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March 19, 2004

Value Choices in the pursuit of Quality

(This is a rehash of a comment I made in my lame lame lame rant. Wally felt it was post worthy.)

I think it's a given at this point in time to believe that everyone has their own unique point of view in this world, and that they are going to try their hardest to align your perception with theirs, as that seems to be a trait that humanity shares in common. If everyone has a unique perception then that must mean that we all have relative perceptions to each other. The problem with being introduced to all of these relative perceptions is that there is never any Truth, it's all variations of the Truth. Does that make our goals in life to piece together as many shards of true perception to complete oneself? Or is that a misnomer, oneself. One - the great divide between Eastern and Western Philosophy. Bhuddism teaches us that we are all one, that there is no self, that the Universe is an interconnected complete network. Christianity and Islam tell us that we are individuals who will burn in hell or bum around in heaven. There's still the element of continuing consciousness, eternal perception.

I think we are all individuals who exist within a complete network. Our pattern is unique to our self, but our value choices affect other patterns. Every decision we make opens up a new path and closes off another. The key to happiness is choosing the path which is of highest Quality to yourself and to the other patterns around you. Remember now that every action you take affects the paths and opportunities of the people you surround yourself with.

I think Karma is a manifestation of this philosophy. Karma tells us that making value choices of highest Quality to you and the patterns around you will result in opportunities and paths opening up that are enjoyable and positive paths to take. I think this is a good Second Rule, choose the path of highest Quality. How then do you determine Quality?

Quality is the subject of Robert M. Pirsig most famous book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He talks in great detail about the nature of Quality and how it's such a unique value choice. This is the subject of his second book, Lila : An Inquiry Into Mortals. At the root of Morals lie value choices. Morals are just convergent memes, sets of value choices that groups of individuals have commonality with. Morals are basically an abstract entity created out of complex interactions of value choices between people in our interconnected society. In a sense, I believe we create our own Gods. Although this manifestation may not necessarily have 'Godlike' powers, it is powerful because as a representation of the strongest belief it can sway those that allow others to make decisions for them. This is incredibly powerful in our democratic system. When manifestations of that power only choose value paths which result in immediate satisfaction then we forsake our future generations whos well being depends on the choices we make today. Is it always better to burn up rather than to fade away? I don't think so.

You see, existence as we have know it is a treat. It's a marvel of perceptive sensations that we can explore and appreciate. There are so many aspects of life we can enjoy if we allow ourselfs time for a little self-indulgence. The problems occur when there's too much self-indulgence. It is a balance, but along with indulgence there must be sacrifice, otherwise indulgence will become dominant and eventually corrupt into greed, like it does today. That seems to be a major theme in the Universe, balance. Ying and Yang, another aspect of Eastern Philsophy that resonates very deeply within me.

I believe that we all have our own paths to follow, but the choices we make will come back and either hinder or help us. However the problem is being able to make the right choice. How do you determine Quality? Are there criteria to follow, logical math sheets to add up and evaluate? I think that this is an internal thing, that that voice that tells you you shouldn't do something is probably right. Sometimes it benefits us to trust our gut while keeping in mind the goals you want to achieve. In the end value choices are a very personal thing, and part of what makes society so incredible. We have such a dynamic network of complexity that we are capable of great, wonderful things. We just have to believe in ourselves and the people around us. Then we will know what to.

I apologize for the amazon links, I'd eventually like to be able to write for a living which seems to require money, unfortunately. Also, I really think everybody should read these books. I found a large shard of true perception in his writing, and I think others can as well. The Zen and the art book is quite intimidating but his second one, Lila, is more easily digested, and I believe more influential. The problem is that the concepts of the first one are critical to understanding the ideas in Lila. Quality is the prime example, and it's something that's hard to summarize. How do you define quality? There is no definition for quality because it's all relative to the eye of the beholder, to the perception of the individual. This is also why there is such an onus on the individual to make the right value choice as all of our actions effect change in others around us, which in turn effect change in the ones around them. Karma waves ripple across the network, butterflies flap their wings and torandos demolish houses.

Or is it all just chance? Do peoples houses get flattened because they made poor choices? See here's where it breaks down. Does the possibility for a shitty, terrible life exist even if all the right choices are made? I guess it does, and that's a part of life too. Shitty things happen to good people, and it shouldn't, but it does. I believe if you treat it as a test of your moral fortitude then perhaps you will be rewarded by emerging in a more favourable environment the next time. Is that wishful thinking? I don't know, but it does seem to balance out. If the universe is about balance then that probably means my next life is going to be a real unpleasant one (assuming, of course, that I'll have another one, and that reincarnation isn't a crock of shit).

I want to take the time again to tell all you guys how much I appreciate these conversations we've been having over the last couple of months. I really think we're a shining example of how an online community can function well. I appreciate all of your perceptions. ;)

Posted by ChefQuix at March 19, 2004 03:08 AM | TrackBack
Comments

"I think it's a given at this point in time to believe that everyone has their own unique point of view in this world, and that they are going to try their hardest to align your perception with theirs, as that seems to be a trait that humanity shares in common."

Why do you think this is?
Why is it so important that everyone else must believe the same as we believe?

Posted by: cckeiser at March 20, 2004 01:54 PM

Validation. When another believes as you then that's an endorsement that you're not insane, that there's a chance you're right. I think in the end everyone wants to be right, but then what is the definition of right?

Posted by: ChefQuix at March 20, 2004 02:24 PM

I see your point Chef, but for me, I believe what i beleive cuz i feel it is right. The rest of the world can say that i am wrong, and i may re-examin my thoughts, but in the end, i believe what i beleive for me, regardless of popular opinion. I do not need or ask for others validation of my beliefs. Nor do i ask others to change or align themselves to me. If someone wnats to know what i beleive i am willing to share it with them, but if they think i am right, wrong, brillient or insane, makes little difference to me. What i believe in is an extension of me, not other's opinion.

Mind you with that said, i have a question for you, one that has been rattleing in my mind for some time now. If right and wrong are defined by the majority of people, then was slavery right when the majority of people thought it was ok? or did it become wrong once enough felt that it was wrong? What i am driving at is, is there a right and wrong outside of popular opinion? If so then does that not mean that there is some forms of absolute truth?

Posted by: TheKitty at March 20, 2004 08:15 PM

Hi Kitty
I hope you don't mind if I jump in here. Someone brought up the same subject back in Sept. of 03 on the Beliefnet discussion board in a Thread titled "Universal Truth." I copied my reply from this thread.
http://www.beliefnet.com/boards/message_list.asp?pageID=4&discussionID=285929&messages_per_page=12

"Morals" are only what we decide them to be. They change as we change our minds.
At one time in human history Slavery, Pedophilia, and the drowning of new born baby girls were all considered ‘moral.'
Today we hide many immoral acts under the guise of Capitalism. Ethics and Morals are bad for business

We may like to think the ‘right thing' was always obvious, but I don't believe it was. Most people raised in a culture do not see anything wrong with the practices of that culture until an objection is raised. The objection of one mind can change the minds of the majority.

We don't have to go to far from home, or to far in the past, to see examples of this, and how what is now consider wrong wasn't even thought about by most.
It wasn't all that long ago the "marrin' age" was thirteen in many parts of U.S. Today it is considered immoral by most, if not by all.
Polygamy is considered immoral by most, but is still practiced by a few who do not see anything immoral about it.
Do you consider the clubbing of baby seals for their fur immoral? How about the slaughter of animals for clothing or for food ? I think we all know the feelings of PITA, and to Vegans the eating of any animal flesh is immoral.
Did any of these thoughts exist a hundred years ago? I would say yes. A hundred years ago there was at least one mind who considered one if not all these things immoral.
And that is only in the U.S. We don't even what to go to the cultural practices of the Middle East!
Slowly our cultures change their practices, but it is not because they consciously or even subconsciously knew the were immoral; most did not, and never gave them a thought until it was brought to their attention by at least one mind with a different thought.
We sit here today looking back at the practices of our past cultures and think how could they not consider what we consider immoral. To us it is obvious, but that is because we were not a part of that culture, and our culture/universe has been changed by the thoughts of one mind.

Morality is a judgement of what is right and what is wrong, and it changes from culture to culture, and even within cultures. And what we may consider ‘basic morality' is not always so basic. You mentioned Honor, Lying, and Stealing. Did you forget about the Culture of Lawyers? ‘O)

"We are not Rational creature; we are Rationalizing Creatures."

Chuck

Posted by: cckeiser at March 21, 2004 10:30 PM

A very interesting question JKitty, but perhaps it's easier to answer than you think. First of all, when you talk about slavery being accepted, well it was accepted, but only by the people holding slaves. The majority of the folks affected by slavery (i.e. the slaves) probably had a bit of a problem with it. All it took was some time and some common sense for people to see that owning another person is morally wrong. A good question though, and one that we can look at as an example of our own current righteously assumed morals.

Posted by: ChefQuix at March 22, 2004 01:45 AM

I shined this post on......but this morning, I did give it a bit of thought. I always think in sort of the absurd......but all this thought relates to the civilized world where we are
all influenced by one thing or another--some are influenced
more than others (my infamous 90% theory---90% of the
populus live their lives with their head up their ass)...think about this issue in terms of a "lost tribe" deep in the Amazon--they only know about themselves--their moral code is absolutely theirs................and when they get
'discovered'..well, there goes the neighborhood!

Posted by: oldcatman at March 22, 2004 09:15 AM

Ah.. been busy attacking the 'right' on the whole uproar over some protestors signs.. There were a couple of conversations I got involved in (lgf, allah and suburban blight), but I felt that one of my comments was worth reposting here:

(via the lgf site)

zombie:

Claiming that my position of moral relativism is a philosophical one that has been 'defeated' years ago does not really rebutt my response. Where does your absolutism, your righteousness stem from? Tell me that and then we can start discussing. As it stands, moral relativism and the consequences of understanding that everyone comes from a different perception is not in fact the hand waving or fence sitting that everyone seems to think it is. All you have to do is tackle it from a different angle. Instead of arguing whether something is 'right' or 'wrong', perhaps evaulating an action or a thought based on it's degree of quality is a better method.

Take a look at murder or rape. By your definition of moral relativism these actions are neither right nor wrong and thus unpunishable. If you take a look at it from the metaphysics of quality then you can see that these two actions bring about a low quality of life to the people they're acted on, and thus should be regarded as immoral. You can also use this method to examine larger issues - perhaps we can apply the pursuit of Quality to the issues of Israel and Palestine. Does keeping up barriers and keeping out Palestinians lead to a higher quality of life for both? Not at all. The Palestinians are angry for the act of losing their country 50 years ago that they voice that anger with constant suicide attacks. The Israelis constantly retaliate against these attacks leading to a poor quality of life for both sides.

So clearly something needs to be done, change needs to introduced, and preferrably a solution where neither side is happy. That is the art of diplomacy - coming up with an agreement where both sides are equally dissatisfied. Change is needed; in the middle east and around the world. Yet moral absolutists like yourself cling to your perception of what is right or wrong with narry a blinked eye, refusing to budge on what you consider Good and Evil because you are unwilling to envoke the change necessary within. Like the old analogy, the mighty oak will break and die in the fierce storm whereas the supple willow bends and lives.

Posted by: ChefQuix at March 23, 2004 11:55 PM
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