Monday, October 27, 2008

DETERMINISM AS OPPOSED TO CHOICE, LOGIC, AND REASON, Part One

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FROM A SITE VISITOR: [Received 25 October]: What did you mean in today’s post when you talked about varieties of determinism rather than choice and logic and reason? Sounds interesting in a way but I have no clue what you’re talking about, Thank you, Stephen.


FROM ANOTHER SITE VISITOR [Referring to the book CASTING LIGHT ON THE DARK SIDE OF RELATIONSHIPS]: My girlfriend read your book and found herself having a VERY strong reaction to it--she found it biologically deterministic but is willing to consider its questions.


F.: A discussion of “determinism” and “cause”—as related to the Advaita teachings—is appropriate as persons attempt to understand what the teachings offer in regards to cause (meaning “the cause of all happenings” as well as “the cause of thoughts, words, and deeds among persons”).


Maharaj’s pointers exhibited an element of determinism when he taught that the cause of all is all, meaning that all happenings are a result of the entire compilation of antecedent happenings and conditions which, in turn, affect current thoughts and words and deeds among persons.


There has been an unbroken series of events that are all related, starting from the moment that one atom manifested within a vacuum and precipitated the happenings that resulted in what is called “this universe.”


The non-Realized believe that they are making choices and have no understanding at all of the plethora of influences that are driving them to think as they think, to talk as they talk, and to behave as they behave.


Their egotism will inspire them to believe that they are separate from “lower forms” and that they are “higher level beings” with their supposed capability to choose, to “love,” to determine their own fate, to have control, to “rise above instinct,” to live civilly, to rule self, to think, and to affect permanent change by improving self and others.


They will note as if it were a legitimate source of pride that humans are "the highest life form" on the planet. They will brag about how they are "unique," separate from the animals and capable of rising above natural and innate and cultural and "personal" and biological and/or animalistic drives. They will claim to be uniquely capable of being able to consciously choose to take a “higher and more noble path” and to be free of being driven by causes other than conscious choice.


[Visitors can revisit the archives and find the instances where e-mails have been received that criticized pointers which suggest that humans could often be far more civil if they lived more naturally in the fashion of some animals.


The criticisms that have come on occasion to counter such suggestions always tout “the human mind” and “man’s dominion over the animals” and “humankind’s nobility that manifests when man rises to a point that ascends far above any reached by animals.” Such e-mails trigger more than one of the five senses when they arrive. The egotism oozing from such claims are almost visible in such e-mails. The odor of such blatant egocentricity is palpable.]


Many among the non-Realized would (or do) concur with the words spoken by a Shakespearean character, never realizing that the writer’s words were intended to be ironic...placed in the mouth of one of the most troubled and confused and tortured and dual-minded characters in all of drama:


Quote 1: “What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving, how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!


Many persons are less enamored with mankind/womankind/humankind in general but are still quite enamored with their own self-ness (which they believe wholeheartedly is something that most certainly is quite noble and capable of reason and is in possession of infinite faculties and is admirable and angelic and godlike and beautiful in all ways).


In fact, the Realized poet was making clear that those would only be the views of one who is trapped in duality and angst and torment and ego and egotism and indecisiveness. The words that follow “Quote 1” show not only the confusion of Hamlet as he considers the “worth of man” but express an entirely opposite view that is aligned with the poet’s actual realization:


Quote 2: And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me….”


The arrogant will cling to the appraisal of humans in general (or of self specifically) as expressed in “Quote 1” and will reject completely the more humbling assessment as expressed in “Quote 2.”


Of course the non-Realized, trapped as they are in the pride of their species or in the pride of their own self-ness, can have a “VERY strong reaction” to any words which might suggest that much of the behavior among humans is biologically determined (or is driven by a combination of the many types of determinism that exist).


The follow-up questions in that case must include:


1. “WHO had a strong reaction? WHO cares? That is, which persona or personas registered strong offense?


2. "Further, who missed the fact that biological determinism was identified as one of the sources of relative problems—that is, as one of the varieties of determinism that blindly drive human thoughts and human words and human deeds—but has missed the offered Advaitin pointers that identify the relative solution to the relative problems that result from deterministic factors which prevent choice and which block the use of reason and logic?


3. "WHO believes that all of his/her thoughts and words and deeds are controlled strictly by her/him and not more often caused by all that has been experienced by a specific speck of consciousness and that is being impacted by other specks of consciousness and by all happenings that have manifested previously?"


The cause of what persons think and say and do is most often determined by a variety of causes and by a series of unbroken occurrences that they are not even conscious of, much less understand.


While persons love to believe that they are powerful (or that they have completed a noble or religious or spiritual body of “work” that has empowered them) the fact is that—short of Full Realization—persons will never understand the relative functioning that happens as a result of the blockage of pure consciousness. And even less will they understand the functioning of the totality and what is required to be free of being driven unconsciously and/or subconsciously and/or deterministically.


Yet the fact remains that if one is being driven—in a car for example—he/she can be in one of three places and cannot possibly be in a fourth place. If being driven, one can be in the passenger seat, in the back seat, or in the trunk. The one place a person cannot be—if being driven—in behind the wheel.


Persons being driven will have no choice as to where they go, how they go, or when they go. They have no choice at all, and all of their thoughts and words and deeds will be determined instead by a host of factors that they do not understand and over which they have no control. Please enter the silence of contemplation.

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