Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The "As-If Method"

So, I believe that the supernatural is either nonexistent or incomprehensible, and I try to only believe propositions that are logically consistent and for which there is evidence.

Of course, this leads to a problem.

We know that the human mind is quite a bit irrational. We know that self-fulfilling prophecies are a real phenomenon. It is pretty much a given that there are quite a few irrational beliefs flowing around in that big fishbowl that I call my head.

Let's call this the "problem of meta-rationality". The essential question is, how to deal rationally with irrationality? Is it more rational, for example, to assess my own potentials in life realistically? If I remember it right, several studies suggest that healthy humans overestimate their own influence on their situation. If you don't do that, you're depressive.

So, is it better to believe that I am a bit better than I probably am, knowing that this might indeed make me a better human being in the long run? How to deal with a belief that is obviously counterfactual, or just unfalsifiable, but it simply makes me feel better? After all, I'm convinced that feeling good is a good thing, not only for the person who feels that way, because a mind flooded with good feelings will probably not have any intentions of starting a war or something.

I think there is a way out. I call it the "as-if method".

I think it is perfectly valid to choose to interpret the world in a certain way, even if there is no proof that things actually are that way.

I find this to be much more honest, much more realistic, much more consistent than just assuming that all my irrational, unfalsifiable beliefs are true.

"I choose to interpret the world as if god existed." -- Yes sure, why not? "I choose to interpret the world as if it consisted of nothing but love." -- Yeah, cool, go ahead! "I choose to interpret the world as if everyone was my enemy." -- Well, if you absolutely think that this is what you want, yay, more power to you!

Personally, I choose to interpret the world as if my breath was a strong flow of colorful, hot energy flowing from my lower abdomen all through my body, up into my head, and back again.

The question whether it is true becomes irrelevant at this point (most probably it's not). I find this to be deliciously pleasurable, empowering and beneficial.

Truth matters to me. A lot. The other value that I think is equally important is happiness and peace for as many people as possible. What if both values can not be achieved at the same time? By choosing my interpretation, I can have both. It's the never-shrinking, everlasting cake. Finally.

I'm A Guy

Just to avoid any future confusion: The writer of this blog is a guy, a bloke, a man, a son, male, not female.

I do state this on my profile, but it seems to happen that people don't look at the profile and assume I'm female because of that picture up in the title bar of this blog.

That picture is not me. Nor did I take it. I bought it on fiverr.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Faith And Reason" (a letter to Fr Robert Barron)

Dear Mr Barron,

this is probably the first in a series of open letters to you.

Why you?

Simply because you turned up in one of my youtube binges one fine day, you openly perform evangelist and apologetic work as a priest of the roman catholic church, and so I tend to disagree with most of what you say. I dig debates, so I started asking questions on your channel.

Now, you have long ago banned me from that channel, so I can't ask any more questions there. So I'm doing it in my own blog instead.

In your video about "Faith and Reason", you quote Thomas Didymus and Thomas Aquinas as examples for the roman catholic church welcoming questions. "After all", I hear you say, and I paraphrase, "Thomas Aquinas asked whether god exists. If that question can be asked within the church, so can any other question."

I find that a bit ironic. After all, what do those two Thomases have in common beside their name?

Assuming that Thomas Aquinas' answer to the question whether god exists was an emphatic negative, a deeply convinced "NO" -- would you still be quoting him? Chances are, no.  He wouldn't be a "saint" of the roman catholic church. He wouldn't even have lived long enough for that. He would be a sidenote of history, yet another victim of the church's welcoming way to deal with people whose questions, and more precisely whose answers to those questions it dislikes.

No, I do not bring up ancient issues to damn the church. It wasn't me who started quoting Aquinas here.

In other words, my suspicion is that the church, and -- as far as you represent that church -- you, Mr Barron, welcome questions and rational discourse just as long as the answer is exactly the one you like. Yes, one may ask whether god exists, or whether Jesus is the messiah - as long as the answer to both is a loud and clear "yes".  And that seems patently absurd to me. Correct me if I'm wrong...  You strike me as an exceptionally intelligent and learned man, so I wonder what your answer to that might be.

You then move on to talk about Faith being "suprarational, surrender from the far side of reason". And then at the core part of your video, you make a very odd switch... suddenly, the juxtaposition is not about Faith and Reason, but about Faith and Rationalism. You say:

"Is it wrong to question - no. But is it wrong to be so aggressive in one's rationalism that one wants utterly to control the situation - yeah. That's a problem. Cause you'll never get god that way with our grasping, self-asserting minds."

Let me repeat that one more time: CAUSE YOU'LL NEVER GET GOD THAT WAY. Something is wrong because it doesn't lead to the answer that you have already set up to be true. I think that this is a very interesting slip there.

What exactly do you mean by "rationalism"? The textbook definition is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification." That can hardly be what you mean.

See, what I don't get is this odd pairing of rationality and "controlling the situation". It's not like you're the first one to come up with that.  It's an old stock item from the staple of religious apologetics.

Of course, I can only guess what's actually meant by that term. Usually, it tells us something about a person's behaviour in their social relationships. A guy can control the situation by not listening to his girlfriend, by putting words into her mouth, by applying manipulative language or plain old violence. But that's not the context of your video. The context of your video is you trying to set up Faith as a valid source of knowledge or justification. It is trying to show that there are things beyond reason. There is no relationship there. It's a question of facts -- either things do exist that are not to be explained by reason, or not. And the burden of proof is still on your side, of course.

Actually, let me submit an alternative view: Contrary to being a form of self-assertion and control, adhering to reason is a form of submission.  In adhering to reason, e.g. by calling myself a skeptic, I submit myself to a set of well-known, well-defined rules. If I then move on to violate those rules, you can call me out on that. If my syllogisms don't work, or my premises are doubtful, or I show no evidence for my claims - you can criticize me. I may grumble and grouch, but ultimately, I cannot but accept that you're simply right. That's the beauty of reason -- it is universal and takes no sides.

I fail to see how that is "controlling".

Where is the same form of submission in Faith? In Faith, you cannot criticize the sacred doctrines. In Faith, there is no way to have a debate, to amend one's views, to get a better understanding of reality.

Is it not the case that, contrary to your position, Faith is the ultimate form of control? In Faith, you get to choose what you want to believe, and ain't nobody gonna take it away from you, ever. There is simply no way, based on Faith, that I could convince you of anything.  You control the situation much, much more than I do. It's you who ban unwanted commenters, not me. (I'm not butthurt about it, I just made the experience that it is rather symptomatic for apologists.)

But let's not end it here. I know that your reply (in a purely metaphorical sense -- of course you won't ever honor me with an actual reply) will be along the lines of, "that is not what I mean by Faith.  That is not True Faith." And beside the obvious No True Scotsman there, I actually agree.

Let me submit yet another little proposition here: Faith is the position that there is something beyond reason. We cannot hope to falsify that.  But we can safely say that there is no reasonable way to talk about whatever is "there", beyond reason.

I think that you, and your church, completely and utterly fail in going all the way. And that's what we need to do: GO ALL THE WAY. There is probably something beyond reason, and we cannot talk about it, so LET'S STOP TALKING ABOUT IT.

Yes, I do understand submitting to the transcendent. And I think that that is, to a part, what you're aiming at -- most probably it's something that every somewhat mature human being is striving for: transcendence. And of course, we're all failing at it, all the time. And that's okay.

The mistake I see is not having Faith per se; the mistake is having Faith IN SOMETHING. In a doctrine, a dogma. "God is a person", "God is love", "God thinks that premarital sex is wrong". All of those are speculations. Nothing wrong with speculations, but one shouldn't treat a speculation as a fact. (The same goes, of course, for "universal energy", "karma", "the law of attraction", etc.)

You cannot set something up to be beyond reason, and then move on to talk about that something as if you knew it.  It's having the cake, and eating it.  As I'm sure you're well aware after years of academic study in theology and philosophy, in order to talk about something you always need reason.

The mistake is, as I like to call it somewhat cheekily, falling for one's own bullshit.

The moment the roman catholic church stops falling for its own bullshit, and starts recognizing that it has no clue about god, or about Jesus, or about the trinity, is exactly the moment that it may become useful for humanity.

 With kind regards,
Skeptic Tantrika

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Tantra Pearltree

is to be found at

For those who don't know, Peartrees is a social bookmarking site much like, only the GUI is based on the tree metaphor, and it's a flash thingie. Personally, I like the idea of social bookmarking because it helps me find releveant content easier. The downside of Pearltrees is that all "pearls", i.e. links, are public, so you have to be careful about what to share if there is any crossover between your online persona and your real life identity.

If you're not signed up, you have to click on "Start Now" to see it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Okay, so this blog is supposed to be somewhat related to tantra; and I haven't been posting anything related to that in a while.

So, recently there's been a flood of videos of people just whispering, or stroking a comb, or any one out of a number of activities... very, very gentle and quiet activities.

Just by this quality, this resembles lots of tantric "techniques" or rather attitudes in my book. It's about sensuality, and about granting oneself the time it takes to enjoy it. Sensuality can almost never be a hurried affair. It takes its time to grow.

Those videos, though, are specifically about a phenomenon called ASMR - Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, an actual physical phenomenon. It can be defined as "a physical sensation characterized by a pleasurable tingling that typically begins in the head and scalp, and often moves down the spine and through the limbs."

The whole thing is tremendously pleasurable, it is triggered by a number of low-key external stimuli, and it is completely involuntary.

I don't know how many people respond in this way. In fact, I can't say for sure whether I "have" it or not. All I know is that listening to the video linked below makes me feel extremely great. So maybe you want to take a shot at it.

Addendum: Objections and Answers to "The Münchhausen Trilemma, the First Cause and the Infinite Regress"

In this article, I reply to possible and actual objections to my article about the Münchhausen trilemma; as well as additional thoughts popping up.

Objection #1: "You're phrasing it all wrong - the argument is about everything that has a beginning!"

Youtube user GunneLPercher came up with that one. Fair enough. I'm talking about events, not contingent objects per se. Let's investigate this.

The Cosmological Argument is not a single argument as such - it's a family of arguments, all based on a similar, but not quite the same, logical structure. It might be impossible to track down every single last possible phrasing, so some broad-brushing is necessary. However, the above version, stemming from the Kalam and rephrased slightly by Prof. William Lane Craig, is indeed one of the most popular ones, so I should acknowledge it here.

The kalam cosmological argument is
  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. (Premise 1)
  2. The universe began to exist. (Premise 2)
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. (Conclusion)

This is copied straight from CreationWiki, so there can hardly be any suspicion of misrepresentation.

I would answer to this objection that all my main contentions still apply. Whether you call the second part of causation "effect", or "event", or "what begins to exist", the points about inductive reasoning, the question of whether causation is actually a singular chain, and the potential infinitesimal "nature" (for lack of a better word) of causation itself still stand. How would we gather any knowledge about the cause? How would we know, except by definition, that it is itself uncaused? How can we determine whether the universe's cause has itself a cause?

If you assume that the universe began to exist (which may or may not be the case), then it may be a good guess that it had a cause. If you then move on to define this cause as uncaused, so to set up a First Cause argument, you're simply rooting for the second option of the Münchhausen trilemma. That doesn't make the original reductio ad absurdum any more valid (or less valid, for that matter).

And of course, it presupposes causality (like all syllogisms do), so everything I said about causality still stands.

Furthermore, the above phrasing has the distinct disadvantage of unnecessarily lumping time and causality together in a clumsy attempt at an argument from common sense, or from intuition. Just because, inductively, causality correlates nicely with the flow of time, that doesn't mean that this is necessarily so on a metaphysical, apriori level. Correlation does not equal causation (which is a somewhat ironic statement in this context...).

Thirdly, the syllogism above doesn't answer the question. If you want to use it to set up a First Cause, you are relying two more implicit assumptions: 1. that causality is linked to a forward flow of time on a metaphysical level; 2. that causation cannot take place in an infinitesimally small span of time.

Both of those would first have to be shown in order to be able to make a point.

By the way, there is a good read here. Good additional points there!

Addendum #2: (not an objection) From the article linked in the previous sentence.

In short, intuition pumps about the impossibility of actual infinites only work because they are false analogies. They require a beginning in order to make sense. For example, you cannot build an actual infinite through successive addition or if you knock down an infinite set of dominos, you’ll never reach the end. These rely on you to start counting or start the dominoes. When viewed in the correct light, it’s no longer a problem. If the dominoes are falling for an infinite number of moments, then how many dominoes will have fallen? An infinite number!

I was hesitant to say something to that effect in my first posting, because infinities are notoriously hard to wrap one's head around, if one is not a mathematician. But the above quote does a lot to convince me that my initial assumption that the argument that "you cannot traverse an infinite chain" has merit, is actually false.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Münchhausen Trilemma, the First Cause and the Infinite Regress

This is yet another topic that I have put off for far to long. Initially, I wanted to make a youtube video on the topic, but it never came to be, so here it comes in written form, which is probably better anyway. It's going to be a long ride, please bear with me.

The Starting Point

One favourite argument of First Cause proponents is a reductio ad absurdum of the opposite. I get to hear it from theists, but of course you don't have to be a theist to put it forward (except in the strict philosophical sense, where god is simply the absolute, not necessarily a person or an intelligence).

The argument works something like this:
  1. Every event has a cause.
  2. An infinite regress of causes leads to an absurd result.
  3. Therefore, there had to have been a First Cause.

The Reductio In General

A reductio ad absurdum is, of course, a valid form of argument - some go so far as to say that it's the queen of arguments. It works to exclude answers from the spectrum of possibilities. If an answer leads to impossible results, then that answer cannot be true. That's just simple logic.

This is not at all far-fetched or highly philosophical. Proofs of that nature occur, for example, in computer science, where it is customary to show that if a proposition were true, then it would solve the halting problem. Alan Turing proved that the halting problem is unsolvable, therefore the proposition in question is false. (If you suspect that I have a weird tendency to bring Turing into my articles, you're right. Read up on his biography - the guy was a genius, a war hero, an uber-geek, and a highly tragic figure. He committed suicide by eating a poisoned apple. No kidding.)

It's a way to rule out impossibilities - the Sherlock Holmes way of excluding impossible options so you can focus on those that are indeed realistic.

If you try to use this argument to prove one specific possibility, your success hinges on the following conditions:
  1. The premises of your argument must be agreed upon.
  2. Your argument must be consistent.
  3. You must show that you have actually excluded all options except the one you're trying to prove.
  4. The one option you're proposing must, itself, not lead to absurd results.
So let's have a look at the reductio argument for a First Cause to see whether it meets those criteria.

The Premises

"Every Event Has a Cause"

Can we agree that every event is caused by something else? At first glance, it certainly seems that way, as we would be hard-pressed to come up with an event of which we can show that it is uncaused. (As always in such discussions, I hereby make a sacred vow not to invoke quantum theory.) We know that everything is caused - we know it from our experience. Indeed, we know it from every experience that any human being ever had. That's an awful lot of experience!

Aye - but it's still experience. And that's a bummer.

It's called inductive reasoning. A synthetic proposition a posteriori, as Kant would have called it. What that means is that, while it seems extraordinarily probable that the next event we encounter will have a cause, just like all the events we encountered in the past, we don't know that for sure. We cannot be absolutely certain. We can predict, with almost 100% certainty, that it will be the case - but almost 100% is not the same thing as exactly 100%!

So, actually, no, we cannot agree on the first premise. Not to the degree that would be necessary for a point about the absolute, a priori, First Cause.

(Oh, and, by the way - if the First Cause caused everything else, where the heck did causality come from? If the First Cause caused it, then using it to prove the First Cause is, itself, circular. If the First Cause didn't cause it, then what caused it, and how can the First Cause be said to be... well... the First Cause?)

"An Infinite Regress Leads to an Absurd Result"

This is, obviously, the core of the argument. The logic here is pretty impressive and has fascinated me from my first adolescent forays into philosophy until now:
  1. There is an infinite chain of cause and effect.
  2. An infinite chain cannot be traversed.
  3. In order to ultimately explain any given event (like, this moment right now), you have to traverse it's causal chain.
  4. Therefore, you can never explain any event.
This is impeccable logic. For as long as I thought that ultimate explanations are a good and even necessary thing, it caused me lots of pain. Then I started to relax. Now I find it rather amusing.

Of course, on top of relying on causality being universal and absolute, this introduces even more premises that have to be agreed upon.

Sidenote #1: Is Causality a Property of Things?

It's an interesting question to ask yourself: What exactly IS a cause? When we say that B is caused by A, do we actually mean that B has an intrinsic property that can be called "is caused by A"? Is a cause a property of things?

I'd like to introduce a little example here. Picture a child throwing a stone at a window. Predictably, the window breaks. But what exactly is the cause of the window's demise?
  • The child is the cause? That's one intuitively correct answer, of course.
  • The stone? Yet another correct answer.
  • The momentum that the stone put into the glass?
  • The child's intention in throwing the stone?
  • The child's brain's activity that represents said intention? (Note: it does not CAUSE the intention. It IS the intention, on a biological level.)
  • The bad upbringing of said child by her parents?
  • Society at large?
I'm sure that you can come up with a few more examples, some more useful than others. Some might even be comically absurd or mere esoteric hypotheses.

(And of course, you can put most of them into an order of temporary succession. Did I mention that causality is not necessarily temporal? I won't go into it here, it's a fun little riddle for long lonesome (k)nights.)

The point is, though, that you can invent any number of causes. Some are practical and some might be rather obscure, but they're still possible answers. Nobody can keep you from naming the air that the child breathed as one cause of the child's throwing the stone.

This may lead us to the hypothesis that causality is not simply an attribute of things. If it were, then how come we can come up with any number of possible answers to the simple question "What caused event X", all of which are equally true? If causality were a naturally existing, universal attribute of things outside our brains, then there should be exactly one answer to this question, and everyone should be able to agree on it (stupidity and willful ignorance aside).

I propose that causality is, at least partially, a result of human thought processes. Of course, our brains evolved to work in the real world, so most probably there is some kind of correlation to natural phenomena outside ourselves. But it is not fair game to simply call this outside factor "causality" and leave it at that.

Sidenote #2: Is Causality a String of Events?

In order for the original argument to work, causality must be thought of as a string of causation leading to the past. Picture it as a string of pearls put on a chain. A very long chain. Very, very long.

I think that this is an oversimplification. It is useful (and customary) to distinguish two different classes of causes: necessary and sufficient causes.

"The street is wet." - Well, it rained the whole day. That would be sufficient to explain the wet street. Since there were no other events to explain the effect, it is also its necessary cause.

On the other hand, picture a slightly more complex scenario: A wedding. It is highly recommended for the bride to be present. The same goes for the bridegroom, the priest, and the witnesses. On top of that, it's rather practical if they all agree to have a wedding, and if nobody shows up at the last moment to speak up now, rather than be silent forever. So we can easily say that every person's presence is a necessary cause (all of them, seperately), while the whole array of conditions together form the sufficient cause.

Ah-ha! It seems that there may be any number of necessary causes, and all of them together can be said to be the sufficient cause of an event.

So, if we look only at sufficient causes, then we do get our string back... or do we?

Remember the child from further up. The child had to throw the stone a certain way (necesary). The glass had to be there (necessary). The wind had to blow the right way and strength (necessary). Together, they form a sufficient cause. But every single one of those necessary causes depends on a new string of causation. It is not easy to see how this tree of causation would, at some point, magically collapse into one simple string that leads to one First Cause.

If causality were just a succession of pearls on a chain - shouldn't it then be trivially simple to point out the one cause that immediately precedes any given effect?

I'm not saying it's impossible. But it's yet another telltale sign that the idea of a string of causation leading back to the First Cause is just a bit too simplistic.

Sidenote #3: Do We Have Infinite Regress Anyway?

Furthermore, it seems to me that we can make up any number of causes in-between causes.

"The child threw the stone, and it caused the glass to break." - Yes, and in between this and that, the stone followed a certain ballistic curve. At about 1/3rd of its way, the wind moved the stone slightly to the left. So the position of the stone at this point, its momentum, and the wind, ultimately caused the glass to break. Yes, and about another 1/3rd from this point to the window, a bird flew by and caused pressure in the air, which moved the stone again. So ultimately, the bird caused the breaking of the glass.

See what I'm aiming at? At every single position along its way, it can be said that the stone's current position, plus its momentum, caused its further path.

Between any event and its direct necessary cause, you can always find another cause. Hypothetically, this goes on ad infinitum (again, not taking quantum mechanics into account).

It's a bit like natural and real numbers: Between any two natural numbers, there are always infinitely many real numbers. You cannot traverse them. You can only jump over them to reach the next natural number.

But if that is the case, then it doesn't matter whether we have a First Cause at the beginning. Right between the First Cause and its First Effect, there was already an infinity of causal relationships. We have an infinite regress anyway, always, regardless. So the First Cause doesn't actually solve the problem. Instead, it introduces one more problem by setting up a dogma for no good reason.

Did We Cover All Options?

As stated above, if we want to use our argument from absurdity to show that our favoured option is true, we have to make sure that we excluded all possible options.

The Third Option: Circular Logic

As the title of this article suggests, there is at least one additional option that we have not covered.

In its classical form, the Münchhausen trilemma states that, on top of infinite regress or a first cause, you can always resort to circular causality. Of course, as we all know, circularity is a logical no-go. So is the infinite regress, and so is dogma. That's the whole point of the trilemma: All options are equally absurd.

But I'm aiming at something else here. I'm not exactly certain whether the third option actually is one. Neither am I convinced that it's not. And, reading a few articles about it, I get the impression that really, nobody is to certain in that regard. Circularity might be seen as a variation of the infinite regress, but there is also a point to be made that it's a variation of setting up an absolute. Or that it's a third, independent option. I don't know. And as long as there is no good argument to exclude any of those options, we cannot exclude the possibility that there is at least one more possible answer to the question of the ultimate cause. Maybe there are even more? How would you go about showing that such a thing is impossible?

Ironically, the official doctrine of the catholic church, which obviously opts against infinite regress and in favour of an absolute First Cause, is suspiciously reminiscent of the circularity variation: All existing things need sustenance, but god provides its own sustenance and is therefore absolute... or... circular... or... infinitely regressing... or... To me, this has always seemed a lot like an excuse. They don't want to put the absolute First Cause right in your face, but they want to set it up anyway, so they invent something like an "additional realm of being", in which circularity is somehow allowed.

So, Do I Propose An Infinite Regress?

Short answer: no. I cannot stress this enough. My dear friends on the theist side always seem to get this wrong, pretty much regardless of what I say. I am not proposing that an infinite regress is a good solution. I concur that an infinite regress leads to an absurd conclusion. But I also state that setting up any one "thing" (i.e., god) as an absolute First Cause cannot save us from the anxious question of what caused it. And of course, circularity doesn't help us either.

I think it's an unsolvable problem. And I think that there is a very good reason for why it is unsolvable.

If Causation Is Not A Property Of Things, What Is It?

I think the answer lies in the fact that causation is not a property of things. We should treat it more like part of our model of the universe, rather than like part of the universe itself. A highly successful part of this model, mind you - but still, the model is not the airplane.

That way, we can opt for either one of the three options, depending on what is more practical in a given context.

For example, with regard to societies and human interactions, a somewhat circular approach is probably more than appropriate: Complex systems of interactions looping back to their causes.

With regard to classical Newtonian physics, of course, linear causality makes perfect sense: the ballistic curve is strictly deterministic.

I don't have an example for where it's useful to use a dogmatic First Cause. I'm hesitant to say it, but it might actually make sense in cosmology. It's perfectly okay to say that your model of the whole universe is based upon a First Cause, simply because it may be rather practical to do so - as long as you don't think that you're actually talking about actual properties of the universe itself, there is no issue with that.

Of course, there is probably a very good reason for why we don't seem to find the answer to Münchhausen's trilemma: Causality may be hardwired right there in our brain. The reason for that being that it just works great within nature. (Now we're close to circularity.) The reason for that being that there is a correlate of causality in the universe, which itself has no reason at all. (A dogma!) Or which is caused by something else which we haven't discovered yet, which is caused by something else which is caused...

Summing It Up

So... after all this long-winded talking, here's the executive summary of my contentions:

  1. Causality is only derived from experience.
  2. Causality is not necessarily linear.
  3. There may be infinite causes between each pair of cause and effect.
  4. Causality is not a property of the universe, but rather of the way our mind works.
  5. All answers that we can give are equally unsatisfying.
  6. There may not be an ultimate answer.
If you enjoyed this, you might want to take a look at the addendum here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dear Mr Robertson,

Being european, and lacking a TV set, I have to admit that, until now, I hardly noticed the deplorable attack against a sikh temple in Wisconsin. Let me first express my empathy with the victims and my deep conviction that violence is never the solution, regardless of the conflict.

A friend pointed me to that recording of you making a few sad and regrettable, but most of all, simply incorrect claims about atheists.

I would like to take the opportunity to urge you to take into account and acknowledge the following facts:
  • I am an atheist.
  • I do not hate god. God does not exist. How could I hate a nonexistent entity?
  • I can not say anything about "the expression of god" because I have no idea what you mean by that.
  • I am not angry with myself. Well, sometimes, when I mess up, I'm temporarily upset. I bet the same goes for you. We're just human. But in general, I'm rather happy with what I've achieved so far, and I have extremely high hopes for my personal future. I sure hope that I get to contribute more, to "pay forward" more than I do now. I'll take some time for considering that. Thanks for the reminder.
  • I am not angry with the world. In fact, I think that the notion of being "angry with the world" makes precious little sense. The world is 13.7 billion year old and consists of a vast void of empty space - the observable universe is a sphere with a diameter of about 29 gigaparsecs containing something like 10^24 stars. How would I even manage to be angry with every single one of those stars, every potential living being on one of the planets surrounding those stars, every animal on our own planet, every single human being that ever lived or is alive right now?
  • I am not angry with society. "Society" is an abstraction of rules and patterns of human behaviour. I surely criticize many of those rules and patterns, and some of those might actually make me angry at times - but in general, I tend to be rather thankful for living in a stable, economically sound society that allows me to indulge in many of my vices and live a comfortable, healthy life full of joy and peace. Thanks for reminding me of the good things in my life, and...
thanks for listening.

While you meditate on those facts, this might give you the opportunity to also reflect on the fact that you have blamed a whole group of people, made huge assumptions about how they feel and think, and massively contributed to hate and violence against a religious minority. In my book, this is what constitutes hate speech. While you're at it, this might be the time for a sincere apology to all atheists in all the world.

Kind regards,

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."
- H P Lovecraft

And that's about as far as I will go to be able to show-off my cthulhumoticon.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

How Tantra Can Improve Your Sex Life

I just realized that I wrote a blog posting entitled "How tantra can improve your sex life". I was joking in that posting. Every blog about tantra is obliged to have a posting like that, because after all, sex sells, and specifically with tantra, sex is what seals the deal.

I'm doing another posting on the same topic - only this time, let's be a bit more serious!

It can sometimes be easy to forget that other people don't know what I know.

I don't mean this to be demeaning or derogatory. I gathered some knowledge over a few years. A huge part of that time was spent in doubt whether this would actually lead me anywhere, or whether it was just a huge waste of time. There is no question, by now, which one is true. But of course, you, my dear reader, may probably not have gone down that road, may be about to decide whether this is for you, may have had some bad experience with some self-appointed "tantrika".


How tantra can improve your sex life... for real

The answer can be summed up in one word: Mindfulness.

If you're used to the normal ritual of sex, then this may be hard to grok: First off, what is meant by the term mindfulness, and how would it lead to better orgasms or more joy in your sex life?

Have you ever had one of those moments of absolute clarity? For a brief instant, you were totally in tune with yourself. The world was a peaceful place, and it was good to be there, wherever it was. It was a moment to be savored, and not even the knowledge of its eventual passing posed any real problem.

Whenever you are in a state like that, it just doesn't matter what the future will bring. You are in this moment, right here, right now, and that's it. That is a fine thing whenever it happens, pretty much regardless where you are.

If you happen to be in bed with your partner, it means that you don't have to strive for orgasm, ejaculation, release - even the question whether you (as a male) currently have an erection becomes obsolete. You just enjoy whatever feelings there are. And by doing so, those feelings become even more joyful and enjoyable.

Isn't that something?

Well, there's more.

See, if you're being mindful and let go of your drive towards orgasm, you can also be mindful of your partner. You stop rushing things. You take your time. That may be even more of a change for us males, because we tend to be rather goal-oriented creatures. You'll stop asking yourself if you've done enough licking or stroking, or when she'll at last have the sought-after orgasm. You can let go of your performance angst and your desire to satisfy her "better than any other guy", because every moment is excellent in and of itself.

In short, it makes you a better lover.


Of course, there are lots of subtle techniques - mostly boiling down to breathing and PC muscle exercises - and they have their place and are good and important tools. But the core essence of tantra, as with any other meditative practice, is skillful mindfulness.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pearltrees / Related Links

This is my tantra pearltree:

And this is my root pearltree:

After yesterdays exhaustions, what with me surprisingly attending a funeral and all that, I guess that's it for today...