Tag Archives: abstraction

The Active Enzyme Lemon-Freshened Junior High School Witch

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You’ve probably not met The Active Enzyme Lemon-Freshened Junior High School Witch. Maybe she’s alive and well on a planet a constellation near Andromeda; we don’t know for sure and humility prompts us to realize that there are a few corners of the universe we’ve not yet visited. But she has such a charming name that, in a serendipitous mood, we might be half-convinced that she is quite real. In any case, a book for children was written about her, but unlike many related texts it does not purport to be anything other than fiction. Fiction often overlaps with fanciful abstractions and the real and unreal are intricately interwoven. We also know that many abstract words are only “shadows hiding a vacuum.” And what we know about the “The Active Enzyme Lemon-Freshened Junior High School Witch,” is that she is a high-flying abstraction pieced together from things that we do have knowledge of.

The thing about the witchery of high-flying language is its emotional appeal. It is glamorous, and at the same time often touches on matters of real importance: God, love, death, humanity, finding the right path, our place in cosmos, our true nature… These are so important, so luminous in the depth of consciousness that we may find them compelling even when badly expressed and mixed with all manner of invented balderdash. So when we encounter a truth that is distorted, watered-down, and morphed with extraneous material of all sorts–even then–we may find this pseudo-truth attractive and absorbing. The words we hear and the associations they evoke work magic so that anything with some real truth in becomes a challenge. And like the Active Enzyme Lemon-Freshened Junior High School Witch, the name can be so charming that we may be half-convinced by the name alone. This particular witch is an abstraction, selected and composed from a wide array of things.

The root meaning of the word “abstract” is to “draw away,” in essence to draw away from the things physical, concrete, and specific. If one were aspiring to things spiritual, this would seem, at first thought, to be a good idea. But some mentally unhealthy conditions are also characterized by withdrawal. So what are the differences between the benign metaphysician and the neurotic?

One difference, semantically defined, is what we might call word/reality split. It is the disunion between the words and the things or realities that they stand for. Often, we listen to someone using high-level abstract words, and we don’t know what they’re talking about. In such cases, there are at least two possibilities: either our experience is too limited or uneducated for comprehension, or they actually don’t know what they’re talking about. In this latter case the person who has “lost touch” doesn’t know it and are quite sure that they know what they’re talking about. They may be proud of their language and love the associated emotions.

We live in a “New Age” of information and misinformation overload, and this poses special challenges for us. In the metaphysical and philosophical world, there are thousands of competing verbalizations with contradictory pronouncements. If we gulp down lots of metaphysics, unless we’re an exceptionally well-rounded and clever, we’re apt to wind up with fine case of muddle-de-physics.

Naturally, many of us think—prematurely–that we’re exceptionally well rounded and clever, and so are quick to get into trouble. Which brings up the next notable difference between a metaphysician and neurotic: ego. Knowledge of a special language makes us feel special. Familiarity with lofty terms seems to elevate us, and set us apart from the crowd. We may become part of a world saving in-group. We are trying to be less lonely and be recognized for our knowledge and high status. Salvation of the world is, of course, an essential and admirable pursuit. And it would benefit all of us if more of those enthusiastically engaged in this activity did know what they were talking about, and if they actually could fly as high as the witchery their words suggests.

“It is inherent in our intellectual activity that we seek to imprison reality in our description of it. Soon, long before we realize it, it is we who become prisoners of the description.” —Aneurin Bevan

“Great God, what a universe! And we discuss it over our teacups as though it were a thing we carried in our waistcoat pockets.” –L. P. Jacks

“Men suppose their reason has command over their words; still it happens that words in return exercise authority on reason.” –Bacon

“The world is satisfied with words. Few appreciate the things beneath.”—Pascal

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Playing with Numbers

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To the forgetful, life is a painful game of numbers, with emphasis on division. What is forgotten?

The simple.

The simplest is unity: one. We can’t get simpler.

1 is a beautiful straight upright line, clean and fundamental, like a spire pointing heavenward. One is a single sun shining high above the forest.

2 and 3 introduce many, a sequence of angles and curves; so begins in number symbols a winding path in the forest of complexity. 2 and 3 are lovely and useful when 1, the origin, is behind them. In essence 1 always is, but if we don’t look sunward, then all becomes a maze of complexity and separation. Without 1, complexity is depressing, crazy, and painful. With 1, complexity becomes interesting and creative. Sunless and heartlessness are the walking dead who have forgotten 1.

The numbers are abstract, I apologize, but the pure wave of unity is not abstract. Bang or bloom, the origin of stars begins. Bang or bloom, spirit-thought strikes downward.

Remember, without 1 there is no joy, and everything is blank, sunless, without true dimension. A teacher said, “The world has lost its happiness because happiness is in spirit.” Spirit is 1, and life begins with the simple realization of 1.

Flowers, Fanatics, and other Distances from Divinity

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Some measure of evil, or not Life, is born with incarnation, with the taking of form, with leaving the “father’s home,” with separation from divinity. Illusion, the virtual synonym, comes into being with this separation. And so it is said that everything external is maya, being other than the pure light of source. This formulation has a certain value, but by it alone we cannot find our place between the candle and the star because all manifestations are relative.

A flower is not as remote from divinity as the cruelty of fanatics. Yet both are manifestations other than or apart from absolute Life or divinity. We may say the flower and the cruel man are illusions, and so they are, but they are not equal. So we find that the most abstract concept of good and evil, yielding as it does a simple binary, corresponds poorly to daily life and required decisions. We must, standing somewhere between the candle and the star, bring righteous to decisions.

In love and wisdom there is movement toward life and light. This orientation is the antithesis of evil and the basis of right choice.

On Apparent Nothingness

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Universe does not end or begin in blank cosmological abstractions of the mind. The further up I go in the scale of things–and I have gone but a little way, but more than enough to see this–the spiritual remains manifold as well as one.  One may imagine pure white or dark or an abstract point, but that point is a door of prismatic beauty.  The spirit is a rich manifold world brought close to the eyes; it is that as well as unity.  How can we have eyes or eye when all is unity?–yet we do. Unity does not obliterate diversity but contains it.  Agni Yoga says, “The spirit is a light of the beauty of the stars.”  I will say that the infinite is unity yet full of plurals.  The spectrum does not disappear in the white but is hidden in it.

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