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."]