Wednesday, 15 November 2017


Zazen is not observation of thoughts because observation and thought are incompatible. Thought about x involves attention to x, not to the thought about x.

Zazen is neither deliberate thought nor uninterrupted natural thought but natural thought interrupted by a repeated return of attention to the present moment.


deliberate thought is not applied to problems that it cannot solve;

natural thought is allowed neither to become deliberate thought nor to continue uninterrupted.

This at least provides a third perspective. Many problems are caused either by constant natural thought or by unhelpful deliberate thought.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Philosophy And Fiction

I will summarize a materialist understanding of consciousness, then outline how this impacts on two kinds of imaginative fiction written by Poul Anderson.

Everything interacts:

particles, potential or actual;
material bodies;
organisms with their environments.

Organisms are temporary, local, negative entropy.

Energized complex molecules changed randomly until one became self-replicating.

Natural selection favored multi-cellularity.

Organisms are sensitive and responsive to environmental alterations.

Naturally selected organismic sensitivity to environmental alterations quantitatively increased until it was qualitatively transformed into conscious sensation.

Sensation was naturally selected because pleasure and pain have survival value.

Responses became actions.

Brains process immediate sensations into perceptions of discrete objects.

Objects are conceptualized.

One social species communicates linguistically and internalizes language as abstract thought.

Interpersonal interactions transform human organisms into self-conscious individuals.

Individuals can transcend self-consciousness through meditation.

However, all consciousness remains an unintended byproduct of originally unconscious interactions.

Human beings interacting with each other projected interpersonal interactions onto their natural and social environments.

Thus, they personified, e.g., thunder as Thor and war as Tyr.

However, human beings have also come to understand preconscious processes.

Thus, they have created both mythology and science.

Poul Anderson wrote:

mythological fantasies, assuming the literal existence of Norse deities;
hard sf, including speculations about the course of evolution on other planets.

Most sf presupposes materialist evolution. Thus, authors ask: "What kind of organisms might have evolved in the Martian environment?," not: "What kind of organisms might have been created on Mars?" CS Lewis' theological sf has Ransom encountering on Mars beings that are both extraterrestrial and supernatural but that is unusual.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The New Monotheism

If I were to subscribe to a monotheism, then it would have to be one that was entirely free from the Mosaic Law, the Crucifixion and Hindu casteism. Some reformed Hindu monotheisms do meet these criteria, especially if we are able to include Sikhism as both a reformed Islam and a reformed Hinduism. However, I am inclined to agree with other Hindus who regard the one God as a personification of the one reality which is either impersonal or transpersonal if the latter term has any meaning. The most appropriate pronoun would be either It or That.

Let us rededicate ourselves to the One.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Inner Swamp

Drain the inner swamp.
The channel to drain the swamp is blocked.
Neither intellect nor will can unblock it.
However, meditation places a steady pressure on the blockage, which can move suddenly.
Experience of the consequences of wrong actions can be devastating and illuminating.
Some questions and answers must be lived, not thought.
New work on the self begins now.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Many Mansions

Because religious and philosophical issues are involved, this post is first being published on the Religion and Philosophy blog and will later be copied to Poul Anderson Appreciation where it is also relevant.

I used the phrase "many mansions" here, then found it used in SM Stirling, The Sword Of The Lady (New York, 2009), Chapter Twenty-One, p. 640. For the original, see here. Mind-blowing explanations are given and a short story in Poul Anderson's collection, All One Universe, is relevant.

I have finished reading The Sword Of The Lady and have just started the sequel, The High King Of Montival. Rudi Mackenzie, the future High King, now wields a mysteriously generated sword that enhances his reasoning ability so that his future combats will differ somehow from what went before. Will Rudi be to some extent like Fionn Mac Cumhaill who gained knowledge, including military intelligence, when he put his thumb in his mouth?

Thursday, 29 June 2017

From Many Gods To One Reality

Contradictory Explanations 
Explain each natural or social phenomenon by personifying it, e.g., thunder is Thor; war is Tyr.
Expain nature as a whole by unifying it, i.e., every phenomenon has a single source.

Two Ways To Unify Reality
Deny that there are separate gods (Hebrew).
Affirm that all gods are really one God (Hindu).

Third Stage
Depersonify reality.

Two Ways To Depersonify Reality
Contemplate an impersonal Absolute.
Seek a unified field theory or Theory of Everything.

Contemplation and science: unity is intuited but never completely formulated.

Sunday, 11 June 2017


Two Ways To Perceive The World
The separate selfhood that we grew up with.
The universal consciousness that we can realize.

Two Ways To Perceive Society
Acceptance of the status quo.
Recognition of the need for a fundamental transformation.

Optimal States
Now: both universal and revolutionary consciousness.
Potentially: universal consciousness in a transformed society.