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Meher Like Spring Rabbit

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What is most important?

What is most important?

Seems like a fairly straight forward question and yet, in my experience of exploring this topic with others, it seems that few people have answered it for themselves.

In answering this question please include what you think is MOST important, why it deserves such priority, what you do to pursue or achieve this important thing, and also at what costs.

If for instance, if you think that love, truth, family, or community, sustainability, or financial stability, or health, etc. is what is most important, then please articulate why it takes precedence over other things, how it comes into conflict with other values, what you have done to understand this important thing, and how you go about achieving and maintaining it.

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    May 8 2011: I believe that opening our hearts is most important. When we open our hearts, we open to life. We see a larger picture and begin to understand how others see, feel, and think. Opening our hearts helps us deepen compassion, discover hope, realize our essential humility, take responsibility for our actions, and realize our purpose.

    Opening our hearts is an ongoing process that is never finished in our lifetime (believing my heart is open is the best indication that it is closing). It is lived day-to-day, moment-to-moment. We open our hearts by letting go of self-centered needs and desires, by responding to and joining with something that is larger than us. It is a choice, a direction. Do I serve my needs, or something larger? More precisely, it is thousands of choices that need to be consciously made on an ongoing basis. Do I move toward love, or do I take an easier path that is likely to bring short-term safety and satisfaction?

    Opening our hearts leads to clearer vision, a sense of connectedness with others, with nature and with that which is beyond our understanding. It is also what works. We are more likely to find lasting solutions to difficult problems when we see and understand more of what is going on.

    Opening our hearts is most difficult when I resist pain or think in terms of short-term advantage. It is most challenging when I must deal with others who do what I struggle to avoid. Often there is little external reward when I try to open my heart in a situation where I feel threatened or hurt. But hurt is part of the package of an opening heart; threats may result in loss of comfort, safety, esteem, or material well-being, but do not compare to the tragedy of loss of heart.

    Opening our hearts leads to love. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. We can build a nuclear weapon, but love will prevent us from using it. Love transcends death. I still feel the love of friends and parents who have died. Love is the most challenging, difficult, time-consuming, frustrating, and elusive thing we can attempt, but it expands awareness beyond oneself and connects us with a larger reality that seems to stretch into eternity.

    All religions that have lasted seem to have love at their core. We were created from love, to love. Love is what is most important in life. We begin to discover and realize it through a gradual process of opening our hearts.
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    May 7 2011: Music
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    May 7 2011: I am with Leo Tolstoy for me there are 3 most important things which are

    1) The most important time is "NOW" because we live in it and have control over it even can shape up future if use NOW in right way

    2) The most important TASK is whatever I have at my hand in every NOW (here right NOW my TASK is answering your question)

    3) The most important PERSON is the person I am with every NOW (at this NOW to me it's YOU @ Meher though virtually)

    Check the original story of Leo below
    http://www.yuni.com/library/docs/200.html
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    May 6 2011: I would say relationships. The human being is a social animal and aware of it's need for sociability for more than just survival. We need eachother to value life. And in needing eachother, we work together to build better societies.

    If only we could realize that it is not just those with whom we talk or work, our community, on a grand scale, is the globe. Once we realize the value of all relationships, we'll be headed in the right direction.

    Mother Teresa embodied the importance of relationships. And, as in a song I wrote, "Oh, there's so much good. Oh if we only would".
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      May 7 2011: @ Lynn.... relationships were high on my list as well. I spent a lot of time studying the optimization of relationships both from a psychological perspective (for instance how do we as individuals form them, juggle, thrive, and abuse them) and from a sociological perspective (group theories, dynamics, team building etc.). I learned some pretty neat stuff about how people categorize others in the process of forming relationships. Another novel thing I learned about mammalian groups is that the size of a creatures group is directly correlated to that creatures cephalic index (brain to body size ratio), based on these findings the optimal group size for humans is around 150, meaning that any individual will tend to have an "inner circle" or semi-functional relationships of around this size with whom they interact (even if only mentally or on line). With this "limit" or optimal functionality in mind, I have been very interested in models for leveraging this information for effective relationship development. On the macro level of "the expanding circle" I am pessimistic in humanities capability to functionally operate outside of their group. We mentally compartmentalize everything and prioritize relationships, caring most for those most like us starting with family and radiating out towards friends, and then others who most closely resemble our socioeconomic status or are in our community or tribe, race, region, species etc. People such as Mother Teresa, are great exceptions though, other notable figures coming to mind are Peter Singer who wrote "the expanding circle" which articulates the need to expand our social circles beyond even the species level to incorporate all sentient creatures into our mental models of compassion.
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    May 6 2011: The thing I find more important is; nothing. Not "not a a thing" but instead nothing.

    Nothing is the most abundant in the universe, because we have so much of nothing it must be the most important.
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      May 7 2011: @ Christopher... So importance for you is based on quantity? (I'm sure that technically quantity isn't a proper term for vacuum).
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        May 7 2011: Not at all, the second most important is not the second most abundant.
        But what little we know about the nothing inside of us is surly important.
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          May 7 2011: I think i might agree if your saying that what we don't know is important to find out, or at least try. But i'm still not sure I understand your meaning. Are you saying that our need to understand vacuum or emptiness is important, or more concretely that it is just structurally important, or do you mean that nothingness is spiritually important? Why is it important, and how does it's importance motivate you in your daily life?
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        May 8 2011: No.
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    May 12 2011: This conversation is about to close. But before it does I just want to thank everyone who participated and contributed. I for one felt this to be a very productive conversation and helped to enrich my perspective, so once again thank you all for your opinions, ideas, and perspectives!
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    May 11 2011: What a BIG tricky question ! Trying to choose between a cloud of most important things i physically felt that, a was already said, we need to tell "important for who/what".
    So, in these times of high speed technology i say :
    To me, what's most important of all is Nature.
  • May 8 2011: satisfying God by doing instructions of God.
    because our whole the world life is very short and has no value comparing infinite life of after death.
  • May 8 2011: Hi there. There is a human condition which I would like to eradicate, it is only by getting rid of this condition will we ever get to the truth. The meaning of life itself perhaps.The condition of which I speak is superstition, this includes religion, ghosts, past lives, lucky numbers and black cats, I won't go on because I would run out of words. I am not saying that these things are not experienced, what I am saying is; there must be another answer. All things that we experience in life must be for the benefit of that life. I will give you one example; Past Lives, there are too many of these incidents to ignore them completely. If I call them memory, you would probably say that memory is the same thing. No it isn't! memory not only takes us into the past, it is the mainstay of our survival and our intelligence. Without it we could not survive. Are those Past Lives that some experience, part of nature's way of evolving?
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    May 7 2011: I wasn't really sure how to frame the question so I left it broad and general, but what I'm really wondering is: what motivates us? and: as we go about our day, how effective are we at balancing different motivations such as conflicts between practical (or material) priorities versus ideal (virtue or value) motivations? how well do our actions align with our ideals?
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    May 7 2011: Great responses everyone, as has been pointed out, this is a question of relativity. For some people the answer pertains to macro issues, and for others more micro ones. I'm interested in how people prioritize their individual value structures. I am particularly more interested in the personal side of this question as it is more applicable to my current line of inquiry, but that is not to say that the more abstract answers aren't appreciated. I would like to flush out the compromises we make with ourselves concerning value structures, for instance, if love is what is most important to you, i want to know how important is it? is it worth killing or dying for? what are we willing to sacrifice for those things we put above all else? often times our values come into conflict and I am curious about how much thought people put into dealing with psychological conflicts of interest.
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    May 7 2011: For me Human Rights is fundamentally the most important thing. Until each peson on the planet is accorded the basic rights to food, water, health, basic respect and protection from persecution we will always be a primative species.
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      May 7 2011: Just so we're on the same page, might you elaborate on what a "Human Right" is, I see that maybe Mazlow's hierarchy of needs may play a big part, but i wonder if things necessary for survival are "rights" and if so, does the concept extend further into things like the "bill of rights" or other types of societal values, or are rights limited to basic survival needs?
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        May 7 2011: Here is a quick presentation that answers your questions far better and more impactfully than I could. I will be happy to answer any questions that you still have.

        http://youtu.be/3VhQQrtq7PE
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        May 8 2011: Meher if eating and quenching thirst are not the most fundmental 'rights' how could the other rights ever be realized?
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          May 8 2011: The analogy that I think of in this regard is that of the ascetics, the practice of abstention from worldly or physical needs. It is a very common concept in many faiths and philosophies that one must abdicate the needs of the flesh to transcend physical limitations or some such thing. Now, I'm not saying I buy into or am opposed to either side of the story, just that I think it is necessary to question anything considered fundamental such as rights. I took a course a few semesters ago and a portion of it focused on the concept of "rights". there was a lot of hot debate and in the end I was left with the impression that what many consider rights are little more than liberties that at times must be compromised under various contexts. Ideally I would love to feed the world and think that everyone has the right to prosperity and what not, but in practical application, implementing the rights of one generation may trample those of the future, or protecting the rights of a single individual may endanger the rights of thousands. What we commonly refer to as rights, seem to really be entitlements and are rarely as straight forward as they seem. Freedom, for instance is considered a right, and yet its a word that is commonly used with little understanding of its meaning or context. or take the american, "the right to bare arms", because its been called a "right" it seems untouchable but i bet the over 30,000 people who die from gunshot wounds each year in the US. might think that right should be open for discussion. (just an example). I'm just trying to play devils advocate here, In reality, I'm totally with you.
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        May 8 2011: My response to your well framed argument is to go back to the basics I taught my kids. Would you eat in front of someone who was starving if you had enough for two? Would you drink your Coke or your beer in front of someone dying of thirst? Of course, you as a single human being left with the decision in your own hand with no one elses' example or leading woud not. If eating enough to survive- the caloric input to keep you at a basic level of health is not a fundamental right- or having clean water to drink is not a basic right- NONE of the others makes any sense. They become hollow platitudes for self justification of greed, hard hearts and social Darwinism.
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        May 10 2011: I believe that every right has a corresponding responsibility.
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          May 10 2011: It gets at the very heart of the capitalistic system doesn't it? "this is mine- you can't have any- even if you are dying- that's your problem".
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    May 7 2011: Happiness. It's the only thing that makes life worth living, isn't it?

    If that's too vague, then probably integrity. Internal consistency. Since there are no universal rights and wrongs when it comes to values, morals and beliefs (i.e. the thought processes that define who we are), internal consistency is the only thing that can give these values - and consequently our existence and interaction with the rest of the world - meaning and worth.
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      May 8 2011: I used to rag on happiness pretty often thinking that it wasn't that important but I have begun to think that maybe I was wrong. When I compared happiness to other issues that might directly conflict, I found happiness to fall lower and lower on my list of "great importance" but, having sacrificed so much happiness for all those things I thought were more important I became miserable in the process. I now realize the importance of happiness and am working on elevating it back towards the top of the list. I'm also a big fan of internal consistency and work very hard to maintain consistency throughout my value structure and actions.

      Thanks for your contribution, and reminding me that happiness is important!
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        May 8 2011: I think of happiness as a short-term, transient state. Fulfillment is an ongoing process that, I believe opens us to more happiness.
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    May 7 2011: Ah...Great Question! From what little I understand, I would have to say that nothing is important. There are numerous things that are important to me as an individual. Namely survival (and many of the other things that are important to me are tangential to survival). But what's respectively important to individuals, as I'm sure you know, is quite different from what is important period.
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      May 7 2011: @ Beers... good point, i probably should have clarified in my original question that i'm interested in personal priorities. What is most important to you, why, and how do you act on those motivations? also, how do you deal with conflicts in importance? For instance, do ideals sometimes override practical self interest, and if so why?
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        May 8 2011: What's most important to me as an individual is happiness. As you may very well know, this seems to be a fuzzy area in general. (I've read theories about happiness being unachievable in constant state; rather the assertion being it is the proverbial carrot on a stick). I would actually go as far to say that happiness is the primary motivator of people in general. When I think of it, I can't imagine one person who has walked this planet who did not live their lives trying to achieve happiness of some sort, at some level. So if you are trying to dig into what motivates people, that would be my contention. This would also answer your last question: ideals may override assumed/perceived self interest, but they never override the true self interest of personal happiness. As for personally, my "journey' for happiness (which might be the happiness in and of itself) has been a tricky one to say the least. My endorphins particularly enjoy thinking, and critical thought. Unfortunately from what introspection I have done, I have come to the realization that too much thought can get in the way of "typical happiness" (if there is such a thing...). I guess I'm referring to nihilism as an end (or as close to the end as possible) intellectually and how it damages the precious happiness that people generally get from thinking that whatever they are doing is important. (Which, from what I can understand, it never is). And so now it seems I've come full circle. I would contend that people generally are motivated by their own happiness, this happiness is usually grounded in a strong sense of survival and purpose (probably just purpose, but survival is usually necessary for this: but not always..soldiers, martyrs, etc). In pithy form: What's important to people, is believing that they are all respectively important themselves!
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    May 7 2011: To stay connected to the natural world.
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    May 7 2011: The second least important thing in life is money; the first one is death, and the most important, it seems to me, you already know.

    It's a question with an abstract answer. However, I will tell you that integrity and responsibility have a high rating in my scale of importance.

    Allow me to explain what these two concepts mean to me.

    Integrity means honoring my word (which doesn't necessarily imply keeping it, as human beings we are "designed" to constantly break our word); and keeping an empowering context present in my my life.

    Responsibility means being cause in the matter of one's life or, at least, be willing to be so.

    Then again, if you were to ask this question to the billions of people who don't have enough food to eat, I assert their answer would be very different.

    The answer to your question is relative.
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      May 7 2011: @ Hazell.... "and the most important, it seems to me, you already know." actually, I am working on this question myself, and really using this forum as a venue for experimentation. The last time I delved into this topic (in depth) i wound up restructuring my entire value system, my entire life changed, some things for the better, some for the worse, but it is time for re-evaluation and I am trying to use Y'all as a sort of a feedback system. Collective mental modeling if you will. I greatly enjoy thought experiments and have found other's perspectives to be a wonderful tool in the process.
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        May 7 2011: "and the most important, it seems to me, you already know" was meant in a kindly way, based on what I'd already read you'd written and your reply to some of the comments, however forgive my assumption.

        Good luck with your re-evaluation and thank you for posing the question in the first place; it has certainly got me thinking.
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          May 8 2011: @ Hazell... I know that what you said was meant to be kind, I was just trying to further elaborate my own motivations. I don't tend to be able to convey tone very well in writing, but i wasn't meaning to criticize your comment but rather explain myself a little more.
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        May 9 2011: It's easily done, I myself, have this tendency too, so it's ok.
        Further reading the comments, your question has become more specific and clear to me. I'd like to share my new thoughts about it.
        At a more personal level, I battle between what I know to be most important and what I actually give more importance to. And in dwelling into this I'm finding some ugly results and inauthentic values. For instance, I know the quality of my life is the quality of my relationships yet, even knowing this, I still have unresolved issues which I'm not even contemplating solving. So righteousness makes me a victim, ironically, completely the opposite of what I strive to be. I also consider myself to be someone with a high level of integrity regarding others, but when it comes down to me, my needs, my commitments with myself, integrity goes down the drain.
        I could say that the pursuit of happiness is the most important; leaving aside the philosophy of Kant and Nietzsche. I could give you a long list of what allows me to experience happiness, starting from the deep meaningful aspects like fulfillment; self-worth; being passionate about what I do; the feeling of being loved and accepted for who I am; etc. to more ephimeral moments of happiness, such as laughing until I get stomach pains; finding money in a pocket of a coat I hadn't worn for a while, music(if live music, even better!); sex; food; etc. And I wouldn't be lying; I would even dare to say that is what every human being aspires to; to be happy. However I've reached the conclusion that no matter what I'm experiencing at any given moment in my life, what actually takes first place in the scale of importance, what actually dictates how I live my life at every given moment, is FEAR. Pure and sheer fright, with all its positive and negative connotations. Fear is what makes me get up in the morning, the fear of allowing my life to slip through my fingers, of wasting any precious moment.
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          May 10 2011: Thank you so much for this honest, insightful, genuine, response.
          "battle between what I know to be most important and what I actually give more importance to."
          I think this statement really gets at the heart of what i'm trying to explore.
          and WOW, what a bomb to drop... "FEAR", its bot a motivator and a paralyzer and I think we are all gripped by it more than we would like to admit.

          Thank you again for your authenticity. You have helped to unravel the process for me a bit more.
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        May 10 2011: I'm glad I was able to contribute.

        Thank YOU for posing the question in the first place. As you can see, it has sparked off quite a few insights.
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    May 6 2011: Creating a world where all basic needs are met which will allow people to live life revolved around bettering themselves and not simply survival.
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      May 8 2011: @ Lukowiak...I concur. But do you think that if people have their basic needs met that their lives will necessarily revolve around bettering themselves? while I agree that meeting basic needs is a requirement on the path towards "enlightenment", but maybe there are other factors to personal growth. I know quite a lot of people who have more than their basic needs met but seem to want nothing to do with bettering themselves, and I would argue that many of their needs are met to well and they are prevented from growth due to lack of struggle or something like that. Also I thought of an interesting notion a few years ago that you may be interested in: Once Mazlow's hierarchy is met by an individual, and that individual begins pursuing "enlightenment" (at the top of the pyramid), that they may begin to abdicate the hierarchy in a sort of reverse order. I was thinking of monks at the time and thinking how odd it is that in many cultures those who seek enlightenment begin to attempt to free themselves of those physical needs and assuming lives of poverty, taking vows of hunger, etc. what do you think?
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    May 6 2011: Freedom.

    But freedom is something that is so wide that parts of it is truth, love, community etc. etc.
    Freedom is everything. Everyone. Not just you, not just me. All the people.
    Every starving child in the world, everyone that is sick, the ones working for any company in the world.
    The middleclass, the uppe class.

    We all need and deserve freedom.

    The thing I do to get more freedom in the world is to try to spread my own thoughts and experiences to people.
    In many different ways, this is one, but also I do alot of music and I talk to people all the time about what I se in the world and how I feel about it. Also I talk alot of how we could be more free and how everyone could strive to a more free and loving world.

    Most people feel the same, but many people are so blinded that they don't se that we aren't completely free in this world. That's why I belive I can help people by showing them what I know.

    And if they dont like what I say it's up to them to deside if they want to learn from me or not. Im not forcing anyone :)

    But a completely free society is everything I can ever dream of !
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      May 7 2011: @Bobby... It would seem that freedom means something very different to me than it does to you. Freedom to me means lack of boundaries or limitations. how do you define it?

      philosophers such as Lock, Hume, and Rousseau in conceptualizing theories of Social contracts supposed that we trade Freedom for liberty in order to build society. We develop laws that prevent a persons freedom to do what they want and create institutions to regulate those laws to protect us from one another. Whatever those laws don't disallow are called liberties and those are limited to protect sanctioned "rights".

      Freedom to me means that my actions aren't institutionally regulated, or that I can do what I want when I want how I want and am only subject to the direct consequences of my actions, free from institutions intentionally designed to regulate those actions with specific bureaucracies.

      what i'm getting at: Is a persons freedom more important than another persons wellbeing. If i am truly free, that means that i am free to do harm just as much as I am free to do good. But maybe you are talking about freedom in a different context, please elaborate.
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        May 8 2011: I would define freedom as having the capacity to fully develop our gifts and potential without limiting the development of the gifts and potential of others.
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      May 7 2011: Freedom from what?
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          May 12 2011: sounds like a pre-social contract , primal romp to me...