The Anathema of Judgement

Lady-Justice-Marilyn-Monroe-Lanoo11It is the desire of the mind to structure the world around it.

It’s not a bad thing. Labouring under the presumption that the entirety of existence is capable of being pigeon-holed has brought us many great scientific realisations. But there is a danger in applying analytical mental associations within a moral or ethical context.

I am, in fact, talking about the perils of standing in judgement of one’s self or one’s environment.

Now, before I continue, let me just define what I mean by ‘judgement’. It may seem a matter of semantics, but I place a distinction between ‘judgement’ and ‘discernment’. To me, judgement is the act of placing a moral, ethical or analytical imperative for one ideal over another, i.e., that doctor is better than that car thief. Whereas I see discernment as the act of consciously perceiving a difference between two ideals, i.e., that doctor is different from that car thief. Though this distinction might seem subjective and differs depending on an individual’s understanding of the terms, I think that it’s an important one to make.

For those of you who don’t know, I used to work as an alternative health practitioner. The alternative therapy I practiced was a form of energetic healing which relied heavily on elements of counselling in order to get people to release their baggage of their own accord. And do you know what my years of energetic healing taught me?

People can be really hard on themselves.

Like, really hard on themselves. The more energetic work I practiced, the clearer it became that many people hold themselves just as accountable, if not more so, than anyone else in their environment. The harsher their judgement of their environment, the harsher their judgement of themselves, and this wasn’t just limited to moral and ethical judgement either. Many people would look at someone with a bigger slice of cake and think ‘that slice of cake is logically better than mine’. As a result, their subconscious would reach the analytical conclusion that it was therefore good to have a big slice of cake and bad to have a small slice of cake. By applying moral and ethical absolutes like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to the analytical spectrum, it became easier to make sense of an oft chaotic world.

So, what’s the problem?

Logically, if you think it’s bad to have a small slice of cake, you’ll endeavour to get a bigger slice of cake. The act of observing the flaws inherent in your situation will only drive you to improve said situation… right?

Actually, no. Not always. A lot of the people that I met through my energetic healing who perceived themselves as ‘badended up vilifying themselves because, from a logical perspective, if their situation was bad then they, by association, were bad also. And if they were bad, how could they possibly fix themselves…?

Has it ever occurred to you that most people who pursue a life crime tend to come from troubled homes? Now, certainly it’s an easy argument to make that they’re the product of their environments. But bearing what I’ve said in mind, isn’t it easy to see how they might largely be the product of their own judgements and the way in which they’ve been taught to judge the world? i.e., if my situation is bad, therefore I am bad by association…

Judgement is an anathema, a poison that is deeply rooted in our society. Judging something to be ‘good’ is symptomatic of the same wound as judging something to be ‘bad’. They are two sides of the same coin; you can’t have one without the other.

I believe that it’s important to avoid judging the merit of everything from a position of analytical or moral imperative. We are just ants, scurrying about our tunnels, hungering after sugar and sunlight. How can we hope to see the full panorama of our existence when we only use our eyes?

Don’t choose to pass judgement, whether on yourselves or on each other. Instead, know discernment. Know that some things are different from other things. Know what you want, and be prepared to work towards it. But also know that no one thing is truly better or worse than any other.

Of course, if nothing is better than anything else, why bother aspiring towards anything? Without the carrot and the stick, how do we now function? No longer donkeys, but something more…

Still, that might be a discussion for another day. 😉

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5 Easy Steps to Channeling the Force

I’m sure we all know by now, but Star Wars – Episode 7 is coming.star-wars-iv-a-new-hope-nei1b

For those of you who have been squatting under rocks, chomping on maggots like Timon and Pumba, Disney bought the rights to the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas a few months back and have set to work breathing fresh life into The Saga.

I’m a pretty big Star Wars fan. Though I was not old enough to see the original trilogy in cinemas, I’ve spent my fair share of time watching poor quality VHS recordings of New Hope whilst making Luke and Han action figures duel to the death with Skeletor. And, like most Star Wars fans, I left ‘Revenge of the Sith’ feeling a little violated.

The wound Lucas has gouged into the Jedi mythology will not be an easy one to heal, of that there is no doubt. And so, philanthropist that I am, I shall list the ways to ensure a successful return to a galaxy far, far away.

Gosh, I’m a good human being.

  1. Cast Returns – there’s a lot of talk about getting the cast from the original trilogy back in, and I’m all about it. Good sequels always hinge on maintaining the link between installments. Replacing or writing around characters has proved to leave gaping holes of dissatisfaction and remorse in the mass consciousness – it don’t work guys, don’t try it! They may be able to get away with missing one, maybe two, of the main actors from the original trilogy, but they really need to get as many of them back as possible for this thing to be a success. Besides, who doesn’t want to see Luke and Leia’s matching trailers in a Tattooine caravan park at the ripe old age of 60? I know I do.
  2. Bigger Isn’t Always Better – a classic big-budget mistake is thinking that if you have cash you should put it to use. There is a culture of one-upsmanship prevalent in action movies these days, and it grows tiresome. Think about the prequel trilogy. The prequels were meant to set the scene for the awesome three movies that followed them. If we see nothing but colossal CG droid fight scenes, expensive and extravagantly budgeted sets, and entirely unnecessary fight scenes between core characters (cough-Emperor-and-Yoda-cough), what’s left to follow? I think the fact that the original trilogy shines so much more so than the polished turd of the prequels tells us that bigger and better are not synonymous. Also, well-made puppets will always look better than the best CG. ‘Nuff said.
  3. Story, Story, Story – this may be the writer in me, but I can’t stress the importance of a good story in film. A good, well-planned story is absolutely key to making it work, especially when you’re making a trilogy (and I’m certain Episodes 8 and 9 will follow all too soon). While it’s true that audiences these days are a bit more sophisticated in what they expect than they were in the 70s and 80s, I think that everyone will be happy with something that matches the tone of the original movies in a well-thought out way. Remember the last rule; bigger isn’t always better. Keep it simple to start with, gently remind us why love this franchise, and lay the foundation for an epic story arc in the last two movies.
  4. Grit – I must confess, the Disney label on this scares me a little. The original trilogy were infamous for some really gritty scenes, like the death of Obi-Wan, Han and Greedo’s shoot-out, Luke losing a hand… Don’t fluff this out too much, Disney. The temptation will be there though, since Star Wars has a ‘cross-generational’ appeal (because fans of the trilogy are now parents who want to share the experience with their kids) and movies that gross the highest tend to be ones that all age brackets want to see. Keeping it light and fluffy ensures a high-grossing movie at the potential cost of artistic integrity. I hate being able to observe decisions that have obviously been made based on production-end meddling, but there it is. Of course, Disney’s influence doesn’t scare me quite as much as my last point…
  5. J.J. Abrahams – is slated to direct Episode 7, and words can’t express how overrated I think this guy is. Now, I’m sure a lot of people will leap to defend him, so lets look at this logically – what has J.J. Abrahams ever done for me? Alias? I enjoyed the first season or two, before it flopped. Lost? Another show that flopped due to lack of planning. Cloverfield? Super 8? Not terrible movies… Not great movies either. Truthfully, the only 2 movies on J.J.’s IMDb profile that I don’t mind are Regarding Henry, which he produced in ’91, and the new Star Trek movie (and even that didn’t have a great plot). Am I missing something? Why do people think this guy’s so great? He’s a modern day Spielberg, sure… But Spielberg’s big-budget, grandiose style have become par for the course in modern cinema. You might as well say Abrahams is a modern day Karl Marx in Communist Russia. But I digress… By the same token, J.J.’s mediocrity hasn’t gone too far against him, so I’ll hold out hope. But in all honesty, I’d rather see Joss Whedon behind this project.

Disney for the win.

Here’s hoping for cybernetic Ewoks.

(image credit to nei1b)

A Logical Conversion

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For anyone who missed my ‘How Many Parsecs in a Samadhi?’ post a few weeks back, let it be known that I enjoy blending the disciplines of science and spirituality. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am dubious as to whether science and spirituality will ever truly find a satisfying common ground, though my hope springs eternal. Today I want to talk about something in a similar vein.

I want to take a look at the role of logic within modern spirituality.

For most people, the suggestion of reconciling spirituality with logic is a strange one. These two abstract ideas are generally perceived to be opposing concepts; spirituality being largely concerned with the illogical constant of ‘faith’, while for many people it is ‘illogical’ to believe in something one cannot prove through quantification. Personally, I do not hold my understanding of either logic or spirituality in alignment with conventional paradigms.

Let us first consider the true nature of logic. It is generally agreed that logic is defined as the application of reason. For example, if I climb the apple tree I can more easily pick an apple, and therefore it is logical to do it.

Let us then consider whether or not it is truly illogical to believe in the metaphysical. It is my understanding that engendering a positive mental outlook has demonstrated beneficial effects on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing. Furthermore, it is illogical to presume something does not exist simply because it hasn’t been proven. Therefore, if believing that something exists beyond the physical regardless of scientific verification gives an individual an increasingly positive mental outlook, is it not logical to do so?

In the interest of being fair, let’s look at the other side of the coin. What are the disadvantages, from a logical perspective, in believing in the metaphysical? It has been suggested that spiritualists have historically proven to be innately illogical, particularly those stemming from religious sects. Obviously though, if we choose to believe in the metaphysical to satiate the perceived logic of doing so it is unlikely to compromise our ability to perceive logic, so that is a moot point. One might suggest that believing in the metaphysical gives a person cause for bias and that it is logical to remain impartial, particularly when impartiality is so important to the scientific model of analysis. However, I dispute this. Not believing in something and being impartial are two different characteristics. Deciding to not believe in the metaphysical does not make a person any more impartial than one who does believe in the metaphysical, for the simple reason that bias is the act of becoming attached to a concept. Whether you choose to believe in the metaphysical or not, it is equally possible to become attached to the abstract constant that you have invested yourself in and equally possible to lose impartiality. Therefore, I believe this to be a moot point also.

As far as I can tell, there is one key flaw we must accept when we choose to believe in something that hasn’t been scientifically proven and may never be; we might be wrong. The greatest loss to those that choose a spiritually-inclined outlook is that, in all honesty, our beliefs could potentially be disproven someday by some guy in a labcoat that works adjacent to the CERN supercollider.

I guess my question is – would that really be the worst thing in the world?

It can be easy to become attached to ideas and concepts in the information age. I believe that the most sensible outlook is to hope for the best and plan for the worst, as the saying goes.

And that is why it is logical to be spiritual.

On a side note, eyE[before]E just mounted 1,000 hits after only a month and half!

You can’t take the sky from me. 😉

(Image credit to Quirky)