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Man's Search for Meaning
October 26, 1999
1:59 pm
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so true cici.
The quest for the almight Holy Grail or Holy buck takes people away from the true meaning of our lives or the true path.
Its as if it is the proverbial carrot in front of the horses nose, distracting us from our own power to get our own carrots and maybe its not the carrot that is really what we truly need.
Ok i will shut up about carrots, but what i am trying to say is that as one becomes further enlightened (through suffering) as I agree wisdom is gained from mainly lifes challenges and questioning everything that "society" says is right, then we are able to remove the blinding carrot from in front of our eyes and see that there is a whole world out there that responds to following the scary but true path of the souls calling, whether this be giving up a job that you worked and slaved in for years in order to "finally do what we really love or dream to do" or getting out of a unfulfilling relationship regardless of who or what horrors could come of it, simply because it is causing you to feel unloved, worthless and used.
When money and what you love to do are one and the same then you are an open channel to the universe for all good things to come to you. If you see your current actions as a means to an end, then you will always be in this mode instead of the "living and loving today mode" that is the true path of the soul.
Hope i made sense
blessings all

October 27, 1999
5:35 pm
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Cici and Tears.

Cici,talking about limits, fear of death and our fear that our life may lack meaning, you posed the question, "Why has this been so prevalent in modern societies, do you think? Is this possibly related to the derth of real values?"

When you use the words 'real values' I assume you are talking about 'care and concern for the welfare of others'. I think there has been a shift in western societies towards self-centredness. I think that this trend is a result of the increasing insecurity levels experienced generally. This intrinsic insecurity comes from deficiencies in our parenting. These deficiencies are a result of the fragmentation of the family life once experienced in tribes, villages and small towns. The value of having an extented family in parenting has been lost. The effects of an insecure childhood, ricochet throughout adulthood and society in general. The 'real values' of which you speak are those gained in living close to and in harmony with all other creatures in natures great wonderland. We have lost the connection! Now our 'values' are based on our own self-preservation. Economic rationalism has pervaded the psyche of man. Money has become the means of wielding power therein ensuring that our personal needs are met; given enough money, the promise of deferring our inevitable death seems to be in the offering.

Living each day striving for money and power in order that we defer death, combined with the certain knowledge that all our best efforts will fail eventually, cannot fail to yield feelings of the meaninglessness and the futility of our life. Doing anything without any intrinsic value in that experience of 'the doing' in order that some future desirable outcome is achieved is bound to give life a lack of meaning. Each event then becomes just a stepping stone to the next. The outcome always turns into a stepping stone for yet another future outcome.

All is transient and only 'change' is constant; even the rate of change is changing. Trying to 'hold on to life' and stop the change leads to suffering; flowing with the currents in harmony with one's surroundings leads to peace and contentment. This does not imply not taking actions to rectify what we see as undesirable. I think that we have to take responsibilities for our actions and inactions. However taking responsibilities for the outcomes of those actions leads to misery. Our courts tell us a different story don't they!!! They hold us responsible for outcomes!!

Tears, you expressed this sentiment of being outcome rather than process oriented, when you said, "...If you see your current actions as a means to an end, then you will always be in this mode..."

It is my opinion that finding intrinsic value in all of our experiences instant by instant, is what gives life meaning. Even at the instant of death, finding value in that experience in itself - not for what it might bring - gives meaning to it. Suffering is the result of finding no meaning in physical and psychological pain and/or sorrow. Suffering is feeling trapped in the meaningless experience of ongoing pain and/or sorrow; I differentiate between the two.

If we find intrinsic or 'real' value in the instantaneous experiences of caring for others then our lives will be joy filled. I think that it is the loss of preoccupation with the self and the fears therein, that results in the freedom and joy thus experienced. The feelings associated with doing something 'worthwhile' enhance that satisfaction. However, whatever our feelings in the instant finding value in any instantaneous experience gives meaning to that experience.

The trick is to find meaning in the most negative experiences - such as death - for their own sake not 'in order that...'

What do you all think?

October 27, 1999
6:23 pm
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Tez -

I completely agree. Too often preservation of the self comes before the welfare of others. I know way too many pre-med students who are in the field purely for monetary reasons to feel safe about the quality of my medical care (ha ha ha).

But our very value system, based on the quest for the "almighty Holy Buck" (ha ha Tears), prevents us from changing our value system on a wide-based level. We are a purely capitalistic society. Our very flows of information in the most prevalent form of information exchange (still the TV...dammit!) are controlled by corporations. Do you think they'd be happy to see a nation of intellectually adept, morally conscious, psychologically balanced people? Hell, no. One begins to wonder whether our culture of consumerism and the whole "every man for himself" thing isn't simply propogated by the advertising industry to ensure the continued existence OF the advertising industry.

Whoever wants to keep their job, raise your hand. Now go out and buy yourself something pretty.

October 28, 1999
6:39 pm
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Lol Cici, you sure have a way with words honey..hehe
Tez, I dont feel death is a "negative" experience, it is a transcendence and i DO wholeheartedly know that we live on.....
In "primitive" cultures, death is a time of celebration for the dying, family and other loved ones.
I personally believe the "deathbed visions" that the dying are known to have are important and should be shared by the whole family.
Cici, just cause we live here doesnt mean we have to buy into this societys idea of a advanced civilization.
We can be anything unto ourselves, like Frankyl says, we can be physically held prisoner but we can always choose our attitude towards our captives and our "prison" within which we are NEVER a prisoner but a glorious soul, with which each day is a gift of cocreation (with god)

October 28, 1999
8:22 pm
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I completely agree, Tears, it is your attitude that determines the nature of your life. And I completely belive in a spiritual life. I think too often people deny spirituality becuase they are afraid of the responsibility it entails: responsibility to yourself and to all others in your community to love.

So they searh endlessly for other things to fill the void that a lack of spirituality leaves: money, sex, power, anger, drugs. All these things aren't bad in and of themselves. It is how we abuse them that makes them negative. And how in abusing them we learn to abuse ourselves.

October 28, 1999
9:51 pm
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Well said Cici, well said..

October 29, 1999
3:14 am
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Tears and Cici.

Yes, but... by what criteria do we value our negative experiences; because of some positive outcome that they might bring?

Or is there some reason for which they have instantaneous and intrinsic value?

If so what do you think the reason might be?

October 29, 1999
8:35 am
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I think that negative experiecnes happen often, because of poor judgement or uncontrollable circumstances, and although for a truly enlightened person they might hae instantaneous intrinsic value, it takes me a while to make sense out of it. After I can sit and think and sort through things and ruminate, I find that I can take from the negative experience and learn, hopefully to avoid it in the future. I have to make it make me a better person.

Example: my father goes to the emergency room after having repeated siezures. I see him lying, all flaccid and unconscious on the hospital bed. THe doctors relay that he stopped taking pain medication because it bothered his bleeding ulcers, which flared up due to stress. I realize that I have caused him a lot of worry and heartache over my drug problems. I resolve to be a stronger person and not burden him so much with my problems. At first, this is difficult. As time goes by, I get better and stronger, without the crutch of my fahter's strength of will. I develop my own.

THe negative emotions I felt: worry, grief, guil, were turned around to help make me stronger so i would take my burdensoff of his shoulders. In helping him, I helped myself.

I feel like you're teaching us through the Socratic method, Tez!

October 29, 1999
3:34 pm
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Thats is so great CiCi, I dont know of any instantaneous insights about my challenging experiences, it usually takes some time, sometimes years in the case of a traumatic loss or senseless injustice.
I guess "positive" or "negative" is really a judgment, incidents take place in our lives and it is up to US to assign our judgments to them, we could probably assign far more positive judgments to incidents that we may judge "negative"
Undoubtedly, ALL, of lifes challenges take us to a higher and better place spiritually and emotionally.
I feel people who have more growing to do or are acting irresponsibly, giving out "negative" energy to others, instead of love, invariably have MORE challenges so that they will be brought to a higher and better place within themselves and are able to function in society in a way that brings back rewarding and "positive" experiences to them...Its a universal REWARD system, if you wish, and it works perfectly.:)

October 29, 1999
9:58 pm
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Cici and Tears.

I regard myself as a student and my experiences with all people and things as my teacher.

In my life's experiences I have heard many arguments justifying and valuing experiences in order that this or that might happen. 'Learning' is often offered as a major justification for valuing experiences. Then I see that what is learnt has very subjective value and is often of questionable validity.

I have seen many very insightful and wise people degenerate with old age into senility and a horrible death.

I have seen a young husband shredded into tiny pieces of meat in front of the very eyes of his young wife and children. I collected several pounds of 'mince' in a plastic bag as my contribution to a team effort of collecting several plastic bag fulls of 'him' for a meaningful funeral.

I have seen several beautiful women friends snuff out their own lives by means of a rope, deliberate OD's etc.

My own partner carries life long baggage of having been one of several victims of a serial rapist that was 'sentenced' to four months jail for his 'exploits'! I see the not so subtle ongoing effects in my sex life.

I have seen a young work mate jailed for life for murdering his girlfriend with a butcher's knife.

I have fought many union battles, had several 'bosses'sacked in different companies, caused and received much pain, stuffed up a marriage and wrecked unintentional psychological damage on my children.

I have watched my dying mother with her last strength wrench her hand away from my father in bitterness over imagined wrongs as he tried to comfort her just before she died.

My father now thinks that I am his younger brother and that my mother was his mother. He has no short or long term memory at all. He runs around trying to appease a horrific concept of a Irish Roman Catholic God by incessantly demanding someone to take him to mass and confession. Priests are of no help! He forgets they have been 1 second after they go.

Like Frankl, I have demanded answers from life only to learn that it is life that demands an answer from me! Preferably, but not necessarily 'yes'!

I have found that valuing our experiences for what they may of may not produce is fraught with problems. It is my experience that outcomes are at best only stepping stones to another fleeting outcome and then another in an ongoing sequence of instantaneous experiences that only exist in our working memory for a very short time frame before being converted into short and long term memory. There, in short and long term memory, these experiences are distorted by other psychological processes. 'Learning' so produced has arbitrary value and is transient in nature; In my father's case a learning duration of about 1 second long.

If evolution of our species is the justification for humanities temporary so called 'learning' then I am somewhat puzzled by the ecological threat imposed by the present state of our evolutionary development.

Even if we do manage to evolve into a harmonious species, heat death of our planet would tend to suggest the futility of our evolutionary journey.

In order to find 'rational' meaning in our life experiences, I believe that of necessity we are forced to seek the intrinsic value in ALL experiences, whether subjectively negative or positive.

Intrinsic value in an experience means that the few seconds of experience that we hold in our working memory and call 'the instant' has value in itself, for its own sake independent of to where or to what it may lead.

If an experience has value at all, that experience will have value for its the emotional content called feelings and its intellectual content called thinking.

My critical question on this very appropro thread is:

What can possibly give our thoughts and feelings 'intrinsic' value?

October 30, 1999
12:28 am
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because they are ours?

October 30, 1999
10:45 am
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Tez,

excellent post, and an excellent finale question.

My experience reading your post, HAD intrinsic value!

A deflating answer, from my intellect might say, "intrinsic value=an increase in electrons (charge) of the energy matter in our bodies". That a thought and feeling can wage positive or negative energy effects on our personal human matter (bodies) through biochemical reactions processed because of the thought or feeling.

My feelings might say, "thoughts and feelings have intrinsic value when they make an IMPACT/MOVEMENT in my mental and emotional computer bank". It's another entry, but one that has changed the balance of other entries, and future ones.

That's a brief stab from SC...but did I really know what the question was?

November 1, 1999
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I guess nthoughts have intrinsic value if they make an immediate and meaningful impact on your life when you first experience them. Although I don't know. I've never really experienced that.

I've always had to think about things and make sense of them before they had any meaning for me, besides the most basic feelings of fear, anger, grief, tenderness...to intellectualize any immediate thought is difficut for me, because I tend to be an emotional person. Humph.

November 1, 1999
3:38 pm
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Kitten, Cici, Guest_guest, Tears, SC and others.

Thank you all for your stimulating responses.

Kitten, you have posited the possibility of the proposition "because they are ours?" as a basis for intrinsically valuing our instantaneous experiences. This simple proposition has much depth. It leads to further questions with profound implications for society.

DNA testing is based on the assumption that the probability of a duplication in our individual genetic structure is so low as to be almost negligible.

On this basis amongst others, I propose that the probability, of two individuals interpreting the same event in exactly the same way to the minutest detail, is also almost negligible.

I further propose that our personalities are some complex product of our interpretive and subjective experiences and our genetic inheritance; that is, a product of nature and nurture.

Thus, if each of us has a unique psychological profile, forged from this mixture of our very nearly unique genetic inheritance and the uniqueness of our individual socialisation experiences, then as individuals we will also experience given situations uniquely. The implication here is that all human experiences are almost certainly unique.

Does the uniqueness of anything imply that it has infinite intrinsic value? I suggest that the evaluation process implies a valuer, an appreciator. This further implies some level of consciousness. For example, can a rock evaluate its intrinsic worth? Thus there seems to be a strong relationship between the consciousness and the intrinsic value of all experiences. The focus now shifts from the intrinsic worth of the experience to the intrinsic worth consciousness itself.

What gives consciousness value? In Auschwitz did consciousness have value to the experiencer? Some actively sought to destroy this consciousness on the electrified wire. Though Frankl did not, others, losing the will to retain consciousness, passively just gave up and died.

Has consciousness only subjective value, or is the separation of our individual consciousness’s just an illusion? Could it be that there only one universal consciousness that uses our subjectivity in the cognitive and emotive valuations of our experiences in forming the nature of these illusory experiences? Thus to this Cosmic Experiencer, could all experiences have intrinsic value beyond our subjective evaluations?

It seems to me that it is our answers to these questions upon which the ultimate objective meaning and value of human life depends. It is these answers upon which the morality of euthanasia, abortion, wars, ‘civilisation’ and the sanctity or otherwise of human life, hang.

In establishing a sense of one's core or inherent worth beyond externalities and the opinions of others and finding the basis for the infinite value of one's own consciousness the answers to the above and below questions are even more critical.

What is consciousness? Who is the 'I' that observes me thinking? Is it something beyond the physical 'me' and the processes of 'my' neural networks? Near death experiences recall suggests that it is.

November 1, 1999
8:09 pm
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I am "I Am". I am not "I Was". I am not "I Will Be"

November 2, 1999
4:40 pm
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VRJ.

Do you mean "I am, who Am." ?

Or put in another more negative way, "neti, neti!" Not that, not that!

November 2, 1999
5:01 pm
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You guys are too intellectual for me, I feel dumb!
I think I'll just go to bed, so I don't have to think about all of this deep stuff....... my head hurts.
I think lately my brain has been shutting off.... I feel numb. One minute I feel secure(on top of the world), the next minute, I feel nonexistent.

Jaskid

November 2, 1999
5:24 pm
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Hi Jaskid,

First of all your not dumb that's for sure I have read many of your posts and you have alot of insight and god suggestions. But I also feel lost with alot of these deep down posts and I read them over and over and still can't come up with much understanding.

So I just read and look and listen, and at times obey afterall that is what I do best.

Have a good rest Jaskid.....:)

Always
Bel

November 2, 1999
7:17 pm
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Jaskid, you are not dumb!!!!!
I get lost in some of these too

Tez, no, I just Am. And so are you. And so is everyone. All we have is Am! Each unique.

November 2, 1999
7:42 pm
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Consciousness is our mind's comprehension of reality. Some people chose to go along with a reality which is created for them. Some chose to question reality, think more deeply and explre their own consciousness.

Here's a proposal. Let's say, for explnation's sake, that our preceived reality is very narrow. Australia, for example, exists as a concept in my mind, but not as a concrete reality, whereas this room I'm sitting in IS reality to me at this time. So what is to say that all of my reality is a simple consctruction of my consciousness?

I take on faith that there is a higher consciousness which anchors everything in our universe on the same plane of reality. Is this higher consciousness then God?

Hmmmmhmmmhmmm....

November 2, 1999
10:59 pm
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I have firsthand experience of something other than I.........something that responds to love.....not so much a "higher power" but "the silent witness, the sacred self"....It is a beautiful thing to transcend to this place, more and more......you will NEVER feel alone again:) I wish that upon all of you...dont ever give up on it for yourselves..

November 3, 1999
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Hey Everyone,

Great discussion...

No one is dumb (maybe brain tired at times), but I hope those who, for this period of their lives feel they are "less intellectual than others", still feel strong and safe enough to post their thoughts/feelings/reactions here. This is YOUR LIFE; you can let it flicker like a candle, or give it more fuel to burn bright like a TORCH.

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge
is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

--Albert Einstein

November 3, 1999
10:03 am
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love that quote s.c........I meant "the silent witness" is god..I dont see it as a "higher" power because I feel god is very much a part of all of us if we would just listen.

November 3, 1999
6:06 pm
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All.

I must have a perverse sense of humour. After reading the responses since my last, I very nearly wet myself laughing. We humans are funny critters, are we not.

I totally agree with you all; No one here is dumb. It is often a case on knowing the 'terminology of the trade'. As an electronics engineer, I feel very dumb in the presence of two historians discussing the battles of ancient greece. My feelings don't mean that I am actually 'dumb' though, do they.

Everyone is an 'expert' in their own area of expertise.; no matter how big or small, we all have that area of expertise. How can we be dumb? We all have consciousness!

I would like to explain that when discussing spiritual beliefs, 'buttons' are often pushed in others. Using 'code' in the form of spiritual 'sayings' from various belief systems is a way of communicating without offending. I hope that the intentions are to protect others from hurt rather than to make them feel 'inferior' in some way.

Gently, gently .... (((Hugs)))

November 3, 1999
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Cici.
Good one, mate!

We do have conscious awareness of our environment. We also have self-consciousness, an awareness of a 'self' that is aware. Our interpretations of the meaning of both our environment and the relationship that this 'self' has to it, is very much a function of our beliefs about both. This is what we call 'reality'.

This 'reality' is obviously very subjective. This is why I believe that there is as many 'realities' as people. Is there an absolute reality? This implies an absolute 'awareness' that is totally objective and based on absolute knowledge free of all vicarious belief systems. Such an awareness would have to belong to the Eternal Absolute.

I believe - erroneously perhaps - that our collective awarenesses are just a part of that infinite awareness. The sum of our collective human awareness is a part of that part of the Infinite Awareness that is aware of vulnerability, fear and love.

Put another way, the 'self' is that 'part' of the 'Self' in ignorance of its Selfhood in order to know fear based on illusory vulnerability as well as the love that comes from sharing with other 'selfs' in that vulnerability.

Is this how you 'see reality'?

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