Death

Are you looking for a quotation that you can't quite place? Trying to track down a hard-to-find publication? Here, folks can help you find the answers, or discuss ways for you to discover them for yourself.

Moderators: Clemsy, Martin_Weyers, Cindy B.

Locked
User avatar
Martin_Weyers
Working Associate
Posts: 4054
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Odenwald
Contact:

Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Vissi, in his original post, starting this thread, Nights Watch wrote:
On 2004-10-12 13:27, nights watch wrote:
Mortality has been on my mind as of late, and it has the power to simply overwhelm me. The notion of coming to a point where there is simply NOTHING ELSE is mind boggling, and though i accept the fact that i will one day die, the notion is somthing that is slightly unsettling. I love that it gives the moments i experience now tremendous meaning, as it does, but when thinking about the severing of consciousness...what IS that, you know? When I contemplate it deeply I feel almost as if i can indirectly see it, and again it just overwhelmed me. Have any of you deeply contemplated this? do you have any good campbell quotes regarding this? thanks
He was asking for our personal experience and point of view, so I wouldn't mind too much about our own "poor understanding"! I think it is of importance, not just to recite some enlightened people, but to share our own modest, or even abortive experience here.

Hence, Vissi, friends, have the heart to post, no matter what!

_________________
... With you the world arises, and a fresh start gleams on all the fragments of our failures - Rainer Maria Rilke

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin_Weyers on 2004-11-24 17:03 ]</font>
Robert G.
Associate
Posts: 292
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:48 pm

Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Robert G. was asking if it has to refer to something real to make sense, while Ruiz was talking about the hypnotizing quality of the metaphor
Actually what I was wondering was if the metaphor had to be accepted as real to be effective, not if it had to refer to something real. To me, there is a difference in these questions, an important one. I think the answer to the one I asked is both yes and no, in other words: if your 'unconscious' accepts or connects to the metaphor in some way it will have an effect on you regardless of what you consciously think. What happens when the conscious and unconscious are brought together and both say "Yes" to the metaphor I cannot speak to yet.

What I'm thinking about now is this idea of undifferentated consciousness as a metaphysical 'fact'. As a metaphor for aspects of our psychology I think it has value, but anything beyond that seems to me to be as dogmatic and as much a matter of "faith" as any other sectarian belief. The whole idea is coming to seem every bit as ridiculous as the concept of a heaven with pearly white gates and fluffy clouds. Futhermore, it seems perverse to take the thing we know most directly, our own existence, and say that it is in its essential character unknowable. Indeed, one could argue that Kant's forms of sensibility, which Campbell identifies exactly as maya, while they might 'enclose' the individual, are themslves dependent on the reality of the individual. Right now, Nights Watch in his original post seems to me to be expressing a reasonable view: we are here, one day we will die, and that is unsettling. The idea that each individual is real is no more theoretical then the idea that he is not, and has the added advantage of at least according to our experience. "I and the other are one" is a poetic fancy, an image of the relationship of the ego to the self, not a statement of ultimate reality.

This puts me on the other side of a view expressed by Campbell. To me, it would be significant if we wiped out life on this planet. For Campbell: "Vishnu closes his eyes, Vishnu opens his eyes." No act, no being in its final character is anything at all. I disagree.

_________________
The associate formerly known as grdnfrk.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Robert G. on 2004-11-25 00:54 ]</font>
Tony L
Associate
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Jun 26, 2004 6:45 pm
Location: Leeds/England

Post by Tony L » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

"I and the other are one" is a poetic fancy

It might be interesting to briefly examine what science has to say on the subject/object and intersubjective relationship.

Quantum Mechanics provides that when two particles come into contact with each other their remain in SYMPATHETIC RELATIONSHIP forever, regardless of their positions in time and space. This is known as non-locality and has been established and validated over many years of experiment.

This suggests that Nature at its most fundamental level expresses a level of mutual dependency which I believe is reflected through consciousness into societies and conveyed in the great monomyths of almost every culture.

science also expresses many other parallels which I believe augment and extend our understanding of the nature of existence.

If anybody is interested I will go into further detail.
Tony L
Associate
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Jun 26, 2004 6:45 pm
Location: Leeds/England

Post by Tony L » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

With regard to previous discussion relating to the meaning of metaphor. I would like to show how metaphor might connect with scientific reasoning. As I suggested earlier, metaphor is about the "isness" of immediate experience. I believe that Science provides a further and more complex form of explanation by reference to Analogy. In the present context it could be said to represent the "likeness" of entities and events. This "likeness" allows us to model the universe and existence in general, through systematic reasoning and expressed then through the causal effects of Technology.

The key issue I believe, (and I believe Campbell does too) is that we must marry the seemingly two worlds of Myth and Science and interpret the myths of yesterday in terms of the science of today
Ruiz
Associate
Posts: 320
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Post by Ruiz » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi walker, Tony L, Bodhi Bliss, Carmela (Cave Bear), Robert G, Martin_Weyers, and Vissi!

Martin, You bring up some very good questions that I hope to address in this post. I notice that the answer is implied in the posts of the above associates.

walker mentions:

"I wonder when things get too complex is it not because someone is trying hard to convey an idea that cannot be expressed in words?"

Bodhi_Bliss post affirms that difficulty. Language can be a barrier because it can be misinterpreted. The language (images, concepts, etc) that is supposed to suggest the unknowable is interpreted as referring to known things.

Tony L is absolutely correct that many mythic metaphors are "is" statements and not "as if" statements. Tony is referring to psychological metaphors. Many metaphors are reflections of inner states of experience. This is why the metaphor affects us below the rational system. Our gut knows there is truth to the metaphor without us having to analyze anything.

Metaphysical metaphors on the other hand point to the unknowable. We use the language of what we know but we are referring to what can't be known. (The source of life and existence.)

The reason "consciousness" gives us trouble is because we are confusing psychological and metaphysical metaphors. In my opinion mythic metaphors that use the word consciousness are psychological metaphors pointing mostly to inner experiences potential in us.

In yoga we attempt to bring waking consciousness down into the realm of deep dreamless sleep. (undifferentiated consciousness; consciousness of no particular thing) This in my opinion is the origin of the consciousness metaphors that give us so much trouble.

Getting in touch with the consciousness and life force in us "suggests" that what is operating in us is also operating in trees and animals. Maybe even rocks? Now we are in the realm of metaphysics (What is reality?)Since we don't know beyond what we can experience internally we can only surmise about the world out there. We can only project inner experience to the world out there.

Tony is so correct that we spend way too much time focusing on transcendence and not immanence. The wonder is all around us but so many of us are trying to rise above it as if spirituality is above it all. Spirituality is not above it but in it. Experiencing transcendence is just experiencing the mystery source operating in all things.

Martin, evolution describes the way nature works. It is a trial and error process. The mystery of evolution and why it does what it does is a mystery. I can only marvel at the process. I would agree with you that the source of it all is beyond human understanding. A metaphysical metaphor pointing to what can't be known would be appropriate here. (pointing to the source or god)

Robert, I agree with you!

Vissi, are you in a way saying that we are without a self or soul because our true soul is the soul of the universe; the universe is expressing itself through us? If I'm interpreting this correctly then it does fit with the idea Martin mentions regarding consciousness. Both notions are trying to convey that we are not who we think we are but manifestations of a more expansive power, potential or soul; a deeper consciousness than what we experience normally. (God)

If I'm correct then the word "consciousness" was just a vehicle used to convey what is really important. That we are not who we think we are. We are in a sense the universe. Our thinking is the universe thinking. When we love it is the universe loving. Suddenly the word consciousness becomes insignificant because it was just the way to this perspective or realization.

Our waking consciousness is the universe in a waking state. It's as if the universe woke up with man.

We participate as gods when we are creative because we are awake. We are aware of what we are doing.

We are God?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Ruiz on 2004-11-28 10:30 ]</font>
walker
Associate
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2002 11:54 am
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Post by walker » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi, ALL!
Ruiz asks:
Are we God?
Who am I to answer? But here are a few thoughts anyway.
We is plural; God is singular. Apparent contradiction. But if the "we" we are talking about is the "real" we, then the contradiction disappears in face of Tony L's
"I and the other are one" is a poetic fancy
as goes to delight us with scientific facts that I think corroborate the fancy. Yes, Tony L, I would appreciate very much if you would care to elaborate further, as you already did to a certain extent, on science and metaphors. I think we should not leave out any kind of knowledge in this search of ours.
But what if God is just a projection of our inner self – a metaphor? Mythologies from India and China lead us to believe we must transcend God if we are to reach full enlightenment. I am afraid those who follow more recent traditions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islamism may not agree to this view and tend to believe in a closed concept of God – He is it – as JC said somewhere.
So I suspect the answer to this puzzling question may lie in what one’s concept of God is. I presently tend to think of God as a tentative answer to a basic human quest for a truly significant metaphor to explain the Great Mystery.

A Eternidade _© o Instante<br>O Instante _© a Realidade<br>A Realidade _© o Sutil<br>O Sutil _© o Vazio<br>O Vazio _© a Eternidade<br><br>walker
Tony L
Associate
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Jun 26, 2004 6:45 pm
Location: Leeds/England

Post by Tony L » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Guys,

A friend of mine is a Sufi scholar and he offers an interpretation of the fundamental priciple of Islamic belief which highlights its universal non-dualistic nature.

It also offers an almost QUANTUM LIKE description. Once again I feel that the analogies of science to make an important contribution to our understanding of metaphysics.

The central tennet of Islam revolves around the phrase "La Ilaha Il Allah". So important is this phrase that it is said that for the first 18 years of Islam this was the only principle which Mohamed expounded.

The traditional and present day interpretation of this phrase has led to the dualistic and divisive notions which continue to plague our present understanding of metaphysics.

The traditional translation and interpretation of this phrase is " there is no god but god(Allah)".

This interpretation places us in a position of otherness to god, a subject/object relationship the rest is history(a crucial part of misunderstanding the "connotation of the metaphor" as campbel would quote)

The Sufi translation however throws an entirely different light on the matter. It says that the correct translation is,

La illaha (No God is) il Allah (only Allah is)

Further, if no God exists, only Allah exists then metaphors should be available which which bring us closer to an understanding of what Allah truly is. These are provided at three levels.

The first is AHAD meaning Infinite and limitless.

The second is SAMED meaning Complete and Whole.

The third is LAMYALID was never begat or born.

This provides us with an almost Gaia like view of a living Universe which at one extreme is irreducible and at the other indeterminate. A sentiment echoed by many eastern beliefs and leading scientists of today.

I believe that Physics and Metaphysics belong side by side in our understanding, just as they were on Aristotles book shelf.
Robert G.
Associate
Posts: 292
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:48 pm

Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Tony, I'm not sure I follow this
This provides us with an almost Gaia like view of a living Universe which at one extreme is irreducible and at the other indeterminate.
As I understand the concept of irreducibility, it holds that the object under discussion cannot be explained by examining its component elements. The concept of indeterminism maintains that events occur which are not completely determined by previous events. I know that irreducibility is often used to defend the idea of free will, and that indeterminism is held to be vital in many definitions of what free will is. What I don't understand is in what sense they can be said to be "at one extreme ... and at the other ..." of anything. Could you explain what you mean?

Also, I worry about the idea of applying the concepts of quantum physics to metaphysics. The math that is the real statement of the quantum hypothesis has no real couterpart in any other lanquage, and we are warned repeatedly by physicists that concepts from our experience have no counterparts in quantum theory. I don't see any way in which quantum theory can be said to support one philosophical position or another - the two things are entirely distinct. Similarly Aristotle's Physics can be ridiculous, and his Metaphysics sublime (apologies to William James).

I apologize if I sound cranky. Discussions about death always seem to veer towards metaphysics (naturally enough), and in these forums it seems to be a metaphysics of the East, where the individual is illusion and reality is unknowable. It seems to me that the individual is real. Stop thinking of yourself as an object to be experienced, and know yourself as subject. The mystery is no mystery. This is it. You are real. When you die, reality is not what it was - something real has ceased to exist.

My apologies again. I lost a friend this week, and this gets to me.

_________________
The associate formerly known as grdnfrk.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Robert G. on 2004-11-28 13:26 ]</font>
Ruiz
Associate
Posts: 320
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Post by Ruiz » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Robert and Associates!

Robert I'm sorry to hear about your friend!

Robert I agree with you that it sometimes feels as if many of us are coming from a denial point of view when it comes to death.

If we can somehow pretend we exist as a spirit of some sort then death has lost it's sting. I think many of us don't actually say it but we hypnotise ourselves that it's probably true. I for example lived under that myth for a long time. It's hard to think otherwise.

The problem is that death is supposed to sting!

I was listening to "The Wisdom of Joseph Campbell" tapes and he said that gods are personifications of the energies all around us; the energies in us and the energies outside us. "God" with a capital "G" is a personification of the energy of the universe; you could say pure undifferentiated energy before it differentiated to say the energy of wind, electricity, etc. The energies in us are also differentiated energies like sex, malice, aggression etc. (differentiated energy really being undifferentiated energy just in a different form)

The source of the energy of the universe is transcendent of human knowledge.

We become transparent to transcendence when we let these energies shine through us!

We will never experience pure undifferentiated energy because our experience of life is already in a world where the energy has been differentiated. We will experience malice, love , hate, envy, and grief internally. These are the lower gods.

"God" is a little too pure for us humans!

Unless deep dreamless sleep is the closest we can get to a sense of what pure undifferentiated consciousness or energy is like.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Ruiz on 2004-11-29 20:01 ]</font>
User avatar
bodhibliss
Working Associate
Posts: 1659
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 5:00 am

Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-11-24 02:37, Martin_Weyers wrote:
Campbell, in PATHWAYS OF BLISS, is not only referring to everyday conversation, but also to the language of science, history, biography and so forth.
This is a trivial point i make, which i hope doesn't detract from Martin's point - but, as Campbell suggests elsewhere, the language of science, history, biography, and so forth is the language of everyday conversation

... which is what comprises biography, history, science, etc. - i.e., subjects with which we are familiar in our everyday experience.

Discussing the Battle of Waterloo, or the laws of genetics, or the political and legal theories Teddy Roosevelt used to support legislation limiting the power of the robber barons, all refer to things in this world, this reality -

but when we take the same vocabulary to refer to that which transcends consensus reality, then that vocabulary is open to misunderstanding, as there is a natural tendency to want to read that language the same way we do when we study history or science - i.e., literally.

Campbell isn't saying that we must discuss transcendent concepts only in terms of a specialized academic vocabulary unique to science or biography or history - but that the latter are concepts we can understand, whereas the transcendence points beyond concepts, beyond human experience (much like quantum physics, which is why that scientific field provides readily embraced metaphors for metaphysical experiences).

Of course, the "everyday conversation" used to discuss mystical and metaphysical concepts isn't limited to science or history, but can include something so mundane as motorcycle maintenance or archery (as in Robert Pirsig or Eugene Herrigel).

... just a passing thought on a marvelous post.

bodhibliss

_________________


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Bodhi_Bliss on 2004-11-28 14:55 ]</font>
Ruiz
Associate
Posts: 320
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Post by Ruiz » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Bodhi_Bliss and Associates!

I'd like to add to your post! In the audio tapes entitled "The Wisdom of Joseph Campbell," Joseph Campbell mentions that becoming transparent to transcendence is the experience of letting the unconscious take over such as we find in zen.

Joseph Campbell said he experienced this in running and writing.

Sometimes the mind is an obstacle to letting the potential in us flow. All of us have had experiences where we notice that the job gets done better if we don't think about what we are doing.

(Like in archery, running or playing an instrument.)

How would I describe this experience to somebody using everyday language.

Well I would say "don't think!"

Then I would say "let another form of consciousness take over your waking consciousness."

By this time my listener would think I'm a little nutty.

I would then say "what will be coming through will just do what has to be done without thinking!"

This is probably where my listener will probably start backing away from me!

We have to go past our notion of God to experience God! I'm starting to reconsider the relationship between thinking and action. Many of the activities of life have no thought involved.

I wonder if part of the reason these things can't be talked about is because the subject matter is in a realm of no thinking but only action.

How would a great pianist or dancer describe the process of playing or dancing. There is so much action involved that there is no time for thinking.

This is related to this topic of death in the sense that the process that gave us birth and will also bring about our death is in the realm of no thought.

One can only experience the no thought world such as shooting an arrow at a target;
talking about it just can't capture all that was involved.

I would say the "God" that is experienced in Zen is way bigger than the "God" that is talked about.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Ruiz on 2004-11-29 11:12 ]</font>
ShantiSong
Associate
Posts: 397
Joined: Tue Oct 26, 2004 1:45 am

Post by ShantiSong » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

quote]
I believe that Physics and Metaphysics belong side by side in our understanding, just as they were on Aristotles book shelf.
- Tony L

I found your posts very instructive. Especially this one I quoted. In our age of specialization and collusion very few people have the gumption (American slang) to attempt a synthesis between the metaphors of science and the metaphors of spirituality. So daunted are we at the challenge of becoming either a yogi or a top notch scientist that the idea of combining metaphors from both disciplines seems whimsical, frivolous. I see us as children trying to make sense of the adult world, thinking to ourselves, all adults must be the same, in some way.
Anyway, I found this quote from a 1997 interview of Huston Smith:
Q: You've been critical of the role secularism and science have played in supplanting religion...
Huston Smith A: I'm nearing 80, and I find myself more optimistic than I've ever been on this subject. In science, for example, physics is already out of the tunnel constructed by Enlightenment thinking. Newtonian physics worked very much at cross-purposes with the Spirit, which is beyond matter, space, and time. Of contemporary physics, Henry Stapp, a world-class physicist at Berkeley, said that "everything we know about nature is in accord with the idea that the fundamental process of nature lies outside space-time."
Religion, for its part, says that God, who is the source of it all, is outside nature. Now, don't quote me as saying Henry Stapp says that God exists! He didn't say that at all. Besides, he has no competence to talk about that as a physicist, because physics can't deal with quality or consciousness. Nevertheless, for him to say that the fundamental process of nature is immaterial opens the door for a meeting of physics and faith. Both are speaking the same language in their own domain.
For the entire interview :
http://www.motherjones.com/news/qa/1997/11/snell.html

shanti
User avatar
Vissi
Associate
Posts: 847
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2003 3:16 pm
Location: Symbol City, Deep In the Heart of the Sonoran Desert
Contact:

Post by Vissi » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Ruiz wrote:
Vissi, are you in a way saying that we are without a self or soul because our true soul is the soul of the universe; the universe is expressing itself through us? If I'm interpreting this correctly then it does fit with the idea Martin mentions regarding consciousness. Both notions are trying to convey that we are not who we think we are but manifestations of a more expansive power, potential or soul; a deeper consciousness than what we experience normally. (God)

If I'm correct then the word "consciousness" was just a vehicle used to convey what is really important. That we are not who we think we are. We are in a sense the universe. Our thinking is the universe thinking. When we love it is the universe loving. Suddenly the word consciousness becomes insignificant because it was just the way to this perspective or realization.

Our waking consciousness is the universe in a waking state. It's as if the universe woke up with man.

We participate as gods when we are creative because we are awake. We are aware of what we are doing.

We are God?
Ruiz,
this is a magnificent realization, masterfully expressed. the poetry describing your understanding resonates, for me, as a true vision of abiding in transcendence and calls to mind the meditative state where one goes beyond all conception, beyond all thought, beyond even being, in the solitary sense. i realize you are expressing the metaphor in terms of conventional language so the way i experience your words means i am not truly experiencing absolute truth but surely, the images your poetic expression invoke are pointing in the direction of what lies beyond this common reality. if you are interested, JR has posted another magnificent metaphor for what you're describing in the Thousand Faces Forum. thank you for sharing your insights here, i am grateful for the opportunity to read them.

vissi
User avatar
Vissi
Associate
Posts: 847
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2003 3:16 pm
Location: Symbol City, Deep In the Heart of the Sonoran Desert
Contact:

Post by Vissi » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Tony L wrote:
A friend of mine is a Sufi scholar and he offers an interpretation of the fundamental priciple of Islamic belief which highlights its universal non-dualistic nature...
Tony,
thank you so much for sharing your friend's insights and interpretation. we are all richer for your generosity in sharing such beautiful expressions of thought and belief! i am truly grateful for the opportunity to read them.

vissi
Robert G.
Associate
Posts: 292
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:48 pm

Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I read a wonderful definition of faith today in an essay by Richard Taylor, as an "involuntary conviction". It is outside the realms of science and rationality, has no need of them, and should not try to avail itself of them. It seems to me that any attribution of qualities to that which is "outside" or "transcendent" of time and space has to finally be in the nature of faith. I am in agreement with Kant that we cannot get outside of the forms of sensibility and the categories of thought. However, I don't see anywhere any reason (except faith) to assert that what we experience is not fundamental to the nature of the "thing in itself". In other words, time, space, causality, plurality, etc may be basic aspects of "reality" itself, not just of rational thought. There is just no way to know. There is no reason to assert a unitary nature as being more "real". Personally, I chose to side with the Western tradition and have faith that my experience of individuality is "real".

Am I beating a dead horse here? It seems like everyone is eager to find some way in which they "transcend" their uniqueness, to merge, to be one with something other than themselves, to be one with God. This only speaks to me as psychology, as describing the relationship of my rational ego to the rest of my self on which it rests. It does not grab me with "involuntary conviction" when I contemplate the nature of existence. For me, "I and the other are one" is not an ironclad metaphysical truth. No reasoning from science or logic can support or deny it. It's a matter of faith. And I think it's incompatible with Western thought. Dante describes how we become more and more distinct, more individual, the closer we come to God. That's the metaphysics that evokes my faith.

I'm not sure that Campbell ever convincingly reconciled his faith in the value of the individual with his faith in "an invisible plane that underlies or supports the visible" where "all things are one". Does anyone know if he ever commented directly on the contradiction inherent in asserting both things as true?

_________________
The associate formerly known as grdnfrk.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Robert G. on 2004-12-02 02:21 ]</font>
Locked