[An email out. Just another in a discussion going back years.]
> "They are simply abstracts of reality that you and others have
> come up with." This is the post-modern idea that there is no truth.
On the contrary. Truth is real and absolute. Nonetheless, all concepts are abstractions. You understand this; recall the "dissecting a brain to find ideas" analogy. You can’t dissect it and find truth, either.
I’m not saying there’s no truth. I’m saying that an integrated abstract model of reality (existence / body / mind / consciousness) is closer to the truth than a dualist abstract model (two sides of reality). The truth is that if you are looking for a philosophy in which to live life as a natural human being, then it ought to integrate body and mind, not separate it.
In my view, this is the primary source of your frustration (and your book is filled with frustration and hand-wringing).
In the hierarchical, authoritarian civilization in which humanity arose, the dualist approach was probably reasonably suited. But today’s technology — a natural outgrowth of man acting naturally — is ushering in decentralization, rejection of say-so authority, individualism, free agency. In short, people are less constrained by guilt and are going and forming their own complex values systems without much regard to tradition, ritual, antiquity, etc.
You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. People don’t regard life as serving material pleasures or serving spiritual ones, as an almost mutually exclusive mandate. They want both, and they are going to have it. We are in a transition, and what’s going to come out of it is not the collapse of spiritual values to the material, but rather, an uplifting of material values to the spiritual — but the spiritual as primarily defined individually or in small groups. Spirituality is going to be as simple as the creation and sharing of values between individuals who place that [whatever] at a high value. It can even be something material, primarily pleasurable, wholly spiritual, or some combination and it can serve as the foundation of spiritual communion.
Mark my words. There’s some way yet to go, but this is the destiny of humanity. In the process, dualism will be left in the dust. I’m certain of it. And good riddance.
> I don’t think you are cut out for esoterism. If the WIE path
> is helpful to you, follow it.
I don’t follow, P. I’m just arrogant enough to suffer the illusion that I can choose my own values and act upon my own authority without a following-like regard for purported wisdoms. I will be the judge, for me, of what’s wise counsel and what’s not.
But I also understand the necessity of being just humble enough to realize that I don’t come close to knowing it all. I know what I know, but it’s not all, or enough. And so I continue to seek. But, there is a profound difference from the notion of following. I seek not something to follow, but to integrate. Get that, P: integrate. It is not a matter of which system is right, which is wrong; it’s what elements and gems can be integrated into one’s own path of one’s own making.
There is also a profound difference of perspective. I love humanity; I love the progress it has made and I consider that progress wonderful. I’m a worshiper of man, P., and my standard of value is my sense of what I envision as the ideal man. Such an ideal includes core virtues such as pride, accomplishment, individuality, productivity, guiltlessness, benevolence towards innocence. My heroes are those who have lifted mankind on a material level. I regard most religious traditions as fundamentally parasitic — authoritarian structures that conjure and propagate false illusions in order to foist guilt upon the unsuspecting masses in the never-ending attempt to escape the (body-mind) integrated effort required to produce objective values for survival and the pursuit of happiness.
> Somehow, you need to escape from the flat reality that
> defines the modern worldview.
Well, that seems to be your catch-all assessment for just about everything you see as wrong with the world. Don’t worry. I have them too. A little advice: stop and evaluate such catch-alls from time-to-time to see if they still reflect truth, in your honest assessment.
I’ve said this before: it’s too simple; too pat. I don’t personally know a single person who doesn’t have and act upon spiritual concerns or higher values. Oh, I know there are some, but it’s a red herring. I also know that people are unbalanced. I tend to agree with you about balance, but from an integrated and not a separated perspective. I believe — because it is my personal experience — that people can experience spiritual uplifting through material endeavors, provided they approach them from the right perspective. Frankly, I’m forever astonished — astonished! — that you make no allowance that I can detect for any sort of spiritual-level experience that doesn’t completely exclude material concerns.
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