Archive for June, 2011
I thought I would set down everything I know on the topic of sex in its connection with mysticism. This is quite a complex topic, and I expect my thoughts to only constitute a tentative and partial sketch of the nature of the situation.
I am under the impression that there is merit to the Hindu theory of kundalini.
According to the theory of kundalini, there are seven chakras arranged along the length of the spine and into the head. These chakras exist in a subtle “energy body” which is nonphysical but exists parallel to the physical body.
It is not germane to my purpose to go into the nature of the individual chakras, but the Law of One contains an excellent discussion of the matter.
Upreaching energy enters the system at the bottom, in the root chakra. It meets with downpouring energy entering from the top, in the crown chakra. This produces various types of experience. If the two energies meet at the sacral chakra, for instance, one type of experience will be produced, while if they meet at the heart chakra, another type of experience will be produced. This variety of experience is considered in terms of how far the upreaching energy, or kundalini, is able to rise. By raising one’s kundalini, one can obtain varying degrees of mystical experience.
The connection with sexuality occurs in that sexual energy is a particular type of energy which can be incorporated into the upreaching dynamic. This creates the possibility of sublimation of sexual energy. One can transform sexual energy into higher types of spiritual energy, by raising it upwards through the chakras.
Methods of Sublimation
Most religious traditions are aware on some level of the possibility of the sublimation of sexual energy, and that it is an appropriate use of sexual energy for a spiritual seeker. There are two primary methods of sublimation of sexual energy which religious traditions recommend: continence, and energy transfer.
In continence, one refrains from outward expressions of sexual energy, in order to retain and sublimate this energy.
In energy transfer, one engages in a sex act with another, dedicating the sex act to spiritual purposes, and possibly applying various disciplines to further this aim. In this way one achieves both a sublimation of sex energy and a spiritual connection with the sex partner. The Law of One contains an excellent discussion of the process of sexual energy transfer.
It is my conjecture that these are the two most effective methods of sublimation of sexual energy. There are many other ways in which it is possible to express sexual energy, and it is my conjecture that these other ways either discharge the energy without using it to accomplish useful work, or actually use this energy to achieve counterproductive results. I quote from P.D. Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous, which gives an exquisite treatment of the topic:
“Then the other question — ‘is sexual abstinence useful for the work or not?'”
“It is useful if there is abstinence in all centers. If there is abstinence in one center and full liberty of imagination in the others, then there could be nothing worse. And still more, abstinence can be useful if a man knows what to do with the energy which he saves in this way. If he does not know what to do with it, nothing whatever can be gained by abstinence.”
“Speaking in general, what is the most correct form of life in this connection from the point of view of the work?”
“It is impossible to say. I repeat that while a man does not know it is better for him not to attempt anything. Until he has new and exact knowledge it will be quite enough if his life is guided by the usual rules and principles. If a man begins to theorize and invent in this sphere, it will lead to nothing except psychopathy. But it must again be remembered that only a person who is completely normal as regards sex has any chance in the work. Any kind of ‘originality,’ strange tastes, strange desires, or, on the other hand, fears, constantly working ‘buffers,’ must be destroyed from the very beginning. Modern education and modern life create an enormous number of sexual psychopaths. They have no chance at all in the work.”
“Speaking in general, there are only two correct ways of expending sexual energy — normal sexual life and transmutation. All inventions in this sphere are very dangerous.”
“People have tried abstinence from times beyond memory. Sometimes, very rarely, it has led to something but in most cases what is called abstinence is simply exchanging normal sensations for abnormal, because the abnormal are more easily hidden. But it is not about this that I wish to speak. You must understand where lies the chief evil and what makes for slavery. It is not in sex itself but in the abuse of sex. But what the abuse of sex means is again misunderstood. People usually take this to be either excess or perversion. But these are comparatively innocent forms of abuse of sex. And it is necessary to know the human machine very well in order to grasp what the abuse of sex in the real meaning of these words is. It means the wrong work of centers in relation to sex, that is, the action of the sex center through other centers, and the action of other centers through the sex center; or, to be still more precise, the functioning of the sex center with energy borrowed from other centers and the functioning of other centers with energy borrowed from the sex center.”
“Abnormalities in the sex center require special study. In the first place it must be understood that normally in the sex center as well as in the higher emotional and higher thinking centers, there is no negative side. In all the other centers except the higher ones, in the thinking, in the emotional, in the moving, in the instinctive, in all of them there are, so to speak, two halves — the positive and the negative; affirmation and negation, or ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ in the thinking center; pleasant and unpleasant sensations in the moving and instinctive centers. There is no such division in the sex center. There are no positive or negative sides in it. There are no unpleasant sensations or unpleasant feelings in it; there is either a pleasant sensation, a pleasant feeling, or there is nothing, an absence of any sensation, complete indifference. But in consequence of the wrong work of centers it often happens that the sex center unites with the negative part of the emotional center or with the negative part of the instinctive center. And then, stimulation of a certain kind of the sex center, or even any stimulation at all of the sex center, calls forth unpleasant feelings and unpleasant sensations. People who experience unpleasant feelings and sensations which have been evoked in them through ideas and imagination connected with sex are inclined to regard them as a great virtue or as something original; in actual fact it is simply disease. Everything connected with sex should be either pleasant or indifferent. Unpleasant feelings and sensations all come from the emotional center or the instinctive center.”
“This is the ‘abuse of sex.’ It is necessary, further, to remember that the sex center works with ‘hydrogen’ 12. This means that it is stronger and quicker than all other centers. Sex, in fact, governs all other centers. The only thing in ordinary circumstances, that is, when man has neither consciousness nor will, that holds the sex center in submission is ‘buffers.’ ‘Buffers’ can entirely bring it to nought, that is, they can stop its normal manifestation. But they cannoy destroy its energy. The energy remains and passes over to other centers, finding expression for itself through them; in other words, the other centers rob the sex center of the energy which it does not use itself. The energy of the sex center in the work of the thinking, emotional, and moving centers can be recognized by a particular ‘taste,’ by a particular fervor, by a vehemence which the nature of the affair concerned does not call for. The thinking center writes books, but in making use of the energy of the sex center it does not simply occupy itself with philosophy, science, or politics — it is always fighting something, disputing, criticizing, creating new subjective theories. The emotional center preaches Christianity, abstinence, asceticism, or the fear and horror of sin, hell, the torment of sinners, eternal fire, all this with the energy of the sex center.. Or on the other hand it works up revolutions, robs, burns, kills, again with the same energy. The moving center occupies itself with sport, creates various records, climbs mountains, jumps, fences, wrestles, fights, and so on. In all these instances, that is, in the work of the thinking center as well as in the work of the emotional and the moving centers, when they work with the energy of the sex center, there is always one general characteristic and this is a certain particular vehemence and, together with it, the uselessness of the work in question. Neither the thinking nor the emotional nor the moving centers can ever create anything useful with the energy of the sex center. This is an example of the ‘abuse of sex.'”
“But this is only one aspect of it. Another aspect consists in the fact that, when the energy of the sex center is plundered by the other centers and spent on useless work, it has nothing left for itself and has to steal the energy of other centers which is much lower and coarser than its own. And yet the sex center is very important for the general activity, and particularly for the inner growth of the organism […] At the same time union with, and the use of its energy by, the thinking center creates far too great an imagination on the subject of sex, and in addition a tendency to be satisfied with this imagination. Union with the emotional center creates sentimentality or, on the contrary, jealousy, cruelty. This is again a picture of the ‘abuse of sex.'”
I see the sexual impulse as one which is ethically negative by nature, but which can be turned to the ethically positive through sublimation. The sexual impulse in its natural form is lust (in the sacral chakra), and it can become love (in the heart chakra).
Lust degrades both the one desired and one desiring. Through it one can enter into dynamics of possession, manipulation, or violence. Therefore it is negative.
Love ennobles both the one loved and the one loving. Through it one can enter into dynamics of service, mutual appreciation, and aesthetic elevation. Therefore it is positive.
Lust and love are in a reciprocal, antithetical relationship. When one lusts after another, one becomes unable to love them. When one loves another, one becomes unable to lust after them.
I recently decided to stop masturbating. This decision was due to a desire to abandon lust. Since doing this I have experienced a delightful process of sublimation of sex energy.
According to Ra, our sexual feelings are reflections of deeper feelings that we hold. Thus, for instance, my sexual feelings for Hannah were a reflection of my love for her (on the positive side) and my desire to have mastery over her (on the negative side).
I think that my desire to masturbate is driven by a lack of self-acceptance. I see my sexual feelings as an impure part of myself, and my desire to masturbate arises from my desire to expel and be rid of this impure part of myself. In order to be OK with not masturbating, I have to practice self-acceptance, and in particular I have to be OK with my own sexual feelings, rather than feeling like they are something that I need to cast out of myself.
Certain philosophers write in a way that is very hard to understand. For instance, consider the following excerpt of the prose of Martin Heidegger (Being and Time. The Possible Being-a-Whole of Da-sein and Being-Toward-Death. 46. The seeming impossibility of ontologically grasping and determining Da-sein as a whole.):
“The inadequacy of the hermeneutical situation from which the foregoing analysis originated must be overcome. With regard fo the fore-having, which must necessarily be obtained, of the whole of Da-sein, we must ask whether this being, as something existing, can become accessible at all in its being. There seem to be important reasons that speak against the possibility of our required task, reasons that lie in the constitution of Da-sein iteself.
Care, which forms the totality of the structural whole of Da-sein, obviously contradicts a possible being whole of this being according to its ontological sense. The primary factor of care, ‘being ahead of itself,’ however, means that Da-seing always exists for the sake of itself. ‘As long as it is,’ up until its end, it is related to its potentiality-of-being. Even when it, still existing, has nothing further ‘ahead of it,’ and has ‘settled its accounts,’ its being is still influenced by ‘being ahead of itself.’ Hopelessness, for example, does not tear Da-sein away from its possibilities, but is only an independent mode of being toward these possibilities. Even when one is without illusions and ‘is ready for anything,’ the ‘ahead of itself’ is still there. This structural factor of care tells us unambiguously that is always still outstanding in Da-sein which has not yet become ‘real’ as a potentiality-of-its-being. A constant unfinished quality thus lies in the essence of the constitution of Da-sein. This lack of totality means that there is still something outstanding in one’s potentiality-for-being.”
Why is this written in such a difficult style? Heidegger once said, “making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy.” It is clear, then, that the fact that this is so difficult to understand is an intentional choice on Heidegger’s part, and not an accident. Why did Heidegger do this? Let us consider first the charitable interpretations:
1. Whatever Heidegger is saying here, it can’t be said any more simply.
2. What Heidegger is saying could be said more simply, but one would lose a certain depth of meaning in doing so.
Now let us consider the less charitable interpretations:
3. In making his writing hard to understand, Heidegger makes it harder for people to disagree with him. Probably most disagreements could be dismissed as misunderstandings.
4. In making his writing hard to understand, Heidegger creates a sense of mystery which makes people want more strongly to understand him.
5. In making his writing hard to understand, Heidegger gives the impression of being intelligent or profound.
6. Once somebody has put in the effort necessary to understand Heidegger, they are more likely to agree with him. Disagreeing with him would mean that they were wasting their time in trying to understand him.
And now the least charitable interpretation:
7. Heidegger’s writing is actually nonsense, and he has cleverly bamboozled everybody who reads him into thinking that he’s saying something profound, when actually he’s saying nothing.
I personally don’t put any weight in (7), but I’ve heard it expressed.
I can certainly see a lot of benefits to making one’s writing hard to understand. I don’t think I will ever do this myself, because it seems kind of disingenuous.
* That all people are mixtures of masculine and feminine essences.
* That women have no souls, no consciousness, no sense of morality, no logic in their thought processes, and no possibility of spirituality.
* That women are wholly consumed by their sexual desires.
* That spirituality and “genius” are the highest manifestations of masculinity, and it is the duty of a man to forego his sexual, feminine side and embrace an abstract, mystical love of God.
* That Jews and psychologists are fundamentally feminine in nature.
This is a high point in my study of cranks. A crank is a person who strongly believes something that is almost certainly false. The most interesting cranks are smart people who just happen to have been caught in a delusion. Cranks, and especially intelligent cranks, are interesting to study because they shed light on the psychology of delusion. One can identify from studying them the factors that lead people to become cranks.
My ultimate goal in studying cranks is to determine whether or not I am a crank.
Weininger is one of the most fascinating cranks which I have come across. In his work profound truth is inextricably plaited up with profound falsehood. Often he seems to me to make a penetrating and accurate observation about the nature of female or male psychology, and in the very same statement to denigrate women in the most infuriating fashion. It amazes me that somebody can be so right and so wrong simultaneously.
I have a great deal of compassion for Weininger. I feel that he was not a bad person. To my knowledge he never mistreated any woman. With the information I have, I feel that Weininger was a brilliant, moral, spiritually mature person who also strongly held excessively misogynistic false beliefs. I hypothesize that these beliefs stemmed from deep-seated issues with his own sexuality. Nor do I conceive of his misogyny as an adjunct to an otherwise sound personality; rather, I imagine it as an inextricable part of his character, integrated into the roots of his belief system and his value system, such that the positive and the negative in him are inseparably married.
What interests me about Weininger is that he is a person who appears to have had in spades almost all of the qualities to which I aspire. I feel that he was an earnest and capable seeker of truth. And yet he was so deeply wrong. He had everything going for him, and still he was thoroughly, fundamentally, reprehensibly wrong.
I wonder if I am like Weininger. Do I deal in profound truths, or do I deal in profound falsehoods? Pointedly, have I fallen victim to an “extraterrestrial delusion?”
It seems to me that we judge propositions as true or false based on subjective feelings of rightness, and subjective feelings of wrongness.
It seems to me that no distinction can be made between, “I believe that X,” and “I feel that X.” Belief is a feeling that something is right. Disbelief is a feeling that something is wrong.
Thus, for instance, when one reads a math proof, the proof eventually generates in oneself a feeling that its conclusion is right. This feeling of rightness is the “aha!” moment of understanding the proof. If one is studying a standard proof, one probably already believes in its conclusion prior to understanding the proof. But, if one is a mathematician studying a newly published proof, there might be some doubt in one’s mind about the correctness of its conclusion. In this case one would believe in the conclusion only when this “aha!” feeling came.
I suggest that, in this latter case, the feeling is the direct cause of the belief, and the proof is an indirect cause of the belief. The proof generates the feeling, and the feeling generates the belief.
How is it that I first say that the feeling is the belief, and now say instead that the feeling generates the belief? One can draw an analogy to love. When one falls in love with another, there are initial feelings of love. These initial emotions give way to more enduring but less intense feelings of love. The character of this enduring love is different from the initial passion. So it is with belief: there is the initial passion of revelation, and then ongoing feelings of commitment to the proposition believed.
It is tempting to take my conclusion in the following way: “if all of our beliefs are based on our feelings, then everything is subjective, and we can believe whatever we want.” I don’t suggest that. It is my opinion that our feelings of rightness and wrongness are semi-accurate gauges of reality. Sometimes we feel something to be right, and it is actually right. Sometimes we feel something to be wrong, and it is actually wrong. In other cases, of course, these feelings mislead us.
From here on I will use “belief” as a synonym for “feeling of rightness.”
We have already noted that logical validity is a condition which almost always leads to belief. What other conditions lead to belief? I suggest that we are likely to believe something if:
1. it is revealed to us through experience;
2. we have seen solid arguments or evidence for it;
3. it is consistent with other things that we believe;
4. those in our social circles also believe it;
5. it is simple and beautiful;
6. it generates positive emotions in us;
7. it is consistent with our intuitions.
This list is undoubtedly incomplete, and contains some overlap. We can understand all of these items as conditions that usually generate increased feelings of rightness.
i wish to calculate the probability that the contents of the Ra material are true. This is a continuation of the work done in On the Truth Value of the Ra Material.
I pointed out there that if the Ra material was communicated by Ra, and Ra did not tell any lies, then all of the contents of the Ra material were true. Eric pointed out that even given these assumptions, parts of the Ra material could still be false due to the possibility of transmission errors and the possibility of foreign takeover in session 8.
I find the latter possibility unlikely; I find it more likely that the omitted “I am Ra” taglines in session 8 were a simple mistake on Ra’s part, similar to the transmission errors. I also find it likely that Ra would have later mentioned the fact that a foreign takeover occurred, if it had in fact occurred. I have therefore not taken the possibility of foreign takeover into consideration in the following calculations, but it would be easy for a concerned individual to modify the calculations to take such a possibility into account.
To posit that the Ra material was communicated by Ra requires positing two propositions which depart from conventional scientific understanding: the existence of extraterrestrials, and the possibility of telepathy. Therefore these two propositions will be incorporated into the calculation. Additionally, it will take into account the proposition that extraterrestrials are responsible for UFO sightings, abduction experiences, crop circles, and similar paranormal phenomena.
It is not possible to calculate an “absolute probability” that the Ra material is true, because this probability must be relative to the estimated probabilities of various other propositions. I have noted, by marking with an asterisk (*), where I am employing my own estimate of a particular probability. These probability estimates are generally fairly moderate. A scientific materialist might give very low probability estimates for the same propositions, and a paranormal enthusiast might give very high estimates. I have tried to moderate between the extremes of these two points of view. An interested individual can modify the calculations to use their own estimated probabilities of the same propositions.
The propositions which I will employ in the calculation are:
E = Extraterrestrials exist.
U = Extraterrestrials are responsible for UFO sightings, abduction experiences, crop circles, etc.
T = Telepathy exists.
R = The Ra material was communicated by Ra.
H = Ra did not tell any lies.
V = The Ra material is true, except for transmission errors.
First, an estimate of the probability that extraterrestrials are responsible for UFO sightings, abduction experiences, crop circles, etc.:
* P(U) = .4
If U, then extraterrestrials necessarily exist:
P(E | U) = 1
An estimate of the probability that, in the case where extraterrestrials are not responsible for paranormal phenomena, extraterrestrials nonetheless exist:
* P(E | ~U) = .2
A calculation of the overall probability that extraterrestrials exist, given the previous estimates:
P(E) = P(E | U) * P(U) + P(E | ~U) * P(~U) = 1 * .4 + .2 * .6 = .52
An estimate of the probability that telepathy exists:
* P(T) = .5
This estimate is based on the fact that paranormal researchers have been reporting positive results on telepathy experiments for the past century, but other researchers assert that all of these results are invalid.
The probability that both extraterrestrials and telepathy exist:
P(E & T) = P(E) * P(T) = .52 * .5 = .26
If either extraterrestrials do not exist, or telepathy does not exist, then the Ra material was not communicated by Ra:
P(R | ~E) = 0
P(R | ~T) = 0
An estimate of the probability that the Ra material was communicated by Ra, in the case where both extraterrestrials and telepathy exist:
* P(R | E & T) = .8
The probability that the Ra material was communicated by Ra:
P(R) = P(R | E & T) * P(E & T) = .8 * .26 = .21
An estimate of the probability that Ra was honest, in the case where the Ra material was communicated by Ra:
* P(H | R) = .9
The probability that the Ra material was communicated by Ra, and Ra was honest:
P(R & H) = P(R) * P(H | R) = .21 * .9 = .19
If the Ra material was communicated by Ra and Ra was honest, then the Ra material is true except for transmission errors. Furthermore, if the Ra material is true except for transmission errors, then the Ra material was communicated by Ra and Ra was honest, as the Ra material contains these very statements in such a form that it is unlikely that they were due to transmission errors. Thus:
(R & H) iff V
P(V) = P(R & H) = .19
Therefore, according to my estimates, there is a 19% probability that the Ra material is true.
We can make the same calculations using a conservative set of assumptions regarding the existence of extraterrestrials and telepathy:
* P(U) = .05
* P(E | ~U) = .05
* P(T) = .05
P(V) = .0035
This is a 0.35% chance — quite negligible — that the Ra material is true.
We can make the same calculations using a liberal set of assumptions regarding the existence of extraterrestrials and telepathy:
* P(U) = .9
* P(E | ~U) = .5
* P(T) = .9
P(V) = .62
This is a 62% probability that the Ra material is true.
The wide variation possible in outcomes, based on one’s estimated prior probabilities, shows the relative worthlessness of these particular numbers. I would guess, however, that the most reasonable estimates are in the range of 1% to 40%.
We can see that it requires a significant amount of certainty about a significant number of unprovable propositions to regard the Ra material as true as a result of rational reflection. The decision to regard the Ra material as true is one which is most likely based not on rational reflection, but on faith.
Finally, here is a list of the probabilities which must be estimated to carry out this calculation:
P(U) – The probability that extraterrestrials are responsible for UFO sightings, abduction experiences, crop circles, etc.
P(E | ~U) – The probability that extraterrestrials exist, in the case where they are not responsible for the aforementioned paranormal phenomena.
P(T) – The probability that telepathy is possible.
P(R | E & T) – The probability that the Ra material was communicated by Ra, in the case where extraterrestrials exist and telepathy is possible.
P(H | R) – The probability that Ra did not tell any lies, in the case where the Ra material was communicated by Ra.
For the past three days I have been repeatedly performing the following mental operation:
“Imagine that you never read any documents claimed to be produced by telepathy with extraterrestrials. Now gauge your emotional reaction to this situation. Once calm, ask yourself what you would believe about the world in this situation. Would you accept materialism? Or would you still be seeking mystical answers to the nature of reality?”
I am still asking myself this question. Why? In the struggle not to believe things that are false.
I believe things that are, apparently, patently absurd. Things like:
“I incarnated from another planet, vastly advanced in spiritual evolution relative to Earth, in order to help Earth transition from the third dimension to the fourth dimension. My primary mission is to generate as much light and love as possible, because this light and love will diffuse throughout Earth’s magnetic fields and reduce the global amount of strife and suffering while helping others to achieve enlightenment. I am being aided in this mission by extraterrestrials from the fourth dimension who are telepathically beaming me aid packages of light and love.”
These beliefs, and many others like them, are important to my worldview and I use them to decide my actions. Because I like to think of myself as a rational person, it is a matter of great concern to me to determine whether or not they are true.
I have come across nobody who can put forth an argument that makes me question these beliefs. Noboby except for one person: Eliezer Yudkowsky. This man did what no other could: he made me doubt my basic beliefs. I am still struggling with the gift he gave me.
This gift is the vision of being a rational person: one who believes things that are verifiably not false.
So many incredibly intelligent people believe patently absurd things. It is so, so difficult to escape from these cognitive traps. If my beliefs are wrong, I want to be one of the fortunate ones who escaped from his insanity.
As an example of this type of insanity, consider Eliezer Yudkowsky. He believes:
“Within the next 50 years, humans will create an artificial intelligence powerful enough to increase its own intelligence, which will go into a positive feedback loop of intelligence increase until it becomes so intelligent that it is able to solve all solvable problems and, overnight, usher in an era of unimaginable perfection, at which time humans will live out the rest of eternity in a state of Edenic bliss.”
Yudkowksy has devoted his life to bringing this event about.
Are my beliefs weirder than Yudkowsky’s? And if Yudkowsky, the only man who was able to bring me to question my weird beliefs, dearly holds beliefs that are almost as weird as mine, is there anybody in the world who can help me with my problem?
Love and wisdom are archetypes, or leitmotifs of the unconscious mind. In the L/L Research transcripts, they are considered as opposites of each other.
Love and wisdom, being archetypes, are not directly accessible to us in their perfect and undiluted forms. We see them, however, reflected in various aspects of our world.
Love is reflected in situations such as romantic partnerships, families, and communities, and in qualities such as altruism, compassion, self-sacrifice, and affection. Love is related to the green ray energy center. A spiritual teacher who embodied great love was Jesus Christ.
Wisdom is more poorly represented on our plane, but is reflected somewhat in situations such as scientific research and courts of law, and in qualities such as honesty, truth-seeking, fairness, and justice. Wisdom is related to the blue ray energy center. A spiritual teacher who embodied great wisdom was the Buddha.
The balancing of love and wisdom is reflected in religion and spirituality. It is related to the indigo ray energy center. A spiritual teacher who particularly embodied the balancing of love and wisdom was Lao Tzu.
According to Ra, in fourth density entities learn the lessons of love. In fifth density, entities learn the lessons of wisdom. In sixth density, entities learn to balance love and wisdom.
Love, wisdom, and the balancing of love and wisdom are virtues required of the spiritual seeker. In fact, one may take the point of view that they encompass all that is required of the spiritual seeker.
A spiritual seeker can embody love by serving others, and feeling adoration for the Creator and all beings.
A spiritual seeker can embody wisdom by seeking truth, sharing truth, and engaging in moral disciplines, such as the concentration of the mind or the discipline of the body.
It is difficult to achieve love in one’s life, and similarly difficult to achieve wisdom in one’s life. Even more difficult is to achieve the balancing of love and wisdom. I will illustrate the problem of balancing love and wisdom by way of examples.
In my relationship with Hannah, I spent a lot of time giving Hannah information about herself. This information was true and would have been useful to her in improving herself. But, the net effect of this information was to hurt her self-esteem. My actions illustrated wisdom without love.
Carla Rueckert, in the course of the Ra material, is repeatedly admonished for engaging in various efforts which, though intended to serve others, pushed her body beyond its limits and had negative effects on her health. Her actions illustrated love without wisdom.
I engaged in intensive spiritual practices, including various physical disciplines. These disciplines included repeatedly forcing my body to sit in half-lotus for longer than was comfortable. After doing this for a long period of time, I sustained a knee injury which made it impossible for me to sit in half-lotus. Disciplining the body is an application of wisdom. In this case I did this without care for my body. Care for my body would have been an expression of love, and specifically love for the self. My actions illustrated wisdom without love.
Jesus Christ chose to martyr himself when he died on the cross. He did this out of love for the world. If he had chosen not to die on the cross, then he could have stayed and taught for a longer period of time, and this would have been a wise action with practical benefits. Therefore Jesus’ choice to die on the cross was an example of love without wisdom. Martyrdom in general illustrates love without wisdom.
The balance between love and wisdom emerges clearly in the context of romantic relationships. Romantic feelings are filled with love. Their free and unrestrained expression can be seen as love without wisdom. The corresponding wisdom without love can be seen in the celibacy practiced by many spiritual people. To achieve a balance between these two extremes, neither expressing romantic feelings in an unwise manner, nor refraining from expressing romantic feelings entirely, is to balance love and wisdom.
It is useful to draw a distinction between beliefs and values. Rationality tells us what and how to believe, but it is silent on what and how to value. Many things that we call beliefs are actually better termed values, to illustrate their non-epistemic nature and their immunity from intellectual criticism.
For instance, I value the religious experience very highly. I value love, wisdom, and the balancing of love and wisdom. There is nothing irrational about any of these values. I can doubt whether or not the things I say I value, or the things I believe I value, are in line with what I actually value. But, I cannot doubt whether or not my values are valuable, in that there is no standard for intellectual evaluation of values.
Much of religion consists of value systems. Morality, and the teachings of compassion, wisdom, and spiritual seeking are not belief systems, but value systems. Therefore they are not subject to doubt.
The essential point which we have reached regards the role of feeling/intuition in seeking the truth.
I regard feeling/intutiion as a great and vast resource of the mind, which has the potential to shed light on truths far more profound than those of the rational mind. So it is only natural that the seeker of the truth should use their feeling/intuition.
Yet, we also know that feeling/intuition is unreliable. It often produces the wrong answers. We are ready to notice when others’ intuitions may have gone astray. We are much less ready to notice or acknowledge that our own intuitions have led us astray.
It is for this reason that we need doubt. Doubt is taking one’s belief and asking oneself, “is this true?” This involves examining the evidence, and also involves checking for biases in one’s thinking. Eliezer Yudkowsky treats the process in detail in How to Actually Change Your Mind.
In some cases we will find that our belief is held up by the evidence, in which case we should be ready to defend it. In some cases we will find that our belief is not held up by the evidence, in which case we should be ready to abandon it.
To doubt is to use your rational thinking to check the work of your feeling/intuition. Sometimes this work will check out right, and sometimes it will check out wrong. In the first case you gain greater certainty about your belief; in the second case you gain the benefit of shedding your irrational belief.
The good news is that most of our feelings/intuitions are not true or false. Most of our intuitions are simply feelings with no epistemic component.
In some cases one can separate the feeling that led to a particular belief, from the belief itself. For instance, I read the L/L Research transcripts and believed that they contained the truth. The feelings that led to this conclusion were that the claims they made were beautiful and implied a hyper-optimistic worldview to which I was most attracted. Optimism is a feeling, not an assertion, and this feeling I can preserve without holding any particular beliefs about the world.
For other feelings/intuitions, the problems arise from semantic confusions over the meanings of the words used to express the feeling/intuition. For instance, consider the statement “all is one.” This statement is an inadequate way of expressing a particular type of feeling/intuition: namely, the religious experience. If we attempt to interpret the statement on any other level, if we interpret it as having a logical meaning, then we only set ourselves up for semantic confusions.
To reject the belief that “all is one” is not to reject the feeling/intuition which lies behind it. Rather, it is to reject the word games and absurdities which proceed from any attempt to do anything with the sentence “all is one” other than bask in the feelings it evokes.
Similar comments can apply to the belief that “the only reality is God.” In this usage neither the word “reality” nor the word “God” has any logical meaning. There are no anticipated experiences implied by the belief that “the only reality is God.” The belief that “the only reality is material” is equally empty of implications, and thus both beliefs are merely playing with words. Disagreements over materialism and non-materialism, in many cases, are merely disagreements about what word games we ought to play.
If we are not holding a belief rationally, then we should not hold it. This is because a belief that is not held rationally is not likely to be true.
Eliezer Yudkowsky has done an excellent job of articulating what goes into a rational belief, and why these ingredients are necessary. He goes further and shows many ways in which it is possible to hold beliefs irrationally. He psychoanalyzes many ways in which belief, and in particular religious belief, can go astray. Rather than giving an incompetent rehash of this material, I suggest that the interested reader read the sequences Map and Territory, Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions, Reductionism, and How to Actually Change Your Mind.
I will give examples of how I used this material to diagnose my own irrational beliefs.
I believed that the Ra material was communicated by an extraterrestrial entity called Ra. This is one of the explanations for the existence of the Ra material. Other explanations include that it was spat out by Carla Rueckert’s subconscious, or that it was made up by L/L Research, who then lied about their method of producing it. All of these explanations have various difficulties, and it is certainly not my intent to argue that any particular one is true. There is some true explanation for how the Ra material was produced, and we do not know with certainty what that explanation is.
I believed that the Ra material was communicated by Ra. This belief was irrational because it was not based on evidence. I believed it because I wanted it to be true; because the idea that it was true made me happy. Having seen that the belief was irrational, and having identified the cognitive biases which led me to believe it in the first place, I had to abandon the belief.
I believed in reincarnation. This belief was irrational because it was not based on evidence. I believed it because I wanted it to be true; because the idea that it was true reduced my fear of death. Having seen that the belief was irrational, and having identified the cognitive biases which led me to believe it in the first place, I had to abandon the belief.
I believed that my spiritual experiences disproved materialism. This belief was irrational because it was due to a semantic confusion. I thought that my spiritual experiences were direct experiences of reality, and materialism stated that reality was made of subatomic particles, which was not what I experienced in spiritual experiences. These two seemed incompatible to me, but the real problem was a conceptual confusion over the meaning of “reality.” I concluded that I meant something different by “reality” when talking about my spiritual experiences than the materialist meant by “reality.” Roughly, by “reality” I meant my spiritual experiences, and by “reality” the materialist meant the sum total of what can be inferred by logical deduction from empirical observation. After disentangling this semantic confusion, I saw that my spiritual experiences did not disprove materialism.
I believed that “black is white.” This belief was irrational because it was not consistent with my other beliefs, I did not really believe it anyway, and it was due to a similar semantic confusion. Roughly, by “black is white” I meant the content of a particular type of spiritual experience in which this equation made intuitive sense. I did not follow out the implications of this belief; for instance, I would not use a pen with white ink instead of a pen with black ink on the premise that it made no difference. Thus, I did not really believe it anyway.
What irrational beliefs do you hold?