Archive for category Spirituality
(Note: this is part 12 of a series called “Quantum Life,” in which I post the contents of a strange ‘guide book’ I found for a game called “Quantum Life.” It is in English, which the book calls a “Quantum Life language,” unable to capture all the complexities of the world as it really is. I’m not sure where this book came from – these next sections on suffering are fascinating).
Physical Suffering PI: Pain directly inflicted by players on other players
In the early trials of Quantum Life Sunitolp and the designers were shocked by the level of cruelty and the lack of empathy of the first players. People were doing horrific things to each other and causing considerable suffering. The trial was terminated and the future of Quantum Life was in doubt.
The working theory had been that separateness from the natural unity of existence would leave individuals lonely and vulnerable, leading players to experience emotions in the Quantum Life realm much more intensely than in the real world. It was expected people would have fear, sorrow, joy, and anger – emotions we know exists within unity of all, but which are balanced and evened out by the fact we are all connected.
What they did not expect is that these emotions could lead individuals to engage in actions that were so barbaric. Many wanted to call off the game right there – clearly separation from the unity of all is a pain so horrid that it leads to atrocious acts. Why go there?
Upon returning to the real world players described the intense pain they felt both suffering and, after the game, on realizing how they inflicted suffering. That pain was quickly relieved by immersion into the unity of all existence, but it was clear that Quantum Life had provided a troubling experience.
Just when it appeared Quantum Life would not get beyond the trial stage, Sunitolp made one last pitch. He was countering the argument that said that Quantum Life was dangerous in that it causes suffering and leads normal people to engage in atrocities that may harm them, even when they’re back in the comforting realm of the real, unified world. Experiencing separation is unnatural, sadistic and masochistic.
Sensing the collective will shifting against him, Sonitolp made an impassioned plea. “Were we not once separate, like the players in Quantum Life? While we experience unity, are we not still individuals, me with an idea, trying to convince you to allow me to move forward? We need to look inside to who we really are. Yes, our unity creates a world of contentment and joy – and that proves that our nature is more pure than evil. Yet our nature also allows fear, which leads to anger, suffering and hate.
“Allow me to make some revisions to the program, and assess it then. But don’t we owe it to ourselves to learn the deepest aspects of our nature – to learn perhaps what we were in the long lost pre-history of our world? This is a voyage of discovery, of exploration to the very nature of what kind of beings we are, both individually and collectively. It cannot help but make us grow!” Sunitolp swayed the collective.
Four major additions were made to how the program writes itself based on choices players make:
Empathy: The early trial of the game went so far in trying to create the illusion of complete separation/individualism that players saw other players as objects rather than subjects. Players were used to being part of a unified whole, and didn’t differentiate between the objects of their new world (trees, rain, dirt, etc.) and the other players. Pure separation, or even the illusion thereof, led to disintegration of a player’s sense of moral restraint. Therefore a part of the real world was made more evident, so players could feel that others are like themselves.
Synchronicity: In the early trial people suffered by chance – if one player decided to stab another, the stabbing victim was random. What Sunitolp and his engineers had to do was devise a way in which people could let their connection with the real world (sometimes called the spiritual realm, or “God”) guide their actions. The fullness of synchronicity is dealt with later in this manual, but in the case of suffering it helps assure that players who suffer/inflict pain are those who can learn something from the experience.
Karma: As noted in the section on evil, Karma is a way in which players experience consequences for their actions. Great rewards go to those who can endure suffering with grace and without themselves fall into the trap of wanting others to suffer. While suffering itself is not to be sought, karma assures that the sufferer will have experiences that mitigate the pain and provide opportunities for joy. Karma also works to create lessons for those who inflict suffering. Since all is one, punishment or revenge would be irrational – the sufferer and perpetrator are aspects of the same whole. However, learning of how to overcome being one who inflicts suffering benefits the whole.
Enveloping: When physical pain and suffering get extremely intense, the program allows more access to the real world, so that the sufferer is enveloped by a sense of the greater unity. This does not make pain and suffering go away, but keeps it bearable, as if time speeds up. The enveloping often is experienced as rage or anger, as those aspects of what we are can help overcome extreme distress. In fact, one theory is that the existence of hate and anger in our nature is because it helps overcome pain of suffering.
During the game, suffering, like evil, seems contrary to any belief in a natural unity. People are angered by injustice, which reflects imbalance. In the real world unity creates a natural balance we take for granted; lacking that the Quantum Life world is imbalanced in a multitude of ways.
Dramatic physical suffering directly inflicted by others isn’t the only form of suffering. It can also be a consequence of culture, or a chain of actions that indirectly lead to suffering, even though there is no clear perpetrator.
—– (end of today’s transcribing)
Earlier posts in the Quantum Life series:
Quantum Life - August 3, 2010
How to Play Quantum Life – August 4, 2010
Why Play Quantum Life – August 5, 2010
The Soul in Quantum Life – August 20, 2010
Getting Started with Quantum Life – October 1, 2010
Quantum Life: Birth and Pre-Birth – November 22, 2010
Quantum Life: Childhood – July 20, 2012
Quantum Life: Obstacles – July 29, 2012
Quantum Life: Empaths and Extensions – August 8, 2012
Evil in Quantum Life - October 8, 2012
Mates in Quantum Life – May 9, 2013
(Note: this is part 11 of a series called “Quantum Life,” in which I post the contents of a strange ‘guide book’ I found for a game called “Quantum Life.” It is in English, which the book calls a “Quantum Life language,” unable to capture all the complexities of the world as it really is. I’m not sure where this book came from).
Picking up where I left off, the next section in this ‘guidebook’ is “Mates”:
Quantum life creates the illusion of individual identity, hiding knowledge of the inherent unity of all existence. It is out of this alone-ness that players experience emotions, situations, and challenges that do not exist in the unified real world. However, as players overcome fear and start recognizing the inherent unity of all existence, they also have access to more knowledge about the real world.
A mate is different than the kind of agreement quantum life players make between rounds to meet as friends or choose parents. Mates are innately drawn to each other regardless of the context of the game. They are in tune with each other outside the game, and those harmonies penetrate into the Quantum Life reality. Most players are closed off from such connections, but advanced players can experience an enhanced level of joy in finding a true mate.
Recognizing Mates: For players caught up in the game – level one players focused on the material – mates are rarely recognized as such. Fear blinds the inner knowledge that they are connected, and at best their lives connect serendipitously at various points. At level two mates often meet to help each other see the importance of connection and spirit above material concerns. They can develop into true friends and grow closer during a given round of play, helping each other advance. Advanced players can have stunningly powerful relationships and generally have an easier time recognizing mates.
Empaths can literally feel the energy of a mate. The connection they share from past games and even in the real world is strong; they feel hit by a force beyond anything they’ve ever experienced, drawn magnetically to their mate. Most others intuitively feel a powerful attraction. Mates usually come together in three forms:
True Friends/Siblings: Mates often come together as friends who have a special bond and who can share with each other everything, helping them through Quantum Life’s challenges. True friends can be closer than most spouses, even if each has a loving relationship. There is something mystical about their friendship that both recognize. At times two siblings are also mates, and share an intensity in the family experience.
Chance encounters: Sometimes mates are not together for a long portion of their lives. Their particular game paths may have them going different directions in a given round of play. But they can manage to appear at a time when needed – to save a life, to help each other make a good decision, or to alter the course of an individual destiny in a given round of play. The encounter may be brief, but powerful.
Soul mates: Sometimes the mate is a spouse or life-partner, and the two build a life together and experience the joy of unity at a profound level. This is rare, but represents the closest experience in the Quantum Life world to the joy experienced through the unity of the real world. Soul mates tend to balance and compliment each other, teaching and learning together. However, to truly experience the bliss of unity, they have to avoid the temptation to build walls and be seduced by the culture around them. This means they may met later in life after working through a variety of challenges.
If they choose to be open and honest, sharing completely without fear, they’ll find themselves in a love profoundly deep and mystical. They will sense of taste a the true reality where all is united, and bring a bit of that into the Quantum Life world. It will reflect itself in their lives at every level – physically, intellectually, emotionally and with their families. Soul mates find their lives riddled with synchronicities they draw to themselves. Sex becomes more than a material, physical act, but a physical expression of a love transcending the Quantum Life world.
Choosing the path of total honesty and acceptance is harder than finding each other. Each has to risk bearing their soul and rejecting the protective walls and barriers that most individuals playing Quantum Life feel necessary to build. The risk is worth it; soul mates experience a level of pure joy that very few approach while in the game. It is a taste of the real world. If this path is chosen, both implicitly recognize that their true home is not the Quantum Life world.
What draws mates of any sort to each other is a deep connection at a core level; they are close to each other in the real world, just as they are in the Quantum Life world.
Honesty and Acceptance: Mates only develop a powerful bond and experience true joy if they are able to be completely open with each other. They must be honest about their own thoughts, experiences and emotions, and must accept unconditionally the validity of the others’ experiences, thoughts and emotions. They share secrets rather than keep them. They do not hide part of themselves out of fear of what the other might think. They do not judge the other, but understand.
That signifies the true meaning of Love. Love is a misunderstood term in Quantum Life, often connected with emotions of fear – jealousy, envy, pride or false desire. Mates love because they accept each other as they are, and do not hide who they are. Without such honesty true love is impossible. Mates – true friends or soul mates – can help each other awaken a powerful love inside the Quantum Life world that can ripple through the entire game, impacting every life they touch. It is the personal expression within the game of the love that defines existence in the real world.
OK, enough transcribing for today. Here are links to past entries in the quantum life series:
Quantum Life - August 3, 2010
How to Play Quantum Life – August 4, 2010
Why Play Quantum Life – August 5, 2010
The Soul in Quantum Life – August 20, 2010
Getting Started with Quantum Life – October 1, 2010
Quantum Life: Birth and Pre-Birth – November 22, 2010
Quantum Life: Childhood – July 20, 2012
Quantum Life: Obstacles – July 29, 2012
Quantum Life: Empaths and Extensions – August 8, 2012
Evil in Quantum Life - October 8, 2012
The idea that a new year represents rebirth, renewal and change is on its face silly. Every day is a new day, the year is just a human construct, making days numbers and delineating them in an arbitrary fashion. The idea that this is a time for resolutions and transformation is irrational – it’s just a new day, like every day.
Yet perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss that ideal of a new beginning. Yes, every day is potentially a chance for rebirth and renewal, but usually we squander those opportunities, living hypnotized, following the same routines. Instead of asking what would make life truly joyful, we check off our “to do” lists and take care of the mundane tasks at hand.
And that’s OK – life is a series of moments and we need to shop, cook, clean, work, and take of things that just need to be done. Yet we can do those things thinking the mundane is life – that life is about making money, paying bills, achieving success and consuming products. Or we can work through the mundane with a higher ideal in mind – happiness, love of both nature and others, and a sense of magic. The world unfolds for us, we just have to trust it.
So my resolution for 2013 is simply to live awake.
To try every day to look out the window and see nature as magical and beautiful. Not to get used to it or take it for granted. To feel blessed to live in foothills of western Maine, a place of pure beauty. To be sure, the wide open plains of South Dakota, where I was last month visiting family, has its own magic and beauty as well. Wherever one is, one key to living awake is not to take nature for granted.
To be true to myself. We humans are our own worst enemies, we repress who we are, we say what we think others want to hear, we distrust our ability to simultaneously be true and be accepted. We conform. We decide that our dreams are silly or unobtainable. We settle for a life less than we could have.
It’s not that we humans are stupid. We settle because it’s comfortable. It’s easy to conform, to go with what others want, to push aside youthful ambitions and dreams of happiness. We replace those with stuff – or perhaps with societal approval of us as successful. Prestige replaces joy. To be normal is safe, to conform is to be comfortable.
And then we slowly stagnate.
Please read this “comic”. It is a powerful comparison of two good women who choose different paths. One was true to herself, one conformed. The price of conformity isn’t always so high – and there is nothing wrong with being like others if one is at the same time true to oneself.
But too often we drown our inner voice and make choices out of fear of not fitting in or somehow missing out. We fear lacking income, making others mad, or ending up alone. Fear can’t guide life, to be truly happy one must be true to oneself. We need to trust our conscience and inner voice, even when it goes against what most people seem to be thinking and doing. And that is my resolution for 2013. To live awake, to listen to the voice within, to live true to myself.
I want to wish everyone who stops by this site a wonderful Christmas. But what is Christmas? The easy answer is that it is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. That’s partially true. Early Christians choose this as their holiday in order to co-opt the traditional Winter Solstice holidays everyone else was celebrating. Even traditions ranging from Christmas trees to mistletoe pre-exist the holiday’s Christian identity.
So while Christians are on solid ground proclaiming Jesus is the “reason for the season” in their eyes, we non-Christians don’t have to wash our hands of the holiday, or even phrases like “Merry Christmas.” This time of the year remains a universal holiday, celebrating as days start to grow longer and humans find joy in the depths of winter.
Values of love, peace, joy, and forgiveness are universal. The magic of the season transcends theological dogma. You can believe in Jesus, Muhammad, Hussein, Buddha, the Brahman of Hinduism, or the Hebrew God, I choose a personal sense of spirituality that defies organized belief.
I’ve long believed that human religions tell more about the cultural state of a society than about God and the meaning of life. Individual beliefs about God usually reflect that person’s temperament Humans create God in their own image, a strict stern man sees a judgmental, harsh God. A loving caring man sees God as being primarily about forgiveness and inclusivity. A woman focused on the material world sees God helping those who help themselves. A woman immersed in charity work sees God as wanting us to care for the least in disregard of material success.
That doesn’t mean religion is meaningless. There are reasons why books like the Koran, the Bible, the sayings of Buddha, and the Upanishads are compelling across time. The same is true for philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, or great poets such as Petrarch and Dante. In various ways ideas that cut to the core of who and what we are as humans have staying power. They touch something inside our souls and remind us that we are part of a world far more mysterious and meaningful than our senses and minds can comprehend.
As we trudge through our daily routine who cannot help but be inspired by the parables of Jesus Christ, the wisdom of the Buddha, and the power of ideas of love, faith and joy? Anyone who has chosen to forgive rather than hold a grudge, or show friendship rather than disdain to an adversary, cannot help but attest to the power of forgiveness. One even pities a person locked in negative, mean spirited behavior. The co-worker that stabbed you in the back becomes less someone whose actions arouse anger and drive you to revenge than a poor pathetic fool whose actions cannot bring satisfaction.
So Happy Christmas! Feel the unity that connects us all, follow it and the world will become a better place, step by step.
The snow is beautiful here in rural Maine. The trees seem magical with a white icing, deer tracks visible on the ground, the dull brown colors of early winter given way to a crystal beauty.
Of course, I have to get the snow blower out and the roads are a bit slick. Cancellations alter the routine and force schedule changes. Some people complain about the snow and its inconveniences. Better to live in Florida or California, away from all this!
Life is like that. Seen from one perspective it’s magical, full of synchronicity, opportunities and beauty. We reach out and we find friends. We cry and are comforted. From another perspective life is a burden. Children are gunned down in schools, corporations run roughshod over common folk, people break hearts, lie and hurt.
I try to focus on the magical, but the mundane drags me down.
I wonder if I’ve lived my life up until now fooling myself. I see the beauty, I understand how perspective shapes our reality, I have a grasp of the underlying spiritual truth of existence. Yet I haven’t lived it. I’ve lived a bit afraid, too addicted to comfort, comfortable even with boredom.
I’ve not lived a life as full as I could because it was easy not to. The path of least resistance is enticing. It may be boring, unsatisfying on many levels, but full of distractions and easy to travel. Moreover, since so many of us enjoy that path, it’s socially acceptable. Take the path of least resistance and others nod and approve. It validates their choice of that same path, we’re all in this together.
There is another path, through the woods, unshoveled and unmarked. The soul tries to lure us to this path, it contains richness that the path of least resistance does not. It leads to a life of meaning, but it is risky. The thorny weeds are all around, the snow is deep. There is uncertainty.
We question our soul. Is this really the path to take? The other is cleared and easy. This one requires risk. The soul says in clear uncertain terms that to achieve true happiness you have to run from safety and be completely true to yourself. The path of least resistance is the path of conformity. It is living small, but living comfortably.
The snow falls, the ice piles up on my jacket. The wind hits my face, a raw wind. The wind is harsher on the path my soul wants me to take, there are shelters on the path of least resistance.
“It’s worth it,” my soul whispers. ”You don’t know where it leads, or what’s beyond the next bend, but if you are true to yourself life has more value than it ever could if you simply go with the flow.”
“Come on,” friends yell from the path of least resistance. They’re heading towards a shelter, warm and comfortable. They seem bored, but there are distractions – games, contests, and comfort. Who needs meaning, who needs risk, who needs to listen to the soul? Just go with the flow, relax, unwind, watch the tube, get old and die. Meaning? Who needs it?
Yet the soul beckons. What is life if you live it just to find some comfort and then die? Why exist if it’s just to distract oneself from boredom and be part of the crowd? Death awaits in any event. What’s the point? What if I want more, what if I want to follow my soul, even if it means risk and uncertainty?
Those on the path of least resistance laugh. ”There is no meaning,” they insist. ”You live, you die. Avoid pain and discomfort, don’t take any risks. If you’re lucky enough to be able to glide through, you’ve won! Why take risks, that would be foolish.”
I stand and look, and realize that I am a fool. And that is good. I turn towards the risky path, wave to my friends and say, “I’ll see you around, but I’ve got to go explore.”
I have just posted a spiritual fantasy called “Dreams.” The heroine Jenny finds herself in a different reality, able among other things to enter into the dreams of others – past, present and future. Go read it if you’re into that kind of thing! I wrote it about 20 years ago and have given up on ever having it published. However, more than anything I’ve ever written it outlines my core beliefs about life, including speculation about the nature of reality. Read that and you know me, even 20 years after the fact.
The story had an odd genesis. While I was studying in Germany I had the pleasure to spend a chunk of time in a Studentenheim (dorm) in Bonn on the Endernicher Allee. When everyone left for Christmas I stayed in my room. I could have gone to visit friends elsewhere in Germany, but I wanted a little bit of time alone — I had been traveling all through November as I shifted from staying in Berlin to Bonn, and wanted some time by myself.
On December 25th I took a magical train ride through the snowy Moselle valley (I had a German rail pass I was using up), eating my Christmas dinner at the Frankfurt train station. On the 26th I took another train ride, finishing my rail pass. That evening the Letsch family – caretakers for the Studentenheim – invited me for Raclette. I drank at least two liters of beer and enjoyed a wonderful evening.
The next morning – December 27th – I awoke at about 4:00 AM. I had been listening to a CD from the former Supertramp member Roger Hodgson Eye of the Storm quite a bit that week. It has strong spiritual undertones, and the time alone had me in an introspective mood. I woke up with a story in my head. I grabbed my Zeos 280 laptop and started typing.
It was like that for the next two and a half days. All day on the 27th and 28th I was in my dorm room, typing out this story. I’d run out of ideas, take a break and lay down…and then get up as new ideas popped in my head. I finished it on the 29th, a sunny bright day. “Wow,” I said to myself, “where did that come from!?”
I then went for a run through downtown Bonn and along the Rhein river, finally getting outside after spending nearly three days consumed by this story. I thought I had something really good – I printed it out, made copies, gave it to friends, many of whom reacted positively to the ideas. A couple said it was remarkable and inspiring. I looked into publishing it a few times, but with no luck. I would share it with people I thought might enjoy it and for awhile fantasized about getting it published and maybe even becoming a full time author. But that was a pipe dream – I write too much like an academic!
This morning I started a blog post in which I mentioned how I used to keep a journal of my dreams, including lucid dreams. I had interesting encounters with vicious dogs in those dreams, and some of that had worked its way into my story. I put that post aside and decided to post my story for anyone who might be interested in a story I still feel really close to.
So I’d be honored if any of you take the time to read my story Dreams.
Boredom is the root of evil. That was the wisdom of Danish existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and he had a point.
Happiness can mean many things, but it probably requires an attitude towards life of gratitude, joy and love. Boredom works against all of that. Boredom replaces joy. We think we want something new, but once we get it the newness wears off and it becomes unimportant. A fine meal is joyful, stuffing ourselves with cheap junk food is a joyless habit. We don’t like being bored. So how do we handle it?
Think about a game of monopoly. Once you have the hotels on the dark blues and greens and know it’s a matter of time before you win the game, the game ceases to be fun. If you’re struggling against an opponent, each with a chance to win, relying on the roll of the dice, then the game is engaging and stimulating. So one response to boredom is to try to add excitement.
Therein lies the wisdom of Kierkegard’s claim. For many people in hum drum routines excitement might be an illicit affair, playing the lottery, heading to the race track, partaking of chemicals to alter one’s state, or things even more destructive.
Of course many people have too much social responsibility to choose those kind of escapes. Socially acceptable methods of relieving boredom include throwing oneself into a career, spreading oneself thin with commitments and social engagements, or becoming addicted to sports, television shows, books or in my case earlier this fall, following pre-election polls. While clearly someone who relieves boredom by constantly reading new books has a much more constructive approach than one who turns to whiskey, it’s an escape nonetheless.
This brings me to another Kierkegaard quote: “The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.”
Boredom seems not only to be a lack of something intriguing to do, but perhaps a disconnect from ones’ self. Boredom is an emotion, or perhaps a message from the soul to the self: ”don’t lose yourself…you’re alive, vibrant and you’re wasting that – do something!”
So we do something. But in so doing we can either find/be ourselves, or lose ourselves. Engaging in a hobby, interacting with friends, building community, doing something constructive usually means connecting to ourselves in a way that combats boredom constructively.
The problem is that distractions – actions against boredom that can actually cause us to lose ourselves – are often easier to begin than constructive responses. If I feel bored and have nothing to do I could choose to watch TV, have a beer, and eat cold pizza. That’s an easily accessible way to try to counter act boredom, but it brings no joy. Sitting on the couch clicking through stations with a slight beer buzz and chewing at a cold pizza is a distraction. It’s not joyful, but distracts from boredom.
Working on a project, exercising, family activities, getting together with friends, or volunteering to help others could bring joy and connect one to their real self, but it takes more effort than trudging over to the sofa and grabbing the remote.
The irony of our convenience oriented world is that it is really a distraction-oriented world, one we can lose ourselves in more readily than if we were actually confronted directly with the question of what we need to do to survive. If we had to tend to the garden to assure we’d have food in the winter we’d not be so easily played and manipulated by marketers selling us the latest product we absolutely need and which will bring us at least 10 minutes of distraction disguised as joy.
Boredom is the curse of the modern. We have everything at our fingertips and survival is no longer a struggle. So we can choose – dive into meaningless distractions or focus on not losing ourselves. The distractions may yield dramas that cause some to seem to jump from life-crisis to life-crisis. Or they may create a laziness that leads to an anxious depression and addictive/self-destructive behaviors. To gain weight in front of the television and choose inaction in a world so full of promise seems insane – rejecting life in favor of emptiness. To fall into soap-opera like personal dramas may add excitement, but rarely contentment. Yet it is so easy to fall into those traps.
Ironic. We’ve achieved so much and yet have not mastered ourselves. In some ways the danger posed by boredom is worse than the threats to life and limb from past eras. At least then we were forced to assert ourselves, recognizing the danger. Now it lulls us in, like a quiet hypnosis. We have to work to live awake, not to lose ourselves or our joy at living!
From Wikipedia: ”Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner. The concept of synchronicity was first described in this terminology by Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychologist, in the 1920s.”
One can look at synchronicity in terms of deep non-material causation, or as an interpretation of events that are not causally connected but to which humans give meaning. If someone’s car breaks down outside a diner, and then he goes in and meets his future wife waiting tables inside, he might conclude that the car trouble was meant to be, designed to connect him to his soul mate. It could, however, have been mere coincidence.
I’m a believer in the first kind of synchronicity, that there are forces at work beneath the material that bring things together and create important opportunities and life experiences. On its face that seems a strange belief, so why do I hold it?
1. The inherent question of meaning. Why is there something rather than nothing? This question is unanswerable in any objective sense. We can’t know. This world is space-time, a realm in which you can’t get something from nothing, and where time progresses from start to finish. Our space-time world cannot simply be, because that would contradict its own laws. It had to come into existence at some point. Why? How? The big bang 15 billion years ago may answer “how,” but that just pushes us to ask why the big bang occurred.
2. The inherent limits of materialism. Our thinking is materialist and rational. We focus on measurable “stuff” in the world and try to generalize how that stuff acts and interacts. Up until the 20th Century that seemed good enough. Thanks to Isaac Newton people knew this was a clockwork universe and theoretically if one knew the speed, position and attributes of all that existed one could calculate both the complete past and the future yet to come. By knowing the laws of physics, each moment had within it information yielding complete knowledge of the past and the future.
Modern physics blew that world to smithereens. Now reality is relative to ones’ frame of reference, space and time are unified, and thanks to quantum physics, knowledge of the present only yields probabilistic knowledge of the past and future — and there is uncertainty even in that. Matter, the “stuff” of universe, breaks down into ever small subatomic particles, which themselves are not so much particles as ‘ripples in fields.’ Things that we see are mostly illusion: Atoms are 99.99999999% empty space, meaning all matter we experience from our bodies to buildings and even the planet is almost completely empty. A few interacting ripples in fields create the reality that our sensory organs interpret as the world we believe we inhabit.
In that light, the idea that material reality itself may be subject to non-material causal forces is quite plausible. Especially since the act of observing is what solidifies a probable quantum reality into an actual one, material causality may itself be a misguided interpretation of our reality.
3. The limits of rational thought and reason. Reason is a tool; our assumptions about the world determine where reason leads. Alter the assumptions, and reason yields a different answer. Rational thinking and reason can’t determine meaning or truth, they only can help us figure out what works in the world. Material causation may be an interpretation of reality that seems to work in the world, but there is no inherent reason it should be seen as superior to synchronicity or the idea that there are non-material deeper, “spiritual” forces at play.
4. Intuition and Sentiment. Intuition is often wrong. Remember how the Republicans “felt” Romney would win, while the hard statistics analyzed by Nate Silver predicted the result we got. We learn not to trust intuition. Yet there are two kinds of intuition. I may intuit something about the goings on of the material world (e.g., “I feel the Vikings are going to win this week.”) or I may intuit something about life itself – its meaning and my purpose.
Since reason cannot determine purpose or meaning in life, it makes sense to follow ones sentiment and intuition about those higher issues. Intuition may be stronger there than in guessing particular material phenomena.
I am absolutely convinced that we are, to draw on another Police allusion, “spirits in a material world.” What really matters are the connections and interactions with others, not the material stuff that surrounds us. Synchronicity operates at that level.
Looking at life that way I have to change focus from the pursuit of goals defined in terms of material success towards what I learn from my life circumstances, and how I connect with and help/teach/learn from others. That’s true reality, the material stuff is stage scenery. It creates the story lines in which we live our lives. But the story is not the purpose, the story is the vehicle in which we pursue our purpose.
So when I go through the day I notice chance encounters, events that happen seemingly out of the blue but which connect to my thoughts, actions or personal dilemmas. I try to see meaning in everything and everyone. I see people and situations that push me away, realizing those dramas and situations are not for me. Others draw me in.
Life lived this way becomes magical and meaningful. There is a purpose, there is something profound in living day to day. To get lost in the material pursuit of success and gain is akin to falling into a dream or trance; we need to wake up and experience the present and the meaningful.
And life lived magically, with an eye to meaning rather than stuff, goals or plans, has a reward: one recognizes that happiness is available to everyone. That’s because happiness cannot come from other people, stuff, success in the world or even family. Happiness comes from inside, achieved by being open to the magic, focused on meaning and purpose. That banishes fear and despair. And once happiness is claimed one can turn to family, the world, stuff and other people with a renewed sense of confidence and clarity.
Don’t believe me? Practice living that way. Look for meaning, look for coincidence, look for signs and signals in the daily routine. Look for magic. Pay less attention to worldly pursuits and more towards whether or not you’re living a life that provides joy and meaning. Just try it and see if it works!
Today Americans travel to be with family and/or friends to celebrate the most traditional of American holidays. Most people will roast a turkey, enjoy potatoes, veggies, dinner rolls, pies, and various family delights. Even the most secular of families will talk about giving thanks for what they have. Many families will take out the Christmas decorations, ready to celebrate “the holiday season,” where the Christmas values of peace, love, and goodwill overcome greed and selfishness.
One need not be Christian to appreciate the Christmas spirit, expressed in everything from Ebeneezer Scrooge’s visit from the spirits of past, present and future to George Bailey’s journey in It’s a Wonderful Life. Kids get it when they watch the Grinch’s heart expanding as he hears the Whos celebrate joyfully even after he stole their Christmas loot. The Christmas spirit reflects a belief there is something more important than material possessions and the daily grind. Love, connection to others, and a sense of the spiritual combine to point to a more joyful and meaningful mode of living. The eternal trumps the temporal, values trump self-interest.
Yet today, even on Thanksgiving many “big box” stores are opening, usually at around 8:00 or 9:00 PM. Those not opening today will do so early tomorrow, sometimes at midnight or 2:00 AM, so that shoppers can get the best bargains of the year, so called Black Friday. Stories of violence often accompany Black Friday — shoppers being trampled as they rush to get bargains, people fighting over the last of a specially priced item.
Then for the next month malls will be full, kids will be adding to Christmas wish lists and then feel deprived if they don’t get most of what they wanted. Stress will grow as people churn out Christmas cards as an obligation, juggle party schedules, deal with shows and activities planned for the kids, and try to get that shopping done. The music, lights and smells of the season will offer momentary distractions, but far too often the Christmas spirit gets defined by materialism and stress.
Peace on earth, good will to men. “Yeah, yeah, but I have to shop, get this package to the post office, and damn, we got a Christmas card from them? Sigh. I think I have one more I can send out.” “Dad, why does he have five more presents than me, it’s not fair!” It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yeah, for the retailers! For the small shops in the mall!
A savior is born in Bethlehem. Jews, Muslims, agnostics, atheists, Wiccans and others might smile and nod, but don’t get meaning from that. Christians will, but many will quickly pivot “hey, that’s the true meaning of Christmas, but I have to go get supplies for our party…why’d we invite so many people…”
What irony! The Holiday most focused on our better selves has become the most stressful and materialistic time of the year. Instead of learning the value of sacrifice and sharing, children shout “me, me, me” and fantasize about the stuff they’ll get. Starting Thanksgiving evening we embrace raw consumerism in the extreme — “you are what you own, and today you can get great deals!”
What if people decided to reject that and grab the true Christmas spirit instead? For Christians the answer is right there — the teachings and traditions provide a guide of how to steer clear of crass consumerism and materialism.
One does not have to be Christian to celebrate and appreciate the joy inherent in the Christmas spirit: Love for others, good deeds, giving without needing to receive, forgiveness, family, friends, and connections. The Christmas spirit appeals to the part of ourselves that rises above self-interest and sees meaning in core human values rather than the daily routine or material possessions. After all, early Christians choose late December in order to mesh the holiday with already existing pagan traditions. The holiday spirit belongs to all of us, not just Christians.
The holiday spirit is a sense that life has a meaning beyond our mundane material existence. If one cannot bring oneself to believe in something specific, then imagine — imagine the best each of us can be and the best for humanity. The boundary between faith and imagination is blurry and perhaps non-existent.
The Christmas spirit is truth, even if one rejects the story behind the holiday. That spirit can be tapped to defy the stress, material excess and greed that too often subverts this time of the year. That spirit is here, inside each of us, and in the songs, movies, and ideals expressed this time of year. Grab the Christmas spirit! Share it. Make this a season of joy rather than greed. Let love and human connections trump selfishness and consumerism. A family snowball fight always beats a day roaming the malls. And maybe, just maybe, we can enter 2013 renewed rather than spent, focused on values rather than stuff, and thankful for our family, friends, and the lives we’ve chosen to lead.
(Note, this is part 10 of a series called “Quantum Life,” in which I post the contents of a strange ‘guide book’ I found for a game called “Quantum Life.” It is in English, which the book calls a “Quantum Life language,” unable to capture all thecomplexities of the world as it really is. I’m not sure where this book came from). Picking up where I left off, the next section in this ‘guidebook’ is “Evil”
Perhaps the most difficult to understand aspect of the Quantum Life world is the existence of evil. Evil is defined as volitional cruelty to others, either for personal gain or out of a desire to see others suffer. Since there is a fundamental unity to all existence any act against another is an act against oneself. The consequences of such action are immediate and clear, and thus absurd in the real world. Evil does not exist.
Yet in the Quantum Life world there is separation between action and consequence. As explained earlier, part of creating the experience of separateness and individuality requires breaking conscious knowledge of the inherent unity of all existence. This requires disguising cause and effect; one sees cause and effect in material terms in the Quantum Life world without understanding the deeper impact of action. Evil can appear rational and effective.
Yet to reap the benefits of Quantum Life – choice, the experience of individualism, sensation, and volitional partnership with others, evil is a necessary attribute of the game.
The Law of Karma
Ultimately even in Quantum Life one has to experience the consequence of any choice made. However, to maintain the illusion of separation, the consequences are often felt much later, often in a different round of play (or lifetime). “Later” here refers to the flow of the game. Since players can choose to return to the game at an earlier time the consequence may appear earlier than the action in a Quantum Life frame of reference.
For instance, in the game many people come to believe that material possessions yield happiness. To get those, they may take something from someone else (stealing). Ultimately something will be taken from them, and the person who was stolen from will gain. The balance or justice of karma remains hidden because the mechanism appears arbitrary. Due to the illusion of separation it may appear that A has taken something from B, but later has something taken due to something else, perhaps a natural disaster. The events appear unrelated.
For that reason, karma is not self-evident and people can choose a path of cruelty and evil.
Why Choose Evil?
Players do not come into the game predisposed towards evil. Due to the unity of all, players are inherently drawn too each other as social creatures. That is what allows for the joy and learning that players experience in the game. Fear leads players off track.
Earlier in the guide fear was defined: ”Fear is unique to Quantum Life. It is a state of utter uncertainty about existence, ones’ own value, what will happen next, and what could happen. In Quantum Life it is easy to imagine numerous experiences that would be painful, and fear acting lest they become ones’ reality. Lacking the core inner knowledge we all have about the nature of reality, Quantum Life strips the soul bare, leaving it uncertain and afraid. Only through experience does one learn at every level to overcome fear.”
A possible consequence of fear is evil. People attempt to overcome a perceived emptiness by achieving material excess, controlling others, or even doing purposeful harm to others. Fear can manifest itself as evil on the individual level or through group actions. In the game, evil appears to be a force in and of itself, powerful and perhaps stronger than “good.” Good is defined as acting in accord with our inherent unity, even if that unity is hidden by the structure of the Quantum Life game.
In the game, karma acts to work through the consequences of all action, good or evil, in a way that allows people to learn to recognize the inherent unity despite the game’s illusion of separateness. As such, it’s a complex web of interactions designed to create opportunities to learn and understand, rather than a retributive force requiring one to pay for ones’ acts. The highest form of learning involves grace and forgiveness.
Forgiveness occurs when an individual accepts that another did harm, but does not require retribution within the game. Grace is when one chooses to make retribution to another for an act committed by someone else. Learning the power of grace and forgiveness comes from overcoming fear. Grace and forgiveness also soften the karmic “debt.” Given the inherent unity of all, showing grace and forgiveness to others also extends it to the self. Although not self-evident within the game, players learn over time that grace and forgiveness are the most powerful and beneficial actions possible within the game.
(OK, enough transcribing from this strange ‘guidebook’ or ‘manual’ I found for today.)