Evading Spiritual Antiquarianism

Well, here’s another blog for posterity. Back in the 70s and 80s of the last millennium, Asian martial arts was a huge craze. Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris were the trend-setters. Thousands practiced in dojos and kwoons to develop their fighting skills. I was one of them who did not lose interest and move on to some other hobby. I’m still doing it and wonder at the precipitous decline of such an enormously popular pastime.

The same thing, it seems to me, is happening with Asian spiritual studies and practice. Like The Monster Mash, Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist spirituality caught on in a flash during the 60s and 70s. I could argue that it wasn’t particularly authentic because it was watered down by various gurus and abbots for easier public consumption. Still, the melody lingers on. Hinduism and Buddhism are still enormously popular with the spiritually-minded. Tibetan Buddhism and Zen have kept a strong hold on peoples’ imaginations as esoteric variants on the major traditions. You still hear references to the Dharma and Karma in lunch-time conversations about designer enlightenment. Yoga is more popular than ever. On the Western side of things, P. D. Ouspensky and Madam Blavatsky still attract adherents. Apparently, if it ain’t that old-time rock and roll, it just ain’t got the same soul.

Despite the emergence into popular thought of quantum mechanics, many spiritual seekers still prefer the old traditions because of their arcane terminology and laborious and time-consuming practices. In addition, adherents get to wear very cool uniforms that signify their commitment to strange, but superior knowledge and its application to lives patterned on universal truths. Turbans are fashionable as well as dhotis, saris, and asana suits. The yoga mat is essential for progressive, spiritually-minded suburbanites. “To hell with modern innovations,” they proclaim. “We carry water and chop wood because that is the only officially-sanctioned way to progress in spiritual development.”

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I wonder if the Buddha would have developed his characteristic line of thought had he been aware of the Observer Effect and collapse of the wave function? The point is that spiritual development and realization have moved on. The heady mix of neurobiology and quantum mechanics has outstripped the laborious practices of traditional spiritual systems. A seeker can now experience the levels of spiritual insight in seconds that took the traditionalists decades of meditation in solitude to achieve. Of course, you don’t get the same bragging rights about mastering a spiritual discipline that was a big part of practicing an established form of spirituality. If you can have enlightenment at the snap of a finger, you can’t earn the awe and respect of lesser mortals who are not inclined to devote their lives to struggle and self-denial in the name of something they can’t even imagine. That’s why the archaic traditions keep hanging on.

It’s time to get on with it, to adopt instantaneous change rather than enter a never-ending program of self-imposed inner conflict, which might lead to an Aha moment somewhere along the line. The issue here is really whether or not you want to be who you are. Becoming a surrogate Buddha or an imitation Lao-tze is not accepting and loving who you truly are. You don’t live in the fifth century B.C., and you don’t wear robes and sandals. You don’t fawn over enlightened gurus and pledge your life to “service” of those less fortunate than you. There is nothing wrong with you to begin with, so why beat yourself up in a vain attempt to become perfect? Be who you are; love who you are, and don’t be afraid to get in someone else’s face about it.

Onion Is as Onion Does

I don’t know if anyone is reading this stuff or even if there is anyone else “out there”, but what else is there to do with spacetime than move it around into different patterns?

I was thinking about onions. The onion itself, of course, is a made-up object that has form, mass, and weight. Everything “physical” that we make up is like that. It’s like time, space, and matter. They always go together, and you can’t have one without the other two. It’s like an eternal menage a trois. You pays your money and you take what you get. The onion, however, has always made useful analogies whenever you need to explain layers. As soon as you start to peel an onion you run into concentric layers that get smaller and smaller as you near the core of the onion. The onion represents a complete exterior that can be reduced layer by layer, showing what is inside, which is a series of identical layers that get smaller and smaller.

Now, if the onion is itself an illusion, a collapsed wave function that represents an onion and that we have named so that it can always appear that way to our consciousness, the discovery of its inner layers must have been a similar process, but experienced as a sequence. As you begin to remove the outermost layer of the onion for the first time, you don’t know what you are going to find beneath it. But your observation collapses the wave function of the onion into a slightly smaller onion that is very like the whole onion you first observed.

Where is your observational creativity? Why, when you removed the outermost layer of the onion, did you not discover an alternate reality that was like another world in your hand? Why did you observe just another surface almost exactly like the surface you just peeled away? It’s kind of like experiencing the same/old, same/old that is typical of our general experience of life–you wake up in the morning, and all you experience is another layer of the onion you observed before you went to bed the night before. No matter how many layers of the onion you peel away, all you get is more onion. Remember, a layer covers something, that is, hides it from view until the layer is removed, but why is there only more onion found under layer after layer of onion skin?

I think that the dilemma is caused by our observation of the onion in the first place. What might we find if we didn’t already know what an onion is? What if we called it a “gazonk” and had no expectation at all of what it was made of? Imagine what you might find under the layers of skin. Every newly-exposed layer could be a new universe of meaning. Every time you peeled a gazonk, you would boldly go where no one has gone before. Every layer would be a new dimension of experience, a new realization of infinite possibilities. Think of it as a cosmic onion that contains limitless worlds. Why not?

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Simply, because once you know what an onion is, it is always an onion. See the hidden equation there? You always find what you have already been taught to find when you observe an onion. An onion always equals an onion. There are no variables to change a known onion into a model of multiple universes. Without the variables, an onion cannot become a singularity. We overlook variables all the time. Because they don’t exist for us, we never experience a singularity. Variables are unknown factors that influence the outcome of an equation. Let’s stop running the same old equations that do not contain variables. Let’s allow for singularities. This means, everything that we experience happens on a case-by-case basis. There are no generalities, no statistical averages, and no common sense. Let’s stop living life as a fait accompli. Be curious, be playful, be open. You never know what you’ll find under the next layer of the onion.

When We Go with the Flow, Does the Flow Know?

I’m blogging today just for the sake of blogging. I have recently decided to stop promoting Jean’s and my book, Disobliging Reality, on social media. Generally, I found the participants to be quite young, inexperienced, and full of themselves. I could almost hear the giggles and titters surrounding the comments made on Twitter and Facebook about the most inane subjects and the storm of outrage and hostility aroused by predictably stereotypical scenarios showing various forms of victimization and injustice. It was like witnessing young children first learning that fire can be hot. If this sounds patronizing, it is. We are not all perfect equals in every respect, and respect itself is something that we must earn for ourselves.

Thus, I am not feeling sanguine about the future prospects of Disobliging Reality. It’s time has not yet arrived, and perhaps will never arrive. It is a quirky book, to be sure. It’s all about the illusory nature of the reality most of us take for granted, and what to do with that knowledge in our everyday lives. Sounds useful on the face of it, but I guess its utility is overshadowed by the inescapable persistence of the reality that is misleading everyone so dramatically. We are taught that reactive involvement in whatever the sensation of the day happens to be is a mark of community concern and good citizenship. It shows that we are sensitive, caring, and compassionate. It also shows how easily we can be led around by the nose.

Picture a mob of people gathered before an attraction at a carnival. Now imagine a carny barker holding a megaphone and shouting through it the location of an even more sensational attraction across the midway. As though one, the mob obediently runs to the next announced attraction and rapturously views it. Another barker makes his announcement of another attraction and the mob runs there. This continues uninterruptedly day after day. Every new illusory attraction has just as much appeal as the last one, so nobody gets bored. This, to me, is the nature of “the flow” that we are encouraged to “go with”. If there is an even greater flow of which the aforementioned flow is a part, everyone is too dazzled by the next attraction to perceive it.

Disobliging Reality is that innocent voice that points at the emperor and says, “But he doesn’t have any clothes on.” It points at an immensely popular illusion of reality and says, “But there really isn’t anything there.” It says that the flow you are experiencing is not the actual flow that is taking place. It also says that the flow knows when you are going with it and when you are not. The flow is consciousness itself so it is of necessity self-aware. You are an aspect of the flow when it knows itself. Otherwise, you are an aspect of a flow that is not self-aware and doesn’t know what the process of flowing is about. You are part of a mob running toward the next attraction.

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So the flow knows, and when you know the flow, you are part of it. Most people are unacquainted with the flow and don’t even like the prospect of knowing it. It means letting go of whatever attraction you are holding onto that is keeping you out of the flow. Most people think that the endless series of attractions to which they are drawn is the flow because it appears to be a flow of attractions. Nah. Like the Shadow, who knows what distractions lurk in the hearts of men (in the generic sense), the flow knows. Let go and flow.

 

 

 

Inter-Spatial Flux

I can tell by the old solar calendar that it’s time for another blog. I have been trying to diagnose my current psycho-spiritual malaise, which keeps me from completely accepting my participation in a reality I no longer trust. I wrote about this condition in my (and Jean’s) book, Disobliging Reality. The nexus of this condition is my ongoing connection with Jean even though she no longer inhabits this spacetime. Quite simply, my heart is riven. I am obliged to continue participating in “this” while Jean proceeds with her development in “that”. Of course, “this” is just a spacetime physical version of “that” since both interpenetrate one another. Yet once one’s experience of “this” interacts with an experience of “that”, things are never the same. As I say in our book, “We walk between the worlds.”

I now have a little clearer understanding of what “walking between the worlds” involves. I got my clarification from an episode of Star Trek Enterprise. The episode is called “Twilight” in which Captain Archer’s brain is infected by parasites that exist outside of spacetime. This makes them almost impossible to destroy within a spacetime context. They are in a state of “inter-spatial flux”. I have concluded that my own consciousness has entered a state of inter-spatial flux wherein I participate in physical spacetime, yet on other levels inhabit that other reality that is beyond physical spacetime where my dearest beloved now exists.

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Anyone who has endured the “loss” (only seemingly) of a beloved partner knows intuitively what I am talking about. Both emotionally and psychologically and, I suspect, even existentially, we live between the worlds, neither fully in this one, nor finally in that one. There are parts of us that are outside of ordinary spacetime while, concurrently, other parts of us are embedded in the dense physicality with which we are too familiar. We are in a state of inter-spatial flux. In one sense, it is a kind of hell, but in another it is a preview of wonders to come, especially if one is in contact with his or her partner from time to time.

It’s a matter of “how ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?” Life in this spacetime reality is farm life compared with what awaits us in the Paree beyond. So we yearn for what is not yet and cannot fully enjoy what is. This state of indeterminacy, this experience of frisson, of unrelieved disquiet, is the flux that dominates our days in this spacetime reality. It is by definition inter-spatial as it spans two very different loci for our consciousness and the focus of our love.

As with any diagnosis, there is some relief or reassurance once our condition is given a name. The name is not the condition, of course, and it confers on the condition a reality that it may not in fact have. But inter-spatial flux is just enough “out there”, just enough not-of-this-world, and just enough indeterminate to serve as a temporary anchor for our confused state of grief and dislocation. I believe that Captain Archer’s condition was removed by a proton beam implosion, which, by destroying the parasite’s physical presence in Archer’s brain, also destroyed the timeline of its development, erasing its historical development and restoring Archer’s spacetime existence before the parasites ever appeared.

I feel certain that something like that will occur once I join my dearest partner outside of spacetime. We will be restored to a shared state of being that preexists before our perceived separation ever seemed to “happen”.