Monday, May 26, 2008

The Truth of the Matter IS

What is truth? How do we find truth? If we find it, can we communicate it?

According to Plato: When the mind's eye rests on objects illuminated by truth and reality, it understands and comprehends them, and functions intelligently; but when it turns to the twilight world of change and decay, it can only form opinions, its vision is confused and its beliefs shifting, and it seems to lack intelligence. (Plato, Republic)


To Spinoza, ultimate truth is the ultimate reality of a rationally ordered system that is God. To Hegel, truth is a rationally integrated system in which everything is contained. To Einstein, the truth of the Universe is human truth.


Modern day philosopher, Ken Wilber, believes that there is a nondual, absolute truth, that can only be accessed by Satori, and a relative or conventional truth, that is formed by our place in the nested hierarchy of being (each higher of which includes the ones beneath it, creating a series of nested holons.) Each holon has its own validity claim, its own relative partial, but still totally authentic truth. Because as a group, we are in different levels of awareness, or different holons in the great nest, we have different relative truths.


According to Wilber, the absolute is known only by a direct realization involving a transformation in consciousness (satori, sahaj, metanoia), and "what" is seen in satori cannot be stated in ordinary dualistic words, other than metaphors, poetry, and hints (if you want to know God, you must awaken, not merely theorize).


What do YOU think?

99 comments:

Alexander M Zoltai said...

I feel Truth is Simple, Beautiful, and Ineffable...

One truth seems to be that humans work to objectify the Ineffability which results in Science, Opinion, and Ego--all important to our development on earth...

~ Alex

Wilhelm said...

'Truth' is for me a religious category
and NO 'rational' category.

Actually one picture (a short story) that I like and that you know for sure
is this:

There is an elephant and different people are trying to explain what an elephant is,
one blind man or woman touches the ?nose, and proclaims: "An elephant is just like a snake ... etc. etc. and everbodiy's description points just at the things he/she is able to see.

Concerning the rational side:

I do NOT believe in such a thing like 'objective' science.

Even in the so called 'rational discourses' I can only see accumulations of certain points of views with implicit 'irrational' moments, like for example the decision on what subjects of research are supposed to be.

Well this subject is huge, and I might not be able to give a satisfying answer in only a few words.

Derek said...

Wherever I turn to respond to this today, I seem to be met by paradox. If ultimate truth realised in satori is beyond the capabilities of our conscious mind to explain, then how can we explain it. Therefore anyone explaining ultimate truth is in error.

Ken Wilber merely believes that there is a nondual, absolute truth formed in a hierarchy. I would say that a belief isn't absolute until it is experienced and then it isn't a belief anymore, but a certainty.

There are reports of powerful Zen masters that can just be present with somebody and have this ability to communicate satori without words or explanation. Then, when they do speak, they speak in riddles known as koans that are not even metaphors, hints or poetry. It seems that they really don't care, for if they did come across as caring, they would slip into dualism again by caring for another, when all is really one.

Isyaias said...

You had been came to the this...
You do what you must to do and you get the TRUTH.
Be blessed.

John said...

Reality like truth are personal observances. They are malleable depending on time, experience, situation, etc. There is and can be no solid answer ever.

Abhaa said...

Reality is something our reason can not grasp and yet is a fact; as soon as we begin to analyse it, it leads us to beyond reason, and we never find an end to all its qualities, its possibilities, its powers, its relations.It has become infinite., yet we know of its finiteness.Take for example our existence, we live and die, nature can crush our existence in a moment.Yet there is no limit to our wants, desires.

Truth is what is really is, and not how or why we perceive things as they appear.
Truth is One and Universal.
Its after going through these apparent realities/Maya that we shall know the Truth.

MJ said...

Can we ever know what the truth is directly? If two people with opposing views both claim the truth, how do you know if either is right?

What exactly is this "maya" you mention?

Abhaa said...

Maya is reality/facts as they appear.( in parts , not as a whole )

Reason and intellect have their limitations, so we can not really say 'yes we know the truth' looking merely what it appears to us.

So if two people with opposing views both claim the truth, its going to be like a blind judgment, based merely on facts/proven things; and not necessarily be the truth:)

MJ said...

So there is no way of knowing that one indeed beholds truth or not?

Abhaa said...

Absolute Reality / Truth is One, and can be sought/known as per the Vedanta Philosophy., its something of spiritual debate/discussion

The truth which we perceive through our senses, intellect, reasons is limited.

Nilesh said...

I guess the question is: Whatever you attain through (say) the Vedanta Philosophy; how can you be sure that it is the Absolute Reality / Truth?

MJ said...

I believe truth to be a human construct (meant more to describe the opposite of lying.) Then again, I am a person who leans more towards relativism than absolutism.

I see no way that human beings can know anything absolutely. But I sure am willing to listen.

In real day to day terms I think it silly to assert anything other than that truth is relative. Given a very limited (and perforce arbitrary or artificial) framework, then you can assert that under such and such circumstances and parameters "A" or "X" is considered true.

Whether or not there is an objective reality and whether or not we are equipped to perceive said posited reality is not something that I believe we can determine in this thread.

Bob said...

I think I agree on most if not all counts.

Do you feel comfortable saying some interpretations of reality seem to have more credibility than others? I'd say I am, but it's some intuited thing. I can't pretend it's all out logical. Or even consistent.

To bridge from some of our more typical philosophy type discussions... and to something I think is a bit more in keeping with this forum...

Spirituality - I'm sure we'd all define it differently. For me it's the journey to understand, come to terms with, and resolve conflicts with myself. It's not losing a sense of wonder. And sometimes it's turning down executive function and letting the intuition just guide the decisions or movements.

I'm curious how others perform the same process. It seems when we do it we are aligning to some truth. Maybe it's a truth that one style of thought leaves us happier, or is better adapted to our work environment, or whatever... it seems to typically revolve around resolving ourselves to an external/internal friction. Something feels more "right" than another.

no? Then how do others go about this? Why? How has it worked?

MJ said...

To me spirit is simply the awe I sometimes feel, (Nature, art, music, etc), the awe that cannot be expressed in words or even action.

Whatever I say next is going to be a botched and inadequate metaphor...

The spark. The joy. The inexpressible mystery that sometimes makes being alive so intensely wonderful...

Occasionally I can reach there through meditation or certain types of music or even through sex, but it is not something I can easily repeat at will. Yet.

Abhaa said...

Absolute Reality / Truth being Universal/One, can be attained by varied means, and the Vedanta Philosophy accepts all these varied methods.

When all doubts cease,when all desires vanish, when the soul becomes eternally free and is in a blissful state; becomes one with the spirit and ,".. what is left attached to the man who has reached the Self and seen the truth is the remnant of of the good impressions of the past life, the good momentum.
Even if he lives in the body and works incessantly , he works only to do good; his lips speak only benediction to all; his hands do only good works; his mind can only think good thoughts; his presence is a blessing wherever he goes.
He is himself a living blessing.
Such a man will , by his very presence, change even the most wicked persons into saints.
Even if he does not speak, his very presence will be a blessing to mankind." as Swami Vivekananda says.

John said...

You have listed a view of what you & Swami Vivekananda perceive as truth. Ask a wiccan and they will give you a different explanation, So on with other views. Truth is a human concept wrapped around various observances. One mans truth is another's lie.

we as human beings are irrevocably doomed to cast our own views on what is true or not. In doing so we foul it up with our own preconceived ideals.

So once again reality/truth are personal contrivances and as such are malleable.

And that you for quoting me as answering a unanswerable question. Brought me back to square 1

MJ said...

Ultimately I find the whole concept of "truth' rather irrelevant to spiritual pursuit. Mainly since I find that language gets in the way of true understanding. Ultimately this is a great irony in my life because of my love of language and communication.

But I have learned the hard way that words are not what they are meant to describe, and most people ignore that simple understanding.

So. My belief is that when we start to describe things, and this has a taste of Taoism to it, we are already veering off of the mark. Spirit is understood from the inside, from the heart, so to speak. I think it best shared through, smiles, tears and glances if it is conveyable at all.

John said...

Is the problem with language with the speaker, audience, both, or how we understand it? If a person understood language at a much deeper level than most, does that help?

MJ said...

Language is at its essence metaphor. Symbols standing in place of objects, subjects and actions and their modifiers.

Molly Brogan said...

Truth is presented to us constantly through divine grace. Absolute truth is given to us in the process of divine grace - always the same for everyone. This process is the immutable laws of the universe that we know give it order. Relative truth is given to us in the experience of divine grace - everything in our world and the workings of it is a reflection of us and who we are in the moment (the Essene Mirrors of Relationship.) This is different for everyone and structured by their level of consciousness.

Language is part of the experience of divine grace. "There's a blaze of light in every word, it doesn't matter which you heard, the holy or the broken Hallelujah." This can also be interpreted logically (if I speak 9 languages fluently it structures the cognizant abilities of my mind) or in spirit (tower of babel) but it is still just a relationship tool, until we feel the blaze of light, divine grace, within it.

Bob said...

How does one prove Divine Grace. It seems you are taking it as fact. How was that fact established for you - and reaffirmed.

I don't see it at all. I see a capacity for feeling certain things, but I see nothing supernatural in it.

Molly Brogan said...

I suppose that proving divine grace would be like proving God. It is the realm of consciousness, not conscious mind. The transition from one to the other is often a function of "the witness," or that part of us that allows us to observe ourselves acting, thinking, being etc. Being in the witness requires that we can move outside of our ego aspect, step back from ourselves. Once this becomes our primary state, we naturally move into a state where good and evil or any other polarity carries no charge for us. In other word, we don't feel the good or the bad, or see the good or the bad, but we see and feel the perfection in all there is, and recognize the possibility inherent within it. Here, what is commonly called good and evil exist, but because we can now see it without that value based charge, we can see the inherent value as part of the greater whole, not as one or the other polar opposite. Here we enter a state of grace.

This position of the witness can come upon us quite naturally from time to time. If we can remember it, and sustain it, we begin to see the elegance and grace of living.

There is much more to the witness than this entry level. By witnessing the process of the witness, we begin our direct experience of absolute truth.

John said...

Faith and truth are 2 different things entirely. Faith in a divine truth although beautiful (and near to what I believe) is still faith. There is no solid proof.

Truth is what someone perceives. This will change from organism to organism because of experience.

I wish I could see the divine in language. What I see is man made sounds and gestures to confer specific ideas.

That is actually where I see the breakdown. Once we as human beings describe something we taint it with preconceived notions. Thus adding ourselves to the base and changing the truth of the notion.

This is how we get so many belief systems from the same source.

Bob said...

But I can lose my sense of self without any "Divine Grace"... We even have some ideas as to how those sensations might be created - naturally.

When the supernatural has no proof other than the faith of the followers... it confuses me why people follow THAT form of spirituality. It seems a consolidated, hopeful, and empirical model is better suited to improving all of our lots in life.

In short, your "absolute" truth has no proof other than your assertion. Everything you've said so far has been about some dissociation from reality (even awe is such) and the ensuing confidence. There's not a lot of difference, that I can see, from certain forms of insanity - except in degree and degrees of health in working within material life. I'm open to being proved wrong, but I'm skeptical.

I think we have as many belief systems as we have people*moods/frequency of mood. And I also think we have so many belief systems because people are looking for The Truth - but it must fit with their personal experience and intuitions. As soon as that happens, most are willing to embrace it. Even when other portions of the belief system chafe or blatantly defy reality. In fact, many will go so far as to deny reality rather than revise the belief system - or soberly and honestly resolve the discordance between the belief and the reality.

John said...

All religions are based on faith. There is never real proof. Otherwise we'd all be following that one religion because we know what the end result is.

36- I'd like to know what kind of spirituality is based on truth? I don't know of one. All belief systems and what we extrapolate from them are based on faith. I ask because this statement implies you know of them"When the supernatural has no proof other than the faith of the followers... it confuses me why people follow THAT form of spirituality." What other kind of spirituality is there?

Abhaa said...

The Religion of the Vedas is based on :

1.Philosophy ( Jnana Yoga): reaching the divine/truth/realisation by knowledge

2.Science (Raja-Yoga):reaching the divine/truth by practicing Yoga observing certain rules.( some men have reached the super-conscious state , its a known fact of Swami Vivekananda reaching this state)

3.Faith /Worship/devotion (Bhakti -yoga) : reaching the divine/truth by worshipping the ideal/god

4.Practical life/Work ( Karma-Yoga): reaching the divine/truth through selfless works (working without attaching oneself to the results of the works)

There is no marked distinction among the four Yogas mentioned. A man working selflessly could also be a devotee/philosopher/ yogi)just to cite as an example.
So long as people are geographically divided, making all of us culturally varied, various sects will be there.

The Vedas accept varied ways to reach the Truth."All religions/beliefs/ lead us to the same universal Truth."
As Swami Vivekananda says,"Although a man has not studied a single system of philosophy, although he does not believe in any God, and never has believed, although never has he once prayed in his whole life, if the simple power of good actions has brought him to the state where he is ready to give up his life and all else for others he has arrived at the same point to which the religious man will come through his prayers and the philosopher through his knowledge ; and so you may find that the philosopher , the worker, and the devotee , all meet at one point, that one point being self-abnegation."

Keith said...

Truth is the only thing that matters.

ornamentalmind said...

Of course one knows that the ontological view Wilber presents has been known 'forever'. One can find a very very similar view in Platonic and neo-Platonic school presentations, in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, to some extent in the original notion of Zoroaster etc.

You asked what I think. (a nice rhetorical device)

When I think (words/concepts) of course I am focused upon the relative/ subjective aspect of mind. And, I find it possible to focus concurrently upon the absolute/objective aspect of mind.

Even HHDL (His Holiness the Dalai Lama) points towards both minds. As does the ancient philosopher Nagarjuna when in his "Prajna-nama-mula- madhyamakakarika", XXIV. 8 he says:

"Doctrines taught by the Buddhas Rely wholly on the two truths, Conventional worldly truths
And truths that are ultimate."

Of course, these 'two' truths are in fact one mind. We can focus upon either/both. All too often within current day Western philosophy the former is all that is addressed/apprehended. Wilber points toward that which has been found to be heretical within Western philosophy
recently.

When one can focus upon/know both, con substantially, the truth is known.

Further, when asked about the analyser analysing, Santideva says in his "Engaging in the Bohdisattva Deeds" (IX. 110-111):

"If the objects of analysis [all phenomena in general] Have been analysed [and determined not to exist inherently], Then [for that mind] no [further inherently existent] basis [requiring more analysis] exists. Because the bases which are the phenomena qualified by emptiness] do not inherently exist, [An object of negation], inherent existence and its negative Are not inherently produced, that too is called [the natural] nirvana."

Whether found in Tantra, Dzogchen, Elysian Fields, Zhikrs, Delphi, Luxor et al, the truth is omnipresent.

Keith said...

I think it is accurate to say that truth and beauty are frequently cousins. In that sense, truth is in the eye of the beholder. For instance, the craggy, wrinkled, age worn, decrepit face of Mother Teresa of India. A thing of beauty. Sometime ago I read something about the experience of pain that stuck in my mind. Some pain, while not pleasant, can be described as exquisite in its nature. Certainly gets our attention, produces an immediate reaction, and can quite possibly serve to save us from a lot worse harm if we somehow managed to ignore it.

Trevor said...

Truth is your own experience, your own vision. Even if I have seen the truth and I tell you, the moment I tell you it will become a lie for you, not a truth. For me it was truth, for me it came through the eyes. It was my vision. For you, it will not be your vision, it will be a borrowed thing. It will be a belief, it will be knowledge--not knowing. And if you start believing in it, you will be believing a lie.

Osho

Neil said...

Truth is something we 'push away' in Freud. Arguments in formal language rarely succeeed once they have abandoned the empirical - other than succeeding in persuasion and we are easily persuaded by crocks. Most critical reasoning tests ask you to sort the wheat from the diversionary chaff and people aren't good at them. We need a technology of truth - a wider embodiment of what we actually can know - and one we can trust. Humans ain't good at this as our politicians demonstrate over and over. Regimes of truth are always less rational than we think from the inside of them. We still fail on basics in my view.

Pat said...

From my paradigm, you hit the nail on the head by saying that relative truth is presented to us through our relationships. All the others--experience, dreams and intuition--are born out of our relationships with 'others'. And, with respect to absolute truth, I agree that it is in the physical laws of the universe, for it is that set of laws that allow for everything that can and will occur. Whilst I see those laws as being constructed by 'The One' and that, by 'the happenstance of that design', are presented to us all equally, I can admit to it being a form of grace. They are gifted to us as the absolute rules that cannot be broken.

Equally, by the happenstance of being a part of 'The Many', which IS 'The One', we are gifted relative truth by virtue of being aware enough to perceive others within 'The Many'.

First, one has to agree on the meaning of 'grace'. Although I think I understand your view on it and, I view it as being due to the happenstance of our existence and the happenstance of the organisation of the universe. Whilst I don't think I proved God in what I wrote above, I think the concept of grace as happenstance demonstrates it logically.

When one understands that the laws of the universe allow for that which happens, irrespective of whether or not we perceive good or evil IN that which happens, its acceptance is easier and one goes in the grace of God.

I would say it's an experience OF a construct. In my geometric view of consciousness, it's when one attunes to the X axis, the dimension of individuality. The attuning (witnessing the Witness) is only possible because of the construction OF consciousness, i.e., you can only notice the X axis if it exists and is already a part of the construct of consciousness.

Molly Brogan said...

"When one understands that the laws of the universe allow for that which happens, irrespective of whether or not we perceive good or evil IN that which happens, its acceptance is easier and one goes in the grace of God."

Thanks, Pat, for your thoughtful reply - all of it. This part, I think, especially lends itself to that conversation in this group that crops up from time to time about evil. "respecter if no person" simply means that values to not effect the workings of universal law - they continue to work for us whether we understand them or are in tune with them, or not. Absolute. It doesn't mean that this truth has more value than relative truth. Each relative truth of the many is its own part of the glorious design. Our value judgments and moral codes do come in handy when developing social order, but because they are based on relative truth, require an overall agreement and cooperation from the participants. Then again, the phenomenon of the next generation breaking the molds and changing the paradigm is also important. So the opposition plays its part in the relative truth.

Justin said...

Molly, I think that it is possible to start out pre-Satori and attempt to understand in "ordinary dualistic terms", i.e. to "theorize" and if the attempt is sincere and rigorous enough it can lead it Satori. In fact, I believe that if it is successful it will always lead to Satori - which is different than saying it will always be successful. Once Satori is achieved further "theorization" can validate it and flesh out the relationship between it and ordinary "dualistic" thought, physics, biology, neurology etc.

I agree that experiencing Satori is necessary to understanding but I think that it is actually a result of - finally - understanding and therefore I do not think there is "another kind of knowing" - Satori - that is distinct from theorizing.

I believe that the successful completion of theorizing lies in the experience of Satori where the contradictions are removed and truth occurs.

I do not think it is helpful to separate the ideas. If someone is trapped in Maya they need to reflect on their circumstances. If they do so successfully they will experience Satori. The experience they need to have is one of the truth of their circumstances and not one of "something else".

I further think that the essence of Satori can be stated in a single dualistic word which upon realization of its meaning causes the collapse of dualism. That word is Being.

It is true that Maya or Original Sin exist and the realization of Satori is like a flash - a sudden realization - a damp wind in a dry climate - but it is not true that it is a realization of anything that has not been there all along and continues to be even when one is trapped in illusion.

Molly Brogan said...

all roads lead home, Justin. Conversation on the way home, very nice.

ornamentalmind said...

And, of course, intellection, at some point can be a valid one too.
"In Ancient Greek the word praxis referred to activity engaged in by free men. Aristotle held that there were three basic activities of man: theoria, poiesis and praxis. There corresponded to these kinds of activity three types of knowledge: theoretical, to which the end goal was truth; poietical, to which the end goal was production; and practical, to which the end goal was action. Aristotle further divided practical knowledge into ethics, economics and politics. He also distinguished between eupraxia (good praxis) and dyspraxia (bad
praxis, misfortune). "

While having used numerous methods, I too have found that focusing upon ones thought processes can result in a type of transcendent clarity. Also, focusing upon that which does not think can have the same result.

ornamentalmind said...

Even though I decry posts that exceed a common sound bite, I'll gamble the bleeding eyes of others with this from Plotinus' "The Enneads", translated by Stephen MacKenna and would appreciate any insights thereof.
"1. Are we to think that a being knowing itself must contain diversity, that self-knowledge can be affirmed only when some one phase of the self perceives other phases, and that therefore an absolutely simplex entity would be equally incapable of introversion and of self-awareness?
No: a being that has no parts or phases may have this consciousness; in fact there would be no real self-knowing in an entity presented as knowing itself in virtue of being a compound - some single element in it perceiving other elements - as we may know our own form and entire bodily organism by sense-perception: such knowing does not cover the whole field; the knowing element has not had the required cognizance at once of its associates and of itself; this is not the self-knower asked for; it is merely something that knows something else.
Either we must exhibit the self-knowing of an uncompounded being - and show how that is possible - or abandon the belief that any being can possess veritable self-cognition. To abandon the belief is not possible in view of the many absurdities
thus entailed.
It would be already absurd enough to deny this power to the Soul (or mind), but the very height of absurdity to deny it to the nature of the Intellectual-Principle, presented thus as knowing the rest of things but not attaining to knowledge, or even awareness, of itself.
It is the province of sense and in some degree of understanding and judgment, but not of the Intellectual-Principle, to handle the external, though whether the Intellectual-Principle holds the knowledge of these things is a question to be examined, but it is obvious that the Intellectual-Principle must have knowledge of the
Intellectual objects. Now, can it know those objects alone or must it
not simultaneously know itself, the being whose function it is to know
just those things? Can it have self-knowledge in the sense (dismissed above as inadequate) of knowing its content while it ignores itself?
Can it be aware of knowing its members and yet remain in ignorance of its own knowing self? Self and content must be simultaneously present:
the method and degree of this knowledge we must now consider...."
In a similar vein as Molly's common question, what are your insights here?

Molly Brogan said...

I think that each state and stage of the path allows self awareness. Each is built of the foundation of the last, each has its own value, viewpoint, validity. Certainly the ultimate goal would be for all aspects of self to be aware and communicating. But to say that, because early in the maturation process, we are aware of fewer of our aspects and so, are not self aware is a stretch. Who can deny the joy of an infant at discovering their foot as it moves in front of them and they can grab it, and feel the grab. There is self awareness there. Can it be compared to satori? That I cannot say. I like them both.

ornamentalmind said...

Molly, perhaps I missed something. For me, the above (only about one page of 700) does not say let alone imply that "...because early in the maturation process, we are aware of fewer of our aspects and so, are not self aware is a stretch.". Perhaps you could help me see that aspect? Or, perhaps it is what you have added. Either way, for me, what is apprehended has to do with the One and the Many.

Molly Brogan said...

"self-knowledge can be affirmed only when some one phase of the self perceives other phases,"

"Either we must exhibit the self-knowing of an uncompounded being -and show how that is possible - or abandon the belief that any being can possess veritable self-cognition."

Perhaps because, it was taken out of context, I misunderstood. But I
can see how it would work either way. If the author is wondering how the one can know itself if not through the many - I suppose that the same can be said of each of the many. Each one of us many has many aspects of self. As we mature, we come to know them.

I suppose that I don't know why anyone would question whether the one would know itself knowing. Hmmmmm Whatever enters into our consciousness is possible...

ornamentalmind said...

Again, my take, but it appears that 'self-knowing' can ONLY be done
when known as the One. Quite a profound notion, in my view.

In fact, the very next paragraph starts out:
"2. We begin with the Soul, asking whether it is to be allowed self-
knowledge and what the knowing principle in it would be and how
operating...."

ornamentalmind said...

Molly, w/o clarity about the One (unity), how else could one fully know 'self'?

Molly Brogan said...

It seems that the clarity in this thread for me, is semantic. For me, I can tell you what I "know" or am "aware" of from my experience. I do not see myself as separate from the one - so your question creates a lovely paradox, but one I think, that can certainly be addressed.
Can we have self awareness without conscious clarity of the one? I suppose now, we will need to come to a common understanding of clarity. I think that we are born with such clarity, and it can become obscured, necessitating a return to the one. Are people self aware, having their sense of the one obscured? Their experience will continue to reflect to them, messages from their connection to the one. Louder and louder until they hear or die. Their bodies will also give them messages - as I think Orn, the philosophy of your Tibetan medicine will say.

If the conscious mind does not hear the messages of spirit, are they self aware? Their five senses allow them to feel and mind to think, and they are aware of these processes. Is spirit necessary for self awareness? In these cases, the soul is working as intermediary for the spirit, processing messages through dream, intuition and karma, until clarity of the one is a state of consciousness. The soul can then step aside and take a more balanced role. I am guessing this to be the meaning of the passage on soul, Orn. Why would self awareness be any less valid if spirit is processed through soul? Why would a baby's beautiful experience be any less spiritual?

Let's move on to ask - does the one need a reflection of the many to know itself? Is there a state of being that requires no reflection or separation, yet is alive? I think so. If so, then I guess clarity (I'm guessing there is a degree of separation in this) of spirit is not required for self awareness, just process of spirit. Divine grace. Because there is no separation, the state IS the one. This is within us now.

Pat said...

Well, speaking from my paradigm, I see human consciousness as a two-dimensional device for fetching information between an area of abstract ideas and our physical world. If you remember, my idea is that consciousness works like the bus of a CPU in that its function is the interretrieval of data to and from the other two parts of the CPU: the data space, which I liken to that Platonistic Abstract Plane; and core memory, which I liken to our 4-D space-time.
One axis (we could call X) of our consciousness pertains to our identity as 'an individual stream of consciousness'. The other axis (we could call Y) allows us the ability to integrate the 4-D slices of space-time as one contiguous stream of experiences. The X axis allows the bus to 'tag' thoughts as relating to a particular individual. The Y axis allows us to be somewhat God-like and view a part of space-time as a seeming continuum. That is, it is the Y axis that allows us to put the slices together and see a flow of events as if we were, somehow, outside of the 4-D constraints that SHOULD prevent us from
perceiving the 4-D slices as an integrated whole (at least that's what Brian Greene and Michio Kaku think. That is, they think that there is no firm explanation for how we see the slices as an integrated whole).
So, our consciousness works as a retrieval system, carting data,
thoughts, back and forth between the Abstract Plane and our brains. I assume (BIG assumption) that both the brain AND the Abstract Plane are responsible for holding thoughts. But, to say whether or not we need to fetch back into the Abstract to remember our past, I'm unsure.
That is, there's every possibility it could all be stored locally, in our brains, and/or in the Abstract Plane.
This question, though, is about the nature of our thoughts. In my opinion, our sense of self comes from acknowledging the X axis aspect of our consciousness, as that is what defines our individual stream of consciousness. Yet, it COULD be noting the relational 'tag' of our X axis on thoughts as we recall or think them. In the former case, where we are acknowledging the X axis itself, this is knowing oneself. In the latter case, one is simply noting what thoughts are their own; it is acknowledging 'other', in that we can know the difference between ourselves (the X axis) and our thoughts.
In the full CPU of our universe, God's 'bus' of consciousness has a third dimension that unites all of our 2-D sheets of consciousness into one omniscience. But we only have a flat-land view of that omniscience in that we can KNOW our own slice of consciousness and perceive other similar slices, but can't grasp the loaf.
There, Orn, that my take on it. ;-)

Molly Brogan said...

Do you think, Pat, that any part of you is infinite?

Pat said...

If you go round and round my waist, that'd work. But seriously, I'm not sure that 'infinity' is required. Geometry allows for boundlessness to achieve effective infinity. Whether you go around and around someone's waist or travel west at the equator, one can see an infinite path; but it's effected due to the boundlessness of the geometry involved.

Molly Brogan said...

so, infinity applies to space and not to you?

Pat said...

Sorry, you've lost me. Infinity applies to magnitude. As I'd mentioned, one could trace an infinite line around my waist, if given an infinite amount of time to perform the tracing. Is the question, do we have an infinite amount of time? Well, it's hard to say. We know the universe had some kind of 'beginning' with the Big Bang, but we don't know the general shape of space-time to know if it will last forever or not. Also, we can't discount death as an end of sorts. Whether or not consciousness persists, in some form, forever, I don't know. I would say it's possible. According to my theory, once a thread of consciousness is established, it persists as 'consciousness'; but I don't know of all the forms that one's consciousness can take. Speaking from my paradigm, one would have to be able to see into the Calabi-Yau space in order to see how energy is moving back-and-forth between that space and our 4-D space-time to learn how (that is, the actual mechanics of how) consciousness works.

Neil said...

You know I tend to be tangential Orn. There is an aspect of self- knowing that always perturbs me - the extent to which we seek advantage over others in what we say. Religion is a classic aspect. In business teaching we used to strive to get people to recognise what they knew about themselves, what others knew about them and what was not known by the self and others (Joharis Window was the classic tool). This knowledge of self in social context was seen as a key advantage to be used in competitive advantage. I was always more interested in the possibilities of empathy, both with self-others and 'everything' - something Molly touches to frequently. Difference has been key in 'eye-bleed philosophy' for a long time and the role of
similarity within difference. The outcome is an ethics of the undecidable and doing one's best with this. Questions of the extent to which we can embody knowledge socially for all arise - making decision-making more about the individual arise and what there is for individuals to decide change as it is easier to focus on less material concerns (shades of Maslow) and be more satisfied with one's own engagement in the material. The aspect of self-knowing that I find important is the area you suggest of something beyond well-meaning lack of integrity, the avoidance of action in the return of desire, that 'cleverness' that is self-deluded.

Molly Brogan said...

It would seem to me that the need to take advantage over others, or dominate, is a step away from self knowing. If indeed, what I do to the least of my brethren I do to myself, because we are not only individuals, but one, there would be no advantage. There are those times, when someone cannot learn this without experiencing it.

Pat said...

Great exegesis! I can't argue with such a monistic interpretation, as I view that passage in exactly the same way. And that is WHY we should love our neighbour AS OURSELVES. To God, there is no difference. As I view us all as subsets OF God, I see it as God reminding Himself to be merciful.

Molly Brogan said...

the avoidance of action in the return of desire

I think the word avoidance here has certain connotations. In the moment, we are called to possibility. Avoiding this would certainly not lead to self awareness. What that possibility is would be determined by what we are pulling into our experience based on who we are in the moment. I don't think that we are always called to action. Sometimes we are called to allow, so that we can witness the moment unfolding with only our witness required. Sometimes we are called to act - extend an act of compassion - act in a creative manner to the benefit of all - say no and feel the might I AM. To avoid any of this, if it way we are called into - would mean that we continue to pull the experience to us in louder and more substantial ways until we recognize and step into the possibility.

desire also has connotations. There are those who see it a goal to be released from desire. Perhaps as some point in the journey this is important. Ultimately, I think that desire is a feeling that brings us into the act of creation. To know this, we must first recognize ourselves as capable of being creators. This is a big step, one taken only after the more "worldly" desires have fallen away.

Molly Brogan said...

Man is an infinite circle whose circumference is nowhere, but whose centre is located in one spot; and God is an infinite circle whose circumference is everywhere. He works through all hands, sees through all eyes, walks on all feet, breathes through all bodies, lives in all life, speaks through every mouth, and thinks through every brain.

Man can become like God and acquire control over the whole universe if he multiplies infinitely his centre of self consciousness.

Swami Vivekananda

Neil said...

I have to agree that ruling out desire is not the way - though clarity about desires might be. I'm less sure of the clinging idea - I feel people cling to myth and comforting consciousness. If I wasn't good at critical reasoning I'd want to recognise that rather than cling to a false notion of self about it. My best mate is blind - no point in him pretending to be able to see. We need to be able to accept weaknesses, but instead have elaborate systems of pretense and cruelty about them.

Keith said...

Atheists very often have arguments against the existence of God, such as the fact that self-righteous hypocrites who call themselves Christians exist, or that God seems to be uninvolved, uncaring, apathetic or worse. Or that God, if he exists is unjust, or that God doesn't reveal himself adequately and on and on. I submit that perhaps the way things are, are the only way things could be. That God acts only in accordance with the laws of his nature. That everything exists as it is in order to establish being itself. The perfect nature of God that is God.

Molly Brogan said...

Dialogue means trying to understand the other with an open mind. Dialogue is a rare phenomenon and it is beautiful, because both are enriched. In fact, while you talk, either it can be a discussion - a verbal fight, trying to prove that I am right and you are wrong – or a dialogue. Dialogue is taking each other´s hand, moving together towards the truth, helping each other to find the way. It is togetherness, it is a cooperation, it is a harmonious effort to find the truth. It is not in any way a fight, not at all. It is a friendship, moving together to find the truth, helping each other to find the truth. Nobody has the truth already, but when two persons
start finding out, inquiring about the truth together, that is
dialogue - and both are enriched. And when truth is found, it is neither of me, nor of you. When truth is found, it is greater than both of us who participated in the inquiry, it is higher than both, it surrounds both - and both are enriched.

Osho

Neil said...

Dialogue is the voice of us all - Molly has just said something very similar ot Habermas' 'ideal speech situation'. I kind of go with Vam's worldly tease - though there is something important in an idea that mutual understanding might not need "agreement" or "merger", and in anyone being able to put over Habermas without boring us all to death! My communications with Xtians Keith merely convinces me there aren't any Christians - something of a logical bother until one reads Kierkegaarde and discovers he found much the same. Have you noticed how few people actually state what they do believe in mate?

Keith said...

I believe there is intelligent design. I do not believe the earth is only 6,000 years old. I believe there is a Supreme Being, Almighty, and regarding which there is none greater than. I believe the Supreme Being created the mechanism of evolution, and he, or she, or "it," is a quantum mechanic as well as a very prolific Creator.

Pat said...

Yup, I'd go along with that. And add that there's not a hint of Christianity in any of it.

Molly Brogan said...

Would that be Christianity as Christ and the apostles taught it, or Christianity after the Catholic Church and the Roman Empire got hold of it?

Keith said...

Neither seem to include a recipe for my grandma's biscuits. But I'd really kind of like to have them, too.

Pat said...

Tricky. It certainly doesn't match with the post-Roman Catholic view. And I don't think Jesus taught Christianity. He was trying to get people to understand the spirit of Judaism. The apostles who knew Jesus personally were also attempting to get people to act in accordance with the spirit of Judaism.

Molly Brogan said...

I disagree. His rebellion in the temple was against Judiasm. I think that with the discoveries of the gnostic gospels, and the material left out of the traditional Christian bible, suggested that the faith of Christ was more in line with the Essene tradition. His teaching is considered by the Jewish tradition as revolutionary to their teachings which are thought to be unalterable.
It is interesting though, that the stories fit nicely together, like volumes one and two. When seen in this view, the Christ story becomes the story of the resurrection of faith.

Pat said...

His rebellion in the Temple was against the practice of allowing moneylenders and merchants into the Temple. This was a practice that was allowed by the pharisees who were ruling at the time. Judaism itself makes no statement about moneylenders and merchants being in the temple, which is why the pharisees permitted it. But Jesus was working on the premis that the Temple should be a holy and most sacred place--a place where men can get away from this world and, therefore, should not be a place for the mundane activities of buying and selling.
He was only trying to get Judaism back to its original intentions. Whilst I agree he had many arguments over the way that pharisees practiced, he instructed people to do as the pharisees said, but not to do as they DID.


The Essenes were Jewish. It was a branch or sect of Judaism, like the Pharisees or Saducees. None of them were non-Jewish.

Neil said...

Supreme beings have a kind of uselessness about them really. Some hard work with equations usually helps get the job done, yet all those sods who have supreme beings never seem to be able to help. No doubt the devil finds work for idle hands to do and perhaps this is religion? The Jesus kicking over moneylender tables could be s story about a failed coup on behalf of a new protection racket.

Molly Brogan said...

Sorry Pat, I guess I misunderstood what you were saying. Your statement that Christ was trying to get people to understand the spirit of Judiasm was, I guess, a bit cloudy for me. From my readings, I understood Christ to be trying to get people to understand something more than Judiasm as it was being practiced at the time (the money changers was a good example) and I think that his teachings took
people farther than Judiasm had ever been, as the Jewish teachings were and are considered to be unalterable (word of God and all that) as practiced. I can see how the Torah, like the bible, could be
interpreted differently by different people.I suppose this, again, would be seen differently from different viewpoints considering history and theology. The gospel of Jesus (although not widely recognized), considered a gnostic gospel, reads more like a mystic tradition. The gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalene most closely supports this. And the Essenes, all though through the view of history is considered a Jewish sect, was not recognized at the time as such and most of their priests were trained in Egypt in the mystic traditions, like Plato.

What I do find fascinating is that it took 600 years for Rome to organize the religion of Christianity, and did so as a foundation for social order, leaving only as much of the faith in tact as would subdue the masses. Even then, at the time, there were many Christian traditions that encouraged introspection and deep prayer, all of which are considered outside the mainstream today. Catholics don't have bible study, and are expected to hear the gospel only as spoken at mass.

Francis said...

Sorry, Molly, but your postings on this subject and your dialogue with Pat have a few too many inaccuracies to allow me just let them go by without comment! Let me state at the outset that I DON'T have any religious axe to grind here; I am a very ex-catholic, who spent six years studying theology within the Catholic tradition. Still, we don't seem to have many practicing Catholics posting here at the moment, so, in the interest of accuracy and balance, here goes!

Firstly, it is simply not true that "Catholics don't have bible study, and are expected to hear the gospel only as spoken at mass." At the latest, since the 2nd. Vatican Council (1962-65) (and, in practice, since the pontificate of Leo XII, 1878-1903) Catholics are actively encouraged to study the bible. For anyone interested, the Constitution on Divine Revelation can be read at: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/docume...

Secondly, I am puzzled by your statement that "it took 600 years for Rome to organize the religion of Christianity, and did so as a foundation for social order, leaving only as much of the faith in tact as would subdue the masses." I don't know what particular event, or council, or proclamation, etc. makes you give a 7th. Century C.E. date for this claim. Historically, the Christian church(es) have been continually organising, developing and restructuring, either under Roman control, beyond Roman control (Orthodoxy), or in reaction to Roman control
Protestantism). If any seminal date were to be taken, it might be more accurate to refer to the 4th. Century C.E. ("Conversion" of Constantine [312], Edict of Milan [313], 1st. Council of Nicaea [325], general consensus on the composition of the New Testament).

Thirdly, the gnostic gospels. With the exception of the Gospel of Thomas, for which good arguments for a 1st. Century authorship can be made, all of the other gnostic gospels were written at least 100 years after the death of Jesus. It is arguable how much can be read back from them to the original sayings and teachings of Jesus over such a long period (particularly given general gnostic acceptance of direct revelation). Indeed, this argument can also be applied to a lot of canonically accepted scripture. The Jesus seminar has done some interesting work in this area: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar

Fourthly, Jesus' protest in the Temple. Pat claims that the Pharisees permitted the money-lenders in the temple; in fact, the Pharisees (a group within which Jesus had his roots) had nothing to do with the Temple - the Temple and its administration was the province of the other party, the Saducees, representing the cultic priesthood - often described in the NT as "the chief priests and the scribes". The trading and money-changing in the Temple was necessary because it wasn't practical for most pilgrims to bring animals for the sacrifice (prescribed in the Torah) with them, so they had to buy them on the spot. However, secular currency (frequently adorned with the heads of rulers, particularly the emperor, revered as gods) could not be tolerated within the holier temple precincts - extremely not kosher! So, before buying your animal to sacrifice (or, in the case of doves, set free), you first had to convert your money into kosher temple currency. Logical - but very much open to abuse! Jesus' protest is completely consistent with his campaign to free the spirit of the Law (God's word) from the stultifying legalistic implementations common at the time - like his frequent attacks on legalism with respect to the Sabbath.

Jesus seems to have been of pharisaic origin, with a possible strong Essene influence. Insofar as we can go back to his original teachings (before his followers started to interpret and develop them) - and this is very difficult - most experts seem to agree that he understood himself as a Jew, within the Jewish tradition, and with no intention of founding a "new" religion. His goal was the reform of Judaism (see again the Wiki link to the Jesus Seminar). The mutual hostility between himself and the Pharisees is interesting, as the Pharisees were, in fact, the progenitors of rabbinic Judaism (which developed after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.). But even here, the original situation is starkly coloured by N.T. representations, which, partly at least, reflect the conflict between the early church (still evolving out of Judaism) and nascent rabbinic Judaism over the
correct interpretation of God's word.

Molly Brogan said...

It is wonderful to see that these bits of history are so well ruminated and sometimes hotly debated. Was the Christianity founded with the Nicine council or during what is considered to be the post nicene age - the difference probably being whether the church was run by the government (Rome appointing the Pope) or the Pope as elected by church officials. Tons of arguments can be found for either side, although Wiki sources are not always considered to be credible because they can be written by anyone and the material is often unsubstantiated. Here in the states, most schools filter it out so the students don't use it as a reference.

History can be fluid can't it? It is always seen through the lens of biography (Emerson). Each of us studies history, going from one source to another as moved by our interest and personal viewpoint. It is no wonder that it is all subject to interpretation.

The discoveries of the Nag Hammadi and other texts of the era in the middle east, as well as even more ancient Essene and Jewish texts in Tibet put new light on everything we have been taught.

In regard to the Catholic practice of bible study - in my 50 years I have not known a catholic church to do this, and I have seen my share. You certainly have a broader knowledge of church doctrine than I do, Francis, and I appreciate that. I have not seen that in practice. I was just at St. Mary's in Mundelein, where the Cardinals of the Chicago Archdiocese have long been known to take their retreats
and long meetings a few months ago. I was hoping to find a bible in the gift shop and was reminded by the Jesuit that prayer missiles are commonly studied, but not the bible. Perhaps this is different for Catholics in other parts of the world.

But I can say that I don't interpret the teachings of Christ the way that the Catholic Church teaches it. I think that Christ set out to teach "I am the father and the father is me," and gave us the best model for living as close to God as possible - heaven on earth. But from Hermetic teachings to New Thought - the various viewpoints of Christ are indeed, fascinating. I don't see the story about Christ turning over the tables in the temple as at all political or an external act in a historical place. I see it as a parable of how to revolutionize our own thoughts - throw out the old, and reach for the higher consciousness. I know they do not teach that in Catholic school. And yet I can spend a great deal of time siting credible sources that agree with this view.

For me, it is enough to know that we share an enthusiasm for the ideas, and are willing to dialogue in these forums. Personally, I think it is all right. ;)

Francis said...

I'm not at all sure of Christ, Molly. It's a Greek title meaning "the anointed one" and almost certainly posthumous. Jesus the man has always interested - and inspired - me more. A man with a vision, turned into a legend, a message to inspire, drive (and kill) millions. God become man, or a man turned into God. Frank Herbert sensed some of it, I think, with the character of Paul Atreides, Muad D'ib. A human -
very human - man, turned into a symbol, a sacrifice to the deepest human hopes and fears. A broken image of perfection through paradox; God and man, death and life, foolishness and wisdom. All things to all men.

In the end, nothing more - and nothing less - than a story. And don't we always love stories?

Molly Brogan said...

I know I do. That's why I write them, and help others do the same. For me, the Christ is an experience. I like Carl Jung's idea that the collective unconscious can bring about the birth of a figure like Christ with common need of the soul of humanity for a savior. I suppose our individual souls call us to spirit in the same manner. Your insight is inspiring - a beautiful paradox!

ornamentalmind said...

For the record, as much as I've studied Tibet, I've never heard any credible source say that any ancient Christian texts were ever found there.

Pat said...

Yup! Fair enough. I keep forgetting that it was the Saducees that happened to be in control during Jesus' lifetime. I put it down to having taken on board that it was the Pharisees who eventually rose to the driving seat and I always view them as 'in the driving seat', when, in fact, they weren't. I don't think I'll forget it again, so your fair reproof has served me well.
Also, I, too, have often argued that Jesus seemed rather Pharisaic in his approach. As the Saducees were not believers in the Oral Torah, as far as the Pharisees were concerned, they were missing 5 out of 6 aspects of the Torah (as it was believed that, for every verse in the Torah, there were 5 things said about it in the Oral Torah). And the true spirit of the Law (Torah) is IN the Oral Torah; quite obviously, the letter of the Law is in the Written Torah. As Jesus SO valued the spirit of the Law over the letter, there was little doubt he was more Pharisaic than Saducee. And, if his cousin, John, WAS an Essene, that could go a long way to understanding certain Essene aspects. After all, he was a seeker of knowledge, surely, before becoming an expounder of it; so there's no reason to think he wouldn't have explored all the philosophies available in the area. I bet he had a pretty fair understanding of Greek and Roman religious views, although they would have been largely irrelevant to him. Interesting for sure, but largely irrelevant.

Neil said...

Crude science (e.g. Pinker) tends to look at these religious thingies as evidence of something genetic-evolutionary in human ability to influence others in power relations. This tends to stick in my world- view and is often evidenced in fables, wherever they come from. I suspect something very deep in the way we accept authority in stories, itself evidenced in a general lack of critical reasoning and how we manage to keep information from people - that argument traps itself in competitive advantage.

“That which has no existence cannot be destroyed – that which cannot be destroyed cannot require anything to preserve it from destruction”. Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense, - nonsense upon stilts” Jeremy Bentham (1796)

“…for the truth is plain: there are no such rights, and belief in them is one with belief in witches and unicorns” Alisdair MacIntyre (1981)

“It may indeed be questioned whether we have any memories at all from our childhood: memories relating to our childhood may be all that we possess” Sigmund Freud (1899)

Lyotard memorably defined the condition of post-modernity as “ oversimplying to the extreme ... incredulity towards meta- narratives” (Lyotard,1984:39). The discourses of modernity, the tripartite distinction of science, morality and art, identified by Weber following Kant, were themselves fractured by the claim that they were only constructed elements of “power-knowledge” (Foucault,1980). A crucial aspect of modernist explanations was genealogy. Indeed, the Enlightenment project might be characterised as the secular continuation of the Book of Genesis – the origin of species in apes, labour, rationalization, states of nature, reason and myriad other forms.

We have problems with origin and trying to establish authority by reference to authorities and history, as Francis so ably points out, that is generally not well-known and has been skewed. The great problem of postmodernity is legitimation - I'd say a complex of a need to be aware of how we are constructing it in an embrace of deconstruction that needs awareness of what we are trying to create (a form of risk). We need to be better able to progress with uncertainty and multiple hypotheses. I would say current 'capitalism' is in prime denial and decadence in this respect, perhaps as Jesus meant in kicking over a few money-lending tables.

Keith said...

I think you are being naughty but I would like to put in my two cents in reply.* *I* *think God is like the author of a book. Reality, our reality, is part of the content of the book. Now, God had or has the power to write literally anything he wants. Suppose you wrote a story about the beginning of a universe. As the author you could make the explosion (I know it is a misnomer but for this purpose I am referring to the big bang) as big as you want, or as little, with as much matter as you want created, with the effects you want, and with the future happenings you want as a result, and so on. And he can use whatever pen name he wishes.

Vamadevananda said...

The question, Kevin, is that why would God want to write the " book ?"
You want something only when you feel the lack of it. What did God lack ?

More closely, why do YOU want God to have been the one who wrote or is writing the " book ?" What are you lacking, so as to want that ?

No, if the above questions anger you, do not bother to reply. If they do not, I'd be glad to hear from you : Are the questions admissible ? If no, what are your reasons for that ? If yes, what are the answers ?

Molly Brogan said...

You are writing this book right now, Vam. We all are.

I'm going to assume that your remark is a request for a reference,
Orn. Greg Braden has a wonderful presentation complete with slides
about his on site research into the texts and conversations with the
archive keepers. His book "Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer" is
probably the best reference for this material, although his other
books may also include some of this research. Here is a link to
material from his website that may or may not be helpful.
http://www.greggbraden.com/interviews-and-articles/

Enjoy

Molly

Neil said...

People write books and chisel stone. Zizek wrote a booh with 'hypostases' in the title - endless waffle. Good point on god Vam.

Vamadevananda said...

Hey, Neil, how goes your writing ? Sometimes, when you've not posted
for a while, I miss your posts. But, today, you seem to have some time
on your hand ! Lots of love.

Neil said...

I've been taking a little light relief Vam. It's mostly good to know people in this group are about in the world as I explore some darker corners. I take your love very specially and very much for granted as you can with mine - an important matter in troubled times. My writing has been curtailed by having to apply for jobs and work of one kind or another. I've been looking into the work of a German writer of late before I finally resolve the voice I want to find. I'll post part of a rather long review below.

Greed by Elfriede Jelinek.
On 1 May, only five days after news broke that a 73-year-old man,
Josef Fritzl, had immured one of his seven children, his 18-year-old
daughter Elisabeth, in a specially fortified cellar under his house in
the small town of Amstetten in Lower Austria, and kept her there for 24 years, abusing her persistently and fathering seven more children on her, Elfriede Jelinek, Austria’s Nobel Prize winning novelist, posted a short essay on her website under the title ‘Im Verlassenen’. It begins: ‘Austria is a small world in which the big world holds its rehearsal. The performance takes place in the very much smaller cellar
dungeon in Amstetten – daily, nightly. No performance is ever missed . . . Performances are all there can ever be.’

Jelinek’s work over the past forty years has been intensely preoccupied with male sexual violence against women. Her most recent novel, Gier (published in English as Greed), concerns a man not dissimilar in class and background to Josef Fritzl. Kurt Janisch is a country policeman who kills a 15-year-old girl by pressing on her carotid artery while she is giving him a blowjob in the back of his patrol car, and then dumps her body in the local lake. The considerable imaginative achievement of Gier lies in capturing and holding for a moment the darkness at the core of Janisch’s psyche, the same darkness that billows up from the cellar in Amstetten.

The style of Jelinek’s essay ‘Im Verlassenen’ is very similar to that of Gier; indeed, for some years now, Jelinek has written everything in this style: novels, plays and the pieces she posts on her website. It’s a demanding idiom characterised by long slabs of unparagraphed text, free-form and improvisatory, in which the movement of thought is impelled by association and wordplay, and changes in voice and register happen without warning. Part of the mission of this way of writing is to go down into the cellars of the language and unlock long buried relationships between words. For example, the phrase ‘Im Verlassenen’ is an invention, a gerundive formed from the verb verlassen, ‘to leave’, ‘desert’ or ‘abandon’. ‘Im Verlassenen’ means something like ‘in a place of essential abandonment’ or ‘in abandon- ness’, and it draws to the surface the derivation of Verlies – the word for ‘dungeon’ used to describe the Amstetten cellar – from verlassen. A Verlies is a place where you are abandoned.

The completeness with which Elisabeth Fritzl was abandoned and the thoroughness of her interment are hard to comprehend. For 24 years, she was buried alive. There were no bars to her cell, as Jelinek reminds us, no bars through which to glimpse another life (with
typical brilliance she alludes to Rilke’s poem ‘The Panther’ and the
lines ‘To him it is as though there were a thousand bars/and between
these thousand bars no world’). The extreme cruelty of Elisabeth’s
situation involved an almost unimaginable enclosure, not just of space but of time. Physical confinement – airless and without daylight – was compounded by temporal uncertainty, by not knowing when, if ever, she
was to be released. Time becomes oppressive when we are unable to see where it is leading. Even the trivial experience of waiting for
someone who is late can make us anxious that we’ve been left to rot in unstructured time. At such moments we get a sense of the limitless fear of the baby who cannot imagine the return of its absent mother. Elisabeth Fritzl was abandoned by her mother to a father who had become an ogre, and found herself waiting for ever; falling – like the ‘suffering mortals’ of Hölderlin’s ‘Hyperions Schicksalslied’ – ‘jahrlang ins Ungewisse hinab’ (‘for years into the vague abyss’).

My own work tends to over-complication - I've been looking for something like the concept of 'verlies' to describe a kind of abandonment I feel in academe and the death of ethics and ideals. My problem is that I try to write many books at once and reject standard forms - most of the work actually goes into my teaching to alleviate the boredom of spreadsheets and the chronic fraud of managerialism. It's essentially a ruse to help others speak for themselves. I've just had some students produce a brilliant documentary based a Jelinek documentary and a cruder American one called 'Crackerjack'. They read a commentary on espoused health and safety practice whilst filming chronic abuses round campus and in the town and filmed some crime victims cutting to a police speech on official practice. I need to focus on my own production for a couple of years.

Molly Brogan said...

I can feel your place of essential abandonment, Neil. Thank you. It might be the recent exchange with Francis, but I am reminded of Christ on the cross, "Father, why hast thou forsaken me?" This dark night of the soul position allows us to examine our essential selves. Like Christ, who spent his ministry telling people that "I am in the father and the father in me," sometimes translated "I am the father and the father is me," do we abandon ourselves when we see ourselves as separate and abandon by the world? Don't get me wrong, I have found my self here many times and recently too! This complete deconstruction is required by the dark night of the soul, as it allows possibility to arise. Can we be kind enough to ourselves to recognize and own it? I do know that once the self examination is fulfilled - the resurrection begins!

As an artist, I can say that this may be the moment before the artistic blossom. The cessura, where we feel the weight of the blank page or canvas, and listen closely for the voice of the muse within. I know from experience, that if we embrace this dark, eternal moment, and allow expression to begin - the bud opens.

I hold you in the place of joy and peace in my heart. You are truly magnificent, and the light you share inspires us.

Keith said...

Obviously, it is an analogy God writing the book of reality. My own concept of the universe is more complex. I think the universe is actually a multiverse, and there are infinite "universes." The local phenomenon commonly referred to as the universe has parallels and opposites, and whatever else may be conceived of by the infinite intellect of God. God lacks nothing and never did lack anything. But for all the complexity, all
of the obtuseness and incomprehensibility, nothing with regards to human thought negates the reality of God.

Neil said...

Thanks Molly.

Keith said...

BTW it seems to me to be self-evident if you say to yourself, "I think therefore I am."

Pat said...

To a degree, yes; but it still leaves unanswered, 'What links a thinker to his thoughts?'.

Vamadevananda said...

My, my, Pat ! This is absolutely subtle and came entirely unexpected.

Pat said...

LOL!! Story of my life, innit? It was that thought (of what links a thinker to his thoughts) that led me to think about consciousness as a fetching device for information, fetching into a Platonistic Abstract Plane and retrieving them to our brains. It wasn't until people pointed out to me that it was, in fact, Platonistic, that I gained a huge respect for Plato. I figure, the deeper we analyse, the closer we get to the truth. Irrespective of exactly what the truth IS, though, I still think God's thought it all out pretty well.

Vamadevananda said...

Pat might not agree with you, Molly ! His premise is that all of it is already written by God.

Molly Brogan said...

Sure it is, we choose the possibility for our viewpoint.

Keith said...

We do think, and therefore we are equipped albeit scarcely, with some means to speculate what links a thinker to his or her thoughts.Rene Descartes believed that God was not set on being a deceiver. It may be that illusion does exist, but I think Descartes meant that God does not deceive for the sake of game playing with humans. That is, illusion is not for the sake of a divine cosmic joke on us. My physical brain, I believe, is a projector and my mind a projection. A projection consisting of mathematical patterns is not necessarily material thing, and thus I am a spiritual being temporarily housed in a flesh and blood body and brain. That is the link between the thinker and his thoughts. Perhaps reality is in a sense nothing but mathematical points on a multi-dimensional grid. We are changing patterns contained within the infinite intellect of God.

ornamentalmind said...

For the record, math is but a human construct too.

Keith said...

But atoms and molecules obey precise mathematical laws, and are consistent. Gravity utilizes precise mathematics which govern its properties. The laws of chemistry adhere to mathematical equations involving quantity, temperature, pressure and so on. The laws of evolution depend on the laws of chance.

ornamentalmind said...

Keith, was this meant to be a refutation of my post? If so, I don't see how it is. If not, never mind.

Keith said...

The universe has laws including mathematical principles which exist without human beings to calculate or work equations.

Pat said...

I think what Keith was getting at is, although mathematics is a human construction, it's based on what we see in nature. Mathematics is our way of understanding some of the subtle interplay in the universe. The same is true of logic. We didn't invent the concepts as much as we discovered them as already present in the world around us.

Keith said...

Spinoza or Descartes (or both) talked about the concept of a triangle. Even if no matter existed the properties of a triangle would not be affected.

ornamentalmind said...

Yes, some people have talked about numerous concepts. And, without a brain to apprehend said concept...well...you may get what my point was. If not, you might want to look into: Tsong-Kha-Pa's Final Exposition of Wisdom by Jeffrey Hopkins and/or Mountain Doctrine: Tibet's Fundamental Treatise on Other-Emptiness and the Buddha Matrix by Jeffrey Hopkins

Pat said...

I agree with you Keith but it seems Orn is more of the 'it takes a knower to know these things' camp. This is one of the reasons I believe in an abstract plane/mind of God. These things reside in the
mind of God as abstracts and we, over time, discover them, rather than we, over time, invent them. While I accept the plausibility that it takes a knower to know these things, I proffer that it is the mind of God in which they reside. As I believe our consciousness is but a part of that mind of God, we have access to them. This is just another variance between the theistic-deistic camp and the atheistic camp in their approach to epistemology. As neither can prove their claim, perhaps we should accept our variance and let it go at that.

Molly Brogan said...

For me, what connects the thinker to the thoughts is being. We may have swung this dialogue around to a new question - what is the nature of being?

Neil said...

One could not be sure even the concept of a triangle would exist if there was no matter - though there may be existance beyond the ski slopes or treacle of the Higgs' Field - we rather neglect Maxwell. Arguments between camps are best left alone simply because they are arguments between camps and as such likely to be fairly hopeless and based on unrecognised similarities or the exploitation of markets (as with Dawkins utterly dull anti-religion or creationists who know no biology). I like the idea of a discussion of being.