Friday, January 19, 2018

Examination of a 2600 Year Old Idea

2600 years ago, Pythagoras, of the sum of the squares fame, was the head of a school, often refereed to as the Pythagoras Brotherhood. He (they) had many ideas, but there is one that requires a look. It is not a dichotomy, even though it is expressed as such in it's simplest form. That idea is, "we can chose to live naturally or supernaturally". The choice is ours. What if the f does that all even mean?

This simple choice has lead to wars ever since.

Zeno the Stoic founder went toward naturally, while people of lesser ethical value or greater desire for psychological comfort went to the supernatural for comfort, and adopted Gods. People with gods are easy to control, for they are contented with what they have, look for psychological comfort, and consider meek to be a virtue to seek after. The supernatural believe in faithfully following some god that promises something, an eternal life, a paradise, rebirth into higher forms, a future life of sexual pleasure, a death of no harm to the present life, or other supernatural claim, that cannot be proven wrong easily, nor even demonstrated. These are based on supernatural thinking.

There is little doubt that many people can live in there heads, not seeing reality, but the reality they wish to see. They see good everywhere, beauty everywhere, and chose to ignore difficulties and address them by ignoring some reality, and believing fair tails. It it bothers you, just do not look at it. Look to music, poetry, prayer, mediation, fixed thinking systems, recorded or fabricated by men of antiquity in some "wholely book".

Some mediation, aka sitting quietly thinking is useful. The mind needs time to weight tough choices or to extrapolation into the future from an incomplete data set. It should be termed thinking time, but both sides used the term mediation for two separate processes; one is endeavoring to clear the mind by thinking of nothing or concentrating on a physical process, while the other is to concentrate on one problem concept until that problem concept becomes clear. Both sides can use some form of meditation to improve life. Writing, studying, doing mathematics or learning can be forms of mediation.

Life naturally can be brutal, cruel and short, or it can be peaceful, pleasant in parts, and too long for some. If it was not too long there would not be the cry for assisted suicide. Much of the distress is psychological, caused by own attitudes, often learned as children, and carried into adult life without examination. Some of those attitudes, beliefs, values, desires, virtues we chase after are just wrong. We can chose to live by human nature, our nature as modified to live in 'our tribes' among the other human tribes.

So what is our nature?
  • life, including self preservation, eating, working, and doing what is necessary, security, aka Maslow`s lower needs.
  • Proprecreation
  • Society, to some degree. Some more, some less.
  • knowledge,  or the search for knowledge.
Yet all these can be subverted, modified, misdirected, thwarted, or over driven by training, often in our youth without our understanding or realization. Oh well, that is part of some societies, where submission is considered a virtue.   

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