Virtu

The High Virtues, Religions, and Veatch's Razor

The Ugliness of Beauty
On Meaningfulness Itself
21st Century Money and Value
Hierarchy
The Logic of Irrational Emotion
Theory of Bliss 1.0
A Theory of Humor

Applying Bliss Theory

"Virtu" was the name for Aristotle's concept of happiness. Recall, he thought you can't tell if a person has had a happy life, until the end.

In this essay I will

  1. restate the logical structure of what we may call bliss, in its many forms,
  2. apply that to Humor Theory which I restate in these terms,
  3. define inner surrender as a technical term within the theory,
  4. explore a variety of applications of inner surrender within
    • the high virtues,
    • the attractive experiences,
    • the so-called flow states,
    • the central religious dogmas,
  5. and the negative applications
    • lack of and inability to access it in various psychological ailments.
  6. Also I define Veatch's Razor, and the emotional binding effects of moral judgement making, whereby the spiritual/liberating and the moralistic/binding aspects of religious dogma and practice may be distinguished.
Inspired by Aristotle here we define a concept of virtue that is secret, hidden, in a way, keeping secrets under the scrutiny of judgement until the very end; yet revealing its jewels when emotionally-self-binding judgement is itself abandoned. Let me start by a seeming digression to clarify my aim: I aim at a shining light in the sky.

The Guiding Star

My Penn PhD adviser, the great Mark Liberman, once taught me that when in the course of sustained scientific effort one finds a simplification, a set of cases which previously seemed different, but suddenly emerged into the light as instances of the same thing, that that is a great event in science.

I had such a moment when in 2012 I realized that the high virtues were a natural category, that they were applications of one phenomenon, the non-operation of the inner judge, or of  ¬I(). It was a bit overwhelming, to come up from the treeline to see over mountain ranges. I am glad, I feel lucky that I could share that vision, and perhaps some of its excitement, with you here. That is my guiding star here.

Summary of the Theory

Bliss Theory characterizes bliss with the formula B = of P | E | X ∧ ¬I.

Let's take that apart. You can read the math behind the link there but I will summarize again here. What I'm giving you is an analytic or logical model of how emotions are processed by humans. P is for Perception, which looks at the world perhaps including organism-internal information and develops a mental model s of the Situation. Then since we can logically separate facts from feelings, we'll say that a logically separable process, E, does an Emotional Evaluation of the situation producing a, an Assessment of emotional attitudes about s. Based on the situation s and emotional assessment a the organism develops an emotional response, r which it eXecutes.

P | E | X, or P->s | E->a | X->r.
I don't think any of that is controversial. Who could argue against this much for any representational organism? For of course an organism must respond to its environment and if it can represent its environment, that it certainly takes in information about it, develops some inner motivation-related state information related to what it took in, and uses that in its response. It is certainly possible that the biochemistry might not fall apart into these logical levels, still it has to do if not those things then the equivalent of those things or it will fail to adapt and succeed, to survive and reproduce. Perceive|Evaluate|eXecute is slightly more cognitivistic than pure surface behaviorism where stimulus is considered to link directly to response without interior mechanism, representation, or process. This is more than pure surface behaviorism because it asserts an inner emotional representation and actuation system that is a separate level of logic or analysis from the mere facts of the stimulus or the mere behavioral response that is executed. But the behaviorists even when they tried to correlate stimulus and response in the most superficial way were surely trying to determine those inner systems by which organisms psychologically responded to their changing worlds; isn't that the very definition of psychology? So no, I don't think anyone would object, so far.

But now the next part, as it develops, might make your hair stand on end.

The next part is, within or beside the P or E processes is an optional activity which is the inward mental activity of believing that some, or any or all, aspects of situation s apply to oneself. I will call this Identification, or self-attribution, and use the formula I(s) to refer to it within the model, sometimes I(), or even I, which conveniently also refers.

For example, you look at the score, you also say to yourself in some form of inner knowing, "That's my score"; now, that latter bit, namely saying to oneself that some situational description is a description of one's self or that one is, oneself, characterized by that situation, is this thing that I'm calling self-attribution, in this case as the winner or loser revealed by *your* score. Again this is an optional activity which you can but do not actually need to do -- and could actually not do! (That's the part where your hair stands on end. Many (most?) people would rather die than accept this point.) The existence of identification is not exactly controversial for humans, since we all tend to be rather excessively aware of what's going on and how it applies to and reveals ourselves as our story evolves. It probably doesn't apply in the same way to paramecia or worms or all vertebrates, but in the case of humans, I think I can make this claim, that cognitive self-attribution occurs, and you will observe your own inner process and agree that I've described something that actually happens. That's a gamble on my part, but am I wrong? I didn't think so.

Okay, so far so good. Now, here's the key claim:

Identification is Emotionally Binding.

This is almost identical to the assertion that thoughts have feelings, and therefore that the thought "I am s" has the feeling E(I am s). I am writing it, I(s), to separate self from s analytically, and to allow the believing of the self-attribution to be carved off in the notation and seen more clearly as a separate optional activity of the system.

But the point is the binding aspect. If you believe I(s), then your emotional system is BOUND to the feeling associated with s. This has various aspects.

One, you now know how to feel. Folks think it is a benefit to know how to feel, and this is a way to regulate your feelings. It can be quite functional, as in young adults trying to make something of themselves, deciding on aspirations and goals and plans and going after them because they want them to characterize the person they aspire to be, and then their success and shortcomings are regulated by the progress counted out along their path and they can align not only their own personal capabilities and resources but those of others to achieve functional, even aspirational outcomes for the individual and for the community.

Two, indeed, you can feel in synchrony with others who perceive the same situation and experience the same identification. Our team won, hooray goes the whole crowd. Social synchrony. These are benefits so far.

But, three, you are stuck with that feeling. You might not like it, you might prefer death to that feeling, but you are stuck with it and you can't avoid it. You might run all kinds of self-deceptive shenanigans in your own mind to prevent yourself from thinking about it as much as possible, but once you know it, and your emotional system has latched on to an emotional assessment, and given that you indeed identify yourself in those attributes, then it'll be there again as soon as you sober up, wake up, come home, or stop denying everyone's feelings and experiences. Identification binds, and bound, you cannot get away.

So, four, no, it's not free, it's not flow, it's not an emotionally liberated experience, it's not bliss, it's not serenity, it's not the delight of an unconditionality, of an unconditionally acceptable experience. It's bound, like a beast in chains. Even if it's a good thing you think you've got, you're still bound. You don't get to have other feelings, you don't get to change feelings, you are stuck with those.

Because identification is emotionally binding.

We have walked backwards around our topic; you are wondering, where is the bliss part? What is bliss? The basic idea here is that the emotional system is basically inhibitory, and that the inhibiting factor is identification. Given I(s) the emotional system is bound to the emotions associated with s. It could feel anything, it has wide capability and rapid responsiveness, but it specifically must crush itself down to feel exactly and no more than E(I(s)) which is an assessment, a, much more intense and often negative and permanent, than E(s). Indeed without I(s), E(s) might be free to be anything; the vicarious enjoyment of a fascinating story, for example, or calm and non-neurotic, for example, or whimsical or delighted, serene, or blissful. When one realizes that happiness can be unconditional, that itself is sufficient ground for great delight. So the argument here is that bliss is the natural state of the emotional system when it is not downregulated, not inhibited, essentially by the inhibitory factor of Identification, by the inhibiting activity of self-attribution. When free of identity-claims, the emotional system is not bound to external conditions, and the system is disinhibited. Many will object, disinhibition is a bad thing, one might lose comportment, for heaven's sake, and what if a bad person were to become disinhibited from doing bad things, that wouldn't be good at all. Let me refer you to a theory on the five levels of happiness.

The Five levels of happiness.

Put this somewhere, but until then leave it here.

  • Level 1: This is what you see in a two year old's decompensated tantruming, thrashing about on the floor, not knowing what to do while in distress. A distressed infant, months old, the poor creature, might be unable to communicate its needs, indeed may not know what they are, whether too hot, too cold, too wet, too hungry, too thirsty, too tired, too frightened, too alone, and the poor creature's caregiver might have no idea what the thing needs, or might not care (as in parents letting their babies cry themselves out) or might not be there in the first place. The situation could in fact be fatal for the baby so it's right and reasonable for it to indeed be in great distress. By two, though, a lot of kinks have been worked out and the little toddler is starting to be volitional and moving around on its own, despite still being super vulnerable and frankly very unskilled in getting many of its needs met even if the caregiver has figured out most of the cues and indicators of the child's various needs. There's a bit of an expectation that the creature is able to and will communicate in some way and thus at least knows how to get most needs met through the intervention of the caregiver; some balance has been achieved, by two, when they learn to say No. And yet waves of chaos crash still, resulting in the decompensating thrashing of the distressed or tantruming child. We have all been there ourselves!

    This state is called not having your shit together, and it is actual non-happiness. Level 1 is usually temporary, and often exists just in momentary fears or nightmares. Even long after this level is just a memory, it remains very motivating, because nobody wants to fall apart, barring some psycho- or sociopathology.

  • Level 2: You get your shit together in this level. You've been to high school and been able to hold down a job, pay your rent, utilities, and car insurance, and you know the levers of action and society and how to pull them to get your basic needs met in a predictable way which allows you to calm yourself down because now finally you know you won't fall down to Level 1 again when you discover you don't have your shit together.

    This is called control. It's not exactly a happy state but it keeps the demons away and you somehow are able to feel you aren't presently falling into the abyss. People at Level 2 really have their eyes locked on Level 1, because they know they barely have it under control and they could at any time discover some failure of adaptation or understanding by which they find themselves unsupported, falling. One accident, perhaps one snarky comment of insubordination, a moment of inattention, some small thing might separate you from disaster. The best these people aim for is stability. And they don't want to hear about anything "greater", when push comes to shove, because they already know what the motivational landscape is all about and it's all about avoiding the Descent to Level 1. People here do not have their eyes on a higher star, are not seeking higher meaningfulness, do not hope for something greater. They just don't want to die literally or metaphorically or socially or however they might potentially lose their shit. They've been there -- everyone has been there, because we have all been two years old. And they don't want any more of that.

  • Level 3. This level describes people who are aiming at something higher, they have some aspirational goal for their lives and they are seeking to achieve it, there is a star above the horizon, or a hero that they would like to become like, or an aspiration or a purpose that, oh, if they could only achieve that, if they could reach that mountaintop, then they would be, oh, they don't actually know, exactly what, but it would be great.

    Please forgive my harsh condescension, but let me explain what it is that they don't actually know. What they are seeking for is the uninhibited state. That is the state of unbounded meaningfulness, of true expansion in the heart, of divinity, in fact, if divinity is actually something real in this world. Everyone is an emotional machinery, and the purpose of that emotional machinery is defined by the capabilities of that emotional machinery. It is capable of a truly great sense of meaningfulness, of surprisingly high degrees of love and delight and connectedness as well as of amazing oceanic stillness. The range of the emotional machinery is wide, and the purpose of its existence is therefore (for you) to experience that range, to plumb the depths and climb the heights. Why is that capability there in you if not to be experienced by you?

    But the bound soul experiencing only E(I(s)), the limited feelings associated with the limited circumstances and situation that the person is willing to consider their self to be, that's a small range, actually. We can actually do a lot more.

    So that's what the folks at Level 3 are starting to realize. They think if only I achieve such-and-such status or goal or accomplishment, only then I will come out to the top of the mountain and I will see a sight that will be ravishing to my heart, or at least that makes the climb worthwhile. I will experience that happy state which makes my life worth while. I am calling it transactional transcendence. The goal achievement process regulates their actions and their feelings as the person tracks their progress toward the goal. It's nice and adaptive, it can be pro-social: people achieve goals, things are constructively accomplished, society and pensions and families benefit; all is good. But that's sort of about Level 2 happiness. Level 3 folks are aiming for something more. The more is the happiness that they get at the top of the mountain. That happiness is nothing more or less than bliss, according to Bliss Theory.

    The canonical example of this is Michael Jordan winning the Championship. Watch the documentary on Netflix; when he finally has the trophy in his arms, he collapses on the floor, completely falling apart, losing comportment, shaking, horizontal, fetal position, in a bath of tears. Why? How can this be? The teammates stare in confusion, they don't recognize the Michael Jordan that word-whipped them into a higher level of performance. It's not the same guy. Why? Because he has climbed that mountain, his highest mountain, he has intensely and with full commitment organized his life and his people and his resources and his time and attention and effort and the full intensity of everything he can give, for years and years and years of his life to jus qualify to aim, then to aim, finally to battle and conquer and win, to achieve the summit of the highest mountain, his goal of utter commitment. And now he is there, he has done it, and the inhibiting power of the identity-bound path is suddenly released. He doesn't have to be that guy on that path any more, because he has come to the end of it, to the very top. How much has he sacrificed, how much family time and friendship and every other form of happiness has he pushed away, kept at arms length, all in service of this goal. How great is he now, that he is The Greatest. The goal-derived inhibition is gone, instantaneously lost, for the goal has been achieved. It's a beautiful thing, if you can stand to watch it. It's true greatness.

    It's the sunlight seen from the mountaintop. It's the bliss that you get when you get there. It's actually just relief from the life-structuring down-regulatedness of your inhibitory bridle of the self-image you've maintained of aiming for that goal. But it is also payback. It's what you get for your pain. So, yes, enjoy your moment, Champ. Milk it, for soon you may begin wonder, like I did, in a life of repeated climbing, wondering who you are again, and need to crush that wondering openness into a definite Level-2-satisfying structure of a predictable purposeful life. You have reached your hand out and touched the Sun. It doesn't hurt, it's like the presence of God.

    People may dismissively think, I had a goal, I worked, I achieved it, but I didn't start blubbering like MJ, and in fact it wasn't that big a deal, and now I wonder what the fuss was all about, and why did I care so much, because afterwards I wasn't that impressed with myself. Oh, poor ground-down soul, you have captured your emotions within the box of your story, and instead of transacting for transcendence by aiming for something persuasively up and above and great for you, you have settled for something you aren't that proud of, you don't care about that much. You should have maybe aimed higher. Says a Level 3 person to the cynic.

    That's Level 3: goal-orientated transactional bliss acquisition. If you get to the goal, you might allow yourself a moment of bliss, a moment of meaningfulness perhaps of self-forgiveness, or relief. I might let yourself look up at the Sun, after I reach the top. I'll trade for it, in fact. I'll trade a few years of my life, for a few moments of this relief, is it relief or is it positively joy?

    Maybe it's just relief. See, I'm a little jaded on this one, myself. I have climbed way too many status hierarchies and the outcomes are just not that exhilarating as maybe the first time was. I've been looking for something even more.

    No, I mean, yes, sure it is relief, but what relief means here is setting down the internal burden of one's self-image-associated goal-chasing story, and the point of the disinhibitory claim here is that when we set down the I part, when we stop associating our self with that whole process, then the fountain erupts, which was inhibited by our self attributions. So it's joy, positive joy, in a big way, as big a way as you can tolerate, in fact. It's a playing fountain of flow state, just to watch the unfolding of the Now. It's infinitely meaningful, it's not just a mere relief. Because what's present underlyingly is that flow state. You don't actually have to do anything to create it or stimulate it. It's there already, unconditionally. Which brings us to Level 4.

  • Level 4. At this level you maybe have had a mystical experience, or perhaps you've done enough good things in life after which you felt really great about yourself and you've spent just enough time in that state to discover that you didn't actually need to work so hard to get it; you can trust that you're all right, actually. In fact maybe you've realized that bliss can be unconditional, or that your self is not so limited as you might allow yourself to think based on some particular limiting circumstances. You might have encountered a spiritual role model, someone who was happy for no reason. You might have done the Spiritual Exercises or found yourself in a state of oneness or detachment without awareness of time or body. Or you might have been doing self-inquiry, trying to figure out what you are, to the point that you no longer certainly believe your previous internal self-limiting stories about yourself. You might have discovered the mysterious internal conviction that your Self is not bounded by your skin, that the whole world is in you, or is you, in a certain way of looking at things. The mere thought that you are not a limited creature, but something unlimited, like perhaps a truly humble child of God, or a divine light of consciousness, some such unlimited thought of self maybe occurred, and with that thought you had a sip of something emotionally different and more desireable than the normal grind of life, there was a standing-outside-yourself moment, maybe. And the feeling of serenity or of bliss, of unreasonable delight, somehow welled up, and you realized that maybe there is after all something more than grinding up these mountains and keeping our shit together, that maybe there is bliss without having to earn it. That's Level 4, you realize that disinhibited emotional flow is possible without a transaction or anyone standing in the way. You've felt it, and you know it is possible.

  • Level 5. Level 5 is where you don't just realize it's possible, but you actually do it all the time. I'm saying it's not an effort to do it, because the non-doing of the operation of identification is what you do when you're doing it, according to Bliss Theory. It's actually a non-doing, so it doesn't take effort to do it. Which means it's a lower-energy state, it's actually easier than the alternative.

So that answers your question about disinhibition being good or bad. The decompensating toddler thrashing about and tantruming and being antisocial needs to inhibit his feelings by gradually learning how to keep his shit together more and more. But by Level 3 you already know how to do everything that you need to do, and you're aiming for going beyond what you need to do to just survive and keep things from falling apart. By Level 3, certainly by level 4 and 5, a person is probably extremely stable in their professional and social and domestic lives. They are well supported in this world; otherwise maybe they should spend a little extra effort at Level 2, which does include taking responsibility for yourself and being a constructive member of society, at least.

So it is within the context of a well-ordered life and being a competent actor within society that disinhibition can come to have a higher value, and that some of that madness or at least interior energy of the toddler's emotional world might actually be encapsulable, or tolerable, or even desireable as spice is in life within a positive-valued adult experience. When universal love and wisdom in the heart is the feeling, then the intensity of spontaneous flow of even a life-at-risk decompensating two year old, just becomes the intensity of meaningfulness of that adult experience, that overwhelming bliss of a saint's divine experience.

So yes, disinhibition can become a good thing too; it depends on context. So let's assume Level 5, and look around, do we have the laughing Buddha? The unbelieveable joy of Bhagavaan Nityananda? Yep, we have it.

This theory that identification binds, has a lot of consequences we will explore in the rest of this essay.

As a first example, let's observe how N+V Humor Theory comes out in this model.

The Model applied to N+V Humor Theory

N+V Humor Theory uses #1, #2, #5 from the Mathematics of Emotion, but not #3 and #4.

#1. Pp => sp p, the person, process, or perceiver, Percieves subjective circumstances s.
#2. Ep(s) => Ap(.)    p Evaluates the situation s and develops an emotional Assessment appropriate to s.
#5. Xp(Ap(p)) p eXecutes the emotional assessment A.

Again there is really no controversy about steps #1, #2, and #5: of course there is perception of circumstances, of course there is some emotional gleaning from that perception, and of course there is some implementation of that emotional imperative. Not just N+V Humor Theory but any formal, logical model of emotion must somehow include those steps, levels, layers of analysis or description.

Academic footnote: Be careful! These layers are not necessarily separate in implementation! Cognitivist analysis is valid in logic but a single process may contain multiple layers, as understood from multiple perspectives, and a rich randomly-evolved long-optimized organismal process may incorporate bottom up information-flow feedback channels, also, not just the superficially most obvious feedforward ordering of P->s->E->a->X->r. None of which denies the utility of the logical separation of layers for analytic purposes -- for understanding! -- since understanding why, why is something useful, why might some feature have evolved to crucially, functionally support a species to survive with a certain form or behavior, how if not logically can we understand why, beyond the randomness, why in our randomness did we actually survive?!)

The innovation here, in Bliss Theory, is in steps #3 and #4: There is an (optional) identification activity (#3) and whether by logic or process, once the circumstances are identified with, then (#4) one is bound to the emotional assessment also, and to carrying out its imperatives.

Now with or without #3 and #4, the consequence for Humor Theory are great, because the above machinery provides an Explanation. Specifically, the process, E(), is a rich, logical, and parallel process capable of multiple views which normally mutually inhibit and compete and finally resolve into one primary assessment which the organism can use to regulate its emotions and behavior.

Humor Perception

Sometimes, this function, E, of the inner judgement system (I'll call it the Inner Judge) makes the judgement that a situation in focus is a Violation, and it also holds a competing view, a judgement that the situation is Not a Violation, by viewing it in a different way, from a different angle or in a different frame, or perhaps with new developments in it. Being as how the two judgements are in mutual contradiction, the Inner Judge finds it has no analysis, cannot come to a conclusion, indeed cannot assert an assessment A and implement it with emotional execution X compatible with that evaluation and assessment, so it can no longer (down)regulate the emotions consistent with the moral it has extracted from the story. The contradiction itself forces the Inner Judge into non-operation. When it stops operating, it stops having an analysis, therefore it stops doing things derived from it having an analysis, it stops constructing memory and the sense of time, it stops downregulating the emotions. Suddenly out comes unregulated emotional flow, the bliss that is underlyingly present already. Bam, mad emotional activation, horselaughter, lunatic mirth, non-downregulated emotion. Comportment may be lost. Bliss. Irrational emotion.

Irrational Emotion Beyond Humor

Beyond humor, we can consider whether this machinery might apply to other aspects of human life. Are there any other parts of human life like this? Are there other things in which something like the non-operation of the inner judge, or the stoppage of the optional work of identification with circumstances, might lead to a non-downregulated emotional flow state, that you might call, for example, bliss (if activated) or serenity (if not activated)?

I would say Yes. Many, indeed. First, though, doesn't it seem that the inner judge is so attached to doing its own self-conceived duty that it will not intentionally stop doing so? Although forced into non-operation by humor perception, it may have a hard time stopping. Sleep disorders, it can't stop running on. Alcoholism, the poor fellow has to anesthetize it to get it to quit telling the negative and painful stories about one's life, or play the self-deceptive and socially-destructive trick of denial, reversing the sense or the roles of each painful thought, so as not to feel that excruciatingly painful responsibility for one's actions and life. And the eating disorders, my Inner Judge judges I'm pathetic and weak when I eat, there you go again, giving in to your hunger, telling this miserable story until 20% of its victims die from it. The inner judge doesn't want to stop doing its duty.

The only way for it to stop doing its duty seems to be to be forced to stop by humor perception, or to somehow otherwise voluntarily give up or surrender doing this duty.

Inner Surrender defined

Let's establish a technical term, "inner surrender", to refer to this operation of the inner judge letting go of its story and shutting the **** up. You know it doesn't want to. Most people most of the time won't let it let go. It has to hold on tight, grab on with white knuckles, no matter what, to continually have a story about what's going on, and impose its view of how to feel about it.

But if it can do inner surrender, then it can stop. Yes.

The High Virtues As Applications of Inner Surrender

In what ways might an inner judge carry out the action of inner surrender?

Humility, is there a component of inner surrender in humility? Let it not be about you and your ego and how you want everything to be? Yes.

Trust, is there inner surrender in trust?

Love, doesn't that falling in love moment involve inner surrender?

How about service? You know Consumer Reports reports that volunteers are happier than non-volunteers. Service is surrendering your agenda to that of another.

Forgiveness, is there inner surrender in forgiveness? I thought so. Surrender the activity of telling the story of yourself as victim and someone else as perpetrator, that's called forgiveness.

So here we have the high virtues, and they have a common element of inner surrender in them.

Decomposing the high virtues

Let us summarize:

Other Modes

What about sex? Yes, throughout for the girls, at the end for the boys, would be my guess, does that apply for you?

What about physical exercise? Would you agree with my sister, a lifetime runner, that that is the whole point?

What about trust, touch, oxytocin, the pro-social emotions? Oxytocin, the smooth-muscle regulating hormone, has been shown to be the hormone of trust. As mentioned above, trust is one of the high virtues. Then inner surrender characterizes the specifically oxytocin-connected experiences: mammals touching each other, of childbirth, of eating and eating together.

What about inability to access inner surrender? Alcoholism, addiction, insomnia, anorexia/bulimia all have a pathological degree of lack of inner surrender. These might be considered diseases of the inner judge.

So:

So there seems to be a powerful commonality here about getting free from our downregulating inner judge.

Beyond Non-operation

After the inner judge ceases operation, then what? Is it stillness and inactivity everywhere? Is it the equivalent of death? Generally not, I'd say. The rest of everything in life still continues. Your eyes remain open, senses if anything sharper since not distracted by internal storytelling. Your actions are more fully experienced, for the same reason. The emotional system when non-inhibited is now actually capable of not just flow states but truly reliable and steady internal peace of mind as well as extremes of intensity of love and bliss and laughter, extremes of the sense of meaningfulness. When there are no emotional bounds, the emotional system can operate in an expanded range. It's not ego-death followed by death, but the death of life-contracting self-attribution followed by life-expanding openness and full exercise of one's emotional capacities. Where the bounds of love?! Irrationally dancing and singing are not ruled out. Being present to others for real intimacy is not ruled out. Being present in the present moment is perhaps the only thing ruled in.

Core messages of great religions are equivalent to inner surrender

So, What about religion? I have a story about every religion other than Wicca and Jainism, and that's because I don't know anything about Wicca and Jainism. Islam, for example, is a word which means "submission". Boom, done, need I say more? I didn't think so. I do here, anyhow. But we can run the list.

Veatch's Razor

There exists a clear difference between the bliss-enhancing, serenity-inducing aspects of inner life and of religious doctrine and practice on the one hand versus the bliss-destroying aspects on the other.

Certain mental activities take us straight out of bliss and serenity by regulating our emotion.

The actions are: attributing emotionally significant qualities to oneself, for example by telling a story about what is happening to one, which tells one how to feel about it, by identifying oneself in the situation or story with any limited role or characteristics. Not doing that lets one experience non-downregulated emotion. That's it; pretty simple. Stop the bad stuff, the good stuff is already there.

Judgement of a situation in which you are the good person and someone else is the bad person, that is to say, moral judgement in general, is a clear case of the inner judge in action. Through its operation, immediately, bliss and serenity are removed from your experience. Veatch's Razor says: if you can avoid turning on the inner judge's activity of attributing emotionally significant qualities to yourself, whether statically or through time (in narrative), then you can be blissful and serene. (And if not, then not.) If spirituality and higher joy, considered as states characterizeable in psychological science, are simply this bliss, this serenity, this non-down-regulated state of emotional flow, then they are instantly destroyed by the emotion-controlling, self-attributional activity of the inner judge. Distinguish between on and off states of the inner judge, and you distinguish between bliss, serenity, the high virtues and other modes of perhaps irrational, unregulated emotion, as well as the core messages of every examined religion, taken together on the one hand, versus controlled, downregulated, one might say suffering, emotional states on the other.

If God picks sides, it's the first. Anyway it's worth a try.

The cognitive form and emotional consequences of moral judgement

Judge is J. J asserts a judgement X, that compares a worse condition W with a better condition B, compared as different to a degree D, perhaps with consequences C. X := Value(B) = Value(W) + D AND C() Asserts(J, X) describes the event of a judgement. If J=I, then following Math of Emotions I is bound to the feelings associated with the event Asserts(J,X), namely that:
  J believes him/herself entitled to be a judge;
  J is accepted by others as being a judge;
  J is a judge;
  J recognizes better and worse, good and bad, what to do and what not to do.
  One who knows what to do and what not to do, how best to proceed,
      can be calm and relaxed in carrying out their actions, without worry or doubt,
            without the problems of indecision,
      can be self-soothed, free of decompensating fear to a degree,
            unless their judgement actually turns out to wrong.
            that is, only if bound within the J's (shared) judgment system.
  J is superior to the participants and responsible parties of the worse condition W
    since at least J knows better and hypothetically would do better in their situation.
    
  The conditionality of one's subjective and group perspective imposes
  the fear of being wrong, counterbalanced by more tightly grasping
  onto the moral system of the reference group.
So the judge is superior, self-satisfied, secretly afraid of personal error, and in fear holds onto the higher power of the group's moral system. When the emotional system identifies with this scenario, asserting I=J, these emotions are inflexibly bound to self. Although receiving a benefit that decompensating panic is kept at bay, no flow is possible; emotional system is bound to self-awareness as superior, shall we say, that small curl of the upper lip in reprehension of W and its responsible parties, the binding to one's conditional temporary culture-bound group is tightened. Yes it's part of the human emotional range, but no it's not what Jesus would do. Nor the others. Emotional presence is shoved far away in the internal experience of making moral judgement and in the hard-to-avoid self-awareness as judge. Spontaneity is made impossible, except superiority-based laughter, which is ugliness itself considered from a higher view. We may respect a judge in court, but unquestionable authenticity and flow happen outside.

Further work

Further work may: Notes from (a forehead) on the ground.


Epilog 1/13/2018

I meditated, slept, woke up.

In my innermost intellect, awakening, mostly unbound by body consciousness, while observing my own arising and subsiding with breathing (I was repeating the mantra, Om namah shivaaya, canonically, with feeling), the twist of ignorance clarified. The twist began straight: This is all mine and feels so nice that way, free, self aware, encompassing, calm, loving, centered. All good things. Straight.

Then, as soon as I identify into an aspect, my emotional bars come down. The identification movement and the emotional bars coming down movement are the same movement.

For example, arising from the ocean of sleep, remembering the duties of my day, and that these are my duties (identifying as the one to whom the duties belong) is the optional step that induces the stress of the performance or non-performance of those duties. It's the same thing at quite a deep level, and there is a twist to it. The twisting into limited identification traps me into the feeling of being that identified one, distracts my self-aware creation/subsidence process via the operation of identifying into some role or attribute and, distracted, my emotions become not my own natural flow but those of my role or attribute as my socialized-child self imagines they must be. Loss of paying attention inwardly loses emotional freedom and the self awareness in everything.

The twist is the turning of attention not just toward that scenario or sequence but with the quality of identification, or of my having that attribute or role, and away from the self-created awareness of an unlimited space of vibration, calm and encompassing. The act of paying attention in one direction is the same as taking attention away from the other direction. This justifies referring to it as ignorance, as in some Eastern systems they do. The ownership of one's own being, the direct seeing that the creative source of all comes from your own center of aligned, surrendered volition, which is the actually true, least-effort vision, is forgotten and ignored as the inner commitment of ego draws attention away from that emotional awareness toward a side, toward being colored by that role or attribute. It's not just that then you become vulnerable to emotional misery or panicked decompensation nor just that you are thereby enslaved by unbreakable chains of ego-bound circumstance, it's that the turning away toward some identified version of what you think is yourself, on the one hand, and the pervasion of the emotional lockdown experience, are a single self-enslaving movement. If it were a screen sliding across the stage gradually uncovering a new scene, both qualities arise with it together, the emotional/cognitive identification commitment, and the emotional effect which is unavoidable given that identification. They arise together, simultaneously and in the same degree. They are two sides of one coin.

Bliss theory generalizing humor theory eradicates cultural misunderstanding, removes the religious justification for religious conflict

In the long march of history, as languages change and institutions are taken over by institution-oriented people, crystallize and decrepify, the inner meaning intended by once-living, wise founders to their audience is narrowed, to a narrower audience, to those within what institution may have survived, within the teachings of that institution that may have been preserved, perhaps to those who speak the founder's language, also to those open to that message, which might be a difficult message to receive, if it were to involve ego death, for example. Perhaps noone can receive the founder's original message any more. What are "dukka", "satori", and "sin", to the modern sensibility? Can anyone be sure? Do we even know the Mayan vocabulary? Even I under the same roof as Muktananda with a live translator at his side, could hardly understand when he talked about oneness or ego. Barriers to communication through ages and across cultures are so great, it is more a miracle that anything comes through, and more a probability that little will come through unscathed.

A path to recovering wise insight, which travels through humor theory, hopefully is and will remain a broad and open highway to all future humans and their descendants, for whoever laughs sincerely, can understand. The inner referent of humor perception is self-evident to all. No translation is required in pointing to what happens in humor, because everyone laughs, everyone knows when they find a thing funny. Also, N+V Theory certainly makes minimal demands on language when it asserts that humor perception equals temporary emotional valence contradiction. Negative versus nonnegative is a concept everyone who counts with integers can apply to emotional evaluation, that is, every modern adult.

We read of a joke from Roman times, we laugh sincerely at what the author laughed at, we are emotionally connected, sincerely and truly, to that ancient person, to their own deep and authentic feelings. The intimacy is amazing, and self-sufficient; it is persuasive the moment we see the humor in it, that we really do share their knowledge, moral universe, assessment, and spontaneous reaction. We are with them across history, no matter the gap in years.

I hope for bliss theory, as it builds on humor theory, that it may have the same universal appreciability. That it cannot be lost in translation by historical change in language meaning. A translation that is even a little bit close should be good enough to really send the whole message through in a way that the receiver can receive it fully and make entire use of it in their own social and interior intellectual and emotional life. Because it builds on the deeply penetrating connection and simple universal elements of humor theory, it can hopefully communicate its message universally.

If so we may now have seen the approaching end, the last of internecine warfare, of doctrinal religious conflict and hostility. Now the ground of self-certainty, on which stand the small-minded and morally judgmental, is cut away by Veatch's Razor. Be moralistic if you will, but don't pretend it is a path to the ineffable, the transcendent, the undownregulated emotional flow, the goal taught you by your own spiritual founder. For you are no higher than any other, and your heart is its greatest version of itelf when your judgement faculty is most perfect in humility. And no humble person will judge others the way the Catholics did in burning the Mayan libraries, or the way Islamic suicide bombers do in seeking the death of those who have a different religion, reduced to different moral sensibilities. Religiously based conflict, I hope, will evaporate when the significance of bliss theory is widely appreciated, and Veatch's Razor removes the religious justification of moral judgement per se in the context of the spiritual messages of the wise founders, and after now, of science.

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Modified: August 8, 13, 23 2013; July 26, 2017; August 3, 2018, October 25, 2020; July 22, 2021; October 28,2021.