Friday, February 25, 2022

When We End Toxic Divisiveness

      Some foods we consider nutritious & essential for health & even survival; some safe but not essential; some edible but only in small doses; and then some poisonous & to be avoided at all cost. Except for severe allergies, nobody thinks another person's favorite food is toxic.
     But
when it comes to
self-concepts & worldviews, one person's vision of perfection is another's road to hell! In fact our identification with ideas about who we are & what we (think we) believe can be so extreme that millions of people have been, and continue to be massacred because of it. And "it" is nothing more than sticky conditioned thought patterns in one group of people, aimed against the demonized "other" group of people.
     Toxic
divisiveness is killing us, destroying the earth & poisoning civilized collaboration.
     Though
the process feels agonizingly slow, our human race, as a WHOLE, is EVOLVING out of hostile self-centeredness, and into unconditional love for all.

     “The Jesuit scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin claimed that love exists on the fundamental levels of life. Some might think this idea absurd and ask, do quarks fall in love? Teilhard was pointing to the fact that the characteristics of human love such as attraction, irresistibility and union, can be found on the most fundamental levels of physical life. Love is a passionate force at the heart of the universe, according to Teilhard, a core energy of cosmic life, a unitive principle and a cosmological force. He wrote, ‘love is the most universal, the most tremendous and the most mysterious of the cosmic forces.’ By declaring love a cosmological force, Teilhard indicated that love is an energy ‘present from the Big Bang onwards, though indistinguishable from molecular forces.’ In his poem ‘The Eternal Feminine,’ he speaks of cosmic love in the voice of wisdom:

      'I am embedded in the force field that is driving the cosmos towards greater novelty, towards greater integrity, and eventually towards greater consciousness. From within the fragments of matter, I encourage all possible combinations since I know that not every combination will be productive. I am the principle of union, the soul of the world. I am the magnetic and unitive force that brings the disparate matter together and urges each newly created form to multiply, to beautify, and to bear fruit. I nurture and release spirit from among the crude and complex elements. Each step towards union moves my creation towards greater spontaneity and freedom.

     This
irresistible energy of love, present in the universe, led Teilhard to claim that ‘the physical structure of the universe is love.’ The universe is created not only by the interaction of space-time-matter; it is created from the ubiquitous energy of love embedded in the fabric of the universe. All levels of life are governed by principles of attraction and union. Love is a cosmic force before it is a human one.”
     Ilia Delio. “The Primacy of Love.” Fortress Press, 2022.

    Imagine what we will accomplish when we become less self-centered - personally & tribally!

     FAR TOO MANY OF US, FOR FAR TOO LONG have had to “not only get our bearings, but (felt compelled to) know all the details of the world before we ventured out into it.”           Jack Henry Abbott

 

    WE ARE BEGINNING to grasp 'big picture' ideas, nourish them into reality, "BOLDLY going where no human has gone before!"

 
     “To deal with our existential crises, we need to base our disagreements on the same facts, burst out of our bubbles of tribalism, and see our essential unity. We need a blueprint for renewing our individual and collective consciousness, transforming our organizations and institutions, and re-enchanting our societies.
     The good news is that we can create a new narrative for our lives that will be inclusive and transform our worldview as we broaden our understanding of truth, beauty, and goodness. Think of Universal Consciousness as fields of flowing energy in which we transform our human consciousness, engage our neighbors, and build a society.
     David Bohm described a hidden domain of reality that we take for granted. He referred to the vast star-filled emptiness, the vacuum, the infinity of outer space as a Plenum, something that is infinitely full rather than infinitely empty. He saw the emptiness as fullness, as one whole, living organism – an undivided wholeness in flowing movement. I believe this describes the field of Universal Consciousness.
     Our interactions, our choices in this field of Consciousness, affect all of nature and life in the biosphere. We can help nature and life to flourish, or we can continue to break down the natural evolution of nature and manifest catastrophes like COVID-19.”

     Edwin E. Olson. “Become Conscious of Wholeness – Humanity’s Only Future.” Resource Publications, 2021. 

 

Art by Jean-Pierre Weill from The Well of Being

Monday, February 21, 2022

Gentle Hints

The Peace of Wild Things
Wendell Berry

 
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 

      “I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E.B. White


     “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


     "We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activities."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

     “Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all whom it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right and a perfect contentment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

     “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”
     Joseph Campbell, “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living”

 

www.soteric.org/psychedelics

Thursday, February 17, 2022

More than One Way of Knowing

    One might wonder why a hyper-rational perspective so dominates industrialized societies these days. By hyper-rational I mean unbalanced, very narrow & machine-like, as if human beings were isolated machines, manipulating completely separate, unrelated external mechanical objects, in a totally random, dead, meaningless universe. Seriously??
    
This is physicalism - the current orthodoxy under which we unknowingly live. But like other dogmatic belief systems, it cries out for open examination
& wise correction!

     “
Materialist or Reductionist Science … has concluded that we are the only sentient beings in an inanimate universe that is without life, meaning, purpose, direction or intelligence. This bleak ‘philosophy’ has taken on the power & absolutism of an ideology.
     Anne
Baring – Awakening to a New Story – The Evolutionary Imperative of Our Time” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hITMBPOwyDY

     “Albert Einstein called the intuitive or metaphoric mind a sacred gift. He added that the rational mind was a faithful servant. It is paradoxical that in the context of modern life we have begun to worship the servant and defile the divine.
     Bob
Samples. “The Metaphoric Mind: A Celebration of Creative Consciousness.” Jalmar, 1976.

     "Our understanding of knowing is multifaceted and education emphasizes memory, reasoning, learning style, language, intelligence, & on & on. Acknowledging the vast array of distinctions, I want to cut beneath these to claim that with respect to education, consciousness, & culture today, there are two ways of knowing. That is, there are two fundamental ways that the mind works to know the world. There are myriad variations to be sure and certainly plenty of other ways to slice this rhetorically, but the most salient concern today comes down to this.
     One way we will call categorical. This knows the world through abstraction, through separating it from us, through taking apart to understand. In a sense everything is reduced to parts, to lowest units that are differentiated, named, catalogued. It reaches its apex in metaphor of computer zeroes & ones. Categorical awareness narrows in to focus on detail and seeks precision, objectivity, & presupposes certainty. It simplifies & represents, proceeds linearly & sequentially, and generalizes. Our schooling emphasizes this way of knowing, and for the most part, only this.
     The other knowing is through contact (experiential) instead of category. Its style is direct, relational, embodied, and recognizes wholes & connections. Awareness through contact enables a broader view, one connected with the world & the body, scanning for changes in the environment. This knowing seeks novelty, picks up implicit meaning & metaphor, is able to read faces & other cues of individuals instead of simplified, predetermined, and generalized categories. Knowledge through contact is evolving, implicit, & indeterminate since it always exists in relationship to something else and is not ever fully graspable.
     Iain McGilchrist, drawing from a vast body of neuroscientific and phenomenological data, makes a compelling case that these ways of knowing have neurological substrates corresponding to the anatomically distinct hemispheres of the brain.”
     Tobin Hart. “The Integrative Mind: Transformative education for a world on fire.” Rowman & Littlefield, 2014
.

      "
Iain McGilchrist, author of, 'The Master and his Emissary. The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World,' says that we are dominated by this left-hemisphere analytical view, which of course you see going straight into artificial intelligence. And we’ve neglected the right-hemisphere creative, intuitive, holistic side of ourselves. For him, the master hemisphere, in terms of his book’s title, is the right hemisphere, not the left hemisphere, because  

     • FIRST the right hemisphere gives us an idea of the whole, then  

     • SECOND information is sent to the left hemisphere for analytical elaboration, finally

     • THIRD it should be sent back to the right hemisphere for a higher level of integration

     So he never says we only need one hemisphere. He says we must create a culture in which these hemispheres are working together and we therefore re-establish our balance."
      David Lorimer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rn00MFFVyIo

 

     "To cut a long story short, it struck me that it was a problem with our thinking ... about things out there that were objects, that didn’t have any kind of embodied reality for us. And that interested me in what's going on in our brains. And when I studied medicine, I was very much inspired by Oliver Sacks and his writings, principally “Awakenings,” an extraordinary book. That book shows that when something goes wrong brain, it affects their whole world. Or something goes wrong with their mind, it affects their body. These things are deeply, closely connected. So I studied medicine, and went off to neurology & psychiatry, which is the area of overlap.
      It
was there that I started to ask myself questions. Why is the brain divided? In medical school, nobody ever said why the brain is divided in two halves. Nobody knew, and nobody even asked the question why. And later, I learned that the two hemispheres have completely different ways of looking at the world. There was a lot of nonsense talked about hemisphere difference that put serious scientists off the topic altogether. I was told, ‘Don’t even touch this topic because it’s career death. It’s pop psychology. It doesn’t have any basis.’
      And yet, when one came to look at scholarly research on people who had damage to one or other hemisphere, you could see that they had completely different effects, depending on where it was - the left or the right hemisphere. And that was being overlooked & ignored. People say, ‘Ah there aren’t any really serious differences.’ But I think what they were doing wrong was they were thinking of the brain as a machine. And so they were asking the question you would ask of a machine, ‘What does it do?’ And they said first of all, well the left does reason & language, and the right does emotion & pictures
.
      And
then they found that this was completely untrue, because each hemisphere got involved in all those things. But what they didn’t seem to be asking, was the question you would ask a part of a person which is, ‘How, in what way does each hemisphere get involved in these things?’ And if you do that, you find that each hemisphere is involved in every single thing that makes up parts of our lives, just with a completely different take on it. That was the difference! To begin with, I couldn’t quite see how staggeringly important this was. Then I realized, the two halves of the brain were attending to the world in two different ways. And we know that when you attend differently, you see different things. There are lots of clever demonstrations, some by Darren Brown the illusionist, and so on, which show that if you’re not expecting to see something, you don’t see it; if you look with a certain kind of attention you see one thing, if you look with another kind of attention, you see something completely different. Quite apart from those clever demonstrations, in our daily life, when we look at things with a certain kind of attention, we find a different kind of world from what is apparently the same world on a different day when we’re attending to it differently.
      I heard a lecture by John Cutting, whom I considered the most interesting living psychiatrist. He had done what no other physician had been doing, which was looking at what happened after right hemisphere strokes. Everyone was focused on left hemisphere strokes. And they thought well nothing serious happens to somebody with a right hemisphere stroke because they can still use their right hand, and language is usually unimpaired. But actually it turns out that they’re much more seriously impaired, & harder to rehabilitate after a right hemisphere stroke than after a left hemisphere stroke, even though, after a left hemisphere stroke, it’s very probable that you won’t be able to speak or be able to use your right hand. Now that surprises people. But what John was saying is when the left hemisphere is damaged, you see these very obvious results, but when the right hemisphere is damaged, what you don’t immediately see is that their whole experience of the world has changed. And he alerted me to some things in this lecture which rang a bell. He said, the left hemisphere fails to understand implicit meaning – it doesn’t understand metaphor, jokes, irony, sense of humor. It takes things very literally, in a sort of mechanical way. It is less in touch with the body than the right hemisphere, and literally the body image, which is not just a visual image but an image in all senses in the brain of ourselves as embodied beings, is in the right hemisphere. And he was saying also that the general ideas, as it were, get collected abstractly in the left hemisphere, but unique instances, embodied concrete instances of things are better appreciated in the right hemisphere.
      ... it’s the left hemisphere that does the talking. It’s my left hemisphere now that is speaking to you. And it has set up a kind of language that works well for it. But it’s much harder to convey the meanings & knowledge that the right hemisphere has
.
      And
often, when you make something explicit, you utterly change its nature. You see this with sex, you see this with religion, you can see it with jokes, you can see it with poems. And when you disembody something, you utterly change its reality for us and how we relate to it. And when you abstract and generalize something, you’ve completely lost what was unique & special about it. You’re doing a rather paradoxical thing – you’re destroying the thing you’re trying to examine, in the process of examining.
      And very often, I think, what we as a society have been tending to do in the last 150 years, is increasingly to denature the world by our way of talking about it abstractly, mechanically, reductively. And we have not attended to, because it’s harder to see, what is lost and, what, as it were, the part of us that understands the implicit, knows.
Now the implicit is enormous compared with the explicit. The bit that we actually see explicitly, in the center of the focus of our consciousness is minute. It’s conservatively estimated to be much less than 5% of all the stuff that we’re knowing & experiencing, and probably it’s very, very much less than that. So the unconscious mind, which includes the whole of our bodies as well as the other parts of the brain and so forth, is taking in, dealing with, assessing & responding to the world – knowing things as it were, that in our explicit, conscious mind we’ve ruled out, we don’t talk about, and we say we don’t believe in them. So that actually skews the picture of what the world is, who we are, and how we relate.
"
      Matter
is a Relative Matter with Iain McGilchrist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kAlwrnpHIs

 

     "There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe." Teilhard de Chardin

      “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “The Little Prince”


     “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “The Little Prince”


     Insights from a present-day, 84-year old mystic & long-time meditator, John Butler:
     “The more I appreciate the wonder of the world around me, the more I realize my own ignorance & incapacity to understand. And I love the verse from scriptures that says, ‘My ways are higher than your ways, my thoughts than your thoughts,' says the Lord. And also another one that says, ‘The wisdom of man is foolishness to God.’ I suppose that’s why, as we grow in spiritual awareness, what we call knowledge – the answer to questions, also goes through as it were a process of evolution
.
      Now
faith is really higher knowledge. Lower knowledge is concerned with facts & answers. So we study, we read books, we ask questions, search the internet. Why do these things happen? We try to analyze the different parts. As you stand more at the top of the mountain, somehow these questions rather fall away, and you acquire a deeper understanding – an understanding of wholeness. It’s not so concerned with the bits & pieces of separation. You see the wholeness of things.
      If
you lie on your back and look at the sky, you don’t normally say, ‘Why is this bit of cloud like that? Why isn’t the other bit shaped in the same way? Why are some dark & shadowy? Why are other bits light?’ We’re used to looking at the sky as a whole, aren’t we? And we can see the comings & goings of things, within a greater unity, within a greater harmony.
      And
so, a part of spiritual development is that partial knowledge ie knowledge of different parts, bits of this & bits of that, what you could refer to as ‘name & form,’ gets replaced by a higher knowledge, which is called, faith. Now faith is the evidence of things not seen. You don’t see with the eye of flesh. You see with the eye of heart.
      We
’re to understand what can never be explained in terms of ordinary encyclopedic knowledge. Begin to understand the meaning of love, and of peace, and of freedom. No one can explain what these things are.
      Yet
we all know instinctively what they are. We talk about them every day, like we talk about God. Who really knows what we’re talking about? We may have a sort of inkling, but... Yet there is faith, isn’t there? Faith is a sort of knowing, but a fractured, partial knowing. It’s a knowing that enables one to have faith or trust. And these statements, ‘All things happen for the best, to those that love God.’ It’s really a statement of faith, of higher knowledge, that knows it perhaps instinctively, better than in analytic knowledge. I mean who can ever say, what’s best and what’s worse?
     John
Butler : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3R_2jOcqSU

 

     "William James more than 100 years ago, speaking of mystical experience said that one of it's characteristics, besides ego dissolution & transcendence of space and time, is its 'noetic quality.' And this was the quality that what you learned, the insights you had, were not merely opinions but were revealed truths. And they have a stickiness & a power that is central to the experience, and it is what allows people to change."
     Michael
Pollan interviewed by Katherine May, "The Future of Hope 4": https://onbeing.org/programs/michael-pollan-and-katherine-may-the-future-of-hope-4/

 

     “When you consider all the saints and prophets as legitimate and no longer differentiate between religions, you have arrived at the stage of truth.
     Ostad
Elahi (1895-1974) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oo_QhUQToA

     “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
      R
. Buckminster Fuller

 

John Butler's - 33min talk


 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Beyond Even the Fear of Losing Control

     Our usual mindset or operating system is based on our society's (mostly unexamined) assumption that ONLY physical stuff (matter) is real, because we can all see, feel & therefore agree upon it. Most of us have inadequate training & understanding of either science or of metaphysics ("the branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality, the first principles of being, identity & change, space & time, causality, necessity, & possibility. ... the nature of consciousness and the relationship between mind & matter ... 'metaphysics' ... literally means "after or behind [the study of] the natural*." wikipedia.org - *"natural" implies physical stuff). Metaphysics, in simple terms, refers to everything OUTSIDE of our tiny "box" of information, which, for some ONLY contains physical "stuff." Though sometimes encouraged to do so, most of us simply can't or won't "think outside the box" because leaving this "comfort zone" of dogmas & other (incorrectly) assumed certainties, requires more bravery, open-mindedness, creativity, & energy than most of us have. So we often need to graduate from the school of hard knocks to crack open our numb skulls & hard hearts

         There is a crack, a crack in everything
         That's how the light gets in
                  Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"

         "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
          courage to change the things I can;
          and wisdom to know the difference."
     Reinhold Niebuhr's "Serenity Prayer" - later adopted & popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous & other 12-step programs - is profoundly wise, AND YET many of us have to "hit rock bottom"
before we take it seriously. Our society frantically chases after short-term pleasures while values such as serenity & wisdom are forgotten. Few can define these terms, never mind live them.

     We're like a small sailboat out in the middle of the ocean.
    
Religion was meant to be our sailboat's ballast, allowing us to maintain a steady course, without capsizing in storms. As with other large businesses that mass-produce heavily-processed stuff eg junk-foods, organized religions continue to devolve from an idealistic mission eg optimal nutrition, down to maximizing "market share," mission be damned.
     Scientism. The
remarkable impact of scientific innovations and the resultant readily-available cheap consumer items easily converted many from anemic religions to true-believers in "scientism" - the pseudo-religious belief in "stuff," containing the most toxic elements of theistic religion (dogmatism & exclusivism), but none of the most intelligent, vitally important elements of science.

     A few words about science. Most (including "hard science only" fans) assume that "science" refers only to "natural sciences" (biology, chemistry & physics) which deal directly with matter/energy. Here, only physical matter / energy is studied, because only these can be (readily) measured, so that others ('third parties') can repeat the experiment, 'objectively' proving or 'refuting' the validity of the measurements.
     Seldom
recognized by the public, though critically important, is that the object of scientific interest typically must to be removed / isolated from its natural surroundings & brought into a sterile laboratory so that the study can focus ONLY on the experimental object.
    
Rarely (never?) mentioned now, though this was a standard disclaimer at the end of every scientific paper until ~40 years ago, went something like, 'the results of the present study are valid only under the described experimental conditions, and conclusions cannot be made beyond the present
experimental conditions.' TWO important ramifications of this disclaimer:
     1)
If another lab's
methods deviate at all from the original lab's, they should get different results, and so it cannot disprove the original lab's results.
     2)
The process of removing the object
from its native environment for scientific study, unavoidably causes varying degrees of damage. Further damage then occurs as the isolated object is exposed to a completely foreign, often inhospitable lab ('in vitro') environment. Still further damage occurs when the object is subjected to experimental stimuli - the "experimental conditions".
     These
represent BOTH a strength, AND a limitation of the scientific method. The strength: isolation allows scientists to study the object of interest, with minimal contamination by other objects, be it from the objects natural environment, or the lab itself. The limitation: given how
even a slight difference in methodology (eg lower temperature) between labs changes the results of the experiment, how closely can we expect our lab findings of the profoundly damaged, isolated object compared to when it's undisturbed, functioning harmoniously with its natural environment? Hidden here also a key materialist dogma - the belief in the primacy of matter, which here implies that we should be able to build anything, including human life itself, from basic building blocks. Critics correctly call this clear limitation & increasingly questionable dogma, "reductionist" - analyzing & describing a complex phenomenon in terms of its simple or fundamental constituents. Varying degrees of isolation, manipulation & simplification are necessary, regular, normal aspects of science BUT this, often radically simplified model, can only provide hints about complex reality. Below, even more potential surprises about real science:

      Thomas
Kuhn's classic, 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' intelligently describes scientific progress. "... science changes, adapts, and specializes to fit the times. It does not work toward some absolute 'truth,' but merely continues its work of studying and understanding the world.
     Many
people have the idea that science progresses in a linear fashion—a straightforward march from ignorance to knowledge. If that were true, then there would be no such thing as scientific revolutions; old ideas would never need to be overturned, only built upon.
     However
, not only do scientific revolutions happen, they follow a specific pattern. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions lays out this pattern clearly and labels each part of it. The parts are:
          1) Normal
science: The process of adding to existing knowledge through experiments and study.
          2) Puzzle-solving: Finding and fixing discrepancies in science as we currently understand it.
          3) Paradigm: ... a paradigm could be seen as a perfect example of an idea, which can be expanded into the framework of a whole field of scientific understanding. For example, think about the evolution of humans from a more ape-like ancestor. Using that paradigm, evolutionary biologists form the framework for all of their studies.
          4) Anomaly: Someone finds a discrepancy between the current paradigm and experimental results.
          5) Crisis: The discrepancy can’t be resolved. Scientists loyal to the current paradigm try to dismiss it, while others try to show that the current paradigm is wrong.
          6) Revolution: The old paradigm is overthrown by new information, and eventually a new one takes its place—a 'paradigm shift.' There have been many such revolutions in history that completely changed the way people understood and approached the world."
https://www.shortform.com/summary/the-structure-of-scientific-revolutions-summary-thomas-kuhn?gclid=Cj0KCQiA0p2QBhDvARIsAACSOOMmoBYMECSzkKRKJzS7FE-4GF1pWw0Gpm694tLTYiajFjmBTBdZejkaAh2FEALw_wcB

     It's "only human" to resist change, especially when one's ego, prestige, livelihood & (false) identity depend on defending outdated ideas & ways of thinking. However, when mounting new evidence is ignored, suppressed, ridiculed & shamed, it's because of dishonesty & incompetence, typical of religious cults, but has no place in science, nor meaningful religions.

"Models of Consciousness: Determinants of Our Lived Reality
     If you believe in a materialist model that considers consciousness beyond the human waking, dream and sleep states to be abnormal or nonexistent, this will limit your sense of interconnection. But if your model includes a continuum of consciousness within everything, the feeling of connection inherent in this model will naturally generate compassionate action: you understand that what happens to others also happens to you.
     Regardless of which model you accept, a key question is whether you are open to modifying your understanding based on emerging evidence regarding the nature of consciousness? Here is how the astrophysicist Bernard Haisch explains the strong grip of the medical model on modern science and our culture:
'Modern Western science regards consciousness as an epiphenomenon that cannot be anything but a byproduct of the neurology and biochemistry of the brain. While this perspective is viewed within modern science as a fact, it is in reality far stronger than a mere fact: it is a dogma. Facts can be overturned by evidence, whereas dogma is impervious to mere evidence.'
    
Bernard Haisch quoted in: David J. Chalmers. "The Conscious Mind. In Search of a Fundamental Theory."1997, p53

     Consider whether you are open to expanding your existing model of consciousness. As our model of consciousness expands, our experience of connection with everyone and everything around us expands as well. And this, in turn, can lead to an increased capacity for compassion and for actions by which we can heal ourselves and our planet."
     Marjorie
Woollacott PhD neuroscientist https://www.huffpost.com/entry/our-models-of-consciousness-how-they-shape-our-reality_b_59270990e4b0aa7207986b94

     Consider the story of this, now middle-aged, lady who had a near death experience (NDE) at 4 years of age. For much of her life, she only remembered the dark, scary components of her NDE, causing her to fear the dark & falling asleep. This terror was triggered when as an adult she was advised to have a general anesthesia (GA) for an operation. A brief excerpt: 
     “And suddenly it terrified me, with hot & cold shivers going through my body, that in essence it meant giving up control of one’s own consciousness. For about a quarter of an hour I was just going through the feeling of the essence of that loss of control, and tears washed down my face when I had to think about it. That this is the essence of dying, to just let go, to dive down without any ground under your feet. That this is the step out of control, like in death."
     During the GA, she finally remembered all the positive bright, loving, safe, welcoming components of her NDE, and lost her fear of the darkness, sleep, general anesthetic & death. Sometimes, when we lack the courage to accept that which we fear, life overwhelms our childish ego's feeble illusion of control, allowing us finally to see the reality that is here, yet beyond our simplistic materialistic ideas about reality.
    "If we let go of the rational control over our own consciousness, we can get somewhere that forms us and that also forms the universe. I acknowledge that this is, in my opinion, a very important state of mind, a very important process for us all.”

     See Marjorie Woollacott's imho excellent 65min lecture on NDEs, Meditation & Consciousness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGi39C5Ysk8&list=PLZwmf_5L38HgyTfPnr3hohBbP_-okYhGX&index=1

     We all know that fear triggers our strong survival instinct to control (fight, flight, freeze). However, as the Serenity Prayer (top of the page) suggests, this drive to control is only appropriate & helpful if the situation can be controlled
     When we transcend fear - which is often a hard-earned skill, then acceptance, love & connection with a profoundly better, infinitely greater reality opens up.
 

Marjorie Woollacott PhD


Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Love Itself - in Form and the Formless

     “A number of years ago, at a retreat in Ithaca, New York, Leonard told me that he was going to retire from music. Then a few years later, he came out of retirement, and he came out with a CD that he called Ten New Songs … The whole album is dedicated to, 'Our Teacher, Joshu Sasaki Roshi.'
     The works of Leonard Cohen, are known all over the world, of course. But what isn't known is that they are peppered with inside allusions to the teachings of Sasaki Roshi. The fifth cut on the Ten New Songs is called "Love Itself" and it's Leonard's version of the teisho, or Zen talk, of Sasaki Roshi. Unless somebody pointed it out, you wouldn't realize that.
     Sasaki Roshi has only one talk: There is zero. But zero is inherently unstable because it consists of all of the positive and negative in the universe. Therefore, inevitably it breaks apart into expansion and contraction. Expansion only knows how to expand. Contraction only knows how to contract. In between, they create a vibration called space, and that vibration is further nurtured and matured in the cleft between them, and then it evolves into a feeling thinking self that either knows it just came from zero, in which case we call it an enlightened self, or it doesn't. If it knows where it just came from, it knows to give the positive that it received from father back to father, and the negative that it received from mother back to the mother. Therefore, it disappears. There's nothing in between father and mother anymore. And they come back together to create a new state of zero. Oh, you don't understand? Okay, well, I'll try to say a little more. Then he says exactly the same thing again. And then, I see you still don't understand. Well, let me see if I can say some more. But you see, each time he says it, he lives it. He could say it forever. He lives that cycle and if you sense that he's living that cycle, you could listen, you could hear him say it forever.
     You're going to see in this song, there's a refrain. It imitates the style of Sasaki Roshi, but there's more to it. Sasaki Roshi talks about this little room of space where father and mother vibrate, and that's — They come into contrast, you reunite, come into contrast, reunite. He always describes it as like a private little room where there's only the two sides of the Source.
     Many of you have experienced that there are different flavors of Flow, different flavors of impermanence. I look upon the expansion and contraction as the fundamental flavors. When a wave comes up on the shore, the top of the wave is expanding, the bottom of the wave is contracting, and in the cleft as they're sheared apart is born all this foam. There's wavy Flow, there's vibratory Flow, which is analogous to the foam, but underlying it all is this expansion and contraction.
     Often, the most prominent experience of Flow, or change, or impermanence, is a kind of scintillating misty bubbly kind of Flow and it's very blissful, often. And your whole body and mind and the external world can dissolve into it, and it's like trillions of little motes of dust sort of just shimmering. Some of you have had that experience. Because it's blissful, there is the danger of being attached to it. But if you don't become attached to that, then it all sort of flatlines into zero. All the little vibrations go back to the Source. Father and mother come together, and there is shalom bimromav, the peace of heaven.
     If having that champagne bubbly experience of Flow is like being made love to, in a sense, what's beyond that is the Gone. And what's beyond the Gone? Well, after Gone, there's no place to go but to come back, to self and world, but to see it in a different way, for having had that experience. And to do this over and over and over again until there is no fundamental separation between the experience of the Source and ordinary experience. They're on a continuum. There's not a duality between the deepest transcendent empty timeless spaceless cessation, there's not a duality between that and any ordinary experience. They're on a continuum. That's living nirvana. There's nothing in between one's humanity and that which is beyond the human. And that would pretty much describe the world of a master.
     There is the formless, there is the form, and then there is them not being fundamentally separate. In the end, if you want to experience what Sasaki Roshi calls true love, hontō no ai, use that expression. It says everybody wants true love, but they don't realize that true love is zero. True love is what happens if you're willing to let go of the most celestial form of love other than true love, so you'd have to even let go of the massage of the spirit.
     Understanding this, you are in a position to completely understand Leonard's song called 'Love Itself.'"

     Shinzen Young
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSv5ELuujjs&list=PLngmRO3nU7wLESfjzlpE3STD4YqFvq5pE&index=32&t=4s

 

Leonard Cohen - 'Love Itself'