Friday, April 2, 2010

Repost of Facebook Note

Repost of a Facebook Note from May of 2009:

I've had it sitting on my profile for a while, my "religious views" reading "sort of Christian/Buddhist with zen practice, Monism, maybe some Alan's complicated". I thought that i'd explain that to anyone who cared...probably not many folks at all, my friends tend to be secular agnostics, or atheists.

But in a nutshell: I'm more "spiritual" than religious. And with good reason: nobody really knows what consciousness/self-awareness itself is, so how are they going to attribute that to someone (or something) outside of themselves?

We don't even have a test to determine if someone is self-aware. And as Alan Watts puts it: a lot of folks think the universe is "dumb". But, yet, here we are, and we do each seem to have a sense of "self", and a sense that we occupy the space right behind our eyeballs, with our bodies sort of hanging down from each of us. We can probably figure out, at least in our own cases of "self", that part of the universe is "smart", not dumb.

Along these speculations: I have a good friend up at the U. of Toronto who turned me on to the zen philosopher Alan Watts. And I think Watts was definitely on to some very powerful ideas; he explored the meaning, structure, properties, etc. of human consciousness from his own zen perspective.

Watts' ideas are fascinating to comprehend. One such idea is this: just like an apple tree "apples" (verbing "apples" to indicate producing apples), the universe "peoples". But there, his analogy breaks down: because an apple tree will eventually drop its apples...but *we* continue to be a part of the universe. He had a great alternate explanation of this: Keep your eyes on the rocks, because: Watch out! The rocks will eventually grow people.

But we still have this illusion that there is the "I", and the rest of the world external to that. And not only that, but that "I" doesn't always include our bodies, either. (We don't say "I am a body", but "I have a body" -- in other words, we regard our bodies as "meat puppets".)

Most folks leave these ideas to the philosophers, theologians, scientists, and whomever has the "job" of "figuring all that out". But I do think that each and every person has their own philosophy about how they regard the world, even if they can't articulate in words what that is. So a "philosopher" is someone who has taken the time to share their own philosophy with the rest of us supposedly self-aware creatures.

But that doesn't mean you have to accept it (or do anything with philosophy whatsoever) -- it just means they had some ideas that they thought important to tell us about (for whatever reason). "Theology", in this definition, just means you (probably) have "God" or "Gods" or "Goddesses" or "cosmic muffins" or whatever wrapped up in your philosophy. (God knows I do.)

With some encouragement, I'll probably write (again) how I went from the religion of my childhood, to religious critic (esp. the one I grew up with) in high school, then through many years of theological speculation (including discussions with a friend who had been kicked out of more seminaries that he could count), then through some transformative events that left me wanting to figure out just _what_ I believed, if anything...

...and from there, developed a philosophy based on some counter-intuitive principles of game theory. Said principles suit me fine, and seem to be "hints" of a kind of "Higher Order" that is as subtle in our universe as our own consciousness...and just as difficult to quantify.