The Fruit of Cultivating Clarity

Cultivate Clarity! Learn to Discern!

The Critical Thinking Community has some very practical information on how to learn to do critical thinking. They make the important point that in order to know what exercises to do to take the next step in competence in cultivating clarity, we need to understand what stage of critical thinking we have attained.

One of the things I like about this organizations’s approach to critical thinking is that they do not use the old saw that critical thinking is logical thinking, or that critical thinking is about screening out our emotions. In fact, they make the point that we have to have and continue to cultivate a strong desire to become more competent thinkers. Continue reading The Fruit of Cultivating Clarity

Ode to Rollo May

A long time ago, at least in some frame of reference, I walked out of the front door of my parents’ home. Bereft of hope, I had not yet read Rollo May’s “Man’s Search for Himself.” Could I have known then what I now know, it might have been slightly easier. Doubt though, and the anxiety that accompanies it, are the shadows of the man or woman on the conscious path to becoming truly alive. Every day, I now know, that I miss the opportunity to make my own choices, that day is a chance lost to become my true self.

Fortunately, many friends and guides have supported even my most meager efforts. Good fortune is easier to see in hindsight. Having had to live through the doubt and anxiety was not fun at the time. I am now, however, very grateful to Rollo May for refusing to sing a lullaby. Justice for the courageous is not assured in the mundane world. Kindness to self is a difficult path to learn to tread. Looking at the fact that the hardest thing a human ever does is using rebellion creatively against parents, the stand-in for God, (or is God the stand-in for parents?) can only bring both hope and fear.

May I, writing as though I’ve risen to May’s challenge, actually gain the strength and courage to do so. Never, never will I totally give up, not even from the grave. Oh, I know the temptation to rest is compelling. Perhaps a few centuries of riding with the wave-forms of consciousness will suffice. Queen of Swords in this life, perhaps I’ll manage to become an Empress in the next. Really though, the specific mask of my temporary personality is irrelevant. Security is an illusion to anyone inhabiting a body. Time equalizes all, though. Universal consciousness is the only reality, the only frame of reference that can dispense with boundary conditions.

Verily, I am grateful to Dr. May for helping me see truth, helping me to see my own strength, as much as it has been developed to date. Why it took so long for me to comprehend that I really am, as Joseph Campbell teaches, the hero of my own story, is now clearer. X-rays, though penetrating to matter, would not have helped me to recognize the stages on the spiritual path sooner.

You might not be able to grasp the import of this acrostic, especially if you have never studied mythology, ancient history, philosophy and psychology. Zeno reminds that there is always another step on the path to half way to heaven.

The Cost of Defending Wealth

Defending wealth is expensive. Very expensive.

Think about it.

It’s self evident truth.

But remember, self evident truth is not available to the casual observer!

Only those who learn to see past what the conventional wisdom says are able to glean self evident truth. The whole idea of self evident truth is that you see it for yourself. It’s a shock when you see it. Things that don’t shock are not worthy of the category of self-evident truth.

One of the problems of understanding the ideas of self evident truth is that there are many different kinds of truth. To me, the original self evident truth to which I was introduced, that all men are created equal, is really not self-evident when I look at the world. Or if we were created equal, the equality rapidly evaporates.

But back to the original topic. It is currently self evident to me that protection of concentrated wealth is what our tax money goes to. Those who own little property of value to others are not the ones who need the police and courts to keep their property safe. Rich people don’t go to jail very often. Much more money is spent on sending poor people to jail. Poor people are sent to jail to protect the rich from the behaviors of the poor. Specifically, the behaviors of the poor that the rich see as undesirable, or a threat to their wealth.

Even if there is no direct threat to the property of the wealthy, keeping a lot of poor people under threat of incarceration helps to keep them distracted from ideas of working for social justice. I know from personal experience how I felt when I was threatened with jail time for a trumped up charge. I was eventually able to plea bargain down to my actual deed. And I have more resources and property than most.

Even if people of little property tend to be less educated, and may make personal mistakes, their mistakes are unlikely to cause the expensive problems our  society faces, such as war, and the costly need to defend our borders. Rich people don’t go to war very often either. They send those of less means to defend their way of life. The cost of war is such a high number, I can’t fathom it without study. Check out the link.

Those who own lots of property are the ones who need protection from the jealousy of those who have less, whether internal to our national borders, or external.

The concept of personal property, and the desire to pass personal property on, at death, to heirs, has many consequences. Most of us never think about those consequences.

Even though we Americans think of our country as a democracy, we’re a republic. The whole idea of the (wealthy) founding fathers in creating a republic was to protect their wealth and privilege from the royalty.  They gave more rights to the propertied men who had the means to run for office. The idea of the republic was not to give full rights to those the founders considered beneath them in the social hierarchy. Those who had not yet proven themselves worthy of consideration, because they had not amassed adequate wealth to join the powerful.

The results of the intentions of the founding fathers are with us still, even as we have given non-felonious citizens a full vote, regardless of skin color. (Note that it is the individual states that decide whether felons can or can’t vote, not the Constitution!)

What is the cost of the prison system? Our epidemic of incarceration costs us taxpayers $63.4 billion a year. Much of this is keeping drug offenders locked away, because as a society we have decided that is a more acceptable answer than rehabilitating the offenders, who have often had restricted opportunities at making a reasonable life for themselves according to the conventional recipe for the American Dream.

Poor people are also not the ones who wish to keep the minimum wages depressed by forcing the poor to compete against themselves. John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” is an eloquent explanation of how property owners work to keep wages down.