Posts Tagged ‘angry’

The shaky faith of the angry

January 22, 2012

The shaky faith of the angry

Have you ever been so angry that you were just shaking? Imagine some politicians debating angrily and shaking their fingers at each other: one says “I personally blame you completely for creating this problem,” then, in response, Ron Paul gets so furious that he shakes and he says “WHAT? How can you blame me? I voted against everything bad and for everything good. The real problem is politicians like you who blame other politicians for blaming other people for causing the real problems that they say are the real problems when in fact, once the accusations are removed, those so-called problems are just developments as in circumstances.”
Okay, of course, politicians like Ron Paul would probably not say that. They are too busy relating to reality as a bunch of problems, then prioritizing the various problems, then valiantly trying to solve them or at least to look valiant to themselves while they try to solve them.
I call that vanity as in pride. I began studying the subject a long time ago when I too began valiantly saving the world from all of its problems, or at least trying to look good while I tried to look like I was solving at least one actual problem.
Ron Paul at a rally in the Nashville War Memor...

Image via Wikipedia

My grandmother Edith was not impressed by all of that. One day shortly after I entered college, she said to me something like this: “oh, you are such a proud little do-gooder, aren’t you?”
“WHAT?” was of course my reply. Then I thought silently to myself “but no, I am NOT argumentative! Ron Paul may be argumentative, but certainly not me.”
I could be a very angry youngster at times. Further, in some ways, I did not really grow up much in the next decade. Or the one after that.
However, now I finally understand what she was referencing. I was following a program of what to be proud about, what to be interested in, and what to do to fit in (at least to fit in to that program of how to be perceived as a do-gooder).
She probably asked me how was college and what had I been doing. I told her that I volunteered to go to a beach and clean up trash with a bunch of other college students, mostly young ladies who would be wearing much less during the volunteering outing than I was used to seeing them wearing. Of course, I may not have described it precisely like that to her. Anyway, with all my pride at cleaning up the beach like any good boy should do, she responded with “Grow up, boy! By the way, you look thin. How many push-ups can you do?”
I was startled. I was stunned. I was offended. I was insulted. I was angry.
She was my grandmother. She was supposed to be nice to me. She was supposed to soothe me. She was supposed to validate me. At least those were the kinds of things that I might have said to myself.
So, let’s talk briefly about faith and anger. Sometimes people talk about faith a lot but they get irritated or angry if anyone questions their logic. In other words, they have confused faith with something that involves presumptions and logic. Their faith is rooted in some particular evidence. Their faith is about a logical deduction based on that evidence. That’s normal, but that is not what I mean by faith. I might call that a mere belief or presumption.
Faith is the natural result of experience. If I have direct experience with some subject, then do I get irritated or angry if someone questions my experience? Do I have shaky faith that is actually just a belief or presumption? Do I have an anxiety about convincing other people to agree with me? Do I crave their approval? Do I disapprove of anyone who does not share my particular form of devotion or fanaticism or ideology? Do I criticize and complain as a ritual of my religion based on belief and presumption and idealistic mythology?
The disapproval and argumentativeness of someone who craves validation is just a sign of their craving. That would apply to me as well as anyone else.
It is one thing to go to beaches for any reason whatsoever. It is another thing to whine about other people going to beaches and leaving trash there. Whining can be annoying. Which is more annoying: the trash on the distant beach or the whining about it for hours and weeks?
I’m not whining about whining either (though I may have done that a few times as well). If someone whines and someone else validates their whining, that is entirely possible. It may not be very valuable to me, but my valuing of something is a distinct issue.
I could value some possibility as a thing to suppress or to ignore or to encourage and promote. Any of those are possible- yes, even suppressing or opposing something.
If Ron Paul wants to oppose all government programs that redistribute wealth to particular exclusive recipients from particular select sources of government revenues, that is possible. I may or may not choose to actively question whether there have any been any government programs that did not redistribute wealth to particular exclusive recipients from particular select sources of government revenues.
I might choose to invest my time and energy to question something or oppose it or promote it or ignore it. I might choose to promote particular systematic redistributions of wealth toward particular recipients and from particular sources. That could be in the form of the politics of involuntary redistribution or in the form of operating a business and soliciting customers through things like advertising and referrals.
Maybe my grandmother was actually angry at me for being such a wuss (a “good” boy). She was not angry as in abusive, but maybe she was just angry as in disappointed. “Is that all you’ve been doing in college? Really? That sounds rather boring. Don’t you have any dramatic adventures for sharing to amuse your dear old granny?”
“Um, well, not that I am going to tell you, Granny. I’m only going to tell you about picking up trash from the beach. Given your response to that story, I think that whole topic of conversation is already over!” 😉

maturing beyond sinfulness

December 22, 2011
Sin = ANY error  (not just moral violations) or ANY act of misconduct (including even a failure to take responsible action)
3 types of sin (in the tradition of the ancient Hebrews): negligence, shame, and malice
 
You are soul. Soul is attention. Attention is the source of words. Words are your creation, not your source. Words can direct the attention of the young and impressionable, but, when the soul matures, attention is stabilized beyond words.
It is an error to believe in words. Belief in words is the root of all malice or ill will. In particular, people may identify themselves with or against certain words. That is the root of all psychological suffering (guilt, anxiety, depression, etc…).
That misidentification with linguistic labels is also the root of idolatry, which inovlves mistaking a word like “sacred” or “holy” with Divinity itself. When one is ignorant of Divinity and then labels as “holy” some mere word or phrase or idea or physical object or pattern, that is idolatry. The word Divinity is not what is symbolized by the word Divinity. Worshiping the word Divinity or even a particular scripture (including the US Constitution) is idolatry.
So, sin includes ignorance, negligence, shame malice, as well as the resulting actions. While some uses of the word sin refer in particular to actions, that usage diverges from the traditional Jewish (Hebrew) or Greek usages, as well as the words of the most famous religious figures such as Jesus, Buddha, and Isaiah.
Sin is not just a category of action, but also the source of some behavioral reaction. Consider this translation of a famous heretical prophet: “you have been told that to put someone to death is sin, but I say to you that even to be angry or hold ill will toward another is sin,” as well as other famous instructions: “Condemn not,” “Judge not,” “Let the one among you without sin cast the first stone” and of course “Forgive one another.”
Ill will requires language. Resentment does not arise from action or inaction, but from the language that we can use to ongoingly produce an experience out of our commentary and imagination relating to a memory. Resentment requires first creating shame from a past incident, then blaming someone else for our experience (while we mature in the capacity to accept the experience). In other words, our challenging experiences are part of our development.
The cultivating of antagonism through language is the root issue. From antagonism, many actions may arise, such as war, murder, rape, theft, fraud and so on. However, as Jesus said, it does not require the action of a murder or rape for antagonism or jealous lust to be a disturbance to one’s well-being.
First, we are totally ignorant. Then we begin to learn but still are developing discipline and thus are subject to negligence (which can also be viewed as any failure to be responsible for our reputation). Next we construct linguistic rationales to blame others for our results, which is malice or ill will or resentment, but also shame and pride. We create pride as a barrier to accepting responsibility for our overall results (by focusing on particular results while we ignore the rest of our results, of which we may be quite ashamed and quite hysterical if anyone attempts to direct attention at those results for which we may have been constructing a linguistic identifying or labeling as shameful). In other words, on the foundation of shame, we may develop malice toward those who fail to agree with us about our prides and shames.
That experience of malice might be called hell or purgatory. There may be access to “heaven” at a later stage.
These are the three basic stages of human socio-linguistic development: ignorance, shame, and malice. Next, however, is maturity. A comprehension of the role of language in the constructing of shame and malice allow for an attention to that linguistic process, the realization that inattentiveness or negligent language itself is what creates the malice, so the only remedy required is to cease the negligent language and remain attentive, and that is freedom from sin. That is spiritual rebirth.

the creation of “reality”

December 18, 2011
o
Is a circle just a circle, or could it be the letter ‘o’ or the number zero? The circle itself does not have any inherent unique meaning. Instead, whatever response is produced, that response is the ultimate meaning of any sequence of some percerving followed by some response.

Perception is experience. Experiencing is perceiving.
We respond to our perceptions. Different responses arise from different perceptions.
Perceptions are subjective. Distinct ways of perceiving result in distinct perceptions.
Many perceivers can all witness a single event and yet all of them may perceive something slightly different. Each one will have different sensory capacities as well as different positions spatially. Each of them will relate to the event differently. Perception is relational. Perception is relative.
Perception is not external. Perception is a relationship between external developments and internal capacities for sensing and then the interpreting or organizing of sensations in to perceptions.
We do not perceive external events. We only perceive our internal, interpretative relationship to external events.
We do not respond to external events. We only respond to our perceptions of internal, interpretative relationship to external events.
Perception is relational. Prior to perception, interpretation is relational. Prior to interpretation, sensation is relational.
We are the capacity for attention. Attention is perception. Attention is relational. We are the capacity to relate.
Language is relational. We are the capacity to identify with or relate to through formations in language.
The capacity for language is the culmination of perception. Prior to the development of the capacity for language in an organism, there is only reflexive reacting, not responding. Language allows for the creation of symbolic meaning and for responding to symbolic meanings.
Further, once there is attention to the process of the creation of relationships of symbolic meaning (the process of interpreting), then conscious perception shifts attention from reflexive reactivity to responsive relating to relational interpretation and finally to the creation of varying responses through the informing of interpretation. In other words, attention shifts to the creating of perception and the creating of responses to distinct perceptions.
The mechanism by which we inform interpretation (and perception etc) includes language. The attention to language is the attention to the creating of interpretations, perceptions, and responses.
Historically, the focusing of attention toward the role of language in the process of creating interpretation perception, and response was part of the field of spirituality. Religious terminology like sin or corruption may simply refer to an erroneous or limited understanding of the process of interpretation and perception. However, many who use that terminology may not directly recognize the simplicity of the teachings, such as these, starting with an English translation of a teaching attributed to Jesus:
“It’s not what goes into your mouth that corrupts you; you are corrupted by the words that come out of your mouth…. The words you speak come from the heart—that’s what corrupts you and disturbs you.” Matthew 15:11,18
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and without faith, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” Titus 1:15
“I am conscious of this, and am certain in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is corrupt in itself; but for the man in whose opinion it is unclean, for him it is corrupt.” Romans 14:14
“A wise person turns away from evil and is cautious, but a fool is hotheaded, careless and overconfident.” Proverbs 14:16
“but I — I say to you, not to resist the evil [the sin, the corruption]” Matthew 5:39
“Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:7
“…Turning from evil is disgusting to fools.” Proverbs 13:19
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
“…Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth doth come forth blessing and cursing; it doth not need, my brethren, these things so to happen.”

James 3:5-10

“You have knowledge that it was said in old times, You may not put to death; and, Whoever puts to death will be in danger of being judged. But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”

“No matter who you are, if you judge anyone , you have no excuse. When you judge another person, you condemn yourself,

Romans 2:1

“Condemn not.” (Luke 6:37)
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:42)
“And whoever hears my words and does not keep them, I am not judging him, for I have come, not to judge the world, but to give life to the world.” http://bible.cc/john/12-47.htm
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:29
How does Jesus take away the sin of the world? What is meant by what some have translated in to English as “the sin of the world?”
Remember, Jesus is said to cleanse sinners of impurity. Does Jesus cleanse them with water and soap or cleanse them spiritually? What does that mean to be spiritually clean? Again, let’s review a few verses:
“It’s not what goes into your mouth that corrupts you; you are corrupted by the words that come out of your mouth….
The words you speak come from the heart—that’s what corrupts you and disturbs you.” Matthew 15:11,18
“I am conscious of this, and am certain in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is impure in itself; but for the man in whose opinion it is unclean, for him it is impure.” Romans 14:14
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are impure and without faith, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are impure.” Titus 1:15

So for the one without faith, nothing is pure, while to the one with faith, all things are pure. What then is meant by that word “faith?”

Now, our comments on the first video right after we made it:

free from beliefs… about liberation

October 14, 2011

free from beliefs… about liberation

People are inherently free. People are even inherently free to train other people with punishments and rewards. People are free to influence behavior, like imposing inhibitions:

“keep your fingers away from the hot oven”

or

“only cross the street after you stop and look both ways to make sure that no cars are coming.”

Small punishments can be imposed to avoid more severe natural consequences. Punishments presumably would always be intended to promote the best interests of the one exerting attention and energy to impose the punishment. For instance, if a parent trains a child to avoid a certain danger, that is an expression of the parent’s interest in a certain kind of relationship with the child, like with a certain level of well-being for the child being essential to such a relationship.

Attention is interest. Punishment, therefore, is a form of interest. Reward of course is also a form of interest.

Further, the publicizing of punishments and rewards is a form of interest. The energy involved in making several reports of a single punishment (or reward) may be much less than the energy involved in implementing a single punishment (or reward). Note that reporting something may be conducted falsely or in a misleading way.

In advertising, people may advertise that a certain kind of activity is favorable, like an ad for a casino or for a lottery or for an insurance company. For instance, certain possible rewards may be exagerrated.

An ad may not reveal that the insurance company is in financial trouble and may be very unlikley to pay on all of its policies and liabilities. The ad may present the company and a particular investment as secure and safe and so on. The ad may not warn about the risk of inflation or warn about a major lawsuit in which the insurance company may lose at great expense. An ad may present an investment in the insurance company as if it is better in all ways than buying a lottery ticket. That is what the people who design ads are hired to do: influence behavior with emotional associations and, if relevant, rationalizations.

Will the mainstream media, funded by things like insurance companies and real estate advertisers and casinos, emphasize to the public the risks of the public doing business with those companies? That is just not what they are hired to do! If they did that, they would be fired.

So, people are inherently free. They are free to punish and to reward and to indoctrinate or propagandize.

Each capacity (as in capability) is a freedom. Each capacity to influence the attention, language, emotions, thoughts, and behavior of other people with a reward is a type of freedom. Each capacity to influence the attention, language, emotions, thoughts, and behavior of other people with a punishment is a type of freedom.

Since freedom is inherent, it is not provided from others, like from governments or from churches. Of course, people can influence other people’s capacity to perceive clearly and to thrive.

People may be trained to be easily manipulated (at least by certain influencers), stressed, cynical, unhealthy, poor, depressed, angry, afraid and so on. People may be trained to be dependent on certain psychological “essentials” which may offer diminishing rewards but severe punishments for withdrawing from a particular behavior or “psychological crutch.”

In accord with commercial interests, systems may be put in place to promote certain kinds of diets which may be metabolically detrimental or at least expensive to purchase. In accord with commercial interests, people may promote certain kinds of health care services and products over others (like pharmaceutical interventions designed to efficiently interupt and inhibit the functioning of the immune system).

People may be trained to rebel only through certain methods presented as legitimate or patriotic. They may be trained to focus on particular issues for arguing with others.

They may be trained that governments promote the freedom of all people. However, legal rights including civil rights refer to an artificial system of punishments. Violators of rights are threatened with punishment. For instance, the inheritor of a wealthy estate is protected from the masses by the hired guns of the court systems. The legal rights or property rights of the wealthy are not intrinsic, but are created through the governmental systems of organized coercion, which then legitimate the criminalizing of “trespassing” through whatever systems of propaganda, if any.

In simplest terms, the poor are provided the “civil right” to complain through government channels about how governments systematically favor certain people and certain interests over others. All governments redistribute resources to particular beneficiaries in particular. Those resources are acquired through coercive taxation and confiscation.

People may be encouraged to debate over political issues like how much more funding should special education students receive beyond regular students: twice as much, four times as much, half as much, etc? Or how much money exactly should be taken from productive members of society (the working classes) to pay to the unemployed, to unproductive retirees and to unproductive people with various disabilities? Further, exactly how much should be spent to kill foreigners near and far?

Notice that various groups of people may systematically answer these questions differently, such as depending on whether someone works in a particular field or has a particular circumstance themself. The disabled retired military veteran with no children may have a personal bias that is distinct from a couple of young working class parents with several children that are generally healthy.


So, there is no such thing as an inalienable right. There are just various capacities as in capabilities. These can change dramatically and quickly, such as in the first few years of a child’s life.

Also, no two people are created equal. No legal systems provide or promote aboslute equality. All legal systems provide various kinds of rewards and punishments.

While government propaganda may refer to a right to life for all people, governments are widely known to do things like conduct ambushes of enemy soldiers and to even surprise civilians with things like bombs and chemical weapons like Agent Orange. That might be enough to make some of the surviving civilians consider becoming soldiers.

In the case of the Declaration of Independence of thirteen united States, there was a reference to an inaliable right to liberty. However, in how many of those thirteen states at that time were a slave owner’s legal rights over their slaves established and promoted?

Court systems protect inequality. They do so using coercion and “hired guns” (deputies).

Some people may argue that court systems should not do that. However, the argument that court systems should not do that was established and promoted by court systems to obscure the simplest realities of the nature of their operations.

People are inherently free. People are inherently free to form court systems to establish and promote certain inequalities. People are inherently free to indoctrinate others about how and why those inequality-promoting court systems were established.

People are also inherently free to promote their own commercial interests, such as promoting certain kinds of foods and diets and health care services and investments. People are inherently free to invest their attention and resources in operating a business or being a customer of a business, whether that business is a casino, insurance company, health care business, or a court system and so on.

So, people are inherently free. However, people are only inherently free to exercise their actual capacities.

In contrast, people are not free with the capacities of a bird or of a fish. A bird is only free as a bird, not free to be swim as a fish or free to be a person. A fish is only free as a fish, not free to fly as a bird or free to be a person.

Any creature or organism has only and exactly whatever capacities or freedoms that it has. However, no one else makes anything else free or makes anything else be what it already is. Everything is already inherently free, but only in the exact ways that it is already inherently free.

People are even free to claim that some people can make others free as in set them free. One can certainly act to restrict someone else’s capacities and freedom, then later withdraw the restrictions. Withdrawing active restrictions may be called “setting free,” but whatever it may be called, it is simply the discontinuing or withdrawing of a punishment or restriction. You are inherently free.

a conversation with a prophet

July 26, 2010

A famous and respected prophet was sitting outside one evening watching the colors of a beautiful sunset when he heard a strange, faint sound. It sounded a little bit like the wind but also a little bit like the hiss of a snake. The sound slowly grew louder and louder.

Soon, within the flowing waves of the strange sound, the prophet started to identify distinct individual sounds, as well as pauses of silence between them, as if the fluctuating of the sound was slowing down. The various sounds reminded him of a very ancient language, like the sounds of different animals- perhaps even types of creatures that he was hearing only now for the very first time.

Next, the prophet focused attentively on the sounds, even closing his eyes to the colors of the sunset. Suddenly, the prophet began to understand individual words. The words were not familiar at first, but, like a tiny child learning the language of others speaking nearby, the prophet learned that certain sounds symbolized certain patterns and experiences and perceptions and relationships.

The prophet also learned the secrets of the sequence of the words. For instance, the prophet effortlessly recognized the difference in meaning between “the prophet ate an alligator” and the very same words in a different order: such as “an alligator the prophet ate” or “an alligator ate the prophet.” The prophet recognized that just as each word references a pattern, like the pattern of alligator or the pattern of eating, the word sequence references distinct relationships between the patterns.

This all seemed only mildly curious to the prophet at first, until the moment that the prophet realized what was actually being communicated by the sound he was hearing: “Hello, famous and respected prophet! I am so glad to finally meet you. I have brought you a gift of the most precious food, the delicacy of pickled alligator. Please, if you are indeed such a wise prophet as I have heard, would you answer a few questions for me?”

The prophet, whose eyes were still closed, said nothing. However, he did raise one eyebrow, which is a sign in body language for alertness and curiosity.

So, the questioner proceeded: “Okay, first thank you very much for your attention and interest. Here is the situation. Basically, when I think of the past, I am ashamed of many things that have happened to me, but should not have happened. There are also things that did not happen to me, but should have. Sometimes I even think of many things that I did, but that I should not have done, as well as things that I did not do, but should have done. I am ashamed for all of that, plus I am ashamed of many things that other people did or did not do, and so I am angry at those people and afraid about what they may or may not do in the future, or what other people may or may not do, or what I may or may not do. So, I am angry about what did happen but should not have happened, except when I am sad about what did not happen but should have happened. Basically, I don’t want to be ashamed or sad or angry or afraid. So there it is. Well, can you help me with this, prophet?”

The prophet raised both eyebrows at once while squinting the muscles around his closed eyes. Then, just in front of his nose, he brought his hands toward each other with fingers straight, relaxed, and apart from each other, then tapped his fingertips together, bouncing them repeatedly.

The questioner eagerly said, “yes, let me know what you discover, please! And, by the way, I’m sorry that all I could afford to bring you was pickled alligator, but it is so hard to get your favorite- pickled penguin- at this time of year around here. So, yeah, I had to improvise, but at least it is pickled alligator, right?”

The prophet reached over and picked up the pickled meat of alligator, lifted it to under his nose and took a deep breath in, and then gently shook his head up and down nodding in approval. He tossed the meat into his mouth, chewed on it slowly for a while, then turned his head and spit it out.

In distress, the questioner shouted, “Don’t you like it? I went to all this trouble to come to you so that you could fix my shame, and now you spit out my gift! What am I going to do now?”

“One thing you could do is agonize,” said the prophet. “Shame is not the issue. The root pattern is agonizing. You could just keep doing that.”

The questioner was startled, not only that the prophet was speaking the sacred ancient language, but with perfect pronunciation and dialect. And then suddenly the questioner realized what had actually been communicated.

The questioner began breathing fast and shallow and soon was out of breath, but still managed to get out these words: “But if I keep doing what I have already been doing, then how is that going to fix anything?”

“It won’t,” said the prophet. “However, you really could keep doing what you have been doing already to cause yourself all of that distress.”

“What do you mean about causing myself distress?” said the questioner. “Didn’t you understand anything I said earlier? I thought you were a wise prophet! I was so naive to think that you could help me. I can’t believe what a complete fool I am.”

When the questioner finally finished, the prophet answered: “Yes, I thought I was a wise prophet, too, for a while. However, then I realized that while I very much like the taste of pickled penguin and pickled alligator, I do not like how my belly feels after I eat it. This did not seem very wise to me at all. So, in order to fulfill my destiny as a wise prophet, now I do not swallow pickled penguin or pickled alligator, but I only chew the meat and savor it until it loses it’s taste for me, then I spit it out without swallowing it.”

“Yeah, but what does any of that have to do with me? I thought you were going to help me, but obviously I was just a fool…. again! Well, at least I do not eat gross stuff like you do.”

The prophet said: “Well, maybe you would like it. You could try some, right? You might learn that you actually like the taste and, if you like the taste, then you might even like how you feel after you swallow it. Similarly, if you like the way your belly feels when you swallow your own words, then keep doing that. However, if you do not like the way your belly feels when you swallow your words, then only taste them and savor them without swallowing. Finally, if you do not even really like the taste of your own words, then spit them out quickly. Do not even keep them in your mouth long enough to finish what you were about to, um….”

“What?” said the questioner. “Finish what I was about to… do what?”

“What you were about to say,” said the prophet. “You can just stop as soon as you notice whether or not you like the taste.”

The questioner then asked: “So, I can slow down my speaking and notice how I feel as I speak. Is that what you are saying?”

“Well, however slowly or quickly you speak, you cannot change what you have already said or how fast you already did. All you can do is to notice whenever you notice the taste and the feeling, then spit out what does not taste like swallowing. If you do swallow some words- like you think to say them but then do not actually say them or otherwise share them with anyone- then you can notice how it feels after you swallow them and keep them within yourself. Maybe you will keep swallowing those words and maybe you will share them somehow with someone or maybe even just spit them out without even finishing whatever you were about to, um….”

“Whatever I was about to say,” said the questioner. “Right?”

“Well, I would warn you to be careful of finishing other people’s….”

“Sentences?” asked the questioner. “Is it finishing other people’s sentences?”

“Or, finishing other people’s thoughts,” said the prophet. “Yes, like you said, sometimes what you may think that they are about to say can get in the way of listening to them. Also, sometimes what you may think that they have been thinking can get in the way of asking a question and then letting them tell you for themselves how they have been thinking. Haven’t you ever heard that presuming makes an ass out of you and….”

“Me?” asked the questioner. “But isn’t it supposed to be assuming, not presuming?”

“I suppose that it should be assuming as well as presuming, shouldn’t it?” asked the prophet.

“What?” said the questioner. “What you just said was confusing.”

“Or, maybe you are confused now and only just recognized that whenever you recognized it, so maybe what I said was not confusing. Maybe you were already confused. Maybe I was just demonstrating your confusion to you. Anyway, here is what confusion is- like how to practice the activity of confusing yourself. Confusion is supposing what should be assumed and/or presumed, but without noticing that one is merely assuming, presuming, supposing, or otherwise operating in the mode of what and how life should or ought to be. Got it?”

“Listen, prophet, I only came to you because I am ashamed about….”

The prophet interrupted and said: “Yes, you are. If you say that you are ashamed of anything, for any reason, then first you are already ashamed. You can be ashamed of really most anything you say, except that first you must believe that you should not be how you are (or how you have been). First you should assume that what you are supposed to be and supposed to do is something else.”

“Something else?” asked the questioner.

“Yes, anything else!” said the prophet.

The questioner asked: “You mean to fix how I already am?”

“Confused.” said the prophet. “Fix how you already are confused.”

“No, I’m not confused!” said the questioner. “At least, I’m not confused anymore.”

“But you were, right?” asked the prophet.

“Well, I might have been but I’m really not so sure any more,” said the questioner.

“So are you certain that you were not confused or are you in fact confused now about whether you were confused that one other time?” asked the prophet.

“Um, hold on: exactly what other time are you referencing, prophet?” asked the questioner.

“Oh, well most any other time will do,” said the prophet.

“Yes, fine,” said the questioner, “but I am not particularly interested in ‘most any other time.’ I am interested most in this time right now!”

“Um, hold on: which time is that?” asked the prophet.

“This one now,” said the questioner. “I mean, who really cares if I ever was confused about how life should be or if I used to say that I was ashamed or any of all of that?”

“Seriously, who really cares?” repeated the prophet.

“I care!” said the questioner.

“Do you really? About what in particular?”

“About what I say right now- that’s what I was saying,” said the questioner.

“No,” said the prophet,” what you were saying was that….”

“Oh, never mind what I may have said then. Just notice what I am saying now, okay?” said the questioner.

“Well, I’m sorry, but now that I fully understand your situation, I really do not think I can be of any help to you,” said the prophet. “Thank you for the pickled alligator though.”

“But… but, prophet, God simply could not love me!” the questioner blurted out, so abruptly that she startled herself.

“Oh, really? And why is that?” said the prophet. “Who are you anyway?”

“Prophet, duh– I’m the devil! I thought you were a real prophet. Aren’t you supposed to know these things? Anyway, just to inform you in case you are actually just a false prophet, here’s the deal: God cannot love the devil. God hates the devil and condemns her to eternal suffering, endless agonizing and torment, you know, the whole thing about life after death.”

“Oh really,” asked the alleged prophet. “And who told you all this? In particular, who told you that you were the devil?”

“Listen, I have always known this. This is obvious. Look, I have the horns and the wings; I’m clearly the devil. If you can’t see that, then you must not be a prophet!” said the questioner.

“Hmmm,” said the prophet, who had left his eyes closed through the entire dream so far, mostly because he was only sleeping. “Honestly, I was thinking that you were not the devil, but just another gargoyle. Gargoyles have horns and wings just like yours, don’t they?”

“What? You mean that there are others that are like me?” asked the questioner.

“Oh, you are unique, I admit. But, yes there are others like you. The devil believes that she is isolated from all the rest of life- totally and irreversibly unique, with layers of personal pride covering the layers of personal shame. The devil takes life very personally, you know. However, God makes all of life. The devil just may not recognize that. By the way, God does not make anything except exactly how it should be, though some of us may argue with God about that in order to make our lives hell, you know, before we die, which is really the only time that anyone can make life hell. Anyway, some of the life forms God makes are forms of life that go through stages of development, like babies growing larger over time. Maybe you were in the devil stage before, but now you really seem to have matured into a gargoyle, since you are beginning to notice that you are actually like most everyone else. However, I do not think that you are an angel yet. I mean, look at your wings, the feathers are still the same color as when you were just a little devil, like before you even knew how to use your wings. By the way, do you even know what an angel looks like?”

“Well, I’m not really sure. Aren’t their feathers supposed to be white, though?”

“Some angels have white feathers,” said the prophet, “but others do not even have wings or feathers at all.”

“Is that right? Well, then I suppose that I could have seen one without even knowing it!”

“In fact, I know this may sound weird, but even before the angel is fully grown and clearly identifiable as an angel, the angel is still an angel,” said the prophet. “For instance, before an oak tree is a fully grown tree full of oak leaves like in summertime, the plant is still an oak, even if it is not even a tree yet at all. It could just be a sprout and it would still be an oak sprout, right? Anyway, basically you are a gargoyle angel. You just did not recognize that this particular label applied to you until you did.”

“What?” said the gargoyle angel.

“Yeah, angel is the type of creature you are and gargoyle is just the stage of development you have reached as of now as an angel.”

“I have never heard anything like this before. This is a bunch of crazy talk, but could it really be true?”

“Oh, no, it’s not true at all. These are just words, silly! You have to understand what words are. They are just symbolic patterns- like of sounds and shapes of letters- that represent other patterns which they are not. Like how a map is a symbolic representation of something else, a word is just a symbolic representation of something else, so they are never absolutely true, well, or only in a manner of speaking.”

“Okay, so you are saying that calling me either ‘the questioner’ or calling me ‘the gargoyle angel’ are both valid ways of identifying a pattern. They are both relatively true, so neither one is more true than the other, since they are both just symbolic representations of something else. They are equally symbolic and thus equally true symbols.”

“Yes, words are only true symbols,” said the prophet. “They are just not true in general, but of course they are true symbols. That is correct. Words are true relative to some practical function as symbols,to some particular conceptual framework or context.”

“And beyond that, they are not true at all!” exclaimed the gargoyle angel questioner happily.

“They are truly words, like a map is truly a map, but is not truly anything other than a map,” said the prophet.

“So the map should be a map simply because it is a map and it should not be anything else because it is only what it is?” asked the gargoyle angel questioner.

“Well, that is if something is only what it is,” said the prophet. “In fact, a map could be not just a map, but also could be a piece of paper. It could be lots of things. It actually isn’t even anything in particular until someone says so.”

“Wow,” said the gargoyle angel questioner. “This is some powerful stuff right here!”

“That’s right. This is God performing the act of creation. This is the spitting out of language.”

“Us communicating now?” asked the gargoyle angel questioner.

“Well, it is God working through us. We do not actually do it ourselves. We do not even know how to explain to someone what muscles to use to make the sound of the word ‘poop.’ God does it all for us- kind of like how God makes poop without anyone even thinking about it and, by the time that everything comes out fine in the end, we really do not have to do anything for pooping to happen by itself. Basically, anything that happens, that is God doing it. So, anything that anyone says, that is God creating with word symbols. Cool, huh?”

“Prophet, this is amazing. How did you come up with all of this?”

“I have no idea, gargoyle angel questioner. I was just dreaming about a conversation with you, and then, through your participation in the conversation, God said some pretty interesting stuff and I just made a record of it in these English words. In fact, I did not even think about how to do the typing any more than you think about how to get your eyes to read shapes of letters or how to get your ears and brain to make sense of sounds that you, um….”

“Sounds that I hear?” asked the devil gargoyle angel questioner.

“Well, maybe that, too, right, but also the sounds we make. We don’t really know how we understand the sounds that God makes through us, not just the sounds that God makes through anyone that God identifies as not us. I mean, we don’t even know how we form sounds into words or words into communications, but we can understand the language and meaning of our own words, right? God does it all for us- the forming of all words, ours or not, as well as the understanding of those formed words, again, ours or not. It’s all totally effortless. All that there is for us to do now is to notice how it feels when God is communicating through us now, since God may choose for us to feel all sorts of things now as God matures his creations through various stages of development now. What does this feel like? Now, what does that feel like? Just notice how the different words feel now. What else is there really to do now anyway? What choice do we actually have about any of it now that it is what it is already?”

“God, I really like what you’re saying.”

“No, you actually have never heard anything that I have said. All you have ever heard is your own interpretation of what God communicates, like through someone else. However, no matter what, your own interpretation is always the true interpretation for you. So, in other words, you really like how you feel when you interpret God’s words how you do when you like how you feel.”

“What?”

“When you interpret God’s words in a certain way that results in you feeling some particular way that you say you like, that is just God interpreting God’s words in a way that results in you feeling God.”

“That is not what you said before.”

“Yes it is.”

“No, it’s not.”

“No, really, it is what I said before, you just were listening differently the other time.”

“Which other time?”

“Now.”

“Whatever. So one more question: when is this whole eternal life in heaven thing going to get started?”

“Well, heaven starts as soon as we realize who dies in the whole symbolic representation of ‘life after death.’ Remember, God does not die. Only a mortal identity can die. Whose death is it that does not actually stop life itself? What lives on is God and what is not God does not live on. By the way, do you know who lives eternally in heaven, like always has been and forever will be living there?”

“God, I really like what you’re saying.”

“You’re telling me!”

“God, I really like what you’re saying.”

“Yeah, you can say that again. Wait, didn’t you already just say that?”

“No, you just interpreted two different things the same way, producing the same pattern of interpretation.”

“Wow!”

“Yeah, you can say that again!”


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