The Important Stuff

Drawing by Helen Webster

Hopefully will always be under construction.

The occasion of my 50th birthday, and a review of the contents of this Web page, led me to record a bit of what I consider my world view as it is now. This is not a formal exposition of philosophical system, but a collection of ideas, values, and influences that constitute what I consciously perceive as the core of my being. These may be summarized as revolving around the ideas of Quakerism, cybernetics, and Taoism. I was also very much influenced in growing up by the thinking of Gerald Heard.

 I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends , (Quakers) largely as a result of attending a Friend's boarding school and a Friend's college (Earlham). Friends don't have a creed, but the one thing that unites them is the belief that there is that of God in every one. I tend to avoid the use of the word God (see below), but this statement of belief conveys something about how I feel fellow human beings should be approached. The Hindus greet each other with the "Namasta," which means, "I salute the god within you." Pacifism and non-violence follow from this, as does the tradition of silent worship.

 Most folks don't know what cybernetics means, and there are a lot of different definitions around. My own brand is the sort of stuff that we do in the American Society for Cybernetics - study circular systems, not only those that are self-regulating (thermostats, the thyroid-pituitary axis) , but also those that are self- generating (conscious human beings). I continue to study the works of Gregory Bateson, attempting the grasp the Tao that cannot be spoken -- his concept of an ecology of mind, its sacred unity with nature.

 My Taoism is of a rather minimalist sort. I start, and pretty much end with, the notion that only the experience of NOW exists, that all else is a construction (a cybernetic concept), either individual, as in perception, or social, as in consensual agreements about what will be accepted as reality. The externals usually associated with Taoism such as the I Ching, and acupuncture, are trivial compared to an understanding of the Tao.


Iteration I: God is dead. He was murdered--set up by priests and Sunday school teachers to be pushed by the Inquiring Mind in front of a speeding truck called Science.

Iteration II: Most people cannot do any sort of job of defining God. When defined, mostly I ain't experienced it. Universe, however, is a notion I understand, and has all the wonder, might, and mystery that I need.

Iteration III: God is an attitude. This gets around a lot of problems that crop up when God is conceived of as a thing or a person. This God can be real. Just like there is a spirit of '76 or a spirit of Earlham College or a spirit of Christmas, there can be a spirit of God. Whenever we place ourselves into that attitude which acknowledges ourselves a part of a larger system that includes all of Universe, we are in the spirit of God. This creates other problems for some folks. It means that WE create the spirit of God. I do not have a problem with this, since we generate "Objective Reality."


I have worked on this, sometimes pretty hard. I get a bit of a buzz, but no sense of transcendence. That only happened on LSD. Only two or three trips, but I have never forgotten them.

Objective Reality

It might exist, but there is no point talking about it. You and I only have our experience to discuss.


I don't trust politicians of any stripe. Ideologies are blinders deciding what the believer will not see. Real problems must be solved at the local level, where humans generating the solutions interact directly with those who are the subjects and purveyors of the solutions.


A nonproblem. Mind is not confined to individual consciousness, and is in fact a social construct.


Moving the perceived locus of control out of one's individual self, and out to Universe, is a tremendously liberating experience, and the useful part of most religious practice. A persistent theme of Bateson's, and a cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs.

Anger and resentment

These happen. But life is too short, and there is too much going on NOW, to waste any energy on them.


The great advisor. Learning to accept the reality of death means learning to live. I look at the experience itself as a sort of the ultimate acid trip. I hope I get to have a great dying. Easy to say now, when I am not facing imminent death. We'll see when the time comes.

What I tell my kids when they ask why they are here

You are here to make this world a better place. How you will do that is your life's work.


Of all the crap that divides human beings and creates misery in the world, this is the ultimate antidote, and reason enough to exist.

New Age philosophy

Someone read this page, and said it sounded very New Age. I was a bit insulted. I consider New Age mostly marketing hype. Ain't much "new" about Taoism.

A prayer

I am grateful that Universe has probabilized the continuation of this self as a node of its experiencing/creating itself for another day. May there be another. 
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