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A 21st Century Definition of Adulthood
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements................................................................................4 Introduction............................................................................................6 Part One: Adulthood is Broken.............................................................12 The Sixties........................................................................................16 Biology..............................................................................................19 Sociology..........................................................................................20 Society..............................................................................................21 Reason versus Cognition...................................................................26 Reason versus Media........................................................................27 Reason: Destroyer of Certainty.........................................................28 Part Three: The Vehicle of Reason.......................................................29 Self-awareness..................................................................................29 Personality Theory.........................................................................32 Reason-based Reality....................................................................33 Positive Feeling .............................................................................36 The Physics of Emotion..................................................................37 Gratitude and Radical Acceptance....................................................38 Detachment......................................................................................39 Specificity of Speech.........................................................................40 Existential Curiosity..........................................................................42 Part Four: The Fruits of Reason............................................................45 Communication.................................................................................45 Career...............................................................................................45
Romantic Relationships.....................................................................46 Joy.....................................................................................................47 Enlightenment..................................................................................48 Part Five: Beyond Reason....................................................................49 Existence..........................................................................................50 Perception.........................................................................................51 Language..........................................................................................52 Metrics..............................................................................................53 Absolute Knowledge.........................................................................55 Spiritual Vector.................................................................................56 Part Six: Impediments to and Tools for Adulthood...............................62 Barriers.............................................................................................62 Media.............................................................................................63 Chemical Dependency ..................................................................63 Emotional Dependency..................................................................63 Frenzy............................................................................................64 Social contract...............................................................................64 Tools.................................................................................................65 Retreats.........................................................................................65 Psychotherapy...............................................................................65 Meditation......................................................................................66 Autolysis........................................................................................66 Hallucinogens................................................................................66 Conclusion............................................................................................68 Notes & Disclaimers.............................................................................69 On Reading.......................................................................................69 For Scholars......................................................................................70 For Black Sheep................................................................................70 On Gender........................................................................................71 On Integrity.......................................................................................72 Appendix A: Reason and Virtue............................................................73 Appendix B: Suggested Media.............................................................78
Adulthood 2.0 would not have been possible without the people in my life. I am grateful for all the support I have received from my family, friends and teachers. Specifically, I would also like to thank the following people, without whose wisdom and editorial insight this would be little more than the blog rant from which it started. Thank you to Brooke Warner, Gabrielle Blocher, Chris Pollak, Matt McNeill, Newton Cheng, John Galarnyk, Tom Drugan, George Kao, Pat Sandone III, Eduard Trampolsky, Ben Larson, Larry Lassek, Raffi Patatian, Samir Ghosh, Sean Tario, Claus von Bohlen und Halbach, Sara Ost, Ryan Frank, Andrew Haslam-Jones, Michael Maher, Kate Apple, Nancy Martin, Srikumar Rao, Avital Louria Hahn, Pawel Rzeczkowski, and Ian Whiting.
“Reasoning is a divinity around which gravitate a whole world of gods important, but inferior to it.” —Sho-gun Yoritomo Tashi
Adulthood 2.0 is dedicated to my grandmother, Helen Peele Bachelder.
Do you consider yourself an adult? Of course you do. You have a car, right? Or at least you can take public transportation by yourself? You share your toys with others. You’ve learned how not to have temper tantrums when things don't go your way. Or at least you go in the other room to pout and work things out. However, according to a 2004 study by the American Sociological Association, many of us are not adults. The survey found that “65 percent of males had reached adulthood by the age of 30 in 1960 and only 31 percent had reached adulthood in 2000. For women, the number was 77 percent in 1960 and 46 percent in 2000.” Regardless of whether you believe the ASA to be the arbiter of adulthood, it is clear that our relationship to many traditional life markers have shifted since 1960. In addition to this cultural shift, we face the problem of having many definitions of adulthood. We have input from the state, biologists, psychologists, sociologists, clergy, family, friends and media, but is there any consensus? How is an 18-year-old adult enough to die in battle, yet not adult enough to drink alcohol? How is a 14-year-old adult enough to give birth, but not adult enough to drive? The definitions (from state, biology, ASA, etc.)
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we have are also so contradictory across time and geography— not to mention internally inconsistent—that it leaves us biologically mature humans-, scratching our heads like apes wondering if we truly are adults or just kids in big bodies. You likely know such people who have dug in their heels, staying firmly entrenched in adolescence. These people have given rise to a whole host euphemisms—kidulthood, adultesence, man-boy, a generation-on-hold—and they driving various social, environmental, political, and economic maladies. Books by sociologists and pundits such as James Cote (Arrested Adulthood) and Gary Cross (Men to Boys) illustrate the social costs of a prolonged adolescence – codifying isolation, consumerism, sexism, media addiction, and stilted careers and relationships. [Please have a look at http://adulthood2.com for a 10-slide presentation on this adulthood crisis.] While it’s important to understand the problem, it is equally important to define a way forward. Without an internal compass or external authority to guide us towards adulthood, can we even become adults? No. Modern technology, media, civil rights, globalization, and consumerism have changed us and are continuing to change us. The frenzy of modern life and, more specifically, the cultural revolution that began in the 1960s has served to erase any authority that older generations once held over the current one –
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thus eroding the veracity of the previous markers of adulthood (marriage, career, home, family, etc.). As such, humanity needs a new rite of passage that inspires us, resonates with our modern life and yet is consistent across demographics. Given this, I offer “Adulthood 2.0” - the radical employment of reason through which we examine not only the external world, but also the realm of our individual psychology. Adults examine the cause of their perceptions, feelings, and certainty. Though all people are, or want to be, reasonable, without an inward examination we are often much less reasonable than we think. Employing reason catalyzes our path towards adulthood, giving us a deeper relationship to a host of virtues that increase our fulfillment and improve success in our careers, relationships, and families (see Appendix A). Adulthood 2.0 is a process that completes the job that Descartes and his contemporaries of the Enlightenment began. While everyone understands what the reasoning capacity is, few of us are proficient at harnessing reason as a driver to illuminate our emotions, psychological drivers, and beliefs. As James Cote notes, adulthood is a “psychological process of developmental individualization” inclusive of “cognitive growth, identity formation, emotional maturity, spiritual awareness and universalizing consciousness.” Applying reason to one’s
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psychology through the careful observation of our thoughts, emotions, and desires is how we develop maturity, sense of self and spirituality. In essence, reason is the ladder we climb to become an adult. Through the radical extension of reason internally, we develop numerous virtues, the most prominent being:
Self-awareness—especially of emotional states and their accompanying psychological triggers;
Gratitude and radical acceptance—universal comprehension, an inability to accept the notion of wrongness, instead seeing only incompleteness; to appreciate that everything as having a place, as measured by a genuine contentment with reality;
Detachment—freedom from desire and aversion; Existential curiosity—manifestly applying reason and analytical rigor to one’s perception, ways of knowing, certainty; exploring supernormal human development;
Specificity of speech—thinking deeply before speaking.
What we consider to be “heart” motivations, such as romance or art, may seem to operate independently of reason, but these motivations are improved and better expressed with reason. In
the absence of reason, our actions go unobserved and thus we become unwittingly driven by genetic instinct and social cues. "While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who inhabit them. It has created palaces, but it was not so easy to create noblemen and kings." — Henry David Thoreau Moreover, reason is a vital component of creativity, in that it removes outmoded structure (genetic and social programming) making way for a more perfect expression of being. As one would paint on a canvas or build a home, one needs a clean workspace and proper tools. It is reason that stretches the canvas and clears the foundation, allowing a cleaner, more pure selfexpression. Thus, imagination, buttressed by reason, allows for an ideal to be cleanly and productively expressed. “Reason clears and plants the wilderness of the imagination to harvest the wheat of art.” —Austin O'Malley Adulthood 2.0 is for anyone interested in their own human development. We will explore existing notions of adulthood, demonstrate the need for a new definition of adulthood, articulate it and outline a plan for achieving it. Please see the section “Notes & Disclaimers” at the end or at
http://adulthood2.com, if you are still wondering if Adulthood 2.0 is right for you.
Part One: Adulthood is Broken
"Years ago, manhood was an opportunity for achievement, and now it is a problem to be overcome." - Garrison Keillor Before we begin this journey together, I ask you to throw away all notions you have concerning adulthood. Let’s assume that time passing and a loosely defined set of “grown up” experiences are all that big people have in common. Pretend today is your first day on Earth and you are trying to understand what universal characteristics a mature human organism possesses. If you observed 100 biological mature homo sapiens would you be able to succinctly define adulthood? Probably not. If you asked these people what adulthood was, would you get 100 different answers? You probably would. Before going further, close your eyes and try defining adulthood yourself. Now see if it resembles what Merriam-Webster’s dictionary says: • • Fully developed and mature : grown-up Of, relating to, intended for, or befitting adults <an adult approach to a problem> • Dealing in or with explicitly sexual material
Were you close? By the way, how does the dictionary know what adulthood is? To offer a conclusive definition, Merriam-Webster would need to cite its assumptions regarding philosophy and the meaning of life. They have not done so, and as such we can only take these English majors at their word, and make assumptions about their methodology, sources, training, etc. And it is in these details, these assumptions that the source of our discontent lies. We all have to make assumptions to know that a rectangular piece of wood is a perfect 2-by-4 and not an incomplete house. Similarly, we have to examine the assumptions of any authority offering a definition of adulthood. Without knowing the perfected and complete form of an object, organism or idea, we cannot judge behavior/development in relation to it. Our rectangular piece of wood is both a perfect 2x4 and a terrible house, depending on our assumptions. This notion of adulthood vexes me greatly. As a child, I did not know what it meant to be an adult; I sensed that there were marked differences between big people and little people, but I was not sure what they were exactly. I knew the big people could reach things I could not. They went places I could not go. They said things I could not understand. That they could do
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these things seemed to correlate roughly with the passage of time, but not much else. As I saw it, adulthood was some nebulous aggregation of time, intellect, and ability that allowed the big people to do more interesting things, like drive cars, own homes, join the military, and drink alcohol. Outside of obeying gravity and biological impulses, my “grown up” role models (parents, teachers, and athletic coaches) had vastly different ways of being and acting. My primary influences were my parents, whose value systems only partially overlapped with one another. Further, these value systems were not clearly articulated, nor internally consistent or defensible, and varied over time. Depending on the situation, they would praise certain values (e.g. compassion, material wealth, self-expression, dominance, autonomy, social esteem, efficiency, economy, etc.). The aggregated example of adulthood they provided lacked the consistency to persuade me to take a definitive course of action; I did not want to become them, and they did not want me to become them, either. I was told to stay young, free, and curious —to travel and postpone marriage and the doldrums of suburban life as long as possible, to take the bull by the horns and suck the marrow out of life. As I reached my late 20’s, I was urged less and less to continue on that path and instead was encouraged by parents, friends, and bosses to act responsibly (in accordance
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with a second set of principles determined by others). This second set of grown-up principles also lacked consistency and rationale and this drove me mad. Without a solid understanding of adulthood, I, like many others, began to slowly ignore the existence of the question, “What is adulthood?” Following the example set by those around me, I rationalized my subconscious desires (mostly for sex and dominance) by pointing to whichever social ideal or external authority suited my task; I was a morally rudderless litigator, able to justify anything. While this was good enough for me in my teens and twenties, it no longer serves me today in my early thirties. A mess of rationalizations and contradictory axioms do not to justify impulse, nor do they make an adult. Today I find myself dealing with the topics of marriage and family. I am also involved in professional opportunities that demand my full engagement. Without an understanding of what a mature human organism is, how can I be sure my actions are advancing me toward completion? It seems confusion with regard to understanding adulthood is widespread, as fewer Americans are reaching the traditional sociological markers of adulthood – defined as completing school, establishing an independent household, and being
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employed full-time (American Sociological Association 8/22/2004). Those of us who do reach these markers are taking our time with it. It is clear that either the traditional definitions are no longer valid or that the current generation of “grown ups” is not up to the task. This is a phenomenon for which there are many explanations.
The cultural revolution of the 1960s led to the decline of traditional notions of adulthood, duty, morality, and religious fervor and their institutional proponents (e.g. organized religion, government, and education). Though the era produced marked advances in science, liberalism, and individualism, the cultural jet wash it left us in is profound. James Cote suggests we are a "generation on hold...without sufficient external guidance and internal resources to take stock and mature." A shared understanding of adulthood has failed to emerge from the ashes, leaving humanity awash in adolescence, ideology, and hedonism, sometimes referred to as Peter Pan Complex, “kidulthood”, "boymen" or “adultescence". Gary Cross, the author of Men to Boys notes "the culture of immaturity has become the norm rather than the exception."
In the absence of a shared understanding of the human experience and adulthood, the pursuit of gratification (aka, hedonism) has become more accessible and valued as an end in and of itself. The Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964), and those of us following their cue, have unashamedly espoused this philosophy of gratification with grave consequences. Hedonism and its correlate, myopia, can be counted as the root cause of the scandal, addiction, disease, excess, corruption, and economic and environmental collapse we are witnessing worldwide. Adultescent pursuits are not a substitute for adulthood. Television shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” along with the rants of unscrupulous political and religious ideologues, have become voices of authority, suggesting the widespread confusion and latent demand for an earnest, mutually agreed upon understanding of the human experience. We crave an understanding that is consistent with our daily experiences in a post-industrial technological society. Our understanding cannot rely upon worldviews that were conceived without a consideration for modern science and the reasoning mind, such as those espoused by most organized religions. (Christianity, Islam, Judaism , Hinduism & Buddhism codified the best thinking available more than 1,500 years prior to Descartes.)
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Gary Cross identifies 2 cultural trends or effects at play:
The last 3 generations (Gen X, Boomers, WWII) have made terrific strides in progressively distancing themselves from each other and more broadly, the genteel culture of Victorian patriarchy. Specifically, advances in feminism, technology (e.g. washing machine, automobile, carbon fuels) and literacy have made traditional roles less necessary and appealing.
Being a kid has never been more fun. Youth-oriented media, consumer products and activities have flourished in the last half-century, making escapism and hedonism almost too normal and prevalent to resist. Margaret Mead suggests that as a result we are a prefigurative society requiring people to become, idolize and learn from the youth. We can be teens forever.
Compounding this elongation of teen years, is the widespread confusion about what constitutes adulthood. Some definitions of adulthood, as they relate to various fields of interest, are: • Legal definition: one who has attained maturity or legal age. • Biological definition: a fully grown, mature organism.
Social definition: one who has finished school, is fully employed, has financially independent household, is married, and has a family. “At least 95 percent of Americans surveyed consider education, employment, financial independence, and the ability to support a family at least somewhat important to being considered an adult.” —American Sociological Association, 8/2/2004
Biologists attempt to define humanity (and implicitly the human adult) by what distinguishes us from other primates in an attempt to derive “normal” behavior from form, a reverse engineering of the “form follows function” argument. Humans are absolutely like every other animal, as we share most of our genetic code and brain chemistry with animals as seemingly removed from us as fruit flies. Even amongst what we consider "human" behaviors, we share marked similarities with our primate cousins - aggression, homo/genocide, theory of mind, social contract, dopamine reactions, non-genetic cultural transmission, etc. Though we have developed subtle and complex refinements on these behaviors, we are what Stanford anthropologist, Robert Sapolsky, calls "off the rack mammals." Among our many refined qualities, we walk upright, have
exorbitantly high concentrations of nerve endings surrounding our orifices, have a large frontal cortex (though not larger than an orca whale), can burn 7,000 calories a day engaged only in thought (e.g. chess), have the record of any land animal for space traveled across distance, are infinitely adaptable to topographies and have highly expressive emotional states. Should we therefore assume that adulthood implies that every human being be a long-distance runner? Should adults have sex when, with whomever, and however we desire? Should we act on every emotion? Should we dominate the weak or should we have compassion? The infinite number of reverse-engineered philosophies biology provides adds nothing definitive to the understanding of adulthood, but only muddies the water even further. Are we perfect 2x4’s or terrible houses?
Sociologists employ chronological age (depending on the time and the culture, 13, 16, 18, or 21) or rites of passage, such as the first hunt, birth of a child and death of a parent, to demarcate adulthood. However, across and often within cultures, the rites of passage and the accompanying chronological greatly differ. This disparity is unsatisfying, as anyone can see the idiocy of drafting a man into the military at 18 (which in many cases results in his death), and telling him to
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or of forbidding women to drive until 15. http://adulthood2. As author and Columbia University Professor. it is easy to see that our institutions and behaviors are a very poor measuring stick of adulthood. but is society’s whim justification for adherence to those benchmarks? We only need look to the dim-witted exuberance of the last century.www. intellectual. Mark Lilla noted that in the 20th Century "reason collapsed well before irrational passions had migrated from religion to politics.abstain from alcohol until 21. and the degradation of social." Coupled with the evolving hedonic cultural norms introduced by the Baby Boomers. cultural and environmental capital (as measured by the annual $6 trillion disparity between annual US Gross Domestic Product and the Genuine Progress Indicator . drink until 21 and yet allowing them to give birth as soon as they are biologically mature (in some cases 11 years of age). employed and married land owners commit. Society Does the law tell me I am an adult? Does the chronological age of my organism? Does a rabbi or a priest? We could blindly follow society’s whim by finishing school.rprogress. and procreating.com Page 21 . marrying. military/ideological imperialism. establishing financial independence. 2006) to see the horrors that educated. McCarthyism.org. evidenced by the Third Reich. ill-conceived wars.
com Page 22 . Where is this culturally agnostic marker of human development? http://adulthood2.If there are many definitions of adulthood. In our modern globalized world. then there cannot be a common shared understanding that applies to all humans. what is needed is a common definition of adulthood. one that cuts across cultures and wisdom traditions and is therefore independent of them.
During which time. we are like a super stretched rubber band.0 While we can categorically reject law. I contend that reason is the most psychologically appropriate correlate to the age in which we find ourselves. religion. One could concoct any number of physical.com Page 23 . and society as absolute sources of authority regarding adulthood. mental and emotional tests and call it the “adult marker”. biology. Wikipedia!). one that simultaneously unifies http://adulthood2. Compared to the Dark Ages. we cannot say that reason is our only alternative. However. as together they represent the most effective. we have markedly refined and specialized fields of knowledge and catalogued an ever expanding assortment of supernormal human feats.Part Two: Adulthood 2. with some of us reaching the great heights of genius and most of us barely conscious of the lows to which we have sunk – an embarrassing best-of-times-worst-of-times paradox. tangible and culturally agnostic way out of this mess. As such reason and adulthood are handsome bedfellows. We are 370 years into the Enlightenment (beginning with Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy in 1641) and have instantaneous access to all the world’s wisdom traditions (thank you. and yet much of the planet is mired in ignorance and blind faith.
as set forth by numerous great minds. specifically by extending the realm of his inquiry into the subjective realm of his own psychology.com Page 24 . Given that reason and adulthood are terms commonly used in a variety of ways. self-awareness. wisdom. I ask you to remain open to the possibility as to whether extending reason into the psyche could be the modern archetypal yardstick of human adulthood.g. or at the very least enables higher-level human functioning and enjoyment of life. Def. for a selection of human pursuits and values (e. intuition. By doing so the following applications/components/results can be found: http://adulthood2. spirituality. autonomy. peace) that profit by reason. democracy. I offer a replacement definition for adulthood and a more succinct definition of “reason” to expedite and clarify the remainder of this effort. acceptance.man across time and space and inspires him to reach his full potential. As you read.0’ The process/stage by which a human being manifestly exhibits and practices reason. curiosity. leadership. ‘Adulthood 2. truth. Please have a look at Appendix A: Reason and Virtue. creativity. ask yourself if reason empowers adulthood. detachment. humility.
meta-emotion 2. Existential curiosity—manifestly applying reason and analytical rigor to one’s perception. feeling (soul). metacognition 5. 2. exploring outliers of human development. Gratitude & Radical Acceptance (definition: universal comprehension. Self-awareness. ‘reason’ 1. an inability to accept the notion of wrongness and to appreciate everything as having a place. certainty. Detachment—freedom from desire and aversion 4. Specificity of speech—thinking deeply before speaking Def. or of conduct influenced by such thought. The following diagram summarizes how the development of reason produces a corresponding evolution in knowledge (mind).1. and action (body). The faculty of acquiring intellectual knowledge. utilizing analogy and consistency to increase understanding of a particular area.com Page 25 . ways of knowing. The power of intelligent and dispassionate thought. especially of emotional states and their accompanying psychological triggers. as measured by a genuine contentment with reality) 3. http://adulthood2. inclusive of fully formed cognitive capacities.
rejects all devotion. http://adulthood2. fear. it is the spackle between the bricks of whim and subconscious desires. no higher bad as result authority. aka metacognition. Cognition is no different than storytelling .Reason Limited / incomplet e applicatio n and developm ent of reason Life Stage Childhood Manifest applicatio n of reason Beyond reason Feeling Action Accepts/belie Egoic and ves emotions ethnocentri at face c value. feels . mastery. only intuition gratitude. For our purposes. reason exceeds cognition in that it shines its light on the merit of a proposed end and the veracity of the reasoner/perceiver. humans.emotional metaquestioner. awareness. of allowing only fear & other to pleasure determine motivation happiness & identity Adulthood Focused on With selfSituation self. love but that which is Absolutely True Knowledge Focused on senses. whereas cognition seeks only to create the means that justify an end. pragmatism Although the above chart points to a stage beyond adulthood.com Page 26 . surrender. inspired knowledge. ethics. acceptance. Divine. fulfillment Seeker Negates and Unity. Reason versus Cognition The word “reason” is errantly and commonly used when referring to cognition or thinking. emotion. curiosity w/o re existential supernormal certainty. morality. prosperity metacognitio intuition and for all n. methods of metamaximizing knowing. question-the. rites of passage and morality.the act of telling a story to justify an end. matter. sees pragmatism wrong. Cognition is merely a bridge between two unconnected lands. it is the transition to adulthood that is in need of help in this era of conflicting social norms.
In this context. and therefore cannot solely define us. Despite our perceptions. they are temporary. anxiety. and codependency—in order to tell a more dramatic story. Though states of emotional overwhelm are experienced by all humans. one that I hope you remember. or the calculating unsentimental bad guy in virtually every other story). but stop short of reason. in that they use their cognitive capacity to justify whim and seek cohesion with other socially acceptable practices. the reader. and me. including you. reason is seen as robotic and sociopathic and therefore inferior (e. Reason negates these practices unless they can withstand the scrutiny of intense and sustained inquiry. the full employment of reason calls into question the existence of everything. Ergo. This is a problem. and many other mammals.g. loneliness. anger. Just as we would not characterize humanity as a collection of mammals incapable of http://adulthood2. Reason versus Media Our mainstream media often portrays reason negatively due to poetic sentiments that exploit emotion —sadness.Children are masters of cognition. guilt. shame.com Page 27 . but do not obsess over as you continue on. the writer. Spock in Star Trek. we must accept that we as yet do not have any proof of our existence or that you are reading this right now.
existence. http://adulthood2.tying their shoes. ideas of self. reactive. the reasonable person questions his/her perception. In light of this. and the social constructs that permit such vastly disparate understandings of reality. A person cannot be reasonable if he/she does not examine the examiner. scripture. as each argument can be supported by some collection of scientific evidence. as our separate sets of experiences produce disparate ideals and knowledge. Reason: Destroyer of Certainty Through its manifest application. even amongst astute parties. reason reveals the subjectivity of virtually every argument (including this one). and unconscious moments.com Page 28 . what is considered real or valid varies widely. personality. and/or analogy. it makes little sense to define humanity by our most base. given that some cannot or refuse to. That is.
gratitude.g. one begins the progressive realization of a whole host of dependent qualities: Self-awareness Self-awareness refers to the ability to understand the emotional reactions (physical and mental) one has to one’s environment aka meta-emotion. and shame) and the realization that one is experiencing that state and therefore cannot be that state. joy.Part Three: The Vehicle of Reason By setting reason as the primary vector of life. sadness. Reason allows the observation. in Western society. etc.com Page 29 . a brief discussion is warranted regarding emotions and how they are perceived. appropriate expression of and transcendence of a particular emotional state (e. what are considered positive emotions (happiness.) are really some of the highest experiences of feeling and being (as mentioned in the introduction) and are not classified as emotions here. fear. madness. emotions are commonly praised as a way to be human and feel alive. anxiety. The word “emotion” will henceforth refer to what humanity considers negative emotions. Before we go further. Indeed. the fear response (adrenaline/cortisol http://adulthood2. As mentioned. and especially mainstream media. For the purposes of this discussion.
Emotions. but rather a psychosomatic response to one’s perception of reality. revenge. hatred. That is. and ones that do not necessarily require the action they might initially suggest (e. They need not be treated with contempt. They are neither good nor bad. or allergens for shortness of breath. Emotions should instead be recognized as merely patterns of perception within our experience.g. Specifically. We should not define ourselves by emotions and restrict our identity to something so ever-changing and temporal. are not THE reality. but like gravity or air should be accepted as part of our individual experience. just as one need not curse gravity for falling down. selfdestruction). emotions arise as a result of perceiving the world or oneself in a way which is inconsistent with one’s idea of the world or oneself. This is not to say that we should deny or repress emotion. all emotions are the result of reality conflicting with our errant expectations.com Page 30 . In this regard. but that we ought to keep emotion in its place and not give it the key to the castle.chemical flux) that accompanies unexamined emotions does give one an intense feeling of being alive (much in the way time slows down and experience becomes more intense in life threatening situations). “being alive” manifests itself in the frenzied expression and reconciliation of an emotional state. while experienced. http://adulthood2.
Most people have an emotional construct of reality. in that they first begin to relate to the world through emotion.Before we can properly relate reason to self-awareness. position. there would be no sense in defining a self within it. the cognition is employed in a rationalizing. or more the prevalent… • The telling of a story about meaningless data which can be used to justify the emotion.com Page 31 . That would be like saying “I am the best baseball player” without referring to a league. how do we define reality? Without an understanding of reality. etc. we first need to talk about reality. The progression of an emotional event is as follows: • • An emotion arises There is a desire to reconcile the emotion. That is. not in a descriptive nor exploratory fashion. • The mind accepts these patterns as reality and then selects data that justifies the pattern. time. manifesting in one of two ways: • Introspection into the source and validity of the emotion. http://adulthood2. thereby enforcing this made-up reality. • In the case of the latter. skill. to generate patterns and meaning.
All humans are subjected to the values of society and their primary influencers. • Decision: “Lying is bad if it is discovered.” Event: Mommy lied to Dad about how the dent in the car occurred and therefore he did not beat her tonight. • Decisions: “Rich people are happy and don’t have to live with weird Grandma and stinky cats. I will be happy when I am rich. Some examples include: Event: Dad got fired and we had to move in with Grandma and her stinky cats.com . We make emotional decisions that align with or oppose the values of these primary influencers and develop a personality. usually their parents.Personality Theory The repetition of this cycle determines how a personality comes into being. therefore I am not happy.” Event: Sally said my jeans make me look fat. • Decision: “I am fat.” Page 32 http://adulthood2. Personality is formed during the course of making of significant decisions. but otherwise useful. I am not rich. in reaction to the traumatic events in one’s early years.
however. • Decision: “I am not sexually desirable.Event: Dad didn’t show up to my basketball game. unique. Reason-based Reality Emotions cannot be objective reality. as different people will perceive the same situation and have different emotional http://adulthood2. we are merely a comingled web of these decisions and genetic and social programming. undesirable. unworthy of male affection. or individual way—just pinballs. but did show up to my sister’s recital. In other words. The combination of these decisions produces a personality that most people become attached to. We have ideas about ourselves and the way the world should engage with us.com Page 33 .g. as evidenced by the often-violent reactions (emotional overwhelm) that occur when reality conflicts with this idea of self. poor and justified in lying) and become personal law through repetition as we seek to confirm them via environmental data. we are not “us” in any real. aka confirmation bias. too often dismissing that data which does not confirm these hypotheses.” Event: Steve said sex with me was bad. I’m fat.” These decisions start as mere hypotheses (e. • Decision: “I am unworthy unless men pay attention to me.
expresses it with an “I” statement (“I feel x”) and roots out the unreasonable decision.” or rather perceived to be wrong or out of sync with one’s ideas about oneself or the nature of reality. the reasonable person does not act upon it. I wouldn’t argue that all cars drive north after witnessing one-way traffic headed north. Emotions are merely highly sophisticated warning lights on the dashboard of an individual’s life. expectation. Let’s take the example of Chris losing to Pat in a footrace. as evidenced by “grown ups” who are put off by babies. but merely witnesses it.com Page 34 . Pat runs faster than Chris. an indication that something is “wrong. such as the widespread cooing that occurs around babies. When experiencing an emotion.responses. For instance. assumption. cooing is not universal. • Chris’s emotions: sadness and shame http://adulthood2. or none at all. standard. A reasonable person does not draw definitive conclusions based upon factors that vary across person and time. Though many reactions are common. • Chris’s data: Though shorter and younger. programming by which he/she was operating.
com Page 35 ."— Ramana Maharshi http://adulthood2. discredit the importance of running. Chris adjusts expectations and proclamations regarding running abilities. as opposed to the unreasonable person who decides to hold onto his flawed thinking and get mad/even with the offending elements. "Seek not to cover the world in leather—just wear shoes. The reasonable person chooses merely to conform his thinking and self-image to a more accurate expression of reality. discredit Pat. The choice is simply a matter of abandoning attachment to ignorance or holding onto it. find another way to beat Pat • Chris’s reasonable response: Witness the emotions of shame and sadness. which in this case is the discrepancy between Chris’s belief that he is faster than Pat and the reality of Chris actually being slower than Pat. get mad.• Chris’s unreasonable responses/emotional overwhelm: Cry. Chris identifies and commits to expunging the childish need to feel good compared to Pat or to feel superior at all. make Pat slower. especially regarding running abilities compared to Pat. Seek their source. This discovery prevents Chris from feeling good.
and tell a story. love. we accept the dogma as valid and position ourselves as the protagonist and someone/something else is the enemy. and unified with. ecstasy. the more one becomes an adult. We give others the keys to our happiness when we choose not to observe. The more one observes emotion and identifies its source. and emerge a wiser person. In so doing. gratitude and excitement are perceived by the body/mind. and instead is wholly in. As the venerated Indian sage. learn the source of one’s ignorance. Positive Feeling What are widely considered to be positive emotions are not emotions at all. seeing it as it is. ignore reason. Every emotion should be cherished as an opportunity to grow. laughter. without attachment. the moment. accept the emotion and seek its source. cognition. discovery. This results in us victimizing ourselves and performing the ultimate act of irrationality by giving to others (the antagonists in our fantasy) power over our happiness. joy. whereby one forgets one’s idea of self/ego. employ reason. reject the pursuit of truth. http://adulthood2. but they do not pose conflicts between the idea of self and reality. They are moments of selflessness and unity. The experiences of happiness.Thus.com Page 36 . expectation. to identify with an emotion is to blindly obey untested personal dogma. or the constructs of time and self.
are dashboard lights signifying states marred by ignorance.com Page 37 . "The virtue of the adult is not that he has matured (meaning reached a plateau) but that he has become independent in a lifelong quest for growing and relating. he is always an agent of or an agent to http://adulthood2. Our capacity to identify something logically means that we cannot be it.” Think of positive feelings as dashboard lights alerting a person to the experience of unity/present moment awareness (generally after it has subsided). queasiness. wide eyes. programming.Nisargadatta Maharaj. quickening pulse. i." . or emotions. chest tightness. storytelling. “Love is the absence of distinction. throbbing head.e. and lack of reason and observation. stated so succinctly.Gary Cross The Physics of Emotion An important element of self-awareness is the ability to identify a given emotion’s physical expression. For example. feelings to the contrary. or shakiness—all are symptoms that eventually go away and cannot be identified with as any permanent “I”. we should be willing to let them go when they are ready to leave. for a thing cannot perceive itself (one can only refer to something he is not. It should be noted that it is equally perilous to attach oneself to these positive feelings and though through reason they come our way more often.
the ability to perceive an emotional state and its physical component is an opportunity to realize that one is not that state. Thus. etc. but rather the one which experiences it. This makes possible numerous desirable states such as gratitude. Writ large.com Page 38 . it’s possible to see programming and ideas of self for what they are—temporal and therefore of no lasting importance – and reality for what it is. Gratitude and Radical Acceptance Once we are able to extricate ourselves from the drama of identifying with emotional states. This fluency in effect liberates us from indulgence in emotion and frees up time and energy to engage in more interesting pursuits and bigger questions. “what it is”. this is the inability to see any wrongness in one’s life or the world and have gratitude for all that exists.something). such as the nature of reality and perception and creative expression. How can my pain be me if I know it as something I experience temporarily? Thus. It does not mean we fail to see opportunities to make the world conform to various human http://adulthood2. The physical component to the mental state provides us further guidance in identifying the emotion. unity. we no longer need to tell stories to make ourselves the protagonist against unjust forces.
our family and friends. When manifestly applied. similar to the way a sailor retreats from exclamation at the sight of a wave. True detachment produces a resounding awareness of the impermanence of reality.ideals. instincts.com Page 39 . our condition. physical health. and peace. disease. True detachment is a love of reality . and Buddha defined it as liberation from desire and aversion. Without the perception of wrongness. giving no cause to react to it. and challenges. like equality. but rather it means we wholly accept their counterparts (inequality. aesthetics. and aversion. our lovers. we have radical acceptance of and gratitude for ourselves. attributes. and the world. desires. death. http://adulthood2.the ability to see a situation for what it is and to have this sapience unmolested by our psychology. etc. We see the complexity and inter-relatedness of all things. Detachment Plato defined reason as the quality which liberates us from the tyranny of pleasure and pain. their cycles and unique abilities. reason creates detachment (differing from the pejorative understanding of detachment suggesting reason produces the incapacity to act in a kind or considerate way).) as they are and without judgment. violence.
Moreover. guiding the human experience. without reason and detachment. as described in the venerated Hindu scripture. is a charioteer. or how we know what we know. The chariot’s horses represent the senses that will. The charioteer is reason. run around pursuing pasture and stream after pasture and stream without direction or consideration. or the intellect. In this regard. Specificity of Speech As reason becomes more central to our being. The reins represent the cognitive capacities of the mind which can control the addiction to satisfying the senses. who is able to observe and genuinely self-express. http://adulthood2. it is expressed in degrees of certainty of what and how we think.com Page 40 . the true Self would be thrown free from the chariot under the wild ramblings of the senses and mind. reason. without guidance. The true Self is the passenger/observer. and believe—what is known as integrity. to have integrity and specificity of speech is to be ever aware of epistemology. and the true Self is the individual possessed of reason. which commandeers the senses (horses) through the mind (reins) so as to keep the chariot on the course set forth by the charioteer. riding shotgun. Katha Upanishad. sense. In this instance the false self is in an individual possessed of senses and mind unrestrained by reason.
But if I were to state that I am certain that I know what it’s like to be a man. I am certain I have no idea what it’s like to be a woman. we can only be certain about what we do not know. The fact that the current extent of human knowledge is the product of residing near and examining less than 1 percent of the universe would lead the reasonable http://adulthood2. Adults strive for this consistency and are thus impeccable.If I make a statement that asserts that all swans are white. by saying that all swans I’ve seen are white. as I represent one of three billion men. if I am more specific with my words and decrease my certainty. and efficient with their speech. or I believe most swans are white. I would have to add numerous qualifiers to convey that I know what it’s like for me to be a man. reason often produces an uncompromising search for fact and a desire to express whatever can be expressed. In this regard. unambiguous. while paying careful attention to what is as yet unknowable and therefore inexpressible. For example. A reasonable argument is one that is stated accurately. However. and has internal consistency throughout. With this in mind. I have not committed an error. I have committed an error. cannot be defeated. To prove a statement is untrue or unreasonable only requires a singular instance in which the argument does not hold. and there is even one swan that is not white.com Page 41 .
we merely follow our biological impulses. or the pleasure principle.man to offer a severe measure of caution with any assertion.com Page 42 . certain cognitive capacities mature and allow us to utilize greater portions of the neocortex. or relationship. In childhood. outlined a spectrum that encapsulates the different types of curiosity. critical thinking. Richard Rose. we decide how to conform to or act within cultural norms in order http://adulthood2. as a child is not concerned with reality. ignorant mental chatter. In this regard. that one can have to truth. childhood is the ultimate in ignorance and boorishness. During adolescence. In adolescence. What fills this void is curiosity—a desire to understand this chatter and to know how programming and the physical world relate to both the chatter and our existence. a twentieth-century American spiritual teacher. Existential Curiosity The liberation from the slavery of programming reveals the contents of what we call our personality—a mess of random. resulting in the first semblances of reason. Curiosity is often expressed as childlike wonderment and a pursuit of truth. and self-reflection. only his or her experience. The reasonable person is ever aware that what we do not know vastly exceeds what we know by numerous orders of magnitude.
frustration with reason and all cognitive/academic/knowledge/scientific/material http://adulthood2. resulting in intuition. Development of cognitive capacities towards the pursuit of more pleasure. for pleasure. for its own sake. encompasses. Ignorance (focus on pleasure principle. but only as applied towards the maximization of pleasure and minimization of pain. • Adulthood.com Page 43 . biological needs of the body). sex. delay of gratification in return for greater bodily rewards in the future. • Childhood/Adolescence.to get what we want (recognition. especially self-knowledge. Rose’s model of knowledge/curiosity/attention is a linear lockstep progression that precedes. and eventually surpasses reason. friendship. Full development of reasoning capacity.g. e. and acceptance). Adulthood allows us to harness cycles of brainpower that would be otherwise consumed by biological pleasure and social approval. and use it towards the exploration of the nature of reality and creative expression. a modicum of curiosity is developed. money. Yearning for truth. academic pursuits to acquire knowledge. In adolescence. • Seeker.
• A move towards the desire for spiritual and mystical union. in their universal failure to produce Absolute truth. Liberation. Enlightenment. from mind to spirit. and the object perceived are seen as one. including reason. liberation from all striving. are inferior to the ultimate state of oneness. then use reason upon all reasons and the reasoner to eradicate the addiction to thinking/mind. etc.pursuits. Moksha. one must first use reason upon emotions and programming. Truth Realization. Heaven.” —Pantanjali. the act of perceiving. To get to oneness. • Nirvana (embodiment of Absolute Truth and God Consciousness) The completion of the human experience. “Diamond Sutra” http://adulthood2. Nirvana. • Represents the leap from focus on adulthood to a spiritual path.com Page 44 . • Plotinus argued that all forms of thinking. • “The perceiver. Satori. communion with God. Samadhi.
Employing http://adulthood2. we will explore five areas of human endeavor: communication. to communicate is to reason and to communicate well is to reason well. In this section. gratitude. the resulting/component qualities (self-awareness. and dominance.Part Four: The Fruits of Reason The material fruits of reason are many. sex. romantic relationships. detachment. Given that language is itself transitory. Communication Communication amongst humans literally means that all parties communicating embrace a shared meaning. Embracing meaning is contingent on parties utilizing a shared language. memory and emotion. varied and highly reliant upon past experiences. the only piece that can be called common is the logic and reason by which words are chosen. That is. and enlightenment. joy. Career When one radically employs reason. Professional relationships flourish under the influence of reason as practitioners of reason become decoupled from their unconscious egoic drivers—fear.com Page 45 . shared and considered. not the least of which is adulthood. specificity of speech and existential curiosity) grease all interpersonal wheels. career.
As mentioned. one becomes self-aware in the illumination of genetic and social programming and psychological trauma. The self-awareness that reason produces allows one to be a leader. energized focus. reason has a high return on investment (ROI). collegial rapport. possibilities. author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.com Page 46 . But most importantly. a person can observe him or herself in states of emotional overwhelm (the total identification with an emotional http://adulthood2. making self-awareness and integrity (consistency of thoughts. cultivating reason calls into question the type of work one pursues. As an adult in a relationship. allowing one to ask deeper questions and see new patterns. creativity and purpose are highly valued qualities in the marketplace. reason is a boon to creativity. as leadership. full involvement and success. Self-awareness produced pursuits imbued with flow. purpose/identity. In this regard. such that others are drawn to that adult in times of crisis. describes as a feeling of timelessness. curiosity and commitment (as opposed to attachment). actions and words with self) a priority. to live in tranquility. Romantic Relationships Any partnership benefits when one or both partners decide to take seriously their evolution into adulthood.reason. and combinations. what Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.
an adult engages his/her partner out of want.g. It should also be noted that adults become less attracted to those who do not wish or are unable to employ reason. yielding liberation from false ideas of self and http://adulthood2. and generally derives greater satisfaction from life due to an ability to accept and appreciate not only the partner. but all of life.com Page 47 . in that the crux of the bond is an appreciation of the partner’s qualities. “I feel sad”. Doing so prevents us from using our lovers like an emotional pharmacy or punching bag. An adult can be a giver and a rock for his/her partner in times of real or imagined crisis. adults can avoid emotional overwhelm and are free to experience joy more frequently. not the unconscious clinging and manipulation that results from one’s unexamined faults. By using reason to shed light on the depth of the psyche. As such. These adults are generally a pleasure to be around and better partners. The reasoning person brings his thinking in line with reality. vs. Joy Unhappiness is the result of unmet expectations—the unnecessary holding onto a broken mental model (an explanation/prejudice/story/assumption one has to describe reality). not need. inarticulate emotional overwhelm “You son of a …”).state) and speaking in an emotionally articulate manner (e.
bandwidth which was previously consumed by ignorance and its expressions—anger. In doing so. universal awareness. If success within any of these realms (or the virtues in Appendix A) are of interest to you. and shame. reason. reason must precede it. by definition. and present moment awareness. One cannot make spiritual progress without first taking out the trash (addiction to emotional overwhelm. cosmic consciousness) upon a bedrock of reason. the perceived and the act of perceiving. he gains enhanced psychic bandwidth to experience joy. and ignorance continue to pollute and corrupt the seeker. upward and final transformation of being.com Page 48 . Enlightenment Adulthood is a precursor to the Seeker stage. If joy is a goal. http://adulthood2. requires self-awareness and its cause. and storytelling). sadness. That is. The Seeker pursues enlightenment (communion with something that can be considered greater than the physical reality we perceive with our senses. programming.expectations of others and the world. no amount of praying or religious ceremony will yield Heaven/Nirvana/Enlightenment/Samadhi/Satori/Moksha if unreconciled psychological trauma. guilt. so too should be reason and its fruits. in that reason destroys ignorance. Spirituality. spontaneity. false ideas of self. unison between the perceiver.
com . continue on and feel free to click on the links to take a deeper dive." Albert Einstein In order to assert something as absolutely true. In nearly all cases.] As reason takes hold. so if your main concern is adulthood and not what lies beyond it. skip ahead to Part Six. ready to be stretched. 5 conditions must first be met. As such. They are: • Existence Page 49 http://adulthood2. if you’re ready for a challenge. so as not to speak or embody falsehood. when reason begins to transform us into adults and illuminates our questions of certainty or epistemology. a reasoning person would do well to apprise him/herself of these five conditions. "The man of science is a poor philosopher. frustrated and confused. we become engaged in the examination of all things previously regarded as true or self-evident. More needs to be mentioned on the second stage of Richard Rose’s truth hierarchy. they are unfulfilled—thus casting doubt upon the existence of the physical material world and any knowledge pertaining to it.Part Five: Beyond Reason [WARNING: This section will take you through some philosophically choppy waters. However.
but can it be said to exist? The existence of the videogame character is technically finished as soon as the cancel button is pushed or the cord ripped free from the socket. have perception and utilize knowledge. and a person listening to the assertion. in order to make the assertion that a chair is blue. humans are plagued by the errors of their perception and are therefore incapable of absolute objectivity. Specifically. To establish existence. I cannot say I exist. A videogame character may engage in activity. Without this second party paying witness. http://adulthood2. Another entity. which is objective and infallible (non-human). For example. my own existence would be synonymous with the existence of a videogame character. something else must exist to know my existence. That is.• • • • Infallibility of perception Infallibility of language Infallibility of metrics Absolute knowledge Existence A person must exist to say something true. because in order for me to exist.com Page 50 . there must be a chair. there must be a second party agreeing to the claim. a person making the assertion. must agree that something exists.
As soon as one begins to question his existence. A result of the programming and emotionality of the common human experience is the misapprehension of existence. Perception Let us say that we could get God or a Flying Spaghetti Monster or an otherwise objective (possessed of infallible perception) entity http://adulthood2. predictive. but by some sort of infallible entity). Our senses are filtered and comingled by our memory.com Page 51 . humans are neither and thus our existence is a unconfirmed.e. matters relating to emotional overwhelm. such as a digital video recorder (presumably not constructed by a flawed human. personal relationships. So we need a nonhuman entity (devoid of the flaws of perception). calculated guess. and limbic (assigning greater weight to objects and situations with fear/sex potentialities) mental capacities and therefore we humans cannot be relied upon to confirm existence of other people or ourselves. By definition.i. to send this information and another nonhuman entity to receive and confirm it. saying anything which is absolutely true. career and selfaggrandizement seem quite trivial. as the unreasoning human believes the perception of existence to be sufficient evidence for existence. creative. which it most clearly is not.
I could see a chair that I call “blue.” but never know that what I see when I see “blue” is the same thing that you see when you see “blue. Even if we were to objectively know we exist.” Each of us has a unique and complex recording and deciphering device (brain/mind/personality) which largely lines up with that of others with regard to the objects and attributes of the physical world. This effect is the result of repetition and rote learning during early childhood development. our ability to make true statements is still bound by the fallibility of our perception. Language Let us say that there were such a way for us to could establish our existence and our perception as indisputable.com Page 52 . only in a referentially consistent manner. We are all corrected when we draw outside the lines or use the wrong colors. but in reality. which on the surface seems to perceive things ubiquitously. repetition. Conditioning. or sensory descriptions.to confirm our existence and relay to us this existence in a manner that circumvents our fallible perception. only one that is mutually agreed upon. and perception do not yield an objective reality. The result is a homogenized vocabulary used by a populace. words. The restrictions of language are such: we have a limited number of words to describe an infinite number of occurrences and http://adulthood2. Per Wittgenstein.
the greater the confusion. whereas I could be an obese person who has destroyed many chairs and experience fear when I see the same Danish-designed chairs. perceive infallibly. but never complete communication. Thus. Space-time warps http://adulthood2. uses. in order to say something true. These vastly different experiences of the word “chair” will influence how the word “chair” is used and understood. Metrics Let us say that we exist. Our metrics for describing things in relation to one another (time. and draw upon the same words and meanings. we can only approach rough approximations of meaning. space.situations. This phenomenon is exacerbated when describing more subtle things like human relations or abstract concepts – the more abstract. You could be a chair-maker and tingle with ecstasy every time you see Danish-designed chairs. If this were so. and matter) would need to be immutable—but they are not.) in the past. etc. origins.com Page 53 . we cannot communicate as a species with total certainty. we would need infallible metrics to describe our assertions. as well as by my flawed memory and emotional reactions to chairs—and the same goes for you. number. I will never know exactly what you mean by “chair” because my meaning is influenced by my experiences of chairs (types. such as if we were all plugged into Wikipedia as our sole source of language and meaning.
and yet not fully predictably. Time and space are relatively predictable. as it can only give rough approximations. our experience of time is also variable. given that we are all moving. However.com Page 54 . but never both).g. and useful for the relative pursuits within physical science (also based upon probability and degrees of certainty. the physical center. e. the Big Bang. All we claim is that we believe there is a physical center to things. We don’t know where electrons go http://adulthood2. but rather slows down depending on the motion of the perceiving utilities. As such. strong nuclear. There is confusion around numerous concepts and theories in physics. black holes. Our attempts to identify single indivisible units of matter. have failed as the discovery of each new and tinier particle never quite yields a working equation to justify the existence of something solid. such as an atom. or string. dark matter. matter is at best predictable. As Einstein proved. gravity. time is not immutable. M-Theory. and dark energy. Matter suffers the same flaw. and that per our theory and experiments.fairly predictably. and weak nuclear) influence it. a variety of forces (electromagnetic. quark. but not wholly knowable per Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (we can know the position or the speed of something. and thus is useless in the pursuit of truth. space-time is not absolutely reliable or predictable. not total certainty) and dayto-day activities on this planet.
but ultimately unknowable medium we call reality/perception/life.when we are not watching them. our metrics (space-time and matter) for describing our observations or knowledge are themselves unknowable. Thus. seemingly ubiquitous. or God). center of the universe. To make claims intended to be universally true or absolute. Absolute Knowledge Now let’s say we exist. such as the center of the universe or God’s will or the ultimate state of humanity. we are to each other but two ships passing in the night. We can only observe and measure them the instant we watch them. creation. All of our knowledge http://adulthood2. the table is black. they act as both particle and wave (energy). but never absolutely true. giving rise to a whole host of questions regarding the transmutability. adrift in a familiar. Moreover. We are still confined to the realm of the relative (e. and destruction of matter and energy. our perception is infallible. Without footing on the shore (knowledge of the exact whereabouts of absolute truth. and our metrics equally so. relative to not-the-table and not-black).g. we have to prove that our observation is in relation to something immutable.com Page 55 . Human beings have no communicable knowledge thereof and thus we can only make assertions that are relatively more or less true than something else. our language is concrete and universal.
about the human experience is without absolute footing and is thus un-anchored. or prematurely abandon reason in order to lean on another authority. what do we do? It is tempting to regress from this point and shy from further exploration by either rationalizing our whims and demonstrating the inferiority of other whims utilizing an arbitrary standard. the only utility of language is the spiritual task of destroying falsity. free market fundamentalism and institutional religion). as language can never create or express absolute truth. It can approach truth. but it can never deliver it. constantly seeks greater http://adulthood2. academia. and therefore meaningless where truth is concerned. it is clear that science and indeed all of human knowledge is asymptotic. In an absence of certainty. An adult roots out and expels unfounded dogma. psychologists/Western medicine. With the aforementioned conditions of certainty unsolved. relative. The most common sources of external authority are parents/family and social institutions (law.com Page 56 . regardless of rhetoric marked by volume or repetition. Spiritual Vector Without being able to say or know anything as absolutely true.
only go forth the best way he knows. However. "the spirit of disponibilite [availability]. He is not governed by the judgments of men or the laws laid down by the ignorant." Heidegger defined this state as gelassenheit.” —Sri Aurobindo. such as “gravity will continue to hold me to the earth. Adults can still assert qualified (with degrees of certainty) hypotheses. language. doubts. "when a man is capable of being in uncertainties. without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. or meets the expectation of petty mental standards of others.” and live life accordingly until a clearer understanding or more reasonable course of action presents itself. provided I exist and our perception.com Page 57 . “On Yoga” This is not to say that in absence of absolute truth an adult does nothing. acts in accordance with the greatest possible understanding of a situation. before http://adulthood2. adults are unattached and are willing to let go of and reformulate hypotheses upon the discovery of new data or flaws in logic. mysteries. and metrics are infallible. he obeys an inner voice and is moved by an unseen power. “One does not care if one fails or succeeds or if one is righteous or unrighteous.understanding. Keats defined this phenomenon as negative capability. An adult will never fully believe what he says is true.
resulting in a near complete openmindedness. a calm surrender to the inevitable. informing us that life is at best a dream.com Page 58 . We are adults to the extent that reason removes certainty. one that paradoxically springs from an abandonment of illusions. one http://adulthood2. David Eagleman. an adult refuses to take himself or anything else seriously. It is an intimate awareness of what one knows. articulated this as Possibilianism. neuroscientist. Certainty is a mental possession that adults decontrol in order to embrace the ambiguity that more accurately describes our experience of reality. And it's regenerative because it doesn't see change as the enemy. That is. Without certainty." Most recently. we can only accept our experience and play a role in this game/play/dream called life. what one does not know and what cannot be known on the physical/cognitive plane. a rejection of all theory as absolute and a wide embrace of each theory as having only particular explanatory significance. The comedic attitude offers a kind of resignation. It's an invincible self-fulfilling belief.What-is which permits us simply to let things be in whatever may be their uncertainty and their mystery. and we are children to the extent we believe otherwise. Columnist Gary Kamiya calls it a "spirit of regeneration.
com Page 59 ." Now is probably a good time to revisit the tabled questions: Does this book exist? Are the grounds upon which it rests valid? Was I successful in asserting this new view of adulthood? Can you be sure you are actually reading it? Philosopher and mystic J. but trouble rises when we forget the lack of certainty that our reason delivers and we transform from a committed actor into an attached slave. we discover there is absolutely no reason to bend other people to our will in the employment of our ideas. It is perfectly fine to have a vision and be committed to seeing it realized.that bubbles up from somewhere unseen. exploring belief. Action is only noble in so far as the reasonable man respects the autonomy of all other men and the uncertainty of his thinking. and always be on hand to enjoy a good chuckle at our own expense when we mistakenly feign certainty. to hold multiple explanations concurrently. and certainty reveals their utter scarcity and groundlessness in reason.” that is. I believe this approach is one of the few pieces practical http://adulthood2. an adult is able to entertain ambiguity. faith. As such. Further. In holding certainty under the light of reason. “The study of faith is the end of faith. Krishnamurti echoes these sentiments. never rely upon the rationale or dogma of others.
then why not just avoid all the hard work of reasoning and becoming an adult. a potentiality for which there is ample historical account. right faith—full and complete devotion to http://adulthood2. and mystics across time and geography. compassion (white man's burden) and free markets have subjugated nations in the name of their own alleged supremacy. and just worship God? Although reason and spirituality are not mutually exclusive. Even democracy. The absence of certainty. but in the possibility created by the efforts of God-realized individuals.philosophy that will not produce philotyranny . poets. This vector does not rest upon any proof of God. absence of certainty. and the absence of certainty often creates a spiritual vector. If the final result of reason is the absence of certainty. as provided by Michael Murphy's "Future of the Body" and William James' "The Varieties of Religious Experience". especially of one’s existence. When reason has produced its final result. philosophers. can be maddening and often yields a desire for a greater. material pursuits are abandoned in an attempt to create of a spiritual vector of will towards a sustained reality.com Page 60 . more sustained reality. a reality searched for by saints.a one-dimensional political philosophy that produces oppression in the course of its manifestation. as it is by nature personal.
logical reason may become mere speculation. The problem with institutional religion is that most people come to religion because of custom. faith will degenerate into credulity. Further. Without the material supplied by faith. “There is great insistence on the need for logical inquiry. That is. a poorly cultivated intellect and/or unexamined psyche. fear. they will not possess the critical thinking required to unshackle the mind.a supreme reality—can only be a course of last resort.Radhakrishnan http://adulthood2.” . if a person is engulfed by unexamined superstition and subconscious programming. While the scriptures declare truth by enunciation. further open the heart and ready the soul for union.com Page 61 . one must come to God with the firsthand knowledge that all other pursuits are futile. Without it. one must first fight his/her way through cognitive fires of the Enlightenment in order to earnestly pursue spirituality for him/herself. as ignorance obscures one from any transcendental reality. philosophy establishes it in argument.
They keep most people stuck amongst the quiet. and in this regard adulthood is a process.Part Six: Impediments to and Tools for Adulthood Now that we have defined adulthood and its prime mover. how do we begin to play a more active role in our evolution towards adulthood? One need only become conscious of the ways in which he is acting unreasonably / emotionally / reactively to discover that adulthood is all that is left. Barriers Becoming an adult is much easier said than done and we must remove the barriers to adulthood. and desperate masses. lethargic. They are: • • • • • Media Chemical dependency Emotional dependency Frenzy Social contract Page 62 http://adulthood2. There are five forces/paradigms that hinder our ability to observe and reason.com . and that only our ignorance obscured it. The treatment is the diagnosis. reason.
and adrenaline/cortisol from emotional overwhelm. Chemicals also provide escape from one’s own dangerous thoughts. Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television). Ingestion over time creates addiction and health issues. e. nicotine. the thoughts that can liberate us from adolescence. They attach themselves to exist subconscious drivers for fear. and internally created. methamphetamines. dopamine and oxytocin from sex. Chemical Dependency Chemicals can be ingested. reality. and sports programming.g. questions of existence. TV. Further mindless media provides escape from one’s own dangerous thoughts. and newspapers that generate contrived drama through scripted. radio. certainty. The human brain can only process 12-15 frames per second. e. The remaining frames do not simply hit our forehead and fall to the floor. alcohol.Media Remove sources of mindless distraction delivered by the web.com Page 63 .g. Emotional Dependency http://adulthood2.g. sex and dominance. e. caffeine. marijuana. TV specifically delivers more information to you than your neocortex is able to categorize. however. whereas TV delivers 30 (ref.
express it. and contemplation become impossible. such that downtime. ignoring the opinions of family. coworkers and peers and abstaining from mainstream media. Minding the opinions of others prevents one from taking responsibility for one’s decisions and psychological states and provides escape from one’s own dangerous thoughts. Emotional indulgence also provides escape from one’s own dangerous thoughts. witness it. dangerous questions. http://adulthood2. Frenzy Frenzy is mindless multitasking. seek its source. addiction to ideas of self. Frenzy also provides escape from one’s own dangerous thoughts. Social contract Ritualized and codified dependency upon the approval of others renders independent thought useless and counterproductive. adulthood is benefitted by slowing down. in which case they can last days. Emotions only last a few minutes unless they are actively fed by subject. In summation.com Page 64 . staying chemically and emotionally sober. adjust your understanding and move on. When an emotion arises. and overwork. over-scheduling.Many of us feed the psychological emotional response mechanism set in place by programming.
com Page 65 . ManKind Project/Woman Within and Non-Violent Communication. ManKind Project is a men’s organization that enhanced emotional capacity and integrity. NVC is a communication framework for building emotional fluency and capacity. needs and requests. flow-filled possibilities for our lives. Landmark Forum delivers a set of exercises designed to reveal the genesis of personality and empowers us to create fulfilling. do not follow their prescriptions as they have no proven prescriptive mastery. connected and empowered to create solutions. Zen.Tools Seekers of adulthood should actively seek experiences that will force the illumination of programming. judgments. Psychotherapy Though the frameworks psychologists and therapists employ are valuable for the exposition of programming. voice dialogue method and somatic psychology. nor a rich lineage to point to. listen. such as: Retreats Retreats such as Landmark Forum. heard. fun. it separates data. such that two people can feel respected. but never blindly obey. while redefining manhood. Psychologists are best compared to http://adulthood2. emotions. it leverages Gestalt psychotherapy. Like every self-awareness tool. NVC.
as they temporarily alter perception and demonstrate its utter fallibility. Best results occur after sustained practice. so use their analyses to discover your programming. They have no exact knowledge of the absolute. I have been advised by spiritual and legal counsel not to recommend these as there are legal. but never their treatments.g. seeking only to heal the animal so that it can be better for burden or slaughter. many find hallucinogens to be fun and rewarding.com Page 66 . 20 mins a day for 30 days. Despite these risks. psychological. e. Autolysis Autolysis: write down everything you know to be absolutely true. and spiritual risks involved. On the next day. omitting anything that is not true from the previous version. Hallucinogens Hallucinogens like LSD and mushrooms. the latter being more likely. Repeat until you have an immutable and defensible treatise or a blank page. It is no coincidence that the real Protestant reformation (whereby large numbers of people claimed their individual spiritual paths) http://adulthood2. especially Insight/Vipassana.veterinarians. Meditation Meditation practices. read it and repeat the writing process.
com Page 67 .began at the same time that hallucinogenic drugs became widely available (after 1970). http://adulthood2.
http://adulthood2. and stand as adults upon the precipice of ever widening possibility. we complete the Enlightenment.com Page 68 . is its prime mover. service or a spiritual path. spirituality and for future generations. expression of joy. Reason restores instinct and emotion to their proper place and creates room for more interesting outcomes. By embracing reason thoroughly. Through reason. mundane. which allow us a fuller and greater experience of life. conflicted and conformist images of the “grown ups” we remember from our youth. particularly in our careers. while not the only characteristic of adulthood. Our new definition of adulthood now invalidates the dull. Moreover. more internally consistent.Conclusion Reason. such as creative expression. are not only possible. culturally agnostic and universal conception. relationships. the pursuits beyond the materially and commonly perceived. Happy reasoning. we become adults. yielding substantial benefits. and offer a brighter. we become virtuous and are awarded its benefits. through the manifest application of reason. but now necessary.
asking http://adulthood2. making notes in the margins. so if you are younger than 18 or are not a strong reader. introduction. Mortimer Adler’s. Moreover.Notes & Disclaimers On Reading The activity of reading often is taken for granted. this may not be for you. underlining main arguments and evidence. skimming and sporadic deep-diving.” states that there are four levels of reading that build upon each other – a brief summary: • • Elementary: comprehension of words and sentences Inspectional: spending twenty minutes reading the front and back covers of a book. to generate an initiate understanding of the book’s appeal and utility to you • Analytical: reading the book cover to cover. looking for the author’s arguments in each paragraph. there are many ways to chomp words and exactly how we read deserves review. questioning the author’s goals and efficacy. “How to Read a Book. rephrasing these arguments in your own words. table of contents. This book is written for a person with a 12th-grade reading comprehension. author’s biography.com Page 69 .
I will ask. please consider a synoptic exploration of your questions. then analytically and make lots of notes. It often indicates an adherence to an http://adulthood2.yourself questions in the margins. For Black Sheep Believing oneself to be outside society or the mainstream does not make one an adult. If this book raises burning questions for you.com Page 70 .0 is an argument for the examined life combined with a bit of marketing to tie this argument to the Enlightenment and its Western mythos of reason. and formulating a basis for your own opinion • Synoptic: exploring a subject or question by drawing on numerous works to organize and perform your exploration. that you read this work inspectionally. equality and individuality. a key tenet of scholarship For this book. “What is an adult?” I believe Adulthood 2. I will assume that you are at least an elementary reader at the 12th grade or higher. however. For Scholars This effort is little more than a reprise of certain principles of Hindu and Greek philosophy and Western psychology as applied to the rarely examined question.
Da Vinci. spiritual. much of the research herein is gender neutral. as they are bio-chemically and socially quite different.what sociologist.com Page 71 .equally dogmatic lifestyle/clique. not true developmental individualization. http://adulthood2. of Jesus. or anything else for that matter. James Cote calls "default individualization". If the masses are blindly and obediently living on Main Street. body. Newton. The clothes. as my exposure to the female psyche is only secondhand. lying somewhat outside the norm. and biological sources suggest that the genders cannot be illumined with the same lamp. and Socrates were indistinguishable from their contemporaries. and spirit of a male human. (ref. Kant. reason. even in isolation.” are similarly blindly and obediently living about a half a block away. I cannot offer gender-neutral testimony on adulthood. Jed McKenna. but equally trapped by programming and the refusal to turn our inquiry inward . hormones. ‘Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment’). for instance. On Gender I have experienced life through the mind. Emerson. those with commonly considered “alternative lifestyles. However. True mavericks are generally unidentifiable by simple lifestyle choices. Numerous social. Buddha.
com Page 72 . and addictions. I am no master. or yogi. So please. I am firmly embroiled in witnessing my emotions. http://adulthood2. take this for what it is—the self-constructed lesson plan of an amateur (a devotee and lover of a pursuit) and not the reflections of a sage. Now I am somewhere between the 3rd and 28th day.On Integrity My personal journey toward adulthood is ongoing and not complete. adult. I am like an addict in a 28-day rehabilitation program. On the second day. and though I am making progress and find this framework useful. On the first day I overcame my denial and realized I have an adulthood problem. I created the path. senses.
reasoning and judgment to foresee. activity to gather materials for decision. thought is a superior faculty.” —Sho-gun Yoritomo Tashi Page 73 http://adulthood2. He who chooses his plan for himself. has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation. employs all his faculties. His outward actions do not draw him into lust and vice. which aids the soul to free itself from the bondage of vulgar and limited impressions.” —Thomas Jefferson Acceptance • “Each man calls barbarism what is not his own practice for indeed it seems we have no other test of truth and reason that the example and pattern of the opinions and customs of the country we live in. rather it is he who bends them into the shape of reason and right judgment. He must use observation to see. to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will.Appendix A: Reason and Virtue Truth • • “Whatever is reasonable is true. and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society. choose his plan of life for him.” —Cicero “The good devout man first makes inner preparation for the actions he has later to perform.” —Georg W.com .” —Benjamin Franklin “Reason should direct and appetite obey. or his own portion of it. firmness and self-control to hold to his deliberate decision. Who has a stiffer battle to fight than the man who is striving to conquer himself?” —Thomas Kempis “He who lets the world. discrimination to decide.” —Michel de Montaigne Detachment and Self-awareness • • • • • “Educate your children to self-control. and when he has decided. and whatever is true is reasonable. Hegel “Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.” —John Stuart Mill “But with creatures who have intelligence.
• • • • • • • • “Would you who judge of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of pleasure. whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind. manifests itself in the form of a feeling.” —Robert Southey “Anger is never without reason. impairs the tenderness of your conscience. that is sin to you. If you do. Howe “Never reason from what you do not know. When people restrain themselves out of fear.” —Isaac Watts “A reasonable probability is the only certainty.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi “He who establishes his argument by noise and command.” —Publilius Syrus Certainty • • • • • “There are few things reason can discover with so much certainty and ease as its own insufficiency. shows that his reason is weak.com . where our best light and reasoning will reach no farther. What seems like a struggle is a struggle between two opposing ideas or values. one of which.” Cicero “Emotions have taught mankind to reason. you will soon believe what is utterly against reason.” —Jeremy Collier “Where so many hours have been spent in convincing myself that I am right. obscures your sense of God. . There are a hundred things wherein we mortals.” —James Ramsey Page 74 http://adulthood2. in short. automatic and unconscious. but seldom with a good one.” —Benjamin Franklin “Repression is not the way to virtue. Only through freely chosen discipline can life be enjoyed and still kept within the bounds of reason. is there not some reason to fear I may be wrong?” —Jane Austen “Do not expect to arrive at certainty in every subject which you pursue.” —Michel de Montaigne “He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason. their lives are by necessity diminished.” Nathaniel Branden “An angry man is again angry with himself when he returns to reason. .W. or takes off the relish of spiritual things. however innocent it may be in itself.” — Vauvenargues “Reason and emotion are not antagonists. whatever weakens your reason. take this rule.” —E. must be content with probability.
of reason.Intuition • “Intuition isn't the enemy. all else mortal. genius.” —Woodrow Wilson “True courage is not the brutal force of vulgar heroes.” —Sophocles “There is great insistence on the need for logical inquiry. You will meet it. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity. Without it.” —Pythagoras “Reason is God's crowning gift to man.” — Melvin Helitzer Spirituality • • • • • “What does reason demand of a man? A very easy thing-to live in accord with his nature. lying in the understanding.com . Without the material supplied by faith. rarely or never. faith will degenerate into credulity.” —Seneca “Never let the future disturb you. of the marvelous structure of reality. The unexpected juxtaposition of the reasonable next to the unreasonable. logical reason may become mere speculation.” —Albert Einstein Page 75 http://adulthood2. of life. but the firm resolve of virtue and reason. to lead by reason and a gift of cooperation. Never lose a holy curiosity. is often inherited. being the action of reason or imagination.” —A. with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” Radhakrishnan Leadership • • “Power consists in one's capacity to link his will with the purpose of others. if you have to. philosophy establishes it in argument. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Whitehead Curiosity • “The important thing is not to stop questioning.” —Samuel Taylor Coleridge “Good humor is a paradox. —Marcus Aurelius Antoninus “Reason is immortal. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. N.” —John Kord Lagemann Creativity • • “Talent. but the ally. While the scriptures declare truth by enunciation.
the stupid. ordinary minds by experience. Whipple “Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors. and brutes by instinct.” —Virginia Woolf Humility • “Vanity is the quicksand of reason. and he who dares not is a slave. he who cannot is a fool. if there be one.” — Sydney Smith “He who will not reason is a bigot. by necessity. under which weak minds are servilely crouched.” — Thomas Paine “He who kills a man kills a reasonable creature. Huxley “Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. but he who destroys a good book kills reason itself.” —George Sand Wisdom • • • • • • • • “The wise are instructed by reason. and call on her tribunal for every fact. every opinion.Autonomy • “Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.com Page 76 .” —Cicero “Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices.” —Thomas Jefferson Peace http://adulthood2.” —Edwin P.” —Sir William Drummond “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead. and cannot be reasoned out.” — Thomas Jefferson “An epigram often flashes light into regions where reason shines but dimly. It was not reasoned into him. he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. Question with boldness even the existence of a God.” —Thomas H. because.” —John Milton Democracy • “Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. Fix reason firmly in her seat.
• “Any war that requires the suspension of reason as a necessity for support is a bad war.” —Norman Mailer http://adulthood2.com Page 77 .
provided you have a group and do the exercises together.com/gt04-20).” “Mental Chatter.) Radhakrishna’s The Upanishads Stephen Mitchell’s Tao Te Ching Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now Expositions on the varieties of human experience • • • William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience Michael Murphy’s Future of the Body Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi Books that demonstrate society’s lack of reason: • • • • • • • Masanobu Fukuoka’s One-Straw Revolution Essays of Montaigne Essays of Thoreau Jerry Mander’s 4 Arguments for the Elimination of Television Paul Hawken’s Ecology of Commerce Ray Bradbury’s .” and “Alternate Reality.com . Animal Farm Page 78 http://adulthood2.Fahrenheit 451 George Orwell’s 1984. especially “Appreciation and Gratitude.” A very good book to begin with. Charmides and Apology) Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book Books that explore existence & consciousness: • • • • Srikumar Rao’s Are You Ready to Succeed (valuable only if you do the exercises. Bad Thing. Books that hone reason: • • • Plato’s Dialogues (especially Laws.” “Good Thing.amazon. Find this exact selection on Amazon (http://astore.Appendix B: Suggested Media These books strongly relate to the task at hand.
Ken Wilber and Cornel West) Waking Life Altered States What the Bleep Way of the Peaceful Warrior Groundhog Day The Razor’s Edge Power of Myth Page 79 http://adulthood2.• Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis Enlightenment Manuals (for those interested in going beyond adulthood) • • • • • Jed McKenna’s Spiritual Enlightenment. Albigen Papers Herman Melville’s Moby Dick Nisargadatta Maharaj’s I Am That The Upanishads Transcendental Narratives (fun. Spiritual Warfare Richard Rose’s Psychology of the Observer. The Witch of Portobello Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle John Healey’s Awakening of a Foot Soldier Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha David Gold’s After the Absolute Carlos Valles’s Mastering Sadhana: On Retreat with Anthony DeMello Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning Michael Murphy’s Golf in the Kingdom Paul Brunton’s Search in Secret India W. Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment. inspiring and mystical journeys. Summerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge Films that ask questions regarding existence and consciousness: • • • • • • • • Matrix Trilogy (the box set with the commentary by contemporary philosophers. Illusions Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist. both fictional and autobiographical) • • • • • • • • • • • • Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull.com .
com Page 80 .Films that expose society’s lack of reason: • • • • • • • • • • Fight Club Bowling for Columbine The Corporation Rodger Dodger Zeitgeist Baraka Network My Dinner with Andre Idiocracy Stupidity http://adulthood2.