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    One Must Imagine Sisyphus Happy

    Prologue for 'Virtue'

    by , 03-21-2016 at 05:18 AM (735 Views)

    Another essay.

    I would like to shift the focus of my dreams from introspection to action. I so often find myself just watching things in my dreams. And in recall, I am watching myself do the watching. I observe. I analyze. I philosophize. It's not wrong, but I'd prefer not to be so one-dimensional.

    I suppose I am an analytical person and I catch myself indulging in the science of abstractions and modeling. One model is games. I see things through the lens of game theory, which is all about rules, strategies, and winning. Games are about choice of action. Game theory would suggest that the "right" choice is the one that wins. I have come to see that as a rather cynical kind of morality. Are there really rules? Are we all players striving to win or lose? Isn't it an illusion?

    The other model is drama. Drama is also about choice of action. Drama suggests that the "right" choice is the one that either creates or resolves conflict. I have this twisted notion that there ought to be irony and there ought to be tragedy. This is another degenerate kind of morality. That one must put on a good show and there must be structure in the ascending and descending action, and that all characters must be classified as protagonist or antagonist. Must there always be conflict? Are we assigned roles? Isn't this another illusion?

    I had chosen the word virtue as the theme of this chapter, but I think karma is equally apt. Karma means two things. It means "deed" in the sense that choices and actions that I make today will influence the future. But it also means "illusion" in the sense that the way we connect things -- the model of causality -- is entirely arbitrary. It's a system of rules. It's a script of a narrative. We create it in our mind as a way to give order to what we observe. But these abstractions do not necessarily exist.

    I would like to engage more directly with karma in the moment rather than in analysis. For example, it is virtuous to be thankful. I often express my thankfulness toward others well after-the-fact, privately to myself. Noble? Maybe. I would rather train myself to say "Thank You" in the very moment rather than afterward. Same with courage and discipline. It is easy to reason afterward that I should have been courageous. But that is not acting courageously. I don't believe karma to be some kind of cosmic scorecard of rights and wrongs. But I do believe that action speaks louder than words.

    That makes me think of the word lucidity. In the context of dreams, we have come to understand that word to mean "self-awareness." But in the plainest sense, lucidity really means "clear thinking." I want to focus more on that latter meaning. Yes, it is fun to realize that I am dreaming and that means I have a degree of freedom in the dreamworld. Having gained some experience with that, I would like to go a step further, and look at each lucid dream as an opportunity to "think clearly" and act in a way that I think is right, and not simply to indulge in abusing rules and creating conflict.

    I don't believe in a God in the typical Western sense. But so much of my dreams lately have been about a more nuanced understanding of divinity. Maybe there is no old man with a white beard who will judge me and my actions. But I still sit in judgement of myself. Wisdom has taught me that there is righteous and there is self-righteous. Alone, I can't be sure which is which. I think the only way to test the difference is to act and interact with others. Through empathy, one can come to understand how we all think and feel about what is virtuous.
    RedKali likes this.

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    1. RedKali's Avatar
      I'm confused. You go from abusing rules and the creation of conflict to having this absurd desire to be virtuous. Why? You consider that dreaming may be an illusion. You relate life to gaming, linking that to dreaming. I understand you're flushing out your personality, exploring new ways to be--to experience. That's definitely a nice way to change things up. I'm just wanting to understand your motivation to be virtuous. What caused that? It definitely seems more than just boredom for your prior role. Your move for change indicates there's some belief you hold that doesn't think dreaming/choices/actions are illusions.
      sisyphus likes this.
    2. sisyphus's Avatar
      I am equally confused. If I knew all the right answers, I wouldn't be searching. This new direction has some appeal to me, so I'm going to follow it. Where it leads, nobody knows.