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Man's Search for Meaning
October 19, 1999
6:22 pm
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No meaning for the second S.

The second S is just for pronunciation. It's said, and I think of it as the word KISS, rather than just KIS.

- SC

October 19, 1999
7:20 pm
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Guest_guest, Cici, Tears, SC and All.

This is my pathetic attempt to KIS(S). SC, I promise not to tell anyone that the last S stands for STUPID!

When my consciousness has me at the centre of the universe and ‘sees’ everyone and everything else as peripheral to me, then I am self-centred.

When I value everyone and everything around me in terms of their potential to meet my needs, then I am self-centred.

When I consciously or unconsciously believe that all of creation exists only to meet my needs, then I am self-centred.

This state of being self-centred creates a demand within me that everyone and everything ‘dance’ to my tune. Now, when people and things don’t behave as I think they ought - in order to meet my needs - I become frustrated, angry and unhappy. I am like the little baby who ‘spits the dummy’ when things aren’t going its way. I create my own private and personal hell in my own head. I become locked into preoccupations with manipulating others and things like a puppeteer with the strings all in tangles; the bast..ds should or shouldn’t do this or that to me!!!! They should be appreciative that I bother to pull their strings in the first place!! This is an extreme exemplar of the ego of the separate, individuated ‘I’ in the centre of the cosmos focussing on its own ‘needy’ self! There are obviously degrees between this narcissistic state and that of other-centredness.

Now the ‘why’ of self-centredness is a whole new question. I believe that well parented babies become very secure adults who are free to forget about the ‘self’ most of the time. Whereas, insecure people are not so free; they are constantly conscious of their ‘needs’; searching for the real or imagined threats to their needs fulfilment.

In my opinion, peace and contentedness comes from ‘feeling’ an absence of any threat. The emotional memories associated with threats are not evoked into consciousness. Feelings associated with the thought that everything is all right and as it should be, predominate. These secure feelings are , in my opinion, emotional memories of the bliss we felt in our mother’s arms after all our needs were met. Happiness and joy is an extension of this; it is a rejoicing in the beauty and wonder of the cosmos; it is a passion for life; a transcendence of ‘self’ with all its petty needs; it is delighting in others, warts and all.

The question, so fundamental to this thread, is: Why are we in existence in this needy body in this very competitive, finite, hostile yet beautiful world ? You have only to watch wild animals tear each other to pieces in the quest for survival to see the hostility of this material universe. Yet we can know love! What is the meaning of the game we play in acting out the drama of our lives; propagating our species only to die in the not very distant future? Why is it all so?; the eternal and ultimate question behind ‘man’s search for meaning’!

October 19, 1999
11:08 pm
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Tez, first of all tell me why you called your attempt to explain things, as 'pathetic'.

October 19, 1999
11:38 pm
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???????

October 20, 1999
1:13 am
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what?

October 20, 1999
8:32 am
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Tez,
You said you become "angry, frustrated, and unhappy" and like a baby "spit the dummy" to have your needs met. Actually, that is a good thing...the baby knows she will GET her needs met. It is the baby who gets improper mirroring from the mother--who herself has needs not being met--that becomes self centered. The baby learns "there is no one there to help meet my needs, I better only rely on myself". Later in life that baby has an inflated sense of self; they are at the center of there own universe. So, it is ironic that the person who appears self absorbed is really one who has failed to learn positive feelings about self from a parent. Kohut explains this narcissistic theory better than I, but I can truly understand it. Think about it...about all of us who do without and justify it in our heads. For some it leads to pompous behavior, for others it leads to intellectual isolation (hiding oneself in work). This explains a great deal to me!

October 20, 1999
9:09 am
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Hey all,

KISS:

Keep
It
Simple,
Stupid.

That's how I heard the explanation. Now, SC...the meaning of simple. As many acolytes of acadamia have shown us, let's harken back to the great minds of the past...Walt Whitman once said, "Simplify, simplify, simplify." This, of course, was in reference to his short experiement living alone inthe wilderness in a log cabin off food he grew himself (interesting to note that he never mentioned going over to eat dinner often at his friends' house, who lived nearby...go fig). I think he was trying to show us all the key to enlightenment. Transcendentalist movemnet and all that...

Simplicity is clarity. I think too often, especially in acadamia, jargon is used too obfuscate rather than clarify. Isn't the point of language to communicate? The problem comes when we demand acuity and precision when we communicate. In order to be precise in our use of the language, we must use our vocabulary to its fullest extent. This might be seen as an intellectually elitist attempt to shove the level of the discussion over the heads of he majority audience, but it's really just the attempt to explain the sheer complexity of your ideas.

The good writer is able to make hispoint simply and quickly. That's why editing is so important in any paper...you whittle away at the excess ramblings to get to the pith of your argument. Unfortunately, not very many people were trained in their youth to express themselves in this manner. Whatever happened to the Socratic method?!?!

Tez, in reference to your last paragraph: When stripped of everything, as Frankl said, we must find meaning for our lives FOR OURSELVES. There is no universal dictate, and to try to enforce another's ideology is to invite dissatisfaction. But I think also Westerners too often neglect Eastern philosophy (possibly because the concept of the path to enlightenment as defined by loss of self is disturbing to the Western mind). Explain, for me...we all know about te Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire in the streets of Saigon, protesting the Vietnam conflict. They sat in meditive positions, not once uttering a sound as they burned to death. Did they, do you think, ask themselves the meaning of life? Or did they simply live and in living constantly attempt to reach enlightenment and by doing so, circumvent our existential crises all together? They were, as Joyce said, "constatly reaching, never quite attaining." But they didn't mind, I suppose, because they knew they'd have another go-round to figure it out (ha ha).

October 20, 1999
2:19 pm
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We do not die....

October 20, 1999
2:57 pm
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Well, since the second S stands for, stupid, I prefer to just drop the second S altogether.

But I do believe that to understand (KIS), we first have to understand the complications, enough to understand that they aren't necessary...

Simple thing #1: BREATHE!

- SC

October 20, 1999
4:46 pm
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Guest_guest.

Because I failed so miserably to keep my response simple, I knew at the start that my efforts whould be 'pathetic' and they were.

Please convince me otherwise by saying that you think my response was simple and straight forward.

It is very difficult to deal with the workings of the psyche of complex entities such as human beings and still keep it simple. It takes a genius to do that.

I am certainly not a genius.

October 20, 1999
4:59 pm
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Kitten.

I can only agree with your response. I hope my response didn't indicate otherwise. If it did, then yet another miscommunication has occured.

You have further substantiated my belief that 'poor parenting' (I'm practicing my KISS) is largely responsible for our negative views of the world, ourselves and our insecurity levels. Further, such insecurities drive us into self-centredness and suffering. I see narcissism at the extreme of self-centredness. Perhaps autism is also a contender for this extreme as well; I'm not sure about that though.

October 20, 1999
5:19 pm
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Cici. From my scant knowledge of Buddhism, Guatama sat under the Boddhi tree seeking 'the meaning of life' and specifically the cause of suffering.

As I understand it, the Buddha found that desire was the cause of suffering. The Buddhist even sees the desire not to have desire as a desire to be eliminated. They seek to go beyond the 'self' completely.

So.... the Buddhist does see meaning in life. As I see it their meaning is to escape from the karmic wheel of births and deaths and attain Buddahood for ALL humanity. As I understand Buddhism, they see our earthly existence as some kind of a horrible mistake. This is why I am NOT a Buddhist.

I do not know why those Buddhists in Vietnam emolated themselves. I saw the scenes on TV in the sixties though. Hazarding a guess, I think that they probably saw their actions as a gesture of self-sacrifice to bring the world's attention to the suffering of the Vietnamese people at the hands of the corrupt puppet government at the time. As the Buddhist sees all of life as an illusion, I guess they saw their own suffering and death by emolation as just one transitory stage to attaining their meaning in life - nirvana. But I don't really know the answer to that question of yours.

October 20, 1999
5:34 pm
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Tears.

I've got news for you. Your body has a 'use by' date. 🙂

However, I do apologise for this smart alec and flippant remark. The devil made me do it, 🙂

I know what you mean. The question is 'what' does go on after bodily death if anything? Do our emotional memories from this life go on? Do our (declarative) narrative memories go on? Do our personalities go on? Or is there an 'essence' or life force that is withdrawn back into the 'Ocean of Love' from whence it came? Do we retain our individuation attained in our early infancy or is that lost too?

What do you think?

October 20, 1999
6:37 pm
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I dont know... I've decided i will never be negative about myself again, never.

October 20, 1999
8:03 pm
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Physics supports the FACT that you and I and all matter we see in existence around us is made up of energy. This energy does not die..it transforms.....:)
Blessings
oh and why must we keep it simple?????

October 21, 1999
8:31 am
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Oh man. The Vietnam Conflict (BTW the puppet government was in South Vietnam...completely controlled by the US, ug ug ug). Don't even get me started (being an actual physcial product of that war, I have very strong opinions)

I'd have to say that Buddhists do not believe our existence on this plane is a horrible mistake. My grandmother is quite happy to explain to me, through the translations of my mother, that Buddhists see our existence on this plane as simply part of the progress. You know, Camus said, "There can be no light without darkness..."

So I think Buddhists do see desire as the cause for suffering (see Hess' Siddhartha), but they do not seek some abstract universal dictate on the meaning of life. I was just reading a bit of Frankl yesterday as I visited a friend who attempted suicide and brought the book along for him to read. He actually wrote a brief section entitled "the meaning of life" where he states plainly that the question is a moot point. It's fdifferent for everyone because the goal for every complete individual is to find meaning for their own life.

I think eastern philosophy is ruled out by so many Western minds. It is complex, alien to the dead white male philosophy that we are suckled on. But that doesn't mean it isn't valid. The teachings of Islam are wonderful, but we recoil from the religion, explaining that it is violent. Too often we associate the faith with the mistakes of the faithful.

October 21, 1999
6:09 pm
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tears. Yes, energy transforms - but does the 'pattern of energy' that we call human conscious awareness retain its 'pattern' after death or is it swallowed up by the 'Ocean of Energy'?

October 21, 1999
6:38 pm
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Cici. talking about a universal meaning in life, you said, " It's different for everyone because
the goal for every complete individual is to find meaning for their own life." I agree. However, many people have very tenuous meanings in their life which lead to low self-esteem, Frankl's existential vacuum, and deep depression. The quest is to find meaning in suffering that is beyond 'paying a price for something else'. It is this 'do this in order that...' that I find in religions and belief systems that worries me. It is always future reward oriented and never focussed on right living in the now. Buddhism is perhaps a possible exception, but I'm not sure about that. They seem focussed on attaining Nirvana for all humanity. Another reward?

About buddhist beliefs, I was recounting my limited experiences with Buddhists. I understand that there are different schools and sects within those schools. Thanks for your views from your school of Buddhism. What are we progressing from and towards what? From ignorance towards enlightenment perhaps? How did we become ignorant in the first place? Was it a mistake on the part of some diety who created us? Or did we stuff up in some way?

I certainly don't rule out eastern philosophy. I spent some time in an ashram in India and years in Brahma Kumaris Raj Yoga. Now I am into finding what I believe - my meaning in life - not blindly accepting packaged predefined doctrines. I believe that all religions have relative truths. Yes, I agree that most people tend to accept their own enculturation as being the 'right' way. It takes a lot of effort and courage to jump over the traces and think for one's self about the meaning of our earthly existence.

October 21, 1999
6:43 pm
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Guest_guest.

I don't think you will be able to do that. But, best of luck, mate!

My mates reckon that I am no fun when I'm travelling well. They like me better when I am 'bitter and twisted'. I guess that I am less 'fun' these days than I used to be.

Cie la vie!

October 21, 1999
7:20 pm
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?

October 21, 1999
9:31 pm
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Tez: Oh Yeah ???? 🙂

October 22, 1999
9:02 am
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I might have said this before, but I'll say it again (as our strange little debate takes a turn down the road of the religious)....William James, a religious psychologist who studied the psyches of past religious historical figures, claims that institutionalized religion caters to a per-determined deity while personalized religion is concerned with an individual's relationship with a deity *as he or she defines it for themselves*.

So what? So when I support religion, this is what I support. The tenants of faith, not the external requirements imposed by a super-structure that was not of my choosing. Could you say that the tenants of Catholocism supported the actions taken by the Spanish Imperium during the Spanish Inquisition? Not by any means. I don't like someone trying to guide me by any means, but I am also not one to criticize a faith when it is those in the power structures within the faith (Bishops, Priests, the pope [ack!]) that pervert it.

As far as Buddhism is concerned, as far as I understand it, we were not made ignorant. Rather, we are born (in the first round) as blank slates. We should strive to become wise, rather than just intelligent or successful or powerful. With true wisdom comes enlightenment. Each person's path is different, and we must take from our experiences along the journey that which will aid us in our quest for enlightenment.

It is interesting to note that there are no ceremonies simliar to the mass (mass worship)...it is a faith very focused on each individual's experience, and the guidelines are there to serve as a sort of prompt (like a string tied around your pinky!) rather than a command.

I wonder sometimes how different American culture would be if children were taught to seek wisdom rather than power or money? Oh, well. Don't even get me into a rant about our capitalist, connsumerist culture where the flow of information (everywhere but on the internet) is controlled entirely by corporations. Freedom of speech my ass.

October 25, 1999
6:33 pm
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Cici.

I agree with you and Noam Chompsky on the issue of the effects of the mass media as a propaganda arm of the rich and powerful. Perhaps the internet is our last bastion of free expression. However, it comes with a price; tolerance of what we personally do not like! Some types of porn might fit into this category. Once we start censorship on the net then governments can censor anything that they consider 'not good for us'. Then the net joins hands with the rest of the propaganda machine.

Regarding being "taught to seek wisdom", I am not sure that either the path to or the benefits of wisdom can be 'taught'. I suspect that wisdom is a by-product of making sense out of suffering; of integrating all life's experiences into a meaningful model that gives meaning to all events encountered in daily living.

I suspect that this is what Frankl did but I'm not sure.

October 26, 1999
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I should qualify the whole "taught to seek wisdom" thing. What I mean to say is that there is a derth of any type of real value system in our society, hell, in most Western societies today. OUr value system now is based on power, money and earning potential (which my mother always mentions whenever I talk about my boyfriend. Ug.) If you've got none of these going for you, you're always looking for a way to get them going for you. Consider inner city youths who sell crack, or low-quality marijuana grown in mexico and compressed into bricks that often contain pesticides, rocks, dirt, animal feces, and even decaying animal matter! They just want money, which leads to power, which leads to...what? more money, more power, always seeking, never reaching.

Existential Anxiety: A universal fear of the limits and responsibilities of one's existence. Occurs because we know life is limited and fear death, we know our actions and choices may hurt others, and we suspect our personal existence may ultimately lack meaning.

Why has this been so prevalent in modern societies, do you think? Is this possibly related to the derth of real values?

October 26, 1999
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I should qualify the whole "taught to seek wisdom" thing. What I mean to say is that there is a derth of any type of real value system in our society, hell, in most Western societies today. OUr value system now is based on power, money and earning potential (which my mother always mentions whenever I talk about my boyfriend. Ug.) If you've got none of these going for you, you're always looking for a way to get them going for you. Consider inner city youths who sell crack, or low-quality marijuana grown in mexico and compressed into bricks that often contain pesticides, rocks, dirt, animal feces, and even decaying animal matter! They just want money, which leads to power, which leads to...what? more money, more power, always seeking, never reaching.

Existential Anxiety: A universal fear of the limits and responsibilities of one's existence. Occurs because we know life is limited and fear death, we know our actions and choices may hurt others, and we suspect our personal existence may ultimately lack meaning.

Why has this been so prevalent in modern societies, do you think? Is this possibly related to the derth of real values?

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