Archive for August, 2008

We Are Indeed Created In The Image Of God—The Image Of Difference-No Difference

August 30, 2008

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Emptiness, Anxiety, And Despair Follow Upon Contact With The Nothingness Of Self

MV Conversation

Future Time

Empty Self Concluded

“Believe me,” said MV, “people self-destruct all the time. Music has nothing to do with it. Trust me, I know!”

“Probably true,” I replied, “and that’s why I found Buddhism so inviting. Screw the self; according to Buddhism, it didn’t exist anyway. It’s all about suffering, or so said the Buddha. But the Buddha also said, ‘its all about escape from suffering too. What I didn’t understand, what I still don’t understand, though, has to do with the Buddhist notion of: ‘In order to get it all, you had to give it all up,’ and further, in order to give it up, you had to know what to give up and how to do it. All that knowing had value; Buddhism didn’t value the means like it did the ends. Something was missing, so I went back to the drawing board, so to speak, and there discovered a different kind of self.”

“It’s all gibberish if you ask me,” responded MV. “You’re telling me that there is a kinship between knowledge and hopelessness. That’s a contradiction isn’t it?”

“Not really,” I replied. “Emptiness jumpstarts the creative energy that produces usable knowledge. The upside is that knowledge, if it is not false knowledge, is inclusive, and as such, it keeps hopelessness and despair at bay. However, when ‘unknowing consciousness’ falls into emptiness–hopelessness, despair, or even worse is the result. That’s just the way it is. You have to take the good with the bad, and that’s the down side.”

“That is if you survive,” MV exclaimed.

“True enough,” I said. “Hopelessness and despair can kill. Too much of anything, in fact, is dangerous; and going to the well of self-knowledge is ripe with risk. That’s a hard one to swallow. For me, reading Nietzsche kept me afloat, at least in the beginning anyway.”

“You learned self-knowledge from a demented ego-maniac. Who’s lacking in nuance now!” replied MV.

“Hey, wait a minute, I probably wouldn’t even be alive if it wasn’t for Nietzsche,” I replied. “He taught me how to feel good about myself when there wasn’t anything to feel good about. Out of the fires of his own pessimism, he penned his Ubermensch—his superman, and vicariously lived life through his own creation. He passionately affirmed his freedom ‘to be’—his will to power, and to the extent that he succeeded, he lived life on the edge. The real Ubermensch, however, could not survive off the page. It was Kierkegaard, not Nietzsche, who forged out of despair a life that could live off the page.

“Kierkegaard spread hopelessness and despair to the masses?” replied MV.

“The opposite,” I said. “Kierkegaard was able to turn hearts and minds into ‘true God-believers.’”

“How did he, or anybody else for that matter, go from pain and hopelessness to believing in God?”

“Good question,” I said, “that question drove Kierkegaard to despair, but he worked through it, and, in the process, he wrote his philosophical fragments and postscripts, books that answered that question. The real answer to that question, though, is found in ‘despairing’ itself!”

“I don’t understand,” MV responded.

“Faith is earned,” I replied. “Kierkegaard struggled with his relationship with the ‘other.’ ‘Every subject,’ he said, ‘is haunted by an other he can never know.’ Finally, Kierkegaard put himself at the center of this ‘other,’ and ultimately, this ‘other’ became his own ‘nothingness before God.’ What Kierkegaard discovered was that everything except faith in God became a ‘sickness unto death.’ Indeed, it was this ‘sickness unto death’ that empowered his own faith in God; a faith, that when genuine, meant ‘a total absorption in passionate inwardness’– a life with no place to go except to God.”

“You know, that’s the biggest hunk of rubbish I’ve ever heard,’ responded MV. “Life’s a party, and if it isn’t, it should be. Go tell people that life is ‘sickness onto death’ and see what happens.”

“When I first read Kierkegaard I might have agreed with you,” I said. “It took me a long time before I could find a God that I could believe in. Heidegger had a lot to do with it.”

“Another Nazi,” MV responded, “one can only smile at you’re inspirational sources.”

“Nietzsche wasn’t a Nazi,” I replied, “and Heidegger, well, that’s a story for another time. What is important in Heidegger is that the ‘personal’ dropped out of his philosophy. Dasein became a ‘way of existing.’”

“And God became Dasein?”

“No, not yet; Dasein became something else first.” I said. “ Escaping inauthentic being, for Heidegger, took place along a continuum characterized by inauthentic concern at one end and authentic concern at the other. Getting from ‘here’ to ‘there’ was the problem, and time—temporality, became the solution. The conscious accommodation of the world of our concern meant, for Dasein, the temporalization of inauthentic modes of being; but when concern is ‘brought back’ to its source in Dasein–Dasein’s own most ‘having been,’ its own most possibility in time–authenticity gets experienced. At that po
int, Dasein emerges from ‘throwness’ and becomes the experience of authentic, non-temporal being. That is hardly a sustainable condition, however, so once again the self’s nothingness has to be confronted, our own ‘angst driven self.’ Connecting time up with authentic-being-in-the-world was, for Heidegger, if not a divine act, a divinely inspired one, and, as far as I can tell, Heidegger was the first to do it.”

“Help me. This is getting out of hand, and I’m tired. Where’s God in all this?” MV said.

“Right in the middle of Sartre’s self,” I replied. “Sartre also saw time as an intrinsic component of consciousness, but he called it by another name–freedom.”

“Oh good, that’s got to be the frosting on the cake,” MV responded. “No wonder God’s been invisible all this time. He’s been living and hiding in the head of an atheist.”

“You got it,” I replied. “He’s been hiding in a being such that in its being its being is in question in so far as this being implies a being other than itself.”

“That’s Sartre’s definition for the ‘for-itself,’ right?” responded MV.

“You got it right again,” I replied. “The part of the definition which is of particular interest is the part which says ‘being implies a being other than itself,’ for it is here that once again, we encounter the black hole that masquerades as self—the black hole that demands everything, but gives nothing back. This hole in being implies, for Sartre, time and freedom.”

“Don’t tell me—freedom is God,” said MV

“Chalk up another one, you’re on a roll,” I replied. “It’s just that it’s a little more complicated than that. Freedom, for Sartre, is not merely a description of external conditions wherein humanity confronts alternative possibilities. It is the state of being to which being-for-itself is condemned. In freedom, the human being is both past and future, but only through negation. With respect to self-consciousness, freedom incessantly negates, as it continually forces us to confront our own nothingness, hence our ‘angst self.’ But this angst is further qualified by Sartre when he says, ‘To be man means to reach toward being God. Or if you prefer, man fundamentally is the desire to be God.” Of course, Sartre goes on to show that not only is that desire unachievable, but God too is also an impossibility. The religious search for God is very real, however. In fact, for Sartre, the religious urge is basic to being human. The kicker is that Sartre did not know that the same freedom he used to justify God’s impossibility is actually the self-conscious aspect of God in the here and now.”

“Excuse me, but if God is freedom, then God is nothingness, and that is just wacko,” responded MV.

“Not if God is Logos,” I said, “and that is just what much of Western theological tradition used to believe.”

“I don’t understand?”

“Well, according to Tomas Aquinas,” I replied, “being and thought are one, and reason is divine. The very substance of reality is the self-embodiment of God as Logos. Recall that Sartre’s for-itself not only implies knowledge and freedom, it also implies ‘a being other than itself.’ That being is not just the nothingness of the for-itself, as Sartre believed, rather it is the affirmation of the here and now, it is the Logos liberated, it is the ‘birth of the divine’ in each and every one of us—it is the ‘conscious presence’ in each and every one of us.”

“I think it’s time to leave,” said MV, “Do you recall why we’re here? It’s to amuse me! And I’m not amused. I’m not even smiling. Get the picture?”

“Wait, I’m almost through,” I replied. “Just give me a minute.”

“Okay,” responded MV, “but speed it up, or your God will end—in your swan song.”

“Where was I? Oh, I remember,” I said. “The subject sets itself over against itself in self-consciousness, thus objectifying itself. There is a re-appropriation of the self’s internal differences in self-consciousness, and with differences identities unfold. God is mirrored in the human consciousness of ‘identity and difference’. God is identical with the self-referential totality of all there is while at the same time God is different—God is God. ‘I am what I am’ says the divine in revelation. The connection between self and consciousness-of-self is one of identity and difference. In God and freedom the connection is also one of identity and difference. In both cases, difference implies identity. Man is indeed made in God’s image. There would be no God realization without self-consciousness, and further, God cannot become fully self-conscious in the here and now until self-consciousness realizes itself to be the divine incarnated—God’s own consciousness-of-self. Religious consciousness, in this view, is not mystical, it woven into the ordinary events of everyday consciousness. In the end, all question’s pertaining to self are religious questions.”

“Are you through?”

“Yes,” I said. “But there’s more.”

“Oh, spare me,” MV replied. “Just how long can this go on?”

“As long as you let it,” I said. “But if it’s any consolation, I gave my last presentation shortly after I finished the paper I wrote for my kids. That was really the end I guess. It was my best presentation, but, of course, nobody knew what I was talking about.”


Emptiness, Anxiety, Despair, And Self-Destructive Behavior

August 23, 2008

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MV Conversation

Empty Self

Future Time

“You were old to start a family,” said MV.

“Yeah, you could say that. At thirty-seven I was old, but not too old,” I replied. “It was good, though; it was all good, even the bad.”

“And the bad?” MV responded.

“There were communication problems,” I said, “always communication problems, but then, with me, those problems were unavoidable anyway.”

“The best part was family?”

“Yes, that was the best,” I replied. “Going through childbirth with your wife was a once in a lifetime experience. It was the start of a whole new life for me; and, as for the baby, they didn’t come any cuter than my daughter. Three years later, our son arrived. My wife and I were overjoyed, and we both wanted more children, especially for the kid’s sake, but in terms of economics, it just didn’t make sense.”

“Everything changed after the kids were born, right?” MV responded.

“Well, not exactly. Change never comes easy. Old habits die hard,” I replied. “I still needed the mental stimulation of a classroom, so I took a creative writing course thinking that it would help with my communication skills. It was fun, but I don’t think it helped much.

“But you kept trying?”

“Yes, at least for a while,” I said. “One of my professors, the one who seemed most receptive to my ideas, offered a religion class that compared and contrasted issues in science and religion. I jumped at the chance to take it.”

“And you were disappointed?”

“Not at all,” I replied. “I began the class with a new life perspective. My daughter was two years old and my son was on his way to being born. In the final paper, I chose to focus on the negative aspects of my metaphysic, or that aspect which elicited, in some people at least, self-destructive behavior, or even suicidal behavior. I hoped my children would never need that kind of council, but one never knows.”

“So what is it? What makes a person self-destruct?” responded MV.

“That’s a good question and one that can’t be easily answered,” I replied. “Let me put it this way: If you get too close to a cosmic black hole, you get sucked in and crushed; likewise, in the here and now, if you get too close to the ‘nothingness of self,’ hopelessness and despair are never far behind. The sad part is that the sensitive and creative among us are drawn to this ‘center’ in order to mine its energy and inspiration. Growing up in the ‘60’s counter culture, I found self-destructive behavior everywhere. It was especially concentrated in the artist community. Song lyrics, especially the song lyrics of that period, testify to the tensions, emptiness, and desperation produced by too much self-searching. Back then most of the artists survived, but, tragically, some didn’t. Succumbing to self-destructive behavior is a terrible way to die because that death is avoidable. Certainly timing is important, but when cries of help are answered with words of kindness, care, and love, lives are saved not lost.”

“Surely, you jest,” said MV. “Show me a person who’s children are starving; show me an athlete with no legs, or even a romantic distraught over a love affair gone sour and I’ll show you adversity that can kill. However, becoming suicidal over a lost ‘self’—well that’s just vulgar.”

“I don’t expect you to understand. I mean the question, ‘Who am I?’ doesn’t even exist for you,” I replied. “And speaking of vulgar, what the hell do you know about romance?”

“What you know about romance I know,” replied MV. “Learning about romance is as easy as dropping a few coins in the juke box, or watching on the big screen the latest Hollywood ‘hunk’ romancing any number of hotties. But, once you’re past your prime, or lacking in persuasion skills, romance is not so easy. Loosing your big squeeze can be a traumatic experience indeed!”

“I don’t believe you’re playing with a full deck MV,” I said. “When you break up with a lover it’s not like loosing your ‘big squeeze.’ The difference between what you call love and the ‘real thing’ is what’s really tragic here; being between ‘squeezes’ may be traumatic, but it doesn’t compare to loosing—via irreconcilable differences or death, a loved one. After a stormy love affair, or the death of a loved one, all that is left is painful overwhelming emptiness, and, for the more sensitive one’s among us, or those who are able to ask but not answer the question, ‘Who am I?’, that same kind of emptiness is their reward. For those who travel down that path of identity induced anxiety, despair, and possibly oblivion, self-destructive behavior is inevitable. So, to keep our discussion from degenerating into mere name calling, what say you and I look at some of those song lyrics and let them speak for themselves?”

“Okay, but answer me this,” huffed MV, “How can the song lyric speak for the lyricist when the lyricist doesn’t even know who he or she is?”

“No comment!”

Jefferson Airplane: The House At Pooneil Corners

You and me,

we keep walkin around

and we see,

all the bullshit around us.

You try to keep your mind on what’s

goin down.

Can’t help but see the

rhinoceros around us.

Then you wonder what we can be

and you do what you can

to get balled

and high.

Simon and Garfunkel: Sounds Of Silence

And in the naked light I saw

10,000 people maybe more,

people talking without speaking,

people hearing without listening,

people writing songs that voices never share.

No one dared

disturb the sound of silence.

Bob Dylan: Mr. Tambourine Man

Take me disappear-in

down the smoke rings of my mind,

through the foggy ruins of time,

down past the frightened leaves

and the lifeless frozen trees,

way down to the windy beach,

far from the twisted reach

of crazy sorrow.

Jim Morrison: Riders on the storm

Riders on the storm

Riders on the storm

into this house were born

into this world were thrown

like a dog without a bone

an actor out alone.

Paul Stookey: No Other Name

Some girls will die for money,

some will die as they’re born,

some will swear they died for love,

some die every morn.

I’ll die alone,

away form my home,

nobody knows where I came.

The stone at my head will say I am dead.

It knows me by no other name.

Janis Ian: Lonely One

There been times,

moments when I

didn’t really feel like crying.

There been times,

I knew that I would do better

by sighing,


Sometimes I think it’s easy to fall,

and then I remember words: Kid you gotta be tall.

My time, your time,

time of the mind.

You cant have it

cause I don’t want it.

If you want it,

you can’t have it. I can’t take it,

I’m falling,

I’m calling,


please, please,

help me.

Please, help me.

Peter Yarrow: The Great Mandella

Tell the jailor

not to bother

with his meal

of bread and water today.

He is fasting, till the killing’s over.

He’s a martyr;

he thinks he’s a profit,

but he’s a coward,

he’s just playing a game.

He can’t do it; he can’t change it,

its been goin on for 10,000 years.

Take your place on the

Great Mandella,

as it moves through your brief moment of time.

Win or loose now,

you must choose now,

and if you loose you’re only

loosing your life.

“I don’t get it. Angry, sad, and sadder, that’s all I see in those lyrics,” MV responded.

“I’m not surprised. You never did pick up on nuance very well,” I replied. “Just take my word for it. It’s there—a specific emotional center— the one that inspired those very lyrics.”

To be continued…

Marriage And Family Got Me Out From Under My Philosophical Rock

August 16, 2008

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MV Conversation


Future Time

“So, it must have been hard on you,” replied MV. “It must have felt like you were talking to a wall.”

“I was depressed and getting more so,” I said. “Even taking classes had lost its luster.”

“That’s when you chose marriage,” said MV.

“Yeah, that’s when I began to see marriage and family in a whole new light,” I responded. “I even remember the exact moment of that realization. I turned on the music and pulled my rocker into the ‘sweet spot’ in front of my speakers for the umpteenth time. Then I envisioned myself twenty years hence, and all I could see was a wrinkled me, sitting in front of the same music, alone, for the duration of my life. The music lost its luster after that. And that’s when I asked myself, ‘How does God do it?’”

“Do what?”

“Make quality happen,” I replied. “And then it dawned on me. It’s not necessary to know what you’re doing to get it done. All it takes is family. Within the family structure, whether you like it or not, quality freedom happens. Care giving is, essentially, a teaching and learning process. It has to be that way.”

“And here we are,” said MV, “looking back at a life totally different from the one you had once envisioned.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “and all because I stopped fighting with my own philosophy. I got out from under ‘Sisyphus’s boulder,’ so to speak, and just walked away. The thought of finding a wife and raising a family increasingly became for me more divine and heartfelt than anything my self-imposed ‘philosophical existence’ had to offer. With that goal in mind, nature became large again, and, just like in those black ink Taoist drawings, I became very tiny.”

“And that was just the beginning,” responded MV, “the beginning of the hard part.”

“Yes, that kind of thing was never easy,” I replied. “Especially if you’re looking for more than a physical relationship. I knew it would be almost impossible to find someone to share my philosophy with, but I began to search anyway.”

When Mr. Rockefeller Marries Ms. Tiffany Its Still An Arranged Marriage

Marriage Concluded

“That’s when you got the pen pal idea, eh!” MV responded.

“Yes, that’s when I started corresponding with Asian ladies,” I said. “I thought if I could meet a Buddhist I would be half way home. It didn’t take long to find out that it wasn’t going to happen, though. The women in the brochures were all Christian. As fate would have it, however, I met Shirley. She was out for a hike when I met her. Well, actually, I had met her a couple years previous. Her husband and I sat through a boring Theory of Knowledge class together, but after her divorce she moved into the apartments just kitty-corner from my own. It seemed natural that we should get together. Well, it seemed natural at the time. She was a full blood Anishanabe Indian.”

“That was a disappointment?” MV replied.

“Yeah, you could say that,” I said, “She was too independent. We were too much alike in that respect I guess. We both wanted it to work, though. I was sure of that. It’s just that it wasn’t meant to be. She was an artist devoted to her art and extremely possessive when it came to her twelve-year-old son. Our affair bottomed out on the trip we took out West. Our relationship ended shortly after that.

“So how long did it take before you and your wife got together?” MV responded.

“After that, a little more than a year,” I replied. “Well, maybe two years. Our correspondence lasted six months or more.”

“You and your mail order brides; a hundred and fifty years ago the frontiers needed people,” said MV, “but now?”

“In a way, you could say I was living on the frontier,” I said. “By holding beliefs that nobody shared, I had, more or less, isolated myself. No real communication could take place. By that time, however, it didn’t matter. I had already given up on finding a wife and was concentrating on the first stages of another bicycle trip, a long distance one.”

“Oh, yeah, I almost forgot about that,” replied MV. “You were going to bicycle around the world, right?”

“Absolutely,” I said, “I had received permission to take a leave of absence from CMU, something agreed upon only after I had highlighted the good publicity that my bicycle trip would generate, and I was only three thousand dollars shy of putting it all together.”

“And that was the stickler,” replied MV. “The money part, it just didn’t happen, did it.”

“It should have,” I said, “but the summer construction job that I had lined up fell through.”

“So the trip was off,” MV responded.

“Not quite,” I replied, “While planning out the trip, I once again took up writing to overseas pen-pals. I was writing to five or six ladies from Asia and India. On my bike, when I got close to where they lived, I had planned to turn my pen pals into oases. I knew from past experience that I would definitely appreciate those rest stops, not to mention the opportunity to get a look-see into the local culture. When I told one of my pen pals that my trip was postponed, maybe even cancelled, she asked me if I had ever considered marriage. One thing led to another and six months later I ended up sending her round-trip airfare. With Agnes, Asian culture came home to me, rather than the other way around.”

“That sounds a bit cold if you ask me,” said MV.

“Cold! Mr. Cold himself is describing me as cold,” I replied. “Maybe you’re a little hard of hearing. The whole thing, community, family, love, it’s all about God, and doing God’s work, remember?”

“Well, it still sounds cold to me,” said MV.

“Let me put it this way,” I replied, “arranged marriages happen all the time, in every culture. Even when Mr. Rockefeller marries Ms. Tiffany, that’s an arranged marriage. As my old history professor used to say when arguing the merits of Japanese arranged marriages: ‘It’s as old as the teapot philosophy. A hot pot cools off. But, a cold pot has only one way to go—when the stove heats up, the tea gets hot. Ancient wisdom becomes ancient because it works.’”

“So that’s what happened in your case,” replied MV.

“In a roundabout way,” I said, “but it was a little more complicated than that. Love is not only about hot tea; it’s about ‘tea for two.’”

“What did your family and friends think of your new wife?”

“She wasn’t my wife yet,” I replied. “We didn’t get married until two or three weeks after she arrived. My mother wanted grandchildren, so she was okay with the idea. My friends thought it strange, but they knew me, so it wasn’t all that strange. Actually, the only negative reaction I got was from a professor friend of mine. He was an intelligent rock and roll singer who just happened to have his PhD in Islamic studies. Politically, he leaned to the left, and we got along just fine; that is, until he found out that I was thinking of marrying a pen pal. It wasn’t that he had anything against foreigners. It was just the opposite. He didn’t like the idea of Americanizing other cultures, which, I guess, was what I was doing. The short story was that the two of us stopped being friends while I became a husband and dad.

We Are Pre-Determined By Significant Emotional Events By Age Ten

August 9, 2008

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The Emotion Of Reason

Mv Conversation Continues Futre Time

“What did you do after that,” said MV, “I mean you never really had the ‘smarts’ to compete on the level of the really talented, so how did you handle it—emotionally I mean.”

“I was really conflicted,” I replied. “I had something important to say, but I just couldn’t get the job done. I felt duty-bound to try, though. What I found was that I was in over my head.”

“How so,” MV responded.

“After a couple of failed attempts I got the message,” I said. “It was right in front of me. I just never saw it until I had too.”

“Saw what?”

“The problem,” I said, “I saw the problem that prevents new ideas from taking root. Instinctually we are forced to hold on to our convictions. It’s all about who we are. It follows from my own philosophy in fact.”

“I don’t understand. Can you explain it?” said MV.

“But that is the problem,” I replied. “I can’t explain it unless emotionally, we’re already on the same page; unless we are already in tune, so to speak. Otherwise, anything I say amounts to no more than blowing wind through the willows.”

“Aw go ahead and give it a shot, I’m all ears.”

“What! Is that a joke?”

“You decide,” MV responded. “After all it’s not like we’re two different people, you know.”

“Humor; what next? Okay,” I said, “here goes. The self, the one that buys groceries, goes to the movies, enjoys a cold beer—you get the picture, consists of two components—memories and the capacity for self-determination, the subjective aim of self. The self is not an ‘autonomous will,’ nor is it a chameleon like entity that transforms itself anew every time it comes in contact with some significant other, nor is it merely a product of the environment. Rather, it is the body’s most active component.”

“That’s it, where’s the emotion?” replied MV.

“Be patient. At least, you haven’t changed in that department,” I responded. “More specifically, the self may be defined as the locus of memories embedded in an information gradient, an information gradient resistant to self-determination possibilities. We come to know this information gradient in terms of physical, social, and psychological events—the raw materials out of which memories are woven. Behavior, most assuredly, is a product of environmental stimuli. But, it is not totally determined by these stimuli; to the degree that the self willfully acts (a reflective, evaluative response) it expands the information gradient. In other words, to the degree that behavior is based on critical thinking and judgment, a self-determining agent determines his/her own behavior—the self becomes the determined determiner of itself.”

“Hey, I’m still all ears; but I haven’t heard anything about emotion yet,” MV responded. “Where does emotion come in and overpower reason?”

“It’s right there in the information gradient, and a good thing, too, because you’re really patient! When the self is considered in this light, the cold, independent nature of logical and rational thought loses its independence. Self-determining agents are anchored in the same information gradient that is ‘home’ to more powerful libidinal instincts and drives; and, as such, willful acts of self-determination are never free of emotion, both conscious and unconscious emotion. Rationality is grounded in this emotion, the emotive content of our environment. That is why the psychologist, Morris Massey, can say, ‘…by age ten, significant emotional events have already pre-determined who we will be for the rest of our lives.’ Early on, significant emotional events are seminal in forming the emotional base out of which we will respond throughout life. That is what has to be dealt with, and that is what prevents new ideas from taking root.”

Mud Slinging And Lies Will Change Minds—Logic And Reason Won’t

The Emotion Of Reason Concluded

“What good is reason then?” said MV.

“Good question,” I replied. “I’m not sure I have the right answer, but I do have an answer. In the sciences, reason and logic, more or less, define the process that provides an understanding of law and change, but in the social fabric, reason and logic come up short—sometimes way short. In the technical fields, reason and logic are used to create energy saving strategies. In so far as technology saves time and labor, it also mitigates unnecessary suffering. But, in the social fabric, reason and logic are sometimes used to create abuse and suffering, and, from an evolutionary perspective, that has merit. We have survived evolutionary challenges by seeking after status, dominance, and control. Is it any wonder then that we are still driven by those same needs and desires! ‘Feelings of empathy’ or a desire to eliminate unnecessary suffering rarely motivates people. Legitimate social reformers and spiritual leaders, however, are motivated, almost always, by sympathy, understanding, and compassion.”

“So I guess your ‘God talks’ didn’t go very far, eh? Did you connect with anybody?” responded MV.

“Probably not,” I replied, “It was basically a hopeless situation.”

“Why did you persist?”

“Hey, when you’ve seen God you don’t walk away,” I said. “In some way you respond. I suppose different people respond differently, but for me it was with talks, at least for a little while anyway.”

“Did you learn anything else, or was it mostly a waste of time?” MV replied.

“You’re not listening very well are you,” I said, “God-centeredness is not a waste of time?”

“But if it’s impossible to communicate, why try?” responded MV.

“I didn’t say it was impossible, I only said I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the talent for it,” I said.

“But it sounds like its impossible,” said MV.

“Not really. Emotional centers breathe life into self-determining acts,” I said. “People can re-center themselves. To suggest otherwise would be wrong. Emotions are everywhere, and significant emotional events happen all the time. Some make you think, and some do not; some—few, spark life-changing behavior.”

“So how do you win converts,” replied MV.

“It’s not easy, and I suspect some luck is involved.” I said. “New beliefs have to be emotionally gratifying, and if they are they tend to be similar to already existing emotional needs and beliefs. Asking a person to consider new ideas, especially when those ideas are God-centered, is akin to pulling teeth. The Buddha and Jesus had success, but they were promoting beliefs about suffering and salvation–universal emotive responses to universal desires. Trying to get people to emotionally connect with a God-idea, especially one in conflict with their own, is a definition for irrelevancy. If, on the other hand, I was appealing to more prurient interests, I probably would have found a few interested people.”

“So asking an audience to see the world from a totally new perspective is doomed?” MV responded.

“It appears so,” I said.

“Maybe you have it wrong,” replied MV. “It wouldn’t be the first time you know.”

“Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice. I don’t believe in miracles,” I responded, “and, according to some people, it’s even worse than that. Bertrand Russell, arguably one of the brainiest men who ever lived, concluded towards the end of his life that arguments–to get people to pay attention to logic and reason–are ineffective tools if one’s goal is to get another person to recant his/her beliefs. Russell was a lifelong champion of liberal and ‘just causes.’ He died frustrated and despondent.”

“Yeah, I know,” responded MV, “but I do not consider dying frustrated and despondent a disappointment, if you know what I mean? So your God-idea and people couldn’t connect; I got it, but how does emotion connect to your God-idea? I don’t understand? Where’s emotion in your X/Y form?”

“It’s in there,” I said. “It’s just that nobody has ever asked me that question before. Here’s my quick answer:

“Think of the above mentioned information gradient as X (subjective aim) embedded in Y, the aesthetic informational continuum. That’s duality in its original form, but when X experiences itself in a higher dimension, ‘subjective aim’ experiences itself within the aesthetic gradient of emotional information, information that both helps and hinders the survival of X. That’s not the end of the story however. Because X, in an even higher dimension, creates/discovers its own information gradient, an information gradient consisting of symbolic forms, symbolic forms which are embedded not just in emotion, but also in aesthetic facts, facts that are subject to change as new symbolic forms are created/discovered that render old facts into new aesthetic facts, knowledge does not die. Aesthetic facts survive the death of X. They are not subject to death; instead, these facts are limited only by the validating connection that exits between prediction, explanation, and observation. In other words, these aesthetic facts, all of which are embedded in emotion, remain subject to the decree of the best science available.”

On The Other End Of The Phone My Mother Said Dad Died

August 2, 2008

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The God Connection

MV Conversation–Future Time

“So what happened?” said MV. “How did you go from a third person to a first person experience?”

“Like I’ve already said,” I replied, “it was a Gestalt thing. In one instant I was thinking about the X/Y form, and in the next, I was inside the X/Y form. From inside, the little history upon which I hang the name David Heyl became a first person God experience. Obviously, that was an emotional event for me, a shocking emotional event!”

“After you left the library,” responded MV, “what did you do?”

“Leaving the library was not an option for me, at least at first,” I replied, “I was in too much shock. Instead, after I had given myself some time to think, some time to feel, I knew I had to talk to somebody, and the only person I could turn to was Mary, the Professor I was doing my independent study with. On the phone, her husband told me she was out of town. That was disappointing news. I was exploding inside, and I had nobody to talk to. Then I remembered a book I had read once, and in that book was a description of a situation that was very similar to what I was feeling. I went to the shelf and removed the book. As soon as I found the part I was looking for, I began to read:

“She brought me my hat, and I knew I was going out into the warm sunshine. This thought, if a wordless sensation may be called a thought, made me hop and skip with pleasure.

“We walked down the path to the well house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Some one was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over my hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motion of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that w-a-t-e-r meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that in time could be swept away.

“I left the well-house eager to learn. Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we returned to the house every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life. That was because I saw everything with the strange, new sight that had come to me” (Helen Keller, 1936, p. 23).

Reading through that book passage made me feel better. It was Helen Keller’s description of her first experience with language. She was, like me, alone with her revelation, and she remained that way until, in her autobiographical account of her life, she was able to put that experience into words, something that I am still unable to do.”

“So, when you did get to talk with her, your Professor, did she get it?” said MV.

“I don’t really know,” I said, “I’m sure she picked up on my strong feelings, but that was probably about it. As I found out later, she had other concerns. All her energy was focused on the affair she was having with the professor in the next office. Before our class had even ended, she had filed for divorce from her husband. Before the year was out, she had totally left the university. But, in all fairness, I guess you could say that at that time I had preoccupying concerns also.”

“What could possibly be more preoccupying than God?” replied MV.

“Death,” I said. “While I was writing that final paper, I had a premonition that I was going to die. I hurried the paper I was writing because I knew time was running out. That was a very strange feeling.”

“A misplaced one, though,” said MV, “or am I missing something?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I replied. “Of course I’m still here.”

“So, what’s the point? Nothing happened,” MV responded.

“That’s not quite true, something did happen, and my father and I shared in it.”

“Okay, I’ll bite, shared in what?”

“My father and I weren’t very close,” I replied. “Sure we loved each other, but when it came to sharing common interests, we were worlds apart. It’s not absolutely accurate, but in a word, I was the ‘black sheep’ of the family. My fear of impending death, however, helped me overcome the negative feelings, so I went home to say goodbye.”

“Did you have any physical reason to think you were dying?”

“None,” I replied, “I was in perfect health, but that didn’t matter. I knew I would be dead soon.”

“So, what happened?”

“Nothing happened,” I said. “I took Thursday and Friday off work, and went home. But on my last day, Sunday, it was just my father and I alone in the room talking; he told me he admired what I had done. He was referring to my bicycle trips. Although I am not sure how we got around to it, we ended up telling each other that we loved one another.

“I had done what I had set out to do, and I felt really good about it. It was a beautiful day outside, so I decided to go back to Mt. Pleasant early. Back home, I hopped on my bicycle and took off for Coldwater Lake, a thirty-mile ride. Shortly into the trip, my hand started going numb. That numbness was not unusual for me, but when it moved up my arm, and beads of sweat broke out on my forehead, I knew something was wrong. When the left side of my torso got real hot, I wanted to cut the trip short and head home. But, after a time, all those symptoms disappeared, so I just kept pedaling. After returning home, just as I walked through the door, the telephone rang. It was my mother. My father had died. Apparently, while my mother was at work, he had sat down in his favorite chair, fell asleep, and never woke up. The doctor said it was a heart attack.”