Time for another distinction!

This one comes from a semi-private part of my life. Namely – BDSM.

In case you don’t know, BDSM stands for Bondage-Dominance-Submission/Sadism-Masochism. The “S” does double duty there. (If you know what I mean. *wink, wink*)

This is the lovely, and very broad and varied, realm of alternative sexual practices and lifestyles. Gender options has it’s own acronym, namely LGBT. These two realms can overlap (often!), but do not necessarily do so. Many in the BDSM community are heterosexual.

Like any community, there are ups and downs, and challenges. By far my experiences in the BDSM community have been overwhelmingly positive. That’s my story, and other people have theres.

One of the distinctions I learned deeply in the BDSM community, while I was a more active member, was that of negotiation.

It’s my opinion that every community, and indeed every person, would benefit from learning this fine art.

In any relationship, be it familial, friendship, sexual, business, political, or religions (or any combination of those) there are a great many obligations, assumptions, and pre-suppositions to deal with.

When it comes to BDSM. There are also basic safety issues. These safety issues can be physical, emotional, and/or spiritual.

To address these possible risks the BDSM community has embraced strongly the practice of negotiation. Before an interaction is moved through, the parties involved take the time to negotiate the parameters of that interaction. Duration, intensity, allowed parameters, opening moves, after care, and exit strategies are all agreed upon. This is the ideal, of course, but from what I’ve seen it’s generally the rule with not that many exceptions. (At least among veteran players.)

This distinction can easily be taken into other realms of human interaction:

  • When we take the time to set the parameters for a particular situation we can know definitively when the situation starts and stops.
  • When we know the intended of the situation we can more easily steer towards that outcome.
  • When we know what actions are allowed in the situation we can avoid taking inappropriate actions.
  • When we have an exit plan we can graciously remove ourselves from the situation, if the need arises.

All of this gives a person tremendous freedom within the situation, or interaction. By knowing what we can, and can’t do we remove a measure of fear. We can creatively move within the situation, and it’s particular boundaries. We can also commit fully to the situation when we know that it will have an end. By understanding that we have a way out if we need it, we can avoid feeling trapped.

It’s not always possible to go through a full negotiation for a given interaction. But, we can take the portions that work for that situation. All it takes is awareness that negotiation is possible and the mindfulness to call on it. Even if it’s only setting a start and end time to a meeting, negotiation has been employed and we can get some benefits. We can get even more juice by declaring what will be discussed in the meeting.

The list of examples it endless. Anytime we go into a situation of exchange with another human being, we can negotiate the parameters, and gain a lot of benefits from doing so.

Give it a try! I think you will like it!

My New Trinity


“We live in the childhood of our species.” ~ Christopher Hitchens

My thinking seems to proceed in waves. In this case, I mean that when I am exploring certain ways of thinking, and certain philosophical perspectives to entertain, the path seems to go in a regular wave.

It goes something like this:

  • Curiosity about a new perspective
  • Questioning of that perspective
  • Adoption of that perspective
  • Opposition to alternate perspectives
  • Comfort with the new perspective
  • And, finally, inclusion of that perspective among a set of possible perspectives

In other words; I get exposed to a new way of thinking. I become curious about it. I take it in for a trial run. I firm up that thinking and hold off opposing systems. I get comfortable with the new look and feel. Then, I accept it again as just one possibility and keep it in the tool box with the others.

At any point in this process I might decide that I do not want to continue with the new perspective for the time being. At that point I will lay it aside and go about my merry way. At some point in the future my interest may be piqued again, at which point I return to the wave and ride for a bit longer.

One theory of evolution holds that, in a general way, evolution proceeds through a process of distinction, separation, and re-integration. In other words some new partitioning takes place. That portion then gets strengthened enough to stand on it’s own. Eventually the thing is re-integrated into the system it divided from and the system in questions progresses in complexity and viability.

Reality seems to have a tendency to complexify into systems of ever more specialized parts. One are of human endeavor where this is very prevalent is in our general knowledge base. As we move along, knowledge becomes ever more specialized, which in turn expands the reach of knowledge as such, which provides better tools for human life to proceed. In a very general sort of way, of course.

I seem to be coming to an end of a couple of the waves I described above.

One has to do with religion and the religious impulse.

The other has to do with knowing itself.

For today I’ll just deal with the religious impulse. For some time now I have been moving more and more into a strict atheist mind set. More and more the disadvantages that seem to come from religious systems seemed to far outweigh the benefits. Religion seemed to me to be a relic of the childish fears of a new species coming into being.

In a way I still think that’s true. It does seem painfully obvious that a great many of the trappings of religion are in serious need of overhaul, or perhaps abandonment. I won’t belabor the point by going over the atrocities we all know have been committed, and continue to be committed in the name of particular religions. Sadly, that knowledge is all to common, even while some of us continue to live with blinders on in that regard.

However, I no longer think that the religious impulse itself needs to be yanked out. I’m fairly certain it can’t be. In the way I’ve come to see it, the basic religious impulse is one of wonder, mystery, and bewilderment. I think those are very good things! They seems to be the well spring from which our curiosity and engagement with life at large, and by extension reality itself, flow.

Add to that my view that the only thing I can ever know is that I am, and that everything else I don’t know and can be subject easily to doubt, and my allowance of religion and religiousness returns. (More the later.)

With all of that said, I would like to introduce you to my revision of the holy trinity.

Sidebar here, the trinity does not only occur in Christianity. You can find it manifesting in many different religions and systems of thought. So, this is not just my version of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, but rather this would be my version of that type of consideration of being at large.

So, without further ado, my trinary way of contemplating being consists of:

Reality, Evolution, and Life.

Like any good trinity, if you take one of these away the other’s fall apart.

  • Without reality, evolution and life could not be.
  • Without evolution, reality is a lifeless blank.
  • Without life, reality is a purely mechanistic process that will never come to see the beauty of it’s own evolution.

These three “things” are at the center of my religious impulse as it stands now. When I approach them, I experience feelings of reverence and awe. When I consider them I am moved alternatively to excited evangelizing, or to stunned silence. For now, and for the foreseeable future, my actions will be in support of reality, evolution, and life.

I am reminded of Terrence McKenna’s exposition on Plato’s transcendental properties of being. Namely, “The true, the good, and the beautiful.” (Another trinity.) Terrence was responding to a question about how to know that you are headed in the right direction with your growth. He replied that determining what was “true” was tricky business. Figuring out what was “good” was even trickier. That left the one guide post that Terrence thought was dead obvious, the “beautiful.” If you keep your growth headed towards a manifestation that was beautiful you had a good shot at going the right way, and that we all know what the beautiful is (however subjective that may be.)

Likewise, in holding to my own (current) version of the trinity, heading towards life is the most clear guidepost. Whatever that means in the moment.

Thanks for reading! Got any comments? Leave ’em below. I’ll be ever so appreciative.


Welcome to Prison

Prison of the mind

“The first step in avoiding a trap is knowing of it’s existence.” ~ Thufir Hawat in David Lynch’s Dune

One of the characteristics of being human appears to be that we do not have direct access to external reality. Information, and impressions about reality come to us through our senses, and are then sorted by our learned & inherited habits of categorization and labeling. This re-presents to us how reality appears in our “immediate” experience.

I use the quotes around the word immediate above on purpose. Modern science has revealed to us that no event propagates instantaneously across a distance. Nothing in the universe seems to be seems to be in possession of infinite velocity. It does seem like some portions of quantum theory lead to a violation of that maxim, but that point is hotly debated and only seems to apply to information transmission for the universe at large.

When it comes to being a human being, having an experience of reality, there is a limitation set into our very structure. Korzybski shows that all transmissions of information happen in sequence, and the speed of a particular sequence is limited by the maximum velocity of transmission of the component parts. For the human nervous system, the speed of signals traveling nervous fibers ranges from 0.61 meters per second up to 119 meters per second depending on the particular nerve tissue and the type of signal.

That means that even though the occurrence of an observed phenomenon may seem instantaneous to us, it never is. We always experience reality after the fact, albeit it often very slightly.

This puts us in a situation where our lived experience is not reality itself, but is a partial, and adjusted take on reality. What Leary and RAW called our unique and personal reality-tunnel.

Another lesson from Korzybski, “If words are not things, or maps are not the actual territory, then, obviously, the only possible link between the objective world and the linguistic world is found in structure, and structure alone.” In other words, the stories we tell ourselves about our experiences with reality are always representational only, and the only avenue we have for getting our reality-tunnel to sync with reality at large appears to be by getting the structures of the two as close as we can.

Facing this head on it seems that we are doomed to live in a prison of our own view. No matter how much clarification we go through, and how much experimental evidence we have to validate our reality-tunnel, it still is a partial and delayed take on reality. There does not appear to be any escaping this prison.

However, all is not bleak in this situation. It may be that we are prisoners of being human, but our stance toward that reality can be adjusted. We can take a hard look at the situation and come to terms with it. In a sense we can escape from being a victim of this prison to a full participant, moving withing our restrictions in a way we choose, rather than one which is dictated.

Gandhi used to look forward to being arrested. When he was in jail, or prison, he was relieved from the constant crowds that his work accumulated. He could catch up on his reading and corresponding. In a sense, when he was “free” he was in a prison of expectations and obligations, schedules and demands for his attention. When he was in a cell he was in a prison of restricted movement and view. By facing the truth of either situation he was able to see the advantages in both scenarios, and make happy use of them.

This trip is available to all of us. By coming to terms with our imprisonment we can go from being prisoners to free humans working fully within our situation.

In my experience the first step is to see as completely as possible the walls and structure of the prison. Getting comfortable within the limitations. There is more freedom than most of us think within these walls, once we stop pounding our heads against them.

It looks as if there is no escape from the prison, other than possibly death. But, what kind of prison will it be to you?

“Relax,” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!”
~ Hotel Californa, The Eagles