Archive for February, 2011

Myth . . . is the form in which I try to answer when children ask me those fundamental metaphysical questions which come so readily to their minds: “Where did the world come from?” “Why did God make the world?” “Where was I before I was born?” “Where do people go when they die?” Again and again I have found that they seem to be satisfied with a simple and very ancient story, which goes something like this:

There was never a time when the world began, because it goes round and round like a circle, and there is no place on a circle where it begins. Look at my watch, which tells the time; it goes around, and so the world repeats itself again and again. But just as the hour-hand of the watch goes up to twelve and down to six, so, too, there is day and night, waking and sleeping, living and dying, summer and winter. You can’t have any one of these without the other, because you wouldn’t be able to know what black is unless you had seen it side by side with white, or white unless side by side with black.

In the same way, there are times when the world is, and times when it isn’t, for if the world went on and on without rest forever and ever, it would get horribly tired of itself. It comes and it goes. Now you see it; now you don’t. So because it doesn’t get tired of itself, it always comes back again after it disappears. It’s like your breath: it goes in and out, in and out, and if you try to hold it in all the time you feel terrible. It’s also like the game of hide-and-seek, because it’s always fun to find new ways of hiding, and to seek for someone who doesn’t always hide in the same place.

God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, He has no one but himself to play with. But He gets over this difficulty by pretending that He is not Himself. This is His way of hiding from Himself. He pretends that He is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way He has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when He wakes up they will disappear.

Now when God plays hide and pretends that He is you and I, He does it so well that it takes Him a long time to remember where and how He hid Himself. But that’s the whole fun of it – just what He wanted to do. He doesn’t want to find Himself out too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be Himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self – the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.

Of course, you must remember that God isn’t shaped like a person. People have skins and there is always something outside our skins. If there weren’t, we wouldn’t know the difference between what is inside and outside our bodies. But God has no skin and no shape because there isn’t any outside to Him. . . The inside and the outside of God are the same. And though I have been talking about God as ‘He’ and not ‘she,’ God isn’t a man or a woman. I didn’t say ‘it’ because we usually say ‘it’ for things that aren’t alive.

God is the Self of the world, but you can’t see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can’t see your own eyes, and you certainly can’t bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding.

You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember, first, that He isn’t really doing this to anyone but Himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It’s the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world.

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Posted: February 28, 2011 in Quotes
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Practice letting go of thoughts about what’s not here now. Just allow yourself to meld into the perfection of the universe you live in. You don’t need another thing to be happy; it’s all being provided for you right here, right now. Be in this moment, and free yourself of striving for something more or someone else.

– Dr. Wayne Dyer

 

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Quotes
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Your religion is not the garb you wear outwardly, but the garment of light you weave around your heart. Discover who you are, behind those outer trappings, and you will discover who Jesus was, and Buddha, and Krishna. For all the masters come to earth for the purpose of holding up to every man a reflection of his deeper, eternal Self.

– Yogananda

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Quotes

Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.

– Margaret Mead

  • This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything know about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.
    • The first result of this illusion is that our attitude to the world “outside” us is largely hostile. We are forever “conquering” nature, space, mountains, deserts, bacteria, and insects instead of learning to cooperate with them in a harmonious order.
    • The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events – that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies – and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.
  • Religions are divisive and quarrelsome. They are a form of one-upmanship because they depend upon separating the “saved” from the “damned,” the true believers from the heretics, the in-group from the out-group. Even religious liberals play the game of “we’re-more-tolerant-than-you.”
    • Furthermore, as systems of doctrine, symbolism, and behavior, religious harden into institutions that must command loyalty, be defended and kept “pure,” and because all belief is fervent hope, and thus a cover-up for doubt and uncertainty – religions must make converts.
    • No considerate God would destroy the human mind by making it so rigid and inadaptable as to depend upon one book, the Bible, for all the answers. For the use of words, and thus of a book, is to point beyond themselves to a world of life and experience that is not mere words or even ideas.
  • Irrevocable commitment to any religion is not only intellectual suicide; it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world. Faith is, above all, openness – an act of trust in the unknown.
  • The Book that I would like to slip to my children would itself be slippery. It would slip them into a new domain, not of ideas alone, but of experience and feeling. It would be a temporary medicine, not a diet; a point of departure, not a perpetual point of reference.
  • The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.
  • …myself does not reside in the drop alone, but in the whole surge of energy which ranges from the galaxies to the nuclear fields in my body. At this level of existence “I” am immeasurably old; my forms are infinite and their comings and goings are simply the pulses or vibrations of a single and eternal flow of energy.
  • Genuine love comes from knowledge, not from a sense of duty or guilt.
  • Yet remember, this story of the cycles of the world’s appearance and disappearance is myth, not science, parable rather than prophecy.
  • The very things that we believe to exist are always on/offs. Ons alone and offs alone do not exist.
    • Although sounds of high vibration seem to be continuous, to be pure sound, they are not. Every sound is actually sound/silence, only the ear does not register this consciously when the alternation is too rapid.
    • Light, too, is not pure light, but light/darkness.
  • Space is the relationship between bodies; and without it there can be neither energy nor motion.
    • Things are said to move only when compared with others that are relatively still, for motion is motion/stillness.
    • But the mistake in the beginning was to think of solids and space as two different things, instead of as two aspects of the same thing. The point is that they are different but inseparable.
      • Take away the crest of the wave, and there is no trough.
  • Attention is narrowed perception.
    • It is a way of looking at life bit by bit, using memory to string the bits together – as when examining a dark room with a flash light having a very narrow beam.
    • The narrow slit in the fence is much like the way in which we look at life by conscious attention, for when we attend to something we ignore everything else.
    • To these we attend, and the rest we ignore – for which reason conscious attention is at the same time ignorance despite the fact that it gives us a vividly clear picture of whatever we choose to notice.
    • We also speak of attention as noticing. To notice is to select, to regard some bits of perception, or some features of the world, as more noteworthy, more significant, than others.
  • It is hard to notice anything for which the languages available to us (whether verbal, mathematical, or musical) have no description.
  • We do not play the Game of Black-and-White – the universal game of up/down, on/off, solid/space, and each/all. Instead, we play the game of Black-versus-White or more usually, White-versus-Black.
    • …We are doing something as crazy as trying to keep the mountains and get rid of the valleys.
  • Imagination cannot grasp simple nothingness and must therefore fill the void with fantasies…
  • Power is not necessarily wisdom. I may have virtual omnipotence in the government of my body and my physical environment, but how am I to control myself so as to avoid folly and error in its use?
  • The question is then whether technical progress actually “gets anywhere” in the sense of increasing the delight and happiness of life.
    • …all too soon these new contrivances are taken for granted, and we find ourselves oppressed with the new predicaments which they bring with them.
  • However much we divide, count, sort, or classify this wiggling into particular things and events, this is no more than a way of thinking about the world: it is never actually divided.
  • Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way, like the problem of cause and effect.
  • The definition of a thing or event must include definition of its environment, we realize that any given thing goes with a given environment so intimately and inseparably that it is more difficult to draw a clear boundary between the thing and its surroundings.
    • Asking “What does it do?” is not enough. We must also ask, “In what surroundings is it doing it?”
  • Your soul, or rather your essential Self, is the whole cosmos as it is centered around the particular time, place, and activity called John Doe. Thus the soul is not in the body, but the body in the soul, and the soul is the entire network of relationships and processes which make up your environment, and apart from which you are nothing.
    • The human individual is not built as a car is built. He does not come into being by assembling parts, by screwing a head onto a neck, by wiring a brain to a set of lungs, or by welding veins to a heart. Head, neck, heart, lungs, brain, veins, muscles, and glands are separate names but not separate events, and these events grow into being simultaneously and interdependently. In precisely the same way, the individual is separate from his universal environment only in name. when this is not recognized, you have been fooled by your name.
  • Double-bind – a person is put in a double-bind by a command or request which contains a concealed contradiction.
    • Stop being self-conscious!
    • Try to relax.
  • The social double-bind game:
    • The first rule of this game is that it is not a game.
    • Everyone must play.
    • You must love us.
    • You must go on living.
    • Be yourself, but play a consistent and acceptable role.
    • Control yourself and be natural.
    • Try to be sincere.
  • Instead of giving our children clean and explicit explanations of the game rules of the community, we befuddle them hopelessly because we – as adults – were once so befuddled, and, remaining so, do not understand the game we are playing.
  • Faith – in life, in other people, and in oneself – is the attitude of allowing the spontaneous to be spontaneous, in its own way and in its own time. That is, of course, risky because life and other people do not always respond to faith as we might wish.
    • But to take the gamble out of the game, to try to make winning a dead certainty, is to achieve a certainty which is indeed dead.
    • The alternative to a community based on mutual trust is a totalitarian police-state, a community in which spontaneity is virtually forbidden.
  • Every individual is a unique manifestation of the Whole, as every branch is a particular outreaching of the tree.
    • Differentiation is not separation.
  • Because he is now so largely defined as a separate person caught up in a mindless and alien universe, his principal task is to get one-up on the universe and to conquer nature. This is palpably absurd, and since the task is never achieved, the individual is taught to live and work for some future in which the impossible will at last happen, if not for him, then at least for his children. We are thus breeding a type of human being incapable of living in the present – that is, of really living.
    • You will never, never be able to sit back with full contentment and say, “Now, I’ve arrived!” Your entire education has deprived you of this capacity because it was preparing you for the future, instead of showing you how to be alive now.
  • For our pleasures are not material pleasures but symbols of pleasure – attractively packaged but inferior in content.
  • Gestalt theory of perception – no figure is ever perceived except in relation to a background.
  • We do not easily notice that all features of the world hold their boundaries in common with the areas that surround them – that the outline of the figure is also the inline of the background.
  • The difficulty is that most languages are arranged so that actions (verbs) have to be set in motion by things (nouns), and we forget that rules of grammar are not necessarily rules, or patterns, of nature.
    • For the organism is sometimes a running process, sometimes a standing process, sometimes a sleeping process, and so on, and in each instance the “cause” of the behavior is the situation as a whole, the organism/environment. Indeed, it would be best to drop the idea of causality and use instead the idea of relativity.
  • It is what it does. More precisely, the organism, including its behavior, is a process which is to be understood only in relation to the larger and longer process of its environment.
    • The whole is a pattern which has no separate parts.
    • Parts are fictions of language – parts exist only for purposes of figuring and describing.
  • It is easy enough to see that an intelligent human being implies an intelligent human society, for thinking is a social activity – a mutual interchange of messages and ideas based on such social institutions as languages, sciences, libraries, universities, and museums.
  • No current will “flow” through a wire until the positive pole is connected with the negative, or, to put it very simply, no current will start unless it has a point of arrival, and a living organism is a “point of arrival” apart from which there can never be the “currents” or phenomena of light, heat, weight, hardness, and so forth.

The fool who persists in his folly will become wise. – William Blake

  • We have lacked the proper self-respect of recognizing that I, the individual organism, am a structure of such fabulous ingenuity that it calls the whole universe into being.
    • We have lacked the real humility of recognizing that we are members of the biosphere, the “harmony of contained conflicts” in which we cannot exist at all without the cooperation of [everything].

…the world cannot be analyzed correctly into distinct parts; instead, it must be regarded as an indivisible unit in which separate parts appear as valid approximations only in the classical [i.e. Newtonian] limit…Thus at the quantum level of accuracy, an object does not have any “intrinsic” properties (for instance, wave or particle) belonging to itself alone; instead, it shares all its properties mutually and indivisibly with the systems with which it interacts. Moreover, because a given object, such as an electron, interacts at different potentialities, it undergoes…continual transformation between the various forms (for instance, wave or particle form) in which it can manifest itself.

Although such fluidity and dependence of form on the environment have not been found, before the advent of quantum theory, at the level of elementary particles in physics, they are not uncommon…in fields, such as biology, which deal with complex systems. Thus, under suitable environmental conditions, a bacterium can develop into a spore stage, which is completely different in structure, and vice versa. – David Bohm, Quantum Theory

  • For eternally and always there in only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end.
  • Man so defined and so experienced is, of course, incapable of pleasure and contentment, let alone creative power. Hoaxed into the illusion of being an independent, responsible source of actions, he cannot understand why what he does never comes up to what he should do, to a society which has defined him as separate cannot persuade him to behave as if he really belonged. Thus he feels chronic guilt and makes the most heroic efforts to placate his conscience.
    • The separate person is without content, in both senses of the word. He lives perpetually on hope, on looking forward to tomorrow, having been brought up this way from childhood…
  • If you know what you want, and will be content with it, you can be trusted.
    • But if you do not know, your desires are limitless and no one can tell how to deal with you. For whom that does not know what he wants, everyone suspects that there are limitless strings attached to his gifts.
  • No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.

Part of the blessedness of the saints in Heaven was that they could look over the battlements and enjoy the “proper justice” of the sinners squirming in Hell. – Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • All winners need losers; all saints need sinners; all sages need fools.

If I am I because you are you, and if you are you because I am I, them I am not I, you are not you. – A Hassidic rabbi

  • How to get over the sensation of being locked out from everything “other,” of being only oneself – an organism flung into unavoidable competition and conflict with almost every “object” in its experience?
  • Nothing unites a community so much as common cause against an external enemy, yet, in the same moment, that enemy becomes the essential support of social unity.
    • Therefore larger societies require larger enemies.
  • The more resolute you plumb the question “Who or what am I?” – the more you unavoidable is the realization that you are nothing at all apart from everything else.
  • When this feeling of separateness is approached and accepted like any other sensation, it evaporates like the mirage that it is.
  • There is, indeed, no compulsion unless there is also freedom of choice, for the sensation of behaving involuntarily is known only by contrast with that of behaving voluntarily.

When purpose has been used to achieve purposelessness, the thing has been grasped. – The Secret of the Golden Flower

  • To play so as to be relaxed and refreshed for work is not to play, and no work is well and finely done unless it, too, is a form of play.
  • The word is a spell (in Latin, Fascinum), an enchantment (being thrilled by a chant), an amazement (being lost in a maze), an arabesque of such stunning rhythm and a plot so intriguing that we are drawn by its web into a state of involvement where we forget that it is a game…It is simultaneously the purest nonsense and the utmost artistry.
  • The universe is at root a magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate “you” to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The only real “you” is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For “you” is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new. What we see as death, empty space, or nothingness is only the trough between the crests of this endlessly waving ocean. It is all part of the illusion that there should seem to be something to be gained in the future, and that there is an urgent necessity to go on and on until we get it. Yet just as there is no time but the present, and no one except the all-and-everything, there is never anything to be gained – though the zest of the game is to pretend that there is.
  • If we want justice for minorities and cooled wars with our natural enemies, whether human or nonhuman, we must first come to terms with the minority and the enemy in ourselves and in our own hearts, for the rascal is there as much as anywhere in the “external” world – especially when you realize that the world outside your skin is as much yourself as the world inside.
  • The goal of action is always contemplation – knowing and being rather than seeking and becoming.
  • Nothing so eludes conscious inspections consciousness itself. This is why the root of consciousness has been called, paradoxically, the unconsciousness.
  • Just as true humor is laughter at oneself, true humanity is knowledge of oneself.
  • Anyone who thinks at all must be a philosopher – a good one or a bad one – because it is impossible to think without premises, without basic (and in this sense, metaphysical) assumptions about what is sensible, what is the good life, what is beauty, and what is pleasure. To hold such assumptions, consciously or unconsciously, is to philosophize.
  • Chemistry, biology, geology, and astronomy are special fascination with the details of our environment, but metaphysics is fascination with the whole thing.
  • Thought and sensation are analytical and selective, and thus present the world as no more than a multiplicity of things and events.

What guarantee is there that the five senses, taken together, do cover the whole of possible experience? They cover simply our actual experience, our human knowledge of facts or events. There are gaps between the fingers; there are gaps between the senses. In these gaps is the darkness which hides the connection between things…This darkness is the source of our vague fears and anxieties, but also the home of the gods. They alone see the connections, the total relevance of everything that happens; that which now comes to us in bits and pieces, the “accidents” which exist only in our heads, in our limited perceptions. – Idris Parry

  • All knowledge is a recognition of the mutual relations between sense experiences and/or things and events.
    • All things are known by their differences from and likeness to each other.
  • Enantiodromia – the attainment of any extreme position is the point where it begins to turn into its own opposite.
  • Listen intently to a voice singing without words. It may charm you into crying, force you to dance, fill you with rage, or make you jump for joy. You can’t tell where the music ends and the emotions begin, for the whole thing is a kind of music – the voice playing on your nerves as the breath plays on a flute. All experience is just that, except that its music has many more dimension than sound. It vibrates in the dimensions of sight, touch, taste, and smell, and in the intellectual dimension of symbols and words – all evoking and playing upon each other.
  • For this unity is not mere oneness as opposed to multiplicity, since these two terms are themselves polar. The unity, or inseparability, of one and many is therefore referred to in Vedanta philosophy as “non-duality” (advaita) to distinguish it from simply uniformity.
    • Language can no more transcend duality than paintings or photographs upon a flat surface can go beyond two dimensions. Yet by the convention of perspective, certain two-dimensional lines that slant towards a “vanishing-point” are taken to represent the third dimension of depth.
    • In a similar way, the dualistic term “non-duality” is taken to represent the “dimension” in which explicit differences have implicit unity.
  • What lies beyond opposites must be discussed, if at all, in terms of opposites, and this means using the language of analogy, metaphor, and myth.
  • The difficulty is not only that language is dualistic, insofar as words are labels for mutually exclusive classes. The problem is that IT is so much more myself than I thought I was, so central and basic to my existence, that I cannot make it an object. There is no way to stand outside IT, and, in fact, no need to do so. For so long as I am trying to grasp IT, I am implying that IT is not really myself. If it were possible, I am losing the sense of it by attempting to find it. This is why those who really know that they are IT invariably say they do not understand it, for IT understands understanding – not the other way around. One cannot, and need no, go deeper than deep!
  • It is difficult not to feel the force of the image, because images sway our emotions more deeply than conceptions.

Nothing is left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh! – Zen saying

  • We [The separate selves] do not trust the universe to repeat what it has already done – to “I” itself again and again. We see it as a eternal arena in which the individual is no more than a temporary stranger – a visitor who hardly belongs – for the thin ray of consciousness does not shine upon its own source. In looking out upon the world, we forget that the world is looking at itself – through our eyes and IT’s.

 

Stomach: The Lazy Fellow

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Short Stories

Once upon a time the mouth, the hands, and the feet said to each other, “We do all this work gathering food and chewing it up, but the lazy fellow, the stomach, does nothing. It’s high time he did some work too, so let’s go on strike!” Whereupon they went many days without working, but soon found themselves feeling weaker and weaker until at last each of them realized that the stomach was their stomach, and that they would have to go back to work to remain alive.

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Quotes
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Peace is not a destination, it’s rather a way of life that has to be perused through our good actions, towards one self, other human beings, other creatures and essentially with our earth which gives us life.

Nomads United

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Quotes
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Humans have something akin to brain damage. To neurophysiologists, who research cognitive functions, the emotionally driven appear to suffer from cognitive deficits that mimic certain types of brain injuries. … Anyone with an intense emotional interest in a subject loses the ability to observe it objectively: You selectively perceive events. You ignore data and facts that disagree with your main philosophy. Even your memory works to fool you, as you selectively retain what you believe in, and subtly mask any memories that might conflict.

– Barry Ritholtz

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Quotes
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Science cannot be stopped. Man will gather knowledge no matter what the consequences — and we cannot predict what they will be. Science will go on — whether we are pessimistic, or are optimistic, as I am. I know that great, interesting, and valuable discoveries can be made and will be made… But I know also that still more interesting discoveries will be made that I have not the imagination to describe — and I am awaiting them, full of curiosity and enthusiasm.

– Linus Pauling

 

Posted: February 26, 2011 in Quotes

God manifests himself to us in the first degree through the life of the universe, and in the second degree through the thought of man. The second manifestation is not less holy than the first. The first is named Nature, the second is named Art.

– Victor Hugo