In other cultures, schizophrenia is a gift

I have sometimes wondered why schizophrenia survives in the human gene pool.  Perhaps it is a way of knowing things that are not accessible to the five senses, but that are supremely useful to a community (even if that knowledge is less dependable than the five senses).

Phil Borges tells about visiting shamans the world over, experiencing firsthand their trances and the knowledge that comes through them, asking their stories and (usually) traumatic childhoods.

Persistent illusion

The concept of Maya comes from the Upanishads…Maya is the creative power of the divine in the physical realm. Maya is Brahman turning upon itself and its own infinite potential, and it is this that creates the power of self-regard in us and other earthly beings.

– In what sense is “Maya” translated as “illusion”?

If the self-regard of Brahman produces the impression that the self is real and the physical world is primary, this is the illusion. But if we realize that ourselves and all the world around us are manifestations of Brahman, then we can find the connection back to the source, and that is the way in which Maya can be overcome, and not be a trap. 

This delusion that we’re in is also part of the grand plan of creation, and part of the self-expression of the divine.  If we take it to be absolute, then we are trapped; but if we take it to be the expression of something true, then we find the truth in it.  Yoga becomes the process by which, instead of escaping from Maya, we at once embrace this world and also understand its relation to the Absolute.

from Devashish Banerjee, interview with Jeffrey Mishlove

What does ‘sesquicentennial’ mean?

The Tides of Change

Herewith is Beauty fashioned? Canst thou deem
Her evanescent roses bourgeon save
Within the sunlight tender on her grave?
Awake no winds but bear her dust, a gleam
In morning’s prophecy or sunset’s dream;
And every cry that ever Sirens gave
From islands mournful with the quiring wave
Was echo of a music once supreme.
All æons, conquests, excellencies, stars,
All pain and peril of seraphic wars,
Were met to shape thy soul’s divinity.
Pause, for the breath of gods is on thy face!
The ghost of dawns forgotten and to be
Abides a moment in the twilight’s grace.

George Sterling was born 150 years ago today.

Remember that moment of clarity?

At some point in your life you’ve experienced at least one moment of clarity. Maybe it was just a little bit of clarity, maybe you got reamed up the third eye by The Whole Enchilada, but to a greater or lesser extent you caught a glimpse beyond the veil of mental bullshit that most of us tend to experience in our day to day living.

This is just a reminder of that moment of clarity, and an assurance that it’s just as real and true now as it was back then.

Maybe it happened when you were a child, before the grownups had fully managed to teach you how to be crazy like them. Maybe it happened while you were under the influence of psychedelics. Maybe it happened while you were seated in meditation. Maybe it happened after everything in your life went to hell all at once and it felt as though God Himself was taking time out of His busy schedule to urinate on you personally. Whatever the antecedent, and for whatever reason, the usual mechanisms of stress and confusion and mental perseveration just sort of fell asleep at the wheel one day, and you experienced a moment of clarity.

And then what happened? If you’re like most of us, it vanished from sight as “real life” came crashing back in. How weird is that?

Read more from Caitlin Johnstone


Good for what ails you

I once met a dead man in Barcelona
who has been with me ever since.
I showed him my hypochondria
and my disdain for my body
and the scars that cruel men have rent in my flesh,
and I said,
“Well? What can you do with this?”

He turned me around on the balcony and showed me the universe.
“This is medicine,” he said.
“Swallow it.”

— Caitlin Johnstone


The meanning of time has changed, just in the last 300 years.

The present, and by that is meant not the point which indicates from time to time in our thought merely the conclusion of “finished” time, the mere appearance of a termination which is fixed and held, but the real, filled present, exists only in so far as actual presentness, meeting and relation exist. The present arises only in virtue of the fact that the Thou becomes present.

The I of I-It, surrounded by a multitude of “contents” has no present, only the past. Put in another way, in so far as a man rests satisfied with the things that he experiences and uses, he lives in the past, and his moment has no present content. He has nothing but objects, and objects subsist in time that has been.

The present is not fugitive and transient, but continually present and enduring. The object is not duration, but cessation, suspension, a breaking off and cutting clear and hardening, absence of relation and of present being.

True beings are lived in the present, the life of objects is in the past.

— Martin Buber, I and Thou, Gregor Smith translation

Tempus Fugit
FLY envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy Plummets pace;
And glut thy self with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more then what is false and vain,
And meerly mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.
For when as each thing bad thou hast entomb’d,
And last of all, thy greedy self consum’d,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss;
And Joy shall overtake us as a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With Truth, and Peace, and Love shall ever shine
About the supreme Throne
Of him, t’whose happy-making sight alone,
When once our heav’nly-guided soul shall clime,
Then all this Earthy grosnes quit,
Attir’d with Stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee O Time.
— John Milton

The Meaning of Life

I don’t know that this is right, but it is my best guess, at this point in my investigations, both scientific and introspective.

Consciousness exists independent of space, time, and matter. Life is consciousness taking up residence inside a physical body.

Living cells have some resemblance to machines, but here’s one difference: human-designed machines are engineered for reliability, which means that quantum fluctuations are averaged over so many particles that the machine’s behavior is absolutely predictable. For example, silicon computers are miniaturized until they have a few thousand atoms in each transistor, which is as small as they can be without danger of quantum uncertainty causing unpredictable behavior.

Remarkably, the behavior of living cells is the opposite. They are “engineered” to be hypersensitive to quantum fluctuations, so that a single quantum event can be amplified to cause behavior changes in the cell as a whole. I don’t know that this is true, but there’s some evidence for it. Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff have argued that quantum events are important in microtubules that carry streams of charged particles in and out of cells. Most directly, Stuart Kauffman has studied the molecular structures of dozens of neurotransmitters, and he concludes that most exist in quantum superposition states, like a computer memory cell that is simultaneously 1 and 0. This is the behavior characteristic of qubits, which are the building blocks of quantum computers. This suggests that the human brain might be capable of a kind of information processing that no conventional computer (technically, a Turing Machine) can perform. But more important: it means that there is an opportunity for a conscious will to intervene behind the veil of quantum uncertainty, and still produce macroscopic effects through a living body.

Illustration to Blair's "The Grave" (first edition 1813); tombstones in smoke and flames; in the foreground a partially draped nude man kneels, his arms raised in the air, seen from behind; a gowned female figure, representing his soul, flies downwards from the sky and embraces him; a proof before title.  1808 Etching

In conventional understanding, physical behavior of quantum-scale objects has an element of pure randomness built into it. If my hypothesis is correct, then what is called “quantum randomness” is not really random, but it is a realm where free will may find an open window into the material world. There is experimental evidence that human intention can modify processes that quantum mechanics calls “random”. Robert Jahn, Dean of Engineering at Princeton University, performed experiments demonstrating exactly this phenomenon over a period of 30 years in the Princeton PEAR lab. And more recently, Dean Radin has compiled evidence that human intention can modify quantum interference fringes.

I am encouraged by this model, rudimentary as it is, because it is both fully consistent with all we know of quantum physics, and also suggestive of ways that we might explore understanding a broad and compelling body of psi research that the mainstream of science has categorically dismissed. (And Yes, this is a proposed solution to the Problem of Free Will, in either a classical, deterministic mechanics or a quantum mechanics that includes pure randomness.)

— Josh Mitteldorf