Death

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

Hi Fellow Associates!

Thanks Vissi!

I did read JR's great metaphor. All these images are pointing to the same realization.

Robert, you said:

"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."

It got me to thinking!

I suspect part of the problem is that we have the power of conceptual thought and that power if not understood correctly creates ghosts. The mind of man in trying to understand the world is always trying to find out what things have in common. What things have in common is our knowledge of things. (Notice that when we are puzzled it's because our mind has yet to see some common ground or connection between things.)

Let me explain:

A concept is what a number of particulars have in common.

Suppose you had never seen a cat and were introduced to a number of individual cats. After some time you would see that all the different cats have something in common. This common understanding of cats is the concept "cat." (Meowy, furry things that cuddle and scratch; crude concept but at least one's not puzzled when another appears)

Concepts exist only in the mind.

There is no external entity or grand cat in the universe. "Cat" is just a concept that helps us not have to meet ten thousand cats as if for the first time. The concept "cat" helps us understand all cats.

Notice that its in the nature of concept formation to end up with "one" complex understanding from a group of particulars; the concept tends to unify a group of particulars by their common quality or qualities. (hint: our natural tendency toward concept formation suggests that possibly "god" is a product of conceptualization aimed at finding a common ground between "all" things; a possible ghost if we concretize the concept or give it external reality.

It's very possible as you say that the world of individual things "is" reality!

We go through life constantly forming concepts or understandings from all the individual things we experience. Notice that we really began with individual things then something happens and we end up convincing ourselves we really are a unity of some sort.

The notion of "Man" is a concept as is "Love" and "Beauty."

There is no grand "Love" out there. Love is our concept or understanding of an emotion.

Joseph Campbell's work to find what all myths "have in common" is thus going to end up with concepts. These concepts help us understand myths.

Or to put it more precisely these concepts help us understand "Man."

Metaphors are really disguised concepts because we are still finding the similarities between things; what things have in common. (John is a deer because John runs very fast. John and a deer share a common quality such as running very fast)

Most of our discussions here at the JCF site are over concepts that only have existence in our minds.

The mystery or source of existence is beyond us. Why do all these individual things exist in the first place. That unknowable source is what Joseph Campbell calls "God."

In a way "God" in this sense is also a concept. What "do" all individual things have in common?

All share a common mystery as to why they exist in the first place. Calling the mystery "God" still leaves us with the concept of "Mystery"; or what all things have in common. It doesn't change anything.

I have finally reached the end of all future conceptualizations; the grand concept of what "all" things have in common, "mystery." Unless I continue with what do all mysterious things have in common, this is the end.

All mysterious things just are!

Should we feel secure that nobody knows why we are here? Should I say ah I'll never know why I exist but I feel good; I'm in transcendence; I feel the mystery of my being; I'm at peace?

Is that a myth of some sort?

In other words are we fooling ourselves at this site feeling "secure and cozy" that we all rest in God or mystery when basically we are resting on an abstraction that does not exist apart from our mind; a connection that is really not there in a physical sense; in a literal sense? We should really be resting on insecurity and feel a little apprehensive about existence. It's really not cozy at all! In a way it's a horror! Life eating life!

I find that in many ways mythology calms the mind instead of the heart. I think it's my heart that is really saying "you actually believe this stuff." It's as if my heart really knows what life is all about and that is why it is scared. Maybe fear is a metaphysical realization in which one knows that I and the father are not one thus run as fast as you can.

Meditating as a way to connect with the mystery is in a way fruitless because experiencing deep dreamless sleep as part of meditation still leaves us with the mystery of why deep dreamless sleep exists in the first place. (Remember the sound AUM rests on silence or mystery)

The source will never be discovered or connected with because how do you connect with a mystery?

I can experience my being and appreciate it's mystery but I can't transcend it. I'm stuck in a loop.

Robert in a way our life is very like the idea in physics of a closed looped universe. We can't really transcend what we claim we transcend. In a way transcendence sounds good but in reality we hit a brick wall. Transcendence is the brickwall. Can anyone honestly say they have experienced transcendence or the pure source behind existence; the silence behind it all! We can't because transcendence is another way of saying that all that exists is grounded in mystery; why we are here is behind the brick wall.

Now comes a most interesting question.

Doesn't all this point to basically living without a myth? Myths have a tendency to confuse us because they are built of concepts and they get personified. (If you see Buddha coming down the street run away)

Shouldn't we just accept the nature of things and flow with the seasons of our life with no resistance? Be mindless in a way when it comes to what we have been discussing.

In other words study mythology and then throw it away! It did it's job! Transcend mythology you could say. (Transcend the chattering mind such as we find in Zen; realize that all the chattering in the world will never penetrate the mystery of being. In a way the paradoxes found in chattering were only "the way" to a state of no mind; to a state of just being!

We thus will finally be grounded in mystery and not some figment of our imagination. Grounded in our individuality and not unity! (concept free!)

Robert this is heresy at the Joseph Campbell site!

It's our concept capacity that is responsible for our attempts at unifying separate things into a whole. (finding a common ground to things and saying they are really one)

What is really "one" is not the individual things but the concept that is abstracted from individual things. It's no wonder that "God" is an intelligible sphere known only to the mind. The reason "God" is known only to the mind is because the mind was the source of the concept of "God" in the first place; what all things have in common; mystery.

Making "God" equivalent to "Mystery" doesn't help much.

Robert you just may be right! We should affirm the individual world as is! (Before we conceptualize ourselves into some virtual reality world)

Is it possible that we are prisoners of a mind that because of it's natural tendency to find connections between things comes to believe those connections are real; the ultimate connection, common ground, or concept being "Mystery" or God? (a "Maya" created by the mind)

Isn't what we really see and experience reality? A reality unaltered by concepts; a mystery world where individuality rules; where uniqueness is what it's all about (with no mind, no concepts, no connections)

A world where uniqueness is the mystery! (like our fingerprints)

Just some speculations; food for thought. My Zen spiritual exercise to twist my mind into a knot and then become no mind as I shortcircuit myself! :smile:

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Ruiz on 2004-12-05 00:00 ]</font>
Robert G.
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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Ruiz, thank you for a beautiful and thought-provoking post! Particularly
In other words study mythology and then throw it away! It did it's job! Transcend mythology you could say.
hit home for me. Part of my frustrations I think have come from searching for answers in mythology, without appreciating that there might be limits to mythology. I went through something similar when studying philosophy. The most valuable things I've gotten out of my studies of philosophy are:

- The ability to question my own assumptions, and
- an appreciation for the limits of rationality (hence my love for Kant)

Similarly, it may be that for me mythology as a study may be limited to metaphors for psychology, and limited in respect to metaphysics. This does not mean that I plan on giving up my own religious practice, not least because, on a purely pragmatic level, it has been so good for me psychologically. But I might be at a point of truly letting go of the search for answers or meaning or certainty about any of these deeper metaphysical issues. Maybe I'm approaching what I always thought a complete oxymoron - Christian existentialism!

Definitely something to think about. Thanks again!
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bodhibliss
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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

This post may seem way off on a tangent. I'm not really responding to anyone specifically - i've been otherwise occupied with various tasks the last week or so, and am days behind on reading the posts

... but before i catch up, i thought i might offer some random thoughts bouncing around my head the last few days. I hope it makes sense and is at least somewhat germane to the current drift of the conversation ...

In my experience, if i realize ego is an illusion, then there is no one left to fear - or experience - death. Of course, just stating that doesn't automatically convey the realization - it sounds like rationalization ... but is based on a series of transcendent experiences. Might be just subjective delusion, but one suffered by many drawn to mystical exploration over the millennia - i can't help but notice whether i'm reading a zen monk, a sufi mystic, an anthropological account of a shamanic experience, or the journal of a psychedelic pioneer, that their language resonates with my own experience.

At the same time, that can be difficult to convey (re: Zimmer's tripartite axiom), but because some may mistake the finger for the moon doesn't mean we shouldn't point out the moon to those who ask.

I don't really worry that speculating on, discussing, pondering, exploring, or meditating on Death need foster fear, or automatically rekindle the desire for some sort of survival - quite the opposite!

Birth and Death are major components of Life - not just as points of origin and termination of every Life, but integral to each passing moment. There is death - loss - in every moment on this temporal plane.

Every initiation in Life involves a Death and Rebirth: when i married, the single me died - a way of life passed - but something new was born from the ashes. A young girl in New Guinea passes her first menstrual blood - and the child she once was is lost to her forever; she spends three days meditating in a hut on this loss and contemplating what is newly born, how she is something today she was not yesterday - a potential mother.

We all mourn the passing of our childhood, but we don't lose a lot of sleep wondering if the child's consciousness survives beyond childhood - and that informs my perspective on Death - something to note, a time of loss, transition, and transformation ...

It's a wonderful metaphor, a wonderful meditation, but to project that onto the Eternal Unknown is to try to fit what is
outside time and space, beyond the field of duality, of concepts, beyond even the categories of Consciousness/No consciousness, into intelligible words and definitions -

might be easier to bottle gravity -

Doesn't mean the metaphor's not valuable, though, even if some mistake the terms...

What is beyond the threshold of Life and Death has been termed the Eternal, as mentioned in an earlier post - from the Latin for "outside (e) time (ternum)"

- and that's just not a neighborhood where any of us live - though a few claim to have visited, generally shamans and mystics and the occasional random soul. We are free to believe or not believe the claims of a buddha, a jesus, a ramakrishna or saint teresa - and no doubt some of us have experienced moments when the fabric of space and time is rent and we catch a whiff, a glimpse, or some sense of that beyond all opposites (in itself a metaphor), beyond good and evil, male and female, life and death, being and nonbeing

but we return

(not that we ever left - and maybe you catch that oxymoronic, paradoxical flavor the experience takes on this side of the divide)

to somewhere in Time, some place in Space - and are limited to using language and concepts developed within the field of spacetime, to convey this satori to individuals whose senses are conditioned by a dualistic universe...

We are limited to calling on our own individual consciousness to convey to another individual consciousness something beyond the concept of consciousness/no consciousness. To borrow a metaphor from Julian Jaynes, "It is like asking a flashlight in a dark room to search around for something that does not have any light shining on it..."

Sometimes, yes, the urge to name the Nameless can become an end in itself, with so much energy, so many words, devoted to classifying and qualifying and splitting hairs - trying to "name the Tao that cannot be named"

so i offer only vague metaphors, which may do no more than tickle the brain from time to time

but Death is really Big - especially to the individual ego, this me, or that you - there is no appeal, no do-overs - it just is.

Sometimes offering a metaphor is more helpful than just declaring it doesn't really matter, to take the metaphor literally is illogical, etc., so get over it (not that anyone here has done that). That reasoning can be interpreted as a denial of death and its impact, as much as can be hopes of a literal afterlife.

We are not that logical, rational a species, no matter how much Ego wants to think we are - and there is nothing rational about Death - it is at best irrational - or rather, beyond the rational.

Fun to play with the Image - sparks quite the discussion

...but i do ramble so!

Please excuse the stream of consciousness ...

namaste
bodhibliss

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Bodhi_Bliss on 2004-12-04 17:12 ]</font>
Ruiz
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Post by Ruiz » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Robert and Bodhi Bliss!

Thanks Robert!

If I'm honest with myself I now realize that my initial study of mythology was a search for metaphysical truth. I had lost my faith and thus my center. I was searching for a secure center from which to build a life.

Robert, I thus relate with your post concerning that search. I think that the two principles you got from studying philosophy related to questioning one's assumptions and the limits of knowledge are probably two of the most important principles in philosophy.

When I compare what I've studied in philosophy with what I've studied in mythology I find that both are saying the same thing just using different terms.

For example philosophy claims that what makes us different from the animals is our mind which is capable of forming conceptions.
It's what makes us spiritual. Concepts are the building blocks of knowledge and they have immaterial existence. You won't find them on the operating table.

Joseph Campbell in mythology says the same thing when describing the chakras. He says we are the only creature with a brain that is capable of having experiences that the animals know nothing about. (the spiritual chakras)

another example:

The universals of philosophy are what we call concepts. Plato thought concepts had an existence apart from our minds. Aristotle thought they only existed in the mind.

Notice that we have been struggling with a form or concept, universal consciousness. We abstracted the concept "consciousness" and are giving it independent existence apart from our mind. The fact that Joseph Campbell calls it "universal" consciousness from time to time suggests it's a concept very like the universals of Plato.

In my opinion, philosophy is searching for metaphysical truth and mythology is searching for psychological truth.

Notice that the reason metaphors speak to us is because they "do" touch deep centers of experience. When we meditate and experience say deep dreamless sleep we do feel as if we are experiencing the pure power of life; pure energy; pure potential energy. In a way we are!

This experience of deep dreamless sleep while awake is the mystical state because we can experience a realm beyond pairs of opposites. In a deep dreamless state we are not conscious of any particular thing. This is the "eternal" experience! As waking consciousness leaves this state suddenly pairs of opposites appear.

By analogy we can project that experience onto the universe but in reality it was an internal psychological experience. (In a way it's our experience of normal sleep)

Bodhi_Bliss, I wonder if we can transcend our particular mind and body to realms outside of us. In your post you are suggesting that mystics and shamans may have experiences outside of themselves; maybe dwell in realms of existence that exist independent of our minds and bodies.

I understand where you are coming from when you speak of death but notice that your insights are psychological. We converted literal birth and death to psychological birth and death. That's why your truths ring true.

Now literal death is what scared nights_watch and scares many of us.

I see great value in mythology because many of my battles in life have been psychological. Death is probably the biggest psychological battle we will face especially if we suffer a prolonged illness or go off to war!

I think it's important though to know when to switch gears; to know when we are dealing with independent reality outside ourselves and when we are dealing with internal reality inside ourselves. (metaphysical and psychological truth)

I realize that it was the energies of nature that gave me life; they are presently digesting my food and fighting off disease. They are the god in me. They think for me and help me if I give them the chance.

Bodhi_Bliss, I notice that if I let my little ego relax thus letting the unconscious in me participate more in what I am doing I'm amazed at what I can accomplish.

I thus understand what you mean about the ego being an illusion. The illusion is thinking that your ultimate potential resides in the ego exclusively; not realizing there is a broader base from which to work from. (self)

Mythology serves to help us connect to that broader base. That is what the hero's journey is all about. The ego is the hero and the god within is the unconscious. When we connect to that broader base we have found God (the god within)

Projecting that experience and saying that we are uniting with the god outside of us is in my opinion a mistake. We end up projecting the powers of the unconscious onto the universe. The energies of nature in us are part of an inner organized system, a biological/psychological system that bears no resemblance to the the raw energies of nature outside.

It's only in the biological/psychological realm where the hero/heroine can find his/her god; where the ego can become one with the self and harness the potential dormant inside. In a way the outer world from a mythological point of view is irrelevant.

My gratitude for life extends to those energies outside me and those within me. I just don't want to confuse inner reality with outer reality. I notice that many of us blend the two realms of experience and live in a hybrid kind of reality. We end up giving the universe qualities that belong to the unconscious and giving the unconscious qualities that really belong to physics.

In "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" Joseph Campbell says the hero has to become a master of both worlds. The laws of both worlds are very different.

Maybe I should write a small book called "The Physical Laws of the Mythological realm."

One law would be:

In the mythological realm what happens internally stays internally! (Like the saying what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.

Projecting internal experiences outside invites disaster. (such as a person who is told by god to kill someone; maybe that person was supposed to be killed but only psychologically; internally)

Bodhi Bliss, I'm still open to the possibility that there just might exist outer realms that have existence outside our minds and bodies. I'm just expressing the assumptions that have been the most useful to me up to now.

There are many experiences that defy my little assumptions.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Ruiz on 2004-12-13 07:33 ]</font>
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bodhibliss
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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Ruiz (and company)

This is another hit-and-run post bouncing off some of your thoughts, and will doubtless be a bit scattered. Much of what i'm doing here is thinking out loud, but not with the intention of arriving at rigid "either/or" conclusions to apply to everyone – just toying with what works for me at the moment (which seems to be what we’re all doing).

As i point out in the previous post, death is indeed irrational - that might seem a "psychological" statement, but is nevertheless a reality. No one here can conceive of what it is to die, or what it is to simply "not be." No one has been able to describe that condition, and no one will. We can accept the fact that everyone will die, but we have no rational understanding of the condition of death. We try to imagine it in various ways, whether as heaven, or simply ceasing to be, or something somewhere in between –

but again, not having died, how does one know? One can say “get real” – but what does that mean? (That’s a rhetorical device – I don’t mean to imply anyone here is actually saying “get real”)

Even should one believe we simply cease to be, that’s a state difficult to imagine, since I can’t recall any time when I have never been. One might imagine the condition of death as akin to before one was born, before ever conceived. As far as i know, i didn’t exist then … but I don’t know that for sure, as I have no experience of “not existing” - there was no me to know I didn’t exist.

Nor is fear associated with that infinite period before I came to be, the nonexistence before my life began – certainly not in the same pit-of-the-belly way that accompanies my anticipation of ceasing to be.

A psychological statement? Maybe – but sure seems there was no me then – no ego - and no fear either.

But even if we compare death to that time before life began, that period of nonexistence, we are still calling upon a metaphor – one which rings true for those drawn to it, though perhaps not for others.

It’s a sublime meditation, but a metaphor still.

Wandering off on a slight tangent (which I trust will loop back around to the main topic, but I can never be sure), a personal anecdote I recounted some months back, in a post in another conversation, bears relevance here - particularly as a demonstration of how subjective, internal experience shapes the metaphors through which we engage “reality”

so I’ll quote myself:
Someone asked in one of the posts about how anyone could believe in past life experiences - it just isn't logical

...well, that makes some sense - but i'm not sure any mystical experience is based on reason and logic - the unconscious is by nature irrational - sense seems more an ego function.

What seems to count is the experience. I know a few individuals who have had a spontaneous past life memory, and many who have undertaken some form of intentional soul retrieval or past life regression, usually in a structured setting (say, for example, the circular breathing techniques of Stan and Christina Grofs' Holotropic Breathwork, or of the rebirthing movement based on Hindu breathing exercises and promoted by Leonard Orr).

Often these experiences produce results that are uncanny - for example, unknown details of the personal birth trauma, later confirmed by parents - though that's a memory from this life, however far back, so might have a logical explanation.

What boggles the mind however, are those uncanny occurrences that seem to slip the bonds of time.

I've never remembered a previous life, but I have had some trans-temporal experiences when rebirthing. The very first time my guide was a good friend thoroughly trained in the technique. We were in Portland, Oregon – I had arrived by thumb the day before.

Aaron had me lie on the bed and perform rapid, shallow circular breathing while he kept me on track, reminding me to maintain that pattern the next two hours. I won't bore you with all details - but at one point, halfway through, i needed to get up and shuffle down the hall to the bathroom to take care of business - and shuffle is the right word, for that's all i could do. When i looked in the mirror, my face was different and the fingers of my hands were scrunched together in a tight little wedge - almost like someone passing through a birth canal - while my body was drawn up so that i appeared smaller - and i could not, voluntarily, release my fingers or unclench my hands

which made taking care of business a touch more challenging than usual

... and then, back on the bed, breathing, breathing - i recall thinking i had drifted off when i heard Aaron's voice somewhere in the distance calling me back, urging me to breathe - and i felt a little disappointed in myself for falling asleep. This happened twice more

...but after i finally surfaced, feeling peaceful and relaxed, Aaron shared that three times i had stopped breathing for several minutes - he had timed me - the final time, i let my breath go, and did not take another for just over five minutes!

Aaron finally called me back when my lips turned blue.

He asked where i had been when i was away and not breathing …

...fascinating, vivid imagery of entering a long rock canyon - not quite a tunnel, but tall rock walls close together, like the Siq - the entrance to the ancient Nabatean rock city of Petra, where the final scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed - and at the other end of the long passage i could see a light - not quite what i would call a white light - more ivory, moving towards a golden hue, warm and welcoming as the morning sun

and i came through the canyon to a little cabin - a cabin much bigger on the inside than the outside, a waystation of sorts - and there waiting for me were very many people i knew - friends and relatives who had passed on before me - but the only figure who stands out is my Father (who had died almost a decade before). We had a sweet reunion, and spoke of many things, though without words it seems

and then i heard Aaron's voice - "...breathe ...Breathe..."

It's a sweet image i treasure today.

True, it could be many things. It might be no more than the nitrogen high affecting my brain in the absence of oxygen - or it might be the dying flickers of the electrons in my brain, building a pleasant image, a compensatory metaphor for the most unpleasant process (to waking ego) of one's body dying; and a case could certainly be made that it's hallucination triggered by self-induced hyperventilation.

So i treat this as an experience of metaphor - true on the inside, not sure what on the outside.

The way i process the experience, though, is through the mythic image of spirit and soul ... and wind (pneuma, inspiration, respiration, spirit, from Greek and Latin - connecting to breath - and the words for soul in Hebrew, ruach and naphesh - again, wind, breath -

and, in fact, Campbell points out that Yahweh, the Hebrew name for God, may well share its etymology with the Arabian word for wind)

...and i notice my consciousness seems to have left my body with my breath ...

and returned, when my breath returned.

Yes, it could all be hallucination, but there's one other element in the adventure where the dream intersects waking reality ...

During one of the other episodes of the session when I was not breathing I found myself at a party, where I met a cute girl to whom I talked for hours on the front porch of the house where the party was, and then we retreated through the rain to a hippie van parked in front, where we got stoned and, well ...

I shared this, what, memory? dream? wishful thinking? with Aaron.

We treated the experience like we would any dream, examining it from a Jungian perspective. The image of the long passage with the light at the end and the meeting with my friends and father certainly seemed archetypal - but we could make neither heads nor tales out of this other image, no matter what symbols we tried to see

...until later that evening, when i traveled seven miles across town to a party i had been invited to that afternoon - after rebirthing -

and talked for hours with this cute girl on the front porch

and then took shelter from the storm in her friend's Volkswagen van

... cue Rod Serling ...
Perhaps the above seems to take issue with the following statement, but that’s not my intent at all.
On 2004-12-05 14:56, Ruiz wrote:
Bodhi Bliss, I'm still open to the possibility that there just might exist outer realms that have existence outside our minds and bodies. I'm just expressing the assumptions that have been the most useful to me up to now
Unless I’m misunderstanding you, I suspect we share the same assumptions, Ruiz . When I speak of an experience of the transcendent, I am speaking of that which transcends our ability to adequately conceive – or convey – but not necessarily something that takes place “outside” us, or outside life.

Do I think at the moment of death I will drift down a long passageway between two cliffs toward a bright light, then meet my dad in a small rustic cabin that magically contains all who went before me?

Not exactly.

Perhaps that vision suggests this may be the way the process of dying - as the last molecules of breath leave the body to rejoin the atmospheric ocean and life itself drains away - is imagined by a fading consciousness; then again, it could be something more.

As pointed out above, my experience might be anything from an electrochemical hallucination to an image representing the absorption of the individual into the collective All

but at the very least, it’s a comforting metaphor

... some sort of psychological compensation?

I can live with that.

… but then there’s that darn precognitive experience: not just a daydream existing in imagination alone, but an articulation of imagery to another person before encountering the same in waking life - images of a person i had yet to meet, details of an event I had no clue would happen.

That hiccup in the flow of time – or rather, in my experience of time – adds a twist my rational ego has trouble processing. It seems to take the experience outside the realm of the psychological (if, by psychological, we mean existing in the mind alone).

I’ve had several experiences of a similar flavor - not just when rebirthing, but arising out of everything from visionary entheogenic experiences to meditation to dreamwork and more. Nevertheless, I don’t automatically conclude that there are “outer realms of existence”

– but I can conclude my experience of daily reality is limited, and that, at bottom, the essence of the Universe, and of my own being, is a great mystery ...

a mystery of which I catch glimmers from time to time, and which can’t help but inspire a sense of awe -

the primary emotion that wells up in me these days in the face of death, whether of a pet, or a close friend, or a family member. Grief, yes; terror – absolutely, at times that full on pit-of-the-belly chill …

but always, wonder and awe.
Ruiz also writes: One law would be all:

In the mythological realm what happens internally stays internally! (Like the saying what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.

Projecting internal experiences outside invites disaster. (such as a person who is told by god to kill someone; maybe that person was supposed to be killed but only psychologically; internally)
On one level, I understand what you are saying and do agree

(so I will ignore those voices that tell me Drew Barrymore is my soul mate – or at least, I will now that I’ve been served with that darn restraining order!)

but on another level, all reality is a projection of the imagination – or what Campbell sometimes calls the wisdom body (a metaphor for the impulse arising out of nature that forms and maintains our physical being).

We know, for example, that the material world of solid matter is not a solid mass at the molecular level - and on the atomic plane consists mostly of empty space; even good old-fashioned Newtonian and Einsteinian physics admit vast empty space in the interior of an atom, with distances between an atom’s components of comparable proportion to that between galaxies in outer space.

(Sidebar Off the Stream of Consciousness)
SIDEBAR: Science & Metaphor

I know scientific metaphors make Robert nervous, and I believe I understand why. I’d like to be sensitive to such concerns …

Nevertheless, whether a nineteenth-century Christian for whom Newton’s “clock mechanism” of the universe helps make sense of a God conceived as a watchmaker; or an ancient Sumerian whose science, as Campbell points out, supports the view of the universe as “a three-layered cake” with God at the top and man at the bottom on earth; or a Zen Buddhist who finds mutually exclusive observations of a photon as both particle and wave as apt a koan as “the gateless gate” or “the voidless void” for that transcendence which is beyond the ability of the human mind to conceive,

scientific imagery has long served as a source of metaphors to help humanity comprehend what is incomprehensible.

Joseph Campbell points out an effective mythology is supported by the science of its time – which doesn’t mean one must use the scientific method to “prove” a particular metaphysical concept or mythological image.

Nor does this mean mythology either shares the precision of scientific calculation and measurement, or that it is “scientifically accurate” (shades of the literalist fallacy?), for every scientific weltanschauung sooner or later gives way to another as knowledge and experience expand

but a “living” mythology does draw on the science of its era to form images that mediate the individual’s understanding of the cosmos s/he must engage.

The average Christian of the last three hundred years didn’t need to know the mathematical details of Newton’s theory to appreciate the image of God as a cosmic clockmaker who wound up the mechanism of the universe at the beginning of time – nor did an ancient Sumerian farmer need to understand the instruments the priests used to chart the course of the planets for him to experience the stars’ influence in his life.

Similarly, one doesn’t need to know the atomic mass of electrons and neutrons and protons to understand that an atom can be characterized as “mostly empty space,” for example.

Hence, it seems arbitrary to deny the use of images from quantum physics, cognitive science, psychology, chaos theory and the science of complexity to construct metaphysical and mythic metaphors when that is what humans have done, from Plato and Aristotle, to Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli, or Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.

Not everyone will - or should - think the same, but that's the context from which I approach the use of scientific metaphors

(of course, I always reserve the right to be wrong).

I suspect, though, it's out of our hands. If genuine mythic archetypes emerging from the collective unconscious don the apparel of scientific metaphors, they will take on a life of their own - but if merely trendy artifice, they'll naturally fade away.

And now, we return to our previously scheduled broadcast ...

So the table on which I write is well over 90% empty space (excuse me for being conservative in that number)

yet I experience this table as solid.

It’s even more mind-boggling when we turn from the Newtonian model to particle physics. Here we find (and please forgive the inadequate description) that the muons and pions and mesons and such that comprise the material world can be described as insubstantial “tendencies to exist” (surprise – a metaphor!) flashing into and out of existence millions to billions of times every second, known only by the traces they leave

and yet, through their interactions these particles form the basis of “solid” matter – or rather, what is experienced as solid.

And it’s that experience that counts, from our perspective - that experience we perceive as reality.

Of course, that reality is mediated through the senses – sight, sound, touch, taste, hearing – which convey images (“image” not limited to just the visual) out of which we construct the natural world we inhabit – a natural world which is the source of our own existence (we are in Nature, and Nature is in us) – a world rooted in image – and imagination.

We participate, whether we know it or not, in the creation of our reality in more than just a psychological sense.

Objective reality? Interesting concept, but one outside the realm of human experience.

The rose whose fragrance I enjoy is very different from the same rose as perceived by a dog brushing past it on the way to the field, or bee or butterfly zeroing in on its pollen, or an amoeba swimming in a drop of dew on one of its petals.

Doesn’t mean the rose does not “exist” – there seems something there which triggers the different and distinct experiences of the same rose by human, amoeba, or dog –

but I can only engage this something through the image represented by my senses.

I am reminded of Campbell’s favorite quote from Goethe: “Alles Verganglich ist nur ein Gleichnis” (excuse the absence of umlaut, please) … which is sometimes translated “All that exists is but a metaphor.” Indeed, one could say - as Campbell points out do so many mystic and mythological belief systems - that the natural world, and all that exists, is a metaphor for a great mystery we cannot know with our senses.

Of course, humans all have the same five senses (Hindus and Buddhists sometimes lump mind in as a sixth sense which makes sense of the other five), so we seem to share, more or less, the same consensus reality – which is damn convenient

… and very different from your example, Ruiz, of someone projecting an inadequate inner reality on the outer world – e.g., someone who believes he is invulnerable to bullets will be in for a rude and abrupt reality check if charging a line of armed policemen called to quell a disturbance …

Such an individual we identify as insane – unable to successfully reconcile internal and external reality – and I would indeed agree with your point.

However, I do believe we all engage continually in mythic projections – most of which we are unaware – and the broad majority of which do allow us to successfully engage the world.

These projections are part of us, part of our biology, an impulse of nature - just as myth has a root in biology. And indeed, Campbell observes that the continuing mythological motifs common to humanity, which share a congruence with Jung’s archetypes of the collective unconscious, partake in shaping our experience of the world.


I could ramble on for pages on that subject (as if I haven’t already), but I believe Campbell does it far better.

We are all, though, creatures of story, for that’s how we experience life – a story we are continually telling ourselves as we live it – and writing, re-writing, and re-imagining it as we go along. We are figures of myth

and sometimes we wake to the myth, participate consciously in the story – something akin to being awake within a dream.

If you’re being chased by a tiger, your heart is pumping and your palms are sweating and you are terrified

… unless you realize you are dreaming …

Tends to change the nature of the experience.

Death is one of the most basic of these mythological archetypes. Death is universal - we’re all going to experience it whether we want to or not. Yes, it scares the shit out of us – but not because we know or can prove that the state of death (as opposed to the physical process of dying) is painful or cold or lonely, or that we know or can prove that we might burn in hell fire forever

… but because it is the great Unknown.

What other way is there to approach this mystery than through metaphor?

The metaphors I am drawn to are those that I conceive of as most like death, those that, based on my experience and understanding and that of others which resonate with my own, seem to parallel the death process

(e.g., my visionary experience when I stopped breathing, or ego-deaths I’ve experienced in mystical states where “I” cease to be yet undifferentiated consciousness continues, and, yes, those moments of initiation - "psychological" death-and-rebirth - that we experience in life)

… but I don’t know, in any quantifiable sense.

Fun to speculate, though – and this act of playful attention to (or meditation on) Death I find serves to calm many of the fears and anxieties I once held close

… but what works for me may not for someone else.

However, death is a psychological problem. The anxiety, uncertainty, fear, grief and loss death generates are psychological states. No one is poking me in the eye to produce this discomfort – that tingle in the spine or pang in the pit of the stomach didn’t come from eating bad kumquats, but is a result of something inevitable I really don’t want to face.

Again, please excuse the rambling – I’m not suggesting anyone else is “wrong” and I am “right” – but merely articulating the thoughts in my head and where I am coming from at the moment

which is ever subject to change – consistency, remember, remains the hobgoblin of little minds, as someone somewhere once said.

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

Hi Bodhi Bliss and Associates!

Bodhi Bliss, great post!

What a wonderful cake of ideas and experiences!

I've been chewing on so many tasty morsels that I'm enjoying letting the ideas perk a little.

Looking forward to responding!

Change one's assumptions and a new potential world comes into being.
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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-12-07 14:19, Ruiz wrote:
I've been chewing on so many tasty morsels that I'm enjoying letting the ideas perk a little.

Looking forward to responding!

Change one's assumptions and a new potential world comes into being.
I second that emotion!

One of the sweet frustrations of this conversation is that there are so many tasty morsels to digest!

It takes time to read several posts, then more time to process what's been read - which for me consists of many days' reflection ... and then a bit more time as what i've read triggers thoughts and ideas of my own, several of which will be tentative, taking time to flesh out

... and then i return to the conversation and find the discussion has moved in a totally unexpected, completely mind-bending direction. Sometimes i jump in to the conversation anyways, but then there are moments when a post speaks to me

(for example, some poignant reflections Robert made on the previous page about the slowly dawning realization of his own Christianity, and the power of its imagery in his life - an absolutely beautiful post that i'm sure i'll get back to at some point... )

but i find mself carried further downstream than first intended, sucked deeper into the group mind.

Marshaling the thoughts and actually composing a post at times leaves me drained and exhausted - but in a good way, like an athlete who has just bested his own time

... so takes a period of recovery before i'm ready to do it again.

I used to worry others might think i was rude, or abandoning the conversation - but from your response, Ruiz, i can imagine we're all pretty much following the same pattern.

Wonder where the topic will take us next?

Death leads the way ... maybe we might want to toy with how Death is portrayed in myth

... but i need to chew on that for a while ...

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

Hi Bodhi Bliss and Associates!

We are definitely in a gray area! Is it a particle or a wave; maybe both!

Bodhi Bliss, how do we explain the experiences you describe?

You are not alone! I've heard numerous stories that defy easy explanation from friends and family. I've also had experiences that suggest that maybe not all inner experiences are psychological.

We have to admit that Joseph Campbell did emphasize the psychological interpretation of myth.

If there is another realm of experience that does not fit the usual psychological interpretation then we have to develop another science that deals with that kind of phenomena or just include it as part of metaphysical study! (what is reality)

Mixing the two phenomena will only confuse us. Can mythology incorporate both studies?

One study is metaphysical in the sense that your experience of meeting that girl was a glitch in time; a metaphysical problem.

The other study is psychological; the hero's quest to become one with the self. Which is really us discovering our potential through metaphor.


Your experience of meeting your father could be psychological but then your father died at a moment in time and if a glitch in time was what caused the previous experience then maybe your father is alive somewhere in the fabric of time.

I've read that in quantum mechanics particles and photons are constantly going back in time.

So you see what you describe concerning the girl could be a metaphysical problem! In other words you are just expanding our knowledge of reality.

Now since we are talking about death is it possible that something in us does not die; a consciousness continues in existence.

I wonder!

Bodhi_Bliss, if you were teaching a class in mythology how would you incorporate both kinds of experience into a mythological program. In one case you want to help students discover there potential through mythological study. In another you would also be teaching metaphysics. (what is reality)

Now would you be encouraging your students to unite with the God within or would you tell them that through mythology they can experience alternative dimensions that really exist metaphysically.

Is religion basically a form of metaphysics in the sense that it is describing another aspect of reality?

Was Joseph Campbell wrong to insist that myths are best appreciated when approached psychologically?

And lastly, are inner metaphorical experiences metaphysical experiences or psychological experiences?

In my opinion they can't be both because if they are metaphysical then they invalidate what Joseph Campbell taught about myths being psychological. If they are psychological then interpreting them as really existing makes them lose their spiritual psychological value for our lives.

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

The masks that in our demythologized time are lightly assumed for the entertainment of a costume ball or Mardigras -- and may actually, on such occasions, release us to activities and experiences which might otherwise have been tabooed -- are vestiges of an earlier magic, in which the powers to be invoked were not simply psychological, but cosmic. For the appearances of the natural order, which are separate from each other in time and space, are in fact the manifestation of energies that inform all things and can be summoned to focus at will.

-- Joseph Campbell, The Historical Atlas of World Mythology: The Way of the Animal Powers, Part I, p.93.
Your questions stir thoughts worth addressing, Ruiz. I don't want to come across as adversarial - but there's nothing wrong with admitting that in some areas we have very different understandings of what Joseph Campbell taught.
On 2004-12-09 00:05, Ruiz wrote:

We have to admit that Joseph Campbell did emphasize the psychological interpretation of myth.

If there is another realm of experience that does not fit the usual psychological interpretation then we have to develop another science that deals with that kind of phenomena or just include it as part of metaphysical study! (what is reality)

Mixing the two phenomena will only confuse us. Can mythology incorporate both studies?
Well, Campbell believed myth does exactly that (which is one of Robert Segal's crticisms of Campbell in his volume, Joseph Campbell: An Introduction).

The metaphysical or mystical, after all, is Campbell's first function of mythology:

"to open the mind of everybody in the society to that mystery dimension of being that cannot be analyzed, cannot be talked about but can only be experienced as out there and in here at once" (from Myths of Light),

which is accomplished by "aligning waking consciousness to the mysterium tremendum of this universe..." (from Thou Art That).

In our specialized, analytical Western culture we have assigned this function of myth to one branch of philosophy, under the rubric of metaphysics - yet to Campbell this is a primary function of myth.

Second is the cosmological function of myth - "to present an image of the universe that connects the transcendent to the world of everyday experience" (Myths of Light). In Western society we have generally ceded this role to science - yet empirical science, as practiced, usually steers clear of anything smacking of the "transcendent" - or at least it did, until Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli and David Bohm and other physicists were transformed by their own research.

Third is the sociological function, whereby the dominant mythology supports the social order (which perhaps we see re-surfacing in the perceived impact of Christian values on the recent election in the U.S.)

and finally, fourth is the pedagogical or psychological function of myth, which

"is to carry the individual through the various unfolding stages of life with integrity. This wholeness means that individuals will experience significant events, from birth through midlife to death, as in accord with first themselves, and secondly with their culture, as well as, thirdly, the universe, and, lastly, with that mysterium tremendum beyond themselves and all things." (Thou Art That)

Joseph Campbell didn't insist that myths should only be approached psychologically (despite what many critics claim) ... but he did point out that, with our culture in disarray and the dominant religion read in historical rather than metaphorical terms, we have no common cultural myth that fulfills the first three functions

... hence, the way open for the individual "outside the village compound" today is through the pedagogical (or psychological) function of myth - in essence, constructing one's own myth by following an individual path - and discovering in ourselves these same energies as inform the collective universe.
Ruiz writes:

...are inner metaphorical experiences metaphysical experiences or psychological experiences?

In my opinion they can't be both because if they are metaphysical then they invalidate what Joseph Campbell taught about myths being psychological. If they are psychological then interpreting them as really existing makes them lose their spiritual psychological value for our lives.
Why the insistence on either/or: either myths are psychological, or they are real?

That's not the choice here. Nor is there any demarcation in the social sciences which declares something psychological to be false, while something metaphysical is "real" - in fact, usually it's the other way around. Ponderings about God or the nature of the universe or the transcendent often seem a bit vague and touchie/feelie to many, while the guilt complex or a mother complex or a power drive and other psychological concepts exert demonstrable influence in individual lives

(as can attest any male who has fallen in love - possessed by anima - and finds himself doing silly things that his conscious, rational ego would never countenance).

You seem to want me to place the Transcendent out there somewhere, as something "that really exists metaphysically"

(though i'm a bit unclear about that phrase - i understand something can exist physically, but i don't know what it means "to exist metaphysically")

- but Campbell makes clear that to do so is concretizing the metaphor - trapping in concepts what is beyond all ability of the human mind to conceive. That smacks of "heaven" and such - literalizing mythic and metaphysical imagery.

In The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell broaches the metaphysical:
And so, to grasp the full value of the mythological figures that have come down to us, we must understand that they are not only symptoms of the unconscious (as indeed are all human thoughts and acts) but also are controlled and intended statements of certain spiritual principles, which have remained as constant throughout the course of human history as the form and nervous structure of the human psyche itself. Briefly formulated, the universal doctrine teaches that all the visible structures of the world - all things and beings - are the effects of a ubiquitous power out of which they arise, which supports and fills them during the period of their manifestations, and back into which they must ultimately dissolve. This is the power known to science as energy, to the Melanesians as mana, to the Sioux Indians as wakonda, the Hindus as shakti, and the Christians as the power of God. Its manifestation in the psyche is termed, by the psychoanalysts, libido. And its manifestation in the cosmos is the structure and flux of the universe itself.

The apprehension of the source of this undifferentiated yet everywhere particularized substratum of being is rendered frustrate by the very organs through which the apprehension must be accomplished. The forms of sensibility and the categories of human thought, which are themselves manifestations of this power, so confine the mind that it is normally impossible not only to see, but even to conceive, beyond the colorful, fluid, infinitely various and bewildering phenomenal spectacle.

The function of ritual and myth is to make possible, and then to facilitate, the jump - by analogy. Forms and conceptions that the mind can comprehend are presented and arranged in such a way as to suggest a truth or openness beyond. And then, the conditions for meditation having been provided, the individual is left alone.

Myth is but the penultimate; the ultimate is openness - that void, or being, beyond the categories - into which the mind must plunge alone and be dissolved. Therefore God and the gods are only convenient means - themselves, of the nature of the world of names and forms, though eloquent of, and ultimately conducive to, the ineffable. They are mere symbols to move and awaken the mind, and to call it past themselves. (p. 257-258)


Ruiz asks
Was Joseph Campbell wrong to insist that myths are best appreciated when approached psychologically?
I don't think Campbell insisted on an exclusively psychological approach - in fact, quite the opposite:
The key to the modern systems of psychological interpretation therefore is this: the metaphysical realm = the unconscious. Correspondingly, the key to open the door the other way is the same equation in reverse: the unconscious = the metaphysical realm. "For," as Jesus states it, "behold, the kingdom of God is within you."

...The modern student may, of course, study these symbols as he will, either as a symptom of others' ignorance, or as a sign to him of his own, either in terms of a reduction of metaphysics to psychology, or vice versa. The traditional way was to meditate on the symbols in both senses. In any case, they are telling metaphors of the destiny of man, man's hope, man's faith, and man's dark mystery. (The Hero With a Thousand Faces, p. 259, 260)
The passage above might provide some insight into answering the following question:
Bodhi_Bliss, if you were teaching a class in mythology how would you incorporate both kinds of experience into a mythological program. In one case you want to help students discover there potential through mythological study. In another you would also be teaching metaphysics. (what is reality)

Now would you be encouraging your students to unite with the God within or would you tell them that through mythology they can experience alternative dimensions that really exist metaphysically.
Well, i wouldn't present it as an either/or option

... but i would begin with a discussion of metaphor.

I might approach it as Campbell does with Michael Toms, in An Open Life:
When you think, for instance, "God is thy father," do you think he is? No, that's a metaphor, and the metaphor points to two ends: one is psychological - that's why the dream is metaphoric; the other is metaphysical. Now, dream is metaphoric of the structures of the psyche, and your dream will correspond to the level of psychological realization that you are operating on. The metaphysical, on the other hand, points past all conceptualizations, to the ultimate depth. And when the two come together, when psyche and metaphysics meet, then you have a real myth. (pp. 21-22)
It does seem so many people think a metaphor is something pretend - but it is far more than that. We engage metaphors in every moment of our existence.

All language, for example is a metaphor - which doesn't mean that language is just pretend or does not exist. I can type the word "table" - that is using the mind's ability to relate an abstract symbol (five letters arranged together in a particular order) to a material object. Doesn't mean those five letters so arranged actually become the physical table, and that i can set a book or a plate on the word itself

... but because of the metaphorical relationship between the term and the actual object, if someone asks me to set a plate on the table i am able to do so, without insisting "table" is not really a table, so does not really exist.

Literalizing or concretizing the metaphor would be to think that the abstract word is identical to the physical object. As Korzybinski and Buckminster Fuller and Alan Watts and others have so often pointed out, "the menu is not the meal." We would neither sate our hunger nor nourish our body if we ate the menu instead of the meal - that would be concretizing the metaphor

... nevertheless, both the menu and the meal are real - and through engaging the metaphor, we secure our meal.
[Metaphor] also suggests the actuality that hides behind the visible aspect. The metaphor is the mask of God through which eternity is to be experienced.

(Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, p. 73)
If we assume Yahweh or Indra is the ultimate mystery transcendent of yet immanent within all creation, then we have mistaken the menu for the meal - but we can approach this transcendence through such metaphors - and that contact is a very real experience.

That rose mentioned in the earlier post is experienced as real - yet it is an image presented to us by our senses, and very different from the same rose as experienced by a dog, or a butterfly, or an amoeba. Our experience of a rose is a metaphor for some unknown thing - what Kant might call "das Dinge an sich" - "the thing in itself" - which is perceived differently by dog or butterfly.

But we don't have to know that to engage the rose - one can pick it, sniff it, or get pricked by its thorn without ever being aware a rose is a conglomeration of atoms that themselves arise out of interactions between insubstantial quanta of particles flickering into and out of existence.

In the August Practical Campbell column on ritual, i mention two examples of Campbell's experience of the power of metaphor.

In Japan, in the midfifties, he participated in a firewalk - part of an elaborate indigineous healing ritual. At the last minute, Joe doffed shoes and socks and joined the procession of Japanese participants in this ceremony - not with healing on his mind, but for the experience of partaking in this shamanic rite

(which is fairly courageous, as it was another couple decades before firewalks became trendy in Marin "new age" gatherings).

The fire was very real - burned two holes in Joe's suit

... but the shock was the realization, after the rite, that the ankle that he had physically sprained at Angkor Wat, which had remained painful and swollen and wrapped in an ace bandage, had been instantly healed - no need to re-wrap it in the ace bandage, no residual limping or pain

even though Joe had no intention of seeking, nor expectation of finding, healing.

Similarly, Joe and his wife, Jean, visited a Navajo reservation and observed a rain dance during a period of drought. Not a cloud in the sky when the drumming and dancing began - yet, long before the 24 hour weather channel and increasingly accurate technology for making predictions, the sky darkened and the heavens opened at the crucial moment of the ceremony, exactly as expected

(and in fact, the Campbells' hosts warned them to leave a bit before the downpour started - the storm lasted so long and was so intense that it threatened to make the dirt roads back to Gallup impassable).

If rites, as Campbell avers, are the enactment of myth, then wow!

Talk about the power of myth!
Mythology and the rites through which its imagery is rendered open the mind... not only to the local social order, but also to the mythic dimension of being--of nature--which is within as well as without, and thereby finally at one with itself.

(Joseph Campbell, “Mythogenesis,” The Flight of the Wild Gander, p. 111)
What a subject!

Is it any wonder that the topic of Death brings us round to a discussion of just what is the nature of reality - and of life?

In The Way of the Animal Powers Campbell points out that the first clues to the appearance of the mythological imagination in humans arises in tandem with the awareness of death, in Neanderthal burial rites ...

Is Death the Beginning of Myth?

metaphorically yours,
bodhibliss

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

BodhiBliss, you say
I know scientific metaphors make Robert nervous, and I believe I understand why.
I'm not sure from what you wrote after this that I've been clear about my concerns in regards to this, so I'd like to clear that up.

First, my objections apply to quantum physics, not to science in general.

Second, part of my problem comes from the way quantum physics is often used. Very often a concept is used with the explicit or implicit wording of "What is really going on is ......", invoking the "quantum universe" as a higher authority to support what is essentially a philosophical point. I notice that when you say
So the table on which I write is well over 90% empty space
you do not use this wording, but I feel you are somewhat unusual in your clarity. Regardless, the quantum universe has no more claim to reality than the universe of our experience.

Third, the language of quantum physics is already a metaphor for the mathematics. We are already using relationships from our ordinary experience as metaphors for the math. Then, these relationships are taken and applied to some philosophical concept, supposedly having picked up some value by being associated with quantum physics. I do not see that this is true. To use the example of nonlocality (no offense to Tony intended):
Metaphor: when two particles come into contact with each other they continue to influence each other regardless of their positions in time and space.
provides a basis for conceptualizing the implications of
Bell’s Theorem, which has to do with the probabilities of quantum events. It is not concerned with anything in our sensible world.
The metaphor is not an exact representation of Bell’s Theorem, or even a very close one. It is useful in that gives a broad analogy for people who do not have the math for quantum physics.

In other words, relationship 1 (a is to b – the metaphor) is like relationship 2 (c is to d – Bell’s Theorem). Then it is said nonlocality is like the doctrine of simultaneous arising or the net of gems or some other relationship (e is to f). This may be true, but doesn’t have anything to do with Bell’s Theorem or quantum physics.
a is to b AS c is to d
and
a is to b AS e is to f
Two separate assertions here. I say leave out the reference to quantum physics, it doesn’t add anything here, unless one is trying to borrow validity from it.

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

Hi Bodhi Bliss, Robert, and Associates!

Bodhi Bliss, thanks for having the patience and a wonderful attitude as I ponder these questions. Your quotes and explanations have been very helpful.

These issues have been confusing me for a long time! There is even a thread of discussion entitled "Campbell: "Psychological vs Metaphysical" in the "Call to Adventure" forum of discussion by an old friend of ours, Tree Hugger, where we tried to clear up this misunderstanding.

I thus know that these issues as we discuss them are very helpful to many associates. They caused us problems then and they cause us problems now.

Since my attitude is to learn and I have no qualms of changing my assumptions please accept my conclusions as tentative. I've noticed that many times I've come to accept the views of another associate but it took awhile for me to absorb what they were trying to say. It's not till later that I wish I could have told them how much they helped.

Your quotes are making me reflect on just what Joseph Campbell meant by the term "metaphysics."

Did he use the term as indicating the invisible world not seen by our senses? The mystery dimension behind the world of the senses. In other words meta-physics, what exists before or behind the visible world.

or

was he referring to metaphysics as the study of what is reality. Metaphysics in this sense is "not" the mystical dimension.
Metaphysics in this sense is really a branch of philosophy; philosophy being the fore-runner of science. Metaphysics, philosophy, and science present us with a picture of the universe.

An example of metaphysics in this sense would be our knowledge that all experience takes place in time and space. This is a metaphysical principle. This principle contributes to our picture of the universe.

Notice that all three disciplines have limits as to what they can discover or know!
Their aim is knowledge.

The mystical function of myth penetrates the world shown to us by the above disciplines to the mystery dimension. It's aim is to help us experience the mystery of that picture. It's aim is not to give us a knowledge of some sort. We are to dwell in pure mystery. Pure mystery is the realm that transcends all knowledge. This is what can't be talked about. This is the eternal.

Anything that can be talked about is not the mystery dimension.

Bodhi Bliss, this is the reason why your experiences were not the mystery or mystical dimension. They are still things we can talk about. They are still manifestations of a mystery source.

All the experiences that people have in dream and vision are not experiences of the mystical dimension. Those images are "desi" images. Those images have to be penetrated to the mystery dimension! The mystery dimension is devoid of images! It is the void out of which all images owe their existence.

If you had dwelled on the mystery of the images you saw then you would have been experiencing the mystical dimension. A deep sense of the underlying mystery of these things.

That underlying mystery suggests an eternal presence in the world that is the source of it all. You could say that this transcendent eternal presence manifests itself in not only the physical realm but also in the realm of dream and vision. The images of the physical world and of dream/vision are all metaphorical of this transcendent mystery; they suggest the transcendent mystery.

When Joseph Campbell says that the metaphysical and psychological have a meeting point in my opinion he is saying that the ego in it's quest to unite with the self begins discarding it's self imposed limitations. It begins to become one with it's potential! It finally comes to realize that it's potential rests on a greater potential of profound mystery.

Thus the first stage of growth involves man dealing with his limitations. Identifying them, battling with them and overcoming them. In each case his/her consciousness expands; he/she is becoming more conscious. (psychology)

Ultimately the ego comes to an experience of the mystery ground of it's existence; that it's potential rests on a greater deeper more mysterious potential pervasive throughout the universe. (metaphysics)

The mystical function of myth penetrates this knowledge to an experiece of awe; to invoke in us a sense of the mystery power behind it all. The mystical goes beyond metaphysics because metaphysics is still concerned with determining reality. It is still in the realm of conceptual thinking.

I wrote this post in a effort to just get some ideas down. I'll address the issues you brought up in my next post!


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

Hi all, looking at my last post I realize that I sound pretty heavy-handed, as if I think that what I think is THE right way to think. I just wanted to apologize for that, I honestly didn't intend to come off that way.

Ruiz, thanks for the distinctions! Another way to look at it could be between metaphysics as philosophy in the Western tradition (which has more to do with the rational mind), and metaphysics as philosophy in the Eastern tradition(which has to to more with the experience). It's interesting that I just finished up a course titled "Problems in Metaphysics" and one of the problems I had is that no one could give me what I considered an adequate definition of just what metaphysics is and is not! It does seem to be kind of a mix of several distinct issues.
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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks, Robert, for the clarification – that helps me better understand. I do have some thoughts triggered by your remarks. We will continue to disagree in this area, and that’s just the way it is – which doesn’t mean, because we arrive at different conclusions, that I don’t respect your reasoning and sincerity. What’s more, if I’ve learned anything in this life cycle it’s that I do not have a corner on truth.

Hence, I’m not trying to convince you to come around to my way of thinking - but I would like to expand on where I’m coming from and how I reconcile your objections with my current understandings – for I’m likely to continue to draw on metaphors from quantum physics where appropriate and quote others, like Campbell and Jung, who do the same. When I do, it’s not intended as a challenge, but just as the most succinct way of expressing my understanding, as with any other image I apply.

Of course, much of what you say strikes a corresponding chord:
Robert G. writes:

…part of my problem comes from the way quantum physics is often used. Very often a concept is used with the explicit or implicit wording of "What is really going on is ......", invoking the "quantum universe" as a higher authority to support what is essentially a philosophical point. I notice that … you do not use this wording, but I feel you are somewhat unusual in your clarity.
Point well taken, Robert. Such fuzzy thinking – what I refer to tongue in cheek as “slacker stoner logic” – is a bete noire of mine, too. Of course, this is not unique to discussions of quantum physics – I’ve noticed the same fuzzy thinking regarding relativity, fractals and chaos theory, the ideas of Joseph Campbell and/or Carl Jung, and so much more

… but what irritates me isn’t so much the subject matter, but the lack of clarity in expression.

Some New Age adherents suffer from this malady, supporting what can be exquisite, complex, stimulating ideas with logic lazy as that of an adolescent Phish head summarizing the content and conclusions of a Discovery Channel program viewed during a heavy duty bong session

which I’m sure is a generalization unfair to New Age practitioners, Phish aficionados, and stoners everywhere – just a striking image used for illustrative purposes.

I’ve had my share of spontaneous insights during sativa-soaked bull sessions or acid-induced visions – but early on realized that absent the tools, persistence and will necessary to articulate these illuminations all I was doing was indulging in psychedelic masturbation. Doesn’t matter how brilliant an idea is if we keep it to ourselves … might just as well never have thought it in the first place – and a brilliant idea poorly expressed often has the opposite effect of what’s intended.

Thanks for the complement about my clarity, Robert – I do appreciate it, though I’m not convinced of that clarity when wading through reams of my own excessive verbosity – but I go ahead and click the post button anyway and hope for the best.

I do have a different take on other elements of your post

(though if you worked in a few more compliments, I could be persuaded … ).
Robert G. points out:

Third, the language of quantum physics is already a metaphor for the mathematics. We are already using relationships from our ordinary experience as metaphors for the math …
Just as an aside, both metaphors, the mathematical and the prose, are triggered by the same quantum event – both are inexact descriptions of the same mysterious process

(a process impossible to directly observe or experience in the sensate world – yet billions of such quantum events are occurring this very moment in every atom of every cell of our bodies, in every molecule of the air we breath, in the light streaming through the window – and every physicist is of the opinion that if this activity were to cease, so would the material universe, so we can intuit some relationship to the experienced world … we don’t know what these events are, but we know all that exists floats on this quantum sea - yes, a metaphor ).

As Heisenberg points out, physicists don’t sit down and speak to each other in math, but use very imprecise, nonliteral language:

“Physicists who deal with the quantum theory are also compelled to use a language taken from ordinary life. We act as if there really were such a thing as an electric current because, if we forbade all physicists to speak of electric current they could no longer express their thoughts.”

Nor, because “electric current” does not exist but is a metaphor for the math that describes the phenomenon, do scientists forbid nonphysicists from applying the image as a metaphor for everything from thought to the Holy Spirit.
Robert continues:

Metaphor: when two particles come into contact with each other they continue to influence each other regardless of their positions in time and space. provides a basis for conceptualizing the implications of Bell’s Theorem, which has to do with the probabilities of quantum events. It is not concerned with anything in our sensible world. The metaphor is not an exact representation of Bell’s Theorem, or even a very close one. It is useful in that gives a broad analogy for people who do not have the math for quantum physics.

In other words, relationship 1 (a is to b – the metaphor) is like relationship 2 (c is to d – Bell’s Theorem). Then it is said nonlocality is like the doctrine of simultaneous arising or the net of gems or some other relationship (e is to f). This may be true, but doesn’t have anything to do with Bell’s Theorem or quantum physics.
a is to b AS c is to d
and
a is to b AS e is to f
Two separate assertions here.
But that’s not the way metaphor or mathematics works. If the relationship of A is to B as C is to D, and that of C is to D as E is to F, then it follows that the relationship of A to B is as E to F – often expressed as follows: if A:B::C:D and C:D::E:F, then A:B::E:F.

If the Tao is a metaphor for the Ground of Being, and the Ground of Being is a metaphor for the unknown Transcendent out of which all that is Knowable emerges, and if brahman is also a metaphor for the unknown Transcendent, it can also be employed as a metaphor for the Ground of Being mythologically congruent to the Tao – even though Taoism and Hinduism are two very different things –

and given that the Judeo-Christian God is also a metaphor for the transcendent, this mythic image can as well be viewed as cognate to brahman or the Tao, even though the Judeo-Christian God doesn’t have anything to do with brahman or Hinduism.

That these mythic images can all be considered as metaphors for the transcendent (though most who practice Christianity will claim their deity is no metaphor) does not suggest that the Christian God is identical to the Tao or to brahman.

Or, to call on the language and symbolism of analogy, what is being expressed is a metaphorical relationship, not physical facts – just because A:B::C:D and C:D::E:F, it does not follow that A = C = E (which is an error many fall into who employ quantum physics to “prove” metaphysical propositions).
Then, these relationships are taken and applied to some philosophical concept, supposedly having picked up some value by being associated with quantum physics. I don’t believe that is true.
I can understand how frustrating that is – I’ve run across that attitude on occasion – but again, seems your problem is with how the metaphor is applied – those who employ it not as metaphor, but as a statement of fact.
I say leave out the reference to quantum physics, it doesn’t add anything here, unless one is trying to borrow validity from it.
I can’t say I agree with your conclusion, which seems, to me, an overbroad generalization based on the assumption that everyone will misapply metaphors drawn from physics in the way you describe for the motive you ascribe – sort of like saying we should leave out references to Christianity or Krishna because individuals will misread the imagery as literal.

But that is not my approach when discussing the resonance between metaphors used by physicists and those used by mystics, nor is it Campbell’s approach, nor that of theorists in the quantum field from Niels Bohr to David Bohm.

Before exploring what approach I do take (and it is an exploration, for these conversations provide the opportunity to clarify my own thinking), I’d like to make an observation arising out of discussions elsewhere:

I’ve noticed many who criticize references to parallels between images from quantum physics and Eastern mythologies seem to imply that this is a comparison foisted on genuine scientists by pseudo-scientific observers, no doubt in an attempt to provide scientific validation for those mystical traditions – and that no true physicist performing the experiments and writing the equations that serve as the foundation of this modern science would contaminate their conclusions with such frivolous, unfounded comparisons.

But the history is just the opposite: images and metaphors from eastern traditions have been associated with quantum theory from its inception. They don’t just come out of left field.

I’ll offer a few of innumerable examples:
“The great scientific contribution in theoretical physics that has come from Japan since the last war may be an indication of a certain relationship between philosophical ideas in the tradition of the Far East and the philosophical substance of quantum theory.”

-- Werner Heisenberg (winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1932, and formulated the Uncertainty Principle, sometimes somewhat simplistically rendered as “observation determines what is observed”) … from his Physics and Philosophy, p. 202

“The general notions about human understanding … which are illustrated by discoveries in atomic physics are not in the nature of things wholly unfamiliar, wholly unheard of, or new. Even in our own culture they have a history, and in Buddhist and Hindu thought a more considerable and central place …”

J. Robert Oppenheimer (leader of the Manhattan Project, which split the atom that ended World War II) … from Oppenheimer’s book, Science and the Common Understanding, pp. 8-9.

“For a parallel to the lesson of atomic theory … [we must turn] to those kinds of epistemological problems with which already thinkers like the Buddha and Lao Tzu have been confronted, when trying to harmonize our position as spectators and actors in the great drama of existence.”

Niels Bohr (credited as the father of quantum theory, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922) … from Bohr’s Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge, p. 20
These aren’t mystics seeking validation from physics for their own beliefs, but the people who crunched the numbers, performed the experiments, pioneered the field, and found practical applications (though nuclear weaponry ultimately strikes me as in impractical practical application, as Oppenheimer himself came to believe). They aren’t fuzzy thinkers, but men of science who borrowed images from eastern mythologies because they realized these mystics were doing the same thing they were:

attempting to describe the indescribable.

This is exactly what the metaphorical imagery of myth does:
Mythological, theological, metaphysical analogies, in other words, do not point indirectly to an only partially unknowable term, but directly to a relationship between two terms, the one empirical, the other metaphysical; the latter being, absolutely and forever and from every conceivable human standpoint, unknowable.

-- Joseph Campbell, “Primitive Man as Metaphysician,” Flight of the Wild Gander, p.70
Neither mystic nor physicist makes the mistake of equating one with the other. In an interview with Renee Weber, physicist Fritjof Capra – who often gets blamed for bringing to light the parallels physicists had been noting for decades - points out the primary difference, and similarity: “Physicists explore levels of matter; mystics explore levels of mind. And what they have in common in their explorations is that these levels in both cases lie beyond ordinary sensory perception.”

Both bump up against the wall of the unknowable – that which cannot be put in rational terms, but can only be spoken of via metaphor.
The problems of language here are really serious. We wish to speak in some way about the structure of atoms … But we cannot speak about the structure of atoms in ordinary language.

The most difficult problem … concerning the use of the language arises in quantum theory. Here we have at first no simple guide for correlating the mathematical symbols with concepts of ordinary language; and the only thing we know from the start is the fact that our common concepts cannot be applied to the structure of atoms.

Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, p.177
Campbell points out that the most effective tool for describing that which transcends all human conceptions, that which is “absolutely and forever and from every conceivable human standpoint, unknowable,” is the language of paradox – which appears in mythic imagery and metaphysical thought as the oxymoron.

From Campbell’s Creative Mythology, pp. 188, 189-190:
“[The oxymoron] is used as a device to point past those spheres of opposites by which all logical thought is limited to a ‘sphere that is no sphere,’ beyond ‘names and forms’; as when in the Upanishads we read of ‘the Manifest-Hidden, called Moving-in-secret, which is known as Being and Non-being’:

‘There the eye goes not;
Speech goes not, nor the mind …’”
following which Campbell brings up several examples of this polarity from mythology, mysticism, theology and metaphysics, then adds
“One cannot help thinking also, in this connection, of the modern finding in the realm of atomic physics of the ‘principal of indeterminacy, or complementarity,’ according to which, in the words of Dr. Werner Heisenberg, ‘the knowledge of the position of a particle is complementary to the knowledge of its velocity or momentum. If we know the one with high accuracy we cannot know the other with high accuracy; still we must know both for determining the behavior of the system. The space-time description of the atomic events is complementary to their deterministic description.’

Apparently in every sphere of human search and experience the mystery of the ultimate nature of being breaks into oxymoronic paradox, and the best that can be said of it has to be taken as metaphor – whether as particles and waves or as Apollo and Dionysus, pleasure and pain. Both in science and in poetry the principle of the anagogic metaphor is thus recognized today: it is only from the pulpit and the press that one hears of truths and virtues in fixed terms.”


Many physicists, then and now, believe there is a correlation between the explorations of science and those of the mystical traditions – both explore the nature of reality, but one starts in the external world, the other in the internal world … yet often arrive at surprisingly parallel language and images. Heisenberg points out, “What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning” … as do schools of Buddhist or Taoist thought, observing nature exposed to a different method of questioning.

Is it surprising to find physicists and mystics who believe there are parallels?

As one example, in 1937 – well after the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum physics had been established – Niels Bohr visited China. There he found that the symbology of Taoism – particularly that of the polarity of yin and yang – matched his concept of complementarity, the theory by which he resolves the paradox of how light can be both particle and wave, alluded to above by Heisenberg. He believed he and the Taoists were at least swimming in the same ocean – and, in 1947, when selecting his family coat of arms, Bohr gave a central place to the traditional yin/yang symbol of polarity: the familiar circle divided into a light and dark halves by a serpentine line, with a circle of dark contained in the center of the light half, and a cirle of light contained in the center of the dark half.

Metaphors don’t flow just one way. I don’t understand why physicists are allowed to borrow a metaphor from Taoism to illustrate their understanding of the particle/wave paradox, but I can’t borrow the particle/wave metaphor to illustrate my understanding of polarity between yin and yang in Taoism?

Or other examples, since the image of the Net of Indra has been raised:

John Bell’s theory, in 1964 (later established via the experimentation process in the early seventies), is rooted in his understanding of David Bohm’s “hidden variables” postulate (1952), which also suggests a link between quantum theory and consciousness. Evan H. Walker, following on Bell’s theorem, posits consciousness as “real but non-physical,” the source of the mysterious “hidden variables” in quantum mechanics, and that particles themselves might be conscious in “a discrete sense”:
“Consciousness may be associated with all quantum mechanical processes … since everything that occurs is ultimately the result of one or more quantum mechanical events, the universe is ‘inhabited’ by an almost unlimited number of rather discrete conscious, usually nonthinking entities that are responsible for the detailed workings of the universe.”

Evans H. Walker, “The Nature of Consciousness,” Mathematical Biosciences, 7, p.175-176
Brian David Josephson, professor of Physics at Cambridge and winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1973, has published papers paralleling Walker’s theories … all of which arise out of Bell’s work,

and which gives rise to Cambridge biochemist Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphogenetic fields (and has been related to Jung’s work on synchronicity with physicist Wolfgang Pauli, another Nobel Prize winner not immune to drawing on images from alchemy to illustrate quantum concepts).

This resonates with mystic disciplines that illustrate the universe as a conscious entity – so it’s no surprise that physicists borrow such metaphors from mystics, and mystics borrow metaphors from physics to illustrate their observations.

Meanwhile, Bohm continued his work, and arrived at the theory of implicate and explicate order and a holographic model of the universe.

It’s a model – a metaphor – for the universe, and not the thing itself. But in a hologram the whole is contained in each of its parts

while the Net of Indra is an image which contains an infinite number of jewels – and where each strand of the web intersects there sits a perfect gem, every facet of which reflects every facet of every other jewel in the net

… the whole is contained in each of its parts.

Both are metaphors that can – and are – used interchangeably, by physicist and mystic, to portray a perception of the universe. Apparently if I worked with Einstein and contributed fundamental theories and concepts to the field of quantum physics I can use both images interchangeably – but if I don’t have a degree or have published in a science journal, I can’t?

Notice the metaphor Erwin Schrodinger (another Nobel prize winner in physics) uses:
To divide or multiply consciousness is something meaningless. In all the world, there is no kind of framework within which we can find consciousness in the plural; this is simply something we construct because of the spatio-temporal plurality of individuals, but it is a false conception …

What justifies you in obstinately discovering this difference – the difference between you and someone else – when objectively what is there is the same?

… this life of yours that you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is, in a certain sense the whole; only the whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one simple glance. This … is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula that is yet really so simple and so clear: Tat tvam asi, that is you.”

-- quoted by Joseph Campbell in Thou Art That - a more poetic translation of the same phrase from the Upanishads – tat tvam asi. (Campbell does not suggest that the physicist has proven the factual accuracy of the image from the Upanishads, but that this image has enriched his perception of his discoveries, and vice versa.)
Frankly, I don’t employ scientific imagery to validate metaphysical leanings

… but the images of the wave/particle paradox, the holographic universe, and multiple other concepts arising out of contemporary science have helped me understand some of the more difficult, complex metaphysics underlying eastern mythologies

and images from both quantum physics and mythology have helped me make sense of my own inner experiences and my relationship to the external world

… which doesn’t have much to do with quantum physics, but bears directly on how I live my life, and how I engage the world around me.

In that sense the images I draw on from mythology and from what Heisenberg terms “the philosophical substance of quantum physics” are indeed valid in my experience - they work.

But there is yet another reason why we should not discount metaphors drawn from quantum physics: the genie is out of the bottle, and it’s not going back in.

Whether one accepts these images or not, they have captured the popular imagination and currently permeate popular culture. For example, Hugh Everett, John Wheeler, and Neil Graham’s “Many Worlds Interpretation” of quantum theory – in contrast to the “Copenhagen Interpretation” of Niels Bohr and colleagues – served as the basis of Robert Heinlein’s best-selling The Number of the Beast as well as several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation

… and I wouldn’t be surprised to find elements of quantum theory appearing soon in Dear Abbey columns.

These ideas and images have helped shaped the postmodern perspective that challenges the dominant mythological worldview in the west, contributing to the “culture wars” that spilled over into the recent American election. These quantum metaphors may well be playing a role in the formation of a new mythological perspective. This is a dynamic with a momentum all its own, erupting out of the collective unconscious – and whether or not one likes these images, we can’t deny what is happening before our eyes.

And, frankly, it’s a fascinating dynamic to observe.

Are these elements of a new mythology – will these images, whether holograms or Indra’s Net, have staying power? Will individuals and groups make the mistake of reading them literally (likely, as that does seem the pattern)?

Ultimately, the jury is still out – but even if no new mythology emerges, Christianity - the prevailing tradition in the west – in order to stay active and alive, must somehow engage these images, embrace the discoveries of quantum physics – or the popular perception of such discoveries.

It’s an exciting time to be alive – though the last act will play out long after we have left the stage.
Robert G. points out that “[r]egardless, the quantum universe has no more claim to reality than the universe of our experience.”
I do agree with your point – it has no more claim - and no less claim, either …

Again, as mentioned in a previous post, I find relevant Campbell citing Goethe’s line -“Alles Verganglich ist nur ein Gleichnis” – sometimes translated “All that exists is but a metaphor” – but all a metaphor for the same underlying transcendence,that mystery beyond being/nonbeing, life/death, light/dark, particle/wave and every other distinction that can be made, out of which the sensate, experienced universe emerges.

But as usual, I’ve dumped a ton of verbiage all over the page and am not sure I’ve clarified anything at all.

I will, though, continue to employ quantum imagery (for lack of a better term), just as I will continue to employ Christian and Buddhist and even Cartesian imagery, as all inform my mythological understanding of myself and of the universe

- but I will strive to be sensitive to your concerns, Robert, and try to be clear in my wording

(though, considering these message boards are in a sense little more than glorified email, don’t be surprised if I’m a bit fuzzy on occasion).

peace and love and all good things
bodhibliss

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

Whoops! Just lost a lengthy reply to Ruiz's post (damn that Mercury in retrograde!)

and haven't time, energy or brain power to do it all again

I did mention that i presented the rebirthing episode in an earlier post not as an experience of the mystical dimension, but as an example of how "interior experience shapes the metaphors through which we engage 'reality',"

and later in the account pointed out that i treat the episode as "an experience of metaphor"

but i never characterized it as "the mystery or mystical dimension" - those would be your words, Ruiz.

As far as my experience of the mystical dimension, i can't put those into words. I can only use metaphors - but because someone uses a metaphor does not mean they have not had the experience.

I also spent some time in the lost post quoting from dictionaries and philosophical tomes and textbooks, discussing metaphysics (which i believe i identified as a branch of philosophy in the earlier post) as the study of "first causes" or the "fundamental nature of reality and being," - that which is beyond the physical world

and we get there by going through the physical world, studying ontology and cosmology and epistemology - though studying time and space and categories of thought and such (thank you Kant) ultimately takes us beyond time and space and categories of thought

(whether in philosophy or physics, come to think of it)

though when Campbell uses the adjective "metaphysical," i would go with the standard Merriam-Webster's definition, "of or relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond that what is perceptible to the senses," rather than the specific branch of philosophy

despite the obvious overlap, for the ultimate focus of the study of metaphysics is exactly that (which is why philosophers use so much ink - otherwise we could just point to something tangible and be done with it)

and i discussed other things - sounding far more eloquent and far less snippy before my words evaporated into the ether

(my snippiness not a function of your post, Ruiz, so much as it is that i'm hungry, tired, my brain hurts, and i'd like to spend a few minutes this weekend away from the keyboard!)

- so probably will disappear (save for brief posts) for a while, as the next Practical Campbell deadline looms after Christmas, and I'll be in SoCal for the holidays.

Please excuse the preceding run-on sentence!

blessed be
bodhibliss


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

Thanks again, Robert -

I appreciate the caution about not intending your post on quantum metaphors as heavy handed as it might sound

... in the rush of posting, i find that what i say sometimes comes across as more terse than intended.Being aware of that, i didn't take your post in a negative sense

- but i did use the opportunity to launch my own riff on quantum physics.

Thanks for continuing to add to the conversation, Robert.

Where is everyone else? Have the three of us driven everyone away?

I wonder Night Watch, if you're still reading, has any of this discussion helped? Any shift in perception of death?

Dying to know,
bodhibliss

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