Tag Archives: paradigm

Please Die Already

Rage.

Rage.

There has been quite a hullabaloo recently about the healthcare reform bill, incited mainly by this man and this woman. Why are they ranting and raving about Democrats creating “death panels” that will decide whether or not the elderly† or mentally disabled‡ continue to receive medical treatment? Can’t they see that America is chock full of people ripe for Death’s annual picking?

The Democrats want people to have access to “end of life counseling.” That is a nice way of them saying “we want to encourage you to die without eating up millions of millions of dollars in care.” And the elderly and infirm DO eat up millions of dollars; 80% of the money you spend on healthcare will be spent during the last three months of your life. Is it really worth it? To spend hour after hour, barely breathing, barely thinking, hooked up to life support with a feeding tube in your gut?

Americans have become highly sensitive to the issue of death. I thought that the whole reason behind this mushy Christianity stuff was to make people comfortable with the idea of dying. “Oh, don’t worry, there’s always the afterlife! Feel free to pass away as you wish.” Nope. Christian evangelicals and conservative Catholics are amongst the most adamant individuals who support your right to clutch on to your existence by any means; even if your body and mind have rotted away to nothing.

Actually, they’re not even supporting your right to life; they’d keep you alive regardless of how you feel.

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddman crochety old for the State to continue financing your life."

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddamn crotchety old for the State to continue financing your life."

What about my right to death? Listen to me: people need to die. People have been dying for millions and millions of years. Its natural. It happens all the time. The problem is that no one has instructed us on how to cope with and move past these tragic events.

Wait. Tragic? It shouldn’t be tragic; it should be joyful. The joyful passing of your loved one. We are so far removed from our natural state of being that we no longer value death… excluding the deaths of our enemies; that has always been joyous.

Lion King

Even Disney supports death panels.

Human bodies were not designed (intelligent or not) to last forever. Our cells stop regenerating as well, our joints become rigid and sore, our systems fail to save over and over again until it gets to a point that your body just dies. All of this extensive healthcare is in denial of the natural ‘Circle of Life‘. Certainly the deaths’ of those who did not live up to the prime peaks of life are tragic; they died too soon. But that only covers people up to about age 40; if you live past that point, I will be joyfully celebrating your passing with explicit glee.

So lighten up. Embrace death (the insurance companies have been running death panels for years now). Maybe even buy a t-shirt. It’ll balance the budget for Christ’s-sakes.

You don’t want to be alive for the zombie apocalypse anyway…

†‡Not that either of these groups really qualify as  being ‘that alive’ in the first place.

jakefunc is a contributing writer and editor of projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Hold Your Tongue: A Call For Prudence

More often than not, on a regular, daily basis, I will find myself talking shit about someone I know. Golly, I cannot resist the chance to gossip, expounding upon every detail entrusted to me by an unsuspecting other. It’s a time honored tradition, especially amongst women. I’ve always wondered why I am friends with a sizable group of the same sex (30+ men), yet so very few females maintain large friend groups of the same sex (Maybe 5?).

Why can’t women stand each other? Because they talk shit about each other so often. Borderline non-stop. And what they don’t realize (or maybe they do actually), is that with a greater integration of individuals, whatever it is they said about person ‘B’ is going to be heard by person ‘B’.

Men must spend more time doing things than saying things. Its in our socialization. As youth we go out and compete amongst one another to flaunt our athleticism and determine who is best, while the girls talked. Or something like that. Men dealt with things honestly, directly; “Wow Jake, you really suck, don’t play with us anymore.” Women deal with things respectfully, indirectly, avoiding conflict until they can get behind closed doors; “See you tomorrow Sally!” [aside] “What a bitch.”

Is it dependency on others? Women are less physically capable to succeed than men, so they depend on the pooling of resources and labor that comes with a collective. I could see that, but then why would females so readily burn bridges by shit talking? Is this just a phenomenon among modern independent women? I have no idea. I should hedge my bets on the idea that they don’t realize that the gossip is going to come back at them. That’s a point duly taken; I probably dug a deep hole myself already.

I’ve had my fill with gossip; everyone is susceptible to its appeal. Truly a great bit of fun, but I can only imagine the bearing of bad fruit in the future.

I don’t think that I will ever know all that is said, and frankly, I really don’t care for it. There is a lesson to be learned though; gossiping about person ‘B’ is not going to make person ‘B’ think very highly of you for very long. Therefore, in order to maintain my valuable standing with my current friends, I vow to be critical of them to their faces, as opposed to gossiping about them later in supposed distant safety.

And yes, my adherence to that ideal will begin after this very period.•

jakefunc is a contributing writer of projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Where does your paradigm come from?

I’m hoping that this post can be an interactive one.  I know the whole premise of blogging implies the opportunity for interaction, but this one in particular needs it.  The purpose of this post is not for me to share what follows, but to induce others to share, creating a collective conversation that is greater in depth, breadth, and quality than any individual contributor could produce.

Paradigms….these are the frameworks, conscious and unconscious, that we use to make sense of our world.  They are the lenses that we see everything else through.  The ideas that guide our thoughts, distort or even create our perceptions.  From our perceptions comes our experience, which further informs our ideas about the world.  It is perfectly circular.  This circle can be sublime or tortuous, or most likely a bit of both, depending on the day. 

I firmly believe in consciously creating your own paradigms.  I reject out of hand that these things are inherited, pre-created, and culturally derived.  That may be for people who sleepwalk through life, but not for me and not for anyone else that dares to take up the reigns of guiding their own evolution.

That being said, I did not create my current incarnation of my constantly evolving paradigm in a vacuum.    Ideas from great thinkers, writers, artists, philosophers, and some everyday people have all contributed raw material to this structure that I’ve built.  So I’m going to attempt to list the top 10 sources of raw material for my paradigm.  As I write this sentence, I have no idea which of the many influences from my life search are about to make this list, but I am about to take the time to hash it out.  I will try and provide a brief intro to each of the items in this list without getting to lengthy. 

Again, the idea is for people to share persons, ideas, books, songs, movies, or any other kind of source that has deeply impacted or informed their personal paradigm.   There is no need to come up with at least ten, or to limit yourself to ten,  it’s merely an arbitrary number I picked for myself to give some structure to this post. 

 

Ok, I’m back.  This is what I came up with.  These are in no particular order (ranking these things seemed to be a futile exercise)

  • An infomercial for self hypnosis tapes that aired in 1984
    • This was my first exposure to the idea that human potential exceeded what the majority of people displayed in ordinary life.  (I was 6 years old)
  • The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy
    • I found this book when I was 7 years old, and it was really the beginning of my love affair with the genre of books associated with human potential, development, and ultimately spirituality.
  • Louise Burrell-Christe
    • My grandmother taught me about devotion, spirituality, and that the Divine is not just something to talk at, but also something that will talk back if you listen.
  • Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch
    • These books helped me to heal a schism that had formed in my young mind.  I had deep spiritual experiences associated with the ‘G’ word, but so much dogma and rules attached to the word “God” that I couldn’t reconcile the two.  This series of book helped me to re-conceptualize what the Divine is in such a way that it worked well for my evolving paradigm.
  • Integral Life Practice by Ken Wilber, et al
    • This is really just my favorite of a long list of books about the integral theory.  It is about putting integral theory into practice, integrating mind, body, spirit, and shadow.  The AQAL framework does a great job of holding all sorts of things and showing the relationships amongst them.
  • Simplified Magic by Ted Andrews
    • I had always been drawn to the meditative science of the Qabala, but this was the first work that seem to demystify the mystical enough for me to finally be able to understand why I was drawn to it.
  • The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life (Volume I and Volume II) by Drunvalo Melchizedek
    • Probably  the weirdest book on the list, but one of my favorites.  It is possibly the most complete information I’ve ever found in a single source about Sacred Geometry.  
  • The band Tool. 
    • Maynard James Keenan’s lyrics speak to my path, what I’ve been through, how I’ve gotten where I am, and the kind of bizarre spirituality that I’ve carved out along the way.
  • The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
    • A simplified explanation of string theory that solidified the foundation left in my consciousness by The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra.
    • My Big Picture Theory of Everything (My Big TOE) by Thomas Campbell
      • Helped to smooth the edges in my consciousness between my scientific and spiritual tendencies. 

 

I could go on.  The list is actually very, very long and continually growing.  And here’s the not so hidden agenda behind this (hopefully) interactive post:  I’m always looking for something new to add to this list, something that will send me reeling in a whole new direction the way each of these ten did.  So please, share.

 

merkaba33 is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Physics, Mysticism, and Flying Spaghetti Monsters

Even though I was born and raised catholic, I went through an experimental phase as an adolescent.  I got dunked in a river by Baptists trying to save my soul; I learned the ways of healthy living from Christian Scientists; I was taught the urgency of the apocalypse by Seventh Day Adventists; I even participated in solstice celebrations with a local Wiccan coven.  I read about Buddhism, Taoism, and Kabbalah.  I learned about Sufis and Swamis, gurus and charlatans, skeptics and believers.  I read about advances in technology and scientific theory, and about a new age return to a life without gizmos and gadgets. 

Having gathered such a wide range of experiences, I am amused by people’s inability to see common threads.  Each person/author/organization I encountered, although genuine, seemed to believe that they had a monopoly on “the truth.”  Scientist clung to their established dogma of empirical, verifiable evidence as tightly as the Baptist clung to their Holy Book.  How do I verify joy?  How do I test for the presence or absence of love?  Can you measure compassion?  Science is excellent at what it does, but its paradigm is not all inclusive of the human experience.

The same could be said for the religions.  Religion is excellent at what it does.  I think the main difference between science and religion is that science is honest about what it does, and religion says one thing and does another.  Science claims to be the objective lens, through which we discover what is true about this world, the universe, and ourselves.  Within a paradigm of Physical Matter Reality (PMR), science does an excellent job of this.

Religion, on the other hand, claims to be the way to unite all people under the direction of “the way.”  Christianity’s many sects all claim to have the truth, which if followed, will lead to everlasting life and peace on earth.  Buddhism claims to have the truth, which if followed, leads to awakening or enlightenment.  Taoism claims to have the truth, which if followed, leads to living in harmony with the Tao, or the direction in which things change.  Wicca, Kabbalah, Islam, Judaism; all claim to be The Way.

What religion is actually good at is helping people find, grow, and maintain faith.  It gives people a paradigm to channel their faith into, a way to hold it in their mind.  The only problem is that the paradigm itself becomes limiting and constrictive, and the religious defend it at all costs as if it were the thing of value.  The true thing of value is the faith inside the paradigm, not the paradigm itself.

The temptation is to become a raging atheist, reducing the idea of Divinity to a Flying Spaghetti Monster in the sky…an imaginary figment that is ridiculous, absurd, and only for the gullible.

Despite this temptation, there are common threads in the paradigms.  Science’s latest theories about the nature of the physical universe sound very much like what mystics have been saying for thousands of years.  Quantum entanglement seems to imply everything is connected.  String theory seems to imply that everything is vibrating energy.  Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle seems to imply that we’re creating our world, or that at least it is affected by our looking at it and our expectations while we’re looking at it. 

So what I’ve finally landed on is a kind of faith filled skepticism.  I believe, but I am skeptical of paradigms that define and contain that belief.  I tend to believe in the commonalities, the similarities, the universal principals that run through the ‘isms’ in our world.  Ironically, many of our ‘isms’ warn against this strategy.  They call it the ultimate evil.  I remember being warned as an adolescent, by a fundamentalist Christian bible study group, against the dangers of “picking and choosing” what I believe in. 

The alternative, being told what to believe, I find unacceptable.

merkaba33  is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Project Anti-Groupthink

The name of this blog-experiment, I think, is a bit of a misnomer.  In psychology groupthink refers to phenomenon that sacrifices personal creativity, innovation, and conflict for group consensus.  (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink)

In the spirit of not conforming, I will begin by taking a sharp curve away from music and movies into a diatribe on the importance of personal responsibility, creativity, and discernment.

The hype surrounding swine flu really brings to surface the true function of the mainstream media in our lives.  By only providing sound bites instead of substance, the mainstream media is really only good at bringing the name of a topic into popular awareness.  Beyond that, it’s basically useless.  Gathering actual useful data about a particular topic requires an individual to engage information, instead of being spoon fed. 

I have six recommendations for preventing conformity and increasing constructive conflict in our lives.  I strive for these in myself and continually encourage others to as well.

1)       Get outside your comfort zone. 

Think back over the past 30 days.  How many times can you say that you forced yourself to do something, learn something, or endure something that wasn’t easy?  If your answer is less than ten, you’re being complacent about your growth as a human being.  Human beings are capable of amazing growth, as many individuals in history have proven.  Complacency, comfort, and contentment are the 3 C’s of stagnation. 

This brings me to my second recommendation:

2)       Widen your circle of information

The tech term GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) applies here.

With all this additional information, however, passivity is no longer an option.  This brings me to my third recommendation:

3)       Discriminate

The viewpoints outside the mainstream media are diverse, divergent, and sometimes downright dumb.  This should not discourage your from your search.  When panning for gold, you do not give up because there is dirt present.  You keep digging, keep panning, looking for the shiny rocks.  Yes, there is pyrite, but there’s also gold.  The search is worth it.

You need to apply your own sense of what is possible, what is likely, what is plausible to the incoming data.  Do not allow yourself to be duped.  Staying loyal to mainstream media does not keep you safe from being duped, but almost certainly insures its inevitability.  Yet, not everything outside the mainstream is any more that dirt in the river bed either.  It takes discernment, discrimination.  Can you tell fact from bullshit? 

Ultimately our beliefs in what is possible, what is real will determine how we discriminate the incoming data.  This brings me to my fourth recommendation:

4)       Challenge your own beliefs

The best way to constructively demolish a paradigm is by introducing compelling data that the paradigm cannot handle.

A great way to find this data is to investigate other person’s paradigms, and the data they are built on.  This brings me to my fifth recommendation:

5)       Learn other’s viewpoints and rationale

Really get inside the head of your philosophical opponents.  Are you a radical, left wing liberal that believes in social justice, equitable opportunity, and civil liberties?  Spend some time learning about what the conservatives in this country truly believe.  Temporarily set aside your objection to each of their assumptions and learn what it is they are trying to preserve, what they value, what their fears are that spawn the decision you do not like.

Are you a conservative that believes in god, country, and the sanctity of the nuclear family?  Try to learn about what drives liberals, what they are striving for.  Temporarily set aside your objection to each of their assumptions and learn about the values that spawn their desire to uphold civil liberties for all regardless of ideology.

I use politics as one example.  Ethical philosophies, religions, scientific theories and paradigms…..each of these could benefit from truly understanding the “opponent” from inside the opposing paradigm. 

My final and sixth recommendation is more of a cautionary warning than a recommendation:

6)       Extreme non-conformity is conformity

 

Intellectual irresponsibility brings conformity in excess.  Conformity itself, however, is not necessarily bad.  For instance, we agree not to kill each other (generally).  This is an excellent convention for us all to conform to if we’d like to cohabitate on spaceship earth. 

 

It goes back to discrimination.  There’s no easier answer, no formula to apply.  You literally have to make up your own mind on each topic, whether to conform and stay with the mainstream, or diverge into something less conventional.

 

Good luck with the struggle against groupthink.

 

merkaba33 is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com.  Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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