I’m finally sitting in a proper cafe writing. Do you know how long it’s been? How hard it is to have a simple coffee shop in this town stay in business? There’s not even enough coffee shop culture to hate…. It’s dead as hell in here. So. The Cupcakery is where it’s at, lately. It’s good just to get out. I’ve been cooped up inside for 3 weeks where we saw about 5 feet of snow. It’s not claustrophobia, just a slow-moving tiredness that takes over when you’re not thinking about it. You’ve got to un-pattern. When you fall into behavior ruts, pull out of them. If you haven’t been around people, get around them, switch up your environment, if you’re always around people, get by yourself. After about 5 minutes of doing a new thing, you no longer feel the fear of this new thing. Something I’ve learned. Some people plug away at the same thing until they’re bored and frustrated. Why? Walk away. Come back later, with fresh insight and new strength. Just remember to follow through.
“Before language existed this image was a feeling inside of me.” -Emma Parker
This is a great quote from a cool artist about how we apply meaning. There is an area of thought that is before any inner monologue, that is completely pre-verbal. It is within this liminal playground that I would like to focus. We need an intermediary between reason and passion. I believe what we need to strive for as a model is a sort spontaneous order, a completely dynamic, effortless, de-politicized democracy, more kinesthetic than verbal. Visualizing. Doing. Recognizing that healthcare, housing and food issues are of paramount concern. That’s it. That’s your real human rights in this world. We can’t even get this right. We use language to help us label, categorize and therefore manage our emotions. We use it to identify obstacles and communicate, to solve problems. But sometimes I think the worst thing that ever happened to our species was the written word. Is this the one thing that makes us so different, on this planet? Did we learn too much, become too self-aware? Words needlessly complicating a simple existence until we believe more in the language than the concept. We don’t experience language literally first, we feel it. Me yelling “Whoo-hoo!” is to make me and you feel excited. Most people do not use language in the grammatically correct way. This is good. People use language to express feelings, and most people feel their way through language. Letters and words cannot encompass the breadth of human emotion. So even within language there is this ‘spatial awareness.’ You don’t get me literally, you have to feel me. You feel me? That’s what that means. It’s like your soul is trying to get out, say ‘hi’, make a point, make someone believe in you.
“Nacirema is the name of a fictional country in Ronald M. Green’s role-playing game aimed at explaining to undergraduate students the fundamentals of John Rawls’s theory of justice as fairness. In ‘The Rawls Game,’ Green asks the students to take on the role of Nacireman citizens. Acting from unrestrained self-interest, the citizens vote on a series of public issues and attempt to find solutions that do not require anyone to be forced to act against their own will. The goal of the game is to show that the only way to obtain social fairness is to ignore one’s own individual circumstances (race, sex, religion, income, etc.) when making deliberations that affect public life.”
We look at other cultures through this colorful anthropological lens, but when we try to use it outside of academia, the only thing that is created is distance, I feel. We’re not a game, we’re not a clever story, we’re not examples, not problems, not behaviors, not lists. We are grace and balance, we are deities filled with wrath, we are points of a very old light. It’s this sensitive awareness that I feel our culture cuts from our being, as we learn to travel in block and grid forms and schedules that suck out our will and bellybrain wit until we are lost in the confusion, our emotions flooding, pooling up and shrinking away. I’m sorry but people naturally desire free access to things. It’s innate, it’s never gonna go away. Something I’ve learned. That’s peoples’ nature. And that is right living. There’s nothing wrong with that. To expect what you need to survive for free is the right feeling. Society is wrong.
“The red deer of Eurasia live in large herds, spending lots of time either grazing or lying down to ruminate. Some deer are ready to move on before others are, and scientists have noticed that herds only move when 60 percent of the adults stand up — essentially voting with their feet.”
Scout bees looking for a new home site do a ‘dance’ when they’ve found a potential site. The vim and vigor of these dances eventually convince the other scouts to decide upon the best site and then they retrieve the swarm. Animals, insects, birds, make these instinctive democratic decisions based on innate communication and trust. But it seems in groups we as humans just become stupider. It would be nice to see quick, adaptive change coming from the heart of a crowd where individuals look out for others. I don’t see that though. Maybe it’s because as crowds we are always boxed into concert walls and plastic orange barriers and directed by brusque authority figures. Sometimes in traffic I see a bad move made on someone’s part and then the angered reaction from another car, and then I feel nervous because of it.. I see how we send these invisible signals around town all the time through road rage. We’re in transit but the ripple effect passes from car to car, impatience to impatience, down the road. We just don’t see it. These little anger actions get carried miles away in just minutes. On the other hand, a calm patient driver can make others slow down, react better, save lives, actually. In this manner patience can also be carried down the line and this is an example of dynamic equipoise.
The Kuramoto model equation successfully explains how thousands of fireflies will sometimes sync up in patterned light displays, or how crickets and frogs communicate via cyclic sound.
“Believe it or not, even traffic congestion/flow often results in spontaneous order. Spontaneous order emerges naturally in systems in which the individuals communicate with each other in some fashion and make small group-adaptive changes based on those signals. What’s fascinating is that these individuals need not be organisms, and the signals exchanged can be much simpler than a cricket’s chirp.”
-The Annenburg Foundation
Christopher Knight, the North Pond Hermit, until just recently, lived without human contact in the woods here in Maine for 30 years. I wondered if he’d have insight into the mortal condition, coming from that extreme perspective. In an interview in prison he said, “I did examine myself. Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.” Did this hermit collapse into a wave for years?? It was as if he lived in the world without being known, without anyone defining anything for him. And when he attempted to define things, he realized there was no point to it. That’s a scary truth. He also said “I’m not used to seeing people’s faces. There’s too much information there. Aren’t you aware of it? Too much, too fast.” That’s probably 30 years alone in the woods talking but I knew what he meant in an instant. We’re so pre-verbal, pre-language still. So immediately and directly sensitive, raw.
“From bird flocks to fish schools, animal groups often seem to react to environmental perturbations as if of one mind. In the presence of strong predatory pressure on the group, collective response may yield a significant adaptive advantage. Here we suggest that collective response in animal groups may be achieved through scale-free behavioral correlations. By reconstructing the 3D position and velocity of individual birds in large flocks of starlings, we measured to what extent the velocity fluctuations of different birds are correlated to each other. We found that the range of such spatial correlation does not have a constant value, but it scales with the linear size of the flock. This result indicates that behavioral correlations are scale free: The change in the behavioral state of one animal affects and is affected by that of all other animals in the group, no matter how large the group is. Scale-free correlations provide each animal with an effective perception range much larger than the direct interindividual interaction range, thus enhancing global response to perturbations. Our results suggest that flocks behave as critical systems, poised to respond maximally to environmental perturbations.”
Cool, how can we do that? I was listening to Sinead O’Connor this morning. The song “Germaine” is a recording of Germaine Greer speaking. It’s one I’ve listened to before, but today I heard it in a new light: “I do think that women could make politics irrelevant via a kind of spontaneous cooperative action, the like of which we have never seen. Which is so far from people’s ideas of state structure and vital social structure that seems to them like total anarchy. And what it really is is very subtle forms of interrelation which do not follow a sort of hierarchical pattern which is fundamentally patriarchal. The opposite to patriarchy is not matriarchy but fraternity. And I think it’s women who are going to have to break this spiral of power and find the trick of cooperation.” Now, I don’t want to make it just a woman game, excising men out of the picture isn’t what I want to focus on. But her point- this spontaneous cooperative action is precisely what I believe our culture needs to cultivate in its citizenry, or the citizenry need to cultivate in culture. Either-or.
Julian Jaynes posited the bicameral mind theory. It is not widely accepted, but as an evolutionary phase it’s really interesting. It states that our ancient human minds, until around 3,000 years ago, were wired differently. We weren’t Aware that we were conscious, we were simply Conscious. Our two brain hemispheres ‘heard’ each other differently in times of stress and ‘fight or flight’ reactions; we did not perceive these thoughts in our heads as our own, but believed they came from outside us- from a god/goddess/spirit voice. Playing around with this idea is fun. Is this how tribalism worked, effortlessly and instinctively, guided from a voice within that was somehow ours and somehow separate? Even if the biology doesn’t support this theory, it still seems like this is how early humans would have witnessed their own thinking, as an internal, sometimes cluttered and mysterious monologue that began to develop more and more focus, more and more self-ness. It may have felt like something outside of their control (hell, it feels outside of my control), so feelings of a deity thinking and moving through them may not be so far-fetched.. It may have been terrifying, as well as beautiful, all the while contributing to our spiritual conceptualizing. I write this at the peak of a lunar eclipse, a blood moon, in September 2015. I search and search for more knowledge, more reason, more answers. I can only show interest, passion and good intentions. I think things are a roiling mess with just a bit of order thrown over the top like gauze, a glaze. I’m left with a different philosophy now that I’m not even sure of yet, that grows and grows.. This theory involving how we perceive ourselves in the spaces in which we inhabit, physically, spatially, emotionally. How we seek resonance. A theory of something apart from eyesight, separate from visual learning, that extends the ‘belly-brain’ narrative from letterfounder #125.
A sports writer once described a basketball player’s focus on the court as “a glaze of panoptic attention.” I liked this phrase and it has to do with what I’m talking about. Not a point of focus but a smooth, sensitive dispersion of local awareness. It would be like living life inside the mind of an athlete as they are in the middle of a game. It would be a challenge, but this needs to happen inside our political sphere, our media-info world, and our own personal interactions. All equally important, all intrinsically connected to a deep, moral anchor that is about balance in relation to each other and the planet.
The Overview effect is a palpable shift in perspective from those who have been in space. It has been described by people as what I would call another example of creative miniaturization without having to do the imagining. These astronauts have seen the thin layer of atmosphere that holds the immense vacuum of space at bay. They have seen exactly how the Earth hangs, seemingly suspended in the midst of this outer environment. They have been miniaturized and in this way you naturally hold things in higher regard. We need to somehow do it down here more often. See things as if from a created (even imaginary) distance, and assimilate and order the knowledge inside based on this perspective. It is a cognitive shift.
Migratory birds and spawning fish know where they’re going through sun navigation, sight navigation, olfactory cues and magnetic field detection.. It isn’t as innate as I thought and they get better at it with age. But this is amazing body intelligence. Animals process some information in their life better than we. But they also try to eat one another without asking. It’s like they are these great examples of the best and worst of humans and that scares us as much as enthralls us.
“As a bird flaps, a rotating vortex of air rolls off each of its wingtips. These vortices mean that the air immediately behind the bird gets constantly pushed downward and the air behind it and off to the sides gets pushed upwards. If another bird flies in either of these upwash zones, it gets free lift. It can save energy by utilizing the air flow created by its flock-mate. As each bird flaps its wings, the trail of upwash left by its wingtips also moves up and down. The birds behind can somehow sense this and adjust their own flapping to keep their own wings within this moving zone of free lift. ‘They trace the same path that the bird in front traced through the air.'”
-Ed Yong, Steven Portugal
That’s why geese fly in V’s. That’s how sensitively animals adapt to conserve and use energy! We are so far from that in our most used social and technological models. There is a sensitivity and grace in this intricate awareness of spatial placement that I believe we are much more capable of.
We need a blind democracy. Lady Justice is a myth. We are more visual than anything else, when it comes to how we apply meaning, like, dislike. It’s time we just admitted it. It’s not wrong, or bad. It’s just how we react that is wrong, bad. Fear-based. Soo visual and trying to act like we’re not. Instead of focusing in, like we’ve been taught to do, try fading out. Seek and search like your feelings were fingers.. See, but don’t see one thing. See it all, relatively. Not just one person. People. We are the 3D poster, we have to relax our eyes, think abstractly upon the systems in place to deliver services, and decide what is actually needed, what is actually important. There is grace there. That is where it lies. You can almost taste your insight, your initial reaction to a place or thing, before that first impression is lost. Mindfulness is going back to that initial feeling and taking the time to explore your connection to it. This is how you figure out what you like, what you want, who you are, what you can offer. There is something about sensing nearness, not with touch, but wit a ‘facial vision.’ The way our face can feel when a hand is near, even with our eyes closed. Taking in information and processing facially is our most immediate vehicle for communication. A host of instincts come from processing the facial expressions of others. We are probably addicted to it, actually. When we seek to get high we call it ‘getting faced’ or talk about not being able to feel your face. It’s almost a searching for an end to all the sensitivity in your head. There is a coordinated energy originating from our sense of vision, smell, taste, hearing, touch. Most of these sense organs are right there in front of you, exhibiting expression and demeanor. In life they talk about your face can ‘betraying’ you. This isn’t betrayal. This is your emotion beaming out from inside you. There’s so much power there and I believe we freak out about it, think too hard on suppressing inner expression. We don’t listen to our core, gut brain. Try closing your eyes, feeling a space that way instead of taking it in visually. This facial sort of vision is part of the philosophy inside this essay.
A small number of blind people actually use echolocation to locate objects around them by using mouth clicks and listening for the returning echoes. A study that mapped the brain regions used in this process found that the part of the brain used for sight, not hearing, was utilized for this activity. This was interesting to me; that these people using echolocation were using their brain’s ‘visual’ center for this. Listening to echoes and using it to create a mind’s eye mental picture. Part of what interests me here is a sort of bio sonar. We take this to mean sound, but I mean a sonar that is more spiritual– that involves neuroplasticity, mapping out locations with all your senses, with your gut. Utilizing sensory integration to get a ‘feel’ for not only where you are at a given moment, but the vibe, the ‘feels,’ the soul of a space and the people inhabiting it. That’s what guides your actions, your respect, your decisions on what to put out there. Based on your heart, your body, your awareness. Mapping out locations on multiple levels using intuition. Echolocation used to he called ‘facial vision,’ a poetic term for feeling, perceiving, face first, an environment. Like the face itself picked up information, almost apart from senses. Daniel Kish, who is blind, calls human echolocation ‘perceptual mobility.’ For some reason it helps me to posit instinct with a sort of blindness. Or sight that is diffused with other sensory data. Was this like my new philosophy- properly recognizing our force within a given space? How do we see something, hear someone? Where does feeling for them become relevant? How is it added to the information we let in? Do people push in on our space somehow in varying intensities? Do we on theirs? How does that invisible tension ease, when does it thicken?
“Through fMRI, we can determine which parts of the brain are activated during sensory perception. In blind persons, we can see that while they are only receiving tactile information, their visual cortex is also activated as they perceive to see objects. This type of sensory substitution is only possible due to the plasticity of the brain. Brain plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to adapt to a changing environment, for instance to the absence or deterioration of a sense. It is conceivable that cortical re-mapping or reorganization in response to the loss of one sense may be an evolutionary mechanism that allows people to adapt and compensate by using other senses better. While talking about the physiological aspects of sensory substitution, it is essential to distinguish between sensing and perceiving. The general question posed by this differentiation is: Are blind people seeing or perceiving to see by putting together different sensory data?”
-Wikipedia, sensory substitution
I only quote this to put my brain inside this paradigm more fully. When we see, what are we perceiving? We completely miss objects right in front of us if we’re not looking for them, and sometimes when we are. I believe it’s the same when effecting policy. This blind spot is widened by our profit economy. Vision is very tied to perception. Out of sight out of mind kills people, everyday. Can we see this? Or is it out of sight? An object is visually the same for two people but their perception of the object can often be very different. This to me means we can’t even see things in life the same, how can we agree to believe in the same theories, practices and policies on paper? There are figurative blind spots in each of us. How do we build a country up inside regulations without seeing the gaps where people constantly fall through? Not that the trick to life is literally blind democracy but I want this creative miniaturization to place us properly in our social roles, where the be-all, end-all is simply life. We treat our own kind as if they were from another species.. Once we get how real human rights works, then we’ll be able to envision the best ways to care for our planet. I think the responsibility has us all freaked out. It is too much, I agree. But here we are, so we’ve got to. Life is the hard answer, not the hard sell. Thinking spatially via a second type of vision, where we see us scurrying around our busy lives in all our frailty and impermanence from a different vantage point.
The pineal gland/parietal eye is located between the two hemispheres of the brain and toward the lower center. It produces melatonin, a light-sensitive hormone which helps maintain circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is a 24-hour biological cycle characterized by sleep-wake patterns. The pineal gland is not isolated from the body by the blood-brain barrier system; it has profuse blood flow, second only to the kidney. The pineal gland has retinal tissue composed of rods and cones (photoreceptors) inside its interior lining. It doesn’t work like an eye, but it is light-transducing. Melatonin affects sleeping and waking, trance states and has the ability to entrain biological rhythms. I couldn’t find conclusively that the pineal gland secretes DMT like I’ve been hearing. The pineal gland is called a third eye. It is located dead center in the brain so I suppose this correlates with in-between your eyebrows. But the way that the gland senses light, in a sightless way, sort of fits in with this ‘spatial awareness’ way of living. Life is all days and dreams and the pinecone-shaped organ in the center of our minds defines for us somehow which is which. When it comes to human potential, it’s hard to figure out what is legit research and what is personality-infused conjecture. Sometimes everything seems possible, the dream and the reality. We tiptoe upon the knowledge that you can be witness to both at the same time.
We force our society to examine its own culture in the wildest of ways. Bill Nye debating a Creationist I suppose is great fun, but the core concept is that that Creationist wants or needs to believe in intelligent design. Shucks, that’s what I want, I just believe also in evolution. If they want to bend the rules of science or thump the bible, I don’t really care, I wouldn’t consider being rude to them based on what they believe. I hate the highbrow’d morally superior air of disdain that people become so good at conveying, just to let others know they are smarter than someone else. But how about more sensitive? I don’t think so. I just recognize the hope for a spirit side to life, after we die.. Isn’t that where the argument balances, isn’t that where we can park the battle? My whole thing with science is that science has proven how little it knows, actually, about itself, where we are, or what the universe is made of. Elon Musk just said there’s a billions-to-one chance this reality is base reality. Yet people who believe in the science absolutely shit all over people who invoke a higher power. Science has somehow become tied to atheism with tinges of nihilism. Folks just break it on down; the big bang banged and life creeped up and it’s just a rocky, barren process which will end in heat death or start all over again. I tend to see it different. I sorta think there are energies out there that we simply do not know how to measure. I see the desire for intelligent design as analogous to the scientific desire for a ‘theory of everything.’
Intelligent Design is called pseudoscientific. But if a person were feeling life, trying to figure all of it out on their own without the benefit or hindrance of science, a spirit world seems almost necessary. We all look around sometime, and just think “Why? Why is this all here and why am I here to feel it?” This is what generations of humans have been thinking for thousands of years. Believing that some biological systems are too complex to have simply grown from simpler beginnings, does, on its face, seem to have validity. But it depends on where you want to blow your own mind, on the miracle of the creation of life, or at the possibility of M-theory with its multiple dimensions and universes. At some point you just hit a wall of not knowing what to believe in, of not even understanding if believing in anything is valid because no one’s telling us, and that is what’s so terrifying.
The idea that if I remain open I might have this revelatory experience keeps me dreaming, hoping, trying things out that run contrary to the order of the mechanized world. I have that moment in my sights, behind the scenes. Is that faith, long-lasting at long last?? I sun-doze, wander, listen to leaves shaking, stare at the moon, play music, make moods, miniaturize, walk barefoot, eat ice cream. I have a flit of a feeling that I am shown things, the right things, in order to make some sense out of life. Is this a belief in magic, or confidence? Or the other way to think of it is, I’ll never have read enough, learned enough, to make sense of anything. That I’ll always be lacking. But that’s not the way I go. I need to strive for some implicate order. There seems to be so many ways to order things. Irreligion is a disregard for religion altogether. Polytheism is believing/worshiping more than one god. Pantheists believe that Nature and God are one and the same. Naturalism is a philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted. Panpsychism and, in part, Integrated Information Theory view that consciousness, mind or soul is a universal feature of all things. There are an estimated 4,200 different religions in the world today. This is interesting to me because it’s another way of looking at things in another size and perspective. So many different ways of trying to explain our lives here! 4,200.. And we argue about them, clamor for recognition and turn them into competition.
We need to have more open discussion regarding our societal fears around dying, and how this knowledge is at work anyway within our cultural discourse, our institutions, our entertainment industries. This answer bores me though. “We need, we need. Discuss, discuss..” I’m not telling the world to do anything. Basically, my answer is here in this informal essay. I’m talking about it. I stepped out of my box a little to mention that it feels lame talking about mortality, a bit like bringing sludge up onto the deck of a boat. A little immature, really. But here I am. What discussion will come from these words? How do you combat mortal fear? Work with it? The need is there, I think, for a change in our thinking that involves grief. Grief and anger are both intrinsically tied to fear. We are good at showing our anger, most of us, the world at large. But we aren’t great at trying to articulate our grief at loss, being wrong, being hurt, seeing loved ones die, seeing war atrocities through small, lit-up screens, feeling our bodies begin to break away from us as we grow older. Grief. Anguish. Wailing. I am more and more convinced that the lack of this part of our emotional continuum is slowly and surely destroying us. It is wrapped up in how we distrust ‘human nature.’ It is tied to massacres and genocide. It is tied to how we translate out mortal fear; living inside this self-fulfilling prophecy makes us fatalistic. This manifests whenever we feel we’re not good enough, whenever we’re embarrassed to be in our own skin, whenever we feel we don’t deserve good things. That fatalism is built into our existence and we have a hard time extricating ourselves from it’s lifelong hold. I don’t think we even can, actually. It’s us, trough and through. We have to recognize that we are good enough, that it is our existing on a limited time frame that makes us feel unworthy to enjoy ourselves and speak our truths. We must stare this fact in the face and make a moral effort to seek quality in the face of it. I am not sure how the world can process its grief regarding the mortal condition. I do believe people want to be spoken to in a very real and honest way even if it’s filled with impatience and bad ideas. We have gotten very tired of being preached to calmly. People with good, peaceful ideas for the world are very often boring as hell. Personalities move people- loud, colorful energy. We see this via the media storming but it’s just one side: fear-laden, violent imagery and semi-cathartic revenge television dramas and crime shows. How would an open process of grieving appear to mainstream America? How could we get that out there, without a flurry of downvote activity and sneering internet contempt? The crowds inside the web are just as angry and closed off as the crowds of live protesters. Things get too volatile real quick. But that’s actually grief talking, in the form of rage. One of my answers in this essay is about needing to grieve.
There are conversations popping up lately organized under the term Death Cafes, where people intentionally gather to talk about death, dying, mortality and positing it as a healthy thing to do. These started in London in 2011. I have no idea if they are effective or if I’d like them, but it seems like a good idea. The biggest stumbling block in discussing death is the label of morbid. But life gets pretty morbid for people and to denounce a part of life that happens to everyone on the planet seems evasive. Scared. I’ve talked about living in the moment, but what about after the last moment? That’s where the lump in our throat lies. Stories and movies were all about ‘happily ever after’ and that is how forever was defined for us as children. Finding a partner and walking into the sunset. Philosophies also slowly began to not do it for me. They all talked about the processes of life and living. I wanted a philosophy for our dead time. I started reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead, but after my own mother died I was inconsolable. Words didn’t help. I don’t know about reincarnation. Even if that is something that happens, people getting any reasonable comfort from that are funny to me. That’s still a huge change. ‘Being here now’ is probably the best thing I was ever shown to do with my time. But what if the concept of reincarnation is a real thing? I’m still different after- I doubt that I remember myself.
It’s so easy to take that framework of ideas and go over the edge, into what happens after- that is where our interest goes, because it’s such a mystery. Or it’s heaven and it’s so amazing. But we have to, again and again, move away from that edge to our Life, pre-death. And begin to talk about it. Because that is what we all have in common. No matter what happens, we should agree that death is the biggest change we’re ever going to go through, or the final one. What a common factor! That’s huge. Why aren’t we huddled into raceless masses speaking, whispering, crying, laughing about this one inevitable end we all go through? Why all the silence, or the guts-n-glory sensationalizing? Usually people don’t go out in a hail of gunfire. They die with their hands clenched at their sides in an agonizing heart attack, wrecked in a smoking car in the middle of some road, they die dry-mouthed and labored breathing after 6 months of stage 4 cancer, they die from their body muscles atrophying with ALS, they die quietly from a final stroke-caused coma… Why wouldn’t that instantly equalize us? If we were ever to come together as a species, a race- then it would be around this. All the messages of “we’re all one” sounds so mysterious, and I get it, sort of conceptually, and sometimes I see it/feel it for real, and it’s a wonderful, quickly dawning and quickly fading sensation. How do ‘we are all one’ and ‘everyone dies alone’ reconcile with one another? Philosophy and truth need to be related in a common speak, in everyday language or we will leave the search behind as we fall headlong into consumer-boredom.
“It’s important that we remind ourselves of the magnitude of this mystery…that all the things we see around us as solid, unchanging and inert, are actually oscillating fields of pulsation, and that in a very real sense (whatever “real” may mean) they only become “things” when we perceive them as such! This has been repeatedly demonstrated, using accepted scientific methodology. From this perspective, one can begin to perceive the world as a vast interlacing network of discrete fields of oscillation, which become “things” as they interact with the pulsations of our perceptual senses, which are also subtle vibrational fields. An increasing body of scientific evidence suggests that the material world is held together via resonance– That mysterious property that determines how subatomic particles orient and bond with one another, as well as the massive oscillations of gravitational fields in galactic interactions. As we witness audible sounds exciting inert masses of sand and water into dynamic forms that mimic living organisms, we can begin to visualize the hidden mechanisms that animate our world.
I’ve never tried it, but there are experiments of scattering grains of sand or salt over a square of metal that is then bowed, using a cello or violin bow (or attached to a speaker producing different tones). By generating sonic frequencies you will happen upon a resonant frequency. When this is achieved the sound level increases dramatically, as energy transfer to the plate is much greater at resonant frequency. The sand shifts into series of increasingly complex geometric patterns. You can find ’em on youtube. The reason this happens is how vibrations interact with the metal surface and its shape. Chladni plates are pieces of wood or metal that can be made to vibrate. Resonant patterns, or harmonic frequencies happen here when a vibrating object hits a natural frequency and creates something called a standing wave pattern; still points of interference between two vibrating frequencies. A standing wave pattern is not actually a wave, but rather a pattern of a wave. The sand or salt grains will gather at the points of stillness in patterns that are amazingly geometric in nature. Any other frequency other than a harmonic frequency will not result in these patterns.
It is explained that the sand settles in the areas not vibrating, and the free ‘negative’ spaces are the troughs that are vibrating. So perhaps this isn’t showing how sound can organize sand grits, but at the very least it shows that sound can reveal inner organization (of the metal’s shape and internal structure). I wonder if this is applicable to the universe at large? Where there is space is where the vibrations occur for real, and the solid matter is of lesser vibration. The earth itself has a tone, a hum. The earth vibrates. But maybe this reveals sound as the signifier to innate order on a universal scale. Sound requires a medium to propagate. Why does that sentence sound so delicious, so meaty, so full of truth to me? If the medium is moving, the sound is further transported. Should that pattern be thought of three-dimensionally?
“The term ‘wave’ has historically been used to describe sound even though it is a misnomer since sound does not, in fact, travel in waves. Sound propagates spherically or in beams, depending upon frequency. For example, at frequencies audible to humans, 20 Hertz to 20,000 Hertz, the sonic envelope is almost perfectly spherical in its form whereas at frequencies audible to bats and dolphins, above 100,000 Hertz, sound propagates in searchlight-like beams, the beam angle being dependent on frequency.”
“Huygens’ principle can be seen as a consequence of the isotropy of space—all directions in space are equal. Any disturbance created in a sufficiently small region of isotropic space propagates from that region in all radial directions. The waves created by this disturbance, in turn, create disturbances in other regions, and so on. The superposition of all the waves results in the observed pattern of wave propagation.”
-Wikipedia, Huygens–Fresnel principle
“The old saying that no two things can occupy the same space at the same time is correct when applied to matter, but it does not apply to waves. Indeed, an infinite number of waves can occupy the same space at the same time; furthermore, they do this without affecting one another, so that each wave retains its own character independent of how many other waves are present at the same point and time. A radio or television antenna can receive the signal of any single frequency to which it is tuned, unaffected by the existence of any others. Likewise, the sound waves of two people talking may cross each other, but the sound of each voice is unaffected by the waves’ having been simultaneously at the same point.”
We see the sphere in nature here again, invisible but radiating outward. A lot of me believes that sound is it, the changer, the identifier, the thing to aim for. Sound is atoms vibrating. Sound travels through air, solids, liquids. My voice is a collection of atoms vibrating. The songs that I make and post on the internet are played at different points, shooting out sonic waves the world over. We have the ability to will atoms to vibrate. What a great power! It may be our simple destiny, what we were meant for, to resonate with sound in a way that is restorative. The concept of kenosis is the emptying of oneself so you can be filled with spirit. What if spirit is a hum, the aum, the ability to vibrate? I used to make my body tingle at will. Give myself goosebumps, shivers, by thinking about it. It sort of tired me out after, so I wondered what I was raising, if anything. It was kinda thrilling. I just put it on the back burner as a question mark. What do you do with that? Is that a certain willing of energy? It starts in my chest/abdomen, and radiates out.
There’s some relevance here to how we socialize and spend our time. I like to think of resonance as something attainable by everyone. You figure out what suits your needs and speeds. There are no goals here, just a river of awareness we dip our toe in and out of. ‘Holloways or ‘desire paths’ are the paths cut through a land, often contrary to the laid paved walkways, because the route is quicker, doesn’t follow right angles; short cuts. They are functional, efficient, not planned for. These harmonic frequencies are exactly how we feel our souls within a space; we know it when we feel it. It’s tried and true. But it’s hard to always listen to your body. It feels like you’re constantly rebelling, constantly in opposition to what societal life is telling you to do with your body, where to spend your time, who you spend it with, no access to privacy, etc. I help organize a singing group in my town. It’s hard because it seems not too many people feel comfortable connecting like that. I was introduced to Kirtan, a repetitious song circle wit lyrics sung mostly in Sanskrit, by my friend Rachel and while I don’t feel pulled to any one religion, the act of singing with others was one that immediately calmed me out. I did not know the language and therefore put less initial meaning in the words. This allowed me to feel, not think. I felt a deepening resonance, half of it was feeling a wider meaning to things, half of it was the grounding vibration of voices; the act of singing as a bleeding edge entrance to real life. Sometimes research and facts and figures just don’t produce enough meaning. Something relatable and inspiring is lost. At that point you go somewhere to feel again, to sense. I become the immediate, positive effects of singing, of following my interest and desire with singing. Me doing this helps me be better with people.
Unattached and detached are two very different things. Some of the ways to work this ‘dying problem’ is to learn the difference between unattached and detached. Zen gets a little made fun of because it seems too calculatingly devoid of heart. But as I understand it, that is DEtachment. Being detached is not feeling your life. Sitting cross-legged, staring at a fixed point is the conjured mental image, but that’s just practice. It feels much, much different than it looks. This is where even sight fails us. When practice-in-action is going on you can’t even tell because it just makes sense, things just flow naturally, there is an absence of anxiety. When practice-in-action is happening, we’re too busy living truth to think about philosophy, nothing mind-blowing there. Simplicity. Unattachment. Being UNattached is not letting the forces that are out of your control dictate your mood and life trajectory. You are unattached to the detriment, the malaise, the hopelessness of clinging to feelings once they are over (or you are over them). It’s like holding on to life but not being sewn into the lining.. As Bob Marley used to ask, “Seein’?”
The fact that we are not at this point- after millennia of knowing our mortal condition- just hits home the fact that we are scared to organize around our fear. Can we just make it fact? I don’t have kids, but I know many people that do, would they just say to their child, “No one knows why we’re here, or how we’re here.” Isn’t that the simple truth, more so than our various creation stories? Is that too much to say to a kid? Even while they’re living through the fact? It’s like having a child is also putting a death sentence on them. An awareness-sentence of their own mortality. They’re gonna get it anyway. It’s like how sometimes I wake in the morning and I’m thinking other things and then remember I’m going to die someday. It sometimes feels unexpected, almost unreal and then very real. Like, “Oh.. Yeah..” Unfair.
It feels like the world has been built by pissy little children who selfishly didn’t consider the arc of every. single. life on this planet and thought: this is what unites us. Mortality and our keen awareness of it. They just blew up about gods and land and jobs and freaked out all over the place. If they had given more thought to death, really started untangling the fear- then our world would be gentler right now. More world-like.. Being OK with dying. I feel that happening a bit, with me, now.. You have to let the whole slice of your life go, your whole soul-slab needs to be put gently back down. It’s rough enough knowing that there is pain in the ways in which we die: physical disease where our own bodies become vessels of huge betrayal, gardens for fucked up cancer and sex-seeded sickness, grisly accidents, body horror thoughts. It’s abhorrent, terrible to think about and we have to understand the dread, possess it, dig into it. Religion is taught to us by people. Gods do not come to us sharing knowledge. We have stories that we believe and we tell these stories. People listen. Children learn. It’s a gigantic responsibility but this is where the future of the world starts, and it just rolls out from there. how are we interpreting moral behavior? Who’s doing the teaching? How are we learning about ethical action? People are going to need to share what they love, their ideas for better futures, not just art and articles but their own words. Not regurgitating what other philosophers and politicians have said, but communicating their own inner searches for moral positivity. Facebook is huge, people want a platform, I’m surprised by how many- but within its parameters it doesn’t seem to take long to standardize an entire issue, to get real bent out of shape. The net connects us globally but the good messages are getting truncated, the topics themselves become headlines only and all the responses become rote, rote, rote.
We need a more long-term plan. This is the true knowledge that should be passed down- not canonical academic subjects but just an open admission that we don’t know why we’re here.. And that whatever happens after should not be interfering in any way with how we organize to help each other now. A philosophy of critical thinking. How can that get in the way of faith? If you have strong faith, great. I’ve placed us on this continuum of joy and fear and there is no room for evil on this axis. Evil as a societal concept doesn’t mean a lot to me at this point. ‘Good’ I think is just a patient, supportive attention. Do that as much as possible, and that is ‘good.’ But ‘evil’… It scares me when anyone uses it when talking about people and the world. It relates too strongly to biblical, supernatural forces. A bit too Walt Disney for me, thank you very much. I wrote something awhile ago about how to organize the world better which said: “Religion will not be discouraged nor will it be focused upon.” Wouldn’t that just level the playing field here? Couldn’t people share holy land at that point? What holds us up are our different interpretations of faith and religious history. We built our political empires around these beliefs, around this original, pervasive fear of dying. You can tell it’s fear-based from how angry we get in negotiating through it all! Build houses of worship, sure, any faith you want, just let people go to them out of their own searching. I’ve taken care to show here that I’m very much for a higher power and that science simply shows us, after a time, how much we don’t know about what the universe is made of or where it came from. Don’t monetize religion, don’t worry about becoming obsolete. It’s all invisible stuff anyway. Let’s not kill each other over invisible stuff. Wait, and love. Whatever’s on the other side, it will take care of us or not. In this life, it’s pretty obvious that we should be taking care of us.
“Why when there’re so many of us are there people still alone?” -Tracy Chapman
I firmly believe that people are always trying the best they can and if they are harming people they are hurting just as much inside. I guess this viewpoint isn’t for everyone, but I believe it to be truth. Even when they are failing and falling, pissing people off and being mean.. That somehow they are doing what they need to do and are getting some weird emotional need from it, as well as equal suffering. The Hermetic Principle of Correspondence states “As above, so below.” This means whatever happens on any level of reality (physical, emotional, or mental) also happens on every other level. So, where does that leave us? If not good or evil, what do we set our sights on, what is our base? Would this make us re-examine the ways in which we punish, the ways in which we organize? A patient, supportive system rather than a ‘good’ one. Working within the realization of what the lack of loving attention creates: mad, sad people, impatient people. There’s no question some of our societal approaches squeeze people out and into criminal activity. Why would anyone want to risk getting arrested, getting out of control with drugs, losing housing?
It’s not about people being different levels of smart. It’s about we’re all the same level of sensitive. How do you work ‘sensitive’ back into our core identity? Why do we refuse to see people as this same level of sensitive? The same level of sensitivity in cops, kids, businessmen, models, cashiers.. Why do politicians dare say shit like ‘welfare fraud’ as if people fucking WANT to be on welfare, or use this shitty, debilitating economic system in the first place? As if it were a sensible answer at this point, instead of a dog-biting-tail equation that only solves for x (money). We learned to hustle as we discovered that the world (and time) slowly hustled us. It’s not because there are too many people. It’s because of how we render services. It is a massively inefficient joke of a system. We slowly believe that businesses and organizations are the things that have the most importance. Even if we continue in this way, can’t we just start calling bullshit on it more? We seem almost afraid to. Wouldn’t it be more proper than calling bullshit on each other..? We get so mad at each other when we’re in the shadows of citizen-blaming politics. Cornel West said “The fundamental question of any democracy is what is the relation between public interest and the most vulnerable.” I grow more and more frustrated when I listen to people speak of new field advancements when people worldwide are warring and starving. It’s a human rights atrocity to move forward in any area until our collective health and safety is assured. Until we mend our differences and amend our duties to each other, we are literally living off the genuine fear of others like a vampire or parasite might.
Settling into a new perspective, restructuring problem areas openly and critically, takes a new set of imaginative tools. Designing the world as you see fit is hard work; there’s a lot to consider. But it isn’t just up to the people in power to have a vision for their culture. Maintaining an equilibrium when dealing with all the horror and beauty in the world is not impossible. Living creatively keeps you happy. Creating things can bring you down. It’s weird.
“Autogenic training is a relaxation technique developed by the German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz and first published in 1932. The technique involves the daily practice of sessions that last around 15 minutes, usually in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evening. During each session, the practitioner will repeat a set of visualisations that induce a state of relaxation. Each session can be practiced in a position chosen amongst a set of recommended postures (for example, lying down, sitting meditation, sitting like a rag doll).”
-Wikipedia, Autogenic Training
Transcendental Meditation has gotten a bad wrap in the millionaire Hollywood set, but is actually a useful technique for releasing anxiety and increasing focus through word repetition and consistent practice. I mention these two techniques because they both involve short periods of time, usually twice daily, where you are intentionally grounding yourself and listening to your inner landscape. This seems a very doable arrangement in the modern world, where much time has been taken from us in order to effect a faceless profiteering sector from which we are far removed. If you’re not going to rebel and live in a van, then at least you can gain more of your life and power back through intentional practice.
The 3D posters you had to relax your eyes to see? That way of using your eyes is also a part of what I’m talking about. Not that you can walk around like that. Well, actually, you can a little. Maybe try it, see what you learn and feel from doing this. I read somewhere that you can look at a person between the eyebrows (like at their 3rd eye) and it still seems like you’re looking at them in the eye. Almost like you’re trying to look in the ‘center’ of them, and feel them from there, feel their vibe, their mood, their energy. I talked about plant perception a ways back in this essay; a slow moving sensing that I would say is akin to a ‘systems thinking’ approach. Slow but very directed and concerned with optimal durability. If we could see ourselves from above, moving around, leaving trails of intent and desire behind us as long as we live, we just might try to brighten the spaces we inhabit most often. Following a feeling of abstraction, like the creative line your life makes behind you, like the universe shrunk and floating beside you helps to enhance creative awareness, sensitivity, potentiality. Instead of solving the math problem of your life, you’re writing a poem with it. You trust in your own importance, in the good quality of your decisions. You don’t worry what others think, or at the very least, you consciously rebel against that worry. Sometimes, at home on a day off, my middle fingers are stretched out like they were points on a weather vane as I tell the whole shitty world to fuck off. It’s empowering. Anger’s not going anywhere, don’t think it is. But you can get it out safely. This leads to strength in speaking your truth, however idiosyncratically. We are funny. We are overwrought. We can be led off-base through simple conversation by someone with a strong personality. Don’t. Say what you think. Disagree. Be direct, even terse. Just don’t be mean. We are just frightened at simply appearing contrary, we don’t care to or know how to articulate our own personal viewpoints. We parrot the ‘One Or The Other’ headlines until the nation is choking on words. State what you are feeling regardless, state what you imagine doing, more. Your belly will feel better for it. So many people just don’t. Imagination stays suppressed. Imagination is what changes the world. Creativity is what changes the world, and ‘the world’ needs to state its plain and simple truths. I believe we think that this is too selfish, but that’s not where we are selfish. We as a nation are selfish as consumers, but we’re all still denying ourselves true, nourishing ego. Moments where we believe in our strength, in true self care, in the length and breadth of our patient, supportive attention.
Meditation and what it’s about seems the ultimate answer. To trust in the moment, start to relax into accepting immediate nowness, to let go, let go, because that will be our biggest personal task. We needto get OK with putting everything back down and stepping away, finally. Properly. There is an old proverb about the safest place a fly could be is on the handle of the fly swatter… This is like dealing with the cutting edge of the moment. I place my attention on my breath and label my thoughts as ‘thinking’ or ‘having a thought about this’ and ‘having a thought about that.’ When I’m ‘being here now,’ there is no room for fear, I’ve found. So odd! It lasts seconds, but fear and the moment have a very hard time existing simultaneously. They’re like their own anti-particles. Those scant seconds help me live better, find more trust in my soul. It’s a fine, shimmery, temporary space that should be cultivated more in our society. It would largely untangle depression, I believe.
“Bodhichitta is our heart—our wounded, softened heart. Now, if you look for that soft heart that we guard so carefully—if you decide that you’re going to do a scientific exploration under the microscope and try to find that heart—you won’t find it. You can look, but all you’ll find is some kind of tenderness. There isn’t anything that you can cut out and put under the microscope. There isn’t anything that you can dissect or grasp. The more you look, the more you find just a feeling of tenderness tinged with some kind of sadness. This sadness is not about somebody mistreating us. This is inherent sadness, unconditioned sadness. It is part of our birthright, a family heirloom. It’s been called the genuine heart of sadness.”
Bodichitta is a state of mind in zen that is reaching for wakefulness (‘liberation’) for the practitioner as well as everyone else. But what I like most about this quote is that undefined suffering that IS a part of our birthright. We are born into dying, born into this cycle. This anvil of fact is what we break our lives upon, as we go through each new experience. We know it isn’t going to last! For us not to admit this as part of an everyday struggle is ludicrous. And instead we’ll paint politics together with entertainment and bash our faces against that for 40 years. Power is nothing, money is nothing, it’s a couple of decades and then you’re out of it. How about, there is no secret cabal, there is no illuminati, and if there are, you have to admit that they’re idiots. It’s been one of my secret thoughts that if there are people who are clandestinely meeting and planning how rich they’re going to be, that their secret meetings must revolve around some shit they found out about jesus and that it was just a made-up story, some shit about the First Council of Nicaea or whatever, and that you better get it while you can ’cause they don’t put stock in faith anymore. Old men squirming around uncomfortable in shoes they’re grandfathers and great-grandfathers wore. The design of competition is woven inside and around us. You don’t need a lot of reason to take it up, to get lost inside it. School and life pushes you into thst direction, fast. Inside this model it becomes a lot more difficult to look at people around you as deserving of respect from the get-go. It’s hard to react to others around you fairly and with patience.
Mediation- between the head and the hands, between two people, between a culture and an individual.. Mediation is a technique to solve problems, to intervene, to arbitrate. If schools taught students how to mediate problems in life, as if that were the biggest subject to focus on, not math, not science- but how to get along and resolve conflict peaceably- then I believe we would’ve found the key to living in harmony on this planet. If the peace were purposely built in, intentionally woven into our educational models much more tightly than it is now, then would our business and media models follow suit?
“Where our thoughts go, energy flows.” Who said that? I’ve mentioned it in letterfounder before. I like the idea of watching thoughts travel to where you’re thinking. I’ve read books and seen movies where this invisible energy exudes out from the heart or midriff of the character toward the thing that they are desiring or needing at that moment. A ‘power’ you can work on, strengthen, that helps cement the reality to follow. Is this something I was raising when I was making myself feel chills by willing it? If I put that feeling into and toward my endeavors, at points, would that make better things happen? Are we literally the energy that floats in to do the work, once the thought has been thought enough, people structuring ideas off of other people’s ideas, for centuries? But if that’s true then we guide our future naturally through time. But I don’t see the world as being happy, really, or at peace. It doesn’t feel natural enough, because if that principle is what’s guiding our soul-crushing economies then our energy is fucked up and misdirected. Somewhere in this stitch-y story is will and willpower, I’m afraid.
I’ll never forget back during the post 9/11 anti-war protests, when I was living in Portland. I’d be down in the square every now and then. They were protestors in Monument Square pretty much anytime night or day for a while. I never wanted war. I questioned why no one in the media was really answering why we were attacked, just talking about freedom and firemen. I felt really talked down to, really foolish just for asking questions. A jeepful of young men were driving by the square over and over, taunting the anti-war protestors. I finally broke and jumped up on a concrete post as they drove by and screamed at them. “You couldn’t handle the reality of what you’re supporting!” or some shit. And immediately a man put his hand on my leg and said something like “It doesn’t do any good to get angry.” And I apologized and stepped down. He was right. All it had done was provoke those men into screaming louder. They got excited by my anger. That man was like a witness to my rage in that moment, and it changed they way I protested. I started looking for samenesses, similarities, good moments, conversations with the counter-protestors.
I’ve put this article in a previous issue of letterfounder, but it always sticks with me and feels relevant here:
“Sometimes when I talk about Radical Acceptance, I like to tell the story about Jacob, a man who at almost seventy and in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s disease attended a 10-day retreat I was leading. A clinical psychologist by profession and a meditator for more than twenty years, Jacob was well aware that his faculties were deteriorating. On occasion his mind would go totally blank; he would have no access to words for several minutes and become completely disoriented. He often forgot what he was doing and usually needed assistance with basic tasks—cutting his food, putting on clothes, bathing, getting from place to place. A couple of days into the retreat, Jacob had his first interview with me. These meetings, which students have regularly with a teacher while on retreat, are an opportunity to check in and receive personal guidance in the practice. During our time together Jacob and I talked about how things were going both on retreat and at home. His attitude towards his disease was interested, sad, grateful, even good-humored. Intrigued by his resilience, I asked him what allowed him to be so accepting. He responded, “It doesn’t feel like anything is wrong. I feel grief and some fear about it all going, but it feels like real life.” Then he told me about an experience he’d had in an earlier stage of the disease. Jacob had occasionally given talks about Buddhism to local groups and had accepted an invitation to address a gathering of over a hundred meditation students. He arrived at the event feeling alert and eager to share the teachings he loved. Taking his seat in front of the hall, Jacob looked out at the sea of expectant faces in front of him … and suddenly he didn’t know what he was supposed to say or do. He didn’t know where he was or why he was there. All he knew was that his heart was pounding furiously and his mind was spinning in confusion. Putting his palms together at his heart, Jacob started naming out loud what was happening: “Afraid, embarrassed, confused, feeling like I’m failing, powerless, shaking, sense of dying, sinking, lost.” For several more minutes he sat, head slightly bowed, continuing to name his experience. As his body began to relax and his mind grew calmer, he also noted that aloud. At last Jacob lifted his head, looked slowly around at those gathered, and apologized. Many of the students were in tears. As one put it, “No one has ever offered us teachings like this. Your presence has been the deepest dharma teaching.” Rather than pushing away his experience and deepening his agitation, Jacob had the courage and training simply to name what he was aware of, and, most significantly, to bow to his experience. In some fundamental way he didn’t create an adversary out of feelings of fear and confusion. He didn’t make anything wrong. We practice Radical Acceptance by pausing and then meeting whatever is happening inside us with this kind of unconditional friendliness. Instead of turning our jealous thoughts or angry feelings into the enemy, we pay attention in a way that enables us to recognize and touch any experience with care. Nothing is wrong—whatever is happening is just “real life.” Such unconditional friendliness is the spirit of Radical Acceptance.”
Labeling your thoughts is a strong technique to pull my mind out of crazy uncontrollable thinking. To recognize thinking for what it is; an endless train of chaotic processing that quite literally keeps you from the eternal moment-to-moment unfolding of life, existence.
I keep trying to link perceptual energy, thought energy into the real world. I keep trying to make sure people see these subtle energies as the energies that literally change the planet, once they have become accepted, documented, believed in, woven into culture. There are pop-magic theories that out-of-body experiences are as easy as this: just imagine yourself doing it and that is real enough. The very act of attempting to astrally project bends your mind enough that an ‘in-between state’ becomes possible. There is a compilation of people’s’ experiences on the ‘net about trying an astral convergence in Antarctica (astral Antarctica) and all these people picked out a particular spot on the coast and picked a specific time, from all over the world, and they projected there will, their imaginative astral bodies to this one spot, and then wrote their account of it. The intro I found was a very engaging, simple explanation of how one can attempt to creatively imagine.
“Astral travel is easy, think of Dr. Strange…The more people participating, the stronger and larger an astral ‘gravity well’ will begin to form in the general area everyone’s trying for, and after a few minutes (with watches synchronized) getting started, it will get easier and easier to find ‘the place.’ Just sit and meditate on what that area of Antarctica probably looks like, keeping in mind the others supposed to be there too, and it will begin to come to you. Astral travel is something living things have been doing for tens of millions of years, at least, ever since REM sleep was invented, maybe longer, back to the beginning of life on Earth. So the machinery is there in all of us for this sort of thing – it shouldn’t be too hard. Most of it is ‘imagination’ anyway – imagination is a real door into the Inner Planes, and you don’t have to go into any more of a trance to get into that state than you do for reading and enjoying a good book. The willing suspension of disbelief is what is required. Whether a full-on out-of-body experience also occurs or not is really irrelevant – and it can occur when one is not aware of it. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t seem to be flying around the room in a disembodied state! Bi-location is good enough and we all do that when we cogitate deeply on anything, or concentrate on places, people and things not nearby. The occult ‘how-to’ books make the whole thing sound far more difficult than it really is.”
I tried this with a friend. We were down near the banks of the Androscoggin River on the evening of December 20th, 2012, the night before the supposed end of the world. We weren’t really taking the date seriously (although a part of me feels ready for absolute weirdness at any time), but we gave astral projection a try, standing there in the cold. We each went to our own places, just a little experiment for a few minutes that we could talk about after, that was of note. It didn’t seem to do a lot that I recall, but it made me remember that moment. It put meaning in that moment. Again, it’s just living life in this creative experimental way that I believe brings us to better self-awareness, responsiveness, more hope, more calm. This is because you can’t learn everything through learning. You’ve got to be playful, you’ve got to look around for answers. It takes a tricky belief to think of thought energy as real energy.. It sounds new age’y, but when you look at everything in the world that we’ve created as having been the product of thought first, the distance to that belief ticks away.
In terms of a spiritual scaffolding, something to believe in, reincarnation does nothing for me. Where can I place a creative energy that will help me make sense of my impending death? What will help me let go? We start to see that letting go is the only thing that will save us. But we let go in all sorts of unhealthy ways. In ‘miniaturizing’ myself, or pulling myself up and out of my body, I’m in my head looking down on the earth, in space, seeing in my mind’s eye the stars and blackness, feeling with my mind’s eye the unknowable span of creation- thinking abstractly about all that is not visible to me.. This is where I get to a point in my head where I don’t feel alone, or as alone. You’d think it might be the opposite, but it makes me think of timelessness. The miniaturization blends into a creative expansion, and I am sitting, stunned at my ability to imagine the area of space in which I hang.
“Will is that which changes thought into energy.” – Paramahansa Yogananda
I was hiking this past weekend and got into that hiking zone; a way of walking to conserve breath and energy. It’s not about looking around or ahead, but on the next spot that I had to step. I did this to be careful yes, but also to not overheat or get stumble’y. And suddenly, although still tired, my movements became very steady and balanced. One rock to the other, breathing, coordinated. This is a physical example of the perception I am talking about. I got ‘in the moment’ so I wouldn’t have a heart attack. It made being in my body better, it made me listen to my body more. This is all still simply about being present, but as a physical function, not intellectual exercise. There was a sort of rhythm in it all. Not a time signature rhythm, but a flexible outpouring that was about trusting in the next move; a fluid bravery.
As we grow up, who is showing us the power of patience and conflict resolution? How do we learn to trust our own feelings and not be swayed by others’ judgments when that is not our own truth? People are so easily swayed! Trusting in your gut is hard because sometimes it makes you seem other than how you want people to perceive you. Know enough to stop when you feel like you’re wasting your time with something you’re not interested in. Be brave enough to walk away from a task when you get bored and come back to it later, to not rush, to sleep, to brush your teeth, to feel your body, to eat as you need to. Body intelligence is not something the modern world fosters. It’s hard to do at a job. Start to recognize how much of your personal freedom you give up to live a life someone else set up for you. In what ways can you redefine it, take it back, revitalize it? Body intelligence is a weird, wonderful thing. Putting your attention in the area of your belly either by focusing or exercising is one of the answers here. Our bodies are made to move and be relatively physical. When a culture forgets this it also begins to lose it’s intrinsic intelligence.
I find myself acting out the very rituals I’m planning to do, without even realizing it at first. To spread meaning through my life by seeing my days in a more magical light is really easy, and makes me happier, more at peace, more satisfied with my time. Once when me and Lynn were exercising, I looked at what we were doing and laughed. I had been talking to her about enacting some rituals, about doing simple tasks with more meaning and intent. We were in the living room listening to swanky dark music on the ‘net. She was on her back doing stretches, I was marching in counterclockwise circles around her, singing or chanting, just waking up, having fun. We were covered in these rainbows from the prism hanging in the window. We were certainly displaying some weirdo ceremonial resolve, as if life was taking care of it for us, we just had to recognize it happening.
The IDEA idea is- to figure out the basics worldwide in such a simple way that everyone can agree on them. If there are ancient forces working in the world that direct the majority of people, than the answer is to spread a simple message worldwide from the people that actuates a power in the right direction. The people just have to agree on what it is. Through the ‘net we are linking up, world-wide. We’re just doing it in shitty ways. But we as a planet are just starting to see each other, video’d and story-told through the millions of articles and photos and news shows and blogs. We’re just starting to really get a visual on us. But the networking of money that made it all possible is now in charge of the plot. It was inevitable. I’m talking about redefining the subtle energies that go into making our rules of conduct. The idea is coming up with the plain-speak in figuring out the human race’s- the world’s- immutable rights based on an open-faced moral principle. E=MC2 as a social code. People dealing with people, it’s all so damn relative.
“Science looks at the universe, doesn’t see itself there, doesn’t see mind there, so you have a world in which mind has no place.” -Alan Moore
I think some of the problem is the body horror feeling- the soil that we will return to, the air, the shit. It’s like we know we’re worm food and a part of us begins to self-sabotage. Telling ourselves we’re not good enough, staying in horrible relationships, falling into addictions, being mean on purpose, losing your temper. It sometimes feels more real than trying to pretend to be in a good mood. I don’t know.. I feel pretty inwardly optimistic most days, even with all this staring me in the face. I don’t know where that comes from, but I’m glad it’s there. I’ve done a lot to try to put into action the things that make me happy. I think people are so afraid to do that, in fear of disappointing someone else. If I’m not in a good place, I won’t be able to help anyone else get to a good place either. This is why it’s OK to take a sick day when you’re not sick, to pull away from someone who is just asking more than you want to give, to say hi to someone you feel drawn to, to simply feel worth it, to let your mind wander and dream, to take breaks when you’re bored or irritable, to not be pulled into conversations you don’t want to be in. This is called self-care. This nourishes your soul. All the technology and creature comforts in the world really won’t make you understand how to flow through the energy of your days any better. That’s an inward science.
My mom died within six months of being diagnosed with cancer. I felt death and dying as a part of my own genetic imprint. Her dying felt like me dying. Things became less important, I didn’t take care of myself, I felt like I must have cancer, too, with every little twinge in my body. People were looking at birds and deer as Mom’s spirit saying ‘hi’ and I was so over that bullshit. She was gone and she wasn’t talking. My hand was on her chest as she breathed her two final, drowning breaths and then stopped, eyes open. I closed her eyelids and they didn’t stay closed. That’s why people rest their fingers there for a moment, to keep the eyes closed. It informed me, shocked me. I was her son as well as a scientist studying her dying process. It made me sort of quietly crazy for a year or more. There are parts of those six months that I just don’t remember that well. It was all terrible and I couldn’t get away from it. There was nowhere to go. My aunt talks about traveling the cosmos when she passes, that she’s tired of this earthly place and she wants to be free of her body. I believe you naturally want to figure out the ways to let go, because you can’t bring it with you. But mebbe I’m crazy and I just think about it too much. Mebbe you just live your life until it’s done and then you’re done. As I write these zines I always feel like we are all mostly the same inside; same fears, hopes, Everything. Very, very similar.
“Everything has its wonders. Even darkness and silence.” -Helen Keller
“Before you judge others or claim any absolute truth, consider that you can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. As you read this, you are traveling at 220 kilometres per second across the galaxy. 90% of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA and are not “you”. The atoms in your body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space and none of them are the ones you were born with, but they all originated in the belly of a star. Human beings have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato. The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, the rainbow does not exist. So you don’t just look at a rainbow, you create it. This is pretty amazing, especially considering that all the beautiful colors you see represent less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum.”
-Neil Degrasse Tyson
Just as the quantum world works in ways that we cannot comprehend yet, so are our senses blind to most of the processes going on in the universe. We just don’t know, and I find a lot of inspiration in that not-knowing. So much room to work with, so much room to hope and imagine. In conclusion, I just wanted to share all this not-knowing with you because it’s such a great vantage point, such a great place to start to build strength.
“What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life–daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
Basically, a thoughtful observation leads to insight. If you watch closely, listen closely, smell, intuit, touch, feel- you get the world. It’s never as small (or big) as when you are completely engrossed in your doings. Explorations. Creative miniaturization works both ways. Shrink you or shrink the universe. The microcosm is oneself and the macrocosm is the universe; within each lies the other. It’s weird, bent thinking, it has intellect like a Mobius strip or Klein bottle. Once we are fully engrossed in our moments we will pull the doom out of the future. We inhabit that spatial awareness without knowing it a lot, too.. You have a certain emotional baseground? Find out what it is and find the beauty there. The realness, the un-phonyness. But most importantly, the tone, the sound, the rhythm. What are your rhythms? What moves you, naturally? This is beyond culture and thought. This is you listening to yourself now.
Edits- C. O’Leary, L. Wakefield
Listening to: Night Shift sndtrk, The Cultural Decay, Robin Guthrie, Miles Davis, Black Box, 7% Solution, Parliament, Cut Hands, The Body, Charlie Patton, Mississippi Fred Mcdowell, Guided By Voices, Sun Kil Moon w/ The Album Leaf, Interpol, Bill Frisell