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This is from, like, 2007 on FB
nymphadora tonks
polly_oliver
Strange. I'm considering the path from the beginning to the end of a love that is at some point disappointed utterly and yet becomes, ultimately, altruistic.

It is amazing that a process as deep, painful, and humanizing as this could start out with such a trivial, pleasant, even giddy, emotion as infatuation. Infatuation seems so ultimately beside the point, even more so than lust (though that's a whole different discussion); it doesn't seem as though it would ever grow into anything either meaningful or fundamental. But that is the way of things. Although, there are certainly many more silly infatuations than those that do develop into real love.

And once the admittedly intensely personal but nevertheless fairly commonplace romantic love does develop, how does this emotion, sown as it is with the seeds of so much pettiness (envy, spite, bitterness, and most notably, self-absorption, among many others), survive without damage its own utter frustration? And by frustration, I don't mean anything trivial: I mean the continued indifference of the object of love, or his death, or some other absolute obstacle--or more than one of these things.

But however unexceptional mere romantic love may seem in the context of all humanity, it does sometimes survive such trauma, and even (I assume, rarely) can become something much greater: altruistic love, or more plainly, altruism itself.

***

I have an ongoing internal debate about the existence of "true" altruism. My intuition and higher, spiritual instincts insist, or are utterly convinced, that true altruism MUST exist, while my reason knows that this is highly debatable and probably it is in fact a logical impossibility. But perhaps these two facets of myself define their terms differently, and thus function on different, incompatible levels.

For instance, the word "existence" to Reason suggests that there is a real example out in the world, or definitely could be. It doesn't matter if this example can be quoted or brought to one's attention specifically, but the idea that something "exists" implies that it fits in with the practical, real world.

To Intuition, "existence" might mean something more along the lines of Plato's conception of ideals in mathematics. (i.e. Ideals are more "real" than mathematical concepts; mathematical concepts are more "real" than you or me.) Using this definition of existence, one could argue that true altruism exists without reference to the inherently flawed nature of human motivations and moral makeup, because "true" altruism exists not only on a different, but a higher level than we normally think of: an ideal level. The only reason that altruism is perceived as imperfect, this argument goes, is because the nature of our non-ideal reality is, by definition, imperfect, and thus warps the expressions of altruism at this level of reality.

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so the hindus have this sort of parable they use to define the existence of Vishnu and his maya (which is like, this idea that he is god and god is dreaming our reality so we exist in this great delusion) which i feel is relevant to your somewhat western-centric philosophizing here.

There's this great swami who wants to truly comprehend vishnu's maya. He goes to find vishnu and meets him by a lake. Vishnu's all like hey great swami guy, what can i grant you? And the swami says the only thing i desire is to comprehend your maya. And vishnu says no one can comprehend my maya but me, fer real, what can i give you that you can actually have? And the swami just insists that he only wants to transcend the delusion of the world and comprehend the truth of god. So vishnu finally says, ok, see this lake? This lake is my maya. Jump into the lake and you will comprehend god. So the swami jumps into the lake. and he emerges from the lake as a woman. and she wanders into the nearest village and falls in love with this great guy and moves in with his awesome family who feels just like her family and they get married and have three kids and this wonderful, perfect life. Then, years later, there's this huge storm and the village floods and everyone gets swept up in the flood waters. Her husband drowns. She's hanging onto her kids but looses one of them in the water and lets go of the other two to save the first one but the first one is already gone and then the other two drown and she looses all of her family. Then she opens her eyes and she's the swami again, standing on the lake shore next to vishnu. And he's just looking at the swami guy and he says now do you comprehend my maya? and that's the end.

I read this comment yesterday and then had a dream about it last night. It was really cool!

I'm having trouble making the connection between transcendence of the world as a delusion and transcendence of self through love, though.

i think most of hindu theology would consider those to be the same thing.

If you had a dream about it, then you are making the connection. Of course.

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