Path – a lottery?

Posted: 24/02/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, ONE planet

Throughout his talks Raoul Martinez (with Russell) (TED, RSA and others) considers the lottery of birth. People are born in certain conditions, and through conditionality of genes and environment their life happens. This is an assumption. And that assumption has the scientific limitation of genes and environment, this leads to the question “is there more than genes and environment?”

I believe Raoul might well touch on this with creativity, but I want to pre-empt this by considering path – I am not a good reader and might not get through his book!! Understanding something about path makes the question moot. The best way to understand path is to define it as that which goes beyond conditionality. Whilst this means a great deal to me, it is a somewhat redundant definition. If you don’t believe in path then all is conditionality – genes and environment, if you believe all is genes and conditionality then there is no path. And path is not scientific – subject to measurement by machines, so cannot be verified that way.

Path might however be observed empirically because many on the path behave the same way, there might be mileage in empirically observing those on the path. But I suggest most such would probably turn their noses up at such an experiment, why be interested in scientific verification? I have a similar attitude to scientific verification of meditation, because science through its limitations is straitjacketing the scope of meditation through its definitions of meditation as that which science can measure.

Path is a spiritual “approach” that lacks definition. Anyone who has considered spiritual descriptions will see regular phraseology such as descriptions are beyond language, phrases that science loves .

I have already described an aspect of the path, it is the mental discipline that enables connection with sunnata – anatta no-self. This is a tad Buddhist. However genuine creativity is beyond conditioning. But so is insight and wisdom, all are beyond conditioning.

I suggest that Raoul’s primary purpose in considering conditionality is to debunk the myth that the wealthy are there by merit, and therefore attacks the myths of responsibility and blame attached to the burdens of impoverishment. I have no disagreement with criminality being a consequence of conditions, and call for a social awareness of this and demand that society accepts its responsibility in this. I know they won’t because society is part of a 1%-system, and they have no intention of releasing their accumulation.

My description of path does not per se go against Raoul’s non-assignment of blame. Path would however provide social development if society respected the path and those who are on it, of course society does not – nor does science – nor does the 1%.

Whilst I would have nothing against a “path-meritocracy” – I know society would benefit, I also know that a path-meritocracy has no connection with the prevailing wealth-meritocracy. With a small proviso the wealthy have no different access to the path as the less wealthy. The proviso is this, because of their wealth the rich have the time to consider spirituality, the poor because they are always searching for a buck don’t have such a luxury. But time without proper mental discipline does not lead to spirituality, and being rich does not provide this discipline – so I use the word proviso and nothing stronger.

Access to the path can just happen. In discussions of path here there is no clarity as to when someone will access the path. Buddhism amongst others points to meditation as a method to access the path but for some meditation does not seem to work – although meditators tend then to say “they are not doing it right”.

Within spirituality there are descriptions such as Divine Plan that claim to go beyond Raoul’s conditionality. I tend to have leanings towards a Divine Plan although I would not use such a term. However Divine Plan is typically the prerogative of a religion – usually Christianity, and that exclusivity I have no time for. Whilst there might well be Christians on the path, the correlation between path and Christianity is no greater than with any other religion; there might well be a correlation between the path and esoteric aspects of any religion. With the Buddhist emphasis on path (the 4 Noble Truths) and meditation, I would have to suggest that Buddhism would enable more people to find the path, but when Buddhism is a state religion and Buddhism is a form of worship there is little connection to the path.

Genuine artists have access to the path as the muse is connection to sunnata.

Such artists often discuss the path as being part of their creativity. It is possible that this is where Raoul is going with his book, but if so it is limiting if it does not open up to all aspects of the path – not just creativity.

Yasmine Mustafa (TED talk) claims that you are not limited to conditioning if you “define who you are”. This goes part way to the path, and therefore there is an aspect of what she says which is beyond conditioning. But if the definition is merely a rehash of the results of genes and environment, then it is not path and merely a different form of conditioning. In my interpreting the description of her life, I would suggest that Yasmine has used insight and wisdom in parts of her life, and it is these path-aspects which “define her”.

I propose that nature has a plan for us, but this needs explaining. It is necessary to understand nature as what I call Gaia to comprehend this plan. Gaia as described by James Lovelock presents a holistic view of the integrity of the planet. In his description there is an interconnectivity on a non-human level, possibly including animals in that interconnectivity. There is however a different expanded notion of unity, a complete interconnectivity of all life connected with earth including humans and the earth itself; this complete interconnectivity I describe as a single organism, Gaia.

Consider a human being it is made up of organs. Mostly those organs function adequately, and a human is not conscious of organs in this state. If there is a heart attack, a human needs to alter their behaviour to cope with the weaker heart. For a human to function properly there are times when that human is conscious of aspects of their being to help that proper functioning. Gaia as an organism also has a “plan” for proper functioning of itself as an organism. Gaia “enabled” the Buddha to deliver wisdom to us all because, maybe, there was a wisdom gap. God sent Jesus Christ to earth to save mankind. Please excuse my ignorance but I understand that in Islam the Prophet Muhammed, Peace Be Upon Him, was also sent to earth to help humanity and to receive the teachings of the Quran. In no way am I suggesting that these great religions accept the above notion of Gaia, but I am suggesting that these aspects fit in with an interconnected Gaia.

What I am saying to Raoul is that Gaia has a plan to survive. In this plan Gaia allocates paths that we can follow. But I do understand that Raoul could say genes and environment are nature’s plan, and so that doesn’t necessarily refute his conditional approach. With or without the Gaia construct, the difference is path where Gaia is path and conditionality, and for Raoul there appears to be just conditionality.

Understanding path as being beyond conditioning enables freedom by following the path.

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  1. zandtao says:

    Here is an interesting TED talk on the lottery of birth by Stephanie Lampkin:-

    There are some interesting graphics on inequality but its approach is reformist. Reformism can help some but it will never help all. They will never CHOOSE to alter the lottery of birth.

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