Archive for the society Category

Baseless

Posted in Asceticism, Buddhism, Fighting, genius, God(s), karma, martial arts, Monasticism, Mysticism, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Religion, society, tai chi, taijiquan, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , on January 21, 2010 by wizardsmoke

So, the big question on everyone’s my mind is whether or not martial arts teachers, yoga instructors, and their religious gurus are “enlightened”. In stuff like Tibetan guru yoga, you are supposed to view your teacher as enlightened — sometimes even if they aren’t. It’s part of the practice. I don’t do it, but it makes sense as a practice, in order to discover your belief is malleable and useful to that end. There is no god(s) if you don’t believe in them, and vice versa.

Although Taijiquan is my big psycho-physical investment at the moment, I am willing to believe it’s not the same spiritual ace-in-the-hole for other people. How could it be so? People need to be unique, independent. But at the same time, the big problem of human existence is social friction. How do we deal with other people? This is a big portion of Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophy: the existence of another creates a new perception of oneself and one’s surroundings. They are no longer a portion of selfless existence, but exist in contrast to oneself.

Amidst others, we seek to validate our own views, yet for what reason? There is opposition to all views, and human reason and rationale is endless. It is supremely difficult to co-exist with others in peace. And peace is a difficult subject to address, because the moment it is broached and given our conscious attention, it ceases to exist. It is simply the absence of conflict, and the absence of selfish views. But that’s too often misconstrued as being a doormat.

The other strange thing is that, although Taijiquan or dream yoga or Alexander technique or Zen or Sufi or Benedictine chant or whatever else may work for some people, these practices are not guarantors of ability or insight. They are more like rocket boosters that can change one’s mental, physical or spiritual trajectory, but the original trajectory for real insight has to be there in the first place. Those are prior causes, the manifestation of which is natural genius. But then for some reason, hard work seems way more important.

Pop maestro

Posted in Cults, Doom and Evil, propaganda, Reality Bites, society, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , on October 1, 2009 by wizardsmoke

As a skilled (some generous folks might even say professional) musician, I do not take other people’s musical opinions too seriously. I generally just don’t care that much. Does a financier or banker or Fortune 500 director or CEO care what the average person has to say about finance? I would wager he/she does not.

Having admitted to this, I got a call the other night to go see U2 for free. Ahahaha! I declined. “But,” my friend protested, “you’re a music guy. This is your thing.” As I told him, that while U2 does amuse me in a painful manner, the band does not bring me listening pleasure in any capacity (also, I am not sure that I trust that Bono guy. He hides behind sunglasses a lot. Really, what’s with that? No eye-contact? Eye-contact is the most direct form of non-verbal communication, pal, and your music sure doesn’t have any communicable message…).

One fun way to test your mental concentration, is to listen to some music, and whilst listening to it, mentally recall and listen to some other piece of music in your head, singing along to it. It gets harder to do the more accessible and catchy you find the music that is actually coming through your speakers. It can strengthen the kind of concentration you need in performance, magic or martial arts, or any other discipline in which you need to convince the ego’s insecurities or fears to temporarily conform with the will. I.e. you create a strong center of concentration which is unperturbed by direct sensory influences.

This kind of concentration is similar to what practiced musicians are doing all the time during ensemble performances, especially between more complex and seasoned folks (surely you can imagine this exercise is what I do when some kind of trinkety U2-sounding pop music schmaltz is invading my surroundings.). Skilled musicians, like people skilled at anything else group-oriented (military, sports, business, dance, monasticism, relationships, etc.), are responsible for covering their own asses throughout the performance, not listen to or watch the whole band at once the way the audience can. That’s the only way the whole thing stays together.

Ah, but what is pop music anyway? Just the self-willed capitalist propaganda of the masses. Oh yeah I sound cynical, but capitalist culture is just the dictatorship without the dictator. And pop music is the really boring, blatant, thoughtless music product made entirely to consume. There is no high art in pop music — it’s catchy in order to get stuck in your brain and further duplicate itself in sales. It is just like film in that sense (everyone knows a film is an advertisement for itself, I mean c’maaaannnn).

The sole purpose of a pop song is to get stuck in your head. There is no other point, no greater pleasure to be derived from it. It is meant to occupy your mind when you are not listening to it.

Huh, but no matter, ‘coz I’m sure you don’t care what I think of music either.

Sex: right on the money

Posted in Happiness, love, Monasticism, Powermongers, Relationships, Religion, sex, society, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2009 by wizardsmoke

What do people want to gain from sex itself? In no particular order:

  1. Physical intimacy
  2. Emotional fulfillment
  3. Power

The first is obvious: people want physical contact, warmth, friction — in other words, sticky mucus-membrane pleasure. The raw deal! Another human being to hold, a person to touch. Black-out orgasms, flitting eyelids, gasping for air. This is not a necessary condition of love.

The second is trickier. The problem with these factors, is that the lines blur between them, or what they achieve. Many of us have emotional needs which we hope to fulfill through sexual contact. This often has to do with psychological issues, upbringing, genetic traits, our need for stability or excitement, etc. But there are some, who, because of their emotional state, require power-trips in order to derive emotional fulfillment from sex.

At the basic level, power, for the respective sexes (heterosexual terms for the moment), is that a women wishes to have the power over a man’s desire, via attraction, whereas a man desires the power to dominate a woman via penetration. Some people are different — they want influence over others via their mate, they want to be able to manipulate others with their prowess, they want to control the desires of another to gain self-esteem.

You can call it cynical, but as far as sex goes, I think this is the basic score. The error is not that sex is bad in of itself, but that people actually seem to think sex is a defining factor or catalyst for love. Love exists outside of sex, but can be triggered by sexual intimacy for many. The problem is that this love is limited and can be unreliable if this is it’s basis. Oh well — at least sex is fun.

I think in modern western society, sex has become a game more than a necessity. It’s not really a sin, just an indication of social blatancy and the phasing of the human experience. People who primarily seek power from sex often acquire it from groups of strangers, whereas those who seek emotional fulfillment often acquire it from within their social circles (perhaps a modern stand-in for arranged marriage). Obviously there is not such a clearly defined reason for why people seek sex, but this is a rough sketch of what I have observed.

I don’t think sex is taboo from a mystical standpoint. As one ages, the sex drive naturally fades away and one can spend more time in contemplation. I think religions, with their codes of celibacy were often ways to control unkempt desires in society, especially at times when birth control was crude or non-existent. Especially if many marriages were arranged, or relied on social ties, orphaned or outcast males might have been inducted into a monastic life either temporarily or permanently to keep them from causing trouble. I have no historical facts for this basis, of course, which will horrify empiricists and evangelicals alike (all according to plan).

I don’t believe sex is the “point” of life, or the greatest pleasure, or something to be pursued eternally. Many people have seriously dysfunctional sexual habits, just like many have harmful inclinations towards violent behavior, lying or stealing. These are other reasons for religious tenets, but people cannot be helped unless they wish to change on their own.

Sexual desire is the driving force of nature, whereas the belief (or hope) in a future tranquility or contentment is the bait. Sexual desire does not beget the bait, because the bait is a natural illusion to spur our trajectory forward, and thus enact nature’s drives. Sex is the motivator to reproduce, by giving the emotional illusion of providing long-term fulfillment.

Thoughts?

Second-guessing sexpots in a hierarchy of modern needs

Posted in Beauty, Happiness, health, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Many who are obsessed with sex and sexual conquest will validate their own desires by rhetorically claiming that the engagement of numerous successful sexual exploits indicates they possess deeper survival instinct mechanisms, and therefore dominant, superior genes which will be likely extended to another generation.

Ha! Subtle theory. This is a very cynical view because it’s narrow-sighted, based exclusively in boring empirical analyses which assume that humans are moist automatons absent of free will or choice outside of physical drives. In fact, the cosmic view (not the same as ethical view) of sex-obsessed, narcissistic, quickie pick-up types is not far from the party-line agenda of “healthy skeptics” — or whatever other utterly annoying, arrogant label athiests and stage-magicians tend to throw around when describing why they don’t believe in things that are not physically visible and ripe for them to manipulate. (Here’s a hint as to why: stage magicians are so obsessed with manipulating other people because they themselves are deathly afraid of being manipulated. Hence they don’t believe in anything that cannot be “proven” empirically. Nice predictable, self-centered view of the universe you have there, assholes.)

But anyway — why is sexual desire (lust) the thing that yanks us back into samsaric existence over and over again? What is so great about it that it overrides other desires as the focus of our attention? Why are romantic prospects more interesting than career prospects, when we have no control over the former?

A quick hierarchy of the fundamental survival needs could go, in order of necessary (albeit situationally unrealistic) acquisition:

  1. rest or sleep (shelter)
  2. food (sustenance)
  3. physical dominance, or an acquired role in the social order
  4. sexual desire (procreation, in the case of heterosexuals)
  5. everything else (social acceptance, education, spirituality, etc.)

The first two definitely have to be satisfied before the third. The third is sort of a toss-up and could fit somewhere after sexual desire, within social acceptance, as a sort of novelty or luxury of life. In modern post-industrial, capitalist/socialist society our social role is a little more subtly defined than in, say, a tribe of hunter-gatherers, a caste-based system, or a feudal kingdom. For instance, in modern society, most people maintain shelter and food throughout their entire lives, even if they don’t work very hard. There is an infinite spread of wealth between the financially poorest and wealthiest, and there are certainly a number of homeless people, yet most have somewhere to crash and something to chow down on. The quality of luxury varies, but it’s rare that people just suddenly lose access to these basic needs (not to mention the strange preference some women have these days for skinny, weak, whiny, white guys). As I said, one can consider social identity to be a luxury outside that of “citizen”.

Of course, imprisonment is an interesting case. Prison fucks up the entire chain of priorities, because it enforces the shelter and food from above, limiting the freedoms of inmates’ survival instincts to the role of social and physical dominance. Even sexual roles are relegated almost exclusively to status games in prisons (although you could argue that sexual roles are always status games anyway). There seem to be similarities between active military service and certain brands of imprisonment actually.

Back to sex and why it’s important to us: sex is fun because it’s the ego’s ultimate feeling of power, importance, purpose, meaning. Ha! I think Freud wrote something about this. Sex is the ultimate trick of the universe — the illusory notion of self-importance. And of course, when you analyze it, and ask what makes sex, like anything, important or purposeful, you realize there is no purpose. It’s just like when you ask a girl why she loves to dance: “It’s just fun!”

So everything in existence is just fun for it’s own pleasurable amusement. And if you think about it, in society, the ultimate goal is simply procreation. Fulfilling other desires, like wealth, fame, status — these are all secondary or complementary to procreation. A lot of us will disagree with this, but it’s possible that those who choose not to procreate have qualms with the nature of the world or existence (I have one friend who thinks they are doing a better service to the world by not having kids and by allowing the world some extra space). They are a product of modern life, a luxury of modern society, though I would wager some people who choose not to procreate now would have done so in the past.

It’s common knowledge that men and women who dress in intentionally revealing clothing often suffer from insecurities about their own self-image and self-esteem in general. It’s also mentioned that men and women who have excessive sexual relationships suffer from devalued notions of self-worth (although folks like Ikkyu or Baudelaire or Austin Spare could hardly be considered guilty of such things, so it makes me wonder if some people aren’t just unemotional and have inflated self-worth and excessive boredom).

So my fundamental question: those who have the viable option to procreate or have sex, and instead opt not to — do they have the greatest self-love of all? What do you think?

Survival Game

Posted in Fighting, health, Reality Bites, Relationships, society, Stayin' Alive with tags , , , , , on September 16, 2009 by wizardsmoke

After work, I was talking to a friend who regaled me with enchanting tales of his investment portfolio. Basically the (young) dude made a handsome little chunk on the stock-market before the whole thing fell apart a year ago. He gradually reinvested tends of thousands of US dollars into a comfortable nest egg for him to coast on while he spends some money to get into the career of his dreams over the next decade. 

After talking to him for a while, I realized the reason I was drooling in a blind rage was not because I didn’t do that, or didn’t understand or was dumb. It was because his parents had actually raised him with survival skills whereas mine had given me… what exactly?

Let’s see, my parents did not teach me:

(A) how to fight
(B) how to talk to or appeal to girls (in a sleazy or non-sleazy way)
(C) how to cook, farm, etc. 
(D) how to organize one’s finances or investments

In other words, all of the important survival skills on the physical, mental and material planes were not prepped by my parents. All of the other impending necessary survival skills of my life were left out of that list because they still haven’t even popped up on my radar. Well, that’s nice and comforting. Don’t mind me, I’m just groping around blindly in the dark with my ethical radar to lead the way into the jaws of misery.

Who are these genetically deficient parents that don’t care enough about raising their kids to even have their bloodline advanced? If you don’t teach your kids survival skills, what do you expect to happen, besides victimization, depression, solitude, or *shudder* mediocrity? In some ways I think that’s why I’m terrible with kids — I’m not harsh enough in what I teach, because that’s the kind of emotional response I’m trying to exorcise from myself. 

Ah, but at the same time, the utter amount of total narcissism that most people invest in their kids’ personalities really creeps me out and never ends or ceases to amaze. So maybe empathy isn’t a bad trait to bequeath after all.

A Humbled Pos(t)er

Posted in Cults, Fighting, martial arts, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive with tags , , , on August 30, 2009 by wizardsmoke

As a martial artist, I’m nothing special (err… probably not as a wizard either, come to think of it). This is something I think about in a sober frame of mind. I consciously think of my limitations — not obsessively, as some self-esteem issue, but so that I am aware of what I am capable of and where I can develop and grow as a person. This thought process is why I like effective self-deprecating humor because, when done effectively, it actually reveals the person’s self-awareness and comfort within that awareness. A person aware of — and comfortable with, their own limitations is socially attractive.

Now, in society, a lot of people think martial arts means something other than it does. To describe them objectively, martial arts are mostly an aerobic method of maximizing body efficiency in movement, balance and physical contact (not violence). This kind of training leaves out a lot of emotional, environmental and sociological variables that are involved in real conflict and violence. Controlled sparring, even at fairly high levels of physical contact and danger of injury, is still radically different than sudden violence in any other situation. Most of us should be wise to this by now; it’s Animal MacYoung 101!

To use an analogy: sparring is like jamming on guitar with your friend, whereas real conflict/combat is playing a live concert. You can certainly get really good at jamming with your friend and gain high levels of ability, but when playing a concert there are so many variables that could mess up your show and mess with your confidence and performance: the electronic equipment, the crowd, the venue, the way your bandmates perform, your physical or mental health, your actual preparedness with the material being performed, and so on. And because of all those variables, each concert is different in it’s own way. The stuff you practiced with your friend is only a sized portion of the concert, but it is the part over which you have the most immediate or consistent control.

When around people who are more learned on a conversational subject, it is courteous to defer a temporary conversational authority to that person. But in certain situations, such as people who are irresponsibly physically violent or sexually manipulative, it’s better to abandon the situation or confront it. These are people who are seeking to establish complete control over the situation at hand — it’s a bullying control mechanism.

I know people who are violent criminals who, out of their own insecurities, need to blatantly establish their imposing physical dominance over every social environment they are in. They will not become involved in a social environment unless they feel they are the supreme physical dominant (not to mention such people feel it necessary to receive a vocal affirmation from others). These people are dangerous, because inevitably their irresponsibility and narcissism will lead to a situation in which their fragile psychological needs will engage in violent activity and override the group’s safety. For instance, such a person would be an ineffective bodyguard or soldier because their personal issues mean they would engage in violence at the wrong times and for the wrong reasons.

One important thing to learn in life is humility. Religions and martial arts groups parrot on about how important humility is, but don’t give a full explanation of the subject, while also ironically expecting an inappropriate amount of subservience from the individual. Humility is simply being subservient to those who deserve your respect and walking away from those who do not (this in lieu of confrontation). Subservience is feigning much personal responsibility, whereas arrogance often creates the exact kind of violent criminal I mention above. This approach includes dealing with your own teacher(s) sometimes. If someone insists on being “right” or dominant in a situation, you have three choices: you walk away, you confront them, or you submit to their authority. Teachers are certainly to be socially deferred to within the realm of their expertise, but as soon as someone seeks to dominate your position outside of the area you have agreed to allow them authority — it’s time to confront it or walk away.

Powermonger

Posted in love, New Age Baloney, Relationships, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, World of Emotions with tags , , , on August 27, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Today I took the time to muse about power! In my mind, power indicates a kind of social separation — perhaps social isolation. To attain power, one has to focus the mind one-pointedly on that goal to the exclusion of other things. I’m being deliberately vague by using the term “power” because it can refer to lots of different kinds of power: financial/political/social power, physical/sexual power, intellectual/mental power, etc.

Power indicates the ability to force other things against their will, to temporarily go against the laws of nature. Certain religious philosophies try to affect the individual by reprogramming the mind to go against the impulsive avenues the human ego uses to try and sustain itself in life — grasping for a tangible immediate control over one’s surroundings. But power does not last anyway — power fades and abandons the user in time, because power is a temporary flux of momentum.

But who loves weakness? Nobody finds that attractive, except bullies. Our artistic and cultural feedback often isolates (romantic) love instead as the experience closest to giving existence a tangible meaning, and perhaps in some way, love is complete abdication of power — beyond weakness, even. Love is the switch that bypasses the ego’s need to assert itself. Sexual desire is often conflated with love, for love is the term to indicate this experience that is so foreign to some that it only appears in their sexual proclivities.

Power has no healthy place in society — and love is the abdication of power. The more shallow the drive for power, the more blatant and anti-social it becomes.