September 08, 2002

I have made a conscious decision to refrain in this blog from using expressions like �in my opinion�, etc. Of course anything I say without a specific attribution is my opinion. This is obvious to me but has led many times in my life to my being accused of being rigid and dogmatic. As a result I started using �in my opinion� too often and I am trying to strike a balance.

That the sky is blue and the sun is shining is only my opinion. Someone else may see things differently. There does seem to be what we call �consensual view of reality�, so if someone said that the sky I'm seeing through my window is not blue at this time I would investigate which of us is out of touch with that consensual view of reality.

I find it useful to question various aspects of that consensual view of reality (let�s call it CVR), and in many cases I find them distorted and harmful, and want to change them for my own sake and that of other living beings. Some aspects of CVR are not necessary, mandated, or inalterable, and can be changed just by wanting to. It�s like keeping one�s teeth clenched or holding one�s breath � which many of us unconsciously do from stress: when we suddenly realize that we can breathe, or relax our jaw, there is a great feeling of relief. Then our level of awareness goes down and we again hold or breath. Keeping awareness up is difficult but not impossible, and it is highly desirable.

The sages tell us that enlightenment is a sudden awareness that we can relax, that noting real can be threatened, that we don�t need to carry the universe on our shoulders, that we can shrug and basically it doesn�t matter, no big deal.

Why do we hold our breath? Inertia, everybody does it, everybody has always done it, once someone thought God spoke to him and ordered him to tell everyone else to hold their breath. There is a story that many millennia ago a wise man used to teach his followers in the evening; these were solemn occasions when everyone listened to the wise man in deep silence and concentration. But the wise man had a puppy who was playful and sometimes used to run around the students asking to be played with and petted or trying to catch mice and flies, thereby distracting the students, so on those occasions the wise man would ask a student to tie the puppy to a tree outside with a string until the lesson was over. Nowadays the religious organization loosely based on the teachings of the wise man covers the whole planet and has a strict rule that no religious teaching is to take place unless a puppy is tied with a string to a tree outside the building. Theologians have developed elaborate rules about how the Sacred Puppies are to be raised for this purpose by a special order of priests and the special Sacred Twine manufactured. Heretics have been condemned and excommunicated for claiming that tying a puppy outside to a tree is not necessary, that teachings imparted in a puppy-less fashion are perfectly legitimate and neither offend God nor call His wrath on practitioners.

So many detailed rules have to be observed in the Raising of the Puppies that obtaining them is an expensive burden on many faithful. Unsurprisingly enough, the many people involved in this profitable industry are among the staunchest proponents of tradition and have written many tracts explaining how evil and perverted the non-puppy heretics are.

Send me your comments, and tell me whether you'd like them published in the blog.

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