In Harmony and Silence

What is love?
Love is the driving force of the universe; God is Love, Love is God.
But what is It, this force that binds the particles into matter around us, making up our very substance?

It is Harmony, and not chaos.
The Universe is in constant flux, moving and changing and adjusting and adapting…
An “additive principle” is what is at work, building abstract block upon abstract block, creating and tearing down to make way for the next evolution.

Therefore, we may say, Love is Harmony.

Love flows, Love bends, Love adapts. Love is Harmony.
To struggle against, or to cling, is not Harmony. It is not Love.

Un-love is a fighting against the very primeval forces of creation, the forces of our own inner being.
And, as boisterous and proud as it is, it is ultimately useless; one cannot struggle against the nature of our own self and accomplish a single thing.

What of willful change? What of inspiration? What of the pursuit of answers to the hurdles that plague our journeys?

The answers are already around us and within us. Love — Harmony — permeates the fabric of our existence.

But through struggle and chaos, we blind ourselves to All that already Is. Through narrowly seeking that which we think we must struggle to have or produce, we close our eyes to all that is presently around us and ignore all possibilities that do not line up with our narrow criteria.

The answer to all, then, is Silence. To sit and silence the mind, and its perpetual whirlwind of thought, to sit in utter stillness and simply take in, without prejudice, All That Is.

In Stillness, in Love, in Harmony, and these within ourselves, we find God, we find Inspiration and Hope. It is not to be sought in some far-off place. It is always within us; we need only look.

Return to Your Roots

Cliffside-Tree-Roots

Let us take a lesson from Sister Flora, who draws nourishment from deep down within the Earth. It is the connection of the roots, drawing energy and nourishment from the Earth that sustains the Tree.

Jesus said it this way:

See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these…that is how God clothes the grass of the field…will he not much more clothe you… So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ …your heavenly Father knows that you need them. –Matthew 6:28-32

Sister Flora does not work or toil or worry, she only draws up the energy from Mother Earth to bring through her veins everything she needs. Likewise, we too, if we reconnect ourselves to the Earth and cosmos from which we came — within which our roots still exist from the beginnings of Evolution eons ago:

— we will find all the energy, creativity, love, and sustenance that we could ever need. 

Similarly, our roots interconnect and intertwine with the roots of others who are connected rootsto this planet, who were birthed here. And when we are aware of this intimate connection with The All, The All is entirely open to us: we are It, and It is us. We are each other, and we are Everything. Therefore, again, we lack for nothing.

In this manner, it is strikingly evident what Carl Sagan has said in regard to us and the Universe:

The cosmos is also within us… We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.

If through Evolution, the cosmos has begun to open itself and search within itself all of its own possibilities, then we are a powerful part of that search — that Knowledge and Unearthly Wisdom! Let us reconnect ourselves and draw that into us.

One more thought for encouragement. I often behold the apparent restrictions human civilization has put on Sister Flora, confining her to certain zones, if you will, where she is allowed to flourish among us, surrounded by concrete. But then I consider, how awesome it is that, as long as her roots are connected to the Earth and drawing all she needs from within the Heart of it, then, in fact, she is not restrained in the truest sense! Likewise, while it may seem at times that we are imprisoned in our own emotions and minds and societal situations we’ve gotten ourselves into, nonetheless, there is always Freedom, there is always Wisdom, deep down at the Heart of Creation, waiting to be tapped.

May we continue to strengthen our connection with the Earth, our Mother, and reach our roots down deep to draw upon her nourishment and wisdom.

spiritual-abundance2

Science Says: We are Intimately Connected

Fascinating article from the Huffington Post:

…scientists eventually found a set of "mirror neurons" in humans that mirror the behavior of someone who is being observed. That is, when we observe someone doing something, the same pattern of brain activation that allows that person to do what they are doing (e.g. lifting up their right hand or smiling) is mirrored in the brain of the observer. It is as if the observer is doing those same things… When you show people fearful faces, the amygdala activates as if those people were experiencing fear themselves… Thus, "contagious actions", "contagious feelings", "intention-action" connections and "attention-action" connections all support the "law of attraction". Underlying all of these ideas is the notion of connection – we are connected within and without. What we think and feel affects how we will act and how others will act as well. The depth of our feelings and actions is a critical variable in "attracting" what we want to our lives.

Read the entire article here!

Mystery of Time

I’ve mentioned before the illusory nature of Time. I considered it further the other day while enjoying a most beautiful meditative day in the mountains. 🙂

Our senses depend upon change to take notice and develop interpretations of our state of being in relation to our environment. (Recall the science of color vision, for example:

…black and gray are not produced simply by absence of light coming from an object or surface but arise when and only when the light from the object is less than the average of the light coming from the surrounding regions. White arises only when the surround is darker and when no hue is present….an object’s whiteness, blackness, or grayness depends on the light that the object reflects from some source, relative to the light reflected by the other objects in the scene…experiments showed convincingly that the sensation produced in one part of the visual field depends on the light coming from that place and on the light coming from everywhere else in the visual field….

Etc…)

Consider this: Time, as we think of and relate to it, is only an arbitrary grid of numbers we’ve attached meaning to over the eons. And the attachment of meaning is made all the stronger through the vastness of shared unconsciousness, to the point that it becomes our Reality.

But, in truth, night and day are ruled by the rising and setting of the sun, the rotation of the earth. Our natural cycles that denote a passage of time to us, are only processes of Change that occur within the Now. We compare the change based upon recollections of the way things were before they changed, and label that The Past. We would do well to keep in mind the arbitrariness of labeling–that in a real sense, this is our collective mythology: a story to illuminate and make sense of what is occurring. Even aging is only a process of change, changing from Now…to Now…. 🙂 (Even our language reinforces the mythology of Time moving from place to place…) Remnants from those who came before us, what could be considered “evidence” of the Past, yet still exist Now, but in an altered state of being.

This is Evolution at its heart! This is the unity of Change as the Universe’s heartbeat, with the Heavenly Now. This is Transformation and a certain kind of immortality. I challenge you to contemplate and embrace the marriage of Change and the Now, rather than bemoaning a mythical passage of time.

A Breathing-Meditation

Surely a spirit is in man, And the breath of the Mighty One Doth cause them to understand. (Job 32:8, Young’s Literal Translation)

 

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7, KJV Cambridge Ed.)

 

Breath is… Spirit and Life…

 

As you ground yourself, slip your mindful awareness to your breath. It can be likened to your very spirit, rising and falling, flowing as a stream, within you. It flows from your toes to your head, and vice versa; it feeds every cell within–fueling and lighting your mini-verse.

Sense your breath–
Is it tight and restricted?
Is it free going in but short coming out?
Is it shallow coming in, leaving a sense of emptiness or constriction?
Is it quick, or slow?
Is your belly soft and relaxed?
Are your shoulders or chest tight and unmoving?

Your breathing-muscles are intimately attached to all that your body does and senses. Your breath may be an excellent mirror by which one can view the state of one’s mind– Is it preoccupied with the past or the future? Is it riddled with strong emotion? Is it fixated on thought, planning, contemplations? Chances are, then, the breath is also caught in this fixation and obsession, as the body reacts and holds the fixation in its muscles, and the flow of breath–of spirit–is affected in such a manner.

 

Breath is… Boring…

 
Consider how our minds tend to wander and frolic into areas of interest, whether it be areas of interest that are beneficial to us or not. The point is, watching our breath in silence is, well, boring; and how quickly our minds run off to play like little children! But, notice this: our bodies remain here, in the Now. Nevertheless, far too often, our minds and thoughts are elsewhere– either planning the future or regretting and remembering the past.

By focusing our attention on our breath and watching with acute awareness how our breath flows, we reunite our body and mind in the same place, in the here and now– and peaceful bliss will be the response. By bringing our awareness to immediate sensation rather than interpretive thought — which by necessity occurs after the impulse of sensation: the thing that occurs versus the mind’s interpretation of and associations with it — we are settling our mind on the immediacy of the sensation and the ever-changing nature of its impulses; we are taking refuge in what is happening here and now, reigning the mind in from its spastic wanderings to the past or future. We are realigning our full being and opening ourselves to unity, wholeness, and peace.

 

Breath is… Kinship with Nature…

 

“What a marvelous cooperative arrangement – plants and animals each inhaling each other’s exhalations, a kind of planet-wide mutual mouth-to-stoma resuscitation, the entire elegant cycle powered by a star 150 million kilometers away.” –Carl Sagan, Cosmos

  • close your eyes, settled in meditative position
  • begin the Grounding Meditation as your anchoring connection to Goddess Gaia
  • see the light of the universe from above pour into your form through your crown chakra as it unfurls, opening as a lotus flower
  • this pure light trickles down, filling your form with light until it streams outward from you through the surface of the earth upon which you sit, rushing down through the layers of crust below, flooding the Earth Heart Chakra with light — Gaia’s crystal at the center of the earth — until this light, enhanced by the power of the fiery crystal, bursts back up toward you, igniting the base of your spine with radiant energy! This pristine energy and light flow up the track of your spine, lighting every fiber of your being, until the mighty stream bursts upward from your opened Crown Chakra! It reignites the light source shining down upon you from above and envelops you in an aura of light and energy.

Up until this point, this is really only a simplified picture of the grounding meditation…. Now, let’s incorporate the intimacy of our breath and take this experience to another level….

  • Unite the flow of your breath with the stream of Light and Energy
  • feel the light enter your form from the earth’s heart below and travel upward along your spine with every breath drawn in; feel the light burst through the crown chakra and envelop you with every breath outward
  • your breath is the stream by which the light travels
  • Imagine the graceful give-and-take, the intricate balance of Nature: With each in-breath, gratefully acknowledge the gift of Sister Flora, Gaia’s grace and provision; with every out-breath, give back to Gaia and Sister Flora
  • Release your breath and pour all of yourself out as an offering, as you exhale and clear yourself of impurities
  • Accept the next breath with joy, feel it flood your cells with life, allow it to fill every abyss within, without force— simply open the floodgates and feel the life and spirit flow and rush to fill the emptinesses
  • we are each other’s survival, us and the earth, intricately joined together and intertwined

Oh, the stability, joy, life, and peace of the unhindered stream of Breath!

The question then remains:

Where do you end and the world begins?

When this becomes unanswerable, indeed nonsensical, you have rejoined the All in consciousness; you have returned home, and all of the universe is available to your intuition.

20130305-225920.jpg

Mind-Body Holism, Consciousness, and Reality

…Because this core dual structuring of the self was retained, many of the conundrums of Descartes’ philosophy have been retained as well, albeit recast in terms of the brain: Does the brain have direct contact with, and therefore reliable knowledge of, reality, or is our knowledge a ‘user illusion’? … [Noë] claims that neuroscience isn’t getting anywhere in explaining consciousness because it views consciousness of reality as a representation of the world created and manipulated by the brain. Noë attacks brain-body dualism in part by attacking this representationalism.

I believe this is one of the key points in the discussion of dualism versus mind-body holism. Dualism and representationalism share the idea of the true self being at one remove from physical reality, with the sensing body as both intermediary and barrier. Noë doesn’t examine this relationship in great detail, but he’s clearly aware of it. …brain activity is just part of an extended process that starts with the environment, involves the whole body and includes the brain. In this, the environment isn’t merely a source of stimulation, nor is it a model or representation built by and viewed by the brain. In Noë’s words, “the world is its own model.” To put it another way, the real object of perception is the physical environment, not some artifact of the brain/mind.

….I believe that Noë’s fundamental error is that he wants to hang on to the concept of mind. But what is mind except the thing that is conscious and initiates action? If you eliminate the notion of the little self inside the big self in favor of the person as a whole, the concept of mind doesn’t do any extra work, because we could just say that the person is aware and initiates action. All that would be left for the concept of mind to do would be to support useful metaphors (i.e. fictions), such as ‘I’ll keep it in mind’. Yet if you take the concept of mind more seriously than that, as Noë wants to, then it will begin to work its mischief anew. This is because it is a fuzzy concept. … Noë wants to break down mind-body/brain-body dualism, which is commendable. But in so doing, he verges on breaking down subject-object dualism: he wants to project mind out into the environment so our bodily-external tools become a part of us….

Still, I wouldn’t want to dismiss Noë’s extension of the mind completely. Perhaps without using the pernicious concept of mind, we could speak of different senses or extensions of the self. The core sense of self would be the living organism; in its environment, but distinct from it. The next sense of self would incorporate non-living parts of the self, such as the hair and nails. Here the cat’s whiskers serve as a biological analogy to the blind man’s cane. The third level of self would include our clothing and jewelery, which form part of our ‘person’. Fourth might be the tools we use naturally, such as a fork or a pencil and paper. One could take this further and include the things one identifies with, such as family and country – although such identifications are often problematic. Although there would be a solid notion of the person (conscious and bodily) as the primary sense of the self, we could be flexible about the boundaries for different uses of the word. I think this way of speaking would be more intuitive than super-sizing the mind. A framework along these lines would be flexible enough to handle tough cases: the amputee’s prosthetic limb is intimately part of his self insofar as it is strapped securely to him and responds to electrical stimulation from within him, unlike any other tool currently in use. At the same time, if the artificial limb were to be crushed, the amputee would not himself be hurt. The definition of self along these lines would be a fascinating thing to explore. I would not want to dismiss the idea that some sense of the self can be larger than the bare organism, especially given the way technology will surely extend the self in decades to come. But I believe it is essential to preserve the idea of the natural person, especially in the face of a Cartesian materialism which would divide and destroy it.

—© Kurt Keefner 2010, from “Out Of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain by Alva Noë; Kurt Keefner tells you why you can’t be only your brain.” at Philosophy Now Magazine

 

Vision science has for a few centuries now taken its start from the idea that what we see far exceeds what we receive in the form of sensory stimulation… The brain’s job, it is supposed, is to make up for this discrepancy…to compensate…

The question of vision science boils down to explaining how we can enjoy uniformly detailed, high resolution, brilliantly colored images of the world when, really, we see so very little…

Alva Noë, “Out of Our Heads” page 136.

 

As we contemplate the “Miracle of Sight” and the wonder with which our physical mechanisms make sense of the world around us, I was struck with Alva Noë’s words, appearing above — that sight is “affected,” or derives from the following examples of brain-altered discrepancies:

  • The inverted retinal image and the cyclopean character of vision
  • The uneven resolution of the eye
  • The unstable retinal image (i.e., saccades)
  • The blind spot
  • Obstructions, such as veins criss-crossing the eyeball; “bits of organic material float[ing] freely in the eye itself”; “Strangest of all, the retina itself is positioned backward; that is, the sensitive receptor itself is positioned behind the web of nerve fibers that ultimately join to form the optic nerve.” (Ibid. pg 134)
  • “A small object nearby can project the same pattern of retinal stimulation as a large object at a distance. All we are given, when we see, is the two-dimensional image… if we do in fact see spatial relations…we don’t do so directly. That information just isn’t there in what is given to us.”
  • Color (refer to my previous bare-bones understanding of Color Weirdness…) 🙂
  • Time — The nature of the established fact that what we are actually seeing is the past existence of the object in our vision, due to the nature of light carrying the information to our eyes and then the time it takes for the eye to make sense of the stimuli reaching it. At the extreme, think of the nature of the stars we observe in the night sky. We are seeing the stars as they were, not as they are now. The same is true on a much smaller scale in regard to everything we encounter around us.

It is due to these natural, biological elements “conspiring” against our seemingly flawless vision, that it is thought of our minds to be responsible for “filling in the gaps,” as it were; making up for the deficiencies and “fixing” our flawed input of information, making for perfected output of understanding. And that’s where we all wonder, how do our brains do it? Is what we see, then, a Grand Illusion, constructed by our brains filling in the gaps of what’s missing sensorily? Are we all just being deceived by our eyes? Is Believing, Seeing?

I had a most interesting inspiration while contemplating these thoughts… I fully accept that there is Reality within which we are fully integrated. We are All. We are Star-Stuff, birthed via eons of generations from the crudest life forms in the earth… We are a part of our environment, and it is us, as well. We all affect each other. And, I am absolutely fascinated with the nature of Perception, that we interpret and influence what we see and experience via our senses, based on, well, what our senses tell us, AND how we interpret those signals as they pass through the Ego-Filter! Then… based on those interpreted signals, we make choices and react… It is All, we are All, entirely cyclical and thoroughly integrated!

So, then, what of the concept that our brains must fill in missing information, as is considered with the Miracle of Sight? Consider this:

When did our brains ever decide there was anything missing that needed filling in, in the first place?

In other words, I posit that what we see as steady, for example, perhaps may not be steady at all, but because we all share the same experience, and it is all we know growing up, we interpret our “unstable retinal image” as steadiness and stability! Likewise, what if the world really is seen as “upside-down”? But we know not any differently, because to us, down would be up, and up would be down. We’ve grown up seeing and perceiving as we do, and this is our shared experience. Again… “It’s difficult to say how someone else sees color, because it’s so subjective. How do I know that what I see as red is what you see as red?” (from this article). Perhaps the stimuli creating the sensation of blue in my vision is creating a sensation of mauve in yours! As an extreme example, if the mauve-seer had grown up being told what he sees is called blue then how easy it is for us to agree, yes, we are both seeing this object as blue… when, oddly enough, perhaps it is not… But for each of our perceived Realities, both colors are called blue, and therefore, they are indeed Blue. But… what is Blue to you, may not be Blue to me… Yet, we could not possibly know this…

Spatial relations and three dimensions?… We call our experience three-dimensional… but at the heart of it all, this is a human contrivance, a way of labeling what we experience around us and comparing it to other experiences of lesser dimensional relations. We see, we experience, we feel, we touch and examine, and we say… three dimensions. I’ve read that it is the nature of our three-coned eye system that gives us the sensation of seeing in three dimensions…. Perhaps our reality in which we find ourselves is truly in multiple dimensions, but our biological systems can only perceive it as three, and with only certain color implications… But, again, this is all we know, this is our shared experience, this is our reality. This notion, too, however, doesn’t make our Reality any less Real!

It all comes down to the fact that we can only experience what we can experience. And we label it and study it, rightly so, trying to understand our environment and the greater universe around us. We are still very much intertwined with our environmental Reality, and we affect each other profoundly.

Out of Our Heads and Other Musings

Over the past several days I’ve been enjoying the audiobook listening of Alva Noë‘s work, “Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain.” In it, Noë elaborates the philosophical rethinking of our definition of consciousness and how it isn’t merely the result of the neural crackle and pop inside of our brains– it is not found inside our skills and it is more than the simple wiring of synapses.

Since I’m musing here only on my initial thoughts and my personal intellectualizing connections through this work — and to be sure, I’m only halfway through! — I don’t have full-on quotes I’ll be referring to, but more overarching concepts, that are mine, based on my understanding of it thus far. I highly recommend this book to everyone; read it to fully understand Noë’s premises and to comprehend the numerous enlightening examples he gives! In the words of LeVar Burton, “…you don’t have to take my word for it…” 😉

Where do we end, and the world begins?

  • Consciousness is not to be found inside of us, through dissection and analysis of neuro physical workings, but via our reactions and interactions with our environment. We are so fully intertwined, ingrained, and at home in our surroundings, in our world, that we are a part of it and it is a part of us. Or, perhaps better, we are it, and it is us.
  • It is through our interactions and relationships with a culture and the rules and people inherent to it that we find who we are. We are defined by our place within a culture, and when we are forced to leave for one reason or another, we must change who we are; we are not ourselves any longer. This, to me, is a grand example of what we can call the Ego, and its choosing of who we are. And it’s not to say that we are one Ego-personification only; I’ve found that my Ego will transform to be a different Personality depending on the cultural situation in which I find myself. This is entirely natural. I am very much different depending on with whom I am speaking; there are cultural rules that govern which aspects of Personality our Ego reveals at any given moment.
  • To take this a step further, then, we can be and are all things. We are each other. It’s only a matter of recognizing this fact through meditation and practice. It is the idea (or myth) of embracing the Shadow.
  • Then, too, we are not beholden to merely one image of ourselves. Yes, it is our interaction to our surroundings–to others–that gives our Ego reason and ammunition in determining who we are at such a moment. But, in the basic understanding of karma, we realize that these Ego-Personifications will arise without us even realizing that it is not us, or that it is not merely us… When we are not in a position to observe and understand without attachment the given Ego-Personification at a given moment, we are only reacting to our surroundings via karmic habit.
  • Is this wrong? Well…I’d ask, is anything wrong? It is human. It is consciousness. It is what we do, thanks to evolution and our shared consciousness passed down to us for eons and generations who’ve gone before. It is only wrong if you say it is. We are creatures of habit. And knowledge is built upon the knowledge we’ve accumulated and absorbed into the fabric of our beings. Habit is good. Habit is what makes us the intelligent beings we are. BUT this also means, we are able to change and grow and acquire new habits and skills.
  • Noë describes a fascinating aspect of habit and knowledge and skill in our species of intelligence. Look at a novice acquiring a skill–his acquiring of it is vastly improved by his paying close attention to the mechanical details of that skill. Now consider the expert in that same skill. If she focuses her attention on the rudimentary mechanics of her skill, she will lose proficiency. Rather, her mind must occupy itself with the general, broad artistic world built upon those rudimentary mechanics which she has already achieved. She must go beyond and live in the grander fuller meaning of that skill.
  • Now, consider a musician who has been honing her craft for decades. In learning a new piece of music she has never before played, in a sense, she is reverting back to the focused mechanical detail of the novice. To accurately train her muscles to execute the notes and rhythms on the page, she must drill and repeat and pay close attention to every detail of motion in her body. However, when she has learned the piece well and seeks to perform it better and better each time she executes it, these must never focus on the beginner’s details, but must instead focus on the greater artistry derived from the very essence of the notes and patterns themselves…. Believe me, I experience this on a daily level…. 😉 It’s highly enlightening!!
  • So, when ascertaining our minds, and how we tend to react and integrate in this daily “grind,” we can use meditation to bring us back to the level of the “novice,” to train our Egos to react and transform differently than to that which we may be accustomed. Focusing on the details as we mold and shape our integrations and reactions will later free us to embark on the greater artistry and meaning of our daily working consciousness.
  • Vision and perception of our world is something that we unthinkingly take a critical part in. Think of this: how when we look at an object, how it appears to us depends not only on our physiological biology, but also on our physical relation, or placement, to that object! We are an active part of what we see, and we unknowingly influence our reality in vital ways! Likewise, then, what happens when we close our eyes in meditation? We are freed to ascertain our world in other ways. We are freed to clear our mind of visual distractions and simply feel… We are freed to feel the earth connecting to us with its energy, we are free to feel the wind on our skin, we are free to hear the soothing vibrations of peaceful sounds wafting over us…. We are freed to become detached and simply observe ourselves and our place in our environment.

These are only a few of my current musings! 🙂

Enjoy this short video of Noë speaking on this topic:

Identity

The stickiness of Attachments has, at its root, a lot to do with our perception of Personal Identity. We cling because we are afraid of losing that to which we cling– it tells us who we are and guides us in our daily decisions of response and reaction. And without it we fear utterly losing ourselves.

We forget, then, that this fear dwells in the Shadows of separation from the All. With this separation, this deficiency, comes struggle: within ourselves and with others and with nature. There is confusion, stress, and a constant push to maintain the illusion at all cost.

But, when we join the All-consciousness, and see ourselves instead as only a wave upon the cosmic ocean — rising up in a vague shape for an instant before blending again with the rest of the waters — we attain peace in letting our Ego-centric clinging go. We find that we are Everything and Everything is us. All of us.

Therefore, practically speaking, what harm is there in releasing the views, the sensual hits, the pride, the practices, the achievements that supposedly identify us? Of course we can still do these things we enjoy. But, if we are in Oneness and not Deficiency, we will not cling to them for dear life and judge others and their activities as different or beneath us, or see ourselves as any more or less than the entire universe.

This is embracing our Shadow, releasing the grip of the Ego, and rejoining the All. This is life and beauty to the fullest!

20130115-110416.jpg