As we enter the world we are infinite. We have no boundary. We are also zero. At three months, or so, we begin to distinguish that there is an “other” – the breast as part object. By 6 months old the boundary between us and the other (usually mother) is clear; and often frightening. Warmth, food, security and affection can be withdrawn as well as present. Our world is strait, though we do not know it. As we age and explore we push the boundary back; and back. If we are fortunate, and conquer our fear, we realise once more that there is no boundary. We are existence and all of existence is us. Death is an illusion. When we leave the world we can then fade to white and lose the loneliness and fear that haunts life, to experience all that is directly once more.
We often know when we are being looked at, even from behind. This has been proved repeatedly in mass experiments; and it’s something we each have felt. It doesn’t happen always, but the statistics are indisputable. We often know when we are being watched.
What is the quality that distinguishes the times that we do, from those where we don’t (know that we are being observed)? Intensity surely is partly responsible. There is a difference between a casual glance and a powerful gaze. We need then to beware an intensity that intrudes, that breaks into privacy. I also believe that the type of focus is important. If you like, the intention or quality, of attention. There is a difference between a young man’s gaze at a girl, a boxer’s focus on his opponent, and a mother’s rapt enwrapping of her infant. (Winnicott’s “maternal reverie”).
Lord, grace this day with your restful gaze. Let me look at those around me unintrusively, respecting silence and privacy – but with something of the lilt of your enfolding joy.
What is clear, at least to me, is that living is meeting. Thinking, no matter how clever, is futile if there is no engagement. (When all is done and all is said/ that all takes place inside my head). Attention, the meeting of minds and souls, is the stuff of life. Martin Buber (Ich und Du) distinguishes engagement of I-It (Ich-Es) from I-Thou (Ich-Du), and more – he invites us again and again to live by whole-hearted meeting rather than by withdrawal behind a barricade of ideas. He calls this living the “speaking” of the primary word I-Thou, rather than the emptiness of the primary word I-It.
“To be sure, many a man who is satisfied with the experience and use of the world of things has raised over about himself a structure of ideas, in which he finds refuge and repose from the oncome of nothingness. On the threshold he lays aside his inauspicious everyday dress, wraps himself in pure linen, and regales himself with the spectacle of primal bein, or of necessary being; but his life has no part in it. To proclaim his ways may even fill him with well-being.
But mankind of mere IT this is imagined, postulated, and propagated by such a man has nothing in common with a living mankind where THOU may truly be spoken. The noblest fiction is a fetish, the loftiest fictitious sentiment is depraved. Ideas are no more enthroned above our heads than Resident in them; they wander amongst us – and accost us. The man who leaves the primary word unspoken is to be pitied; but the man who addresses instead these ideas with an abstraction or a password, as if it were their name, is contemptible”
Lord, you are present when I I address all that I meet as Thou. This day, let me speak the primary word I-Thou in all of my looking.
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.
We danced as we gathered
Fresh sublimation of triple-point stars
To the covalent ceildh of clouds
Skylark ascending acceleration of joy
Heel-toe the tapping
magnetic the tempo
Crescendo the cresting
Pregnant with knowing
Out flowing in ozone of love
Raining, tip-tripping we’re falling, soft folding away
Each in our droplet, clear-crystalline skin
Singly we sing, conjoint in orchestral skein
And tip-tap-tip slip-slopping
Hoh o hoh tippie-toe flowing
Torrents a-gurgling, giggle-atumbling
Drenching dry frictional sand
Glisten to demara-gold strand
Mixing dust into lusting
Slaking memory with fire
Returning we quaff
As we laugh.
Phlebas the Phoenician, reconstituted
Crying was pulled from the deep sea swell
Wrenched through world enough, and time
To act again on the stage of her youth
Through this whirlpool ent’ring the clouds
Through tongues of fire she arose
(To be won)
The journey of water starts as molecule – HoH – evaporated from that sea, arising to form clouds, alive with brownian motion. On the one hand water represents eternal bonding – with the hydrogen and the oxygen atoms held-together through their covalent cloud of electrons through endless cycles of rebirth. A trinity. On the other – they associate variously – in droplets falling, through the rivers to the ocean. Together water retains a memory. (Mixing memory and desire). Water has a triple-point – at 0.1 degrees celcius at atmospheric pressure – where it’s different forms – solid, liquid and gas – are in equilibrium. The phase-change between ice and gas without passing through the liquid state – is called sublimation. An image of resurrection.
… that the universe is really one and that we and everything in it is connected, a part of the same thing – and so a part of each other. The loneliness and insecurity that is the subtext of all of our living would be illusory. So, indeed would be death. We would be all, part of each other. The making love, the smile shared with a stranger, the sense of one-ness within a brilliant landscape, the tenderness and awe holding your baby… all intimations and pale imitations of what existence would be. If we removed our blinkers. And, this is what scientific discovery points toward. So indeed does our brother, Jesus. What did he actually say? Love thy neighbour (as thyself), by the fruits shall ye know them, forgive over and over and over again (70×7), rich men shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Christ would have been, in our modern world, a revolutionary – but not a divider of people against people. He would have been, and is, the true blueprint of a socialist radical.
Imagine, if the universe is really one and that we and everything in it is connected, a part of the same thing – and so a part of each other. After all its what the science points toward.
The wonderful part of being male is that its the anima that you are focussing on, integration being our goal. We are more familiar with our neighbour’s house – at least the outside of it, than our own – because that’s what we look out on. The world explodes into life and interest truly when you begin to be familiar with the inside of our neighbour’s houses. All that richness of life and connection. And the only way to see the other – from the inside – is with, through and in love. Jesus said – love your neighbour as yourself. Hindus say – Namaste or Namaskar – I bow to the divine in you/in us/that we share.
Our “self” is anyway surely only the path that we tread in this life. Like any path it’s habitual, a kind of morphic resonance through time. It’s only a path, not a universe in itself. It is a joy occasionally to glimpse its irrelevance except as a platform from which to perceive the divine majesty of existence.
We live through our connections. Our connecting. That is where God’s will works. God, the word existing beyond time.
Through the discovery and integration of other, we are unshackled. From space, from time, and from the smallness of our self.
What is evil?
The anti-thesis of good. Ah, but what is good? In fact are these useful constructs at all, or simply perceived positive and negative outcomes of random events?
Is it reasonable to equate good with happiness and evil with unhappiness? If so, where does happiness lie?
It is politically (but not scientifically) correct to assume a materialistic existence built on a series of microscopic random events unfolding in intransitive time. Therein lies the evil that we must embrace. In other words we focus on and believe in, like Thomas, only on what we see. We do that at least partially because we fear there is no meaning below or beyond what our sensory organs are capable of registering.
Surely one of the great lessons of the exploration of mind started by Sigmund Freud is 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.
It seems to me that the fundamental issue that haunts each of us is insecurity. That is the symptom of existential angst. How, then, to deal with that?
And it’s worth addressing.
The more secure a person is, the more creative, compassionate, generous, and capable of joy they be. Security leads to happiness and connection.(Happiness being life lived in the expectation of joy).
Conversely when we feel insecure we experience withdrawal. We become self-centred, and disconnected. Our horizons contract to a narrow unhappy world devoid of meaning. (Unhappiness broadly equating with isolation).
The thesis is then, that good is expressed through happiness and that lies in our interconnectedness. We feel able to reach out when we are secure. Conversely insecurity leads to withdrawal and unhappiness, which is nominated – evil.
Are we right to feel insecure? Are we simply minds floating on an ocean of random events and therefore at their mercy?
What does science have to say? Experiments on matter at the most microscopic levels shows that pre-existence is an infinite series of possibilities, potential – until observed. It is the act of observation that, in effect, crystallises out this particular existence that we experience from the cloud of possibilities. That raises the issue of observation. What is it? Surely there must be an “observer” to create our particular reality. Sure enough, what our species is really really good at is just that – observation, whether through science or the arts. We each of us spend our life in observation (or as some would call it – witness, some accumulation of knowledge). Interestingly our gathering of knowledge is escalating in a geometric progression. (Are we approaching Teilhard de Chardin’s “Omega Point”? Is that the Mayan meaning to the end of time?)
It appears to me that our real individual human purpose is to be just this – engines of observation – crystallising existence from potential. (Or as our ancestors put it – we are three sisters of wyrd sitting at the foot of Ygaddrsil, the tree of life, spinning fate). That puts the onus on us collectively. We, the creators of life and goodness.
So if good and evil are the outcomes of our individual witness then what are God and the Devil?
I believe, and in my experience only, that God is expressed in the space between us, in the connection between all things. It is the smile shared between strangers that briefly connects and illuminates us. There have been those who with great discipline, have been able to sense directly the mass of loving connections underlying all things. Most of us however “see through a glass darkly”, it is in only in small moments and in our intimate circle – family, friends, community, even our pets – that we touch and feel the common good. Put another way, God is an emergent property of our connections each to each, and we feel that larger love in the individual links and bonds between us.
The Devil, then is absence of good – the opposite of shared experience. Our de-mergent selves.
There is also some evidence in science, not only that existence is cystallised by observation, but also that this can run backward in time, with reverse causality. Belief or knowledge of an outcome can cause – at least at the level of the electron/photon – history to be reshaped to create the experienced outcome.
So then, perhaps God – the personalisation of the emergent property of our observation and connections to each other – lies in our future. God is what we create together in the future, and this future God intervenes where necessary to ensure that the path of existence-formation will lead to him/her/it/us. (God, the word existing beyond time…)
Was this through the lives of Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha?
Does that not change our world view? Good and evil as made by us. A secure future, which is God beyond the Omega Point. Let us accept that good and evil do exist, as outcomes of our collective path through life. When we embrace our joint task – to work for good effect around us. In that way our eyes open to our divine purpose. We no longer need to live with our eyes tight closed against the fear that we are floating on a sea of random meaninglessness. Face up to existential angst and it disappears. As the psychological defence mechanisms fall away – we’re left with the revelation of love behind all things and experienced in our connection, in the Ich-Du of Martin Buber.
It is by embracing evil that we puncture it and experience joy.