Thursday, December 13, 2018

Atomic Friend

Lately, I've been playing around with the fanciful idea of the "atomic friend." This is not about nuclear energy, it's about how we perceive the world. When we look across the table at somebody we're having dinner with, for example, we don't see that person or friend as photons cast in our direction — we see facial expressions. Likewise, we don't perceive sound vibrations, instead we're aware of words and tones of voice, which themselves are as full of meaning as facial expressions are full of meaning.
This view of the "atomic friend" is something we get from subatomic physics, our perception of ultimate reality below what we experience in daily life. It's sometimes referred to as reductionism — the idea that we can define things at a level and say, it's nothing but that, it's nothing but photons, it's nothing but sound vibrations. Yet that's not how we experience life. We experience it with meaning, and love.
The same reduction process happens very commonly in modern society, without the benefit of any knowledge of subatomic physics. We just have to look at the sophisticated games people play around money and power, for instance. Instead of appreciating a child's requirement for love, many people simply give the child toys and money as a substitute for love. They've reduced the relationship to a very quantifiable thing called money, saying "Well, I can't afford to really spend time with you" — that's a subconscious thought, of course — "I can't afford to really spend time with you, but I can give you money, because that's what I'm spending my time doing, and here's the money that expresses my love." Well, somehow the love gets lost in the experience. It's like reducing facial expressions to photons.
It's the same with manipulating people as pawns in power games, in order to aggrandize one's own self or ego. One can manipulate hundreds or thousands of people as an executive, without much concern at all for the feeling experience of the manipulations — like moving a factory from one part of the world to another without experiencing or even paying attention to those things, because we've reduced it to a game of money and power, saving money, or the wonderful joy of the power, being able to move all those materials and people from one place to another. Thes behaviors, I like to say, are truly unconscious.

Audio to text transcription, editing, and augmentation
by Peter Good. Cartoon by Terry Pettengill.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Beyond philosophy

A lover of wisdom may speak of wisdom all day long, yet not live that wisdom. Someone who possesses wisdom may say nothing wise at all. As a graduate student in philosophy, I became frustrated with philosophy itself. I saw academic philosophy as a craft without real answers to my deepest concerns. T. S. Elliot’s lines from “The Rock” moved my soul: 

The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost information?

Shortly afterwards, Chögyam Trungpa showed up as a classroom guest speaker. He wore a blazer and turtle neck shirt, holding a can of Coca-Cola in his hand – not my image of an Eastern guru or yogi. He spoke directly and spontaneously. It took many years to realize that his presence was the teaching more than his words. Now, I don’t remember the words, but the presence remains. I look, and feel, for that same presence in others and within myself. I stopped  philosophizing, and started to prepare for wisdom by meditating. That was the beginning of a very long journey.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Kiva Time

Terry Penttengill cartoon
Click image to enlarge.

It is our quiet time.
We do not speak
because the voices are within us.
It is our quiet time...
We do not walk
because the earth is all within us.
It is our quiet time.
We do not dance
because the music has lifted us to a place where the spirit is.
It is our quiet time.
We rest with all of nature,
we wake when the seven sisters wake.
We greet them in the sky
over the opening of the kiva.

- Kiva Time (from the Cliffdwellers)

Friday, November 23, 2018

Hippie Days

"That was a long time ago", Americ

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Eternal Life

"The eternal life is given to those who  
live in the present"  
~ Ludwig Wittenstein ~ 
(as quoted in Zen Calendar, April 10, 2011)  

Presence is eternal
There is only one present moment