Category Archives: thinking

A Reflection on Acceptance, Rejection, and the Wisdom of Human Decisions

 

Degrees of Truth

It is a widespread mistake to think, view, and react to people as if they are either all bad or all good, angel or demons. This is not how the world is built. Everywhere in nature and in human nature we find many degrees of characteristics, countless shades of gray, numerous degrees of light and shadow. People are mixtures of true and half-true, of half-true and 22% true, blends of partly good and partly not.

And so I announce a revelation, a scientific truth: the reality of RELATIVITY. Various degrees of good are in the mind, in the emotions, and in the of illumination of the soul. Everywhere are degrees of love and degrees of righteous, degrees of truth, characters of many qualities and shades.

The bane of right thinking is the foolish binary rooted in the lower emotions; it drowns the mind. The lower emotions can not see the good in the people it has named bad, nor can it see the bad in the people it has named good. What is this folly of radical and uncompromising idealism that leads us to react as if people are black and white, as if they are always angel or demons, friends or enemies. I suggests that outright angels and demons are exceedingly rare, and rare is the entity deserving such a radical name. But the prejudice for angels or demons is exceedingly common. The lower human emotion sees the world in black and white, and sees armies of angels and demons. We make our heroes the angels and we people the world with demons who oppose them. But this opposition is within ourselves, within our limitations and our unthinking emotional reactive natures.

I offer a cure and a step toward sanity. Instead of emotional reactiveness and knee jerk reactions, there is another way. It is right thought and the clarification of perception that follows it. It comes with the help of the new scientific revelation: RELATIVITY. The lower emotions are unable to comprehend and apply relativity. The mind however understands relativity, lives by it, and thinks in degrees and not in simplistic binary of good and bad, of blacks and whites. Let our lower emotions be still. In this stillness the mind can function. Then we being to see the amazing continuum that is life and people; then we begin to think.

Thoughts on Relativity and Paradox

image

Relativity is key to right understanding. Things are not true and false: things are–to some degree–true and false.

Every verbal formula is limited, being some distance from the light.

Recognition of paradox is key to right understanding. Everything expressed in words challenges the mind to understand a paradox.

Understanding does not make its home on the astral plane where relativity and paradox are virtually unknown.

We could say that people who do not comprehend relativity and paradox are fanatics. But that formula does not correspond well with the above affirmations.

Therefore, it is better to say that, to the degree that people do not understand relativity and paradox–to that degree–they tend to be fanatics, or at least relatively mistaken.

Cults

image

Definition of a Cult

Originally, the word “cult” suggested worship and was not pejorative.  In modern usage the word took on negative connotations.  The critical meaning of cult is, I believe, in part the result of the mental development of humanity, where the mind begins to see devotion in its glamorous or illusory expression.  Humanity turns toward the external, complicating the problem.   We humans, in this devotional cycle, become hero worshipers and sadly, often in the sense of idol worship. 

The pure devotion of the soul descends into the personality, becoming superficially ritualistic, superstitious, exaggerated, and exclusive–in other words, we become false and cultish.  Even the word “cult” itself is used in a cultish way, e.g. a cult is what we call the religious brainwashing down the street from where we receive our own religious brainwashing.  “Wash” is the apt term, because water is the symbol of emotionalism. 

Group-think is strong.  Reflecting on the list of attributes of cults, one might ask, “Are not most religions and new age movements cults?”  Have we not all struggled through life under the binding spell of one cult or another?”   We can look at this question in the light of useful concept:  degrees.  Applying it, we see there are not two categories:  “cult” and “not a cult.”  Rather we find that a great deal of human activity, particularly in the religious, metaphysical, and political fields, is cultish to some degree.  And the presence, to some degree, of one or a few cult-like attributes–and especially the less crucial ones–would not be justification for the strong label of “cult.”  As an exercise in critical thought, we could rate a given movement, assessing the prominence of each cultish tendency, on a ten-point scale.  

The Size and Age of Cults

Some definitions of “cult” relate the word to small groups, but it is not the smallness of the group that is determinative, but smallness of mind.  There is tendency to think of cults as relatively small groups or minor swirls of activity within human society but sometimes small groups can be closer to the truth than large ones.  So size is not always relevant to cult status–there are large and small cults, and very new and very ancient ones.   Society may perceive a cult as something always outside normal or established human society, but large and long established cults also exist as an accepted part of society, even while not recognized as such by most people.  Actually, numerous large cults are imbedded in the fabric of accepted society.  Some of these have benevolent and attractive aspects, but careful thought shows how the dark threads of cult consciousness are woven in with the brighter threads of high ideals and humanitarian endeavor. 

Assessing Gold and Fool’s Gold

There are individuals beyond us in the scale of development and insight.  There are always those to whom we can look for inspiration and those to whom we can offer our help, however large or small that gift may be.  But we should not try to shift responsibility for the course of our lives to a group or a leader.  We should not—to put it in psychological terms–expect a leader or group to take the place of the ideal parent or family that we never knew, while we assume the role of a dependent child.  There is nothing inherently wrong with the fact that we are at a relatively undeveloped state compared to some ahead of us on the path of life.  The problem arises when psychological immaturity, left over from an unfortunate early life, leads us to surrender ourselves to an individual or group, instead of using relationships as the catalysis for the evolution of thought, love, and divinity within us. 

A pseudo-teacher engages in a conscious or unconscious game of power, and is dependent on the weakness and worshipful attitude of followers.  That which is often most attractive to members of a group, a charismatic leader, tends often to encourage unhealthy dependency and hero-worship.  The development differential between a teacher and ourselves is an opportunity for an apprentice/master relation, and not an occasion for uncritical submission to authority.  Moreover, the Teacher and the Teaching are always as much within as outside us.  And it follows that without the inner teaching, the external is rendered a meaningless illusion.  It follows also that a good teacher is one who encourages competence and independence in us, so reducing the distance between pupil and teacher.  Such a relationship is the antithesis of cultism. 

Stop Words

image

In thought and communication we have a tendency to use what may be called “stop words.” For example, we may say, “God is Love,” or “Life is about awakening to truth,” or “Life is initiation into X.” The last word in such sentences is often, as we typically use it, a stop word.

Words and thoughts are intimately intertwined, often becoming for us as if one thing. The sentences, the set formulas we arrive at, often have a kind of finality to them. We make our formula with a neat ending point, a point that may easily stand as headstone marking the death of our free and open thought. We do a mental word-magic that gives us the sense that we understanding something, and perhaps sometimes we do. Yet the vast realities of life are far beyond our simple formulas and we may fail to appreciate the limited experiences of life that have given birth to our thoughts and words.

Today, I overheard someone say, “I know God is Love, but what does that mean?” This simple question is an achievement of considerable magnitude. Often, we fail to question meaning, and so in our busy verbal plentitude, fail to fathom the great distances between words and experiences.

The proselytizer on the street corner asks, “Have you been saved?” “Have you accepted Christ as your savior?” Is it not astounding that people can launch such questions at each other?

In my formula “Words express thoughts,” the last word is or can be another “stop” word. I suggested that we use words to express thoughts, but of course words also express emotion and sense experience, as well as a world of things transcendent to these.

Perhaps the wise use of words is akin to crossing a bridge. We don’t want to stop on the bridge; rather we want to crossover and ever beyond. Our use of words should be as fluid and free as the wind and the ever-widening depth of our experience. The bridge of words is no place for a permanent dwelling. Our life is in the infinite, so let our play with words like “infinite” be a truly free and open way.

Multiple-choice Meditative Semantics

Faith is

  • a. an emotional tendency to lean on nothing, believing it to be something.
  • b. verification by the heart
  • c. wishful thinking used to cover a multitude of sins
  • d. knowledge that is half in shadow and half in light
  • e. the passion of fools and persecutors
  • f. the bird that sings while the dawn is still dark
  • g. all of the above
  • h. none of the above
  • i. all of the above and none of the above

Loss of face is

  • a. social dishonor
  • b. a misnomer for loss of mask
  • c. gain of heart

When I speak of love, I’m usually referring to:

  • a. Dependency
  • b Idolization
  • c. Sentimentality
  • d. Friendship
  • e. Wisdom of the soul
  • f. Physical attraction
  • g. The worship of the divine through human
  • h The desire to love
  • i. The desire to be loved
  • j. Finding the right object of love
  • k. A relationship to a specific person
  • l. Selfless giving
  • m. Over protectiveness
  • n Consciousness of God
  • o Economics
  • p. Other

Most spiritual guidance is

  • a. from one’s own mind
  • b. personal delusions from one’s own mind
  • c. subconscious wish-life
  • d. aspirations from previous lives
  • e. communication from ordinary discarnate people
  • f. unconscious telepathic eavesdropping
  • g. misappropriation of thoughts floating in space
  • h. from one’s own soul
  • i. from a great spiritual teacher
  • j. tricky combinations of a few the above

Forgiveness is a sign of imperfect tolerance. True/false

Most meditation is selfish and is so not meditation at all. True/false

All people who have only two eyes and two years are blind and deaf. True/false

All true/false and multiple-choice questions are misleading oversimplifications. True/False

The Death or Resurrection of Words

image

We think and invest in symbols. The investment serves for a time. But a symbol set can only embody so much light and fire. Then, as we notice its inadequacies, the symbol begins to die. Having served us for a time, the language runs its course and we find ourselves ready to move on. Discarding thoughts and their corresponding symbols, we pass to new thought and subtler use of the mind. Some hold their symbol set closely, as if to squeeze every bit of life from it. For others, a set of symbols or words quickly becomes oppressive and must be changed more frequently. When to keep and when to discard and move on, is individual.

Otherwise considered, there are at least two ways to deal with vague, ambiguous, or troublesome words. One is to drop them in favor of more precise and fitting language. The other is to redeem them, resurrect them, dust them off, polish them until they shine and are again serviceable. While most any word can be redeemed, the question often is, in a given case, is it worth the effort? Redemption is sometimes more work and less effective than the adoption of a new verbal body for our thoughts.

The Essence and Body of Thought

image

According to temperament, thoughts manifest in images or in words or sounds. We become aware of thoughts as they manifest, but there is a subtle moment just prior to manifestation, just prior to words and images—in this moment thought is without a body. Visualize the expression of thought-images and thought-sounds as from a circle of light with a brighter point of light at the center. In the process of embodiment, thought-light radiates downward or outward from the center to the periphery. If we draw close enough to this center we arrive at a quiet space where we can apprehend thought before it is incarnate, before it has a body.

The Turn from Night to Day

image

Inevitably, things become better. The beginning and ending of karmic cycles and the weaving and blending of waves is exceedingly complex. It is difficult to say what is ending and what is beginning, or even sometimes what is for the best and what is not. But our spirit perceives the beginning and the conclusion and is secure in the knowledge of the inevitable triumph of Good. This knowledge is at the heart of that perennial optimism that sees the light of tomorrow. We know how thought shapes the future and how our attitude and orientation contributes to the stream of events. We are alert to the worst possibilities as temporary delays in the cosmic scheme, yet we remain alight with the vision of the best and with our hands and feet well employed.

The future of mankind exists as an archetypal reality. Each one who sees this helps manifest the inevitable, forges a link with brotherhood, and lightens the burden of humanity. One can directly experience the coming renovation in human consciousness because the focus of true individuality is in continuity with a greater life or being that is the foundation and root of unity.

Teachings as Catalyst

image

Teachings are not the truth, but a catalyst to aid in approach to the truth. There are limitations to be found in every verbal formulation and in those who give them. Good teachings have merit as general guidelines and as stimulus to thinking and reflection. Also, even in a great teaching, the specifics and their application to any time and space involve much ambiguity and vagueness. So, in this sense, we are always on our own, in other words a good teaching or teacher stimulates independent thought.

Transpersonal Semantics

image

Semantics is the study of meaning in language, thought, and communication. Our thoughts are embodied in language and images. We give our thoughts bodies; we create these bodies in the act of forming words and pictures. We incarnate in our thoughts and words and become identified with them. This identification is apt to create an illusion in that we feel we have hold of reality whereas in fact, we often only have hold of the words, some mental pictures and associated intellectual constructions.

The soul of words is the meaning, the experience that our words point to, or should point to. It is this living experience, the consciousness behind the forms that ensouls words. By this understanding of the nature of our verbal and conceptual incarnations we arrive at the possibility of Transpersonal Semantics. The word “transpersonal” points to that which is beyond the personal. “Semantics” refers to the meaning of words.

Let us define Transpersonal Semantics as spiritual-perspective-semantics. It is a way of thinking about body and soul with special reference to the way we humans use language in thinking and communication. So, a certain approach to semantics becomes an art of spiritual interpretation–a way of thinking and talking about spiritual and material problems and their solutions. In this sense, a key to better thinking is found by constant awareness of the difference between form and essence, between word and reality, between thought and the silent reality behind thought.

Most Like God

imageimage

God creates and man creates, and man creating well is most like God. We give ourselves to creation, finding there the true, most beautifully rendered forms. In this is sacred life, divine reflections finely drawn as well befits a soul remembering home. Not in music or in paint alone, but more in mind and in the spaces of the heart where all live who dream of times more like the thought of Gods.

Ellipsis and Etcetera

image

Everything is gateway and symbol. See these dots:

. . .

They’re an “ellipsis,” a form of punctuation indicating an omission. The word “ellipsis” is from Latin and means, “to fall short.” When we speak, write, or think, we always fall short and the ellipsis reminds us of it. Therefore, for honesty, we must add an implicit ellipsis to each thought and expression.

The ellipsis is the most important form of punctuation. It should be burned into our memory like bright dots of fire. These little dots are not dots at all: they are points of light opening into the larger cosmos. The ellipsis has a powerful gateway attribute. It’s one of the most useful symbols in an open-minded person’s equipment. It reminds us that there’s always more to everything than is said or expressed. This means that no book, group, idea, teacher, philosophy, religion or science, ever tells us all we need to know about anything. There is always more beyond what is given…

Also useful for our understanding is the word “etcetera,” from the Latin, “the rest.” It is an antidote to our human tendency of period-and-stop thinking. The word should remind us of the bad habit we sometimes have of picking up a piece of the truth and straying with it. This is simple and obvious yet rarely understood and applied.

A Dead Person Musings

image

I am a dead person; well, a relatively dead one. I know because there have been times when I was alive–the contrast between the two states is clear to me. Of course dead and alive are not really so binary. The world is full of the walking and talking dead. We all make our contributions to the litanies of the dead. What then is the rhetoric of the dead? It is the rhetoric of symbols larger than meaning where, like gray clouds, dense symbols obscure most of the light behind. All systems, religions, philosophies, all science, all are dead rhetoric if lacking spirit and a good motive. And while we are dead, all the good voices of past and future are likewise dead for us. But when we awaken to life, the best of past and future live in us.

Be wary of the words of dead people, be wary of me, and in this you affirm the primacy of spirit everywhere. In concert with my muses, I may occasionally flicker to life, the rest of the time you can ignore me without loss of much benefit.

Sacred Ethereal Pressures

 

image

Thought is poised between dimensions, dropping easily toward earth and more rarely deep into luminous reflections of other worlds. In thought is an opening door, a world of rainbow silences lovely as light, where then, when the veil wears thin, thoughts come with the lighting edge of fire.

image

Where then, when the veil wears thin, the gleaming surfaces of objects dissolve to exquisite meanings. And in ready moments, mind glides quietly into the blue and into landscape of distant worlds, where with all drawn close to the eyes, the way is clear.  And for company in and through all the glowing silences of lost spaces, are true friends, and love in the air all surrounding.

image

And more sure than fine sun of cloudless day, interior radiance proves spirit well.  So clear, pure, tremendous, the ethereal pressures of sacred things to be, mount within us, and mysterious shadows of ancient days crowd round us in night and day. See then the Life laid out, a clear and certain path, even to the most distant stars and times. And Life as something far beyond our reach, proves illusion, for distances dissolve and real life fills the creative fires of each happy day.

image

The Esoteric Landscape, a Difficult Journey

image

 

Let us consider the world of the “esoteric” or “spiritual science”—these suggests a wide diversity of things such as psychic phenomena, the supernatural, mysticism, meditation, tarot card reading, kabalistic obscurity, crystal balls, reincarnation, astral bodies, auras and chakaras, Eastern thought, metaphysics, and the occult. For some, the language may also call to mind witches and wizards, seances, a yogi in a mountain cave, magical charms, mysterious rites, and perhaps even some UFOs thrown in. And for some, the esoteric terms even associate with cults, satanic worship, or some TV show on the latest strange, weird, or bizarre phenomena. We might say that, the human scene, being what it is, people inevitably acquire a superficial picture; a caricature of whatever realities esoteric language is intended to point to. And among many people, a term like “esoteric” or “occult” conjures emotions most strange, while in this maze of language and concepts–usually but vaguely and poorly defined–wander the metaphysically oriented people of the world.

All this is not to belittle the truth underlying the language, but rather to help us realize more clearly the difficulties of discerning that truth. It helps to realize that excellent things are rare, and that for every true teacher, there are a thousand pretentious gurus. For every true psychic, there are a thousand pseudopsychics. For every prophetic visionary, thousands of false prophets walk the earth. And for every truly enlightened individual, there are thousands spiritual charlatans. And the matter is further complicated by the fact that we rarely have just obviously “false” communications but a cryptic blend of the true, and half-true, of false, and a partly false. There are a thousands of shades of partly true offered us from every direction.

And everywhere we find systems, gimmicks, offerings of pretty packages, of effortless cures and quick enlightenments, and even metaphysical versions of get-rich-quick schemes. And for every purely wrought axiom of wisdom, there are a thousand clichés and inferior versions.

It may also help us to realize that, at one extreme, everything becomes counterfeited and debased. Everything has false and glamorous versions. Everything has illusory and shadowy counterparts. So, on the surface, everywhere is scattered fool’s gold.

At the other extreme, in deeper spaces, is the clear gold light of wisdom. But between the extremes is a world of grays where things gradually shade toward the light. This is the world where our discrimination and insight are constantly tested. This is the world where we must learn to think and see ever more clearly. We live along a twilight path of human understanding, a world mixed of dark and light. Yet, along the way, we may more optimistically recall that shadows suggest the light that cast them.

Take heart then that the Powers that be thought so well of us as to lay upon our path such difficult circumstances. Our own powers are equal to the challenge, if not today, then surely tomorrow, and we have an infinity of tomorrows.

Let us bring out of the dense fabric of human thought some clear ideas, set them upon a pedestal, elevated, striking, luminous—suitable objects for reflection. The light of them is beautiful and, in one way, simple, yielding to us by interior radiance that vision of clarity we so deeply need for the difficult journey.

Ellipsis and Etcetera

image

 

Everything is gateway and symbol. See these dots: . . . They’re an “ellipsis,” a form of punctuation indicating an omission. The word “ellipsis” is from Latin and means, “to fall short.” When we speak, write, or think, we always fall short and the ellipsis reminds us of it. Therefore, add an implicit ellipsis to each thought and expression.

The ellipsis is the most important form of punctuation. It should be burned into our memory like bright dots of fire. These little dots are not dots at all: they are points of light opening into the larger cosmos. The ellipsis has a powerful gateway attribute. It’s one of the most useful symbols in an open-minded person’s equipment. It reminds us that there’s always more to everything than is said or expressed. This means that no book, group, idea, teacher, philosophy, religion or science, ever tells us all we need to know about anything. There is always more beyond what is given.

Also useful for our understanding is the word “etcetera,” from the Latin, “the rest.” It is an antidote to our human tendency of period-and-stop thinking. The word should remind us of the bad habit we sometimes have of picking up a piece of the truth and saying with it. This is simple and obvious yet rarely understood and applied.