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TOPIC: The Universal, Magnanimous Mind

The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 14:15 #5671

I'm not sure what I said and what you said are even at odds, are they?
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 14:18 #5672

Also, keep in mind, the meaning - the WHY - we think we do something is always assigned after the fact. So what we think we did, and why, is a story. The meaning of that story is assigned by mind and depending on the mind we get different stories. The complexity of the cause and effect web we live in is really unimaginable, so who knows why anything? I think that is what Gary Weber is saying.

But, of course, that's just my story ;-)
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 14:40 #5673

Well, if you take Gary's story as a cause-and-effect system, it seems to break down. One cannot say that Gary's feeling "caused" the car to stall and need jumper cables. I guess what I see in Gary's experiences--and I don't know if Gary would agree with me--are synchronicities that operate on principles other than linear time, which is presupposed in causality. This is what I meant when I said "referring to something other than systemic causality." Gary is seeing a regular correspondence between his psychological and physical experiences that cannot be explained by causality. He finds these correspondences to have some kind of meaning because their content is so similar. How improbable is it that Gary would have an inexplicable feeling to pack jumper cables and then have him be the only individual around who has jumper cables when someone is badly in need of them? Even more improbable is for Gary to have these experiences on a regular basis it seems.
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 14:58 #5674

I suspect we're describing the same thing in different terms, Jake. It's my fault because I'm talking about the unique perspective on this I have from my own experience. Lot's of things are improbable when looked at in hindsight. Most things are indescribably complex, so we don't know their "true" causes, and they really don't have just one cause anyway, but rather a whole chain of complex influences. I'm not assuming linear time, either, which I suspect doesn't exist anyway unless time is being observed by a human being.

This probably comes out sounding like gibberish, I know. I can describe it in more detail, and have in the past, but I'm not sure it's all that critical to this discussion.

The universe is a mystery to me. I have no way to describe how it works. It could be based on what we know about physics. It could be magic. It could be like the universe in Horton Hears a Who. I can only describe the things that I experience, as that's all I have.
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 15:36 #5675

@chris, @sunyata - I think in this context (of this discussion at least) "cause and effect" is not about perceived causes and effects but infinite interactions. A zen teacher told a story once that I love to repeat, so excuse me repeating it. When you "decide" to get up and sweep the floor, the layers of cause and effect that contribute to that moment are so unimaginable, but include things like the fact that someone invented the idea of sweeping, that human beings happen to have hands with opposable thumbs that can hold a broom, the teaching you learned as a child that taught you to notice dust on the floor, the fact that someone in China made the broom, and it traveled on a ship to America, and was for sale at Walmart, and you had $14 to buy it because you had a job that you ended up in because.... etc etc. Not to mention on the level we can't even perceive.

If you consider the immense web of interacting phenomena, then what comes together in any given moment can have a (largely unknowable) cause that has very little to do with "Hey, I want to sweep the floor now."

Does that help?
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 16:09 #5676

That's what I've been trying to say. Thanks for the assistance!
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 16:11 #5677

Ona, the “decision to sweep the floor” metaphor is a good one.

One way to describe this process in scientific terms is to say that cause/effect relationships do not exist independently. The only time one thing-event can be said to cause another thing-event is when the context regulates this interaction.

For example, I may investigate a house fire and determine that it was caused by a spark, which was produced by faulty wiring of an electrical outlet, and which made contact with a fleece blanket left on the floor. In this context, the blanket would not have caught fire without the spark, so we could say the spark caused the fire. Or, we could say the spark could not have come into being without the faulty wiring, so we could say that was the cause. Or, we could say the wiring would not have been faulty had the electrician done her job properly, making her unskillful labor the cause. Or, we could say the reason the electrician did not do her job skillfully was due to her being trained improperly by her boss, and attribute the cause to him.

And that’s only if we look at this scenario in the context of linear time. There’s also the fact that the house itself was built on earth, where there is oxygen available. Without oxygen, the fire would not have been able to start, let alone grow and spread.

This context-dependent nature of cause/effect relations seems inescapable. Therefore, what is “true” is really what “works” according to a predetermined goal, and as regulated by context. The only reason the spark caused the fire is because that explanation works within the context, and is therefore true.

Applying this to precognition and other psi phenomena can be tricky. The reason is because the chosen independent variables must have a first-person ontology; that is, it has to do with private mental events that are experienced subjectively. Neuro-imaging technology provides some important feedback, but it’s always correlational – i.e. it never observes cognitions or feelings/emotions directly.

NERD ALERT (I’m catching myself drifting into babble)...

The whole notion of an independent variable is itself regulated by context. We may attempt to study psi through using behavior analysis, and set up experiments where we manipulate a subjects environment in attempt to predict and control their behaviors. The behaviors we would try to “cause” would be those practices related to obtaining a magickal result. We could then determine whether the magickal event occurred, if it’s something as objective as, say, getting a parking spot. But even this wouldn’t be a truly controlled experiment, because it would have to take place in the real world, not in a laboratory.

And that, my friends, is perhaps the reason why psi has not been reliably and undeniably supported by the going scientific paradigm. The controlled experimental context is not the type of environment in which these phenomena tend to occur. That’s not to say they aren’t legitimate. Rather, it shows that when we control context, we get different results. In fact, the very act of setting up a controlled context for experimentation could be seen as a magickal act in itself. There’s a clear goal, a desired outcome, a ritual, and an emphasis on accepting the results as they happen.

It seems there are both a light side and a dark side to the going scientific paradigm.
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 16:24 #5678

"Jackson, What you describe is very similar to the instructions that Jeffery Martin provides in the God Formula, his distillation of self-help tools such as the Secret and Law of Attraction. Did you pick this up somewhere or did you naturally start doing it?" -Jake2

I have not read Martin's book, but I'd be interested to hear his take on this topic.

I don't know how most practitioner's of magick (in whatever form) feel about The Secret or the Law of Attraction in general, but I think the way its formulated in popular self-help literature is hokum. For example, the idea that visualizing something brings it closer isn't necessarily correct. Magickal results come in the form of experiential synchronicities. The desire for a particular experience is clarified, and then put aside. The problem is that is we then visualize the experience that is the target of our magickal practice, that in itself counts as an experiential result. Thus, visualizing something we desire, such as the house we'd like to have, can be the result rather than the cause.

I learned most of what I know about magick from the writings of Alan Chapman (Ona's teacher, I believe). His free ebook, The Camel Rides Again: A Primer in Magick, is a great place to start. I also learn a lot from my friend Ian (a member of this forum), who practices a form of African Shamanism. We don't share specific practices with each other, per se. But, he has been helpful in explaining some of the general mindset and ethical principles that are important for not getting mixed up in bad cycles.

Again, I'm no pro. It's not my main gig. Take everything I say about magick with a few extra grains of coarse-ground salt ;-)
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 17:31 #5679

@jackson - That book by the Chapman fellow? Aha! That explains why so much of what you say sounds familiar! :D
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 19:00 #5680

I think the reason most if not all of us here see that meaning is assigned to events by one's mind is the kind of practices we do. If you very carefully notice all the details of each moment step by step with a certain amound of continuity, you can very clearly see yourself making up the stories about what is happening. It's something that is missed for the most part, but can become quite clear if one really looks carefully.

A less subtle version of this:

All my life I've been around humans who talk about what God, or Jesus, or the "Universe" is doing in the world and in their lives. Do you know people like this? A person doesn't get a certain job because they were meant for the next one. Or, they get a job that sucks, but that was because the Universe wanted to teach them a certan lesson. Or, people come into their life because God has a plan for them to work together on something. It can go on and on. (The oddest one I keep hearing lately is "it's going to be all right cause God never gives us more than we can handle," which is absurd).
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 19:30 #5681

" (The oddest one I keep hearing lately is "it's going to be all right
cause God never gives us more than we can handle," which is absurd)."

Not entirely absurd, though it depends on one's definition of "all right". It's a way of being encouraging. Life (or God, or whatever) hands you all sorts of stuff. From a certain perspective every event in life is an opporunity to grow and learn (that's perhaps the practice-based or optimistic perspective). You DO handle it. How you handle it is entirely a different question (ie with calm and insight versus having a panic attack or whatever). But you handle it. What choice do you have?
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 19:50 #5682

I understand how the saying can be encouraging to someone in a crisis and can help them calm down.

But, if you look at things clearly and objectively I don't think it is true.

I just don't see that there is some intelligent thing separate from me called God or Life that is handing "me" stuff. (I'm creating a brand new "me" out of whole cloth and memories every instant while deciding what it all means).

Things do happen that people can't handle. Every day all day. And they lose their minds. Or they run away. Or they hurt or kill others to escape what is happening. They comit suicide. People are tortured or raped or beaten or abused somehow and are never the same from then on. My former brother-in-law was running across the street and was hit by a car and had brain damage so bad he's spent the last 16 years in a hospital under sedation because he has violent rages.

I guess I'm being nit-picky.
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 20:05 #5683

Yeah, I was just thinking about it again. It doesn't have anything to do (for me) with whether there's an intelligent entity or whatever handing us stuff. The stuff comes up, from whatever source (life, the universe, God, cause and effect, randomness, whatever).

The part that I was thinking about was the "I can handle it" - that's where it get's muddy.

When people say that, what they really mean is "handle it in such a way that safety, comfort and happiness predominate."

What I was thinking is, it's a meaningless term, really.

If I get hit by a car and have brain damage, in what way can I handle it or not handle it? Handling it has nothing to do with anything. The brain damage does what it does. I heal or I don't. The man you mention can't "handle it" by doing anything different - he's simply at the mercy of the way his brain operates. Where does "handling it" come into the picture?

I came back to write more on this subject because I was just thinking about an acquaintance who recently killed himself. If I said "he didn't handle the shit in his life well" what I mean is "I wish he hadn't killed himself" or "I wish the treatment for his condition had made him more comfortable so that he wouldn't want to kill himself" or "I wish his life hadn't been so shitty." He did handle the shit in his life. He just handled it in a way that made his friends and family very, very sad.

So my ponder on this is less about who gives you stuff to handle, and more about this idea of people handling things being really pretty damn arbitrary and having a lot to do with our hopes, dreams, expectations and ideals.

I'm not intending this as any kind of argument, just an exploration of a rather difficult subject.
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 21:21 #5684

I agree that it is a difficult subject.
Just trying to figure out what is meant by "handle" boggles my mind.

I swear everyone in this office building and out of the streets of LA is smiling at me today. I want so bad to give a meaning to this unusual thing but I'll resist tempation.

Edit: It's really hard to resist.
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 21:42 #5685

Generally speaking, we can handle anything that doesn't literally kill us. We have no choice. Also generally speaking, our innate fight/flight brain thinks we think we can't handle a lot of stuff because it makes us think we're going to be killed.

Welcome to being human!

They key is to be able to just be with the shit that feels like it might kill us, knowing it won't even though feels really, really bad.
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 29 Feb 2012 23:11 #5686

Jake2, to follow-up on our conversation, I read a preview of Martin's book. It looks like his formulation is pretty solid - definitely not in the "hokum" category ;-) It looks to me like a book on magick. The Kindle version is only $0.99, so I might just buy it.
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 01 Mar 2012 01:17 #5687

Chris & Ona, I guess I have trouble seeing the connection between the nearly infinite complexity inherent in the Universe and Gary's jumper cable story. Is it that the feeling Gary has and its physical correspondence a meaningless coincidence that occurs amongst an unknowable web of causes? Or that to suggest that there is an acausal principle such as synchronicity that connects psychological and physical events with the same meaning disregards the unknown causes of these events? Or that everything is so complex, so who the fuck knows? ;) Sorry, just trying my best to understand what you're getting at.

Jackson, Very cool. I tried using the God Formula, but got negative--as in affected my life negatively--results, so I moved on to EFT coupled with meditation. Martin recommends that if you get no or negative results to try another method. Seems like your getting good results tho!
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 01 Mar 2012 03:12 #5688

"Or that everything is so complex, so who the fuck knows? ;)" -sunyata

Probably that. :D
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 01 Mar 2012 13:45 #5689

One thing that's hard to grasp is that we tend over-analyze in our human quest for meaning. I think we've entered that territory on this topic. Meaning is not a property of the universe unless it resides in mind. Everything is just as it is. Shit happens. That shit happens is what we have to deal with. Meaning matters to us humans but not to the universe at large. Thus, a healthy sense of perspective and a healthy tolerance for uncertainty are good things.

Sorry for the lecture....
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 01 Mar 2012 15:11 #5690


Just trying to figure out what is meant by "handle" boggles my mind.

-michaelmonson

Me too, either it is really simple (the "emotional energy" of the situation disappates as it arises or after a minute or two) or really complex. I think the word handle really should be used in the simplest sense. Anything else sounds like it's better described as struggled through, suffered through, endured, survived and overcome, integrated over time, etc.
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 01 Mar 2012 16:32 #5691


Me too, either it is really simple (the "emotional energy" of the situation disappates as it arises or after a minute or two) or really complex. I think the word handle really should be used in the simplest sense. Anything else sounds like it's better described as struggled through, suffered through, endured, survived and overcome, integrated over time, etc.

-shargrol

One way to see that say ing ("god will never send you more than you can handle"), I know is -- "hey take a breath, you can get through this if you just relax and take it a step at a time." It's just nice advice.

Hokum.

But, to be nit picky, in a real sense it doesn't mean anything. There is no god sending us stuff, and the truth is, people are overwhelmed all the time and do run away from situations because they are just too hard. And, people ARE severely damaged almost to the point of death and beyond repair all the time. All over the wold. I know what I"m saying is s a downer and against the kind of nice/gentle spirit of the advice.

And, again, isn't "handle," more assigned meaning to events?
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 01 Mar 2012 16:44 #5692

Here's how I look at this -- we have no choice in what we experience. What we are born with, or develop in early childhood, is maybe best classified as "how do I react" to the stuff that happens to me. Most people spend their lives REacting. Reactions are driven by several things: habits. aversion, pain, desire -- all things that drive what I'll call unthinking, reactive places. There is another way, and it applies to most things we can experience in our lives. It involves breaking the chain of reactivity in some way, usually through meditation but that's probably not the only way.

If we can gain some distance on those things that generate reactions (habits, pain, aversion, desire, etc.) then we can act in a more deliberate and compassionate manner. This is really just Buddhism 101, right?

I have no idea what "handle" means, but I suspect it has something to do with that.

And, yes, Mike, really, really bad shit does happen to people, but I would offer to you that even really, really bad shit is at least partially subject to the changes in us that a deep mediation practice can invoke or create. Especially in terms of what people call the second arrow - the stories and thoughts that contribute to our pain and suffering with in predicting bad shit or in dealing with it after it happens.
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 01 Mar 2012 16:56 #5693

RE: "handle"

Think about what is implied by the statement, "I just can't handle these feelings!"

The question to ask is, what will happen if you have these feelings? People have all kinds of ideas about what will happen. It's survival stuff: fear or injury or death, whether physical or emotional/social. In other words, if the situation remains as it is, and they allow themselves to face it, there's no coming back from it.

As much as I don't like "god" statements most of the time, the general message isn't bad. What people are really saying is, "You can work through more than you realize. It's possible to get through this. You will be OK when this is over."
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 01 Mar 2012 16:59 #5694

Clarification of my use of the word "distance" -- I meant the actualization of "not-self" in Buddhist terms, or maybe in psychological terms not being as wrapped up in or tied to, a specific outcome or occurrence.
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The Universal, Magnanimous Mind 01 Mar 2012 17:09 #5695

I think there are a couple layers of discussion getting muddled here.

1) When people say "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" what do they really intend or imply?

2) What beliefs about how the world works does that normally-used suggestion entail?

3) Do those beliefs line up with our own experiences as dharma practitioners/contemplatives/etc. at various levels of experience?

eta: 3a) Does our reaction to those beliefs point out other beliefs that we hold, that may be just as unfounded/unknowable/dogmatic?

4) How do we bring practice to difficult times, such as sickness, death, accidents, etc.?
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