The Edge of the Universe

“Western reality has no prerogative or supremacy over other brands. It may be the present operating system for modernity on Earth, but its roots are no more rooted, its arising no more fundamental or absolute. No one species’s or planet’s deposition has primogeniture or is endorsed by the universe. The same claims are made implicitly by the spider and the mouse.”

In Richard Grossinger’s book, Dark Pool of Light, Volume One, he offers the above statement as a generous invitation to consider the broader nature of what we call reality. What seems increasingly important to me is to encourage and facilitate the awareness of just how provisional, and yet, universal are some aspects of our human experience. We live in amazing times. The shape of the world, its cultures and people, seems not nearly so distant anymore. We are at the threshold, perhaps, of realizing a global community.

Therefore, all cultural views and distinctions are being questioned, continually ripped apart by people who were once their very advocates and true believers. For some, this is truly devastating, threatening deeply held beliefs and traditions. We want to belong and we need meaning, even if it comes down to a fatalistic acceptance of meaninglessness or stricter adherence to fundamental religions. For others, a vision of unity brings hope that the human race may one day live cooperatively in peace and harmony between themselves and all that inhabits planet earth. I think we live in mystery, an outcome, or teleology only tempts us to leave the mystery.

The myths we live by might, and do, change. Every prior culture has eventually lost favor with succeeding generations. In the bigger picture of time, our culture in the west, post-modern, Judeo-Christian, like older paradigms, will unfold into something else. The push towards change has its own momentum, bigger than any culture or individual. Even in abundance, the drive to explore and reinvent ourselves remains. Yes, some individuals settle into comfortable beliefs that makes sense to them. But in the bigger picture of time, all cultures and paradigms drop out of favor, unfolding into something else. This doesn’t nullify particular aspects of cultures past and present, but incorporates them to more accurately reflect what was previously hidden.

Myths are not adopted necessarily because we prefer one version of the story over another. Myths that influence us at all, cannot reach us as myth, but as truth. When something resonates strongly with us, its irresistible pull helps us understand ourselves and the world we find ourselves in. Convinced of the certainty of what we believe, either by a historical perspective, teleology, or a charmed feeling of the experience it provides for us, we become storied, immersed as characters, even as our story conflicts with the stories of others. As they do for us, we become characters in a plot sometimes known only to ourselves.

So, does recognition and understanding of how myth works in us change anything? Can we see the implications of the story we find ourselves in and opt out? Yes, I think so, but can we ever be without myth? Is there a hard and objective reality, that when intellectually accepted as truth, replaces myth? What about science?

The structure of part of a DNA double helix

Science, perhaps more than ever, is an expression of a modern myth that seeks moving beyond and living without myth. It may be true that we are reaching a place we’ve never been before and that our rejection of myth in favor of reality may want something from us. But if so, can we ever leave behind the subjective states restricting us from objective experience? The next unfolding may not be about dispelling the mythological way of apprehending the world, but seeing how myth itself is an unfolding of the universe. Carefully, of course.

“The moment you let go of your habit addiction, you explode in all directions.”

Addiction to habit, yes, bringing us both the blessing of familiarity for survival and social skill, along with the curse of self-destructive beliefs that bring us pain and confusion, both which lock us into a mytheme that has long outlived its purpose. We see this on both the personal and collective level.

And so it may be the case that by placing faith in science and technology, we fail to recognize its curse of personal and environmental destruction because of how blessed we are through the benefits received. Perhaps the force of the myth itself satisfies, promising, and to some extent delivering us both health and wealth, along with relief from superstition and the bullying nature of the old guard of patriarchal structures.

I like to imagine that we live at the edge of the universe, unfolding a little more each day, both personally and collectively. The tension between the individual and the collective may be the springboard of revolution. We can look back on thousands of years of wounding through collective agreements, conventions and authority, and hunger for individual expression. But as the fullness of my individuality is experienced, I feel a desire to extend the boundaries of myself outward into the tribe.

When the need to distinguish self from other is fulfilled, alienation and annihilation ceases to have a hold on us. Then perhaps we’ll be able to experience ourselves anew as “beings” in relation at all times, to everyone and everything, and without the fear or threat of losing ourselves to authoritarian figures or “foreigners.”

“Our identity crisis— a crisis of possession —has progressed in the last hundred years into a crisis of meaning and a moral and spiritual crisis as well. We do not know who we are or if in fact we are. We cannot escape the Voudoun “who” has turned us into animated corpses. Every day we fear that we could be supplanted unaware by automatons because we experience how the global capitalist imperative has already turned us into something like automatons: desire machines without souls—workaholic, funaholic slaves.”

It’s not desire that destroys soul, but desire missing its aim of seeking to know others; to distinguish self from other in relationship by risking vulnerability and acknowledging a need for the other. Our attraction to machines, automation and technology bypasses the need for relationship. What we don’t get from each other we can get from automated devices, which increasingly invites us to treat ourselves and others as automatons.

Grossinger, Richard (2012-08-21). Dark Pool of Light, Volume One: The Neuroscience, Evolution, and Ontology of Consciousness: 1 (Reality and Consciousness). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

22 thoughts on “The Edge of the Universe

  1. Could it be that in creating the concept of ‘reality’, we make an error in assuming that it has any referent? That is to say, by invoking our imagined ‘reality’ we necessarily call into existence its opposite, which is in some mysterious way ‘unreal’. And yet what is, or could ever be, unreal? If I imagine I am a unicorn then by what measure do I distinguish this process in awareness
    as being either real or unreal? It happened, so to that extent we can say that ‘it was’, or if we prefer, that ‘it was real’. Conventionally though, the consensus would have it that the process was unreal, because the consensus takes what is known as an ‘objective view’; it sees that I am not a unicorn and so denies my experience any validity – it puts it into the category of ‘unreality’.

    So, the interplay of subjectivity and objectivity lend us so as to categorise experience as being either real or unreal. And subjectivity and objectivity are, as you point to in your article Debra, psychical constructs: you ask “can we ever leave behind the subjective states restricting us from objective experience?” The lines are not just blurred, but dare I say it, they are arguably ‘unreal’. Here, we come back to whether there is any ultimate validity in the concept of ‘reality’. Are we barking up a non-existent tree at a non-existent squirrel?

    Michael makes a very good point when he says that “we are the whole thing in action.” Of course, the mind creates its superimpositions that delineate perspectives, such that we describe these same superimpositions as ‘subjective states’. And yet these states are both wrought from, and participate in, externalities (objective conditions); and once again, where precisely is the line that divides the two? It is not there. Apparent objectivity and apparent subjectivity mutually sublate each the other and were it not for our belief in them as actualities, would merge holistically as Michael suggests. This, as perhaps you and certain of your readers will know from direct experience Debra, negates any need for notions of what is ‘real’, ‘unreal’ or ‘myth’. The counter to this view is that the whole is itself none other than a myth; but then are we not merely imagining ourselves as lost forever in some mythical world or other?

    Many thanks for this fabulous article Debra; the book looks utterly fascinating.

    Hariod. ❤

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    • Dear Hariod,

      As you can see, I removed my previous comment and your subsequent reply. I was frustrated when first responding to you, and that frustration had nothing to do with your note here. Note to self, don’t try to read someone’s words casually on a Monday morning when your attention is, and should be, on other matters. I hope you will accept my apology. I’m going to respond to your comment here in the hopes that we can start over with an engagement of the ideas.

      I continue to ponder both your words and these ideas of real, unreal, subjective, objective, imaginary and mythic. I do think they have their place given the right context and perspective. I disagree that the ultimate lack of ability to comprehend a line between them, for myself anyway, “negates any need for notions of what is ‘real’, ‘unreal’ or ‘myth’.”

      Objectivity, while a slippery enough notion, can have a referent, even if it remains ultimately incapable of full representation of any whole. I don’t think calling reality “the whole thing in action,” gets us any closer to a place where we can experience and measure what a “whole thing in action” refers to. We need and use particulars with respect to their physical and psychological nature.

      Although we cannot, to my knowledge, leave subjective states, we can sense an objective reality through relationships, even if they are forever tainted with our subjectivity. True, the more I think about these ideas, the more smeary they get, but, the distinction between subjective and objective is not something I spend a lot of time dwelling on, because I see the trap and the dead-end of trying to subjectively speak from an objective perspective. We might call this a hall of mirrors or an infinite regression.

      But, then again, when the math and physics that go into building a suspension bridge, is made equally functional by all of us, serving our desire to carrying us over a body of water, we can appreciate that objective factors are in play. So perhaps there need not be a line between subjective, or any seeming opposites, and it is the drawing of the line itself that can never be done and need not be done. Which straw breaks the camels back? The one that does of course. I want the bridge to work, and its functionality depends on discerning objective factors about the steel, the wires, the calculated distances and weights used for its design.

      I guess I still don’t understand the need to completely leave behind, or negate distinctions of real, unreal and myth. While I don’t go through my day to day making these distinctions, as if I could, in certain contexts, they are valuable ideas. I respect that words bring to us particular nuances of perception. It fascinates me that moderns often deny or reject the notion that we live out of myth as much as the ancients did. For me, that is an important insight and reminder of my own perceptual limitations. I say “myth,” rather than subjective states because myth refers particularly to story, a very human experience that is universally found in all cultures. Myth, as stories, shows us relationship in action. Through them, we can see qualities and particularities articulated in ways that move us emotionally. They show us something about ourselves, how we are influenced by ideas not of our own personal making.

      For myself, the world makes sense to me, and especially my perceptions, with a reminder as to these limitations of how much I can see or know. In that sense, the world and all I perceive is imaginal in how I understand it. Is the purpose here for one’s capacity to expand what is seen? I would say qualitatively, yes. Is the idea here to think we’re finding some ultimate truth(s)? For myself, that is not the point. I’m quite content to perceive dimensionality, layers and qualities revealed, on their own terms, as something that enhances my perception, even though I understand that I, too, am living mythically within the limitations of my being, place and time. That is why beauty, love and desire for me are pleasing, much valued and sought after. I think those are very human ways of experiencing life as we know it.

      “Apparent objectivity and apparent subjectivity mutually sublate each the other and were it not for our belief in them as actualities, would merge holistically as Michael suggests.”

      So, and I ask this in all sincerity Hariod, what does the merging holisitcally of objectivity and subjectivity look like, and why is it preferred? I suspect you are saying something important here that I don’t have a complete picture, or understanding of, but would like to hear more about.

      Thank you, if you’ve read this far…

      Love and apologies,
      Debra

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      • Many thanks for this very gracious response of yours Debra; I had been concerned that I had so egregiously failed to express my thoughts well that you may have tired of my presence here permanently. I hope that is not so, as I do very much enjoy the intellectual challenge of getting to grips with what you present here, much of which is entirely new to me. One of the ways I use to further my own understanding is to play Devil’s Advocate, to provide a friendly challenge to what is presented in the hope that any objection can be knocked down and clarity brought to bear within me. Once one couples this with my occasionally somewhat contrarian nature, then the two can easily be (mis)taken for an incitement to riot – something which is in fact very far from my own character; I have always inclined towards harmony and the quiet life. And yet I want to learn too of course.

        Moving on now to your closing question, which in some ways is not possible to answer without resorting to apparent paradox, because the answer is necessarily paradoxical, as I suspect you know well. You ask in effect “what does it look like?” rather than “what is it?”, and this makes responding a little easier. Having said that, it will ‘look’ different to everyone I suspect, and certainly any verbal descriptions will be different – if they are genuine. Copycat descriptions are a dead giveaway and suggest to me either confabulation or outright fakery. Here is roughly what it ‘looked like’ the first time it ever happened with me for me than a few moments:

        I get out of the car and am about to walk across the park to the cathedral for evensong. After a few steps upon the grass, in an instant everything I perceive is at once ordinary and yet entirely different. I know immediately and beyond doubt that ‘this’ is what is meant by (in Classical Advaita) ‘non-duality’ or (in Buddhism) ‘non-self’. In one moment ‘I’ am ‘here’ walking and the chestnut tree is ‘over there’, there is something I think of as ‘distance’ in between the two. What I think of as ‘my awareness’ is in some mysterious way taken to be channelling between two locations and arrives at an apparent ‘here’, which is the point of centrality around which it coalesces and becomes ‘my awareness’ – it is personal to me as Hariod. In the next moment all of that presumed construct falls away. The thinking mind says “what is this?” and at the same time the thought arises “how stupid, to ask what this is when it is self-evident, very obvious and needs no explanation”. Then there is something like laughter, which is awareness being amused at the thinking mind. That same awareness is now no longer assumed to be gathered around a point of centrality (‘me’) towards which it and its objects somehow channel and there coalesce. Whereas just now it was assumed that ‘I’ and awareness am ‘here’ and that the chestnut tree is ‘other’ and ‘over there’, now it is more like ‘awareness is with the tree and my being’. It is only ‘my being’ in so far as it possesses itself and is not possessed by any imagined self. There is no longer any delineation as to otherness. It is understood completely that subjectivity and objectivity, self and other, are mental constructs as formerly apprehended. ‘Here’ and ‘there’ are not closer or further from any point of centrality because there simply is no point of centrality; and the whole of awareness is understood as non-local. The thinking mind is utterly fascinated by all this and insists upon coming up with an array of words that can go some way towards satisfying it. After a while, it condenses this array down to nine of such words: “The world and consciousness both exist and are identical”. The thinking mind knows this is a paradox to reason and yet awareness can see that, for now, this is as close as thought can get to an explanation.

        You ask “why is it preferred?”. I don’t think it is ‘preferred’ Debra, because once it is known then that knowledge does not disappear when duality and the self return, which I think is what happens for pretty much all of us, following which there may or may not be increasing degrees of integration. I think it is a critical event though, to see Michael’s “whole thing in action”, or what, because of my past training, I think of as ‘non-duality’/’non-self’. There is also the rather fanciful term ‘unicity’, though this, as you have rightly identified Debra, might suggest some sort of omniscience which of course is nonsense. Whilst the personal perspective disappears in the sense that there is no longer an identification with any putative ‘self’, then the sensory system does not gain any magical powers.

        In closing, may I just thank you for the many fascinating articles you have written here over the course of the year Debra; and wish you also my best wishes for the holiday season and for the new year too.

        Hariod. ❤

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      • Thank you Hariod.

        Perhaps you and I are equally passionate. I sense a bit of kindredship there. My passion does get me into trouble from time to time. I suppose that’s partly why reading, exploring and writing are important to me as ways to express deeply felt stuff. I am blessed to have found friendship here and am grateful for your reply and our continued engagement.

        As you describe your experience of non/duality/unicity, I see that in many ways you and I do use different language for similar things, well, as similar as is possible for us to know anyway. 🙂

        I think I know the experience you describe of losing one’s sense of themselves in a bigger surround in which one’s identity smears into non-thingyness. Is that it? It is difficult to use language to describe something that has a liminal quality rather than a willful intentional quality to it. I think of it sometimes as immersion.

        In the latter part of my life I find myself slipping into this state rather easily when the environment is right. That ease of slipping seems to allow the state itself to come upon me. It’s almost as if the boundary between the two states is loosening. I sense this too between dreaming and waking states. I am no more startled in the day world when dream-like events appear and in the dreamworld when a conscious lucidity appears.

        I cannot recall what previous states of being were like. What I mean by that is this: years ago, when I was very troubled, miserable at some core of my being, that state was so predominant that losing it, as I did somewhere in the late 1990’s, has continued to shift the core feeling to something very pleasant. Now, when that core feeling is disturbed in some way (as it was after my angry exchange with you), an awareness of what is needed seems to guide me back into a solution that brings peace. It’s as if now I have some sort of homeostasis meter (these are just words I am reaching for to describe something that does not need words except to convey to you).

        I am grateful for the peace that I generally feel and grateful too that there is some recognition of how to be in relationship with others and also the stuff of life that both seeks and bends to peacefulness. For me, it has not always been like that.

        Does that make any sense? One of the reasons I am so drawn to you and your blog is that you call it contentedness, something I value very much and sense that you too are aware of.

        Okay, thanks for your reply and happy holiday and new year blessings to you.

        xxx
        Debra

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      • Hi Debra,

        I have much enjoyed the conversations here, both the seen and the unseen if you will, as they have caused me to reflect and question and probe within. I don’t know exactly where this comment will land in the thread, but wanted to try and a few words of my own in an effort to expand upon the idea that we are “the whole thing in action…”

        First off, I agree with a certain equation of myth to what is commonly called reality, though I disagree that reality is what it is commonly thought to be. I found a passage in A Course of Love that touches upon this: “The virgin birth was a necessary step in the reclaiming of the real act of creation, the bringing forth of the new through union with the divine Self. Whether you believe the virgin birth was reality or myth matters not as myth and reality have no concrete distinction in the illusion within which you live. In other words, you live as much by myth as by truth, and myth often more accurately reflects the truth than what you would call real. This is not a call, however, to embrace myth, but to embrace the truth.”

        I think there are a couple of interesting distinctions we are trying to address at once– myth and reality, but also subjectivity and objectivity, and the nature of truth itself. I think part of the root of the myth of science is the notion that truth, if it be true at all, is what can be objectively determined, measured and codified. That would be great if the nature of truth were so, but it is not. But nor is truth wholly up to the eye of the beholder. Truth is formless, eternal and unchanging– immeasurable and infinite, without qualification or ambiguity– and not up for debate or interpretation. It doesn’t change with place or time, but I agree that our grasp of it, and our cultural mythologies and perceptions and mutually agreed upon means of approaching it surely do. Science is based upon a distortion of something important: the truth is equally true to each of us. We don’t get to decide what it is, or to offer our own private brands of it. We can try, but these are merely forms of illusion. When the truth is experienced directly, it is known and recognized by all in equal measure, and all are found in equal measure to be it’s living presence.

        This is what I mean when I say we are “all of it in action.” The truth cannot be fractured into pieces, for it is always and ever whole, and when we encounter it, we discover it is what everything is at its most essential “core” or “level.” As Hariod said, this is a paradox, for how can you or I be all of it, and yet individual? Like you said with our inability to draw a line between subjectivity and objectivity, perhaps the same applies to us… There is really nowhere to place the line between what we know as our “self” at the core of our being, and that which is at the core of all beingness. Where would that line be drawn? We often say the body is the line, the boundaries of physical form, and yet when form is seen in this way it is indeed illusion. For no form ever arises of its own volition, or independently. To see it as such is to see it other than it is. Seeing form this way clouds our awareness of that which is inseparable, and living in every form at once.

        In an encounter with truth, one realizes the fallacy of perceiving oneself and a tree as distinct, separable entities, and thus there is a way in which all image and form arise as an omni-integrated, dynamic, changing image of wholeness. On the perceptual level, there is indeed a spectrum of influences to be felt, experienced, lived, influenced by, and such, but to touch truth is to discover what is unalterable and eternal, and thence to see it alive within every form or expression of truth. All forms will pass away. Truth will not.

        Part of what the quote above from A Course of Love refers to is the idea of contacting truth directly, rather than through the various vehicles of culture, myth, story, or practice that have historically been used as approaches. I am not saying the power of myth and story are waning, only that we are called to know the truth directly, that the stories we unfold may become pure expressions of what is found– vessels through which living truth flows. The movement of truth into form, through us, through our presence and through our hearts, could be seen as the fulfillment of story itself. The completion of an age of creation. The completion of a movement. The birthing of a long held idea…

        I hope perhaps this clarifies where I am coming from. Western reality, rooted as it is in an effort to declare that truth is found in matter, is indeed illusory– not reality at all. I am out of space here, but just want to note briefly that what I am trying to explain does not preclude our coming to know who we are as unique individuations or expressions of truth. You wrote above about the need to distinguish and differentiate the self, to be someone rather than alienated or anonymous perhaps (my attempt at paraphrasing), and there is a profoundly necessary place for that “differentiated becoming” as well. The paradox is that we don’t need to truly separate in order to be who we are in truth. When we stop trying to live up to illusions and ideals, and follow what arises within as we learn to encounter truth within ourselves directly, we fulfill this function quite naturally and beautifully. In doing so, we each remind every other each in beautiful, unique and differentiated forms, who we each are…

        Much Love
        Michael

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      • Dear Michael,

        Thank you for weighing in on this heavy topic. Although I agree that beyond our limited and finite state of embodied self, perhaps lies a formless infinite uncreated world, I tend to think of that realm as an unvoiced, unexpressed possibility through which form and distinction arises out of revealing and craeting love, beauty and possibility. I trust that the infinite in some sense desires the coming and going of form, and perhaps in ways that we cannot fully appreciate. In this sense, it might be possible that the infinite creation of forms is a Self love desiring an eternal joy of expressing, in which every facet and possibility of the infinite is revealed.

        Cautiously I speculate about such scenarios, as have so many others in the past and will continue to in the future. This is the sweet fruit of being, of awareness and of love for such opportunity.

        I think, if I understand you correctly, when you emphasize the lack of necessity to “truly separate,” I would say that ontologically we are never separate – in the sense that we are the universe expressing itself as particularities of time, place and portion; a finite self as echoes, or drops in the ocean of the infinite, boundless Self. Perhaps when one deeply feels themselves to be of this world, and not some stranger roaming around trying to figure it out, or to belong and feel one with, the strangeness disappears, belonging is so obvious that it is immediately apprehended with nothing to figure out. We are the figure apprehending a glimpse of totality as little selves who are distinguished expressions of Self. We are revelation in the deepest sense of that idea.

        These are my intuitions anyway. The paradox remains in which I fully acknowledge the limitations that a finite, revelatory, expressive aspect of Being must accept, which I gladly do. I don’t see my job as a revelatory expression of the Self to be that of discerning truth, but rather in revealing it, as a flower or a lemur does through participation and engagement in an ongoing movement. This movement reveals the many facets or possibilities of an unfolding creation. We live and die to the continuance of revealing all that the Self is. If we’re curious, tenacious and fortunate enough during our time here, we glimpse a truer nature and purpose in coming in and out of being. Perhaps too, beyond our embodied life span, we live in other dimensions, and there’s a bigger trail of our being that we can’t apprehend here.

        Illusions and ideals are perhaps, the pitfalls of possibility born of the necessity of the willfulness required to apprehend any sense of awareness or aliveness. The moment we begin to see with not only our two eyes, but also develop an ability to triangulate our identity and circumstances, contextualizing our finiteness within the bigger cosmos, the need to separate illusion from truth vanishes. In some sense, and perhaps this is what Hariod was saying, to distinguish between reality and myth implies that we are somewhere beyond both and have enough knowledge to be sure of the distinctions we make for what we call truth, reality, fantasy and illusion.

        I am more inclined to accept the conditions of birth and death and dream on. Then life is a presentation of possibilities and what seems pressing for me is to see and live my life as an expression of the whole. Necessity comes into play here because my birth and death are a given, and a gift. This, my current understanding (always subject to revision and refinement), understands the phenomena, or the way that life presents itself to me, as vital and interesting, not because of truthiness, but because they tell on me and reveal the story in ever expanding ways. Through this revalation, the story goes on, revealing more plots, characters and possibilities through nuance and twists and turns. Every moment is new. For me this gives me a profound sense of being at the edge of the universe, along with all that has come before me and will continue to appear, perpetually expands outward unto our death.

        So, yes, in closing I agree with you; we don’t need to separate, or to live as if we are separated, because we are not actually separated. Our perception of separation though, is perhaps the universe longing to know its Self. A Self that is more and more revealed to or through us by our unique and individual expression and revelation. Separation then drives us with desire and longing to know and reveal. To know and reveal is ultimately true love.

        Happy Holidays to you!
        Much love,
        Debra

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      • Debra,

        Thank you for such a response– both beautiful and thoughtful at once. Many, many lines leapt off the page in resonance, despite the challenges language presents. I particularly loved your line “We are revelation in the deepest sense of the idea.” Also, the notion that strangeness and isolation will disappear when we feel this world, intimately, as our own, as an experience to which we are indelibly connected.

        When I set this thread down for a little while, and then came back and tried to read the entirety of these exchanges with fresh eyes, I felt like we were all dancing on common ground. I found myself wondering… what even were our points of distinction? Are there any?

        I can’t find them very easily, to be honest. I think there is one set of particulars– certain words and phrases we tend to use in specific ways– that bring us on occasion to rhetorical crossroads, and I think it would be insightful to look at them closely.

        But first, I believe it is worthwhile to assert, and allow you to clarify if I have understood incorrectly, that the driving force behind the passion we all offer here is the realization that there is great room for improvement in the experiences manifested in this physical world– by which I mean the potential for reduced suffering, reduced isolation and anxiety, reduced meaninglessness and despair, reduced violence in whatever form by each to each– and that such improvements will require an ability, a willingness, and/or a grace to “see” things (both ourselves and the world around us) with fresh eyes. By this, I mean the ability, willingness, and grace to encounter experience without rigidity of thought and perception, in a manner that invites re-interpretation, that invites a compassionate fluidity of perception, that encourages us to see beyond the shackles of an ordained “reality” that “this such and such IS SO.” Recognizing that “reality” could be our own personal worldview, a cultural or religious viewpoint, etc.

        With that in mind, if I have not wandered too far from what I think you have said so many times here in so many beautiful ways, the question we are faced with is this one: if we are to shed rigid perceptions and worldviews that, when held, lead so often to conflict and suffering on both the individual and collective levels, what do we replace them with?

        What ground can we learn to stand upon that will allow us to openly experience and savor the richness of being alive and present in such a realm– and to be the vessels of revelation you have described– without leading to internal and external conflict?

        Much Love
        Michael

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      • Dear Michael,

        “When I set this thread down for a little while, and then came back and tried to read the entirety of these exchanges with fresh eyes, I felt like we were all dancing on common ground. I found myself wondering… what even were our points of distinction? Are there any?”

        I did this rereading over the weekend and agree. I think our biggest differences come from references and meaning of particular words and ideas. What is amazing though, is that we do seem to overcome the differences enough to understand each other.

        “if we are to shed rigid perceptions and worldviews that, when held, lead so often to conflict and suffering on both the individual and collective levels, what do we replace them with?”

        There is is, yes?…the million dollar question! I think it will take work and who knows how many lifetimes to practice listening and extending the benefit of the doubt to one another. I try to remind myself to just stay the course, be open, compassionate of myself and others, if not for some future paradise, at least for the benefit of peace in my life circumstances and relations with others. Oh, and be extravagant with as much honesty and love for each other as we can muster.

        What do you think?

        Love,
        Debra

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  2. Hi Debra.

    Great post. Thoughtful and well-written. I think we are on the threshold where science, technology, and the mystical arts are about to merge. When I read about the latest theories in quantum physics regarding the role consciousness and thought has on the manifestation of sub-atomic particles, I think it is only a matter of time before science proves that consciousness directly affects reality.

    Cheers!

    Jeff

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    • Hi Jeff,

      I love to think that all of these different approaches and perspectives will cross-polinate, or as you say, merge. Grossinger, in his dense book, is thoroughly hashing out all of the arguments, and trying to express a view that incorporates a multiplicity of perspectives. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts here.
      Debra

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  3. So thoughtful…and my own way of seeing life is shaping in this direction as well. What do we need? What have we been taught to replace it with? Has modernity failed? Capitalism, it seems, has, when we see war, exploitation, social injustice and forced removals, in the name of development. And we live alongside machines which alienate us further, but accept authority without question.

    I am having a crisis, and searching how to live in this world. And your posts are inspiring and helpful. Thank you.

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    • Hi Nicci,

      Good questions you ask. I do wonder what comes next in our quickly changing world. I find myself more inclined to keep staring at the world as it presents itself, that alone might take a lifetime. 🙂

      I can’t place blame on what we call Capitalism alone. I think terms like that one do not quite tell the whole story, or embrace the deeper issues. Behind every capitalist lies a government agency regulating laws that support the system as it has come to be over the last few hundred years. Monsanto comes to mind. 🙂 But, I say that as someone who has more recently, completely withdrawn attention from politics and the nightly news. From where most of us sit, there does not seem to be an effective way to participate within the system to make changes that are capable of restructuring the system as it operates now. In the US anyway, politicians know this and use its citizens to pit them against each other with a powerful bi-partisanship that, inspite of what the politicians say in order to get elected, strongly demonstrates a desire to keep the status quo. While so many of us know this, there is yet see any political will to do anything about it.

      I think having a crisis is an appropriate reaction to the madness! I’m glad that you find some inspiration here. You bring up a reminder to myself that one way of being in the crisis for me is to live out of one’s heart, stay inspired and compassionate. I’m no angel, for sure, and having a lot of passion is sometimes a lot to bear.
      Much love,
      Debra

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  4. A thought and a takeaway, Debra: 1) When I read the opening line and the words “Western reality…” I thought, what the heck is that? A bit like the word “normal.” 🙂 and; 2) Grossinger’s words “It’s not desire that destroys soul, but missing its aim of seeking to know others; to distinguish self from other in relationship by risking vulnerability and acknowledging a need for the other.” This is music to my heart and soul. Appreciate your sharing this.

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    • Eric,

      Thank you! Yes, I agree with you that the term, “Western reality” is a bit open-ended. Grossinger does go to great lengths in his book to be clear about his terms. For the sake of brevity there’s a lot to these ideas omitted. 🙂

      Yes, as your 2nd reply says, those were my observations. Thanks a bunch for your kind words. I am happy this resonates with you.
      Debra

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  5. You make some important points here Debra. I think we are living on many edges, and I do not think we truly understand the magnitude of Western values and lifestyle. One needs to look so very far back to being to entangle how we arrived at where we are today as a society. I do not even begin to consider that I have a grasp on “reality”
    anymore. This is because I spend more time noticing my various states of awareness.

    I look forward to more conversations on this topic.

    Hugs,
    Linda

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    • Hi Linda,

      Yes, how can we possibly take in the whole of reality from where we stand? I so agree. It’s probably the most important recognition we can have, yes? There’s what we are conscious of, and there’s a sort of look at our consciousness based on memory, reflection and non-ordinary states such as dreaming, telepathy, intuition and other ways of perceiving.
      Thank you for your note! I do love this topic!
      Debra

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  6. Another enticing post, Debra. It is great to deepen my understanding of your perspectives as you continue to explore them by enfolding them around the works of other thinkers and dreamers.

    I’m drawn to reflect on your opening paragraph, and the notion that no species’ viewpoints or particular planet’s cultures have any supremacy or primal authority over any other’s. I resonate with this on the one hand, but on another it risks missing the other side of the coin, which is that all of it is indeed the point. There is a risk in saying no particular viewpoint is “the One”, and that is the risk of positing a sort of equality of views through meaninglessness.

    This is related to the question you dance with in the first half of this piece: what is left when we opt out of every myth? As you say, science appears to be an effort to make a go of such a world- to replace myth with something we can all measure and touch and agree upon. We see how that is working. 🙂 Although intriguingly, it seems to me that many of the scientific frontiers relate to acknowledging invisible, spontaneously ordering, only occasionally measurable types of order. I think as we realize we are the extension and life of that which is greater than any conceivable past, it is easier to understand why one culture and time gives way to another. It is easier to understand how we could be found in all cultures.

    This is not meaningless, however, and as a particular “class of worldview” that we have called an ego falls away, we realize we are part of the whole thing. We are the whole thing in action. And we see that no stage in this cosmic unfolding is other than the expression of desire greater in extent and beauty than we can honestly fathom, we might come to experience all of it as meaningful, and shared between us somehow.

    I do think science gets a bad rap sometimes. The problem is not science, in my opinion, if we define science as the effort to observe and recognize patterns of order at work all around us. If science is defined as an effort to convince every being that only that which is measurable counts, or can be called “real”, than yes, it is a doomed enterprise. But I think the perhaps under-valued “heart” of science is this experience of beauty through recognition of the order, and ultimately participating in the order.

    I do think we are unfolding ever closer to the realization that the real power lies within us, and in what we are though we can’t quite put our finger on what that is in words. That unfolding will carry us beyond science perhaps, beyond myth even, for how can it be myth if it is the work of our own being? Our flesh and blood?

    Michael

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    • Dear Micheal,

      “I resonate with this on the one hand, but on another it risks missing the other side of the coin, which is that all of it is indeed the point.”

      Yes…I agree and address this issue here:

      “But in the bigger picture of time, all cultures and paradigms drop out of favor, unfolding into something else. This doesn’t nullify particular aspects of cultures past and present, but incorporates them to more accurately reflect what was previously hidden.”

      Place and time determine our perspective. There is a truth, sure, but it is bigger than place and time and therefore difficult to express fully within any given culture or paradigm. We sense it though, and sometimes experience, or get a glimpse of it, even if it is just to recognize the truth of the bigger pattern, and that in itself is enough to respect the mystery of the bigness of the whole, yes?

      Science, or the current myth in which we embrace with its claim of objectivity, is vital to furthering our understanding. But, science, as an aspect of culture, suffers from confines of its own insistence that its method reveals objective reality by virtue of the correctness of its method. Science makes the obvious mistake of insisting that if it can’t be measured or counted, it therefore is’t real. Obviously, that approach ignores the measurer, the conscious observer herself. I agree though, that when science speaks of beauty and symmetry, and allows for the influence of quality on quantifiable things, she grasps the whole enchilada, and profits from multiple levels or modes of being.

      “That unfolding will carry us beyond science perhaps, beyond myth even, for how can it be myth if it is the work of our own being? Our flesh and blood?”

      I think that myth is essential to express qualitative truths. What can be imagined can be realized. No myth, no path to realization. Myth originally meant what was thought or spoken and is not necessarily that which is legend or untrue. I say that just to make sure we understand what is meant by that idea. Myth is perhaps, a vision of the symbolic and an attempt to express what may be hidden. Does that make sense?

      “I do think we are unfolding ever closer to the realization that the real power lies within us, and in what we are though we can’t quite put our finger on what that is in words.”

      Yes, I so agree…but would add that some semblance of power lies within every expression of the universe, to some degree. But we humans express among ourselves, share these meanings which have a profound influence on how we understand and, in turn, live the myths we find ourselves, flesh and blood, residing in.

      Much love,
      Debra

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