Sunday, February 03, 2019


Our knowledge of existence now exceeds our understanding so completely that it has escaped knowledge as we have known it.  This has started a massive sea change in our thinking that is far beyond arguing about the concepts of ancient mono-theism and instead turning to our ways of thinking, our methods.  The Enlightenment scientific method and its ancestor, the logical reasoning of the Greeks and Romans, have been exceeded.  We now look for other methods and sources of thought, not to deny what we have done but to add neglected methods like "feeling."  More than the brain is a source of thought.

And again we have exceeded what we know already in multiple ways as we access a vast source of understanding and guidance.  What is called "deep time" and "thick history" have presented us with so many new and sometimes contradictory ideas that coordinating and reconciling them will take more than decades.  What do we know from discovering the magnetic orientation of the isotopes of ancient rocks?  What does it mean that the ocean itself is full of floating bits of DNA?  The ideas are inconceivable, literally, because the concepts haven't been formed yet, much less named.

Religion had settled into something like spiritual nations, bureacracies with boundaries and names -- sometimes in alliance with political nations.  Focussed on moralities and proprieties of the past, it struggles with effective contraception, sexual binaries becoming continuums, demographic changes, the distribution of wealth, and the impact of the internet.  Sometimes we all feel like that tribe on an untouched island who meets investigators with a storm of arrows.

This manuscript copes by focussing closely on thought about Mircea Eliade's distinction between the sacred and the profane.  It has little to do with the idea of secularity, which is about rules and oversight.  Rather it is about sensitivity to certain places and times that are "valorized", to use his word.  A new cross-disciplinary field has opened up, sometimes called "embodied cognition", that suggests new approaches.  

In the most concentrated and memorable form, we might call this whole-person knowledge an "epiphany."  Originally referring to Jesus appearing after death as the risen Christ and sometimes to the day of his baptism on January 6, today "epiphany" carries a range of meanings, including "an intuitive grasp of reality," "an illuminating discovery, realization, disclosure, or insight," or simply "a revealing scene or moment." One writer suggests, "My definition of an epiphany is 'a moment of sudden or great revelation that usually changes you in some way.'"  

The experience is so intensely vivid that people say it is supernatural, not of this world.  At least not in their experience.  Not everyone has an epiphany.  Some feel it is uncontrollable, but many rituals are meant to call this experience.  Others conflate it with "theophany", associating it with a "god."  A sort of spiritual orgasm.

Most of the content of human "feeling" is subconscious, down where it keeps the heart beating, the lungs inflating, the organs doing their work.  A small proportion is conscious and deliberate, the thinking we do at work, in school, with family, and with the help of memory.  We think of ourselves as limited by the boundary of our skin except for the air exchange and the world that passes through our insides as food.  In fact, both philosophically and biologically we are in constant contact with other humans and with the rest of the world.  More than contact -- interpenetration.

Our five sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin) are backed up by primordial senses in single cells, some in the brain and some elsewhere.  Among them are the ability to echo the thoughts of others -- not just to have a sense of what they're going to do next -- but an actual faint co-experiencing with their muscles and emotions.  This has been our growing evolutionary edge and promises to continue in that role.  Again, much of it is unconscious.

One of the great puzzles affecting spiritual practise has been how the conscious mind, so preoccupied with the daily, can affect the mysterious but powerful unconscious mind.  Also, which is the best way of the many enduring pattern metaphors -- sometimes invaded by fathers and turtles -- can be an overarching inclusion to reassure us when we discover yet another shocking revelation of research.  On what can we depend?

Today for me Sam Vaknin went down in flames like the Hindenburg crashing.  Interviewed on "Intellectual Explorers Club", he cheerfully and accurately described himself as an elitist -- even going so far as to say fascist.  His example of a person who didn't deserve to live was a "gardener with an IQ of 70."  (This is his equivalent to the nude 400 lb, hacker sitting on the foot of a bed in a low rent motel our president sees in his nightmares.)

A gardener was a bad choice of Vaknin's.  Of all the things people enjoy, gardening is one so easily and gratefully shared, so full of all-body intelligences, that it cannot be defined by a bogus arbitrary IQ,  Vaknin reveals that he is only an elite in his own self-defined world of physics, math and "cold" therapy.  The old-time Indians would describe him as "pretty proud of himself", a quality they did not consider elite.

A person who does not realize he or she is elite only among those of specific qualities and beliefs is not very smart.  Vaknin himself says that an elitist narcissist without compassion is malevolent and possibly a psychopath.  So many of the people I have respected and loved have simply not survived this changing world with my opinion undamaged.

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