international debate on "What is God" and What is Trump
There was a major conference in New Delhi recently on Hindu-Islam dialogue, which included representation from a few of the very deepest thinkers in those religions. Here is some of what was said, and my reactions, starting on a high plane and working down to debates about Trump:
(1) My response to a later Islamic view:
On Thu, Nov 2, 2017 a... wrote: > "First, I thank the sponsors of this list for informing us of a very > important conference coming up in New Delhi, on the important topic of > Hindu-Islam dialogue." > >> Regarding the above, after having researched this topic for 35 years and > having written a number of books on this subject and related topics, from > the Quranic/Islamic/logical perspective, my conclusion is that this deity is > a personal being and 'its' relation to space is unique and cannot even be > understood as being transcendent or immanent but aspects of both in relation > to 'space'.
Having a few minutes this morning, and being baffled by some other issues, I did look at two of your utube presentations.
The viewpoint there is quite different from what I saw on the pages of Mohsen Qomi (or Comey?) of Iran, one of the main presenters at the conference.
The first part of what i saw on HIS pages was very encouraging and exciting to me. he talked about the great dilemma posed in the conflict between those who oppose spirit to excess, and threaten the whole world by possibly creating a world which oppresses it -- versus the formalistic excess of false piety, which also ends up oppressing the spirit "in the name" of God but fighting all real manifestation. I agree very strongly with that very important and fundamental concern. It reminded me of a book "Rumi and Vedanta" which was given to me by a Dervish whom I met at a conference on electrical engineering; it seems that Rumi, like this part of Qomi's writings, was more in line with the spirit of bhatki, and less like the dead formalism which threatens to choke it. However, the second part degenerated into the worst racist identity politics. In a way, it also reminded me of the Maoist soldiers I saw at one point in Nepal, who identify with an ultrascientific view of life and politics ( like Jiang Zemin more than anyone in the US government), corrupted by abject racism and identity politics. I am glad that your web page emphasizes the need for all of us, all over the world, to resist such decadence, decadence as bad as those ancient priest kings who would sacrifice women to THEIR concept of god.
Lately I often think of the great wisdom of some of the native Americans. For example, I was puzzled many years ago when a Mexican woman suggested that we use a picture of a tree as an icon for our joint workshop on neural network engineering, back in the 1990's. "Why a TREE?" I asked. "This tree," she said, "symbolizes the sacred tree of the Mayas, the great tree which provides some connection between the people stuck in the mud and the people lost in the clouds." Yes, that is also a key part of the real work before us.
(2) A high view from India:
Thank you for creating this important inquiry. I often observe that most of the discussions in this list ignores the main points that are being presented by Sripad Bhakti Madhava Puri Maharaja, Ph.D. If the scientists and scholars in the list can try to understand what Sripad Puri Maharaja is trying to present then they can get some great benefit. I am hearing some of these important teachings of Sripad Puri Maharaja from Sripad Bhakti Niskama Shanta Maharaja, Ph.D. (who is a disciple of Sripad Puri Maharaja) during my participation in a last few conferences, where he delivered talks. I have also got the opportunity to participate in Indo-Iranian event at Delhi. I am summarizing some of the main points in this email and a detailed report of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Institute's contribution in recently concluded Indo-Iranian conference will be sent soon to this list.
1. Absolute is sentient and He is Supreme Personality of Godhead (Therefore all monistic claims of Vedanta are only a partial representation of real wisdom of Vedanta. Actually Vedanta offers personalist view of Absolute)
2. Reality is personal and it is the false ego of misconceived souls that forces them to see reality as impersonal and thus some are busy in finding a mechanistic explanation of reality (Hence matter is an experience of such misconceived souls who have not yet realized that everything [including themselves] is meant for the service of Absolute )
3. Absolute can be approached only by cultivation of love for the Absolute (through loving service - bhakti)
4. Bhakti is not a mental imagination and one can only attain true love (bhakti) for Absolute by engaging in loving devotional services under a devotee who has already awakened that love for the Supreme ("Bhakti comes from Bhakti" which is similar to the Vedic mantra that we often come across on this list - "Life comes from Life")
It is important to discuss and learn properly, these important Vedic conclusions.
In this Indo-Iranian conference at Delhi Dr. Bhakti Niskama Shanta challenged Swami Agnivesh's (Agnivesh is an Indian politician and a former Member of Legislative Assembly from the Indian state of Haryana, an Arya Samaj scholar, and a social activist) point "God cannot have form" by the argument that "If God can't do something then that is not the true concept of God." According to Vedic view Supreme can do-undo anything and everything - kartum-akartum-samarthaḥ. Everyone in the conference convinced by this argument of Dr. Shanta and all of them together said "Yes, if God cannot do something then He cannot be called God."
I will send soon a detailed report on the Indo-Iranian dialogue. Thanking you.
I am truly grateful for the inspired words of Sumangala Devi Dasi, and for his mention of Bhakti Shanta whom I had the honor to meet in Nepal (along with his colleague Bhakti Muni, who was a very kind guide to me there).
It is good that we seek a balance between "looking to the sky", to the great immensity rising up from earth to galaxy to cosmos (and beyond?), and immersing ourselves in the need, spirit and growth of the earth and of humanity in general.
I am sorry that when I look to the sky as far as I can manage, I still find myself in a situation of multilayered ignorance, even more ignorant than I started to feel I was a week or two ago. It does not really worry me so much that all of us share some ignorance, and can benefit from admitting it to ourselves, because "it is enough for our purposes to understand what lies within 10 billion years of here, at a level of life above 3 femtometers." But in trying to understand the laws of physics at a level or two beyond the mainstream today (still knowing that that is not necessarily the absolute), there are still overwhelming questions.
I still wonder: are the ultimate, absolute laws of this cosmos exactly expressable as a Lagrangian function over curved Minkowski space, following the Lagrange/Euler mathematics? And if so, does that make the cosmos a KIND of personal entity, with a Lagrangian function which is actually a kind of "telos" like what Bhakt iMuni talked about in Nepal, which we humans can try to be aligned with?
OF COURSE, I do not know. It is a question worthy of very serious effort, of two sorts: (1) trying to figure out what the true Lagrangian might be; and (2) in principle, looking for clear predictive insight by some other type of model. For now, for me, (1) is a task I have a better idea how to do, and I see no basic obstacles now, after many years of learning how to surmount APPARENT obstacles. But it is something of a lonely task, as mainstream physics today needs more earthy experiments addressing much more elementary issues/prerequisites.
Two weeks ago, I was excited by the full implications of a cosmos which maximizes a Lagrangian function, implications I had not fully understood before that. But on further consideration, such an all-powerful cosmos (a system maximizing over all possible states of all fields across space-time)... would it really entail so much approximation and imperfection as we see around us? Maybe, but I feel a bit more skeptical... HIGHLY uncertain... but this week it seems most likely to me that the next big step in deeper understanding, deeper than the best version of quantum field theory I am aware of, would involve a MINMAX cosmos SUBJECT TO EQUALITY CONSTRAINTS. In a way, that seems closer to the old Zoroastrian concept, of a kind of cosmic war between a minimizer and a maximizer, with the addition of an umpire enforcing rules (the constraint). This is not my grandmother's holy trinity! But it seems most likely to me today that life as we know it "is posshible only in the middle zone, between the fire and the ice," the minimizer and the maximizer." And it may be that the constraint, which I was not fully aware of until this year (and which I only BEGIN to understand) is absolutely essential and fundamental.
The emerging picture seems much more natural and plausible as a law of everything than any version of quantum theory that I know, and it CAN replicate MQED as a statistical approximation (thus correctly predict what MQED already predicts), yet it does seem a bit contrived. I would not argue so much if any of you argues, intuitively, that it sounds SO contrived that someone , or Someone, must have cooked this up behind the scenes, far beyond our vision. But then again, my own "personal goddess," my wife notes that this is just a concrete version of stage 3 of a four-step plan we discussed when cruising to the Arctic a few months back, and perhaps her ideas about stage 4 might work out to be more beautiful and absolute... when I reach that level. For now, stage 3 is hard enough.
But then: IF we live in a minmax cosmos, to what does bhakti naturally apply?
THE OPPOSITE extreme vision of the cosmos is given the trilogy, The Three Body Problem, representing a Chinese viewpoint, more like Jiang Zemin than like Xi Jinping. (Xi is more moderate, but I am not sure how HE balances the swirling, conflicting energies he must deal with.) It envisions a cosmos like a cdark forest, where we are all alone in a very dangerous way.
Between these extremes... back to native Americans (and Kurds!). The earth and the galaxy are not so impeccably perfect as many wish the absolute could be, but neither is life itself. Bhakti or alignment with earth, and even with galaxy, are enough for us small creatures. For most of our life, we need to remember not to imagine we are so much bigger than either of these anyway. Yes, physics must work to see beyond them, but for our lives, we need to really deeply feel how earth and galaxy are large enough, and deserving enough of our respect.
With sincere best regards and best wishes...
(4) A few days earlier, getting down to earth (and Trump):
Eric from the West said:
That's a good point ... about DNA and bottom-up philosophy. But you missed something far more damaging and dangerous to human society. That is self proclaimed Godly or "religiously" oriented individuals or groups that are only fraudulent. This is a much bigger problem than the secular sect even, because so many people of less intelligence will buy what they're selling, only to be completely cheated. And the whole society or country or world may then be cheated and misled, leading to ruination.
We see so much of that currently, witness Bill O'Reilly's rant on his show yesterday blaming God for his falldown due to his rampant sexual harassment in the workplace at Fox News, rather than accept his own responsibility. Of course before him it was the Fox News head himself Roger Ailes accused of the very same thing. This coming from self proclaimed conservative "Christian family values" champions who slam anyone not adhering to their strict view. Hypocrisy, so common in today's world. Even worse than an honest despot.
Anyway there is an old saying: Who claims they are holy are not holy. This is the problem today, fake prophets calling real ones fake. Fake leaders calling real leaders fake. Fake news, etc. And the people believing them. Those who are claiming the higher platform while slamming a lower one, but who are anything but exemplary in reality.
My response (after Stephen's less sanguine response):
As I read what Eric said, I find more than just a little truth in it. It is extremely important and broad.
It is when we read between the lines that we may get nervous. Eric did not use the word "Trump" but Stephen is right in hearing echoes of that word in what Eric said.
In fact, last night I attended a meeting where many people from the Middle East were present, and of course many of them associated many evils directly with the personality of one man, Donald Trump. Certainly Trump has been a great delight to Jungian psychiatrists lately, and certainly he has proposed some bad things, but to avoid going bad ourselves, a few key points:
(1) We should always remember that our brains are wired the same way his is, and that we are all capable of making the same TYPES of mistakes. All of us benefit from regularly "looking in the mirror" (and maybe even looking at Trump at the same time) and asking: "Where are **I** making assumptions or taking actions or indulging reactive emotions which are as transparently silly to someone looking at me from afar, more objectively and with more perspective than I have when just being subjective?"
(2) Blaming EVERYTHING on Trump gets other people off the hook, including the people responsible for the deep wave of discontent which by 2016 made many people feel "I would sooner vote for a dog than vote for a continuation of 'the swamp.'" I certainly knew of situations where one politician would expose the scandal of an opponent getting money from bad sources with bad understandings, gain power by doing so, even though he was getting four times as much money from even more evil vested interests with destructive consequences. (I feel that the word "evil" is not SO misleading or oversimplified, since I have met a few of those funding source people and saw what they were doing, a long set of stories.)
There is more to be said about these issues. And Eric is right to ask on this list: What kinds of spiritual education and exercise REDUCE corruption, destruction and the long-term risks to the very survival of the human species, and which kinds INCREASE it? The issue of spiritual education and training, from yoga to K-12, is certainly appropriate here, and relevant to the coming meeting in New Delhi.
> Keeping within the bounds of god-vs-genes, both sides are flawed. Why? > Because the “because god” argument is of as little explanatory value as > “because genes”. “Not-god” and the dumb-luck paradigm on which it depends, > is as daft as the “because god” sky-daddy. Though I do not entirely agree with the person who typed this (I lost track!), the words were psychically or spiritually inspired, in my view.
Just yesterday, in the discussion of "can a computer or robot have a soul?" , migrating to the MoM list, we got deep into the DNA and PK aspects. On the issue of HUMAN capabilities, we end up at the old-but-true insights of people like Cloninger, who say it is wrong to argue "nature versus nurture," since human traits are driven by a mixture of both. More broadly, our individual capabilities and traits are based on a COMBINATION of DNA, mundane experience, and influences from the "spirit" side -- all three being complex systems, interacting in complex ways, startlingly different from person to person in practice. So OK, both extremes are flawed.
But .. the words... "daft.... sky-daddy" raise a flag here. Yes, there are lots of daft followers of assorted sky-daddy archetypes out there. But these words also remind me of the disgust my wife expressed when she saw me one day lying in bad listening to the sound track of "Colors of the Wind" from the Disney Pocohontas sound track. Such disgustingly babyish stuff... (and only one version of the song worked for me). Babyish in its way, but maybe we should not totally underestimate those babies.
Last year, up around Lake Titikaka in Peru, I had a great chance to talk with native people, including an energetic young and sincere shaman and a more mature graduate of the local culture university. as well as ordinary people. They do have a powerful tradition of worship of pachamamma and pachatata, a kind of earth-mother and sky father figure. I think it was Joseph Campbell people always cite, to say that earth-mother and sky father are pervasive in all old cultures of earth. Baby stuff, usually interpreted in baby terms with silly interpretations and theology. Yet could it be like that bread mold once used by shaman healers in Africa, which turned out to be penicillin? In my view, it is.
More precisely, it is very difficult to explain human paranormal abilities (IF YOU TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY, which may of us do, apologies to others)... in a manner fully consistent with the hardest of hard science EXCEPT by accepting the existence of a "noosphere," a kind of "spiritual" (or dark matter) reality very much like that pachamama or earth-mother or Gaia. Temples to pachamma may be as silly as that bread mold, but the penicillin inside may be quite real.
So far, it's like Teilhard de Chardin or Verdansky, but science rejected Teilhard because his concept of evolution simply could not justify his version of noosphere. It was not plausible as an outcome of the evolutionary process JUST ON EARTH. But hey, folks, the cosmos is a wee bit bigger than the earth. The vast and ancient ocean of dark matter and dark energy is more than enough to allow the evolution of a whole SPECIES of noospheres, of which earth's may just be one baby or adolescent member. (In danger of adolescent self-destruction of course.) One main consequence of that shift in viewpoints is that earth is not alone. And so, be careful about dissing that sky father. Even be careful about assuming Jesus/Yeshua was just a mundane guy imagining someone. Was it just an archetype he was in touch with? Well, it didn't seem exactly like the local archetypes previously present in his sector of the noosphere... though then again, what do we know about his local web of connections?
Best of luck,
P.S. I do wonder whether the Hindu-Islam conference coming up in New Delhi will do honest justice to Kurds and Yezidis, who have often been lied about by the kind of priest-kings Eric rightly complains about? On my trip home from :Peru, the car driver in Virginia was one of those, mountain people from the Middle East, and he was astounded to hear how much identity there was between the actual beliefs of those Andean people and the actual beliefs of his people, even in respect to details beyond the scope of this email.
'Eric Reyes' via Sadhu-Sanga Under the holy association of Spd. B.M. Puri Maharaja, Ph.D.
I don't find a problem in the "because God" reasoning Stephen actually. Where...
Oct 26 (8 days ago)
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MY RESEARCH ABOUT IMITATION IN CHILDREN Children play to re-experience or re-...
On Fri, Oct 27, 2017 at 05:11:29PM +0200, Bruno Marchal wrote:
Why "imitate"? We can be inspired by someone without imitating it.
Honesty and courage, is the fundamental base.
The question comes to what inspiration is. In one variety of inspiration, the other person becomes internalized, in a fairly literal way. If I meet someone new who holds my attention -- whether in normal life or in some staged setting (including cinema) -- I can subsequently feel as if I'm wearing their face, feeling their feelings, and thinking in the pattern of their speech. It is as if I were, in a small way and without loss of myself, possessed of their spirit; my world is colored by their presence.
This spiritual contagion makes sense, considering the evidence of mirror neurons, as well as how much of human culture is structured. This isn't at the level of "I'm going to imitate so-and-so," so much as it is one of an organic experience of embodying, to an extent, the spirits of others.
In a more abstract way, it's also my experience with music and abstract art, that it shifts my spirit, as if there's a contagion from the artist.
This is how the concept of spirits can make sense without requiring any sort of dualism or second world for them to dwell in.
(Well, I don't really believe in the first world). I assume only number (and Mechanism at the meta-level).
It can also explain such usages as "school spirit" and "national spirit." Those may seem trite; but anyone who has visited different nations, and even different schools, might recognize some truth in them.
Thank you for your precision. I understand better. My tongue language is French, and "imitate" has a more narrow, and rather pejorative sense in French, that is why I have to translate it with the term "inspire". But what you say makes sense now.