“Life is flamboyantly mysterious”

Adebayo C. Akomolafe says:

Life is flamboyantly mysterious – and so awesomely so that we numb ourselves to its outrageous intensity in order to survive. We occupy, and are occupied by, a multidimensional ecology of being – a wildness of potential so effusive that to speak with any sort of certainty about anything is in fact to be rude. Not even the most sophisticated claim to Truth will suffice – for truth itself is not enough; not even the most elaborately articulated vision will stand sure, for no perspective is wide enough, deep enough or colourful enough to embrace its deepest contradictions. We open ourselves to more of the magic around us when we treat others and the world around us (and in us) with the strangeness they deserve – for nothing is what it supposedly is. In a way, our world is estranged to its remarkable strangeness and beauty, scared away from its own power, and designed to silence other ways of knowing – the very soft feminine, intuitive, nonlinear, magical, carnal, participatory, relational ways of being alive. I urge you to crank up your shamanic prowess, break through your cognitive cubicles, and learn anew how beautiful your world can be. You don’t necessarily need psychedelic technologies or the thrill of travel to experience magic. Look closely at small things and realize how worlds inhabit our world – and how wonderful this is. Deep your feet into the soulful music of lazy bath water; eat a meal away from the haunting tyranny of the wall-clock; or, if your skies are privileged to host the labored movements of wildly pregnant clouds, run with feet unshod outside the sultry airs of your house and be the first to taste the magical raindrops of ancient lore. Dare to procrastinate. Insist on heading out into the dark. Nothing could be more subversive than playfully ‘feeling’ in a world contrived to banish the chaotic mystical beauty of our very musical realities. Feel today.

Adebayo works at The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations … very interesting posts daily. Gorgeous language, expansive content. Check him out.



So here’s the thing.

We are not really separate beings; we just think we are. We think we are separate because we can’t see the connections, and because there’s so much noise in our brains, we can’t feel them either.

Humans originally knew intuitively that we are part of the world – read Vine Deloria’s God is Red for a modern understanding of that – but then language and math, symbolic culture in general, science, and religion gradually convinced us that we are separate

Here’s some astounding rumination:

“I think the discovery of nonlocality is touching in on the whole. So that these seemingly separate events are somehow connected through the whole. … you have this larger enveloping field and we’re, you know, just beginning to understand something about that… so I love that discovery although I don’t think we’re anywhere near really knowing what we’ve come upon. —Brian Swimme

“nonlocality: In physics, nonlocality or action at a distance is the direct interaction of two objects that are separated in space with no intermediate agency or mechanism. Regarding the unexplained nature of gravity, Isaac Newton (1642-1727) considered action-at-a-distance “so great an Absurdity that I believe no Man who has in philosophical Matters a competent Faculty of thinking can ever fall into it”. Quantum nonlocality refers to what Einstein called the “spooky action at a distance” of quantum entanglement.”
—- These are both from Wiki.

I.E.: particles that are vastly separated by distance will exhibit the same response at exactly the same time. With nothing we know of connecting them!  And we have no idea how or why this happens. But it’s been known for some time now…. over 50 years and no answers coming from the scientists to explain this anomaly, this thing that doesn’t fit with the rest of the theories. Like much of quantum mechanics, it essentially says all that Newtonian science is just wrong. At least at the quantum level, which is where everything starts…

The significance being: though we are still stuck with ideas from old science ( things in the world are discrete, separate) the new science – well, data – agrees with the pre-scientific notion that everything is CONNECTED! “…this larger enveloping field…” Indeed!

We started out, we humans, knowing our place in the world, understanding ourselves as part of the natural order. We knew that everything was divine, worthy of respect and honor, as it was all part of this whole.

But the process of seeing ourselves as separate began long ago, embedded in the process of evolution and development of consciousness, and as symbolic culture came along it exploded those old understandings. Then, with Galileo and later Descartes, this separation became the intellectual context of our lives. Even in religion, the divine was separated from us, from the world of nature. God lives in heaven, not in things.

Those who oppose science and cling to religion are really reacting to this false notion of separation, and what they’re really seeking is return to that understanding of connection, of the essential unity of existence.

The challenge for moving into a new world, a new consciousness, is to find a path to return to understanding of our unity without abandoning the knowledge that science has brought us, the practical knowledge of how things work in the physical world.

Those of us who have come to understand our true nature as part of the natural continuum rather than as a separate, discrete self must help in this process. And part of that is helping people to have a direct experience of this truth. Face it, no one will change because of what you and I say.

There are, I suppose, a number of ways one can come to have some experience of this new consciousness, this seeing thru the illusion that we exist separately. For me, meditation has been the primary vehicle, but it seems to me – and I am just beginning to intuit the outlines of this part – that it is highly important what the context of one’s meditational experiences are. Not just the external context, but the emotional and intellectual context… having taken acid may help! Seriously, anything – skydiving for example – that shakes up one’s conditioned grasp on consensus reality is probably helpful to bring with you into meditation. Lots of experience in the natural world is an important aspect of it, I think.

I’m hoping to bring more thought to bear on this as I dig into the whole thing…

Solutions that work for everyone

In July I posted a link and a few paragraphs from a BPF article on the trend to McMindfullness, with the following paragraph:

Bhikkhu Bodhi, an outspoken western Buddhist monk, has warned: “absent a sharp social critique, Buddhist practices could easily be used to justify and stabilize the status quo, becoming a reinforcement of consumer capitalism.” Unfortunately, a more ethical and socially responsible view of mindfulness is now seen by many practitioners as a tangential concern, or as an unnecessary politicizing of one’s personal journey of self-transformation.

Since then I’ve discovered Charles Eisenstein, or at least begun reading deeply into his thought, and seems he presents a wonderful example of someone who sees a way forward for society as a whole to embrace mindfulness, or at least the insights that come from it, in a way that incorporates  both a sharp social critique and an ethical, socially responsible view.

His philosophical insights are rather complex and difficult, at least for me at this point, to reduce to a few paragraphs, and trying to do so seems to risk putting people off by creating the impression that his comments are facile and overly ambitious.

Rather than try to digest his thoughts as I understand them so far, I’ll just say here that he (and his ideas) seem to embody the Buddha’s teachings – apparently without claiming to be a Buddhist – better than any American with equally high profile credentials and visibility that I’ve come across. He offers his writings on a gift, or donation, basis so you can go to his website and read the full text of his books (at least the latest one) and decide what you think of it. Then there’s the opportunity to download it or order a print version, again, paying whatever you feel led to contribute.

I’m really just beginning to get into his thought deeply, and am finding it very helpful in bringing me back into a positive view of my meditation practice.

I have long been convinced that ‘there are no individual solutions’ (a loose quote from Peter Marin) to our world’s problems. One of the issues that keeps coming up for me is that at times it seems my spiritual practice is just one of those solutions that blisses me out and doesn’t really contribute to the overall betterment. Just a process, as Trungpa says in Spiritual Materialism, of collecting nice spiritual practices, feeling good about myself for having all these lovely collected practices on my mantle, but not truly a liberating practice that is taking me on the bodhisattva path.

So I have been happy to find, in Eisenstein’s writings, some confirmation that what I’m about is not so far from all that. I guess what is most interesting is that from his very different perspective, that of a scientific philosophical analysis of the whole of life’s evolution, it is the misunderstanding of self, the reification of this illusion we call the self, that is at the heart of our social malaise.

Of course, in Buddhist teachings, this ignorance of the true, impermanent, empty nature of self – and the craving to make that self real – is what causes our suffering.

I’ve been struggling to articulate all this for a while now, and tho I’m still not there, I’m getting a better idea of what it is that’s driven me into this state of disillusionment and doubt, and getting better at seeing how and why what he says is beginning to make me feel better about things.

The best I can do at this point to articulate that is to say that it is clarifying to see that our personal, my personal, suffering has the same root cause as the suffering and degrading of humanity at the social level.

I am working on a better understanding and better explanation of all this… and I’m working on doing better in my meditation practice!