Thursday, March 30, 2006

A lapse in time

It has been commented upon and lamented by many that the mind's relentless processing of experience creates a stumbling block for full enjoyment and appreciation of life. It is as if a gigantic data stream were being fed into a computer in order to create a representation of the primary reality. That representation is primarily visual and verbal, and its parts can be disassembled and reconstructed in various ways to make experience portable through time.

The real problem with this processing is not that it happens, but that of necessity there is a time lapse between the individual's being-in-the-world and the manufacture of the representation. Even if we are only talking about a split second, that time lapse can be like an eternity, as if a chasm had interposed between the vibrant living body of Now from the abstracted, skeletal essence of the Past. The existential separation between these modalities of being is absolute.

To notice this gap is the beginning of gaining greater ease with the way things are in the psychological universe, rather than protesting the disharmony. Maybe it is still possible to get in rhythm with the time lapse, so that in that crack into which so much time has disappeared, so many lost long moments, some nectar of experience can be preserved. One's reach must exceed one's grasp, or what's a blog for?

Monday, March 27, 2006

If a tree falls

If a tree falls in a forest and there is nobody to hear it, does it make a sound?

Yes it does. Because for sure the tree is hearing it, whoever else may or may not be around.

Don't you believe that a tree can be that sensitive? Why, it is the most sensitive of life forms. Don't let that bark fool you. That's not keeping out the sensation. It's a skin of the most sensitive sort. And when the tree falls, that skin feels its death at the moment of passing. And experiences the sound waves from the ensuing crash. And feels joy and gratitude all the time.

What teachers are these trees we find around us? Cherish them, cherish them.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Becoming real

To know consciousness as real, and to know consciousness as being, dissolves the mistake of the intellect in which one is identified with and defined by the object of perception. The realization of being detaches the knower from the known and gives immediate perspective on the true nature of self. But that leads to the second mistake of the intellect: that consciousness is one and the same as being. That can be a very seductive and fatal illusion.

Consciousness becomes fulfilled in the light of being, and like the moon moves into fullness with the sun's light, but the moon does not become the sun. The fulfillment of consciousness is a great thing: so great that one might think one is absolute being. But just as the moon wanes, so the consciousness will inevitably recede from being until it returns to the zero point and the long dark night of the soul.

How terrible it is to lose being. But how less confusing if one knows it is only a phase. If, however, you think you now are eternal being when your consciousness has filled to the maximum, then it will be especially painful. Consciousness is forever becoming. Whatever it becomes does not last. So when it becomes being, it immediately starts becoming not-being. Its mutability is what makes human life beautiful. Beauty resides in the veil thrown over the light. Life needs both the light and the veil.

Do not think that being and consciousness are the same. You can know being and even become being, but you are not being. You will soon lose track of yourself. And then you will find yourself again. Endlessly mutable, your consciousness plays a game of hide-and-seek with itself that goes on forever. Rest in being so you can live to play another day. But the game never ends, at least not until the universe snuffs out, if it ever does.

Do not wish to be the sun. It is too fierce; it burns too hot and will melt your delicate wings. Then you will fall like Icarus. Better than becoming being is to become real.

It is in the cool of the evening when the moon rises full that you will know (to quote D. H. Lawrence):

That beauty is a thing beyond the grave,
That perfect, bright experience never falls
To nothingness, and time will dim the moon
Sooner than our full consummation here
In this odd life will tarnish or pass away.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

How far out is out

I just read a New York Times article called Far Out Man, But Is It Quantum Physics? about the movie "What the Bleep", and more broadly about the many books out there that based on a bit of half-baked physics make rash and far-fetched conclusions about the nature of reality. The writer characterizes this tendency as "purporting to argue...that reality is just a mental construct that we can rearrange and improve, if we are enlightened or determined enough." In contrast, he offers real science, i.e., the atomism of Democritus, which if memory serves came down the pike a little before quantum physics, but never mind. The point is that real physicists never indulge in metaphysical speculation (Ken Wilber somehow filled a book full full of these speculations by Einstein, Schroedinger, Born, and others in Quantum Questions). Thank you, New York Times, for once again setting us straight. "I would have the courage to see the world clearly, in all its cruelty and beauty," says the writer: in other words, without the crutch of mysticism that makes us believe there is some free will in the universe and that our consciousness can affect such things as the way the atoms randomly crash into each other and thereby create our world and everything in it.

The mystery of subjectivity, then, is conveniently consigned to being an epiphenomenon of materiality. Consciousness itself is just a product of blind, random physical processes. We never seem to be able to get beyond that level of discussion in the popular media. Reality is blind chance: deal with it, says NYT. Thank you, scions of the real, for illuminating this truth for us, but I prefer my comforting illusion that consciousness is a player. Because if I believed everything you and Judy Miller said, there would actually be weapons of mass destruction and those quantum fluctuations going on in a place called Iraq would actually have a bleeping point.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The most universal number

Pick the most universal number:

You could say “0” because everything starts from the zero ground-state. You could say “1” because one is the fundamental unit of every other number (dividing or multiplying by one yields the same result; every integer is constituted of ones). You could say “2” because everything in the world is posited on dynamic opposition, the yin-yang of existence, without which nothing is.

But I think the most universal number is 3. Here is my reasoning.

Three is the base of all numbers (i.e. all multiples of three) that embody the principle of self-replication. Therefore it replicates itself into a universe and if it didn’t there would be no universe. So it’s the universal number.

Zero is not self-replicating. It ain’t even there. One does not replicate itself. One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so. Two does not replicate. Now there you might argue. But just because A and B get together and interact and cause C to emerge, whether C be an idea, an emotion, a new widget, or a human being, twoness is a state of division. It represents a transitional state. Three, which incorporates the fruit and materialization of the interaction, represents a new wholeness which rolls over easily into a new replication.

Note how the three-based rhythm creates a feeling of universal ongoingness. I am speaking of the waltz, as in 2001: A Space Odyssey, when the camera pans down the length of a huge space station while the Blue Danube plays gloriously on the soundtrack.

Noah's ark was a two-by-two affair. The ark of this universe is a three-by-three vehicle. All aboard!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fallen to earth

We are meteorites. That is, we are what is left when as meteors in our downward trajectory to this planet most of us burned up in the atmosphere. We're lucky to be here at all, but wasn't our moment of glory in the getting here, not the surviving? We burn brightly and light up the sky. Then it's over. Almost.

So what do we do with this big rock of ourselves that's left? Well, maybe we could dig into the core of it and see if there's any ore in there. There is a legend that meteorite ore is useful in the crafting of magical weapons. Perhaps we are supposed to fight some dragon. Is that what we're doing here?

You know, we really have no clue why we're here. But I am sure of one thing: there is a reason. I haven't figured out what my purpose is yet. But I know there is one. I just hope I find it before the last glow in the core of this meteorite finally fades into black.