An epiphany, and prelude to other thoughts

by onacruse 79 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Gamaliel


    I just wanted to let you know that I wasn't ignoring your thread -- not on purpose anyway. I took more than a week off and today is the first day back. Excellent thread here, btw. Thanks for sharing more of your background. I can't believe how similar our stories are. I thought you had found my bio and plagiarized.

    For the record, I was also born and raised JW, baptized at 10, a book-worm, studied math, science, and old WTS publications. Vacation pioneered often since I was 10, started regular pioneering at 15. (Would've been in the graduating class of '75, but took the GED instead when I turned 16). My father, the "PO," might've pushed me into his own field, electrical engineering, except that he had a vague belief that around 1975 would see the end. My father hedged his bet a bit on my education and got me a pass to the University Library. Most of my Bible studies were with college students. There were unlimited Bible Studies available on campus. I even gave free calculus tutoring to a couple of my Bible Studies. (As awful as this sounds, I would even extend the amount of time I would count, as long as I remembered to intersperse a few encouraging words about "Jehovah" and "attending the meetings".)

    My own belief in '75=Armageddon was already non-existent since '74, but I still kept to a plan of 4 years Reg Pio, and 4 years of Bethel. In pure JW terms, I was an apostate in my last 2.5 years of Bethel, running with the "worst/best" of them, but somehow hid in plain view for another couple years even after Bethel. I was never an elder, but had a couple assembly talks, and had a whole "repetoire" of those unconventional Public Talks that I got requested to give in several congregations around NYC. I knew my congregation was finally making its move against me when they said they were uncomfortable with me giving so many talks in other congregations without their permission. For some reason, I got caught up in that game of thinking I could help promote Christian reforms from the inside, and say whatever I wanted in my talks and comments as long as it was ambiguous enough for no one to bring an accusation. They never actually made an accusation, but when it became obvious that they had pressure from "Headquarters" to report on my every word, I wrote a quick DA letter as my "escape claws."

    I finally got onto the college track in '82 before I officially left the JWs. It was a breath of fresh air. I hadn't realized just how much I was suffocating amongst the JWs. Chronologically, I've almost got half my life back (2007?). Psychologically? I'm not sure I'll live that long.


  • Earnest
    Proposition 2: Everything we "know" is nothing more than someone else's interpretation.

    onacruse, I have been reading this thread with considerable interest but am not quite convinced that our perception of life, the universe and everything is only the reflection of what others think. It seems to me we are more like "dwarfs standing upon the shoulders of giants, and so able to see more and see farther than the ancients" (Bernard of Chartres).

    As we have more input from what we read, where we go, who we mix worth...we will probably change our viewpoint on most of what we think we know but our new viewpoint is a combination of everything we have gathered and gleaned from others as well as our own personal stamp on it which must make it uniquely our own. It may appear to others to simply be an adoption of what others think but they don't know how we feel as you pointed out in your first proposition. Am I missing something?


  • onacruse

    Gamaliel, welcome back from what I'm sure was a well-deserved respite

    If you happen to be 6-6, 250#, with a serious case of MPB, then I'd have to seriously suspect that we are clones I had to go back and review my chronology (LOL, ahhh, the mind fades). I graduated in '70, went to Bethel in 3/71, was there till 6/72 (like Ray says in COC, we counted off our time there like it was a jail term). I also was never an elder.

    Unlike your Dad, my folks told me straight out that if I wanted to go to college, I could expect absolutely no help from them (I love them both dearly, even if their delusion caused me harm). When I finally did go to college, I too enjoyed tutoring (civil engineering and calculus).

    My own belief in '75=Armageddon was already non-existent since '74

    My conviction didn't die until 1976 (facing the obvious made it easy/hard). I believed it so strongly that when one of my high-school buddies asked me what I'd do when 1975 came and went and no Armageddon, I said (I remember this well) "In that case, I'll have to very seriously re-examine my religion." One thing led to another, and I was DFd ~'80. Re-upped in '81 (for family and friends). My last go-round was not much re-upping this time

    I got caught up in that game of thinking I could help promote Christian reforms from the inside, and say whatever I wanted in my talks and comments as long as it was ambiguous enough for no one to bring an accusation.

    I knew several brothers that (very privately, of course) admitted the same to me. Me, I never learned how to keep my mouth shut. Blurting out "the Society is wrong about..." is not exactly a good JW career move LOL.

    Well, anyway, so here we all are. If you have any opinions about my philosophical excursion here, I'd be glad to hear them.

    Earnest, I'll get back to you shortly...doing a little catching up here (including your last p/m)


  • blackout

    Hi Craig, Thanks for your great response, I have not had enough time to reply until now.

    Common properties, class properties, and the specific signs of categories will not exist for animals. Each object will exist in and by itself, and all its properties will be the specific properties of it alone.

    As in my proposition #2 example of the human baby, the animal perceives the objects it encounters in the universe around it as "this is," not as "this means this." There is therefore no emotion "attached" by an animal to an external stimulus. Every moment exists only for that moment, every object only for that object. That's how an animal "knows" the universe. For an animal there is therefore no "regret," "hope," "I don't want to die before my time," "how can I live forever?" because those are non-real, symbolic, abstract concepts.

    Animals and humans begin to diverge when those abstractions of meaning-attached-to-symbol begin. But, as I say above, the association of meaning with symbol is "provided" to humans by other humans, even in the very words we use ("words" which in and of themselves have no reality, and are merely "symbols.") And, getting back to the existentialism of proposition #1, even those "meanings/words" don't remotely allow us to touch each other's "souls" (or whatever term might be better). This "passing of meaning" from one human generation to the next is not substantially too dissimilar to "instinct."

    Thus, for all that we like to think we as humans are far advanced over animals, we're actually not all that different, because most of our life boils down to "isolation" and "conditioned response."

    The WTS just happens to be exceptionally good at conditioning responses, rather like an animal trainer. It demeans our human potential (albeit a potential rarely exercised).

    blackout, perhaps this gives us a starting point?


    Brilliant I know know exactly where you are coming from and will go back and read your posts again and reply.

    I just love it how animals live "In the moment", I think we can learn a lot from animals. I have horses myself, they are so peacefull, proud and strong.

  • blackout

    Hi again Craig,

    Not sure if you have posted a follow up to this thread but here are my thoughts and extension of your thoughts so far.

    We determine our own reality based on what we have been told or experienced in our lives to date. The things we have been told, the abstract concepts, are in fact untruths due to them being someone elses take on what someone else has told them, they can not experience what we feel, hear, see, smell etc and so when we are told "That feeling is love" We accept it, whether it is so or not. (Interestingly I used to feel incredible fear when going on Carnival rides to the point of tears, one day I looked around me and saw most other people were laughing, I said to myself "Is this feeling in fact excitement and not fear?" I decided it was, and now I can laugh like everypone else.)

    So we can change our reality by deciding it is other than our current perception of it. Thus the success of motivational therapists like Anthony Robbins, who merely reprogrammes people to change their lives. They are given concepts, beliefs, "words", which create a different reality for themselves. Our perception IS our reality.

    How am I going? Or am I completely off track?

  • onacruse

    Earnest, "standing on the shoulders of..." is exactly what I'm trying to say in #2.

    For example, Einstein produced a remarkable "new" theory, a combination of calculus and vector mechanics. Those mathematics are in their own turn based on algebra and geometry. From Britannica:

    Algebra began as the manipulation of numbers, using the four operations of arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. As the subject developed, the operations have changed very little, if at all, but the notion of number has been progressively enlarged.
    In several ancient cultures, there developed a form of geometry suited to the relationships between lengths, areas, and volumes of physical objects. This geometry was codified in Euclid's Elements in about 300 BC on the basis of 10 axioms and postulates, from which several hundred theorems were proved by deductive logic. The Elements epitomized the axiomatic-deductive method for many centuries.

    And itself the "notion of number" goes back to

    The origins of our modern decimal, or base-10, number system can be traced to ancient Egyptian, Babylonian (Sumerian), and Chinese roots.

    Development of these various mathematical disciplines doesn't change the fact that they are all based on one original concept: a number system. Once a "number system" came into being, it dictated the course of all subsequent thought. (As an aside: there is some good reason to suggest that the number system itself is a natural consequence of how we perceive the universe, the differentiation of "I" and "not-I.") Now, if someone came up with a "non-number-system" perspective, then indeed they'd be outside the "superimposition" of prior concepts.

    The same evolution of thought applies to "God." All theological systems are fundamentally based on the premise of a "higher" being. The complexity and variety of those religious thought-systems doesn't change the fact that they are each and every one derivative. (As another aside: there is some good reason to suggest that the "God" system itself is also a natural consequence of how we perceive the universe, the classification of "I" and all [God] that is "not-I.")

    Truly Original thought is extremely rare.

    blackout, spot on. And that's what struck me so strongly that I call it an epiphany: realizing that "Our perception IS our reality" is not just some philosophical mumbo-jumbo. And to re-arrange the emphasis of that phrase: "OUR perception is OUR reality." It dignifies our individual personal existence as being intrinsically worthy.


  • wasasister

    Absolutely love this thread and just had to jump in to say so - although I don't have much of substance to add.

    I would like to recommend a book to any who have not read it:

    The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker

    A deep exploration of how our mind forms language and a fascinating read.

    Thanks for an intelligent and thought provoking thread.


  • Valis
    the "God" system itself is also a natural consequence of how we perceive the universe, the classification of "I" and all [God] that is "not-I.")

    I knew I was someone's god....eheheh onanism...still wankin the olde brain huh?


    District Overbeer of the "God of Onanism" class

  • onacruse

    wasa: TY. This discussion may seem to be dragging on, but it's a pace I rather what someone else says, take a day or two to ponder, grasp the value of their thoughts, and continue the journey. I hope Katie and I get a chance to meet you at Princess's Fest this summer.

    Valis, yes, as Six suggested, I really enjoy "mental masturbation." LOL, you guys crack me up You probably recall that animal was wont to say "I am my own god." At first, that really twisted my shorts, I thought "that's a pretty arrogant thing to say." In fact, that may very well be the simplest way to put it.

    I've still got "death is moral" and "ethics are amoral" to go...if anybody wants to continue along with me in this sado-masochistic exercise


  • wasasister
    I've still got "death is moral" and "ethics are amoral" to go...if anybody wants to continue along with me in this sado-masochistic exercise..

    I'll be first in line for that ride, Craig.

    Not sure what my schedule holds this summer as I've had to travel more often for work, but if I'm around that weekend, I'll try to make it up to Edmonds.

    Your fellow traveler,


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