The experience of falling through the solid floor of establishment consensus and discovering something bizarre and surprising underneath — is extremely commonplace. And the interaction between the beliefs instilled by these experiences and the skepticism they generate (understandably) from people who haven’t had them, for whom the floor has been solid all their lives, is crucial to understanding cultural polarization in our time.
His NYTimes OpEd on an unconventional cure for Lyme disease attempts a balanced perspective on conventional reality and the things that it dismisses.
“We could think of revolutions as carnivals, for whatever good they create in the long term it is only in the moment that they create the sense of openness to each other and to possibility that is so exhilarating. That is imagined as moments of renewal and reinvention rather than attempts to secure some good permanently, we could see the ephemeral utopia they create with new eyes…
“Revolutions beget a … moment when the very air you breathe seems to pour out of a luminous future, when the people all around you are brothers and sisters, when you feel an extraordinary strength. Then the revolutionary moment of utter openness to the future turns into one future or another. Things get better or they get worse, but you are no longer transfigured, the people around you are no longer quite so beloved, and private life calls with its small, insistent whisper…The ordinary and the extraordinary need each other, or rather everyday life needs to be interrupted from time to time.” ”
— Rebecca Solnit writes about what the Zapatistas have created in Mexico
We have had excellent evidence for postmortem survival for over 160 years. This evidence has always been widely accepted, especially by those who have taken the time and trouble to study it carefully. However, with very few exceptions, academic and scientific institutions treat this evidence as if it never existed.
The harsh treatment given parapsychology, and the older discipline of psychical research, needs an antidote. We require a cognitive framework to integrate evidence regarding human consciousness surviving after bodily death.
— Jeffrey Mishlove has a prize-winning essay, summarizing evidence for a consciousness that survives the physical body. (He is well-placed to write such an essay because he has been interviewing people on this and other subjects in parapsychology for 30 years.)
I am the Lord your God: even he that made
Material things, and all these signs arrayed
Above you and have set beneath the race
Of mankind, who forget their Father's face
And even while they drink my light of day
Dream of some other gods and disobey
My warnings, and despise my holy laws,
Even tho' their sin shall slay them. For which cause,
Dreams dreamed in vain, a never-filled desire
And in close flesh a spiritual fire,
A thirst for good their kind shall not attain,
A backward cleaving to the beast again.
A loathing for the life that I have given,
A haunted, twisted soul for ever riven
Between their will and mine-such lot I give
White still in my despite the vermin live.
They hate my world! Then let that other God
Come from the outer spaces glory-shod,
And from this castle I have built on Night
Steal forth my own thought's children into light,
If such an one there be. But far away
He walks the airy fields of endless day,
And my rebellious sons have called Him long
And vainly called. My order still is strong
And like to me nor second none I know.
Whither the mammoth went this creature too shall go.
Young C.S. Lewis, writing as Clive Hamilton
I have been thinking that in the global-takeover-by-pandemic, the billionaires have all the money and control the media and the government and even the scientific journals. What we have is our minds and our intentions and our good will. I believe that the way to turn this nightmare into a dream come true is with our focused intention. Meditation teaches us to concentrate the mind, and t behooves those of us with some awareness of what’s going on and some ability to concentrate to come together and focus our imaginations on the future we want.
I’ve made a couple of attempts to write about this [one, two]. But I haven’t homed in on a focus for meditation. It’s easy to describe what I don’t want to happen. I don’t want global domination by an elite. I don’t want fear and violence. I want individual freedom, but freedom is not an end that can be visualized, but the power to get there. I want diversity of cultures, but again it’s too abstract to visualize. Peace is a value I come back to, but can I really visualize peace? Peace is not just the absence of bombs exploding.
Visualize a neighborhood sidewalk where people’s eyes meet in joyous recognition as they walk past one another, “namaste!”
Visualize a million people waking up Monday morning, looking forward to an opportunity to express themselves through work that they love, contributing to a community that they care about by offering the best of themselves.
Visualize cities that are surrounded by rich ecosystems, teeming with diverse life, and yielding abundant fruits and nuts and roots and berries, tended and lightly harvested by people whose job is the stewardship of nature.
Visualize free-flowing rivers, alive with fish and frogs and turtles. Visualize oceans with algae kelp and shellfish and every kind of fish and mammal, abundant and thriving, lightly harvested by people whose job is the stewardship of the oceans.
Visualize dancing and ritual, amateur music and amateur theater, painting and poetry flowing from people who channel a communal inspiration.
The life span of the universe is one “maha kalpa”. i.e. 311.04 trillion human years. This time span is also the duration of one breath of Vishnu. When he exhales, thousands of universes emerges and one Brahma is born in each universe. When Vishnu inhales, all universes get sucked and Brahma dies. This cycle is non-ending and eternal.
A man walking along the beach came upon a boy picking up starfish and throwing them into the water.
“What are you doing?” the man asked him.
“I’m throwing these starfish back into the sea,” the boy answered. “The tide’s gone out and they’ll cook in the sun if I don’t help them.”
“But there are miles and miles of beach and countless starfish in every mile,” said the man. “You can’t possibly make any difference!”
The boy listened politely, then picked up another starfish and tossed it into the surf.
“Made a difference to that one,” he said to the man.
“I mean that’s a cute answer and all,” said the man. “It would fit nicely in a Facebook meme shared by your religious aunty, or a motivational speech from the early nineties. But in the grand scheme of things you must surely understand that saving that one starfish is of no real significance? The tide will go out again tomorrow, and this beach will once again be lined with dying starfish just as it is now, among them quite likely our little friend you just rescued.”
“What do you want me to say man?” the boy replied, his tone suddenly changing. “That there’s some kind of eternally ordained metaphysical justification for my actions here on this beach today? That there’s some absolute truth inscribed upon the fabric of reality from on high saying ‘One saved starfish equals one Ultimate Meaningfulness?’ On what basis are you premising your assumption that any actions have any meaning or purpose at all?”
“I- I- Well…” the man stammered.
The boy began to grow larger, and as he spoke his skin turned an otherworldly shade of blue.
“Do you have any idea how vast the universe is? How ancient it is? How ephemeral it is?” asked the boy. “How can you claim to take any action that makes any ultimate difference whatsoever when you and everything you’ve ever known is nothing but an infinitely small blip in the middle of a yawning expanse of infinity?”
“Who- who are you?” the man asked.
A second pair of blue arms sprouted from the boy’s torso. His voice thundered as he towered over the man.
“Who am I?? Who are you?” the boy responded. “Who do you think you are exactly? Who are you to go around proclaiming what actions possess significance and which do not?”
You must create your dream by force of will. Imagine what you most desire. Persist. Volition becomes real when you enlist The concentration that you forged in still- ness and in transcendental peace. Those years of meditation served you well— Cultured detachment from a mental hell, The fears and demons you learned to release. When gaudy, loud distractions tug your senses, Your mind is trained with disciplined defenses
The pow’r of thought is greatly magnified When you have noble allies at your side. Sustained, coherent thought will realize Collective vision from discordant eyes.
Da neigt sch die Stunde und rührt mich an mit klarem metallenem Schlag: mir zittern die Sinne. Ich fühle: ich kann – und ich fasse den plastischen Tag.
— Rilke’s opening, in the original
The hour is falling and it touches me with a clear, metallic blow: my senses are trembling. I feel: I can – I seize the plastic day. – tr Neil McAarthur
Variation On A Theme By Rilke (The Book of Hours, Book I, Poem 1, Stanza 1)
A certain day became a presence to me; there it was, confronting me — a sky, air, light: a being. And before it started to descend from the height of noon, it leaned over and struck my shoulder as if with the flat of a sword, granting me honor and a task. The day’s blow rang out, metallic — or it was I, a bell awakened, and what I heard was my whole self saying and singing what it knew: I can.
~ Denise Levertov
I live my life in circles that grow wide And endlessly unroll, I may not reach the last, but on I glide Strong pinioned toward my goal.
About the old tower, dark against the sky, The beat of my wings hums, I circle about God, sweep far and high On through milleniums.
Am I a bird that skims the clouds along, Or am I a wild storm, or a great song?
Two aspects of animal life impressed me most during the journeys which I made in my youth in Eastern Siberia and Northern Manchuria. One of them was the extreme severity of the struggle for existence which most species of animals have to carry on against an inclement Nature; the enormous destruction of life which periodically results from natural agencies; and the consequent paucity of life over the vast territory which fell under my observation. And the other was, that even in those few spots where animal life teemed in abundance, I failed to find – although I was eagerly looking for it – that bitter struggle for the means of existence, among animals belonging to the same species, which was considered by most Darwinists (though not always by Darwin himself) as the dominant characteristic of struggle for life, and the main factor of evolution.
The terrible snow-storms which sweep over the northern portion of Eurasia in the later part of the winter, and the glazed frost that often follows them; the frosts and the snow-storms which return every year in the second half of May, when the trees are already in full blossom and insect life swarms everywhere; the early frosts and, occasionally, the heavy snowfalls in July and August, which suddenly destroy myriads of insects, as well as the second broods of the birds in the prairies; the torrential rains, due to the monsoons, which fall in more temperate regions in August and September – resulting in inundations on a scale which is only known in America and in Eastern Asia, and swamping, on the plateaus, areas as wide as European States; and finally, the heavy snowfalls, early in October, which eventually render a territory as large as France and Germany, absolutely impracticable for ruminants, and destroy them by the thousand – these were the conditions under which I saw animal life struggling in Northern Asia. They made me realize at an early date the overwhelming importance in Nature of what Darwin described as “the natural checks to over-multiplication,” in comparison to the struggle between individuals of the same species for the means of subsistence, which may go on here and there, to some limited extent, but never attains the importance of the former. Paucity of life, under-population – not over-population – being the distinctive feature of that immense part of the globe which we name Northern Asia, I conceived since then serious doubts – which subsequent study has only confirmed – as to the reality of that fearful competition for food and life within each species, which was an article of faith with most Darwinists, and, consequently, as to the dominant part which this sort of competition was supposed to play in the evolution of new species.
On the other hand, wherever I saw animal life in abundance, as, for instance, on the lakes where scores of species and millions of individuals came together to rear their progeny; in the colonies of rodents; in the migrations of birds which took place at that time on a truly American scale along the Usuri; and especially in a migration of fallow-deer which I witnessed on the Amur, and during which scores of thousands of these intelligent animals came together from an immense territory, flying before the coming deep snow, in order to cross the Amur where it is narrowest – in all these scenes of animal life which passed before my eyes, I saw Mutual Aid and Mutual Support carried on to an extent which made me suspect in it a feature of the greatest importance for the maintenance of life, the preservation of each species, and its further evolution.
— Peter Kropotkin, Introduction to Mutual Aid (1902)