Thursday, October 14, 2010

(43) Futurist

Over the past several years I have been groping towards a new
kind of activity, basically wanting to slip into yet another career.
I remain incredulous that I have lived long enough to actually
even think about a third career, much less moving into one. But
that is what I seem to have been doing lately.

As for becoming a futurist, well that was a "bee in my bonnet"
quite a long time ago. I thought about such a pursuit while I was
still preparing to be a science and systems philosopher. But at
the time I felt that I already had too much on my plate, which was
true. And, geez, that all was more than 20 years back.

During the ensuing 20 years I have truly enjoyed playing at being
a free-thinking philosopher, if you will. Speculative, of course,
fiddling into Metaphysics--basically wondering over those great
human questions we all have, about the nature of the universe,
about a Greater Reality, and about our situation and role in such.
I've been blessed having the leisure to do this, and I'm truly
thankful for having had the privilege to do so.

But in a strange way, I felt that I had reached the end of the ride.
I felt that I had said about all that I was capable of saying. Yes,
information keeps pouring in, material that is well beyond my
ability to handle. So I felt that it was time, once again, to "retire."

After two careers, why not retire? However, I discovered that I
am one of those persons who somehow cannot really retire.
Somehow I need keep digging around, researching and writing,
approaching new topics.

Hence I am again grappling as to what I might do in this so-called
"Third Age" that is upon me. After some time the thought about
becoming a futurist once again pounced into my life. So I
gathered myself together and looked about how one becomes
a futurist.

For awhile I studied the writing of some futurists I knew about.
There's the "Futurist Magazine" as well, that seems to cover
all the territories of the entire ballpark. But I realized that all
this new business had to jell in my mind. Finally I came to realize
that I would continue working towards that scientific and spiritual
blend of topics I love, only moving into what seems to be
"cutting-edge" subjects that have only arisen (at least in my
horizon) and might seriously impact in the future.

So, after lots more pondering as well as some digging about, I
have managed to discover at least 30 topics, fitting into three
major philosophical categories, that are on the cusp of this
axial period in which we live. Finding these topics are one thing,
however; but carrying out depth research and writing eventual
essays are another.

When I came to realize the enormity of this proposed project, I
really cringed. Would I even live long enough to complete it?
What the heck! It would be nice to finish what I hope to start,
but--really--more important for me is that not only do I think the
work is significant, but it keeps me out of the rocking-chair!
Might as well have a sense of humor when it comes to this
ever lengthy sojourn of mine.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

(42) Vitalism, Panpsychism, & Emergentism

Albeit boasting ancient philosophical sources, these three
above "isms" remain speculative right into our own modern
day. Academic philosophers have written reams about these
particular positions about Mind, pro and con. And mostly
they tend to separate these three concepts, one from the
other. And beyond separation, sometimes there's contrast
and competition between the three, even denial of one
over the other.

So I can only dare to tiptoe into these categories about Mind.
Starting out, we should at least give a minimal definition to
these categories--though I have no wish to delve deep in
such. Otherwise we would be writing tomes!

• Vitalism: In its simplest form, vitalism holds that living
organisms differ from non-living forms, in that there is an
energy--or "elan vital"--that sparks their "soul" or living spirit.
This vital energy is a substance that infuses and gives life
to more sophisticated forms.

• Panpsychism: Basically panpsychism is a doctrine that
maintains that Mind is suffused throughout the universe.
Mind is everywhere!

• Emergentism: Here we move into "complex systems" that
are not reducible "to those of their constituent elements."
And emergentism--as it involves Consciousness and Mind--
relates to a complex system that is more then the sum of the
"properties" of its parts.

Perhaps odd on my part, but I don't in the least feel the
need to pit any one of these three categories over against
the other. Rather I tend to see the possibility of a
fascinating *connection* linking all three of these "isms."

I tend to think that there must be a Creator of this particular
universe in which we live. Scientists talk about Natural Laws
incorporated into our universe. Theologians talk of God, or
more specifically the Spirit that gives us, the universe, its
power to move, to exist. Hence the "elan vital." One can
look at this from a more natural perspective, or assume
the theological perspective. Could be that our presumed
Natural Laws serve as the inputted pulse of the Spirit.

In turn, this special energy, this vital pulse, quickens Mind
that could have been embedded in the universe since its
creation. It's perhaps an Intelligible Force spread throughout,
waiting to be awakened.

And possibly this is where emergent minds come into the
picture. Underlying everything, everywhere, is Potential
Mind, slowly evolving, cropping forth in those complex
life forms (or systems).

So with this, I am getting around to what I blithely deem
as "consciousness points." We humans would seem to
be such. No doubt other complex systems, likely situated
throughout the universe, are also points of this
emergence of Embedded Mind.

In essay (39) I talk some about consciousness points and
ask "why." I cannot presume a specific answer, but I
suspect it's about Universal Mind becoming slowly yet
steadily more and more Conscious--and we humans,
we ever evolving complex systems, will continue to
mentally emerge until the entire universe becomes
What it is meant to be!

A companion to its Creator? An independent Thinking
Entity? Who knows! But whatever the "why" of it all,
at least I have come to realize the Exciting Adventure
of it all. There's Meaning deep down, if we choose
to see our universe this way.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

(41) A Hiatus

The last several months I have been engaged working through
a health issue. Not too bad, fortunately. Still, there was some
anxiety undergoing various tests appropriate for my age, then
waiting for the results. The process took some time.

I could have let *stress* take over, but I had the good sense to
give over my anxiety to my particular sense of the Greater
Reality, who I dare to call the "Lord." Happily this gesture on
my part really helped, and I am truly thankful.

On the other hand, something strange seemed to be happening.
It wasn't that I had lost interest in my usual endeavors, like
writing essays and stories that represent my own spiritual
inclinations. Rather it simply was that my head and hands
would not comply. Recognizing this, I tried to break out
and get back to where I was before my health situation.

Didn't work, so I pretty much submitted to my "hiatus," if you will.
I went shopping, bought some new clothes which I really
needed since I've been losing weight. I also continued
pampering my new lawn area, establishing a new section
for table and chairs. All mundane stuff, I suppose, but somehow
I felt content. And these non-intellectual pursuits helped me
through. Have to give credit where credit is due--engaged in
the mundane most definitely can be a spiritual endeavor!

Feeling better now, I probably will slip back into my old habit
as a writer. But I'm willing to wait until my spirit, my mind, and
even my body says "yes."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

(40) Working the Earth

Somewhat off subject, yet maybe not. These past few weeks
I have worked hard, but enjoyed, cultivating a new part of
our large back garden. We had some old sheds torn down,
leaving some pretty raw ground that we leveled, seeded,
watered, and eventually watched the grass grow. It's pretty
much green now, and my little dog initiated it by rolling
happily in the new grass. Also the birds and the butterflies
have discovered this new lovely patch.

Spiritually I have enjoyed working the earth for a good number
of years, building Japanese natural gardens when I lived back
East and now here out West I have a far more expansive
and diverse sort of garden--i.e., tropical flowers, succulents,
and Mediterranean types of trees such as palms, cyprus, and
junipers. Importantly, they blend into the greater environment
all around.

I have little doubt that this working of the earth, allowing for
all sorts of plant growth, is about *creativity.* And albeit
hard work, seeing the results of my labor affords me great
pleasure. For me, too, this work is about aesthetics, in that
I somehow have connected all these outdoor gardens around
with the inside of our house.

Our house is a near-century old Craftsman, aka Greene &
Greene. It is a friend of Nature, with wide open windows
that peer out onto the gardens, letting the natural breeze
from the ocean drift through the house. And long before
"Green," the Craftsman is energy-efficient.

Beyond the above kudos, the Craftsman design features
the good earth, ours made of redwood, embellished with
river stone, it's truly neat.

Anyway, a shift away from the deep subjects I usually get
into--but my working the earth, my gardens, the birds
and butterflies, our Craftsman bungalow, all feed my

(39) Consciousness Points

Just my opinion, but I believe that we humans might actually be
"consciousness points" of the universe. I'm of the opinion that
likely the universe is growing consciousness points through
and through, on all the multitudes of galaxies that probably
serve as the spawning ground of Consciousness.

Also right here on Earth scientists are now watching the
intellectual potential that some in the Animal Kingdom are
now expressing. Does this mean that those more intellectually
qualified are actually conscious?

I think there does have to be a sense of "I" when it comes to
being conscious. And we do know that millions of our pets
respond to their name. I've also seen in my own pets a certain
will when it comes to getting their way. I've also seen hurt
feelings, even jealously. We know some animals become
enamored with themselves when looking in mirrors. Also
some animals engage in planning. It's not all merely instinct.

Lots seem to be going on when it comes to consciousness
development, noticeably so, right here on out own planet.

Of course the biggest question is "why" consciousness? It's
fairly obvious--even to us fledglings--that evolving consciousness
would seem crucial for our successful survival. But what happens
when we begin to edge out from under the survival mode and
enter into a greater state of leisure?

When one looks around in our own milieu, it's hard not to be
judgmental. There seems to be a drift away from a sense of
responsibility, both personal and communal. We humans
have become ever so much more sharp-minded, but nowadays
we seem more engaged in questionable behavior.

To be fair, maybe this situation of questionable behavior or lack
of responsibility is nothing recent. History would seem to attest
to this. On the other hand, historical too, there always seem to
be a small minority that reaches out toward the Greater Virtues,
the Deeper Quest for Knowledge that go far and beyond
money-making and war-mongering.

So--what with the infinite variety and levels of Consciousness
right here aboard our own small planet, and assuming multitudes
of consciousness-levels throughout the universe, one simply
has to ask whatever are we up to, whatever is this evolving
drift towards Greater Consciousness about? Why, why, why?

Monday, July 26, 2010

(38) The Abbey & the Cathedral

Going through some personal shifts of late, I found an
interesting correlation between an affiliation in my past
and a new affiliation that portends possibilities for my

Decades back I affiliated with an abbey, as a monastic
oblate. And more recently I became a member of an
ecumenically-oriented cathedral community. What I
came to notice was that both the abbey's and the
cathedral's coat-of-arms were the same. Far earlier
than both, this coat-of-arms once belonged to
St. Anselm, a medieval Archbishop of Canterbury.

I had to smile when I noted this connection, in that my
very favorite saint *is* St. Anselm. Before he came to his
English cathedral he was the Benedictine abbot of Bec. As
for my particular connection, once I wrote a small article
about the life of St. Anselm. I was drawn to his contention,
as has been reported, that "faith precedes reason, but that
reason can expand upon faith."

Interestingly, even before St. Anselm crossed my path, I had
come to the same conclusion. More colloquially, to paraphrase
the good saint, he once put that "because I have faith, I need to
know." That's my stance as well.

Of course today "knowing" has bounced far beyond the
boundaries of Medieval Christianity. Our contemporary
knowledge-base is now both diverse and vast. But I'm willing
to bet that if St. Anselm were living today, he would be cruising
along the modern frontiers of Knowlege trying ever to
understand that Greater Reality we call "God."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

(37) Consciousness Beckons, But...

I'm not sure I am smart enough to figure out at least two
flows of Consciousness Research that I have discovered.
One is the research of Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose,
and the other of Henry Stapp.

A particle physicist, Henry Stapp has carried out research
on the foundations of quantum mechanics--with a particular
focus on the role and nature of Consciousness at the
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University
of California.

Stuart Hameroff is a M.D., currently the Director of the
Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of
Arizona (Tucson).

And Sir Roger Penrose is a mathematical physicist, who is
the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the
University of Oxford.

Together, Penrose and Hameroff speculate that
Consciousness is the result of quantum gravity effects
in microtubles, which they dub Orch-OR (orchestrated
objective reduction). Microtubules are part of a structural
network (the cytoskeleton) within the cells cytoplasm.

About all I can figure at this point is that the above
mentioned gentlemen are *major* scientists focusing
hard on the issue of Consciousness. With them we are
not dealing with magical thinking when it comes to this
topic. On the other hand, from what I can glean, their
focus is based on Nature, on cutting-edge theoretics
about what we are slowly coming to discover about the
universe and the world in which we live and have our

I know that I must find the time to follow these two
flows of Consciousness Research. As a spiritual seeker,
I would be remiss not to be intrigued by this research--
especially as such might tell me more about God, the
Cosmos, and Consciousness. My intuition points very
much towards such a connection, and it leaves me with
the feeling that coming to comprehend this connection
far more keenly is seriously important.

So, I must train myself in some complicated and
challenging scientific lingo. This portends becoming
"smarter." I only hope that eventually I might manage.

Monday, July 5, 2010

(36) Non-local Consciousness

Later I discovered that there were reputable scientists examining
non-local consciousness. Basically this was about morphogenetic
fields, about telepathy, even about prayer. Non-local consciousness
extends from one individual's consciousness outward to other
conscious persons!

And beyond even this, scientists at well-known universities, as well
as reputable psychologists, are moving even further. In connection
with Consciousness, they are probing what used to be considered
very, very esoteric phenomena: the Out-of-Body Experience, the
Near-Death Experience, Past Life Visions, and even Reincarnation.

These additional approaches were very new, but another approach
was very old: PanPsychism. Adherents of this approach believe that
"psyche--the essence of consciousness--is a universal presence in
the world; and that this PanPsyche is evolving through the living
organisms who live on this planet. In other words, Mother Earth is
becoming more conscious.

(Originally an item in my story "Sol Scientia")

(35) More on Consciousness

I happened onto the writings of Ken Wilber, an amazing polymath
who covered many territories and than tried to integrate them
into some sort of focus when it came to Consciousness.

A scientist, philosopher, and transpersonal psychologist, Wilber
provided a list of categories in Consciousness Research. I
should like to quote at least sparingly from Wilber's list.

" *Cognitive Science* tends to view consciousness as anchored
in functional schemas of the brain/mind, either in a simple
representational fashion...or in the more complex emergent/
connectionist models, which view consciousness as an emergent
of hierarchically integrated networks...

" *Introspectionism* maintains that consciousness is best
understood in terms of intentionality, anchored in first-person

" *Neuropsychology* views consciousness as anchored in
neural systems, neurotransmitters, and organic brain mechanisms...

" *Individual psychotherapy*...tends to view consciousness as
primarily anchored in an individual organism's adaptive capacities...

" *Social psychology* views consciousness as embedded in
networks of cultural meaning, or, alternatively, as being largely
a byproduct of the social system itself...

" *Clinical psychiatry* focuses on the relation of psychopathology,
behavioural patterns, and psychopharmacology...

" *Developmental psychology* views consciousness not as a single
entity but as a developmentally unfolding process with a substantially
different architecture at each of its stages of growth...

" *Psychosomatic medicine* views consciousness as strongly and
intrinsically inter-active with organic bodily processes...

" *Nonordinary states of consciousness,* from dreams to psychedelics,
constitutes a field of study that, its advocates believe, is crucial
to a grasp of consciousness in general...

" *Eastern and contemplative traditions* maintain that ordinary
consciousness is but a narrow and restricted version of deeper and
higher modes of awareness...

" *Quantum consciousness* approaches...consciousness as being
intrinsically capable of interacting with, and altering, the physical
world, generally through quantum interactions...

" *Subtle energies* research has postulated that there exist subtler
types of bio-energies beyond the four recognized forces of physics
(strong and weak nuclear, electromagnetic, gravitational) and that
these subtler energies play an intrinsic role in consciousness..."
[Ken Wilber, an article entitled "Integral Theory of Consciousness.]

(Originally an item in my story "Sol Scientia")

Sunday, July 4, 2010

(34) Consciousness

"Explaining consciousness in terms of quantum theory is no
help to a person to whom quantum theory is a mystery. "
MECHANICS, Springer Verlag, 1993, p. 14.]

Musing: Well, that probably includes about 95 percent of the
world's population. Nonetheless, there are some erudite
citizens in the world who are coming together at academic
meetings, researching, writing tomes about something which
we humans possess, but have barely begun to understand.

Of course scientists are moving into the cutting-edge of
Consciousness Studies--people like Henry Stapp who is
a member of the Theoretical Physics Group, Lawrence
Berkeley Laboratory, the University of California (Berkeley).
There's also Roger Penrose, the Rouse Ball Professor of
Mathematics at the University of Oxford, who has written
books "concerning computers, minds, and the laws of physics."

Annually the University of Arizona has hosted a major
conference on Consciousness where not only scientists
but also philosophers, theologians, psychologists, and
scholars representing other disciplines come together,
trying to piece together their studies about Consciousness.
These days the issue of Consciousness is steadily rising to
the forefront of pioneer research.

As for myself, well over the years I have collected a goodly
number of books pertaining to Consciousness. And, for the
most part, they have been sitting on their shelves collecting
dust. I enjoy modern science theory--and, occasionally, almost
understand some of it. But I have been a near failure trying to
dive into Consciousness Studies. I can hardly get to first-base
with this material.

Still, as a spiritual seeker, as one who simply wants to know--or
at least begin to understand--who we are, how we connect to
the universe, Who or What stands behind the All of it, well there's
no getting around this issue of Consciousness! Sentience is our
"claim to fame," so to speak. And we would be remiss if somehow
we don't try to get a grip on this special quality we possess.

So I guess I best get to work on this.
[Originally Item 46, in my "Murrell's Musings."]

Monday, June 28, 2010

(33) Remembering an Event

When I lived in the DC/Virginia area I became a member of the
Washington Evolutionary Systems Society. This group consisted
of some fairly high-powered scientists. Me? Younger back then,
I was more on the junior level. Nonetheless I enjoyed myself,
attending some of the society's symposia at the Smithsonian--
and especially going to its monthly dinner meetings that featured
hot-shot speakers on various topics that related to systems

At the time, I was beginning to move more progressively into
advanced study at Georgetown, not yet retired from government
but nevertheless preparing for a new career in Science and
Spirituality. So one night we were treated to a world-famous
British scholar (connected with both Oxford and Cambridge)
who was not only a biologist but also an Anglican priest. I had
read a couple of his books, so I really didn't want to miss this
particular fellow.

This good gentleman passed away several years back, so I
feel free relating this event. He talked about his work relating
Modern Biology with a sense of God. Nice, interesting--but
the real event took place at the dinner afterwards.

As it happened, I was sitting across the table from this British
gentleman. The dinner was good, the wine flowed. Everybody
loosened-up. I cannot remember the details, but someone
asked the speaker how in the world he became a priest. He
provided some detail, but added that he no longer put much
faith in his particular religion.

Whew! Dead silence, looks of incredibility all around. Couldn't
see my own face, but I know that I was shocked. It wasn't that
I am a paradigm of religious purity, but I did feel a deep devotion
towards Christ. I didn't speak (thank goodness), but one of the
honcho scientists exclaimed, "how can you be a priest and not

The British gentleman signed deeply, and put it thus: "Christianity
is the best that we have." Well, that answer went nowhere. And I
wondered about all the other great world religions that might
compare with the "best."

Over the years that event remains sharp in my mind. After far
more study (and later my own work) when it came to Science
and Spirituality, I somewhat can relate to this British scientist's
dillemma. When it comes to an objective honesty, when it
comes to a certain integrity, when examining modern scientific
discoveries and theoretics, I have found it difficult linking any
religious system *specifically* with such.

There are those who have tried, such as one of my heros:
the Jesuit-paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. He made
his case and faced "silencing" by his own religious authorities.
Today he is far more accepted, in that at least he is recognized as
a pioneer engaging natural theology. As for his "Christogenesis,"
it's a beautiful Mind Piece, but it comes out of his particular
background as a Jesuit priest. And he admits to having a
special experience that helped him to connect Christ and
his "Cosmogenesis."

I'm not familiar enough with the other great world religions, as
to whether there might have been similar efforts to link their
particular faith system with the findings of Science.

As for myself, I try to stick with the idea of God and God's
Creation when it comes to my own approach. It's a generic
approach, but at least there is some realistic hint when it
comes to at least approaching the "Contours of God," as I
put it. Maybe that will have to be enough for now, slowly
plodding, yet moving towards more *insight* as to Whom
we are trying to discover.

One thing for sure, it's an exciting adventure this business!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

(32) Freedom

This morning at church it was announced that next Sunday
a new series of sermons (homilies) would begin about
Freedom. I blinked, nearly sat straight in the pew, and
thought that this was different. Of course I had no idea
how the topic would be presented. Freedom is kind of
like the Janus Face, the two-sided face, in that it can be
used as a Yes or No, for Good or Evil, for Right or Wrong,
to Be or Not to Be, to Do or not to Do. And within these
categories, there's a myriad of action or non-action.

Later I wondered more over this topic of Freedom, especially
how it has actually been impacting upon me during this period
of shift that I have been undergoing. It's quite important I believe.
Indeed, for all the past challenges that I have worked through,
the baseline has been the existence of freedom.

I wanted to put my thought to writing, creating a certain
body of thought that I wanted to share with others--but all
this necessitated freedom, as it does unto this very day!

I am beginning to realize that my recent "transition" has really
been about freedom of thought. But now I am aware that I
must continue to employ that freedom carefully, so not as to
cause harm. Perhaps that was why I have decided to
"go Generic," if you will.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

(31) Remembering a Dream

Long ago, I had a special dream that quite shook me
for awhile. I was walking down a sidewalk with a friend,
in a California town, and across the way stood one of
those stucco Mission churches. I cried out, "look, there's
the church." My friend responded, saying "no, there's
the church" as he pointed down towards the end of the
street. There stood an enormous statue, surely as big
as the Statue of Liberty.

I thought it must be a statue of Jesus, but as we came
near I saw that it was a statue of the Virgin Mary. And
to make sure I got the point, there were thousands of
cards of the Blessed Mother scattered around the pedestal.

Upon waking I was incredulous! Had I encountered the
Great Mother, the Feminine aspect of God? Perhaps so,
but why. Ever since I make sure that I honor this aspect.

But recently I *remembered* a second part of this dream
that seemingly I had forgotten. After encountering the
statue of the Virgin Mary I was suddenly transported to
the sea shore, looking out over the deep ocean.

Having done dreamwork, I was familiar with symbolism.
The ocean (or deep water) can symbolize the feminine,
but I have another "take" on this. Let me explain.

Remembering this, I re-analyzed this particular dream as
it seems to me today.

I believe the Virgin Mary represents the "Theotokos," the
one who brings forth the child Jesus. In cosmic terms,
I tend to think of the great Feminine figure more in terms
of the "Divine Milieu." Perhaps a Teilhardian sense in that
Matter provides the milieu in which God somehow requires
as a neccessity as we all trudge towards "Omega," that final
point of Completion.

So, as part of this Divine Milieu what might our role be?
The second part of this dream suggests that we need
come to ever greater consciousness. The deep water in
this dream is perhaps about plunging into the great
depths of our being, ever evolving our comprehension
when it comes to the Reality in which we live and have
our being.

My dream, I believe, is about the Integration of Mind and
Matter ever working towards something More.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

(30) Going Generic

Without going into fine detail, I actually have lived out my
personal myth--at first unconsciously, later consciously. But
recently I seemed to have come to a standstill. I'm in the later
years of my life, so naturally I am not as active--yet, I have
enjoyed lots of mental experience, if you will.

In real life, when younger, I served in government, working
as a science and technology analyst, focusing on weapons
proliferation issues and arms control during the Cold War.
Later I studied both Theology and Philosophy, and specifically
focused on Science and Spirituality. Over the years I have
written essays and stories in this field.

Okay, fine and good. I engaged in an active life and later
tended towards a more solitary life. And now I wish to shed
any additional mental clothing I have put on myself. Now I
seriously want to express myself, my personal myth, even
more in generic terms.

To use an analogy, rather than buying brand names I'm
buying generic products. And what does this mean when
it comes to my personal myth? As a solitaire, a solitary, my
focus remains the same: I'm devoted towards "Seeking God."
I'm also fascinated by God's Creation, our wonderful universe,
and I'm always curious about Life's role, our role in it.

But I have reached the point that this focus must steam ahead,
far into the NEW--not only probing more our modern knowledge-
base, but moving into futurist thinking. This also means going
beyond medieval-based or even more archaic thinking oft found
in Religion, other than whatever *wisdom* in it might relate to
where we are HERE and NOW.

Unfortunately, there aren't many groups, organizations, or
even people who lend shelter to such a generic outlook.
So probably I'll be going it alone, finding companionship
when possible. However, as ever, my "seeking" is about God
and the universe. Hence I remain a panentheist ever devoted
to the Pantocrator.

As for these terms: "Panentheism" is about Creation existing
*within* God, but that God is more than hir Creation; and the
"Pantocrator" is an ancient icon representing the Lord of the
Universe, expressed by the Cosmic Christ.

Looking back I've long moved into the role of a panentheist,
in that my writing reflects such. But I just needed to be
more clear about this.

(29) Personal Myth

Carl Jung, the psychiatrist, and the mythologists Karl Kerenyi and
Joseph Campbell talk about or allude to the "personal myth."
This idea has led to everything from typology studies to Follow
Your Bliss, even to gods/goddesses types.

Long ago I wandered into this subject matter, trying to understand
better who I might be--or at least find myself in all this maze of
approaches. I already had a sense of my own archetypal structure
when I undertook some five years of dreamwork--on my own,
but with the help of a lot of psychological books as well as works
on symbolism. Anyway, I started out this project not knowing very
much about my self--and, in the end, I knew lots more.

So--is all this effort really narcissistic or actually rather meaningful?
Could be both, since a person who is interested in self no doubt
can be tinged with a certain amount of narcissism; however, on the
other hand, it can be quite helpful to discover one's personal myth.
Such can provide an archetypal infrastructure for one's life. And,
true, sometimes this special infrastructure can come in the guise
of archaic symbolism. Our mind and brain are both subject to
such historical-cultural residue, and psychiatrists have written
tomes about how to work through such mental material.

As for myself, long ago I learned about my own personal myth.
And a few years back I wrote two short stories--"Roman Trek"
and "Templar True" that were actually accounts of my own
archetypal infrastructure--albeit fictionally over-layed. Found
on the links margin of this essay site, one can click onto these

These stories are really about my *personal myth*, which has
unfolded over many years. They also encompasses my varied
interests. But now I am arriving towards the end of my personal
myth. This doesn't mean that I am going to slip away anytime soon--
I hope--but rather I have reached a new state-of-being when it
comes to my personal myth. It's about yet another transition within
my personal infrastructure that surely will involve new experience.
And who knows, but likely I will have to write yet another story
one day.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

(28) Birthday Break

Today is my birthday, and I'm as old as the hills! Still I am both
surprised and grateful that I am still alive, still somewhat capable.
Looking back I've gone through a varied number of life transitions--
and, lately, I have been edging towards yet another.

Whenever I seem to make a transition, I seem to percolate forever
so long. And though I try to force myself to make such a change,
in the end it usually is an event come from outside myself. And
that's what has happened to me in just the past few days.

Without going into detail, I just got pushed over the edge and
landed in another way of be-ing and do-ing. The situation
allowed for a "break," if you will. Hence I have left behind some
long term circumstances, and have finally started to move into
something over which I have been ruminating for quite a spell.

What is nice is that what I learned from my old role, I can bring
forth in a new way into my future role. Nicer yet, now I have lots
more freedom not only to expand my life and thinking, but I can
play into all that experience I had before and integrate it in
different ways into my new role.

Sound weird, all this? Maybe, but I'm willing to bet a goodly
number of perceptive folk engage in these transitions. Goodness!
People write books about these major transitions that must come
if you want to lead an ever more creative life.

Anyway, it's nice that this break in roles has spilled over into
my birthday. Keeps me ever young. :-)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

(27) WebCam World

Following my electronic retreat, I cruised around the WebCam
World--and wow! Nearly covering every subject under the sun,
a seeker of knowledge can nearly put hirself through a college
education via the videos available on the Web in conjunction
with information, book reviews, etc, on a chosen subject,

I've been toying with working into Consciousness Research in
relation to Quantum Theory, as well as getting an elementary
background in Cognitive Science. One of the major universities
in my locale has a top department in this field--and the
luminaries in that department are on WebCam. Even my local
Natural History Museum has some of these people on video, in
conjunction with a Body/Mind exhibit they displayed recently.

So why would I get into Consciousness Research and Cognitive
Science? Well one reason is that I don't know much about these
subjects. Another reason is that as a seeker, trying to touch
upon the Contours of God, or Ultimate Reality, a number of
scholars (including me) believe that the Information of Such
flows into the Mind. And somehow we need make this special
Information intelligible. How? By becoming more conscious!

Anyway, Consciousness Research is one of the *hot topics*
these days--involving a number of disciplines. Indeed, academic
groups and universities are definitely getting into the act.
Me? I'll just tag along on the outskirts.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

(26) Electronic Retreat: Thomas Matus

I've just come off the better part of two days watching part of a
collection of videos on Youtube. Probably I managed a third of
these presentations by Thomas Matus. A monk, a Camaldolese
of the Benedictine Order, a dedicated hermit, he seems to me
to be a man of wisdom.

Of course hermits nowadays don't exactly sit in a cave.
Fr. Thomas has stakes not only in California, but also in Italy
and India. A practitioner of Yoga before he even became a monk,
he surely could be considered a deep meditator. And his books
sometimes reflect this.

I haven't read all of his books, mainly on the contemplative
tradition of the Camaldolese, but I have dipped deep into his
latest--"Ashram Diary." It's an account of his stay(s) in the
ashram established by the late Bede Griffiths. Within the
monastic world, Fr. Bede was (and still is) a super-star.

Though a Benedictine, Griffiths was also a Christian member
of the sannyasis--Hindu inspired universally-oriented monks.
As put by Wayne Teasdale, they are "contemplatives or mystics
from all traditions united in their awareness, their love, and their
dedication to the earth, humankind, and all sentient beings."

Thomas Matus also is a member of the sannyasis, initiated by
Fr. Bede. And after this electronic retreat, I could easily see
that Matus was definitely universally oriented. His video talks
seem to range from six-to-ten minutes in length. And what I
did was try to categorize so that I had a sense of continuity
when it came to his presentations.

The themes I chose were *interiority* oriented. He talked on
some of the following topics: Consciousness, the Collective
Unconscious, Dreams and Fantasy, the Paranormal (Psi),
Psychoactives, Universal Law, and even Extraterrestrials.

This good monk wasn't afraid to admit that he had an alien
encounter when he was six-years old. And it would seem
that this encounter has lingered in the back of his mind. It
has been a long time, since Matus recently celebrated his
70th birthday.

As for Consciousness/Unconscious, well Fr. Thomas
seemed to take very much a cosmic approach, if you will.
His dreamwork, too, he felt connected him with the universe
and a coming out of the Unconscious into consciousness.

Regarding Psychoactives, Matus certainly was *not* into
chemically induced psychoactives that supposedly enhance
our consciousness. Rather he stressed that Natural Actives,
such as our sense of Beauty (whether as experienced in Nature,
the Psalms, Art or Music) would seem the most Real.

Not surprising that Fr. Thomas would stress Music. An
accomplished musician and composer, he noted that Music
is the "heart" of his feelings when it comes to his own
experience in this world.

During the final part of this electronic retreat, I switched to
another theme presented by Matus--to *science* and how it
impacted us spiritually. This was not surprising, in that years
back I first encountered a book which he contributed along
with authors Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB, and the physicist
Fritjof Capra. It was "Belonging to the Universe: Explorations
on the Frontiers of Science & Spirituality." It was the result
of a discussion at Esalen Institute, comparing side-by-side
the New Theology and the New Cosmology.

Fr. Thomas talked about the "cloister" of science. He discussed
the meme, that "infectious virus" of Dawkins'. He talked about
the Ground of the universe. He referred to Teilhard, one of my
spiritual heros who pioneered the idea that science could also
be the approach towards a more realistic and natural under-
standing. Above all, Matus stressed *integration* when it came
to his own sense of understanding the Mystery in which we live
and have our being.

Throughout, I enjoyed this electronic retreat with Thomas Matus,
a rare "Man in Full," if you will. He most definitely is on my own

Saturday, May 15, 2010

(25) Creativity & the Divine

Currently I am in the midst of a book about Creativity that
suggests that such is the flashpoint where the human and
Divine meet. Indeed this book goes on to discuss the creativity
of the universe, itself, describing in detail the billions of years
wherein, like an Artist, the Divine spreads forth the great Cosmic
Mural. Until, at last, after a succession of life forms, there's the
human that we are today, the creative entity who now stands
in the forefront of this beautiful little planet we call home.

Reading this book about Creativity and the Divine, I felt
swept-up into its message. The message? At first it seemed
very much about the "tools" of creativity, which for the author
was about Freedom and the Openness to Diversity.

The author didn't call for anarchy or anything like that, but
rather his book was more about a balanced sense of wonder--
and duty. Duty towards what? A duty connected with the
Wonder of it all. It wasn't a stern unwavering duty written
into the concrete of some authoritative system, but more a
duty deep in the recesses of Freedom. A freedom balanced
between spontaneity and strategic consideration.

"Strategic" suggests not only getting from point A to point B,
but it's about long-term thinking and projections. Nowadays we
seem to be pretty poor when it comes to this ability to strategize.
But that's what most artists, creators do. Before the paint hits the
canvas there's the imaginal layout that lurks in the mind. Perhaps
this is the way of the Mind of God as well, thinking through the
entire *unfolding* of the universe before setting it off on its long

But if one looks close, whether the universe, the work of an artist,
or even an author's story, there's that spontaneity that seeps in
from the very first stroke. The story starts with the plan in the
author's mind, but as it spills forth it journeys into new territories
ripe for previously unexpressed options. The same seems the case
with the artist and his or her choice of colors and nuanced motifs.
And such adventurous expressions are also observed within the
long expanse of the universe.

These free expressions are wonderfully diverse. They surely
serve as the Adventure into the ever New.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

(24) God Meme

Periodically I feel inclined to write something about what some
call the "God Meme." But after I do some research, whether
aboard the Net, whether outside in the old-fashioned library,
I feel at a loss as to what to say specifically.

Memetics is a scientific field now, in that it follows a certain line
of cultural thought that seems to propagate itself in a kind of
continuous direction. Likened to the physical gene, there's
the cultural meme that seems to carry through rather endlessly.
It's more than just an idea that may or may not catch attention.
It's a *continuum* of thought that mutates and evolves!

Hence we have the God Meme.

Researching this, I had to smile at myself--because for years
I have had fun following what I call the "Continuum." Like lots
of scholars, I have pursued both Philosophy and Theology--and
even Science--when it comes to tracing the God Meme. These
days the God Meme has even jumped into Spirituality, thus
universalizing itself beyond various religious faith systems.

I had hoped to launch into a special study, mainly focusing on
how the Universal Spirit might employ the meme to advance
Consciousness. Maybe it does, but I've decided that such a
study on my part would be endless--and, ultimately, answer-less.

Teilhard inferred that God (or Omega) is an Attractor, the Ahead
(or Future) that draws us forth. Well one can switch names, and
think Meme instead of Attractor. Rather fascinating...

More fascinating, however, is the trick of proving "God" via
the Meme. There's definitely no question that God has been
in our head, probably all the way back to the dawn of human
consciousness. Psychologists have had a wonderful time
tracing this God in our head, sprouting forth from animism to
polytheism to monotheism to modern deism to WHAT.

It would be interesting to inject this cultural God Meme into
Spiritual Development Theory, tracing how we humans try to
answer our two great questions: what is this universe, and
who are we in it? No doubt some already have embarked on
such a journey.

Curiously, all I can think about this God Meme is that in the
end it's not about our usual considerations, such as Religion or
even Theology, but rather more so about the Evolution of
Consciousness! Some day we may call the God Meme
something altogether different.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

(23) Two Transcendentalists

I've recently happened onto Transcendentalism, a 19th century
movement that emphasized the Spirit working in this world, in us,
in ever new ways. Consequently I started focusing on Ralph
Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, major proponents
of Transcendentalism.

I especially enjoyed reading some of Emerson's essays. One
particular thought of his attracted me, to quote:

"The simplicity of the universe is very different from the simplicity
of a machine. He who sees more nature out and out and
thoroughly knows how knowledge is acquired and character
formed, is a pedant. The simplicity of inexhaustible.

"God exists. There is a soul at the center of nature and over the
will of every man, so that none of us can wrong the universe. It
has so infused its strong enchantment into nature that we accept
its advice...The whole course of things goes to teach us faith.
We need only obey. There is a guidance for each of us, and
by lowly listening we shall hear the right word."

Emerson was also a good friend and mentor to Henry David
Thoreau, who became famous as an author, poet, and naturalist.
He lived simply, in a small cottage near Walden Pond close to
Concord, Massachusetts. He stressed self-sufficiency and
simple living. His writings on natural history serve as a
forerunner to our contemporary emphasis on Ecology and

So here I have discovered two 19th century Transcendentalists
who were already on track when it comes to my own cosmic
and naturalist interests! I surely will have to study in depth this
old Transcendentalist Movement that would seem to have been
far ahead of its time.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

(22) God's Garden

Long before I left the East Coast I attended a workshop given by
Brian Swimme and his mentor, now the late Thomas Berry, a
Passionist priest and monk. At the time they were some of the few
small voices at the forefront of the "New Cosmology."

In 1992 their book THE UNIVERSE STORY was published. It
met with considerable success. However, I learned later that
Fr. Berry had written an earlier book--THE DREAM OF THE EARTH,
published in 1988 by the Sierra Club.

Now living in California, I came across yet another important book
written by Thomas Berry. In my opinion THE GREAT WORK is a
landmark study. It's an appeal for environmental responsibility, a
study in *Spiritual Ecology*--a field that I had no idea even existed.
Today, it's a movement that involves major universities, famous
people, religious groups, Green groups, right down to the grass-roots.

As for myself, I decided to volunteer with the San Diego Natural
History Museum. After more than a half-year of specialized training,
presented by scientists and curators, I graduated and became a
docent naturalist with the museum. For almost eight years I worked
in an EcoLiteracy program designed for small children.

Essentially, the message was to introduce these youngster to Nature.
It was about getting them involved early, not only to understand this
great Atmospheric-Oceanic-Geological-Biological System that we
call "Earth," but to value it.

Eventually I got a hankering to work in the "field," so to speak. After
more training, I was certified as a Volunteer Naturalist with the
California State Parks system--working at a national estaurine
research reserve shared also with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

I didn't know it--until I read Thomas Berry's book--but I was already
involved in the "Great Work."

Thomas Berry had become an important EcoTheologian in addition
to being a world-class Cultural Historian. As for his book, THE
GREAT WORK, it's the most jam-packed resourceful treatise that
I have encountered when it comes to the issues of Ecology and the
Environment. Let me quote him:

"History is governed by those overarching movements that give
shape and meaning to life by relating the human venture to the
larger destinies of the universe. Creating such a movement might
be called the Great Work of a people."
[Thomas Berry, THE GREAT WORK, p. 1.]

Some of the past efforts of the Great Work are as follows:

• For Classical Greece it "was the understanding of the human
mind and creation of the Western humanist tradition."

• For Israel it was about "articulating a new experience of the
divine in human affairs."

• For Ancient Rome it was about "gathering the peoples of the
Mediterranean world and of Western Europe into an ordered
relation with one another.

• In the Medieval Period "there was the task of giving a first
shape to the Western world in its Christian form...with the
medieval cathedrals rising so graciously into the heavens."

• In India the "Great Work was to lead human thought into
spiritual experiences of time and eternity."

• And China "created on of the most elegant and most human
civilizations we have ever known."

• In America the "Great Work of the First Peoples was to occupy
this continent and establish an intimate rapport with the powers
that brought this continent into existence in all its magnificence."
[ Ibid, pp. 1-2. ]

With this background Thomas Berry addresses our now living
generations--as put: "The Great Work now, as we move into a
new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of
human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would
be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner...Such a
transition has no historical parallel since the geobiological
transition that took place 67 million years ago when the period
of the dinosaurs was terminated and a new biological age had
begun." [ Ibid, p. 3. ]

Having said this, Fr. Berry's book provides some very useful
answers on how to achieve this transition from devastation unto
a once-again healthy planet. And I can only put, that in a small way
I found myself in the midst of the Great Work.

At the beginning of my venture into the Great Work, as Thomas
Berry put, I began to wonder how this might relate to the
Benedictine Tradition. I knew about its monastic history in
the Dark Ages, when Benedictine monks reintroduced the
rudiments of agriculture to the peasantry and helped establish
fisheries. I also knew that the monks worked the land. They
were their own farmers.

And the late Rene Dubos--an early pioneer when it came to the
environment, who I understand was a Benedictine Oblate, added
that the "monks developed skills pertaining to agriculture [and]
they learned to manage their holdings on sound ecological
principles." [Conversation Lecture, Berkeley, 1970.]

As for modern day Benedictines, they are involved in habitat
restoration projects as well as workshops. And the Cistercians
(who follow the Rule of Benedict) are also engaged in the
Great Work. One book I have found and hold dear is
by Charles Cummings, A Trappist-Cistercian monk belonging
to an abbey in Utah. His book was published early on, in 1991,
long before "spiritual ecology" became popular.

In the end, for me the Earth is God's Garden. It's not only just
about saving it, but it is especially about being in it, enjoying it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

(21) Wakan Tanka

An additional thought that Raimundo Panikkar provided, which
struck a chord, is as follows:

"The monk has a certain chthonic-telluric consciousness that
characterizes him; he does not belong like the ants or bees or
other humans to a productive society, but to a living cosmos like
the wild things and the seasons...The monk cultivates this Earth
and all the spirits that vivify her. The monk lives in communion
with the cosmos; he is in touch with the sap that runs through
the earth...[Raimundo Panikkar, BLESSED SIMPLICITY, p. 51]

Through my work at Georgetown, I already knew that I was
cosmic-oriented. But being a Phenomenologist of Science and
Spirituality was really all about being theoretical. My sense of
the cosmos mainly dwelled in thought. What I now craved was
something that I could see, touch, and even smell. My sensate
side was once again coming to the fore. Essentially, I wanted
somehow to feel God in the Earth, on the ground where I walked,
in the Sky that thrilled me with its clouds at day, with its stars at
night, and even with its wild weather. I wanted to feel God in
the pounding waves of the Ocean.

At this point a young friend told me about a Native American
spiritual teacher. His name was Ed McGaa, Eagle Man, who
was planning a workshop in our area. So I went with my friend
and began to learn a whole new approach when it came to
"Wakan Tanka," the Great Spirit in relation to the Earth, and
about the sacredness of the Earth.

Ed McGaa, Eagle Man, was a really big fellow. I couldn't figure
how he could fit into the cockpit of a fighter aircraft. A retired
Marine pilot, also a lawyer, Eagle Man is part Celtic, part Sioux.
He grew up in South Dakota, on a reservation near the Badlands.

At the workshop he talked about the basics that underlie Sioux
spirituality. There are the spiritual legends, the rituals, the pipe
that spawns from these special stories. Eagle Man specifically
addressed the Sweat Lodge, the Vision Quest, the Sun Dance,
and the Sacred Hoop and the Four Directions.

By this time I was no young chick, so I wasn't about to engage
in these strenuous rituals. The vision quest fascinated me; but
I knew that if I spent a day and night upon top a mountain, fasting,
becoming dehydrated, I wouldn't have a vision--rather I likely
would be dead.

Still I was interested in learning more from Eagle Man. But
before I could delve in more deeply, I felt that I needed to find
more of his books that described in more detail his spirituality.
Not unexpected, I soon found myself traveling once again.

Flying into Sioux Falls, we picked-up the Lewis & Clark trail
midway and followed it through the plains of the Dakotas on
into Montana. Along the way we stopped at the Battlefield of the
Little Big Horn. It was totally not what I expected, both in layout
and in history. According to the park rangers, Custer planned
to attack the Sioux while they were asleep. Of course there were
mishaps all the way, and the better military minds of the Sioux
won the day.

What really fascinated me about this trip was traveling through
the Great Plains. The sky was incredible. It seemed to press on
us, with clouds so close-up that it looked as if they might fall on
you! Swinging down from Montana back into South Dakota, we
finally reached the sacred Black Hills of the Sioux where we
visited Crazy Horse Monument, a gigantic mountain sculpture
begun in 1948--and still underway.

Below the site stood the American Indian Cultural Center. It's
equally gigantic, a building that includes a museum and
sectors that display all the banners of the Indian Nations. The
Center's bookstore provided me with nearly all of Ed McGaa's
books--and some few strays I found in other stores as we made
our way towards the Badlands.

It was obvious that Eagle Man was popular in Sioux country.
As for the books I found, beyond MOTHER EARTH SPIRITUALITY,
there were the following:


I could see that I had my work cut out for me. But there was a
good omen. While glancing at the RAINBOW TRIBE as I was
flying home, I looked out the airplane's window and saw down
below rainbows all over the place.

One of the interesting facets of Sioux spirituality was about a
special stone--the Wotai Stone--"that conveys a special meaning
to you and has come to you in a special way. It may also bear
special symbols that speak out and assure that a minute portion
of Mother Earth (the stone) was created just for you, millions
upon millions of years ago."

I have a Wotai Stone, and a very special story surrounds it.

By this time I had been "snowbirding" out in Southern California,
spending a couple of months during the winter pampering
myself with the good climate. On one such excursion, just
before Christmas, I decided that I would stop off along the way
and visit New Mexico.

Renting a car in Albuquerque, I decided to visit a Benedictine
monastery situated long the way to Santa Fe. One of the
Benedictines I met on my trip to Greece and Turkey belonged
to the community there.

Afterwards, my Benedictine friend suggested that I might like
to pay a visit to the nearby Pecos National Park. Cold, but not
snowy, I drove over to see it. It was my first encounter with the
ancient Pueblo Culture. By myself, walking around this strange
place, I felt somewhat afraid. It seemed very bleak. I did climb
down an unsteady ladder into a kiva, where ancient religious
rituals were held. I found out later that the kiva also represented
the emergence of the Pueblo from Mother Earth.

Driving on up to Santa Fe, I settled down for the night at a hotel
near the cathedral. Perhaps the visit to Pecos, to the kiva, inspired
my dreams, because all night long I dreamt of Indians hovering
over my head. Since the weather was still good, I decided to
drive-up through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on to Taos
to see the great Pueblo located there. And interestingly, in this
tourist mecca was where I discovered my Wotai Stone--or, rather,
it found me.

I was somewhat flabbergasted by the imagery in the stone.
Reflected in the agate was a rainbow streaked eagle-like bird,
high up in space, hovering over a globe. Was this my spirit
animal? According to Ed McGaa, the Eagle is the symbol of
observation--"it is the creature that best symbolizes immense
wisdom...It is the eyes of the all-seeing *Wakan Tanka,* the
Great Spirit, the mysterious unknown entity that created all things."
[Ed McGaa, NATURE'S WAY, p. 1]

With this, I remembered that on the front cover of Eagle Man's
NATIVE WISDOM there was a design by Rudy Chasing Hawk
that nearly depicts the imagery in my Wotai Stone. Of course
his design is more elaborate, showing the Eagle hovering
over the Earth that itself is encircled by the colors of the
Four Directions.

I quite liked Ed McGaa's Sioux spirituality. To me, it seemed
honest and straightforward. To quote:

"The American Indian deplores arguing over 'the exactness'
of attempted descriptions of the Great Power that Created All...
North American Indians believe there is a limit to the human brain,
at least while a person lives upon this planet. There may be some
higher answers in the spirit world where it is believed our spirit
travels, but to probe and argue with one another in this lifetime
is considered utterly foolish and quite nonspiritual. Traditional
Indians believe that attempts to describe to another two-legged
an overly definite concept of the mysterious vastness of the
Great Provider of All are crude and unmannerly..."

After my visit to Taos, I ended with a trip to Bandelier National
Monument where one can find dwellings of the ancient Pueblo
people. Some refer to these people as the Anasazi. Regardless,
considering we were just into winter--and there were now
snow-fields all around--the Bandelier park was still open
and actually accessible.

After going through the Park Service entrance, I was delighted
in that there was nobody around. I was all alone walking down
the path towards the ancient dwellings. Alongside the path were
all these native trees and plants that were somewhat low-lying,
yet so beautiful. Suddenly I heard the pounding of hooves!
I stood in my tracks.

Then the most wonderful thing happened! I saw deer heading
towards me--not one or two, but literally a small herd of deer.
The incredible followed.

This small herd of deer began to run circles around me.
Transfixed, they still circled me. Finally I decided to keep walking.
And for probably another five minutes they kept circling me as I
walked forward towards the ancient dwellings.

It was one of the most astounding things that ever happened
to me. Strange, but I felt blessed by these beautiful creatures.
I just couldn't get over it, thinking of this marvelous event as I
drove back to Albuquerque to catch my plane on to California.

Over the years I have oft wondered about this special experience
I had in Bandelier. At the time I felt it nearly some kind of
*validation* of something I had not yet come to understand.

(20) Continuum of Truth

These days "Truth" is bandied about by all sorts, some
very religious, some not so much. Maybe about the best
one can say at this time is that "Truth" is relative. In other
words, perhaps we need examine what we hold as true in
particular relation to our lives, to our modern knowledge-
base, to our social conditions, etc.

As for myself, I've been hankering after Truth most of my
adult life--and not always just religious truth. What I've
discovered is that Truth is not only a shapeshifter, but
sometimes also becomes invisible. Old truths fade, new
truths arise. It's an uncomfortable situation for a person
who demands a concrete Truth.

As for discovering all the truths in Scripture that seem to
fall by wayside, well yes when I first encountered such, I
was upset. "See, see--it doesn't compute!" At least I never
closed my mind, even in the name of Faith.

But since my first glimpse into these biblical problems, I
have mellowed. As for narratives, metaphors, well eventually
I discovered that the Ancients actually wrote in this style.
After all they were coming out of their "mythopoesis" period,
so it's not surprising they weren't literalists--like us cold

Along the way, too, I guess I became more mellow when it
came to the cracks in the window of biblical truth. And now
old, I really no longer care about these archaic inaccuracies.
"Been there, went through that," I guess.

What is important to me now maybe is more practical.
I would love to understand better That deemed Ultimate
Reality. I haven't forgot the ancient metaphors, some of
these indeed wise, but I have put my hand to the plough
of our modern data base--which mostly revolves around
Science and Depth Psychology and its different disciplines,
such as Cosmology, Quantum Physics, the Transpersonal
Experience, etc.

It would seem that we are now standing in a whole new
ballpark, but we still haven't learned how to play the game
more effectively.

As for the "game," I've pretty much put most of my money
on what St. Paul called the "indwelling Holy Spirit." In his
day he believed that the Church was the Temple of the
Spirit. Jesus felt *we* were the Temple of the Spirit. And,
now what with our coming to realize that the entire
Universal System is composed of an infinity of related
systems, via Deep Ecology, I imagine we can safely say
that the entire Cosmos--and All therein--is the Temple
of the Spirit.

Consequently, my focus nowadays is mainly on the Spirit
as the Plenum of the Universe, as Intelligence, Energy,
propelling us through both Deep Space and Deep Time,
towards a Completion--perhaps?

Where Christ fits in all this, perhaps it is a matter of
identity--or more precisely, personality. I think it's
at this point where Teilhard stepped forward. While
examining his evolutionary sense of Cosmogenesis, he
noted that he had a "special experience" that convinced
him of the Truth of Omega as the Cosmic Christ. It
would seem that Teilhard had a personal mystical
encounter and he transposed it into his faith system.

But is what he experienced *the* Truth? He believed in
Jesus as the "Incarnation of the Logos," capitalizing
on the Greek philosophers who exclaimed the
Logos-Pneuma as the Cosmic Plenum.

So what do we have here? Faith, Intuition, Mysticism,
Philosophy, Science? Probably all put together,
mixed-up in a common pot, we have what is
essentially a Continuum of thought that has
threaded through our Western Civilization since
its earliest beginnings.

Truth spins and moves us ever towards new questions
and new answers.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

(19) Archetype of the Monk

An interesting and well-known priest, Raimundo Panikkar was
asked to attend a conference of monks who wanted to discuss
what they deemed the "traditional monk" vis-a-vis the
"non-traditional monk." I note that this was not exactly a new
consideration, because this conference occurred some 30 years
ago in Massachusetts. It had been sponsored by the Aide Inter-
Monasteries (A.I.M.), which is the Secretariat of the Benedictine
Confederation. Also, the North American Board for East-West
Dialogue was involved in this conference. The conferees chose
Fr. Panikkar as the respondent. In turn, some of the major
discussions as well as Panikkar's observations were published

Well, when I saw the monk as "archetype" as part of the title, it
only took me a few seconds to decide to buy this book. (I'm
glad I did, because it is now out of print.)

If I may, I should like to present Panikkar's discussion via quick,
understandable points. (Quoting from pages 10 through 16 in
his book.) To quote:

• By monk...I understand that person who aspires to reach the
ultimate goal of life with all his being by renouncing all that is not
necessary to it.

• The monk is the expression of an archetype which is a constitutive
dimension of human life. This archetype is a unique quality of each
person, which at once needs and shuns institutionalization.

• One does not become a monk in order to "do" something or even
to "acquire" anything, but in order to "be"...

• Human perfection: The perfection of the human individual is not the
fullness of human nature; it is not nature but personhood. Yet there
are people who actualize their dormant potentialities and others who
don't, people who reach a high degree of humanness...and others
who don't.

• I shall call the *humanum* this core of...humanness that can be
realized in as many fashions as there are human beings. Religion
is a path to the *humanum.* [Also] the poet, the intellectual, the
craftsman, the man of action...all express different facets of it.

• The archetype of...the monk is an expression [that] corresponds to
one dimension of this *humanum.* Monkhood is a dimension that
has to be integrated with other dimensions of human life in order to
fulfill the *humanum.*

* The monk within the institutionalized framework often suffers from
the fact that his vital impulses toward full humanness are curtailed
merely because they are absorbed in the total institution.

• One of the crises of present-day monasticism is precisely this kind
of *quid pro quo,* that something which belongs to human nature as
one of its constitutive dimensions loses a good part of its force and its
universality once it becomes a particular form of organized life.

• The monastic vocation is essentially personal...[involving] the
search for the center...[which] immanent to the human being...
but at the same is transcendent.

• Monasticism is not a specifically Christian, Jaina, Buddhist, or
a sectarian phenomenon; rather, it is a basically human and
primordiallya religious one.

So--reading over these initial points, I began to realize that my sense
about being a monastic might not be so strange after all. :-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

(18) Monks & Brain Waves

A number of years ago the Dalai Lama invited biological
psychologist Richard Davidson to come to India to test one
of his Tibetan monks--a Frenchman, actually--by applying
electrodes on his cranium while the monk was meditating
on "unconditional loving-kindness and compassion." This
particular Buddhist monk had already accrued more than
10,000 hours of meditation, so he surely had to be a
seasoned contemplative. Davidson's team, from the
University of Wisconsin, nearly immediately noticed
powerful gamma brain wave activity. Later more Buddhist
monks were tested by Davidson, and he found similar

Gamma brain waves essentially are considered the brain's
optimal frequency of functioning and associated with a
"conscious awareness of reality and increased mental abilities.
The reported benefits of gamma brain waves are as follows:
Boosted Memory, Enhanced Perception of Reality, Building
of Senses, Increased Compassion, High-Level Information
Processing, Natural Antidepressant, Advanced Learning
Ability, IQ Increase, High Level of Focus, and Improved

These reports about these monks and their brain waves
caught my interest when it comes to how the Universal Spirit
might be working through us, perhaps upon us by enhancing
our brain's capabilities.

Meditation more than often has been in Religion's bailiwick,
though nowadays this kind of mental focus has also rapidly
moved out into the secular world: i.e., Transcendental Meditation
and Biofeedback.

Regardless the specific milieu for meditation, it's an interesting
phenomenon when the study of such has come under the
scrutiny of neuroscientists. It would seem our brain is far more
activated. As to "why," well that's a question that will have to
wait for another day to be answered. As for "what" might stand
behind all this, well that's open to speculation.

Just maybe there really *is* a Higher Reality acting upon us,
an Universal Spirit, that might actually be evolving us. Could
be our brains have finally reached the level where some of us
humans, like the French Buddhist meditator, seem to have
become an open channel for the reconfiguring of our brain

(17) Vacuum

"Vacuum" usually means a space devoid of matter, but it can also
mean simply a space ready to be filled. For example, there's the
idea about a political vacuum--when a leadership or ruling group
have been removed, and yet there's no immediate follow-up to
replace them. A vacuum can be problematic, but it always awaits
to be filled.

Anyway, the other day I was talking to a friend who is much older
than I am. He's gone through where I have arrived. I'm at a point
where I am experiencing a spiritual vacuum. It's different from the
"dark night" I went through during my mid-life. Rather it's an
emptiness that just sits there, waiting.

After decades "seeking God," I came to realize that no matter how
I try, I haven't and never will pin down God. The old maxims,
the cultural views, the faith systems--none--seem to touch me.
I see them as efforts towards trying to understand. Some profess
that their way is the Truth. And I would love it to be so, but in my
heart I cannot quite comply.

Still, I do recognize that our human communities of faith are oft
valiant efforts towards trying to understand That Beyond us. And
it surely could be, as we ever continue to compile our understanding
that we might just be making God more comprehensible. So
collectively we shouldn't stop trying!

But during the course of my conversation with my older friend, our
talk started focusing on trying more to understand our self rather
than God.

I suppose when we are edging-up towards the end of our life's
course, we might find it more imperative to focus in more on
"Knowing Self."

But what happens when an older person suddenly finds hir self
in this vacuum of "not knowing" God. For a god-seeker, it can
be a disaster or it can be a respite, a rest from the pursuit. Me?
I decided that I am resting--and, at the same time, admitting that
I probably never will get a precise answer when it comes to God.

About the only thing that I have discovered is that the god-imagery
in my mind involves a *process.* The more I think I know, the more
the imagery shifts to yet another plateau. I used to think that God
was playing games with me, but I realize better now that God is
more an Attractor for me.

And this Attractor has a way of "growing" us towards a greater
maturity when it comes to any relationship with That Beyond
which we call God.

But there are interims in our pursuit, vacuums where we are faced
with a void, not knowing. This "not knowing" may be akin to the
mystics's Cloud of Unknowing. Yet I understand the mystics
always felt some form of comfort in this not knowing. Whereas
being in a vacuum is more a case of uncomfortable waiting.
There's the danger, too, of giving-up--and then there's *really*
a Nothing!

In my own case, I have decided to be patient, to wait, in the
hope for a new inspiration when it comes to my own God quest.