Archive for the 'cosmology' Category

Layers of divinity

September 26, 2014

My sense of the spiritual world is that there are what we could call layers and that the highest layer is what some people would call God or Dis or Source.  The essence of the highest layer I think permeates through all the succeeding layers, including into our own, into our material world and into ourselves.  I think it’s very difficult for a human to comprehend the highest level.  I think when we try to, we often resort to coloring it with imagery that brings it down to a lower level.

I may have written this before, but I want to say that what Jesus was trying to say could be taken to be about mistaking the “son” for the “father,” about mistaking one layer for another, about mistaking a “personal God” with anthropomorphic characteristics for the highest layer.  The father-son concept would then be a metaphor for how there is connection between the layers.  Encouraging people to fall in love with a being they could identify with even more than with a more abstract concept could be a way of trying to help people who have trouble achieving spiritual union find the emotional posture to do so.

But the “father layer,” in my view, is not the ultimate layer.  I think Christianity conceptualizes that it is the ultimate layer.  I think a “father layer” is also, and too much, dependent on the person’s need to relate to a being who can be related to in human terms.

I wonder if the teachings got misunderstood.  I would take the father-son idea and the idea of accessing the father through relationship with the son as ways to help achieve spiritual union, but which need to be replicated up the chain through the layers of the spiritual realm to the more abstract layers.

As always, take what you like and leave the rest.

I wrote this after reading Father Rohr’s Daily Meditation for today.

Advertisements

Big bang or rent in the fabric (or both)?

November 25, 2012

I seem to have discovered that if I have a lot of love for someone, but don’t act on it in the usual way, and resist trying to form a particular relationship with them, something else is produced instead.  It feels almost as if, if I pull away, something pours forth from the rent in the fabric of the connection.  At a mundane level, that something sometimes seems to be seeing others engage in a pattern of behavior I have engaged in, or it may be some new insights that occur to me or some lessons I finally come to learn in my own life.  At a different level, what pours forth feels analogous to something beautiful, like music, streaming out.

This got me thinking about the Big Bang theory.  What if the initial movement was more of a tear than an explosion?  A tear in which an original unity separated enough into two parts to have the parts interact as distinct entities in their own right?  Maybe the bang came out of that (subsequent) interaction, maybe the tear was in a way a bang itself.  I don’t know, but a tear would be an easier way at least for me to understand how things could have gotten started.  I guess we’ll have to wait to see what science discovers through its own means.

Reification

November 24, 2012

I wonder if reifying something denatures it, reduces it to a manageable size, similar in one respect to the dynamic within Grover Norquist’s idea of reducing something to be small enough to drown in a bathtub.

This idea occurred to me while I was reading about the movement in Texas to have that state secede from the United States.  I thought about some religions’ interpretation that an angel wanted to secede from some part of creation.

I’ve never bought that version.  I’ve always heard it more impersonally, that what’s being perceived was more like a limb falling from a tree during a storm — damaging perhaps but without mal-intent (or intent of any kind, for that matter).

When I read about Texas, I thought, “Well, maybe finally we reduced that thought form [about fallen angels] to a political movement that, while maybe controversial, isn’t profoundly frightening.”

The real issue of The Fall, the one that actually caused so much damage, lay, in my opinion, in how what fell disturbed, and threatened to disrupt, the equilibrium of the system here.  It not only caused some obvious damage, but it imported something foreign to the system into the mix, like a speck of sand in an oyster, and off we went careering towards instability.  There was nothing inherently wrong with that speck of sand, it just didn’t belong to this type of system we have in our world, it was like a piece to one jigsaw puzzle ending up in the box of another puzzle.  The type of puzzle to which it belonged was an unfortunate match for our type of puzzle, but separating out that issue from the nature of the damage from its impact wasn’t easy, because the damage was so difficult to experience or even to observe.  (And returning the piece to the cosmic Lost and Found was also a technically difficult matter.)

So I’m not happy with (some) Texans’ apparent high displeasure with being part of our union, but at least a political quarrel doesn’t produce the appearance of consequences that seem to threaten our existence for eternity.  So in a peculiar or narrow kind of way, I see the this news event as reflecting progress of a different sort.

Active requests, or, Don’t Feed the Animals

August 21, 2012

I’ve wondered, as I think many people wonder, about why we seem to need to actively request help from the universe to receive it.

On the one hand, let me get out of the way first that I think general willingness to serve can lead to some kind of help in a particular situation.

But there does seem to be in our system a need to ask for help from the universe.  This is tangentially related to the issue I touched on recently in a previous post about what happens when needs are not sufficiently communicated to another human being.  In the case of asking for help from God or the universe, we wonder why they can’t see our need and meet it without articulation, the way a parent might meet a baby’s needs without the child’s communicating those to them explicitly.

For one thing, there’s the issue of our receptivity to the help — if we’re not open enough to hear and be guided, all the help can be available to us (and is, I think) and yet we can’t (as in, we are unable to) make use of it.

The issue of specific requests I think could be related to something else.  If God and the universe are too easily accessible to us and our needs don’t serve, that helping energy will go to uses that don’t serve.  If the system requires a request, it is also requiring a certain mindset on the part of the requester, one that may screen for authentic communication from the heart, for example.  It is furthermore inserting a pause, however brief, into the dynamic and an opportunity for a decision of some sort.  It strikes me that this could ensure that energy does not just gush out to wherever a flawed human being might direct it.

I came to this thinking as I was contemplating my interactions with others that I find draining.  I’m very porous, but what I think actually is more at the root of my trouble is that I actively share my energy with others too easily.  I think I need to look at requests instead, to assume my energy will circulate for me unimpeded unless I divert it per a request or at least with my permission.  I think I have not been sufficiently aware of what seemingly innocuous interactions lead to my giving away my energy in ways that don’t result in anything truly helpful.  (I’m not sure I’m right about this, since so many people like myself end up using other techniques to keep other people at bay, including limiting their availability physically for interactions.)

Energy is energy, so having thought about my own system, it struck me that while God’s energy is limitless, pouring it into things that don’t serve would not necessarily be the system we have, and that requiring a request might be a way of maintaining equilibrium overall in the system.  Then, only requests (or subterfuges or donations, prudent or imprudent) to move energy around would actually change its distribution.

I don’t know if this is accurate, and just as knowing that there will be pain so long as there is pleasure in a world isn’t particularly satisfying or comforting to someone is distress, it doesn’t address the apparent difficulties in the system that seem to arise when a person doesn’t know to or is unable to make a request.

To me, the story of an angel who rebels against God is really the story of someone questioning the system we have in the universe.  I think when the system is viewed from some perspectives it really does look stupid or cruel.  I’ve encountered folks who needed to hear that before they would accede to rejoining it.  A more neutral way of putting it is that we may experience the systemic as difficult.  If our cosmology includes something like a demiurge between ourselves and God, who is responsible for our system the way a game designer is responsible for a particular game, I suppose our complaint is with the demiurge and not with the universe.

For me, a component of faith is that from some other points of view, the system has its merits and makes sense, if I can put it that way, that from other perspectives our concerns and complaints are about things that are irrelevant from that kind of perspective.

I think human beings have a peculiar position in our ability to participate in the system with our heads to some extent in the clouds while our feet are in the mud.  At our most helpful we are conduits, I think, at our least, we implode into energetic black holes.  Somewhere in between those two extremes lie the people whom I experience as large hungry babies who just want to suckle and grow large from energy from elsewhere, without themselves becoming donors of it in turn.  I think I am learning not to feed them in ways that don’t serve.

I am not surprised that in the world we have people who see this upside down and backwards in terms of activity in the physical world — such as political conservatives who see society in terms of productive people and lazy people on the dole.  I suspect they are voicing for themselves their own spiritual situation but have lost the ability to hear.  But they do us a service in making apparent the problem to other people who can hear what they are saying.  Eventually that perspective will spread.  I believe that the spiritual situation is the dog and the physical manifestation is the tail, and that when the perspective of enough people changes sufficiently with respect to our spiritual situation, the situation in our material world will improve.

Renconciling with science

December 21, 2011

I think a lot about how to resolve what many people experience as a divide between viewing the world through science and viewing it through a spiritual lens.  I’ve had people in my life terrified I would succumb to the family pressure to become a scientist, and others who campaigned to dissuade me from the liberal arts, or at least from my teachers there who clearly wanted my participation in their magisterium, if not their lives.

So, it amused me to remember this picture, which Willy kept in his office:

I was visiting my sister, who was working in Washington, D.C. at the time, and my cousin Gail was visiting at the same time, as I recall.  I’m pretty sure Gail took the picture.  I’m not entirely sure what the picture meant to Willy, who hadn’t come with me on that trip.  I think he seemed to get a kick out of it as something I had done when I had gone off “on a frolic and a detour” without him.

The way I would like to interpret the picture is as illustrating part of the on-going “ping-pong match,” or mirroring back and forth, between spiritual partners:  I am reading someone else’s understanding of the universe, in their own, scientific language, and I will sing back that understanding as accurately as possible in my own language.  How I have been able to understand what I am “reading” in that language I suspect has something to do with Willy as some sort of interpreter, whose understanding I could absorb through some other means; he certainly had the physics and math for the scientific understanding, and I suspect, in retrospect, he had other kinds of understandings in other languages, as well.

 

Chip off the old block

November 4, 2011

I think I learned from the Brian Greene series on space and its physics which is being broadcast on Nova on PBS this month that scientists want to chip a piece off of space to create a particle, using the particle accelerator under the Alps.  I couldn’t tell whether this would replicate a natural process or be something new.  And my thoughts about that left me wondering whether this experiment was a wonderful thing or a terrible idea, something that would lead to changes in our world, for better or for worse, or something that is neutral to our present dynamic.

I guess I wish I trusted scientists and thinkers who rely on reason more than on other faculties, to have thought through the possible consequences of their actions in a way I don’t think their chosen means of discerning is actually capable of;  in other words, do these folks really know what they’re doing?

But I can also see the possibility that these scientists may be actually replicating, unknowingly, an important event that took place in another place at another time.  Which doesn’t mean this experiment won’t have consequences, just that it may be a natural outgrowth of previous events and in a way “necessary,” regardless of where it leads.  And for all I know, it may lead somewhere very helpful.

What I guess I wish I could be sure of is that the scientists have enough “willingness,” the emotional orientation of wanting to serve the greater good, that if their experiment doesn’t serve the greater good, their efforts will be blocked or edited in some way so that the greater good is served, regardless.

I do think we make progress regardless, but I also think some paths in this progress are more painful than others.  I think we can’t discern which path will be which with our intellects and reason, however prodigious.  Making that discernment I think is a place for what I think some people, especially those oriented towards using reason and intellect to navigate the world, call “intuition.” I guess I think of it more like asking for directions at a gas station when we’re lost, or maybe listening to that global positioning device.  I would like to encourage scientists to do it, if they don’t already, and I think they will actually make more progress in their chosen fields by their own measures if they do.

Simple future, however vivid

September 26, 2011

I was just reading “Why the Antichrist Matters in Politics,” by Matthew Avery Sutton, in the NYTimes, and I would like to make the simple point that if our present times look like what’s predicted in biblical passages, maybe it’s because those passages were based on people looking into the future and thinking, erroneously, that they were having spiritual experiences.  The content of that future has no particular cosmological significance, from what I can see, that was an over-interpretation of what would more appropriately be viewed as a simple factual description of events.  It’s tantamount to being scared by our own reflections in a mirror.

Binary star systems and God’s beloved wife

September 16, 2011

I left a comment this morning on the NYTimes story about the discovery of a planet orbiting a pair of binary stars.  I likened the situation to two parents with children, and ours, by contrast, to being raised by a grieving widowed single parent.  I referred to our situation both as mono-stellar and monotheistic (and I also wasn’t (intentionally) referring to my own personal situation as a widow with children).

The monotheistic part is what I think I really wanted to get at, in this context of a binary star system and some of the comments previously posted by others mentioning Jupiter as a failed partner to our sun.

There is a tradition of God’s having, or having had, a partner.  Off the top of my head, I think of the kabbalistic God and the Shekinah, Greek Zeus and Hera, Hindu Shiva and Kali.  I sometimes have the sense that at least some of us process the cosmic ripples from the formation of our solar system as narrative stories.  Here, maybe, we blended the  failure of our solar system as a binary star system with the presence of a cosmic force we identify as divine (I sometimes think of that force as The Great Recycler — it receives our crap and from it creates new stuff).  So, we have (unhappy) monotheism, and scraps of stories about his having lost his partner.

The discovery of this planet circling two suns seemed to me like hearing about someone who has successfully grown some variety of plant in their garden which one had tried unsuccessfully to grow oneself — happy confirmation that it can be done, and a necessary step towards accepting one’s own loss as one tries to figure out what will grow in one’s own garden instead.

Consensus Reality

July 28, 2011

What if our agreed understanding of “reality” is such that it cannot be sustained, that it contains the seeds to its collapse?  What if it needs a little tweaking?

Perhaps because I’m no economist and perhaps because I tend to see in other people’s thinking ideas they may not have intended, I see in Paul Krugman’s notion of the “Confidence Fairy” the possibility of another fallacious belief as well.  I think Prof. Krugman’s Confidence Fairy is about the claim that what the private sector needs is “certainty” in order, for example, to create jobs (and that certainty will be produced by tax cuts and lax regulation).  But what I’m wondering is this: maybe we have  a collective assumption that whatever we decide to do can be made to serve the greater good well enough to keep our human society perking along, that there is some equivalent of “grace” to ensure things work out okay.  This would be a “Confidence Fairy” who sort of picks up after us, and my concept of her would be that she’s a fantasy of our confidence that our behavior has no impact (instead of a fantasy that the only missing ingredient in our situation is confidence in the future through some sense of certainty — that deficiency I would recast as a lack of faith in forces larger than ourselves).

As I discussed in my post about Rumi and Shams, if we are willing, the universe will block our human missteps.  But willingness is necessary, not for some moralistic reason, to my way of thinking, but because willingness makes us sufficiently open to greater forces to allow them to work through us.  If we are strong-arming everything through our intellects and have closed minds, this “universal help card” doesn’t, and can’t, help.  Grace requires some amount of cooperation on our part, might be another way of thinking about it.

The last factor I will mention here is how we reinforce our misunderstandings with our words and our thoughts, and become trapped by them.  “If we can think it, it must be true” clearly isn’t our belief when we hear ideas from others we don’t share, but I think we are more prone to believing it about our own words and thinking.  I hear this notion as an undercurrent in some theology and philosophy in western cultures.  If our thinking is merely human cognition, it may easily be a “sport,” an aberration that has no universal significance and should be quarantined, if you will, restricted to its original context.

I think our dry human thinking needs to be informed by an openness to other human mental activities, in order  for us to remain on course and not go astray.