Oxymorons

wil

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What is an oxymoron?

Is it a moron with an extra oxygen molecule?

Or an antioxidant moron?

Why am I so intolerant of intolerance?

Why do I think judgemental people are just wrong?

Why do I dislike you if you can't learn to get along?

Why are their conditions on my unconditional love?

Will going to a psychiatrist help all my issues or just make them shrink?

Seriously though it isn't a joke, it appears the better we try to be the more errors we realize we are making...

I don't know exactly the origination of oxymoron, but I think I am becoming one.
 
wil said:
Seriously though it isn't a joke, it appears the better we try to be the more errors we realize we are making...
Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.
-- Yoda
:D
wil said:
I don't know exactly the origination of oxymoron, but I think I am becoming one.
etymonline.com said:
oxymoron
1657, from Gk. oxymoron, noun use of neut. of oxymoros (adj.) "pointedly foolish," from oxys "sharp" (see acrid) + moros "stupid." Rhetorical figure by which contradictory terms are conjoined so as to give point to the statement or expression; the word itself is an illustration of the thing. Now often used loosely to mean "contradiction in terms."
 
wil said:
What is an oxymoron?

Why am I so intolerant of intolerance?

Why do I think judgemental people are just wrong?

Why do I dislike you if you can't learn to get along?

Why are their conditions on my unconditional love?

LOL...it seems as if you need no help defining 'oxymoron'.

wil said:
Seriously though it isn't a joke, it appears the better we try to be the more errors we realize we are making...

I would submit that the whole mess is caused by misunderstanding. Let's take a popular theme...'selfishness'.

We have some person, Bob, that is selfish. Bob begins to get the idea that selfishness is bad thing, and he doesn't want to be selfish anymore. But, since Bob is a selfish person, his decision to be unselfish is most likely a symptom of his selfishness. You know the saying: 'Selfish people do good for selfish reasons.' So, Bob sets off selfishly to become unselfish, because he wants to feel good about himself...he wants to be able to pat himself on the back for being an unselfish person. Now, if Bob is a clever guy, he will be able to fool others into believing he isn't selfish by imitating people he sees which others seem to believe are unselfish. If Bob is an exceedingly clever guy, drawing upon extensive intellectual capacity, he will even be able to convince himself that he is unselfish.

Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, further elaborates this (here on the topic of innocence, which in this case is also being likened to the emptiness of Zen): "All of this is nothing but a refinement of 'knowledge.' Instead of leading to innocence, it leads to the most quintessentially pure love of self. It leads to the creation of a pseudo-emptiness, an exquisitely purified self that is so perfect that it can rest in itself without any trace of crude reflection. Yet, this is not emptiness: there remains a 'self' that is the subject of purity and the possesor of emptiness. And this, as the Desert Fathers saw, is the final triumph of the subtle tempter. It leaves a man rooted and imprisoned in his pure self, a clever discerner of good and evil, or self and nonself, or purity and impurity. But he is not innocent. He is a master of spiritual knowledge. And as such, he is still subject to accusation by the devil. Since he is perfect, he is subject to the greatest deception of all. If he were innocent, he would be free of deception."

He goes on later to add: "The man who has truly found his spiritual nakedness, who has realized he is empty, is not a self that has acquired emptiness or become empty. He is 'just empty from the beginning', as Dr. Suzuki observed. Or, to put it in the more affective terms of St. Augustine and St. Bernard, he 'loves with a pure love'. That is to say he loves with a purity and freedom that spring spontaneously and directly..."

Merton was a Christian, but he was writing also about Zen to a considerable degree here. Essentially, he has in mind the idea of 'no self'...the symptom of which we commonly know as 'selflessness'.

To become unselfish just to wind up hating others for their selfishness is perhaps one of the most selfish things our hypothetical friend Bob can do. Because not only has he learned to disguise his selfishness, but he peddles his act with the most deceptive cunning. He is like a con-man that sells fool's gold to those that don't know any better. Worse yet, he is like a con-man that forgot he is selling fool's gold, and has come to believe his own con! He has learned to take the utmost pride in his selfishness by disguising it so cleverly.

Of course, deep-down, Bob never really wanted to be unselfish. He just wanted to refine his selfishness to such a degree that he could continue wielding it unobstructed by his own misgivings. Thus, he will be most satisfied if he can believe his own con. That is what Merton means when he uses the term 'perfect self' in contrast with 'no self'. That is also why 'unconditional love', in practice, so often seems to be anything but 'unconditional'. 'Unconditional love' is just an ideal, and as such, it can be worn by the selfish just as much as it is exhibited by the selfless. The quality, Merton might say, that distinguishes those that are proverbially 'innocent', is that 'unconditional love' is all that they can possibly give...it is pure. It's the imposters that spend their time working out the details.

I digress, I fear. But, hopefully, I have addressed the original post and the original question.

-jiii
 
It occurrs to me that in combating the ego we take up a sword to slash away at it only to find that it has disappeared and become the weapon in our hand. Krishnamurti taught that as we become painfully aware of its operation and manifestation we will normally begin to surrender it.
All well and good but I find like Wil does that it seems most horrendus the more I am aware of it. I guess it is this suffering that ego generates that makes us want to be rid of it.

Excellent post Jiii, love that Merton!
 
Very thoughtful post jiii.

Could one summarize it by saying, in accord with wil's original thought, it is human nature that inevitably we usually end up doing bad through attempting to do good ?

Definitely an oxymoronic set of behavior patterns. But is this not really the true price of critical self reflection and critical self examination? Merton notwithstanding, nothing in this universe escapes its dual nature and just how that all invisibly conspires to work upon our senses of our selves. Is transcendance possible in spirit, or is this concept, that could be said to be at the center of at least Christian beliefs, really an illusion... an unattainable state of being not reachable until we pass from this life? Can one engage in this necessary set of reflective excercise that arises through our interactions with our peers in society without bringing the self's core, the ego, into the fray?

But your excellent description of Bob's unintentional, and perhaps, deviant behavior patterns do not take into account the deep-seated anger Bob likely feels for not being appropriately compensated for the unbounded use of his/her name in activities of commercial enterprise. Just turn on your boob tube...you'll see it soon enough. One might call this an unbounded exercise in mockery of Bob on the part of the rest of society.

Who is this Bob and why do all of his/her fellow humans disrespect, hate, and disregard his/her essential human nature to such a great extent... do you think? Or is he/she a stranger in a strange land...to reference a favorite Heinlein book of mine ?

What do you all think...believe ?

flow...:cool:
 
I think that Bob might be each one of us. Or he might sometimes be a scapegoat. Maybe Bob is a shapeshifter. Guess Bob can be just about anything we want him to be.:)

I came across this on another thread here in CR. Maybe it relates to the conversation:

A bit of fragrance always cling to the hand that gives roses.

-Chinese Proverb


InPeace,
InLove
 
flowperson said:
Who is this Bob and why do all of his/her fellow humans disrespect, hate, and disregard his/her essential human nature to such a great extent... do you think? Or is he/she a stranger in a strange land...to reference a favorite Heinlein book of mine ?

What do you all think...believe ?

flow...:cool:

I'm glad you asked, flowperson...:) Of course, my post should be taken with a grain a salt...and I'm sure Merton would've said the same about his own writings on this topic. The argument that is made is very abstract, you know...it is revealing, but it's just information.

The inevitable question that might arise directly in response to the post I made is: what can somebody possibly do, then? They either remain as selfish as before, or act on that selfishness and simply displace it into more deceptively acceptable forms. This is a dismal outlook. I would say, in accordance with InLove, that we are all like Bob in a certain way. But I don't think Bob is necessarily a doomed person...condemned to perpetually embodying selfishness.

The problem Bob has is that he misunderstood it from the very beginning. He thought the thing was to rid himself of selfishness...to purify his self. But, that's impossible. The self that seeks desperately to purify itself because it believes it is impure is helpless, really. It is like trying to bail water out of a sinking boat, but dumping the bucketloads of water right back into the boat, or trying to wash off dirt with more dirt. You know, he wants to cast away his selfishness, but in setting out so fervently to do so, he just gets more and more hung up on it, more and more involved with it...and he ends up fueling the fire, rather than extinguishing it.

The problem Bob has is that he unwittingly started with the assumption that, at his core, at the very heart of whatever it is that he is, there really was nothing but intrinsic, irreducible selfishness...and, perhaps unintentionally, he let that most fundamental self-delusion become his 'reason' for action. That is to say, he did the most injustice to himself in that he reduced himself to a bare, scraggly concept about himself. Paradoxically, he completely denied himself as being nothing but selfish, and thus he simultaneously cut himself off from his faculty for being genuinely selfless. He bought into ideas about who he was, hook-line-and-sinker, and that was what lead him astray.

Thus, flowperson's question: "Why do all of Bob's fellow humans disrespect, hate, and disregard their essential human nature to such a great extent?" What you come to is the often misunderstood ior distrusted idea, for instance, that: "One must first accept this world entirely and genuinely, or else they can never make it better."

Of course, we might say that if we simply trust our selfishness, that nothing will happen...we just remain terribly selfish. But, Alan Watts delved into this in an illuminating lecture (to paraphrase for reduced length):

"It is a gamble to trust yourself to come through with love. But there is really no alternative. Now to trust oneself to be capable of love or to bring up love...is to take a risk, a gamble. You may not come through with it. In the same way, when you fall into love with somebody else and you trust them, they may, as a matter of fact, not fulfill your expectations. But that risk has to be taken. The alternative to taking that risk is much worse than trusting and being deceived. People who can't trust themselves to love have to take all sorts of artificial and surgical measures to produce the effect of love for saving face. They become progressively more incapable of loving at all, and they create turmoil and misunderstanding in themselves and others in society. In other words, to live, and to love, you have to take risks. There will be disappointments, and failures, and disasters as a result of taking these risks. But in the long run it will work out. My point is that if you don't take these risks the results will be much worse than any imaginable kind of anarchy."

In terms of our friend Bob, his mistake was his decision that his selfishness or self-love, in the world of all worlds and the heart of all hearts, was the most terrible of things...that it was truly worth nothing but hatred. Here's Watts again: "The essential point is to consider love as a spectrum. There is not, as it were, just nice love and nasty love, spiritual love and material love, mature affection on one hand and infatuation on the other. These are all forms of the same energy. And you have to take it and let it grow where you find it. When you find only one of these forms existing"...perhaps that dreaded self-love..."if at least you water it, the rest will blossom as well. But the effectual prerequisite from the beginning is to let it have its own way."

In other words, Bob's mistake was that, strangely, he got in his own way. He tried to create a new self that would be unselfish, and in doing so he departed from the point at which anything could actually be done.

Of course, this too, should be taken with a grain of salt. It's all just information, as I'm sure you know...subject to the same effects, if taken incorrectly, that Bob got himself into in the first place. We could go back and forth forever with ideas as to why this outlook, too, is flawed, you know? Eventually you get around to seeing that you've been going in circles the whole time. What you really needed, you actually always had...much like our buddy, Bob. What happens then is beyond words, really. But I think that it is precisely what Bob was looking for...;)
 
jiii:

Thank you for your extensive reply. The human animal is indeed a complex animal, but the beauty of that is that Watt's, or Merton's, or my, or your, or Bob's opinions upon self love does not necessarily apply in general terms towards the concept of selfishness. I have always tended to believe that unless one can honestly love him/her self he/she cannot possibly love another self...except for family members probably.

What one being views as selfishness may only be another's hard work to create boundaries between his/her self and the selves of others. In the modern world this is necessary to create identity and order within society. It is the basic form of humanity's self-organizing abilities. Laws may encourage or manipulate it, but it is in the end individual choices to step across personal boundaries and take a risk in truly knowing another intimately that leads to love. It is the tie that binds.

In fact my belief is that love is a cosmic force that binds the universe together and binds us to it. I believe that this is what G-d intended for the Creation to be. So yes, I agree that self love which excludes all else but selfishness is not a good thing and makes Bob a sad mope. But a self love that goads the individual to risk love and engage others in life is a good thing. My personal opinion is that today's world encourages rigid boundaries and proscribed behaviors rather than allowing the occasional melting of the veils between and among us so that we may honestly experience intimacy with each other.

Everyone must eventually take part in life in ways to bring us together occasionally rather than always working on ever more complex ways to effect separations between and among us...even Bob.

Places like CR do this to an extent...but there are also walled gardens here for us to contend with in our separations. Sigh...!

flow....;)
 
wil said:
What is an oxymoron?

Is it a moron with an extra oxygen molecule?

Or an antioxidant moron?

Why am I so intolerant of intolerance?

Why do I think judgemental people are just wrong?

Why do I dislike you if you can't learn to get along?

Why are their conditions on my unconditional love?

Will going to a psychiatrist help all my issues or just make them shrink?

Seriously though it isn't a joke, it appears the better we try to be the more errors we realize we are making...

I don't know exactly the origination of oxymoron, but I think I am becoming one.

I know what you mean man...I love to hate somethings sometimes.
 
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