Durch Schmerz?

There is a brilliant book by Netherlands author Harry Mulisch – The Discovery of Heaven. It isn’t an evangelical tract. It portrays the Universe from the perspective of the possibilities outside it. The potential that the Universe does not call into being. Quantum mechanics shows us that nothing is actual until observed. In that sense we, as witness engines (points of observation) call forth this particular Universe. We are enmeshed in the spacetime of our choosing. Here and now. Literally.

We ae imprisoned in the Universe as we together have created it. Why did we, humanity, create a history that includes (those infamous atheists) Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot?

The Cross is the symbol of Christ, redeemer. At it’s heart is the point of transformation, escape into the world beyond spacetime, as imagined by Harry Mulisch. And yes, through pain. Kraft durch Schmerz, or perhaps Freude durch Schmerz?

Joy beyond angst?

It is politically correct to assume a materialistic existence built on a series of microscopic random events unfolding in intransitive time. We live in the ship of our ego, afloat on an ocean of materialism. No wonder we are full of loneliness and fear.

Sigmund Freud observed that the more you avoid a fear, or abyss, the unhealthier you become. All of the mechanisms of dealing with unconscious pain (projection, avoidance, repression etc) simply lead at best to neurosis, at worst to psychosis.

The big fear, the monster lurking in the deeps is existential angst. The terror of nothingness inside the tiny baby inside each of us. How, then, to deal with that? It’s worth tackling, since our insecurity is rooted right there. The more secure a person is, then the more listening, creative, compassionate, generous, talented and capable of joy they are. Insecurity spawns withdrawal, narcissism, unhappiness and disconnection. So that horizons contract to world as prison.

How then does security arise?  Where do we find an ability to live in confidence? (Con Fides; with trust)? Some simply have faith. Probably they were securely attached as children. What about the rest of us?

Science is uncovering deep meaning at the most fundamental level. Experiments on matter at the most microscopic levels shows that existence is an infinite series of possibilities, potential – until observed. It is the act of observation that, in effect, crystallises out this particular existence from the cloud of possibilities. What then is this act of becoming, of creation that we are engaged upon together? . Surely there must be an “observer” to create this particular reality. Sure enough, our species are the most efficient engines of observation, whether through science or the arts. We each of us spend our life in observation (or as some would call it – witness, some knowledge). Interestingly our gathering of knowledge is escalating in a geometric progression. (Are we approaching Teilhard de Chardin’s “Omega Point”?)

It appears to me our purpose as humans is to be just this – engines of observation crystallising out existence; and we do this together. That puts the onus on us collectively. It is OUR task to work for “good effect” – rather than trying to live with our eyes tight closed against the fear that we float on a sea of random meaninglessness.

…and then comfort comes; and connection and joy. Atman replaces ego, and angst evaporates. Until we forget and have to realise it all over again.

Its Wyrd, Man

The druids and those before them believed in Wyrd. Fate, spinning and spun eternally by the three sisters sitting at the base of the tree of life. World interwoven and changing with tides and currents rippling through it. Reality as flow, connection, relation, context, love). New facets of our connected reality constantly emerging. The same truths at the base of Hinduism – and in Quantum Mechanics ( and Buddhism and Christianity).

Metamorphosis.  Water becoming ice. Caterpillars pupating, emerging into butterflies. We journey together into wondrous new states. Society has a reality separate from the individuals that it is made from. And we as individuals in turn have emerged as something new, from the molecules that constitute us now. We are co-evolving in a phase of emergence from one state to quite another.

Yet; mostly we think of the material world as static and secure. How strange. We manage that by focussing on short time segments.  Thus we ignore the riverine flow of rocks, the evolution from raw plasma to chemicals to biology to ideas; and  we are also blind to  “now”, the window to eternity.

Why? Fear, I suspect, is to blame. The terror, the existential angst that is located in our ego – which of course is definitely an ephemera. This is just a trick of light.  Look past the surface of the pool with its (reversed) image where  we see our “self” reflected. There, within the water, is the flow of life which is our home. We let our egos rule over us, when – just here, just now (always here, now), in the flow  of the universe is our real deathless self. As Rupert Brookes  puts it “..  a pulse in the eternal mind, no less”. Like Narcissus, we are transfixed by inner absorption rather than an awareness of all-that-is.

Sophia

Our Mother whose heart be leaven

Hallowed be thy pain

Whence kingdom’s won

As will is one

On earth as it is in heaven

Live in me today, through hand and head

As gift of loving trespass

Which giving, forgives (thus forgiven)

And lead us not to isolation

Which delivers us to evil

For thine is our kingdom, our power and our glory

Now and for ever

Amen

Touching the Flow

Poetically…

No no I’m never no thing

I’m bumbling  bee not its sting

Flight of the gull not its wing

Not noun or thing-y at all

‘Cos I’m the bounce of a ball

Hop of a bird and its call

The verb, I am is to be

Container containing set free

Strong brown god striving to sea

Prosaically…

All is not as it seems. Physics and Philosophy are pointing us to integration rather than differentiation. To wholeness rather than fragmentation. This requires that we change the way we relate to each other. In the language of neural networking – to focus on edges and synapses rather than points and neutrons.

David Bohm proposes (“Wholeness and the Implicate Order”) that language is reshaped to focus on verbs, rather than nouns (subjects & objects). He calls this a “rheomode”, reflecting a reality of flow, of movement. Elsewhere, for instance in “On Dialogue” he picks up the insight of existential philosopher Martin Buber – that reality is in relation, not the thing (“Ich-Du”).

The world, as Buber says, is two-fold. Everything can be described simultaneously either as bits – quanta – or waves. We appear to have achieved mastery by conceiving reality in terms of the material. To be investigated by smashing into fragments. However consider, just for a moment, the REAL basis of a theory – the standard model – which purports to explain material reality; but depends on conjuring “dark matter” and “dark energy”. For “dark” read – “we don’t know, but we need it to make our equations work”. How much of this “dark” stuff is necessary for the equations to work? 95% of all that is… You have to say that physicists have chutzpah. Not only does this dark stuff account for 95% of everything – but these guys are really precise about what they don’t know – Dark matter accounts for 23.3 percent of the cosmos, and dark energy fills in 72.1 percent [source: NASA]

Meanwhile, fortunately, considering reality as a wave is much more productive. In recent work Milo Wolff has shown that when described as intersecting standing waves, then reality can be described by simple equations. It is no longer necessary to invent a veritable zoo of exotic particles – and “dark” matter and energy. Wolff’s work is not new, but based on work by Maxwell, Schrodinger and Einstein.

Our watchwords, or better – watching words – and focus is shifting..

From nouns – to verbs..From quanta – to waves..From individuals – to connections..From fragmentation – to wholeness

.. or as Teilhard de Chardin would say – to the Omega Point – where humanity awakens to the reality of the whole.

Teilhard calls the contributing universal energy that generates the Omega Point “forces of compression”. Unlike the scientific definition, which incorporates gravity and mass, Teilhard’s forces of compression sources from communication and contact between human beings. This value is limitless and directly correlated with entropy. It suggests that as humans continue to interact, consciousness evolves and grows.

The (ephemeral) phenomenon of man

De Chardin wrote his “Phenomenon of Man” in the 1930s. I read it at University where I studied evolution, and it has been a constant influence since then. Like Jung and Buber he speaks to a unity of spirit and material. Indeed he saw the whole evolution of the universe as a story of coalescence of consciousness driven by the force of Love (aka God). Marked by phase transitions from physical evolution to chemical through biological now to the world of pure ideas, Homo Sapiens is a waypoint. A phenomenon, yes – because in us consciousness has become self aware; but ephemeral. A stage and not the end, or final purpose.

Around the same time Wilfred Bion identified the mind as simply a developing apparatus to help humans tolerate and organize experience.

“The apparatus for thinking, the capacity to have thoughts “has to be called into existence to cope with thoughts” (1967, p. 111). Thoughts exist prior to their realization. Thinking, the capacity to think the thoughts which already exist, develops through another mind providing α-function (1962, p. 83)—through the “container” role of maternal reverie.”

Our mind is the mechanism by which thoughts are made concrete.

Richard Dawkins simply stole these ideas, regurgitating them as his “memes”. Unfortunately he stripped them of context and hence of their meaning. Bions context was maternal reverie and de Chardins was Love – “the most powerful and most unknown energy in the world”. Rather than originality Dawkins simply displays through his evangelism a childlike rage against what he conceives of as God (in the image of his own father perhaps?).

I believe absolutely in purpose and progress; that there is meaning to existence and to our part in an unfolding story. I would wish that we each set aside our personal imagining of God (even when we label this “Science” or “Humanity”) and instead share this fundamental premise, and wonder together about miraculous existence.

What then of the darkness of Man? Of our destruction of the planet, of the holocaust, of loss of society to the maw of technology?

Perhaps we should look forward to a next chapter where humans are recombined with machines and connected in a giant web. Perhaps rather than contemplating that with fear – we should embrace this future as Love’s path to the Omega Point.?

Here below is Wikipedia’s summary of the book. A work of prophesy if ever there were one.

Reprint of Wikipedia ..

“The Phenomenon of Man (Le phénomène humain) is a 1955 book written by the French philosopher, paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In this work, Teilhard describes evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity, culminating in the unification of consciousness

The book was finished in the 1930s, but was published posthumously in 1955, and translated into English in 1959. The Roman Catholic Church initially prohibited the publication of some of Teilhard’s writings on the grounds that they contradicted orthodoxy.

The foreword to the book was written by one of the key advocates for natural selection and evolution of the 20th century, and a co-developer of the modern synthesis in biology, Julian Huxley.

Teilhard views evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity. From the cell to the thinking animal, a process of psychical concentration leads to greater consciousness.[3] The emergence of Homo sapiens marks the beginning of a new age, as the power acquired by consciousness to turn in upon itself raises mankind to a new sphere.[4] Borrowing Huxley’s expression, Teilhard describes humankind as evolution becoming conscious of itself.[5]

In Teilhard’s conception of the evolution of the species, a collective identity begins to develop as trade and the transmission of ideas increases.[6] Knowledge accumulates and is transmitted in increasing levels of depth and complexity.[7] This leads to a further augmentation of consciousness and the emergence of a thinking layer that envelops the earth.[8] Teilhard calls the new membrane the “noosphere” (from the Greek nous”, meaning mind), a term first coined by Vladimir Vernadsky. The noosphere is the collective consciousness of humanity, the networks of thought and emotion in which all are immersed.[9]

The development of science and technology causes an expansion of the human sphere of influence, allowing a person to be simultaneously present in every corner of the world. Teilhard argues that humanity has thus become cosmopolitan, stretching a single organized membrane over the Earth.[10] Teilhard describes the process by which this happens as a “gigantic psychobiological operation, a sort of mega-synthesis, the “super-arrangement” to which all the thinking elements of the earth find themselves today individually and collectively subject”.[8] The rapid expansion of the noosphere requires a new domain of psychical expansion, which “is staring us in the face if we would only raise our heads to look at it”.[11]

In Teilhard’s view, evolution will culminate in the Omega Point, a sort of supreme consciousness. Layers of consciousness will converge in Omega, fusing and consuming them in itself.[12] The concentration of a conscious universe will reassemble in itself all consciousnesses as well as all that we are conscious of.[13]Teilhard emphasizes that each individual facet of consciousness will remain conscious of itself at the end of the process.[14]

Golden Braid

Furbelows and curlicues

Flow tow below bellow follow glow

Hassock haired carded tows to rope gripped snake charming up to the pipe yet unremembered

Undoing unthreaded

Weft bereft

Grip strip and magnify until chrysalis burst

out to new dimensions

(We are the process of weaving existence together)

A Psalm for Sunday

What lies beyond SpaceTime is incomprehensible in human terms, but we’re human and can only speak our language.  (Now, we see through a glass darkly). Understanding comes through  parable and metaphor. Two thousand years ago God was described as male, as father. We created God in our image. We haven’t, though, confined or proscribed God to that image. Jesus might now easily describe God as female, our Mother. Better though, for me anyway is,  the description as – the Word existing beyond time.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This always seemed to me inconsistent with Christ’s compassion for all humanity, particularly the lost and the lonely.  It came to me today however that He was signifying that all humanity, that all through His action, is saved. His sacrifice changed the course of history. Nirvana is possible for all of us.

What Wolfgang Pauli Believed

Pauli was – with Bohr, Planck, Heinsenberg, Dirac et al – a pioneer of quantum mechanics and Nobel Prize winner for Physics for discovery of the exclusion principle. He could equally have won the prize for his discovery of the Neutrino or of PCT Symmetry.

He is less known for his work on the philosophy of knowledge and for his work with Carl Jung on the links between physics and the psyche. They wrote papers together (in some of which Einstein participated) , which were only discovered and published in the 1970’s and also co-authored the book “The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche”.

In 1955 he gave a lecture at the University of Hamburg, “Science and Western Thought”, which he later described in analysis to Jung and to Niels Bohr. His interest throughout his life was to reconcile the “rational-critical” (Western Science) with the “mystical-irrational” (Eastern thought), to try to create a single framework of the physical and psychical.

“it is precisely by these means, that the scientist can more or less consciously tread a path of inner salvation. Slowly then develop inner images, fantasies or ideas, compensatory to the external situation”.

His belief in complementarity was fundamental; not just in physics but in general. For him and Jung the conscious and unconscious are mirrors of each other, and an understanding built solely out of one or the other is necessarily incomplete. (What Pauli sometimes referred to – witheringly – as “not even wrong”). This extended to his views on wider existence. He had an abiding interest in the views of Kepler and Newton – scientists working out of the alchemy tradition – “as above, so below” whose physical discoveries were incidental (to them) in their pursuit of the truth of God.

Pauli, with many great creative scientists, was a polymath. His scientific credentials are impeccable. His god-father was Ernst Mach and he was mentored by Arnold Sommerfeld. Albert Einstein proposed him for his Nobel Prize. He was a lifelong friend and collaborator of Bohr, Heisenberg and Dirac. All of his inquiring brought him to a concrete sense of the motive force and nature that lies beyond the physical or material world. He had a strong sense of humanity and humour, dealing gently with those of other or non-belief. For instance in response to Paul Dirac (who famously could not tolerate the religions and their politics) he quipped – “Well, I’d say that also our friend Dirac has got a religion and the first commandment of this religion is ‘God does not exist and Paul Dirac is his prophet'”.

Here he is on the nature of knowledge itself:

“the natural laws are of such a kind that every bit of knowledge gained from a measurement must be paid for by the loss of other, complementary items of knowledge.. the process of knowing is connected with the religious experience of transmutation undergone by him who acquires knowledge. This connection can only be comprehended through symbols which both imaginatively express the emotional aspect of the experience and stand in vital relationship to the sum total of contemporary knowledge and the actual process of cognition. Just because in our times the possibility of such symbolism has become an alien idea, it may be considered especially interesting to examine another age to which the concepts of what is now called classical scientific mechanics were foreign but which permits us to prove the existence of a symbol that had, simultaneously, a religious and a scientific function.”

Walter Heisenberg wrote of Pauli’s beliefs (in his book – “Across the Frontiers”)

“Pauli.. points out that even Kepler’s conversion to the Copernican theory, which marks the beginning of modern natural science, was decisively affected by certain primeval images or archetypes. He cites this passage from Kepler’s Mysterium Cosmographicum: “The image of the triune God is in the sphere, namely of the Father in the centre, of the Son in the outer surface and of the Holy Ghost in the uniformity of connection between point and intervening space or surroundings”.

Continuing to:

“Pauli considers, moreover, that Kepler’s symbol illustrates quite generally the attitude from which contemporary science has arisen. “From an inner centre, the mind seems to move outward in a sort of extraversion into the physical world, in which all happenings are assumed to be automatic, so that the spirit serenely encompasses this physical world , as it were, with its Ideas.” Thus the natural science of the modern era involves a Christian elaboration of the “lucid mysticism” of Plato, in which the unitary ground of spirit and matter is sought in the primeval images, and in which understanding has found its place in its various degrees and kinds, even to knowledge of the word of God.”