Buddhism, Existenz, Ego and the Three-Body Problem…

IMG_0712The ultimate conundrum of life is that we didn’t ask to be born. The ultimate responsibility is that we not dare to risk death, either. For that we never know the reason why, but simply that it—life—is given, and things given must be accepted in the spirit with which they are given, not without question, but definitely without fail…

Yet we do risk death, deliberately, repeatedly and with great flair, and often for no good reason. Up until less than a hundred years ago, as hard as it is to believe, people wanted to go to war, to fight, to kill, and this was the high point in many a young man’s life—or death! We look at the past with a mixture of wonder and agony at all the gratuitous violence and senseless destruction without realizing that the key to that phenomenon is right within us—and largely curable…

The divorce came later, after our fall from grace, the complete divorce between Man and Nature, when man saw his reflection, fell in love, and that was that. Self-reflection led to consciousness and consciousness led to notions of an objective self, something to be qualified and categorized—and fed and flattered…

A dog never looks at himself in the mirror, and if he did, he probably wouldn’t recognize himself. And if he did recognize himself he’d probably go crazy just like his human forebears, the forebears of all domesticated animals who are more at home with humans than they are with Nature, having sold their souls to the Devil for the price of admission and the privilege of being on the winning team…

This swirl of thoughts and pictures and feelings ‘inside’ naturally leads to the concept of an ‘I’ or Ego at the center of it all, though there is no real evidence of this, just a notion, and likely one that needs to be revised, for once we go down the slippery slope to ego, it’s hard to back-pedal into notions of community, the family into which we were born. We’re now locked in a cage of personal identity…

This World Was Built with Ego…

…and that explains much of our problems, of course: our arrogance, our ambition, and our ultimate quest to control Nature—completely and entirely. The project is likely doomed to failure, of course—witness the events of 2016—but that doesn’t stop us from trying, and may likely yield something else beneficial, if not exactly as imagined. Individual ego is the main problem, for interpersonal relations, but collective ego—we not I—may yet save the day, if only to live to make another play for the brass ring…

For better or worse, Sigmund Freud saddled us with a three-body problem of Id, Ego, and Super-Ego that we are stuck with to this day, though there is no real evidence of anything of the sort. All psychology text-books should come with a warning label stating clearly: “the writings contained herein are strictly opinions of the author, and the reader accepts any and all related risks.” Mass subconscious? Same deal—pure conjecture…

But psychology is Science, and so the parables and analogies there can pass as theories and hypotheses, while the Bible and Tao Te Ching must excuse itself as myth and symbol, pure superstition. Everybody should know that Science is not something to be believed in, but still we do it, as though God were the Great Scientist in the sky, in addition to the Great Physician, which is probably a better role model for the Big Guy. Religion IS something to believe in, but its business model should not conflict with that of Science…

Buddhist kindness and compassion are ultimately believable, and should pose no problem for Big Science, as long as they aren’t looking to reduce such action to neural synapses and the random effects of heat and light on excitable electrons. I don’t believe in ignoring problems like some Buddhists, though…

Problems should be dealt with and their causal agents admonished, and then laid aside for safekeeping and reflection, without rank nor rancor. Ditto truth, beauty and goodness, my own personal trinity of salvation and deliverance. This is the bizniz of religion, believing in things that are the proper object of belief, not trying to co-opt science…

Still the Existential conundrum is there: we exist, and that’s all we really know, the hows and wheres and the whys and the wherefores largely matters of opinion and habit. So where do we go from here? Actually: do we really need to go anywhere? Isn’t that part and parcel of the arrogance of our ego, that we are masters, and meant to lead, and that we better get started? Maybe…

I’ll never deny the primacy of wisdom and learning in our brief but glorious existences, but the need to control Nature is the big issue of the day. Ironically in this case it’s an issue we created ourselves, global climate change, but it would be equally foolish to assume that Nature is some kind of harmonious self-balancing equilibrium, that we can only disturb and disrupt. That’s simply not true…

Seven hundred million years ago, give or take, the planet we live on was a snowball, and it could happen again. All complex life on Earth today occurred after that. Could we with our technology survive a similar event? We just might. If it does and we do, it’ll probably be our collective egos that accomplish it, our egos and our arrogance, that we would dare to conquer Mother Nature…

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