Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Further thoughts

Where does the need to rely on God arise?
Principally in the space created between our wants and the sense we have of our own capacities, what I call efficaciousness.
And it seems to me that an aspect of our present civilisation - relative wealth and an abundance of free time not unlike that which was enjoyed by the ancient Greeks around the time of the birth of philosophy - contributes to our awareness of the gulf that separates the two.
On the one hand we have access to a wealth of ressources and models to emulate, while at the same time the same awareness results in an accrued sense of our own limitations with regard to what we could be obtaining. Of course the materialistic society we live in does nothing to reduce this sense of our inadequacies.
We want, we want, and we want more.
No wonder we feel a greater need than ever to call upon a power that surpasses our own.
Of course this problem has already been examined at length.
Where our well-being in this life-time is concerned, the Stoics, Epicureans and Buddhists, among others, all have had some very insightful things to say about the question.
Basically, limit or get rid of your wants and desires altogether, and you will be free of suffering, content.
My problem with such a viewpoint is that it does not give enough weight to the basic human (or animal) characteristic that is the pleasure drive.
Ancient Greeks and Asians, however, did not have the brain research results we now have at our disposal. And I think it's safe to say that the pleasure seeking drive is an intrinsic part of the animal kingdom's drive to survive. I think there are a number of things we'd have stopped doing long ago - like risk-taking - if there weren't some reward to the process. This, to me, would point to the insufficiency of any system that did not give a wide berth to the drive.
It's important to learn how not to be overwhelmed by your wants.
I am all for living in the moment so as to differentiate between those of our efforts that are conducive, and those that are not. But it is necessary to acknowledge and make room for our wants and needs first, because our well-being cannot consist solely of freedom from suffering, but a sufficient quantity of pleasure that our brains and bodies require..

With the above in mind, I propose the following method as the first step towards achieving the goal of helping myself:

1) Consider what it is I really want: the goal.
2) picture it happening:
a) is it do-able?
b) at what cost?
c) how much well-being does it afford, and how durable is the well-being
3) Reassess and make a decision according to the cost-effectiveness of the goal
4) Set things up accordingly, in order: what do I need to accomplish first, second, etc... At each step of the process check this information to stay on track.

Will this get me to the end of my WIP?

Monday, March 5, 2007

A Spandrel (Look it up)

Have you ever wanted to do something about your life, but every time you try one of the usual formulas, you bang your head against the old "Let go and let..."? CRAP!
A contradiction in terms? Self-help with external assistance?
That's what this is about. Getting a grip, through an informal look at why it's so hard to do just that.
This is not about knocking religion. At least not overtly.
But if you wanted to improve things in your life, does it make any sense to hand over the reins to an invisible, intangible entity and just hope you get to where you want to go?
Wouldn't He have more important matters to attend to?
Okay. I'll admit it.
I am envious. I wish I could just blindly trust that without taking all of the necessary active steps things in my life - I - would change for the better. It's true. I wish I could believe in God. It is probably a much more restful way to live.

Why am I doing this?
Obviously I am still not satisfied with things as they are.
The problem is that I am continually "sabotaging" my own efforts.
I have highly unlikely goals and very little of the self-esteem and wherewithal necessary to reach them.

At the top of my list is the completion of my W.I.P., a novel begun at least a decade ago. But every time I get a little steam going, I come down with some diversion that casts it in a whole new light and I go back to the drawing board to figure out how to make it better (read: more difficult still). Then I get really depressed and become finger-tied for an indefinite period of time that lasts until I reach the bottom. Though I wallow, I'm always in search of the spark that will pull it all together again.

The problem is the subject of my WiP: Being.

I happen to think that I am not an isolated self in need of repair, and that the cognitive and emotional dissonance I share with a great number of people in this world is at the root of much of the angst that drives people to do irrational things in the name of a Higher Being that is supposed to be in charge of all that we turn away from out of fear, doubt, mostly the sense that we don't know enough (everything) about the problem at hand. Because we're not omniscient and our minds are hard-wired to "seek and ye shall find" ad infinitum.

In other words, I may not be against religion per se, but I do think that to depend on it to right our wrongs is not a reasonable way to lead our lives.