About the Journey...

simple flowerRichard Alan Wermske is many things to many people, and nothing to many more. Born and raised as an American, I was gifted with the yoke of liberty--with all of it's attending privilege, responsibility, arrogance and fullness of mind.

Twisting and turning, my thread touches many others as it is woven into the tapestry of all that is today. While my past unravels behind me and my future is yet to enter the loom -- witness my fabric of now.

How many others have discovered or will discover my cloth? What teachings of others can or should I draw upon for the weaving? Or, is what I must learn to achieve enlightenment only available along my path? Can we truly share a journey or are our paths simply coincidental? And what of the non-incidental paths? Would it matter if I didn't question... and do the answers matter?

The thought imagery that surround and shape my questions are bigger than my language to describe them. The more precisely I try to define a thing the more focus is lost on the larger imagery. The Journey is a thumbnail depiction of my life, with symbols and images that are imperfect and impermenant. The journey is my mandala.

How does pragmatism shape my journey?

Pragmatism is a philosophical movement in the early 20th Century (the first quarter) which may be America's prime contribution to philosophy. However, like all movement, it is difficult to pin down what pragmatism generally represents.facing This is because we have no way of defining the ideas of pragmatism in a way that would satisfy all of its proponents. Each pragmatic thinker would conceive of pragmatism in a different way--and would handle the problematic of the movement uniquely.

Many people often take the mental and physical for granted because they don't realize that these are merely nominal concepts that were invented to help solve specific problems. This causes metaphysical and conceptual confusion. Various examples are the "ultimate Being" of Hegelian philosophers, the belief in a "realm of value", the idea that logic, because it is an abstraction from concrete thought, has nothing to do with the act of concrete thinking, and so on.

What does pragmatism mean...to me?

Pragmatism does not represent me. I do not represent pragmatism. I simply proceed from the basic premise that the human capability of theorizing is integral to intelligent practice. Theory and practice are not exclusive properties; rather, theories and distinctions are tools or maps for finding our way in the world. I agree with the principle that, there is no question of theory versus practice but rather of intelligent practice versus uninformed, stupid practice. I'm still wrestling with the notion of intellectualizing practice instead of practicalizing intelligence. Theory is an abstraction from direct experience and ultimately must return to inform experience in turn. Therefore, a thing in an environment is sufficient grounds for pragmatist inquiry.

...and... what about the rabbit hole?

The idealist and realist philosophy tends to present human knowledge as something beyond what can be defined or reconciled to a point where language permits conceptual sharing. These philosophies typically resort to phenomenology or to correspondence theories of knowledge and truth. Unlike some pragmatists, who want to reform philosophy or bring it more in line with the scientific method, I am interested in drawing upon it's potential contrarian approach to help bring order to tangential influcences that affect moral dilema and internal conflict. Thus, I'm inclined to criticize idealism for its a priorism, and realism because it it takes correspondence as an unanalyzable fact. While I might accept that pragmatism could range beyond psychological and biological exploration, I am an opponent of the teleological argument.

I simply appreciate how pragmatism tries to reach between knower and known 'works' in the world. And this affords me the grace of trying to simply "be" instead of "thinking" about "being."

The middle way describes the middle ground between attachment and aversion, between being and non-being, between form and emptiness, between free will and determinism. The more we delve into the middle way the more deeply we come to rest between the play of opposites.

middle way

What is the Middle Way?

In general, this is the Buddhist practice of non-extremism. The Middle Way refers to transcendental ways of approaching seemingly antithetical claims about reality. The Middle Way also presents a path of moderation away from the extremes of indulgence and self-mortification and toward the practice of wisdom, morality and mental cultivation.

If we seek happiness purely through indulgence, we are not free. And if we fight against ourselves and the world we are not free. It is the middle path that brings freedom. This is a universal truth discovered by all those who awaken.

Neither hedonist nor ascetic are to be imitated, for the Noble Eightfold Path weaves its way through life avoiding both these unenlightened lifestyles. The perfection of the Path (that is, the Middle Way), is the ripening of the spiritual life; it becomes a fruit ready to drop into the infinity of enlightenment…forever.

How does the Middle Way affect my journey?

Living the Middle Way can take many different forms but all are ultimately intent on its original and continuous objective: Nirvana. To cultivate a right lifestyle – hand in hand with a mindful meditative practice – is to walk the Middle Way, which gives vision and understanding. We need to see things as they are – rather than as we want them to be. This understanding is the knowledge that in the things of the world there is no salvation or enlightenment.

The Middle Way is the realization that beyond erroneous egos and puffed-up personalities; we are the Buddha.

To truly walk the Middle Way is to traverse this world in the knowledge that we are already enlightened – we just have to enlighten ourselves to the fact! Openly reflecting on the Way is to share with all sentient beings this wondrous hidden truth, helping us to let go a little of our greed, hatred, and delusion, the three poisons that tie us to a life of suffering.

I am more like Nikola Tesla than Albert Einstein. Tesla thought up extraordinary new technologies, but the real test was whether or not those inventions actually worked. Einstein, on the other hand, saw patterns in the outside world and mulled over them until he ‘culled from the herd’ everything but the most internally consistent reasons. Tesla could point to the invention. Einstein had to point to the math.

Like most people, I have a dominant cognitive function -- my mind’s first point of contact and the primary lens through which everything Dark Treegets filtered. My dominant process is technically called Introverted Intuition. Introverted intuition is a learning function (technically called a “perceiving function”), and works by watching one’s own mind form patterns. After years of use, eventually an introverted intuitive begins to see the ‘pattern of the patterns’ and begins to understands that what is happening inside of themselves cognitively is also happening for other people.

Why do you want to know?

For me, there is no such thing as data separate from the person holding that data. That is to say, my perceptions will always color the information I carry and so data is never perfectly ‘clean’. This is why I will frequently counter an inquiry for a piece of data with a question (such as), “Why do you want to know?” I'm not challenging your need to know -- I'm in desperate need of context. The context changes the content, and so if I don’t know why you want to know I can’t produce appropriate data/response.

While, I recognize that this can be most infuriating for some people, you need to know that your concerns in this regard matter very little to me. That said, I can be pressed to deliver without context. In such circumstances; however, the results are on you. I easily wash my hands of your inability or unwillingness to effectively communicate or define requirements. Side note: This is why I very often vet people for their social usefulness, not the data they hold (unless it is the data that makes them useful).

Emotional Intelligence

I can come across as arrogant; however, I urge you to look below the perceptive to the thinking patterns underneath the affectation. For me, there is little to no insecurity about being ‘right’. My ego is not pinned to such a metric. If you don’t agree with me, I may debate with you about it. I may want (for your sake) for you to agree, but ultimately I understand that perception defines reality and you may just be seeing things fundamentally differently. I am comfortable that proof is in outcomes and I know that you/I will come to learn how wrong you/I are when events play out.

That said, I have a well-guarded, secret insecurity. I am surprisingly sensitive and anyone I allow to get close to me can cause great suffering and/or harm. This is my superhero vulnerability. It is very disconcerting for me to know that I am wired to be sensitive without the benefit of commensurate (natural) emotional intelligence. As a result, the arrogant front you may perceive has nothing to do with deflecting being "wrong." Such an outward affectation is specifically intended to deflect against the hurt and pain another person potentially represents. It’s a true wall, an impenetrable domain around my inner psycho-social-sanctum that you may or may not ever be invited into.

That wall was much thicker and impenetrable in my youth. As I crest 50 years, I understand that my personal happiness is directly linked to their willingness to be vulnerable. I am still be protective, but I'm not so nearly closed off universally as I was growing up. Now, I feel I have healthy boundaries which allow special people in, who are the lucky recipients of my extraordinary understanding. 8^)

I feel I have a pretty good conscious relationship with my emotional side. I have a few blind spots, but I would characterize them more as pet-peeves or operative misbehaviors. I am generally very aware of how things are impacting me emotionally, although I admit that I don’t always know what to do about it. Historically, my inappropriate ways of handling deep stress showed up as childlike self-indulgence. I rarely ‘temper tantrum’. I am more likely to get prideful as a first line of defense, and then move on to sulky and mopey. I may get angry, though this will generally be a controlled internalized version of the emotion (unless it is spastically redirected fear, pain, or doubt).

How do I think?

I make decisions based on impersonal, analytical criteria. Consequently, it is functionally critical for me to be intellectually honest (at the very least, with myself). However, since I lead with an intuitive process, I give credence to creative internal thought. It is important to understand that I am not scanning for data that could be ‘wrong’, I am scanning for new patterns that could be ‘right’. For this reason, I must pair my intuitive intuition with a "Co-Pilot of Extraverted Thinking." The only way to truly know if those patterns have merit is if they play out in the ‘outer world’. If they work, fabulous! That was a great new pattern. If they fail, then it’s back to the internal drawing board (or, quite likely, on to other, more stimulating thoughts).

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