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.

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

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Perceptions

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.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

In The Beginning...

In the beginning, there was neither a Creator nor a Designer but unconscious being.
Being is realizing its potential to become conscious.
The development towards consciousness was necessarily unplanned, undesigned and unconscious.
Many unconscious processes sustain consciousness.

Bodily functions and even many mental processes are unconscious.
Social processes are mediated through individual consciousnesses.
However, individuals may remain unconscious of the nature of social processes.
We were preceded, and are surrounded, by unconsciousness.

The revolutionary party tries to organize the most politically conscious members of the working class.
Zen meditators practise consciousness of mental processes.
Neither individual nor social consciousness has yet been fully realized.
Any hypothetical superhuman consciousnesses must also have risen from unconsciousness.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A Time Of Legends

(St Paul and the philosophers. Dig it. That is where I would be.)

SM Stirling, The Scourge Of God (New York, 2009), Chapter One.

Catholics and Wiccans find that they are living in a time of legends and do not like it.

"'But even Our Lord was refused when he asked that the cup pass from him.'" (p. 46)

This I do not get. What happened in antiquity?

(i) Pagans sacrificed animals to many gods.
(ii) Jews sacrificed animals to one God.
(iii) Jesus' followers believed that he was the Messiah who would lead them to victory...
(iv) ...but were traumatized by his execution as a criminal - conclusive proof that he was not the Messiah.
(v) Therefore, they reinterpreted scriptures as prophesying that the Messiah must suffer, then rise.
(vi) Paul interpreted the Crucifixion as a perfect sacrifice ending sin, the Law and every other sacrifice.
(vii) Pauline Christianity fitted the Roman Empire which wanted monotheism without divisive dietary laws or repeated animal sacrifices.
(viii) But do we now believe in the efficacy of sacrifice?

I do not understand how this belief can make sense now. Of course, if someone believes that the Resurrection happened, then they have to believe that the Crucifixion also happened and has some significance but what? I do not buy:

all have sinned;
therefore, all have deserved to suffer and die;
but Jesus took it all on himself;
but, being perfect, could not stay dead;
etc.

CS Lewis' soft sf assumes the truth of Christianity. Poul Anderson's and SM Stirling's Christian characters discuss their beliefs. Christianity remains widespread in the real world. So it merits discussion.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Zazen

Zazen is:

"Neither trying to think nor trying not to think;
"Just sitting with no deliberate thought."

I have been trying not to think. Zazen is just sitting with awareness and natural thought. How do we remain alert and prevent abstraction?

I have also been trying to be aware of each natural thought as it arises. However:

to think about x is to attend to x;
to be aware of a thought is to attend to the thought;
thus, I have been trying to attend to the attention to x.

I can become aware that I have been attending to x but, at the moment when the natural thought arises, I am attending only to x. Zazen is becoming aware.