Belief, Cultural Change, Cultural Traits, Culture, Epistemology, Knowledge, Language, Reason, Truth

Why We Should Make Our Politicians Speak in Hopi to Us

(About a 2 minute read)

English is not the best language in the world for discussing what is truth.

Back in the old days, folks thought of truth as a beautiful woman.  Let’s suppose for a moment they were right.  Let’s suppose truth is a woman.  If truth is a woman, then English is an awkward, clumsy 14 year old boy trying to seduce a sophisticated and confident 36 year old woman.  There are better languages than English for discussing the nature of truth.

The Hopi are a nation of native Americans living in the Southwestern United States.  If I can now recall what I was taught about the Hopi language in my linguistic anthropology course 40 years ago, the language is significantly more sophisticated than English when it comes to dealing with the concept of truth.

In Hopi, you cannot get away with only saying something is true. The language won’t allow it.  Hopi forces you to state how you know something is true.

The Hopi language recognizes three different ways of knowing something is (or probably is) true.  It forces you to pick one of those ways.  There is, for instance, no equivalent of the English statement, “I know you are home tonight”.  But here — expressed in English — are what you could say in Hopi:

I see (or directly experience) you are home tonight.

I hear (or have learned from another person) you are home tonight.

I reason (on the basis of what I have myself seen, or what I have heard from another person, or on the basis of both) that you are home tonight.

Just imagine how much fun we would have if our politicians, pundits, and preachers were forced to speak to us in Hopi!

Here’s the English:  My friends, it is a simple fact that my opponent in this race for the Governorship is a know pedophile!”

Here’s Hopi #1: “My friends, I have personally seen that my opponent is a pedophile!  Oh, wait! It’s not as it sounds!  I really wasn’t there myself.  Not really. “

Here’s Hopi #2:  “My friends, you should be alarmed!  I have it on good second-hand hearsay that my….Oh wait!  It’s more than hearsay..  Well, I mean stronger than hearsay.  That is, it’s admittedly hearsay, but it’s also stronger than hearsay.  Um…”

Here’s Hopi #3:  “My friends, I’ve added it all up to the best of my thinking ability and…Why are you all laughing?  Friends!  Why is everyone laughing at me?”

English, for all it’s many strengths, does not even come close to encouraging the sort of just and fair skepticism that Hopi does.  Rather in comparison, English seems to be a language that encourages people to quickly swallow things as true, rather than to think about how and whether they are true.

Advice, Alienation, Alienation From Self, Art, Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Belief, Creativity, Cultural Traits, Culture, Education, Emotions, Ethics, Eudaimonia, Free Spirit, Goals, Happiness, Honesty, Human Nature, Ideas, Invention, Knowledge, Learning, Liars Lies and Lying, Life, Living, Love, Meaning, Memes, Mental and Emotional Health, Morality, Morals, New Idea, Oppression, Passion, Play, Poetry, Purpose, Quality of Life, Resilience, Self, Self-determination, Self-Flourishing, Self-Knowledge, Self-Realization, Society, Spiritual Alienation, Spirituality, Talents and Skills, Thinking, Truth, Values, Well Being, Wisdom

The Key in the Lock to the Door of Life

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Paul offers his views about the crucial and key role the pursuit of honesty plays in living a passionate, flourishing, and fulfilling life.

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THE CRITICS HEART’S MELT! “Down at the Hartsel Cafe and Salon last Tuesday morning Stella Bailey and Libby Sommer got into it over coffee in a dispute that turned so fierce at times Hartsel’s most famous local celebrity, Ernest the Moosehead, looked about to fall crashing down from his place of honor on the the North wall above the table reserved on Thursdays for the Liar’s Club.  I reckon no one in the whole of South Park Colorado honestly needs to be told the subject of the deafening uproar between the two normally soft-spoken and genteel ladies was none other than Mr. Wannabe Blogger, Paul “Fool” Sunstone. The ladies were trying to top each other in who could more objectively describe what an insufferable ass Sunstone is.  Libby’s final position was that any one of Sunstone’s blog posts was just about as confused and messy as an elk sucked into a jet aircraft engine firing up on the runway of internet blogging.  Stella snapped back that Sunstone’s post, “The Key in the Lock” transcended even a hamburgered elk for a confused mess, and could only be compared to the confused mess the infamous Fairplay Twister had made of Ivor Plumber’s strikingly original racoon-fur toupee. You’ll recall back in ’04, the Fairplay Twister came out of nowhere to inflict 16.4 million dollars of damage and in the process suck Ivor’s toupee right from his head. Suck it from his head in the very midst of one of his traditional Friday night courtships of Jane Basil, right along with a full half of her bodice. Ivor has ever since said, the memory of Jane’s exposed left bosom was the only thing that could ameliorate his profoundly felt sense of loss in the days ahead.  Jane has been even more vocal on the subject than Ivor. She maintains that, had the tornado taken her maiden aunt’s hand-me-down chastity belt instead of her bodice, she and Ivor would be right shacked up today. Now back to Libby and Stella.  In the coldly objective opinion of this blog critic, not one, but both ladies are right.  Right in the sense that Paul Sunstone forever and eternally tops his inner ass with each and every new post of his.  Sunstone has never taken so much as a single back-step in his relentless effort to destroy internet blogging once and for all.  ‘The Key in the Lock to the Door of Life’ is in no way, shape, or form a back-step.  Sunstone, the Contemptable Juggernaut of Confused Fools, ever remains true to his worthless self.  Sorrowfully yours, Gunning Gus.”  — Gus “Gunning Gus” Johnson, The Blog Critic’s Column, “Leper’s Gulch Gazette”, Leper’s Gulch, Colorado, USA.     Continue reading “The Key in the Lock to the Door of Life”

Bad Ideas, Belief, Creative Thinking, Cultural Traits, Culture, Education, Friends, Human Nature, Ideas, Intelligence, Knowledge, Learning, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Memes, Poetry, Quality of Life, Society, Teaching, Thinking, Truth

A Flock of Sparrows for Majel: “The Walls of All My Boxes are Brown”

A Flock of Sparrows for Majel

(About a 2 minute read)

I’ve come to believe most of my “thinking”
Is nothing much more than exploring
the insides of my boxes.

The boxes my mother, my teachers, my peers,
My friends, my culture, and that old guy
Who lived up on the hill in the Victorian,
Gave me mostly when I was growing up,
Something fun to play around inside of.
Something fun for me to play around inside of.

Continue reading “A Flock of Sparrows for Majel: “The Walls of All My Boxes are Brown””

Attached Love, Awe, Bad Ideas, Education, Erotic Love, Human Nature, Ideas, Knowledge, Learning, Love, Mature Love, New Love, Parental Love, Romantic Love, Science

Do the Sciences Rob Love of Beauty and Mystery?

“It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery … It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.” — Carl Sagan

SUMMARY: I reject the notion that the sciences rob love of beauty and mystery.

(About a 4 minute read)

Love is probably the best thing most of us will ever experience in life.  This fact is made even more astonishing when you consider that life also includes blogging, and yet love amazingly edges out blogging even in the minds of otherwise sensible people when it comes to the best things in life.

But what is love?

There seem upon examination to be so many kinds of love that it would be perfectly understandable if the question, “what is love”, made us all go off into a corner, suck our thumbs, and whimper.  At least, I think it would be perfectly understandable.  But then, going off into a corner, sucking my thumb, and whimpering is what I do with about a quarter of my day, especially after reading the news headlines.

Continue reading “Do the Sciences Rob Love of Beauty and Mystery?”

Bad Ideas, Epistemology, Ideas, Ideologies, Knowledge, Science, Truth

One Truth or Many?

SUMMARY:  The notion, prevalent among some academics, that truth is not one, but many seems to be fad that cannot withstand examination.

(About a 6 minute read)

Humanity is subject to fads.  It is a curious fact that this is true — not just of things like clothing or music fashions — but of nearly everything humans do in public — and often enough in private.  I have no explanation for that other than to note we’re a social species of animal greatly concerned with what other people are up to.

While I have long known that humanity was subject to fads, I have resisted fully accepting that fact when it comes to one area in particular.  Academia.  Academia is just as subject to fads as is any other area of human endeavor, but I myself am so strongly dismayed by that fact that I often find myself in denial of its full significance.

Continue reading “One Truth or Many?”

Belief, Consciousness, Human Nature, Knowledge, Life, Living, Religion, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Self-Knowledge, Spirituality, Transformative Experience

What is a Mystical Experience Like?

“Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”  ― Zhuangzi, 

SUMMARY: While it is nearly impossible to adequately communicate the content of a mystical experience to a non-mystic who has never had one, somethings perhaps can be said about the experience that might shed some light on it.

(About a 9 minute read)

Suppose you came across a community of people living in the Amazon rain forest who had never before seen — or even heard more than a rumor or two — of people like you or of your culture and civilization.

Further suppose, upon learning their language, you discover it is beautifully suited to expressing the interrelatedness of all things, but there is neither any word for “god” nor any words that can be used to express the concept of god.  In short, the people have no concept of metaphysics at all.

The world, to them, is not much more than what it appears to be, and the closest you can come to telling them about god more or less translates into “Big Hidden Man/Woman”, which makes them wonder whether you’re talking about a transgendered human of inordinate size who hides behind bushes and trees.

Continue reading “What is a Mystical Experience Like?”

Belief, Consciousness, Cultural Traits, Culture, Enlightenment, God, God(s), Human Nature, Ideas, Intuition, Knowledge, Mysticism, Observation, Religion, Satori, Self, Self-Integration, Self-Realization, Spirituality, Transformative Experience

What Do Mystics Mean by “God”?

“Theologians may quarrel, but the mystics of the world speak the same language.” ― Meister Eckhart

SUMMARY:  Mystics naturally speak of the experience that distinguishes them from other folks using words and terms derived from their individual cultures.  Hence, they typically speak of having experienced “god”, but upon examination, their notions of god often tend to have more in common with other mystics than they do with common cultural notions of god.  Central to virtually all theistic mysticism is the notion that god — or ultimate reality — is an all-encompassing oneness or One, despite any appearances to the contrary.

(About a 10 minute read)

I first became interested in mysticism about 40 years ago.  I was a sophomore at university and seriously concerned with finding an objective basis for values.

At the time, I believed — like many people still do — that unless an objective basis for values could be found, “anything was permissible”.  No evil, however great, could be objectively opposed.  And that frightened me.

Unfortunately, the more I learned, the less there seemed to be any possibility of an objective basis.  But then I came across the writings of various mystics.

Continue reading “What Do Mystics Mean by “God”?”