Sunday, March 30, 2014

Do Not Give Up

We do mistakes. All of us do. Some of us do bigger mistakes than others. Some of us have traces behind us that swing from left to right without direction other than where toes point at that moment. Some of us have managed to walk more straight of a path. We have one thing to be glad of. We who are alive right now, there is still distance to cover. We have time to correct our direction.

I know people who have the curvier kind of path behind them. I know you do too.

I write this to all of us who have walked from left to right.

Sin is an action that is in contradiction to the standards God has set. Sin is a violation of eternal moral laws that have been given to us. With sin, there is always a punishment. There is no action without a consequence. Even if it might seem like it. The spiritual punishment or consequence is immediate, without delay. The physical punishment or consequence is often not as immediate. The social - "external" (things that happen around you) - punishment or consequence might never happen.

There are various kinds of sins. Not all sins are as severe as others. All are significant. All are counted and we are responsible of them. There are sins that are above all other sins. These sins are so severe because they involve an other person besides you. I speak of two things: the sin of giving life and the sin of taking a life.

The Sin of Taking A Life is rather easy to understand. Murder and killing are sins where there is no forgiveness by standard. The law of Moses states: "Thou shalt not kill". "It is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness" is how Alma puts it in the Book of Mormon (Alma 39:6).

Our Heavenly Father, the Father of us all - even Christ's - has a plan in mind for each and every one of us. He has appointed us to do certain things and He has given each a time to be born and a time to move on. As the same Alma as above once taught: "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors" (Alma 34:32). This life is the time our Father gave us to do what he sent us here to do. No-one has the right to cut that time short, NO-ONE but God who gave it. Abortion is a sin of taking a life.

As a general exception to this commandment God has said through another prophet: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed (Alma 43:47).

The Sin of Giving Life might cause one to ponder what I exactly mean with it.

In order to bring people to this world God set a way for it to happen. God has given us a part in His plan of creation. This part is providing physical bodies to His children, the pure and sinless spirits that He desires to send here at that time. Yes, human sexuality is an attribute, gift and a power given us by our Heavenly Father. A man and a woman joined together may achieve one the greatest joys available and posses a divine power to create life.

Misusing this power is severe and grievous sin and an insult towards God and His creation. It is mocking the divine gift He has given us to be used wisely and only within a promise and a covenant. Misusing the power and attributes to help God bring children on this Earth distorts and degrades the purposes they were given for.

The standard God has set for using these divine attributes is clear and has not changed even if many men and women who claim to represent God say otherwise. Sexual intimacy outside a lawful marriage relationship between a man and a woman is not allowed nor accepted in the slightest by God. This means that touching the private areas of an other person's body, homosexual relationships, pre-marital sexual intercourse and masturbation and any variation of these is not acceptable in the sight of God.

God's plan is that all of His children that are born to this world are born to a mother and a father who are married and are loyal to each other and love and cherish each other. His plan is that the sexual attributes and powers are used to bring the husband and wife together, to strengthen their unity, love and relationship.

These attributes are not to be used alone or shared with who ever.

-

Like I said. We do mistakes. We do commit sin. We fall and allow the carnal within us to take over. We do sometimes make the mistake of allowing the lusts, senses and instincts to take over.

When sin has been committed it has been committed. We cannot go back in time and change things. Regardless of that, our past does not define our future. We can change. The great thing about the Atonement of Jesus Christ is that when understood correctly and when a certain requirement called repentance has been fulfilled it makes things as if they never happened. They are wiped away. Yes they still happened but God or Christ do not remember them anymore.

Living under the effect of a sin is not a sin. Neither suffering the consequences nor trying to manage life after a mistake are sins. Sin is an action not a state or circumstance.

Our actions have consequences. Pre-marital sexual intimacy causes guilt, degradation of self-esteem, pregnancy and heart ache. It also has spiritual consequences. Those who fail to live the standard of sexuality God has set are not worthy of the blessings He desires to give us either here on Earth or in the life thereafter. Murder and killing, damage our social and family relationships. It causes sorrow for the victim's family and friends. Let's not forget all guilt it will bring in the end. One of our Father's children loses his or her time to do the labor he or she was sent to do. And because of that, we lose our possibility to return to our Heavenly Parents.

Those of us who live under a consequence of a sin, pay attention.

We did a mistake. Let it go. What is done belongs to the past. If the consequence follows us, a burden of taking a life or a child from giving life, embrace life as it is and make the best of it.

If you killed, it does not mean that you are a killer now. Change your life and use the time you have left to do good instead of evil. Good is with them who do good and God loves all of His children no matter what they have done.

If you gave birth to a child as a result of pre-marital intercourse, leave that night, morning, day or evening to the past.You are not what you were. Change your life. You have a child now. Every child is a gift of God. They have a right as children of God to receive a fair chance, the best you can give, to fulfill what they were sent here to do. Child is NOT a mistake. Life is NEVER a mistake.

A good friend of mine sent me a card while I was on my mission. It said something along these lines "The one who dwells in the past is anxious. The one who dwells in the future is restless. The one who dwells in the present has peace."

This Chinese proverb has a profound message. Leave yesterday to yesterday and let the future take care of itself. Live today and do what you can to change tomorrow for the better.

Godspeed.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Distorted Reality

Saying this might make me sound like I am old but... The more years I see behind me, all the less I can fathom the way how the secular world sees and regards truth. Just recently while reading an article for a study we make during a scientific writing and proseminar class I encountered several points that caught my attention. The general message was rather alarming.

The original article by Mike Pohjola may be found here on page 41. It is in Finnish but I will provide a translation of the statements that caught my attention.

The title of the article states Reality Is Our Enemy.

"Reality does not consist of alternatives for there are no alternatives for reality. The more we regard everything around us as unchanging, objective reality, the less we have possibilities to affect the world."

"Reality is a dangerous illusion which is created by the strong coalitions of our society: major companies, governments, religions, parents, schools and especially media."

"One thing remains: a belief that there is one objective reality. Part of this belief is a concept that it (the reality) cannot in any way be affected, a concept of this reality being the same for everyone. Both claims are wrong."

"Between reality and human there exists a perception. Every human being perceives things differently and therefore also experiences the physical reality in a completely different way than the other. This way the experienced reality is completely subjective and not necessarily directly dependent of the physical reality.

The physical reality can be experienced differently while dreaming, drugged, tired, in love or angry. The youth can hear the grasshoppers, the old cannot. The civilized know the history of the town's statues, the uncivilized do not. In different cultures, the colors are seen differently.

There are at least as many realities as there are people. But also the same individual can experience the same thing in many ways.

I see the bus one way if I have waited for it in the cold, the other way if I look for the bus driven by my lover and even more differently if I roleplay a coal mine worker from the 1800's.

There are several different realities for each and that is why there are more subjective realities than there are people. Actually the whole concept of reality loses it's meaning when we understand that there is no one Reality which is shared by all.

There does exist an illusion of a common reality and in most of our realities there are many common things - starting from gravity and ending with candy being good. This illusion allows us to think that our realities are similar. Which is good. All communication is based on that. We can share a language and even if not one word will never mean the exactly same for two different people, they can be close enough so thoughts can be exchanged."

"Because our realities consist of thoughts or concepts or perceptions it is possible to change our realities by changing our perceptions. This happens constantly on some level and that is what advertisers, media corporations and artists do days in and days out. ... For a reason or an other, various authors have addressed the matter quite much. The following quotes shed light on changing the reality.

The first is from an interview with a comic author Alan Moore. Moore has written comics such as From Hell, Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Later he realized that he can research his writing better through magic than writing technique.

'
Our whole world consists of awareness, we never really experience the world directly, only our awareness of the world, our perceptions of it, so our only world is perception. And all our perceptions consist of words. If one changes words, one changes perception and that way one changes the world. - And of course when one starts to observe, it is soon obvious, that the roots of writing must be in magic and who ever knew the secrets of writing, had supernatural powers.'

Another quote is from The Birth of Tragedy a early work by Friedrich Nietzschen.

'When this dream reality rises to its extreme we sense the speciousness shining through it regardless of it. This is my experience at least, and of it being common, normal even, I have received many testimonies and statements from poets. The philosophical man has even a feeling beforehand that behind this reality, in which we live and are, there exists an other completely different reality, which seems as if it were specious; Schopenhauer sometimes claims the appearance of people and all beings to someone as mere ghosts or as dream images to be a talent, a sign of philosophical readiness.'

We can mold our perceptions of reality and that is how we can mold reality. This is what art usually teaches us, but especially true it is with role playing games. In a roleplaying game a player chooses a completely new personality and animates it. Through the game he observes reality (or the reality of the game) through the eyes of the character. In a way he therefore moves into an other reality.

After moving into different realities in roleplaying games, one realizes that even the original reality is rather subjective and a result of various choices. And even that can be changed."

There are entities that do not want people to think this way. They don't want us to realize that a common reality is an illusion. They don't want us to think that God is an illusion or that Coce being better than Pepsi is an illusion or that our opposition against invading Iraq is an illusion or that representative democracy is an illusion.

When ever someone suggests governmental censorship, or paid education or less education, that someone wants to limit our ability to defend our own realities. These entities are the enemy and they have taken on themselves the name of Reality. They are the government, media corporations, organized religions, art establishment and in the end any establishment. They are the enemy and they live in each of us in the way we perceive the world. Our subjective realities already are contaminated by these realities starting from the time we played  with our Hasbro toys that have been made in Chinese sweatshops.

We can still fight. We can accept the fact that there is no common shared reality. We can take back our subjective realities. This happens always when we create art, read articles like this or play roleplaying games. And that our enemies want to end. That is why it is claimed that heavy metal is devil worship or that cannabis leads to heroine or that masturbation makes one blind. That is why roleplaying games are claimed to be dangerous. For they are dangerous to the enemy.

Reality is our enemy. It is time to defend ourselves."

At first all of this might seem good, right, reasonable and logical. That is the danger of it. It seems like it.

While serving in Sweden as a missionary, I encountered many smart, knowledgeable and well informed individuals. Some of them were more aggressive than others. Usually the discussion would start by me and my friend stopping them and asking a few questions just to get an idea what they think and believe in. Before we could mention cat a load of "reasonable" arguments - some more connected to the discussed theme than others - was dropped on us with such a pace that we could not survive through the first before two were flanking us from left.

Soon it was obvious that this person was not willing to listen what we had to say. But from all those encounters I learned the way how they make themselves seem reasonable, logical, authoritative and in the end "win" a debate.

First I will walk you through all these claims and comment on them. Let's see what they really say and have in them.

1)
"Reality does not consist of alternatives for there are no alternatives for reality. The more we regard everything around us as unchanging, objective reality, the less we have possibilities to affect the world."

True, reality - the universe, it's physics, laws of nature and basic principles of behavior - has no alternatives. Reality is what it is and it cannot be changed but it can be exploited for the benefit of those being part of it.

It is also true that when an individual regards something as unchanging or unchangeable the less possibilities that individual has to affect it. It is a basic psychological reaction: "why to try when it doesn't do any good anyway?" This is for example the state of many suffering from severe depression, deep negative anxiousness or excessive stress.

Pojola says, "the MORE we regard...". What does one regard as reality? That is where the greatest difficulties come: the definition of the term reality.

Under ancient and contemporary philosophies the terms 'truth' and 'reality' have suffered much. They have become ambiguous and shattered, torn and empty. I believe in general reality can be translated as things that have been, that are and will be. Saying this I assume that many would agree with this definition.

2)
"Reality is a dangerous illusion which is created by the strong coalitions of our society: major companies, governments, religions, parents, schools and especially media."

To me it seems that men and women in different ages have been and are sometimes afraid of things they cannot change and because of that they fight against them or try to defy them. Calling reality an illusion is a dangerous move.

All these parties do make claims of something being reality and the only truth. Some of these claims are based on experience and valid knowledge. Some of them are not. The fact is that a mere claim does not make something real. Reality is reality even if no one believes in it or - even better - knows about it.

Major companies do base their visions generally on beliefs, values or statistics. They take them to be valid sources that give information of The Reality. None of them neither beliefs, values nor statistics are the reality. They are attempts to understand, reflect and live according to The Reality.

Governments are built also on beliefs and values both being interpretations of The Reality. Religions attempt to be the sources of information about The Reality based on various reasons. Parents and schools teach of The Reality as it has been taught to them or as it has been interpreted by science. The media presents the reality and interpreted realities polarized by their agenda or purposes.

My point is that all these different actors attempt to portray The Reality. The Reality is not dependent of them. It is what it is and most definitely it is not an illusion. Illusion cannot keep anything together. It is not real and shatters immediately when it is revealed. Reality keeps going independent and keeps everything together because it is real.

3)
"One thing remains: a belief that there is one objective reality. Part of this belief is a concept that it (the reality) cannot in any way be affected, a concept of this reality being the same for everyone. Both claims are wrong."

The reality is the same for everyone but it is experienced differently. The laws of nature are not different from person to person. They cannot be changed. They are experienced and can be exploited. All of us live physically in the very same universe which has rules and principles. It works because of it. But this is the material reality.

The immaterial, mental or emotional reality is more complex but all variations of mental experiences do not make them real. Are not some of our fellow men confined to a mental hospital for their own protection when they "live" mentally in a different world or reality? Fire burns no matter what reality one lives in mentally. Human being needs food regardless of mental reality. Falling head first causes severe damage even if one lives in a mental world of clouds.

Human mind has great power in it and human intelligence has made many achievements. The only reason why this success has happened is submission to the independent, unchanging reality that surrounds all of us regardless of subjective mental "realities".

4)
"Between reality and human there exists a perception. Every human being perceives things differently and therefore also experiences the physical reality in a completely different way than the other. This way the experienced reality is completely subjective and not necessarily directly dependent of the physical reality.

Yes, it is true that all of us interpret, perceive and experience the world around us in different ways. And yes, because of that the interpretation, perception and experience are different and completely subjective.

The ending of the paragraph is rather interesting. "...and not necessarily directly dependent of the physical reality." If the experience is not dependent of the agitator, of what is it dependent then? Experience is directly dependent of the agitator. In this case experience is directly dependent of the world and in other words The Reality that surrounds all of us and is unchanging.

I believe based on the next paragraph that the author attempts to say that the experience and actual reality may be rather different.

5)
The physical reality can be experienced differently while dreaming, drugged, tired, in love or angry. The youth can hear the grasshoppers, the old cannot. The civilized know the history of the town's statues, the uncivilized do not. In different cultures, the colors are seen differently.

Yes, it is true that all these different states of mind and being allow one to experience the reality in alternative ways. The alternative experience does not change the reality no matter how real it seems to the individual. 

The following arguments are rather empty for the author's cause. Yes, the youth can hear the grasshoppers because they are actually there. The old cannot hear because of their damaged hearing. It doesn't make the grasshoppers disappear and become unreal. This is an experience of reality. The history has happened and it cannot be changed or rewritten or undone. It makes no difference if one knows of it or not. It still happened. The colors are a result of physics. The same rules apply everywhere. Certain chemical structures that reflect certain color of light have been given names by humanity. These colors have been given different meanings by different cultures.

Again we talk of experience that is subjective. Subjective experience does not make something real. In reality colors have no other purpose than make our life here visually more pleasant and that way easier. They are not unchanging symbols of something.

The Reality is that colors mean different things to different people and sometimes because of damage to the body, genetic attribute or handicap our visual experience of them is subjective. We cannot say that black is a color of mourning in all cultures and all ages. In Finland black clothing was worn in wedding ceremonies long ago. We cannot make a subjective experience a reality. It's existence is true and real but an absolute truth it is not.

6)
There are at least as many realities as there are people. But also the same individual can experience the same thing in many ways.

Not true, there is only one Reality. There are at least as many experiences of reality as there are people. But also the same individual can experience the reality in many ways.

7)
I see the bus one way if I have waited for it in the cold, the other way if I look for the bus driven by my lover and even more differently if I roleplay a coal mine worker from the 1800's.

Again the author speaks of subjective experience of reality and our subjective experience (imagined or not) does not change how the bus in reality is.

8)
There are several different realities for each and that is why there are more subjective realities than there are people. Actually the whole concept of reality loses it's meaning when we understand that there is no one Reality which is shared by all.

When read carefully all Pohjola's arguments and statements speak of subjective experience. It is true that there are several different experiences for an individual. Though there are extremely similar experiences, I would not bet my life on 100% same experience shared by two persons. All of us are unique both in body and in spirit - often called personality.

There is an absolute objective reality shared by all but there is no experience shared by all.

9)
There does exist an illusion of a common reality and in most of our realities there are many common things - starting from gravity and ending with candy being good. This illusion allows us to think that our realities are similar. Which is good. All communication is based on that. We can share a language and even if not one word will never mean the exactly same for two different people, they can be close enough so thoughts can be exchanged."

Let's assume for a moment that there is no independent and objective reality. Who can say something is not right? Can a killer start going around claiming that it is okay in his reality? A rapist can claim that taking all women is a common habit in his reality and openly accepted even by women themselves. Therefore it is not really a rape. Can one abuse alcohol and drugs and live in a reality that it doesn't damage his or her body? Yes but in reality it doesn't work.

Pohjola says many things are shared. I believe he doesn't deny laws of physics being real for him too. These must be therefore shared. How about morals then? I touched these in the previous paragraph. There is a moral conduct that leads to success (not necessarily financial success or success as a celebrity) and balance. There is also a moral conduct that leads to hurt, heart ache and chaos. These I believe are not shared according to Pohjola's opinion.

What happens to a community when individuals start claiming a right to immorality and damaging behavior based on a mental alternative reality? It shatters. There cannot be a functioning and prosperous community if these "anti-values" are exercised. Believing them to be good and beneficial does not make them so.

The society works when individuals embrace The Reality that is independent and objective. The Reality that does not change or is not affected nor manipulated by philosophies, opinion polls, crowds, masses, beliefs, politics or any other thing. The society works when individuals embrace this Reality and exploit the rules for their benefit.

10)
"Because our realities consist of thoughts or concepts or perceptions it is possible to change our realities by changing our perceptions. This happens constantly on some level and that is what advertisers, media corporations and artists do days in and days out. ... For a reason or an other, various authors have addressed the matter quite much. The following quotes shed light on changing the reality.

Again our experiences consist of thoughts, concepts and perceptions. The reality cannot be changed by it, our experiences can. Gravity does not affect one less even when any of the above is changed, neither does the moral realities.

The parties Pohjola mentions attempt to change our experience of the reality. They cannot change the reality, only the experience.

11)
The first is from an interview with a comic author Alan Moore. Moore has written comics such as From Hell, Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Later he realized that he can research his writing better through magic than writing technique.

'
Our whole world consists of awareness, we never really experience the world directly, only our awareness of the world, our perceptions of it, so our only world is perception. And all our perceptions consist of words. If one changes words, one changes perception and that way one changes the world. - And of course when one starts to observe, it is soon obvious, that the roots of writing must be in magic and who ever knew the secrets of writing, had supernatural powers.'

One can see Alan Moore is a skillful writer of how he uses words. True we are aware of the world around us. This awareness allows us to experience it. When we experience the world based on our awareness we receive a perception of things. But all our perceptions do not consist of words. We attempt to put our perceptions into words to communicate them to others. Changing these words does change the message that is conveyed. It doesn't change the perception, not the experience and especially not the awareness. And even if it somehow would it cannot change the reality.

The reality is not based on words. The reality is based on eternal laws that are not written down in words as CSS, HTML, C+, Python or any other digital code is.

Stories and worlds are created by authors who write them down in words. It does not make them real or true by definition.

12)
Another quote is from The Birth of Tragedy a early work by Friedrich Nietzschen.

'When this dream reality rises to its extreme we sense the speciousness shining through it regardless of it. This is my experience at least, and of it being common, normal even, I have received many testimonies and statements from poets. The philosophical man has even a feeling beforehand that behind this reality, in which we live and are, there exists an other completely different reality, which seems as if it were specious; Schopenhauer sometimes claims the appearance of people and all beings to someone as mere ghosts or as dream images to be a talent, a sign of philosophical readiness.'

According to this statement, I believe I am not a philosophical man. All I can say to this one that I have never experienced this world to be unreal, specious or artificial. If it was so I guess I could change my perception and change how the world works. Someone could say that you cannot but hey, it is my reality, my rules, my morals. No one can say that my reality is wrong. Maybe then I could see the speciousness of my reality Nietzschen is talking about.

If one lives in reality there is no lie to cover it. If one has a sense of truth, it will shine through the speciousness of a false reality.

13)
We can mold our perceptions of reality and that is how we can mold reality. This is what art usually teaches us, but especially true it is with role playing games. In a roleplaying game a player chooses a completely new personality and animates it. Through the game he observes reality (or the reality of the game) through the eyes of the character. In a way he therefore moves into an other reality.

If one takes an imaginary reality as a true reality, yes one moves from reality to another. Never the less it doesn't change the fact that this individual is still under the influence of the actual reality he or she is in. Neither imagination, roleplaying nor acting will make something real. It gives a completely unique and different experience but it does not make it real.

14)
After moving into different realities in roleplaying games, one realizes that even the original reality is rather subjective and a result of various choices. And even that can be changed."

Again, as we have seen from many previous points, the experience is subjective and it can be changed. The reality cannot be changed.

15)
There are entities that do not want people to think this way. They don't want us to realize that a common reality is an illusion. They don't want us to think that God is an illusion or that Coce being better than Pepsi is an illusion or that our opposition against invading Iraq is an illusion or that representative democracy is an illusion.

There are entities who do their very best to affect our opinions, experiences, attitudes, ideas, thoughts, paradigms, habits and many other things that are part or our individual subjective EXPERIENCE. I am getting a bit tired of being redundant but reality is not changed by belief, thought or ideology.

16)
When ever someone suggests governmental cencorship, or paid education or less education, that someone wants to limit our ability to defend our own realities. These entities are the enemy and they have taken on themselves the name of Reality. They are the government, media corporations, organized religions, art establishment and in the end any establishment. They are the enemy and they live in each of us in the way we perceive the world. Our subjective realities already are contaminated by these realities starting from the time we played  with our Hasbro toys that have been made in chinese sweatshops.

We can still fight. We can accept the fact that there is no common shared reality. We can take back our subjective realities. This happens always when we create art, read articles like this or play roleplaying games. And that our enemies want to end. That is why it is claimed that heavy metal is devil worship or that cannabis leads to heroine or that masturbation makes one blind. That is why roleplaying games are claimed to be dangerous. For they are dangerous to the enemy.

Reality is our enemy. It is time to defend ourselves."

As a conclusion to this commentary section I just want to say it one more time. I hope you all have seen it from Mike Pohjola's text that he is talking of experiencing the reality. That is how people are confused. With subtle play of words a subjective experience becomes reality. EXPERIENCE DOES NOT EQUAL REALITY.


Now I wish to share my thoughts of reality.

As I defied earlier reality is what has been, what is and what will be. With that I do not say that an experience is not real. Yes, an experience is real, it's existence is true. But an experience does not necessarily portray the true reality. It is just an experience of it.

What things are reality then?

Reality is a question of true existence.

Does God exist in Reality? It is either true or it is not.
Can God in Reality affect my life? It is either true or it is not.
Are there in Reality eternal moral laws that all are subject to? It is either true or it is not.
Is there a life after death? It is either true or it is not.
Is it possible to know of these things? It is either true or it is not.

Reality is a question of universal right and wrong.

Is it right to be nice? It is either true or it is not.
Is it right to love? It is either true or it is not.
Is it right to lust after some one? It is either true or it is not.
Is it right to cheat? It is either true or it is not.
Is it right to revenge? It is either true or it is not.

Reality is a question of true consequence.

Does fire burn? It is either true or it is not.
Do words hurt? It is either true or it is not.
I lying beneficial? It is either true or it is not.
Do my decisions affect my life after death? It is either true or it is not.

That is Reality. It does not change. It makes one free, balanced and happy. Men fly because they abide to the Reality. The societies are truly successful when they abide to the Reality.

Reality is my Friend. It makes me free, because it is True.