Eco-Mewsings

hsiang_sheng50

Questions, Answers, Thoughts, and more…scroll down
(*A mews is an outdoor facility for housing raptors….)

The purpose of this section of our site is to encourage the exchange of ideas in ecological metaphysics. Without a thorough understanding of the world and how humans perceive their relationship with their environment, our best-laid plans for the improvement of what the common perception suggests is a declining condition, cannot be accurately debunked or confirmed. Without an understanding of our unexamined metaphysical assumptions about how the world works, our beliefs lead to more and more problems as we appear to be doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. This is insanity at its best, and its most virulent vectors are those to whom we abdicate our responsibilities through the myths of various systems of government.

We will provide points of departure. Statements from the famous and the obscure will be posted in this section to elicit your responses, or just to give you reason to pause and think. If you would like to comment, send your responses to us, where they will be posted to this page. (Editing will be confined to use of improper language, remember: Children are on board!) Anonymity will be provided at your request, otherwise your comments will be identified. An attempt will be made to organize responses into categories as they become apparent, solely as a means of efficient access.

Index of Questions and Answers


Our Philosophy, our Bias…

Our bias, obviously, is a predatory one. Quoting from Murder in the Kitchen by philosopher Alan Watts:
“We are other creatures rearranged, for biological existence continues only through the mutual slaughter and ingestion of its various species. I exist solely through membership in this perfectly weird arrangement of beings that flourish by chewing each other up.”

Critical thinking is a predatory process. In the world of ideas, i.e., the world abstracted by human reason, only those ideas that can defend themselves deserve to survive, and here survival depends on the once-cherished arts of logic and rhetoric. Sadly, these disciplines are no longer required to be studied in most schools and universities. Is it any wonder that confusion runs rampant, and forms once cherished are sacrificed on the altar of “progress and equality”? The validity of the abstract world imposed on the “natural order” can be readily assessed by the resulting fruits. Are they bitter, poisonous, sweet, nourishing, or are they just pretty skins full of mush?

It is also important to remember that the world as measured by ” ideas” comes after the world as “material.”  This recognition establishes the hierarchy of any principles that follow, and underlies an organic cosmology.   However, if you accept the alternative premise that before the world of matter, there existed a world of ideas, then you have accepted a political cosmology from which all of your principles will follow. Here then is the root entanglement and confusion of the organic order we actually experience, and the political order we attempt, rarely with any success, to impose. The organic order is home to  the original and spontaneous market place, while the political order yields only a coerced exchange that mostly benefits those in control.  These two premises dictate the form all of our subsequent  relationships will pattern themselves after: organic or mechanical, spontaneous or forced.

Ecology is a relatively new science, and some consider it more of an art than a science. The word derives its meaning from two words: eco and logia, Greek terms referring to household and order respectively. Interestingly enough, an allied concept, economics, comes from the terms for household and the management thereof. These, then, will be our two points of departure: economics and ecology. What is their relationship in the real world, and in the world abstracted by the human thought process? Is there a difference? Does it matter? Who cares?

Quoting Alan Watts again: “The special branch of science which studies the relation of living beings to their environments – ecology – shows beyond doubt that the individual organism and its environment are a continuous stream, or field, of energy. To draw a new moral from the bees and the flowers: the two organisms look very different, for one is rooted in the ground and broadcasts perfume, while the other moves freely in the air and buzzes. But because they cannot exist without each other, it makes real sense to say that they are in fact two aspects of a single organism. Our heads are very different in appearance from our feet, but we recognize them as belonging to one individual because they are obviously connected by skin and bone. But less obvious connections are no less real.”  And from the father of American ecology, Aldo Leopold, “There can be no doubt that a society rooted in the soil is more stable than one rooted in pavements.   Stability seems to vary inversely to the mental distance from fields and woods.”   While from on of the least recognized but most lucid observers of the human condition, and one of the best proponents of an environmental ethic we hear, “There can be no truth under a program of separate sciences…*”

It is our intention here to provide a forum where the less obvious will become more obvious, where the ineffable might be felt or inferred, and where connections will allow some to transcend their limitations and soar, as if on the wings of eagles, while making sure our roots spread their networks in fertile soil, and we can regain a sense of wonder about the worlds around and in us.
*Richard M.Weaver-from Ideas have Consequences    For a practical look at how this perspective might change current political systems, just click.

The Chinese ideogram or characters that you see on various pages of our web site, are best  pronounced as hsiang sheng. The meaning of the three characters is mutual arising or inseparability, and is the key to the relationship between yang and yin in the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism.  Predating Confucianism, Taoism (and here we refer to Contemplative Taoism as opposed to Hsien Taoism described in Alan Watt’s last and possibly best book, Tao: The Watercourse Way). Taoism deserves another very close look.  Especially in the current times of the debate between evolution and “intelligent design.”

Quoting from Watt’s last book, “Certain Chinese philosophers writing in, perhaps, the –5th and –4th centuries (BC) explained ideas and a way of life that have come to be known as Taoism—the way of man’s cooperation with the course or trend of the natural world, whose principles we discover in the flow patterns of water, gas, and fire, which are subsequently memorialized or sculptured in those of stone and wood, and later in many forms of human art.  What they had to say is of immense importance for our own times when, in the +20th century (AD), we are realizing that our efforts to rule nature by technical force and “straighten it out” may have the most disastrous results.”  More on this later.

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Question and Response Index: Vegetarianism, Predators/Immunity, Utility, Julian Simon, Will of God


While visiting the Earth Fair 2000 at Currigan Hall, I came upon your display and got behind a small crowd listening to an older man, balding – with a beard-he was holding an eagle, and as someone inclined towards becoming a vegetarian, I was really amazed about some of the stuff he was talking about- could you get him to elaborate on predators and the immune system, as I had a hard time hearing everything he was saying because of the loud music.  Georgia from Boulder

From the Editors: I remember Georgia having many questions, and apologize for the circumstances that prevented our further interaction, but I will see if I can summarize the issues that were being discussed.

Any immune system consists of a variety of predators (micro or macroscopic) acting in concert or individually to remove intruders (by killing or repelling) them from your body.  Vegetarians stay alive just like everyone else because we all depend totally on these microscopic hunters being successful at their jobs. By the way, the human body has between 500 and 1000 species of microbial creatures (that we know of) living on and in us all the time-we are their universe- not all are part of the immune defense system, however.  We have, for instance, up to a hundred trillion microorganisms in our intestines. In fact, if you counted the cells in our bodies, human cells are outnumbered by about ten to one by other microbial agents, i.e. non-human.  We are really a host planet for an enormous variety of non-human creatures, which may, in fact, direct much of what we think we are controlling by alleged voluntary decisions.

Not only do we have an internal immune system, consisting of things like white blood cells, T-cells, macrophages  and the like, but we also have an external immune system, consisting of all the predators that make up any ecosystem, like eagles, hawks, wolves, snakes, and so on.  Weather is also a predatory factor. This includes green creatures-plants, because they have defensive systems as well.  Every living system (actually there is only one) has a defensive capacity, and as they all act together the living system of the bio-sphere stays alive and grows, even though distinctive events (species) may vanish (dinosaurs for example).   The distinctive species of the bio-sphere are not separate creatures, they are just distinguished in their individual actions. The idea most people have that each creature is a separate being, is simply associated with the convention or fiction of how we define them, and how we speak about them. This is a purely arbitrary boundary or definition that answers the needs of convenience more than anything else. Even though boundaries or definitions are a very useful fiction, they are just that- a fiction. Ecologists know that if you really attempt to define any so-called separate species, you would begin by defining what it does, which would eventually include the entire universe. However,  this does not make distinctive events (parts) of this system equal to all others as some would have you believe.   Nothing is equal in Nature, because  there is simply nothing outside of the system to which you can compare it- even the ideas of supernatural worlds come out of this singular organic system, which is Intelligence. By the way, if you follow this logic to its conclusion, you will become privy to Western society’s greatest taboo.

Since immune systems are such an integral part of  the material world, it is perfectly logical to suppose that they also exist in the non-material world. This is absolutely correct. The world of ideas, the abstract world of reason, thought, and language contains its own defensive systems or immunological responses, but these do not automatically grow with the human organism, they have to be taught and learned through rigorous trials. This is where the importance of definitions is so critical. There are only two components in this system, and historically they were an important part of the classic liberal education.  These two components are the science of logic and the art of rhetoric, and they have virtually vanished from our educational curriculums.  When these two components are not balanced, which is our current condition, the world is tyrannized by logic or emotion. The latter is currently ruling the roost, and the evidence for this is very apparent in both the abstract world of ideas and the material world of flesh and blood: the prevalence of parasitic organisms and parasitic thinking.

The other questions Georgia brought-up was about being a vegetarian: Some people ask us whether we are vegetarians, some even assume we are although I’m not sure why, but this is just indicative of a very confused condition because the human immune system is so out of balance. Basic physiology reveals that various creatures can be distinguished by what they eat.  There are herbivores, carnivores, insectivores, omnivores, and there are sub-categories, but the important one for humans and especially vegetarians to understand is that we are not designed as herbivores.  Humans are omnivorous by design.  We are like bears or pigs inside, and if you force our systems to process nothing but plant material, we may suffer both short-term and long-term consequences, many of which are the unforeseen consequences of pushing a system to do something it was not designed for…like feeding cows to cows–you get BSE. Denying this reality (for whatever romantic notion of peaceful living, better health, etc.) also does violence to self and others- this is true of any delusional behaviors, such as political or religious. This is intuited by most people, which is why vegetarianism will never become very common, despite grandiose claims of being the only way to improve the planet’s health or human health. This does not mean that many people could not benefit by consuming more plant material, they could and probably should, but not as an exclusive way of acquiring energy. The argument of eating cleaner (chemical free-less toxic waste in industrial animal factories etc.) and closer to the source, such as grass fed beef instead of industrially forced beef, has great merit for numerous reasons, which will not be broached here.

Additionally, many vegetarians claim that the very pacific nature of their appetites is a wonderful way to create a more harmonious planet.  They can do this only by ignoring research that was first done by Sir J. Bose, an Indian botanist experimenting in the late 50’s and then followed by others, when they showed that cutting, chopping, pulling, and otherwise damaging photosynthetic creatures (plants-the only creatures to eat light) produces electrical responses corresponding with reactions to pain in other creatures we more easily recognize as being sentient beings, i.e., mammals. While further research reveals that plants also voice their ills. June 6, 2001 Update: Researchers at the University of Sheffield report that their studies of Thale cress, a relative of the mustard plant, shows that the old leaves pass their wisdom down to their younger leaves as to how to alter the way the plant’s genetic code is read to adjust the number of their stomata-the pores in the leaves that are crucial for photosynthesis and water balance- this will fine tune the plant’s ability to grow in a particular environment. The researchers feel this communicated wisdom is likely to be at work in all plants.  Who said plants aren’t intelligent?  Other research by Ian Baldwin, of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany is confirming the fact that plants not only communicate with each other, they also summon insects to help the plant fight off  other insects that are munching them.  These other insects, of course, begin munching on the invading bugs. Plants also warn their community members that they are being munched, and that the rest of the community should ready its  defenses. For a marvelous look at this intelligent world of plants read the April, 2002 Discovery magazine. Check your human ego at the door, however, intelligence comes in many different varieties, and it is all sentient.

The bottom line is simple, to be alive, everyone kills a living creature. And as far as vegetarians being more peace-loving, lets not forget, Adolph Hitler was a vegetarian.  Ooops… For an excellent review of vegetarian claims just click…

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In surfing through your web site on periodic occasions, I have noted that while certain sections are updated regularly, if not daily, the Eco-mewsings page has had virtually no changes.  Do you get no responses, or do you not publish them?  Is it useful to take up space with something that appears to have no activity?   Emille from Capetown, South Africa.


From the Editors: Your observation is on target.  This section has had the least response of any on our site.  It does get visitors who do spend some time in it, but responses are few and far between.   However, to pull this section based on its perceived utilitarian aspects would be the equivalent of saying that since our species uses only a very small portion of its brain, the other part is superfluous and that space should be filled with something else.

Now that is certainly one way of looking at what appears to be unused space.  However, this is the same argument some people use against preserving wilderness: “Gee it is so empty, there is nothing there, so what good is it, and why shouldn’t we run our dirt bikes through it.?”

Indeed, why shouldn’t we run our dirt bikes through what appears to be empty space, serving no useful purpose?  Check the first assumption- is it actually empty space?  The fact that it appears empty, only means we are looking at it with a very coarse filter, because as we focus down with a much finer filter and greater attention, we begin noticing that the empty space is full of activity and life.

Check the second assumption- what good is it?  Depending on the filters any one of us uses to screen reality, we may not see any good in it.  The filters I refer to are things like one’s religious filter, one’s political filter, one’s philosophical filter (although the latter includes the former two), one’s money filter and so on.  Humans invent filters to serve their own conceptions of “Good” and by looking carefully you can almost always see that these perceptions via various filters are designed to retain power over perceived circumstances.  Curiously, the human species then tries to immortalize certain circumstances, especially those that provide the most pleasure.  They do this by resisting the pain involved in living through changes: that old pleasure/pain dance that some call a battle.

To paraphrase Richard M. Weaver, wilderness, or space, acts like a shock absorber to absorb the rigidities and shocks of civilization.  The more “civilized” groups/tribes/societies of humans become, the more they tend to establish rigid, non-organic methods of ordering themselves, which is to say the more political or mechanical they become in their relationships instead of organic and spontaneous.  And as they become more political/mechanical the more you see the vast flowering of elaborate bureaucracies that abhor spontaneity, and tend to squash all challenges to their status quo.  Hence the political system in America, the alleged two party system, where it is very difficult to see a difference in behavior or fruits of either group, despite the  surface chimera of their individual babbling.  The public responds by becoming more and more cynical and disenfranchised from the whole process because the process has become necrotic.  It has become invaded by various parasites (special interest groups) that fatten themselves on their host.

So, although, this section of our site appears to have very little activity, its purpose is one of reflection, and to that end it will continue to appear empty, even if we have to wait another few months for another question.  And as we develop a body of questions and responses, that body might serve to trigger creative acts of thought and volition to change the status quo and reinvigorate the spontaneous/organic side of life.
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Your group is the first enviro (sic) group I’ve seen with a different take on the global warming hoopla.  Saw you at the Taste of Colorado (1998) just a few weeks ago and got your Chill Out sticker and then visited your web site.  Who is Julian Simon?– Paul from Chicago.


From the Editors: Julian Simon, recently deceased, is one of the most reviled economists most environmentalists wish they had never met.  However, if you actually read his work, instead of listening to his critics, you will realize that his very thorough research accurately debunks the general environmental scare mongering promoted by  “political environmentalists.”  (The sticker Paul refers to is found on ourProducts page.) If you visit Julian Simon’s site, you can actually download chapters from a great deal of his writing… for free, but be prepared to come face to face with cherished notions you may have about how bad things are getting.  Although we do not necessarily agree with all of his positions, we do find him more careful and accurate with his research and writings than the likes of Paul Ehrlich or other well known environmental activists. The latter entered into a famous bet with Simon about the costs of various commodities at some time in the future (Ehrlich chose the commodities and said they would become more expensive because they would become more scarce – he lost, but still insists he didn’t)  Simon challenged anybody else, but found no takers.  Take the time to meet Mr. Simon by reading his book Ultimate Resource, again available online for free.

Remember, the most toxic substance known to human civilization, the most damaging to rational thought and effective, practical solutions to real environmental challenges, or any problem,  is information pollution.  This wonderful electronic medium serves to multiply the amount of information pollution you might become exposed to, but it can also serve to clean things up.  Beware, because as Richard M. Weaver wrote in his great work, Ideas Have Consequences, “Civilization must be saved from some who profess to be its chief lights and glories.” And further he writes, “Civilization has been an intermittent phenomenon; to this truth we have allowed ourselves to be blinded by the insolence of material success. Many late societies have displayed a pyrotechnic brilliance and a capacity for refined sensation far beyond anything seen in their days of vigor.  That such things may exist and yet work against that state of character concerned with choice, which is the anchor of society, is the great lesson to be learned…. In the final reach of analysis our problem is how to recover that intellectual integrity which enables men to perceive the order of goods.”

Weaver gets credit for being a noted philosopher, but our contention is that he is also a great ecologist, if one uses the term according to its original meaning. “There can be no truth under a program of separate sciences…” demonstrates his grasp of one of the main principles of ecology. If you can find his book, originally published by the University of Chicago Press, you will be impressed at how he predicted our current dilemma back in the 40’s… he did not miss a thing.  He also wrote about solutions, but considering the current political environment and what it says about the populous at large, we may be too late.
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February 12, 2001

The will of God?

Children slaughtered on altars draped in religious rationalizations and excused as the will of God. Appallingly barbaric, obviously inhuman, but hidden beneath the veneer of religious freedom some people still manage to debate the parent’s right to sacrifice their daughter’s material life to further the parent’s spiritual fantasies and/or delusions. An innocent subjected to emotional and intellectual deformity, then death under the tyranny imposed by her parent’s religious beliefs. This is child abuse, simple and straightforward.

Yet most parents subject their children to a variety of fantastic beliefs, not necessarily religious in nature, before their young have grasped the ability to reason for themselves.  We bring them into the world and then imprint their vulnerable minds with all manner of contradictory beliefs. Our educational systems institutionalize the confusion while our political, religious, and media elites promote it under the guise of serving the people’s interest. In their lust for power, confusion allows the elites to divide and thus conquer, the unaware, the less capable, and the vulnerable.  Then we act surprised when our children turn away from us to seek some sense, clarity, and respite from the madness in which they find themselves drowning.  They turn to drugs, violence, sex, and a myriad of other escapes the adult community seduces them with via its shimmering consumer culture. From an early age we instill in them the trophy hunter’s ethic: acquiring status by collecting trophy wives, trophy husbands, trophy houses, jobs, cars, clothes, toys and on and on.  Tragically, many children learn that their own existence has less significance than the trophies their parents spend their days accumulating.  Or worse, the children are shown off as part of the trophy collection: “he’s so smart, she’s so beautiful, and look at how talented and quick they both are.”  And with genetic engineering the trophies promise perfection.

 

What we do to our own kind, especially our youth, is remarkable in the collective blindness and amnesia it reveals about our civilization and our species.  We incinerate 6 million Jews on the altar of Nazism, butcher 10 million Ukrainians on the altar of Communism, a million Africans on their version of Tribalism, millions of Chinese, and on it goes.  So when one hears of other species being sacrificed on the altar of religious belief and progress it does not really come up on anyone’s radar screen.  Who cares?

Consider for instance, that our government supports the ritualistic slaughter of golden eagles in order to permit the Hopi Tribe to exercise their right to spiritually significant symbolism.

The National Park Service (NPS) is now asking for public comment about this cultural practice so that the Hopi Tribe, or People of Peace, can use the Wupatki National Monument in Arizona as one of their collection areas for taking live golden eaglets.  The young birds are raised until the age they would normally fledge their nest (about 12 weeks) and then the “People of Peace” smother these beautiful creatures so that they can use the eagle body parts in their religious ceremonies.  Since 1986 the Hopis reported at least 208 golden eagles being collected and sacrificed in this manner, all with the blessing of the U.S. government under the veneer of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Never mind that the federal government has a repository in Colorado with all kinds of dead raptors: lots of body parts in storage waiting to be turned into symbols.  Currently the Hopis are restricted to live collecting from private and other public lands with appropriate permits issued by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and local landowner’s permission.  Reassuring us once again, the government is out there protecting our natural resources, and favoring one religion over the public interest.

The NPS has prepared a 34 page environmental impact assessment full of professional rationalizations with innocuous titles like, Purpose and Need for Action, Affected Environment, Ethnography. Herein some expert presents the reasoning for the ongoing slaughter of living beauty in service to the “People of Peace” and their spiritually significant symbols.  Here’s science and its alleged objectivity not seeing the forest for the trees once again.  Or is this just European guilt appeasing an historic injustice?

Isn’t it enough that creation is a living holocaust wherein all living things have to eat each other to keep creation alive?  Isn’t it revealing that nature sacrifices only the material to support the material?  Nature has no holy books, no holy places, and no holy men, yet her laws are consistent, clear, and simple once we brush away the cobwebs of human ignorance.  She rains on the just and the unjust; she lets the sun shine on the saints and the sinners, because she never confuses symbols, notations, or abstractions with reality.  In reality, when the lion lays down with the lamb, its only because the lamb is in the lion’s stomach. In our subservience to symbols many think it can be otherwise, and vast cultural edifices are built on similar delusions.

I have a 20-year-old son, and I have the privilege of working for 20 years with golden eagles and other raptors.  Ask me to sacrifice the symbolism contained in all the holy books to save my son from the enshrined ignorance therein, and I would not hesitate in burning the lot.  Ask me to sacrifice the symbolism contained in all the expert environmental assessments to save my eagles from the ignorance therein, and I would not hesitate to strike another match.  For burning these symbols, however, the masses would have my head on their dogmatic platters, but in 1999 when Josh and Mindy Glory’s infant son died of meningitis the couple was ordered to serve 16 years probation and provide medical attention for their surviving child. Was justice served?  When we let our symbols become our idols, and we worship them over the living material beauty with which creation graces every moment of our short, confused lives, the spirit of justice has vanished.

At the heart of the issue is the cherished notion of ownership, dominion, and private property, which currently serves to relegate living creatures into deepening entanglements of servitude and utility.  Does the child belong to its parents?  Does the eagle belong to the state, and how about the parents?  Then to whom do the different nations belong, and what of the world, the galaxy, and the universe?  The science of ecology and physics reveals at least one thing of which we can be certain: creation is not a collection of things set in motion by some universal ego or monarch.  Creation is an ever-growing pattern of events defining each other.  There are untold individual and distinct patterns, but all within one singular event.  They are different but not separate, for you literally cannot have light without dark, sound without silence, hard without soft, fast without slow, nor life without death.  Differences unite us; they permit us to relate.  However, we have become so bewitched by our arbitrary symbols because they seem to confer on us great powers to manipulate reality and we can be as we imagine God to be.  Yet in worshipping the dead symbols we miss seeing the living creation, and we confuse the wisdom of creation with its power. We confuse the value of creation with our symbol for it: money. Therefore we reason creation favors the rich, which means they must also be wise.  And becoming powerful but unwise, we seek sacrifices to feed our egos, and the cycle of power gains speed and momentum consuming ever more sacrifices which, following the laws of demand and supply becoming increasingly more exotic, exclusive, and extreme.  Is it not noteworthy that our species is the only one whose appetites are infinite?

The word sacrifice (sacer-facere) means an act that makes holy. How does killing them make our children or our eagles holy?  When power enslaves wisdom, children and eagles become commodities. I agree with the Hindus when their calendar describes our epoch as the Kali Yuga, the Dark Ages, or as Richard Weaver, the author of Ideas Have Consequences writes, we are witnessing the “effervescence of decay.” We are drunk on its bubbles as they emit brief bursts of light that we try and capture in our vain and harried attempts to hold back the darkness.

 

Symbolism is the dead worshipping the dead. I prefer to worship the living, and let’s not forget that in the not too distant past cannibalism was also a religious ritual.

So, would you prefer ketchup on your Catholic, habaneras on your Hopi, or are the bitter herbs enough?
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More on this subject can be found on our Eagle Defense Network page.


Intelligent Design: The Fallacy, the Supernatural Fantasy, and Technology’s Poison and Promise.

Alan Watts writing on the nature of intelligence, technology, violence, anticipated the entire fallacy of intelligent design back in the early 1970’s. If you want one of the best insights into ecology, Mr. Watts has few peers.  The following is an extended quote from his short essay, “The Spirit of Violence and the Matter of Peace.”  Take the time to read it slowly, and be prepared to let your thoughts sneak past their conventional boundaries, and have a happy and sane New Year.

[ The basic problem is, of course, that law and reason are linear systems expressed in verbal, mathematical, or other forms of notation, of symbols strung out in a line to represent “bits” of information selected by the narrow spotlight of conscious attention.  The physical world, by contrast, is at any moment a manifestation of innumerable and simultaneous energy patterns which, when we try to translate them into our clumsy linear symbols, see impossibly complex. Actually, the world is not complex.  It is the task of trying to figure it out with words or numbers which is complex; it is like trying to keep count of all the leaves in a constantly changing forest, or measuring the Atlantic with a hypodermic needle.

Nature can be “figured out” up to a certain indeterminate point, if we proceed patiently and humbly.  But if at any time we decide that we actually know  “the Truth,” what the law of nature is, and therefore what is the right course of action, we shall find ourselves in the paradoxical situation of having to compel nature to submit to what we conceive to be its own laws!  As we say, “Dammit, why can’t you be natural!” In other words, it is only by violence that the actual course of human and other physical events can be made to fit the oversimplified patterns in terms of which we attempt to describe it.  We are like Procrustes, who stretched or amputated visitors to fit his guest-room bed.

We are working, then, on the (often tacit) assumption that the rational ego is a stranger and invader in the physical world, representing a conceptual and ideational order in necessary conflict with the chaotic complexity of nature.  But when this supernaturalist assumption is brought out into the open it is hardly credible, since we also believe, at least in theory, that consciousness and intelligence arise thought spontaneous evolution and are manifested thought neural organizations which, as yet, we hardly understand.

This may be a “leap of faith,” but I feel that if I am to trust myself I must bet on my entire nervous system (and the environment which, inseparably, goes with it ) as distinct from a logic of words and numbers considered as something superior to its own neural matrix. For my brain is immeasurably more omniscient than my mind: it coordinates simultaneously more variables, more rhythms and patterns of bodily behavior, than I (as ego) could possibly comprehend in a hundred years of study.  I can see no sense in restricting the definition of “myself” to the process of conscious attention, volition, and symbolization.  I must admit my way whole body to the definition of “myself,” and so, in a certain way, assume responsibility for all that it is and does.  After all, if I do not trust the matrix of my conscious intelligence, I have no assurance that this very mistrust is either well founded or well informed.

When Westerners contemplate their own bodies they are apt to feel, with the psalmist, that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made”—that some agency and intelligence quite apart from themselves manufactured this intricate machine, which, in the same breath, the will “put down” as natural chaos or merely animal functioning.  Thus to identify oneself with one’s whole body is seen, ambivalently, both as blasphemy and as surrender to the blind forces of the unconscious.  Whatever our metaphysics, we insist that inner conflict between ego and body, reason and instinct, is the essential condition of civilized life.  But this attitude is pennywise pound-foolish, for when we look at the trend of civilization as a whole we see a monstrous plague of human locusts devouring and fouling the planet, more predatory than sharks, and more suicidal than lemmings.  Civilization “works” temporarily, for the privileged individual, but in the not-so-long run it could easily be a speeding up of consumption which dissolves all life on the planet.

There is no question or possibility of abandoning technology and retreating into simple and sentimental anarchy.  What we really need is a technology managed by people who no longer experience “self” as something foreign to the body and its physical environment.  For it is precisely this interior conflict between ego and organism which underlies organized warfare and violent revolution, most especially when such violence is rationalized as being in the cause of justice and human betterment.  No wars have been more ruthless and ravaging than “just” wars, fought in “defense” of religion, honor, or principle.  If war must be, give me rather a war to capture an enemy’s wealth and territory, based on honest greed, in which I shall be careful not to destroy what I want to possess.  But as civilized wars are fought for principle, so the technological “conquest of nature” is in fact being waged for the purely abstract satisfaction of making money, as distinct from the material and sensuous enjoyment of good food, beautiful women, and elegant surroundings.  Our greatest money makers are largely puritans and nose-to-the-grindstone people who have neither taste nor time for material pleasures.  We need a technology aimed, not at abstract and inedible dollars, but at caviar and excellent wines the whole world around.

Only a supernaturalist would deliberately press the button to set off nuclear warfare, in the belief that his spiritual values are more important than material existence.  And this involves the open or tacit supposition that the spiritual dimension is immortal, that in heaven or on some higher level of vibration unaffected by bodily death he will continue his existence, congratulating himself on his fidelity to principle and wagging the finger of reproof at the surprisedly immortal souls of dialectical materialists, eating crow in the sky instead of pie. This simply goes to show that belief in the superiority and final authority of the rational, intellectual, conceptual, and symbolic domain as the ultimate reality may be inconsistent with the survival of mankind.

Unexpectedly, naturalism is more consistent with the mystical vision of the world than supernaturalism, as should be clear from the suspicion in which mystics have always been held by the official establishments of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Supernaturalism splits the cosmos into the unequal duality of creator and creature, spirit and matter, ruler and subject, ego and organism, and many an atheist is in fact a supernaturalist insofar as he is trying to regulate the physical order of nature by the logical order of language or mathematics.  But a naturalist cannot consistently subscribe to the b belief that he himself is in any way separate from his whole physical organism.  He cannot, therefore, consider himself driven or victimized by his own organic processes, for his emotions and appetites, and, indeed, the entire functioning of his body are his own doing, however spontaneous and undeliberate.

Once this is admitted, a further and essentially mystical insight comes into view.  If I am my organism, I am also my environment.  From the ecological and biophysical standpoints every organism goes with its environment transactionally: the one implies the other as buying implies selling and front implies back and the positive ole implies the negative.  Thus every living organism implies, not only the conditions of the immediate solar system, but also the entire constellation of galaxies…For as the fruit implies the tree, the human organism implies a cosmic energy system which “peoples” in the same way as a plant flowers.

Basically, then, “self” is not only the body but the whole energy system which embodies itself in all bodies.  The conceptual ego does not control this system any more than it controls the heart, but whereas the ego is your idea of yourself, the total energy system of the universe is what you are.  People who realize this could be trusted with technological power, for they would respect the external world, with all its subtle ecological balances, as they respect their own bodies.  They would work with it and not against it, as a sailor works with the wind even when moving in a contrary direction.

The basic point to be understood, then, is that it is simply impossible to improve either oneself or the world by force.  Because you yourself are both the organism and its environment, this is as futile as trying to lift yourself off the floor by your own bootstraps.  Untold psychic and physical energy is wasted in this ludicrous enterprise, which, when seen to be absurd, is abandoned, releasing that energy for tasks which can indeed be accomplished. Trying to force a lock bends the key, for which reason a truly intelligent man never forces an issue.  He resorts instead to judo, the “gentle way” of trimming one’s sails to the wind, of rolling with the punch, and of splitting wood along the grain.  Such intelligence is therefore the alternative to violence.]

Follow up on Alan Watts by visiting Google.  He has written over 20 books on a wide variety of issues, but much of his writing always circles around the basic pattern of man and nature.  He grasps the big picture better than most scientists who are focused on just one part, and he grasps man’s relationship to nature vis a vis a variety of religious systems, better than most religionists.

 


Focus On The Fools : The Evolution of Intelligent Design

I’m a very conservative fellow. I have no organized religious or political affiliations, but I’m no atheist, nor am I apolitical.  A fool in many people’s eye’s?  Yes, but then I’m just like you. A not so recent Rasmussen Poll proves my point, but first to a little bit of Biblical literacy.

Leviticus14:49-57.  And he shall take to cleanse the house two birds ,and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: And he shall kill the one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water:  And he shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times: And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and the running water, and with the living bird, and with the cedar wood, and with the hyssop, and with the scarlet:  But he shall let go the living bird out of the city into the open fields, and make an atonement for the house: and it shall be clean.  This is the law for all manner of plague of leprosy, and scall, And for the leprosy of a garment, and of a house, And for a rising, and for a scab, and for a bright spot: To teach when it is unclean, and when it is clean: this is the law of leprosy.

Exodus 35:2. : Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.

And that’s just a start. From taking up serpents, to drinking blood and poison, and let’s not forget, condoning slavery; it’s all there, in the Bible.

Gulp!

These quotes were found quickly with a random search of my Bible, and since I work with birds, often seven days a week, maybe I was unconsciously attracted to both quotes?Anyway, here’s the nuclear result from the Rasmussen Poll posted on April 23, 2005. Sixty-three percent (63%) believe the Bible is literally true and the Word of God. Among Evangelical Christians, 89% believe it is literally true.  70% of Protestants believe the Bible is literally true as do 58% of Catholics, as do 65% of women and 61% of men, as do 77% of Republicans and 59% of Democrats and 50% of those not affiliated with either major party.  82% of black Americans believe in the literal truth of the Bible, as do 59% of white Americans, along with 71% of other, primarily Hispanic Americans.

This means that 6 of the ten people in your church, at your job, in your commuter train, on your bus, sitting around you at a restaurant, or driving in those cars on the roads are so inclined. Or if you are planted in an evangelical culture then almost nine out of ten people you meet are literal believers; eight out of ten blacks, and so on and so forth.

So, all of these folks believe in the literal truth of the above quotes from Leviticus, Exodus, and many, many more.  If that is really the case, then science is in trouble.  Medicine is in trouble.  Public hygiene is in trouble. The Law is in trouble.  Rational logical thought is in trouble, and the birds don’t stand a chance. We are back to the time of superstitions, congeries, and all manner of confusion, insanity, and evil.  Maybe we never left?

If Rasmussen’s polling is accurate, then it leads to a very simple deduction: 63% of Americans are “whacked out,” crazy as loons, or just plain insane. The other inference is just as unsettling, that those 63% are simply liars. They really haven’t read all of the Bible, therefore, cannot believe in the literal truth of much of its absurd and ridiculous content. However, another possibility exists, and this one I think applies not just to 63% of Americans, but to every single American, and probably every human on the planet with exceptions for the very young and those living in “unsophisticated” circumstances.

With provisions for exempting those just noted above, 63% of every single human’s thought processes, the abstractions they hold dear, the ideas that govern their lives, the conventions that regulate “civil” society are delusional at best, or simply moments of temporary sanity, temporary clarity, in a mad, mad, world.

There is a serious warning in Rasmussen’s numbers: the abstract world of thought collides with the organic world of behavior and material objects with greater frequency and greater devastation. The evidence for this is all around us, but we will not call out to the emperor that he is naked, and a fool. And in this erstwhile republic, fools abound, and not just in the political arena. The odds are pretty high, that you are walking in one’s shoes.

The abstract world of lunatic Muslim beliefs colliding with the real material world of planes and buildings, which are symbolic of the dominance of Western culture, is just one glaring example.  Or, how about the abstract religious lunacy commanding women to mutilate themselves, or to give up their own intuitions about what is good for them (their bodies and minds) in favor of those around them who are probably more whacked out than they are?

Or how about President Bush protecting us with his evangelical “goodness,” while leaving America’s borders wide open, as his wife jokes about George stroking equine tumescence?  This no borders policy promulgated by all species of politicians results in bankrupting hospitals and murdering policemen, which is just the tip of the illegal alien iceberg preparing to sink our ship of state.  Ah, but who will do those jobs?

Or how about old Senator Ted who gets away with drowning a momentary fling and he isn’t in jail, or Bill Clinton lying, lying, and lying again. The examples of insanity, lies and delusions abound.  They are the vast majority of examples of human beliefs, so is it any wonder that the most innocent, our very young, not yet cemented with all of these foolish beliefs, are more and more confused, more indulgent, and less inclined to pursue the abstract conventions of science and knowledge?  Their adult role models are fools, liars, and deluded.  It is scary out there, and it’s getting worse.

The First World War, the Second, the Cold War, the war in Iraq.  The war in Afghanistan, the war on Terror, the war on Poverty, the war on Drugs.  Most of human history is pock-marked with a multitude of wars, which in fact, is the constant state of the human condition. It is a perpetual state of insanity, of being deluded by abstractions, seduced by symbols, and irreconcilably divided by our differences.

Ah, but there’s always this place, after the current one, that is the land of milk and honey, with peace everlasting, where no ills plague our condition, and 72 virgins to keep your testosterone levels in check.  X boxes for everyone.  A fool’s paradise?  But that’s right here right now.

Focus on the fools.  You won’t have to look far, as my mirror reminds me of daily.

And guess what?  You’re paying for much of this.  You’re paying with your labor, your time, your money, your lives, your sanity, and your spirit.

The evolution of fools, or intelligent design?

Peter Reshetniak: copyright 2005


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