“Sadhguru- Living Life To The Fullest”

Confidence without clarity is a deadly mix.

I continue enjoy listening to Sadhguru’s talks.

“Albert Camus and the Absurd”

Another core concept lecture from Dr. Sadler:

“Carl Jung: ‘Reason’ is, notoriously, not necessarily ethical any more than intelligence is.” (a blog repost)

Source: Carl Jung: “Reason” is, notoriously, not necessarily ethical any more than intelligence is.

That post from a blog I discovered and have been reading at length today that showcases correspondences written by Carl Jung really caught my eye and felt necessary to link to here in my own blog cave. Carl Jung’s perspective on religiosity and the spiritual drive within all humans dating as far back as we know, accompanied by expanding consciousness (whether horizontally or vertically) has really captured my imagination, as it did for various other authors I’ve read from Erich Fromm to Joseph Campbell and Otto Rank. Read that linked piece. It’s entirely worth doing so.

I recently completed listening to his collection of essays in his book Modern Man in Search of a Soul and especially appreciated the final three essays that pertained to this subject matter along with probing into the role of psychotherapy and medicine and widespread identification with rising political movements. Excellent thoughts recorded in there that I will have to revisit from time to time. And now I am on a quest to unearth more material from Carl Jung in an effort to see how it gels with so much other information I’ve been toting around over the years, wondering what new ideas might arise from all of that for me to further flesh out my understanding of our shared human condition. Because I’m a sufferer too…and I feel very driven to grasp what I am able, though I also understand that much of what we’re searching for cannot come solely by way of intellectual efforts.

“Albert Camus and the Absurd”

Another cool, relatively brief lecture from Dr. Gregory B. Sadler, “Philosophy Core Concepts: Albert Camus and the Absurd”:

Haven’t read anything from Camus yet, but his attitude expressed, from what I’ve gathered so far, sounds pretty similar to my own.

Because somehow, some way, it’s always fundamentally the fault of womankind…

Slept for a few hours and am now back up again. Gonna record a few thoughts here to pass the time until I feel like lying down again.

One thought that perennially bugs me has to do with double standards between the sexes. In this instance, I’m thinking about the double standards a good many males harbor in relation to females and how contradictory they tend to be. An obvious one I’ve grown up hearing and still find floating around online is the notion that females should treat sexuality in a different manner than males commonly are expected to. Some back this with biological claims, others with moral arguments, but always the idea is that we females should rightfully check our own sexual impulses in a way that isn’t typically required among males. To not do so is to be viewed as low in the eyes of plenty.

Another common double standard relates with alcohol consumption and hitting the bar-scene. For some reason this has been viewed as the domain of males and not something females ought to engage in to the same extent, lest that say something horrendous about our moral character. Though this double standard holds less sway over parts of the population nowadays.

What I find interesting about all of this is how the idea seems to be that we females have an obligation to check ourselves so as to provide contrast against male tendencies. But, at the same time, there’s also the belief that we females should rightfully follow where mankind leads. This creates a double-bind where, on one hand, the idea seems to be that we females can and should be held to higher “moral” standards than our male counterparts, though, on the other, we’re denigrated for not possessing more individual initiative to navigate life for ourselves on our own individual terms (i.e., we’re chided for being too prone toward following rather than leading ourselves). But if one leads herself though is influenced by the examples set by males she’s known and grown up around, that’s somehow wrong too. Almost as if when it comes to certain matters there’s this crazy idea that women (generally speaking) should be completely separate and different than males, going so far as to deny our own complex biological, hedonistic, and moral tendencies, in some sort of effort to set ourselves apart from males — presumably for the best for all involved. But is this not asking women to be more human than human as compared to males?

I realize this isn’t coming out as clearly as hoped. It just seems to me sometimes that males can harbor views that almost seek to set females apart as though we were somehow belonging to a separate species. At least to the extent that one idealizes such contrast between the sexes. And what purpose does this serve? Is this linked in with the idea that female nature is somehow supposed to ground and rein in male nature? Is that intended to suggest that when it comes to morality and impulse control, females are meant to lead?

Well, if that was the dream, it couldn’t be maintained, for a variety of reasons. One being that females aren’t raised anymore to see life in such a way, which I see as part of the breakdown of the human domestication project that’s been underway the last few thousands of years. For whatever reasons, that didn’t work out as people once hoped it might, and I don’t think there’s a way to force it back to being any which way. Nature, through the biological differences bestowed upon the sexes, was the original gatekeeper. And now we all live in a complex world of our own (human) creation, attempting to cast off the shackles naturally tethered to us. One could argue that this has led to moral failings for all of us, depending on what moral codes one subscribes to.

But I look back and see where women have tried to act as moral leaders and gatekeepers in contrast to males—as with ushering in the Prohibition Era in the early 20th century—and such attempts have roundly been criticized as overly restrictive and domineering and controlling. Perhaps rightfully so. Females still remain more inclined to follow and become actively involved in religions, and this too is criticized as we head into a secular future. And now we see where “traditional”-minded females are lambasted for accepting stricter and more dichotomous gender roles and viewed as little more than “parasites” leeching off a male host in that regard, even if her sole intent is to help raise a family according to what was once an esteemed social script.

Then we have the so-called “trollops” and “whores” and “bad girls” who buck such conventions and decide to go another way. boo_whoreThere too we see these females given grief for being “loose” of morals, despite there being no shortage of males willing to participate (though some of these same males otherwise like to snidely deride such actions, at least in terms of the female end). I’ve always viewed this as a strange situation. Like people want two contradictory things simultaneously and can’t make up their minds, and so they berate others endlessly no matter which way they might turn or how they might try to navigate in this life.

If you’re a woman with a career of your own and the ability to afford your own lifestyle without outside help, you’re labeled a “feminist” and chided for being in competition with males in the workforce. If you instead decide to play the “traditional” game and become the primary caretaker of children and the home, as mentioned above, you’re viewed as little more than a manipulative snake trying to get some sort of “free ride.” If you revel in your sexuality and aren’t afraid to explore it with others, you’re a “slut” and considered a problem, no matter how you might go about your exploration. However, if you’re into upholding your chastity and choose to be very selective over whom you grant sexual access to, once again you’re given a hard time for being a “cold fish” and “frigid” and a “prude” and basically dismissed as a killjoy (if not also considered a manipulative type who’s derogatorily denounced for being a “sexual gatekeeper”).

Can’t win for losing, so far as I can tell.

I get to thinking that this isn’t so much about females as it is about males and their own views on life and their own internal struggles with moral concepts. The contrast they seek is already naturally occurring, and yet they seem hell-bent on adding an artificial layer on top of that via restrictive gender roles. And yet it’s these very gender roles that they themselves have come to despise as well. They say they don’t want to go back to some sort of traditional setup, and yet they seem extremely uncomfortable with how the future is unfolding. What they seem to want and what they are capable of respecting appear to be in conflict on a fundamental level. And what use are standards projected onto the female that aren’t also embraced by oneself? If she does appear morally righteous in comparison, then he might try to cut her down; and if she is already deemed lower than him according to some standard set, he’s liable to bemoan her failings and treat that as an excuse for his own.

Wherever males lead, there are females who will follow them, whether heading down or up. That’s an obvious given. Simply standing around and projecting standards outwardly onto others doesn’t really change a thing, other than driving females more neurotic over time. We seem to always lose sight of how no human is an island unto ourselves and how our (sub-)cultural setup plays a major role in how we’re each socialized and what roles we wind up having access to and might more easily adopt. Times have changed. Technologies have overhauled all of reality as we humans know it. And yet we still play these strange blame games when it comes to sexual differences and similarities and this notion that it somehow must be kept separated, even after the levee’s already broken.

I don’t have any answers for us on this. Just pondering. We appear to be caught in a mental trap here. Women do not belong to a separate species and will not no matter how much one might wish that could be the case in terms of certain aspects that people wish were strictly divided between the sexes. The only divisions that ever naturally arose did so due to biological limitations and/or advantages, plus psychologies molded by the interplay between body and environment (including one’s culture). All else has been the product of human beings — our social constructs. Yet now we like to rail against these social constructs and our biological heritages, to boot. Well folks, we can’t have it every which way all at once, and a lot of what came before lies behind doors that have since been closed as humans traverse forward into Modern Life.

Maybe it’s a case of the grass always appearing greener on the other side. And maybe when men feel lost they have a tendency to berate women for ultimately being the cause of it (as became popular at least since the rise of Abrahamic religions). People do like to take out what they can on those whom they think they can get away with it. Not that it does any of us much good to stay stuck in the muck, flinging poo at one another and casting blame for a Trajectory everybody alive today was simply born into the latest stages of.

Not sure what to tell people, other than that you’ll likely wind up blamed no matter what you do. So, we each have little choice or reason to act in any way other than how we individually feel driven. But that then leads us back to another paradox where it turns out that following one’s own individual interests doesn’t automatically wind up benefiting the whole group. Guess it depends on one’s priorities, and that unavoidably will divvy up in countless ways across the human spectrum. I don’t honestly know what one could say about any of this going on today that might make a lick of difference to the outcome we’re all “progressing” toward. I see where hostilities are mounting and how aggression plays out as a result, and I recognize that love is an integral part of the answer to what ails us. But I can’t claim to know much beyond that right now.

[Lightly edited on 3/2/2015 for greater clarity]

“Why hierarchy creates a destructive force within the human psyche (by Dr. Robert Sapolsky)”

Another interesting video from Dr. Robert Sapolsky, this time on the topic of the baboons he observed and studied over the course of his career and how their hierarchy was undermined and changed:

Very cool stuff to think about. Are we needing to figure out a way to get the top assholes among humans to go eat from a toxic garbage heap too?  ha

“Robert Sapolsky Interview: Toxoplasmosis” (a.k.a. how cats may influence human evolution)

Fascinating stuff! Gotta love Dr. Robert Sapolsky and the information he brings to the public’s attention.

Had to re-watch this video a second time today. I’ve been saying for a while now that somehow, some way, cats are involved in influencing human evolution. Swear to God. LOL The reason being that I spend a lot of time with animals and have long wondered what is the draw so many of us have toward cats in particular, especially considering how few of them fulfill any useful job (as in the way dogs historically did and some still do) AND at the same time cats are prone toward behaving like assholes toward us. Haha  We know it’s true. How many times have we asked ourselves if we “cat people” are just masochistic underneath it all? Because dealing with enough cats over time truly does lead one to asking themselves this.

Think about how cats are natured and how many of them behave in a very entitled way as if that’s just intrinsic to their being. That tells me they’ve been getting away with a lot in their dealings with humans for a very long time to where expectations have been sown into the arrangement. And those expectations are oftentimes one-sided where we provide for their needs while they snobbishly critique our efforts.  haha  That may sound hilarious, but look into how many books have been written on the subject. This is not simply a product of my own ponderings, and I’m also informed by a lifetime of experiences with countless cats, most especially since I’ve taken up working directly with people’s pets within the last decade.

None of this is to suggest I don’t like cats. Actually I like them quite a bit and have come to prefer their company over dogs’ more and more over time. Nearly always I have a cat living with me, as is the case now as well. From what I gather in observing these animals, both those felines kept indoors as pets and those living outside as ferals, they are remarkably finicky and prone to irritation.  lol  And lately I’ve gotten to thinking that they pity us, by-and-large, and yet they remain tied in due to depending on us to support them. Even strays who can hunt often seek out humans to provide food for them, and if a human regularly does so, it’s not uncommon that the stray will simply cease hunting for themselves. This is where they get a reputation for being notoriously lazy — this along with sleeping 18 hours a day.  lol  And what has allowed for them to have such lazy lifestyles that seem so deeply ingrained in them? Historical reliance on humans appears to be the answer. And yet why do humans put up with furry little critters whose aim is to have their every need and wish provided for them by us, without normally feeling much need to reciprocate except where we mutually benefit (as in letting us pet them, which reduces our stress levels while providing them comfort and pleasure)? That’s the mystery, and that’s why we wonder if we’re masochists.  ha

Do they actually need us? They like to think they don’t, but they gravitate toward us and pull at our heartstrings to share our bounty with them. Let them move in and they begin calling the shots and often refuse training or observance of simple rules like staying off the countertops. Some believe cats are incapable of being trained, though the rare exceptions seem to contradict this or at least give us reason to pause and wonder about their true capacity.

And remember that video that went viral a few months back of a cat attacking a dog who ran over and bit the little boy of the cat’s household? Plenty of us were shocked, and some took it as proof that cats do indeed care about us. I consider it more of a territorial dispute myself. lol  But there was also another video of a lady and her little boy where some sort of glass was broken and the boy began crying, so one of the cats came in and began menacing the mother. What was that about? Who knows? Maybe some cats really do feel protective over us. The majority, though, seem more prone toward responding to protect their own selves or to seek out our protection. Mine is a scaredy cat who high-tails it under the bed anytime she hears anything that spooks her. She’s never shown any protective behavior in that regard. But she has shown jealous and guarded behavior, as when my former partner would stop over for dinner and she’d bite or swipe at me if he was petting her and I moved too close to him.  lol  Even though I purchase all her food, fill her water bowls daily, scoop her litter, and pay rent for apartments that have provided us shelter since the day I brought her home from the humane society, she’s fully willing to forsake me when someone else comes along who’s more fun or interesting to be around.  hahaha  And I’d be willing to bet that’s not uncommon for a lot of cats.

Anyway, now we have a possible reason for why we’re linked with cats the way we are. Toxoplasma in their urine may attract us toward them.  Ha!  And this unique parasite has a way of overriding our senses so that we’ll behave in ways that aren’t truly in our own best interests. Go figure! I knew something like that was bound to be the culprit, especially for those who are obsessed with cats and let them rule their lives (yes, I know of a number of these types of people, both male and female). That’s really interesting when you take time to deeply think about it. We’re aware of human connections with cats since at least the ancient Egyptian era when cats were worshiped, and the joke goes that cats still expect to be worshiped ever since. Maybe, as this video suggests, this biological link has been present all along. In a sense, this has allowed cats themselves to behave parasitically toward humans since so many of us remain enamored with them regardless of what they do to us or our homes.

I’ll admit that I’m not as smitten with cats as some folks obviously are. I’m routinely shocked when I learn of people who tolerate their cats pissing on their beds to express dissatisfaction with something they’ve done or failed to do. The last cat who acted a fool relentlessly toward me had to find a new place to live, and he’s since been residing with my close guyfriend down the street who has far more patience for feline shenanigans. My current kitty is very demanding, albeit schizoid, when it comes to showing her affection, rapidly oscillating between persistently pressing to be petted and then biting once she’s had her fill. It’s annoying as hell, but she’s clean and doesn’t have accidents outside of the litter box, so we make it work. And I hope to continue making it work for her whole life, despite her waking me up repeatedly at night, demanding to be let under the covers, then kicking up a storm when she’s ready to be let out, only to repeat the cycle an hour or so later. ha  She’s a pain in the rear, no question, but she’s better than most, and I do love her despite feeling like her whipping mule and knowing she’d trade me in in a heartbeat if she was offered a sweeter deal.

cat_retard  That’s goofy, isn’t it?  LOL!  We’re nuts. BUT, now we might know WHY that is.

The biological world remains largely a mystery where we’ve uncovered just the tip of that iceberg, particularly when we get down to the micro level and all the chemicals involved. Life is utterly fascinating when we really dig in and examine its complexity. Dr. Sapolsky is right that uncovering information like this does tend to poke a hole in our idea of free will and personal autonomy when we learn how much can and does have an impact on us, whether we realize it or not. And humans have always been impacted to varying degrees by all sorts of plants and animals and elements that had a huge effect on how we’ve developed and evolved. Brings to mind Michael Pollan’s book Botany of Desire (also been made into a film) that focused just on 4 plants, one of which was marijuana and how human brains have developed to be especially receptive to the chemicals present in that plant. This raises the question of who or what actually domesticated whom, and the answers seem to run in both/all directions. Just amazing stuff to ponder and speculate on, all the way around.