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)

We think therefore we are

Thinking is plural. It involves subject (thinker) and object (idea). Reality is in the relationship between; it is not concrete or material. “I think, therefore I am” is incomplete. Better would be – I think ABOUT, therefore there is existence.
This isn’t my insight, but variously Einstein’s (relativity), Bion’s (the mind as apparatus to think pre-existing ideas), Whitehead’s (Process and Reality) and Buber’s (Ich Ind Du). If there is a “singularity”, then it is outside the space-time in which we swim and spawn. As we Christians express it – God is “the Word, existing beyond time”. Others say the same thing in different ways (Nirvana ). 

What we experience is dis-integration. Alone we are: alone. Point-less. Together and between us lies the truth. Indeed materiality is chimera: we reflect each other, flowers of the same plant. Reality is in the honouring of the God in You, in I-Thou rather than I-It.

“World is crazier and more of it than we think,

Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion

A tangerine and spit the pips and feel

The drunkenness of things being various.” 

Louis MacNeice

Waving, not drowning

Profuse connection and abundant writhing change. The two things we truly know.

There is a collection of molecules called “I”. They change completely every three years or so, but the “I” continues. Isn’t there a clue here? There will come a moment when a particular set of atoms that is known as “me”  finally disperses amongst billions of other creatures. Bound by covalent bonds to the molecules that are in new generations of  you and me and  billion of others. New realities emerging.  Physically we are a constantly exchanging bubbling molecular soup. We’re not separate at all – either from each other or the rest of the physical world.

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. I am a co-evolving 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.

Humanity has been at the leading edge of the evolution of consciousness. But consciousness is a wave, a process. Yes we are (now) at the crest of that wave, but we are not, some fixed centre of existence. We are not the wave –  but something different and far bigger –  we are the ocean. Together, we carry all the tides and tsunamis. Constantly flowing and emerging into new realities.

Profuse connection and abundant writhing change. The two things we truly know.

Where to? Where from? Why? God only knows.

Emergent Reality

Metamorphosis.  Water becomes ice, caterpillars pupate, emerging into butterflies. We journey together in a co-evolving emergence from one state to quite another. Ancient creatures become rock, or oil or shale gas. All it takes is time – a healer, but also a wheeler-dealer. Yet; mostly we think of the material world as static and secure. How strange. We manage that by focussing on shorter and smaller time segments. Thus we can ignore the riverine flow of rocks, the evolution from raw plasma to chemicals to biology to ideas. Why? Fear, I suspect, is to blame. The terror, the existential angst that is located in our ego – which of course is definitely going down with these particular  bodies that we temporarily inhabit. Why do we let our ego rule over us, when – just here, just now, in the reflection of the pool of the universe is our real deathless self. Rupert Brookes “.. and think this heart, all evil shed away – a pulse in the eternal mind, no less” There is a collection of molecules called “I”. They change completely every three years or so, but the “I” continues. Isn’t there a clue here? There will come a moment when a particular set of atoms finally disperses amongst billions of creatures. When they are bound by covalent bonds to the molecules that are in you as you become a billion others. Physically we are a constantly exchanging bubbling molecular soup. We’re not separate at all – either from each other or the rest of the physical world. That’s not how we see it though. We are ego-centric. Each of us the pivot around which existence arcs. Like Narcissus, transfixed by inner absorption. But our self-image is just a trick of the light. Look past the surface of the pool with its (reversed) image that we see reflected. There, within the water, is the flow of life which is our home. Humanity has been at the leading edge of the evolution of consciousness. And so we think we are “it”, “all that is”. But consciousness is a wave, a process. Yes we are (now) at the crest of the wave that is consciousness, but we are not, some fixed centre of existence. Not the wave – something much bigger –  we are the ocean. Together, we carry all the tides and tsunamis. Constantly flowing and emerging into new realities. Profuse connection and abundant writhing change. The two things we truly know. Where to? Where from? Why? God only knows.

National Boundaries

We define by creating boundaries; where we place them. (That is you, this is me); what kind they are (a kissing gate or a prison wall). Most important, though. is what they are made out of. The foundations of  Nationalism are laid on enmity. Yes, there can be other building materials  – ideals, even love. How often though does aspiration end in vitriol?

A friend put to me on Saturday that it is possible for nationalism to be a force for good. He cited the British resistance to Nazis. He won me over, but to the possibility,, not the reality.

Boundaries are existential; or at least to our experience of “being”. We have to feel an “other” in order to sense our “self”, this is because all experience is relative. We live inside the uni-verse (the one thing), and so have no absolute external measure, no yardstick or objectivity. It is only by differentiating and re-integrating that we create reality.

Boundaries make things real; but they also separate. Each from each. Technically a form of  good nationalism could come about through a specific kind of boundary. If nationals could stay open and inclusive, by having semi permeable social cell-walls, then well and good. But…

The problem is that “nation” is so often a short-hand for racial grouping. Indeed why else call a community a “nation”? And race memories are there in our unconscious lurking as Archetypes. Irrational and enormously, darkly,  potent. The perfidious English to the French, the Lord Snooty English to the Scots, the chippy Scots to the English. In our collective unconscious our neighbour is the enemy who raided in the night, raped and stole our livelihood.

.. And so – enter mass manipulation by politicians and other self interested parties ( corporations for instance).  We have our psychic buttons, all they have to do is to to push them; and they can’t help it. The end (their end) soon justifies their means. Where community is defined by nation, then you have the cybernats’ outrageous vilification of the “English”, and the Daily Mail whipping up a response (which helped the Tories back to power  last month). Roll up the Bosch, the Hun and the Frogs. Come on in to the EU debate. How much pent up grievance does it then take to move us to internment camps and war. No, this really isn’t hysteria. In the early 1930’s Germany was an pluralistic and active democracy. It only took ten years…

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.”

Social media imprisons us on the island of I-It

“No man is an island” John Donne. But social media is trying to keep us there. The communion between each of us, real warm messy and vital – has always been the anodyne to our loneliness and insecurity. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. They give the illusion of connection, but not the substance; and they are in it for their profit. Money puts up these barriers, and we follow.

“The primary word I-It can never be spoken with the whole being” Martin Buber. The difference between the isolation of the material existence and the vibrant human living in community is beautifully expressed by the jewish existentialist Martin Buber. He describes the two modes of man’s existence as I-It and I-Thou. If we interact with the world and people as material (It), then our I – our self – is material too. We imprison ourself on an island. If we acknowledge the other as Thou, then we are connected in a true sense. We each are transformed in our communion.

Consider. In the United States children talk to their friends in their break via their mobile phone – with so-called “social” media. Even though their friend may be sitting next to them. In Japan almost half of younger men and women prefer on-line sex and will not contemplate the “horrid” actuality of love-making. Face to face. Human.

Direct interaction is certainly messy and can be frightening. But it’s where joy flies leaping. When communion is real and vital, then we are each present to the other. It is the human condition to be insecure and lonely – inside and apart. We each live on our island with our inadequacy. Life and meaning is in the flow and community between us.

“The development of the function of experiencing and using comes about mostly through decrease of man’s power to enter into relation. How does this same man, who made spirit into a means of enjoyment for himself, behave towards the beings that live round about him?

Taking his stand in the shelter of the primary word of separation, which holds off the I and the It from one another, he has divided his life with his fellow-men into two tidily circled-off provinces, one of institutions and the other of feelings – the province of IT and the province of I.

Institutions are “outside”, where all sorts of aims are pursued, where a man works, negotiates, bears influence, undertakes, concurs, organises, conducts business, officiates, preaches. They are the tolerably well-ordered and to some extent harmonious structure, in which, with the manifold help of men’s brains and hands the process of affairs is fulfilled.

Feelings are “within”, where life is lived and man recovers from institutions. Here the spectrum of the emotions dances before the interested glance. Here a man’s liking and hate and pleasure are indulged, and his pain if it is not too severe…But the separated It of institutions is an animated clod without soul, and the separated I of feelings an uneasily fluttering soul-bird. Neither of them knows man; institutions know only the specimen, feelings only the “object”; neither knows the person or mutual life. Neither of them knows the present: even the most up-to-date institutions know only the lifeless past that is over and done with, and even the most lasting feelings know only the flitting moment that has not yet come properly into being. Neither of them has access to real life.”

“There is no I taken in itself, but only the I of the primary word I-Thou and the I of the primary word I-It. When a man says I, he refers to one or other of these. .. The primary word I-thou can only be spoken with the whole being. The primary word I-It can never be spoken with the whole being.” Martin Buber, Ich und Du