These are special times we're living in. We're on the verge of a profound change in the way in which we understand the universe and our place in it. This universe, as we perceive it, is just that, a perception. Change our mode of perception, and new universes will unfold. We think we're all separate individuals possessing our own separate spheres of consciousness, and yet at a deeper level resides something which is common to all, the Self, which goes beyond the individual. There's so much more to this universe than what we've yet conceived it to be. The future holds the way. It's inevitable that a profound and lasting transformation will soon take place that will rival or supercede that produced by the advent of the major religions. Of this I am certain.
So many different perspectives, so many different truths...and yet they all constitute the whole. This life is a dream...we can make it into whatever we want.
One must learn the art of altering perspective. Different truths reside in different perspectives. What seems contradiction is not. And so I often seem to contradict myself because I enjoy shifting between different perspectives of reality. Yet, all the perspectives form a whole.
What is a perspective? It's a state of consciousness, a way of seeing and experiencing things. Questions, such as, 'What is the meaning of life?' or 'What do I judge to be good?', have different answers depending on what perspective you're in. Some perspectives admit no answers to such questions. Many have lived their lives not knowing such answers because the perspectives they lived in admitted no answers.
(excerpt from one of my emails dated 08-21-01)
I just got back from two days of vacation in Florida at my parent's beach condo. The mind-numbing splashing waves, the dazzling lightning storms over the ocean at night, it's all like a dream that never happened...Just two days and I feel fully refreshed, and ever so hungry. And yet I sit here in disbelief over the entire experience, so surreal did it seem. In my mind I have burned an image of majestic, pristine white, cumulus clouds moving ever so slowly, ever so inevitably, across the infinite azure sky, totally unconcerned about the hubbub and frenzied activity of the people on the beach below. I wept at the sight, so beautiful, so telling. And thus this cosmic drama moves on, a force unconcerned with the vanities of the individual, a force totally beyond the individual, towards we know not what. And yet each of us is caught in its current, and most do not even see it. The same Self in you and I, in the heart of everyone else, looking out with fascination and awe at this transformation in progress. It's absolutely amazing. Are we the same 'I'? Do you feel this? One 'I' looking out onto the world, transforming it, and being transformed by it. To what extent does thought create reality? Who knows the full capabilities of consciousness? Think of your highest state of consciousness, and ask yourself what lies beyond. The vastness of consciousness can be a scary thing. Forget about the vast silent spaces that Pascal spoke of in his Pensees. The vastness of consciousness, of Being, in one's highest states of consciousness, and the contemplation of what lies beyond, can be a terrifying thought. An unfathomable abyss surrounds us, and the thought of falling in without being able to get out sometimes strikes terror at my core. We know not what lies beyond our own consciousness, and it's a dangerous thing to go beyond oneself in this respect. And yet what other path have we? This is the only way out. Like a trapped animal I seek to escape my confines, to expand my consciousness...it's the only way out. This life beckons us upwards, and outwards, and inwards. There's no other way. Being trapped within one's confining consciousness is the worst of all prisons.
The universe, as we directly experience and understand it, is but a construct of the brain that enables us to navigate about and get what we want. It's not a true picture of reality. There are many ways of constructing and experiencing reality, and there are ways of perceiving things other than the 'normal' construct that the vast majority of mankind employs.
However, our perceptual constructs will soon give way to something far more profound, something currently inconceivable for the vast majority of humanity because they're all trapped in their little worlds, and they think it's reality, but it's not. We are the universe conscious of itself. Very soon, I think, consciousness is going to experience an abrupt change. Humanity has been confined for so long in an illusion. Individuality will give way to the experience of something common, that sort of underlies the individuality.
Our perceptual realities are only the dimly lit surface of a vast sea of consciousness. I'm not talking about the Jungian collective unconscious per se, but rather something which is indeed very conscious. However, the great majority of man has not experienced this directly because they are confined within their little, illusory perceptual shells which they think is somehow reflective of reality, but it isn't.
We (our conscious worlds) are but waves or ripples on the surface of something vast, the Self, a consciousness which underlies and encompasses all the little spheres of self-consciousness. This is why I think being self-centered is naive. We, as a species, are moving inexorably towards Self-centeredness.
If you directly experience the bigger picture, you'll see just how much of an illusion our 'normal' perceptual reality is. I make no claim to experiencing the full, true picture. However, I have experienced a much bigger picture, and know that's the direction that consciousness is heading, that that's in our future.
People are stuck in their little waves of individuality, they never look deep beneath the surface, and there's something vast there which I strongly suspect is common to all. It's something you have to directly experience because explanations and descriptions will be empty without the actual experience, though I'm not recommending that everybody attempt to experience it just yet. Nonetheless, it is where the future is headed.
How I See the World(3-25-01)
"Those who experience the 'Self' lose all fear, including fear of death itself. "
the 'Reality Network'
I think that all of Nature or Reality may very well be conscious or aware (i.e., that a 'Self' exists in Nature) but that self-consciousness (the me-ness, the notion of 'self'), as we ordinarily understand and experience it, is confined to certain life forms with sufficiently advanced brains, such as humans. Perhaps the 'self', the me-ness, is akin to elementary particles, such as electrons, which exist in large numbers scattered throughout the universe but are 'identical' to each other. The only thing that distinquishes one electron from another is it's space-time stamp...perhaps the same holds for the centers of self-consciousness, or me-nesses. Perhaps there is only one 'Self' with many identical 'selves' or me-nesses contained within it (like the many identical electrons contained within the universe), but not exhausting it because not every part of the 'Self' is a sphere of self-consciousness (just like not every part of the universe consists of electrons).
By the 'Reality Network', I understand reality, objective reality, not to be confused with the models of reality we construct in our minds. Reality is a plexus, an interconnected network composed of nodes, which are elementary units of existence, and connections between nodes, which are causal relations. This network is beyond space and time. Space and time are convenient constructs of the mind, serving as necessary prerequisites for the perception/conception of objects and entities which reside in space and time.
Further, if we were to attempt to embed this Reality Network into some n-dimensional space, then the number of dimensions would greatly (infinitely?) exceed the familiar (3+1)dimensions of our mental space-time models. In other words, the (3+1)dimensional space-time models of reality that we construct in our minds are but a shadow of what actually is. We are normally conscious only of the surface of something much deeper, something that exists in much higher dimensions.
Because it is not possible for us to conceive of this network completely beyond space and time, it is convenient to consider it as a topology, an interconnected network of elements (that is beyond space and the importance of which is contained in the connectivity between nodes) embedded in time. Thus, we can conceive of time-dependent activity over this network as signifying the strength of causal relations between elements thru time.
To re-iterate, this network is beyond space and time. Space and time are mere constructs of the mind. In the following, we consider the network as embedded in time in order to facilitate understanding of the nature of this network.
By the 'self', I understand each individual person's center of consciousness. Consciousness is purely relational. It is dependent only on causal relations between elements of the network. My center of consciousness, my 'self', corresponds to activity over a nexus, a highly interconnected group of elements, within this network. There are multiple such nexuses, each with (time-dependent) activity as it were, each a center of consciousness corresponding to different selves. The flow of activity, and it's form (which is determined by the sub-network over which it flows), determines the mode of consciousness. There exists modes of consciousness which do not involve the notion of 'self'. Strong flows of activity are not confined to individual nexuses, but can come from elsewhere in the network. Trans-personal modes of consciousness can be the result of similar activity (or relational) patterns across multiple nexuses or sufficiently strong flows of activity which encompass multiple nexuses.
By the 'Self', I understand the global activity over this network. We, considered as centers of consciousness or individual 'selves', are each merely a part of this 'Self'. As part of the 'Self', we may also become conscious of the presence of the 'Self' within ourselves by entering into the appropriate mode of consciousness. Once one has become conscious and convinced of the presence of the 'Self', one sees it in every other sentient life, and understands that consciousness is everywhere one and the same, it's only the particular form that differs across individuals. In a way, one will see the same 'Self' peeking out from everyone's eyes, though each person will contain a unique 'self'. Those who experience the 'Self' lose all fear, including fear of death itself.
By the development or 'Unfolding' of the individual, I understand the 'self' assuming a greater part of the 'Self', or equivalently, identifying with the 'Self' to a greater extent.
By 'God', I understand Ultimate Reality, all that exists, and all that gives rise to existence and causal relations. All things are in God, and God is in all things. God encompasses the One and the Many. It follows that God is inclusive of both the 'Reality Network' and the 'Self'. (8-09-01)
The Meaning of the biblical Genesis
The biblical Genesis and it's various symbols, such as the image above, epitomize the idea of reconnecting with the divine source or creator. On a short personal note, I grew up without a father, though always painfully aware of it, and I think that I sub-consciously interpreted this isolation as a sort of rejection thru which I needed to redeem myself in his eyes in order to be re-united. Rationally, I know it's absurd, but I think that is what's powerfully operating sub-consciously, and that it got transformed into a seeking for redemption and re-union with the divine source...the Creator, seen now as father figure (as Christianity tends to), and mankind's striving towards Him, towards the original unity, the original source....this original unity as the real meaning behind the universe and of existence itself....Mankind's struggle throughout the centuries to find this deeper meaning, to redeem itself from the past, from the original separation from the divine father...the spirit of mankind has experienced so much suffering from the separation and the quest to re-unite with the creator....the relation between creator, creation, and the act of creation....Humanity has experienced so much spiritual suffering, so much longing, so much striving...these forces utterly transcend the individual, though the individual may become strongly conscious of them, and are what guides our species ever onwards, inexorably, towards that unity with the creator. From dust, the creation has striven, in darkness and isolation, and in such heavy spiritual suffering and torment from the separation, ever upwards thru the scales of evolution, by constantly overcoming its previous limitations and all that is reasonable and safe, by redeeming all the past mistakes and imperfections thru the future, towards complete union with the creator, for that is man's ultimate destiny, there's no stopping it. The struggle of our species, and of the individual, towards this divine union of creator with creation, and the extent to which this struggle is realized and brings the individual and the species closer to God, is what gives meaning....the ultimate meaning, the final answer, being found in the very source itself, the original creator that we struggle ever onwards towards, so nobly and passionately, with complete determination, and with so much longing, yet in utter heart-rendering spiritual suffering.
I do not believe in sin, heaven, hell, the soul, an afterlife, or the God of the bible. I believe in one God. For me, God is Immanent Cause, Ultimate Reality, Universal Meaning, Supreme Affirmation, and is everywhere. God and Reality are one and the same, and God can be found imbued in oneself, in everything around oneself, in everything. This is not simply the physicist's mass-energy, but something more. Religious feeling typically takes the form of a vivid consciousness of the meaning and significance contained in everything, everywhere. This feeling is awe-inspiring and mysterious.
In a nutshell, my view of the world can best be described as Einstein's or Spinoza's orderly, mathematical worldview infused with Nietzsche's frenzied intensity.
"And do you know what "the world" is to me? A monster of energy, without beginning, without end, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself, as a becoming that knows no satiety, no weariness." -Nietzsche
On Universal Meaning
Purpose and meaning are not mere illusions. When I speak of universal meaning, this is a feeling and sensing of the universe's grand significance. It is like when you feel that something important is happening...it is like this, magnified a thousand-fold. It is like a constant very loud noise coming from everywhere, but it is not auditory, but rather a feeling of the meaning or significance of this universe, of this Reality. Those who have not experienced it will never fully appreciate the vastness of this meaning. Since I experience this feeling so strongly and so enduringly, I conclude that it is not illusion in the same way that I conclude, from the strength and endurance of my perception of common objects, that these are not illusions but are subjective representations with counterparts in the objective world.
Nihilism amounts to a belief that nothing is worthwhile, that life is pointless, and that there exists no meaning or significance in this world. This, to me, seems a total rejection of life, or rather, a total rejection of what life 'ought' to be about, which includes an awareness and appreciation of the supreme meaning of this universe and a recognition that it is our natural right, one could argue moral obligation or even inner necessity, to claim what is ours and assume the power which is now but a potential. I reject nihilism because my own experience argues fatally against it. I reject nihilism because I do not think it's a reasonable conclusion. My justification for my philosophy does not rely on "blind faith", but rather is based on my own experiences, on what I see and feel, both within and outside myself.
On Religious Feeling
For me, ethics is the province of philosophy, whereas questions concerning the nature of the universe belong to science. Religious institutions have claim to neither and are regarded as antiquated, dogmatic, and not worthy of modern-day man. However, "religious feelings", which include 1) the feeling of inner necessity and "divine" purpose and 2) the intuitive experience of the mysterious, of universal meaning, and of something greater than oneself, are beautiful, enriching, and invigorating experiences that are quite independent of the dogmatism and superstition of religious institutions. Without these "religious feelings", life would hardly be worth living.
On Religious Belief
Religious belief is a strong desire on the part of the follower which they interpret as belief. I think that religion satisfies many people's psychological need for meaning in their lives, but I think there is a better way than religion to satisfy this need. I think that religion has outlived its usefulness, and that people should start recognizing that we have to move beyond religion. There are many problems with religion: it's too dogmatic, it usually conflicts with science and commonsense, how do you know you've chosen the right religion when there are hundreds of different religions (with many religions saying that followers of other religions are damned to hell!), etc, etc.... In particular, I don't like the fact that religious institutions resort to using fear tactics to keep their followers, telling them that they'll go to hell if they believe otherwise. This "resorting to fear tactics" is what I find most offensive in religious institutions.
The Better Way
What is the better way? I think that when you recognize the potential for man to control and shape nature to his advantage, if you really see all of the possibilities engendered by this power over nature, then you'll understand that religions might have been useful when societies did not possess the science and technology of today, but that religion needs to be superceded by a faith in the ability of man to overcome all obstacles, control nature to his advantage, and express his creativity and power by shaping and modifying nature at will. I think that the advances in science and tech are objective evidence for the ability of man to someday accomplish this goal, and to become, figuratively speaking, the gods of yesterday. This is my faith. Such a faith engenders wild, unbridled optimism. There are no fear tactics here.
We are all potters, and nature is but malleable clay in our hands. We can make it into whatever we conceive of. However, we also accept the responsibility for how things turn out, for whether this world becomes a heaven or a hell. If we don't like the current world, we have only ourselves to blame. No need to place our faith in fictitious gods when it can be better placed in ourselves and in our fellow man. We are the ones in control here.
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