Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lizard-ant: Thanks for your emails about loving kindness ... generating love NtF-wise is an interesting topic

Zo and Ani,

Thanks for your emails about loving kindness ... generating love NtF-wise is an interesting topic.

While I'm ongoingly curious about generation of loving bliss, joy, and happiness - naturally (but think MDMA ecstasy for the neurobiology), as biological neurophysiologies, - I'm curious about similar processes with loving kindness (which I don't think I personally lack in, - as part of my personality / neurophysiology), but it's particularly in reading history, and seeing unkindness around in the world, or in families, as well as a lack of compassion, that I wonder how to think through, and understand, such behavior, and even how to generate {loving} kindness in others (or myself). While a) New Age thinking, and perhaps b) Hindu/Buddhist, c) religious and d) Quaker cultures/thinking (I'm a f/Friendly anthropologist/social scientist), - e) NtF too - might suggest that seeing unkindnesses in others, or even in history, is a reflection of one's own self, of one's own thinking - and that working on oneself via awareness, say these religions, is a very sensible way to live, I return these days in my thinking, often, to the common chimp / Bonobos chimp distinction (there are some 376 species of higher primate), as broad explanatory paradigm, and neurophysiologies, and narratives, (and very imprecisely because so broad, and because they're my own anthropocentric interpretation and observations and readings (perhaps readable or implicit in Goodall and de Waal, but nevertheless my own - check out my blog for the primate and Bonobos labels, as well as related NtF and Quaker ones), where chimps do violence, aggression, territoriality, and even, I think, a kind of primitive war/gang violence (please remember that Jane Goodall has befriended many chimps in her career as a now beloved primatologist and conservationist - and been knighted / 'be-ladied,' too, I think - I also don't want to malign, or better, cast aspersions, against this amazing species (see common chimpanzees Pan troglodytes here - :), and, on the other hand, Bonobos are egalitarian, very sexual, matriarchal, and peaceful (with no known fatalities, per primatologists - see WUaS's Bonobos, et al., pages - (They're also an endangered species - partly, I think, because they're desirable as bush meat, and partly due to habitat loss). I see the human species as perhaps a little closer to common chimps than to Bonobos, and that humans also learn via language and symbols especially, as well as generate cultures/milieus, - from individual Quaker Meetings, to family's homes, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Harbin Hot Springs {since 1972}, to week-long Rainbow Gatherings (since 1972), to Swedish culture, to football and cricket teams around the globe, to Tibetan Buddhist society vis-a-vis Chinese occupation, to Apple Computer, to Google, Inc., to individual philosophy departments, at Stanford, MIT, Harvard and Cambridge, etc., for example.

So given this reading of the legacy of our human primateness (as broad as this interpretation may be), and human's ability to learn, as well as the remarkable way human primates generate culture (Yay for the Dalai Lama, and his teaching of loving kindness - which ring true in many ways - and is learnable, and many Americans have learned much from his teachings), how might NtFs add to this conversation about generating loving kindness? One benefit of NtFs to me seem to be the opening we ntF/friends create for bringing understandings of evolutionary biology, especially, but also nt alternative thinking, into F/friendly thinking/discourse, because the Divine, even in the Quaker world, has at times gotten in the way of clear thinking about humans' origins, about human selfhood, as I see it. Yet, Quakers 'do' history and do love - as a culture, in my experience, too. And F/friends have generated a 350 years' legacy of clear-headed thinking about social justice and peace issues, and a literature, and cultural practices (e.g. unprogrammed monthly Meeting and Meeting for Business), and email lists, and have cared to bring nonviolent approaches to injustice over centuries in many parts of the world - incredibly so. But while Quaker culture seems to have given form (practically, and sociologically even) to a sort of loving kindness generation, there's a long way to go, and Quakers are small in number, with NtFs even much smaller.

Within this context, how to generate more kindness, per your question, Zo? I might explore writing about it, generating more language about it, as well becoming more involved in Quaker NtF processes, - let one's life speak, and teach it? - with a Friendly focus on practicality. I think the Dalai Lama's and Buddhist religio-philosophical assumptions and practices offer some of the lovingly-kindest thinking, and richest literature, possibly for NtFs to come into conversation with, partly because (American) Buddhism uses those words explicitly. I also enjoy the Dalai Lama's demeanor and manner. He seems to have learned 'loving kindness' and embodies it, as a form of teaching, I hypothesize (a meme?). The common chimp / Bonobos chimp distinction vis-a-vis Nontheist F/friends in terms of human primates and loving kindness above develops from a very different starting place than Buddhist thinking. I wonder how to synthesize them flourishingly.

That feeling of being loved by family members, as real experiences of loving kindness in real life, Ani, has a lot of appeal to me for my understanding of loving kindness.

And actually effectually (with measurable results) generating loving kindness, and compassion, seems to be a daunting challenge, (let alone thinking about them in new ways, or let alone 'loving bliss' being too prescriptive as a cultural mandate), but may happen all the time (per the Desiderata - anyway.

With your good question about "love," I return to questions of 'generation' within culture. How does generation in culture work? With Friends, I see Quaker Meeting and Meeting for Business over 350 years as being central to Friendly culture (Meeting by Meeting, and epistle-wise, too, being the generators of Friendly care). With the Grateful Dead (as culture - an expression of counterculture, almost), I see their music, from 1965-1995, as generating a lot of bliss-love between them, as musicians, and for Deadheads, and appreciators of their music, and with Harbin Hot Springs (I'm writing an ethnographic book about actual / virtual Harbin Hot Springs), I see Harbin's warm pool and pool area as significantly informing Harbin's culture via a geothermally warmed water-informed relaxation response, and group, clothing-optional soaking, in this kind of hippie to the hot springs' place (now even in 2013). How could we generate loving kindness as NtFs? Read and synthesize in NtF-ways what the Dalai Lama teaches? Read and synthesize the Quaker literature explicitly about this (there's probably a lot) ... keep this conversation live over the years in NtF emails? Learn and teach, and generate "loving kindness" culture vis-a-vis our human primate evolutionary legacies?

Zo and Ani, how might we further generate loving kindness, in unfolding ways, as NtFs? In broadening Quaker thinking, in a sense, can NtFs and Friends 'make' or 'create' loving kindness or bliss, as a kind of leading? How might this work?

Again, thanks for asking these questions.

With f/Friendly greetings,


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