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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:22 pm 
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narya wrote:
Is there more than one perfect?


Of course there is. A perfect hamburger is not a perfect sunset is not a perfect book. In much the same way, a perfect narya is not a perfect yov is not a perfect Prim.

narya wrote:
And who defines perfect?


Every single one of us. My perfect hamburger, sunset, or book may be very far from yours. Though when it comes to ourselves, I think only the person in our head can see what that might look like (though I do think that in a very broad, rough way, our "perfect" selves are in part what things like MBTI are trying to get at).

(Nin, I think hal meant that some non-believers have that view, not all.)

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 1:52 pm 
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Nin, well said.

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I would prepare for death assuming that it was the end for all time and that I would completely cease to exist. I think it is at root a reluctance to contend with that hard-to-accept result that has given rise to rich conjecture about an afterlife throughout human history.
(...) But it's really a win-win, as if we're wrong, we probably get to meet again and laugh about how wrong we were. That's a pretty good ending.
Also well said.

I don't believe in an afterlife either. If there is an afterlife ('heaven') I imagine it to be a transformation that is much like a seed becoming a tree that bears fruit and wood and air and is very useful but eventually turns back into the soil to nurture yet another seed. I don't mean that only in the physical sense necessarily, but as a part of the cycle of life in this great universe of ours.



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 2:41 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
(Nin, I think hal meant that some non-believers have that view, not all.)


(and many believers)

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:27 pm 
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Nin wrote:
halplm wrote:
I've thought about this a lot, but I find it a little sad that many people have a hard time with the concept of Heaven because they define themselves by pain and suffering.


Why? I don't believe in Heaven (I would put it: I know that there is no heaven), but I don't define myself over pain and suffering. I don't understand the logic of this.


What logic does there need to be when someone expresses the thought that they are sad about something? IOW, hal is entitled to feel sad about whatever he wants to be sad about. I don't think he meant it as an offense to anyone. But he can explain further if he wants to. I wouldn't mind hearing more thoughts on this idea.

narya wrote:
Well, I'm happy for you folks to have that to look forward to. It still doesn't answer my question, though, that if you stripped away all imperfections of people, would the all be alike? Is there more than one perfect? And who defines perfect?


I think yovi said it well.

I'd say that God defines perfect, and I think that means, physically, we'll look like ourselves somehow. (I'm just guessing here based on what the Bible actually says about some of this stuff.) The rich man recognized Moses and Lazarus. John recognized Jesus. Peter, John, and James recognized the perfected bodies of Elijah and Moses at the Transfiguration. Yes, some people were confused by Jesus after his resurrection, but I think that was deliberate on Jesus' part.

As for our characters, our souls, yes, there is more than one kind of perfect. If we are created in the image of God, then, as I look around at the diversity of everyone, I have to think that God is himself incredibly diverse and complicated. I'm guessing that we take what pieces of God we've already been given here on earth and use them in a perfect way in heaven.

But I also think that things are going to be very different than what I can possibly imagine, so I don't say any of this with 100% certainty. God likes to do unexpected things.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 4:04 pm 
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My beliefs about an afterlife are fairly ambiguous, somewhat along the lines of what Anthy and Lali said - namely that if there is such a thing it is likely to be beyond my ability to comprehend at this point in my existence. I guess like others I tend to want to believe that if there is such a thing it will at least be better than what we experience here in this world.

My opinions about the Christian conception of an afterlife however, are oddly enough defined mostly by pain and suffering in that I simply cannot understand or comprehend the idea that pain and suffering will cease, or that we will somehow be perfected or live as perfect beings. Much of my pain and suffering, in fact I would argue the worst parts of my pain and suffering, comes from my ability to love and to care for others. Am I suddenly supposed to stop caring? If not then how is anything really going to be any better? And it may be a cliche to say it, but my imperfections are a large part of what makes me who I am. Without them I’d be, well, somebody else. I’m not sure what good comes of that.

One other thing, vison used to say that she couldn’t wrap her head around the concept of eternity - what are people supposed to do for eternity? I had never quite thought about it until she brought it up, but she had a point. I can’t imagine that we will be cooking, or rafting (sorry, not meaning to offend anyone here) or whatever for eternity. I can’t help but think that it would end up much like the elves - joyous at first, perhaps, but ultimately a long defeat.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 4:20 pm 
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I like what yov said, but I still wonder. I agree that a perfect Frelga is not a perfect yov. But what is a perfect Frelga? Presumably, she would have the strength and courage to overcome obstacles that now thwart her. Can there be strength without the adversity to build and test it? Or courage without the possibility of failure at a great cost?

Would a perfect Frelga become a wonderful singer even if the regular Frelga can't carry a tune in a forklift?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:54 pm 
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The conversation as it's unfolding in this thread, though, contains a number of as-yet unquestioned presumptions that originate from the Judeo-Christian tradition (primarily the Christian aspect thereof), even beyond the mere existence of an afterlife, e.g.

- The idea that we will be "perfected" or "perfect" in an afterlife, whether in our behavior or in our attributes or both;
- The idea that the afterlife is for "eternity," as opposed to some lesser duration;
- The idea that the afterlife will be improved relative to this world, e.g., characterized by an absence of pain and suffering (and perhaps even the potential for whitewater rafting without fear of pain and suffering ;) Prim). Of course, while it's not been mentioned here, in most belief systems only some subset of the deceased get to enjoy this improved afterlife - others are relegated either to hell (:)), to purgatory, or to simply ceasing to exist (as in some variants of Jewish eschatology). In any event, assuming that there is a further existence, I would hesitate to characterize it in utopian terms; given the myriad ways that this existence falls short of utopia, how could we presume the next one would be so much better (apart from our wishes that it could be so).

Assuming that there is a subsequent existence that meets these parameters, the next question is how much of "us" - our human essence - will be left to enjoy them. The parameters are game-changing and would remove much of the good and bad of what it is to be human as we understand it. For example, if we are going to exist eternally, we either would lack physical bodies or have different ones that function and age differently (or not at all). But so much of the human experience is tactile and sensory, including many of the best parts, from intimacy to the delight of a good meal shared with friends to the comfort of a delicious night of sleep after a long day's work. As tinwë noted, it is difficult to imagine how love and caring could be separated from pain and suffering. (This isn't quite what I believe he was saying, but it warrants raising: will we be capable of romantic love in this afterlife? If so, will it always be requited and will every relationship continue for eternity? If these things do not happen, will relationships end and will rejection occur without people feeling any heartbreak? And if this can be true, were their feelings really love in the first place?) Also, what would it mean to be perfect - or at least, to behave perfectly? Will everyone be sufficiently omniscient to be able to act at all times considering and protecting everyone else's feelings, such that no one experiences any hurt?

These are just a couple of examples. I recall from my childhood being told in a Christian context that the answers have to do with heaven being beyond our ability to imagine or comprehend. Perhaps, but if heaven is beyond the human ability to understand, it seems to be because it is removed from the very parameters that define human existence. So, something that is linked to each of us could hypothetically exist in this afterlife, but it then seems to me that the beings existing in the afterlife would be materially different than their counterparts here on earth, so much so as to call into question whether they could both be said to represent the same person.

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And the vultures all start circling
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:30 pm 
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IAWN

Based on this reflexion, it is clear for me that "there is no heaven" because what makes me as a person, as a being is so related to mortality which is, even if we try to ignore it for most of the time, the motor behind most of our actions, that without this factor I cannot be myself. Thus an immortal being cannot be me, even not the essence of which is mortal.

But this idea makes me personally very happy. It gives something utterly unique and precious to every moment - and in this sens, eternity is "now" and in every moment to come and in every that has passed as each of them is unique and cannot come back. Just like the things we do which are unique for indivduals but on a scale of mankind, we do them for eternity and ever the same... yet new every time.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:01 am 
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nerdanel wrote:
anthriel wrote:
Hmmm. An eternal break from trying to make sense of things. That does kind of sound like heaven, doesn't it?


Honestly, and I'm not trying to be difficult here, but the process of trying to make sense of things is so fundamental to what I understand to be "human" that I'm not really sure we'd be the same beings without it. Maybe that's the point, though.


I love you. :)

I think that is something of the point. If this possibility is real, we won't be bound by what humans on earth can understand. When the infinite mind tries to pour into the finite mind, there is always spillage. :)


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I'm well and truly agnostic about the prospect of an afterlife - I think it's unlikely but possible.


See above. :love:

That's just a beautifully open mind, really. It's all about the possibility.


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the next question is how much of "us" - our human essence - will be left to enjoy them.


I think we are so bound by the earth, right now, that we have no idea who we really are. What, really, our spirits are capable of.

*I* believe that we are capable of infinite joy and love and endless celebration, and trying to understand ANY of that while our feet are mired in this world is like trying to teach algebra to a pigeon. :)

Pigeons define things by their experience, and understanding, of the world. A pigeon can be a pretty doggone normal pigeon (pigeonly speaking), but he doesn't live in a universe where he can possibly understand more than his reality will allow.

He's a pretty good pigeon, btw. Being a good pigeon, a really GOOD pigeon, doesn't rule out the existence of algebra.

I'm all for busting out of this realm, and experiencing MORE. It will be an adventure, in my belief. An adventure beyond our comprehension. And that is just all kinds of okay with me.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:49 am 
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*aspires to be a really GOOD hippo*

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:45 am 
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anthriel wrote:
*I* believe that we are capable of infinite joy and love and endless celebration, and trying to understand ANY of that while our feet are mired in this world is like trying to teach algebra to a pigeon. :)

Pigeons define things by their experience, and understanding, of the world. A pigeon can be a pretty doggone normal pigeon (pigeonly speaking), but he doesn't live in a universe where he can possibly understand more than his reality will allow.

He's a pretty good pigeon, btw. Being a good pigeon, a really GOOD pigeon, doesn't rule out the existence of algebra.

I'm all for busting out of this realm, and experiencing MORE. It will be an adventure, in my belief. An adventure beyond our comprehension. And that is just all kinds of okay with me.


Yes, yes, yes!

Especially the part about busting out and experiencing more.

(And I love you too, nel. And nin. And narya. And tinwë. I don't know exactly why some people find these things easy to believe deep in their bones and why others are innately skeptical, but it has nothing to do with whether you're a good and lovable person. You are all of the highest quality.)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:23 am 
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anthriel wrote:
*I* believe that we are capable of infinite joy and love and endless celebration, and trying to understand ANY of that while our feet are mired in this world is like trying to teach algebra to a pigeon. :)


But if he understood algebra, he'd no longer be a pigeon. If only he tried to learn or to understand algebra, he'd not be a pigeon. A pigeon ignores that only the possibility of algebra exists.
But we don't. We try to understand or imagine or just believe that there is an afterlife. Only, like a pigeon knowing algebra would no longer be a pigeon, an immortal being would no longer be human, thus not me or you.

For me, it's that easy. I am just human and will never be more than that. It's perfect, like this.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:22 pm 
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Nin wrote:
...an immortal being would no longer be human, thus not me or you.


This is where the disconnect is, actually. I feel that each of us has a soul, and that soul is immortal. That part of us lives on.

Maybe a better analogy is a caterpillar and a butterfly... two phases of the same existence. A caterpillar has its own lumpy charm, but it cannot fly, cannot be taught to fly, and even if it somehow understood the concept of flight, would not be able to do anything but inch along, slowly and solidly bound to the earth. A butterfly knows nothing but flight, and freedom, and is beautiful and graceful and whole in itself.

Does it remember being a caterpillar? I don't know. Does it miss being a caterpillar? No clue. But I think it seems okay to be a butterfly. I think that works.

Are they the same creature? Arguably yes. And arguably no. And at the end of the day, arguing doesn't change anything, nor solve any problems, nor solve any riddles. I don't really understand how any of this stuff works. But it does, and that's kind of cool.



Quote:
For me, it's that easy. I am just human and will never be more than that. It's perfect, like this.


I'm glad you feel that way, Nin. You seem very content in that thought. And that is a good thing.

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"A cage," Éowyn said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 4:16 am 
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I'm stumped by the wetware vs soul problem. So much of what makes us who we are is the crazy chemical orchestrations (or cacophony) going on in our heads. People are who they are because of the stimuli they've received and the chemical way they've reacted to it. When confronted, some blast out adrenaline in a homicidal rage; some react with a mellow glow. My dad used to do the former (which laid down lots of interesting tracks in my brain) but now he doesn't, because he's been on beta-blockers for many years (they block adrenaline uptake, so it doesn't matter how much your adrenal glands pump out, your brain just says "meh"). He's a slightly different person now. Much nicer to be around, now that he's gotten rid of that particular mental illness, in the true "illness" sense of the word, and is now healthy.

The more I get to know the physical brain, the less I can suss out the soul as a separate entity that holds all of my consciousness. I can't even go with the sci fi idea of downloading myself into a machine. It might be an excellent replica of the me that was there at the moment of download, but can it model my chemical brain? Would it pass the Turing test if it were in a simulated car accident or lost its brother? And what consciousness should I download - the exuberant naive youth or the jaded wiser woman, the person who can only do differential equations (if really hard pressed) or the one who has her mind (brain? soul? wetware? software?) expanded so she can do the equivalent of a pigeon learning algebra? If I did give my brain a boost, would I end up like the poor guy in the movie Pi?

So who am I? I am the result of 57 years of stimulus and reaction, gene expression and mutations, choices and chosen cohorts. You know, when the Behavioralists and their Skinner Boxes were popular in the biology department of my university back in the 70s, I was appalled - I couldn't imagine we were just the sum of our responses. But I guess I've come full circle.

I don't believe in an afterlife that's like an eternal afterparty - certainly not the elven type nor the Q continuum type - both of which seem to breed ennui as they (do not) age. I used to really look forward to having an everlasting love fest with the people I'd loved and lost, but even that could get boring eventually. I live to do stuff, preferably with some variety.

And what Nel said - all of it.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 11:40 am 
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I guess the answer to "who are you?" might just be... that depends. :)

Not a particularly satisfying answer...

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"What do you fear, lady?" Aragorn asked.
"A cage," Éowyn said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 4:37 pm 
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Usually the answer to the question, 'Who are you', is to give our name. That's the one way to speak the sum of ourselves to another person. That's part of the pleasure of posting on these messageboards. As you soon as you see a screen name, you are flooded with all your impressions of that person, before you even start reading.

My best answer to that question, for myself, is, 'I am my father's daughter'. But of course, that conveys no particular information to anyone here.


There was one thing I disagreed with strongly:

Maria wrote:
The things you do, the body you wear are not relevant to who you are at the core.


I think our physicality is part of who who we are, because our appearance is a big part of how we are perceived and engaged with in the world. I think the things we do are relevant in the sense that they demonstrate who we are. I'm not sure I accept the notion of 'at the core', unless it presupposes an affected or innate separarion between an outward and inward being. I prefer to think of us as unified entities, and I feel myself to be a unified entity.


As for the notion of perfection, it doesn't seem that difficult to me, though it is very abstract. I don't think it connotes sameness, except perhaps sameness in the absence of what isn't perfect.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:08 pm 
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Cerin wrote:
Usually the answer to the question, 'Who are you', is to give our name. That's the one way to speak the sum of ourselves to another person. That's part of the pleasure of posting on these messageboards. As you soon as you see a screen name, you are flooded with all your impressions of that person, before you even start reading.
That is very true, especially for you, as I have many years of postings from you to recall when I see your name.
Quote:
There was one thing I disagreed with strongly:
Maria wrote:
The things you do, the body you wear are not relevant to who you are at the core.

I think our physicality is part of who who we are, because our appearance is a big part of how we are perceived and engaged with in the world.
I've never met you, nor even seen a photo of you, so I know only part of you. But I believe I know much more of you from your posts than any photo, or even 1 hour face to face, could convey. I have mental images of what people look like before I meet them and they are seldom correct. But the actual face has little to do with the inner life.

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And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:55 pm 
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narya wrote:
I've never met you, nor even seen a photo of you, so I know only part of you. But I believe I know much more of you from your posts than any photo, or even 1 hour face to face, could convey. I have mental images of what people look like before I meet them and they are seldom correct. But the actual face has little to do with the inner life.

That reminds me of another of my favorite things about posting on the boards, maybe even my most favorite thing. When we first encounter each other when posting (before we meet in real life or see photos or learn private details), we react purely to the essence that comes through our words. I think this is a very rare opportunity to encounter and be encountered without being influenced by preconceptions involving appearance, gender and age (I frequently made wrong assumptions about gender on TORC). When I've seen pictures of people after getting to know them this way, I've experienced this affirmation, like an inner, 'Of course! Of course that's Voronwë, etc.' (But I suppose I'd react that way whatever the picture looked like.) :)

edit

But still, I stubbornly resist the notion that 'the actual face has little to do with the inner life'. I'm not sure why I don't like that idea. I'll have to think about it.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:25 pm 
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s. I think this is a very rare opportunity to encounter and be encountered without being influenced by preconceptions involving appearance, gender and age...



I once had a giant crush on a past board guy for ages before I found out that he was more than twice my age. That was a fun discovery. :D

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:29 pm 
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:D

(I'm dying to know who.) :D

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