Category Archives: perception

Subjective and Objective in the Search for Truth

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Is “truth” totally subjective?  The word “subjective” is often used as a way of dismissing an experience as not real or indicating it has no validity in the scientific sense.  And “science” (read objective, material, physical) is the implied contrasting view that, by comparison, invalidates the merely “subjective” perception.  But the conceptual-terminology-division of objective science on the one hand and subjective metaphysics on the other is fundamentally wrong. 

Consider the symbol of the hyphen.  The origin or root meaning of the word “hyphen” derives from a word meaning “one.”  It means, literally “one.”  This simple symbol provides a practical conceptual means of relating or unifying words, and by extension, their corresponding concepts.  It is a conceptual tool and reminder that we should question each dichotomy to see to what degree we are satisfied with a given intellectual division. 

In some metaphysical writings one comes across the concept of spirit-matter.  Spirit and matter are regarded, in a sense, as one “thing.”  (“Thing” is not quite the right word, but it will have to do.)  The idea is that spirit and matter are parts of a continuum.  So also such closely related concepts as physics-metaphysics, and subjective-objective.  This way of thinking suggests a method of reexamining words and concepts, and in this light, we may think that it is not correct to say that truth is “subjective.”  Also, it is not correct to say that truth is “objective.”   To separate things in such a simplistically binary way is unnatural because in nature and in our experiences we find gradations everywhere.  Such analysis reminds us, for instance, that what we regard as the most objective science is the product of a subjective entity, the human mind.
 
Likewise, it is not correct to say that truth is personal or impersonal. All such binary verbal-conceptual formulations always miss the mark to some degree.  When we submit to the divisions implicit in the many word dualities, we automatically set up false psychological and perceptual divisions that can mislead us.
 
We could say that truth is both objective and subjective, though this is also an approximation.  Or we could say that whatever is the next evolutionary step for us (or more broadly, for any entity), is our or their “truth.”  It is not that this is “subjective,” but rather that it is individual—a different thing. There is “relative” truth that’s defined by an individual’s current location in the scheme of things, yet all our individual or relative truths are surrounded, defined, and stand in relation to absolute truth.  Our little truths derive their relative light and merit from an absolute foundation. 

Childhood’s Moonlight

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When I was a young child, one morning well before the sunrise, we left on a camping trip. The sky was the dark-bright of a full Moon. The car sped along the highway and the cool wind whipped passed the open window with amazing freshness, the wind of childhood. I looked at the passing landscape of shadow-shapes, vague ghost trees, and an occasional house. There, far beyond the cool wind and ghosts was the large yellow Moon low on the horizon. It was then that I first really saw the Moon.

I have seen other moons since. Sometimes they bring an unexpected friend in the wake of their synchronicity. Sometimes they bring unusual thought, and sometimes a fire in head and a body electric. There are Moons of painful beauty that recall the visitations of childhood. They seem to open wide one of many hyperspace doors between worlds, where lights gleam from a current of numberless dimensions.

Sometimes a Moon passes by me unnoticed. I do not know one Moon from another but find them all benediction. So also I cannot name the stars or tell which is far or near. But I think, that in the far depths of space, there are many planets with Moons, and many children look to them.

Hyper-Space Flowers

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We might think of beauty, in the usual personality way, as a passive perception. But there is another sense of beauty, the spiritual sense, and this is beauty as an active and transformative power.

On a superficial or personality level we may have an emotional response to beauty. In this there is a sense of objective separation where we feel beauty is “out there” and that we are “in here” here looking out. Perhaps there is the sense that perception of beauty is merely a subjective projection or that light or sound has bounced from there to us and stirred some emotion in the brain.

But there is a deeper experience of beauty that is entrance into a world of pure meaning. We walk along a path find a flower. If we look and enjoy it in a personal way, in the usual way, that is fine, but from a spiritual standpoint our perception is without great significance. But now, look again; this flower is the crystallization of the spiritual, as we are, and as all things are. We need not await a prophet to receive the commandments–one small flower will bestow the necessary mandate. This is not “just a flower” before us. It is the life itself. This flower, were we to see it spiritually would change us. This flower is to us nothing less than a messenger of divinity and healer of world problems. To see it is to be seized by its fiery Beauty, to enter a higher world, to be given a command. The flower is our prophet where we become medium for its affirmation; we are then the flower expanded into new and unexpected spaces. It’s coloring radiates from us, expands through us to envelope the world.

The Veil Between Worlds

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Externally or physically, the things we know are those that reach the brain. And for most of us, there is a mechanism that keeps us largely focused on things physical, on experiences coming through the five senses. But the threads of our lives run deep into psychic and spiritual worlds, and there is a part of us with other senses, a higher or deeper part of which we, ensconced as we are in the physical brain, remain largely unconscious.

We live our life, so speak, in parallel worlds and in addition to our ordinary waking consciousness, have also a vast and mostly hidden life. It is a life of which we, in our physical brain consciousness, remain mostly ignorant. For most of us that is the design of nature and the way, for the time being, that it should be.

It is as if a one-way mirror stands between our ordinary consciousness and the heights and depths of our life in the psychic and spiritual worlds. Our brain lives on the reflective side of the mirror, and our higher self lives on the transparent side. Usually we are unconscious—at the brain level–of our larger identity and it’s life on the inner planes, and we do not realize to what extent we live this higher life, and do we realize that our “I” is but a small part of a larger deeper consciousness. At all times, the deeper part is an active participants in our life, but while the material world engages most of our attention, our brain registers little of this deeper nature. Most of what we are in our higher nature is hidden behind the one-way mirror so that when we look inward we see only the usual physical and emotional awareness. But there is another part of us that lives on the far side of the mirror, and in that space sees not only down toward physical personality, but outward to the psychic worlds and up to the world of spiritual.

Each of us is structured differently according to our needs and karmic conditions, so not all mirrors are the same. And the matter-energy barrier, of which our “mirror” is symbolic, is not a static veil but a dynamic one, being part of the living etheric-biological structure of our bodies. And sometimes, our mirror, or part of it, becomes more like translucent glass or a transparent window. Then for a time the mirror may no longer act as a barrier between worlds, so that we register part of our inner life in the brain. Then, to some degree, we experience “continuity of consciousness” where our brain registers not only the usual physical existence, but also aspects of spiritual or psychic life.

Brief or tenuous connection between worlds can be disorienting and radical thinning of the veil can be especially difficult, for most of us have trouble enough with the problems of a single level. There are many cautionary stories about magicians who evoke energies they are not yet ready to handle, a theme applicable to meditation practices. There are natural and forced developments that thin the veil between worlds, of which meditation is often cited. There are dangers associated with the premature development of anything, and this is especially true of psychic and spiritual experiences. If a strong energy is poured suddenly, prematurely, and persistently into an unready personality, then we may have a rending of the veil between worlds, with chaotic or pathological effects.

Awakening energies often proves confusing, and in seeking to understand them, a meditator may adopt one of the many schools of metaphysics or seek some teacher or guru to guide them. Unfortunately, the current wave of humanity hasn’t produced many spiritual midwifes who have the knowledge to lead people through such an energy crisis. Nor has it produced large numbers of sane, balanced and healthy souls who are ready for the difficulties of sudden awakenings. Instead, we have many half-right teachers in the world, and sad to say, some will make matters worse rather than better. In some cases crisis is actually precipitated in the first place by dangerous meditation practices taught by a pseudo-guru or drawn from a metaphysical book.

Gopi Krishna, in his book “Kundalini, The Evolutionary Energy in Man.” aptly describes the state of the world in this respect. He writes:

“I consulted other holy men and sought for guidance from many reputed quarters without coming across a single individual who could boldly assert that he actually possessed intimate personal knowledge of the condition and could con­fidently answer my questions. Those who talked with dignified reserve, looking very wise and deep, ultimately turned out to be as wanting in accurate information about the mysterious power rampant in me as those of a more unassuming nature who un­bosomed themselves completely on the very first occasion without in the least pretending to know any more than they really did. And thus in the great country which had given birth to the lofty science of Kundalini thousands of years ago and whose very soil is permeated with its fragrance and whose rich religious lore is full of references to it from cover to cover, I found no one able to help me.”

 

Art by ihave3kids (modified)

Beauty as Transformative Power

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“I was lifted high,
In sun-bright healing winds—desiring now
A greater beauty…”

— Marion Wentworth

Usually, people think of beauty as something perceived, something we subjectively attribute to an object or a person. But I find the spiritual meaning of beauty is different. Spiritual beauty is not a passive perception but an active and transformative power. It is the energy of the intuitional world. We commune with such beauty, we enter into it and it enters into us. It is unity and Fire. It is “the world of pure meaning.” This beauty is not our personal response to an object in the world. Rather, beauty is itself a multidimensional world of rainbow archetypes.

In the archetypal world the divine mosaic shines in beauty. We encounter considerable fidelity problems in translating this world of pure meaning into its best correspondences in thought and words. It is a valiant effort, yet the lesser cannot fully include the greater. Still we try to mirror it. Fortunately, the mental mirror is itself in long-term evolutionary motion.

“…beyond the Beauty that is predicated of various forms and relationships, there is a pure Transcendent Beauty, and this is a mode of the very Being of the SELF. This Beauty is not something that is beautiful. It is Self-existent and casts its luster upon all things… Ecstasy is pure Beauty, as well as pure Joy and Knowledge.”

Pathways Through to Space, Franklin Merrell-Wolff