Existential Clip of the week.

I see the Metaphysics of Quality as an answer to existentialism which continually points out the apparent utter meaninglessness of existence. The scientific presentation of this clip really shows the origins of those ideas and how if A causes B then it really asks "What's the point?"  The title and main lyric of the song 'Remind Me' really do echo the mood of existentialism which really doesn't have much of an answer but is merely reflecting back what science seems to be telling us.

I feel like right after this clip the Metaphysics of Quality takes over.  Well it did in my life anyway.

It's twilight for Subject-Object Metaphysics.

'You must go do this, you mustn't do that.  Tuck your shirt in.  Get good grades. Listen to your teachers. Don't really question why you're learning anything. Don't question why one culture is one way, and another different. Don't question why you should act one way and not another. Do as we say. How does what you're learning matter to you and your life? Don't ask!  Don't question outside the curriculum.  Have a question that leads you outside it? Back luck! You're on your own and say goodbye to your grades and your life. '

These were the thoughts of a younger me. Stuck in school and no idea why I was there and what the point to it all was.  

'Why do anything, why do it? No one really has any answers.  Do it for your family - do it for your friends! But why are they doing it? What's the point? And on and on..'

This is where I was stuck.  I couldn't learn - I didn't see the point. It seemed so strange that we would go to one class, learn about one very specific subject in one very specific area on one very specific topic - and the reason? Never explained... Or explained but uncomfortably so...

'Why learn about the Ancient Egyptians? Why learn a particular type of mathematics? Why learn a particular theory of science?  And how does what we're learning affect anything? Are these just facts? Are they related to one another? What's the relationship between the Shakespeare I'm learning in one minute and the triginomotry the next?   What are we describing with our language in these classes?  Are the words we're using in these classes empty and meaningless or is there some kind of meaning behind all this that we're missing? What is the meaning? What's the point? '

There seemed to be some kind of link between everything that could be explained intellectually - there must be I thought...  

'Life isn't chaotic.  It has some kind of beautiful harmony to it.'

I could see that.  

'The beautiful expression of life of the different cultures of the world over all of history and now. It's just too poetic to be hollow and meaningless. '

And then, after hitting bottom I was given a book that beautifully answered all of these questions.   And boy did the answer to these questions go far back into our history!

Two thousand five hundred years, or there abouts, and we're only just now realizing an intellectual assumption that was made all the way back then was wrong.  This is what was called the Ghost of Reason - and it was diagnosed in the most widely read philosophy book ever.  Robert Pirsig found the cause for why there are these discrepancies and lack of explanations.  Why do things exist and why we should do anything - answers to these questions lie at the heart of a new Metaphysics outlined by Pirsig which is far more intellectually sound than our current Metaphysics. But sadly the academic community has failed to take any interest, or any of these ideas seriously.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZMM) was a culture changing book. Written 44 years ago - in an obituary of the Author the Financial Times wrote:

Whenever academic philosophers dismissed Zen as New-Age twaddle, Pirsig took comfort in the fact that he, not they, had earned comparisons to Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Moby-Dick, works of art that reflected their times. “My prime thoughts turned out to be the prime thoughts of everybody else.”

But despite its popularity has anything really much fundamentally changed in our culture as a result of the insights found? It hasn't and it's well over time that it does!

Certainly the academic intellectual community which still has much control over the power of truth is a foundational place where the insights ought to be taken more seriously.  The antagonism from the this community as New-Age twaddle is unsurprising but disappointing.  Disappointing because philosophical insights in the book aren’t actually wrong or incorrect.

Unsurprising because for them to accept the conclusions of the book they would have to make some pretty dramatic changes.

Some of those changes that I can imagine are listed below:

  1. Each field of academic study from the first lesson would be directly linked to the Quality that creates, drives and connects everything. Fields would no longer be islands unto themselves but clearly connected to our shared experience and the improvement of quality everywhere.
  2. The curriculum would no longer be structured with a blind reliance on the value of logic and truth at the neglect of quality which underlies these things.  Instead, Quality, in all its manifestations, would be taught in an effort to shape high-minded well-rounded individuals. And that would be a Quality which isn’t fixed and defined for all time.  But continually evolving based on new evidence and experience. It wouldn't be something just assumed but could easily
  3. Academic papers would no longer necessarily be written with amoral, ‘objective’ conclusions but with moral recommendations of the best way for one to live in light of the findings.
  4. Areas of intellectual interest that have been neglected because of a disagreement on what quality or morality is and what the definitions of certain things are would be opened up to new academic inquiry. Some beginning examples are below although I can imagine this list would grow into the millions as insights are gained and things are moved forward..  
  • Supporting society and its role .
    Explicitly investigate, using the scientific method, how best does society control biological values so they are valued for what they are whilst structured so that the strength of society, and the expression of intellectual values is also supported.
  • Cultural comparisons.
    What are good cultural traits that are supported by the scientific method?
  • Celebrity and its impact on our culture.
    What values create celebrities? Are there better celebrities for us to admire?   What do celebrities of the past say about our past? What can the academic community do to foster better celebrities?
  • Scientific investigations.
    Many fields of scientific inquiry become an investigation of inorganic values rather than amoral a causes b relationships and the search for single truths.

But until and after these changes happen - I’ll continue to write about how the MOQ can be used to create beautiful insights, support intellectualism and explain many things far better than our current metaphysics.

Ultimately nothing exists. Science thinks matter ultimately exists - but experience shows that it doesn't. And ideas - what are they beyond thoughts about experience? What are ideas exacly? What are words - what is anything?

So try to catch that essence of the universe and it seems like you can't do it. In fact experience shows the ultimate essence of the universe is both infinitely describable, yet indescribable!

The Tao Te Ching says it best..

“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” - Lao Tzu

But at the end of the day we're alive and we can't help but speak, define and create things. Especially as Lao Tzu demonstrates; about the ultimate essence of the universe. That's why it's good instead to make statements such as 'Quality exists and is the ultimate source of everything', because we can't help but speak and so it's best if we define things as best we can.

Yes, it's true that we can deny that Quality exists and deny that it's something we know before we speak about or define, and many do - but this is dishonest. You can't get out of bed in the morning without deciding that it's better to do so.

And so instead, if we're being honest; it's best that everything we do and say is in alignment with this ultimate essence of the universe.

But how do we best do this? How do we best experience and become intimately acquainted with this ultimately indescribable essence of the universe? How best do we make it an intrinsic part of our every day lives and so live in accordance with it?

To answer that I point to Zazen and the instructional video above.

By dramatically simplifying our actions to the point where we 'just sit' we are able to experience this essence. With no distractions and no thoughts to hide what is right in front of us all the time in each and every moment - we can experience and become acquainted with what Zen calls the 'original self' and the Metaphysics of Quality ultimately calls 'Dynamic Quality'.

But to sit for this reason, or for any of the increasing number of reasons why meditation is good for you also is actually wrong. Because if I sit for these or any reason I'm not 'just sitting' but actively doing something for a reason..

And this is why the best answer to why I sit is silence, the statement that 'Zazen is useless', and the daily ding of a meditation bell.

Some great news for the week is that there looks to be a great Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance documentary in the works. See above a clip of an interview with David Buchanan who I've spoken with many times online over the years.

David has an unparalleled understanding of the Metaphysics of Quality - particularly around how it relates to the philosophical tradition of american pragmatism. I'm sure with his involvement (no matter how small) the quality of this documentary will be greatly increased!

I believe the creators are currently looking for funding which you can do whilst they travel the route of the book - here.

Best of luck to them and hopefully this will kick off some well needed - renewed interest in Pirsig's original book.