I found myself traveling today along the rural back roads near my home, on my way back from visiting with my children, and I had the rare opportunity to enjoy a pleasant drive through brilliant sunshine and vibrant blue skies, surrounded by farmland and the exquisite greens of a late summer afternoon. My heart has been burdened lately with a host of concerns that have made settling down to write here on my blog a bit problematical, and today it finally seemed like the sun was poking through within me, just enough to gather a few words to share with all of you.
As I traversed the beautiful byways between where I was and where I was going, I decided to insert the soundtrack to the film, “Amadeus,” into the CD player, (yes…some of us still do that…) and the music brought me to a place that nearly always is provocative and contemplative simultaneously–the musical landscape created by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The traffic was light today, so driving down the road alone, taking in such spectacular visual delights as I listened, allowed my mind to wander a bit, and also to connect with the creative human spirit which was Mozart, opening my heart and mind to both the nature and the nurture possible in such circumstances.
The visit with my son included an opportunity to enjoy the play of light and the elements that make up the environment where he lives. Lounging in the old fashioned kitchen was the perfect prelude to the journey through the rural landscape, and before I headed out on the highway, I took a few minutes to capture several images of the magic light which always seems to illuminate the kitchens in our family.
As I turned out of the driveway, I slipped in the Mozart CD and was surprised by the power of the music to fill in the gaps of the silence within me; it seemed to accompany the passing sights perfectly, particularly two choral renditions, one from his opera, “Don Giovanni,” and the Requiem, K626. The performances were nearly hypnotic in their effect, and I thought it a bit synchronous for the music which was created so many years ago, (Mozart lived from 1756 to 1791) to be able to match perfectly this 21st century road trip.
My inner landscape also seemed to match the outer one as the excursion progressed, and I briefly felt completely one with all the elements of my experience, placing those concerns and delights into a temporary state of equilibrium. A recent conversation with a dear friend who encouraged me to continue with my work here, gave me just the push I needed to find a moment to bring it all together and share it with all of you.
The challenges are great for me at present, but I have been journaling and recording ideas for expanding my mission and my vision, even though none of it, so far, has made an appearance here. As I contemplated what I might write about this particular day, it occurred to me that having to endure situations like mine is one of the reasons God sent us Mozart. He was like a brilliant shooting star across the skies of life in the 1700’s, but his music and his genius have endured across the centuries to fill in the gaps of our inner silence, even today…
…more to come…
I can feel you. I know you are there. I want you to be there. I think that’s the reason it keeps happening. At some point, we both reflect on those moments, and it brings us somehow together. Your face said everything. Just for a moment, it all came rushing back to you–all those moments–they all passed through your mind’s eye. Your body posture changed immediately. You opened to me. I wanted to run right at you and hold you close, but the moment was gone and you–you were brought back to the temporal–you were brought back to the moment in time and space, but before you turned and remembered where you were temporally, I had you completely–I had you completely–and I wanted you completely. For just a few seconds, everything stopped, and that place that only we inhabit burst open. Your face softened. Your shoulders relaxed. It was relief–you were relieved–just for that moment. I played right along in the temporal. I allowed a suspension of my inclinations and yours. Twice during the conversation in time and space, we leaned into each other. Your face immediately softened. You were close enough to hear my heartbeat.
After a few seconds you snapped out of it and returned to the space and time of the temporal world, and once more, I extended my hand. You came immediately in and again your face softened and you smiled. It was like you were looking right through me. It would have been a completely different experience had it been under different circumstances. I imagined how it might have gone, had we been alone. I would have pulled you in, surrounded you with my arms. My heart was flung open only for a few seconds, but if the circumstances were different, I would have opened up all the way.
I wouldn’t let you go. I’m so much taller, I always seem to be looking down at you, but your face, when it looks up to me, makes it feel like we’re the same height. Height becomes irrelevant. I know I would have put my hands on your face, and I believe your face would be grinning broadly. I would hesitate for just a second or two, and I would say, “I love you,” and I would kiss you deeply–passionately. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself. It wouldn’t have to be anymore. It would be alright. We’d be fine. I would look deeply in your eyes; I would sigh; I’d probably be giggling–a nervous laughter. I wouldn’t want you to be upset. I would want you to giggle too.
Even if it never happened again, I would know that moment and I would create a point of worship. I’d worship that moment–cling to it–always. So many times when you have been in my arms, and our faces have been very close, I have wanted to kiss you, but it was almost unnecessary because it seemed that your face registered my desire–you knew that I wanted to kiss you, and you smiled.
There must be a chance, even if its only once, to relive this imagining, to manifest it in the physical world, but even if it never happens it’s really already happened dozens of times, and each time you smiled, knowing. I don’t understand, but I accept–I accept you, just as you are. You see, the person to whom that face belongs–I love that person; the person who inhabits that body–I love that person; the soul that manifests as that person–I am one with that soul. We will never be apart–ever. We are forever one.
“Spring Landscape,” by Achille Laugé (French, 1861–1944). Laugé was a Neo-Impressionist painter born in Arzens. Laugé never followed his teachers’ methods and advice, and his work was considered radical for its time. Influenced by French Neo-Impressionist painters Georges Seurat (1859–1891), Paul Signac (1863–1935), and Camille Pissarro (1831–1903), Laugé adopted elements of their style without aligning himself with Seurat’s strict and scientific method.–Wikipedia
Speaking of Spring, I took the opportunity a few weeks ago to photograph the signs of Spring right in my own yard around the house, and as it turned out, it would be the last sunny day for a while. I was cautiously optimistic on this sunny afternoon and captured some of the essential sights that I see each year about this time.
Right after I captured these images, we began to endure one of the longest runs of continuously rainy days in recent memory these past two weeks, and it reminded me of a passage from Hemingway:
“Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life…You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.
In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.”
― Ernest Hemingway, passage from “A Moveable Feast.”
After the terrorist incident in Paris in November of last year, “A Moveable Feast” became a bestseller in France. According to a CNN report by Watson, Ivan, and Sandrine in November 2015 called “Sales Surge for Hemingway’s Paris memoir, “the book’s French-language title, “Paris est une fête,”…was a potent symbol of defiance and celebration. Bookstore sales of the volume surged, and copies of the book became a common fixture among the flowers and candles in makeshift memorials created by Parisians across the city to honor victims of the attacks.”
First page of a miniature of Cicero’s “De Oratore,” 15th century, Northern Italy, now at the British Museum
“Historia magistra vitae est,” is a Latin expression, taken from Cicero’s “De Oratore” which translates to “History is life’s teacher.” According to Wikipedia, “…The phrase conveys the idea that the study of the past should serve as a lesson to the future.” Cicero writes eloquently in “De Oratore,” about how “…An orator is very much like the poet. The poet is more encumbered by rhythm than the orator, but richer in word choice and similar in ornamentation.”
This relentless run of rain and overcast skies has had the beneficial affect of keeping me indoors to read and contemplate my thoughts in a way that I don’t usually get the opportunity to do when the weather is better, and the following quote from Cicero’s work struck me as I reviewed it the other day:
“Nevertheless, since philosophy is divided into three branches, which respectively deal with the mysteries of nature, with the subtleties of dialectic (inquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions), and with human life and conduct, let us quit claim to the first two, by way of concession to our indolence (laziness), but unless we keep our hold on the third, which has ever been the orator’s province, we shall leave the orator no sphere wherein to attain greatness. For which reason this division of philosophy, concerned with human life and manners, must all of it be mastered by the orator; as for the other matters, even though he has not studied them, he will still be able, whenever the necessity arises, to beautify them by his eloquence, if only they are brought to his notice and described to him.”
It has occurred to me that my poetry, my sense of history, and my earnest deliberations in studying the philosophical aspects of our human subjective awareness have all been in the service of the mysteries of nature, the subtleties of dialectic, and with human life and conduct, and although I don’t feel particularly “encumbered by rhythm,” a recent poem erupted from me that seems to address these mysteries in the way that Cicero suggested is often produced as “necessity arises.”
Every nuance of the life within me
Yields to the power of the
Divinity within this sacred place
We are building together.
Across the eons of time,
Through centuries of human presence on Earth,
The world within has blossomed and flourished,
While the life of the body without
Struggles to continue.
Nature reveals itself only slowly
To the spirit, like a flower
That opens at twilight.
Abiding with you in the deepest
Union of souls of my short life,
The goddess breathes life into our
Sensual union and intensive mingling
Of spirit and intimate places.
Sitting at length within her grasp,
I submit willingly to the opening
Of my soul by her gentle hand.
My tortured heart cries out silently–
While the spirit mends.
© May 2016 by JJHIII24
In my previous post, I wrote about author Richard Brautigan, whose success in the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s brought him great notoriety and financial rewards for a time. His tendency to engage in a variety of self-destructive behaviors, and a degree of recklessness in attending to his own well-being, over time, ultimately led to his gradual decline into near obscurity, and to tragically choosing to end his own life at age 49. While my life has been much different in a number of ways, the lessons contained in his all-too-brief life, as well as in the lives of others with similar outcomes, have challenged and complicated my own journey in ways that have forced me to re-examine my path–to stop here at the crossroads–and to take a long, deep, breath.
Naturally, I have all the usual concerns about the future and planning for retirement that most people do. All of my children are grown and have started having their own children, but the opportunities presented by an “empty nest,” have actually unsettled me a bit. For a handful of years now I have been attempting to formalize my research and writing into a more coherent stream in this blog, and it has been both illuminating and challenging to direct and sustain my energies in the process. It seems that I am quickly approaching a point where I must consider my choice of direction for the time I have left to act in this life. Looking ahead and looking back, as well as looking at the divergent roads that may lead in one direction or another can be daunting, especially when measured against the responsibilities and demands of sustaining oneself in the 21st century. The crossroads can represent an approach to the culmination of everything that came before reaching them, but it can also bring to bear the memories of all the uncertainty and mystery that one had to face in order to arrive there in the first place. As always, not all choices are equally viable, but now there is far less time to redirect them, should it become clear that alternative choices may have provided an opportunity for a better outcome.
Throughout most of my life, trying to discern in which direction I should turn when I’ve arrived at crossroads has always been a bit problematical, but these days it seems heavy-laden with considerations that reflect the uncertainty and mystery even more than before, as well as a heightened awareness of them, brought about by a number of harsh life lessons in recent years. A post by a fellow blogger and creative writer, David Cain, speaks to the central dilemma:
“I will never see the world quite like anyone else, which means I will never live in quite the same world as anyone else — and therefore I mustn’t let outside observers be the authority on who I am or what life is really like for me. Subjectivity is primary experience — it is real life, and objectivity is something each of us builds on top of it in our minds, privately, in order to explain it all. This truth has world-shattering implications for the roles of religion and science in the lives of those who grasp it.”
Clearly, I have been in the torrent of the world this past month. October managed to escape me with my attention focused elsewhere, even though I have been struggling to hobble together an important blog post which I hope to be posting this week. The quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is actually from a play he completed in 1790 after a trip through Italy entitled, “Torquato Tasso.” I was able to locate an English translation from the original German by Charles Des Voeux which is available online thanks to the Harvard College Library Dexter Fund. In that play, the character Leonora reassures Alphonso:
“A talent doth in stillness form itself–A character on life’s unquiet stream.”
I have been swimming in “life’s unquiet stream,” and in moments of stillness, perhaps I have been developing a degree of character in the process. One can only hope! I also revisited a musical recording from my youthful days in the military by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer:
I carry the dust of a journey
that cannot be shaken away
It lives deep within me
For I breathe it every day.
You and I are yesterday’s answers;
The earth of the past came to flesh,
Eroded by Time’s rivers
To the shapes we now possess.
Come share of my breath and my substance,
and mingle our stream and our times.
In bright, infinite moments,
Our reasons are lost in our eyes.
–Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Pictures At An Exhibition Lyrics
Reviewing the events of my life these days, I’ve begun to see the role that the expectations of others has played in many of my choices. Beginning with my experiences in the formal education portion, not only was I constantly concerned about not meeting the expectations of my parents and teachers, but I often suffered the consequences when some performance I gave fell short of those expectations. All of my efforts were inevitably scrutinized to the point where it seemed I was only just barely surviving that scrutiny, until eventually it all came to a breaking point–a crossroad–when I turned in one particularly awful performance in my sophomore year at college, which resulted in re-directing my life away from the university for a time, and propelled me toward the events which took place in each of the far-flung locations I have been describing this past year as a young soldier, winding his way through the labyrinth of spiritual awakening.
There are challenges for me these days, but I have been seeking guidance and support and remain hopeful that November will be a first step in a positive direction. Thanks to all my readers and friends for your patience and comments!
“I can control my destiny, but not my fate. Destiny means there are opportunities to turn right or left, but fate is a one-way street. I believe we all have the choice as to whether we fulfill our destiny, but our fate is sealed.”–Paulo Coelho
“Strange things blow in through my window on the wings of the night wind and I don’t worry about my destiny.”–Carl Sandburg
“Destiny is something not be to desired and not to be avoided…a mystery not contrary to reason, for it implies that the world, and the course of human history, have meaning.”–Dag Hammarskjold
Sometimes, I worry about my destiny, as though I may be sitting on the sidelines and might somehow miss my opportunity to pursue it. Some might say if you just calmly accept your destiny it will come. I’m not entirely certain that I desire it, but sometimes, I can’t seem to push myself to the place where my destiny seems to be waiting. It’s not that I’m avoiding it necessarily, but I’m concerned that some crisis may precipitate it or that a crisis may result from going toward it. I can’t seem to clearly envision a future that will result in some equitable resolution of whatever destiny holds in that future. One of the main stumbling blocks for me is when I examine the lives of others whom I admire–authors, poets, philosophers, scientists–people who embraced their destiny and who suffered greatly as a result.
One example of such a life which brought this idea to the point for me was a recent reading of biographical research regarding author Richard Brautigan, who became internationally famous for his novels, poems, short stories, and nonfictional pieces written in the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s. In one account by Claude Hayward, an early printer of Richard’s poems who worked with him in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, he described him in this way:
“Richard was an imposing figure, tall in stature with long, straw-blond hair and a walrus mustache, and always dressed in that heavy range coat, and worn boots that had seen the prairies…Richard was an observer, an acute, bemused one with a keen eye for the absurd and the surreal.”
My recent investigation of his life in San Francisco and elsewhere brought out revelations that were quite surprising. His early success as a writer brought him international fame and, for a time, great fortune. He published his first truly successful novel, “Trout Fishing in America,” in 1967 and it became an instant sensation, selling over four million copies worldwide. He was a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone magazine, and along with his other poems and articles, brought him to the forefront of the writers of his day.
Unfortunately, along with his success came a number of difficult struggles in his personal life. He was married several times, and had a fair number of difficulties maintaining relationships with those who knew him well also. In a 1985 tribute to Brautigan by Lawrence Wright in Rolling Stone, Wright describes Brautigan’s harrowing descent into a host of personal problems that made it difficult for anyone to handle being around him:
“He had a difficult habit of testing his friends, but he was even more demanding of his lovers. He pushed them away, he was abominable, he wanted unconditional love and forgiveness. They put up with it, some of them, because he genuinely valued a woman’s intelligence. ‘That appealed to women,’ one of his girlfriends recalled. ‘It was a trade-off.’ It became a liability to be seen with Richard.”
He struggled for years with alcohol which eventually hampered his writing efforts, led to a lessening of his fame as an author, and contributed to his decline into near obscurity toward the end of his life. He continued to write up until his excesses and deeply personal challenges that he created, led him to take his own life in 1984 at age 49.
In a very strange and unusual coincidence, of which I only recently became aware, I happened to be in San Francisco in 1974 when Richard Brautigan actually lived there. Come to think of it, I could have easily passed him on the street without realizing it. I had been walking the streets of that great city many times, spending a fair amount of my spare time on weekends exploring and visiting many different parts of the city by the bay. In one of my earliest visits there, while casually walking along the streets I happened by a photography shop window with a sign that read, “Make a poster of yourself!” Posters were very popular in early seventies and I couldn’t resist the invitation to try it.
At the time, I was attending the Defense Language Institute, a federally funded language school in Monterey, so I had with me one of the current textbooks from the course, as well as a copy of a book by Brautigan called, “On Watermelon Sugar.” I was already well into the reading of it and wanted to continue reading it on my trip, so when I walked into the studio and spoke to the photographer, I expressed to him that I was at a truly pivotal moment in my life, and how I wanted the image to reflect just how important it was to me. I insisted on holding the two books since they were representative of where I was in a broad sense, both psychologically and geographically at that moment. Also at this time, like many of my fellow members of the U.S.military, I was a casual smoker, and as a young man I thought holding a cigarette would make me look “cool,” so I included that also. I sat for about a half dozen photos and then had to go away for about an hour or so while the processing took place. When I returned, I was handed six small prints of the images to look at and I selected the one that appears above.
As an impressionable young man of twenty-one years, Brautigan’s writings seemed to speak directly to my experiences and the chaos of my life as a soldier in training. Looking back at those times now, some forty plus years later, I have to admit that I never once thought of them in any other way than as simply a part of my experience, and only within the context of the actual events themselves. It was quite a surprise to discover, after all this time, that an author for whom I had great admiration, and whose work resonated so well with me in those days, was very likely somewhere nearby as I traveled the path of my own destiny.
Destiny, it seems, may lead us inexorably on a path to fulfillment of some purpose of which we may or may not be fully aware. It also may take all our strength to sustain ourselves along that path, but we all must discover that strength within us if we are to succeed.
Passion drives the winds of fate
To uncertain shores and fatal flaws;
True love brings us forward and home,
Into the gentle comfort of destiny’s flow.
–from my poem, “Uncharted Hearts,” 2014
As the morning light bestows its first sweet caress,
It stirs my waking dream to life,
Loosening the reluctant grasp of
Yesterday’s liquid night;
The stillness of the dark water,
In the wee hours before dawn,
Slowly yields to the tides within me.
They ripple gently in steady, rhythmic response,
As my heart reclaims its rightful place,
Among the hidden pillars of my spiritual center;
Tender thoughts of affection newly-born,
Cascade like a waterfall of epic delight,
Propagating along networks of neural pathways,
Bursting now with skittish ions,
Jumping to each new tendril that reaches out,
As they await the sparks
Of their measured and anticipated embrace,
With invisible and mysterious arms
Of infinite possibility.
How delicately we step into the light of each new day;
How faithfully we sow the seeds of our delight;
How often we strive to open our hearts and minds to its potential,
Only to discover the ever-changing distance,
From morning light to the next liquid night.
“The individual who is not anchored in God can offer no resistance on the strength of his own resources, to the physical and moral sway of the world. For this man needs the evidence of his own inner, transcendent experience…” –Carl Gustav Jung from one of his last major works, “The Undiscovered Self: Present and Future”
Those who have followed along with me here over the past few years know well that my writings often cross over a variety of boundaries between ideas, thoughts, feelings, and considerations of phenomena, all of which surround the central issue of the nature of human consciousness. While acknowledging the challenges represented in the many complexities of the subject, and striving always to illuminate them in as comprehensible a manner as I can, there are often times when even the most earnest and heartfelt intentions invariably result in the inclusion of my personal bias toward a spiritual or transcendent energy at the heart of it all. I do not shrink away from this acknowledgement, nor do I focus solely on this aspect of the subject to the exclusion of all the wonderfully illuminating science and scholarly treatments available in the general scientific, philosophical, psychological, and neuroscientific literature of the day. It has been my goal all along to present as broad a range of information and theory as I am able, in the interest of contributing in a positive way to the worldwide effort to explain and understand consciousness.
The image above is a starting place for anyone genuinely seeking a greater understanding of the nature of consciousness, and the idea of “namaste,” can initiate the conversation in a most helpful way for anyone who might need a place to begin a serious contemplation of their own inner experience. Nowhere else is the concept of a transcendent aspect to consciousness so vividly alive and accessible, especially to those unfamiliar with such ideas, than in the awareness of a place where all souls are recognized as being one. That place in you, your innermost self or soul, when it encounters the same in someone else, can be a profound recognition of an existence beyond temporal, subjective experience. In the weeks to come, I will begin in earnest, the introduction of my own expression and synthesis of years of contemplation and study, in the service of examining and discerning the true nature of human consciousness, as I have come to understand it.
In a previous post, I wrote about how scientists at the forefront of modern physics seem far more willing to tolerate ideas of unobservable phenomena, inaccessible dimensions, and multiple universes, than they are to even entertain the existence of a transcendent aspect to our experience of the world. And yet, my own experience of the world points to the very real possibility that many such non-physical layers exist. Philosophically speaking, what seems possible isn’t much to go on, and actual subjective confirmation of my personal intellectual and philosophical constructs is only truly subjectively available to me, but even the most extensive and illuminating progress in the scientific realm has clearly required venturing, at some point, into the infinite realm of possibility.
“We are led to Believe a lie when we see (with and) not Thro’ the eye, Which was Born in a Night to perish in a night, When the soul slept in beams of light.” — Auguries of Innocence, 1803, William Blake
There are various interpretations of the four words chosen for the title of this posting, and while I do not wish to suggest that my own interpretation might be more or less correct than those preferred by others, I felt that it was important to express my view of what these words imply for me, in order to understand better how I formulated my conclusions. There is plenty of room for a variety of ideas in the world, and my intention in presenting my view is explanatory, and not intended to limit what these terms might mean to others or imply generally.
“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.”–Victor Hugo, “Les Miserables, 1862
Throughout recorded human history, regardless of the region or culture or time-frame, the notion of the existence of a connection between the events in the physical universe to a source beyond or outside of our direct perception and full understanding has appeared in their various mythologies, and also informed, to some extent, the whole spectrum of religious rituals of the world. Ancient mythologies and the earliest primitive shamanistic cultures devised elaborate explanations for temporal events that were clearly beyond their abilities to comprehend or explain otherwise, but even in the 21st century, where sophisticated scientific instruments, space travel, and astonishing technologies have informed us in ways they could not have imagined, we still have a sense of something beyond it all; the notion of a connection to some intangible, inscrutable, and ineffable existence that is at the heart of life everywhere. Not everyone feels this way today, but one need only observe the numerous philosophical, psychological, spiritual, and existential musings available today in every corner of the world to see that this idea is still very much alive.
Even when we examine the ideas being investigated in the world of modern physics, we see evidence of a context, within which a non-materialist view of consciousness might be formed. Quantum theory, which posits among other ideas, that the very act of observing quantum events alters the outcome of those events, might be a vitally important aspect of comprehending them. Indeed, if consciousness is supported by activity on the subatomic level in the micro-tubules of our brain cells, as proposed by Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose, then the appearance of and access to consciousness in humans may be a fundamental consequence of quantum effects, supporting the idea that our intentions, and the subsequent manifestation of those intentions in our conscious acts, may indeed have their foundations in the non-material or “spiritual” realm. Where most of the trouble occurs is when we use the word “spiritual,” or “divine,” to describe these non-materialistic aspects of our existence as temporal beings. In a most profound way, the very intangibility of matter in this context, is the very underpinning of physical reality.
For me, the soul remains the absolute description of and reference to the transcendent aspect of our existence, and describes that aspect of our existence as best as we can as temporal beings.
According to the empirically-minded amongst us, now that we have finally progressed to the point where we can resolve many of the questions regarding how the Universe came about and to comprehend reasonably well the underlying principles of the physical laws which govern the universe we observe, whatever value the contemplation of other realms might have is interesting to discuss, but unlikely to yield much in the way of explanation of our fundamental character as cognitive, sentient creatures. Those whose emphasis is concentrated in the ineffable or spiritual realms tend to dismiss the idea that the scientific view could contain anything more than the physical facts unrelated to the transcendent. However, it seems likely to me, that a comprehensive theory of consciousness surely must include elements from both ends of the spectrum of ideas in this matter. Transcendence as a concept seems beyond empirical scrutiny, and the astonishingly complex workings of our cognitive capacities requires us to acknowledge that there is a fundamental connection to cognitive functioning with our experience of consciousness. That consciousness requires and utilizes a functional and timely integration of the various regions of the brain, providing a distinct and identifiable neural basis for its perception of the world is a fairly straightforward assumption that can be stated without much dispute generally.
However, No matter what arrangement of brain regions and neural networks result in the integration that causes particular conscious states to exist or to be perceived, and no matter what degree of neural functioning might be said to be the basis for gaining access to consciousness generally, all such states are accompanied by a subjective experience of that existence, and no explanation of a neural basis alone will be completely satisfactory in presenting a comprehensive theory that explains consciousness.
“Man has been robbed of transcendence by the short-sightedness of the super-intellectuals. Man’s task is to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious. The sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” — Carl G. Jung from his autobiography, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections.”
What I have often described as “the Human Spirit,” is, for me, the juxtaposition of the transcendent with the temporal, beautifully expressed in its manifestation as human consciousness. This distinguishes spirit from soul, inasmuch as the soul is what is being manifest through the human spirit, and the spirit is the expression of the soul in human experience. They are, at once, separate and inextricably linked. “Spirit” is an abstraction which alludes to the soul, but which is merely the focal point in the temporal world for the expression of the soul.
HEART AND MIND
“The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.”–Blaise Pascal, in Pensees, 1670
“Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”–Leonardo da Vinci, from his Notebooks, 1508
The simultaneous possession of the qualities of fragility and fortitude, perfectly represented by the human heart, has always seemed to me to be a metaphor for the body and soul of humanity. For centuries it was believed that the heart was our center of gravity; the location of our intelligence; the place where all our choices were made, hopes created, and emotions experienced. It was also the repository for all our negative feelings, and where bitterness and disappointments could be found. Modern science has, in a funny way, reaffirmed these ideas, since we know now that there is an absolute connection to our feelings and states of mind with the heart, and unfortunately, it is also where the consequences of modern stress are often manifested. The heart is not a logical organ, but it is also not where choices are made, where hopes are created, nor where emotions are experienced. That is what we now know all takes place in the mind, even though each of those experiences, as ever, are felt keenly in the heart.
For most of us, at one time or another, we find ourselves filled with mixed emotions and confusion, and during these times, we often scarcely know where to begin to sort out our lives in the middle of it all. As I ponder the questions that face me, I can’t help but recall moments of serenity in the now non-existent past; its fleeting moments, its ecstasy, its believability, its brevity, and above all, its qualitative difference from the present. My mind slips easily into memory, pensive recollection, representations and demonstrative echoes of an abstraction more real than the moments of realization which dart in and then out of my daily life. More often than not, it pleases me to remember the moments gone by, though I dare not deliberately dwell on them. It is often in retrospect that I see what is held from my eyes now.
What compels me now to express these thoughts? I believe the answer can be stated this way:
I am seeking peace. My heart and mind and spirit and soul are seeking something inwardly peaceful. Until I succeed, it is as though there was a haze hanging over me, obscuring my vision, but not entirely dulling my senses…
….more to come…