Agape, Authoritarianism, Becky, Belief, Brett, Christianity, Citizenship, Class War, Coffee Shop Folks, Coffee Shop Stories, Conservative, Democracy, Fantasy Based Community, God(s), Guilt, Judeo-Christian Tradition, Late Night Thoughts, Liberal, Love, News and Current Events, People, Philos, Play, Politicians and Scoundrels, Politics, Progressive, Reality Based Community, Regret, Religion, Romantic Love, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Society, Work

Late Night Thoughts (Reposted from February 20, 2011)

There are few noises at this hour.   A car passes in the distance.  The house creaks.  The furnace starts.  I have not heard a dog bark in hours.

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…”It is really annoying when people, particularly those in positions of power, can’t even be bothered to take the trouble to lie well.” — Yves Smith.

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…To oppress a mother is to oppress a democracy, for it is mothers who teach the value of democracy to their children.

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…It seems what’s happening in Wisconsin is part of the class war in America that’s been going on for sometime now.  As Warren Buffett pointed out, the war was begun by members of his class, and his class is winning it.

Unfortunately, if rich billionaires like the Koch brothers win the Wisconsin round in the class war, that means they will have managed to break the Wisconsin public service unions.  And if they manage to do that, then the Democratic party will be left as nothing more than a paper man in that state.

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…The other day, I noticed an advertisement that claimed the Bible was, of all the world’s wisdom literature, the most profound.  Now, I’ve heard that claim made before in various ways and places.  But, I confess, I have never understood why anyone would make that claim.

As wisdom literature, the Bible seems to have been often surpassed. And not just by many of the ancient Greek, Roman, Indian, or Chinese authors.  But also by more modern authors.

To give some of the Biblical authors credit, though, their concern for social, political, and economic justice was remarkable for their time, and — thankfully — very influential on the West.

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…There seems to be a sense in which almost all complex, hierarchical societies — even going as far back as to the origin of complex, hierarchical societies some 5,500 years ago — have been scams.   Moreover, it’s been the same scam perpetrated again and again.  And, in essence, that scam has been to fool the masses into believing the society’s elites have the backing of a supernatural order.

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…There are many people in this god-drunk town who cast their blurry vision on science and declare that it, too, is a religion.  The last drunk to tell me that declared, as his reasoning, “Religions are based on beliefs. Science is based on beliefs. Therefore, science is a religion.”

By precisely the same “logic”, “Cats are furry.  Dogs are furry.  Therefore, dogs are cats.”

But, even if his reasoning was logically valid — which it is not, unless dogs are cats — what would not then become a religion?  Indeed, even one’s overwhelming desire to take a shower after hearing him espouse his drunken  “logic” would, according to his drunken  “logic”,  become a religious act.

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Just now, a motorcycle started up, then sped off.  In the day, it would be just another cycle.  But in the night, it seems a story in itself.

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…Humans are natural born cartographers.  We make maps of the world, which we call “beliefs”.   It’s what our species does.

Sometimes, our maps are more or less accurate.  And sometimes, they are fantasy maps, like the ones we made as children to show where a pirate’s treasure lay buried in our backyard.

The accuracy of our maps often matters less to us than the fact they are ours.  Because, for most of us, our maps are something we think of as us.

Now, when we fall in love, she sooner or later challenges our maps…

And, if our love survives those challenges, there’s a chance that our love is true.

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…Tonight, I came across in a faded notebook a line from a poem I once wrote to a woman: “No one has made me wish / To face with grace the challenge / of her morning breath like you, Joelle.”   And consequently, reading that line, I had a sudden and abrupt realization of precisely how it is that I have managed all these years to remain celibate despite the occasional woman who’s now and then been interested enough in me to even read my poems.

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…Once I saw a Seven-Eleven that was closed.  Locked up and abandoned.

Since everything inside the impossibly dark store windows was in place and intact, I eventually concluded it must be a clerk who didn’t show up for work.  But I at first thought: “Not even a president’s death can close a Seven-Eleven. It must be something.  It must be big.”

Perhaps there is inside all of us a thing — a strange, hard thing — that now and then longs for an event so big it will close even the world’s Seven-Elevens.

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…When I met Becky she was in her 30s and would now and then do something completely spontaneous: Always some little thing, but it was an attractive quality.   Even in a city, birds from a branch put to air like her.  So, though they live like the rest of us amongst the concrete and noise, you can see how those birds are beyond the artificial world we have created for them — how they are still native to the earth and sky.  Some people are like that.

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…So far, I have found only three things with power to redeem the human condition: Love, work, and play.  And of those three, love is the greatest.

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…Brett called to invite me to lunch the other day  (Brett was 15 the year we first met at the coffee shop.  I was perhaps 40 or 42).   So, we met at a tavern where the beer is watery, but the food is good, and I enjoyed talking with him so much the time slipped past on rabbit’s feet.

At some point in the afternoon, after we had exhausted half a dozen topics, Brett said he suspected the reason quite a few kids had hung out with me years ago at the coffee shop was because I was for the most part nonjudgmental.   So I told him that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard from a fellow human, if indeed he was actually human. So, I thanked him for confirming a suspicion I’d had.  Then, being an insufferable old fart, I told him a story he’d already heard at least twice from me, and one he probably didn’t want to hear again.

After we had parted for the evening, I reflected on the fact that Brett had certainly been one of the most intelligent people at the coffee shop, and very likely one of the wisest.  Yet, it had never been any one thing that led me to those conclusions.  Like a stream of gold dust, Brett is someone who stands out from the crowd not for any one big thing, but for the cumulative impression made on you by a thousand glittering details.

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…My second wife had a taste for dresses by Ungaro.  Is Ungaro still around?  That Italian knew how to make a woman wearing silk look like a nude.

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…This night, for the first time in ages, I recall once a woman and I spent nearly two years laughing together.  No, she was not my wife, but a co-worker.  We worked together in the evenings, and we’d spend every moment we could with each other.  Then, when I moved on to a day job, I still dropped by her workplace in the evenings to laugh with her.

One day, I invited her out to a movie.  But by the time she got to my place, it was too late to catch a show.  At a loss for much else to do, I tried nibbling on her ear.  Consequently, two years of laughing together led to her having three explosive orgasms: The best in her life, she told me.  After that, you might think she’d be happy.

Yet, somehow, by the next day, she had translated everything — all of it — into guilt and regret.  “You must think I’m a slut”, she said, “because I slept with you on our first date.”

“No, I feel as if I’ve been courting you for two years”, I said, “Besides I’m in love.”

“Even if you don’t think I’m a slut”, she said, “When I saw you this evening, it made me think of myself as a slut, and then my heart sank to the floor.  I can’t see you again.”  And she meant it.

It was much later I realized that, despite our rapport, only one of us had been in love.

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It is almost dawn.

Belief, Communication, Cultural Traits, Deity, God, God(s), Ideas, Language, Mysticism, Quotes, Religion, Transformative Experience

Was the Concept of God an Error in Translation?

“The concept of ‘god’ was originally an error in translation committed when some ancient sage tried to reduce the mystical experience to words.”

Or, alternatively…

“The concept of ‘god’ was originally an error in translation committed when some ancient sage tried to reduce an experience of the weirdness to words.”

Paul Sunstone

Anupriya Kumari, Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Death, Eudaimonia, Free Spirit, Goals, Human Nature, Ideas, Impermance, Josh, Life, Living, Meaning, Nature, Play, Purpose, Quality of Life, Self-Flourishing, Spirituality, The Art of Living Well, Well Being

The Meaning and Purpose of Defiance

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:  Paul offers his views on the meaning and purpose of life.

THE CRITICS EJACULATE! “The Grand Fraud of Blogging American, Paul Sunstone, excretes his opinions about the meaning and purpose of life in what can only be considered a shameless act of public urination.  Life is fully terrifying enough without the addition of his muddled and confused vision for embracing it.  I must insist upon the return of the guillotine.  I must insist upon the return of justice to our world.” — Aloyse Leblanc, Le Critique Passionné de Blog, “La Tribune Linville”, Linville, France.

Continue reading “The Meaning and Purpose of Defiance”

Advice, Attached Love, Attachment, Clinging, Human Nature, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Meditation, Quality of Life, Resilience, Spirituality, The Art of Living Well, Well Being

The Good News and the Bad News About Love

(About a 1 minute read)

The bad news is that you cannot love without risking almost certain pain now and then.  Even the most skillful and conscientious lover will now and then inadvertently hurt you. Even the greatest loves will someday come to an end — and often tragically (that is, in the ancient sense of tragedy — due to a flaw in human nature).

The good news is most — but never all — of the suffering most of us experience when loving someone comes from clinging unnecessarily to someone in an attempt to preserve the pleasures or avoid the pains of loving them.  If you can see this, and see it very clearly, you will put an end to the clinging, and with it, most of the suffering.

You need not do anything else.  You need only see it.  Once seen, your mind will reflexively avoid clinging like it would reflexively avoid a snake in the grass.

That is not something you should believe.  No matter how strongly you believe that, belief will not bring about an end to the suffering.  You must see it, instead.  You must watch it happening.  You much watch the whole process of clinging producing suffering — and no one can watch it for you.  No one can change a thing merely by telling you about it.

The way to watch it is through meditation.   Not introspection. Not contemplation.  Meditation.

Just my two cents.

Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Eudaimonia, Free Spirit, Life, Living, Love, Oppression, Quality of Life, Self-Flourishing, The Art of Living Well, Well Being

“Leave Me Wild or Die”

(About a 2 minute read)

I’ve got a promiscuous heart.  It’s a nymphomaniac.  It can’t stop itself from falling for people.  Long ago, I tried long and hard to love “an only one”.  The heart didn’t like that at all.  It went on strike after about two years.  It began making me die inside.

It’s a loyal heart.  Once it decides to love you, it sticks with you no matter what you do just like a bad family name in a small town.  It never falters in it’s love for more than the few minutes it takes you to forget one of my lectures on the epistemology of carnal knowledge.  If you abuse me, it will still love you.  It will only regret that now I myself have got to leave you.   It’s as promiscuous as a cruise ship full of cats, but it’s as loyal as a kennel full of dogs.

But it’s picky too.  Paradoxically, while it can’t just limit itself to an only one, it can be really picky about the dozen or so people it loves all at the same time.  Sometimes it won’t even love people I like, esteem, and admire.  People I would proudly be the first to pick as a roommate on a lonely two year rocket ride to Mars.  Sometimes I think my heart is the pickiest heart I’ve heard tell of apart from hearts too scared, too confused, or too stuck up to love anyone at all.

I’ve tried — years ago I tried — to turn my heart into a nice, weedless, walled garden.  It just came back to me with an ultimatum,  “Leave me wild or die”.

Adolescent Sexuality, Bad Ideas, Courage, Dan Cohen, Free Spirit, Friends, Guilt, Honesty, Horniness, Human Nature, Judgementalism, Learning, Life, Living, Loneliness, Love, Lovers, Lust, Quality of Life, Relationships, Seduction, Self-Knowledge, Sex, Sexuality, Sexualization, Shame, The Art of Living Well, Values, Well Being, Wisdom

Sleep With Your Friends, Not Your Fascinations!

(About a 7 minute read)

Guys, I apologize for a bossy post title, but I just could not resist the alliteration.  A good phrase has so often been my undoing in life.  Twice, for instance, I said, “Make it happen!”, at the worst possible moment.

“Make it happen” is one of my favorite phrases.  I stole if from my younger brother. My bro is superb at making even seemingly impossible things happen.  But twice, I’ve said it when I should have thought before I said it.  “Do you, Paul, accept this woman as your lawfully wedded wife…”.

“Make it happen!”

“I’ll take that as an ‘I do’. You may now kiss the wench.”

Continue reading “Sleep With Your Friends, Not Your Fascinations!”

Belief, Christianity, Cultural Traits, Culture, Education, Faith, Family, Fun, God, Honesty, Intellectual Honesty, Mysticism, Nontheism, Parent / Child, Play, Reason, Religion, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking, Truth, Values

How Mom Raised Me to Think For Myself About Religion

(About a 9 minute read)

We used gold star stickers in Sunday School. You licked them and stuck them to you. I always wanted my teacher to lick them — because I would over-lick them — and I always wanted her to stick them to my forehead.

It was almost the only good and decent thing I could fathom came of attending Sunday School.

When we three sons would ask Mom why we could not stay home to play on Sunday mornings, she would tell us that “Christianity is your cultural heritage and you should be exposed to it.”

That was mildly confusing because not only did I fail to fully understand what “culture” and “heritage” were, but it also seemed to contradict Mom’s almost scandalously old fashion notion that we were not to make up our minds about religion until we had “reached the age of understanding”.  That is, until we were at least 18 and “preferably 21”.

Continue reading “How Mom Raised Me to Think For Myself About Religion”