Tag Archives: thought

World Events and the Forest of Scorpions


Each day the media shapes our picture of the world. Automatically, almost unconsciously, we absorb it. But when we assimilate the news, let us recall that what we see and read is not a true picture of the world, but a selected and edited view.

Somewhere each day some abused and love-deprived humans sank deeper into cruelty and insanity. Before the blood of their actions has time to dry, the images are beamed relentlessly into our homes and places of business. But also, somewhere today, heroic and compassionate deeds were done. If we hear of this good at all, it is in small measure.

Certainly it is right to be conscious of significant world events. But what will we do when the news delivers large servings of insanity into our living rooms? Will we passively absorb the shock for its entertainment value, or will we let the horror evoke our compassion and sober us toward a broader sense of responsibility. We are like campers in a forest given a lengthy list of all the dangerous and poisonous creatures for miles around. Common sense tells us that the list does not give a true impression of the life of the whole forest. Let us remember that the news given to us is not a true picture at all, and is not how the world really is, even in the outward sense. We will not find the world as it is in the news. But if we use our good will and imagination, our ingenuity and common sense, we can make our own intelligent revision of the of the picture and approach somewhat closer to the truth.

Yes, somewhere today and everyday some abused and love-deprived humans sank deeper into cruelty and insanity. But also, somewhere today many heroic and compassionate deeds were done, mostly unseen and unnoticed. We will need our imagination and interior resources to paint a more realistic picture of the world. We must add, by an act of thought and insight, the solution and the positive dimension and the whole array of omitted and neglected events. Let us recall, with meditative intensity, that each moment countless good things are born, some beyond the horizon; perhaps some right next door.

“Spiritual” Materialism


Physical methods are analogous to symbols, useful up to point, but dreary and confining as a primary occupation. Unless we find our way behind each symbol it becomes a shell, a useless husk. The center and the pivot of our life should be subtle.   An approach to life that pivots on any physical method or substance is a fundamental error and incompatible with spirituality.

“The greatest moment is like the silent interplay of shadows in a budding forest—the silence of a thought’s interacting shadows extending inside me.”

Second Light, Vilhelm Ekelund

The “O” in Opinions


“An obstinate man does not hold opinions, but they hold him.”

— Pope

We see in ourselves an egocentric attachment to small devotions and to ideas as things. Two-thousand years ago, Marcus Aurelius said, “Today I have escaped from all trouble, or rather, I have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside me, but within, and in my opinions.”

“Opinion” is often used as a pejorative word, one that people use to dismiss a viewpoint with which they disagree, the implication being that the one who expressed a thought is perhaps not properly educated on a subject, or lacks good judgment. We might think that the “O” in the thinker’s “opinion” has become a confining circle.  On the other hand, it can be a sign of thought and character to adopt a definite viewpoint. 

“Why don’t you be dominant once in a while, unshakable, sure, masterful?… To defer always, to be nice always, to go along always—this is no high ideal. It is foolishness, it becomes tiresome. Go ahead, be forceful. Make them hear! Have an effect… How will anything be achieved if you don’t assert the facts as you see them? How can you deal with people at all unless you have a thought, say it straight, and give it what it’s worth, make it heard.”

How to Like People, Robert Jackson

Here we see the word “opinion” also has a more benign meaning, namely a judgment or estimation of the merit of a thing or individual—in this sense there is value in having an opinion and speaking it truly. The catch is, that to merit this benevolent sense of the word we would need to be informed on the subject and to have applied some illuminated thought power to it. Yet we often–and rightly–suspect our own diligence and question if the “O” in our opinion is sufficiently large and inclusive.

The Transpersonal Semantics of "and"


We know there is an interaction between language and thought. Thought shapes words, and words shape thought. For example, we may want to affirm unity, but not notice how language leads thought toward compartments and fragments. Language, with its many categories and divisions, is adapted to work with external or objective things. So, we may affirm a unified and holistic way of thinking but dress our thoughts in dualistic language that doesn’t fit what we’re trying to say. But when thought soars beyond the usual objective categories, our verbal habits may result in curious and paradoxical expressions.  For example:

“The tricky word is ‘and.’ So long as we have the idea of God-AND-Man we are likely to have the feeling of separation, of duality. ‘And’ places an almost imperceptible but real cellophane veil between us and the immediacy of our existence wholly in God-consciousness. Until we have the ‘feeling,’ the realization of complete existence in God-Consciousness we are separate entities appealing to a long-distance God, and we are inclined to doubt whether our appeals can reach One who has so many sparrows to watch in their fallings.”

Joy is an Inside Job, Don Blanding

Pervasive Quotations

Beach full of quotations gold

All quotation is, in a sense, quoting one’s self. You tell me your religion, and you tell me who you are. The selection of book or leader is in the eye of the beholder, or it is the rock upon which we find ourselves after the latest storm. Our eye omits the inconsistencies and our ears are deaf to subtler tones beyond our kin. So we define ourselves precisely.

We can completely throw off the training wheels of book quotations, but we will read ourselves elsewhere anyway, and quote that. When the thoughts are ours at last, then our text may not be so peppered with quotation marks, unless out of respect or modesty—yet the communal obligation remains. We could try to quote pure Space but to do so we will borrow some words. Is it exaggeration to say that anything short of the absolute is quotation? We try to shrink the footnotes toward the number one. But the thoughts in space and in print are dense as stars, and we will be hard pressed to avoid quotation. It would be ideal to quote ourselves in spirit, but the best thoughts floating there are fully communal. We may fail to number our references explicitly, yet the communal ghost of our pasts, the legions who have occupied us down the ages, these still circulate freely in us.

Citing ones’ own thought is no guarantee of improvement over book quotes. A careless demonstration from book or brain is equally flat. A source without light is a source without light, weather concocted from pieces of stuff presumably “original” to one’s own cranium or drawn from ink laid down by other humans. And a prejudice housed in book or brain, and passed along has the same lack of merit.

We have a whole beach full of quotations. In the morning light I can’t see the minute bits mirroring the sun, a shinning path. When we leave Earth behind, these grains will be a memory, and we will trade them for stars. Meanwhile, we may submit thesis and antithesis about the relative dullness or luminosity of this or that point. It is good exercise for future astronauts.

Ellipsis and Etcetera


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.