Saturday, February 19, 2011
Saturday, May 9, 2009
If asked to characterize the great categories of force in the known universe, most people might make replies of “positive and negative” or “extropy vs. entropy” et al., giving examples/anecdotes such as hot/cold, good/evil, building/razing, aggregation/dispersal, etc. Overall, a two-fold, dichotomous construct of forces emerges; a model of inhalation/exhalation, birth/death and other cycles in-forming life. But this categorization is fundamentally incomplete and responsible for man’s inability to understand why the best laid plans and hopes for the future never materialize as expected, albeit sometimes pleasantly so (unpleasant outcomes tend to hog the press/memory). This binary vision of opposed forces also fails to allow man to understand why even pleasant surprises are fraught with disagreeable aspects and vice versa.
That we might better understand such a state of affairs, let us examine what a universe sporting only two types of forces—principles of action—would actually be like. Can you see that in such a bipolar universe, nothing could ever happen? Once the green flag fell there would be instant and irreversible gridlock? Every set of opposed forces would reach a point of equilibrium and a tableau of stasis ensue: the irresistible vs. the immovable. Yet in our perception and exploration of the universe both local and astronomical, where do we find such a frozen stasis? Nowhere. This implies a further, a third principle of action exists which makes all the sound and fury, strutting and fretting, possible. Man in his binary design is ordinarily incapable of directly perceiving this third principle, or, rather, he perceives but misses it like the audience misses the action of the magician’s sleight-of-hand or like the fish is unknowing of the water wherein it swims. Indeed, man operates within and via the third principle but perceives only the dance of action-cum-reaction.
The easiest metaphor to illustrate the point is to consider the third principle as the context of any activity; the arena of the bullfight wherein matador and toro have their pas de deux. Another good mapping is to recall the circumference of the yin-yang symbol, the circular boundary which allows a tumbling of the otherwise immobile yin and yang “fish” of the Chinese graphic. The third principle of action is precisely that of which you are unaware, because of its apparent irrelevancy to the primary actors in opposition. Consider: even a coin has three sides, yet all but the probability wonk disregard—read never think of—the rim-side between the face and obverse of the coin.
We’ve all seen the third principle at work in movies where two characters are having an argument and one turns to leave in disgust or triumph and steps into the street to be hit BOOM! by a bus; the plot takes an entirely new direction. The third principle has, too, another role to play in theaters: the film and projector light throw no image for the audience without the obstruction of the cinema screen. Do you notice the “EXIT” signs during the movie? If somebody yells “Fire!!” (not as a prank), their excellent services will be greatly appreciated by the patrons while the avidly watched film is forgotten (thereby sliding effortlessly into the “irrelevant” third principle purview). Are you beginning to grasp the dynamic pointed at here? Only the Extraordinarily Aware have the presence and intention to actively notice and use the ever-on-offer third principle of action. It is yours, too, for the asking, and it can absolutely transform your life…
Friday, May 9, 2008
The modernly professed “unconscious mind” does not work at cross purposes with the conscious one. Just as, in a man, the left hand works in concert with the right, the non-verbal moves while the verbal must register, explain, justify and apologize for that movement. But it never leads this dance and never understands its partner, for it is too busy with its own proper purview: talk and thought. The “unconscious mind,” the fabled “spirit world,” the “soul” etc., are the intellect’s names for an incomprehensible nexus it has with the ineffable direction of Life’s all-containing Body wherein man exists. Thus to those of extra-dimensional Sight, mankind is like one of those five dollar mail-order ant-colonies whose activities are visible through the glass panel while they are unaware of their blatant exposure to the most casual eye. Like man, the ants, if they could speak, would call the direction of that glass panel bounding their world “God” and know not its limitation.
The silent part of man’s nature is closer to the unseen embrace of Life’s Body, directly fed by Its primal lifeblood-energy circulation. The talking part is less directly connected and can be pictured as arising as a kind of charged interference current or magnetic field. It is in these brain circuits called the intellect—the verbal outgrowth of the older, non-verbal brainstem circuitry—where Life now focuses Its push of expansion. Yet that pressure arises via the non-verbal stem of the nervous system, as that is the only conduit available to it. Thus does it seem to the poor mind that hidden hands keep shoving it out from the backstage wings into unprepared, self-conscious confrontation with the theater audience: pants-down! On stage! Oh, the painful brilliance of the spotlight! On Life’s Gong Show it may tap dance; it may run and sweat, but it can’t hide. And where oh where is that merciful “Hook” that fishes the incompetent performer off the stage? Well, there is no “Hook,” for there is no incompetence: the mind is simply designed with built-in energy pathways/flows (feelings) of the impropriety and weakness of its exposed position…and thus does it reel and spin wild-eyed, at Life’s smoking-gun urgings (“Hey, pardner, let’s see you do some tap-dancing, bang ,bang, bang. Yeah! Good! Keep it up, bang, bang, bang!” [and Life has an infinite bandolier, don’tcha know]).
Strange to tell, but dancing and sweating, which is to say, talking and thinking, extends and makes complex the verbal superstructure of man’s nervous system and thus, in a sense, expands Life’s own neural network. But for individual men, here is the sum and substance of their personal lives: the Thrill of Victory, the Agony of Defeat and/or the Glazed Eyes of Indifference. In an endless chase away from defeat and on toward victory, an individual nervous system cycles through these energy charges in greater or lesser degree uncontrollably…taking them as uniquely self-caused; eternally puzzled and thwarted by their source and direction, yet continually impressed, informed and unbalanced by their import and timing. However, a few may dance and beckon from the cracks between victory, defeat, disaffect. A few may prance and reckon what lacks, and be cheery, replete: self-elect.
Man is a Mobius Strip (inside and outside are one) and his own mirror image. And every man is fascinated therewith, unable to lift his eyes from the enforced habits of movement, feeling, and thought he calls his existence. Were man not centered and stabilized in this way, his use to Life would be nil; civilization would fly apart—rending the fabric of Life’s growth in a specific, measurable direction, destroying the integrity of It’s Greater Being. This will not be allowed; man is specifically designed to preclude it. Thus does he transfer energies, revolving in place like a spinning top…storing up momentum…responding to the subtle tilt and grain of the floor of Life’s predisposition. Swiftly, swiftly spinning, but slowly, slowly listing, intractably drawn, like sand through the hour glass…surely, surely sifting. Into Life’s siren call: man’s attraction and fall; a resourceless subtraction, a recourseless contraction, adrown’d and adrift toward the Maelstrom Ball. In sum, man is not what he thinks he is: he is what Life thinks!
So, man is not a creature divided against himself. Such a creature would not be viable—self-destructive, even—whereas it should be obvious to the perceptive that the evolution of man taken as a whole has been anything but self-destructive. At the level of an individual man’s life however, he feels in conflict with himself—that nothing ever goes as planned, or if it does, teeters on the brink of some potential disaster at every turn. Consider: to what end is it so arranged? The same end as always: Life’s greater purposes. Thus: man, the enantiomorph, is his own image in the mirror, and the mirror. Is it not always amusing then, from a particular view, that he continually surprises himself? That when he smiles or frowns or raises his hand to his lips, he is startled and dismayed like an aborigine gazing for the first time into the looking-glass? But every now and then, at some here and there, the rarest of rare men suddenly realizes that what he sees is not what he sees. Such a one is changed forever, becoming his own puppet and viewing, here and now, the landscape of the:
Behind His Eyes...
Monday, March 24, 2008
Consider, for example, the following cycle of nature: yin, the ever-abiding sea, receives yang, the sun’s rays, whence arises yang as water vapor (clouds) to dwell within yin, the sky. The sky gives birth to yang, the rain, received by yin, the earth, which supports yang as flowing river seeking reunion with a boundless sea of yin. This constant arising of yang within yin and yin inherent in yang is shown by the contrasting “eyes” within the stylized yin-form and yang-form, which, together, in-form the circular boundary of the symbol. Black/yin has an ever expanding point of white, appearing in the position of an eye, while the converse is true of the white/yang form. Here we have the ingenious artistic rendering, possessing the quality of a figure/ground relationship which “ping-pongs” the observer’s eye to and fro within the contrast between black and white, serving to imbue the symbol with a seeming dynamism of movement. Where yang is not, there is yin; where yin is not, there is yang. The relationship is inseparably interdependent, for neither exists except as its own opposite give it form. In prototypical conceptual terms this is how the manifest universe ceaselessly becomes and passes away in a constant natural flow: the mutual transformation of opposites.
While yin and yang represent any conceivable pair of opposite at all levels, the unifying reality of the symbol is a totality which supports and transcends all opposites: the circle. Consider an ancient symbol of infinity (and the universe), the Ouroborous—the serpent which consumes its own tail to nourish its own growth. Or, consider the face and obverse of a coin which is transcended and subsumed by the wholeness of the coin itself. Yin and yang have no independent existence, for one is implicit in the other as dual aspects of a encompassing unity. They exist independently only as mental interpretations (via the inherent cognizing function of the mind), as seemingly isolated points in a continuum which are simultaneously both and neither of its extremes (for instance, a baton, having two ends, is not deemed to be exclusively one end or the other, nor both, taken additively, but their unity). This inherent contrast of opposites is represented graphically in the yin-yang symbol by the black and white pair fitting together to form the circle that circumscribes them. The subsuming circle, with its partial aspects, yin and yang, is one symbol for the Chinese TAO. Variously translated as “way” or “suchness of manifestation”, it is THE NAMELESS. The Original-Reality-Beyond-Concept; the Self-Existent Absolute; Consciousness Without An Object (or Subject): everywhere and nowhere, eternal yet instantly vanishing, immanent, eminent and everywhere imminent—in short, omnitaneous reality.
Bearing the foregoing development of yin and yang in mind, let us now proceed to another application of its elucidation. Let us assign for the logo’s black/white contrast, the ultimate of opposites for humans: consciousness (white) and all objects of consciousness (black), i.e., the manifest universe. Thus the self-in-consciousness, or conscious-center-of-awareness, the “I”, in its life-long outward quest, forever encounters its absolute opposite, the surface of an apparently infinitely extended cosmos of objects apparently outside and impenetrable to it. Can you see then, that all objects of consciousness actually in-form consciousness, i.e., give it form by delimiting its borders (like a flashlight beam is limited or obstructed by what it shines upon). Conversely, all objects of consciousness are equally in-formed by the consciousness of them. Neither consciousness nor its objects exist independently, as each defines the other—renders it manifest—just like a flashlight beam is undetectable without an intervening atmospheric obscuration of, say, fog or smoke, or other objects undetectable without the illumination of the flashlight beam. The yin-yang figure visually portrays this idea: the quintessential nature of the universe is Pure Consciousness, or Consciousness-Without-An-Object-and-Without a Subject (CWOWS). Subjective consciousness—man’s consciousness—versus all objects of consciousness are the dual relative aspects subsumed and transcended by unitary, self-existent CWOWS, just as yin and yang are subsumed and bounded by the circle in the TAO symbol. Self-awareness and its antithetical objects-of-perception literally create the universe as follows: subject perceives object and object in-forms subject. This means that object and subject are not incommensurate things, they are opposing aspects of a unifying CWOWS which is beyond yet within them. Subject consciousness is the perceiving of objects and objects literally are their perception in consciousness. “One hand washes the other”. There can be no movie without the film obstructing the projector light…and, beyond that, nothing whatsoever without the cinema screen itself “hidden” by the form, color and action of the film itself.
We see then, the so-called “inner world” of consciousness and the “outer world” of space-filled-with-things to be really a continuum like the face and obverse of a coin. An intrinsic condition of human sentience is its ongoing awareness (to greater or lesser degree) of its own awareness (“apperception”). In this it makes its own consciousness an object of perception. As we shall see, this has some significant implications. Consider that where consciousness perceives itself, there is nothing to perceive, since it has become an object of consciousness and therefore assumes its antipodal form, unconscious objects--voids (i.e., it obstructs itself by denying itself). This is an impossible, lifting oneself by one's bootstraps-type operation, presenting a paradox: consciousness, in attempting to perceive itself, perceives non-consciousness, i.e., effectively hides itself. It is like a searchlight trying to shine upon itself, and in its pivoting about, illuminating everything but itself. This is the central dynamic and enigma of the boundary between the known and unknowable: subject-consciousness, in seeking itself, ipso facto finds the universe instead. Perception of the cosmos is the creation of the cosmos. The ‘physical’ universe and consciousness are one.
Consciousness can be likened to a disembodied eye (in a land where mirrors are non-existent). Such an eye cannot see itself for it is that which does the seeing—the functioning of sight. As is true of all the senses (including the mind, as it is a vehicle and synthesis of them), all that the eye beholds, it very literally is, since all objects of sight cannot be separate from the agency that sees them. When the eye looks to see itself, it can behold only the absence of itself; and it is this absence that is the foundation of all the objects of sight—the absence that allows and structures their existence. The perfection of functioning for eyes is not being in the way of (i.e., being absent to) what it sees. It is absolutely behind everything so all things can be in-front-for-sight. To expand the metaphor somewhat: imagine spinning around trying to glimpse the back of your own head and forever seeing only that which is the perfect absence of it, i.e., what, of necessity by design, is always 180 degrees from the back of your head. But, strangely, this is the only way you can see the back of your own head, for it is connected, indeed inseparable, via its own absence, to all you do see. This is the mind-blowing way that emptiness (absence) and fullness (form) are united. It is described as follows, in the Heart Sutra:
Here, O Sariputra, Form is Emptiness and the very Emptiness is Form;
Emptiness does not differ from Form; Form does not differ from Emptiness.
Whatever is Form—that is Emptiness. Whatever is Emptiness—that is Form.
The same is true of Feelings, Perceptions, Impulses and Consciousness.
Here is the most profound and most subtle but challenging endeavor of all mentation. Paradox confounds the mind—runs it into an alley and sets it against itself. For, designed to project outwards, to objectify the cosmos by isolating itself from its partner in creation, the mind sees Fullness in its own Absence…yet knows it not.
All objects of consciousness are absences thereof, yet partaking of form as if independent, exotic “things-out-there” and vouchsafed by an incommensurate, immaterial, conscious perception. In other words, the tail wags the dog.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
So, you’ve got this technologic marvel, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), orbiting the Earth, in the optimal environment and position for astronomical observation. You decide to point it at a part of the universe that appears virtually empty—black, to every device heretofore available to man. And, except for a few foreground (i.e., our own Milky Way galaxy) stars, it sees nothing. Hmmmm, what if there is something there after all, but still too faint to see? You decide to make an extended photographic exposure of that space with the HST: a MILLION-second timed exposure requiring some 400-odd orbits of the Earth. That’s a time exposure of 277.77 hours. If there’s something yet-unseen there in that space, the light that arrives from it is so faint—a few photons a minute, say—that the only way to collect enough of it to see anything requires an extremely long exposure. So you do it—the necessary programming and other technical arrangements—to pull it off. Well, in a sort of reverse Cheshire Cat dynamic, images begin to appear and when the exposure was complete and various computer clarity enhancements done, the resultant remarkable, indeed, breathtaking photograph is dubbed the “Hubble Ultra Deep Field” (HUDF) image. [This is a simplification. For nuts-and-bolts detail, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble_Ultra_Deep_Field]
So…what to all appearances was an uninhabited tiny corner of space, turns out to have, count them: 10,000 (!)…not stars, but GALAXIES! And each galaxy contains billions of stars in its own right. That’s a
Obviously, few people are apprised of this information. If everybody were, however, and appropriately impressed with it, do you suppose they would act any differently? I submit that whatever impact such cosmological data engendered would, in a New-York-minute, be swallowed up by the ten thousand exigencies and mundane worries of the careworn, work-a-day world that the brain was evolved to deal with. Human consciousness is simply not designed to harbor, other than temporarily, an appreciation (which in itself is only an inkling given by our modern technologies) of human size vs. galaxy size, to say nothing of cosmic size, nor any extended contemplation of it. This is not to say there are not people who have it in their DNA to attempt such ongoing contemplation and wield its realization in their moment-to-moment doings. One of the techniques given by, let’s say, extraordinary humans of yore, to interested hangers-on, was the task of “Remembering the face (or name) of God with every breath.” Do you think there’s a connection? William Blake said it this way:
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wildflower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
This kind of insight-praxis is attempted, normally, only by those of a monastic bent and with best effect in a monastery or other retreat-type setting. Why are so few smitten with such a need, and why is it that human consciousness is apparently not built for, nor has capacity for the extraordinary insight that William Blake so eloquently describes? Elementary my dear Watson: it’s counterproductive. It is contrary to what Life needs for humans to be doing—which is the making of culture and through it the evermore sophisticated investigation and control of “nature” for their continued flowering. And, just as in a jet engine there is a lot of pressure, heat, explosion and noise to propel the jet on its course through the sky, so too must there be in human endeavor to propel the Rocket-of-Life on its course from emptiness into fullness, from void into form. Life even gave us a catchphrase for it: “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.” Still, there are humans with the proclivity and drive for extraordinary attention; those with an enhanced appetite for insight and application of a non-dual understanding of what’s going on around them. What is their function in the larger scheme of Life’s program and agenda? Elementary my dear Watson: they comprise a kind of DNA background memory—like memory foam conforms to the form of whatever presses into it, then returns to its original shape when released; they are like shock absorbers on a car chassis or the yellow light in a traffic signal or the catalyst in a chemical reaction, promoting it but not changed by it; they are the mirrors in a clothing store changing room…they watch the audience watching the movie…they are the ones with Hubble Vision.