Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Philosophy

 Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
  --Zen Buddhist saying

Mind your own business and don't eat junk food.
--Besse Cooper

Besse Cooper, super-centenerian extraordinaire, died Tuesday at the ripest old age of 116. She was born in August of 1896. Amazing feat.  She hit three different centuries, 13 different decades and 2 millennia.  According to her son, she was a voracious reader and loved watching the nightly news.  She got a lot of exercise working on her farm until she was 105 at which point she moved into a nursing home. When asked what her secret to a long and healthy life was, she replied that she "minded (her) own business and didn't eat junk food."  Now isn't that a tidy and succinct personal ethic?  Easy to explain to the kids.  Easy to implement.  Not fancy.  Read a lot, exercise a lot, mind your own business and don't eat junk food.  Love it.

Later on in the day yesterday,  I read (at the behest of Deepak Chopra on facebook) this article by Jean Houston, PhD (I am not familiar with the issuing university that gave her that degree: The Graduate Theological Foundation) about entelechy, a word originally coined by none other that Aristotle himself.   This entelechy concept is about individuals and humanity as a whole transcending to a higher mind--a collective mind, I gathered.  I read the article but it started smacking of kooky Matrix-y dark matter energy stuff about the 3rd paragraph in.   Here's the link.    There were no scientific references to anything that this woman was talking about.  It's pretty short.  See for yourselves.

Here's an excerpt for all of you smarties who skipped it:   

When my research has given me the opportunity to take depth soundings of the continents within human beings, I have marveled at the enormity we contain. Somewhere in the vast treasure trove of the body/mind, I am convinced, we remember everything we have learned over the past 13.8 billion years.

I don't remember where I put my phone. Jeff never knows where is car keys are. So she's wrong about that.  Any-who, yeah, I read through this transcendent stuff and it all started sounding very utopian/marxist/if-you-don't-agree-then-you're-stupid-y.  But the author seemed to be pretending that this was a new concept--this entelechy--that the whole of humanity is magically evolving toward something greater and its cosmically coded into our DNA and this collective intelligence, etc. And that there is ample evidence that we are rising ever higher with each passing day.  Uh...really? She has not seen Honey BooBoo or Jackass, The Movie quite obviously.

She shuts down any naysayers about the same time she starts talking this cosmic smack --- like only the troglodytes are hanging back in the land of matrixlessness clutching their purses.  I can't remember the psychological/philosophical term that explains this concept that a theory can not be disproved because inherent in the refuting is the refuter's basic stupidity.  But the high school equivalent is the "popular clique".   She continues to eschew materialism with the following paragraph:

The preponderance of archaic methods of solving problems from war to water-boarding. From racism to risings of fundamentalism of every stripe. Fear as victor, the terrorist and the terrified supporting each other’s claim to a devolutionary agenda. Then too, too often and in too many places, reality had been diminished to the flattening of one's spirit and the expansion of one's purse.

I don't even really disagree with her until about midway through this paragraph.  But it sounds like just like way back in high school, there is no way in to this society of super-highmindedness and only a one way ticket out.  They let you in.  You are dubbed Knight of Cool by the dude scepter which henceforth requires that you to comply with a silent code of ridiculousness, pettiness, barbarism, teasing, bullying and condescension.  That's what I mean.  Can you imagine going up against this woman and Deepak Chopra and telling them that they are flat out living in some kind of la-la land?  They'll just look at you and say, we have PhDs or MD degrees but of course we've transcended these petty accolades in favor of belittling you on sheer force of our otherworldly and more highly evolved awesomeness.  BTW, Deepak's net worth is reported to be between $75-80 Million smackaroonies.  That's a lot of peyote.   I couldn't get any info on Ms. Houston's quid.

Dude, come on! Besse Cooper's philosophy is so much more accessible, understandable and real.  I think hers has some scientific gravitas, too:

I like Deepak. I have actually met him twice. Once on a path in the middle of the woods in Wyoming. Once at a book signing.   I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a highlight for me.   I would probably like Jean Houston, too,  if she put down the peyote pipe and started speaking English again. Check her out:

My whole point here is that living well is a pretty simple thing. Living a long time is complex and maybe not even something that appeals to you.  But a simple life ethic is infinitely preferable to one that only the cool peyote-smoking matrix-dwellers have access to via their collective higher mind.  I'm always skeptical of a philosophy that says I am required to think exactly like other people and flatten my purse in order to expand my spirit.  Let me also say that generally speaking (and you can even ask Jeff) I love this hippy-dippy cosmic philosophy.  Sorry Fr. Chas. I'm just being honest.  But this time, they lost me.

I wonder what Besse would've thought about that article.  It sounds like she was more of the "chop wood, carry water" school of enlightenment.

If her response to it were anything like Jeff's it would sound something like:

"Huh? This is just like gobblygook. Yeah, I gotta go upstairs and give the kids a shower. Thanks for dinner, Honey." 

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