Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 17, 2017

So there’s this funny* tendency we have, as humans and that is the tendency for one disparaged group to disparage another.  For a group, or individual, under duress to all to readily and quickly turn around and perpetrate the same onto another group.

On the one hand, this doesn’t seem to make any sense… surely this group, or individual, knows what it feels like to be disparaged, denigrated, diminished, disowned, and discriminated against, right?  The hurt that accompanies it, the feelings of frustration, the harshness it is to exist under… why would they then do likewise to another?

But, on the other hand, it also makes perfect sense – in the same context.  This is the world they (we) live in, this is the world that has been modeled, this is the world that has been taught, a world where if you are to have power and agency, you gain it, at least in part, via the act of disparagement.  It is what the “powerful” and “well to do” and “respected” and “right” and “normal” people and groups do.  They disparage.   It is a hierarchical system, a caste.  And so, to be, and to demonstrate you are, in “power”, you disparage.  It is the path forward, the path to confidence, security, and self-determination.

Except, of course, that it doesn’t really work.  Nor is it authentic.  And in the end, if we’re honest, doesn’t leave anyone on any side feeling great.  It only perpetrates the precarious anxious knife-edge feeling of precariousness, balancing on that “knowledge” that, at any moment, something may happen that will drive us out of favour and perpetrate our rush to the bottom of that ladder.

No matter where on the chain we (currently) sit, there’s no authentic self-confidence there, no peace of mind, and no self-actualization.   And , above all, no freedom or self-expression.

There isn’t much more to say other than the invitation play the game of being mindful and present, and be aware of what the actual impetus is when jumping on the disparagement train.

There are plenty of other trains that lead to far more exciting and heartening places.  Let’s travel on those.

 

* Funny in the cosmic sense, though it is also, at the same time, not so funny at all and cosmically unfortunate.

** Years ago I played in my first LARP (Live Action Role-Playing Game).  When I got there, a bunch of the regulars were talking, and were fully embroiled in disparaging this other, particular, fandom.  “Yeah, those losers are almost at the bottom of the geek hierarchy chart…” one person proudly said.  Putting aside the vapidity of such a chart, the illuminating thing was that LARP players are also right near the bottom of that same chart.  This person was using a chart that disparages them to disparage someone else… trapped in the downward spiral in hopes of somehow regaining pride and agency.   (It didn’t/doesn’t work)

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 10, 2017

The greatest crime is
The overlooking of
Who you really are
In favor of
The story of
Who you think you are.
This preoccupation with
Your personal drama is
The cloud that masks
The sun.
*****
What one really is
Is what one is
In the absence of
The who that
One thinks one is.
*****
There is no requirement to
Transcend the past.
All that must be done is to
Stop carrying it,
Like a block of stone,
On one’s back.

-Wu Hsin

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 3, 2017

the definition of being empowered

and in action

is not that we have THE say in how something goes

but rather

that we have A say in how it goes

for there are no guarantees

as much as we’d like there to be

that what we do 1:1 will always produce our desired outcome

instantly

flawlessly

with glorious music

and recognition of what a great person we are

no

that is more likely in fantasy land

and yet

there remains quite the difference

between being attached to being THE ONE

or instead embodying THE ZERO

the game to play is not to be the golden saviour

the game to play is in the world of contribution

working like a bricklayer

adding to the body of work

sometimes we may make the foundation upon which something will spring forth

though we will never see it

sometimes we will work on the blank facade at the back of the building

that is still, nonetheless, vital to its completion

and sometimes we may be lucky enough to put the final, crowning brick

that shifts things immensely

we can never know if our actions will be the tipping point

or if it will be a step towards such

in the end, it doesn’t matter

because in the world of contribution, there is no bigger, or smaller

it’s all contribution

when we let go of our ego of absolute control

and true our actions to our authentic selves

and seek out opportunities to make a difference

we (re)gain our voice

we have our say in how things will go

things shift

worlds are created

and we go to bed fulfilled

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 26, 2017

Argue for your limitations,

and sure enough,

they’re yours.

– Richard Bach

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 19, 2017

There are two types of “learning” in the world.*

The first is the kind that things like mathematics fall into.  There is a definite set of processes, rules, procedures, and methods that produce a solid and individual answer.  2 + 2 = 4.  Physics is like this.  Chemistry is like this.  And, in many ways, most of our schooling is like this.  Even the bits that aren’t, the bits that would fall into the second type, are generally taught in the same manner.  Spelling, history/dates, geography/lines on a map, algebra:  all quantifiable and capable of a right/wrong ranking.  You either know it, or you don’t.  You either have it, or you don’t.  And to learn it means memorizing, logicizing, and proper reproducing.**

Which is all fine and good.  Informational learning is important, vital, and can help us do a lot of things.  We want the engineer designing and airplane to know their equations and figure things through.  The brain surgeon should know the structures of the brain and how to diagnose problems, and what remedies to apply.  Statisticians can help us make sense of large sets of data through rigorous procedures.  It’s all great.

At the same time, this early instruction can create a strong context, feeling, and view (read: reality) that this is how learning happens, and that everything in the world can, and/or should, be known in this way.  Outside->In, knowledge based, right/wrong result type learning.  A context which then limits our access to, and comfort with, the second type of learning.

This second type is the kind of learning that is intuitive, fluid, and arises mostly from immediate, visceral, self-discovery.  It is gotten, but it is not fixed; it lives in the present.  It often bypasses the traditional take on what “knowledge” is.  This is the domain of the arts, of all kinds, the broadest casting of arts, the arts beyond that of just aesthetic pursuits.  It is the art of relating to others, the art of living, the art of movement, the art of the cosmos, the art of “emotional intelligence”, the art of mindfulness, the art of expression.   They are the arts that form our experience of life.

These are very important arts.

They also cannot be “learned” like math;  knowledge and examples and techniques can only be lighthouses to guide us towards the moment of personal discovery that makes it ours.  Trying to stick to the rote routines gained by knowledge only leads to stilted outcomes. ***

It can be hard to do the second learning when you’ve walled it off, forgotten and unknown, and haven’t used it for a long time.  Or maybe not.  Maybe all it takes getting and transforming the contextual trap we’ve been in, opening up to the ability we’ve had all along.*****   Let it out, let it exercise, play, explore, and get stronger.

Opening us up to new abilities, greater wisdom, and a plethora of new possibilities for our lives.

 

* Of course, we could probably create many more than two categories, or possibly there’s even a third or fourth category equally large to these two , but for the moment and for this exploration, let’s keep it at two…

** In later schooling, this tends to break open a bit more, such as with essay questions in English class, where a good teacher will allow for many modes of answers to be graded well.  In the flipside, though, even the most open, such as art, drama, music, etc, can get bogged down under the need to rank things.  The technique gets graded – something that feels as though it can be “learned” and demonstrated in a very right/wrong, have it/don’t have it kind of way (and which has much less to do with actual artistic expression).  This further creates the context that can limit being able to be in and play around in the second kind of learning.

*** This post arose from something I’ve been noticing in my kung fu practice recently, which has blossomed into a meditation on the nature of the art part of the phrase “Martial Arts”.  Especially as you delve deeper and deeper into the art(s), and, for me, as I teach others.  Some of my students are caught in an, for lack of a better term, “engineer’s mindset”, a very strong adherence to the first type of learning.  They learn the outlines of the forms quickly, but their progress hits a wall as the detail work comes along.  Trying to do kung fu from the outside->in, coming from memory and reproducing all the correct angles and tensions and body linkages and movements and etc doesn’t work.  The brain isn’t wired to do so, there’s too much there to keep track of and try to figure out or reproduce in the moment.  That first way of learning doesn’t work here. ****

**** This is also starting to intrigue me and make me wonder about those who are “not good at sports” – could this “not good” be caused by the context of what learning is (ie, caught in the context of the first kind of learning)?  It would be a barrier to  being in their body and learning intrinsically… *****

***** Interestingly, it’s the way we all did when we learned to walk.  We didn’t have language then, and thus no contexts and thus no idea of what “learning” is supposed to be… so we had to learn intrinsically.

****** For all of this, BTW, I had to break out of my own type-1 learning context (that, of course, I didn’t even realize I had) (And I still need to practice my type-2 more and more).  My kung fu training accelerated by leaps and bounds once I started my journey into transformation, as that type-2 learning suddenly became available to me.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 12, 2017

A while back, I was reading a review of an RPG game based on/created for a very popular and long-running set of sci-fi movies.  The review was doing quite the thorough job and examining and discussing the numerous flaws and oddities (as it saw them) in the rules.  The responses, in comments, were quite numerous, with more than a few written in very strong and strident language.

As I read those replies, I noticed two things, the second* of which being that many of the very “animated and assertive dissenters” (for lack of a better word) diverged quickly from discussing rules and instead began “defending” the idea of an RPG in that universe/story.  Their comments became about whether the story was a good one, whether you liked that story or not, and whether it was a good idea to play a game inside it.

Questions which the review never broached once, even as teasers.

My take on it all?  A nice example (and reminder) of identity survival hijack:  “I like this thing so much, I have made it part of my identity, and here’s this person saying something critical**about that thing, therefore who I am is at stake, and I must rise to protect and secure.”  The distinctions of the text are lost, as are both the specificities of the text and any nuance contained therein.  That the article was, in many ways, expressing the writer’s like of the sci-fi property (through them buying the game, running many games with it, and writing the article because they wanted to continue) was instead lost, all washed away under the spark of identity flailing.

We humans sure are funny sometimes, aren’t we?***

Besides what I got about the game itself, this little dive into the comments also gave me a nice window into seeing another way an identity hijack can play itself out.  And through that, a little more was added into my mindfulness cup.

 

*  The first was that many of the defenders of the game included phrases such as “if you ignore this…” or “if you just do this…” or “this is how we play…” (or included examples of rules interactions that were incorrect).  Effectively, despite their forcefulness and opening statements otherwise, they were agreeing with the thrust of the review:  that the rules, as written (which is the purpose of a review, to look at things as they are put out into the world and/or sold), were poor.  That to play the game well required rather major changes.  I think there’s a whole world worth exploring inside this disconnect as well…

** Which doesn’t mean “bad”…

*** No word if the many species in said sci-fi universe also suffer from the same funnyness – though I’m very much sure many do in their own way.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 5, 2017

Delving further into the realm of last week’s post and flipping the focus a bit, there is this great quote that is rife for exploration:

“To have great pain is to have certainty.

To hear that another person has pain is to have doubt.”

–Elaine Scarry

Perhaps we can never, ever, fully, know the experience of others, nor can we ever, fully, express our own.  Thousands upon thousands of poems and songs have been written about love or misery, each trying mightily to capture the entirety of even what may seem like the most uncomplicated of emotion.  Yet thousands more will still be written, ever trying more mightily.

And despite all those songs, when we first fall in love, or have our hearts broken, or experience loss, or victory, did it ever truly prepare us?

The real question to ask in our pursuit of being alive, is what is our default thought when we hear about the experience of another?  Or see their actions without further context?  What lens(es) do we bring to bear?  How much generosity to we bring?

More importantly, what do we want our default to be?

It’s easy to be dismissive, to try to fix, to explain, to deny, or, well, simply to doubt the experience and rich context and background of someone else.  Even if that someone else is a friend, or family member. *

And while we may never be fully able to fully know their experience, we can go a long way towards it.  We can turn on our listening and our imagination and empathy and play the game to understand and to know.  Whatever gap is left, we can fill with generous  consideration and dispensation.

It is, after all, what we ourselves want when we are in pain, are feeling thwarted, stomped on, rejected, overwhelmed, without agency, under duress…

We want to be heard and to be known.

In that space, we can all center ourselves, grow, and begin to create the future we all want.

“Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Plato

 

* I wonder if maybe it is even easier to dismiss if they are a friend or family, as it becomes easier to project onto them:  you are my friend/family = therefore we must share the same history = therefore we are the same = therefore your actions or feelings can’t possibly be right.