should I continue to blog?

January 4th, 2010

There is a time and place for everything, and I have experienced the time and place is NOW.  I started this blog last term for a Philosophy course, yet; I have decided to continue this blog through my other course work as I finish up my degree.  I write this more for myself, but whoever stumbles upon this, I hope you find this useful and perhaps meaningful.  Time is a gift and I thank you for your presence as you read each word I take the time to write, as I recognize how precious your time is as you read the words I take the time to write.  Namaste! 

 I am not sure yet of the format I will continue with this blog, but for today, I will share this rather informal, personal, impromptu information. 

 I experienced a day full of synchronicity.  For quite some time I have felt rather distant from myself.  What I mean by that is: Let’s suppose I was asked to define my life’s purpose.  The response felt so distant from me that I was not able to answer.  Perhaps that is why I have yet to finish school, and why I have yet to fully take charge of my life and my destiny. 

 In the last couple of years, if someone were to ask me, “What do you do” or “What is your passion” I wouldn’t have been able to express that in a meaningful way.  Yet, today… for whatever reason I feel revived!  I know exactly what my purpose is and I eagerly await the opportunity to express it in each moment with everyone I encounter, consciously.    

 For now, I am called a student… and for now I humbly set in the calling to enjoy every second I am allowed to learn alongside my peers.  I invite all the wisdom and teachings from the professors who have devoted their life’s work to teaching and I thank you for your time, presence, and understanding as you impart your wisdom. 

 I am humbled by the energy I encountered today with all my fellow eager students. I am blessed to be conscious of this experience and the shift that is occurring in the world today, as we currently know it, and I am guest and grateful to witness all the changes around me.

 I will end this with I am not quite sure how I will find the time to mindfully continue this blog… but I have every intention to write a meaningful passage each week… please keep in mind I have a heavy course load, none of which requires me to write the blog I kept last term, however; I am required to write a lot this term so perhaps this blog will shift into the writing I am required to do for the classes.

 In connectedness….

 

    

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Conceptual Precis X: Consciousness:

December 9th, 2009

In the philosophical tradition, consciousness is a rather unstructured term to describe an inner perception-based awareness in relation to the external universe. In philosophy, consciousness communicates the existence of awareness as a sensory activity and transmutes awareness and understanding as subjective thoughts and dreams that manifest into creative human experiences.

 

While the philosophical meaning of consciousness describes a level of mindful awareness in the evolutionary cycle of existence, the ordinary use of consciousness is used to identify awareness in a general sense that can be described as being aware of such things as: self-conscious of how your are dressed, socially conscious of what occurs in society, or environmentally conscious of nature.

 

I believe consciousness is an evolutionary process that continues to expand as humanity shifts away from conditioned patterns of thinking and behavior which have been handed down from generation to generation and leads to attachments of material things that creates mental noise and confusing thoughts that cause suffering. I believe as humanity begins to look inward, quite the mind, and detach from the material world and the lies narrated in our stories we will discover truth, and the truth will shift consciousness to a new level of awareness that will no longer be the cause for so much internal suffering of the mind. Instead, a peace will be an intrinsic aspect of awareness that will allow alignment with the authentic-self and intuition, purpose, and ability will manifest through individual creativity.

 

Thomas Nagel’s famous “what it is like” contends consciousness is affected by the physical world and the “subjective first-person point-of-view character,” which cannot fully be understood simply by relating awareness to human body and mind conceptualizations. Rather a knowledge-based insight has yet to appear in human consciousness, distinguishing an inherent essence that cannot be fully explained in either physical or mental terms, but rather requires a dimension of understanding not yet known to humanity as of yet. I found Nagel’s work to be quite interesting and resonated with my beliefs on many levels. I believe humanity has not yet fully understood consciousness and human potential as the mind is weighted down with so many material manifestations that limits human potential and creates fear and guilt. Although Nagel’s work is much more complex and deep than I have examined here, I believe much of his work communicates awareness is beyond anything we have the ability to understand fully as we understand the universe and relate to it today, and our mind attaches to experience and influences perceptions making it an essential component to examine in consciousness. To simply exist does not in itself describe awareness or the ability to respond and express individually with the universe, there is an element of unknown that the mind cannot fully understand until it is fully detached from the material world and its limitations.

 

Sources:

 

1] http://www.iep.utm.edu/consciou/

 

2] http://science.jrank.org/pages/8792/Consciousness-Overview-Contemporary-Philosophy-Mind.html

 

 

Conceptual Precis I: Determinism:

December 2nd, 2009

Conceptual Precis I: Determinism:

In the philosophical tradition, determinism describes the nature of causality and attributes all natural events, thoughts, behaviors, and actions of linked patterns of ongoing phenomenons from the beginning of time and existence.

There are two basic types of determinism:

  • Hard determinism
  • Soft determinism

Hard determinism explains the universe as a series of connected “causal” events that are explained by scientific laws. It suggests free will is a mere mind-made perception, and therefore individual free will fails to exist at all. The philosophic frailness of hard determinism dwells in the moral question: How can individuals be reasonably held accountable if no free will or choice exists. In essence, in a deterministic universe free will, miracles, chance, and unexplained events simply do not exist.

Soft determinism, oftentimes called compatibilism, maintains free will and determinism coexist, although actions are still considered predetermined events, a distinction is made between the internal actions guided by individual personality and beliefs, and external actions guided by the universe.

The ordinary use of determinism is more generically used to describe a knowable outcome, in particular the future. The ordinary use of determinism does not align with my beliefs as I believe in limitless possibilities, and I acknowledge the potential to shift away from conditioned thoughts and behavior to become present and self-aware to enhance intuition into an expanded awareness and higher consciousness that is not known to humanity as of yet.

I do not believe determinism is at all compatible with freedom, and I found the entire philosophy of hard determinism particularly pragmatic. The entire concept subdues all humanity with the assumption the universe is only created from a series of related “casual” events that foretells a single future. The only part I connect with this theory is in the consequences when left unquestioned, certain manifestations are witnessed in particular segments of society where humans creative spirit gets numbed and the authentic-self is no longer recognizable and individuals begin to function merely as conditioned robots with no control over their thoughts, feelings, or actions. I believe Individuals have free will and I believe humanity has the ability to become more self-aware and awaken to a higher level of consciousness where terms such as these are no longer useful.

I asked a fellow student, Ryan Smith, for his thoughts on determinism and he reminded me of my belief that we all come from a single source, so of course we are connected, and where I do agree with him on a single source I do not believe only a predetermined single outcome exists. I believe there are multiple dimensions of creativity that manifests through individuality.

Sources:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/dfwIntroIndex.htm

http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/FREE.HTM

Conceptual Precis VIII: Buddhism

December 1st, 2009

In the philosophical tradition, Buddhism is not a religion, rather an Eastern philosophical doctrine based on the life experience of an Indian man, named Siddhartha Gautama, also known as Buddha: “the awakened one.”

Buddha’s intrinsic desire to obtain an authentic state of being led him on a journey where he freed himself from attachments to seek the genuine meaning of life and to put an end to all suffering. His determination led him on a relentless journey of self-inquiry, proceeded by a near death experience before he attained enlightenment; a state of being, indescribable with words.

Although many different variations of Buddhism exist, a common school of thought is found in all sects of Buddhism. The path to pure awareness, “enlightenment” is obtained through the practice of Dharma, and the philosophy of its teachings is summarized in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path.

 Succinctly stated, The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path are as follows:”

“The Four Noble Truths:” 

  • Life has suffering
  • There is way out of suffering
  • The cause of suffering is clinging
  • The way out of suffering is the Eightfold Path

 “The Eightfold Path defines a way of living that is designed to decrease suffering:”

  •  Right View
  • Right Intention
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

The mainstream understanding of Buddhism is somewhat confusing as Buddhism is not a religion, however; the philosophy has taken on a religious context by some of its followers. Buddha was not a god, nor did he seek divinity as a religious icon; he existed simply as a man who shared his experience of self-discovery as a guide for others to quiet the mind, encourage self-inquiry, and invite presence to end suffering.

I believe the universe exists of stories, among them the enlightened tale of Buddha, narrated through the essential teachings of Buddhism in the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path. I am inspired by the teachings of Buddhism because it invites self-discovery to free an unconscious mind of habitual and conditioned thoughts and behavior patterns that lead to suffering. Buddhism nurtures awareness, deconstructs the ego, and quiets the mind to end suffering, which allows a natural relationship with the authentic-self to emerge. A quiet mind, free of obsessive mind chatter, permits clear intuitive ability to recognize truth and vibrate in harmony with the universe.

When I asked a fellow student, Janessa Wood, her understanding and thoughts on Buddhism, she was surprised to discover Buddhism is not a religion, rather a philosophy. This topic inspired a useful dialogue, and we talked about the conditioned human need to categorize everything into groups, and how some of the followers in Buddhism evolved the story of Buddha into a religious practice, making Buddha a religious icon, is essentially attachment. Although some Buddhist followers practice the philosophy in a religious context, we found agreement that the core principals of Buddhism are simply a philosophy based on the life of a mortal man, who obtained enlightenment through self-inquiry, which inspires many individuals to shift to a conscious awareness and life a life free of suffering.

Sources:

http://www.mtstream.org/aboutMeditation.html

http://www.buddhist-temples.com/gautam-buddha.html

Conceptual Precis IX: Double Consciousness

December 1st, 2009

In the philosophical tradition, double consciousness is a term based by the work of W. E. B Du BOIS in which he suggests a dualistic identity develops from the struggle to balance how an individual views them-self, and a second identity which emerges from how others view the individual, particularly on the grounds of race. He found the concept of the double consciousness especially relevant with African-Americans who he suggested developed a double identity as a result from the social injustices and contempt between the inferior Black vs the dominate White American culture.

 

Another use of double consciousness is used to describe, in general, culture, societies, or groups who have two sets of conflicting beliefs.

 

I believe double consciousness explains a destructive identification pattern witnessed around the world. It can impact all aspects of identity, and begins at a very young age as children are subconsciously taught to “fit in” otherwise be punished, taunted, and teased. Double consciousness and other cultural patterns socialize humanity, and without awareness, these patterns surface in adulthood as societal demands and the pressure to fit-in override any creativity expressed in the natural authentic-self. For example, when a person takes on a dual identity (consciously or subconsciously) and conforms or alters their individual identity to match how others perceive them, or what society expects from them, it diminishes the authentic-self and the ability to express creative individual freedom. As individuals develop their personality and acquire identities such as Caucasian-American, African-American, Asian, or the recognitions that accompany such identities as mother, father, husband, wife, worker, friend, the authentic-self becomes blurred and is no longer recognizable, and relentless mind chatter begins as the authentic-self whispers reminders of ‘who’ you are and ‘what’ life’s purpose” to restore a connection with the authentic-self. The dualistic nature of double consciousness is incompatible with the authentic-self and the conflicting identity manifest into insecurity, uncertainty, depression, anxiety, and self-esteem conflicts untamed by the ego as protection of the self.

 

Bernard Bell proposes there are positive aspects of double consciousness where he suggests it inspires people to be creative and rise above conflicts. Bell makes a sensible point, however; I believe double consciousness does not inspire, but rather forces, individuals and various groups to rise above challenges, such as in the example of the creative efforts pursued to abolish slavery and gain suffrage and equal rights for women and blacks. These efforts were logical, but the injustice should have never existed and offers us a clear example of man-made challenge that individuals were forced to rise above.

Double consciousness, and what I believe to be as an identification crisis, is simply a small piece to the larger puzzle. Double consciousness survives through the manifestations of unconscious, habitual, and conditioned thoughts and behavior patterns learned from infancy, that perpetuates generation after generation. There is no perfect solution otherwise we would already be living it, but my belief is to begin with the self, encourage and support all of humanity to slow down, center attention inward to nurture awareness, deconstruct the ego, and focus energy on being present enough to allow a natural relationship with the authentic-self to emerge. With awareness, organically the need to fit-in washes away, replaced with the intuition to nourish creative purpose, recognize truth, and vibrate in harmony with the universe as pure gentle qualities express through the creative intuitions that manifests through one’s authentic-self. In a classless society, the only awareness that exists is: a human is simply a human and everyone and everything that exists is a valid piece to this puzzle we call life. Such words as ‘race’ to classify individuals is no longer useful, and I hope we shift to a conscious awareness where every individual co-exists with limitless opportunity to express healthy creative individuality, and fulfill the basic human needs to feel protected and nourished, and express and connect with love.

Source:

If interested in the subject of “race,” I recommend checking out the PBS link below:

http://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm

http://www.answers.com/topic/race-1

 

Conceptual Precis VII: Muhammad

November 15th, 2009

Middle Eastern philosophy and religion is a complex topic to understand, but in my limited understanding, in the philosophical tradition, Muhammad is referred to as the creator of the religion of Islam, and for his Muslim followers, he is considered the last true prophet of god. Muhammad prophesied that there only existed one God, and that he was the last true messenger of God.

 

I have found for myself, it is necessary to be familiar with several words such as Allah, Islam, Muslim, and the Qur’an, as a basis for the understanding of Muhammad.

 

“Allah” is an Arabic name which literally means, “the one God.” The Arabic word “Islam” means to peacefully submit and surrender individual will to the will and commandments of the one true god, Allah. Those who submit their will to god are Muslims, which is the Arabic word that means one that “submits to God and lives by God’s laws.” The Qur’an is the official religious text of Islam and renders insights, channeled through Muhammad, and is considered the source of Gods spoken words through the prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. It is also important to understand the story written in the Qur’an for most Muslims is literally the voice of God. It is important for Muslims to preserve their language and keep it pure because by preserving language, they are preserving the word of god.

 

Essentially, Mohammed proclaimed Allah as the one unique true god with no equal. Today, Islam has one billion followers worldwide. Mohammed’s core message was to live an absolute way of life that governed all aspects moral, spiritual, social, political, economical, intellectual. Muhammad was quoted as saying, “A true believer is one with whom others feel secure, one who returns love for hatred.”

 

The ordinary understanding of Muhammad and Islam can get distorted because of the fundamentalist secs within Islam who commit violent acts of terror in the name of Allah. It is important to understand first that there is a difference between the fundamentalist groups and the Muslims who follow Islam. The original message of the prophet Muhammad, practiced in Islam, did not encourage acts of terror and violence to promote change, in fact, it promoted peace regardless of race, religion, or gender. The fundamentalist groups that commit acts of terror in the name of Allah are not acting in accordance to the message of Muhammad, Islam, or the Qur’an and are not practicing what it fundamentally means to be a Muslim. When I asked my fellow class mates what their understanding of who Muhammad was and what it meant to be Muslim they confirmed what my idea of the distorted ordinary view described above. It is common, especially among Americans, to have a perception that Islam was based on violence and terror because of their limited understanding of what they read in the news paper or see on the television.

 

My understanding and how I relate to this topic is words and language exist to convey and exchange meaningful communication with each other. As individuals we have our own way of processing information. It is becoming more clear as we study the different philosophies, theories, and religions, most are a combination of words that are fundamentally attempting to say the same thing, they may just be using different words to say it differently. As I continue to study philosophy and religion, I am becoming more aware of the part of my story that is bringing into my awareness a single source, and we are all a part of the single source, regardless of race, religion, social standing, yet we are just connected to the source and express our connection to the source differently. It is important to understand that words are simply a way to convey meaningful communications and different cultures have different words to express things differently. Simply put, Allah is essentially the Arabic word for God. God or Allah is simply a word or a term used to describe the same thing and just because a different word is used to describe something doesn’t make it different. I used words to describe my understanding of this but I also want to admit just because you read this doesn’t mean you will understand my meaning of it.

Source:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/administrative/disasterresponse/components/islam.html.

http://history-world.org/islam2.htm

Conceptual Precis VI: Communism

November 15th, 2009

In the philosophical tradition, Communism is a complex social, political, and economic system defined chiefly by abolishing private property ownership, to favor communal ownership of property and the organization of labor, and production and distribution of goods based upon need with the ultimate goal of distributing wealth equally to all. Communism is similar to socialism, but contrasted with capitalism. Karl Marx writings, especially his Communist Manifesto, served as a inspiration for the formation of the Communist Party. The outcomes of Communism have been largely cruel for those under communist rule, and advocates of Marx writings make every effort to defend Marx’s writings suggesting communist leaders ignored the fundamental teachings of Karl Marx, and suggest that is why Communism failed.

 

Although I am not defending communism or taking a position to support it, in studying this topic I have realized the ordinary understanding of Communism is based heavily on historical situations, such as what happened to the Soviets under Stalin, rather than on the basic principals and tenants of Communism itself. For example, people tend to isolate their understanding of Communism because of fears that have risen from the implementation of communism and dictatorships in countries such as Russia and China. Somehow in these countries the principals of communism were lost in the implementation.

 

Before studying the writings of Karl Marx, and the formation of Marxism and Communism that have arisen, I would have been the first to point to the principals that don’t work in the theories of countries that adopted Communism and the subsequent failings, but now that I have studied the philosophical definition of Communism I see first my initial understanding was not completely accurate and that some of the Marxist and Communist theories have sound reasoning behind the theories, it just seems perhaps the writings meaning was somehow misunderstood or “lost in translations.”

 

Although I do not have a comprehensive understanding of this topic and the writings of Karl Marx and Communism, what I am beginning to have a better understanding about all general philosophies and religions are all saying basically the same thing, they are just saying it a little differently. Words are invented to add clarification and understanding but because we are all individuals with our own perceptions, sometimes the “understanding” can get lost. I have to ask myself after reading his writings, would Karl Marx be proud of his influence on Communism and its results, or would he be upset because the leaders who implemented his theories because they misunderstood what he was trying to say in his teachings and implementation resulted in the opposite of what Karl Marx would have wanted? We will never know because he died before the results could be measured, but it is interesting to study now and it makes it more clear to me than ever that knowledge is not necessarily understanding and just because a philosopher writes his theories doesn’t mean everyone who reads them will understand them the way they intended.

 

In my limited understanding, Communism was a philosophy formed to promote an oppression-free society where economic, political, social decisions and policies were to be made by promoting all members of society, regardless of social standing, to take part in the decision-making process.

 

However; the modern understanding of most people about Communism is measured from revolutions which resulted in communist states that had government control and ownership of all political, social, and economic decisions, not an oppression-free societies. Somehow communist revolutions resulted in more powerful governments with authoritarian leaders concerned primarily with preserving their own power and not the will of the people. Somehow the intention of Karl Marx’s writings and desire to free the lower class from poverty and give the poor a fighting chance was lost and made their situation made worse.

 

My intuition tells me that if he would have lived to see the results of his writings and the direction communism took he would have been upset but we will never know and are only left here to assume and debate. That is the beauty of the mind, to have the ability to critically analyze and debate so we can come to a full understanding through studying the past and coming up with ways to improve the future. I am becoming more connected with my understanding of the world and my place in it by studying the philosophy and theology of the great thinkers of the past. It is becoming more and more clear to me that we are all saying a version of the same thing, we are all just saying it differently.

Sources:

http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/communism.htm

http://atheism.about.com/library/glossary/political/bldef_communism.htm

conceptual Precis V: Individualism

November 2nd, 2009

In the philosophical tradition, individualism expresses the individualistic qualities of personal happiness and freedoms, opposite of collectivism. It is an idea that focuses on individual perspectives and encompasses a philosophy of life which emphasizes the precedence of “individual” needs, wants, desires, instead of the collective needs of society. Individualism promotes an advantage for limited social relationships and collective thinking, to encourage limited influence of others, which ideally leads to free-thinking.

 

From a political prospective, Individualism encourages self-sufficiency and for the most part opposes authority, especially in the form of governments, advocating the liberty, rights, and independent actions of individuals.

 

A more standard definition of individualism is a belief in the primary importance of the individual needs in the pursuit of personal independence. American’s typically seem to assert their individuality by independence of thought and action in all their personal and economic pursuits. Western society seems to be driven by protecting the ego and individualistic thoughts in contrast to a more collective way of thinking and living.

 

Although some of my beliefs support expressing individuality in the form of creative expressions through individuals, my overall core beliefs do not support individualism as a way to drive societies needs. My beliefs support a more unified consciousness where we are all connected, yet we express different manifestations and characteristics through our creative individuality.

 

When I asked some fellow students their understanding of individualism most replied with the typical “Americanized” response in the belief that society exists for the benefit of individual wants and needs.

 

In western society, especially in the U.S it seems that individualism is expressed heavily through capitalism and over consumption. I have to question whether individualism is appropriate way of living when facts exist that the although the U.S is only a small percentage of the worlds population, yet it uses most of the worlds resources.

 

I choose to write a conceptual precis about individualism because I wanted to understand the fundamental ideologies that support individualistic choices. I wanted a better understanding of why people feel they need to protect their individual needs, rather than collective needs, when it seems to me so simple that by thinking collectively it serves the needs individually.

 

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/286303/individualism

Conceptual Precis 4: Idealism

October 27th, 2009

In the philosophical tradition, idealism is perceived by the mind. Idealism views human reality as a manifestation of reality created by the mind, rather than objects.

 

Idealism argues reality is only knowable through perceptions of the mind. Ultimately one has no understanding of what an object is unless they can understand it through their mind. For example, I once read a story of an indigenous Indian tribe that were approached by sailors, but they could not see the ships the sailors arrived on when they looked out on the horizon because they had never seen ships before. They had no prior mental conception of what a ship (the object) looked like, therefore; they could not see them. It wasn’t until the tribesmen were given a mental description of what the ships looked like that they were able to to relate as an observer and could perceive in their mind what the ships looked like that they actually saw them. Idealism answers the fundamental question of reality and existence in which reality cannot exist if there is no perceiving mind. Knowledge is limited to the understanding of the mind.

 

The non-philosophical explanation of Idealism is connected mainly to the belief towards striving to ideological perfection and societal aspirations of living the highest standards and principals.

 

Idealism essentially postulates the external universe is a manifestation of the mind. In simplest terms, we manifest our reality with our mind. I relate well to idealism in that I believe that we are all apart of a stream of consciousness and that our reality is a manifestation of our thoughts. What I find to optimistic in Idealism is the notion that if we create our world with our mind, then we have limitless possibilities to change it. Simply said, if we change our mind, we can change our world!

 

A few important Philosophers of Idealism include:

 

  • Kant-Transcendental idealism= how things ‘appear’ to us.

  • Hegel-absolute idealism= connecting all things.

  • Berkeley-Subjective idealism=perception of the mind.

Sources:

http://atheism.about.com/od/philosophyschoolssystems/p/idealism.htm

http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Idealism+(philosophy).

Conceptual Precis III: Metaphysics

October 20th, 2009

Metaphysics

 

In the philosophical tradition, metaphysics seeks to explore and understand the origin and construction of reality in its entirety and focuses on the dimensions of reality that exist beyond the physical world and our direct senses.

 

 

The term metaphysics was coined from the categorizing of Aristotle’s writings on physics, “meta ta physics” which meant “after the physics.” Although there seems to be no other ordinary uses of the term metaphysics, it does have different branches of study, such as Ontology, which is the study of nature and relations of being, or things which exist.

 

In addition, because metaphysics is not based on direct experience with material reality it has become more well-known with its relationship to the supernatural and spiritual explanation of reality. It may be useful to think of the answers metaphysics seeks to answer in supernatural realm such as, “What does it mean to exist,” “What is God,” What is reality.” Metaphysics seems to answer the questions not verified by scientific observation and experimentation.

 

I believe that reality is inherently connected to consciousness, and as we awaken to the truth of being we individually and collectively manifest things into reality through a creative process that is difficult to explain with words. My beliefs are connected to metaphysical concepts because they describe the dimension of reality that is difficult to relate to the physical world. It is a truth that is known beyond the explanation of scientific explanation.

 

Although philosophers such as Aristotle and Kant used metaphysics in their writing, they differed in their approach to explaining it. Whereas Aristotle’s writings were more subjective in the fundamental realms of reality, he differed from the more idealist and rationalist philosopher Kant, who used categories to clearly define space and time as they appear to us, not as they really are.

 

In addition, because metaphysics is not scientific in nature it is often in conflict with the modern scientific ideals such as the creation of the universe.

 

Sources:

http://atheism.about.com/od/philosophybranches/p/Metaphysics.htm

http://www.philosophyarchive.com/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_Metaphysics