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Old 02-28-2012, 06:53 PM   #151
Tenyu
Dojo: Aikibodo
Location: Arcata CA
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Re: My thoughts on Competition vs Non-competition

and :::: [bold mine]

We have become confused. Rational self-interest has become the dupe of our culture's perceptions, so that it is neither rational nor in our interest. Our selfish behavior is only superficially so; actually it conflicts with our true best interests. Chief among such behavior is that which ruthlessly maximizes the perceived benefits of the skin-encapsulated ego. Limiting our destructiveness is not a matter of reining in our natural selfish impulses; it is a matter of understanding who we really are. When we do not know who we are, of course our selfishness cannot benefit our true selves. Hence, the endemic misery in our society among its winners and losers alike.

It would be one thing if, indeed, the world were essentially a competitive arena destined to have winners and losers. We would then be justified in making every effort to be among the winners. The sad truth, though, is that in our society, the winners are among the biggest losers of all. Now, that is a bold statement indeed. Reading it, you may suspect I am deficient in knowledge or compassion. What are the petty troubles of the rich compared to the horrendous suffering of our culture's victims? What's a little angst or depression next to starvation, destitution, murder, genocide, tyranny, torture, the smashing of cultures, the looting of ecosystems? Surely I must be oblivious to the true magnitude of the horror.

The litany of our culture's victims is nearly endless—the indigenous peoples, the poor, the ecosystems that have been sacrificed in the interests of wealth and power—but we could hardly blame the exploiters if the alternative were to be themselves among the victims. Who can blame someone for being good to themselves? If the world is in essence "lunch or become lunch" (as I once saw ecology defined), then we cannot blame someone for striving to be in the former category. In such a world, an appropriate ethical system would have the winners be as nice as possible to the losers, offering safety nets to the poor, remediation to the environment, limits on how big a winner you can be. This, in essence, is political liberalism, which does not question any fundamental assumptions. In addition, saintly individuals and their imitators might cast themselves among the losers on purpose (even though they could be a "winner" if they so deigned), thereby demonstrating just how nice they are, refusing to take more than their share, nobly sacrificing their chance to enjoy the rewards of privilege. Of course, unless you actually are a saint, this self-sacrificial mentality eventually generates resentment at those who decide to enjoy the fruits of being a winner, a resentment often apparent in social and environmental activists. But all of this assumes that the winners really are winners. And that is a deception! Our winners have successfully maximized their "rational self-interest" only to find the promise of secure happiness betrayed.

Do not waste your energy being angry at the rich and powerful. As the Bolsheviks unwittingly demonstrated, nothing much changes even if the rich and powerful are overthrown. Moreover, that anger is in fact counterproductive. Often, the hidden message of activist rhetoric is, "Do not be too good to yourself," or "You are bad for being good to yourself." No wonder so many people are turned off. Those who rely on guilt or shame to persuade us to limit our participation in the destruction of the planet and its people are, in a very subtle way, perpetuating some of the deep axioms that drive the destruction in the first place. They are resorting to a form of control, control over an iniquitous human nature. In a subtle way, they reenact and reinforce the same war of conquest that has left the planet in tatters.

Another hidden assumption is that the good life, whether we unabashedly pursue it or nobly sacrifice it, is actually a good life. It is not. We are chasing a mirage. We have been tricked, duped into the aggrandizement of a narrow self that ultimately doesn't even exist.
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Old 02-28-2012, 07:01 PM   #152
Tenyu
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Re: My thoughts on Competition vs Non-competition

and ::::

Of course, none of the communities of life described above are autonomous. All organisms and microsystems depend on the health of the ecosystem in which they live, and each ecosystem depends on other, distant ecosystems. And all higher life forms depend on the bacteria which maintain a life-supporting atmosphere. While life on earth can sustain the loss of some species, each species depends on the whole. None can exist in isolation on a bare and lifeless planet. We may thus also consider the only viable unit of life to be the entirety of all life, along with inorganic processes relating to the water cycle and carbon cycle. The conception of the organism as an autocatalytic set is misleading, because no organism is fully autocatalytic. Like the human depending on essential amino acids, etc., all life forms depend on the rest of life for their long-term survival. The only autocatalytic set is the entire planet. If that.

These examples of flatworms and mycorhizza are not anomalies, not some odd curiosity of nature. They are ubiquitous. Cooperation is everywhere. Life depends on it. Only the cultural blinders of Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest, the dog-eat-dog world, prevent us from seeing it. We live in a cooperative biological world, a living entity which we call Gaia.

Some might quibble with the characterization of earth as a living organism, but it does possess many features of one, most notably homeostatic regulation of temperature, gases, salinity, and other variables. Each species contributes some way to the metabolism and homeostasis of the planet. Coral creates lagoons that help remove salt from the ocean, which would otherwise double in salinity in just 60 million years. Photosynthesizing algae and rainforests produce the oxygen that sustains animal life, while other mechanisms prevent oxygen levels from going too high and sparking devastating planet-wide forest fires. Bacteria accelerate rock weathering to bring carbon out of the atmosphere, while marine animals eventually turn that carbon into shells ultimately sequestered on the ocean floor. And something, some combination of organic and inorganic processes, has kept earth's surface temperature stable as the sun's apparent brightness has increased by 30 or 40 percent over three billion years. Gaia maintains homeostasis, responds to external stimuli, and grows, if not in size at least in complexity.iii The only attribute of a living being that Gaia does not possess is, we are told, the ability to reproduce.

Evolution is often depicted as an arms race, with plants developing ever more sophisticated chemical defenses against predation, while the insects that feed on them try to adapt to those defenses or face starvation. While examples of this do occur in nature, as between cheetah and gazelle, it is actually an unusual situation that we take as typical only because that's what we look for. Far more typical is the relationship between the Douglas fir and the spruce budworm. During periods of very light infestation the tree produces no response, but when budworm numbers begin to grow the trees alter their terpene releases in a way that interferes with budworm feeding and reproduction.iv The trees don't try to eliminate the budworm and other pests and take over the earth, but merely help maintain budworm populations at the right level. Many other plants do the same thing, tolerating moderate foraging but responding aggressively to severe infestation. Others possess compounds that are toxic only in large quantities, such as phytoestrogens that interfere with grazers' reproduction if eaten to excess.

With few exceptions, modern human beings are the only living beings that think it is a good idea to completely eliminate the competition. Nature is not a merciless struggle to survive, but a vast network of checks and balances that ensures each species occupies its proper place. Indeed, the extinction of any species usually has negative consequences that spread throughout the ecosystem, often to the detriment of even its former prey. Are the deer better off when they are finally free from the tyranny of the wolves? Only if you think starvation, bark stripping, and the degradation of the entire forest ecology are an improvement.
The study of ecology leads toward a view of nature as a vast gift-giving network, rather than a competitive, accumulative network. In his classic work, The Gift, Lewis Hyde observes that in primitive cultures it was in the essence of a gift that it had to be passed on or consumed—many cultures actually used the word "eaten". Gifts were not accumulated. Similarly, each species, each organism, has something to give to its environment, through which resources flow freely. Even in the case of predation, locutions like, "The deer gave itself to the wolf" reveal an unconscious insight, that underneath the very real life-and-death struggle there is a fateful and intimate connection between predator and prey.

Just as hunter-gatherers did not accumulate possessions, animals and plants don't try to make the world theirs by taking over ecosystems and wiping out other species. (Opportunistic weeds may "take over" an area for a time, but soon give way to more complex ecosystems. Their rapid initial takeover might be a gift to the community as well, for example by stabilizing denuded soil and preventing erosion.) In a gift-based world, the needs of the rest of the community define a purpose to life. Instead of a struggle to survive, life is an aspiration toward excellence in the role presented to each organism, or each person.

It was only with the advent of agriculture that human beings began to think in terms of eliminating the competition: weeds, wolves, and insect pests. What of the deer problem? We will cull the herd and manage deer populations. What of the diseases that afflict monocultures? We will manage them with chemicals. The project of eliminating the competition coincides with the ambition to order and manage nature, culminating in the total mastery of nature that is the fulfillment of the Technological Program. Or as a Scientific American cover once put it, "Managing Planet Earth."
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Old 02-28-2012, 08:04 PM   #153
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Re: My thoughts on Competition vs Non-competition

This is going to take time to digest. Tenyu, I cannot thank you enough for you contribution. I have said, competition in and of it self is not a bad thing, a gave the example I think of judo in the martial context, it does indeed teach you to be in the moment, as do non competative martial martial arts, or should, so you can deal with a potentially violent situation.

However I am talking about the, unchecked, competative mind for the sake of competition, is madness. In the book the life giving sword, Yagyu Munenori (sorry if I spelt this wrong), states mind is sickness, and when are people going to listen about the enemy (ego) lurking is the one that needs to be cut down, the mind of thought.
Always no matter what it is, a conflict of whatever magnitude begins with thought, does it not?
We live in a time, where we are still fighting the arguments of centuries ago, still trying to prove who is right or wrong. This is all based in Human thought. Not the natural intelligence you mention in your previous post. I do not believe, it is a lunch eat lunch attitude, as I call it the "real world". There are indeed a lot of checks and balances that are in place, so no one species is alowed to dominate an area or indeed the entire planet, well not for too long anyway. Mother nature, Gaia, natural intelligence or the movements of the cosmos , ki energy, no matter what you want to call it, will save herself almost in one sense from herself , and this natural intelligence, it exist of and in itself in everything.
Some may even enterpret this as god essence, and I have no problem with that either, I think it is as close to understanding that god is in us as it gets.

Why do I say this, well because it's not something you think about, but rather you "Know" and feel to be true, and it is almost unspeakable. But here we are speaking about it.

Inhabit the body somebody once told me. I didn't understand what this ment for years I didn't get this. It literally means, inhabit the body, place some of your attention in you body, personally I use diaphragmatic breathing to practice being in the body. And I noticed something quite strange, the body LOVES, attention. I felt all tingly and almost light felling, and the first thing I noticed when I opened my eyes was how absolutely still everything was, I couldn't believe it, how had I not "seen" this before, then I noticed how everything was also surrounded by stillness. Not only that but everything was absolutely silent too, but it didn't freak me out or anything, because it was "natural". The last thing I notice was also everything was surrounded by a certain amount of spaciousness.
Please look around you and see it for yourself!

Now if this is true for everything else, think about it :-)

IT MUST BE TRUE FOR US TOO.

Indeed there are a lot of religious, social, political, dogma out there that is almost terrified, of us seeing the real beauty in the human body.
Because without this mindset of controlling through fear of the body,fear of self, fear of future, fear of the past, fear of what they will do to me, fear of not being good enough, fear of not being strong enough, fear of not being pretty enough, fear of............. And on it goes.
They loose there own sense of self , and would have to see we are all essentially the same. Who really wants to loose there sense of self, of me and I'm right your wrong, the me and all my problems, when the real problem is the contending mind itself. We are the problem, and none of us can see that either.

It is the human mind/thought set, of overly competing, and not understanding this natural intelligence, that nature does indeed provide enough for all if we are willing to share it, and not contend with each in everything we do. This includes one of the most amazing human attributes, Love.

In Budo

Andy B
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