July 1, 2002
It is clear from simply being, should one attempt to be clear about being,
that a normal or prevalent state is one of delusion, illusion and
confusion. The proofs are readily available in the centuries and millennia
of philosophical expositions. Whatever may have been quite certain then is
equally uncertain now. Yesterday's ethics and morality are today's
To one cured of an affliction, no longer afflicted, a shaman's dance and drum may be equally valued and effective as the latest antibiotic. Is the cure in the belief or the belief in the cure?
Most blithely assume that 2 + 2 = 4. Two plus two does equal four under certain special conditions and only under those conditions. To assume, as most do, that those special conditions constitute the whole is fallacy, pure and simple. One may examine nearly all such generalizations and clearly establish that special conditions abound. To extrapolate from special conditions to general conditions nearly perfectly defines illusion, delusion and confusion in actuality.
Under the force of gravity, on this planet, things will fall. This situation is another special condition which is not universal. Watching space flight, we can observe weightlessness but not experience it. Yes, this special situation, this relationship of gravity and falling objects, may be named "Cause and Effect" without diminishing or denigrating the processes as though they were universal, much less cosmic.
Borrowing shamelessly as, obviously, whatever I may write has already been written, were I to observe on site starvation and poverty in remote Chad, I would be faced with deeply affecting feelings. Were I one who is starving and impoverished in Chad, there is also a high probability that I would not have a keyboard attached to a computer on which is installed a word processing program. Whatever solutions I may desire, such as a meal and shelter, as a starving and impoverished denizen of Chad would likely be far beyond my capacities here to manifest otherwise I wouldn't be starving and impoverished in Chad.
However, speculating about starvation and poverty in Chad, sitting as I am in Hawaii at a keyboard attached to a computer with a word processing program, I may feel a desire to do good. In defining "good" and moving beyond to consider implementation of "good" in terms of alleviating starvation and poverty in Chad, how should I proceed? Highest probability would be that I would, in fact, have little or no pragmatic idea, much less ability to alleviate short term starvation and longer term poverty in Chad.
Actuality, in terms of addressing starvation and poverty in Chad, is that I am confused, deluded and under considerable illusion related to the specific case of Chad. Should I be clear to myself, I would acknowledge that I have few ideas and less capacity to be relevant about alleviating starvation and poverty anywhere, much less Chad. International aid agencies and development programs show a lengthening record of spending billions, accomplishing little. Am I alone in knowing that I have few ideas and less capacity?
It takes little awareness, but nevertheless some awareness to be aware of my impotence in this regard. Holding the desire to do good, even claiming to be aware of what may constitute good, is a pervasive illusion, delusion and confusion. I am not alone. I am, however, acknowledging 2 + 2 = 4 only under certain special conditions, under certain assumptions of dimension.
Let us assume, borrowing another classic demonstration, that all of arithmetic has been conducted forever within one certain room. Within that room, there is no doubt and less concern that, indeed, two plus two does equal four and nothing other than four.
Should one venture to an adjacent room, the unequivocal knowledge present there insists that two plus two equals five. In that room, there is abundant, dramatic and utterly convincing proof that two plus two equals five. Within that room, there is no other possibility.
Should one venture to other rooms, other dimensions if you will, one will discover yet other concrete definitions of propositions such as two plus two equals something quite divergent to that found in other rooms.
It is and remains extremely hard to obey the old dictum that when in Rome do as the Romans. It is and remains extremely hard to allow others to do as they believe in their circumstances will alleviate their problems. Culturally, humans appear incapable of leaving others alone. That the "we" of this world have caused most of "their" problems is proof thereof. Solutions? Ask them.
In terms of cause and effect, again to borrow shamelessly, if in Detroit an alarm goes off at precisely 6:00 am local time every working day while an hour's distance away in Flint another perfectly attuned alarm clock goes off at 6:00 am, does the Detroit alarm awaken the Flint sleeper? Or does the Flint alarm not awaken the Detroit sleeper? Or are both alarms quite illusory as both sleepers awake through obedience to natural rhythms governing life as such?
If I call my left hand my left hand: If I call my right hand my right hand; may I then generalize to "hand" without acknowledging that on observation there are specific differences between right and left hands? It takes little awareness to look more closely and to discover that left hand is not right hand and right hand is not left hand. "Hand" is a convention adopted rather than actuality.
This note begins by suggesting clarity may be a desired condition, pre-condition more accurately, to clarity. Part of being clear is to acknowledge un-clarity as norm. Doing so opens many more potentials in any situation at any given instant. My actualities are always totally different than those of another, any other. Their actualities are always necessarily different than mine. How we may accommodate to each other is a matter of discovery too little attempted.
For my clarity, to be clear about those differences, opens rather than closes. While it is much easier to assume and to operate as though my actualities are yours, to do so confirms only that I am deluded, confused and operating under self-generated illusions.
To do good is not rule bound. To do good is a type of intuitive response to special conditions. To honor that, for me, two plus may equal four, most of the time, is not to deny that, for you, twenty plus twenty equals seven hundred eighty -- even assuming that you grok decimal counting.
I will not bomb you to dust, even if I could, just because you understand that way. I will not drop yellow packaged MREs with my definitions of food contained therein under the delusion that I am addressing your starvation and your poverty in your terms. I will not send genetically modified maize [corn to Americans] to starving people for whom rice is norm. I will not send frozen pork to Muslims or frozen beef to Hindus even if I judge they are starving.
I cannot assume unequivocally that I honestly know much of anything. I can adopt the practice to inquire and to learn what special conditions, what pre-conditions, exist for any given situation at any given moment. I will ask you to tell me, if you can, what is right for you now.
If I ask as sincerely and as clearly as I can manage, will you answer? Will I grok your answer?
Is George W. Bush president of the United States of America? Is the Pope Catholic? Which room are you in?
· · · · · ·
Milo Clark, a founding member of Swans, had it all: Harvard MBA, big house, three-car garage, top management... Yet, once he had seemingly achieved the famed American dream he felt something was missing somewhere. As any good executive he decided to investigate. Since then, he has become a curmudgeon and, after living in Berkeley, California, where he was growing bamboos, making water gardens, listening to muses, writing, cogitating and pondering, he has moved on to the Big Island in Hawaii where he creates thought forms about sunshine.
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This Week's Internal Links
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The Tribulations Of The Toads - by Gilles d'Aymery
Illusion. . . Delusion. . . Confusion - by Milo Clark
Should We Spend Or Should We Save? - by Jan Baughman
Highway Robbery Without A Gun - by James Longo
St Vitus Day: Better Grave Than Slave! - by Alma Hromic
Fight Spam (UCE) - by CAUCE
Jupiter's Eye - Poem by David Garrett
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Milo Clark on Swans
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