The Power of a Paradigm Shift

Mind your paradigms.

It’s incredible the degree to which our behaviors are unconscious and totally determined by belief structures we don’t question or even consciously notice.

Paradigms are the lens through which we view the world.

But how can you notice a lens?

You probably can’t. But you can notice the places where it’s smudged or cracked.

Failure to achieve desired results are the clearest sign of a limiting, broken paradigm. Our unconscious minds want us to keep a limited paradigm. Our DNA wants to follow the path of least resistance, conserve energy, and reproduce. Nothing more.

In many ways, the basic drives of our DNA are sociopathic. They don’t care about charity, kindness, love, except in so far as they get us the things we need for survival and reproduction.

But our consciousness can rise above all that, and set a paradigm that beats the default behaviors assigned to us by our selfish DNA.

This is a choice we are presented with. A difficult choice, and a choice it takes effort even to perceive. But it is clear that everyone falls somewhere on a spectrum of paradigms, ranging from that of a Murderer to that of a Saint.

The former has fallen into a downward spiral, falling farther and farther down into a paradigm where all that matters is the immediate fulfillment of impulsive drives.

The latter forgoes immediate fulfillment in exchange for a continued commitment to the bettering of their environment, often at the expense of their own pleasure and profit.

Few of us exist at either of those two poles, but rather somewhere in the middle. We often swing wildly between moments of great joy and generosity and animalistic hunger or self-obsession. Take notice of what triggers these swings. It will be to your benefit, and the benefit of others to elevate your paradigm. So many of the problems we face are self-generated, due to a limited and unsustainable set of beliefs about what we need and what the Universe owes us.

It owes you nothing.

You owe it everything.

But luckily, if you are a microcosm of a system, anything that is to the benefit of the system, is a benefit to you.

Equality is Evil II

I’ve spoken before about the concept of “equality” as the desired end state for a system, whether it be in a school or human society as a whole.

But what precedent is there in nature for equality as a beneficial end state for a system, wherein the individual components of that system all benefit?

Take space. We call it such because it is unfathomably empty but for a relatively minuscule amount of massive objects. Neutron stars are so densely packed that a single teaspoon taken from their surface would weigh several tons. We may consider them the “greedy billionaires” of space. From any given neutron star there might be millions of light years of emptiness.

And what if matter, as energy, were equally distributed throughout the cosmos?

That, my dear friends, is known as the heat death of the Universe. Entropy. No life, no difference in distributions, and strangely enough…no diversity, the very thing which so many champions of equality label an intrinsic good.

Such a clear, catastrophic contradiction in values betrays the “equality as ideal end state” as nothing more than an emotional longing.

Longing for what?

For those who have more than you to have less and you to have more than you currently do.

I think most would regard that as the mindset of a thief, not a hero.



Progressive Regression

What is evil?

Functionally, it tends to be that which we align ourselves against in terms of both our identity and responsibility.

We act as though evil is that which we are incapable of doing, and in no way responsible for making manifest in the world.

But of course, that’s not what evil really is. 

Evil is the initiation of force or deceit against others in pursuit of one’s own benefit.

Quite simple, really. The difficulty is in determining what constitutes deceit and the initiation of force. Recently, the belief that words themselves can be considered initiations of force has come into vogue. The names we call each other has for many eclipsed in importance the ways in which we behave. Justice has been perverted into a righteous euphemism for revenge.

Evil has become more a label for people, especially collective groups of people, more than it is a structured way of defining actions.

The result of such linguistic perversion is the current state of affairs, where political belief and cultural identity is considered the paramount marker for how someone ought to be regarded and treated.

Perhaps that is why a rather menacing word has come to describe the cultural climate in our modern era: Regressive. 

Nothing can be regressive without being destructive, and there is perhaps no greater sign of evil than a seemingly unstoppable, angry, unthinking, destructive force.

How can such a force be stopped?

By a sober consideration of what actually constitutes evil, and what principles if sustained for decades and centuries will lead to lasting progress. Angry mobs do not build great civilizations.

Angry mobs do not build great civilizations. They only tear them down.

Evil people never evaluate their individual actions on a moral basis. They only align themselves against an enemy and thus justify any opposing behavior. Beware of forming such an identity. It can easily land you on either unfortunate side of the torches and pitchforks.



Pragmatic Morality

Far too often it seems that our actions done in order to please another only increase their distaste for us, whilst those done in an attempt to distance oneself from another only further increase their attraction.

Why do we pursue what runs, and shrink away from what reaches out?

Because we unconsciously assume that what needs us must be somehow lacking, and what evades us must necessarily possess something we lack.

Or perhaps it’s derived from our ancient instinct to chase whatever runs and run from whatever chases. Such is the plight of an intelligent omnivore.

Such is the plight of an intelligent omnivore.

But to fully conscious, self-aware creatures, are millions of years of evolutionary selection really any excuse for cruelty?

As usual, the real question is not in how the problem arises, but rather in how the problem is solved.

By default, we solve this problem in one of two ways:

By treating everyone like an undesirable, or by acting as though everyone has something to offer us.

The latter, though morally appealing, is not a sustainable strategy. Many people you encounter will threaten you and through various means and for countless reasons attempt to make your life worse.

The solution is in a reciprocal morality; by offering others the exact amount of respect and compassion that they offer us, we can avoid being taken advantage of whilst also helping those who are deserving of help.

But for those people who are truly evil, how do we avoid stooping to their level?

I suppose that is the most basic question in regards to a pragmatic morality.

How low are you willing to follow the people around you?

If you encounter someone who betrays, does that give you license to act in kind?

That lower limit is incredibly difficult to determine, and it becomes more difficult the eviler the enemy.

World War II essentially drove all the opposing world powers to act as though there was no lower limit, that all acts of evil were made acceptable by the actions of the opposing side.

What is your lowest limit of acceptable conduct?

Where does self-defense begin and end?

Is it better to behave as though everyone around you was evil, whilst assuming they’re inherently good, or behave as though they’re good whilst assuming they’re inherently evil?

And perhaps the most important question of all:

From whom and by what process have you determined the answers to these questions?

Few possess clear and conscious answers to these questions, but to act in the world we obviously must have some pragmatic morality.

Watch your behavior, and the unconscious system will reveal itself.

I’ve never met a person whose system wasn’t in need of some reform.

Why the Body Matters

We often operate under the false impression that we are and identity floating around in a brain, that is then housed within a body. Not only is this a rather medieval, pre-Darwinian mental model of experience, it is scientifically incorrect.

The human brain is merely the densest bundle of nerve fibers within a massive system that runs throughout the entire body. To believe that the brain is a totally dominant controller of the nervous system is equivalent to believing the largest tree in a forest controls that forest. Such a belief would lead one to a bizarre, pathological interpretation of all the phenomena within the forest. And if the forest began to operate under that model, it would become a rigid, barren place indeed.

No one part of a complex system such as a forest or our bodies can be said to have complete control or “intelligence” rather intelligence is that which arises from the simultaneous operation of millions of different systems nested within. The You being experienced now is an emergent entity, that though primarily manifested through the brain, originates in the organs, muscles, and diffuse nerve fibers throughout.

No wonder one gets a strange feeling when an otherwise brilliant person is out of shape and unhealthy. It is a strange contradiction to value the rational mind and personal expression over those components that make such abstract entities operational.

Consider yourself an anthill, not an identity floating in a meat suit.

Those many things that make up your moment to moment experience, though their function is not consciously noticeable are more important that what you can immediately identify as “me”.

The Utility of Gratitude

Anger and fear, in their many manifestations, are the greatest source of error and bias in the human mind.

In so far as we can free ourselves from the tyranny of these emotions, we can improve our processing of stimuli. Fear and anger must be faced head on, and they can not be compromised with. They cannot be appeased or reasoned with. And though they may be channeled into productivity, what they produce seldom leads to fulfillment or happiness. In the same sense, a farmer may use chemicals to produce a single year of excellent growth, but in the process destroy the field for future generations.

There is one emotion that fear and anger can not survive in the presence of.

If you can conjure up this emotion at will, you will no longer be ruled by anger or fear. This emotional panacea is gratitude. It is perhaps the least experienced emotion of all. Rarely do we feel grateful when we receive something. Instead, we move from bliss to boredom, quickly establishing any improvement in our lives as the new standard, and not taking any time to experience the joy of receiving. 

In this department, organized religion has tremendous value. It personifies the chaotic behavior of the Universe, providing us with the concept of an actual entity that we can thank, or blame, for everything that happens to us.

The concept of God gives us someone to be grateful towards, which is necessary if we are to feel gratitude. Thus it is necessary to believe in a “God” is we are to have an optimal relationship with the Universe. This does not require literally believing in an omnipotent entity that behaves outside the laws of the universe.

The scientific definition of God as the collective behavior of the laws of the Universe is adequate, as long as emotionally we view the Universe a benevolent entity, that acts in a way that if beneficial to itself as a whole.

We must view the Universe as something worth thanking, talking to, and feeling emotions toward. If you are not comfortable praying, your belief system must be adjusted. If you believe on an emotional level, that the Universe is random, and not benevolent, you will not be able to feel truly grateful.

Is Sex a Metric?

What are the simplest forms of the foundational philosophical questions?

Perhaps as basic as this:

Why Existence?

Why Life?

How should we act?

But in our daily lives as living, breathing, thinking, shitting individuals, perhaps it’s best to start at the level of past actions and work backward.

“How much of what you do is to get laid?” Often renders fruitful answers, because it is through the primal drives that we act out our most fundamental beliefs and in so far as those actions succeed or fail, we can measure the practical utility of our beliefs, or else the metrics by which we measure success and failure.

It’s incredible the optimism the average nihilist displays when on the prowl for sex.

I think we hate to acknowledge our own sexuality even in the same sentence as our philosophic beliefs.

Or rather, we hate to acknowledge our failures in that realm. So long as we are fruitful and attractive manifestations of our cultural ideals, sex can be discussed as a fine and worthy topic.

Why is that?

Likely it is because our rate of success in achieving the lifestyle we want, whether sexual or otherwise, is one of the few objective measures of our own ability to function in the Universe we are presented with.

What an embarrassment for a man or women who can understand Quantum Mechanics or Neurobiology to fail at the most basic level of communication with others.

No one in a lecture hall, or even in a spirited online discussion wants to reconcile with the fact that, scholar or saint, genius or prodigy, most people might as well be 13-year-olds at the middle school dance when it comes to complex interpersonal problems.

The very fact of our embarrassment reveals the stem of the problem. Our ancestors were too embarrassed to set down detailed guidelines for behavior, just as our parents were too embarrassed to teach us the first thing about sexuality, just as we will likely do the same to our children.

The only direction seems to come from the raised hammer of organized religion that loathes the freely sexual, perhaps above all else. Or, from strange websites on the internet.

4,000 years of civilization, and that is the best we have?