edgecase
Author: StJohn Piano
Published: 2020-05-09
Datafeed Article 142
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2066 words - 381 lines - 10 pages



The Path of Blue and Orange is the name I use for the mental discipline that guides much of my thought and action.

It has emerged from a long search to discover the truth of existence.

It is a self-aware belief system, one which understands what it is and why it exists. It seeks to understand man's place in the universe, and what he should pay attention to, and how he should act within it. It is in some sense a metareligion, or rather a metacult (cults are tiny cultures / religions - like baby turtles, only a few grow to full maturity). I could therefore be described as a metacultist.

Anyone who engages with the nature of existence for a long time eventually begins to use religious ideas and language, because these help human minds to handle the required level of abstraction.

"It occurs to me that the man and his religion are one and the same thing. The unknown exists. Each man projects on the blankness the shape of his own particular world-view. He endows his creation with his personal volitions and attitudes. The religious man stating his case is in essence explaining himself. When a fanatic is contradicted he feels a threat to his own existence; he reacts violently."
~ Jack Vance










I open my eyes. I'm standing in a desert. The sky is a deep clear blue. No clouds are in sight. The sand flows on and on in waves into the horizon.

It is deathly still. A desert wind slipping over the dunes is the only sound.

In front of me are two pillars of fire. Each is set on a large stone plinth. The fire on my left is orange. The fire on my right is blue.

I look at each fire carefully, considering it. I look at the ground between the fires. I choose a path that will lead me to the other side. I walk along the path, being careful not to pass too near to either one.

Now on the other side, I look back at the two fires for a moment. Then I turn away and walk into the desert.









Religions often emerge from the desert, because that's one of the places where man is confronted with the infinite, and must contend mentally with it. This is why my imagined version of the Path takes place in the desert.

Blue is the colour of the unchanging desert sky. Orange is the colour of the ever-shifting sand. Together, they form the Infinite.









Truth emerges from the tension of opposites.

Truth is dynamic.

Some things are true for a short time, others for a long time. It is best to base your thinking on what is true for a long time.

Theory without practice spirals off into madness.

Truth is tested by action.

Some things are only partially true, or incompletely true. They are still more true than false.

It is difficult to say a thing that is always true, or true for your entire lifetime, or for the lifetime of your species, or for the duration of the universe.

Nonetheless, to survive, action must always be taken, and a choice must always be made. A truth must be chosen, and used to decide between actions, and thereby tested.

To choose not to act is also a choice.

It is not possible to honestly say "I choose not to believe in any truth". Existence demands choice, and choice demands at least one truth.

It is not possible to honestly say "All truths are equal", for your choice of action will reveal a truth that you actually believe, and which you value above other truths.

A truth is an incomplete model of reality.

"Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful."
~ George E. P. Box


The scientific method is successful because it constrains itself tightly to things that are repeatedly testable, in limited contexts with few variables. Scientists can then test some asserted truths about these things. As the context gets larger, and the cost and time of testing increase, Science becomes less capable, and Art / Prophecy / God / Chance take over from it. Science cannot test the reason for the existence of the universe.

I think that religion means "how humans interact with the unknown". There is far more unknown than known in the universe.









Although I'm not a believer, I take religion seriously. I take man's search for meaning seriously. There seems little point in a life spent talking about Labour Party politics and not thinking about God. ... God and religion are our most successful way to date to think about, dwell upon, the most important questions we have. And I think in the absence of the story of religion, you have all of the same needs, all of the same urges and desires, but you need to build alternative mechanisms.
~ Douglas Murray










It could be the case that an anthropomorphic God exists, as some sort of personality with whom humans can interact, in some sort of similar way as that in which we interact with other people.

It is very definitely the case that the universe, as revealed in events that we experience and forces with which we interact, is so powerful, relative to humans, that it is reasonable to think of it as either God or God's expressed will (or both at the same time - standard monotheism often thinks and speaks of God as being intertwined with the universe at every level and in every component part, although officially considering the universe to be God's creation and therefore separate).

Other concepts can be used instead of God, such as: The Universe is the Ongoing Effect of the Ultimate Cause, or the Universe is Will Itself, or the Universe is the Eternal Recurrence, or [insert variant here].

Regardless of the variant, this much holds true: The laws of the Universe are its commandments. You shall not pass the speed of light, you shall not eat a bad diet and be physically fit, you shall surely die if you repeatedly ignore danger. These commandments are revealed to us by the consequences that we experience when we follow them or disobey them.

There is admittedly a certain amount of random noise, and it can be difficult to discern the link between commandment and consequence.

In "the laws of the universe", I would include the emergent laws of social dynamics and ecological networks.

Modern-day man spends much of his time and effort trying to understand the universe and its laws (to know the Mind of God), to figure out what it might permit or forbid him to do. Psychologically speaking, this is very close to the ancient practices of sacrifice and devotion to a God in the hope of reward and the fear of punishment.









Man is a religious animal.
~ Mark Twain


The history of your species makes you religious.

Religious behaviours are built into your DNA, your brain, your mind. They're part of the way in which you interpret the world. You must interact with the unknown (which is to say that you must choose an action, and you must do so with incomplete information), and to do this a religious faith is necessary (you must use a value structure of some sort as a measuring device to choose between available actions). If you believe that religion is unnecessary, and try to deliberately avoid following a faith, a new one will emerge within your mind, unconsciously, and it will often be poorly structured and ineffective. It will be based around whatever you value, whatever you hold to be most important in your life and in existence in general.

To not follow a well-structured faith is to be mentally malnourished. We can see this in the way that nominally atheist people continually try to take the scientific method and experimenters and experimental results, and turn them into Science and Scientists and moral laws. They don't want the carefully restricted worldview of scientific experiments - they want priests. And they're not wrong for wanting them. Priests are much better at dealing with human problems than scientists are.

Another variant: The attempts to sacralise capitalism into an ethic. These attempts keep disintegrating because, if having-the-most-money is treated seriously as the highest sacred value, the endeavour becomes entirely zero-sum and all of the followers end up pitted against each other in a war-of-all-against-all.









I think of Blue and Orange as the two opposing principles of our Universe. From the tension and interaction between them, truth emerges.

Orange is the Principle of Change, and Blue is the Principle of Stasis. I might have used the phrase "The Path of Change and Stasis", but I prefer the symbolic and visual value of Blue/Orange.

The Blue/Orange idea has a lot of similarities to Yin/Yang, but there is one significant difference, which is that Blue/Orange focuses on the importance of distilling perception down into action, in order to affect reality in a useful way, and sometimes to catch a fleeting glimpse of truth.

To walk The Path of Blue and Orange is to seek to understand the the Laws of the Universe / the Mind of God, and to choose actions that are in accordance with its will.


Orange:
- Change
- Chaos
- Life
- Danger
- Creativity
- Agility
- Novelty
- Conflict
- Exploration


Blue:
- Stasis
- Order
- Death
- Safety
- Knowledge
- Strength
- Skill
- Peace
- Production


To balance between Blue and Orange is the art of living.









The mind is intertwined with the body - a mental state can affect your willingness to eat, and a physical sickness can change your behaviour.

Knowing this to be the case, I experiment with different rituals to see which ones help to align my body with my mind when I am contemplating the Path of Blue and Orange. Rituals work, which is why most religions have them.

To "worship" something means to pay attention to it, to behave reverentially towards it, to make gestures of submission to it, to have a mental respect for it. If I am troubled or uncertain, I try to make time to meditate upon the Path. This is a form of worship.

After a contemplation / meditation, I often experience a satisfying feeling of peace, which comes from placing myself mentally in correct relation to the Universe, and accepting the consequences of my next action, whatever they might be.

A meditation does not have take very long.

This mental discipline is valuable enough to me that I think I will practice it for the rest of my life. I do not mind if it has no other followers.









However, taking account of the possibility that some others may become interested in Following The True Faith / Travelling The One True Path, let's map out some organisational details:

Religion: The Axiom Metacult

Faith: Metacultism

School of Thought: The Path of Blue and Orange

A follower is known as: an Axiomist

Description:
- Axiomists should examine their existing axioms, meditate on how they came to have them, and consider reconfiguring them to be more useful and/or true.
- Axiomists should bear in mind the inherently religious nature of mankind, and that it is pointless to try to change this, since all methods of interpreting reality are inherently religious - all viewpoints rest on unprovable axioms.
- Axiomists should treat the mind/body as an integrated system, and seek to cultivate rituals that develop mental/physical wellbeing and resilience.
- Axiomists should seek truth in action.

The Axiom Metacult is a reasonably tolerant religion. It views other belief systems as variants of itself - some variants might be more aesthetically pleasing and have richer structures of metaphor and theology, while others may promote irritating behaviour and be unhelpful for their adherents.

The Axiom Metacult is willing to let the truth about an afterlife reveal itself in due course. Human existence involves constant choice between actions. It is to be expected that any form of existence after death will involve further choices, which can be made at the appropriate time (i.e. after death).

The Axiom Metacult will make a reasonable effort to spread the news of its existence, partly for the spiritual benefit of the unenlightened, and partly as a strategic countermeasure against less interesting, less tolerant, less useful religions and ideologies.