Calculus of Torment

A notion raised in the writings of Wilber is the calculus of torment.  The calculus of torment is based on the notion of the Absolute/relative truths.  Namely that the world is nothing but one perception-without-a-perceiver (from the awakened state only).  And we have to make choices as individual instantiations, communal networks, and the rest within that Oneness.  You can’t go on a killing spree in other words because all is one and everything is self-liberated.

Therefore, every decision to be made involves life and death in degrees.  Every decision no matter how good is never perfect and will cause suffering and pain.  Will also be choices away from others–given limitation–thereby allowing more pain and suffering in other contexts to continue.

You could like Arjuna fight after Krishna’s comment and then go on to become a woman and temple dancer and just dance for beauty in the face of this God-awful planetary existence.  I don’t have the best rhythm though so I don’t qualify.

Otherwise you stay forever in the battle and every decision is a calculus of torment.

A concrete example.

The US House votes to give a medal to the Dali Lama.  Was this wise?  Morally?  Politically?

The Free-Tibet crowd of course lauds the move.  A (US) National Reviewer supports as well.

The Chinese Han occupation of the Tibetans is illegal and immoral.  But what is going to be done about it?  Pull out of the Olympics (I’m sure the Communist Party is shaking in its boots on that one).  Invade?  That’s not going to happen.  Miracles aside, there is no political opening it appears for the Tibetans in the foreseeable future.

The Chinese have learned a lesson from the Soviets–you have to give people comfort and material excess to keep them politically cowed.  China does have massive unease and conflagration/protests brewing in the countryside, so who knows.  But tough to see how that frees Tibet.

A thought experiment.  China becomes so enraged by the US House decision that it stops the positive work it has been doing backdoor on North Korean de-nuclearization.  China is the only one with leverage on the North Korean asylum state.  They alone hold the cards that could normalize North Korea and bring millions who are starving there back to even a possibility of a semblance of health.

Calculate that torment in other words.  Was the Medal worth it then?  China already is not doing enough on Burma.  They were being shamed and possibly inching towards a different stance than backing the dictators.  Think they will be obliging now?  What about on Iran?

I’m not picking sides, I just think this is a good example, concretely, of what otherwise seems like some airy fairy intellectualized term.

Embrace the torment.

Otherwise for me, the decisions and the points of view expressed, lack guts.  Not in a sense of courage.  But in the sense of a viscera, blood.  Otherwise the decisions we promote our stripped from a context of infinite suffering and our own spiritual, moral, and political participation in that immensity.  A view becomes an ideology, one that is freely expressed without regard for the infinity of connections and micro and cross-connections that any choice is.

Everything involves everything else.  Do not be told otherwise, from whatever point of view.

Published in: on October 18, 2007 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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