Unconscious thought needs no brain to advertise its presence.
Thought brings to light a spark, impulsive waves that create space
and burns their way through time to start the clock of matter.
Living movements are preceded by thought.
All life thinks, as life is thought made manifest in form.
All of nature thinks, as all of nature is ruled by physical laws.
We see it in the movement of the wind,
We see it in the birthing of desire,
We see it in the crackling of a fire.
Even the cosmos is a living, breathing being
that looks endlessly to propagate and create
and sifts through infinity itself to find its better half.
Our self-centered, self-reflecting species has come to believe that we are the only thing that thinks. Despite the fact that plants seek the sun and tendrils wind their way up and down, despite the fact that insects show intelligence and microbes show awareness, our limited definition of thought has hidden the truth of the world from us. We have equated our brains with our intelligence and our nervous system with our thoughts. It has not occurred to us that thought precedes essence, that the spark of thought ignited the entire big bang that we theorized made the universe itself.
All movement is preceded by thought. It is thought that causes movement. Without movement, we can have no space nor time, or existence. We can experience the truth of this statement within our own selves. In order to do something, we must first contemplate and think about it–even if the thought is unconscious thought.
What is thought? We must define the words to be clear:
The word thought comes from Old English þoht, or geþoht, from the stem of þencan “to conceive of in the mind, consider.” [Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of Though.” Online Etymology Dictionary.]
1820, from Greek noesis “intelligence, thought,” from noein “to have mental perception,” from noos “mind, thought.”
late 12c., from Old English gemynd “memory, remembrance, state of being remembered; thought, purpose; conscious mind, intellect, intention,” Proto-Germanic ga-mundiz (cognates: Gothic muns “thought,” munan “to think;” Old Norse minni “mind;” German Minne (archaic) “love,” originally “memory, loving memory”), from PIE root *men- (1) “think, remember, have one’s mind aroused,” with derivatives referring to qualities of mind or states of thought (cognates: Sanskrit matih “thought,” munih “sage, seer;” Greek memona “I yearn,” mania “madness,” mantis “one who divines, prophet, seer;” Latin mens “mind, understanding, reason,” memini “I remember,” mentio “remembrance;” Lithuanian mintis “thought, idea,” Old Church Slavonic mineti “to believe, think,” Russian pamjat “memory”). The meaning of “mental faculty” is mid-14c. “Memory,” one of the oldest senses, now is almost obsolete except in old expressions such as bear in mind, call to mind. Mind’s eye “remembrance” is early 15c. Phrase time out of mind is attested from early 15c. To pay no mind “disregard” is recorded from 1916, American English dialect. To have half a mind to “to have one’s mind half made up to (do something)” is recorded from 1726. Mind-reading is from 1882.
Thought has been linked with the mind since the beginning of language and human communications. Consciousness is also related to the mind, as consciousness is the state of being aware of one’s own existence.
Our physicists envision a singular spot of infinitely dense particles with indescribable temperatures where all particles once congregated in unfathomable density before exploding in the big bang.
Have we failed to comprehend that it was the spark of thought that preceded the observed reality of existence and started the interconnected chains of experience that became our universe?
1. a particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something:
2. the process or fact of personally observing, encountering, or undergoing something:
3. the observing, encountering, or undergoing of things generally as they occur in the course of time:
4. knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed, encountered, or undergone:
5. Philosophy. The totality of the cognitions given by perception; all that is perceived, understood, and remembered.
[The term “prehension” indicates that the perceiver actually incorporates aspects of the perceived thing into itself. The term is meant to indicate a kind of perception that can be conscious or unconscious, applying to people as well as electrons.]
The march of time and space begins with prehensions of attraction and repulsion as elemental waves and particles recognize themselves and react. The reality of our world is not made of fundamental bits of matter that exist independently of one another as many believe. Reality is composed of the intermingled and entangled chains of events that make up experience.
These prehensions are felt in the most elemental of particles and waves. Particles and waves are the palpable recorded experience of thought in different states of energy and organization.
Awareness: the basis of existence
noun: awareness; plural noun: awarenesses
knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.
Awareness precedes perceptions or perceptions would not exist.
In order to have prehensions and conceptions, we must have an awareness that can recognize these senses. We prove this in our own existence. If we did not have both a conscious and an unconscious mind, we would know nothing and be nothing.
noun: perception; plural noun: perceptions
the ability to see, hear or become aware of something through the senses.
It is that original awareness, the primal state, that creates the process of consciousness. If it were not present, there would be no registry or history of existence at all. The process of consciousness is the history of existence. We continually concoct existence out of nothing in every frame of time that we create.
Awareness is the precursor of consciousness. Consciousness is not a thing, but a process of self-objectification that constantly creates the world anew each moment. Through thought, awareness becomes conscious and organizes matter into being.
The state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings. The awareness or perception of something by a person.
plural noun: consciousnesses: The fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world.
noun: feeling; plural noun: feelings
the capacity to experience the sense of touch. The sensation of touching or being touched by a particular thing.
noun: perception; plural noun: perceptions
the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
Perceptions are feelings that have come to consciousness and made self-aware.
The most elementary of things experience the sense of touch. If it did not, it would not react to or be influenced by another object. Without a rudimentary sense of self, an object would never know or be influenced by another. This sense need not be intellectual, but as simple as gravitational attraction and repulsion.
All remembrance is of the mind.
Perceptions are coded into matter with chemical compounds made from elemental particles and waves, then stored, and organized into related conceptions by thought. This is the process of experience.
Thought is the eternal spark that interprets the electrical pulses and links chemical changes.
Actions are organized thoughts made manifest, as thought becomes material by recording temporal changes upon material particles and chemicals. It constantly changes the universe within us and around us.
It is all a part of an eternal process where fundamental awareness creates and projects experience so that the world as we know it might exist and continue in this existential experience.
Existence is a process, not a goal nor an end. The external world is composed of sound and light, mediums that are in essence vibratory. The elements themselves are not solid but composed of matter whose ultimate material nature is also vibratory.
Perhaps in its purest state, virgin awareness is void of experience and thought. That is easy to picture if we try to remember the time before we were born. It is void of space and time and particles and waves. Thought is the spark that creates all matter and all space and all time. All existence began as realized thoughts as the one reflected upon the other and objects were born.
Thought created the history of existence. Realized thoughts actually change the substance of matter. Matter itself is the record of thought having passed through points in space and time and imprinted the record of its passage on particles and elements, creating temporal events that become recorded experiences.
Albert Einstein did not believe in an Abrahamic God but assented to the laws of nature in the way Spinoza had done centuries before. He believed that order, not chaos, was the rule of the universe.
He once said that he did not believe that God played dice with the universe.
“I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.” – Albert Einstein
Einstein also said: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty…We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”
Nature is a puzzling mother. She imbues her children with a strong instinct for survival, but to do so they must prey upon and consume others. We will always fail when we try to embed human morality to the ways of nature. Nature is not human, though humans are a small part of nature. We are not likely to change the fact that big fish eat small fish. “Eat and be eaten” is nature’s decree.
I think that in the long-term we might understand this better from physics and the idea of fusion. Fusion in the Sun creates the light and warmth that bathes the Earth. Fusion is perhaps more than a combination of elements that destroy themselves to create something larger than themselves. Fusion creates the energy needed to make to the universe itself work. Fusion must be an evolutionary process of building from the old to create the new. Fusion likely works its way down to predator and victim. From the consumed elements of another, life is born and maintained, then recycled once again.
Seven years ago I responded to this video about being thankful for our Thanksgiving turkey in a manner not unlike the views held by ancient native peoples who blessed their kill and reverently consumed the flesh. The argument turned into vegan vs non-vegan views but is worth reviewing. I am KHF333 in the below comments.
What no one said but the woman in the video is that the turkey in the video has a purpose. It was raised to be slaughtered and then eaten. That was the purpose of its life. Had that purpose not been there, that turkey would not have lived at all! So is it a blessing for the turkey to experience a life it never would have had? Actually, I think it is.
That is what slave owners used to say to rationalize their procreation and self-serving ends. “A slave’s life is better than no life at all… I prefer this quote from a commenter: “You believe that because we are in some sense responsible for the existence of certain animals, we have the right to treat them as a resource to be exploited (in this case, for their flesh).” Vegans believe that since they would not exist if not for our actions, we are ethically obligated to allow them to continue existing since they prefer life over death. I feel an overwhelming ethical obligation to those individuals that already exist. I feel no ethical obligation to those who will never exist.
Yeah, John, but there is a BIG difference. The commercial turkey is not a born wild bird. It was bred for the food chain. Nor do they have the kind of rationality that humans do, so comparing them with slaves is not a valid comparison. Nature has devised the system of the big fish eating the little fish. I doubt seriously if human compassion can ever turn this around. The vegan will not even eat fish or cheese… out of some incongruous respect for a nature that does not respect them. Nature is out to kill us, you know. It is the way it is. Mammals drink milk when they are infants and eat whatever their generic nature tells them is food.
Intelligence is not a criterion for making a decision about whether a being lives or dies, or it would be fine to consume infants and people in comas. The slave comparison is valid since you were specifically making the argument that serving a purpose to a group that exploits them gives them the reason for being in the world. Animals have their own purpose and right to fulfill their own meaning, and it isn’t for you to decide their ‘worth’.
There is no ‘food chain’ for humans. We decide what we are going to eat. “chain’ suggests a closed-loop system. We are capable of making ethical decisions. That gives us a freedom that most animals do not have. If a capacity for having morality makes the human race special or ‘bigger’ we should be using it to defer harm from innocents. We haven’t done a very good job of proving that we are competent to be considered integral to the earth.
You are just using ‘Nature’ to hide/fit in your actions into a convenient rationalization. Nature does a lot of things that we as humans would never do to others.
By your original statement, perhaps kittens and rabbits get a chance to be in the world because they serve a purpose for some humans-crush entertainment.
We don’t need ‘commercial’ animals to continue to be in the world. It would be just fine when the demand for flesh goes, so do those animal’s production
KHF333 @John Carbonaro
Because grazing animals and animal husbandry take so much space and cause such environmental harm, it may be on the way out of fashion in some areas of the world. As the ultimate predator, humans make most of the decisions about what survives and what does not. There is as much life in a carrot and a potato as there is in a cow and a turkey. To blindly hold ourselves up as more righteous than others because we only kill vegetables seems to me to be the ultimate in self-deception.
John Carbonaro 26 NOV 2010 10:31AM @KHF333 If you think there is as much life in a carrot/potato as a cow or turkey, there is no rational conversation to be had here. Instead of putting on an animal mask and playing ‘ultimate predator’, grow up and be the ultimate person you are capable of. Humans need not be ‘self-righteous’ when it comes to our behaviors towards the nonhuman animals that we share this planet with. There is no cosmic caste system.
KHF333 @John Carbonaro
I have lived a lot more years than you, John. I guarantee that. However, I think vegetarians are fooling themselves about the quality of life in vegetables and grains. Who are you to decide that one thing is more sacred than another? I, like nature before me, do not believe in the sacred or the profane. They are human values only. And all humans will never have the same values.
I wanted to post a response to everyone… we are all life, and we need life to live. Vegan or other. Pick a life force well lived, loved, and nourished to sustain yourself, whether it is animal or vegetable. Reverence for life is ultimately the most important thing in all our choices and how we live, but it all comes down to eating since we must do this to continue living. Hard to sum up a total response to each person, but that is what it is all about it. Life needs life to live. How about that? Choose the best lives you can, and be thankful.
Fake meat is tasty, but can you tell me the resources needed to produce those items are more sustainable for the world than a turkey roaming a pasture? Each turkey (all 23 of them) living their life here is SO much better off than any thanksgiving bird that was served over this supposedly grateful holiday. They aren’t scared out of their minds being hauled away on trucks to a factory slaughterhouse. They die peacefully where they are comfortable at home. Just as many of us would like to die. I think a lot of the fear of facing where meat comes from is based on a fear of our own mortality. So if you could choose a peaceful death at home, you would right? No one will live forever. Our society despises that concept and markets MANY products to you to keep you thinking that way. Life and Death, it is all one big circle we live in.
What we’re doing at LTD Farm is NOT growing a million animals to try to feed the world, we’re raising a few, for a few, making a small dent in animal consumption overall. We’re doing this because it is a way to do it much better than the factory farm setting. We supply our own, and our appreciative, conscious consumers. We are compassionate, sustainable carnivores. Don’t eat meat all the time. Eat it with gratitude and reverence when you do. Appreciate life in all it’s contexts. Be thoughtful about all the life it takes to sustain your own.
“pick a life force”?? “reverence for all life”?? “we need life to live”??
“fear of facing where our meat comes from”? “die peacefully at home”??
All platitudes to support a business that is not necessary at all. You don’t have to pick a factory farm or small farm. Both profit/prosper on unneeded harm to lives.
PLANTS ARE NOT SENTIENT, so there is much less harm than ‘choosing’ factory over small. You grow fewer plants directly feeding humans than feeding plants to animals that become food for humans.
The mindset that says that it is OK to eat animals makes animal ‘farming’ possible-––factory size or small. That is where ‘meat’ comes from. It still amounts to propagating the myth about eating animals and using them ‘nicely”.
You have to make money and you are commodifying ‘love-as-welfare” as much as you are commodifying the lives you needlessly take.
I acknowledge my mortality, that is why I respect a being’s right to live in this world and not have their lives cut short because someone thinks that their flesh is tasty or off on some self-serving, free moral passageway fantasy that we are all ‘one’, that conveniently clouds our ethical responsibility to do no unnecessary harm to others.
Your farm isn’t ‘Living The Dream’… you are exploiting the fantasy.
Without going through the harvesting experience yourself here on the farm it is impossible to really understand what is going on here. Discussions about this topic are very important but ultimately don’t seem to lead anywhere unless we are all open to having our preconceived notions challenged. A theoretical understanding of this issue is good, but the actual process is an entirely different thing. It’s like the difference between planning to build a house and actually building it.
It is possible to give thanks to something that doesn’t respond back, and it is possible that the animals are giving their lives over. We have relationships with the animals so we know them best. Again, to actually be a part of the process is to begin to understand it. If you want to abstain from eating meat that is fine, but that doesn’t stop the millions of people on this planet from eating meat. Every customer who chooses to eat one of our happy and healthy animals as opposed to a terrified, abused and malnourished factory-farmed animal is making a decision to be part of a beautiful food relationship with the plants and animals of our farm as opposed to participating in the horrors of factory farming. We offer an alternative to “mainstream meat”, thus allowing a small fraction of animals on this planet good lives and a respectful end.
John, you obviously have some deep feelings about this and that is a good thing! But we feel that the “exploiting the fantasy” comment is not respectful at all, so we will limit any further responses to you.
To care for and have empathy for all animals is our goal as well. The difference is that we choose to look at them in practical terms as well as idealistic. It used to be that animals were essential to our survival. As we work toward self-sufficiency on the farm, we can clearly see that animals play a large part in our farm organism, and especially here in these northern climates, animals provide essential food for us over the winter months. If we couldn’t ship tomatoes and lettuce, not to mention olive oil and capers, from California, how would we eat sustainably here in Wisconsin? I can tell you how because we already do if you are interested.
We continue to give thanks to the animals on our farm, for their beautiful lives and for the nourishment they provide, and we know they understand in some way.
As we can see from the discussions above, there is no one morality that can fit all. Humans live in all kinds of conditions and form their viewpoints from a vast array of experiences and individual realities. Many of us would prefer to design a universe and nature with a different set of rules if it were possible. We cannot all be sustained by light and water alone, as can some botanical entities. We cannot all be carnivores nor vegans. The instinct for survival, the customs we inherit from our culture, and changing economic realities all play a great part in forming our philosophies of coping, and our personal ethics for dealing with our individual survival. My personal preference is toward the attitudes exhibited in the farm depicted in the video. Others obviously have differing opinions. The one thing honest thing that I have learned is to beware of those who think they have a monopoly on truth and morality, as truth and morality changes with circumstance.
As we can see from the discussions above, people holding different opinions does not imply that they are both right. You are just wrong. No offense, I’m sure you’re a pleasant enough person, but you’re just wrong.
No one ever said life and nature were fair. I am wrong because I am not a vegan? The vast majority of the people in the world are not vegans, They are also wrong? I understand and even sympathize with the vegan feelings of compassion, but the world is not going to make an about-face because of a few. If people change their eating habits is will be because of economic pressures, not moral pressures, because moral arguments are something a farce. What people would do if they knew they would never get caught would truly surprise you.
HITLER? Come now. Find those words in Hitler’s writings or speeches. You cannot. You lie for convenience to make your point. I can understand your wanting to be a vegan. It serves you well. Preaching the vegan gospel is not really your forte. You are not balanced enough for honest debate. Example: Personally, I have a very shortened bowel and cannot digest most vegetables. They run right through me undigested. It gives me a little sustenance. I could not sustain my body that way. By the same token, many vegans are lacking in necessary nutrients. You have to be very careful when you do not eat meat, as humans have developed a system that relies on animal and fish nutrients.
So nothing is as simple as you seem to want to make it. You are not superior to others because of that you eat, nor is your morality of a higher caliber. You are, however, right that the farming of animals is not good for the earth on the massive scale that presently exists. But then, nature has not exterminated humans in mass yet. A 100,000 years ago humans almost went extinct. If we pull nature out of balance, it surely will happen again
Actually, that is a good article. I read it. It said nothing about Hitler. It is about moral relativism and makes some good points. However, moral absolutism absolutely has to fail. It cannot be a correct position since it does not allow for change and learning. That only leaves us with relativism. Like existence and spacetime itself, there is an inherent contradiction when all things are relative. Yet, this is the way it is. We must learn to swim in that ocean and still have strong enough beliefs and values to hold a culture together.
Meet James McWilliams, meat-industry defender—and aggrieved vegan?
The problem with the vegan moralistic argument is that there is no universally standard moral code. People do what they must to survive, including cannibalism if necessary. If the world adopts a vegan diet it will be due to economic necessity and not a moral choice. If all life is all sacred, then so are germs and bugs and vegetables and wildlife as well as farmed animals. One cannot even breathe in the air without killing and consuming something. The idea that there are levels of killing that are acceptable because these life forms are not capable of reasoning or moral choice is quite laughable. Only humans make these choices, and humans can run up against some pretty hard times when the only thing they have to eat is their own kind.
While that’s true, I know few vegans who labor under the illusion that it is possible to cause *no* suffering. Rather, they seek to reduce the suffering they cause to the greatest extent possible. Of course, the degree to which we can avoid causing suffering depends on circumstances (what philosophers call “moral luck”). A starving person has fewer options than the average middle-class Westerner. As you mentioned, there are some circumstances in which cannibalism is morally defensible. That doesn’t mean we should feel free to indulge in it in normal times. Relative morality is not necessarily meaningless.
As for McWilliams, perhaps he is going on some sort of Marxist “let the state destroy itself” crusade? More people are likely to find factory farming repugnant than small farms, so let’s eliminate the small farms so that people turn away from meat altogether?
I don’t know any vegans who assume the world will magically go vegan, we as a community are focused on outreach, on changing culture, only through this can our goals be achieved. There are schisms within the community itself, just look at vegetarian vs vegan infighting, or vegans sparring over honey, it’s a complicated, multifaceted world we live in, and none of the vegan people I know are naive enough not to acknowledge that.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have a moral responsibility to cease doing things we feel are wrong. My morality isn’t based on anything handed down, it was objectively derived from rational awareness of life, suffering, and the consequences of my actions. I believe all morality can be deduced rationally, and any morals that are not based on rational self-awareness are just fragments of ancient superstition handed down by those who seek to control others. Thus, I reject all morality but that which is most basic, do no harm, take nothing that is not yours.
But hey, I’m a far leftist with a penchant for Ayn Rand, so you’re gonna get some weird philosophy out of me ;).
“Moral luck.” That’s a good one. I cannot say I have heard that before, but it is exactly what I was talking about. I don’t think most people really like the factory farm process… even those who work them. The small farm is a little better. The hunter is even closer to the kill. I do respect vegetarians, but, unfortunately, I cannot digest too many vegetables. The vegan philosophy, however, seems totally out of sync with the natural way of things to me. I cannot imagine a diet without cheese and fish. Nor do I understand what the objection to milk products could possibly be when we mammals are born to drink milk.
Mammals are born to drink milk—the milk provided by their mother. Is dog milk, pig milk, cat milk, or horse milk a natural part of our diet? Most of us would be a bit disgusted by that prospect and it would be difficult to convince them that drinking it was essential for their health. Not so with cow’s milk. Believe me, for many Asian people not raised to drink cow’s milk, the prospect is just as revolting. In short, drinking another species’ milk is more cultural than it is natural.
Many would find adults drinking human milk disgusting as well. Goat milk is regularly used by humans as well as cow milk. Cultural? Probably, but you have to stretch a point to call it disgusting. And these products make other fine foods and are ingredients in many nutritional products. It might be bad for those with lactose intolerance, but it is quite a stretch to label these products ‘unethical’ or unfit to eat. It has been human nature to keep milk cows or goats for their milk for hundreds of thousands of years. Suddenly, vegans know better? I think not. I prefer cat milk myself.
I don’t wish to enter a long debate with you about the ethics of veganism. You either get it or you don’t.
That being said, I could defend quite a few unsavory acts (like war, rape, oppression, and slavery) by claiming that they have been part of human heritage for hundreds of thousands of years. I could even claim that they have some beneficial utility to the species. However, I don’t let ancient history determine my personal ethics. That seems like it would be an abdication of personal responsibility—and quite frankly, an excuse.
I know that change is unsettling to many people—especially when it involves broadening our definition of who is worthy of “rights.” However, the reality is that many people are living perfectly happy, healthy lives, from birth to death, as vegans and vegetarians. In doing so, they are making the world a more peaceful place.
You’ve attempted to discount veganism because you feel threatened by it. You even seem to be implying that eating meat is a matter of your own survival—likening it to cannibalism in dire scenarios. Killing sentient, intelligent individuals because I like the taste of their flesh isn’t necessary for my survival, so I choose not to.
Good reply. But I am certainly not threatened by vegan ideas, I just do not agree with them. I have never abdicated what I consider my personal responsibility. However, I think burying good human meat could someday be considered a great waste of human resources. I am not about to eat my brother, but I am sure he would taste great if I did. What I do not GET with vegans are the fish and milk and egg taboos. It seems like right-to life-fanatics arguing about being human at the moment of conception and gets in the way of REAL reform of animal husbandry, which we all agree really sucks. Even the term animal husbandry is a sexist idea leftover from ownership of the female. Most people have a VERY LONG WAY to go philosophically before they can grapple with such issues.
I agree with your assessment of “animal husbandry” and wonder what solutions you, as a meat-eater, envision. I’m not trying to bait you; I think ANY progress in this arena is a GOOD idea. My point below about people who eat lamb should switch to puppies was intended to provoke discussion about the cultural decisions concerning what gets eaten as well. Just a point of information, though—all vegetarians eschew the eating of all “meat” which includes fish. Think of it as anything with a face. Vegans avoid eating animal products, such as eggs, dairy, honey, etc.
I am glad there are vegans. It leaves all the more for me. ; )
I think most people understand vegetarianism. The vegans, though, have turned their diet into a religion. The result is that, as a religion, the vegan message has become like any other traditional religion based on half-truths, legends, and unproven beliefs. Vegans are true believers and their beliefs are no more true than any other set of beliefs. Vegans seem to consider themselves more moral with a higher calling that the rest of the world, which alienates 99.9% of the population immediately. Their spokespersons sound a bit like Scientology recruiters. They have failed to convince because they come across as believing themselves to be superior. Most people do not like that.
To most people, not eating honey, fish, eggs, and animal products simply because they believe it to be immoral is truly hilarious and somewhat pitiful. These vegan ideas tend to take man OUT of nature instead of making man a part of nature. It is a separative philosophy instead of an inclusive one.
Humans have destroyed so many predators that it is necessary for our institutions to regulate hunting in order to cull animals and prevent overpopulation. Humans have taken a place at the top of the food chain and thus bears a moral responsibility for the welfare of those life forms that he has displaced. In upsetting the balance of nature, it is our humanistic duty to restore that balance. Most people can agree with this kind of thought and attitude. Most people can accept the native American model of thankfulness to the tree for its shade and its wood for building and heat. This then becomes thankfulness and additional regulative and more humane spiritual care for those species raised by us for food or whose byproducts are used for human purposes. I think that is as much cooperation as a vegan is going to get from the world any time soon.
“These vegan ideas tend to take man OUT of nature instead of making man a part of nature. It is a separative philosophy instead of an inclusive one.”
This is flawed logic, either there is morality, or there is not. Everyone can choose their own morals, but if you’re arguing laws of nature then might makes right and there is no right and wrong. Animals don’t trade, most don’t help the weakest amongst themselves, they don’t ask for consent to sexual conduct, they don’t have the foresight to see when they are over-consuming their food sources. Should we so limit ourselves because these behaviors are common?
If, on the other hand, you believe in some form of morality, then you are operating on an inherently judgmental framework. If you believe human lives are worthy of protection and not animals, isn’t it you who thinks you are superior? In my view, I would not treat any creature differently than my own family, as you cannot make suffering relative. Does that mean I have no impact? Of course not, the world is a chaotic place, as a Christian would say, no man is free from sin, but that doesn’t make the moral framework invalid.
You are creating a strawman of veganism, particularly since most of the vegans I know object to the fact that buying milk and eggs contributes to the suffering and death of animals because our food system now is cruel to even those creatures who aren’t being consumed for meat. In reality, there isn’t much of a difference between the life of a chicken raised for meat and a chicken who lays eggs on a factory farm. The cows who provide much of the milk in America are just as mistreated as the ones that go to the slaughter. The only way to stop these practices is to stop funding them, if you pay someone for a product that was created unethically, the unethical behavior is your behavior.
I was a vegetarian for a long time before I became a vegan, and the only reason I was able to maintain that behavior was I was by lying to myself about the conditions animals are kept in.
I understand and somewhat sympathize with that you say above. But you are still spouting the religion of veganism. Your beliefs and lifestyle are only made possible because you live in a time of plenty and a country blessed with enough to eat. You assume ALL animals suffer and are mistreated, which is not really the case. Do you really think the wild bird has an easier and happier time than the well-treated domestics? Granted, there are bad farmers, but proper regulations and better technology could solve that problem.
You say either there is morality or there is not. This is not so. There are gradual levels in anything in nature. If this were true, then my answer would be that there is no morality, as it is a but a frail human conception, and humans are newcomers in the universe. But there are layers and levels in anything natural. There is at least the rudiments of human morality in the purpose that brings people to shore and the whale and the elephant.
Instead of not eating eggs and honey you could have chosen to be a humane beekeeper or raise your own chickens in a ‘moral’ manner.
But that is not what you are actually objecting to, is it. You believe that keeping any animal is enslavement, yet their natural life in the wild and untamed world is so much harder and brutal that your values make very little real sense.
You’re actually wrong, I am in the process of founding a community garden and one of the first things I want to do is establish an apiary. I am completely in favor of beekeeping (I eat honey, there is much disagreement about this in the vegan community), and when I move out of an apartment, I plan to have a chicken coop. I may not be able to call myself a vegan after that (I guess? Maybe I still will), the issue is that regulation right now is controlled by agencies dominated by industry insiders who care more about protecting the status quo. That is why I took myself out of participating in the industry. Even the term free-range has a legalistic definition that has a huge range of implementations. The lack of transparency is a huge problem. As well, chicken waste in my state has caused massive environmental problems in the Chesapeake Bay, so participating has other externalities I don’t agree with as well.
Veganism isn’t black and white, and I have a “religion” or at least a belief system that is related to, but external from my dietary habits. I certainly agree that animals exhibit remarkable traits that include compassion, but that doesn’t make the law of nature argument more valid, animals engage in behavior humans would not, we should judge ourselves based on human standards. Morality is by nature, a human-created concept, but I don’t think everyone has to follow my moral system. I certainly don’t think it’s my business to tell you what to do.
I especially agree that our system has gone off the rails, but I think there are better ways to get it back on track than denying yourself the foods that nature fully intended for you to eat. This self-denial works for some, I am sure––like Gandhi’s tactics worked for India.
After the big egg recall, California is developing much more humane and sanitary egg production. I will believe these animals raised especially for human purposes and use would not have existed without human carnivores and could easily live better lives than their wild counterparts with humane regulation and control.
I have very much enjoyed talking to vegans about their ideas, but I have a MAJOR suggestion. What has been described here is a strong moral repulsion to the way animals are raised and treated, enough to change their diets to express their non-support of that system. What this really amounts to is something we have already been through as a society. Vegans are following, perhaps unknowingly, the hippie age “TUNE IN, TURN ON, DROP OUT” ideas.
Those techniques did not really work then and they will not work now.
That hippie generation actually did affect world change, but only after they dropped the anti-society game and began to change the world from the inside. That is what needs to be done now. On local, state, and federal levels we have to regulate and change the corporate food production system. We have to demand humane treatment for animals and have inspectors with some teeth. We need better laws. We have to buy and produce food locally.
We can start very locally and get an interest in humane conditions brewing in our cities and counties and states. Changing the diet ONLY is the equivalent of ‘dropping out’. One can never effect injustice by dropping out of the game. Go ahead, be a vegan if you really believe that is the way to go, but you will not affect change for those animals you seek to protect by ignoring them completely as you are doing now. The change will come as a result of getting rid of the inhumane conditions that feed the majority of the world, whether or not one eats meat or eggs.
Remember, not enough people will ever change their diet to effect real-world change, so vegans––unless they are especially active politically––will not improve these conditions because they will never have the numbers to do so. They are simply contributing to the problem by dropping out of the race.
It is sound that causes a bang. Sound needs something through which to travel to be heard. There is no sound in the vacuum of space. Sound also needs a sense of hearing. Since none of these things were present for the Big Bang, we have to conclude that the Big Bang had no sound at all. It was neither a bang nor was it big.
The reason it was not big is simple. The Big Bang would have been everywhere because that is all that existed. The singularity from which it came was supposedly an infinitely dense single-dimensional point. Being unstable, we are told, it exploded violently.
Despite the anthropic descriptions we hear about universal theories, the appearance of infinite energy instantly occurred, without a sense of time, without a sense of space. The place it occurred had to be everywhere as that was all there was. Before that, no universe existed.
Existence is a strange and heady subject. To exist means to have objective reality or being, an actual being; it means being present in a particular situation or place. The word ‘exist’ was not even coined until the 17th-century and was likely an abbreviation of existence.
But if no universe existed before the Big Bang, then what was there? What was in its place when there was no place? Nothing? But nothing cannot exist because it has no being. The ‘it’ we seek cannot be anything.
Whatever it was, it did not exist because without objects it had no objective reality. An observer and an object for the observer to perceive is essential to objective reality. No thing can be present in a particular space or time without an object and an interaction [observer].
With no time or space into which a reality could be actuated, space would need to be created instantaneously for energy to have a place to go when it was released. The Big Bang explanation posits the expansion of the universe from a singular point. Space came into being as radiating objects that found dimensions to inhabit. Time came into being as these objects expanded outward in all directions, becoming vibrating strings that created virtual fields and brought to the observer a sense of duration in time.
And what of this observer?
What is the qualia of the observer? Observers are generally thought of as being people, but they can also be a system built from awareness. An observer is a person or a system that observes.
The quality essential for observation is awareness.
Awareness must actually precede observation as awareness needs to be present for an observation to be recorded. Awareness comes before time, comes before space, comes before the universe, and comes before existence. Awareness without objects is similar to that proposed singularity from whence the universe sprang. It is present before anything is actualized into being is present without time and space as an eternal and infinite zero-point dimension from which the dreamscape of reality is constructed. All things are made manifest within eternal awareness, the essential foundation of all things.
I posit that all things are awareness in its myriads of localized forms. All things are formed and made of the eternal and non-material awareness which has always been present in the eternal now.
The one-dimensional point is where awareness identifies itself and gives birth to space by releasing universal fields where simultaneous events can occur—abstract fields of possibility. Actuality can be built, piece by piece, as awareness actuates universal mental conceptions that become the scope of our reality.
Assuming the Big Bang occurred, that which was initially released by the Big Bang would be an unformed virtual energy. Radiated energy is measured by the frequency of its vibrational waveforms. Virtual energy has no vibrational components, the first step to physical actuality.
Dimensional realities occur when the infinite becomes finite. When a dimensional limitation is placed upon virtual energy, vibrational fields are created. Because this occurs in the first-dimension, beyond and before space and time, mathematical patterns are created which nature can later emulate. These patterns last and sometimes repeat through eternity. They are precursors to the sense of time.
When virtual radiation slows to a vibrational state, a sense of time and duration is created. Since this radiation is awareness—as all things are composed of awareness in one of its many forms—the observing system can identify the frequency of these vibrations as an entity of substance. Awareness becomes aware of its own being, awakens from its great sleep, dreams of its own experience, and posits its own being into conceptual existence. Only then can nature begin the evolutionary process of universe building.
Seen from an infinite point, there is no time nor space in the lower first and second-dimensions. Everything existent is a part of an eternal now. Awareness, formed of its own being, creates time and space in localized pockets of consciousness. These local entities become networks that communicate and stores the information gleaned from observations.
Virtual radiation transforms into increasingly complex forms of light energy—like photons and cosmic rays—which vibrate in diverse patterns and frequencies as new dimensions are added to the primordial soup. The information recorded is encoded to become physical actualities.
Before spin and mass comes to exist, bosons—which have little or no spin and mass—crystalizes into the elemental hydrogen and helium as they pass through a universal Higgs field created by the timeless second-dimension which adds the spin and mass and begins the processes that form the great clouds of dense gases which fills the primitive universe. New dimensional senses evolve and come into existence. All the while, this new universe remains connected to the eternal awareness from which it was formed. Each new sense creates a different dimensional reality and adds additional limitations upon this eternal awareness.
We know nothing of these natural processes at the time of our birth. Our personal selves are a very tiny part of the unconscious and conscious processes that awareness develops. Our growth as a person follows the hereditary patterns laid out in our DNA. We are not conscious of the awareness behind our appearance in the universe. This awareness precedes consciousness and is lost in the misty visions of our personal identities. Our lives are similar to coming into the world in the middle of a motion picture we have never seen, except that we write the plot though our own free choices with the help and the hindrances of all the other playwrights that come to influence us.
We expand and extend our universe through consciousness. It is not that distant galaxies and black holes have no a priori existence of their own. They have an existence outside ourselves. The moon is present whether we see it or not. Our consciousness is like a moving snapshot of a moment in the now, different for everyone and every thing.
Nature obviously has its own thoughts and ideas. Most of our own brilliant inventions are derived from observing nature in action. A simple walking through the fall landscape can bring us face-to-face with the brilliance of nature’s thoughts if we take the time to notice them.
Milkweed is the only food of the caterpillar for Monarch butterflies. It is an important source of nectar for bees and wasps and butterflies alike. How they propagate is not only worthy of our attention, but could be an essential clue to understanding the mind of nature itself.
The little brown seeds are enmeshed in light filaments of silky white hairs called coma that blow away in the wind to disperse and propagate new generations of the milkweed family.
Such revolutionary method for propagation has to develop from an idea in the mind of nature. Somehow, a genetic blueprint for this form of reproduction is developed and slowly revised over time. Due to the complexity of the parts of the plants involved, it makes sense to think of this natural process as an idea that is carefully nurtured and carried out by some natural thought pattern that regulates and develops the botanical universe. The common dandelion has a similar method of asexual reproductions the flowers turn to spore The offspring that grow from this method are genetically identical to the parent plant.
This milkweed floss is hollow and coated with wax, making very good for insulation properties.During World War II, milkweed floss was collected as a substitute for kapok. The milk in the milkweed contains 1 to 2% latex, but has not been widely used as a source for rubber of paint because other sources are more prevalent. The fibers are used to clean u oil spills. (Milkweed touted as oil-spill super-sucker — with butterfly benefits”. cbc.ca. 2 December 2014.)
Milkweed in the Asciepias species is the only food for the caterpillar of the Monarch butterfly. Preserving and growing milkweed is essential for the continuation of this beautiful insect.
Some years back, I believed that people grew old and died because they became ill and their bodies deteriorated. As I age myself, I wonder if that is so. Could it be that people pass on because the world about them changes so much that they no longer feel attached to it? Can a person evolve to the point where withdrawing from the world seems the best logical choice? Does this changing of the world about us affect our consciousness and then our health? Does life culminate in the desire to no longer desire? Is death the natural end because we lose the desire and will to persist? Or is the will to persist yanked from us despite our rage against the darkness of the unknown night.
What is true for one might not be true for another. The sheer variety of humanity and the vast complexity of nature creates a different world for each entity that lives within it.
Inequality is everywhere because inequality is essential for movement. Inequality is gravity. It is that weak force that binds things together, feet to the earth and planets to the stars, friends to friends.
Each individual life is a cosmos unto itself.
As a young man, I easily saw the truth in the unity of all being but saw also that the world is a game of one-upsmanship. People compete to produce winners and losers. The world around us is stratified, socially and economically.
Social inequality is a constant, but nature demands a balance for stability. The highs must not be too high and the lows must not be too low. When things are too far out of balance, they explode and gravity is overcome.
Gravity is the result of inequality. When things are equal, there is no push nor pull.
Each side of the equation is different, but the equality creates the balance.
For most of us living on Earth, there is nothing as fine as the era in time in which we now live. How could this not be so, when this time is all we have? Are we not practical? We cannot live in another era.
Yet, eras change, and change brings new actors to the stage, new athletes to the field. Soon enough, we barely know the rules of the game because it has changed so much.
We spend our lives speaking our lines and doing our work. We seek what makes us feel good—through pleasures, work, pastimes, and relationships. It becomes the driving factor that motivates and moves us.
It is movement that produces the gravity that keeps us centered enough to survive. We—like our Earth, our Sun, and our Galaxy—must evolve and revolve as we orbit around something much bigger than us. Heinlein wrote: “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” Love is one of the gravitational anchors that hold us in place.
Health does get worse with time and wear. Physical strength does deteriorate. Passion itself takes a tumble with age. We know this is so. Yet, our fast-changing world can become so unfamiliar that we can easily become those Strangers in a Strange Land that we heard or read about years ago.
Heinlein’s character said: “Thinking doesn’t pay. It just makes you discontented with what you see around you.” Time passes and consciousness is overloaded with evaluations and judgments made by past choices. It becomes harder to distinguish the winner from the loser when you know each all too well. We can become confused or dismayed about the directions our society and nations are going.
“Thou art god, I am god. All that groks is god,” Heinlein wrote.
Grok may be the only English word that is derived from a fictional Martian language. “Grok” was introduced in Robert A. Heinlein’s 1961 science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land. It means to understand fully and intuitively with empathy of intuition. It is hard to grow old and not see the reality of these observations. “Random chance is not a sufficient explanation of the Universe—in fact, random chance is not sufficient to explain random chance; the pot cannot hold itself.”
Everything living has a blind instinct to survive built into its system.
“The only religious opinion I feel sure of is this: self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together.”
Osprey nest at Barr Lake Nature Preserve, Brighton, Colorado (6/4/2017)
This platform has been constructed for the pair to nest and reproduce in the safety of a world famous wildlife habitat at Barr Lake, Colorado. This year (2017), two chicks are in the nest.
Osprey nests are built of sticks and lined with bark, sod, grasses, vines, algae, or flotsam and jetsam. The male usually fetches most of the nesting material—sometimes breaking dead sticks off nearby trees as he flies past—and the female arranges it. Nests on artificial platforms, especially in a pair’s first season, are relatively small—less than 2.5 feet in diameter and 3–6 inches deep. After generations of adding to the nest year after year, Ospreys can end up with nests 10–13 feet deep and 3–6 feet in diameter—easily big enough for a human to sit in.
Ospreys are superb fishers and eat little else. Fish make up 99 percent of their diet. These birds are nearly always near ponds, rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways around the entire world, except for Antarctica.
The osprey is one of the most widespread birds of prey and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Because of its raptor look and eagle-like appearance, they are also called sea eagles, river hawks, fish hawks, sea hawks.
An Osprey may log more than 160,000 migration miles during its 15-to-20-year lifetime. Scientists track Ospreys by strapping lightweight satellite transmitters to the birds’ backs. The devices pinpoint an Osprey’s location to within a few hundred yards and last for 2-3 years. During 13 days in 2008, one Osprey flew 2,700 miles—from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to French Guiana, South America.
Ospreys are unusual among hawks in possessing a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp with two toes in front and two behind. Barbed pads on the soles of the birds’ feet help them grip slippery fish. When flying with prey, an Osprey lines up its catch head first for less wind resistance.
Ospreys are excellent anglers. Over several studies, Ospreys caught fish on at least 1 in every 4 dives, with success rates sometimes as high as 70 percent. The average time they spent hunting before making a catch was about 12 minutes—something to think about next time you throw your line in the water.
The Osprey readily builds its nest on manmade structures, such as telephone poles, channel markers, duck blinds, and nest platforms designed especially for it. Such platforms have become an important tool in reestablishing Ospreys in areas where they had disappeared. In some areas nests are placed almost exclusively on artificial structures.
Osprey eggs do not hatch all at once. Rather, the first chick emerges up to five days before the last one. The older hatchling dominates its younger siblings, and can monopolize the food brought by the parents. If food is abundant, chicks share meals in relative harmony; in times of scarcity, younger ones may starve to death.
The name “Osprey” made its first appearance around 1460, via the Medieval Latin phrase for “bird of prey” (avis prede). Some wordsmiths trace the name even further back, to the Latin for “bone-breaker”—ossifragus.
The oldest known Osprey was at least 25 years, 2 months old, and lived in Virginia. It was banded in 1973, and found in 1998.
I love Cormorants. They are regal, fearsome, imposing, and photogenic. Cormorants are found all over the world except in the Central Pacific. Their ancestors were here in the times of the dinosaurs. For millions of years, they have inhabited the shores.
This is a Double-Breasted Cormorant at Berkley Lake, Lakeside, Colorado. He sat for hours on a floating white ball, then found a stump to rest on. I had to go back for the telephoto lens and he was still there an hour later. As soon as I took the picture, he flew away.
Cormorants almost walk across the water to take off.
This is a closeup of the Double-Breasted Cormorant from the Audubon Society.
DRAMATIC BIRD SHOTS
Earlier in the year, I released some pictures of dramatic shots with cormorants.
Pity the poor cormorant. There’s scarcely a bird in the world as unfairly maligned, deemed the world over as a bad seed due to its ungainly proportions and reportedly insatiable appetite for baitfish. But this awkward family is of an ancient lineage, one of the oldest of all the birds and with similar ancestors reaching all the way back to the dinosaurs. The form is a classic one – long-billed, web-footed, and waterborne – and shared in some sense with the order of birds the cormorants, and their sister taxa the darters, lie within, the newly resurrected Suliformes. That group consists of the two families treated here, along with the boobies, frigatebirds, and tropicbirds, all highly aerial marine species. The comparatively aquatic and frequently freshwater cormorants and darters are outliers, both in habitat preferences and panache, but we’re all about the underdogs here. Let’s take the two families together, and then separately.
Reed Cormorant, Kenya, by David Ringer
Both cormorant and darters are superb swimmers, specializing in pursuing fish underwater before returning to the surface where they sit, characteristically quite low in the water, and swallow them head-first. Both families use their feet for propulsion, and as such those appendages are uniquely webbed across all four toes, effectively broadening the surface area they use to propel themselves. It’s a trait they share with the other Sulids, as well as the pelicans.
Flightless Cormorant, Galapagos, by Scott Winton
Cormorants and darters are long-bodied and that, paired with feet at the far end of their bodies, makes them awkward when out of the water. Though powerful flyers, they’re rather ungainly when taking off from the surface. On land we see the most famous of cormorant behaviors. Sitting atop a cliff face or piece of flotsam following a fishing outing, they’ll spread their wings wide to dry. It’s suggested that this is because they lack the oils found in other birds to waterproof their feathers, but that’s not true. Waterproofing is an innate characteristic of feathers due to their physical structure. No extra oil is required. But both cormorants and, in particular, darters are unique in having feathers that are less naturally water-resistant than other birds, an adaptation that enables them to forage underwater more easily. However, this necessitates regular time out of the water to dry sodden feathers and regulate body temperature; the time spent in that classic crucificial position.
Anhinga, Brunswick Co, NC, by Nate Swick
CORMORANTS AND SHAGS (PHALACROCORACIDAE)
Taxonomically, a cormorant and a shag is a distinction without a difference. The family Phalacrocoracidae consists of 40-odd species with a worldwide distribution and, despite the common name, all of them currently reside in the genus Phalacrocorax according to most taxonomic resources. That universal cormorant Latin epithet roughly translates to “bald raven”, a reference not to the lack of feathers on what is generally a crested head, but to the large white cheek patch on the face of the prototypical cormorant. The bird is known in North America as Great Cormorant, but in Europe as the definitive article. This unoriginal concept of naming every big black bird some sort of raven – itself the original big, blackbird – informed the common name too, as “Cormorant” is a contraction of the Latin corvus marinus, or “sea raven”.
Great Cormorants, Spain, by James Meehan
Shags on the other hand, while being hilarious to our non-birding anglophile friends, don’t appear to be taxonomically distinct, and the term is generally used to describe only the smaller, stubbier-billed, cormorants. Shags do, however, typically have a jaunty tuft of feathers on the head, or at least the original shag, Eurasian Shag, does, which differentiates it from the plainer original cormorant.
Phalacrocorids range in size from the aforementioned Great Cormorant to the dainty Pygmy Cormorant of southern Europe. While most cormorants are humbly attired in nappy black, several species, particularly in the southern hemisphere, are real stunners with varying shades of white and steely gray and colorful feet and faces. Chile and Argentina seem to harbor the classiest looking corms, and the Imperial Shag and Red-legged Cormorant are as beautiful as anything you’re going to find in the tropics.
The long-tailed, slim-necked darters are among the most specialized of an order full of specialization. While cormorants have hooked bills for snatching fish out of the water, darters are true anglers. They use their spear-like beaks to impale their prey, requiring them to perform an elaborate, learned, maneuver to toss the fish from beak to throat. The four species are often referred to collectively as “Snakebirds” for their penchant for swimming submerged but for their slender neck and head above the water’s surface looking for all the world like a tropical serpent.
Anhinga, Florida, by Nate Swick
The name Anhinga, from which the genus and family are derived, comes to us from the indigenous Amazonian Tupi people, who called them ajínja, which literally translates to ”little head”. The Tupi apparently had a real problem with their disproportionate dimensions because they considered the homely Anhinga, the New World version of the global family, to be an evil spirit and called it “devil bird”. An unfortunate characterization, but not completely undeserved as the birds look no small bit malevolent as they swim with the body completely submerged save for that long neck, tiny head, and dagger bill.
For the bird’s sake, though, it’s a good thing we know better.