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posted : 2008.Nov.13 @ 8.20pm

 

THE ABOLITIONIST PROJECT


"INTRODUCTION

This talk is about suffering and how to get rid of it.
I predict we will abolish suffering throughout the living world.
Our descendants will be animated by gradients of genetically preprogrammed well-being that are orders of magnitude richer than today's peak experiences.
First, I'm going to outline why it's technically feasible to abolish the biological substrates of any kind of unpleasant experience - psychological pain as well as physical pain.
Secondly, I'm going to argue for the overriding moral urgency of the abolitionist project, whether or not one is any kind of ethical utilitarian.
Thirdly, I'm going to argue why a revolution in biotechnology means it's going to happen, albeit not nearly as fast as it should."

 

» abolitionist-project.mp3

 

I thought this was pretty ahead of the curvature of mainstream psychology / philosophy.  Does not discuss meditation in detail, which I would be interested in fleshing out here.  Personally, I'm not sure meditation will factor all that heavily into addressing human suffering / happiness in the coming generation.  If it does, it may still be a small fraction of society.








posted : 2008.Nov.14 @ 3.33pm

An interesting listen indeed.

 

Perhaps I'm a "naturalist" i know I've been labeled one before. But although this recording presents a very desirable future, i mean, no suffering, woo! It comes off to me as extremely lop sided. I kept waiting for the inclusion of energetic and spiritual elements. I was surprised that such a well thought out concept was so fixed on the old school arrogance of the mechanical "we can just replace this part with this part, tweak knob here, push dial there" paradigm. We are not machines, and simply tweaking or replacing parts of our selves is not a fix. There are multitudes of layers to consider in such a argument, and they have not been presented here.

 

But aside from that (regaurdless of it being a sound idea or not) if we manage not to wipe our selves out, perhaps we are destined to be self geneticly altered species.

 

**Note: Hope this does not seem to harsh a critique.








posted : 2008.Nov.15 @ 11.38am

We must be careful not to mistake pain with suffering. It is well possible to have pain without suffering, and suffering without pain.

 

It is possible to stub your tow and experience great pain yet mentally transmute the vibratory sensation beyond suffering. Also, it is possble to be physically serene, yet experience a great deal of suffering as a result of regret.

 

Suffering is the one to be abolished, whereas pain is un-avoidable. Suffering is caused by clinging, in a world which is impermanent. Exterminating suffering is only possible with strength and balance of spirit finding peace in the un-manifest, which is naturally gained by gaining command over the energy constituting one's own mind.

 

The richness of the human experience is that we're faced with the harsh challenges of living in physical reality and it's a great victory of spirit to overcome. Dark makes light. Pleasure makes pain. These things are relative, so if we're getting rid of pain, we will also experminate pleasure.

 

Just like when you turn the lights off, your eyes adjust to see the contrast in the dark - if you turn the grosser pains off, your mind will adjust to perceive and accentuate subtler and subtler pains and causes of suffering. If you're familiar with the auto-levels (or increase contrast) function(s) in Photoshop, this is a perfect analogy of this nature of mind. It is constantly adjusting th picture so that the brightest is white and the darkest is black, and the details of life live in between.

 

As it is clear that the Future Way is completely un-mitigated - there is no substitute for the higher spiritual faculties and deep tranquil spiritual happyness aquired through building one's mental strength and clarity by spiritual development and meditation.

 

A king who has all the fixings - high beds overflowing with lucious godesses, the greatest feasts, a legion of servants that do his bidding, a team of ministers who can take care of his wealth - living with no apparent causes for pain... often in this case the mental state of suffering is the greatest.

 

Physical 'pain' is easily exterminated, though from personal observation of the orgins of 'suffering', I don't see this is possible (in this life and into infinity) without patiently cultivating the Way within.

 

 

The Buddha said in the Four Noble Truths :  (Wikipedia)

 

The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance thereof. Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and -in a greater sense- all objects of our perception. Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardour, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a "self" which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call "self" is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.

 

 








posted : 2008.Nov.15 @ 1.51pm

what if instead of exterminating pain, one were to treat all experience in life as interaction.  when we are children we struggle with many forms of intelligence that we are confronted with in this world, but as we age we become more and more comfortable and able to see the beauty in all forms of experience--an art of living the seeks to learn more and more about reality and forms associations with ever more intellectual frequencies. 

but what of death and pain and repulsion?  the question becomes, are there things in existence that we fundamentally cannot accept or interact with?  it may depend.  our minds are flexible and our definitions of identity may be too.  when my soul becomes denuded i find myself embedded in nested hierarchies of such confounding complexity that i am but a humble cell amongst trillions of others.  and yet if i accept and learn to work lovingly with all those whom i interact with, i have noticed that my identity evolves across time .  so the challenge becomes loving all intelligence and seeing how it fits into the picture.  that is not to say that some forms of intelligence may be left behind (e.g. violent archetypes and such) but upon further integration, their role may evolve as well.  freedom and acceptance, i humble myself because i want to know, understand and build with the other(s).

so maybe death is but a change in identity.  maybe we call our intense moments "ultimate realizations" or "apocalyptic experiences" because we are not quite ready to accept the oncoming identity.  i've seen people through the course of minutes tell me that they were gay, then no definately straight, maybe alien and then, well what am i?  a challenge to the unifnished self may be to follow infinities' process and advance with as many other beings as possible.

the mysterious aspiration for beauty could be a way out for the dualistic mind.  seeing the beauty in all things...

coming back to this podcast, it seems to me that suffering could be addressed by multiple tacts, but in a world that seeks to sustain and build a healthy offering for its future generations, being open to the psychochemical / spiritual persuasions of individuals will offer more to a wider range of people, enabling them to overcome hurdles that inhibit their ability for growth and interaction with the multifariousness.  there are many examples of people who without the help / chaos of outside chemical intervention cannot function effectively, even enough to meditate.  indeed, one possible avenue to explore would be quasi-homeopathic introductions of neurotransmitter like compounds that provide individuals with a slightly different headspace, a little chaos to their constrictive order...  catch my drift?

in essence, how accessible is meditation?








posted : 2008.Nov.15 @ 3.07pm

I also identify with the naturalist ethic, and take a conservative a cautious look at stuff like this, but I agree that it is a topic worthy of discussion. Thoughts:

 

I think it's good that the spiritual path is difficult-- this ensures that you are doing it for the right reasons, not to escape pain, but rather to purify yourself to eventually serve others as a more clear channel of truth.

 

Perhaps meditation is not accessible right now because it is not widespread. If 30% of the population practices regular, deep meditation, will this create a resonance that makes it easier to tune into that frequency? What about 90%? What is meditation? There are many forms.....and ideally they can build off each otherso that you can flow from laying meditation to tea-brewing to food-picking to craft-making to communication to sitting etc. so all of your tasks throughout the day are practiced as meditation.

I think the qualities of arrogance and humily come into play here alot-- is it arrogant to think that you can achieve spiritual heights by bootstrapping yourself using meditation? Is it arrogant to think that we will have the design wisdom to genetically engineer suffering out of our genes? Is suffering genetic, cultural, personal, something else or all of these? What do we learn from suffering?

 

What is waste, and does it exist outside of our cultural illusions? 

I'm still open-minded about all this trans-humanist stuff, but i'm not gonna sign up to be the guinea pig.....








posted : 2008.Nov.15 @ 11.45pm

one possible avenue to explore would be quasi-homeopathic introductions of neurotransmitter like compounds that provide individuals with a slightly different headspace, a little chaos to their constrictive order...  catch my drift?

 

Thats called substance use, it's a common thing all over the world. Nature has already provided such substances, though they have no tendancy to reduce any level of suffering, and only offer temporary escape.

 

One of the issues in the west may be that there is too much constrictive order, but having just spent 3 months in Asia, it's clear that most people could use a little more constrictive order to releive their suffering, as a lack of it is causing sub-civilized living conditions.

 

Though it's important to observe the levels of order at play in the mind. While there is a constricting tensity around physically manifesting things in the west to manifest abundance- it is easy to observe a childish immature lack of responsibility for one's own mental conditions. Any time we are profanic, self-indulged and/or blaming 'external' conditions for our lack of hapiness or suffering, we are being deceived by our own ignorance, lazyness, and lack of internal structure to observing the conditions of the world within and around us which are the true causes of hapiness and suffering.

 

Anybody who is really serious about releiving suffering needn't look far. Happiness and suffering are somthing we generate for ourselves in our minds. It is a reflection of how we relate/react to the world.

 

Yodelheck, your observations are profound. Varieties of meditation are vast.

Meditation tunes us into the subtler frequencies which underly the conditions of our perceptions and the gross manifest world. Through focusing the mind in meditation, we can grow our awareness into the space we direct it to, and the result is naturally to be more in alignment with the flow of the things we meditate on. Through meditation, we gain deep insight into our minds through careful and patient observation. Then naturally we gain the ability to change the conditions of the mind so that it fills the roots of hapiness and suffering. Once we are familiar with our minds and see clearly our deeper nature, we are able to direct consciousness with a higher awarness to the desired mind-state.

 

Engineering a drug or gene which forces us to mimick what humans experience as happiness (which, even as observed, is relative to pain and suffering) is like inventing a device which causes it so that you don't have to chew- it just stimulates your tongue with sweet flavours automatically, all day and all night- in an attempt to make us happy because good tasting food makes us happy. Then it just pumps food into your stomach. And it also helps you to excrete waste, by automatically by pumping it out so you don't need to do the hard work of pushing it through... because doing that work is so hard and nobody wants to do it. Though if you're always feeling pleasurable flavours on your tongue, it will eventually become numb, and you will notice something else is wrong. Your belly aches because it's been generating digestive enzimes all day because it thought you were eating, and the acids are burning a hole in your stomach. Something is out of balance. The answer, according to The Abolitionist would be : "Quick, go in the brain and shut down those pain receptors - make it numb."  And the mind is considerably more complex than the digestive system- there are ten thousand ways that it could conjur suffering within a total absence of pain.

 

At best it would serve as a band-aid, unable to heal the deeper source of the wellspring of suffering, which must be purified by ourselves alone.

 

Sure we could hook ourselves upto machines and genes and substances which cause us to be temporarily and relatively 'comfortable', mimicking the chemical reflections of hapiness, but it will not help us find a deeper state of peace which is the lasting cause of hapiness. If we have not exterminated our attachment to the passing of our perceptions, which (by the way) has been going on for 13 billion years in this universe alone, and will continue for many billions more - even if we attained such a temporary physical liberation, it would not neccessarily be a spiritual liberation, thus - how would it help us beyond our short insignificant lives here on earth.

 

 

The Abolitionist project seems like it has good intensions, but it's conceivers have a profound lack of real direct observation of the causes of suffering, mistaking physical comfort and lack of pain with a liberation from suffering. YET I think if science and technology continues in the direction it's going, we will try all these things and engineer our bodies and our substances into such a state where we're reliant on so many outward conditions to maintain mental balances perceiving more information from our reality - then who has the key? Do you have to buy hapiness refill packs at the supermarket? Does it ultimately make us happier, or transform us into masterbatory hedonists attempting to buy our way out of suffering without observing it's deeper sources? Will it help us to open our hearts more and share in this beautiful experience of life with our loved ones and reach out and seize the moment before we die?

 

 

If we're in the pre-school of the universe, would it actually help our eternal condition if we simply printed PHD diplomas and tried to pass them off to ourselves as real so we wouldn't have to do all the work of actually earning the higher knowledge of the source of suffering?

 

Pain is one of my greatest teachers. I would rather not lose it unless I had graduated it's lessons and slain it myself.

 

 








posted : 2008.Nov.16 @ 3.44am

If we're in the pre-school of the universe, would it actually help our eternal condition if we simply printed PHD diplomas and tried to pass them off to ourselves as real so we wouldn't have to do all the work of actually earning the higher knowledge of the source of suffering?

 

Pain is one of my greatest teachers. I would rather not lose it unless I had graduated it's lessons and slain it myself.

 

Amen, Brother








posted : 2008.Nov.16 @ 11.26am
Phong: "The Abolitionist project seems like it has good intensions, but it's conceivers have a profound lack of real direct observation of the causes of suffering, mistaking physical comfort and lack of pain with a liberation from suffering. YET I think if science and technology continues in the direction it's going, we will try all these things and engineer our bodies and our substances into such a state where we're reliant on so many outward conditions to maintain mental balances perceiving more information from our reality - then who has the key? Do you have to buy hapiness refill packs at the supermarket? Does it ultimately make us happier, or transform us into masterbatory hedonists attempting to buy our way out of suffering without observing it's deeper sources? Will it help us to open our hearts more and share in this beautiful experience of life with our loved ones and reach out and seize the moment before we die?"

what is the source of suffering--and what is a source?  scientists are highly suspect of the process of externalizing one's own opinions of their subjective experience--if they could see your level of accuracy and honesty within your meditative sphere, it would be easier for the rules-of-evidence based mind to discuss the idea of addressing the roots of suffering through internalization.  these are the questions we as meditators must ask ourselves so that we can offer a viable alternative in a sea of pharma-solutions.  i'm at my grandmother's right now, and just observing the number of pills that our elderly take to be able to function each day is very disheartening.

i would say that when david pearce of the abolitionist project is speaking about buddhists and their extinction of desire, he makes a pretty big leap to claim that in a society that has "abolished" suffering via the methodologies he outlines, the range of desires could be left intact.  that would obviously be difficult and somewhat contradicts what he claims earlier about the need to maintain preferential accuracy so that we don't harm each other or inadvertantly obliterate ourselves because we couldn't tell that we were hurting.

i wouldn't be too concerned to attack this guy's "abolitionist project", as these ideas are most likely intentionally extremes and either totally impossible or decades to centuries from actual implementation, save for the artificial birth canal / reproductive revolution--that is probably coming faster (popular science see the last page).  however, when pearce claims that parent's will soon be able to choose the characteristics of their babies--that is a gross leap over where artificial embryoligical research currently rests.  right now they can't even get the rodant babies to grow right morphologically in these artificial environments--and because science still hasn't made much headway on the consciousness issue, we are a long ways from even being able to understand how consciousness is regulated.  the reason for this is that it is very difficult to make small alterations to an organism without creating many other complications, "deleterious" effects if you will.  so really what we are looking at is synthetic life.

if you are interested in the synthetic life debate, i recommend craig venter's ted-talk--his human genomics company is the one that completed the human genome project.  but i would rest pretty easy about the whole synthetic life question, for all that has been achieved thus far is transplanting elements of one single celled organism's (bacteria in this case) genome into another and then seeing some morphological differences.  going from basic single-celled organisms to humans is a HUUUUUUGGGGGE leap forward, and one that many scientists believe will remain mysteriously elusive. 

enter rupert sheldrake and bruce lipton, biologists of a different sort.  i'll focus on rupert because i am more familiar with his work.  rupert published a book called "a new science of life" in 1982--as many of you are probably familiar with his work via his connection to terence mckenna and ralph abraham, i won't cover his particular thought-projects, but suffice it to say he ruffled many feathers in biology.  essentially what rupert brought to the surface was pushing biochemists to address the DNA to RNA to protein quandary and how that relates to biological morphology (i.e. how to genes determine physical structure?).  The 64 RNA codons come together to form amino acids, the long line of code that make up a protein.  But when attempting to synthesize proteins in the lab, even the most basic ones (their molecular weights can be up to 3 million), biochemists have noticed that the way in which the segments of the amino acid sequence fold together to form the complex 3-dimensional structures that are proteins is very difficult to explain.  The current working theory is that each time a protein is folding, it scans the billions or trillions of different conformations that it can fold into, and then selects the most energy efficient conformation.  However, they don't always select the lowest energy conformation.  see the wikipedia article on protein folding.

A big bee in the bonnet for any theory trying to explain protein folding are shapeshifting organisms.  Most of these are very simple organisms.  I will have to look this up later for specific examples, but in some cases the environment that an organism is in can cause drastic morphological differences.  The same organism with the same DNA, but in different chemical environments, the proteins change conformation and this results in a very different cellular shape.

A very exciting discussion on these issues between bruce lipton and rupert sheldrake can be found here (it is five talks down--the one from Seattle).  In general this talk has huge implications for this discussion we are having.  Also, the talks between andy weil and rupert are super meta!  More also, a dialogue between Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake was made into a book in the late 90s--"Natural Grace".  Matthew Fox is a Episcopalian Clergyman, so essentially the dialogue is about the meeting of faith and science.

so let me reframe this discussion (at least from its provocative intro): how do we participate in the suffering / consciousness discussion and champion humanity's inherited spiritual techniques?  at present most scientists / philosophers would only give meditation lip-service, despite scientific scientific evidence showing its range of psychological benefits.  this rejection is based on seemingly fair appraisal, for from many a mainstream person's prespective, meditation takes too long, is somehow selfish and is not accessible to enough people (i.e. the hurdle of the initial struggle when one embarks on a path toward inner peace through meditation).  seeming that the scientific / rules of evidence paradigm is dominant right now, how can the world's spiritual traditions and spiritual paradigm rise up and tout logic and behaviour that is both accessible and demonstrably effective?  for an interesting and philosophically even-handed take on this complex matter, i encourage huston smith's book "why religion matters".

the walk two moons in another's shoes approach is not always realistic considering the plethora of thinking styles and behavioural habits, but for my own understanding of how human's build ideas off of the philosophical bedrock, i have thus far found it very enlightening and useful to delve into the scientific paradigm, which is obviously the process the medical industry uses.  integral medecine and more holistic / preventative approaches to healing and suffering are hopefully our future.  dr. andrew weil, for instance, encourages preventative medecine and even integrates our collective spiritual heritage noting that meditation and various psycho-physical excercises can greatly reduce our dependance on pharmaceuticals and eventual surgical rescue.

how much would medical science be interested in meta-analyzing the overall healthiness and physiological soundness of elderly meditators vs. the elderly scientfic establishment, for instance?  probably not so interested, i would wager.







posted : 2008.Nov.16 @ 7.46pm

<breath>

 

(Perhaps I am birthing a new thread, but I'm building upon the idea of meditative resonance and the role of Global Collective Intelligence)

 

The title above is quoted from this paper. Its two pages, and really awesome, so my ensuing comments are based on it.

 

- Holding this "sacred community" space, or invisible architecture, will allow us to contribute our wisdom experiences into a collective consciousness, hive wisdom, or collective boddhisattva. Acting as a hive-like open source wisdom community, (which this site is a digital analogue of) our wisdom experiences are not lost in the solopsism of subjectivity and ego identity. Our open-source, communit-build invisible architecture of wisdom:stancecan then be shared with other hive pods, and traded for their findings, and eventually the two merge as a more complete image of the holograph. 

 

-This can also the beginning of a new (or revived) approach currency (from the Latin currere, to run) which is a social energy current, or flow. So if currencies are flows of diverse forms of exchange, we can all build invisible architectures as vessels for these flows. These vessels are already all around us: this site is one, and we are participating in this process right now. So how can we value these forms of exchange more deeply, and build a social/culture/community system based on the sharing and offering of wisdom, love and service? Perhaps it starts by forming these small groups (suggested in the paper) to re-train our social interactions within a vessel of open-source sacred wisdom collaboration. 

 

-This brings me to the question of how these vessels are designed. It seems there is this emerging discipline, er, blisscipline, of Global Collective Intelligence. I will do more research on that community, and connect pod with what they have published- it seems like they are all about spreading their findings freely.

 

I offer the floor to whomever read the paper and would like to share their experience of this type of wisdom council.








posted : 2008.Dec.16 @ 10.15am

i think this RS article ties in to our discussion nicely:

» The Gifts of Boredom







    

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