Monday, May 1, 2017

Critiquing the Premise of Ken Wilber's new book The Religion of Tomorrow

Ken Wilber has released a new book titled The Religion of Tomorrow. Here’s a quote from the introduction:
“[G]reat adepts and ancient sages… saw into the core of human beings and discovered… the ultimate Ground of Being, not only of humans but of the entire manifest universe… they saw into the very essence of an ultimate reality that not only anchored all of manifestation but, when discovered… acted to introduce them to their own True Nature, known by many different names, but pointing to the same groundless Ground—Buddha-nature, Brahman, Godhead, Ayn Sof, Allah, Toa, Ati, Great Perfection, the One, Satchitananda, to name but a few… By performing the specific practices and exercises, an individual could… [gain]… a direct introduction to ultimate Reality itself… it was said to be the discovery of the timeless and eternal, spaceless and infinite, Unborn and Undying, Unlimited and Unfettered, the… One and Only, ultimate Reality itself. All in all, they represent one of the great and extraordinary treasures of human history… But they are… becoming less and less influential…. One reason… is that, in the  one or two thousand years since these Great Traditions were first created… a more truly “Integral” spirituality speaks compellingly to [the modern and postmodern] demographic.”
So Ken is making many gigantic assertions. Let’s list them with the obvious questions that are simply ignored by Ken:
  • Past spiritual leaders were great. But how does spiritual discovery indicate greatness? Isn’t this an attempt to manipulate people by glorifying the thing you want to partly promote?
  • They found the ultimate ground of being for the entire manifest universe. But how could you prove that? Where is the evidence? The bigger the claim, the bigger the evidence needs to be.
  • They saw into the essence of ultimate reality and found that their true nature is Brahman, etc. The dictionary defines Brahman as “the ultimate reality underlying all phenomena”, so how can a mere human claim to be that?
  • Spiritual practices lead you to gain ultimate eternal reality. But wouldn’t it be more important to question your motivation for pursuing that grandiose unprovable goal and then to question your assumptions about it?
  • The great traditions are great treasures. Isn’t this just praising the thing you want to partly promote and improve?
  • Ken’s integral spirituality is the next step in this endeavour. Isn’t this self-serving and grandiose? If the ancients found “Godhead”, then why didn’t they know about integral spirituality? Is Godhead’s knowledge limited?

You might say that if you experience these things then you know them to be true. In reply, I would say that you cannot know these things to be true. They might feel intensely true, even revelatory, but that’s not proof.

More importantly, Ken’s overall message is about alleviating our existential angst by searching for God and then developing ourselves further. Instead, I think it’s more important to understand the starting place for such a quest. In other words, what is your essential motivation, assumption, and context? Surely, we need to understand those basics first. Otherwise, we might be building upon a weak foundation. Indeed, I would say that that is precisely what happened and is happening. People seek spiritual revelation, then have spiritual experiences, then form beliefs about oneness or God or whatever, then stay in unsatisfying conflict with others, then seek “integral” development. In this way, everyone stays on the run and chasing some ideal that is never questioned. In short, Ken, like everyone else, avoids the first step and gets trapped at the penultimate step.

Ken has always had a tendency to automatically believe and glorify spiritual realisers. And after so many years in the philosophy game, he has chosen to merely add more to their narratives rather than questioning them.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Non-Duality Teacher Illusions

On YouTube, I've been watching various non-duality spiritual teachers this last week - seeing them giving talks, answering questions, and being interviewed on Conscious.tv. I find three main illusions being propagated by them all:

1) There's a repeated belief or implication that they have reached the final realisation. They even mention God as if they know God. How can a small human being know anything about God? Both our capacity for perception and our ability to understand are limited. So let's drop the grandiose claims.

2) I hate this talk about everything having to be the way it is so that we would wake up. Really? So torture, gas chambers, rape, and starvation have to be here? Is the Oneness so stupid that it needs to go through all that to see itself? It's a laughable rationalisation. It's the non-duality spiritual belief system inherited from India with its belief in karma and destiny. And the misery obviously doesn't achieve the goal of waking anyone up - nearly everyone goes to their deathbeds deluded. So the claim is complete nonsense. Hope we move past that soon.

3) They keep claiming that liberation is a mystery and will always be so. It's not true. We can sort it out. Why don't these non-separation gurus end their separation from each other by getting together and analysing how it happens and how to teach better? They are too busy being special to lower themselves by joining a group of teachers. To afraid to admit that they don't know and could do better. Anyway, here's a hint: The way to liberation for everybody is through fine-tuning of attention about what's going on inside. That ends the leaking of energy into illusion. The person might not articulate it that way, and they might not even know that that is what happened, but it is what happened in every case. It's not a mystery, so let's cut out the magical-thinking, romanisation, and mystification.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

THe False Paradox of Enlightenment

Many people and paths say that enlightenment is paradoxical. However, it only seems paradoxical because we are trying to grab a goal that is itself the absence of grabbing. Furthermore, grabbing is redundant because there is no enlightenment, and therefore nothing to grab. A better goal than enlightenment is liberation from illusion. The main illusion is the idea that reliable happiness is found rather than being innate to being.

Liberation is the natural state. Illusion, on the other hand,  is artificial and imposed by society. Therefore, liberation is realised by subtraction of the false, which simply requires that we understand the false.

Understanding means seeing that it is futile to seek reliable happiness in things that end. Seeing the repetitive leak of energy and attention into futile habits weakens them. As the patterns of leaking are noticed sooner and sooner, a point comes when the tangle of illusions quickly unravels.


However, you quickly realise that illusion in society also needs to end. A good place to start is to work at ending illusion in spiritual circles since those people are hopefully able to hear the message.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Integralist Assumptions

Here's a reply I wrote to an Integralist analysis of the Paris attacks, by Jeff Salzman:

It's always strange to read Integral commentaries. They start with the assumption that someone is more evolved than someone else and can therefore help those lower down on the evolutionary ladder. They fail to see that we were all born into a totally deluded swamp. So the priority is to see the swamp, then to stop reproducing the swamp, and then to exit the swamp. But such a starting point isn't even on the Integralist's radar. They don't even see the swamp. They see relative improvement and think that is proof of having sufficient wisdom to liberate others.

The West is blaring out illusion 24/7 - "Happiness is in money, relationships, family, career, possessions, spirituality, religion, blah blah blah." Everyone is distracted by this swamp of illusion. So the supposedly less evolved terrorists get to have a legitimate argument - "You think happiness is here, we think it there, so let's fight it out." In this way, the West is perpetuating the problem it claims to want to solve.

If the West liberated itself from its illusions, then it would be at home in the innate happiness of being. Then it would be a role model that sends out good vibes rather than delusion. Whatever emergencies arise in the immediate aftermath of that can be dealt with using force if necessary, but it would then be quick and wise and in the context of palpable goodwill and wisdom.


I know that Integralists quickly dismiss what I'm saying by deploying their theories. That shows how blinded they are by their assumptions. They can't even begin exploring a new line of reasoning that doesn't fit in with their models and "commonsense", which are themselves derived from the swamp.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Eckhart Tolle Waffles about the Refugee Crisis in Europe

If you watch this video, you can see Tolle waffling about side issues:


It seems that he borrowed his methods from J Krishnamurti - exploring the leaves and branches from various angles but never getting to the root.

The question about what to do about the refugee crisis in Europe is just the presenting issue. We need to dig below the surface. Indeed, such questions can be rephrased as: “Here in the swamp, what should we do about X?” Obviously, the right response is to say, “First, get out of the swamp!”

If we follow a living enquiry approach the next logical question arises: “What is the swamp?”

Answer: The swamp is the idea that security and/or reliable happiness is found in such things as materialism or spirituality, when in reality, security is in good relationships and reliable happiness is innate to being. Europe, like the rest of the world, is shouting 24/7, “Happiness is in this or that,” so when refuges arrive and settle, they will do so for wrong reasons anyway. Europe is creating the problem by creating attractive illusions, and not working on the real issues.

The next natural question is: How do we get Europe to realise the innate happiness of being?

Answer: First, we need to show them that reliable happiness cannot be found in things that change. Then they will naturally look for that which doesn’t change.

The typical next response is to say, “Isn’t it unrealistic to get a whole continent to change?”

Answer: The reason things seem hard and unrealistic is that people keep saying it is. In reality, all we need is for each person to say yes to the obvious truth, then to pass it on and point out to the next person that objections are nothing but self-fulfilling prophecies.

Lastly, people will say, “Isn’t this a roundabout response to an immediate problem of refugees?”

Answer: No, it’s the direct response that ends the problem once and for all. If each person in turn takes a stand in the truth and in their innate goodwill, then all our problems would be solved. The current approach of falling into so-called commonsense stops you from digging below the surface to the real immediate issues.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Worst Series Finales—Dexter, Sopranos, How I Met Your Mother, Smallville

Warning: Obviously, there are huge spoilers here if you haven’t yet seen these series’ endings.

Screenwriting is largely about setups and payoffs. You set up the characters’ dilemmas, contradictions, problems, etc., and then you pay the setup off with some kind of resonant resolution. Of course, you might say that there’s a distinction between entertainment and art - while entertainment requires clear payoffs, art shouldn’t be restricted by that expectation. There are two problems with this. The first is that if you do not intend to pay off the setups you create, you should warn the audience in some way that you are doing art rather than entertainment. The second is that if you have talent, then you can do both entertainment and art simultaneously. The work of a talented artist can satisfy the requirements of both entertainment and art in TV series finales.

So let’s look at the finale examples in four TV series’:

DEXTER

The relevant setups were largely around the ignorance of the detectives versus the genius of Dexter. So the resolution should have been the detectives realise the truth, and the genius of Dexter wins or loses depending on big picture factors of life. Instead, the finale leaves the detectives still clueless, and Dexter foolishly tells everybody that he’s going to Argentina, which increases the likelihood that the spotlight will be shone on himself and/or his family after his escape from America. In reality, he would have had escape plans worked out years ago because he is smart. He would have told everybody he’s going to France, for example, and then would have gone to Argentina at the last minute, even surprising his new lover in the process. The finale would then have been about whether he succeeded or not.

Personally, I see him walking along a sunny beach with his woman and child. I would have had a camera pointing up towards the sky with Dexter smiling down, the wind blowing through his hair—the message being that life and God are murderers. But the complexity of life could have interfered along the way to take it another direction. Or the detectives could have figured it out and caught him or there could have been a shootout. Instead, he boats off into a hurricane and survives that to become a lumberjack, leaving his kid alone with a serial killer in Argentina. That is a fucking ridiculous plan for such a smart calculating guy.

The writers said the setup was whether he would become human and the payoff is that he did become human and couldn’t live with the remorse and was punishing himself by living in seclusion. Firstly, that’s not what the audience saw as the main setup. Secondly, his decision to be human was already resolved, so punishing him for past crimes made it seem you can never transcend your past, which is a lousy message.

THE SOPRANOS

The relevant setups were the luxurious lifestyle versus the ugly reality behind it all, and the delusion of Tony’s wife and the daughter. The obvious payoff, therefore, was to show the full truth about Tony to the wife and daughter. So I would have had him arrested for the murder of many people, including Adriana and Meadow’s first boyfriend. Then we could have seen the wife pretending it’s all lies and the daughter finally twigging to just how evil Tony is. Then the wife could go to jail too, and the couple spend the rest of their lives contemplating all that they have done and lost. Indeed, I thought Tony getting spiritual and taking drugs, and the wife going to Europe were experiences that gave them a taste of a better life so that it would make the restrictions of prison life harder to bear.

Instead, we get a purely artistic ending. The director said that the audience loved Tony, and so I presume the camera cutting to black was the killing of Tony and the audience. Actually, the director David Chase said:

“The way I see it is that Tony Soprano had been peoples' alter ego… They had cheered him on. And then, all of a sudden, they wanted to see him punished for all that… I thought that was disgusting, frankly.” [The Sopranos: The Complete Book. pp.182 -185]

So it seems the director the finale was about the director getting revenge on the audience for enjoying the Tony character yet simultaneously wanting justice meted out to him. Attacking the audience - how indulgent is that?

Even logically, Tony saw all these guys entering the restaurant and acting suspiciously, so why wouldn’t he respond instead of acting oblivious? Another setup that wasn’t resolved was Tony complaining endlessly to the psychologist, yet the psychologist had been raped. An obvious resolution would be that Tony finds out and realises what a complainer he is compared to how brave she is. By the way, Tony’s son suddenly wanted to join the army yet he suffers from panic attacks and depression. How is that even remotely possible?

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

This is a romcom, so we reasonably expect a light and happy ending. Furthermore, the characters all grew really well through the series. But, in the end, the characters reverted to their previous immaturity and they ruined the goal of the whole series—Ted’s meeting with the mother. Horrible ending. The first setup was, “Will he get Robin?” The answer was no. Disappointing, but that’s life. And the real mother well and truly made up for that disappointment by being wonderful in so many ways. So they should have ended it with Robin and Barney being happy, and Ted and the mother on the train station under the umbrella… “And that’s how I met your mother.”

By the way, they should have had him ask her why she is standing in the rain rather than under the station roof, and she would have said, “Because it’s raining,” i.e. she was enjoying the rain, which is another thing he could have loved about her.

Romcom is about escapism. Instead, How I Met Your Mother became about regression and death. I was gutted for weeks after that finale.

SMALLVILLE

The gigantic setup was Lois not knowing that Clark is the Blur, and furthermore, that he’s an alien. So I would have liked to see three episodes of her coming to terms with that gigantic news. Instead, she accepts it straight away. Same thing happened with Lana. Also, how does he suddenly have the power to move a gigantic asteroid? They should have built up to it by him getting stronger and stronger. Or have him take nukes to the asteroid. As it was, the ending felt completely unrealistic. Sure, the series was already unrealistic but it didn’t excessively violate its own internal realism. To do so in the finale was incredibly lazy.

CONCLUSION

While watching many TV series, I always get the feeling by about the third-last episode that there’s not enough time left for the resolution. The writers often leave it all to the last episode, and that’s never enough time.

A good ending can save a bad series. And a bad ending can ruin a good series. A bad ending is tolerable in a film because it’s only 2 hours of your life. But a TV series can involve you for years. You owe it to your audience to make a great finale, preferably with great payoffs while beginning the finale a few episodes before the end so you have time to payoff all the setups.

Here’s hoping that producers and networks raise the standard for finales in future.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Brief Critique of Ken Wilber's Integralism

Here's a letter I wrote to Frank Visser, who is both a believer and a critic of Integralism:

Hi Frank,

I saw your video, and I wanted to describe what I see as three fundamental problems with Integralism.

1) Ken said that he began by gathering all the fields of knowledge and seeing how they related to each other. So he seems to believe that all the fields are somewhat valuable and contain some truth. If so, he appears to have begun with a "green" assumption ("green" in Integral Theory is partly the idea that all viewpoints have value - see HERE). Thus, I believe his whole endeavour is contaminated with green. His criticism of green doesn't negate that. His approach is to transcend and include, but that is also green. After all, what value would inclusion have if it somehow turned out that all the world's knowledge is false? That leads to the second point.

2) If we consider the possibility that we are in a literal Matrix, we would then be inclined to approach the world's knowledge from the opposite end. That is, instead of including all the world's knowledge, we would begin by rejecting or negating all the world's knowledge. In fact, I believe we are in a literal matrix. That matrix is based on the idea that we are inadequate and therefore need material, spiritual, moral, intellectual, and physical improvement, which creates all the institutions of society (i.e. a literal matrix). This causes us to forget the innate happiness of being and to become dependent on the matrix for happiness, which can never work. This leads to the third point.

3) Instead of searching for the truth, we could begin by focusing on our motivations. After all, why did Ken care about the world's various forms and categories of knowledge? Did he ever question his motivations? And why do we care about Integralism? If our motivation is wrong - and it is wrong because it is either supplied by the matrix or is a reaction to a part of the matrix and therefore limited - then all our findings might be contaminated by our wrong motivation. And this is exactly what has happened, in my opinion.

Of course, Ken would categorise my negation approach as transcendent spirituality and therefore incomplete. That idea comes from the matrix - it is the assumption that we are inadequate and need various forms of development to complete us. However, I can clearly see the cause of such things as the Andrew Cohen disaster, whereas Ken fully encouraged Cohen with the Rude Boy promotion. Also, believe it or not, I have clear answers to problems such as the environment and the Middle East. So it might be possible that I’m onto something. Ken and his followers would need to give what I say a sympathetic hearing, but they are too busy - there’s an infinite amount of knowledge to absorb and to create, so who has time for considering anything else, especially if it can be categorised away so easily?

Note: I agree that Integralism has merit, but only as an optional extra or as a method for improving details of the world, not as a complete system of how to live. Also, what I have written here are just headline summaries. I could go into far more detail regarding each issue, but it amounts to taking on the whole matrix, which is arduous since all the words have been created by the matrix, and a swarm of “commonsense” criticisms of my approach are easily supplied by the matrix. Furthermore, experience has taught me that it is a waste of time for multiple reasons. I am only writing to you to suggest a completely different approach to that of Integralism, especially since you said that you like Integralism.

Regards,

Martin Gifford. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Andrew Cohen's Second Apology

Cult Leader Andrew Cohen apologised to his disciples and has been on "sabattical" for the last two years. He has now written another apology: An open letter to all my former students upon return from my sabbatical. The comments section has erupted into a big cycle of critique, blame, spiritual advice, and all kinds of irrelevant stuff, IMO.

FWIW, I posted a comment that wasn't accepted, so I just now posted a second simplified comment:

Andrew is Perfectly Innocent

Andrew, his critics, his defenders, and everybody else in the world are all perfectly innocent. So all the blaming and judging that's cycling around is a complete waste of time and energy and it distracts us away from the real issues.

Except in the case of psychopaths, the reason why we harm ourselves and each other is that we become distracted away from the innate happiness and goodwill of being. 

We become distracted because the world has brainwashed us into believing that reliable happiness is in: 
  • objects, 
  • achievements, 
  • relationships, 
  • spiritual states, 
  • evolution, 
  • punishment, 
  • sex, 
  • power, 
  • money, or 
  • whatever*. 

Yet, as Ramana Maharshi and many others have said, these things are all fleeting, so they are unreliable. Pursuing them works only if we simultaneously stay tuned in to the innate happiness of being.

Therefore, the resolution of this Andrew-centred melodrama is to get everybody tuned into the innate happiness and goodwill of being. Apparently, Andrew was good at that back in the 80s, so he should just travel the world to get everyone tuned into being ASAP.

No self-flagellation or introspection is required. The world is the problem, not individuals. If we were all born into a wise world, none of these pains and problems would have happened.

Can it be any clearer than that?



*Note: I'd add "healing" to the list above since ex-disciples seem to be emphasising the importance of that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Capital Punishment is Murder

Unless it's an emergency or voluntary euthanasia, deliberately killing another person is murder. I would have thought this is obvious in 2015, but many Australians condone Indonesia deliberately killing two Australians today. Of course, the US still has 32 states maintaining the death penalty.

It is also disrespectful of humankind and creates low expectations for us.

Furthermore, it is a denial of our potential. After all, is the death penalty, which is a stone-age strategy for dealing with people harming each other, the best we can imagine?

Anyway, Richard Branson has written an article about Indonesia's state-sanctioned murder today, and here's a great quote: 

'To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: “The only difference between saints and sinners is that every saint has a past while every sinner (should have) a future.”'

https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/the-death-penalty-has-no-place-in-the-world-0

Saturday, April 18, 2015

My philosophy in one paragraph

Here is my philosophy in one paragraph. It helps if you read slowly, i.e. stop after each sentence and contemplate the implications:

You were born into a world of delusion. Everyone around you is deluded into thinking that happiness is essentially in objects or states. In reality, happiness is our nature, given decent circumstances. However, even if we realise this, we still need to end delusion in the world because our happiness requires a decent circumstances, not deluded circumstances where people delude and harm each other unnecessarily. People generally reject the idea of fixing the world because they believe either it is against the principles of nature, or it is too hard. Those beliefs are merely tenets derived from the deluded world. They are the deluded world expressing itself through your mind. In reality, submitting to those beliefs is what stops the world being liberated from delusion. Most people want a better world. If they just stay in touch with that desire, rather than saying "But it's unnatural," or "But it's too hard," positive change will happen.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Lies, Delusion, Power, and Happiness

On an internet forum today, people were criticising ex-cult leader Andrew Cohen and his followers for lying. This brings up an interesting question: 

Can we speak the truth all the time? 

I reckon that the world is currently deluded, and it is punitive if you do something it conveniently decides is wrong. So you have to lie to protect yourself, unless you are a saint who has done no wrong, which is probably impossible in this world. 

Even the most powerful people in the world lie to protect themselves, and this fact suggests that real power isn't in status or wealth, but rather in the widespread nature of delusion itself. Therefore, we should ideally focus on the real problem, not on particular individuals or groups; and the real problem is the existence of widespread delusion.

The fundamental delusion is the belief that happiness is found in states or objects rather than being innate to being. Until the falsity of that belief becomes widely understood, much of what we do will be a waste of time and energy, and create unnecessary unhappiness.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Windows 10 - your work or entertainment machine is now a marketing machine for Microsoft

I’ve been trying the Windows 10 preview, gladdened that Microsoft seemed willing to fix the problems they created in Windows 8. Unfortunately, many of the problems appear permanent.

A Microsoft supporter on a website thread devoted to the Windows 10 preview said that we should adapt to Microsoft’s previews, and if we don’t like change then we should stick to an old operating system instead.

Similarly, in 2012, I thought we should adapt to the Windows 8 previews because I thought many of the experiments would be fixed by the time it was officially released. Boy, was I wrong. It turned out Microsoft was committed its new direction without regard for customers’ desires or concerns. In the end, it was the loud critics, not the trusting lambs, that got Microsoft to change some things in Windows 10.

Nevertheless, it is obvious that Microsoft is still determined to turn Windows into a marketing machine whereas it used to be a work and entertainment machine. It is now designed to lure you into Microsoft tablets, Microsoft phones, Metro apps, the Store, Onedrive, and Bing. Disliking that isn't disliking change per se. I want changes, so long as they represent improvements. So I like the multiple desktops and the better alt-tabbing in Windows 10, but I hate most of this other agenda they have included.

Microsoft is making Windows 10 free for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. I’d prefer to pay for something I want, rather than submitting to 12 hours per day of marketing to save myself a mere one-off cost of $200. Ideally, they should have two versions – a paid version with all the marketing agenda removed, and a free version with all the marketing agenda enforced.

It mystifies me that people willingly embrace Microsoft’s marketing agenda. It seems they are happy to have much of their lives taken over by Microsoft marketing. The line between my life as an independent human being and my life as a consumer is being increasingly blurred. Of course, Microsoft isn’t the only culprit.

The solution proposed by Microsoft fans is that we should stick to Windows 7. The problem with that is that technology advances and most people like change. Windows 7 was great in its time, but now we want something improved. Looks like we’ll be waiting forever.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Andrew Sullivan Demonstrates that Balance can be Pathological

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/12/16/the-case-for-jeb-or-hillary/

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Windows 8 sucks, but Windows 9 could be great

Microsoft could gather futurists and GUI experts to create the most exciting, fantastic, useful, non-intrusive, perfect, legacy supporting, fully customisable operating system ever, so that people can't wait to get their hands on it. Or they could plod on in the Microsoft bubble.

In the meantime, here's an attractive desktop from DeviantArt user RMNSkin:

http://news.softpedia.com/images/extra/NEWS/large/win9concept1.png

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Bright Age



This is from the first paragraph of About page of The Bright Age website:

"The Bright Age is humanity’s next stage of consciousness evolution. It is based in the premise that we are emotive in essence, and that becoming who we are as individuals and as a species can only come from healing at this essential level. The Bright Age is a world where morality is measured at the level of unconscious motivation, not intention or behavior. It holds an entirely new view of what health and unhealth is in all domains of human expression. The Bright Age, takes an orientation to our lives and worlds that has never before existed: “i feel, therefore i am”."

I reckon this is wrong on every level:

  1. Where is the evidence that consciousness evolves? I suspect that consciousness learns, but it doesn't seem to evolve.
  2. We are not emotive in essence. We are consciousness in essence. Focusing on emotions is just a way to manipulate people.
  3. We don't need healing. We just need knowledge about how best to progress.
  4. Morality is a mere survival-level coping strategy. It has no value beyond mere basics.
  5. Health is a wrong lens for looking at us and our actions. Our problem is always just lack of knowledge.
  6. Instead of "I feel, therefore I am," it should be, "I perceive, therefore I am."

I find it shocking that such people have pretenses of wanting to teach, help, or lead others. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Andrew Cohen Apologises and Steps Down



Andrew Cohen has apologised and stepped down from his role as guru to hundreds of disciples in his EnlightenNext organisation. In his blog post, he writes, "Over the last several years, some of my closest students have tried to make it apparent to me that in spite of the depth of my awakening, my ego is still alive and well." Full credit must go to his "disciples" who pushed him into facing this reality. It is quite rare for any status quo to be challenged by insiders. Thus, this event shows that Cohen's organisation cultivated some deep integrity in some of its adherents even though it was a cult. One wonders how his vocal defenders, e.g. www.guru-talk.com, will deal with this situation.

Furthermore, Cohen writes, "I’m aware that many of my students over the years have also been affected by my lack of awareness of this part of myself. And for those of you who are reading this, I apologize." Full credit to Cohen who is publically humbling himself in this way. I would say that the wording of his apology was a perfect balance of apology and genuineness while not incriminating himself. It was very well crafted. I encourage people to read it: http://andrewcohen.org/blog/apology.

However, Cohen writes, "During this hiatus, I will be stepping down from the leadership of my organization… My intention is to become a better teacher…" So it seems that he still wants to be a "teacher" and that his stepping down might only be temporary. To be a teacher, you must be confident that your understanding of life is right. Hopefully, he will engage with smart people who disagree with him on some fundamental points. If he can win the debate, or if he loses the debate and adopts a new understanding that is in tune with reality, then he can be a teacher. But if he uses his own beliefs as his standard and only listens to the feedback of his nearest and dearest, then I fear his exploration will be cocooned within an overly safe status quo, and any change will be superficial.

Regardless, he will now have some time to manifest his other potentials. I am excited to see what those will be. In the early days, he seemed to have a great talent for triggering altered states of consciousness using advaitic enquiry. After his hiatus, perhaps he could continue having public meetings to pursue that talent. I think he could serve as a catalyst for spreading new perspectives on life in increasing numbers of people. In other words, instead of playing a narrow purity game, he can now play a numbers game. He can trigger many people into experiencing a new perspective through straightforward advaitic enquiry, and then it can spread naturally. He can work to raise standards once enough people are on the same page regarding "spiritual realisation". The future can be a refreshing open inclusive exploration into our potential and the meaning of life rather than being a heroic moralistic straightjacket.

I have noticed people on the net are debating how people can be well-developed in some ways but undeveloped in other ways, e.g. they say a person can be spiritually enlightened yet morally corrupt. This is true and shows that the old fantasy of spiritual enlightenment being a panacea is deluded. A common approach to dealing with underdeveloped areas is to push people to improve those areas. This is the approach pushed by Andrew Cohen, as well as by Ken Wilber who endorses Cohen. Of course, this works for some people to some extent. However, it is built on the illusion that we are individually responsible for the potentials that we manifest. In reality, the potentials that manifest are triggered and nurtured by the environment, the culture. And the potentials that are not manifested are suppressed by the environment. So I think we need to create a culture that triggers and supports our best potentials, and avoids triggering our worst potentials. We are all in this boat together and we need to work on it together.

Clearly, we need a true understanding of life to contextualise this endeavour; otherwise, we will each have our own invented paradigms, which will conflict. My suggestion is that the meaning of life is happiness and that we need the enduring happiness of being (timelessness/spirituality) before manifesting our fleeting potentials of worldly happiness (time/materiality). Then we can see that people like Cohen can trigger the enduring happiness of being and then work on worldly happiness from there. Once we have the happiness of being, the desperation for worldly happiness will be diminished and we can help each other to develop more effectively.

Throughout most of his career, Cohen has been railing against ego. However, the ego has a valid function, which is to protect life. So if he can respect the ego's terrain while triggering the happiness of being, then many unnecessary fights and conflicts can end.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how things develop from here. Hopefully, Cohen and Wilber will not cling to their old beliefs. Instead, they can use Cohen's change of heart as an opportunity for a fresh inclusive open exploration. I do fear that they are getting old and too attached to their cherished beliefs. I mean, it would be hard for someone like Cohen to stop railing against the ego when he has built a 27-year career on attacking it. Indeed, in his apology he writes, "Enlightenment has always been and always will be about transcending the ego." And he is surrounded by people who agree with him. So it looks like he will resist facing the possibility that he is wrong about the ego. But it is precisely by questioning your most cherished beliefs that profound progress is made. Cohen put up an enormous fight to defend his position. All those years of resistance have now been revealed as a huge waste of time. I hope he doesn't waste this new opportunity. After all, when you fight reality, you can only lose.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happiness is the Starting Place is finished

I finished my book. It is now called Happiness is the Starting Place. Previous titles were: Befriending Life, Befriending Reality, Worldwide Happiness, and Happiness and Utopia.

It took around 14 years on and off. I would never have started it if I had have known it would take so long! I'm so glad it's over. Now I can do things I enjoy.

Does anyone know a publisher?

Thanks for your interest.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Worldwide Happiness Returns

I've had a breakthrough, and it looks like I will be able to finish Worldwide Happiness easily after all. Of course, finding a publisher might be hard, but you never know.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Worldwide Happiness Cancelled



I am cancelling Worldwide Happiness because I have 13 years of evidence that the vast majority of people disagree with me, and I lack the drive and the financial, social, and political capital to overturn this momentum. All kinds of people disagree. Scholars disagree on realist grounds. Spiritual people disagree because they cherish their own version of idealism. They are all wrong, and I am right, but truth isn’t enough.

Of course, I could publish at one of those online book places, but the book still needs a solid edit and to have its presentation polished. I lack the motivation and resources for that. I could publish it on this website, but it has too few visitors to make a difference.

My motivation won’t return unless the resources appear, and those resources need to be huge - big enough to force the book into the consciousness of a large or powerful audience. That is extremely unlikely, but I’ll keep buying lottery tickets. Note that I am not saying that worldwide happiness is impossible or even difficult. In fact, I think it is easy. But there needs to be someone with either the charisma or the power to get the message across.

Thanks to those who have read, listened, argued, and commented.

GLTA.