A Surprise while Reading T. H. Huxley

I have been reading an old copy of Results and Methods Essays by T. H. Huxley. Mostly because Aleister Crowley cited him once or twice. I have been interested in, and trying to understand, what Crowley has written for a long time. My thought was that perhaps Huxley could shed some light on his cryptic writing.

I knew little of T. H. Huxley other than he was an Englishman who died in 1895, about the time Crowley was 20. I was delighted to read his style and of his admiration for the works of Rene’ Descartes. It turns out that Huxley was a great thinker, an advocate of the scientific method and a Biologist.

The purpose of this post is to report that between pages 190 and 191, I found this artifact of early Los Angeles. A handbill announcing a Free Oahspean Lecture on Sunday April 1st at Blanchard Music Hall on Hill Street.

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A you can see there is no year. On the obverse there was an unintelligible word preceding the word “molecule” with a shape on the left that could be a geometrical figure like a molecule. Interestingly, next to the geometrical shape there looked to be a 7 data points bounded by a curvilinear line.

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This post is merely quaint. If there is any significance to the drawing perhaps someone will contact me for the original.

The Oahspean Bible is a huge volume of automatic writing published by the writer, John Ballou Newbrough (1828-1891) in 1882. Automatic writing has given us a whole lot of rubbish over the years. My take is that some is fraudulent, some may have been truly automatic (but as useful as one of my nightly dreams), and some may make sense to someone sometime. Neither of these assessments would be a reason to study it.

I do recommend Huxley but that is it.

Setting a rational basis for discussing illusions

I have thought about posting on illusions for a long time and I have recently come up with something. I was watching a lecture by Doug Crockford about JavaScript and he put the picture you see below up on the projector. The picture is Edward H. Adelson’s checker shadow illusion. Crockford said square “A” is exactly the same color as square “B”. I was doubtful.

Adelson Picture

So, I downloaded the picture and checked the pixel color of each square with Microsoft Paint. Easy to do, and that confirmed it. Crockford was right: my brain is definitely interpreting what it sees in light of my experience; my experience being that checker boards always have alternating colors.

This really affected me because the illusion is so persistent. Usually I can focus on an optical illusion and overcome it.

I have mulled this over a while now basically asking the question: if my mind is interpreting this picture incorrectly, what else is it interpreting incorrectly?

I would like to know how others see this picture because I have a hunch some can see it accurately depending on their level of training.

More coming up.

Illusions

Not only is life an illusion but in life we often believe things that are not true. Things that don’t fit the reality of who we are or what is really happening around us. I would like to say that a big part of my growth is trying to see things clearly or have a clear understanding.

We all seek connection. Connection is important. It is best that we find appropriate connection. Connection with those who can help. Rarely can I ferret out an illusion I am deep in the middle of without the help of my objective friends.

Many times we believe things that are not true and it hinders us. I would like to try and identify some of those things we have come to believe as false or incorrect and call them illusions here in this post.

If you have any illusions you have identified objectively, post them here in the comments and be prepared tells us how you know. You don’t have to be right, just brave. After we all kick it around, your illusion will be hoisted up into the post and immortalized forever. Sound good?

The Ego Chronicles – Weekend Warriors

In the lesser spiritual circles, the Ego is the Elephant in the living room that no one mentions. This well-used phrase is an apt metaphor for a condition regarding a presence that seekers are either unaware of, or choose to ignore. I use the term lesser to distinguish those weekend get-together groups, with good intentions (possibly), but no authority, from true sources of knowledge and assistance for you on the path to enlightenment. In my travels I find that most people are aware of the Ego whether in themselves or in others and, to the extent that they are involved in relationships in their life, they are appropriately vexed by it. Unfortunately for them, the uninitiated see the Ego as themselves rather than as part of their personality; spending a good deal of time in self-reproach when in fact they might learn to love who they are and seek to regain command of themselves from their rampant cohort.

Meaning well is a start and those who use their leadership skills to bring people together should be commended. The curriculum is the problem. Best that these groups discuss needlepoint or even politics rather than expose themselves to karmic liability of the most heinous sort, one-upping each other with absurd recounts of their boorish attempts at meditation or divination; or worse yet explaining to each other how and why the world will end soon. Seemingly innocuous, some self-appointed weekend spiritual types create curriculums that are based on feeling good and, for the most part, the group spends their time with nice music, useless ( even damaging) guided meditations, lectures on ridiculous “esoteric” knowledge, gleaned from the internet, based on no personal knowledge or experience, only a sense that the information “feels good” or “sounds right.”

If I had to classify these groups and their ability to take responsibility for a person’s spiritual development I would say there are at least three types: those that think they know, those that don’t know and are aware of that fact, and those that know the true path of the individual. Those that know I will call “Orders” and those that think they know I will call “Dis-Orders” and those that don’t know and are aware of that fact, I will call “Seekers.”

I chose the title of this series of blog posts to highlight the Ego in our daily lives and the important role it plays in our spiritual advancement or lack thereof. The Ego is the turd in the punch bowl so to speak. It’s presence may be necessary at times but it always stinks up the place; always. The best we can do is know ourselves and the Ego so we can make decisions using our given faculties and not the Ego’s short, quick, biased, reactive jump-to-conclusions approach. The Ego is always there, ready to go when you are not wiling or able. Our job is to grow up, in all ways, physically, emotionally, cognitively, and take the controls from the Ego.

This essential step to spiritual advancement may seem mundane, almost like a part of growing up which, if we had a good childhood, we might be inclined to take for granted; thinking perhaps that it just must have happened because we made it through puberty. It happens in many ways, most of which can be described as “having to do things we don’t want to do.” The problem is though, that those forces that direct us to do these things, such as get up in the morning, do our homework, go to work etc. are outside of ourselves; we subvert one aspect of the Ego to get these things done using other aspects of the Ego, namely fear or the need for approval.

Where does one learn how to do this? It just happens…or not; if one’s parents had the knowledge and desire to pass this on or if there was spiritual or religious training or, if a teacher or two were able to enlighten you. More likely though, we may have to get to work in our adult life because we were not given ample instruction about the importance of this project. Robert Bly complained of the Sibling Society and rightfully so; however, the solution is not some ambiguous set of manners or experiences, it is for the individuals to move into a position of taking control of their lives and relegating the Ego to as minor a position as possible. The less the Ego intrudes on our behavior the better. If the Ego never appears unless explicitly called on (that is, never allowed to react unchecked), one would be enlightened, if disciplined, or perhaps insane if not.

Using the word metaphysics

I recently noticed a writer using the word metaphysics in a popular way to attribute spiritual significance to a blog post on social media. Doubtfully I forged ahead expecting a look at how we might use and misuse social media in the context of the human condition: What kinds of social media are out there? Is it worth your time? What is responsible grouping, posting and commenting? What helps or hurts and why? Unfortunately the article was filler giving a few bits of worthless information in exchange for our attention. It explained how our wall is an apt world for manifestation (that’s right, both mystically and magickally) and for contacting old friends and the healing of relationships.

A noble goal of written communication is to select unambiguous words in crafting thoughts and ideas. In the interests of clarity and the publishing of useful, objective information a writer avoids ambiguity and uses words in their most specific form. Hence words used in an article should be easily defined by consulting a reputable dictionary. Similarly and more importantly, titles are an advertisement to the reader and should be ethical and honest. In this case, honesty would dictate a title such as “Selective Quips about Social Media.” In the alternative, I would suggest a well written article delivering on the title already chosen.

The usage of the term metaphysics as a vague, adaptable-to-any-subject notion is regrettable. Metaphysics is a wonderful subject encompassing epistemology and the nature of reality. Information on metaphysics as a branch of philosophy can be helpful to many. Unfortunately in discussions of grocery shopping, social media or perhaps cement mixing, we don’t learn about epistemology but rather how a writer can subvert truth at the outset.

The definition of metaphysics, as a branch of philosophy dealing with being and knowing, is clear. The popular definition of metaphysics, as the application of abstract subtlety or reason, is not clear nor does it apply in any way to the article in question.  The popular definition is not used in this case to inform but rather to lend a “spiritual” bent and glow to the work (or the author) not realized in the writing.

Spirituality is no substitute for intelligence, spirituality is a subset of intelligence. The high road then, for the writer, is to meditate on the purpose of the writing and the benefits to confer on the reader, and write it selflessly, clearly, completely and without guile.

See you on the high road……

Life after life

Life, as we know it plays out in space and time. And so, here I am. I’m not sure where really. My initial thought is here in this chair which seems accurate enough. However, this chair is somewhere as well, for example, in this room, and since I am sitting in this chair, I suppose I am there too. Pushing further, I believe that this room is somewhere also, that is, in this house. It follows that I must be there too. By induction then, it seems that I am everywhere, at least in my world.

If I am everywhere perhaps its possible I am every-when.  I believe the above logic applied to my experience of time might get me close to a proof. But for now I shall explore this ground on intuition alone. My sense is that I go on and on in time through many events including births and deaths. Time flows by and around me as todays become yesterdays and tomorrows become todays. If I was there then and that was a now; and I am here now which will soon be a then; it seems I must be every-when, at least in my world.

I happen to be here for now, not eternity, just now. Eternity seems incredibly long and overwhelming and now seems such a pointy, fleeting and moving thing. I wonder if I might get sucked into eternity if I focus too hard on the now?  But, if we string enough nows together, we may end up with an eternity.

So why all of this do you suppose? Well, it’s clear; we’re here. You and I are in these bodies until they give out. In order to live we need a framework; and space and time is it. Then you say; what about after life? Then what?

One answer I’ve heard is that we go somewhere and bask for all eternity. The problem is; what might we do there in perpetuity? Sing and dance? Write poetry? Live? No, unfortunately if we experience birth or death in this scenario then we have a violation. These two activities are not allowed in the basking-for-all-eternity idea. It’s clear we can’t do things that might be construed as living.

Why leave where you are and retreat to God-knows-where; especially if there is little to do there? Who knows? One might actually qualify for a “doing nothing” program. Perhaps doing nothing is prescribed if we are already perfect. Or perhaps doing nothing is ok if we are very tired and need a long break. Do you suppose though, we could be content retiring for all time, eating grapes, drinking wine, talking, or playing the lute? One might find these tasks a bit tedious after a few thousand minutes, months or millennia—never mind forever.

Without a doubt I could enjoy such activities for a while. However, eventually I would seek to experience more; to learn new things about myself and the universe, and this would involve living, and life after life is called reincarnation. Does personal growth through living many lives make sense? Or does lingering for an eternity seem more plausible?