Posts Tagged religion
Warm air rang chilled,
hammer on an anvil.
Church steeple still
in pleasant landscape
stopped to look
at small life given.
Sleepy world glancing
his way for once
and simmering summer
sultry birdsong sang
So little england carried on
and one who came to pass
and had lived their way
no longer had a choice.
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)
Humans tend to assume that they have a degree of intelligence that gives them awareness that isnt afforded other species.
Criteria that are used to justify this perspective include lack of evidence of empathy, of emotions including fear and sadness, and of gratitude. Or an ability to assess a given context, and to calculate an appropriate response to it.
Every day, visible instances occur that prove these assumptions are just wrong. They imply an arrogance in humanity that is breathtaking. Other creatures are sufficiently sentient to respond to both circumstance and to other creatures as we are. How could they be alive otherwise?
Here’s a small example:
We have to reappraise our relationship with the rest of the world. To imagine that we’re somehow seperate from it is folly. The whole system that we observe and are able to analyse because its systemic, includes us as a key component. As it does every other creature. This is what makes it a system. How to extrapolate this? Discussions about ‘universal conciousness’? Perhaps. How is a component within a system able to see the system from outside? We can’t know this external perspective. We can only know what we see and experience, and deduce. And we can clearly experience sentience and awareness in other creatures, even with our own emotions and intuition, as opposed to powers of analysis. And deploying this experience usefully, must surely lead us to deduce that we arent a seperate cognitive function of the universe but just a part of a mathematical curve that, if we allow it, will extrapolate. And this is the ultimate goal of evolution.
So, some compassion and respect is called for I think… and a little humility. Otherwise we risk compromising the very system that defines us.
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.
For the past ten years or more, I’ve pondered the state of humanity and the world we believe we’ve created, dependent as it is upon a natural environment that we continue to take for granted. I’ve looked at most issues – from antibiotic resistance to population growth via land use, deforestation and biodiversity reduction, economic inequity and excessive consumption, pollution and climate change. I’ve seen how all of these problems are interlinked and are interdependent. How all cause each other.
I’ve seen how our political and economic systems manage these issues as stovepipes, independent from one another. And I’ve seen how religious and political dogma work against the human ability to rationally assess contexts and solutions. How ignorant people are led by ego driven fools. And I’ve seen how our simple minded greed is driven by our selfishness.
In short, I’ve seen how our ignorance is driving our demise, as well as that of most other species, compounded by our stubborn stupidity and ego.
I believe that human civilisation, as we understand it to be, will be no more eighty five years from now. And that within four decades, we’ll be experiencing a sense of upheaval that will render most people’s lives unpleasant at best, untenable at worst.
That by the end of this century, humanity will comprise some ten percent of its current volume, some existing self sufficiently, growing their own food and living a simple life, whilst a minority contiue to try to utilise our knowledge to our advantage, but in doing so come to represent an elite that may have complete control over the rest. The ignorant will finally become subsumed, and the fate of humanity will rest with the ability of those with knowledge to resist becoming arrogant. Our final destiny lies with these people.
I don’t have much hope.
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.
The truth is that as you get older, the old illusions fall away. The trivia you once aspired to, become worthless, or at least worthless in your heart of hearts. Ignore the false heart that’s fed by those outside. You become someone who’s worth more than them.
You don’t have to be old for this insight to occur. You could be just 16. Or you could be 84. It doesn’t matter. What this process is, is the emergence of an understanding. It might be triggered by something you read, or thought, or was told, that grew into something bigger that belongs to you now because only you really see it, even though you can’t describe it.
It might be an understanding that is the purpose of your life.
Odd that God, or whatever force that drives what is, should ask so little of us. Given what it’s given.
If you’re lucky, and you succeed in gaining such an understanding, I hope that when you’ve moved to a different state, you’ll be kind enough to look over your shoulder and give me a hint. Hopefully with a smile.
And so I’d like to go
To a place where it’s warm.
I’d lie and fade away under
Some wise-wrinkled olive tree.
Even as round and brown little
Beetles crawled over me.
The sighs of the ghosts of gods
Mixing with mine.
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
Whether the majority of us know it or not, humanity is undertaking massive genocide of hundreds (actually it’s thousands) of species of other creatures. We are proactively creating the Sixth Great Extinction, the last one being of the Dinosaurs. In doing so, we’re destroying the very biosphere that supports us. We are without doubt, unfathomably stupid.
The last Great extinction occurred 66 million years ago. And it took at least a thousand years, probably several thousand. If you map the lifetime of the Earth to a 24 hour clock, humanity has been around for about 4 seconds. In this blink of the planet’s eye, we’ve eliminated at least a third of the world’s forests and hundreds of thousands of species. If we’re so stupid as to commit collective suicide through religious and political dogmatism and ignorance, that’s our choice (and it is a choice). But we have no right to take every other species down with us.
And all this derives from our value systems. The way we perceive what wealth is, and how we manage it. Money. Particularly debt based money. And the externalisation (leave the consequences for someone else to clean up) of the bad impacts of wealth acquisition. The conventional political right and left both maintain these value systems, and many religious perspectives, especially in the US, support and advocate them under the guise of ephemeral supposed ethical standards like ‘freedom’ and ‘the work ethic’. How many corporate CEOs and bankers attend church every Sunday? Did you know that the pay of CEOs has risen 127 times faster over the last thirty years than 99% of the US population? What do you expect the consequences of such greed and inequity to be, particularly at a global scale, if not conflict? And as this money wealth is squirrelled away or squandered on yachts and stupidly big houses, it’s unavailable for such things as building cities that are worth living in for everyone, for education and the encouragement of more enlightened perspectives, the protection of the very biosphere that contains and supports us, and every other crying need that the fruits of all our labour is supposed to allow us to cater for. Yet the religious right encourage it.
Factor in other emerging crises like the impending failure of our medical systems through antibiotic resistance, shifting and more extreme climate events, ocean acidification and the consequent destruction of marine food resources, desertification and water shortage.. and a host of others, virtually all caused by humanity, and there’s good reason to believe the better minds than mine that predict global ecological, societal and economic collapse within just a few decades.
Life comprises many strands. Like sine waves, they overlap each other. Some peaking as others dip.
Music is one such sine wave. As a cultural phenomenon. In the West, the music sine wave peaked in the 18th century with the advent of music from the likes of J S Bach.
In terms of happiness, that wave probably peaked just prior to the First World War. Or perhaps shortly after it.
The sine wave for the visual arts has a longer wavelength, and probably last peaked in the 19th Century.
The wisdom wave arced high in the 1960’s, even as it became dissipated and high jacked by perceived economic necessities.
Economically, in terms of managing money within our societies, we probably last knew a peak in the 1950’s and again the 60’s.
But one thing is for sure. With the noble exception of the technology sine wave, all are at a low right now.
Whoever you are.
Standing opposite me
And watching me
As I watch you.
The gap between us
doesn’t exist though.
In some place
We’re the same mind.
Knowing in this being alive,
The other side of the dichotomy
So we may know the whole.
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
And then as he sat
With his mouth pressed hard
Into his fist,
His eyes glazed
By the fogs of mystery,
He knew himself suddenly
In a glimpse of something overarching,
As part of an homogenous thing
Throbbing with the essence of what is.
Contiguous with all around him.
Just for a moment.
And his eyes grew moist,
Blurring his physical vision
Even as his insight
And his heart swelled
And his mind soared.
There’s no need for religion
That sets man against man
And creates false, faith derived
Divides between us.
Understand that we know enough now
About the nature of the material
To know that we constitute something different.
All of us.
Forego your religion and open your mind.
Christ and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest
Were wise men who understood
And couched their insight in the language of the times.
Now you wake up and see
That religious dogmatism will lead
To the demise, through war and strife,
Of us and all that we know to be fundamentally wise.
For if God were to commit suicide
Then the matter of the universe would
Cease to be required.
What a tiny thing I am.
The sum of a few interactions between
Fundamental parts of a universe
That we only begin to understand.
A small agglomeration of matter contrived
Such that it’s able to see it’s circumstance.
No. A natural result of a process
Of refinement of all that it is
That comes to know that it is.
And in that tiny aggregation of effect
Lies an awareness in us that sees
And this is the miracle of intelligence.
It’s not about God.
It’s about what is.
If you insist to me
That there is a God
Then I say that we are God.
In a universe that comprises nothing more
Than sub, sub and sub components of matter
That resolve as energy and nothing more,
The fact that there’s awareness obviously states
That there is something more.
And it’s you and I that are aware.
There’s a common force
Which we constitute,
And that may be God.
But we are not subject to
Any external control.
The responsibility is ours.
And when we experience what we believe to be God,
We’re knowing a momentary commonality
Of consciousness. A shared experience.
There is no other way that God could possibly manifest
As a force that gives us so much freedom.
We are God.
Religion mocks me and makes me angry.
Faith that allows anything to be the truth.
We’re told to believe.
As if we’re incapable of
Otherwise conceiving anything profound.
Insight and understanding comes
From something inside
That gives us grace to understand
And to turn and look at those who strive
To know more and struggle.
To say that you’re right and I’m wrong
Is contrary to true understanding
Of the nature of the solution.
Rationality plays a part
And may even be the only way.
Each insight is our own.
Quietly accept that and don’t presume
To be right.
We don’t know.
But give room to those who claim to know.
Quietly and with gentle understanding
Of their need to believe they’re right.
And then continue to live your life
Illuminated by your own light.
And when you die, you’ll rise
To some place and be able to wave
To those others who are also rising
Up there through the shimmering fog
In their own way.
One day there’ll be a world
Where people understand the commonality
Of their experience
And recognise the interdependence
Of their lives
With all others and
The contiguous nature of nature
That ensures a similar fate
For all despite
Any mad conception
Of difference from each other.
Watching through the dirty glass of my living room window,
The old people walking bowed and supporting each other
Towards the church that rings an appeal.
Some laughing youths ride the other way on their bicycles
As they go oblivious to the glares that scorn them.
A pigeon standing aloof on the opposite roof coos its disdain.
Then it begins to rain and like a slow motion film of flowers opening,
Umbrellas spring open wide to make a dancing parade of gaily coloured circles
Each swirling and moving as one towards the random rhythm of the ringing bells.
A dance of souls in faithful abeyance to the call of the profound.
But the youths are back and whirling like dervishes on their bikes
Between the baffled faithful they hurl their foul mouthed scorn.
And even the pigeon falls quiet.
Then they’re gone like a small wind that passed and stoic people
Brace themselves and reform their appreciation of their truths
And the swirling march of the giant coloured flowers resumes.
And in the distance is heard bright laughter
Of young people yet to be constrained by anything so fixed
That could be called by mere bells.
And the rain still fell slowly.
Ignoring it all.
And the pigeon resumed its call.
Poetry must test.
Faith gives us our wooded hills.
Reason clears a path.
Then there was old Mrs Nocneid. Small and dainty, with a lame leg. Wearing the hat with a fabric flower to one side, and sheepskin boots. Picking her way along the pavement, trying not to step on the patches of snow, and standing in the puddles instead. She’d only popped out to get some onions and a loaf of bread.
Her path took her through the cemetery, where she always stopped to consider at least three of the headstones. Each one a portion of her life, wrapped up neatly in granite, frozen in time. Slow moments pondering, and wondering. And remembering, and sometimes dreaming. The sounds of wind and birdsong becoming distant for her, as her pale blue eyes misted over.
Two youths rushed by on bikes, shouting obscenities at each other and weaving in and out of the gravestones as they went.
“Hey lady.. your turn soon!”
“Fuck off Sim, don’t be a twat..”
And they were through the gate and off down the path, their noise disappearing with them.
But Mrs Nocneid’s world had been ruffled now. And a sibilant wind hissed through the watching Yew trees, blowing snow off the tops of the headstones as it went.
She shivered, her attention pulled unwillingly back from her past to her present, looked around her, and sighed. And the wind sighed with her and became still.
The youths returned, breaking the silence. They were racing each other round the block. Down the path, past the pub, down the high street past the shop, through the cemetery and off down the path again. This time they stopped in the cemetery.
At that moment, bright spring sunlight burst through a passing space between scudding clouds, and the church and cemetery lit up. A cross that stood on top of the roof cast a long shadow over the jumbled headstones, and there lay Mrs Nocneid. She was face up and cruciform, her eyes staring at the sky. Her hat lay some way from her head and her surprisingly long hair lay fanned out on the dazzling snow like a silver halo. She was smiling.
She forgave the boys.
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.
The path to hell is slippery smooth
And gleaming with promise of easy path
Whilst the way to heaven is lined
With broken glass and pain of proving
That what we know is worth more
Than the oil that helps us glide serenely
In blissful ignorance of our own choosing
As we slip down well meaning.
I thought mine and only mine
And saw the stars then knew
Me for what I am.
Some snivelling piece
Of dog shit
Floating through God.
And then I saw
That mine was yours
And yours was mine
And we moved together
In seamless trajectory
Towards similar destinies
And I laughed so loud!
I laughed and I died
In majestic loyalty.