddha never really said the following, it’s a fine place to remind us of this non-zero-sum place in which to stand and live from:

Philosophy Tuesday

To make it very, very, clear:

“Yesterday’s Transformation

Is Today’s Ego Trip

That is to say that just because you know something about how our brains operate – whether about fallacies, or cognitive dissonance, or ontology, or psychology, or sociology, or ANY of those – just because you KNOW that they exist, and that we can fall prey to them, does NOT mean that you are IMMUNE from them.

And I want to make this hyper clear, because I have seen far too many posts recently from people who I think would “know better”, who are not only falling prey to these very things but are also accusing others of it. Using their knowledge as a cudgel* while simultaneously through its use exhibiting the very blindness they claim against the other.  They are using their knowledge to ensure they don’t see their own foibles and failures of the very same thing.

The knowledge makes no difference on its own. Quite the opposite. It’s just a tool, one that can be used well and properly, or, not well and in the most destructive fashion.

Being present is the key, using the tools on our own self, our own views, and our own actions.

That’s when the truth can begin, and the delusion(s) can end.

Along with the lies, and hurt, and ruin.

 

* In a completely ignorant, stingy, vindictive, harmful, division-inducing, and worldsuck-creating kind of way.  The kind of way that doesn’t create a world that works for everyone, the kind of way that instead seeks to perpetuate harm and, moreover, inflict pain and suffering on others.

Philosophy Tuesday

Knowledge is great.*  And informational learning super useful.  It lets us do all sorts of really great things.  Without it we can’t tie our shoelaces, we can’t cook up a great meal, we can’t learn the rules of the road, we can’t invent smartphones, we can’t fly to the moon, and so on.  Great stuff, that.

But there are certain parts of our lives where knowledge makes absolutely no difference.

As in, knowing how to lose weight, and losing weight, are two totally different things.

Likewise, knowing that being nervous doesn’t help, and then not being nervous, are worlds apart.

Or knowing how to ride a bike, and being able to ride a bike, also are two completely separate.

And it doesn’t matter how much we learn about them.  All the diets and the physics and the methods and the theories and the techniques and the tricks and the nuts and bolts and yet… there is that gap.  The gap that – frustratingly – cannot be filled – though we may try and try and try – by gaining more knowledge.

And this becomes especially true in those areas of life that are the most meaningful to us and that dig into the really big questions like, “How can I open myself fully?”  “How can I feel comfortable in my own skin?”  “How can I be confident?”  “How can I love and be loved?”  “How can I be fulfilled?”  “How can I gain peace of mind?”  “Or just peace?  Detox from stress?  Freedom from worry?”  “How can I be present and happy and full of vitality?”

All of the areas of life that are truly important to us.  That really matter to us.

Here is where transformational learning comes in.  The realm of ontological philosophy that gets at the root operating system of what it means to be a human being, a deep inquiry into that “being” part of human being.  Rather than give more knowledge and ideas, this kind of learning gets out of the way what’s in the way of us being powerful with what we’ve already got, both in the realm of what we know** but, more importantly, in the realms that gain us access to answering those big and meaningful questions.

Mindfulness, philosophy, ontology, Socratic inquiry, they’re all pathways into transformational learning and all hugely important in being able to integrate every glorious thing that make up our human beingness, from our emotions to our logic to our feelings to our physicality to our creativity to our expressions to our very presence of being and the wonderful dance between all of those and all that surrounds us, day in, and day out.

It is the path of self-cultivation that can lead us to the clearest views, greatest performance, and the highest delights of living.

 

* And as a geek, knowing things forms a big part of my identity…

** Which is one of the unexpectedly exciting results about transformation, that not only is the daily experience of life so much grander but holy cow does performance shoot up immensely at the same time!  Instantly get way better in just about everything (and without having worked on it).   Crazy weird, but undeniably cool.