Morality

Morality is a quality of consciousness.

It is the basis of enlightenment and the nexus of ultimate and relative realities.

The Buddha spoke of enlightenment only by saying what it is not.

Even when we consider moral acts with great care, we can never be entirely certain of our judgement because there is always more that we do not and cannot understand or know.

We can be cautiously certain only that we have tried or are trying to act morally.

Do we act as if in a role? Or do we act as if in a mind stream, a stream of karma?

God’s Will implies we have a role to play. What does a karmic mind stream imply? Are we attracted to the Tathāgata or not?

I think it’s best to consider all points of view.

Status as a fetish

Fetish can be defined as “a part standing for the whole” or “one thing being made bigger than it is by having become a psychological fixation.”

A good example of what I mean is pornography. Insofar as a mere image can stand for or replace instinctual sexual objectives, it is a fetish.

A sign (pornographic image) is as strong or stronger than the animal instinct. Or a sign can direct or redirect the animal instinct. That is a fetish.

Secondary sex characteristics do the same thing. You could call them nature’s fetishes but that would be stretching the concept. Human utilizations of makeup, clothing, and grooming could be said to stand “halfway” between the basic sexual instinct and the fetishized porno image.

Let’s apply that reasoning to status.

Two social psychologist I respect—Jordan Peterson and Kevin MacDonald—have both claimed many times that status is a fundamental human instinct and that it drives human behavior in many ways.

In posts on this site, I have disagreed with these ideas several times. I just don’t see it that way. Here are two of those posts: Status and hierarchy are as fundamental to human life as murder and Jordan Peterson on the gender pay gap, campus protests and the patriarchy.

In the second link just above, I said:

…I do not believe that social status is any more fundamental to human nature than murder is. Humans also possess reason and spiritual inclinations both of which can guide us away from status competition if we decide to do that and/or our conditions allow.

I still think that but over the past day or two a new understanding of the importance of status and human hierarchy has dawned on me. In essence, I think I have come to see that status really is a huge deal for many people; a much bigger deal than I had ever realized.

My explanation for that is people like me (and there are many of us) during childhood and adolescence see the “status game” as a choice. And we decide not to play it.

My SO made that choice. When we talked about this subject this morning, she said people like us are more open to art (in a broad sense) and less concerned with social hierarchies. I think that’s true. One good friend years ago used to call me a “now person,” meaning I am always living in the here and now and not doing a lot of planning for the future. I think she also meant or implied that I am not doing any thinking about my social status or the human hierarchies that surround me.

A Buddhist nun who is a close friend has often described mundane human behaviors as being motivated by jealousy. I have often disagreed with her, believing that her emphasis on jealousy was influenced too much by her culture (Chinese) or by the innocence of her monastic lifestyle.

Today, I think she was influenced by the status-conscious world she had grown up in and as a young adult renounced for Buddhism. But I also think she was able to see something I have been almost completely blind to. For me status has always been a very small cloud on the edge of the sky, not a major thunderstorm in human motivation. For her it is, or was, a storm in the human mind.

Status is a fetish. And fetishization does explain a lot about it. But if lots of people have that fetish or have that strong understanding of status, that’s how it is. As a social construct the status fetish can be even bigger and more imposing than the basic instinct it rests upon.

I hope this post helps people who see status as important understand people like me and my SO, and vice versa.

From a Buddhist point of view, I think it is important to fully understand the entire status spectrum—from instinct to fetishized sign—and to understand where you are on that spectrum and where the people you deal with are on that spectrum.

My guess is that most people reading this blog do not think of status as being very important. People like us need to appreciate that status is probably largely what motivates good people like Jordan Peterson as well as bad people like Bernie Madoff.

Might also be good if status-conscious people would understand that people like us are not all slackers or losers, nor are we seething with envy over your status. We simply do not even see the game you are playing. We do other stuff like become monastics or perform ordinary tasks cheerfully and without complaint.

Engineering study reevaluates the collapse of World Trade Center 7

“…The principal conclusion of our study is that fire did not cause the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11, contrary to the conclusions of NIST and private engineering firms that studied the collapse. The secondary conclusion of our study is that the collapse of WTC 7 was a global failure involving the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building.”

Link to study: A Structural Reevaluation of the Collapse of World Trade Center 7

Military thought experiment Part 1

The game: Gain control of a large society by using a small number of military operatives.

Let’s use clandestine military operatives numbering .0001 percent of the targeted society.

100 million times .0001 = 10,000.

So 10,000 clandestine military operatives will play this game to win against a society with a population of 100 million.

The clandestine force can achieve its goal by:

  • infiltrating and blending into the large society
  • distributing 10,000 clandestine operatives widely across the society
  • this may take several generations
  • once in place, operatives identify natural leaders inside the host society
  • then they attack those natural leaders in such a way that they become poor leaders
  • this is better than killing them because they are rendered ineffective while their weaknesses demoralize others in the community
  • this method of attack is unlikely to be detected by law enforcement
  • they must be attacked in ways that are not easily discoverable, including socially, financially, reputationally, through bad grades, misdirection, poison, and so on
  • it is best to begin attacking natural leaders while they are young and continue as long as effective, even for many decades
  • this tactic is greatly facilitated by hostile operatives being born and raised in the large society
  • at the same time operatives work to help those who favor their cause(s) or position(s)
  • this might include harming the competitors of those people being favored
  • within 20-30 years, social disorganization will be noticeable due to the large number of disabled natural leaders
  • within 50 years social disorganization will be obvious
  • during the same time-frame, people favored by the hostile operatives will gain positions of power
  • soon, the larger society will succumb to the hostile takeover and a small number of military operatives will have won against a much larger society

The cost is minimal and the methods are almost undetectable. Once achieved, the goal can be proclaimed a victory by those who gained it.

While the goal is being pursued, operatives will discover ways to extract resources from the host society, thus paying their own way without funding from abroad.

Part 2

Part 3

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first posted April 6, 2017