Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby Baba Bozo » Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:22 am

I think Ashley is on to something with their musings....

What is the purpose of life?

For humans, it may be to complete a journey from the real world in to the symbolic realm of our imaginations.

Consider some cave men sitting around the campfire thousands of years ago. Someone is telling a story they made up. In the real world, the cave men are terrified of the animals they must hunt, but in the story the hunters are always brave and their arrows always hit the mark. In the real world the cave women are skinny, covered with sores, and missing many teeth, but in the story they are always fair, young, and beautiful, untouched by the burdens of life.

Which world do you want to live in? The skinny scary world, or the brave and beautiful world?

Ever since almost the beginning, whenever we have had the chance we use art and imagination to create the world we really prefer, a world we get whatever it is we want instead of having to submit to the will of a ruthless real world. That is, as soon as the needs of our body are met, we create an inner symbolic world which we rule over as gods.

It's easy to see this in our modern world because for the first time in history huge numbers of people have secured their real world needs such as food and shelter etc. And so we are now awash in a thousand kinds of media offering us a million different flavors of the symbolic world.

Look at what you are doing right this minute. You could be talking to real person, but instead you have chosen an anonymous stranger in a fully digital realm. Would you really care if it turned out all of us were actually software and not real people? Probably not for long, so long as you were getting whatever experience you want.

Ashley is pointing to the world that is coming, a world where humanity will increasingly turn it's back on reality in exchange for the power we can have only in the symbolic realm. The coming technology will make this symbolic realm ever more realistic, until finally the lines between real and symbolic blur so much we can no longer really tell the difference.

I don't know at all that this is a good thing. It will probably lead to our destruction eventually, my best guess. But, for the better and the worse, if we examine thousands of years of human history instead of the current fad of New Age philosophy, it seems pretty clear that the symbolic world is coming upon us fast, like it or not.
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby rachMiel » Thu Jun 18, 2015 4:20 pm

Baba Bozo wrote:Ashley is pointing to the world that is coming, a world where humanity will increasingly turn it's back on reality in exchange for the power we can have only in the symbolic realm. The coming technology will make this symbolic realm ever more realistic, until finally the lines between real and symbolic blur so much we can no longer really tell the difference.

This is what the human mind does: It creates stories and inhabits them, as if they were the real things instead of fiction. Heck, most of the time we're not even aware that we're living in our DIY movies.

Each advance in technology provides the mind with an opportunity to create and inhabit its stories in a (somewhat) new way. Cars made us feel we could run fast and the world was smaller. Planes made us feel we could fly and the world was even smaller. The Internet makes us feel we are bigger, part of a global organism. Virtual/augmented reality makes us feel that we can leave the actual physical world and visit, maybe even live in alternate worlds.

Is humanity gradually moving en masse towards living in the Matrix? Perhaps. But I think it's more like: Humanity already lives in the Matrix, it's just finding new ways of making the Matrix feel real.

Me? I'll take the blue pill and stay right here, warts 'n all. :-)
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby Baba Bozo » Thu Jun 18, 2015 6:18 pm

This is what the human mind does: It creates stories and inhabits them, as if they were the real things instead of fiction. Heck, most of the time we're not even aware that we're living in our DIY movies.


It's interesting to reflect that the stories actually are real. Not the content of the stories necessarily, which are often quite fictional. The stories themselves, they really do exist as electro-chemical patterns in our brain. It's a quite symbolic aspect of reality, but it is still reality.

I've worked online for twenty years. Between that and blowharding, whoops, I mean sharing profoundly wise and sagely history shaping sermons, I've spent a LOT of time online. After awhile it really does feel like an actual place, a foreign country one can move to, the world's largest city. There's a meaningful difference between the person who uses the Internet, and the person who is living on the Net.

Each advance in technology provides the mind with an opportunity to create and inhabit its stories in a (somewhat) new way. Cars made us feel we could run fast and the world was smaller. Planes made us feel we could fly and the world was even smaller. The Internet makes us feel we are bigger, part of a global organism. Virtual/augmented reality makes us feel that we can leave the actual physical world and visit, maybe even live in alternate worlds.


Yes, and what all these technologies share is that they give us more control over our experience. That's the bottom line for the coming virtual realm, it will give us more control than will ever be possible in the real world, no matter how rich we might be.

Me? I'll take the blue pill and stay right here, warts 'n all. :-)


Yes, everybody always says this, but um, your participation here argues otherwise. :-)

In summary, it could be argued that the porpoise of human life is to complete this journey from the "real" to the "symbolic".
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby rachMiel » Thu Jun 18, 2015 6:36 pm

Baba Bozo wrote:
This is what the human mind does: It creates stories and inhabits them, as if they were the real things instead of fiction. Heck, most of the time we're not even aware that we're living in our DIY movies.

It's interesting to reflect that the stories actually are real. Not the content of the stories necessarily, which are often quite fictional. The stories themselves, they really do exist as electro-chemical patterns in our brain. It's a quite symbolic aspect of reality, but it is still reality.

Yes, just as every thought is real, every vision, feeling, hallucination, internal voice. Real to the experiencer, both as quale and brain pattern ... but not to anyone/anything else. (Although it won't be long before thoughts/dreams can be captured, like videos, and transmitted to a device or other brain.)

Me? I'll take the blue pill and stay right here, warts 'n all. :-)

Yes, everybody always says this, but um, your participation here argues otherwise. :-)

True. Mea culpa. I love me a good story I do. ;-) The difference between that love now and way back when is that now I often (sometimes?) consciously know that I'm participating in the story. So it's more lucid dreaming than simply dreaming. Lucid living.

In summary, it could be argued that the porpoise of human life is to complete this journey from the "real" to the "symbolic".

Iow to realize that it's all mind ... everything that is experienced, that is known, that is felt, that is imagined. Yes? Sounds close to Buddhist enlightenment ... or Chardin's Omega Point, minus the Christian imagery.

I see this as a path one can take in life ... but not as a porpoise, or even a dolphin. I still think it's life for life's sake, a gloriously rich and ultimately meaningless emergent phenomenon.
Last edited by rachMiel on Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby Baba Bozo » Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:32 pm

Yes, just as every thought is real, every vision, feeling, hallucination, internal voice. Real to the experiencer, both as quale and brain pattern ... but not to anyone/anything else.


This conversation is entirely symbolic, and yet it's still experienced as real by all observers. In this environment everything human is stripped away except for thoughts, and yet we find it quite engaging. After all, what is "me" really other than a collection of symbols stored in a particular organic information medium.

True. Mea culpa. I love me a good story I do. ;-) The difference between that love now and way back when is that now I often (sometimes?) consciously know that I'm participating in the story. So it's more lucid dreaming than simply dreaming. Lucid living.


"I" itself is just another story of course. So there's no where else to be but story. The whole thing is a story, with characters called "I" and "Story" who have some kind of relationship which forms the story arc. Yesterday "I" and "Story" were having a big fight, but today they are kissing and making up. Yea, a happy ending! :-)

Iow to realize that it's all mind ... everything that is experienced, that is known, that is felt, that is imagined. Yes?


Yes, all of it, symbols. Thus, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised at the urgency with which our culture is diving ever deeper in to the symbolic realm, cause as you said above I believe, that's where we've always been anyway.

Sounds close to Buddhist enlightenment ... or Chardin's Omega Point, minus the Christian imagery.


No, I'm sorry to correct you, but it's the Ninth Stage Of Bozoism, where it is realized that flatulence is real and not symbolic, and that somebody in the car is not telling the truth. :-)

I see this as a path one can take in life ... but not as a porpoise, or even a dolphin. I still think it's life for life's sake, a gloriously rich and ultimately meaningless emergent phenomenon.


Perhaps it will help to refine the question a bit? By "purpose of life" are you asking, what are human beings designed to do?

As an example, someone might claim that nature is ultimately symbolic, which then manifested in to form, and now human beings are attempting to complete the circle by returning to the symbolic realm.
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby Baba Bozo » Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:53 pm

I must admit to being obsessed with this topic. That obsession blinds me a bit as to how relevant what we are discussing now is to the question of a purpose to life, so somebody please ban me if I hijack the thread. :-)

My story is that I've spent the last twenty years very engaged in two very different environments, the net, and the north Florida woods.

Going back and forth between the two realms almost exclusively for so long has made the relationship between the "real" world and the digital symbolic world very real and relevant to me.

At the least it has perhaps become the purpose of my life to contemplate and experience these relationships, something admittedly far smaller than a global "the" purpose of life which you seek around your campfire.

Your use of the campfire metaphor further hooked me because that's the vision I have of how it all started so long ago, a handful of cavefolk, sitting around the campfire telling stories, creating a symbolic world of their own invention with the only tools they had available at the time.

So WTF does this have to do with Tolle anyway, a reader might reasonably ask.

Tolle is trying to guide us out of the stories. We see the wisdom, and what do we do with it?

We create more stories, stories about how so very very important our personal psychological experience is, stories about what profound teachers we are once we've read two Tolle books, etc etc, stories within fantasies within stories. For crying out loud, even bozos think they are babas now, where will it ever end???

Tolle has the best of intentions, but I doubt he will succeed in the end. Even a teaching explicitly about exchanging story for the real world is immediately flooded with story. I suspect that is who we really are, and is perhaps our purpose.
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby rachMiel » Fri Jun 19, 2015 12:20 am

Baba Bozo wrote:"I" itself is just another story of course. So there's no where else to be but story.

There's nowhere else for the psychological I/self to be perhaps. But maybe this I thing is not all there is to a person.
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby rachMiel » Fri Jun 19, 2015 12:58 am

Baba Bozo wrote:Tolle is trying to guide us out of the stories. We see the wisdom, and what do we do with it?

We create more stories, stories about how so very very important our personal psychological experience is, stories about what profound teachers we are once we've read two Tolle books, etc etc, stories within fantasies within stories. For crying out loud, even bozos think they are babas now, where will it ever end???

Tolle has the best of intentions, but I doubt he will succeed in the end. Even a teaching explicitly about exchanging story for the real world is immediately flooded with story. I suspect that is who we really are, and is perhaps our purpose.

Homo narrans ... ?

That we tend to frame what we experience in stories seems clear. That this is who we *ultimately* are ... that this is our purpose as humans ... doesn't resonate so much for me. Maybe it's one of my stories, but I see waking up as a growing ability to recognize the fiction in our fictions.
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby Baba Bozo » Fri Jun 19, 2015 1:31 am

rachMiel wrote:That we tend to frame what we experience in stories seems clear.


I agree, and feel there is more to it. We don't just frame our real world experience in story form, our real world experience is increasingly directed towards taking us deeper in to the story realm. We aren't emerging from story as the gurus might tell us, we are diving deeper in.

Cave men couldn't tell stories all day, because they had to spend most of their time attending to the needs of the body. This was true for most people for a very long time.

In our modern era this is changing, at least for a significant portion of humanity. We can now meet the needs of the body much more efficiently. Only 100 years ago most people lived on farms, now very few are needed to grow our food. Freed to a degree from this bondage to body needs, we're now increasingly liberate to tend to the mind's desires.

And what does the mind want?

Control over it's own experience.

That's what's driving where we're going, the ancient desire for control. And far more control is available in the virtual world, in the story realm, than could ever possibly be available in the "real world".

Perhaps some readers will think they are somehow above all this but here they are, right here, right now, doing it already. As they participate on the forum they are choosing to chat with anonymous faceless nameless digital people instead of real world people so that they can better control their social experience.

But they still have to compromise because for instance, I don't seem to be willing to talk about exactly what interests you. That problem will be solved by replacing me with software entities that will cheerfully discuss exactly what interests you all day long without complaint.

We say, oh no, I'll never talk to software entities. But please recall, we've already happily abandoned much of what makes us human in this forum environment, in exchange for refined control over our social experience.

That this is who we *ultimately* are ... that this is our purpose as humans ... doesn't resonate so much for me.


Ok, fair enough. I must admit I'm not yet clear what "purpose" really means, as it seems to imply some outside agency such as a designer. Without such an outside agent or higher authority to set "the purpose" it seems our purpose is whatever we choose to do with our time here, which I predict will be increasingly a journey in to story.

Maybe it's one of my stories, but I see waking up as a growing ability to recognize the fiction in our fictions.


Waking up is just another story, an appealing fiction, with us of course playing the hero role, no surprise there.

Learning to better manage thought is not a story, that's clearly possible. No debate on that.

But this idea that we are on a path, evolving, climbing the holy mountain etc etc, just more story. I gently remind you, Tolle is rather expert at this stuff, clearly a very intelligent and serious person, and he still feels the need for money, power and fame. We aren't going to awaken out of being human.
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby rachMiel » Fri Jun 19, 2015 3:09 am

That this is who we *ultimately* are ... that this is our purpose as humans ... doesn't resonate so much for me.

Ok, fair enough. I must admit I'm not yet clear what "purpose" really means, as it seems to imply some outside agency such as a designer.

Not so much designer as design. Is there a "point" to reality? A task, goal, mission? Or are all of these tropes in the story, fairy tales to make the emptiness feel more meaningful, the mundane feel heroic? I don't know.

Maybe it's one of my stories, but I see waking up as a growing ability to recognize the fiction in our fictions.

Waking up is just another story, an appealing fiction, with us of course playing the hero role, no surprise there.

Learning to better manage thought is not a story, that's clearly possible. No debate on that.

But this idea that we are on a path, evolving, climbing the holy mountain etc etc, just more story. I gently remind you, Tolle is rather expert at this stuff, clearly a very intelligent and serious person, and he still feels the need for money, power and fame. We aren't going to awaken out of being human.

The verdict is still out for me on awakening, what it means, how to get it, whether or not it's a fairy tale, etc. I rarely think about it consciously, but there always, from earliest childhood, seems to have been a drive in me to transcend consensus reality and catch a glimpse of "the real thing."
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby Baba Bozo » Fri Jun 19, 2015 12:28 pm

Not so much designer as design. Is there a "point" to reality? A task, goal, mission? Or are all of these tropes in the story, fairy tales to make the emptiness feel more meaningful, the mundane feel heroic? I don't know.


I don't know either.

Looking at reality as a whole, at least what we know and can see, it appears to be a progression towards complexity. At the big bang there was just hydrogen, and now there's all this other stuff. Or, it could be a circular movement from simple to complex to simple to complex etc. Circles are often a good bet in regards to nature.

When it comes to humans I was attempting to observe a phenomena, story telling, that has been consistent over a long period of time, reasoning that such behavior is likely to continue in the same direction for some time to come. Whether we should call this a "purpose" or "point" is less clear.

The verdict is still out for me on awakening, what it means, how to get it, whether or not it's a fairy tale, etc. I rarely think about it consciously, but there always, from earliest childhood, seems to have been a drive in me to transcend consensus reality and catch a glimpse of "the real thing."


Well, it's certainly no easy task to glimpse the "real thing" given how adept we are at weaving stories within stories etc.

Sometimes when I'm in the woods I get impressions of what seems to be the real thing, but it seems impossible for any of us to tell what's really real, and what's a story we're telling ourselves about what's real.

Sometimes I personalize nature with the name Gaia, as there are times when the relationship feels more personal than an observation of mechanical forces etc.

But does nature have a form of consciousness, is there anything personal about it? I can't answer that, I only know what I feel. And so when the Gaia story feels good, I roll with it and go with Gaia. When the Gaia story fades, I let it go.

I'm guessing we may agree that it is the experience that matters most, and how we explain it may be mostly just entertainment.
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby rachMiel » Fri Jun 19, 2015 1:49 pm

Baba Bozo wrote:Looking at reality as a whole, at least what we know and can see, it appears to be a progression towards complexity. At the big bang there was just hydrogen, and now there's all this other stuff. Or, it could be a circular movement from simple to complex to simple to complex etc. Circles are often a good bet in regards to nature.

Yes, more complexity and with it more (and deeper/subtler) consciousness. And yes, strange loops that feed back into themselves.

The verdict is still out for me on awakening, what it means, how to get it, whether or not it's a fairy tale, etc. I rarely think about it consciously, but there always, from earliest childhood, seems to have been a drive in me to transcend consensus reality and catch a glimpse of "the real thing."

Well, it's certainly no easy task to glimpse the "real thing" given how adept we are at weaving stories within stories etc.

Ja. And even if one spends a lifetime "transcending" the story ... who's to say that the transcending isn't just as powerful a story as that which it replaced?

I'm guessing we may agree that it is the experience that matters most, and how we explain it may be mostly just entertainment.

Something like that ... This is my (current) "best life advice" to myself:

Rest in present experience.

By rest, I mean: inhabit, give into, coincide with ... without judgment or resistance. (If judgment or resistance shows up, rest in these just like any other experience.)
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby Baba Bozo » Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:59 pm

rachMiel wrote:Something like that ... This is my (current) "best life advice" to myself:

Rest in present experience.

By rest, I mean: inhabit, give into, coincide with ... without judgment or resistance. (If judgment or resistance shows up, rest in these just like any other experience.)


This raises a question very relevant to the topic of this forum.

To what degree should we manage our psychological experience?

Of course, there is no "one true way" answer, but that doesn't mean we can't pretend there is for the sake of discussion. :-)

On one hand, it's great to learn ways to manage thought, as thought can get overheated and cause various problems. If we are physically hungry the sensible thing to do is to eat something. If we're suffering mentally, the sensible thing is to address that situation constructively too.

On the other hand, focusing too much on our personal story, emotional experience, psychology etc can easily become just another symptom of the very thing that got us to trouble in the first place, too much thinking about "me".

So, it would be foolish to simply discard the insights that Tolle shares, but it may be foolish to embrace them too tightly too.

I like the catch phrase "apply as needed". I prefer to see these techniques and insights as part of a routine maintenance operation, rather than as a path, journey, evolution etc.

We don't make a ego fueled becoming trip story out of eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom and other functions of the body, so why do it with thought management?

So, I propose this to be the "one true way", and it must be right, because after all, I am a great imaginary Baba with many imaginary followers and that's about as authoritative as you can get! :-)
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby ashley72 » Fri Jun 19, 2015 6:10 pm

Tolle has the best of intentions, but I doubt he will succeed in the end. Even a teaching explicitly about exchanging story for the real world is immediately flooded with story. I suspect that is who we really are, and is perhaps our purpose ~ Baba Bozo


I think you nailed it right there! ....Ad-infinitum

We are nothing more than a "bunch of neurons"... which map from primary domain (the physical) to target domain (symbolic) ad-infinitum. The simplicity of the underlying neuron firing system (is mysteriously hidden by a massive network of interconnected feedback loops which unify to create the richness of conscious experience via a great layered hierarchy of contextual meaning so convoluted it will take a life time to unravel.

A simple thermostat has a conscious experience, regulating, negative feedback loop... but it lacks a rich conscious experience. If you keep adding more & more feedback loops that unify together, color, taste, smell, sound... it's a bit like a hall of mirrors all reflecting different aspects of the same thing.... with every new feedback loop unified... the recipe gets more & more flavored until the agent "feels" totality unified or embodied in the hall of mirrors.
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Re: Campfire tales: What is the purpose of a human life?

Postby rachMiel » Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:13 pm

ashley72 wrote:We are nothing more than a "bunch of neurons"... which map from primary domain (the physical) to target domain (symbolic) ad-infinitum.

This might be right on the money ... or it might be utterly wrong ... or somewhere in-between.

I might have a strong intuitive feeling one way or the other, might be able to offer impressive evidence -- scientific, personal insight, scriptures -- to support my feeling, but unless I equate science or personal insight or scriptures to Absolute Knowing, all I can really do is remain open.

Who knows, this entire reality thing might be but the dream of an Nth dimensional hyperDragon named Joe.
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