Posts Tagged philosophy
If you were without cognisance of
or involvement in the human world,
but were aware of the wonders of the universe,
then you would be a supreme being.
If you were a supreme being
who’s existence depended upon
the cognisance of humans,
then you would be a contradiction in terms.
The essence of all is consistent.
What adds difference
and lifts the plain to shining peaks
or reduces it to valleys dark
Beauty stands proud
as the mediator that defines mediocrity
and all that is foul and all that inspires
and all that gives life value.
It slows our time
and distracts the mind and the eye
and causes the soul to cry
and to laugh and to ponder.
If beauty be science
and the grandiosity of knowing.
Or the pause that knowing gives to observation.
And the gentle confusion that then arises.
That response we have
to a mere curve
or to a change that’s different.
Or some shift in balance between weights
that has some hidden mathematical rhythm,
or some subtlety that knows
real wisdom and causes us to falter.
Some subtle insight that speaks
of an embellishment to our view
and which stands just slightly out of reach.
That soothes our heart
as might the passing glimpse
of a friend who smiles
but who we don’t know.
There was a man who lived in a cupboard,
and all he could see
was what was visible through the keyhole.
Because someone had stolen the key.
And thrown it away.
At any given point in time,
because there was no night or day,
he might see the thigh of a woman
or part of a cat as it passed by,
or the leg of a table but no more,
or an odd S shape in a carpet,
the rest of which was obscure.
And then there was another man
who lived on top of a mountain
and who could see everything
all at once as the wind blew.
His hands were always cold.
And his eyes always wept
and his smile was a rictus.
In between, someone lived
unaware of either constraints or limits.
He had to guess.
Cat parts seemed too mysterious to know
as did the shape in the carpet.
And the horizon was unfeasibly far and long.
He had a choice.
Ponder both views or ignore them.
In his confusion he did both
and both lived and died.
His constraints limited him
and his limits constrained him
They were and were not simultaneously.
Which is as it should be
because that’s the nature of things.
Ask a cat.
It didn’t help him much either
because with each passing moment,
with both his baffled stares and his overwhelmed wonder,
still the pain remained and the joy
and the inexplicable puzzle of it all
were both partly seen and wholly glimpsed.
What I find most fascinating about science is that, when combined with a natural human inclination to wonder, and therefore to invent religious perspectives – read metaphysical and contemplation – a real potential for true understanding emerges. true observation of what really is combined with intuitive understanding of why.
Science by itself isn’t enough, although it’s discipline and focus and precision are wonderful, and it’s ability to reveal actual process, and to show how the world about us operates. But it has to be combined with an open mind and a sense that anything is possible in order to deal with the why question. And for that to happen, you have to be infatuated with the puzzling, astonishing and beautiful nature of what you’re seeing, and to want to understand it, and the truth that underlies it. And to wonder why and how it’s beautiful, and what that might mean.
This doesn’t imply a religious – and therefore inexplicable and often nonsensical – requirement to true understanding. It means that science and the scientific method can take us so far at any given point in understanding, and to progress further, we need also to accept intuition and imagination as useful tools in determining the veracity of what we know, and how to determine a way forward. Sometimes intuition gives us a picture of scenarios that seem to be outlandish and unlikely. Or they might suggest factors that are a result of process – for example, if math explains all process, perhaps beauty is an emergent property of a level of understanding that we should appreciate having been achieved as a result of process.
This combination of wanting to understand the process, but also needing to know the why, and to be willing to accept that beauty is also a significant factor, must surely be why intelligence has come to be. The universe must know itself, otherwise why is it?
Careful analysis and understanding of the process needs to be combined with a deeper knowledge, which is why what is is, in order to sum a truth that’s beyond merely factual. Because it’s only subjective experience that gives rise to factual experience. So where does that deeper interpretation of why that experience was possible come from? Where does objective understanding come from?
This is the thing that puzzles and intrigues me. Understanding how things happen is one thing, understanding why they are is something at a different level.
EDIT: Quote ” Something there is that can refresh and revivify older people: joy in the activities of the younger generation — a joy, to be sure, that is clouded by dark forebodings in these unsettled times. And yet, as always, the springtime sun brings forth new life, and we may rejoice because of this new life and contribute to its unfolding; and Mozart remains as beautiful and tender as he always was and always will be. There is, after all, something eternal that lies beyond the hand of fate and of all human delusions. And such eternals lie closer to an older person than to a younger one oscillating between fear and hope. For us, there remains the privilege of experiencing beauty and truth in their purest forms.” (Albert Eintein)
80% of the world’s population live in what any middle class westerner would regard as abject poverty. Many live in destitution.
So many people know intuitively that they don’t belong where they are, even those who were born where they are.
So many are looking for that home, that small place where they belong in contentment, with family and friends and pets, and a small garden of their own. And all of these people are the daughters and sons of mothers and fathers, and they’re brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and uncles. Just like everyone else. Like you and me.
What is it then about the way we run things that allows so many people to be so unhappy? Everything required for everyone is there and available. If we’re so clever, why are we not able to moderate our behaviour to account for all of our real needs, rather than for the imagined needs of just a few? What would it take?
Sitting in bath warm water,
waves lapping up my thighs,
leaning on one hand on the yielding sand,
watching the moon sink into the sea.
The natural world is all that’s real.
The rest is construct and hubris.
Watching that sinking moon
over the turning world,
and the whirling cosmos of a trillion lights,
all ticking step by step in time.
And then it came to be known
amongst all sentience
that the Original Source is me,
and we are the Original Source.
This is a poem.
I can say whatever I like.
Poetic licence and all that.
I can say without fear of ridicule
that I am lonely and mystified by life.
The whirlpools of logic and illogic
and unfathomable stupidities.
And the wonders and astonishing things.
Aspects of grand realities
that seem distant and huge.
And I’m allowed to confess that I cry,
often and loudly,
because I’m a two sided coin.
And other things too.
The sense of smallness
that makes me gently humble as I look around.
That sense of contiguity with all that is
that occurs occasionally.
My smallness and my scope.
My all encompassing modest place.
Watching wise if I’m lucky.
Defined by my context.
Laughing while crying and vice versa.
If you wonder why you exist,
It’s because life is a fundamental component
Of an inevitably evolving universe.
As fundamental as hydrogen or carbon atoms.
A reflection not of bits but of process.
Of how these and others interact.
And of the evolution of these interactions.
And as this interaction evolves,
It acquires ever evolving conciousness.
If you want to know how to be happy,
Understand this fact.
One life everywhere
So look skyward and see
That one day we’ll blend.
And at that point
The discreet existences we all know
Will come to an end.
As entropy finally converts all matter
To nothing more than understanding
And everything finally stops.
Because there’ll be nothing more to know.
It’s rumoured that we live in a multiverse, comprising an infinite number of universes wherein anything is possible. Somewhere out there there’s a ‘me’ writing something worth reading.
But I don’t think the multiverse is infinite. We may indeed live in a multiverse, but the only universes that exist are those that, from the infinite number of variances of outcome from the Big Bang, actually comprised an outcome that could, by it’s nature, go on to persist and to evolvet.
Most of the potential ways in which the results of the Big Bang could manifest milliseconds after the event were not tenable. They produced results that pretty much instantly collapsed and cancelled themselves out. They ceased to exist, even as they came into existence.
So, whilst there may have been, perhaps still is in creation, an infinite number of events that could have resulted in a universe, only some succeeded. And we exist in one of them.
Therefore there is not an infinite number of universes. Rather, there are a few. Perhaps, just possibly, there’s only one. And the rest failed to achieve suitable stability sufficient to materialise and to evolve.
And then of course there’s the question of life. At the advent of the Big Bang, when all things were possible and all things were attempted, most things failed. But one outcome was a universe that happened to comprise the elements necessary for the material coalescence of various components that are required for life as we know it, and experience it.
So our universe comprises various forms of hydrogen, carbon and other basic elements, and it’s in the nature of things that as these combine, in all the various ways that they’re capable of, the process we know as life emerges.
The sophistication of this process has also evolved. Because that’s the way of the context in which life exists… a context and combination of interlaced processes that obliges the materials involved to tend towards greater degrees of complexity.
And the ways in which life formed interacted with, and came to observe that context. It thus became more complex in its perspective, and ultimately in its understanding. Until eventually, life evolved that was capable of seeing itself within the very context from which it emerged, and of questioning it.
This isn’t necessarily the same thing as consciousness. All living things are conscious, if by conscious we mean aware of, and able to respond to, the physical environment.
But this awareness was to evolve to such a degree that it became aware that it existed, and so it became conciousness. The universe had evolved a way of critically observing itself. And it did so as part of a natural consequence of its nature – namely its composition.
So we can say that life is as much a part of the nature of the universe as say, hydrogen atoms.Or any other component. Life is an intrinsic part of the nature of the universe. The universe we know comprises life as much as it comprises anything else. So given that life, by its nature, evolves to be self aware, so the universe is self aware. Life is part of the universe’s evolution. And we are the manifestation of the early stages of that evolving process.
So open your mind to the beauty of the world, and its complexity and intricacy, and see your awareness of these things as a separate component that you have a responsibility to nurture. Because a unique quality of conciousness, over all the other elements and components of the universe, is that it’s able to manage its own evolution, and growth, and the way in which it functions.
The universe is like a small child that’s starting to understand itself, its nature and its place. It has become self aware. And it is life in its multitude of forms, that undoubtedly occur on millions of planets, that represents that awareness. You yourself are the universe thinking and watching itself. No less than that.
So wise up. Take your eyes off the money, let go of religious dogma and bigotry of whatever persuasion, see that time spent pondering why and what is not time wasted. Disconnect as far as is practically possible from the world of people, think more freely and let yourself be what you feel inclined to be. Because that ‘you’, with all its potential knock-on effects in a chaotic system, is probably why you exist. To play a part in the evolution of the universe.
With thanks to Jostein Gaarder, and his novel ‘The Castle in the Pyrenees’, for inspiration.
Once I was part of something flat
That lapped upon a shore that resisted.
Then I found myself lifted up
And up and soaring
Over a golden beach and curving trees,
And then I fell forward too fast
And the beach disintegrated across my face.
And now I simply go with the flow,
Up and down this unredeemable beach.
I choose to wonder why I am.
Seeking some value in me, relative
To the sweeping misted air that wafts
Over gentle hills
Whilst the birds and the other animals
Continue their dispassionate chat,
Being what they are.
But something in the way that I am
Makes this process too complicated.
As the world happens around me,
I ask too many questions.
There are two worlds.
The real and the human.
I think in one
And I exist in the other.
When I die,
I want to understand the difference
Between the roles I played
Within these two domains
And their respective values.
So I finally get to know where I fit.
Your life’s purpose is
To understand the void
And to see its truth.
If I were a fly on the wall
What would I see?
What’s my perspective?
Do I see an area of moving stuff?
As though I were part
Of the sea looking up
And seeing part of a wave.
Do I see a bleating thing there
That sees through slitted eyes
A world that’s always wrong?
Or do I see the icy flow of life
Flow past it like stream over rock?
As it sits shining,
Sticking up into the flow
And casting a shadow
Like two fingers inserted
Into a beam of light.
A separate thing experiencing
Just myself in relation.
Do I see a transparent thing?
Drifting through some dark ether?
Belonging to the vast space
Between our atoms.
Some say we’re chemistry.
Some say we make the chemicals.
But whatever truth it is
That you behold
It’s unlikely to be
I’m sure I knew a world once that was round
And not sharp and jagged and jarring,
But which ululated
Sibilant sine waves
Of gentle experience.
Slow knowing and emergent wisdom
That felt right relative to
A gently shifting world.
Not this blind frantic electronic rocket
Through twisting changes so fast
That I can’t see what’s right and what’s wrong
And where there’s no chance
To stop and think.
Cast off your uniform
And throw back your head
To watch the clouds and see
How they do what they do regardless.
And hear the birdsong.
Bright water running through
A small valley formed downhill
Is channelled by what it made.
And so it seems I’ve made my life
Such that it channels me.
Should I have the temerity
To challenge this cursed valley,
I’m rebuked by obstinate circumstance.
Is it circumstance?
Or is there a guide watching my life
And just making sure
I don’t do anything that I might actually want.
Decline is predestined it seems.
No doubt the water that went before
Knew what it was doing.
At the time.
On to my inevitable decline.
Is temerity or timidity best?
Challenge, or accept?
I wouldn’t die any other way.
And die I will.
Probably sooner for this.
The river runs fast.
Faster than your perceptions,
And you start to drown.
Rise up above it.
Now look down and see it whole.
Your start and your end.
The bit in between
Is bound by landscape
And flows as it must.
Don’t cry and don’t laugh.
Wait for the true view.
A warm wind blows that shakes trees
And sets golden leaves free to roam.
Transition time now between what was grown
In such surety of purpose,
And the dying and the melding back.
I thought I knew how to be once.
But the seasons changed
And my solutions lost relevance.
They acquired a different beauty
That crumbled and snapped at the slightest stress.
Now they lie in the dirt.
Rotting with promise of new leaves
For the next generation,
Whilst I look on bewildered,
Wondering where my dreams went.
May my children not make the same mistakes.
Purpose is an illusion meant
To defraud us into believing we have value.
And there rose like spring,
A brightly coloured flower in a sea of grass,
That saw the beauty of the myth
And the depth of the wisdom,
And its simplicity.
And he saw that whilst all
It also sparkled like a diamond
With a million facets
That together represented a unity
That Cain and his kin,
Being too close to the trees
Completely failed to see.
But his name escapes me.
Jesus, or Siddhartha, or Mohammed, or Alan
What you see said Owl
To Mouse who sat looking up,
Is you looking down.
I had the temerity to laugh at her
As she slid silently down through industrialised air
And sat there watching me.
Her shimmering wings lighting the fog
That draped the air around her.
Under a wilting tree with one small apple
Clutched tight in my hand I sat and watched
This apparent apparition congeal
From thin air.
She held up a mirror and I saw myself
I saw a man.
Not one good or bad.
But one that looked at me
Quizzically with eyes that wondered why.
And then I heard myself sigh.
I turned away from her and saw instead
A land of rolling green hills
And hard working people
Who lacked the time to pay attention
To the finer aspects of sparkling wings.
They couldn’t see the beauty.
All they saw were their hands.
Wrinkled and painful
With the toil of living well.
I turned to look at her and she nodded slowly.
She was an ideal that stood proud
From our aspirations.
And as we laboured our way to oblivion,
She stood there shining in the sky
Invisible to all but a few who stood to inherit the earth.
Poetry must test.
Faith gives us our wooded hills.
Reason clears a path.
The moment where I am now
Offers neither hope nor despair.
It’s merely a place where
I contemplate without involvement
A future over which I have no control.
Like a leaf blessed with consciousness
That sees itself floating hither and thither
On an autumn breeze.
Sparkling sun flashing and flickering
Through warm summer air that vibrates
With life and change and smells and colour.
Understanding as I drift down for a short while
That sees the truth between life on a branch
And the musty ground that promises
Slow integration with something
It’s a small insight.
Lends little to wisdom but something to understanding.
I was there and I’m going there.
It’s the only insight that I’m ever likely to really know.
And even then
I’ve had to work so hard to see it.
When is depression a beguiling excuse
Why do things seem clearer from
A lower perspective?
As though the sun throws bigger shadows
From down here.
Or is this just a view like any other?
A longer shadow is just as good a view
As any other.
Is there a part of us that watches and discerns
The longer from the shorter and sees
How we fail to see?
I sometimes sit and watch life
Slithering thing sliding past my window
As I sit unable to do anything
And then I think differently
And the words come.
But fuck it.
What’s this all about?
Being a miserable sod is what.
All’s a game that passes by
With a clickety clackety resonance
Like a train that won’t stop.
It’s too big.
So just sit back and watch
And laugh if you can.
And stop thinking.
It doesn’t mean anything.
Sitting there in that waiting room
In that garage with six other people
All staring straight ahead
I sat quietly by myself
Inside my head.
How daft it was we that had nothing to say.
Even though we did.
But six strangers dare not.
One Irish man though who couldn’t stand
Without his short stick spoke up.
His life was worth speaking of.
And did he speak of it?
On and on and on he went,
This happy man who loved his wife
And his life.
This plasterer who knew
Every way to make any wall smooth.
He had wisdom
Did this droning man
That at first I made myself politely
And as he spoke I became transported
Into a world that was smaller but wealthier
He was a happy man.
And I was not.
And his happiness derived
From not knowing too much,
From being what he was
And not thinking about being more.
A broken branch crunched underfoot
Next to the bole of a massive tree
That rose like a sign from the sodden earth,
Alive and being and strong and true.
And I knew in a flash something deep that slid
Away from my grasp as I moved on.
Einstein said that energy and matter
Are all the same and are one another.
Some smooth and seamless confluence then,
Of all existence like endless ocean
That drew that tree to be growing there.
But if its stuff was the same as light
Then what was that which was its life?
Is life just coincidence of energy as form?
Or is it something beyond that source?
Is life independent and something else?
Or are light and life and the motion we see
The same seamless singularity?
You, me and the tree
That blossoms and bubbles and forms on a whim.
Some chaotic prompting that just happens to be.
Are our pain and love and the suffering we see,
The same stuff as stars and infinite space
All happening at once in the same only moment?
I saw real truth in that moment then.
That life-force arises like anything else.
It’s part of the same seamless energy state.
We’re all one thing as we see ourselves
Alone and frantic and striving to make
The small universes we see as our own.
Foolish illusions that make us our pain.
We’re just meant to be and the energy
That sits like a god doesn’t know,
He sits and he farts and he pleasures himself
By causing the trees and the galaxies
And laughing aloud at the curious thought
Of mankind being made in his image.
I think I may be
Some smoothly blended entity
Merged with some other
Seamless contiguity as one.
I don’t believe in the space
Between me and all others.
There are too many strands
Of coincidence and coordination
For any of us to be discreet.
Whoever heard of a bit of a dance,
Or a fragment of swirling fog,
Or a drop of water underwater in an ocean.
I gorge peach becomes human.
I breathe air becomes me.
I breathe out my body.
The water that makes me
Once ran down the Nile,
Once formed a crocodile.
Where is the edge between this world and me?
All is contiguous,
One blended entity.
We exist as a drop of water
In the sea. No distinct identity.
Our sense of self then is immaterial.
This is the greatest proof
Of soul as a truth,
Which allows us to feel whole and discreet.
It exists like a permeable membrane in water
And contains us. Defines us. Each.
But the atoms and stuff of the universe we see
Flow through and between us
As we eat, live and breathe.
Our bodies are bubbles of identical matter
To the earth and the air and the trees.
It’s only our souls that allow us to care
And to know and to love and to see.
And when we move on from this liquid domain
And become free of illusory form,
We shall see what we are and meld yet again
To a more vaporous medium by far.
Where all of us join in one uniform sphere
Of pure harmonious joy.