Bliss, Disquiet, Enlightenment, and False Satoris
You can read a prettier version of this on Medium. Please ‘Clap’ if you do.Continue reading Carl Jung – Building Self
Science and Religion. You can apply one, the other, or both to guide action. But as views of the universe, they contradict.
Someone created the universe. Or Someone didn’t.
How to resolve the contradiction?
Wisdom is a fuzzy term usually pitted against ‘mere knowledge.’ The implication is that we often use knowledge unwisely.
And the old are said to be wise.
Being old, I feel I should come up with a operational definition in case I’m called into account.
1. Wisdom is pattern recognition across relatively long spans of time…decades rather than years.
I feel I started getting wise when I realized that a 3 year plan could actually happen and widened my planning horizon to 5 years, then 10, then longer.
2. If the old are wise, then it is simply because they have lived long enough to see longer cycle patterns. There’s no other way to do it.
Having objectives and watching what fucks them up helps with long time span pattern recognition. Pyrrhic victories teach wisdom. Being right but losing the fight teaches wisdom. So does being sure and finding out over a long expanse of time that you were flat out raggedy ass wrong….so becoming wise requires a fair amount of self-directed honesty.
3. Evolutionarily, since people and only a very few other species (elephants, killer whales) live beyond menopause, it is likely that we get to be old people precisely because we might become wise!
The contribution to the gene pool by individuals past reproductive age in big brained social species is almost certainly because they offer something to the tribe that isn’t obvious in a short term or immediate perspective.
4. There is a large tactical component to wisdom. Recognizing and pointing to long-term patterns is of value to the listener depending on the tact and precision of the story-teller. Observing how good advice goes wrong or gets ignore and learning to compensate for that is the heart of wisdom.
5. Finally, there is a contextual component to wisdom. The past must be enough like the present and projected future to make generalization possible. It’s easier to be wise about human nature than about changes triggered by science and technological disruption.
Fellow old folks note: pointing out that things are “not what they used to be” does not qualify as wisdom.
[[This is an experiment. Generally I write and edit and write and edit and edit some more and then publish. I’m working on this in public; parts will probably only be comprehensible to me while that’s happening..]]
I’ve been sporadically preoccupied with the big Why Bother questions since high school: What’s worth doing? Why bother to act? What justifies itself in the face of the imminent heat death of the universe. (Well, maybe not always the latter.)
This has lead through the decades to a slow motion analysis of the meaning of meaning.
My initial thoughts were shaped by three books I found in the paperback rack in my father’s drug store when I was a high school freshman: Alan Watt’s Psychotherapy East and West, RD Laing’s Politics of Experience, and Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams and Reflections.
It should be obvious from what follows which one of the three had the biggest influence.
I will still argue that Jung is inappropriately dismissed as unscientific. His basic mechanism of the Self, particularly as elaborated by his collaborator Erich Neumann, is an auto-regulatory system, an explicitly compensatory mechanism, that kicks in when the personality becomes lopsided and fore-grounds and integrates needed but excluded and/or under-developed aspects of the person.
With that introduction. Here goes….
Life is not a matter of holding good cards but of playing a poor hand well. – Robert Lewis Stevenson
Paragraph form: Meaning is a human activity. We act as if it is a discovery and, although it presents itself as found, it is built not found. Meaning is fundamentally a social construct and, if all goes smoothly, it provides reasonably stress free guidance to the individual. If that fails, the individual is forced back upon whatever resources they have or can discover.
Outline form: Starting Set: Meaning.
Paragraph form: Apparently clashing values are a problem only if they lead to contradictory impulses to action. There are often schisms through our belief systems. Some derive from personal biography, some from our culture, some from the nature of our species or any embodied being in a context of forward moving time and physical space. It is only when we find ourselves actively on both sides of a schism, that we are challenged. It is only then that we are given the opportunity to seek/forge deeper meaning. There is, of course, no guarantee that our solutions will be totally successful.
Outline form: Contradiction:
(to follow – Extrinsic (tribal): [[under construction]])
“If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?”
I’m glad you asked that.
I’ve always taken my inspiration from biological systems. One universal here is that inputs are good in a biological system only in a narrow range. Too much water and too little water will kill a plant. Too much food and too little food are both bad. Medicines have a low threshold of ineffectiveness and a high threshold of toxicity. My grandfather took strychnine as a blood pressure medicine. Critical vitamins can kill in both lack and excess.
Money is an input in a biological system. Too much and too little both trend towards toxicity…though in quite different ways.
The statement “if you’re so smart why aren’t you rich” is the precise logical equivalent, in my opinion, of “if you’re so smart, why aren’t you fat!”
I point out in passing that I’m not poor.
Now the counter question. I’ve noticed a tendency among the rich to keep working to get rich. What’s up with that? Lack of imagination? Trapped in the system?
To quote Baba Ram Dass when asked about his switch from LSD, “Well, when you’ve received the answer, hang up the phone.”