What is your thought on the old proverb:
“marriages are made in heaven and solemnized on earth”
This question is difficult for me at so many levels.
At the simplest level, the idea of heaven makes no sense to me. It seems clear to me that the world each of us get to live in is a model of reality, created by our subconscious minds, and therefore, at least in the first instance, is created from the cultural context of our upbringing. So inside of our personal experiential worlds (our personal models) there can be “real” (in the experiential sense, if not in the sense of actually occurring in the external reality to which the model partially relates) experiences that are shared by communities of individuals (like heaven and god). Thus I can understand why people believe in ideas like god and heaven, and it makes sense to me how those ideas have evolved as they have, and to me they make sense only in this sort of historical context – a bit like dinosaurs (but not yet quite extinct).
I quite like the quote from “Conversations with God”: “Marriage is a sacrament. But not because of its sacred obligations. Rather because of its unequalled opportunity. Never do anything in relationship out of a sense of obligation. Do whatever you do out of a sense of the glorious opportunity your relationship affords you to decide, and to be, Who You Really Are.”
And I interpret that quote in a framework that does not have Gods, and is framed in a probabilistic interpretation of all potential models and possibilities.
In terms of ideas like “predestination” and “meant to be’, these make no logical sense to me at all.
If there is any possibility of real choice, then there cannot be predestination. If there is not choice, then all free will is illusion, and we are simply automata doing what we had to do at every level, and thus morality has no meaning at all.
It seems to me that the hardest thing for most people to accept is the fact that they have free will, they have real choice, they have real power, and each and every one of us can and do make a real difference in the world. Every little choice we make does have ripples of consequence. If enough of us make choices, then the ripples build into waves that overwhelm all opposition in a sense.
Cooperation can become universal, and it has to start somewhere, and there will be opposing forces for a time. And in the realm of generalised strategic spaces, it is demonstrably in the long term self interest of all individuals to cooperate, and to do so in such a way that includes secondary strategies that ensure that cheats do not invade and destroy the cooperative.
Putting all this in the context of marriage.
I have been married twice.
My first wife left me after 4 years.
I was a solo dad for 4 years.
I met Ailsa 23 years ago and we have been married almost 21 years.
Neither of us was raised in social environments, and our family environments were very different, and we have very different default strategies as a result, so arguments have been rather common at times, and there have been extended periods (many months) without argument.
Ailsa suffers from extreme anxiety at times, and has on occasion been unable to speak for hours on end as a result. I have no doubt that one of the contributing factors to that is my extended enquiry into existential risk factors to humanity, that has allowed me to develop mitigating strategies for all major risk categories.
Now I face the risks of implementing those strategies in today’s world – which from my reference frame is overwhelmingly based in intentional ignorance at many different levels. Within many of those levels, integrity is seen as a direct threat (even an integrity based purely in probability).
So for me personally – marriage has been a very interesting journey, with many different aspects: love, joy, commitment, exploration, support, integrity, friendship, enquiry, tolerance, …..
Our marriage has come close to ending a couple of times, our modes of understanding and operation are so different, and I spend much of my time operating in modes that are simply unavailable to Ailsa at present.
There is a lot that I love about her, and a lot that I find frustrating, in the amount of time I spend doing stuff that could easily be avoided with a slightly different approach involving minimal effort on her part. And we have made some significant advances in that general set of themes in recent weeks.
We are both largely bimodal, but in very different ways.
I actively maintain two major modalities, one of which is very powerful in a programming context – it is rather strictly logical, where most terms have one (and one only) meaning – which works very well when working with computers, mathematics and logic.
The other mode allows for free association, and can deal with all modes of indirection, sarcasm and humour.
The two modes cannot coexist and it takes me several minutes to transition fully from one mode to the other. When I am in programming mode, I use all the “scratchpad” memory that would be used to decode humour to store the thousands I variables I need access to to build the logical models I use to create programs. Ailsa’s default mode is to make humorous and indirect references to most things, which is unintelligible to me when I am in programming/logic mode. Despite having said this thousands of times over the last 23 years, it is still a cause of much strife in relationship.
So yes – being in relationship is probably the greatest opportunity for high level “spiritual” development I have, as well as the greatest sources of love, pleasure, frustration and pain.
And having the intellectual knowledge that all such things are derivatives of the choices of context and model that I make, and actually putting that knowledge into practice, second by second, minute by minute, are two very different things.
I am very skilled on the intellectual side, and only moderately successful on the practical side (much like my golf game).
As part of setting a general context, in my world all people are really complex entities. Often the complexity of systems that is how people relate to other people is of far more interest to me than any specific set of intellectual structures a person holds.
In this way, I can have great respect for Bhatta and Mendy and everyone else here, even though it is clear to me that they are using some intellectual tools that have been falsified by evidence sets I have available. Those tools are a small part of the totality of who they are, and have little or no effect on the respect that I hold for them.
To me it is interesting that both of the references that Bhatta referred to above were quite explicit in saying that the evidence that they present did not make a scientific case for the claims made.
For me, there are just so many possible alternative explanations for each of the specific cases, that without serious investigation of the precise specifics of each case, I can make no sensible comment nor develop any specific probabilities about specific alternatives. It’s kinda like talking about cancer and saying someone has cancer is like saying someone lives in America. It can be true, but it is very little help in localising to some specific street address at some specific time – which is what identification of specific forms of cancer is about.
There are hundreds of millions of street addresses in America, a similar number of possible types of cancers in human beings, and a similar number of possible explanations for most phenotypic expressions of behaviour in any specific human being at any specific time. We are each that complex.
Given the understandings I have about the many levels of the processes of evolution that seem very probably to be largely responsible for our existence, the idea of reincarnation actually has a very low probability within that framework – simply at the systems level, without looking at any specifics. And I can see how other people might see it differently, and that is how I see it.
One of the things that few people get about probability is the occurrence of the unlikely.
If one is tossing coins for example, then there is a better than even chance that in 600 coin tosses, there will be at least one sequence of at least 10 heads or tails in a row. If you do a billion tosses there is a better than even chance of getting 30 heads or tails in a row. So one person getting 10 in a row will happen quite often. Everyone getting 10 in a row happens much less frequently. Random chance in large populations ensures that unlikely things will occur somewhere in the population. That idea is often difficult for people to get, particularly if they are used to operating from a right/wrong (binary) model of judgement (which we must all start from).
Probability based thinking must allow for the occurrence of the unlikely at very low levels, that is what it actually means. And it seems that there is actually a class of things that are impossible (where the probability is actually zero), but we cannot be certain what items belong to that class and what do not. 😉
So saying that something seem unlikely is not the same as saying that it will occur somewhere, it can mean either that it belongs to some class which is possible but improbable, or that it belongs to the class of the impossible. It seems that we can never be entirely certain which!