This life 'existence,' is all a mental construct, a common one we try to share (by using dictionary wor(l)ds: language). It's what you could call our 'collective dream.' But, the goal is to awaken from it, to behold the grandeur that is beyond -- while still having a body.
This is the oldest subject in the world, what is beyond, what is beyond 'death,' what is beyond this life? We all grope to understand life, and death... I have my own ideas about such...
We're, as ego consciousness, a 'drop of water, salt water in this case,' thrown out of the ocean onto alien land, (when born). When we 'shed the body,' we remerge with the 'Ocean.' losing our identity, but now the total (Tao, or Gestault -- a unified whole)! In away, we become 'God,' again, having adding something to the Total (our 'earthly' experiences).
I think there's a 'period of time,' after shedding the body, when it's possible to manifest the appearance of 'life' (a body) for whatever purpose. This has been proven to me two times, having had experiences with apparitions (poltergeists, ghosts), whatever name you want to give the). And once you've had experiences like these, you don't have to believe, you know!
The first one was years ago while living in a very remote part of the U.S., the Big Bend of the State of Texas. I was there writing a book about the family that had settled the area, and were still there running a General Store nee RV Park. I was living in a adobe building they called the 'Wet Shack.' It had one door and one window, but it was comfortable enough for me. My schedule had me writing the book (about the history of the family) every morning.
One morning, at my desk writing, for some reason I turned to look to my right. There, not two meters away was a short man wearing in a black suit. It was so real, so startling, my heart leap and I jerked my head back to my computer screen. I don't think I've ever felt fear like that before or afterwards, that's how real it was! But, impossible for anyone (alive) to get into my room, as the door was locked (I hadn't yet gone to breakfast). Of course, when I had the courage to look again, nothing was there (Ghosts, in spite of their reputation, don't like to scare you!).
Initially, I thought this apparition was my father, but later it became clearer as to who this was. This was one of the Stillwell men, one of the great grandfathers long since past, come to check me out as I was writing the family's history.
I lived in Big Bend for almost two years, and had more metaphysical-trancendental experiences there, than in any other time/place of my life. I learned that there's much going on beneath the 'veneer' of modern life, but you have to travel to some remote place if you want to experience such. There's much going on 'out there!'
We had cycled up to Kanas Lake (National Park) from Urumqi City (Fall of 2006). We stayed in a place for tourists, an ethic (?) man operated. It was a bunch of old log cabins, beds actually crammed together. I pitched my tent out of the ground, as I ike 'clean' and quiet (most Chinese men snore). The last night, however, before departing to cycle back the 1K KM to Urumqi, I moved into the room with my Chinese son, Xutan ('Richa') and Gong Fu Yu (one in our group). They were in one bed, I was in another at right angles (facing the door).
That night dozing off I happened to notice a 'man,' walking past me toward the door. I immediately, thought if was Mr. Gong going to the outdoor privy. But, when the bodily form didn't bother opening the door, but just 'dissolved through it,' I knew what it was... A ghost.
It was only later, I figured out who the apparition was, none but my old and dear departed friend, James B. Feeney (whose bicycle helmet I wear to take him along).
Xutan and I had cranked up a mountain to get a good view of the Lake, But, they wouldn't allow us to ride all the way to the top, the road too narrow. So, we walked the last 2 kilometers, leaving our bicycles, and my helmet (James B.), at a parking lot. But, on the way down, in a hurry, I left James B. behind. When back at the 'ranch,' and realizing my great stupidity, I sent Xutan (on the back of a motor bike) back up to retrieve it. I was so happy when they returned with it.
Thus, I knew 'James B.' had come to thank Xutan -- that 'he' was the apparition I had seen that night ('dissloving through the door'). Why didn't 'he' stop and say 'hello' to me? He knew it would scare the shit out of me! 'They,' (ghosts) don't like to scare people!
Trust me, there's no doubt in your mind when things like this happen -- there's little other explanation!
Was I 'dreaming'...? All is metaphor!
Have better 'fantasies!'
'Death' is an orgasm!
So, the world isn't what we see or hear, it's actually what we don't 'sea' and don't 'here!'
We interfere with the natural order of things (the Tao), then trying to 'fix the mess' we've created (by trying to control Nature even more), it only backfires! And everything gets worse!
HUMAN BEINGS ARE A PART OF THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS (THE TAO), AND MUST GO WITH 'THE FLOW' OF IT, OR CREATE DISHARMONY (what we have in the World in 2010). Disharmony to the max!
To attempt to save 'the sinking ship' we 'trot out' the experts who get rich writing about the problem, but few have the actual courage to speak the truth!
And thus we spiral downward, not comprehending what we have unleashed: more earthquakes (nee Tsunamis), floods, fires, volcano eruptions, and increased violence (as well as from animals as they try to survive).
In fact, we are like freaked-out buffalo stampeding for the cliff (abyss). Lemmings another example of our self-destructive behavior!
We blame everything and everybody for our own destruction, of course, projecting evil everywhere, but where it belongs, on us!
EACH AND EVERYONE OF US ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CURRENT PAIN WE'VE CREATED. But, since we're suffering, we just can't accept the responsibility, it has to be the ugly villiians 'over there!'
We 'kill the messenger,' (currently Julian Assange) because he, like Jesus, brought the truth. Hey, Julian/Jesus we don't want to know that we don't know! We'd rather live the fantasy (it was oh so nice!)! How dare you interrupt our reverie! For that we will kill you!
Can't you see what modern life (us) has produced...? A self-destructive 'formula,' for our own demise!
We're so clever (arrogant) we're stupid! We're in the process of destroying ourselves, and can't seem to stop it. Now, how intelligent is that...?
Wake up, people, before it's too late (almost too now)!
Someone asked me how to love oneself...? This is what I wrote to them:
First, you have to forgive yourself for being human. All of us humans are fallible (we make mistakes). So, what to do? Forgive yourself for being human.
Vow, to get better: 'I will think of others!' (chant this). The trick in life is to forgive, forget (the bad) and move on! The ultimate is to lead your life for others, putting them first (then you forget about yourself).
It is each one of us that is the problem, always projecting evil or wrong doing onto others!
We need to become more aware of our actions!
We need to gain more consciousness about ourselves!
We need to stop lusting after money, wasting our lives on the material, when ultimately it goes... 'Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust!' (Personally, I hope to have a 'Sky Burial,' giving back what I've taken.)
It's the spiritual that's important to pursue, not being slaves to material items like TV, mobiles, computers, games (real or virtual), other trivial pursuits. You're 'missing the boat,' as they say, you're going down the wrong road!
'Two roads diverged (split) in the woods. I took the one less traveled! It's made all the difference! ' Henry David Thoreau
'Imagination is more than knowledge!' Albert Einstein
This day on the Western Calendar, Winter Solstice (21/22) , or shortest amount of daylight of the 24-hour cycle, just opposite of the Summer Solstice, when sunlight lingers longest (depending upon where you are physically). This has to do with how the earth, the sphere we inhabit, is tilted from 90 degrees. Thus, the seasons, when the angle of sunlight is either more direct (Summer), or the opposite when sunlight hits the earth at a much greater angle (skipping on the edge). This the season of Winter. And maybe something to do with time, as time is space.
These' seasons,' just opposite in the Southern Hemisphere, when/where just the reverse is true (in terms of 'angle of the dangle, or the heat of the meet!'
We live a 'dual' (0s or 1s) existence, thus enantiodromia, creating cycles..
Yin/Yang nee or Taoism, but ultimately an understanding of
The Void (beyond thought)!
Shakespeare wrote, 'Nothing is either 'good nor bad,' but that thinking it makes it so!
P.S. What is a 'solstice,' but a 'turning point,' the 'extreme of a cycle,' that is now turning in the opposite 'direction.'
The Story of Jesus (Christmas, the beginning of the story...)
If you were raised in the Christian/Jewish tradition, you know it, or you think you do.
Jesus was important as s/he was the first Prophet (or significant figure) to introduce the concept of love. Before that only mythologized as in Greece, poetry elsewhere, but Jesus Christ made it the responsibility of humans! 'Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself!'
But, this is also a story of redemption, getting a 'second chance.' That the only way to 'heaven' (bliss nee peace of mind) is through hell (suffering), and the only way to get 'there' is to die of the ego body, to be reborn of the Spirit (life everlasting). All of this symbolized in the Christian Bible: Matthew Chapter 27. Mark Chapter 15. Luke Chapter 23. John Chapter 19.
'S/he' didn't die for your sins, however, but to demonstrate what's possible (for humanity)! That you also can 'die on the cross' (suffer metaphorically), to gain the Spirit (everlasting life). It's the sacrifice of the ego.
There's good news ('gospel') and then there's the reality... 'Oh, we can't just go to church on Sundays, put money in the collection plate and get to heaven?' Sorry, no, I don't think so, you gotta do the work! But, IT IS possible to achieve in this life time (the good news)!
These were new thoughts in terms of wo/man's development, and it took a real 'author,' to bring the story to life. It's not important that Jesus was a real wo/man or not, but that the story still functions (Dr. R.W. Funk, and David J. Carter). Think about a story so powerful that it's still functioning (people responding/relating to it) 2100 years later!
Most of the unevolved, take the story as literal (etched in stone). It's not meant to be. It's meant to be taken metaphorically, symbolically! It's a teaching story. That you can gain 'heaven' (bliss) in this life time, but only by sacrificing ('on the cross') your ego (I).
'We' suggests Duality (no 'I,' no we) . Without 'I' it becomes Singularity (nothingness, the void). This is what you want to work towards (as we're all going 'there' anyway)...
Start this day in remembrance of Jesus (Christmas season), who sacrificed him/herself that you might have 'everlasting life' This is his/her gift, the gift of redemption!
Merry Christmas (the Mass that celebrates the 'birth of the idea!').
Find the good in bad, and the bad in good. Yet, Shakespeare said, 'Nothing is good nor bad, only thinking makes it so!' So, what should we do, stop thinking (almost impossible)?
And what do we make of this? That words are what we want them to be, they 'live up' to our expectations (of the world as we try to obtain, at least consciously).
Be aware that we live in a dual existence (Duality) -- this is Taoism. That there is a little 'good,' in 'bad,' and vice versa. But, that that 'go(o)d' is the kind we want, and the 'bad,' we somehow ameliorate. It's the best we can muster, with the other diluted. This, unless you're a masochist and like to suffer. Note, some of us are better at creating our worlds than others!
No suffering, no enjoying (nee a masochist) -- this is Taoism. Taoists must be masochists...?
Learn what Humpty Dumpty did, and which I subscribe to... He said, 'When I choose a word to write or say, I also choose its meaning!' Once he had learned this, that what 'couldn't be put back together again,' is a metaphor for, the literal is dead! Once you realize the meaning of words AREN'T ETCHED IN STONE, you will never go back to using a dictionary!
What is higher, but lower, and lower but higher? Enantiodromia... Taoism.
Bob Geldorf, wrote four great English words, 'WE ARE THE WORLD!'
I've said the same thing, so many times, in so many words. Additionally, this is taken to be true among some (me), that there is no such thing as objectivity, and we create our worlds from our minds. There is no world without us!
We perceive, therefore we are (therefore the world).
11 December 2010 (the #5)
Today is 5, 1s for me, or 5. 5 symbolizes the female. 1 symbolizes Singularity. This is me, today noting 51 + 20 years with a body on this Earth.
I'm a #5 (male lesbian) celibate Taoist monk, pedaling 'piece' around the world. Who would have ever thought... I try to make love, not war!
You think you know yourself and the world. Well guess again, you're on a spinning 'top,' flying around a star at 35KM / 28 miles per second! Things change, we change. I change, you change!
We could all be dead in the next five (5) seconds! What would be forever? The moment!
The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless.
In a 2005 news report about the Shaolin Temple, the Buddhist monastery in China well-known for its martial arts, a monk addressed a common misunderstanding: “Many people have a misconception that martial arts is about fighting and killing,” the monk was quoted as saying, “It is actually about improving your wisdom and intelligence.”
Indeed, the concept of kung fu (or gongfu) is known to many in the West only through martial arts fighting films like “Enter the Dragon,” “Drunken Master” or more recently, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” In the cinematic realm, skilled, acrobatic fighters like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li are seen as “kung fu masters.”
The predominant orientation of traditional Chinese philosophy is the concern about how to live one’s life, rather than finding out the truth about reality.
But as the Shaolin monk pointed out, kung fu embodies much more than fighting. In fact any ability resulting from practice and cultivation could accurately be said to embody kung fu. There is a kung fu of dancing, painting, cooking, writing, acting, making good judgments, dealing with people, even governing. During the Song and Ming dynasties in China, the term kung fu was widely used by the neo-Confucians, the Daoists and Buddhists alike for the art of living one’s life in general, and they all unequivocally spoke of their teachings as different schools of kung fu. This broad understanding of kung fu is a key (though by no means the only key) through which we can begin to understand traditional Chinese philosophy and the places in which it meets and departs from philosophical traditions of the West. As many scholars have pointed out, the predominant orientation of traditional Chinese philosophy is the concern about how to live one’s life, rather than finding out the truth about reality.
The well-known question posed by Zhuangzi in the 4th century B.C. — was he Zhuangzi who had dreamt of being a butterfly or was he a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi? — which pre-dated virtual reality and “The Matrix” by a couple of thousand years, was as much a kung fu inspiration as it was an epistemological query. Instead of leading to a search for certainty, as Descartes’s dream did, Zhuangzi came to the realization that he had perceived “the transformation of things,” indicating that one should go along with this transformation rather than trying in vain to search for what is real.
Confucius’s call for “rectification of names” — one must use words appropriately — is more a kung fu method for securing sociopolitical order than for capturing the essence of things, as “names,” or words, are placeholders for expectations of how the bearer of the names should behave and be treated. This points to a realization of what J. L. Austin calls the “performative” function of language. Similarly, the views of Mencius and his later opponent Xunzi’s views about human nature are more recommendations of how one should view oneself in order to become a better person than metaphysical assertions about whether humans are by nature good or bad. Though each man’s assertions about human nature are incompatible with each other, they may still function inside the Confucian tradition as alternative ways of cultivation.
The Buddhist doctrine of no-self surely looks metaphysical, but its real aim is to free one from suffering, since according to Buddhism suffering comes ultimately from attachment to the self. Buddhist meditations are kung fu practices to shake off one’s attachment, and not just intellectual inquiries for getting propositional truth.
Mistaking the language of Chinese philosophy for, in Richard Rorty’s phrase, a “mirror of nature” is like mistaking the menu for the food. The essence of kung fu — various arts and instructions about how to cultivate the person and conduct one’s life — is often hard to digest for those who are used to the flavor and texture of mainstream Western philosophy. It is understandable that, even after sincere willingness to try, one is often still turned away by the lack of clear definitions of key terms and the absence of linear arguments in classic Chinese texts. This, however, is not a weakness, but rather a requirement of the kung fu orientation — not unlike the way that learning how to swim requires one to focus on practice and not on conceptual understanding. Only by going beyond conceptual descriptions of reality can one open up to the intelligence that is best exemplified through arts like dancing and performing.
Philosophers’ ideas, even when theoretical, have never stopped functioning as guides to human life.
This sensitivity to the style, subtle tendencies and holistic vision requires an insight similar to that needed to overcome what Jacques Derrida identified as the problem of Western logocentrism. It even expands epistemology into the non-conceptual realm in which the accessibility of knowledge is dependent on the cultivation of cognitive abilities, and not simply on whatever is “publicly observable” to everyone. It also shows that cultivation of the person is not confined to “knowing how.” An exemplary person may well have the great charisma to affect others but does not necessarily know how to affect others. In the art of kung fu, there is what Herbert Fingarette calls “the magical,” but “distinctively human” dimension of our practicality, a dimension that “always involves great effects produced effortlessly, marvelously, with an irresistible power that is itself intangible, invisible, unmanifest.”
Pierre Hadot and Martha Nussbaum, partially as a result of the world-historical dialogue of philosophy in our time, have both tried to “rectify the name” of “philosophy” by showing that ancient Western philosophers such as Socrates, the Stoics and the Epicurians were mainly concerned with virtue, with spiritual exercises and practices for the sake of living a good life rather than with pure theoretical endeavors. In this regard, Western philosophy at its origin is similar to classic Chinese philosophy. The significance of this point is not merely in revealing historical facts. It calls our attention to a dimension that has been eclipsed by the obsession with the search for eternal, universal truth and the way it is practiced, namely through rational arguments. Even when philosophers take their ideas as pure theoretical discourse aimed at finding the Truth, their ideas have never stopped functioning as guides to human life. The power of modern enlightenment ideas have been demonstrated fully both in the form of great achievements we have witnessed since the modern era and in the form of profound problems we are facing today. Our modes of behavior are very much shaped by philosophical ideas that looked innocent enough to be taken for granted. It is both ironic and alarming that when Richard Rorty launched full-scale attacks on modern rationalistic philosophy, he took for granted that philosophy can only take the form of seeking for objective Truth. His rejection of philosophy falls into the same trap that he cautions people about — taking philosophical ideas merely as “mirrors” and not as “levers.”
One might well consider the Chinese kung fu perspective a form of pragmatism. The proximity between the two is probably why the latter was well received in China early last century when John Dewey toured the country. What the kung fu perspective adds to the pragmatic approach, however, is its clear emphasis on the cultivation and transformation of the person, a dimension that is already in Dewey and William James but that often gets neglected. A kung fu master does not simply make good choices and use effective instruments to satisfy whatever preferences a person happens to have. In fact the subject is never simply accepted as a given. While an efficacious action may be the result of a sound rational decision, a good action that demonstrates kung fu has to be rooted in the entire person, including one’s bodily dispositions and sentiments, and its goodness is displayed not only through its consequences but also in the artistic style one does it. It also brings forward what Charles Taylor calls the “background” — elements such as tradition and community — in our understanding of the formation of a person’s beliefs and attitudes. Through the kung fu approach, classic Chinese philosophy displays a holistic vision that brings together these marginalized dimensions and thereby forces one to pay close attention to the ways they affect each other.
This kung fuapproach shares a lot of insights with the Aristotelian virtue ethics, which focuses on the cultivation of the agent instead of on the formulation of rules of conduct. Yet unlike Aristotelian ethics, the kung fu approach to ethics does not rely on any metaphysics for justification. One does not have to believe in a pre-determined telos for humans in order to appreciate the excellence that kung fu brings. This approach does lead to recognition of the important guiding function of metaphysical outlooks though. For instance a person who follows the Aristotelian metaphysics will clearly place more effort in cultivating her intelligence, whereas a person who follows the Confucian relational metaphysics will pay more attention to learning rituals that would harmonize interpersonal relations. This approach opens up the possibility of allowing multiple competing visions of excellence, including the metaphysics or religious beliefs by which they are understood and guided, and justification of these beliefs is then left to the concrete human experiences.
The kung fu approach does not entail that might is right. This is one reason why it is more appropriate to consider kung fu as a form of art. Art is not ultimately measured by its dominance of the market. In addition, the function of art is not accurate reflection of the real world; its expression is not constrained to the form of universal principles and logical reasoning, and it requires cultivation of the artist, embodiment of virtues/virtuosities, and imagination and creativity. If philosophy is “a way of life,” as Pierre Hadot puts it, the kung fu approach suggests that we take philosophy as the pursuit of the art of living well, and not just as a narrowly defined rational way of life.
 York, Geoffrey, “Battling Clichés in Birthplace of Kung Fu,” in The Globe and Mail Nov. 3, 2005.
 Herbert Fingarette (1972): “Confucius —The Secular as Sacred,” New York: Harper & Row, 4-6.
 See Pierre Hadot (1995): “Philosophy as a Way of Life,” Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, and Martha Nussbaum (1994): “The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics,” Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Peimin Ni is professor of philosophy at Grand Valley State University. He currently serves as the president of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy and is editor-in-chief of a book series on Chinese and comparative philosophy. His most recent book is “Confucius: Making the Way Great.”
Let me introduce a new 'expert,' Pierre M. (We don't give out last names in this group, that will come later if all goes well.). He's an 'expert' in the fields of shipping/sailing. He says the commercial, new-age sailing vessel is already in the works. We know that, of course, but that shouldn't deter us from taking that 'tack.'
About shipping, a horribly competitive endeavor, particularly in China (according to him), where everyone thinks this is the road to riches! They buy and sell things on www.tabao.com, which sends to the buyer.
So, is this an international Traidiing company? No. We will be different! Our business model doesn't charge for services, the customer/client shares costs with all participating. So, the more the merrier! This will cause customers/clients to help put together groups simply because of economics: s/he saves money!
How do we survive? How do we ultimately make a profit?
What makes a sailboat go...? The Taoist track, a little different 'tack.'
Certainly, Dick H. and Geoff M. know what makes a sail 'sail!' I know because I"m a pilot and understand how an aircraft can get off the ground (once a certain speed is achieved): Bernoulli's Principle; that when 'air' flows over a surface, like a wing/sail, if it has to 'slow,' (venturi tube) a vacuum will be created, nee force; the 'pull' of its opposite (non-vacuum).
This is Taoism, and enantiodromia (how Taoism works)... In the case of a wing or a sail we can say, a void created by a curved surface seeks its opposite or non-void (for lack of a better description). The result, movement through time/space.
In traditional scientific terms: 'as the velocity of a fluid increases, the pressure exerted by that fluid decreases.' Notice, however, that even in 'scientific' terms, duality is evident: 'increases-decreases.'
This, a little bit off the 'track,' a different 'tack' on 'Bernoulli's Principle.'
Give your life meaning! By that I mean, speaking of meaning, don't just sleep walk through life, without some real purpose, mission, goal, etc. (whatever you choose). Mine is to make the world a better place in which to live... Sure... No, just kidding! One can only 'make the world a better place,' by improving him/herself.
A line from Chief Tom White Cloud's 'Prayer for Strength,' I vocalize everyday: 'Oh Father, help me overcome my greatest enemy, myself!'
Sure, it's easier to objectify evil, it's over there, right? Couldn't possibly be 'here,' right? Wrong! Each and everyone of us are WRONG! But, hard for us to admit.
I remember once in my basement office in Portland, Oregon, circa 1980, admitting (finally) the truth about myself. I 'copped,' to every wrong thing I'd ever done, and it was purging! I recommend strongly you confess whatever, at least to yourself. No need for a Catholic priest.
We're all guilty of being human, and to be human is to err! Yet, it's possible that we can evolve! We can become aware, we can become more conscious, we can be more thoughtful, not just going through the motions, but being more PRESENT! A book entitled, 'The Power of Now,' is currently popular, but 40-years ago it was Baba Dam Rass's (Richard Alpert) 'Be Here Now!'
People miss life because they live in the future! And then it's gone, over done, and were we ever 'here?'
But, whatever, don't be afraid of it, don't be afraid of death! It could come at any second! It's a little bit like being fired from a firearm. Picture yourself as the cartridge. First, into the chamber, a moment of darkness... Then the explosion, and you're sailing through the void at the speed of thought! You simply leave the material behind!
Your having a body has simply been an opportunity, many fail to take... With a body you have ego consciousness, or explained differently, you are given, in this lifetime, a chance to 'no IT!'