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Posts Tagged ‘Descartes’

Cartesian Critique

“If you correct your mind,
the rest of your life will fall into place.”
~ Lao Tzu
“The mind is a bundle of thoughts.
The thoughts arise because there is the thinker.
The thinker is the ego.
The ego and the mind are the same.
The ego is the root-thought from which all other thoughts arise.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Ego is the biggest enemy of humans. ”
~ Rig Veda
 “When the mind is completely empty –
only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.” ……
“Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still –
only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“To think or not to think,

that is the question!”

“Thinking and Being can’t coexist.

So stop thinking and start Being.
”

“Forget who you think you are

to Know what you really are.
”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Lau Tzu



Introduction

The following Cartesian Critique essay challenges the well-known philosophical proposition deduced and propounded by influential 17th century French philosopher René Descartes – “I think, therefore I am”.

Descartes’ philosophy, known as Cartesian dualism, assumed separation between the human body and mind. Although it became very influential in Western philosophy, Cartesian dualism ignored contradictory ancient Eastern non-dualist philosophies of Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, which were scientifically validated by 20th century physicists.

This essay, with above and following quotations and comments, explains how Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am” proposition confuses thinking with being; and the ego/mind with universal thoughtless awareness.

Please reflect on these writings with open and intuitive awareness.

Ron Rattner

Cartesian Critique: On Confusing Thinking With Being.

Descartes deduced his presumed separate existence with thought.
He reasoned: “I think, therefore I am”.

But wasn’t that putting Descartes before his Source?

Isn’t it apparent that we exist when not thinking?

Isn’t thinking optional, while Being is perpetual?

Why are we called human “beings”, and not human “thinkings”?

Isn’t existence much more than just thinking?

Don’t we exist in thoughtless states?

Doesn’t Being encompass conscious and subconscious
phenomena beyond thought – like emotions, feelings, sounds,
tastes, sensations, moods, dreams, autonomic processes, etc.?

Don’t all thoughts comprise and concern past ideas,
whereas life is ever lived in the Now,
never in the past or the future?

Aren’t we most aware of our existence
when we are thoughtlessly/choicelessly mindful?

What might Descartes say,
if he were here today?



Ron’s Commentary on Confusing Egotistic Thinking With Being.

Dear Friends,

The above “Cartesian Critique” essay is shared to encourage us to transcend harmful egotistic thoughts and behaviors, and to help us live in harmony with each other and Nature.

It questions famous French philosopher René Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am” proposition, and explains how it confuses thinking with being; and the ego/mind with universal thoughtless awareness. 



This essay was composed following my midlife spiritual awakening as consciousness. After so awakening, I learned about and accepted Eastern non-duality philosophy which contradicts Descartes’ duality philosophy of body-mind separation. And gradually I realized that “Ego is the biggest enemy of humans”, and that transcending Ego is the ultimate purpose of all enduring spiritual teachings.

So on learning about Descartes’ influential declaration, I questioned it and composed the above critique.

In my view, Descartes mistakenly presumed and deduced his supposed separate existence with egotistic-thought, which paradoxically placed Descartes before his Source, and violated both Eastern and Western wisdom cautioning against reversing the natural order of things.

For example a Western proverb cautions: “Don’t put the cart before the horse.”

And ancient Taoist wisdom enjoins us to go with the flow, without mental resistance:

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.

Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow.

Let reality be reality.

Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

“If you correct your mind,

the rest of your life will fall into place.”

~ Lao Tzu

Conclusion

Honoring the natural order of things remains of great importance today, because the vast majority of Humans continue to egoically identify with thought and their mistakenly perceived separate mental mirage projections.

In current critical times, when humans are the only species creating huge ecological and other crises which disrupt and threaten life on our precious planet, it is especially imperative that we bring compassionate awareness of our true collective identity and infinite potentiality into the world.

Dedication.

So these writings are dedicated to reminding us to not confuse thinking with being; and to helping us transcend harmful egotistic thoughts and behaviors, allowing us to live in harmony with each other and Nature in current critical times.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Why Be Here Now?
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“That which is timeless is found NOW.”

~ Buddha
“Life can be found only in the present moment.

The past is gone, the future is not yet here,

and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,

we cannot be in touch with life.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment…
Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life –
and see how life starts suddenly ..
working for you, rather than against you.”

~ Eckhart Tolle
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?
~ Hillel
Life is NOW

Ever NOW

Never then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Tao and Zen
are NOW,
not then.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Remember then: there is only one time that is important – Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.”
~ Leo Tolstoy
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions,

that they exist in the present,
which is what there is and all there is.
”
~ Alan Watts
The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity. Thought is time. Thought is born of experience and knowledge which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past. Thought is ever-limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle. There is no psychological evolution.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Why Be Here Now?

Introduction.

Today’s memoirs posting “Why Be Here Now?” explains how the memorable book title “Be Here Now” became for me an inspirational spiritual slogan, encapsulating the essence of all spiritual teachings: viz. to live in thoughtless presence (as Universal Awareness) rather than in the past (as an ego-mind story of a separate mortal being); because Life is NOW, ever NOW, never Then!

This universal teaching has so significantly advanced my spiritual awakening process, that I am now experiencing life in ways I couldn’t imagine when I first learned about being in the present moment. So I often share it to help others (as hereafter explained).

Learning to live moment by moment, ever NOW.

Here is a summary of my process of learning about living NOW, as Universal Awareness:

Soon after my midlife spiritual awakening, I attended “est”, an impactful self-help seminar, on the urging of a long-time friend. There I was first exposed to certain (unsourced) Eastern spirituality principles cleverly collected and presented by Werner Erhard, est’s founder, to motivate participants to radically transform their lives by ‘getting IT’.  The key est teaching was to:

Always accept “what is”. [See Ron’s Memoirs: Getting “IT” at est]

After attending est in 1977, I started to learn that for millennia there have been spiritual teachings about thoughtlessly accepting “what is” {sometimes called “letting go” or “surrender”). This began happening when I read an extraordinary book called “Be Here Now”, which told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Ph.D, psychologist, into Baba Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

Discussion re “Be Here Now” as Root Spiritual Teaching.

“Be Here Now” was my first memorable exposure to Hindu and other sourced Eastern spiritual teachings. It was an extraordinary book, unlike any other I’d ever before seen or read. Filled with beautiful calligraphy, art, and photos, it imaginatively presented a fascinating melange of Eastern ideas previously unknown to me, with many suggestions or ‘recipes’ for spiritual practices, some of which I later followed, though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them.

Apart from the book’s contents, its “Be Here Now!” title gradually became a memorable guide for my spiritual awakening process; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment. Gradually, I found this reminder repeated so often in other spiritual teachings and books that, ultimately, I considered it to be the root essence of all spiritual teachings. I deemed this teaching so crucial that (with poetic license) I once called it “The Sacred Secret of Life”. (See https://sillysutras.com/secret-of-life/)

“Be Here Now” by Ram Dass



My realization about the crucial importance of living as thoughtless presence, was especially advanced by the teachings of world renowned spiritual philosopher J. Krishnamurti, that

“Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Much later I approvingly concurred with the writings and lectures of contemporary author/teacher Eckhart Tolle, which skillfully emphasized “The Power of Now.” (Another memorable book title which became a popular spiritual slogan.)

Probably I best learned about living with a stilled mind by faithfully following for many years my beloved Guruji’s emphatic instructions to “meditate regularly”. Ultimately, after thus meditating regularly, my ‘monkey mind’ finally ceased its ceaseless chatter, permitting me the option of using it or not, and of choosing to enjoy moments of choiceless awareness.

These chosen moments of living with a stilled mind changed my experience and deep understanding of incarnate human life, in previously unprecedented ways. For example, they bestowed new insight into Patanjali’s root aphorism that

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”
~ Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras


Also I realized that many people (like French philosopher René Descartes) have mistakenly confused “thinking” with “being”. So I wrote an essay critique of that mistaken belief, to remind us that “being” as Awareness exists and persists perpetually, whether or not we are thinking. (See https://sillysutras.com/cartesian-critique/)

And precious moments of thought-free awareness confirmed and validated spiritual insights from other mystical experiences. For example, they were reminders that human consciousness remains beyond death of human bodies and brains; that consciousness creates brains and subtle thought bodies which inevitably survive death of physical bodies. (See https://sillysutras.com/brains/)

Whereby I observed that most people (like Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet) mistakenly believe that death of the physical body and brain, ends all consciousness and thought.

Thus Prince Hamlet incorrectly equated physical mortality with timeless Awareness in his famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy contemplating his possible suicide. (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1)

And to share this realization about Hamlet’s confused suicide speculations,
I composed this sutra:

“To think or not to think, that is the question.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

which implies that Being is perpetual, not optional, whereas thinking is optional and does not end on bodily ‘death’; but that paradoxically the less we think, the more we are Being (‘here now’) as perpetual Awareness.

Essential Message of “Be Here Now”.

Through the process of learning to live with a stilled mind in the present moment, I’ve discovered that:

Being is timeless. But thought is time (and space). So, when we egoically think of ourselves merely as entities separate (in space) from each other and Nature, we mistakenly preclude or deter our realization of spiritual Freedom as eternal Being beyond space/time.

Instead, we experience our existence only as an ever impermanent past illusion, or mental mirage, but never NOW. However as we self-identify moment by moment as thoughtless, choiceless awareness, we are Being NOW.

And we learn that

“The more we live moment by moment,
the more momentous our lives;”
and that
“When all thoughts cease, we are at peace.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Ultimately we discover

“That which is timeless is [only] found NOW”

~ Buddha

Conclusion.

Each of us has a unique karmic history and space/time perspective. So each of us has unique challenges and a unique karmic ‘recipe’ for spiritual opening. But the ‘ingredients’ in every such ‘recipe’ are the same– only proportions differ.

And Presence – ‘being here now’ – is crucially important for everyone, not just for spiritual aspirants. For example, being present is sometimes called being “in the zone” with a stilled or focussed mind. Have you ever noticed how star artists or athletes perform at their highest levels while “in the zone”?

Thus today’s quotations, memoirs and discussion are offered to inspire our ever expanding realization that “life can be found only in the present moment”, and that ultimately the Eternal happiness we all (knowingly or unknowingly) seek is beyond space and time, but paradoxically immanent ever here NOW.

Peanuts by Charles Schulz

Dedication.

May everyone everywhere experience ever expanding happiness by increasingly living moment by moment in precious presence, with ever quieter minds.

Thereby may we all radiate love and joy, which blesses the world, ever NOW.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner