Tag Archives: truth

Where is the Meaning of Life Located?

What Is The Meaning of Life

As far as I can tell, things like rights, beauty, love, money, and all our notions of gods, good, evil and so on, are the various subjects (stories) we derive from the common object of (nature). We make maps as symbolic descriptions of nature as a territory, then use the maps as a means to perceive the meaning of the relationships between objects. In other words; nature is objects in relationship with each other, but these relationship processes also convey meaning – the same way the relationship between letters and words or sounds convey meaning.

Nature is the base line grammatical engine on which all meaning (language) is built. It is also a language in and of itself. The same way many verbal languages can emerge from a grammatical foundation like a limited set of syllabic sounds, we form our various maps of nature based on the context of the heritage of our experience communicated through our various local environments over time. Objects in relationship with each other over time is the essence of story as far as I can tell. We can not have one (subject) without the other (object). The need for a relationship between two or more entities in order for the birth of meaning to take place is perhaps the archetype of what we frame as male-female – yin-yang mother-child and so on. This meaningful aspect of nature we map out in our myths and also describe as process through our scientific lens is built on this universal grammar.

As meaning generators ourselves, we reflect the nature of nature, despite our occasional delusion that we are independent of the whole. This should perhaps come as no surprise even though it appears to for many of us. Specific order conveys coherent meanings, and to the degree we are ordered, we also convey coherent meaning. Nature conveys story through objects in relationship with each other over time and we interpret this objective dynamic process as subject.

The null hypothesis is a statistical test that suggests there’s no significant difference between specified populations or sets of things; that any observed differences are due to sampling or experimental error. It says we see things as an artifact of how we categorize them. Any truth that can be derived from any “object” in nature depends on that object’s relationship to other objects, even if that other object is the whole of nature. We examine facets – pieces- subsets of nature – that we classify by category, and out of that perception of object in relationship to other object we find meaning. The fact that we must divide nature in order for any facets of meaningful difference to emerge points to the fact that a relationship between two or more objects is necessary for meaning to exist at all. Without the relationship between two or more objects there is no “word” no meaning.

The fact that our organs operate as a community of objects that act to nourish and defend each other’s coherency is more than a process, it is a meaningful story of how coherent structures sustain themselves; whether we decode that message plainly by way of our abstract maps or not does not dismiss the fact it conveys meaning. The fact that we are not fulfilled as mature beings unless we find a way to contribute meaningfully in the context of the community we live in and depend on for life is rooted in the fact that we are unable to act against our nature as mature adults – with excessive selfish intent, taking from our community without giving back something that generates greater value in return – and also be satisfied. The fact that we become depressed when we’re not participating in something larger than ourselves is a statement by nature through our native drives that we hunger for meaning – for a larger coherency. We are simply not wired to be satisfied this without meaningful connections to a greater whole. These aspects of a satisfied life and unsatisfied life is clearly mapped in our biology, but also through the mythic story of Cain and Abel; where one was satisfied by giving his best, and the other was not due to doing the minimal. Are these people literally true? Maybe, maybe not, but they are metaphorically sound with the message conveyed through objective nature about who we are and what constitutes a pathway to a satisfied life. To deny this seems to me as incoherent as to deny gravity.

Our cultural myths (stories) throughout time and place are symbolic maps of the world and the cosmos. We use them to craft an image of our place in the context of this larger environmental womb of nature – as a way to reflect our understanding of this “almighty” womb of nature we’re in – that forms us of the dust of the Earth – that gave birth to all things – that nourishes and feeds us and will yield its strength if we cultivate fruitful outcomes, which are rendered through specific nourishing and protective actions along with a certain level of sacrifice and so on over time. This nature, to which we must sacrifice to in order to cultivate a more abundant life speaks of itself in and through the way objects relate to each other. These cultural myths we have formed over the years have embedded within them things like our objective need for a relationship with each other and our world because of how we have been defined (created) by this thing – this greater being; nature.

The fact that we need to tend this garden of living fire with enough intentional cultivation to sustain our collective body, our species, or there will be consequences is conveyed through the process. Our origins, and a projection of our destiny based on how we negotiate in the context of this relationship economy is also conveyed through the process. These subjective words we stitch together as symbolic maps of the territory are not mere descriptions of process alone, they also convey meaningful concepts. We make symbolic tokens that can stand for the territory we are in – this economy of “being”. These maps are how we negotiate our relationship with self other and the world whether we couch it in terms of governments and constitutions and laws, or in the form of mythic stories.

Along with being defined by nature, our maps can also define how we experience “being”. The same way nature creates by way of object within certain boundaries, we can create by way of subject. While I would agree the map is not the territory, and that the claims of literal truth made by certain religions could be argued as objectively untrue or unprovable, we simply cannot know from our perspective, which is why these things are the domain of faith, at the same time, money is not money unless we agree it is money. We shape our experience in objectively true ways through concepts – through meaning. Meanings themselves can take on the form of objects in relation to one another and create a nested architecture of meaning. The same way each language has it’s own word for stone, yet there is only one objective stone to which all these various concepts point, each mythos subject attempts to encapsulate the properties of nature in abstract terms. Each has a a unique map that conceptualized the same source – nature, which is both object and subject.

To suggest that anything not tied to a description of process, which is the domain of science, is valueless and incoherent misses the point as much as claiming subjective truths are objectively true. We can get lost in our maps by mistaking them for objects, but we can also get lost in process by mistaking that for subject, when it is the inseparable relationship between the two that defines what we experience as “being”. We can be the authors of our own poverty, or cultivators of our grandest success depending on how we relate to each other – how we participate in subject making process.

We generate meaning by the way we relate to each other. We also have the opportunity to generate more abundant meaning by how coherently we relate – how much we nourish and protect each other and the common body of life we depend on to sustain us as a single meaningful coherent whole in service of a greater whole. This nested architecture of meaning conveyed through the process of nature is a meaningful guide to a meaningful life if we have the ears to hear the message. Whether we understand it or not, the meaning is clearly conveyed: that objects in relationship with each other over time is the essence of how we experience every story, including our own.

I could be missing something(s)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_hypothesis

From Existence To Significance

Life A limited Time Offer

My guess would be most of us either get swallowed by the circumstances we’re bathed in through the collective effects of our developmental environment, finding some reactive equilibrium with that happenstantial field of influences that define our initial form, or we wake up from that opaque mist to recognize that we also have a voice in the field of influences that defines our experience. We may discover that if we work intentionally, effectively and proportionally, that our voice might cultivate something significant rather than merely reflective – something that does more than reflect the defining qualities of the environment, but also plays a role in defining.

Cultivating something significant often requires disciplined effort and patience to shepherd nascent forms to fruition where they produce emergent properties, but the cost of doing so can render an effective player in the field of relationships that defines what we experience, and perhaps emergent properties that will pay continual constructive dividends. Nature clearly communicates that we can count the seeds in an apple, but not the apples in a seed if that seed is cultivated – nourished and protected through development to its mature state of fruition. This cultivation aspect of being might be the “why” we are here, but it is more certainly the big “if” in terms of whether or not we realize the opportunities that are presented out of the cauldron of relationships that define us.

We can make the transition from that which has been defined by circumstance, to that which also plays a role in defining circumstances, but only if we first recognize, then take the proportional actions to overcome the things that would otherwise turn our presence into a neutral mush carried on the currents of environmental whim, or worse, to become an agent of reflected destruction. Some of the common stories that emerge from the field of defining relationships that we’re both baptized in and have some measure of ability to participate in include environments that falsely convey we have no significance – that our voice is of no effect and that we are solely the victims of an authoritarian fate, or perhaps an environment that has so shocked us with a series of capricious horrors and injustices that it causes us to see reality through a distorted lens which renders an image of tragedy and misfortune that is inevitable and that total occupation with self defense and protection are of paramount importance, or perhaps our social environment coupled with our innate capacity for vision has revealed to us the tragic and arguably insane failure of the collective social economy that powerfully defines our experience to sufficiently recognize, value and express the behaviors that nourish our mature potential – a maturity which is only possible in a climate of sustained mutually nourishing and protective developmental behaviors aimed at serving each other’s common interest. The fields of opportunity that we leave fallow can make us the authors of our poverty, and in that poverty we can get stuck in a vortex of self reinforcing destruction making our circumstance worse by filtering the world through a lens of dominance. One where it appears to make sense to force compliance from each other with the aim of getting the most we can get, rather than searching for and cultivating commitment between each other to gain what is rendered by the emergent fruit of community. We can either be caught spinning in a turbulent eddy of malignant selfishness that takes us in vicious circles that go nowhere, or we can tend to the fruits that are produced through committed cooperation with and cultivation of each other, and the extended body of life we depend on.

In the light of the necessities to effectively steer with intention through the currents that define us – to participate in where the currents carry us – we would do well to search for what it takes to cultivate that which is most significant to that end – that which has the most effect to tame and intentionally direct the environmental waters that define our experience. We can only realize the strength of that steering activity by both finding and actively participating in the relationships that forge meaningful significance while also mitigating the antagonistic forces that could interfere of interrupt that process. Because we so often start with a lens that was forged in a blend of complacency and trauma, we may not be equipped to see clearly what our best way forward is. Once our lens is refined to see with enough depth to understand where our opportunities are sourced, we can then see our progress is built on a complex and nuanced vision where consequences are not immediately connected in time through a linear process, but are displaced in time, and that development to maturity requires sacrifice in order to bear the eventual fruit.

Our best way forward is not visible using a simplistic, linear and narrowly temporal lens. Although simplistic lenses that do not consider, much less prioritize, the necessities of development over time are what we begin with in our ignorance and also what we gravitate to in times of perceived stress, they are not what serves as an accurate map to our most mature state of being. The effects of past traumas etched in our collective psyche can become a self perpetuating eddy that results in why we sometimes operate on a cultural level with a simplistic lens that seems to infer that serving the self to the exclusion of the community is the obvious choice; and it is in the short run, even though it is ultimately self defeating when the more complex tapestry of relationships that develop over time and space is considered. Our traumas and the resulting myopia may also explain why many of the superficial rituals of social recognition we currently chase and build our dedicated behavioral monuments to are also less connected to significance than they are to a self referential service of themselves – to the status quo – of serving our more immediate gratifications in a bonfire of vanities, or, as William Shakespeare’s character Macbeth so eloquently put about the net result of certain lives:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

As a result of recognizing that the road we currently travel most is a recipe for complacency at best and at worst one peppered with self indulgent distractions that lead us in directionless circles, we might be compelled by that dour vision to take the road less traveled. The unbeaten path does require that we brave the dangers of the unknown and or dedicate ourselves to the disciplines that are valuable yet may be unappreciated, or even detested and actively resisted. But this is what we must undertake for the opportunities that are only harvested by way of that path to be rendered. It is only by way of this more difficult organized effort that we can have a chance to realize and get the chance to embody significance – to make our lives meaningfully matter in a sea of what would otherwise be mere existence.

As a result of seeing the stagnating effect of what is rendered by actions taken on the heels of a shallow vision that looks no deeper than serving the brief periods of satisfaction of our baser drives, we might be inclined to focus instead on the things that do not necessarily tilt toward service of these superficial passions alone, but dig deeper to see something more difficult, more significant. With a full spectrum vision we can become like the parent that is compelled by that deeper vision to act with determination on behalf of a child’s development, sometimes in the context of the myopic protests of that same child. This deeper commitment is forged by a deeper vision. A vision that sees our common child as the extended community of relationships we live in and depend on for nourishment and protection, that defines our being and our experience, and that we also derive our significance from by serving something of nourishing and or protective value in the context of that community.

I may be missing something(s)

Is there such a thing as a metaphorical truth?

 

A couple thoughts on this: Is it necessary for a story to be literally true in order for it to be a legitimate source with which to govern our lives? Is there such a thing as a metaphorical truth?

While many an argument grows from whether or not a traditional story is literally true or not, there is also another aspect of stories in general that sometimes gets ignored in heat of the battle over the authenticity of this class of stories. This conflation of authenticity, credibility and usefulness as equal partners distorts our perspective of ourselves. Those are malleable factors that shift emphasis depending on what context they are applied to.

While some of us elevate certain traditional texts to the status of sacred and or literal, whether or not a story or stories are true does not take away from the fact that we humans believe in many stories that are only true by virtue of our faith in them. Money, law, human rights, government and various institutions like businesses are all stories, and our belief in them powerfully influences our experience. Whether we like it or not, they are, in a sense, reified by faith.

If we were to dissect a human, or the whole cosmos for that matter, we would never find a “human right”, or a “law” or a “corporation”. We would also not be able to find our past, the episodic stories we use to define our identity, and yet, these stories, like the reading of a Harry Potter novel, or the reading a scripture like the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible or Zoroastrian Texts have the capacity to frame our perception and steer our lives by virtue of how we use them as a currency for action – and that is the real power of the story – no matter whether we believe in their literal or metaphorical truth.

I could be missing something(s)

What is Important?

This video is a perspective on what’s important.

Here is a text of the narration:

What is important?

What is important? How would we measure it, and how would we know the measure was accurate? Although there are many possible ways, if we use a scale of things that have the most profound influence on our ability to realize our full potential, and use that to measure what we currently apply our energies to as a global culture; we can see the gap, the gap between what’s important, and what we do.

Somewhere in our not so distant past, on some day we couldn’t pinpoint because we weren’t watching, we crossed a critical threshold. We crossed the threshold where we no longer live in a world where people starve because we can’t feed them; we now live in a world where people starve because we don’t feed them. We have the skills and resources to make this a plentiful world, but we do not yet have the focus, nor the will – to do what’s important.

We have the capacity to cultivate a world brimming with potential – potential that can only be realized if we have each other’s backs. Instead we live in a world where, acting out of fear, we have to watch our backs – a world where we have to defend ourselves from ourselves. Maybe we don’t recognize this is the recipe for self made poverty – maybe we are suffering the echo of our collective traumatic past, where a veil of ignorance forced us to be at the mercy of a frightening and often cruel environment, and as a result, we learned to exploit each other, to dominate, or be dominated… This is a past we need to navigate away from if we’re going to cultivate our full potential. Until we do this, we will continue to rob ourselves of what’s important.

What’s important is you – the family, who shapes the lens through which the child understands reality by the way you treat them and each other. You forge their developing identity in the fires of the relationships you expose them to, and this defines whether that fire will refine them, or destroy them. You are the port from which the child launches, and you define what that child will be equipped with to navigate the wider social seas, and how they will influence those they touch – for the rest of their lives. You are what’s important.

What’s important is you – the teachers, who have the wheel that steers the future as you pass the torch of knowledge to the next generations. You’re not merely an installer of facts, but a primary cultivator of the tools that will determine whether we will capably face the challenges that lie before us, or sink under their weight. You have a powerful hand on the rudder that steers this Earthen ship of ours through sometimes troubled waters. Together with the family, you set the tone for the direction we will travel. You are what’s important.

What’s important is you – the friend, who doesn’t have to be asked, but actively seeks to offer your best. Your behavioral vocabulary doesn’t include apathy. You willingly act on behalf of your friends – ready to deliver a comforting word, a helping hand, or a stinging challenge depending on the need – your purpose remains constant – to serve each other. You have a powerful hand in the stability of this Earthen ship in which we all ride. And your aid through the storms, and companionship in fair weather, makes this journey we’re all on worthwhile. You are what’s important.

What’s important is you – the stranger, who may not be familiar with those in other ships that pass by, but know that they are full of kindred kinds – you who understand that it takes all of us, communicating through actions big and small, that we’re in this together, that we share the same waters – and that sharing what we have of value with each other is the reason for the abundance we have. You are the one that opens the door without being asked – you don’t hesitate to act to strengthen the larger community of life on which we all depend for breath because you know you are part of that same body. You are what’s important.

And what’s important is Earth – it is our common ground and our greatest teacher. On it we can stand together and flourish – or divided we can fall back into the soil which once generously gave us this opportunity for a plentiful life. Earth has given us what we need and taught us by writing its lessons into the fabric of who we are – like the need to strike a balance between give and take that’s written into our breath… and how all it asks in return is that we recognize that using that breath to cultivate fruitful relationships is what’s really important.

 

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Things That Matter – Can we work together toward a better world?

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Episode 0001- What is a realistic approach to move us forward as a global culture?

There are a lot of ideological systems throughout the world. We absorb them, as well as our behavioral values from our family and local culture. Many of these cultural idea-behavior profiles conflict with others. Some cultures appear to get along with others despite differences, others – not so much. Some express behavioral values that conflict their stated beliefs and completely miss the hypocrisy – so what we say and do might not line up – but the bottom line is – some of us behave in direct opposition not only to each other, but against the common good of the world. We will explore “Why is that?” AND – “Is there anything we can do about it?”

We are Social By Nature

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 We are be social creatures. The elements we’re made of hunger for specific kinds of relationships in specific contexts. This relationship economy, built on the need for the satisfaction of specific hungers within specific ranges defines our nature. Every atom with which we are constructed has specific hungers for specific relationship. Our nature is social to the core, our biological structure reveals this at many levels. Every cell and organ depends on the others. It is the community of social relationships that defines us.

 

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When we cultivate the availability of, and tend to servicing a certain nourishing order of things, we can be satisfied; conversely, if we violate this necessary order we suffer from instability – and if a critical nourishing relational pathway on which we depend is throttled or destroyed we can lose the integrity on which we depend to exist as a biological being.

Our brains are built on the same social principle. In terms of perception, contrary to some beliefs, we are not primarily logical creatures that are also social and emotional. Even though we appear to use logic as the currency of social influence, our peculiar use of logic as a method to persuade is a polite fiction at best. The evidence does not suggest logic is an effective tool, except in social circles where logic is valued highly or some corresponding social-emotional connection is associated with the logic – and this is the point: “Social-Emotional Bonds” are the key.

The fact that our emotional and social traits trump logic is born out by the evidence in many ways. One example is the way we sincerely and passionately disagree with out-groups in ways that conveniently agree with and support the validity of our in-group. This difference is despite the similarity of our basic biological sensory and processing equipment. This suggests something other than biological differences as the cause. Of far greater weight than our brain’s capacity for logic is the emotional-social aspect of this fatty organ sloshing around our skull. When our social hungers are either wounded of starved, particularly at critical developmental periods, all kinds of pathologies can result.

Addiction may be one of those pathologies. Here is an interesting TED talk by Johann Hari about the potential causes of addiction.

 

Further related articles:

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/morals-not-memories-define-who-we-are/

 

The Origin of Success

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The most profound forms of intimacy are based on relationships where the participants do their best to identify each others needs, and give each other their best. Wealth and strength emerges from the elements of giving that strengthen community. If we consider the fact that a thing as simple as a pencil could not exist unless many persons with many skill sets combined their gifts and shared we begin to get a picture for how wealth emerges from this community principle.[1]

From an economic perspective, we do ourselves no favors by clogging up the flow of values that cultivate each other’s success. If segments of our culture are aligned around exploitation the result is poverty. A diseased body is imbalanced, as is a diseased culture. Our values are the currency that drives these behaviors.

There is great value in the mutual stake in each other’s success. This need for a mutual stake in each other’s success does not negate the unpleasant fact that this organic flow can get ruined by one wayward greedy relational element the same way a forest can burn down on the power of a single spark. Community is strong, but it can be fragile as well. On a personal level trust and confidence grows from mutual trust born of actions that serve our collective needs. We must stand together and act in the interests of the whole biological community we are both in and of in order to realize our fullest, most satisfied state. In this sense, we are game players, not rule makers.

[1] For more information on this community principle read “The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves” by Matt Ridley or “I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E.”

The Language of Life Part 2 of 5

Part 2 of 5 on a series called “The Language of Life”. This series explores reality, and more specifically biology, as an engine of communication. Based on the communication made through the cosmos, it explores what it says about who we are, how we can understand and apply this information to find fulfillment and where we might be going in the future.

Action and Reaction

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Cultivating a life of intention is not an easy task. Some challenges are more difficult than others, but if our opportunity to act is unrealized or uncultivated to make the most of what we have, we go where the currents of unintention take us.

The Community Principle

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“The Community Principle” is based on the premise that biology is a language that communicates a strong need and preference for multidirectional cooperative relationships to thrive and realize its full potential. The realization of our fullest potential depends on how much our environment and our personal commitments cultivate nourishing community.

The community principle applies to all human social relationships. The more our personal, business, institutional, environmental and governmental systems are aligned around this principle the more we contribute to the realization of our fullest potential. Commitment to community from the bottom up is the key. Top-down approaches burn up too much energy on compliance. We are at our best when we cultivate a commitment to community in everything we do.