What if parity between the cosmos and our physical perceptions of healing already existed due to such perceptions having the capacity to be in harmony with the cosmos itself. Ancient traditions refer to a sacred fire. What is it or could it be comparable to in modern physics and metaphysical philosophy?
These are the kinds of questions I hope those who visit my newer site Healing Generation will begin to formulate. The answers – the direction and momentum – will unfold, but not before the uncertainty of letting go of old ideas reaches a fever pitch!
I am not longer making new entries on this blog — it is a finished work of curiosity. I hope you will glean something from it as it is a healing story, the end of which is writing itself now in my revealed life. No longer Cherokee Paul but Michelle Kathryn McGee, cosmic muckraker!
Even more important to be patient with yourself than with others. If each of us is in charge of our own patience, we all have all the time we need! Anyway, don’t be afraid to start at the beginning of what you think you know — and at the beginning of this blog.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, “I would not give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.” Does complexity both come from and lead to simplicity? Isn’t it a relative scale like light to heavy?
A catalytic chemical reaction is a fine example of what he means, I think. The before and after states are simple equilibria. Complexity arises from a third molecule that has the capacity to temporarily couple and transform one simple state into another. Complexity is the relationship of the three. It does not eliminate the essential roles of the two simpler states.
When we look at questions about complex systems we should similarly expect to find relative simplicities on either side of a complex intermediary. Consider the question, How and why do living things reproduce?
Simplicity 1 : molecules that are chemically compatible tend toward intimacy
Before the double helix was understood, a veil hung over our understanding of the depth of the fundamental relationship between structure and reproduction. The double helix itself was a mystery but so too were the pervasiveness of simplicity 2 and the importance of simplicity 1. Watson and Crick and associates got at the complexity by first understanding the simplicities better than anyone else.
Science doesn’t deal well with deep mysteries. Concepts are developed that allow for the discussion of observations and measurements despite no known causative agent or mechanism. These concepts are, by definition, inferior. In the case of reproduction, the pre-mechanistic scientific concept was “heritability.” Scientists accepted that it was just a matter of time before a mechanism was discovered. They kept doing their best thinking but left room for more. The double helix came into focus and the veil lifted.
In theoretical physics, the most fundamental complex system is characterized by the question, How and why does something that behaves in predictable, stable ways exist? The answer, by default, has been terribly muddled. All we have to deal with are concepts! No one, despite what convoluted discussions and calculations imply, has seen an atom. The onslaught of non-real concepts has made us forget that there is no reason to reject a real causative mechanism for material complexity, one that results in “simple” explanations of other emergent phenomena. Quantum mechanics, Newtonian physics and special relativity create so many conceptual cross-currents that any simplicity 1 and simplicity 2 are hopelessly lost like a boat in a storm.
Consider this possibility –
Simplicity 1: Nothingness can be somethingness
Complexity arises: Cosmological coherence with capacity for both redundancy and novelty
Simplicity 2: Autocatalytic, scaling phenomena lead to predictability and stability from atomic scale up
What the hell is cosmological coherence? I have an idea, but until people acknowledge that existing concepts are worth sacrificing, it will fall on deaf ears. I do have hope that helping define the simplicities might set the search on the right track. (Thus the preoccupation with nothingness.)
A cosmological mechanism as organized as DNA – but without the organic requirements – is almost certainly at play. If only we can lift the conceptual veils.
While I trod my riparian route today my inner musings took a strange turn. I was thinking about the universe and magic. (The strange turn came later.) It seems to me that we all arrive ready for a magic show. From my earliest memories, I can remember welcoming the feeling of being amazed. We want to not believe our eyes.
Then reason enters the picture, and the intellect starts to reflexively conclude “this must be a trick” when magic happens. Considering that stage, street, and other forms of illusional magic are timeless arts drawing audiences of all ages even since the Age of Reason there must be an explanation. It seems our innate capacity for awe literally overwhelms the rational function of our minds when the tricks are good enough, seemless enough, slight enough. The same goes for optical illusions. Like magic they create an inescapable and sometimes troubling experience that says at its most fundamental any understanding of experience is bound to be circular. We realize we are easily deceived – benignly, beautifully, perplexingly so.
“The universe is quite the trickster,” I continued playfully. Its magic is meta-magic though. Instead of speaking to the personal it speaks to the whole. If the cosmos practiced slight-of-hand (and I’m here to suggest that it does) how would we know given that personal experience is our primary guide? Would that make God a magician? I’m pretty sure none of the traditional religions would be interested in reconciling such a seemingly trivial view. Still I got excited at how a slight-of-hand metaphor is the perfect way to explain my unique view on how dark energy comes into play in the universe.
“But wait!” I couldn’t believe where my path had taken me. Quantum theory already re-introduced the trickster god. The 20th century science pantheon of mathematically-indocrinated theorealities would not be complete without a god who ruled quantum indeterminacy, Heisenburg’s uncertainty theory, and the Copenhagen interpretation. The forest transformed from inviting sanctuary to foreboding trap.
My own repose was doubly vexed. I know the pitfalls of quantum theory, but in wanting to present the cosmos’s slight-of-hand there was quantum theory’s legacy pointing the way. I realized the source of the irony several hours later. The trickster and the magician are related and even blend together under dualistic thinking. But Ancients understood the difference. I had ignored it – briefly. The distinction is that the trickster works from the insecurity created by illusion; the magician builds on the awe.
Quantum theory has primed us to see the universe as more than it seems. I will give it that. But I hope we are still capable of seeing that the cosmos is more than the work of a trickster. More than mere now you see it now you don’t imperceptible tricks suggested by quantum mechanics, the cosmos streams from imperceptible slight-of-hand where a broken string becomes whole again and one ball becomes dozens. Where coins disappear from a hand only to reappear behind an ear. Where no laws of nature are violated, only made irrelevant by the possibilities beyond perception.
Let me be specific. What makes the boats in the painting above? The blend of bridge and clouds. Unbelievable, yes. But real, yes, at least in the perception created by the artist.
What makes matter? The blend of dark energy and radiation. Unbelievable, yes. But real, it is possible. A coherent cosmos is one where nothing is more magical than what is real.
I found a Tree of Knowledge of sorts and have been visiting it daily.
For the last few months I have been spending most of my time in nature. On a journey several weeks ago I came across one particular tree. The tree was big and old and, at first glance, looked dead through and through. Its bark-less form protruded from the ground like a thick rope all frayed at the top. Upon closer inspection I found that the rope effect came from it being made of four trunks grown together.
Leafless branches, pointy and black with age, flanked its trunk like an armory. One branch of significant size had broken off and fallen to the ground. Otherwise the ominous tree stood, content in its frightening display.
I made my way through the fallen portion to investigate the far side of the tree. From there I could see how it had remained standing. One of the four trunks that made up its magnificent meta-trunk was still alive! Bark covered it, and a set of pale roots each the size of a person’s forearm extended into the ground behind. When I stared up through the forest understory I could just see the branches that held its leaves.
Trees, intimate in their connection to the earth, make timeless metaphors for knowledge. Knowledge arises from what is hidden (the roots) and branches out in search of energy (the leaves). In the right habitat, one will grow and even seed further knowledge. Trees are common to religious stories and other wisdom traditions. The serpent slithered from a tree in the Garden of Eden. Siddhartha sat beneath a Bodhi tree where he was visited by his inner demons. The tenets of mystical Judaism are constructed as a tree. The tree in the movie Avatar represents our modern fascination with the knowledge of communities and connectedness.
I offer the gnarly tree as a Tree of Nothingness. Not Sartre style nothingness. Cosmological nothingness, by which I mean everything other than something that can be directly sensed.
Since the discovery of dark energy, Newton’s contribution to understanding nothingness… dead. Relativity’s contribution… dead. Quantum theory’s contribution… dead. Three dead branches. Dark energy, a mystery even among physicists, is a challenge to re-conceive nothingness. It is the live part of the Tree of Nothingness that continues to grow, in spite of the weight of dead ideas around it.
But there is another metaphor, this time historical, that injects itself conveniently into the geometry of the Tree of Nothingness. Dolpopa, writing in the 14th century, refers to his divergence from the existing Buddhist doctrine as his “fourth council.” (Only three such councils had, or have ever since, been widely recognized.) In short his doctrine distinguishes emptiness as being not a singular state but a metaphysically rich one. Buddhists have long focused on the notion of empty-of-self as the ultimate state due to it being the source of Buddha-nature, but Dolpopa noticed that plenty of nothingness exists outside of Buddha-nature itself, and he called it empty-of-other. He too had discovered dark energy.
I burned what I could from the branch that had fallen from the Tree of Nothingness. The fire was the hottest fire I think I have ever felt.
First a bit of practical business to share, then on to the missing clothes metaphor. I did not mention in my last post – it was still stinging a bit – but I have been asked to not return to the Chenpo Terma for the time being. So I won’t, or rather, can’t. I know its location on a map and have been there, but traveling to the Himalayan plateau is not a trivial matter to be attempted alone and the locals will have been warned not to help me.
I have asked Chonyi to appeal again to the Sangha-dhatu council of elders to change their minds, but I know the difficulties I face gaining their trust again. The earthquake, and my tendency to push them to go public, have led to understandable resentment, trepidation, and the like.
Add to that the fact that the relic was in my possession when it was confiscated and me being a fugitive from the international relic police (yes Interpol)… neither has bought me points with the council.
What the relic police would do if they caught me remains a bit of a mystery, but I do not want to find out. That is what the bad guys are betting on too. Plus they know I would not keep my mouth shut about my suspicions, which would probably get me charged with slander (and what I’m writing here, if I weren’t using pseudonyms, would be called libel). Whatever to build some kind of case against me. How far Bernie Ghes would go to keep the relic from me (and any positive attention from the relic or my brother) is hard to imagine, but he is not one to do dirty-work himself. The real question is, How far would do-gooders and career criminals hired by a self-important academician go to keep the relic out of my hands?
So why do I care if I ever hold or view these terma again? Why not move on? Obviously they have cultural value, but UNESCO should be able to advocate for that if provided enough information.
So here’s the thing. I have experienced first hand the power of these terma. Not raw physical power like a sword, but gnostic power. Under their influence I saw with a clarity rarely achieved, even when I find myself by the remotest stream on the clearest day. Such assertions cannot be quantified, much less believed, given modern fascination with all things testable. I realize I may just be being sentimental too because I had insightful moments with them in mind (something my brother never seemed willing to admit about his own experiences with the relic). I do not know for sure which interpretation is accurate, but I know I want to have the chance to find out what my experience means. And others should have the chance to experience it.
One such insightful moment happened as follows. The day after a friend and I literally cracked open the relic to reveal its three puzzle-like layers, I sat turning it over again and again in my hands, linking and unlinking the pieces in their various combinations. What I saw was this: when a holistic truth or unified physical reality is manifest through three interconnected continua, meta-theories tend to form around subsets of two continua with the third being neutralized, or made a null set, in order to analyze the other two in relation to each other. At the time I was thinking specifically of physics theories, but the wider relevance is also apparent to me.
So by way of example, let’s take Newtonian physics, special relativity, and quantum mechanics – three physics meta-theories. Assume three continua are at work, let’s call them MODE, VEHICLE, and PARTICLE, and ascribe one continua as missing from each meta-theory’s symbolism. For the sake of (a non-coincidental) argument, say Newtonian physics is missing MODE, special relativity is missing VEHICLE, and quantum mechanics is missing PARTICLE. If we make a single diagram in which each of the three continua are represented not only by an interrelated symbol but by color coding, then vary the background color so that it corresponds for a time to each continuum’s color, you get an animation like the one above. A visual representation of how the same underlying reality looks different but connects back to the whole if we define the continua as interrelated (one symbol) but distinct (variable color). I chose the carvings on the relic to create my representation.
Overlapping meta-theories is a non-controversial observation. When interpreted this way it can be seen as evidence that interrelated and likely hidden continua are at work behind reality (and I don’t mean hidden dimensions! you don’t want to get me started on that!). Important conceptual hurdle to get over, but just the beginning of what would end up being an intellectual obstacle course. Clearly, the correct complement of continua have to be identified and defined in an interrelated way. Not a small task given that each continua falls into the hidden/missing/background role naturally when relying on known types of analysis.
It should not be surprising at all that modern science cannot get its meta-theories to mesh together. Each is based on an assumption where one essential continuum is demoted to the role of backdrop. Symbolic languages are adopted for the resulting meta-theories and, most importantly, links to the temporarily nullified continua are lost.
Each meta-theory is like a stage production, with its own characters, story and backdrop. That is the science we have come to know and love, and now, after the fact, we expect to be able to build holistic models of it? Call it the Ghost of Reductionism, or Human Longing for Predictability, or the commercial value of Paradigms-R-Us. Consumers and the majority of professionals in science and culture long ago severed their ties with reality and associated holistic truths when they accepted the model of interpreting the scenes and stories played out in each human field of investigation as more than what they are: non-real parallel universes of thought.
We are a society of clothes-less emperors. All missing the clothes of reality, with no one to challenge us. I am here to advocate for the advantages to donning colorful, real accouterments once again.
Since there is stripping going on, try to relish the thought of taking away the backdrops and removing the symbolic languages from existing theories, if just for a moment. What we are left with is not only the potential connectedness of meta-theories but, with all these hidden continua to uncover, a likely critical role for nothingness itself. Maybe we are getting somewhere after all.
I started out to write a review of the movie A Serious Man, released last year and directed by the Coen brothers. Seemed relevant enough. While reviews are not my specialty murking around in the depths is. My feelings about this movie (and those of many others, from what I could tell looking at reviews online) were heavy in the murky department. I am still, three days later, unclear whether it was a waste of two hours or a useful intellectual exercise.
What did the first scene mean? Was the woman supposed to be the depiction of crazed certainty, or was she a temporarily misunderstood heroine for her village? Why did the protagonist, an academic physicist, have an older brother who was pointlessly addicted to his own genius, among other things?
The “conclusion” they reach, in the context of retelling the biblical tale of Job, is predictably catastrophic. The conundrums it reveals – religious, scientific and otherwise – are grossly stereotyped. The combination on screen, and in the hands of the Coen brothers, has an uncomfortable if unsurprising effect, which is, dumbfoundedness. Some people like that feeling (rave reviews!); others hate it (insulting reviews). I am in the middle, preferring a bit more substance and less in the obscure allusions department.
I lured you along with this sparkly movie talk so I could hook you with a big juicy worm of a Revealing Tangent. (It took a tangent of this magnitude to get me to reconsider writing anything about this movie after three days of dumbfoundedness). So hang on to your holy books, because you’re going to be wondering where the answers are hidden.
An obscure branch of philosophy known as modality concerns itself with what it means about reality that some aspects of it are possible, necessary or contingent. For instance, it is possible that George Bush could have lost the 2000 presidential election. It is necessary that your parents are yours.
Really important at this point that you not “turn on the lights,” but be willing to muddle about in this darkness for just a bit. Remember, that is where mysteries about reality reside. The non-mysterious, lights-on version of reality today, when faced with the questions I want to pose, is simple: parallel universes explain all confusing aspects of reality.
It may be true that they unconfuse a confusing situation, but explain parallel universes? Go ahead. Examples would be helpful… no. Can you see this leads to a dead-end?
So, now humbled, we can get back to the tangent at hand.
First let me answer the question, what does philosophical modality have to do with the movie A Serious Man?
The reality of movies is the perfect metaphor for modal primitivism. (Tangent – I warned you!) Modal primitivism is a metaphysical interpretation of philosophical modality. It says the universe’s underlying reality is not just about nailing down the facts, so to speak, via solving enough mathematical problems or adding enough dimensions or worlds to account for everything. The metaphysics of primitivism creates an essential distinction. Some kind of carrier of necessity and possibility is needed above and beyond “modal facts,” or logical statements about cause and effect. Modal primitivism says, for instance, that connections between objects and their origins are necessary. A mental image of a chair is not a real chair. Possible outcomes are part of reality if and when they are contingent on a set of quite real initial conditions. And finally, modal primitivism suggests that existence which manifests from nothing must be possible, particularly if you wish to suggest the manufacturing of an infinite number of parallel universes (aka possible worlds) to solve every problem imaginable!
Which brings me back to movies. Movies are the closest we have come yet to making parallel universes real – a story acted out, filmed, viewed by millions. Their existence proves that modal primitivism has to be satisfied before any model of reality can be accepted as complete.
In the period just before John died he had left academic physics and was studying modal philosophy and Buddhism. But not in a human potential way you might expect. He had an agenda. He was intent on cracking open the problems that crop up in physics so often in the form of dualities, exclusion principles, and generally irreconcilability among the scales of physics.
I got hints and insight about his thinking from time to time. I grew up hearing about physics from him and the people he studied with. Later we shared an interest in Tibetan Buddhism, me because of my mentor-in-the-kitchen Chonyi, him because of its ancient and varied doctrines. That was easy to continue after he was gone. But the modal philosophy proved a bit trickier. I ended up asking for help from a friend of the family, a philosophy professor, who hooked me up with a grad student who wanted an interesting thesis project, in this case, studying an ancient relic in relation to modal primitivism.
Nothing in modern physics fills this “primitive” metaphysical requirement. Or I should say nothing-ness.
Yesterday I heard an interview with writer and yoga teacher Matthew Sanford on NPR’s Speaking of Faith. Amazing, gifted person whose body was disabled after a car accident at the age of 13. Check out the following, which is an excerpt he read from his recent memoir Waking:
Imagine walking from a well-lit room into a dark one. Imagine the darkness as a visual expression of silence. My rehabilitation made a mistake with the silence by focusing on the absence of light. It too quickly accepted the loss and taught me to willfully strike out against the darkness. It told me to move faster rather than slower, push harder rather than softer. It guided me to compensate for what I could not see.
Another course of action, however, is patience. Stop moving, wait for the eyes to adjust, allow for stillness and then see what’s possible. Although full-fledged vision does not return, usually there is enough light to find one’s way across the room. After a while, the moon may come out, sounds might gain texture, the world might reveal itself once again, only darker.
The darkness of certain physical views like quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle is dramatic. Its experts have all had metaphysical rehab! Media, art and literature accept their rehabilitated opinions, which morph into cultural messages full of positive spins – and, to certain ears, irony. Quantum leap over your limitations… uncertainty makes the universe exciting, or… in an alternate universe you may be experiencing bliss! After my brother parted ways with the physics community he regularly lamented this.
I would take it one step further now. Should theorists lose track of one basic principle – that physical theories must connect to physical reality – what would keep the problem from spiraling into a new type of darkness, one of human making?
[I am aware I keep mixing two notions of darkness / nothingness that are quite distinct. See my Philosophy Disclaimer.]
Matthew Sanford says something similar happens to the disabled all the time. They accept their fate as being cut off from their physical bodies rather than of needing to become more finely attuned to it and accepting of its subtleties. First and foremost being as whole as possible should be more important that being “a fighter,” or in the case of physicists avoiding metaphysical crises, of being a pedant? (That was John’s favorite insult to hurl at career physicists.)
Matthew Sanford, in reconnecting his mind and emotions with his disabled body, says he identified a common source of physical limitation in the world. Without knowing it even able-bodied people disable themselves in small ways over a lifetime through closing down physical communication with the parts of themselves that hurt. People’s focus is too often on accepting immediate relief through physical silence (a darkness of human making?). He says instead we should focus on being patient with our existing capacity, however limited, and re-connecting with the energy and physical processes that built us in the first place.
Maybe I should rename this weblog Metaphysical Yoga.
Until a year ago I had NO idea there were intricate international, government and law enforcement bodies dedicated to protecting old stuff. Registries of things-people-might-want-to-steal and valuable-stuff-that-doesn’t-look-it abound, including registries of already looted relics and art. In principle I’m glad people care about history, prize beauty, etc. I’m less impressed by rich people wanting to protect or even escalate the value of their abstract investments. I’m really frustrated at being forced to the wrong end of this good-intentioned scheme that has no independent system of justice. Those in positions of power get to use it to their advantage. Period. Oftentimes they’re working for good and playing fair, but when it’s for bad, too bad.
When my brother John and I were given a relic in 2008 while on a trip to China and Tibet I never imagined I would be lamenting such a thing.
The relic was taken from me and Brooklyn (John’s widow) at a physics conference in Turkey a year later. Brooklyn began an invited talk on the relic and its relationship to John’s unconventional observations of physics, and ten minutes in UNESCO’s cultural property police, who were waiting in the wings, confiscated it. I suspect Dr. Bernie Ghes orchestrated the whole thing. He’s been wanting to get his hands on it ever since John’s death. Death to the relic too. I’m guessing his wish has come true and it’s been bagged and labeled into oblivion.
Our gift was stolen from us by bad guy good guys.
Here’s a stylized rendering of the carvings found on and WITHIN the relic. Again, we never dreamed it would be stolen and have little record of it other than what we remember. My friend Peter created this last summer from sketches and descriptions I provided.
The relic looked basically like a dingy, lumpy brick. It was hundreds of years old and apparently made of rock that is common but sacred in Tibet, not a man-made material like metal or ceramic. “Positive” and “negative” carvings, in the pattern you see here in the top frame, decorated opposite faces of the brick. The patterns of the bottom two frames were visible as carvings only when the brick was pried open at its two center seems. So in each case there was a carving and its “negative” on opposite faces. A three-dimensional puzzle of sorts.
Another friend Cam, a philosophy grad student, was the one who noticed the seams along the uncarved sides and proposed prying at them. Luckily, at the moment we had butter lamps at our disposal, and that did the trick getting the old joined together pieces to release.
John never saw the relic open so he only saw 1/3 of its content. Relic aside, he was fixated on wave-particle duality. So the pattern he saw (the first frame) on the relic bolstered his fascination (though at least one friend has joked it looks like a snake with a tumor). What he always described when he talked about the relic was its, how do I put it, magical properties. He claimed that the relic changed in unpredicted ways in different types of light. He died the same night he took it out for a moonlight ride – to see if he might discover different properties in that kind of light.
Early on I was more interested in establishing connections to the relic’s origin. The discovery of the embedded carvings opened up a whole new question in my mind of the significance of the set of carvings though. Recently, with the visit to the Chenpo Terma, the two perspectives finally converged.
The carvings on the relic and “portrait” in the Chenpo Terma are not connected to the existing understanding of Dolpopa’s 14th century central doctrines (on emptiness) in an obvious way. Still, both terma, literally “wisdom treasures,” are ascribed significance by those who know his doctrines well. Which leads me to conclude they may have significance all their own. Could they represent cosmological extensions of Dolpopa’s doctrinal work? It’s entirely possible that esoteric gnostics actively pursued such insights up until the middle of the 17th century. Not coincidentally, that is was when Tibet’s civil war ended, and all but Gelukpa (the dominant “yellow hat” sect headed by the Dalai Lama) doctrine was banished.
My posts so far have been about recent events, how they affected me, and why I decided to weblog. The question remains, Why should anyone care?
A good place to start is with the title of the weblog. You might be asking,what’s with “Hidden: The paradox of revealing nothingness” aside from, perhaps, a clever word play? Maybe you get that I am in hiding, something about stealing relics and bad guy physicists, but are not clear if I am revealing nothingness or caught in a paradox where nothingness is the unfortunate consequence. If it’s the first, then you may be unsure how you are supposed to tell when there is a revelation vs. nothingness vs. a revelation about nothingness.
Before we switch on the lights in a panic, I hope you will take a deep breath with me and consider that the dark is nothing to be afraid of. At least not here. You may wish I would turn on the lights and just give you a friendly tour. You may be increasingly uncomfortable, imagining zombies, or hoards of bugs, or death each time I remind you that the lights are out. But turning on the lights would mean deferring to our dominant sense, to “see” a problem that, while not imaginary, can only be solved by evoking our other senses. No matter how many times someone tells you there are no such things as zombies, until you sit in the dark, awake, aware, and alone, and prove it to yourself, you will not be able to answer the more interesting question, Does nothingness have something to reveal?
When it comes to pondering nothingness (metaphorically = darkness), I would equate “using all of your senses” to letting our collective blend of scientific wisdom (wonder), faith and philosophy mingle instead of reflexively evoking a media sound byte understanding of valid debates and concepts.
I have reason to believe that these things – wonder, faith and metaphysical philosophy can be brought together only in darkness. Not darkness in the sense of uncertainty and fear though. Darkness in the sense of potential, of a coherence that, if it exists, is not separate, to be observed, but must be conceived. The place it exists is in the paradox of revealing nothingness.
We are hardly the first to bravely go where I am suggesting I will go. Any of you familiar with lay theologian C.S. Lewis’s “Wood Between the Worlds,” central to his Chronicles of Narnia prequel The Magician’s Nephew, can consider this endeavor a scientific and philosophical application of that spiritual vision. Far, far fewer of you may be familiar yet with the radical doctrine of a 14th century Buddhist monk Dolpopa. It energized, and divided, Tibet’s spiritual development for three centuries. Then in the 17th century, political agendas that eventually led to the re-stabilization of Tibet and its establishment as a theocracy, squashed the rich diversity of doctrines such as Dolpopa’s that had flourished. A potent doctrinal vacuum resulted. I would compare it to the reality crisis sparked this century by the indoctrination of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. Not just nothingness but emptiness, nothingness devoid of the possibility of meaning and ruled by uncertainty.
This 5 minute YouTube video “What is theoretical physics for?” is fascinating in relation to what I’m doing here. Youth plus the perceived nothingness that surrounds us, in relation to physics theory, metaphysics and beyond. Check out the funky lighting… he’s barely illuminated in the darkness. Very humble. I like that.
I know I said media perspective is bad, but I meant mainstream media…
An online commentary from the NYT today delivered a bittersweet reminder. In “The Stone: What Is a Philosopher?” Simon Critchley, an academic philosopher, recounts:
Socrates tells the story of Thales, who was by some accounts the first philosopher. He was looking so intently at the stars that he fell into a well. Some witty Thracian servant girl is said to have made a joke at Thales’ expense — that in his eagerness to know what went on in the sky he was unaware of the things in front of him and at his feet.
Critchley went on to flatter the field and make plenty of jabs at unphilosophical professionals who lack not only ethics and morals but the ability to understand them.
My brother was not a trained philosopher, but he traveled down its well-strewn path and fell in and never got out. He drowned. Not metaphorically. Really. Continue reading →