Monday, September 27, 2010

I missed a week!

Well, that was unintentional.

I still think once a week is realistic. However, particularly as the holidays and NaNoWriMo approaches, I may have to evaluate switching to every other week.

I'll let you know if things change, but right now I am calling the missing post an anomaly.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Reason for Life, the Universe, and Everything (part 2): Debauchery

debauchery (from Wictionary) (plural debaucheries) n.
1. Indulgence in sensual pleasures; scandalous activities involving sex, alcohol, or drugs without inhibition
2. (archaic) Seduction from duty.
If the reason for existence is to exist, and the reason for life is to live, (which -- let's get real -- I'm basically saying here) then whatever personal meaning you have for your life is just that -- a personal meaning.

Does this mean that a life of debauchery is just as valid as a life of piety? Yes. But, really, when the length and breadth of human religions allows for both chastity and licentiousness while still being pious this shouldn't be a surprise for most people. Sure, it has been a while since temple whores have had popularity, but they have existed in the past, and humanity may well see them again. It seems that any time one group defines sexual morality there is a group somewhere providing an alternate definition.

The universe doesn't care what you do with your life -- only that you live.

What is there to prevent you from living a life of debauchery? Clearly nothing, as we see plenty of people enjoying such lives every day.

Realistically, though, lives of unfettered debauchery tend to lead to hurting a lot of people. It is not in human nature to hurt others needlessly, (most people tend to primarily hurt themselves), however it is even less in human nature to allow friends to be hurt needlessly. (To paraphrase the Christian Bible, "Vengeance is Mine, says the BFF.") Those who would use other people will eventually suffer repercussions for their behavior -- after all, you can fool most of the people most of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

Note, though, when I speak of a life of debauchery I'm speaking of a self-centered life of excess. The implication with the term "debauchery" is that there is a moral or ethical common-ground and that whatever that common-ground is, debauchery goes below it. This is quite different than ethical hedonism. You can love the pleasures of life while still loving and caring for the other people in your life. In truth, it shouldn't surprise anyone to hear two hedonists complaining about some of the choices of a mutual friend and how that person has slipped from ethical hedonism to a simple life of debauchery.

Some might confuse debauchery with a life of orgies and free-love. In truth, some folks find open and/or polyamorous relationships work well for them. These relationships might be confused for debauchery by some, but when relationships are based upon love and communication it should be clear that they are very much not debauchery.

Now, if a relationship is one-sided and based upon either pleasing only one party or it involves degrading or debasing one partner then it bears a lot in common with debauchery even if the relationship outwardly looks like a typical monogamous marriage. Do you want further proof? Add a video camera that only one member of the relationship knows about. This instantly raises the bar in how one-sided a relationship is, but I argue that if the only thing that is missing is the camera, then the marriage may still be thinly veiled debauchery.

For another example: I was once told quite matter-of-factly that "not everything in a marriage is consensual." I was appalled, particularly when she added, "You'll understand after you get married." I'm married now. Rape within the context of a marriage is just as abhorrent to me as it was back then. At least most single-people who opt for a life of debauchery do not need to stoop so low. Sure, they may manipulate, the other party may know it was a bad idea (both before and after), they may even explicitly set out to seduce someone's spouse, but what happens is consensual at the time.

This is really just to make a point. The universe is quite content for you to have a life of debauchery (though you'll probably be happier with yourself if you opt for ethical hedonism instead), and if you do really want debauchery, you can still have that while outwardly keeping a monogamous heteronormative lifestyle.

Now, in the next part, I'll move on to talk more about personal meaning.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Reason for Life, the Universe, and Everything (part 1)

I've mentioned before that I have a Reason for Life, the Universe, and Everything.

More than that, to be truly universal, it can't be something restricted to humanity. Additionally, it must be inescapable. If it is the reason for everything, then it makes sense that it would be something that is unavoidable -- everything always does does it regardless of personal inclination or desire.

Quite simply, I believe the purpose of everything is to experience and to be experienced.

This is inescapable: We say that something exists when it can be experienced. If something can not be experienced in any way then few would doubt that the thing does not exist.

This is universal: Nothing about this is unique to life, let alone humanity.

It is unavoidable: Neither the hardest rocks nor the folks crippled by anxiety and stuck at home can avoid experiencing and being experienced. It isn't like death and most folks avoid it most days, though they know that one day their time will come.

Are you going to fill your life with the regularity of the tides? Are you going to fill it with new and unusual experiences? In the end both are equivalent. You, like everything else, collect experiences until at last you die. Some of us have a better memory of our experiences, but we all experience and are experienced.

This reason for existence seems self-evident upon reflection, what with some religions believing that the universe exists as such specifically to experience itself. If differentiation happened specifically for self-experience, then of course the reason for existence is so that we can experience and be experienced.

I suspect the only thing that prevented it from being self-evident was my Western upbringing, and the thing that gets a lot of people: Wanting the search, but not wanting the answer. It isn't particularly an uplifting reason for existence. It is easy to see where a person might over-think the question in an attempt to find a happier (or otherwise "better") answer.

(In the next part, I'll mention where debauchery comes in.)

Monday, September 6, 2010

On unity (with the natural world and more)

I've had a lot of problems identifying myself as "pagan". The problem is that I don't see myself as particularly earth-based.

Now, when it comes to unity, I believe in that well enough. I can quiet reasonably say that I believe in an inherent unity of all things.

But note that I said all things.

I sometimes travel when I sleep. Astral travel? I'm not sure. I just know that sometimes I dream in my head -- and everything is a fabrication of my mind -- and other times I'm dreaming elsewhere. I've flitted back and forth between the two states before and they feel distinctly different. (More on this in a later post.)

I first started having doubts that I was a Christian after a dream. In the dream I was arguing with a Monotheist. In disgust, I turned and walked away. As I was walking away, I paused to worship a desk. The idea seemed pretty easy to see: God is in all things -- including desks. I accepted that I was a Pantheist. There are Christians with Pantheist tendencies, after all.

Once I started meeting other deities in dream, I elaborated my views to "God is in all things -- including other deities." I believed this while ostensibly being a Christian at first, then I realized that describing myself as a Christian made no sense so I started calling myself a Panthiestic Polytheist.

Interestingly, it was at this point when I visited the Shining Void (also known as Nirvana -- though I didn't know it at the time). There were two things to do there, lose yourself and become one with the place, and leave. I decided to leave. That was the point when I stopped calling myself a Pantheistic Polytheist and just started calling myself a Polytheist.

My time in the Shining Void made it clear there is an underlying unity among all things, and yet everything we are, and all that we are here to experience is totally unrelated to this unity. It is like having a painting and the subject of the painting pondering the unity of the paint-universe (what with it all being made of paint), instead of enjoying the colors, shapes, and textures that the artist brought forth in the piece.

That is, focusing on unity distracts us from the beauty of difference. The goal isn't to see ourselves as the same, so much as it is to relish our differences and celebrate them.  We can only fully understand ourselves when we try to understand the those that are different.