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September 28, 2008


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When people go to the theatre or the movies, most tend to like it to have a plot. Most seem to like a storyline rather than a disjointed random stream of events.
Now, a blocked septic, a shitty dog, jury duty and dental problems seem to fit into the latter category rather than the former.
So if people's lives don't have much of a storyline, then they're going to fabricate one - something meaningful to the way they're wired. I think at last count there were about 6.6 billion storylines running concurrently in this little corner of the galaxy.
I'm off to write a few more paragraphs of mine.

poohbear, excellent point. We like a coherent life narrative, preferably one where we're on center stage -- along with our religion.

Essentially, our brains seem to be wired for pattern matching and problem solving. Thus everything we look at, everything we encounter, all the data we take in, needs to match a pattern (even if that pattern is the catch-all known as chaos), or is either a problem or the solution to a problem.

Another way to say it is, if you look at life through a red filter, everything tends to be in shades of red. If you look at life as problems or solutions, everything tends to be one or the other.

Spinoza A Theologico-Political Treatise
(1)Men would never be superstitious, if they could govern all their circumstances by set rules, or if they were always favoured by fortune: but being frequently driven into straits where rules are useless, and being often kept fluctuating pitiably between hope and fear by the uncertainty of fortune's
greedily coveted favours, they are consequently, for the most part, very prone to credulity. (2) The human mind is readily
swayed this way or that in times of doubt, especially when hope and fear are struggling for the mastery, though usually
it is boastful, over-confident, and vain.
This as a general fact I suppose everyone knows, thoughfew, I believe, know their own nature; no one can have lived in the world without observing that most people, when inprosperity, are so over-brimming with wisdom (however inexperienced they may be), that they take every offer of advice as a personal insult, whereas in adversity they know not where to turn, but beg and pray for counsel from every passer-by. (P:4) No plan is then too futile, too absurd, or too fatuous for their adoption; the most frivolous causes will raise them to hope, or plunge them into despair - if anything happens during their fright which reminds them of
some past good or ill, they think it portends a happy or unhappy issue, and therefore (though it may have proved
abortive a hundred times before) style it a lucky or unlucky omen. (P:5) Anything which excites their astonishment they
believe to be a portent signifying the anger of the gods or of the Supreme Being, and, mistaking superstition for religion, account it impious not to avert the evil with
prayer and sacrifice. (6) Signs and wonders of this sort they conjure up perpetually, till one might think Nature as
mad as themselves, they interpret her so fantastically.
(P:7) Thus it is brought prominently before us, that superstition's chief victims are those persons who greedily covet temporaladvantages; they it is, who (especially when they are in danger,
and cannot help themselves) are wont with Prayers and womanish tears to implore help from God: upbraiding Reason as blind,
because she cannot show a sure path to the shadows they pursue, and rejecting human wisdom as vain; but believing the
phantoms of imagination, dreams, and other childish absurdities, to be the very oracles of Heaven. (P:8) As though God had turned
away from the wise, and written His decrees, not in the mind of man but in the entrails of beasts, or left them to be proclaimed by the inspiration and instinct of fools, madmen, and birds. Such is the unreason to which terror can drive mankind!
(P:9) Superstition, then, is engendered, preserved, and fostered by fear. If anyone desire an example, let him take Alexander, who only began superstitiously to seek guidance from seers, when he first
learnt to fear fortune in the passes of Sysis (Curtius, v. 4); whereas after he had conquered Darius he consulted prophets no more, till a second time frightened by reverses. (10) When the Scythians
were provoking a battle, the Bactrians had deserted, and he himself was lying sick of his wounds, "he once more turned to superstition, the mockery of human wisdom, and bade Aristander, to whom he
confided his credulity, inquire the issue of affairs with sacrificed victims." (P:11) Very numerous examples of a like nature might be cited, clearly showing the fact, that only while under the dominion of fear do men fall a prey to superstition; that all the portents ever invested with the reverence of misguided religion are mere
phantoms of dejected and fearful minds; and lastly, that prophets have most power among the people, and are most formidable to rulers, precisely at those times when the state is in most peril. (12) I think this is sufficiently plain to all, and will therefore say no more on the subject.
(P:13) The origin of superstition above given affords us a clear reason for the fact, that it comes to all men naturally, though some refer its rise to a dim notion of God, universal to mankind, and also tends to show, that it is no less inconsistent and
variable than other mental hallucinations and emotional impulses, and further that it can only be maintained by hope, hatred, anger, and deceit; since it springs, not from reason, but solely from the more powerful phases of emotion.

Brian wrote:
"But what if, as I've observed before, believing in problems is our only problem? What if life is just doing what it does, and we're part of it? What if "cosmic problem" is merely a conceptual product of our thinking, and nothing more?"

Brian be careful not to be too superficial and confuse and identify the symptom for the cause--like saying that the headache is the cause of influenza. Nothing good will ever come out from such mistake. What is the necessity behind the emergence of 'comics problem' and 'believing in problems'? They don't appear accidentally or 'out of the blue'. They are not just mere 'add-on' to the picture of our mental life that we can dismiss at will or easily. Otherwise, you come up with a great revelation here! Now we just have to tell people to stop perceiving their problems as problems. Gee ... I wonder why no idiot has ever thought of that one before, it sounds so simple!

Is there another side to the 'believing in problems'? Perhaps this process has another side to it (believing in solutions?)--which is actually beneficial to people's well-being. Perhaps it is why so many people believe in problems and somehow resist greatly to the simple (or naive?) advice: 'don't worry be happy' or 'just let go', 'you are not any object', etc.

"In each religious case, it's assumed that the core purpose of life is to deal with a fundamental cosmic mix-up. Things are screwed up on a root existential level. Humans need to figure out what the problem is and get it solved."

Religions are the expressions and reflects of our minds; they are the symptoms but not the cause.

The latter point is something Spinoza understood very well (albeit he did not explain it very well)--and distance him from most of the naive spirituality we see around these days on the internet.

Life is not the problem. Religion is the culprit, religion is the problem.

Because if Life is a problem, then we are definitely in deep trouble. Think about it.

Actually, don't give it no worry.

As Bob Marley once sang: "Don't worry about a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."

So like, don't sweat the small stuff.

That reminds me, did you ever see the movie "I Am Legend"? Now that guy had some problems.

Anway, my own dentist said that I too need a gum graft as well. But I sure don't like that idea, so I haven't gone ahead with it.

And you think you have dog-doo and gum problems?

Before any of that mumbo-gumbo I mentioned... I still happen to desperately need at least $ 16 to 20,000 dollars worth of all NEW crowns and all NEW bridges (to replace ALL the old ones, of which there are many) before I am ever going to start messing around with my gums.

Not to mention the closely impending collapse of society as we know it.
See & Hear about it at: http://www.infowars.com

Listen TODAY.

But then uhhh, like if I won the multi-million lottery, I might just possibly be a little inclined to maybe believe that "God" gives a small little shit.

But hey, NO god-damn GURUS... NO way, NO thank you.

Brian, reading this post I got the feeling that you won't have to write much longer, you are almost done...

you write:
"Buddhism is more psychological and less theological, but still sees suffering as something that can be fixed."

I don't think this is exactly right. In Buddhist thought, suffering isn't fixed, because suffering isn't an object to be meddled with. Suffering stops happening. You go on to write:

"Over the past few days I've found that when I simply focus on what needs to be done at each moment, life is eminently manageable, though not necessarily pleasant"

Being in the moment, even with unpleasant sensations, means not suffering. Sitting in the dentist chair and grumbling about how you want to be somewhere else adds pain to the situation.

Your observations are fine, but you it seems like what you're espousing IS buddhism, and that you're critique of buddhism is rather shallow.

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