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.

Hug your Fear

We can’t push it away; not now. What then?

Embrace it, honestly. If it’s there anyway then really look at it. Anyway I found that it led me to the inbreath of the joy which lies just beyond acceptance. Really. Truly.

This is a diary from the front of the war with fear.. (bear with the language, it’s influenced by Martin Buber’s little book “I and Thou” )..

“Consideration of any “thing” entails full exploration of its meaning, including all contexts and antonyms.

Fear is a context that shades meaning of each “thing”.

The unknown arises because  fear prevents its consideration.

Therefore fear, unlike joy, disgust or sadness, has to be subsumed in order that the unknown “thing” can be considered. That is, it must be seen as context, separately from the “thing”.

This perspective is achieved by accepting the worst feared outcome, by plumbing the depth of possibility.

Death is an antonym of, and also a context of life. The opposite is also true.

Fear of death is a surface reflecting our ego. It is a narcissistic mirror at the boundary of the ocean of existence. It’s reflective property is a barrier to our consideration of existence.

Fear of death prevents the conscious consideration of a deeper monster – existential angst – whereby we fear utter meaningless of infinite non-existence.

When existential angst is plumbed it is found to be a chimera, a confection of our ego; however it must be confronted and experienced for this this truth to be released.

It is by swimming naked in the infinite sea of potential meaningless that meaning emerges.

It is through integration with nothing that number and all “things” are realised.

It is through this mechanism that death is dissolved through a wider perspective, so that the joy of unification with “all that is” is glimpsed as the truth. “All that is” is synomymous with “the word existing beyond time”.

Some do not have to travel this path to truth. They are most often securely attached and live confidently (with trust). This is most often a gift from their parent, who held them in maternal reverie through their perilous crossing to the world of “things”. They are blessed”

Let us become conscious of infinity

Humanity is only half conscious, because conscious only of finity. Collectively we are unconscious. Surely, we are in the process of birth into consciousness, together, of infinity.

Now.  Humanity is conscious of itself, himself, herself. Self-conscious. Even that is a marvel,  the “phenomenon” which distinguishes our species.

But, within that -we are generally conscious only of finity. (Death is certain, our ego will cease). Ego does NOT want to be conscious of infinity. (Have you ever experienced the terror of existential angst?)

Yet, in glimpses – “through a glass darkly” – I (and thus surely many of us) have been conscious of infinity as pure love. “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” according to Eliot. I wish for each and all of us that we die to sorrow and are born to joy. Infinity as the “word existing beyond time” as the Book of Common Prayer has it, or the release from the cycle of birth and death as Buddhists and Hindus express it.

Now, being conscious only of finity we are still trapped in the cycle of death and birth. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin describes an approaching Omega Point as a supreme consciousness. Then, being conscious of infinity, we will have arrived. Together.

Here is an extract from the Wikipedia entry on “The Phenomenon of Man” by Teilhard de Chardin. The book is wonderful – floridly French and yet scientifically profound. If you have time it really repays to consider it together with Harari’s “Homo Deus”. We should welcome Artificial Intelligence but struggle to keep learning and knowledge in our common, societal hands….

“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. 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. Borrowing Huxley’s expression, Teilhard describes humankind as evolution becoming conscious of itself.
In Teilhard’s conception of the evolution of the species, a collective identity begins to develop as trade and the transmission of ideas increases Knowledge accumulates and is transmitted in increasing levels of depth and complexity. This leads to a further augmentation of consciousness and the emergence of a thinking layer that envelops the earth.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.
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. 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”. 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”.
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. The concentration of a conscious universe will reassemble in itself all consciousnesses as well as all that we are conscious of. Teilhard emphasizes that each individual facet of consciousness will remain conscious of itself at the end of the process.”

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]

Litanei

I am a story with no beginning, and no end. I am our story continually untold. Seen sleightly. History objectively pronounced. Widthless I, emergent reality we.

Histoires, eglantine entwine.  Tsunami of becoming.

Mine und dein. Aller Seelen. Gilt mesh, braided golden vine in guiltless compassion wound.

Wherein.

Electric pain imprison’d, refracted joy enprism’d. Fire and Rose.

Infinitely time divides, bounds and binds –  differentiating an all-embracing integration.

We are mystery with no beginning, and no end.

Though as we flow – we shine.