All questions, confusing as they may seem, when examined, dissolve into air.
Knowledge comes through sensory investigation; intelligence is the patterns built upon these senses. All you know begins as stimulation, information -- you observe it effortlessly. Then thinking juxtaposes, and synthesizes predictions and patterns from this raw data, placing thoughts into coherent systems and schemes. This process takes effort, burns calories -- for it induces the physical re-wiring of the mind such that where before there was nothing, now there are pathways, relations, and sequences, all free to fire.
Hence from the physical sensation you come to know objects of the mind, be they beliefs, opinions, or principles.
This twofold process constitutes education. Sensation and construction. You observe, and then you build.
You might see how absent the scene is any sort of question.
What is there to question?
(If that isn't the question, I don't know what is...)
Sense and build. Seek not to question, for nobody ever learned by asking a question.
Learning occurs when the questioning finally ends.
Further, the primary goal of education is not to inspire questions, or to teach which questions should be asked or how often. Questions come automatically, naturally and in no short supply to a curious, supple mind.
Rather, education must teach the pupil to remove himself from his questioning phase as fast as possible, so as not to become lost in the questioning and kept from an answer.
Towards this end, we must outline the nature of our questions, and understand what they represent.
Let's begin with how, what, when, where, and who. I'll lump them all together.
These are desires to seek information, and sensation. You’ll have no trouble learning if you stick to asking these, for they address the effortless process of sensory input.
Ask these questions to get to the facts. Can't go wrong with those.
But “why”… and “how”… here we have some more complexity, and trouble. For they do not seek to procure mere sensory information. Rather they go towards those processes of the mind that organize and arrange those raw sensations into secondary patterns and opinions.
"How" implies achievement, and here we bring in all manner of problems. For desire tends to obfuscate education.
Remember you assume a goal and a value system when you ask this question. You desire something. It is critical you understand exactly what you desire, for the more clarity you have here the simpler the answer will become.
“How do I become a better student in school?”
Now you must work to deconstruct the question. What means “better” to you? Higher grades? More learning? More discipline?
“How can I have a nicer personality?”
What is “nice”? Can you achieve “nice”? Can you act “nice”? You can do things, say things, feel things. But “nice”?
See how easy it can be to hide behind this question of "how" -- hide behind vague words and confused terms, and mix up your emotional desires with your assessment of fact.
Break down the terms until they become ones you understand.
Figure out exactly what you want. Don’t settle for umbrella terms you do not understand. Get yourself into tangibles, because only upon tangibles can you act.
And finally “why,” which is perhaps the most perplexing question of them all, and one we sense to be most important of the lot.
Of all the questions, here I find it prudent to say the least in words, though the most in meaning.
Understand that there is no “why.” Why seeks cause, which is subjective construction. The answer to “why” is a matter of your choosing. If you desire causal theory, choose away to your hearts content. But do not mistake your machinations for educations.
Don’t allow yourself to become consumed by such an answer. Stay grounded in what is.
Human intelligence is by its nature a force of destruction.
Where there is no intelligence, there is life. This we observe to be blossoming, growth, development, and progress. See how it goes: flowers sprout from falling rain, animals chase each other and compete for survival, natural evolution puts new forms to try their hand in the game -- in these vignettes we see life.
We recognize purity and single-minded focus.
This purity is the essence of creation. For what we humans do not understand: creation is the natural state of reality. Left to themselves, organisms do nothing but create. Their existence and creation are inseparable. Every action is creation and life. Creation and inspiration is incarnate -- the breath of life flows through all forms to organize matter at its whim.
Overflowing creation and nobody is there to do it. This we observe.
And yet there is the writer at his desk, or the sculptor in his shop, or the engineer with his tools. They are stuck, deep in a search for creative impulse, leaning on their intelligence.
Yet they are just like stupid animals that spend hours attempting to swim upstream, constantly becoming discouraged when they look to the bank and see they have gone nowhere. The artisans, engineers, and dumb animals all three, only when they become tired and have no more energy to swim, find they begin to move effortlessly through none of their own doing.
Here we can see the value of our impulses, of our thoughts, of our desires -- they exist to busy us, and when they burn themselves out we go on creating, moving and living.
This we can say most generally: life is lived when no one is there to live it.
It is a great credit to our durability and adaptability that we humans have spread to every corner of earth, to survive in every environment and ecosystem. Surely the key to our success has been our ability to endure pain and destruction of predators and environment, but the key force of destruction we have evolved to tolerate is that destructive force of our own mind. This force we call intelligence, and is the antithesis of life, yet we have been born to tolerate it. Just as we break the body down to make it stronger, so do we break down the mind and strengthen it in exercising our intelligence.
The fact is, scientific research has concluded that our brains consume one fifth of the total calories we consume per day -- so high is the energy needed to combat the destruction that our intelligence creates for us.
Intelligence creates and does nothing.
Rather it cuts, divides, slices, analyzes. It imposes order on chaos, clipping off deviations like a mower removing overgrown grass. It creates rules that conflict with reality, leading us to attack and destroy.
But left out of the equation is the indisputable fact that reality cannot be destroyed. When we try to destroy it, we can do nothing but destroy ourselves.
Here now is the great perversion of our society in its implications for our well-being: It is precisely creation which we call destruction. It is precisely destruction which we call creation.
I regret to say that if that is not a recipe for calamity, I sincerely do not know what is.
As a qualifier, this is not so much a critique on de Becker or his book per se, but rather an expounding on a topic akin to a variation on a theme.
There are a couple of lines in a chapter of Gavin de Becker’s famous New York Times bestseller The Gift of Fear that really struck me as quite “spiritual” (in the esoteric way) that I wouldn’t have suspected in such a pragmatic “how-to” manual. Though that is not to say things of a spiritual nature are completely lofty.
After spending a few pages outlining the many “warning signs” of our intuition that we fail to recognize as humans, privileging logic over emotion, Gavin writes this:
“The truth is that every thought is preceded by a perception, every impulse is preceded by a thought, [and] every action is preceded by an impulse....”
I would find this statement particularly lucid even in the holiest of spiritual texts.
For one, it is very much a practical listing of the sequencing of our actions from the idea to the outcome.
At first, he states the “truth”, a well-reasoned deduction of what is versus mere speculation. Mere speculation of course is complete wishy-washy, waffling statements that wind up getting people nowhere fast.
“Every thought is preceded by a perception…”
One can wonder whether this is a chicken or egg scenario of what occurs first, the thought or the perception that comes before a thought. However much I like this statement, I am inclined to think that thoughts generally arrive in normal day-to-day life without much understanding of where they come from; quite literally out of nowhere. Of course, if you are in the midst of a particular action your thoughts will generally derive from whatever you’re doing; this is essentially the idea of “focus”.
However as most of us know who meditate; especially in the midst of meditation, the sometimes very wild and bizarre thoughts that come into our mind that are completely random. They have very little attachment if at all to what is happening now.
It is similar with our dreams. The physical body itself is cannot perceive at all, even mimicking a death-like state, though our minds are certainly active thinking wild and strange things.
“...every impulse is preceded by thought…”
Now here is the real meat and potatoes. This is what all the thought-manifesters talk about. All of our actions originate as a thought in the mind. Of course on the surface, and in a very general and elementary way looking at it, is correct. The lightbulbs that we freely screw into sockets was once an idea in Edison’s mind. The automobiles that fly off the assembly line are quite literally due to Ford’s forward thinking.
We must not however confuse directed drive with impulse. A true impulse is very much a move towards something with no conscious thought process to do it. If you lay your bare hand on a hot stove, the body has evolved such a subtle precision to bypass the brain altogether and quite literally jerk your hand away; all unbeknownst to the thought centers of the mind. The body itself knows that the “brain” can’t be trusted to act in all cases when it is necessary to do so.
Which brings us to the end of his statement,
“...every action is preceded by an impulse….”
Well certainly not “directed drive”. The great originators and innovators; the brilliant engineering and technical minds both in the realm of mechanics and in the realm of thought had a special quality that sets them apart from the huddled masses.
The painful self-flagellation of difficulty, mistake, failure, and beration is the fertile soil from which the world’s horn of plenty is filled overflowing the brim. Achievement is not for the faint of heart; blood, sweat, and tears have made the technology and the systems we use and live under day in and day out. There is no room for “impulsion”. Impulsion takes you away from the task at hand; the task of which the end in sight might be unseen, but nevertheless still feel driven to work. Impulsion is for the children that flit from one thing to the other in their innocent curiosity.
There is no time to be skipping through things aimlessly when you put away childish things and strive for goals, hold values dear, and create yourself into a being of integrity.
Logic. Logic. Logic.
When you repeat it enough times it begins to sound like complete gibberish. You might start to feel like you have no idea what logic really even is. Never a bad place to be when you are trying to understand something.
Let us discover a bit then, for most of us truly do not understand. We use the word sloppily and lazily. We say to be logical is to be smart, or to be intelligent, or to be rational. Such simplistic equalizations hardly display any understanding of what the word actually means, but rather equivocate by passing the buck of understanding to equally ambiguous words. Rational, smart, and reason have equally unclear definitions in the minds of most people.
But they are all known when we see them. At least this is what we must conclude if we are to go on applying these words while in fact not consciously knowing what they do mean.
Well, this is no place for equivocations. Let us bring the dark to light, the foggy to clear -- let us delve into the subconscious connections we form between words and find the reality present. Only then can we truly know what logic or reason or rationality are, and only then can we accurately apply them in our own lives.
Do you wish to be more logical? Well, you cannot possibly accomplish this if you have no idea of what you seek, isn't it?
We say math is logical. Let’s start there.
Mathematics has rules. That is probably its most defining feature. Without rules, it could not be math. Math is structured about principles. The principle of addition. A number has a corresponding value, a quantity, and the concept of addition is that quantities are added. Subtraction, division, and multiplication all have their own rules.
Imagine now an equation with an unknown variable, x, where we are asked to solve. We understand the solving of this problem to be logical thinking, and the way we solve it is to apply the rules we know. Without knowing the rules, we could not solve it; we need nothing but the rules to solve it.
It’s all about the rules.
It seems then that logic has to do with rules. Well then, in that case let us look at what a rule is. The noun rule comes from the verb “to rule.” It means there is some power. It means we give up agency to an external force.
A rule controls us, we do not control the rule. Anything, therefore, that is in our discretion cannot be a rule. A rule must exist outside of us. We can choose to live our lives by a rule, but in doing this we create the rule to be outside of our own discretion. We tell ourselves, no matter how we are feeling in the future, this will be the rule. And so it is not us, but an object we create. This object is permanent as long as it exists as a rule, and exerts force on us. It limits us. For example if we live our lives by a rule saying we must always pay for what we owe, then we can never steal.
Rules limit our options in that way and rule over us.
So to be logical is connected to be ruled over by ideas. When we do mathematics, we cannot say we are expressing ourselves in any way; we cannot say we have any discretion. It is the rules and laws that do the work. Whether we are there or not to solve the problem, the answer exists according to the rules.
And so there it is: logic is a set of rules acting of their own accord. Logic is when no person or whim exists, when no personal preference interferes. Logic is the same for all people who claim to be governed by the relevant rules, because the rules and not the person are doing the work. The rules have taken on a life of their own, and interact with themselves as if no person was there to operate them.
And yet... there is a creator, and an operator of the rules.
You should have many questions at this point.
A good deal more must and will be written on this topic to answer them.
Money tends to be unfortunately misrepresented in the public at large.
The statement that money can buy happiness is lambasted by most "forward thinking" people who tend to favor sentimentality in human relationships over something that can be bought and sold at whim.
This is the wrong way of looking at it. The people who decry money and its relation to happiness have missed the point completely.
This sentimentality and "human worth" view of the situation has no relevance with regards to what money can actually provide.
Money does actually buy happiness. In fact, money is probably one of the best ways to obtain happiness that we know of.
The moralists are confusing happiness with "contentment"; the two being quite different modes of being.
Contentment is a more evolved feeling than happiness. It is hard to track and describe since it is by definition divorced from many outward emotional and physical responses.
To be content is very much to be satisfied where you are; to be satisfied with yourself. This feeling is independent of money since it does not want and desire.
Happiness on the other hand is "elation"; an elevation of one's emotional being to higher levels in the literal sense. The chemical pathways that cause mood elevation are quite known.
Money, being only a means to get "what you want" will give you the happiness that you want, whatever it may be.
Happiness is fleeting, however,
but contentment is lifelong.