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darebak

Selfishness Switch

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I meditated and prostrated, etc for 20+ years and am still 100% selfish.

 

I then selfishly decided that selflessness is bullshit. I still believe in love and bliss, though. Those are in my self interest to cultivate.

 

Why is the clam so happy? Because he's shellfish.

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I think if Ayn Rand had just meditated every day, done some taichi, a little yoga, she could have smoothed out her philosophy and had a groovier version of the "Virtue of Selfishness". :lol: Anyway, I think we are in a new aeon, or whatever you want to call it, and the idea that any kind of literal selflessness logically exists or is virtuous or even desirable is best left to the stodgy religious folks. Just follow your bliss, the most reliable compass you have for waking up IMO, and as a by product it tends to do more to for others anyway, so win-win. B)

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Hi all,

 

I have some problem with the concepts of materialism and selfishness as being seperable in humans. It may be that the rampant consumerism in the USA - that has developed just in my own life-time has me angry and bewhildered. It isn't fair and I understand the resentment factor in the experiments.

 

When I was a teen-aged-hippy-freak in the late 60's I really believed that our society and culture were changing into a much less materialistic model; where transcendant social values would be practiced and taught as the social norm.

Man was I wrong!!!

 

So I'm thinking Western culture pretty much peaked around 1969-70 and then started a retrenchment of cut-throat capitalism. The current disregard for environmental and socialistic approaches to problems has me reacting like the subjects "gyped" in the division of wealth scenarios of the tests- It pisses me off and I want to take the wealth away from those who have unfairly taken the lion's share.

 

By the way-taking the lion's share isn't just taking the most, it means taking as much as the lion wants!

Greed and the lack of concern for the larger consiquences due to that greed, & its inherent waste and huberis are the antithisis of the Taoist concept of perseverance in the right.

 

That our world's environment is on the brink of catachlismic change due in large part to that full-on selfish and ignorant approach - proves the wrong-headedness of such behaviors.

 

If the tests show that at some point those left out will rebel and offer a come-upence to the greedy. Well don't say we didn't warn ya -way back in the 60's!

 

Like a sticker reads which is offered for whatever you can spare- by the homeless in NYC -

MEAN PEOPLE SUCK.

Edited by Wayfarer64

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69-70 was a beautiful time of awakening!! It changed American consciousness more than any other time in our history, and arguably more than the rest of our history put together. And that change lasts to this day. I really got this lesson when I went through the Smithsonian exhibit entitled "fashion and gender relations through the decades" (in North America) 1600s through the mid 1960s was glacial and "frozen" and then *BAM* it all shook loose!!! Really amazing. After hundreds of years, people could finally relax a bit and have fun!

 

Even the concept of selflessness is evolving nicely from being a puritan way to avoid hell to more of a bliss and joy thing. As soon as it becomes fun, people will do it!

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Ayn Rand was a biotch! Ooh, was that uncharitable? :D Too bad her poor hubby never got the benefit of David Deida's teachings.

 

I really dug the book Saints and Postmodernism by a philosopher named Edith Wyschogrod. It's a bit dense, but she makes a strong case for the blissful and/or serene elements of altruism, with numerous examples across various religious traditions, and allowing for "saints" who are not religiously aligned as well.

She acknowledges that while no one human being, rooted as we all are in the animal kingdom, acts from purely unmixed motives, there is such a thing as "saintly desire," which finds a very real satisfaction in contributing to the well-being of the Other (or "zhe Ozher," as the French philosophes would say) . . . And this has nothing to do with "S & M" theology ("I must do this to please the Big Divine Nobodaddy and avoid punishment!"), calculating karmic transactions, masochism, etc.

 

Unfortunately, I've lost some of my joy in giving in recent years because I was burned at times for being a naive and unskillful giver, but I haven't deserted my hope that it's possible to cultivate self-interest and increase benefits for others at the same time.

 

***

 

Hey Wayfarer--I'm of the opinion that a lot of the most radical positive changes in the US didn't really take root or spread until the 1970s. The 60s were seminal, but a lot of the fruits didn't arrive until the next decade. Unfortunately, a lot of the impetus behind Reaganism began to arise in the 70s too (e.g. the so-called "taxpayers' revolt" that gutted the once exemplary California school system, the culture of narcissism that gave rise to yuppiedom, etc.)

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I know I'll probably get slammed for this, but I have yet to find a more organic, benevolent and in many ways Taoist economic approach than laissez-faire. Communism, socialism, even participatory economics which is the most intelligent attempt IMO ... at a certain point I realize I just can't possibly picture these societies being enjoyable at all. I want to work as hard as I want to work for the lifestyle I want. Call me selfish, but I think it is overall less harmful than me wanting to work as hard as I want to work to try and impose the view of society I want and think is best upon everyone else. :rolleyes:

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Hi all,

Sean I think yr right in the tack that you take but are steering a course that has new rips running through it. Laissez-faire capitalism isn't being applied in a very fair manner any more. The system is now re-rigged to work so much better for the plutocracy and oligarchy that there is a deminished ability to live without real striving just to maintain a simple life style. At least in America these days...

 

There are many instances when changes have come to social systems on every scale of human activity and were likely to have been resented...

 

Here are a few ideas and examples of different kinds of materialism and spirituality that have gone through cultural shifts, where it would have been hard to adapt to the changing norms...

 

The East Village in NYC was once a haven for free-spirits to live a bohemian and artistic lifestyle that allowed them to concentrate on their work and interactivity. That has been suplanted by wealthy folks who bought the buildings and created an environment where suburbanites can be comfortible, but it stiffles the untried nature of experimental life styles that once prevailed there.

 

There have been kind and fair people who owned slaves and never questioned that system which was all they knew. They were still resented by their slaves, who revolted against them.

 

And we can't forget the tantric colonies in south-western India that were wiped out by invaders who couldn't have cared less how evolved and inlightened the people they slaughtered were. I bet that happy-go lucky bunch thought the invasion pretty freaking unfair!

 

Communism and socialism have ideals based on a supposed fairness, but these systems have seldom if ever been imposed in a fair or just manner.

 

Materialism is a whole different internal value system that undermines both socialism or capitalism when compassion and fair-mindedness are negated by averice and greed.

 

So once again it is up to us to become better individuals and help steer whatever culture we are in towards a more compassionate modus...Even if it's only to make us feel better about ourselves!

 

I'm not sure there was any coersion for beliefs to be changed in the experiments we're on about here. I thought it was just about fairness - and resentment that can become self-distructive if there is a perception of unfairness...

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I have to admit, I got pretty burnt out on politics several years ago so I'm not sure how long I'll last here, but there are some interesting points drawing me out.

 

Basically I think that an insistence on an elusively defined ideal of fairness is one of the biggest timbers in the eyes of the left when attempting to present a coherent politicoeconomic philosophy. And then history keeps showing us that the most well intentioned master plans built around some typically liberal group's idea of fairness always seem to end up needing a violent revolution to begin with and/or be enforced, top-down at gunpoint. Shouldn't that be the first clue something is wrong? Anarchism, individualism, libertarianism, laissez faire ... these approaches more accurately mirror the reality of life and are more in the spirit of Taoism. A forest does not need a centralized committee to redistribute resources "fairly". Mice do not need a political correctness board to protect them from the insulting howls of wolves. Order emerges from chaos most naturally when we get out of the way and stop trying to control things. Like Campbell says, follow your bliss. If it makes you happy and your life more meaningful to lend a hand to people that need it, do it! You don't need to read a book to prove the value of so-called altruism. Give your Mom a call or your girlfriend a massage or a man on the street ten bucks and feel into the oneness of your hearts. These things can objectively feel good. Not for everyone, but then can this be changed by force?

 

I imagine the 60's and 70's were some amazing times. But in a way I think this generation was the most selfish in recently recorded history. Think about it, three quarters of a generation of youth decided they didn't feel like supporting their country anymore, didn't care what their families thought, didn't care about working to contribute to society, basically just dropped out to become active in intellectual political ideologies (some of which turned out to be essentially totalitarian), experiment with psychoactive drugs, open sexuality, new forms of music. Sure there was sacrifice but their hearts were on fire! Real sacrifice was the previous generation of men, grinding away in mind numbing jobs without any sense of entitlement to self-actualization, artistic expression or even happiness, all just to support their family and die with stomach ulcers ... and the previous generation of women, who swallowed any concept of personal autonomy to wither in joyless, sexless marriages, again just to keep their families together. THAT is sacrifice. Real sacrifice is doing what you don't want, what is not even that helpful and then having nothing to show for it, and no applause. Growing your hair out, playing the drums and holding up anti-war posters is not. Sorry. But see, I am siding more with the hippies here. I would have done the same shit. I just think their cause went downhill when the self-righteousness came to a boil. The reality that the real power was coming from follow your bliss, not "we are heroes saving the rest of the corrupt selfish world" got lost and the party went sour.

 

I really agree that materialism, in the sense of a flatland, one-dimensional vision of reality, is at the heart of so much evil. But ironically it's the left now that are the loudest proponents of secular materialism, insisting spiritual values are backwards, can not be taught publicly and should have nothing to do with how a country is governed. I understand why. Because they are trying to respond to a fundamentalist religious right. But the left has completely lost it's own positive vision. It just nitpicks and deconstructs the conservative vision into an incoherent patchwork and wonders why the majority of the country is not taking them seriously. And don't even get me started on the right! Arggghhhh!

 

*Sipping magnolia tea to calm myself* :D

 

Anyway, I think it will only be through spiritual revolution that we each cultivate and spread that we will make it through these precarious times ... hopefully into something none of could have ever thought of. :)

 

Sean

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Hi everyone,

 

Sean I agree with you that "fairness" is a very elusive gauge of progress. There is NO fairness in nature, (or the Tao) - as a meaningful concept. But there is balance. And when societies fall out of balance people revolt.

That is the reaction shown by the experiments, and history is full of such activity.

 

The politicalization of life style sprung up in the '60's and potentially liberated us all from social tyranny. But the inherent selfishness of such "special interest" groups as blacks, women, gays etc. flew in the face of the selfless striving of past generations.

 

For millenia most social norms were not open for discussion. Women usually did not have a voice in politics, children worked long hard hours and the status quo was a patriarchal colonialization of the world at large.

State vs state warfare was the expected reality and warriors were a privelaged class, at least in the top ranks.

 

For the past few centuries that was Europian based and further promulgated through the "American Century" of the 1900's.

Much good was done through the self-sacrifice many of my generation's fathers displayed with due diligence. But politicallyand spiritually, they were for the most part, quite naive about their own potentials as human beings.

 

For the West, it was the introduction of Buddhism and Taoism (& LSD etc.) that opened the next generation to the concepts of personal development that did not fit into the far more materialistic goals of our fathers' generation. It was indeed an effort to follow ones' bliss, but it carried the idea that no man is an island as well - so social justice was a large piece of baggage many felt needed to be toted along as well...

 

Meanwhile...The concept of karma and strict social norms stultified the East. And Maoism did nothing for fairness or freedom. Those social norms are only now changing in the major urban centers of the "Orient"...(And I've seen mostly a pretty cut-throat version of capitalism so far in the several Asian countries I've visited).

 

It was also our father's abhorance for war -after WWII's horrors - that broke the back of the selective service and forced the Viet Nam conflict to wind down and eventually end. Parents did not want their children to fight in a meaningless war that seemed only to be happening for the sake of the Military Industrial Complex that Ike had warned of.

 

That generation of great sacrifice was not going to sacrifice the next generation to a meat-grinder. There was a political awareness which was in some part allowed to flurish due to a very high and quite wide-spread standard of living. A time when the "have nots" got pissed off because they could plainly see the unfairness off a situation where their sons were still being fed into that meat-grinder and that the society was not well balanced...So we had the upheavals of the 60's & 70's...

 

Seeking fairness -or balance to be more Taoist in language - is a fairly old concept in any nation's internal politics. It began with the Book of Changes which addresses such balance in almost every aspect. The American Founding Fathers had The Enlightenment's literature to spur them on to reform the very concept of social justice and create a viable democracy. Not a new idea but a new force in the world. It is still an on-going process. But it would seem that Fairness has been introduced to the equation and is here to stay... I hope!

 

The west sees history as linear the east sees it as cyclical. I see it as a spiral! The sun is not stationary, (but I'm not sure anyone has figured out its trajectory), we circle the sun- so the earth moves in a spiral through space and time. I take my ques from that movement and see nothing but potential growth for a long time to come.

 

But violence is almost always part of the change when it comes to unseating those people who are enjoying actual political power. I just hope that our current administration in the USA, ( that won & kept power in two VERY questionable elections)- can be removed in a yes - "FAIR" election?! The balance in this culture's trajectory is way out of wack, and the wobble is now disaffecting the world's environment and social stability.

It will be very hard to follow any bliss if the global environment is thrown too far out of balance due to the greed of the past few generations.

 

For thirty years I have been part of the Public Interest Research Group's activities. Few listened to us. and now we may have actually tipped the environment so far out of balance that there will be little we can do to recover. These are political issues at the core. They can not be ignored for-ever.

Edited by Wayfarer64

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Magnolia tea reminds me of a very funny episode from High school. A friend was convinced that the Grateful Dead song -"Sugar Magnolia" contained a secret message that drinking Magnolia tea would get you high, so a bunch, (maybe a dozen)- of us went out and found some magnolia trees and picked the purple leaves and made a huge pot of fresh magnolia tea. I trust yr brand is more digestible then what we gulped down in large draughts, 'cause...

We then proceded to each experience a serious case of gaseous flatulance that created a veritible cloud of lovely magnolia scented farts throughout the school. Many people commented on it and it soon became a direct route to ending up on the floor laughing til we cried. It made us more giddy than the crappy herb we had in those days...And I am smiling now in rememberance of those long gone halcyon days, just before the shit-storm of draft resistance and hard drugs came along to ruin lives...

 

We shared everything in those days good & bad. It was pretty tribal in many aspects much as the Tao Bums today, we were in this thing together and indeed I still am in touch with many of my high-school friends, those who I think of as my brothers and sisters during very interesting times.

Edited by Wayfarer64

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Bumped into this today and thought I'd share in this thread:

 

Via Apophatic Mysticism

 

chinese-character-chongman.gif

Honest selfishness

 

"Fully provided for by heaven and earth, by giving away to others, he only gets even more for himself." Zhuang Zi.

 

Here there is not the idea of selflessness, putting others first, or sacrifice. There is no need for Zhuang Zi to kid himself and think he is not interested in pleasing himself. He allows his motivation to be transparent.

 

What Zhuang Zi has realized are the dynamics of qi. There is a reciprocal exchange and increase of qi when qi is concentrated and expressed outward. This is why Lao Zi says, "Don't honor the sage." The sage is no less selfish than you or me, she has simply learned a much more enlightened selfishness.

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