Ancient Wisdom in a Modern Light—Philosophy

Lately I’ve been busy exploring “wisdom”—what it means, what it encompasses. That led me to start a series of articles about “philosophy” (which means love of wisdom).

I’ve been posting the articles on my other website (macyafterlife). Here’s a list of the first six installments, in case you’re interested in some of these topics:

And here’s a summary of each of those six articles (I plan to post summaries like this once in a while, whenever I get a half-dozen or so new articles finished):

Philosophy 101: Back to Basics

Philosophy means “love of wisdom,” so this series is about the wisdom that’s been gathered by human minds across the millennia… what it is and how we humans shape it and use it in the course of a lifetime… or over the span of centuries as empires rise and fall.

Rather than delve into the elaborate history of philosophy, we take a close look at some of the major forces that have shaped human wisdom in the past 4,000 years or more:

  • Science and literacy,
  • Economic and social vitality,
  • Peace and conflict, and
  • Religion (especially Hinduism and Buddhism that sprouted in the East… and Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that started in the West).

Articles in the series address not just timeless philosophical questions like…

  • Why do we lie and cheat? – What’s the meaning of life? – What’s a good life? – Are lives shaped more by fate or by free will – What’s consciousness? – What’s intelligence? – What’s humor? – What are human rights?….

… but also several questions that I think are especially pertinent today (incidentally, I think the answer to the following questions are all “yes,” though there’s room for a lot of debate!):

  • Is science the most reliable earthly source of information about our world and the material universe?
  • Are there “parallel” universes superimposed over our own material universe, all within a vast, multidimensional omniverse?
  • Is there a source at the center of everything (God, Allah, Brahman, Yahweh…) that creates and nourishes the omniverse?
  • Are material things more illusory and spiritual things more real?
  • If there are highly advanced extraterrestrial cultures who want us to join them, should we make an effort to do so?
  • Is it important or even valid to polarize human behavior (right/wrong, good/bad, noble/savage…)?
  • Does world culture go through a series of major “End Times” that purge the planet?
  • Can we assume that literacy, peace, and economic and social vitality are in the best interests of our descendants? And should we today make them a top priority?
  • Does the nested structure of life that exists on Earth —systems within systems within systems—also exist in spirit?
  • Were gods and giants on the Earth in ancient times?

The articles in this series address many of those issues….

Philosophy 02: Why Do We Lie and Cheat?

I suspect that we all lie or cheat occasionally, especially when we add fun deceptions like practical jokes and surprise parties to the mix. There are all sorts of reasons why we lie and cheat.

The general consensus is that a LOT of people lie and cheat a LITTLE bit, but just a LITTLE bit of humanity lies and cheats a LOT.

Scientific studies back that up….

Here are some fairly famous (and some infamous) liars and cheats (courtesy of a recent National Geographic article):

  • PT Barnum (showman),
  • Bernie Madoff (investment advisor),
  • Richard Nixon (US president whose lies paled in comparison with recent president Donald Trump, who told so many fibs—20,000 in four years—that his staff started calling his tweets and comments “alternative facts.”),
  • Charles Ponzi (and other swindlers),
  • Frank Abagnale, Jr (impostor turned security agent),
  • Valerie Plame (and most other secret agents),
  • Lance Armstrong (and other athletes who use banned, performance-enhancing drugs),
  • Apollo Robbins and Ava Do (and other skilled magicians),
  • Daniel Negreanu (and other successful poker players),
  • Alexi Santana (a.k.a. James Hogue, ex-con turned charismatic college student at Princeton),
  • Jayson Blair (journalist and plagiarist turned life coach),
  • Mark Landis (and other art forgers),
  • James Johnston (tobacco mogul and many other marketers of addictive substances), and
  • Zardulu (an anonymous photo-enhancement wizardess whose “three-eyed fish” and other realistic creatures have gone viral).

That same National Geographic article includes a statistical breakdown of why we humans lie and cheat:

  1. To promote ourselves: for money (16%), fame or influence (15%), positive self-image (8%), entertainment and humor (4%).
  2. To protect ourselves by: Covering up mistakes and misdeeds (22%), escaping or avoiding people (14%).
  3. To impact others by: Helping people (5%), hurting people (4%), being polite and non-offensive (2%).
  4. For unclear reasons such as: Pathological or sociopathic behavior (2%).

Technology. Computer hacking has taken lying and cheating to new levels….

Politics. A society typically includes a small group of rich and powerful men. Sometimes that rich and powerful minority finds that the only way to increase their wealth and power in a majority-run democracy like the USA is to lie and cheat relentlessly… to stir up hatred, fear, and intolerance in susceptible minds in order to get the public on their side, the way Hitler did in Nazi Germany. Then, if that doesn’t get the necessary votes to stay in power… rig the elections. That seems to be happening in the USA lately.

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So why do we really lie and cheat here on Earth?

It’s mostly about predators (and, to a lesser degree, parasites and competitors).

To survive in the wild, predators have to be deceptive and aggressive; prey have to be suspicious and wary.

In society, predatory behavior among us humans is more a choice than a necessity, but it certainly happens a lot, so we have to be on our guard constantly. Buyers and borrowers have to be wary of predatory businesses and banks and lenders. Businesses and banks have to be wary of predatory criminals. Criminals (and even regular citizens) have to be wary of predatory cops (the “bad apple” or “bent cop”). Women have to be wary of predatory men. Peace-loving nations have to be wary of predatory nations….

Predatory behavior (along with competitive and parasitic behavior) is the exception to the rule of life (which I believe is mostly mutualistic, or win-win), but the list of predators (and parasites and competitors)—both in the wild and in human relationships—is endless. And that produces an endless crosscurrent of deception and suspicion and frustration between predator and prey, between parasite and host, and among competitors.

When we validate predatory behavior (and to a lesser degree competitive and parasitic behavior) in human affairs—or worse, glorify it—then lying and cheating become survival techniques….

Philosophy 03: What’s Humor?… Laughter?

The average adult laughs 17 times a day.

Apparently humans aren’t the only ones with a sense of humor. Chimpanzees laugh by panting and sometimes screeching when being tickled or playing chase; rats laugh with a sort of supersonic squeak-giggle and apparently love to be tickled.

Those are tame animals in homes and labs, and maybe they laugh because the human sense of humor rubs off on them? Adventuresome researchers like Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall and Robert Sapolsky have spent time living with apes in the wild and probably know if they have a sense of humor of their own, but after extensive digging (ha!… a few minutes, really) I’m reasonably confident that no scientists have been camping out with wild rats in, say, New York or Shanghai or Oslo.

Anyway, this article is about us humans because we like to laugh a lot. By the end of the article we’ll see if we can put laughter into perspective with the whole human experience. But first, what’s humor, anyway?

There are various theories, but most experts think it has to do with incongruity. When something is suddenly, surprisingly out of joint or out of harmony, it can make us laugh. Cats and babies are incongruous a lot, which makes their funny youtube videos so popular.

Here are some examples (mostly from the USA) of how we classify humor. Note all the incongruities.

Situational humor includes practical jokes and funny home videos like the one above. And there’s the classic example of pulling a chair out from under someone who’s starting to sit down.

Observational humor has been popular down through the ages, from Aristophanes in ancient Greece, to Will Rogers and Mark Twain, to Jerry Seinfeld, who observed recently:

  • I saw a study that said the Number 1 fear of the average person is public speaking. Number 2 is death. Death is Number 2! How in the world is that? That means to most people, if you have to go to a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.

Surreal humor exaggerates the incongruity of a situation, like some Ellen Degeneres material:

  • Stuffed deer heads on walls are bad enough, but it’s worse when you see them wearing dark glasses, having streamers around their necks and a hat on their antlers… because then you know they were enjoying themselves at a party when they were shot.
  • I’m a godmother. That’s a great thing, to be a godmother. She calls me “god” for short. That’s cute. I taught her that.

Wit, popular among more educated people, was perfected by William Shakespeare… and polished up lately by cerebral comics like Stephen Wright (Join the army, meet interesting people, kill them.) and, of course, Woody Allen who wrote:

  • When it comes to sex, there are certain things that should always be left unknown, and with my luck they probably will be.
  • If it turns out there is a God, I don’t think he’s evil. I think the worst you can say is that basically he’s an underachiever.
  • I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying.

Wordplay is also popular among academics, with its use of double meanings and ambiguities.

  • My wife’s reading an anti-gravity novel for book club, and she just can’t put it down.

Bodily humor is about awkward biological functions, like the joke Steve Martin told back in the 70s when public smoking was starting to go out of vogue:

  • If I’m in a restaurant and I’m eating and somebody says, “Hey, mind if I smoke?” I always say, “No, mind if I fart?” It’s a habit of mine. They’ve got a special section for me on airplanes now. I tried to quit once, you know, but I gained a lot of weight. It’s hard to quit. After a big meal I really like to, l-l-light one up.

Anecdotes are stories about people or events. They may be fact or fiction or a combination of the two, and they may or may not come from personal experience. They’re often the best framework for a good joke:

Father buys a lie detector that makes a loud beep whenever somebody tells a lie.

The son comes home in the afternoon.

Father asks him, “So, you were at school today, right?”

Son: “Yeah.”beep.

Son: “OK, OK, I was at the movies.”beep.

Son: “Jeez, I went for a beer with my friends.”

Father: “What?! When I was your age I wouldn’t touch alcohol!“beep.

Mother laughs: “Ha! He really is your son!”beep.

So, that helps explain why we laugh: largely because of incongruity—the unexpected.

Now let’s see if there’s something deeper going on inside us that makes the world seem not just funny, but sometimes sad. After all, comedy and tragedy—laughing and crying—are closely related. And that’s not just the opinion of public speakers and playwrights who’ve learned from experience. Even health professionals and scientists are aware of the close interplay between laughing and crying….

Philosophy 04: Government: Society’s ‘Alpha’

I got some great inspirations about governments recently from an unlikely source. Regina read Robert Sapolsky’s A Primate’s Memoir recently for book club, and she thought I might enjoy it. Frankly, I went a little ape over it.

Some primate troops are led by an alpha. Governments are the “alphas” of human societies. Once headed by kings and queens, they’re now run by prime ministers and presidents, committees and legislatures all working together (more or less) to try to manage the affairs of society.

(about the picture: Some primate troops are led by an alpha. Governments are the “alphas” of human societies. Once headed by kings and queens, they’re now run by prime ministers and presidents, committees and legislatures all working together (more or less) to try to manage the affairs of society.)

As a boy, Robert Sapolsky grew up with the kinds of childhood dreams and life ambitions that might raise a parent’s eyebrows: He wanted to become a wild mountain gorilla in Africa, or at least to live among them. While other kids sent off for decoder rings, he wrote fan letters to primatologists like Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall.

(After college) he spent every summer for the next quarter-century living with a particular Savannah baboon troop in Kenya—working out of a leaky tent, an old jeep, and his scientific bag of tricks, including a blowgun to put the baboons quietly to sleep, a syringe to draw their blood, and a centrifuge to isolate the animals’ stress hormones for further study…

Over the years, the Savannah baboons were stressed according to their position in the troop hierarchy. Those higher in the hierarchy had less stress, while the lower-ranking guys suffered a lot of stress from being constantly harassed by the big guys and shunned by the gals. The stress played havoc with their metabolisms and overall health and caused uneasy divisions within the troop….

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Here’s what I deduce about symbiosis and human governments, based on Prof Sapolsky’s work with apes:

These are the kinds of things that I suspect affect the stress level in ape communities:

Symbiotic relationships that seem to cause stress and conflict and sickness in and among apes:

  • predatory examples: big cats, hyenas, crocodiles, and human hunters and poachers kill apes,
  • parasitic examples: blood-sucking ticks and bacteria steal life-energy from the apes and spread disease,
  • competitive examples: apes scrap within the hierarchy, and ape communities squabble with each other over food, territory, and membership, and they contend with humans who destroy ape habitats for farming and forestry.

Symbiotic relationships that seem to reduce stress and promote peace and vitality among apes:

  • mutualistic examples (within the troop): apes groom each other, adults play with the kids, and moms suckle their babes (which is apparently a sort of hybrid, mutualistic-parasitic relationship).
  • commensalistic example—Various species of apes and other omnivores sometimes forage peacefully in the same area, eating fruits and grasses while excreting wastes that fertilize the vegetation and spread fruit seeds.

Since the days of Babylon, government has always been the alpha male (or alpha female) of every human society. Whether it’s been led by a king or queen or a Lakota tribal council or the state council in China, most citizens accept the presence of government at the top of the social hierarchy and move on with their lives. But like a baboon troop, there are always those in society compelled to challenge, attack, and weaken the alpha. Whether they have a vision for a better government (alpha wannabes) or just don’t like being bossed around (outliers and subversives), there have always been anti-government forces in most societies. (The most notable examples nowadays might include Rupert Murdoch (media billionaire and far-right propagandist) and Charles Koch and his late brother DavidKoch (oil billionaires and far-right anarchists). But government-haters in society have always been the exception. Most people accept government as their alpha, especially when the leaders are honest and foster freedom and fairness in society, as we consider in a moment.

The best governments in the future (I believe) will be those that strive most effectively toward these five perfect, unreachable goals: Stress-free citizens, a stress-free government hierarchy, a stress-free society, a stress-free environment, and a stress-free world….

To figure out how to do that, we first have to take into account a few unavoidable conditions that cause stress to life on Earth:

  • Consumption and waste. People eat food and poop and throw away a ton of garbage every year. Societies with their businesses and industries consume natural resources and generate unimaginable waste (toxic gases, liquids, and solids). It’s a messy business, this dog-eat-dog (predatory) way of life, stressing both society and the environment.
  • Dark symbiotic compulsions of human predators, parasites and competitors cause lots of stress in society, just as their nonhuman counterparts do in nature.
  • Reproduction can lead to overpopulation, which can lead to all sorts of economic problems, including famine, plague, mass extermination, and war.
  • Excessive per capita consumption of resources can also lead to economic problems—inflation, recession, depression….
  • Fairness vs freedom. The human personality is pulled between a yearning for freedom and a yearning to be part of a safe group (family, community, nation…) that treats people fairly. Capitalist democracies like the USA encourage freedom at the expense of fairness. Communist countries generally encourage fairness at the expense of freedom. Social democracies like those in Northern Europe strive for a balance.
  • Intolerance and incompatibility. Unavoidable human differences (race, religion, nationality, living standard, politics, gender, sexual orientation) cause suspicion and stress until people learn to be tolerant. But there are some manmade differences (such as certain religious and political beliefs) that are inherently incompatible with each other. Tolerance alone will not resolve those differences, and it takes dialog and compromise for them to coexist in peace.

Then come the solutions—steps that society’s alpha (government) could take to overcome such obstacles to peace and well-being….

And, beyond that, we can all find peace of mind in a tenuous world by practicing a few simple, personal techniques….

Philosophy 05: Mysteries of Ancient Wisdom

The big picture of mankind, past and present, is like a jigsaw puzzle with some pieces missing or bent out of shape.

Let’s see if we can find a few key pieces that fit—maybe with some slight adjustment—such as:

  1. The expanding universe, big bang, and little bang,
  2. Eden, the serpent and the fall of man,
  3. Cosmologies—from Ptolemy and Copernicus to Einstein and Sheldrake, and
  4. Evolution and creationism.

We’ll consider the knowledge of science, the wisdom of religion, and a few key messages that were received (reliably, I believe) from other-worldly sources.

But first, a general timeline to help put things into perspective.

(This “best-guess” timeline suggests that 1) science has learned a lot about what’s happened here in the Second Epoch, while 2) the megalithic civilizations of the past (see below) are long forgotten except in sacred texts of Hinduism and Judaism, which talk of gods and giants, spaceships and vast energies, and 3) the approaching Third Epoch is also a mystery.)

(Pyramids were apparently a sign of the times for our mighty ancestors of the First Epoch. The people in the pictures (tiny dots in the red circles), give an idea of the immensity of these structures. The Bosnian pyramid of the Sun, by far the largest, might be a natural formation, like a mountain, though there’s compelling evidence that it was designed and built, like the others in the montage.)

Spoiler alert: After lots of evidence is considered—especially from science and religion and from seven ethereal beings who shared their world-changing insights with us in the 1990s—these are the puzzle pieces that come together in this article (material in parentheses is more speculative):

Puzzle piece #1: A large planet circled the sun between Mars and Jupiter until it was obliterated. (It probably happened some 4 billion years ago, if scientists’ dating techniques of moonrocks are correct… and probably as a result of advanced technologies of its superhuman inhabitants, if certain other-worldly messages are correct).

Puzzle piece #2: Humans have been around for an inordinately long time (on various planets, including Marduk/Eden and Earth). On Earth they lived peacefully and generally stress-free until dinosaurs (the “serpent”) arrived some 250 million year ago, and it’s been a struggle ever since.

Puzzle piece #3: The relationship between humanity and its spiritual roots is off-kilter because of our scientific preoccupation with the material universe. If humanity can adopt a broader cosmology that includes the entire omniverse (see #4 below), then our world will be able to restore the equilibrium or resonance with the afterlife world at level 3 that plays a vital part in our lives… and especially in our “afterlives.”

Puzzle piece #4: There’s a source at the center of omniverse that emits a life-energy to nourish everything perpetually with vitality, truth, purpose, and understanding. Then, life everywhere is free to evolve and explore, and to accept the benefits or suffering caused by its choices.

To conclude this article, we take a closer look at The Seven ethereal beings and their messages that support these four pieces of wisdom.

Philosophy 06: Free Will vs Fate

Free will and fate are at the crossroads of a lifetime.

What plays the bigger role in shaping our lives:

  • Free will (the conscious choices we make in this lifetime), or
  • Fate (being subtly, relentlessly pulled toward a preordained life path)?

Well, that might just depend on what we consider to be more important—the tangibles or the intangibles.

  • Tangible things that shape our lives (brain, hormones, DNA…) are typically associated with our free will.
  • Intangible things (mind, karma, soul purpose…) are typically associated with our fate.

Generally speaking, scientists and doctors deal with the tangible, mystics and metaphysicians deal with the intangible, and psychologists stand at the crossroads to unravel “consciousness,” where the intangible (mind) meets the tangible (brain).

I suspect that the more we acknowledge and understand all of those forces associated with our fate and free will, the more meaningful our lives can be. After all, they’re almost entirely responsible for who we are, what we do, when we do it, why we do it, and how well we do it.

(Incidentally, I believe there’s one ultimate force that can optimize our lives regardless of those tangible and intangible forces and their effects on us. We’ll consider that at the end of the article. Meanwhile…)

Here’s a peek at all of those tangibles and intangibles, to get a sense of the profound impact they have on us. (The article goes into a bit more detail with more pictures.)

The Science of Human Behavior

  • The brain is the government that monitors all the nerves that spread through the body like an internet, sharing information with all the major organs. So the nervous system is a government-controlled internet….
  • Hormones are millions of squishy little flash drives that travel through the bloodstream and plug into the nervous system to tell the brain and nerves what to do under certain conditions. So hormones are like expert government contractors working on special projects… maybe assigned to a crisis task force….
  • DNA is the operating system for the entire body, like Microsoft Windows or Apple’s macOS or Google’s Android. Nearly every cell in the body has an identical copy of the operating system, just as every computer or smartphone in the world has an operating system that’s identical with others of its ilk….

The Spirit of Human Behavior

(About the picture: The source (God, Allah, Brahman…) emits a life-energy that creates and nourishes everything in many parallel universes (fine, white circles), which can be divided into seven arbitrary levels. The interactions between our physical self (level 1) and our subtle selves (e.g. our “mind” or spirit) determine our fate. Karma is one of those interactions.)

  • The mind is a timeless software package that apparently works with and monitors the brain and DNA during a lifetime. (read more: sand… ) The mind is the living essence of you and me, and it exists with or without the physical body and brain. When we fall asleep and the brain shuts down, the mind enjoys adventures in dreamy spirit realms close to the Earth in vibration. When we die and the brain dies, the mind bids the Earth good-bye and gets settled into a spirit world.
  • Karma is the ship’s log as we navigate a lifetime on Earth—a record of important events along the way. Our every significant action or reaction is noted in the ship’s log and compared to what a “perfect” action would have been in that situation. “Perfect” behavior is simply behavior that resonates with the source. If we could be motivated only by such things as love, truth, generosity, and service to others, then we would rarely harm anyone or anything, and never intentionally. I believe we all try to live that way as best we can because we have the source at the center of our being, always urging us toward perfection… but day-to-day living gets in the way.
  • Soul purpose is both simple and complicated. Simple: Every soul purpose is essentially the same: To resonate with the source in our thoughts, words, and actions. That is, to flourish with such noble motivations as love, truth, generosity, and service to others. Complicated: As life spreads through the omniverse and follows its free will, it diverges from the source—especially in outlying worlds like ours where there evolve parasites, predators, and competition. Once we’re born into a divergent world like Earth and grow up acclimated to it, our soul purpose then is to find our way back to the source by making inspired life choices that give us peace and joy and, well, just make us “feel right.” Our soul purpose if formed before we’re born, and we carry it along with us into a lifetime.

Reincarnation is associated with our karma and soul purpose and is explained with messages like this one:

Laws of reincarnation (explained by a higher being). The human soul returns to Earth often enough to learn all human life experiences…. Reincarnation is a constant evolution that moves forward, beginning with minerals, moving to plants and animals, then to human beings. There is no backwards evolution. The human soul does not return to Earth in the body of an animal. Nor is reincarnation always a process of reparation in this life for a past life. If people around you are hard hit by fate, do not always assume that they have to make up for past transgressions. Never judge! You may be wrong and are burdening yourself by your judgment. There are people whose grief and sickness were not imposed on them because of past karma. They used their own free will (at the spiritual or subconscious level) to select a more difficult road (during a physical lifetime) to reach their goals faster. (read more… )

Finally, we tie it all together with what is probably the key teaching of most of the great mystics down through the ages:

Even when it feels like our life is unravelling (for example, with a serious illness or an addiction in the family), or when our country is unravelling (with riots and divisiveness), or when the whole world is unravelling (with wars, plagues, and environmental destruction)—especially in those difficult times—we can still find the greatest peace and happiness by fostering conscious contact with the source.

After all, the source creates and nourishes all of the countless universes and everything in them with its relentless stream of life-energy. Once we start opening ourselves up, we begin to feel changes inside us. A growing peacefulness lets us experience life and its circumstances with ever-greater understanding, humor, and grace.

Meditation is one great technique to foster conscious contact with the source, especially a good heart meditation (which I’ve described elsewhere… )

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So these are the things that have the biggest impact on our quality of life and state of mind here on Earth:

  • Tangible things like the brain, hormones, and heredity, which are sometimes lumped together as “free will,” and
  • Intangible things like mind, karma, and soul purpose, which help determine our “fate.”

The tangible things lead us out into the illusory world. The intangible things lead us in-beyond toward the source and its timeless truth.

The only way to bring a lasting peace and happiness more and more into our lives is to cultivate conscious contact with the source, which is at the center of the “all-that-is,” constantly creating and nourishing everything everywhere.

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About Mark Macy

Main interests are other-worldly matters (www.macyafterlife.com) and worldly matters (www.noblesavageworld.com)
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