16. Facts vs Values
Spiritual Web Chat
Session 1: Sat 30 Jan 1999

Ben< ALL: Tonight is the first of a new series of seminars. If the topic sounds rather philosophical, that's because it is, but it also pertains to spirituality and day-to-day living. Later in this series I intend to investigate such topics as "good and bad" and "right and wrong" -- but these are value-judgments, so I decided to start at the beginning rather than jump into the middle of this series of topics. This time I'll post three questions, plus three sub-questions as we go along.

Ben< QUESTION 1: We know some facts about water. It is the most common substance on earth. It covers more than 70 percent of the earth's surface. It is the only substance that is naturally present on earth in three different forms: a solid, a liquid, and a gas. It is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. We assume it was a combination of hydrogen and oxygen before the French chemist de Morveau demonstrated that fact in 1787 and coined the word hydrogen ("water-producer"). What is the value of water? YOUR TURN

greyman< Universal solvent.

LightGrrl< Value of water? Sustenance, beauty. It's an excellent example of power and of gentleness in the same form. ... or not, you know ... depending.

Joi< Many philosophies associate "Spirit" with water.

Sposashe< It is vital to good health. Without enough water, body functions shut down in order of least important; i.e. disease, etc.

Will< It is invaluable. Quantifying it is like questioning whether or not you have a pulse.

5foot2< Water is life's blood.

Joi< Our body is made up of water also, so we can't live with out it.

Ben< Joi: Yes, I agree. Water is valuable because our bodies can't live without it. Therefore, our bodies must be valuable.

Cassandra< It is nice to know our bodies are valuable. I haven't heard it put like that before. A different thought for me.

Joi< Are you expecting scientific answers from us? I for one, don't enjoy physical science, so I know very little in that direction.

[Ben< Joi: No, I'm not expecting scientific answers, just *your* answers. *S*]

FRAML< Life, for without water, life as it exists here now would not exist.

Yopo< Yes. Agree with FRAML. Water is life.

Ben< FRAML: Yes, water is valuable because all living things on earth (that we know of) depend on it. Therefore, life is a primary value and the value of water is derived from it.

FRAML< Ben: One could say that water is so valuable that man and beast will fight over it, to sustain their lives.

Sposashe< We need enough water to flush toxins, promote healthy cell growth. In addition to physical health, it adds to our spiritual and mental health.

SWIFT< From what I know, we are about 60% composed of water, so this water is easy to animate, we can move about freely, a difficult task if we were composed of a more solid substance, I would think.

Aqua< Water means? It is H2O ? Discovering the water and allowing it to flow. Water fills both the low and hollow areas. Man needs wisdom as much as land needs water. If there is no WATER in the ground, the land will be charred.

Mixie< Aqua: Yes, and in Latin, I believe it is "aqua" -- like "aquatic" or "aquarium." You should be the expert on this one *S*

greyman< Ben: @4 degrees centigrade water is at it's maximum density.

Joi< Ben: Are you leading up to the fact we are souls first and since the body has value, then our souls having always been in existence are the most valuable part of us?

[Ben< Joi: Good question. However, I don't expect to get to the relative value of the body and soul tonight.]

SWIFT< I would say water is valuable to us as life-forms as well as other fellow creatures, also to this planet we live on. I also believe life-forms may very well evolve on other planets through the utilization of some other substance in place of water. So, that alien life form may regard this other substance that it's body is mostly composed of, say mercury for example, as of equal importance & held with as much regard as we do water. Maybe this alien life form also has a silicon base instead of the carbon base we have?

Ben< ALL: Suppose you are dragging your dehydrated bod along a faint camel-track in the Sahara Desert. What would you give for a canteen of water? YOUR TURN

LightGrrl< That would suck.

Yopo< Well, I'd be in no position to haggle. *S* Probably would trade any material thing, except maybe for the air I was breathing.

5foot2< Depending on the degree of need, I'd give anything, even to the point of leaving the frying pan for the fire.

greyman< Just about anything.

Gnome< On a vision quest, after four days most would be willing to give much for water, but then that would be cheating; the desert scenario would be much worse as dehydration sets on much more rapidly.

lilac< I have no idea what I would give up for a canteen of water if I was dragging along in the Sahara Desert. I am not there. No one knows what they would do 'till they are in the situation. You might behave honorably, you might kill anyone for water ... you just don't know.

FRAML< During WWII the crew of the bomber "Lady Be Good" crashed in the Libyan desert. As they struggled to walk out of the desert, they drained the blood of their crewmen who died into their canteens to give themselves liquid. BTW, none survived, they were 200 miles from the nearest oasis.

Sposashe< If you were dragging your dehydrated bod along, you apparently haven't the strength to drag anything else along, and all you could offer is a very heartfelt thank you. Which after all is valuable in itself.

Tortuga< LOL ... Sposashe: good reasoning. Of course, if the devil appears, there's always the soul to trade.

Sposashe< Who knows? He might be interested in something else.

Aqua< I will swig 'till the last drop ... but not to give away my life.

Ben< Hah! I wonder how many of you jumped up and got a glass of water after I posted that last sub-question.

Mixie< Ben: Hah! Guilty! *S*

lilac< Cool, clear, water ... water ...

LEGS< *g* No, Ben, but I did take a good sip of my hot tea. *G*

FRAML< Ben: Nope, I've got half a glass of beer in front of me.

greyman< FRAML: Is it half full or half empty? *G*.

Ben< ALL: Now suppose your house has a ring of sand-bags around it, but water is lapping over the sand-bags and the river is still rising. What would you give to get rid of that water? YOUR TURN

greyman< Just about anything.

LightGrrl< Yikes, that sounds too familiar!

Sposashe< Nothing, I would try to find the lesson.

lilac< It wouldn't be a matter of giving anything, if the waters were lapping around the sand bags. I would just be working at building more sandbags OR figuring a way out. The situation would be too dire to be thinking about what I would give up to save my house. In those situations you just do what you have to, to survive.

Ben< lilac: Of course, you would pay someone to cut a drainage channel and get that water away from your house. That's more what I was thinking of.

lilac< Ben: *g* If you are in the middle of a flood that big, there wouldn't be anyone to pay, everyone would be in disaster mode and helping each other out, right?

violetswan< I would learn to swim.

Joi< I would put the "white Light of God or Spirit around the house and leave it up to the highest. What else can we do? If the sandbags are already there, I doubt very few have more sand available or bags.

Gnome< A house can be replaced; being dead is a little more permanent.

Yopo< Ben: You sorta did a turn-around on us. *S* Uh, guess I'd give plenty to be rid of it.

FRAML< Ben: H'mmm, how much would I pay for a pump, that now is nearly priceless to possess. I could drown in the flood waters. Conclusion: we can't live with either too much or too little water; we need just the right amount, and of the proper salinity to enable us to consume it.

LightGrrl< Yeah, what FRAML said.

lilac< Well, isn't that sort of stating the obvious? I mean, is there anyone who doesn't know that you need water, but that too much or too little is a problem?

Yopo< lilac: I think maybe the obvious isn't gonna be the point, when we get to it.

LightGrrl< Yopo ;-)

Ben< Yopo: LOL! You know me too well!

Ben< COMMENT: The value of water depends a lot on how thirsty one is, and on how much water is available. As FRAML said, the value of water varies.

Gnome< The difference between facts and values is rather elementary.

SWIFT< Venice is flooded, plenty of tourists and plenty of money made from it. Canals are an environmentally friendly way of getting about. I would not drain Venice, that I would consider a great loss.

Gnome< Value is an individual perception at a particular moment, cut and dry. Then you also have cultural value -- what a particular culture perceives as important.

Ben< Gnome: Yes, that's part of where I'm headed with this line of questions.

SWIFT< I think, if people wanted to, they could make the most of such a situation, utilize the water. There are a lot of places in this world that live in such places other people would consider flooded and unlivable -- places like the Delta of the river Nile. Just think plenty of fish at your doorstep and reeds to be used as building material. I see it all as just a question of perception. What some consider a blessing, others consider a curse!

Ben< QUESTION 2: Here is a one-pound chunk of carbon, in the form of coal. We know a lot of facts about it. What is its value? Does its value change? YOUR TURN

lilac< The value of everything is variable. That is the law of supply and demand.

Ben< lilac: The law of supply and demand depends on values, not the other way around.

violetswan< Burn it now to stay warm, or give it time and it will be a diamond.

lilac< Of course it's value changes ... especially if you put it under enormous pressure and make it into a diamond! *G* As an ordinary piece of coal, it's value is again variable, depending on your position in relation to it. If you are a miner, it has one price, the owner of the mine, another, the consumer, another, etc.

FRAML< A few dollars a ton for heating a home (if the EPA lets you), priceless if you are in a coal burning ship and running low and far from a safe port. Also the cleaner burning the coal the more dollar value it is in today's market. (unless you declare a national park around it.)

Tortuga< Depends if it's bar-b-que variety or jeweler type carbon.

Joi< I guarantee that in a Floridian climate coal is worthless for heating. It would possibly work as a doorstop.

Tortuga< In Florida, lots of people BBQ. *S*

Aqua< Water is white. Carbon is black. Their values and their usefulness lies in the right application. *S*

lilac< Perhaps, for certain items. However, for instance, if you are talking about coal ... and it was the last bit of coal ... and it was a very cold winter ... then it isn't values that surround that coal, it is someone's last desperate attempt to stay alive ... which may be construed as a value ... but survival becomes instinct ... and that is beyond values.

Yopo< This is gonna be a gem of an example.

greyman< It could be used for fuel. Compressed under high pressure, a diamond. But do not give it to an artist or you will get a bunch of charcoal drawings *G*.

Ben< ALL: Okay, you guys are way ahead of me. *shazam!* The one-pound chunk of carbon is now transformed from coal to diamond. We also know a lot of facts about this form of carbon. What is its value? And why? YOUR TURN

lilac< The value of the gem would depend on how well it is cut.

Tortuga< It's value is artificially kept high ... it's quite worthless.

Ben< Tortuga: Good point. The value of diamond is kept high artificially to increase demand (and price) beyond that which is warranted by its natural utility (industrial uses).

violetswan< Yes, the diamond market is kept artificially high, but it would be a very useful energy tool.

lilac< Tortuga: Well, of course, but then, everything is worthless, things are just things ... unless it means survival ... food, shelter ... those are more basic.

Tortuga< No, lilac, the value of diamonds is actually a big hoax, and people are falling for it.

lilac< Tortuga: The value of anything people desire can be looked upon as a hoax. Beanie babies, cabbage patch dolls. *lol* It isn't a matter of how many of them there are; it is just that people want them to go up in value ... so they do.

FRAML< Diamonds are valuable because of their rarity and that they look pretty when properly cut, but also diamonds have an industrial use as a cutting instrument, with a hardness of 10, the highest of the hardness ratings.

Yopo< Value there is in beauty and scarcity ... and in usefulness, too.

Tortuga< Diamonds are not scarce ... only certain ones.

Joi< Again it depends on the society. Mahatma Gandhi probably would put little value on it. It depends on where people's heads are. Are they into money or spirituality??

Ben< Joi: Yes, it depends on where people's heads (or hearts) are.

lilac < Joi: There could also be spiritual aspects placed on a diamond. Look at the importance of crystals to people these days. They put all kinds of spiritual significance into something that is as worthless as a diamond.

FRAML< Joi: lilac has a good point, to be able to do spiritual thinking one needs to have a certain amount of materials to maintain life, otherwise one will end up just being a spirit.

Aqua< Diamond is transparent. Water is white. Carbon is black. Their values and their usefulness lies in the right applications. *S* When on desert, water values most. When in winter, Carbon/Charcoal value highest. Diamond although earth treasure but only in several instances that its value is high. They are ever-changing to suit different circumstances.

5foot2< luxury vs necessity.

Gnome< Everything lies in perception, the eye of the beholder, so what makes perception? Perception is awareness in its pure form, nothing more. Perception becomes clouded with differences when thoughts or emotions are tied into the perception. As all of our thoughts/emotions are different at different times, perception of value changes from moment to moment.

SWIFT< As a material, it's of great importance since it is so hard. It is useful in industry as for example in the drilling of oil. Oil is a priceless commodity so much so that it influences politics. How can one get at the oil without graphite carbon? So that one pound of coal or a small diamond represents all carbon in the universe, in that sense it is priceless.

Tortuga< SWIFT: Not sure, but don't they use simulated diamonds in industry?

Ben< ALL: Slight change of focus in the next post ...

Ben< QUESTION 3: Child has an asthma attack. Mother pours some medicine in a spoon and gives it to Child -- who promptly spits it out and says "Eeeuuu! It's BAD!" Mother pours some more medicine in the spoon and says "Drink it down. It's GOOD for you." Please translate what the child said, and what the mother said, into statements of fact rather than statements of value. YOUR TURN

FRAML< For the child, taste is bad, therefore medicine is bad. For the mother, the end result of curing her child of the sickness is good, therefore the bad tasting medicine is good. The goodness of the end result out-weights the badness of the taste. And to get a child to understand this (words fail to convey my frustration at trying it).

lilac< Ben: *lol* Well, of course the child doesn't like it! Medicines are famous for not tasting good ... and of course the mother says it is good for you. It is a matter of survival for the child, who may not understand the seriousness of her/his illness.

Aqua< Medication? Be meticulous, examine the evidence thoroughly and one will never be blinded by falsehood. *S* The cunning and articulate can argue that black is white. The powerful can say a deer is a horse. Sometimes simple common sense will be good enough to spot the untruth. *S*

Ben< Aqua: Yep, people can say black is white, or a deer is a horse, but what they say (or others believe) doesn't change the facts, only the beliefs and perhaps perceptions.

5foot2< child: it tastes bad (instant reaction). mother: good for your physical health (long-term projection) based on experience and/or faith.

greyman< Child says substance has a bad taste; Mother says substance is of medicinal value.

Gnome< Simple, the child's perception was based on the perceived bad taste; the mothers perception was based on the perceived healing quality of the medicine whether placebo or actual.

Yopo< Child is evaluating in terms of taste. Tastes terrible! Obviously worthless or worse. Mama knows better, evaluating in terms of medicinal properties. In certain circumstances, she'd buy her child the spoonful of medicine for its weight in gold.

lilac< Ben: *g* Counselor, are you going anywhere with this line of questioning?

Gnome< What we are simply rehashing here is perception.

Ben< lilac, Gnome: Yes, I am going somewhere with this line of questioning.

lilac< Ben: *g* I figured as much.

SWIFT< Some things to a child may be seen as tasting bad. The child may not be aware of the value in the sense of the medicines healing properties. The mother is aware of it's medicinal virtues.

Ben< ALL: Okay, interesting translations. Anyone else?

Gnome< What we are simply rehashing here is perception.

t.g.< I see the perception thing being rehashed. I agree.

Tortuga< ... not a simple case of semantics. ?

Ben< My translation: Child could have said "Eeeuuu! I don't like the taste of it!" Mother could have said "Drink it down. It will help ease your asthma." Those are both factual statements.

Ben< COMMENT: When people are actually thinking about values, instead of arguing about values as if values were facts, notice how often they say "It depends on your point of view." Conversely, when people are actually interested in facts, instead of arguing about facts as if facts were values, notice how often they say "Let's look for some evidence."

lilac< Right, but the problem with values, as I perceive it, is that it so often devolves into the rather rigid position of it being a 'matter of faith' and can no longer be questioned by the believer.

Gnome< Taste is perception. What tastes bad to one may be heaven to another, so I can't agree with you there, Ben.

Ben< Gnome: Taste is a subjective fact. Child really doesn't like the taste, no matter what anyone else may think or perceive.

[Ben< "It tastes bitter" is a sensory perception. "It tastes bad" is a value judgment. Value judgments are done in the mind and used to label perceptions. That is why one person says something bitter tastes bad and another says it tastes good.]

Yopo< But that would SEEM to imply that values are inherently relative. ?

Ben< Yopo: Yes. Values are relative.

FRAML< Ben: And some relatives have value. *G*

lilac< And of course, the facts are often debated as well, and rarely agreed on ... except maybe that the sun is expected to rise in the morning ... things along those lines.

FRAML< lilac: Yes, but the fact is that the sun doesn't rise in the morning; the rotation of the earth turns so that we revolve from darkness into light. Even when "EVERYONE KNEW" that the sun circled the earth, the fact was the opposite. (Thus the source of my irritation with the phrase "everyone knows. ")

lilac< FRAML *g* Right, the earth revolves around the sun ... as far as we know.

Ben< SUMMARY: There are two fundamentally different types of knowledge, opinion, and belief. This division is between matters of fact and matters of value. Facts are subsets of reality; in other words, a fact is a fact whether anyone knows it or not and whether anyone likes it or not. Values originate in someone's mind; they reflect perceived needs, wants, desires, preferences, etc., and do not exist if no one believes them. In some cases, values (such as good, bad, valuable, worthless) are labels assigned to facts; in other cases, values (such as ideals, ends, and goals) are targets toward which someone wants to change reality. The basic difference is: Humans observe and discover facts, but humans create and assign values.

lilac< That is true. *g*

Yopo< But ... Hmm. Ethical values too?

Ben< Yopo: Yes, ethics and morals are types of values, often expressed as ideals.

Yopo< OK. Guess you answered that in your summary. Though I'm one who perhaps holds some, uh, absolute opinions. *S*

lilac< Yopo: Well, if you look at the history of mankind, ethical values have changed dramatically over the course of time.

Gnome< Ben: Stop with the nonsense. Subjective is simply subjective. Tomorrow the kid may change his mind and decide he likes the taste. It's not permanent. To give you an example: when I was little, I grabbed two pretty limes out of the refrigerator for my friend and I. After biting into them we threw those nasty things on the ground and stomped on them. My grandfather saw this and made us eat them off the ground. Believe it or not, I now love limes and eat them all the time. So it was not a permanent individual fact. Very subjective perception of value and nothing more.

FRAML< Gnome: But the fact at the time was that you did not like them. Now, after eating them several times you have decided that you do like them, that is a now a fact.

Ben< Gnome: What I've been pointing toward isn't nonsense. It is the basic issue behind the separation of metaphysics into the different branches of philosophy, and the basic arena of most human confusion. I see it all the time: people treating value-judgments as if they were facts, and facts as if they were value-judgments.

lilac< Ben: Oh, yes, you see it in here all the time! *LOL* and what trouble you get into if you question it! Gets a little bit scary ... how quickly people form dogma, and cling to it.

Gnome< It is simply subjective perception versus objective perception. Only objective perception is real or permanent though it is often masked by subjective perception that varies individually and moment to moment. Objective perception would be if I touch a hot stove and get burned, that I'm burned; that is fact, and objective perception.

SWIFT< Well, things can come of age, become valuable in the future. Oil was once just a useless black liquid before the invention of the combustion engine. Quartz was just a worthless crystal before the invention of radio or even the advent of new age philosophy with regards to their metaphysical properties, thus they have spiritual multi-dimensional value. Silicon was just sand until the invention of the microchip which silicon is the base of. I can go on with numerous examples. What I am saying is, what may be of little or no value today may be of great value scientifically or otherwise in unseen ways sometime in the future.

FRAML< SWIFT: I though that silicon was a convicted criminal with a sense of humor.

Yopo< Ben: I suppose I hold to the idea that there are some moral absolutes. Not absolute "thou shall" and "thou shall nots", but underlying moral facts those injunctions are trying to codify.

lilac< Yopo: There can always come a moment when those 'thou shall/shall nots' must be breached ... and then the aftermath of picking up the pieces and trying to understand what happened and who you are as a person, if you abandoned your cherished belief, in a moment of sheer terror ... or whatever ... which is why I think it is important for humans to accept themselves as humans ... the incredible power to create and equally to destroy that is in each of us.

Yopo< lilac: Well, yes. But sometimes "thou shall/shall not" are breached in pursuit of the underlying absolute. "Situation ethics" is, in theory at least, a recognition that the commandments, or whatever, are an imperfect mask of a more perfect underlying moral order. IMHO

lilac< Yopo: hmmm ... it may be a more perfect underlying order or it may be simply the instinct to survive ... which may be the perfect order of things ... and all the rest of this search is really turning away from what is just basic ... I don't know.

SWIFT< Maybe the child's sense of taste was of value to that child as a warning, so when the child takes the medicine forced by the mother, that child could hypothetically die of an allergic reaction despite the logic of the mothers belief system.

FRAML< SWIFT: And perhaps not. Children prefer sweet to sour. Is everything that tastes bad to you mean that it is poison or will cause you to have an allergic attack? Your reasoning is leading, imo, into one similar to Christian Science where there is no need for medicine.

SWIFT< FRAML: Nevertheless, what I stated about the child's sense of taste possibly being an indicator of not just something bad tasting but something the child is allergic to is of importance to the child and the value of the child's senses to that child. Maybe there was some kind of extract within the medicine from nuts or bananas, or something that is rare as an allergen. Maybe the mother is aware of the child's allergy but never read the bottle. Maybe the mother isn't aware the child has an allergy until the child dies? Just can't be sure of the facts. Caution could be considered something of value.

FRAML< SWIFT: That is an example of the definition of quibbling.

SWIFT< Ben stated the child said it's Bad, (not it's bad tasting) so Bad to the child may mean it's something the child knows will make the child very sick, maybe even the first touch of the medicine leads eventually to the child's death or severe reaction?

Gnome< Subjective perception changes. Today I hate Mark; tomorrow we're best buds. It's not permanent.

Yopo< Gnome: The objective/subjective distinction may have a lot more to do with consensus than we suspect.

Gnome< ahh, but objective is permanent. If you are naked in freezing water you can say objectively to all that are in there with you that it is cold. Everyone is in agreement. Subjective perception varies from person to person and is not permanent.

Ben< Yopo, Gnome: Subjective and objective are merely points of view. It is possible to shift from one to the other at will. There are objective values and moral standards that have been derived by millennia of human experience. Like the Mother said to the Child: some things are really good for us, and some things are really bad for us.

Yopo< Ben: I find it difficult to argue with your comment. I suppose my last line of defense would have to do with the nature of facts, of reality itself. And there, I seem to navigate by intuition more than by reason. There's something there to discuss, but I'm out of my depth. *S*

Ben< Yopo: You need not defend, because what I've said isn't an attack. It is an insight. The difference between facts and values is expressed in the Bible as the difference between the tree of life and the tree of the "knowledge" of good and evil.

Yopo< ((( Ben ))) Wasn't using "defend" in any sense other than that applying to debate. *S* In that arena, I learn from both thrust and counter.

Gnome< Objective perception is fact where subjective perception is based on associated thoughts and emotions.

Ben< COMMENT: Facts are independent of opinions. To "face facts" means to align opinion with reality. Values are opinions. The value of a coin, painting, mode of reasoning, or "way of life," the value of a person, political party, or nation, even victory and defeat can be shown to vary from individual to individual, culture to culture, place to place, and time to time. Some people love what others hate, some seek what others shun, and some defend what others attack. Thus, any study of values must deal with entities, properties and relationships which owe their existence entirely to human opinion, evaluation, or belief.

Ben< COMMENT: The natural sciences each study some aspects of reality. A planet, machine, missile, electronic field, chemical combination, microorganism or ecological system can be shown to operate according to certain principles, regardless of what humans may think or wish. Opinions which misrepresent these principles (do not align with reality) may be tested against relevant evidence and demonstrated as being in error. It is largely because their subject matter has been restricted to reality as independent of opinion that these disciplines have been developed far beyond the social sciences. The point at which knowledge of natural principles is utilized is precisely where the subject matter shifts from facts to values. How such knowledge is to be used -- for what purposes and to what ends -- involves questions of human values, and human values may be entirely independent of reality, designed to change it rather than reflect it.

Ben< ALL: Have fun with the most basic distinction in all of philosophy. *smile*

Gnome< I'm done here. Your pearls of wisdom are wasted on me.

[Ben< Gnome: Obviously.]

[At this point, I notice that most of the people have left the chatroom. It suddenly occurs to me that I *am* wasting my time.]

Ben< Well, I can see this whole topic went over like a lead balloon. The rest of this series is hereby canceled.

lilac< Ben, jeeze ... that is rather a rash move!

Yopo< Ben: Yes, very true! It is odd that the topic didn't seem to generate more interest. I'm wondering about that. Might hazard a guess. Perhaps people don't WANT to analyze that difference, because it might call some beliefs into question?

t.g.< Well, this was an interesting first time chat experience. Now that I kinda "get it" Ben's bailing??

Gnome< For a good book on the topic Ben has been trying to explain check out "In Search of The Miraculous" by P.D. Ouspensky. It goes in-depth on perception, attention, values, etc., as well as different states/being/levels of man.

[Ben< Ah, yes, the gospel according to Ouspensky: "Fourth Way" dogma. That was the philosophical launching pad for the Heaven's Gate crew.]

Aqua< All problems or matters are generally different in nature, weigh their relative importance and tackle them one at a time. The solutions will then become clearer to the mind. The ability to relate one event to another can help us understand a lot more truths. No one is perfect after all. *S* We mostly are concerned with only short-term gains (fact, belief, perception, etc).

Yopo< I find it difficult to wrap words around what I'm getting at. Uh, yes, there is this apparent external world of quantifiable and qualifiable things, and of the measurable forces that act upon them. Science can study them, make testable theories about their relationship, and if the theories prove out, get powerful tools for prediction and manipulation. But that only seems to me to be half the story. The world seems equally composed of symbol and meaning. Things seem to connect and relate on THAT level too. And subjective and objective seem to be a less significant distinction there. Moral order, I think, is of THAT realm. And there may be values there that in some way ARE absolutes. (Does this make any kind of sense?)

Ben< Yopo: Sure, the primary axis of the spiritual spectrum is ethical and moral: higher = better, lower = worse, in moral and ethical terms. But people aren't going to understand that if they won't even look at the difference between facts and values. They'll go on talking about "higher realms" in terms of vibrations (which are merely wave-form variance over time).

Yopo< I've seen similar reactions in the local discussion circle I go to weekly. Lots of propositions about the nature of our spiritual reality seem to be latched onto without much thought. And woe to him or her who seems to question a favorite underlying belief! It is often taken as an attack, rather than as a serious exploration about what is and what isn't.

Ben< Yopo: Yes, this distinction calls a LOT of beliefs into question. For one thing, it shoots the ground out from under a lot of religious dogmas. On the other hand, it can show and affirm the real objective value of some (not all) moral and ethical principles.

Yopo< *sigh* What many look for in their spiritual quest is a comfort zone. And I can't say that I blame anyone for that. I seek it, too. But I don't think comfortable illusions are worth much in the long run.

Ben< Yopo: Comfortable illusions ... yes, as opposed to uncomfortable realities. As someone said, "Facts are such stubborn things." Whereas fictions are a dime a ton. Or a train-load.

Yopo< Ben: A lot of my own personal doubt revolves around issues of comfortable illusions. Sometimes the world of "indisputable fact" brings the very foundations of my spiritual beliefs into question. Sometimes I suspect I am shielding them from my own inclination to persistently doubt and question. Might have been a conscious decision. To deliberately compartmentalize, until beliefs are stronger.

Ben< /topic OPEN

SWIFT< Thanx, Ben, I enjoyed the neurological stimulation. :-) You always leave me with something to think about with your seminars.

Ben< ALL: I'm ticked at the way this subject was treated. I do have a temper. A saint I ain't. And I routinely spend about 30 hours per week on these seminars, about 5 in preparation and 25 in editing the transcript.

lilac< Ben: Well, things have a life of their own. If you want to have a discussion you can't expect it to go the way you want it. Perhaps you would be happier lecturing?

Ben< lilac: Point well taken. Things certainly don't always go the way I wish they would. But no, I've done a whole lot of lecturing, and I'd rather lead a seminar.

SWIFT< Ben: What is your terminology and meaning in your use of the word "ticked"? I am in the UK. I think it's meaning is somewhat different here; in the UK (ticked = annoyed, cross, angry)

Ben< SWIFT: My definition of "ticked" agrees with yours. *smile* Somewhat subsided now. I'm working on my reaction, but sometimes it takes a minute of two.

lilac< Ben: Well, I can understand your frustration on things not going in the way you had planned. However, I think it was an interesting discussion. We all get tired ... and your work is appreciated.

Ben< lilac: Thank you. And yes, I was tired before I started tonight. Pushing the envelope, as the airplane drivers say.

Yopo< Ben: One nice thing about the Amazon seminars ... Prof can't throw an eraser at us. *S*

SWIFT< Ben: Maybe 'cause you spent so much time in the preparation of this topic & know yourself what you were aiming for because you originated it, then maybe others are just not seeing what you are seeing or expecting? It's like some one teaches something they are experienced at to another who is new at it & is not experienced at all. The teacher always has assumptions that the person being taught knows what the teacher knows to a certain degree already when it may not be the case. So the teacher goes too fast for the pupil to take things in, 'cause the teacher is already familiar & takes as granted or as second nature what dumbfounds or confuses the pupil totally. Even the simplest of things or procedures or knowledge of the teacher can perplex a pupil. Could this be that case/scenario here in this seminar?

Ben< SWIFT: Yep, I suppose that's it. I wrote a book that included this subject 30 years ago (Dec 1968).

lilac< Ben: Ah ... well, no wonder you felt sensitive. *g* Take it easy.

Yopo< Ben: Much as I enjoy these seminars, and as valuable as I believe them to be, I certainly wouldn't want you to burn the candle too much at both ends.

Ben< Yopo: Thanks. I am tired. And as they say, I ain't as young as I used to be. I'll think about it for awhile, but I may take some time off. I'll let you know.

SWIFT< It's difficult to control a crowd or impose control on it, yet they tend to impose their own order naturally when allowed to, Ben. I think somehow you thought your mind set had some influence on the minds of others in this seminar through your relationship. You presumed others knew what you wanted from the seminar? Your presumption stems from your belief that they understood your preliminary structure/foundation of the seminar in your ground-setting posts. You assumed they comprehended the head notes & earlier questions? Maybe next time the topic will be better represented in layman's terms for those who may not of understood in a preliminary head note setting the tone of what the topic is exactly about?

Ben< SWIFT: Thanks for the critique. The fact is, I was tired when I came in here tonight, and have been thinking for several months that I'm spending too much time and effort on these seminars. THOSE preconditions set me up for a reaction to something I otherwise would have taken in stride.

SWIFT< Ben: Uummm ... OK. Ever had a seminar on emotions & how others perceive them & their importance no matter what the emotion, what do they do for us in reality? I agree that people should express anger, etc. some people take it bad. Some say men shouldn't cry & try to restrict & control emotions, is this right? & what is to be emotionless like Data in Star Trek? Hmmm ... if you ain't had such a seminar then I would be interested in such a topic & how you would construct it

Ben< SWIFT: Emotional reactions arise automatically from the inner relationship between perceived facts and accepted values -- and the difference between facts and values is what I was trying to point toward in this seminar. As was just pointed out, my reaction originated in my perception (fact) that things didn't go as I hoped they would (value).

Yopo< Ben: Emotions relate more strongly to value than to facts?

d-bar< Yopo is right. Emotion has always played a stronger role in our values than facts have. But that doesn't change the facts. Just how we perceive them.

Ben< Yopo: Sure, there isn't any emotional reaction to a perceived fact if there is no assigned value (or a neutral assigned value). Take another look at "Value Judgments" in TOOLKIT.

Yopo< Ben: I'll do that. *S* I've even got a copy of TOOLKIT that I printed out somewhere. Figured I'd reread it periodically.

Thur< All: Sorry I have not followed all the discussion, but in the final analysis, how do you determine fact from fiction?

Yopo< Thur: If only it were that simple. *S*

Thur< Yopo: Yes, the problem is that one person's fact is another's fiction. Do you have something to measure them by?

Yopo< Thur: Hmm ... I suppose I have two sets of measures. One for measuring assertions about the external world of things. Another for the internal world of the meaningfulness of things. Maybe I'm a borderline schizophrenic or something. *LOL*

Ben< Thur: In two words, reality testing. And yes, I know those two words refer to an open-ended series of possible tests.

Thur< Ben: Can you explain "reality testing" ?

Ben< Thur: Design of reality tests can be complicated, as we see in the natural sciences, or it can be very simple: for example, someone says scars will vanish if you rub them with raw cabbage. Try it and see for yourself.

Yopo< Ben: What about "reality testing" of values? Does it make sense to think one can do that?

Ben< Yopo: Yes! Reality testing of values is important. The trick is to translate statements of value into statements of fact, as I had the group do with the example of Mother and Child.

Thur< Yopo: I would pose a case I see referred to here quite often, and I don't want to argue the point. Regarding guides: many perceive them as real, another school of thought perceives them as fictitious. Seems we choose the one we like.

Yopo< Thur: I think with a matter like guides I'd apply a different sort of test than with the world of external things. Maybe I'd ask myself about the guides' apparent wisdom. If the advice I receive helps me see my way more clearly. If so, I'd probably take the guide as a sort of fact, within the context of inner things.

Thur< Yopo: The opposing thought on guides accepts them as facts within the context of "inner things". However it questions the value of their advice, claiming it varies from the sublime to the ridiculous. So we're back to square one.

Yopo< Thur: Well, I wouldn't listen to an inner voice that seemed as much in the dark as I sometimes am. *LOL* One must be cautious in the matter of inner voices. "Command voices" in particular.

Thur< Yopo: Yes, I'll buy that.

Ben< Thur: By the way, reality testing can be done by observation, rather than by experiment. When Tim Leary was preaching LSD as a short-cut to instant mystical experience, I decided to wait and see the results in other people, instead of testing it myself.

Thur< Ben: You were wise, but how did you determine whether Leary's "mystical experiences" were real?

Ben< Thur: I didn't test whether the "mystical experiences" were real: I watched for the observable evidence of the effects LSD had in the lives of those who used it.

Yopo< I went that route for a time. I have no regrets, as I opened doors that way. But, all in all, I think more people were damaged by Leary's call than shown the way. Things that powerful require context, or fuses can get blown.

Thur< Yopo: I recall many blown fuses, like suicides.

Yopo< Thur: Yes. There were many casualties. I knew some. A dangerous road sometimes. Problem was, it became a cultural event. Tie-dyed lemmings. *S* But I must confess, some of the most significant experiences in my life came to me by way of novel molecules and plants. Not all pleasant, by any means. I would sternly caution anyone who asked me about the perils. But I cannot deny there's something there.

Thur< Yopo: YES, there is something there. Molecules and plants are a fraudulent way of entry. Done the hard way, it's worth while.

Yopo< Thur: Don't know if fraudulent is completely appropriate. There are many indigenous cultures that have used psychoactive plants for spiritual purpose in ways that have been SUPPORTIVE of their culture. I think that is legit. Problem is, our culture lacks any appropriate context.

Thur< Yopo: Yes, you're right, perhaps I should not have used the word "fraudulent". What I was getting at is that drugs are an "easy" entry into an area containing light and dark. Drugs throw you into all that's there without an opportunity for "house cleaning". The same process done without drugs is very rewarding.

Ben< Thur: Some of the major problems with LSD, as Baba Ram Dass later pointed out, was that every "high" was followed by a "down" and one wasn't in control of the experience. Also, I happened to be present when the head of the Aeromedical Research Lab explained why he was discontinuing LSD testing. They had discovered and documented the "flashback" phenomenon in chimps. His final statement was "Chimpanzees are too valuable for LSD testing."

Yopo< Ben: *S* Ram Dass made another good observation: "Once you've gone through a door, why keep going through it again and again?" Or words to that effect. I was in a meditation led by Ram Dass years ago. Deeply touched me. I think he's the genuine article. Leary will be sort of a cultural footnote.

Ben< Yopo: Ram Dass was sincere enough to travel to India and find a genuine guru. And what he did from then on didn't look like a shortcut to me. BTW I sat down with the self-proclaimed "first freak of Fayetteville, Arkansas" (a professor of psychology) and compared experiences line by line: what he got with drugs and what I did by raja yoga meditations. Same. Except I was in control throughout, and he wasn't. I could change focus and trajectory. He just went with the flow.

Yopo< Ben: One of the primary reasons I abandoned that path was because of lack of control. That, and becoming aware of delusional content during a couple of experiences.

Ben< Okay, my buzzer just buzzed, so it's time for bed. Goodnight.

Yopo< Good night to ya, Ben. And thanks much for tonight's seminar! Not the easiest for you, but greatly appreciated. Bright dreams!

16. Facts vs Values
Session 2: Sat 20 Feb 1999

Ben< ALL: I've changed my mind and decided to finish this series (tonight and 27 Feb). Then I'll take some time off to do income taxes. And then I'll decide what changes I need to make in the format and frequency of these seminars.

Ben< ALL: Value-judgments such as "good and bad" and "right and wrong" are part of spirituality and day-to-day living. Even the statement "Nothing is right or wrong" is a value-judgment. I tried to present the difference between statements of fact and value-judgments in the first of these three sessions. Tonight I'll provide a series of factual statements and ask you to provide your own value-judgments. READY?

Ben< 1: Before she was married, Wife dated a man named Bud. She decided he was not the man for her, and married Husband. Bud didn't give up. He called and told her how much he loved her. She said she was married now. He kept after her, but she wouldn't have anything to do with him. He tried to force her to go out with him. He followed her, slashed the tires of her car, left dead cats in her driveway, etc. QUESTION: In your opinion, were Bud's actions right? or wrong? or neither right nor wrong? And why do you think so? YOUR TURN

windchild< They may have been right for him in a strange sort of way but they were also a violation of everyone else involved. To included the dead cats. It's a violation to force your will on someone else.

Slider< I say Bud's actions were wrong because he did not respect the judgments of the woman in question.

FRAML< I think Bud is wrong. She made a choice as to whom she wanted to marry. Bud was not her choice, but he is punishing her for not choosing him.

Yopo< In my view, definitely wrong. First, he was attempting to impose his will on another. Second, and worse, he has become vindictive, and his actions are now driven by anger and perhaps even hatred.

FRAML< Besides being morally wrong, he could be charged with violating the law by his actions, since he is threatening her.

Ben< ALL: Okay. Thank you. Others?

bluestar< I think Bud is/was eliciting some extremely negative consequences. In my value system, "forcing" or trying to force someone against their will is usually the "wrong" way to get someone to do something .

order< I think Bud was wrong. Nothing he did was in the spirit of LOVE ... only frustration ... and desperation, it seems to me. *S

dCrone< Bud is scary and he has an obsessive problem. He may be in a different reality and he may not recognize boundaries. Was he capable of control? Was he just mean? I have to think ...

greyman< Wife needed to file a restraining order and pack a .45.

windchild< Packing a .45 would only add fuel to the fire.

LEGS< These were reprehensible actions and such do not come from love but disappointment and revenge.

Ben< ALL: Husband and Wife went to the police, but the police said they had to have a court order. After eight years of lawyers, Husband and Wife got a court order. Bud stopped harassing her, but he told several people, "If I can't have her, nobody will." Not long after that, Bud was arrested for something else and sent to prison.

windchild< All actions result in a reaction, Bud brought on his own imprisonment.

Ben< 2: On Valentines Day, Husband heard the doorbell and went to the door. It was Bud's brother who lived just up the street. He said he had a Valentine for Wife. Husband let him in. Wife came into the hallway. Bro pulled a sawed-off shotgun from under his coat. Husband grabbed Bro and got a large piece of his upper arm blown off. Wife ran out the back door. Bro ran after her. While she was pounding on a neighbors' door he shot her in the back of the head. QUESTIONS: Did Wife bring this on herself? Did she create her own reality? Was it her Karma? Or did this whole family -- Husband, Wife, their two kids, their parents and brothers and sisters -- contract with Bud and Bro before they came into this life? What do you think caused this to happen? YOUR TURN

dCrone< For Bud to be unbalanced is one thing ... for his brother to succumb to the fantasy/insanity is another matter.

windchild< It could be Karma or maybe she grew to hate Bud. Hatred draws hatred.

bluestar< Good point, windchild. Returning hatred with hatred/fear just fueled the situation.

greyman< Wife needed to file a restraining order *and* pack a .45.

windchild< greyman: but meeting violence with more violence is not a solution.

bluestar< I think one needs to somehow try to disengage and diffuse an obsessive situation like wife, husband, Bro, Bud. I think Husband and Wife were dealing with it like most people would, but not in a spiritual way. Perhaps, dealing with the situation in a more spiritual way could have brought about a different and better conclusion.

Jello< To resort to "something I read," sometimes it is not karma, but an interaction of free will.

FRAML< Bud's brother is seeking to get revenge for his brother; perhaps he believes that they are guilty for his brother being imprisoned. I don't think that Karma or "create your own" reality is in effect here, except that the brother sounds like he is mentally unstable.

dCrone< How did Wife reject Bud, anyway? Did she reject the brother, too? Husband was in the way when Bud and his sibling went on a rampage -- I'm reminded of the Blues Brothers on a Mission from God. There is little that can stop this type of energy.

LEGS< Apparently Bud was very convincing in his obsession, and the brother took up the struggle ... but on the revenge tack ... to punish not only for her dumping his brother, but because now ... his brother had been taken from him ... another obsessor and they do often run in family ... family conditioning that it is their right to control others.

Slider< Sounds like there was an ethnic connection there, as with some family groups -- Bud's -- the family carries on the bad deeds -- in this case revenge -- hard to tell by info given if karma could be involved -- definitely some bad karma generated by Bud and his family.

Jello< I am not sure it is for us to know WHY something happened. It is for us to do what we can to help. (IMO)

LEGS< Then the brother could have been living vicariously thru his brother, enjoying the romance and converting the rejection into a rejection of not only his brother but of him and all their family was.

order< Possibly a past life remembrance. Maybe Bud owned Wife in another lifetime, thought of her as his property? Maybe a close clannish, my brother, myself kinda remembrance between Bud and Bro from same lifetime? She touching it off with closeness and then running from it in fear? (shrugs)

Ben< ALL: Okay. Thank you. Others?

Yopo< Well. That question is gonna cause a few of us to question some of our basic premises. Uh, I guess I reject the "previous contract" assumption. And I'm not sure karma is an issue. It happened because this is a universe where free will is one of the rules. We are free to choose. Even to make horribly wrong decisions. And the consequence of our actions can adversely affect the innocent. But we have responsibility for the results of our choices.

order< Yopo: Choice is offered ... but often individuals just follow instincts?

LEGS< Ben: Do you see it as ongoing Karma? and why? can you clarify this for us?

bluestar< Ben: Do you know if husband/wife tried prayer? Tried to somehow send healing and loving thoughts towards Bud?

dCrone< Bud and Brother somehow define themselves in terms of the Wife Family. What is lacking in them that makes them do this?

Ben< ALL: Another piece of data: Bro visited Bud in prison. Someone later told Husband that Bud told Bro to do it -- gave Bro a contract to take that "Valentine" to Wife.

dCrone< So, Bud and Bro have a business agreement?

windchild< Bud and Bro are both living in darkness and blaming everyone else for their discontented lives.

order< I'm thinking there IS no way to bring 'rightness' out of this situation? Is all wrong-ness. (imho)

Ben< order: It gets worse, but there is some light at the end of this tunnel.

order< Ben: LOL am waiting. *VVBG

Yopo< Ben: I sort of presumed the brother was acting for Bud. Both share in the responsibility. That's all the new information would make me add to my earlier comment.

Jello< Hm, don't quite see how new data helps with question of "Was this karma? Or contract? Or free will?"

Ben< Jello: Bro didn't have to accept the contract. He chose to.

FRAML< Ben: Is "Bro" not a physical family brother, but one who is a fellow member of a group that Bud belongs to? Sounds like Mafia hit now, or similar gang style attack.

order< Am also hoping the husband did not know that Bro was Bud's brother, or else we have another consideration ... like why did he let him in the house?

[Ben< FRAML, order: Bud and Bro were physical brothers. Their family lived near the Husband & Wife family. They all knew each other.]

Ben< 3: Bro was arrested and tried for murder. His mother and girlfriend said he was with them when Wife was killed. His lawyers pointed out that Husband did not actually see Bro shoot Wife. A shotgun was found in some bushes nearby, but had no fingerprints. The jury acquitted Bro. He walked. QUESTION: Do you think this outcome was right? or wrong? or neither right or wrong? How do you feel about it? YOUR TURN.

LEGS< Somehow this story saddens me terribly. It is only one of many such and that is where the real sadness comes in. How can karma be resolved without the playing out of such disastrous events if indeed it is the karma that is being carried out in these lives ??

Slider< That scenario shows us that there are societies within societies that want to use their own set of rules -- moral or otherwise.

FRAML< H'mmm, is Bro out searching all the local golf courses for the real killer? To me 'smart' lawyers got the man off, by convincing the jury to nullify the law. Ultimate consequence is the break down of societal laws and fabric.

bluestar< I think when someone (something) is crazy with hate for you, the only possibly way out of becoming seriously injured by that hate (assuming one can't just get out of the way) is to very aggressively love the hater back and pray for them. This is not just a theory with me; I have found that it works.

LEGS< bluestar: It is very difficult to love someone who is pointing a loaded shotgun at your forehead. (speaking from experience)

bluestar< LEGS: Agreed. But I think the time for loving and forgiving should have been long before the situation got to the shotgun.

LEGS< bluestar: My first husband who I loved dearly and forgave daily for his jealousy once held me at the end of the double barreled loaded and cocked shotgun for several hours. Even this did not kill my love for him, as I always made excuses for him, blaming his childhood rejection by his mother.

dCrone< Life does not have to be pretty. My question is one of consciousness and capacity. Do Bud and Bro have organic disorders?

Ben< dCrone: Bud and Bro had no known organic disorders. Neither of them were mental patients at any time.

Cassandra< Actually the woman was suffering from terminal cancer, in terrible pain, and Bro was an angel in disguise who came to save her and thus could escape with no punishment. *G*

FRAML< Cassandra: ??????? What was in the water you drank today? *G*

LEGS< Ah, sweet Cassie, you are like me and hope for the happy ending..

windchild< Didn't husband know that Bro shot his arm?

Ben< windchild: Yes. Husband was on the floor, in shock, trying to staunch the arterial bleeding from his arm when Wife was killed.

order< If no proof ... must be acquitted. Without the physical proof only God knows ... in God's hands ... unless the husband decides to step in and is so convinced of the Bro's guilt that he takes his own action?

Yopo< An all-too-common miscarriage of justice in a less-than-perfect world. The workings of the law only provide us with an approximation of justice at best. I presume there is a higher order of justice that Bud and his brother will not so easily escape. The consequence of their actions are now part of them.

Jello< Re: free will to pick different outcome: Still arguably related to karma if Bro has old psychological weakness against brother, but I do take this to mean that free will is free to break away from karma.

bluestar< Hate is like quicksand; to struggle in a hate situation is to sink quicker. Perhaps wife and husband were in the "right" and did the "right" things according to the law, but it didn't help them, and ultimately the law and justice failed them. So being "right" wasn't enough. I think this was a problem that could only come to a happy conclusion if solved at the spiritual level. At the level of justice and morality the evil or "wrong" prevailed.

dCrone< Were they abused as children? Did they possess conscience?

Jello< Well, to answer the current question, I think it was a miscarriage of justice, but I don't presume to know what effects this will have down the road. However, many of the effects are fairly predictable, and most of them aren't good.

FRAML< Ben: The wife's choice of the other man could have been seen by Bud as discrediting the honor of his family. Thus "honor" required that he seek revenge; however, in my opinion, that is not right and is, in fact, illogical justification for the acts by both Bud & Bro.

dCrone< FRAML is correct about the social 'rightness' in some societies for protecting family honor, which is EXTREMELY ODD AND DIFFICULT FOR ME.

Yopo< FRAML: Yes. Explanation and justification are two entirely different things.

Ben< Yopo: Yes. Explanation is factual. Justification is a value-judgment.

dCrone< I think that in such a brutal life and death situation instinct may take control. The urge to live and protect Wife and Child as well as survive must be blinding.

Ben< ALL: Good discussion. More? (Did you notice that this post is a value-judgment expressing approval?)

order< Ben: Yep! *S

Slider< Ben: The only bit of value judgment expressing approval I can pick out of this presentation would be saving face on the part of Bud and family -- some family honor may have been tarnished -- and the jury knowing or not knowing this justified the actions. The circumstantial evidence should have convicted Bro.

Ben< Slider: I was referring to my post saying "Good discussion". *That* was my value-judgment expressing my approval of what y'all were posting.

Slider< Ben: Thanks for clarifying that about the value judgment. I thought you slipped in a trick question there. *S*

Jello< Not all people are equipped with spiritual tools, and of those who are, they can't be expected to be perfect with the tools. In the short run it sounds like a lot of evil occurred.

dCrone< It is easiest for me to say that it is a karma-thing ... but were I one of the offended, I doubt my open-mindedness.

order< Outcome also proves that society cannot always intercede correctly in behalf of man. Society is not able to handle justice ... only attempts to. (imho)

LEGS< Ben, my emotions in this story may be blinding me to the point you are making. How do contracts work on the spiritual level? Is this where the choice to accept them is made? And important to me: Is it with knowledge of the ultimate results for the coming lifetime that the contract is made??

Ben< LEGS: I used the word "contract" in two different ways: one for the theory that such things are pre-contracted prior to birth; one for the Mafia-like contract that Bud gave to Bro.

dCrone< I think evil must have conscious impetus. A choice to violate must be made consciously to be wrong. Some social norms do not serve.

Ben< 4: Husband was a policeman. He believed in the criminal justice system. But after Bro walked, he didn't believe justice was done. QUESTION: Should he or should he not take justice into his own hands? If so, why? If not, why not? What does "justice" mean to you? YOUR TURN.

order< Vengeance is mine saith the Lord. I believe this.

Ben< order: I think the statement "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord" can serve to reduce otherwise endless vendettas, such as was seen in Sicily where most of the men killed each other in cyclic revenge.

order< Ben: Yes, I agree.

dCrone< The problem is getting to the point where one can say, "Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord" ... In pain, there is a tendency to say, like the title of a book I saw: "I Can't Wait For God."

windchild< Hard questions, Ben. I know how I "should" feel but if I were in that situation, I would probably be looking for revenge on Bro. However, I think I would be wrong in doing so. Emotions are an explosive thing and at times uncontrollable.

order< Husband likely acted according to his pain and frustration. Not surprising.

greyman< order: Self-defense is quite different from vengeance.

order< greyman: Self-defense is different. Vengeance is afterthought and premeditated.

Slider< Ben: The husband being a police officer with the inside knowledge of the system will find a way to assert his own justice. Now the wheel of Karma starts to roll!

dCrone< In a perfect setting, Husband would 'rise above', have the capacity, know right from wrong ... but events of this magnitude produce extreme and blinding winds. It is easy for me to say he should not seek his own justice. I do think, in facing his reality, that he should look to the responsibilities he has to the children and do what is best for them even if he cannot do that for himself.

FRAML< The husband's action of taking the law into his own hand would be wrong. If those sworn to uphold the law do not, then that is a step into general lawlessness and societal break down. This situation shows, imo, that the social fabric of that society is breaking down. That "justifications" are being used to explain away actions which are (were previously) held to be wrong.

order< FRAML: Reminds me of the one sitting in the White House, sworn to protect and defend the laws of the land and then violating them. Break-down. *S

FRAML< We are in a "post-justice" world. :-(

UniversaLove< OK ... here's my opinion. *g* Very possible that the wife wanted a release from her life, or she thought of a quick way to exit this life, and Bro was subconsciously given the role to help her exit her life quickly. Just a thought that came to mind.

greyman< UniversaLove: What rational feeling being would want release in such a fear-filled painful experience???????

Jello< If people here did not have spiritual training, I'd guess many would be saying he should take the law into his own hands, but in a secret way. Just a thought.

Yopo< That is a hard one for me. I wouldn't condone vengeance as a high-order motive for the husband to act, though I'd certainly be sympathetic. But I might condone the same act on the grounds that greater evil might thus be prevented. The same moral justification for shooting a rabid dog on a playground filled with innocent children.

FRAML< Yopo: Yes, I think the policeman and his brother officers will keep an eye out for the acquitted killer and try to legally catch him in another crime.

Ben< Yopo: Yes. However, shooting a rabid dog -- or human -- isn't the same as personal vengeance.

order< All gets back to intent, and what level of awareness we are acting from ... Love/pain and anger and frustration. (imho)

UniversaLove< order: Yes ... agree with you.

order< UniversaLove: *S

Jello< Self-defense need not be an offense. It can be a redirection or a healing. But it is so much harder for most of us to do right.

windchild< The best self-defense is being at peace with yourself. As within so without.

dCrone< Grief can last a long time.

bluestar< I think the fact that Bro walked shows some innate flaw within the system ... with the judge, the lawyers. Seems to me if Bro had the gun, shot off the husband's arm, was seen chasing wife with rifle (didn't the bullet in his arm match bullet in wife's head?) I mean, there seems to have been some serious tampering with the justice system here. So what can husband do? If he kills Bro or Bud, he will just have to spend time paying for it. I don't think that it is possible for a human being to truly exact any justice in the world. The world simply isn't fair. We can try to live fairly and justly ... but we can't make others do so.

Ben< bluestar: Good analysis of the situation. However, shotguns don't leave signature marks on the shot like rifles and pistols leave on their bullets.

dCrone< And you usually don't find them lying around in the bushes, either.

FRAML< Double barrel, 1 shot per person; no expended cartridges to be ejected. "Cleaned" shells, pre-loaded. Was Bro acquitted, or charged with shooting the husband also?

Ben< FRAML: Bro was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon for shooting Husband. He served about three years in prison.

Slider< When on the battle field, revenge is sometimes the one element that wins the battle. The justification of who is right or wrong is many times in the hands of the victor. So now the moral justification comes down to: is it man's law or God's law that the victor is following? The old testament is eye for eye and tooth for tooth -- the New testament is turn the other cheek. Our job comes back to discernment of our intuition on interpreting both sets of laws.

FRAML< Slider: Well said, Sir. This is our new battleground.

Ben< ALL: Husband did not take justice into his own hands, because he didn't want to go to prison and leave his children without a father. Wife's father and mother used their anguish as motivation to lobby for laws against stalkers. After a few years, such laws were passed by the legislature of their state.

order< Ben: Good ending... *VVBS* (value judgment call... *G)

greyman< Ben: Amen.

windchild< Too bad it took such a tragedy to have a law like that.

greyman< Amen.

Slider< It seems a real break-down that we have to pass more laws to stop the things that should be stopped with the laws already on the books. (imo)

dCrone< The news-type-story of the stalker who broke into David Letterman's house made the point that this woman needed help long before she committed suicide. Society failed to protect itself at the points where action would have rerouted events.

Jello< I still often wonder why it takes tragedy to get social change going ... maybe just species-wide myopia? But are the tragedies "the will of God" or pre-contracted or karmic? Or are they just natural results of free will gone wrong combined with our environment?

bluestar< The enactment of the law regarding stalkers and guns might have been/be the karmic connection.

Yopo< bluestar: Perhaps. But do most of us think that all the events of our lives are karmic? I'm not sure that I do. I think some events are more or less random, owing to the nature of the universe we live in. A falling stone, an accidental morning encounter with a driver in the grips of road-rage. Perhaps some things just happen without reason. Other than the meaning that we can find in them by the way we come to terms with them.

dCrone< Some things do happen without intent. I really do believe that evil can only lie where it is intended.

Ben< ALL: By the way, this wasn't hypothetical. It happened in 1992. Husband's name is Rick. Wife's name was Sharon. She was a guest soloist in our church several times. Her parents were members of our church.

FRAML< Ben: No wonder I thought it sounded familiar.

Yopo< FRAML: Alas, it probably sounded familiar to everyone.

Ben< SUMMARY: Value-judgments are relative (and usually subjective), but some of them are relative to the age-old question of how human beings can live together without destroying each other. Some of these value-judgments have been tested and re-tested for thousands of years: Where they are stated as rules for right and wrong actions, and taught and accepted, they tend to produce a more peaceful society. Where they are not taught, or not accepted, the strongest and most vicious have their own way.

order< Ben: Agree and most of these value judgments may (imho) be traced back through soul to a syncronisity with Universal LOVE. *S*

dCrone< I agree, Ben, and the problem you have posed is difficult for individuals as well as societies in our ever-more global community.

Ben< /topic Discussion of Right & Wrong -- and why

Yopo< It seems the rightness or wrongness of an act might to some extent depend upon what was in the heart of the one who acted.

skyehawk< Seems to me its better to be kind than to be right.

windchild< I really don't think "turn the other cheek" really means to let people walk all over you. I think it means looking at a situation in a different light. Instead of revenge, What?

greyman< windchild: As more and more people of ill-will are increasing in number, society may soon break down, even as new laws are put into effect. Soon to have no effect. Thank you Mr. Clinton!

dCrone< Who does the Grail serve? Clinton = self? Criminal = self? Is society a self?

order< greyman: Clinton did not do this by himself. Society was behind it.

greyman< order: Mr. Clinton took an oath to the American people that was absolutely worthless. No man is above the law. Not a nice role model for our children.

order< greyman: No man WAS against the law... 'til now. *G* Changing times.

Slider< greyman: There are so many laws that it is hard to exist today without breaking one. *S*

greyman< Slider: Yep. If there is a violent revolution, I think a lot of lawyers are going to disappear. *G*

FRAML< Slider: Yes, we are in a position where it is impossible to know when we are breaking the law.

order< FRAML: I picked some wild flowers a few years ago and imagine my surprise to find I had 'broken the law'!!! LOL

windchild< greyman: Do you really think people of "ill will" are increasing? That hasn't been my experience.

greyman< windchild: You are handy with a computer. Please check for yourself on the Internet. Crime stats are increasing faster than delta population growth. In the United States we have over a million of our population in prison. Please research these things for yourself, please.

windchild< You see all of the negative, because that is all the media fills you with, there are just as much good happening out there, but it's not considered news worthy.

Ben< windchild: Good point. I also believe there is much good being done in this world that we don't see because it isn't reported.

order< Ben: "If a man takes your coat, give him your cloak also"? Sounds like what we would call letting people walk all over us ... and yet, maybe not. The second movement was ours, and in the giving maybe changed the energy?? hmm

[Ben< order: Yes. Clear point. We are responsible for what we decide, because we can decide for ourselves, but we cannot decide for another.]

FRAML< order: And Jesus also instructed his disciples to take weapons with them as necessary for self-defense the 2nd time he sent them out. this may have been after Pentecost, I don't fully remember.

order< FRAML: Don't remember anything like that!!! Will look again. *S

windchild< FRAML: Why then did Jesus say live by the sword die by the sword?

FRAML< windchild: Because if you live your life in a violent manner, you will die that way. Self-defense after being attacked, is (imo) not a violation of that statement; in fact it might well be that the person defending himself will cause the person who attacked to die, thus by violence as he was preparing to mete out on someone else. I'm a peaceful fellow; however if attacked I will fight back.

order< FRAML: I have heard of the armor of God... but, this is Love, joy, peace, patience, etc? No other weaponry remembered.

FRAML< order: If I've gotten examples mixed up, I won't fall on my sword defending a bad statement.

order< FRAML: Ahaha! I know that about you. ***BigSqueeze***

[Ben< Jesus told his disciples to buy swords just after his last supper. They said "Here are two swords." He said "That's enough." (Luke 22:35-38) Then they went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Later that night, a mob came to arrest him. One of his disciples cut an ear off one of the mob, and the mob stopped in their tracks. Jesus said, "No more of this!" Then he surrendered himself to the mob, and his disciples ran away. I believe all this was a carefully planned maneuver designed to insure that Jesus was captured but his disciples were not. See Luke 9:30-31]

Ben< ALL: Referring to my Summary -- Next time I'd like to look at some of the historic value-judgments (usually translated into moral commandments) and the effects that accepting them have on the peace and harmony of any human society.

Jello< I just read a great book about bonobo apes, and how they avoid violence by frequently having almost 'orgiastic' encounters. VERY interesting contrast with violent chimpanzees. And their faces are so very expressive. Perhaps some lessons to be learned?

Ben< Jello: I think what humans call "orgiastic encounters" among Bonobo apes are what they call "Hugs" among humans. Hugs can help a lot.

Jello< Well, the strict definition of what they do would have fundamentalists up in arms if it were with humans ... but this is the one ape society where females are in many ways more "dominant." Fascinating!

bluestar< windchild: I have enjoyed your comments tonight. It has been my experience that the world (in general) is improving and becoming more spiritual; however (imo) evil is becoming more concentrated and more powerful in each instance of evil. Evil also seems to have better PR.

dCrone< Thanks, bluestar. I had my thinking cap stretched over my ears! *S*

bluestar< dCrone: *S*

Jello< Part of the nature of evil is big, loud, shiny, noisy, attention-grabbing. Now, if only we knew better how to respond to such things.

windchild< I don't believe in "evil" Just unawareness.

order< windchild: Evil, I think, is just a word for knowing better and doing it anyway. *S

Ben< windchild: What Bud and Bro did fits my definition of evil: to intentionally cause others pain or hardship, damage or death.

dCrone< A woman who was talking with men on death row once said that the thing about 'evil' that surprised her most was that it was so charming.

Jello< The other part of "evil" is insidious, silent, sneaking, slipping, pulling, whispering. And IMHO we need training for seeing that. But more than that, I think this society overall (not in particulars) has forgotten how to identify true good. (Wow, getting off topic.)

Ben< Jello: I think your post is right on topic. Thanks.

dCrone< Jello: I don't think you are off topic. There must be a ground zero somewhere or we run amuck. *VBG*

windchild< If society at large believes in "evil" then it is our society that has created such a situation on a mass scale. Imagine if everyone only believed in love.

order< windchild: A society that recognizes evil DOES believe in LOVE, and recognizes evil because it is NOT LOVE. (imho)

Jello< Thanks, order. Yes, we also appreciate love much more from seeing evil. (Never thought I'd say that, but I think it's true)

order< Jello: Not that we need it, but that the soul instinctively knows what love is NOT.

Jello< order: How many people do you know in the general world who can clearly hear the inner voice of soul? I don't think a lot of people really know love.

order< Jello: Don't know how many. *S

Jello< Ben: Do you think we adequately answered the question of "What caused this situation?"

Ben< Jello: No, we haven't adequately answered the question of what caused this tragedy. What do you think?

Jello< If everyone had the same idea of love, great. But we don't. Some people think love is following ancient laws written in holy text X, while others think it's from holy text Y.

bluestar< I think of evil as colossal spiritual and/or moral ignorance.

windchild< I agree, bluestar.

order< bluestar: I think calling it ignorance is too kind. It isn't evil if one is unaware. It is only evil when one is aware and chooses to do it anyway. (imho)

windchild< If you choose to do evil, order, then you have no awareness.

Yopo< Evil most always seems to involve putting one's own wants and desires ahead of all others and all else. I'm not sure do's and don'ts really define what it is. It seems more a matter of blind self-referencing.

Jello< I personally can't tell, but I'm not one to believe that karma can totally override free will. As for contracts, somehow I don't think so in this case. Killing others would be known by reasonably competent spirits to be a Bad Thing (TM).

dCrone< Could have been karma, but what do I know? As I mentioned before, it is easy for me to say this because I don't have a handle on the forces active. It is also sorta comforting ... but does that make it so? I suspect the problem was rooted in the mind of Bud. Why it spread to his Bro, I can guess was because they were bonded in this life. I applaud the Father who did what needed to be done for the children. He had a mature conscience, perhaps despite a personal inclination to kill those who had intentionally violated the life of his family and Wife.

Yopo< Jello: But then, you've got the old example of the policeman who comes across the driver who cannot be extricated from a burning automobile. The policeman has his service revolver. The man is begging him to shoot. The right and wrong of killing seems suddenly reversed, does it not?

Jello< Yopo: I'm not saying there aren't exceptions, but killing out of hatred is different from killing out of pity (assuming you mean what I said about pre-life contract??)

Yopo< Jello: Was just commenting on your post concerning what reasonably competent spirits know about killing. *S* I believe the only universal rule is the rule of love.

windchild< Why do we need evil to see love? Sounds kind of insane to me.

Ben< windchild: Like with our eyes, to see with the mind also needs contrast. If all is light or all is dark, we don't see anything. I'm reminded of a time I was in a blizzard -- everything around me totally white. I thought it must be like being inside a ping-pong ball.

windchild< Ben: You are probably right, but the whole idea of it seems strange to me, I guess I just don't get it

Slider< FRAML, greyman: I have a hard time not justifying just punishment for the crimes committed. If a coyote is taking live-stock it should be destroyed. I feel the same for the predators that stalk the cities and countryside. It's not very compassionate at times, but how many free-roaming predators do we want to deal with?

dCrone< Coyote cannot make judgment; people can. I must be missing something here ???

Chella7< Right and Wrong are relative. Hungry coyote eats cow: right. Farmer's children go hungry: wrong. I think each farmer ought to raise a cow for the coyote, as he is our brother, too.

Slider< Chella7: Coyote get fat from eating cow and has big family, then brings big family to eat two cows. Where does the cycle end? Farmer can't afford to raise cows for more than his own family. Should he sell cows and go on welfare?

Chella7< Slider: It was meant in the spirit that I don't think anything should be put to death when its survival instinct clicks in. It doesn't know the difference between a wild rabbit and a cow. LOL ... Well, maybe it does.

Slider< Chella7: It wasn't meant to trash all coyotes, only the ones that are a problem. If that same animal came into the yard and took a child or baby -- and it has happened -- how much tolerance is shown? *S* You don't wait for it to come take another. *S*

Ben< Slider: Speaking of coyotes -- I read somewhere about some ranchers that played a neat trick on the local coyotes: put out mutton with something that made them sick but didn't kill them. The coyotes went back to their dens and taught their pups to leave sheep alone.

Slider< Ben: Animals are a lot smarter than some give them credit for, and I've heard of similar instances. Some people aren't that smart, though, and have to be dealt with accordingly. *S*

Ben< Slider: Hah! Yes. Coyotes are smarter than a 12-year-old boy with a .22 rifle. The last part of your post reminds me of the old boy who said, "The more I see of people, the better I like my dog."

Findlerman< I hope that nobody minds me shifting the focus of the discussion, but I have discussed, at great length, with a few good friends of mine a similar topic. At the time, I was having trouble with the whole concept of 'good' and 'evil.' I have read, in a number of different religions, where good and bad do not exist, at least, not in the way that most would think of good and bad. Something could be good, or bad, but that should have no weight on your decision. That statement really does no justice to the thought put into the beliefs, but that'll have to do for now. This got me thinking, "What makes good good?" or a less confusing way to look at it is "what makes 'good' something to try to achieve?' Any thoughts? My apology for spamming.

Jello< Findlerman: What makes good good? I don't know exactly how to answer that, other than to say, do you think it's better to live in a place where people help each other, or where they go out of their ways to hurt each other?

dCrone< Findlerman: I have much trouble with the concept of evil. Good is not so big an issue because I have a notion that the pull of life is toward creation. While creation involves destruction, I feel to destroy willfully is not 'good'.

Findlerman< OK. Do not get me wrong here. I used to be a Christian, and my beliefs show it a lot. I am not contesting that fact, but in this discussion, I played the 'devil's advocate.' I still believe in good, and do my best to do 'good' things, governed by my sense of morality and conscience, but I asked the question, "What makes what we call good something to strive for?" This is not a question of vocabulary, it is of concepts of right and wrong, and why we feel that 'good' is, what we have come to know as, good.

Frozen_Moon< Findlerman: Same here. I used to be and I still am a Christian. :-)

donoma< Findlerman: I came up with a working definition of good and bad, good being that which causes less pain, and bad being that with causes more pain. All sorts of things can get in the way, such as: Is causing temporary pain good for another one's growth? Could be; however, I think in most cases people do not have the right to cause pain for another even if they think it's good for them.

Frozen_Moon< donoma: LOL... Good definition!

Jello< Findlerman: Are you asking if there is an inherent quality in "good" that makes it something that should be strived for?

windchild< Why have we created this mass illusion of duality with everything? It's so confusing.

Jello< At least, where we are now, I think we need some contrast to see. Maybe later pure dazzling white will no longer blind us.

dCrone< windchild: I think that duality is the basis for our dense physicalness. Once we get past the need for matter, other modes of spirit will manifest.

windchild< dCrone: That makes some sense to me, thanks.

Jello< I always wonder about the notion that "everything is right and OK." If everything is right and OK, then it should be right and OK to believe things are not right and OK.

Frozen_Moon< Jello: It all comes down to perspective, my friend. Kinda like Polytheism, with Gods and Goddesses, represents our perspectives on nature and reality. This is why I don't believe in the end of the world, nor the mass ascension of the world. People have waaaaay too many lessons to learn before one or the other happens.

LEGS< Frozen_Moon: I'm with you. *s* Too many lessons yet to learn.

Jello< Duality (from what I have heard) is based on compartmentalizing things into cubbyholes, whether or not they fit. On the other hand, some of calculus is built upon chopping things up. It's just that you have to take the next step to smooth out the chopped-up pieces.

dCrone< Jello: What are you doing to me and my poor mind???? *VBG*

Slider< Jello: That's getting pretty much like philosophy?

Yopo< Or perhaps duality is something very basic. Like the 0 and 1 of our digital world here. Or as Ben said, about the necessity for both light and shadow for there to be a picture.

Ben< windchild, Jello, dCrone: Concerning contrast -- everything doesn't have to be black-or-white (Maya, the delusion of the duality of opposites), but we do need shades of gray or a spectrum of color, in order to see.

Frozen_Moon< Yeah, and with me NOT having that black/white duality is what gets to some of my more 'religious' friends. I have a friend who is Apostolic, for instance -- branch of the Pentecostal church. He doesn't see how I can look at everything in a shaded or multiple way ... but that is just how I am.

dCrone< Yes, Ben, I think so, too ... but it is easy to get lost in the grey shades. I envision duality as something that slips around the circumference of a ring ... the poles may be north and south or east and west ... north may be northwest when south is southeast ... EGAD!! Gunshots in the near distance ...

windchild< Ben: Don't you think we create a lot of what we see as "wrong" because of our mass beliefs?

Ben< windchild: I think we often erroneously label things good, bad, right, wrong, etc. Also, we inherit (are taught) some accurate labels and some erroneous labels.

dCrone< I prefer to do good because (not in any particular order): it does make me feel better about myself, it is easier than not doing good, because not-good is difficult to keep track of and makes me fuss at myself, and I was taught some sort of code of honor that hollers, too. Maybe I'm just a passive-aggressive who is in denial. No sirens in response to the gun shots, yet.

Jello< dCrone: Hopefully no one got hurt from the gun shots.

dCrone< Now the question I have is: Do I go and see if I can find where the offense occurred and try to help? My inclination is to stay put.

Jello< dCrone: Sounds like it's your choice what to do.

Frozen_Moon< You know, though -- there is a point here to this thinking ... some people believe in one ultimate single way that they must strive and search for, and some people believe in a way of life that really is not destined ... a way of life that does not have one ultimate truth to all the philosophical questions out there.

Jello< With the calculus thing, I think I'm saying duality can be a useful tool, but then you start making more categories, and more divisions, and then you need to make that great leap into getting a system to treat them all as one continuum ... and suddenly your way of thinking about things becomes more powerful, just as calculus was a big ramp-up for mathematics. But this is just a thought.

Findlerman< Jello: Yes. It is taken for granted (and I am not saying that I disagree with it, but things that we take for granted should be questioned, IMHO) that good; i.e., helping a homeless, neglected puppy get better; THERE! You feel that thing inside you that says 'Yes, that is good'. Why is that feeling something to strive for? Why do we feel good about helping the puppy? Things such as these ... what decides? After awhile, the best thing that I could come up with is that The Creator, God, said "These are the (insert concept, not word, of good here) things. This is what we should strive for."

Frozen_Moon< Findlerman: YES!!! Things that we take for granted SHOULD be questioned! So many people here that I see in SWC don't do that.

Jello< Findlerman: I see it as "seeing" the narrow Way. But what makes the "right thing" the "right thing"? That's way beyond me. I see it as a part of God, a creation of God, and an inherent aspect of God -- something beyond time. How do we know what's good? I think it's all tied to the spiritual ... which makes it very hard to bring into English.

Yopo< Maybe it might be that "good" defines the path toward unity and order, while "evil" defines the path toward chaos and dissolution?

dCrone< My personal view of chaos is that it is perhaps not as unordered as it is described, maybe just too big or different for us to see the structure and interplay.

donoma< Yopo: I dunno, I kinda like chaos and dissolution. Unity and order can be very dull. *s* All a matter of degrees.

Yopo< donoma: Like my little brother, you'd probably enjoy kicking over my carefully constructed house of toy building blocks. *LOL* I was talking more about spiritual order.

Findlerman< Yopo: Yes, on this path ... this is where we took the discussion. What makes one path better than the other? Why is the goal better than the other? Who decides that certain actions sent you down one path over the other?

Jello< Findlerman: What makes a path better? Unfortunately "better" is not something that can be measured by pure cold numbers. So I think any answers you get will be naturally based on opinions and experience ... so perhaps you can conclude that it is our own internal value sense that must determine "what makes it better?"

dCrone< Findlerman: I think most of us are on our own when it comes to choosing. Some, however, I do think, have destinies ... and, yep, Jello, I have chosen to preserve the life I have at this moment.

Findlerman< dCrone: I am talking on a less personal, and more universal scale here.

dCrone< Findlerman: Sorry I misunderstood. *S*

Findlerman< dCrone: That is a religion called Suicism. Interesting, but I cannot agree ... or at least, I have not been able to see it's view 'till tonight. I may not be right, but that statement denies right and wrong, anyway. :P

Frozen_Moon< The way I perceive it (as a final thought for the night) the church always speaks of Satan ... we are all our own little satans. (LOL) And I'm not saying that there really are evil spirits out there. I think that they are out there, just not nearly as common as some people think or would like you to think they are. Our job is to overcome Satan's power. To live true to ourselves ... and yet ... living balanced. I know The Course In Miracles talks about pretty much out-right killing the ego. Although I am not so sure about that.

windchild< If we as a society insist on labels and dualities, then that throws the theory of At-One-Ment right out the window, doesn't it?

Jello< windchild: Society may not be ready for anything outside of dualities. You can't force learning upon anyone, after all.

windchild< That's true, Jello, I just feel like society is trying to focus my attention for me.

Jello< windchild: Yeah, I think it's "forcing" in the opposite direction. Though I gotta admit there's a fine line between "teaching" and "forcing".

Frozen_Moon< Sure you can live in denial of the ego, but I think that very VERY few make it that way. And then you get some people who think that they HAVE denied the ego (essentially killed it) when they have only fooled themselves. This can get dangerous. For me ... I am not speaking for anyone else here ... but when I find that I am hurt, or if I get sick, or if I get frustrated or sad or depressed, it is not anybody else's fault, only my own ... but I don't beat myself up for that. It's just a sign that I just need to push some more somewhere ... just a sign that I still need to grow. :-) Always.

Jello< Frozen_Moon: Yes, fooling oneself is very dangerous; one of the worst things we can do to ourselves. But we can only keep trying to be more honest with ourselves about where we really are, right? Although it's possible to have a skewed sense of honest, so ... it gets psychologically complex. Sigh.

Yopo< Findlerman: Well, survival and growth seem to be the natural inclination of life and consciousness. To desire being, rather than non-being. Seemed to be what Creator had in mind, or S/He wouldn't have bothered in the first place. So, maybe that's what makes the direction of good positive and the direction of evil negative?

Ben< Yopo: (chaos <- logos -> cosmos) is an ancient definition of the first principle of the reversible process of creation and destruction. I think the spiritual direction of genuine moral values is toward creation, life, liveliness, health and happiness.

windchild< Totally agree, Ben.

Yopo< Ben: How come you said that with a few words, and it took me so durn many? *LOL*

Ben< Yopo: I try to minimize words because I type so slowly. *G*

Yopo< *LOL*

Findlerman< Jello: I am not talking on such a small level. We all must make our own decision, yes, but there has always been, in my view, no matter what I decide, a universal right and wrong. Maybe this is what I missed. Maybe there *aren't* any right's and wrongs, just personal judgments about the decisions that we and others make.

Jello< Findlerman: I wasn't really talking at a small level; more trying to say it's a spiritual matter. Spirit is a vast (no, infinite) field. I think there are rights and wrongs -- things better or worse -- but struggling souls can't always see what's better, or may not be able to follow through.

Findlerman< Jello: OK. So, there are rights and wrongs. What makes those things in group 'right' something that we should strive to achieve?

Jello< In minimized words: yes, I think there are absolutes, but why they are thus is way beyond me. The analogy that comes to mind is, "Why does infinity exist?" Can't really touch that one.

Yopo< Jello: As I understand it, there is an answer, but it would take forever to tell it. *LOL*

Slider< Jello: When you find the answer to infinity would you please pass it along. *S*

Jello< Slider: Sure! But it'll probably be an infinitely deep answer, so it might take a while to send over the 'net. *G*

dCrone< Jello: Do we have time?

Jello< Wow, we must be on the same joke wavelengths.

Yopo< *S* Maybe humor is the third force.

Chaza< The finite permits a gateway to infinity.

Yopo< What would happen if we were to strive to live evil lives? What sort of world would we have, and for how long?

Jello< That's a neat question. But I think we can partially answer that by looking at what happens when leaders wander into the realm of power-mania and paranoia.

Slider< Yopo: This society is doing a pretty good job of throwing evil around on a global scale right now. Let's hope the trend reverses and we won't find out the consequence.

Findlerman< They would cease to become evil lives, Yopo. For the definition would have changed.

Yopo< Findlerman: But, if we define "evil" as the way to chaos and dissolution, it would be a terminal state of affairs. Evil cannot sustain itself, I think.

dCrone< And how do we know the definition would change?

Findlerman< If we all started living 'evil' lives, 1. the definition of evil would change, language-wise. And 2. the concept of evil would change, because, therein the evil-concept is that it should be avoided. My question: If we all started living Evil lives, where would the path then take us, and why?

Jello< Findlerman: I'm not sure the definition would change even if people were to strive for evil. If you mean, to honestly think it better, such has happened in the past. If you mean, for it to be truly better? Then I think the example has ceased to have meaning. Or am I totally confused?

Chaza< Evil is the destruction, the chaos -- with focus on the order hidden within, the outer vanishes and good reigns. :)

Slider< Yopo: Chaos and dissolution can be a definition of change, so is change good or evil? I would not want to become stagnant.

Findlerman< Yopo: I see that our definition differs. I don't see order and evil as mutually exclusive. In fact, I would say that 'evil' acting people would use order, as opposed to chaos. You never see an evil dictator saying "Chaos! Follow Chaos, and down with Order!"

Yopo< Findlerman: You mean, a world of anti-commandments? That to kill is positive, to lie is positive, to steal is positive? That sort of reversal?

Jello< Evil is inherently selfish, and might makes right. An evil world is one where everyone is fighting everyone else for power. They feed on each other. The weak are rendered into oblivion. The strong grow bigger and fight each other and scatter destruction. That's what would happen, IMO.

Thur< All: Perhaps good in one society is evil in another society.

Jello< Yes, some old societies thought human sacrifice was a good thing.

LEGS< Jello: I love you. You are the Mr. Spock of the Amazon. Bravo for your logic.

Jello< Um, Mr. Spock? :)

Findlerman< Jello: I am not sure. Let's explore that path. Grant that definition, for discussion purposes, remains the same. That still leaves me with the question where does the evil path now lead, and why?

Yopo< And I'm not meaning "order" in the sense of stagnation, or a frozen state of affairs. "Order" in the sense that the things are comprehensible, meaningful.

Findlerman< Yopo: Not so defined. OK. Grant that Hitler was evil, or at least *doing* evil things. Would you follow what I mean then?

Yopo< *scratches head, still puzzled*

Jello< I may be misunderstanding, but in terms of order, it makes sense for evil to have some kind of order. Ever read "The Screwtape Letters" by CS Lewis? But it's not order like we like to think of it.

Ben< Findlerman: If any large percentage of a human society lead evil lives (no matter what word is used), the path is toward damage and death of individuals and the destruction of that society.

dCrone< (dCrone, from the relative comfort of her sitting stone, witnesses the flash of the drawn sword.)

[Ben< dCrone: Good eye ... *smile* And now the sword is sheathed again...]

Findlerman< Ben: Unavoidably? One trait that I would place as inherent in every dictator/emperor/ruler (what have you) is the desire to rule over other people, domineeringly so. In this, there is the need to have people to rule ... yes. Death. Destruction. Those come with hatred, another trait, but it would not mean the end of Humanity to me ... though that is a possibility.

cherrish< Findlerman: The path evil takes is where ever it can prey upon. It would die if it had no prey.

Slider< Jello: If human sacrifice is a good thing for some societies, it would only be a belief system that condoned such acts, which raises the question of belief systems ... a vicious circle seems to be starting to show up?? *S*

Jello< Slider: Isn't this entire seminar thread about values vs. good/evil vs. facts vs. what's real and what isn't? And these questions have been plaguing humanity for a long time, so I for one am not expecting a single neat answer everyone will agree to! *G*

Slider< Jello: I agree thoroughly. It seems to me that the only way to solve some of these questions is on the spiritual level at a higher plane than we now attain. Hopefully what we think is good will generate enough positive energy for us to reach that level and not have to hash it over for life time after life time. *S*

Jello< Slider: *G* Yep! Hopefully trying to follow the Path will be enough for us to get over our ignorance and mistakes.

dCrone< You know, why someone would want to rule over anyone, much less an entire society, is mystery to me.

Jello< Findlerman: Evil would care only about subjects, the dominated, in as much as they provide something of value to the evil. Some rulers (now talking about good, here) do not have the desire to rule domineeringly. They would rather have the subjects be voluntary subjects, who are ruled over only because they know the ruler has their best interests at heart, and because the ruler is somehow more qualified.

Yopo< A Dark Lord, on his dark throne, redefining terms to his own liking. There might be a sort of orderly march toward oblivion, granted. But surely all the things that make life worth living would be gone.

Findlerman< Yopo: That dark lord sounds like someone living his life for evil. Now, that statement, "Make life worth living" ... this, then, is why you value good?

Yopo< Findlerman: Yes. To me, "good" is that which makes the world brighter and more beautiful, for all who live in it. It is that which enhances our spiritual natures.

Findlerman< Yopo: Don't think of what Good is to you, think of 'Universal givens' ... what most people would think, or such ... but more of a law.

Jello< Findlerman: Are you searching for concrete *qualities* of good vs. the *qualities* of evil? What is it you are looking for? No one can tell you the absolute spiritual *why* of something (at least, I don't think so)

Findlerman< Jello: Not asking for it, just want to further develop my understanding of it. I think we may have strayed a bit, but what I'd like to know is: If you strip away all of your notions of good and evil as being something to strive for or avoid (which is hard to do, but possible, though I would only suggest doing it for a small period of time), Why is good actually something to strive for?

Jello< My view is that Good encourages life, happiness, health, good art, good music, wisdom, caring, the sincere pursuit of knowledge, friendship, teamwork, fun work. If someone cannot see the value in things like that, then alas, but I cannot explain why I prefer good.

Yopo< Maybe it might help to think of "good" as a direction on the map, then ask yourself where you want to get to. Ben spoke along those lines way back, in one of the early sessions. "Good" as a navigational point on the compass.

Findlerman< Yopo: Yes! Right there ... why does that needle on the compass point in that direction?

cherrish< Good and Evil exists so that they may know each other. Without the one, the other couldn't exist. To experience and know what each means to each other, when that happens, you may learn control of yourself and grow to that which is meant to be!

Yopo< "Good" not just as one choice of a given moment, but as a way of spiritually orienting oneself. Of defining which way is up, I think he said.

Thur< Yopo: Would that really help??? One persons "good" is another persons "evil" so I can see no advantage to a compass point.

Findlerman< Yopo: Yup. I have read his web-book, but, why does that needle on the compass point in that direction?

Jello< Findlerman: *why* does the needle point that way? One theory is that it's because of who/what we are, and where we came from.

Yopo< *S* Well, maybe it points to a desirable destination? Our spiritual magnetic north? Maybe the way home? I don't know. It is just what pulls me, pulls at my heart. I've spent quite enough of my time wandering in endless circles.

dCrone< Yopo is right about the intuitive force. Not all that is can be explained with words and re-definitions.

Slider< Findlerman: I would define good as the outcome from means that don't harm any one in an emotional or physical manner that tends to produce a desired affect of tranquillity or well being.

Jello< I think, if Good were a place on a map, and that's our home, BUT we have free will; we have the ability to wander all over the map. Wouldn't it make sense, though, that we'd have some memory or knowledge of which places are more like home than other? A homing instinct, if you will.

Findlerman< True ... then you have reached the same decision as I: The only reason that the needle points that way is because the Creator decided that it does. Or, to close the links in the chain: certain actions are known as good. These 'good' actions are located on the compass as 'the right thing to do' (something to strive for.) Why? They point to the Creator. Why is it in that direction? Why did s/he/it choose to put 'good' things as the path? Only God Knows. :)

Jello< Findlerman: That is my current conclusion as well. :)

Findlerman< *sigh* This conclusion didn't really satisfy me then and doesn't really satisfy me now. I still don't know *why* I should do good things, though I do anyway (that is not the topic for tonight.) I would say warm fuzzies, but those are personal-decision-based.

[Ben< Findlerman: You are right on target. The question "WHY should I do good things and not bad things?" wasn't the topic for tonight, but it is the fundamental question behind all other questions of morality and ethics.]

16. Facts vs Values
Session 3: Sat 27 Feb 1999

Ben< ALL: In the first of these 3 sessions we looked at the basic difference between facts and values: Humans discover facts, but create values. For example: "It tastes bitter" is a sensory perception and a factual statement. "I don't like it" is a personal decision. "It tastes bad" is a personal value judgment. "It is bad" assigns a value-label to the substance that tastes bitter as if that value was a fact.

Ben< Some value-judgments are broadly based on the experiences, observations or experiments of many individuals. Many of these more objective value-judgments can be translated into factual statements and explained in terms of cause-and-effect. For example: "This medicine is good for you, because it will help you breathe more easily."

Ben< In the second session I posted factual statements and asked you to provide your own value-judgments concerning right and wrong actions. In my summary, I noted that some broadly-based value-judgments concerning right and wrong have been translated into moral commandments.

Ben< Tonight I'll post a few of the classic moral commandments and ask you to provide your own opinions concerning the likely results of obeying them. I'll use sub-questions to expand our thinking from an individual perspective toward more nearly universal principles. READY?

Ben< 1: Moral commandments such as these are prescriptions for self-indulgence and permissiveness: "Do as you will" (self-indulgence), and "Do as you will shall be the sum of the law" (permissiveness). What do you think is likely to happen in a group or society where these moral commandments are implemented? YOUR TURN

Findlerman< Well ... I think it would depend upon the fore-sight of the group or society as a collective.

Ben< Findlerman: Have you been in such a group? I think of a group of cub scouts with a totally permissive leader.

Findlerman< Not as such that I can remember, but it seems reasonable that the reason for laws and restrictions are to serve the interest of the individual in the long run. Starting with the social contract, man set out for his own goals, to meet his own end; entering into binding 'contracts' and thereby restricting himself to a degree, but he is freeing himself in the long run. I don't know ... maybe this is off-topic.

[Ben< Findlerman: I think your observations are right on topic. *smile*]

FRAML< To me it means "anything goes." I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and to whomever I desire. There are no limits on me doing whatever strikes my fancy.

Esop< I think we already have an example of that: Sodom and Gomorra.

TimS< The morally minded individuals within the group/society would be at the mercy of the immorally minded.

Slider< I believe a society with moral commandments such as you presented would soon fall to survival of the strong and fit, or those with the best weapons, and most others would fall into servitude if they survive the revolution.

Ben< ALL: Okay. Thoughtful answers. More?

treetalker< I agree with Findlerman. If this were an enlightened society where Love were the frequency of being, then the choices would be made for the good of the All -- otherwise we could have the experience of chaos!

FRAML< treetalker: But what if this were the ONLY rule in that society? No other existed? There was no 'enlightenment'?

Cassandra< Seems like a spoiled kid's rule.

greyman< Without inside or outside control, chaos would prevail.

Ben< ALL: As I see it, the usual results of unbridled free will are power struggles and dominance hierarchies in which only the strongest and most vicious do as they will. Those farther down the pecking order are slaves.

Findlerman< But if Man, by restricting himself, restricts himself (as the law wills), he meets his own desires (as thou will), what is the difference?

WuWey< In a society where permissiveness was the LAW, slaves would be outlaws. Wouldn't they?

LEGS< Not very many happy campers left in such a society I would guess.

greyman< Ben: True except when the lower pecking order adopts the spiritual value of cooperation. Once a small group cooperates together, they may overpower a singular stronger force.

Lor< I sense we are all capable of doing whatever we will or choose to do; but our evolutionary history of experiences throughout perhaps many lifetimes leads us to perceive the "VALUE" of certain self-restraints which have come to be called moral values because these have tended to prove most effective in achieving a civilized society where we can each honor and appreciate each other to the larger extent.

Ben< 2. Moral commandments such as these are prescriptions for self-restraint: "An ye harm none, do as ye will." "First, do no damage." "Do not do to another what you would not want done to you." Almost all human societies and religions have such commandments.

Ben< 2a: What happens if everyone obeys these commandments? YOUR TURN

Yopo< I would think we would have a better world. Though there would still eventually be lawyers. *S* Disputes about what constitutes harm.

FRAML< I do as I want, as long as my actions don't hurt others. I'm now in a situation where I am accepting a limit on my total 'free want' (or lust).

1love< I feel the golden rule is the most conscious of all the commandments: treat all life from the place that because we are all so interconnected treat others as YOURSELF and before this treat YOURSELF as YOURSELF, your highest potential, option, and see the God-spark in all of life, share, be open, honest and response able to all of life and LOVE ONE another.

cloudkid< I don't believe morality or virtue can be cultivated by thought/mental synthesis. This is a type of conditioning and is not true understanding or realization of goodness.

WuWey< cloudkid: Agreed. Morals achieved by conditioning are essentially artificial.

Esop< If everyone lived by the moral commandment #2, I suppose that would be "heaven on earth" after the 2nd coming of Christ. It would be the perfect world.

LEGS< Happier campers than the first question. *lol*

TimS< Better than #1, but still short of the golden rule.

Yopo< TimS: Good point!

Slider< By following 2a, one who has the power of thought and the power of will or will not can lead an existence with which to try and live in unison with their fellow beings and surroundings, to the benefit of all concerned. Much easier said then done, for sure!!!!

Ben< ALL: I should have added to that list of similar moral commandments the word "Ahimsa" (harmlessness) as found in Hindu teachings.

Findlerman< Depends on hard definition. If you mean physical harm, then no one cares about what everyone else is doing, you end up stepping on toes. I don't think that you can have this as your only commandment ... you lead to anger, which leads to violence ... at least eventually.

FRAML< Findlerman: Good point, we'd all have to come to a common definition for the word harm, otherwise my hurting you may not be my definition of "harm."

Esop< FRAML: hahaha, I'm sorry. Just made me think of "depends on what 'is' means".

Findlerman< FRAML: To expand on that earlier point, if harming is hindering my progress to my goal, I don't think that we could get much done. there would have to be concessions, more restrictions, freeing both sides.

Ben< My opinion of 2a is that if everyone tried to obey it, no one would intentionally harm anyone else, so the group or society would be a better place in which to live.

WuWey< Not if unconsciously people still nurtured thoughts of transgression.

Cassandra< Ben: 2a is good. It also reminds me of the sect that wears a mask over their nose and mouth so they won't breathe in any insects by mistake and harm them. I forget their name. It starts with J ...

1love< Cassandra: That would be the Jainas from India!

Findlerman< Two people driving in cars in the same direction on a two-lane road, in a no passing zone. The speed limit is 65. The person in front is going 35. Is this Harm?

Lor< Findlerman: The one going from behind must slow down of course or cause harm to both. I'd call the one going 35 caring perhaps if he were to pull off and let the one behind move on, wouldn't you?

Findlerman< Lor: That wasn't the point I was trying to make. If I am in the car in back, and I have an appointment, but being late won't do me any *physical* harm, but I could lose a promotion if I am late, is it actually harm?

Lor< Ben: re 2a -- There is concern that by choosing moral values, one may lose out to those that do not. However, my understanding is that we are here to learn how to best live in a civilized society and must prove ourselves capable of following moral principles under the worst kind of circumstances and tests provided by unprincipled persons. I sense we are not lost to God when our souls must leave our bodies (when we die) and that then, if we have made enough progress, we may choose not to try again to perfect the nature our inner beings.

Ben< 2b: What happens if some obey commandment #2 and some do not? YOUR TURN

greyman< Washington, DC.

Slider< If we read the newspaper or listen to the daily news 2b is answered.

1love< You'd have the experience we are having now in this 3d density and out of respect for life this is where compassion comes in.

Esop< 2b: Answer, look around. This is the world that we live in. Some obey, some do not.

Ben< Esop: Okay ... what happens to those who practice harmlessness in a group or society where some do not?

Slider< Ben: Some are stepped on by those that do not and others are protected to some degree by their fellow believers.

Esop< Ben: The harmless people are ridiculed and wiped out by those who do not practice that way. So the harmless people start to make laws to protect themselves. They do it in the name of peace. They start to become like those that are harming them, but they don't see it that way. They are justified in the name of peace and order.

Ben< Esop: Yes, good point. That's typically what happens next. The ones who want to practice harmlessness get together and try to restrict the actions of those who do not.

Findlerman< Ben: They are harmed, decimated or wiped out.

Yopo< Findlerman: Or they band together to restrict the behavior of the harm-doers ... and, in some cases, end up doing harm themselves.

Findlerman< Yopo: Then they are no longer the small group. They ignore the commandment. One way or another, they are wiped out or decimated.

Slider< Yopo: You read my mind, many play both sides of the commandment and justify it by saying it is for the good of all or many!

1love< Ben: Where are leading us with these questions?

Findlerman< 1love: Patience ... it's a seminar, and Ben is the leader. Let him choose his own pace.

treetalker< 2b: If those who do obey are in a place of understanding the way of the Universe, then compassion for those who are not. Does not the Light multiply faster and greater than the Darkness? Will not the living example of Love heal those who are not yet to this understanding?

Esop< treetalker: Ideally, yes.

Yopo< treetalker: Not necessarily, IMHO. Those who are willing to do harm are more lacking in self-restraint, and often harness primal forces of greed, instinct, etc. Those are powerful energies, when given free-rein.

treetalker< Yopo: Don't know, IMHO! New guy on block. But I'm definitely a believer in LOVE heals everything. If you know who you truly are, then what actual "harm" can be done to you? Dark forces have only the "power" that you as individual grant it. Free will. I don't have to participate in negative energies.

bluestar< treetalker: I agree. I think the "good" have somehow been tricked into believing they/we cannot escape from people harming us, and so become entangled in the energies of those doing harm.

1love< First of all, your life is viewed from the 3D perspective of right/wrong, good/bad. You are buying into life lived through separation, half viewed or experienced swing which causes fragmentation. Life is, and the balance point comes with acceptance for the "Suchness" or "Isness" which moves ONE beyond duality of perceived value judgments.

Ben< I think those who practice Ahimsa get beat up a lot, and wind up at the bottom of the pecking order, which is why this commandment is so often repeated and so often ignored.

WuWey< Can anyone be truly harmless?

Kathleen< First define harmless. What is our perception of harmless ... and in what concept?

[Ben< Kathleen: There is a difference between doing harm intentionally and doing harm accidentally. I see harmlessness in terms of intentions.]

Findlerman< WuWey: Good Question. A better one is, How can we know? Who knows what harm we do, merely breathing. In the end, until it is all over (even then) we cannot know.

WuWey< Can a society exist without harm-doers?

Findlerman< WuWey: That would delve into Human Nature, which is often theorized upon, but never actually figured out.

WuWey< IMHO, a society cannot exist without its 'harm-doers', anymore than an individual can achieve 'growth' without experiencing pain. At the level we exist in 'harmful' experiences can be essential for us to comprehend certain fundamental truths.

Cassandra< It is pretty hard on the innocent ones while they are waiting for the lawbreakers to learn how to Love. Personally, I don't like to be beat on. I have been in my lifetime, and Love didn't ever change that person's viewpoint. Lucky for me he didn't live a long time.

WuWey< Cassandra: Is anyone really innocent?

Cassandra< WuWey: Yes, I was innocent. He drank and was mean. I tried to do things right and I was too afraid to talk back. I didn't know how to fight. My mother didn't believe in it. Also the babies are truly innocent.

bluestar< WuWey: Innocent as in unknowing, or innocent as in not guilty?

WuWey< Bluestar: Both.

Cassandra< WuWey: Don't judge everyone by yourself. *G*

WuWey< Cassandra: No judgment was passed. Only questions asked. Sorry if I did not make myself clear.

Cassandra< WuWey: Where is your sense of humor? Didn't you see my grin?

WuWey< Cassandra: Sorry! *S*

FRAML< WuWey: Your child walking to school gets attacked and killed because he has his lunch money with him. Was your child innocent? or did he provoke the assault because he shouldn't have had money on his person?

WuWey< FRAML: I was referring to innocence in a broader, 'philosophical' if you like, manner, not in the 'causal' manner you have illustrated so well.

Ben< ALL: As those who want to practice harmlessness get together to restrict those who will not restrain themselves, there is a tendency to go overboard and become like those they are trying to restrain. This is an ancient dilemma. One law that tries to keep a balance in this regard is: Repay in proportion to the offense, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." It was a great improvement over what went before it.

greyman< Those who obey keep body parts. Those who do not will loose them as a consequence.

bluestar< I think an "eye for an eye, etc." sets up a vicious circle. I think it works in the short run, but in the long run, it only escalates things.

WuWey< I slap you, you slap me back. Fair enough. But, what has been gained? What has been learned?

[Ben< WuWey: This law of "fair enough" was a gain over the instinct to escalate: "You slap me, I cut your head off." Both survive. Both learn it hurts to be slapped.]

Slider< Ben: An eye for an eye works well only if those at fault admit the harm they have done or are caught in the act. And if the punishment is carried out swiftly. And by whom? Does the cycle continue? Jesus showed us more compassion than those before him in western societies. There were others in other societies before Jesus who preached these good commandments. We must learn to reason with our selves (imho) to discern harmful or not harmful.

cloudkid< There is only guilt where there is blame.

Chaza< One cannot know the true motive of another person, and often is challenged to one's own.

bluestar< Ben: Could it be that control is at the root of the concepts of right and wrong ... control of oneself (and one's life) and/or control of others?

Cassandra< I certainly had no control over stronger person. The law would have helped me if I hadn't been too afraid to go to the law. Afraid I would have been hurt worse, and I would have been, so that comes to enforcement of the law.

Kathleen< You bring up a good point, bluestar. 'control' of emotions? ... and how do we go about doing it.

[Ben< Kathleen: There are techniques for self-control of emotions; some examples are in TOOLKIT on my website.]

Ben< bluestar: Yes, self-control and control are the basic means -- and the basic objective of commandment #2 is to minimize the amount of pain and damage that people do to each other.

donoma< I think, ultimately, good is what we do to minimize and eradicate pain. The more pain we eradicate, the less we pass on to future generations. The reason why we should do good is to respect our future generations by attempting to minimize their pain. It is love for our children.

Findlerman< Actually, it is funny. I have recently discussed this with a group of friends of mine who think such moral questions out. The topic was: Can a society uphold any values without subverting them, in order to protect them?

Kathleen< Let me put it to you this way ... one Fredrick Paris wrote: " You do your thing, and I'll do my thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I AM I ... and if by chance we find each other ... It's beautiful."

[Ben< Hmm. "Do your thing" isn't so beautiful if "your thing" is murder or rape.]

1love< Ben: I know something about the use of personal commandments I would like to share here. Once when my life was in a real chaos spin I didn't know what to do so I decided I would do anything to stop the pain of my circumstances. So I chose 10 crystals, put them in a circle, and said a commandment for each of the crystals and reset them in the circle where I lay for 1 hour for 90 days straight in a row. Well I can tell you through being in this resonant field of intention, I moved upon the waters so to speak and a lake of Grace engulfed me for months. All this bypassed belief in anything, it just went into a matrix of physical manifestation -- very power full.

Lor< WuWey: Your statement "At the level we exist in 'harmful' experiences can be essential for us to comprehend certain fundamental truths" is sort of what I was driving at in my post. // Bluestar: Again, that was my point. // Findlerman: Yes we are hindered/harmed in a sense by restricting our free will upon others; but I wonder if we are not better off in the eternal scheme of things by doing so, if not in the immediate future?

Ben< 3. This moral commandment is a prescription for personal initiative: "Do for another what you would want done for you." What is likely to happen to those who obey this commandment where some do not? YOUR TURN

Findlerman< That comes closer to the teachings of Christ. Love one another as you love yourself.

Koklee< That depends on how one would want to be treated should they themselves be out of line.

Sabina< Perhaps what is most difficult is to have compassion for ourselves.

Chaza< The golden rule (doing unto others as you WOULD do unto yourself) supports the inherent nature of human being/life -- as all are interconnected.

greyman< Without a sustained source of physical resources that activity may not last long.

bluestar< Do unto others sounds like a pretty good law; but I found out that often times what I wanted done to me was quite different from what others wanted done to them. :-(

WuWey< Bluestar: I agree.

1love< Ben: Being an example is always the best way to experience any teaching. :)

Ben< ALL: Perhaps I should rephrase the question: What happens in a group or society where some fraction of the group or society takes the initiative to help others if and when they can?

Esop< Ben: Commandment 3 makes me think of work. Some people do for others, some people do not. Some people carry the burden of others and don't complain. Some people complain a lot. It really doesn't change anything in the workplace or society. It's a matter of acceptance, attitude.

[Ben< Esop: Yes, obedience to this commandment is work, but to the degree that anyone takes the initiative to actually help anyone else, it does make an observable difference in the workplace or society.]

1love< It brings more peace and beauty and love to life and is "Yes" to life in all its creation.

FRAML< Treating others as I wish to be treated will mean that I won't harm them (hopefully I'm not a masochist), that I will help them when they need it. It will lead to a more co-operative society.

Ben< 4. This is the fundamental question in response to moral commandments other than the one I listed first: "Why should I do good and not evil?" What answers have you heard? How do you answer this question? YOUR TURN

Slider< Ben: I feel better doing good. It's just that way, can't explain it, just the way it is. *S*

Cassandra< Once in a while I do a good thing -- it makes me feel good.

Esop< I should do good, and not evil, because I have tried evil and it gives me stomach problems. Besides, my basic nature is good, and when I go against that, I pay a price. A big price. Also, someone said earlier, be an example. I like that.

Koklee< Doing good improves upon our own weaknesses. It strengthens us, and hopefully, our environment.

Chaza< Good is inherent to the perpetuation of life. The good always "wins out" -- the good cannot be destroyed (in 3D reality, our perception is limited). All that we value most highly -- love, truth, beauty, good -- all are indestructible in the grand plan.

Kathleen< I would say I would much rather have positive returning to me other than negative. There is doing good ... and then "doing good".

bluestar< Because doing good ultimately creates and/or unifies. It supports and maintains life. Doing evil separates and destroys ... and ultimately "what one sows, one reaps. "

LEGS< I suppose it would be the way we see things happen in a group, or most any organization: some do the work and all benefit from it. Is this not taking advantage of the ones who are doing the right thing? ... the things all should be doing ... at least their fair share?

[Ben< LEGS: Some will try to take advantage. Some will merely accept. Some will want to repay. Some may decide to emulate the ones who are doing good things.]

Yopo< I should do good rather than evil, because I wish to live in the sort of world where good prevails and evil does not. (The sum is the total of the parts.) And I suspect that what we do defines what we become.

Lor< My previous post presented my reasoning for wishing to choose to do good vs harm or evil.

Ben< ALL: Good answers. (A personal value-judgment expressing approval and appreciation. *grin*)

treetalker< Why good over evil? One is not better or worse than the other. IMHO! They are just different and will create different experiences. If we create our realities, then choose the one which will create the experience you prefer. Each choice is valid and appropriate in a Universal view. It is in the "Being" of good that you will create the experience of goodness. I'd choose that one!!!

[Ben< treetalker: Since, in your own value-judgment, good isn't better than evil, I wonder why you would prefer and choose to create the experience of goodness.]

FRAML< treetalker: However, to create our own realities leads back into "do whatever I will" since perhaps in "my reality" murdering people is a 'symbolic act' because I think I can "will" them back to life.

treetalker< FRAML: Yes, I agree that your scenario is one of the limitless possibilities that the Universe offers. And I will return to not good or bad but just different, and equally appropriate as a choice. If you want to address murder as a bad thing, then I would have to relate that if I am a Divine Spiritual Being having a temporary physical experience, then I cannot really be killed at all.

Kathleen< Very good point, treetalker.

FRAML< treetalker: I hope that you don't meet up with a mugger on the DC streets; that is a 'whole different reality.'

Cassandra< treetalker: I believe, in the case you suggested, that I will wait until I am in Divine Spirit to be murdered or hurt as I will not feel it then. While in my physical body I prefer not to be murdered no matter how pleasant you think it would be for me later.

FRAML< I have this recollection (from college psych course) of a definition of a mentally unstable (aka insane) person as one who lived in a world that was of his own creation. That type of person denies the physical realities that exist in nature and considers that they are immune from them and their consequences.

treetalker< FRAML: With love do I say that I've been mugged, raped, robbed, abused, as most humans have, and they are all experiences that bring me to this moment. Love is the only healer and to live in Light of Love is freedom.

bluestar< treetalker: Such has been my experience as well ... the good, the bad, and the ugly ... love is the supreme healer, the answer, the Way.

Cassandra< treetalker: I will tell you from experience that it is very easy to recognize LOVE -- as in the Universal Spirit LOVE. You would never have to have fear to know that all encompassing, awe-inspiring, love that is so great all things sort of melt inside you and you have to kneel it is so great! It fills you and the Room with LIGHT. There is no mistaking it if you had never known anything but LOVE from your family your entire life. This is so far beyond that.

FRAML< treetalker: Then if all of these have happened to you, and taking you at your word that "you create your own reality" why did you create these 'harmful' things to happen to you?

treetalker< FRAML: We bring to ourselves that which we need to know. All choices are made on some level whether it be consciously or otherwise. All experiences bring us to the point of "remembering" who we truly are and using this memory to enhance and enlighten our lives and others, if we so choose. If we don't truly know FEAR then how will we recognize LOVE?

bluestar< FRAML: I know your questions was directed at treetalker and I cannot speak for him/her ... but as for my own experiences ... They happened before I understood how we truly can create our own reality. When they happened I believed as do most people that my ability to control "my" world was quite limited when "others" were involved, particularly strangers. I believed that there were people and things that could harm one in the world and that sometimes one just couldn't do anything about it. On a more spiritual level, I believed in the whole martyr and sacrifice concept. On a mundane level, I simply believed in the old adage "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Even now, although I have much more control over situations that could literally destroy me if I believed that they could, I am not perfect in my belief. But I am working on it. ;-)

FRAML< treetalker & bluestar: Ah, now you get the point I was trying to make. You are speaking of learning how you can affect what happens to you by decisions you make and how you interact with others. Many whom I've seen here speak of "creating my own reality" as a method of divorcing themselves from this world that we live in. They say, in effect, "I don't like it here, so I'll pretend everything is as I wish it to be for me, personally." You both are taking actions to affect what happens to you, to prevent or cause (depending upon the free will of others).

bluestar< FRAML: Action coupled with an "attitude" ... a frame of mind, if you will ... that allows one to be in control of one's own world (not someone else's). Indeed in trying to control someone else's world, one buys into the concept and loses control of one's own world (imho).

Ben< ALL: "Why should I do good and not evil?" Here are some answers I have heard: "What goes around comes around." "Whatever you do returns to you three-fold." "God rewards the righteous and punishes evil-doers." "As you sow, you shall also reap." "What you do in this life determines what happens to you in a future life." "You will be repaid in the final judgment at the end of the age."

greyman< Interesting, I see Santa with a flame thrower in some of those proverbs *G*

Lor< Ben: I sense that "What you do in this life earns what happens to you in a future life."

Chaza< The first "command" (commitment) being to love god with all your being is essential to the golden rule being possible (god as in "perfect everything we can think of" = perfect love).

1love< This is interesting, though, as I know people who don't talk in terms of good and bad; they just talk about how they have turned their life over to their higher power, creator, God, and so have permission to be any way the dice rolls around, and if there is a thrashing emotionally or verbally, the example is used about Jesus throwing the money-changers out of the temple?

WuWey< Anyone ever read Italo Calvino's story "The Viscount Who Was Split in Half"? It's a fable about a 17th century nobleman who was injured in the war and had his body split in two vertically. The right side was evil and vicious, while the left half was saintly and always doing good deeds. But in time, the good half began to get on the people's nerves, as his insistence upon doing good actually put people in trouble. Very amusing and enlightening.

WuWey< There's also an interesting Star Trek episode where Capt. Kirk gets split into 'Good Kirk' and 'Bad Kirk'. Bad Kirk would go around trying to rape the sexy yeoman, etc., while Good Kirk (who everyone thought was the 'real' Kirk) was a whiner who couldn't make the simplest decision on his own.

[Ben< WuWey: Yeah, I've seen a lot of stories that put down good and goodness.]

Chaza< One must BE good before one can DO good to oneself or others. Seems each person must face the truth of themselves and steadfastly aim to be integrated, then by example be a positive/good inspiration to all (remembering all are interconnected).

[Ben< Chaza: I see a large difference between "do-gooders" and "good doers." The "do-gooders" impose what they think is good on others. "Good doers" are sensitive to others' needs and decide what to do (and not do) on that basis.]

Ben< SUMMARY: As free-willed beings, we can decide for ourselves, but we cannot decide for another. The usual results of unbridled free will are power struggles and dominance hierarchies. We can choose to practice self-restraint, and we can work together to restrain those who will not restrain themselves. We can take the initiative to help others, and we can work together to help those who help others. However, "WHY should I do good things and not bad things?" is the fundamental question behind all other questions of morality and ethics. Many answers have been offered in the course of human history, but ultimately we decide for ourselves which answers we will and will not accept, what we will and will not do -- and thus what we will and will not be.

Esop< Well, that sums it all up perfectly, Ben. Very good.

cloudkid< It seems as though some believe that good and evil is a concept that can be grasped or processed intellectually, as if we can read a book on it to substitute for the actual understanding and experience of how it comes to be. We have to look into what we consider good and evil. At this level it is quite speculative and murky. For those who do not know the difference, which translates as those who must follow some sort of code or law, these ones cannot express the full capacity in relationship that quality of godliness which is goodness. That goodness I believe is not just an outwardly expression of order (which laws currently give the illusion of order) but especially inwardly. This is order in one's mind, order in one's heart, and order in one's physical activities -- the harmony between the three is goodness.

LEGS< cloudkid: thought your post well stated. I like good thinking on the matter.

Kathleen< I think using the words 'good' and 'bad' are not quite the context needed. There is nothing "good" nor "bad" but thinking it so. Again, concepts ... what each conceives.

Ben< COMMENT: I know from my own experience that it is good to be helped and bad to be hurt. If I generalize from my own experience, without hypocrisy, I cannot be morally neutral. Therefore, I maintain that it is right to choose to help others and wrong to choose to hurt others, and I practice what I preach. As I understand it, these choices are in the direction of spiritual growth toward moral maturity.

WuWey< Ben: Of course! All that is pretty straightforward, and no one is questioning those values. Just thought we were striving for a deeper understanding of those concepts here.

[Ben< WuWey: I believe my line of reasoning is straightforward, but many people are questioning these values. Many assert that nothing is good or bad, right or wrong. Many are choosing to be morally neutral (amoral), and many are teaching "Do as you will." In this seminar I was striving for a deeper understanding of all these concepts in terms of the results they produce.]

1love< There is an internal heartbeat that feels the pain from these experiences and feels the regret, remorse, vengeance, hatred, loathing, and also feels to feel these feelings. Ultimately it is the feeler who suffers, so forgiveness of self comes by turning it over to God. Seek peaceful solutions and move gracefully out of the way either quickly or with grace.

Ben< ALL: I've tried to stimulate thinking without telling you what to think. Here are some toolkit questions for thinking about morals and ethics: (1) What happens if everybody does it? (2) What happens if some do it and some don't? (3) What about those who will not control themselves?

Ben< /topic Discussion of Right and Wrong -- and why

WuWey< As the Tao Teh Ching says: "When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad."

1love< WuWey: This brings up another issue regarding good and bad, and this is the unspoken "Law of Balance". :)

WuWey< 1love: Precisely! *S*

bluestar< Speaking of TV shows ... my favorites that deal with how I feel about this topic are the Star Trek where Kirk and Spock set out to "save" a race from the Klingons. K & S can't understand their reluctance to "defend" themselves. They turn out to be far more powerful than K or S ever imagined and quite capable of defending themselves without doing any harm to anyone. The same theme is on a show in StarGate. They exemplify the kind of world I wish to live in, where there is no need to "control" others because people backward enough to try to cause harm cannot hurt you due to one's own superior defenses be they technologically enhanced or spiritual in nature.

[Ben< bluestar: Efforts to achieve immunity to attack by superior technological defenses usually result in an arms race. I'm very interested in spiritual defenses that restrain evil-doers without harming them. But I would rather live in a world where there is no need to control anyone because no one intentionally hurts anyone. I've seen little glimpses of that world on earth -- some families, groups, relationships, where no defenses are needed.]

WuWey< I believe that the 'ideal' society most of us wish for can never come as a result of any moral or ethic code that may be in any way enforced by a group upon another. True Utopia would only arise if everyone was able to EXPERIENCE the 'Inner Truths' at some time in their lives, those transcendental values which our ordinary consciousness struggles to comprehend, but which are crystal clear to the un-divided Mind (or 'Self').

Lor< WuWey: "True Utopia would only arise if everyone was able to EXPERIENCE the 'Inner Truths' at some time in their lives". I sense this is part of the learning I was speaking of, that I sense we are going through in preparing ourselves to have sufficient self-control to live amicably among others who have learned to do the same.

Slider< Ben: The irony of this whole good-bad discussion is that {Good} people, trying to stop {Bad} people from doing bad things, have to do {Bad} things that are against moral judgment, to Bad people, to keep them from doing {Bad} things?

Ben< Slider: Yes, first self-restraint and personal initiative, and then the irony and the dilemma: How to hold in check those who would murder, maim, torture, rape, steal, etc,. without becoming like them.

Slider< Ben: I've always wondered who frees the executioner's soul -- And about the lawyers, most of them don't have souls anyway ... just a thought.

qwerty< Slider: The executioner just figures those people he has to kill don't have souls anyway ... hmmmmmm ... like your lawyers. *S*

Slider< qwerty: That's one way to look at it. *S*

Ben< Slider: Well, I'm not overly impressed with executioners or lawyers, either, but you reminded me of something that happened a few years ago. I was serving on jury duty. One day while I was waiting at the bus stop by the courthouse, a very distressed human ghost contacted me, so I prayed for a rescue team of angels. I never did hear the ghost, but I think he must have been a lawyer, probably a defense attorney, because I heard the angel team-leader say to him "Yes, we know you sold your soul, but God didn't recognize the sale. Come on Home." He went.

Slider< Ben: Thanks for that story; it expresses hope where one may not always look for it, but many miracles seem to happen on the "court house steps". *S*

SoulTraveler< Hello, just an idea to throw out. Aren't ALL acts, thoughts, etc., 'selfish acts' even if it is for another? It makes us feel good to 'sacrifice' to sublimate our selfish desires into altruistic ones. Comments?

Yopo< SoulTraveler: That may be true. But some hold that we really aren't as separate from each other as it most often seems. Finding one's own satisfaction in giving to others seems like a big step upward. Spiritual progress. Doesn't necessarily mean that selfless acts are in reality selfish.

SoulTraveler< Yopo: I don't mean 'good' selfish or 'bad' selfish, but that ALL acts, thoughts of love and sacrifice, even in the noblest tradition are still FOR the self. Big self vs Little self is irrelevant. imo

Ben< SoulTraveler: I agree that positive and negative feedback to me is part of my consideration in making such decisions. I believe the natural tendency is to repay good for good and evil for evil. Those I help are more likely to help me if and when they can, and those I hurt are more likely to hurt me if and when they can -- here or hereafter. Thus, I lay up for myself, in the karmic memories of other souls, potential repayment of my good and evil deeds. And I do know that even a dead cat remembers and is grateful for the good done to her. I believe this is how the "Law of Balance" actually works.

SoulTraveler< Ben: I agree. True, it is easier to love those who love us back, or at least seem 'lovable'. Much more difficult to love the bullies, smart-alecs, and enemies. But then again love doesn't always beget love. And love sours at times; i.e. divorce, separation, etc.

1love< SoulTraveler: I like this word "sours" -- it works in terms of a balanced perspective and you know auravedic traditions say we need all the tastes to be healthy -- isn't this interesting.

Lor< SoulTraveler: "Aren't ALL acts, thoughts, etc. 'selfish acts' even if it is for another? It makes us feel good to 'sacrifice' to sublimate our selfish desires into altruistic ones." I find myself thinking that something must be missing in this philosophy because I know of people who have sacrificed their lives to try to save someone else's.

SoulTraveler< Lor: That's just my point. It made them 'feel good' on some level to do the 'sacrifice'. Take it one step further than the 'doing good' for someone else. Even sacrificing your life to help another is done because you 'want to'. Obviously it's not good for the body. It's hard on the emotions and thinking is clouded. But after all the analysis, sacrifice is made. Result: Done for the self. But not in a negative way.

Yopo< SoulTraveler: I'm certainly no master of logic, but I'm not entirely sure the question makes sense. What I am, among other things, is the point from which actions corresponding to my codes of behavior enter into the world. So, EVERYTHING I do relates to me by definition. (I can't quite find the words to say what I mean here. As a matter of fact, I don't quite understand what I just said myself.) *LOL*

[Ben< Yopo: Each free-willed being is a point source of initiative, and a pivot point of decision; thus, whatever a free-willed being initiates or decides automatically effects that being. This is the primary reason why it is a blessing to cast a blessing and why it is dangerous to cast a curse.]

ladyhawk< Would anyone in the chat room like Reiki sent to them?

Lor< ladyhawk: I am not acquainted with Reiki, but trust it is a form of blessing. I have a neighbor (Charley) and his wife (Dorothy, who has Alzheimer's) who could use some good blessings. Thanks.

FRAML< Good night to all departing and remember to count your blessing before you sleep. It is better than counting sheep.

SoulTraveler< FRAML: *S* Counting your blessings is a lot different than asking for blessings. I agree. Thanks.

FRAML< SoulTraveler: Thanks. One can also count blessing received, blessings done by you for others, and blessings observed being done by others for others.

SoulTraveler< FRAML: All three I love to experience! Better to count blessings. I also rejoice in others' success, gains, joys, achievements. Jealousy and envy can ruin your joy in sharing their parade. Don't rain on other's parade!

Slider< SoulTraveler: Envy is such a little word with so much power. I have seen it destroy many people, even whole families.

SoulTraveler< Slider: Envy, greed, ego. Such truth in what you say. I have seen envy destroy friendships, family, jobs, and especially goodwill between people.

Yopo< SoulTraveler: Yeah. Competition for money, which surely seems to folks like the very essence of something. Suppose competition has its justification in a Darwinian view of the world.

Slider< SoulTraveler: I question the degree of emphasis that so many place on competitiveness in the world today. It starts at a very young age and follows throughout our lives. Competition seems to have taken the place of survival instincts that we carried over from an age of just trying to get enough to eat and not get eaten, I hope as a people we grow out of it.

SoulTraveler< Slider: I'm afraid we haven't got the time left.

Slider< SoulTraveler: Maybe not on this world, but I am not done experiencing it all yet, worlds upon worlds. I think there is a lot of time left, but of course that depends on how one defines time. *S*

Chaza< This life is too short to really do much of anything but develop your understanding of god/love and build ever-faithfully in that direction by being open to hear the immutable truth that gave us life in the first place and continually emanates thru us, in us, around us. We are the cherished creations entrusted with the living spirit/word made flesh -- for a specific purpose. This mortal life can only move to immortality by the literal grace of god -- all are faced with transformation ("death").

SoulTraveler< Chaza: Or by OBE, Soul Travel, Astral Projection. One does not have to die to slip from the mortal coil. I am proof of that. *S*

Chaza< SoulTraveler: Yes, I have had OBE, for want of better term, myself -- also NDE in classic form awake & conscious & not in physical danger. Consciousness is not attached to the body/formerly -- speaking in terms of eternal being -- which only occurs when this body is completely shed.

SoulTraveler< Chaza: OBE is Soul compared to Physical Body. When the body is finally dead, there is no 'Out of Body' because the body is cremated, buried etc. No point of reference. Strange concept to be permanently OOB. Those who are on the other side aren't going around saying "I'm finally out of my old broken-down body" etc. There is no more concept of 'body' ... like a dream long forgotten.

Chaza< au contraire, with all due respect, SoulTraveler: :) The ultimate reality is only possible in eternal form when we leave this form we are in now -- life is never destroyed, only transformed into a new form & that includes us. :) One of the most profound understandings now is that the entire cosmos is aware/alive -- even seeming dark space is teeming with energy/life -- also that information is never lost & is always retrievable -- in our DNA is all who we are & are becoming & is retained.

SoulTraveler< Chaza: There are many levels of heaven, planes, dimensions or whatever you prefer to call them. Soul is already all that it can ever be. We don't evolve as much as awaken/realize who and what we/GOD are. I have experienced many different areas while OBE. Even visited with deceased relatives and talked with them much as we would in 3D. But I don't understand what you mean by 'ultimate reality' ... please explain further. *S*

Chaza< Ultimate reality as the perfection hidden in all life that is eternal & in which we abide, now in part, then (after shedding this mortality), in full. The metaphor of the caterpillar who literally creates imaginal cells of a butterfly which "eats up" the caterpillar, allowing it to actually become a butterfly is worthy of serious contemplation. :)

Cassandra< Goodnight all. Thank you, Ben. I agreed with your preferring the good. I do, too. Really if one just KNOWS inside it makes it easier to do right sometimes when the people doing wrong are getting so many material things and speaking for myself I have so little of material things. *G*

Ben< Cassandra: I understand what you mean about material things. *smile*

Yopo< Ben: I still look for an absolute litmus test for good and evil. *S* Guess I seek some deeper moral grounding than tests of social order.

Chaza< Yopo: It was while I studied ethics & contemplated the nature of good/evil that the most profound experience of my life & being occurred.

Lor< Yopo: I sense that an absolute litmus test for good and evil may be hard to come by. Can't some acts be good from some points of view while still causing hurt (evil) at the same time? Is not the crucial point in this world whether people try to not cause hurt/harm, but provide loving care and concern toward others?

Ben< Yopo: Not social order. Thoroughly evil societies are ordered. To expand a bit on something I said last week, I think the spiritual direction of genuine moral maturity is toward life, liveliness, health and happiness. And the real litmus test is: Does it lead toward or away from eternal life, liveliness, health and happiness?

Yopo< Ben: Thanks for repeating that. Needed to hear it again. As you've probably suspected, I am a bit of a moral relativist. My only formal study of morality was in an Episcopal school, when situation ethics was in the vogue. Ever see the movie "Time Bandits"? There's a scene toward the end, where God walks on the set after Satan has been temporarily set back a bit. They're sweeping up his remains with a broom. God admonishes them to be careful to get every bit, and not to touch any, because it is "the very essence of pure evil." Evil given physical form, like a radioactive substance. *S* I rather liked that scene.

SoulTraveler< Yopo: Loved Time Bandits. "Widget's Dead!" God said "Don't touch that ... it's concentrated evil!"

Yopo< SoulTraveler: Me, too. Serious issues, confronted with humor. *S*

Ben< Yopo: Dark residue ... I guess Satan would leave a lot of it. Wouldn't want to sweep it up. But I sure would call for a *large* cleansing crew!

Yopo< In the movie, God is a rather befuddled old English gentleman. The little boy asks him why did he make evil in the first place? God, who seems to have much on his mind, replies offhandedly after a moment, "I think it had something to do with Free Will."

Slider< Ben: If given the opportunity after leaving this plane and joining with the light, would you as an inquisitive soul take on a material body to work or experience in an environment alien to what you know?

Ben< Slider: Probably not. I do like to operate a physical body, but a physical body seems more and more limiting.

Lor< SoulTraveler: I have always thought that once dead, one would always be 'Out of Body'. I have never heard of souls choosing to stay in their old dead body -- hanging around maybe and sometimes not even aware they are dead, as it seems in that dimension, the sense of time flow, as we know it, is lost.

SoulTraveler< Lor: You must have misunderstood. I didn't mean to say that Souls stay in a dead body. Just that they had no more 'body consciousness' after dropping the 3D (death). For a while, yes. But then this dimension fades. I was with a relative who had died only a few months before I had the OBE and she had nearly forgotten what had happened on earth during her journey here. Wasn't focused on this dimension, it seemed. Very similar to you waking up from a dream. At first the dream seems very real, then fades, and finally gone.

Lor< SoulTraveler: Thanks for the clarification. I believe Ben has had experiences described on his site with ghosts who hang around for many years without going to the light who did not even yet realize they had died. I sense that souls in that dimension do not analyze/think as they once did in this 'plane'.

SoulTraveler< Lor: I have ghosts that come around from time to time. They get noisy at times making banging noises. One night about a week ago it sounded as if a bookcase fell over. The coffee pot used to jump up and down on the eye of the stove and sometimes slide off onto the stove.

Chaza< It is proposed that ghosts are like holograms, since energy & information is not lost and all that lives gives off energy/information, that perception from this realm occasionally allows us to see other forms. (see Edgar Mitchell, one of the first to walk on the moon, "Way of the Explorer," whose Quantum Holographic model is being simultaneously verified by many others around the globe, which is for the first time providing an actual "technology" or validatable model for many phenomena formerly relegated to the area of mystery or psi or paranormal.)

Yopo< Chaza: I've read a bit about the holographic model. David Boem, who gets me in over my head. And Michael Talbot, who is certainly easier to understand. What I do understand of it makes a great deal of sense.

SoulTraveler< Chaza: They say you can still hear the crunching metal and the screams of the dying sailors/soldiers in WWII aboard the ship that got rammed by the Queen Mary. This ship is docked in Long Beach, Calif. I have been on board the ship, but didn't get down into the bow section where the ghost noises are said to emanate.

Ben< Yopo: Regarding the litmus test: Where we read "that they might not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16), the Hebrew-Aramaic thought and the Greek word translated "life" actually means something more like "vim, vigor, vitality, liveliness." So apparently this is what Jesus said the Most High prefers for each of us and all of us, here and hereafter.

Yopo< Ben: Interesting! That different meaning of the word implies the commandments are more a traveler's map, and less arbitrary laws backed up with a threat of punishment.

Ben< Yopo: Yes! I also see it so. "Crime and punishment" is stifling, whereas grace and truth are enlivening. This is the meaning of John 1:17.

Chaza< Interesting, SoulTraveler. There is so much expansion of awareness now -- very grateful here. To be alive at this time is truly a privilege. // Yes, Yopo, Bohm and Talbott are both excellent. // Ben: Yes, that which partakes of aliveness exponentially creates more of same -- the sow-reap principle applies throughout.

Ben< ALL: Okay, time for bed. It's been good! *poof*

Yopo< Ben: Speaking of leaving the body, what do you think is left of the commandments once one DOES leave? The various codes of moral behavior we find in various religious settings mostly seem to relate to life in the body. Do you think we find ourselves with new codes after leaving here?

PrarySky< Yopo: I am just looking at a similar information. Looking at term as objective morality and subjective morality.

[Ben< Yopo: Excellent question. Well worth thinking about -- a lot! And a fitting finale for this seminar on facts and values. Many years ago, I wrote this little poem while meditating on self-discipline in moral behavior and personal values: "What would I do if no one knew? What do I wish for the most? And if I pursue it, what worth will it be, in a few years, when I am a ghost?"]

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