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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Toward a Unified Spiritual Vision 

When I was a young child, I had a super-special, secret thing I liked to do with my mind. It was like having a luminous cosmic jewel in my pocket, that I could look at and contemplate when I was alone. When I wasn't contemplating it, just knowing that it was in my pocket made me feel special. I still have it, but I can't see it as well as I could when I was 5. The more one becomes accustomed to life, the harder it becomes to experience its mystery. Anyway, would you like to see it?

Okay, here it is: meditate on how unlikely, strange, and wonderful life is.

That's it - that's what I did as a child when I was alone. Being fairly new to the world, I could turn it on and off like a switch. All I had to do was think a certain thought and I could experience the mystery in its full-blown magnificence. My mind was transported to another dimension, where among other things, the reason for life exists. There is a reason, and as a child, I experienced it instinctively. I wasn't capable of verbalizing the experience, but I knew that I would be able to one day, because that is my reason.

Guess what...

Yes indeed, it's time for me to verbalize the experience. Hold on to your socks because I aim to knock them off.

Are you ready?

Well, okay, but be warned: you may grow an extra eye from reading this, (in addition to sacrificing a pair of presumably useful socks).

Paradigm Shift
Before I begin, I want to make it clear that what I'm about to write will rightfully remain in the realm of conjecture until science finds evidence for or against it. Science is the final word. My intention here, tangentially, is to inspire science - not subvert it. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the attempt to formulate a philosophical "theory of everything." The need to know why is as ingrained in our nature as the need to know how. At some point in the future, perhaps the near future, the why and how will naturally come together. Until then, this sort of discussion should be treated with the skepticism it deserves.

I believe that the people of the religious right instinctively sense the nature of the problem that humanity currently faces. It is a spiritual problem, but their wrongheaded, anti-rational, morally malformed vision of Jesus won't solve it. Crippling science with the phobias and nihilistic aggression of 21st century American fundamentalist Christianity certainly won't solve the problem.

The problem is that human consciousness has outgrown the spiritual paradigms that still dominate the human experience. Human consciousness, at this point in its development, seeks a unified spiritual vision to maximize its potential. It will happen, one way or another. One of the beautiful things about human consciousness is that it has developed the unique ability to record lessons, to give future generations of incarnations an advantage in the collective quest for survival and meaning. The problem with some of these lessons is that they are remnants of the limited worldview of tribalism, informed by primitive scientific perspectives. Their keepers failed to improve them over time, and they have become corrupt and dangerous.

All of the world's major religions will fail for one reason or other. Since I'm most familiar with Christianity, I can tell you what its tragic flaw is. Christianity will fail because it manufactured the "supernatural" seal by elevating its human prophet to Deity status - off-limits to mere mortals. Although the lessons of Jesus will live on forever, Christianity will fail because it depends entirely on a lie that undermines the message. And it will fail because of the corruption that power enterprises breed.

The truth about Jesus is that he was a human being. I believe that he had a luminous cosmic jewel in his pocket, not unlike mine. He saw what we are, and explained it with the words and through the traditions at his disposal. He discovered something about the power of human consciousness and its link to what he understood to be god. He tried to show people what they're capable of. Of course, the last thing that organized power needs is a world full of spiritually empowered people.

But a world full of spiritually empowered people is exactly what human consciousness has been driving at for thousands of years, and it will eventually succeed, or be extinguished in the process. My hope is to give you a glimpse here of the unified spiritual vision that human consciousness seeks. The ground rule of this vision is that it must be a living, evolving, self-correcting dialectic, much like science is. It must be this way in order to work with, and benefit from the information that science provides. As I stated previously, the need to know why is as ingrained in our nature as the need to know how. May the devotees of both questions learn to work together.

The Mind of the Universe
We can thank science for giving us a fairly complete picture of the universe's origin, evolution, composition, size, physical laws, etc. This scientific picture will serve as the logical framework of the unified spiritual vision. Science gives us a wealth of information to work with, but the picture it provides is incomplete, and not just from a scientific perspective. That is as it should be, because we shouldn't expect science to expend its limited energies on quixotic questions that are best left to talented bullshitters like me. I kid myself; there really is a value to what I'm doing. Human consciousness needs a unified vision of life that includes meaning - so much so that it will settle for the absurd to its detriment. The problem at hand is to create a new spiritual paradigm, which among other things accepts its limitations. "I'm not certain, but judging honestly and impartially by the available information, I believe this is the answer."

I believe that the universe contains a "god" force, although it doesn't quite resemble the traditional descriptions. Simply put, god is the life force of the universe, and like other forces such as gravity and magnetism, it is an intrinsic part of the universe - not apart from it. Unlike the forces that science has already identified, the life force is a "living," evolving, conscious force. People ask why god lets bad things happen. The god force is not omnipotent and all knowing. The only way that it can touch the physical world is through life.

Have you ever noticed that thoughts seem to exist in a dimension of their own? Thoughts are a product of the physical world; they are about the physical world; and they echo the structure of the physical world. Yet, they can't be measured as existing in space and time. I believe that thoughts exist, and are experienced in one or more of the higher dimensions postulated by String theory. The life force exists in these extra dimensions. When we think, we are interfacing directly with the life force, in the dimension(s) it exists in.

Every living thing has a form of consciousness that interfaces with the life force. And this force, or god, if you prefer, "records" all of the information it receives. One can measure god's intelligence at any point in time by looking at the level of intelligence of the living things existing in the universe at that point in time. Since we have no proof that life exists in other parts of the universe, I'll have to use the available examples to drive the point home. In a universe of bacteria, god is the sum total of bacterial experience. In a universe where the highest level of cognitive function is that of a trilobite, god knows as much about the universe, and itself, as a trilobite.

In our current universe, god is quite intelligent, and experienced. Consciousness has evolved in human beings beyond a fundamental threshold, marked by the knowledge that we most certainly represent one of the ways that the universe experiences itself.

I would be remiss if I didn't address the question of extraterrestrial life, so here we go. Life exists wherever it's physically possible, but life forms that have passed the aforementioned threshold of awareness are rare. I believe that there are others because I sense their presence in the life force, and they have visited me in dreams. I don't believe that they can travel here physically. Perhaps I'll elaborate on this subject one day, but this will have to suffice for now.

The Purpose of Evolution
I believe that God's potential - like ours - was "genetically" contained in the singularity that the universe derives from. Some biologists conclude that life on earth is the result of a fortuitous series of coincidences that no generalized principle can be drawn from. They believe it's a fluke that things turned out this way, and it's foolish to assume that the universe intended to arrive at human beings. For the most part I agree with their conclusion, but it represents a premature dead end to me. Using the "gene" metaphor, it's possible to conceptualize a process that leads to a finite and relatively narrow range of results. It is theoretically possible to predict with adequate certainty, the physical and mental features of the adult that a set of genes and a given environment will produce. I think the universe works in a similar way. It's true that the universe didn't intend to arrive at human beings, but it's reasonable to conclude that it intended to arrive at something similar: a life form with a sophisticated perceptual interface.

The purpose of evolution is to develop consciousness - it is what is being cultivated here on Earth. In my mind, the mechanics of biological evolution are beyond dispute, but I'm not satisfied with the conceptual extrapolation that defines it as having no purpose other than to increase a life form's odds for survival within a given (presumably planetary) environment. I understand that a scientist's job isn't to stray into the why, but that's exactly what they're doing when they proclaim that the universe is devoid of purpose. I also understand the rigorous pragmatic mindset that can force itself to discard what it can't reasonably answer. But then why answer? If there is indeed a purpose, will the claim of no purpose be considered a failure of science? The answer to that question is no, because when scientists make that claim, they're not speaking as scientists. Then, if the possibility of a purpose exists, why not consider it? The problem is, rigorous pragmatic minds don't tend to be the most creative minds.

I propose that the universe seeks consciousness through life in a self-actualizing process. It is a macrocosmic individual in the process of discovering itself. God, the life force, is its mind, and we are living, three-dimensional extensions of it. This purpose-centered paradigm raises an interesting question about evolution: Is it a local, planetary phenomenon, or is it of cosmic scope? Considering that it's theoretically possible for human beings to exist apart from the Earth, my choice is the latter. Along with cosmic capabilities, we have developed the unique ability to consciously direct our very evolution. At the same time, we still have a long list of counterproductive primitive impulses to contend with, so I'm more than a little uneasy about our future prospects.

Love and Morals
You are an extraordinary extension of god - a living god of sorts. That's a scary thought, isn't it? What are we supposed to do with that knowledge? What would god do if it were you? What do you do, petit dieu? Do you love and honor life, or do you merely consume it?

Love - a life form's potential to experience an affinity for other living things that transcends the drive for survival - is an interesting product of the evolution of consciousness. One can see its origin in the animal world. In addition to the rudimentary affections that many animals are naturally capable of, some demonstrate a curiously powerful, biologically confounding response to human love. It is a powerful thing indeed. Morals, and the laws that are derived from them, are not merely the sophisticated expressions of the drive for survival. We also evolved morals because we're capable of love, and recognize that it's intrinsic to a higher collective purpose.

When humanity devised its first moral code, it took the first step toward consciously controlling its evolution by modifying its nature. Think about it: a world where "survival of the fittest" rules, is a world that doesn't require morals. Why then, do we have a drive to modify our more unsavory animal drives? There's something about human consciousness that requires it. It is part of our instinctual response to what can be characterized as a "higher calling." We are more than just animals.

The evolution of morality is the long, dynamic, often brutally violent process of civilization, marked by a sequence of "survival of the fittest" contests pitting one moral code against another. Far from being a series of subjective configurations of moral "chips," as neoconservative thinkers believe, the history of morality shows a definite trend toward refinement. All of the major moral codes currently in existence derive from the same basic principles: individual freedom, justice, equality, etc. The unified spiritual vision's moral code will be derived from these principles.

Here we stand at the dawn of a new age, contemplating the best in humanity, as the forces of entropy align themselves to destroy an unstable reality dominated by corrupt paradigms. That is the future we face, and considering the way things are going, it's not something that I can ponder without trepidation. If any lesson from our precarious present is worth learning, it is that love and morals are the only things keeping us from devouring each other.

The Enigmatic Origin
I'm sure that some people will object strongly to my description of god, because it conflicts with the traditional description of an omnipotent, all-knowing creator. The affront to science called "Intelligent Design" posits such a god to explain the origin of the universe. I suspect that M-theory hints at the correct answer. I believe that the universe is a multidimensional brane produced by the interaction between other multidimensional branes. Our universe represents one "living," evolving, limited "god" - possibly one of many.

"Intelligent Design" proponents won't be satisfied with this explanation because it doesn't really solve the problem of identifying the origin. After all, there is still the question of where the multidimensional branes originate. Perhaps they don't realize that their solution also fails to identify the origin. Where did the omnipotent, all-knowing creator come from?

This is one enigma that we can't decisively think our way through with our current capabilities. Perhaps there was (or is) a single starting point, but I would still have to question the claims of omnipotent and all-knowing. Imagine yourself as the "intelligent designer," and ask yourself this question: What is the point of creating it if I already know exactly how it will turn out? Since you are omnipotent and all-knowing, there's no need for it. So again, why bother? I hope you're paying close attention to what I'm saying.

If there is a need for it, then the "intelligent designer" is not omnipotent and all-knowing. Do you understand how that works? The fact that it exists means that the "intelligent designer" is somehow incomplete without it. That means that if there is a single "intelligent designer," its intelligence and power have limits. Got it?

Perhaps the worst thing about the "intelligent designer" concept is the deleterious effect it has on how we understand our free wills. If the outcome is already predetermined, there is no free will. In such a universe, we would be slaves of the arguably cruel "intelligent designer." In such a universe, one is justified asking why God made it so damn painful and bloody. Although in such a universe, it wouldn't matter what one asks, or "chooses" to do, because everything is predetermined - including whether a person is "forgiven" for their "sins" or not. True forgiveness is not possible in such a lifeless universe. In addition, morals become a form of coercion and lose their legitimacy through the idea that one can be forgiven for anything simply by believing a fairytale. Some things may be explainable, and perhaps even forgivable, but there's no erasing them. Humanity, and the god force, will have to live forever with the heinous scars that heartless men make.

We do indeed have free will. Our actions matter, not just locally, but also cosmically. In the same way that the world is what we make of it, the god force is what life puts into it - that is the cosmic reason for morality. We have an innate, evolving drive to fill the world, and god, with lovely experiences. The problem has always been that this drive conflicts with other, more primitive, and more tangible drives. We really are standing at the dawn of a new age, but unless we find a way to make our cosmic situation more tangible, we're in for an uncontrollable ride that I suspect leads to the ultimate disappointment.

One Flower among Many
This is my attempt to record the unified spiritual vision that I saw and felt as a child, and understand now. It is my sincere intention to introduce this vision to you, should you need it, with the hope of showing you a tangible, reasonably accurate, spiritually nourishing, holistic view of what we are. I believe that we can learn to avert most, if not all of our moral failures, by keeping such a vision alive in our minds from moment to moment, in this temple of life. We can achieve our cosmic potential, fully conscious.

Let me tell you something funny. I would take all this and start a new religion, but I'm too lazy.

I'm kidding; the last thing a unified spiritual vision needs is a building with a hierarchy. I am lazy though. Thanks to the life force's cumulative sacrifice to discover itself, I can "spread the word" in my pajamas, from my living room, and relatively anonymously - instead of walking from city to city and dealing with mobs of unrulies. I do love the unrulies though...

Does it make you uncomfortable when I make allusions to Jesus when writing about myself? If it does, I hope it nags at you until you learn to snap out of it - and flower.

A Personal Note
For good measure, I was considering writing this section in tongues, but I decided to stick with a tongue that makes sense to a lot of people. My apologies to those who believed that there was going to be a grand, supernatural climax to my "revelation."

Good reader: I beg thee to consider my slothful nature, my attachment to the creatures that make my life bearable, and my time-consuming affair with art - and grant me a little time away from this here blog.

I will be back only if I feel that I need to. You have my best wishes.

Further Reading

String theory

M-theory

Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition (1999)

The Evolution of Life on the Earth

Nonhuman animals ethics

Friday, September 16, 2005

Judging America's Integrity 

I'm amused by the profoundly racist notion that only white protestant (presumably conservative) people have the temperament for liberal democratic principles. If the last five years demonstrate anything, it's that people who believe this nonsense aren't as good at liberal democracy as they think they are.

Look, folks, they're ideas, and anyone can use them. They don't belong to you. Liberty doesn't belong to you; justice doesn't belong to you; democracy doesn't belong to you. These ideas don't belong to you any more than the theory of relativity belongs to the Jewish people.

Ideas can't be owned, but they can be preserved, explored, and embodied. Science works because of the community of caretakers and explorers that are dedicated to preserving and exploring scientific ideas. In order to preserve and explore these ideas successfully, scientists rely on objective standards that serve as reliable measures of things like credibility, legitimacy, and progress. If one applies these high standards to political ideas, one has to conclude that America's leaders are in the process of discrediting and ruining the experiment. It's an important experiment, but it's not as unique and important as it used to be. The ideas can always be scooped up and brought back to life by people who are more willing to honor them.

It's all about being true to what you espouse; that's where credibility, legitimacy, and progress come from - certainly not from the barrel of a gun. The amazing thing is that America's foolish leaders actually believe that they can force people to accept their insulting renditions of truly honorable principles.

You represent liberty, justice, and democracy? You must be kidding.

By what authority, "full spectrum" military dominance?

Fuck you.

There goes your credibility, legitimacy, and progress. It's a shame, because scientifically speaking, you had a nifty experiment that showed a lot of promise, until you decided to turn it into a bomb. The U.S.A. is not what it was 5 years ago, and you are definitely not what you say you are.

I'll tell you what white protestant (presumably conservative) people have the temperament for. Aw, forget it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Human Races 

Conservatives decry the loss of civility and morals that has occurred here in the U.S. in the last 50 years. They say that the 1950s represent the golden age of American culture, when everything was as it should be. All things considered, I'm almost tempted to agree with them, but I can't because I know better. I do agree though that the 1950s represent a high point in American culture in many respects. The problem with the conservatives' nostalgia is a nasty, persistent problem called racism. You see, racism has always been the ugly side of American culture, and it was no different in 1955.

Everything changed when black Americans demanded, and won, the right to be treated as equals under the law. Instead of seeing this as a victory for their beloved founding principles, conservatives saw it as a threat to their white protestant race. And they have acted accordingly since then. Unfortunately for them, the founding fathers insisted on basing their experiment on the loftiest principles. Fortunately for the rest of us, they created a framework that encourages the fulfillment of these principles.

Every American has to choose: work to fulfill these principles, or give them up all together. Judging by the evolution of conservatism over the last 50 years, it's obvious that conservatives aren't interested in principles of any kind. The only interest they have in principles is the desire to own them permanently - so they can be rendered powerless when their actual interests are at stake.

The more multiracial the U.S. becomes, the stingier its government and ruling elite become. In the 50s, conservatives were eager to spread the good cheer, as long as it was among white folks. When they saw that they, in good conscience, had to extend their generosity to non-whites as well, they closed their gates and abandoned their consciences. And they have done everything in their power to frustrate and sabotage every effort aimed at social justice, to the detriment of the country's health.

I believe that America really is the "melting pot," and honestly, it couldn't happen in a better place under better principles. Racism is still a reality here, but we've made a lot of progress despite conservative obstructionism. The thing about principles is that they can't be owned. Some things belong to all of us; some things, we all have a stake in.

America's dilemma is in the fulfillment of its founding principles. To fulfill them will turn this "melting pot" into a microcosm of the world that is worthy of global emulation. Failure to fulfill them will be just that - a failure.

It's time for America's ruling elite to offer the generosity of the 50s to every citizen. That's the missing ingredient. Everyone wants to see the American experiment live up to its promise. The world's people are only anti-American when America betrays its principles, as it's currently doing so unashamedly. When it lives up to its principles, the world blesses it with legitimacy, cooperation, and security.

Since America's role as world leader is inescapable, its leaders need to think carefully about the example they have to start setting. The Bush regime is a disaster - a veritable textbook filled with examples of how not to do things.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Weapons of Mass Destruction vs. Instruments of Mass Creation 

The predominant concept of power here in the U.S. is based primarily on the potential for destruction. There's nothing exceptional about that - it has always been the human race's predominant concept of power. It was unavoidable when the world was larger and more mysterious. It's still somewhat unavoidable, but the time has arrived for humanity to begin in earnest to redefine power as the potential for creation.

There are four points that make the American "empire" unique among empires. First, it aspires to the highest principles and has an admirable record of upholding them; second, it contains an abundance of enlightened creative power; third, it has the opportunity to avoid the fate of previous empires; and last, its potential for destruction is absolute. Unfortunately, America's leadership relies on the last point to the exclusion of the first and second, effectively nullifying the third point. Considering the reality of the last point, the failure of the American "empire" promises to be accompanied by unprecedented destruction.

It doesn't have to happen that way. On the other side of the coin is the opportunity to lead humanity to the next step of its cosmic journey. But that won't be possible without a massive paradigm shift, and I have serious doubts that the American people are up to the challenge. Looking at the state of the U.S. government, it's difficult to imagine a massive perceptual change without an intervening calamity. Human beings are notorious for avoiding sound judgement until it's too late.

The neofascists that control the U.S. government are committed to the following formula: yesterday's thinking * absolute destructive power = victory where the rest have failed. When they say that 9/11 changed everything, they're attempting to legitimize their wrongheaded reformulation of a long ago discredited ideology. They know that the only way to get us to accept their savage nonsense and everything that goes with it, is to have us believe that 9/11 somehow made savage nonsense the only viable solution to the problems we face as a nation.

Of course, their formula couldn't be more wrong. I confess to being amazed by the intellectual and moral vacuity that it takes to embrace such faulty thinking. And I'm shocked that this insanity is actually intent on tyrannizing our lives. The narrative of the last five years is almost beyond belief - every tragic, predictable chapter of it.

Guess what, I know how the neofascists' vulgar tale ends. They are running a well-known script, after all.

For what it's worth, here's the correct formula for this "empire," as it contemplates its future and the future of humanity: an abundance of enlightened creative power * the highest principles = success where the rest have failed.

Before I go, I want to tell you an apparently obscure fact about weapons of mass destruction. There is only one legitimate reason to use them: as a last resort, in self-defense, against an invading army. The rest is terrorism, pure and simple.

With neofascist terrorists controlling it, the American "empire" is bound to go down in an infernal blaze of vainglory. It's already well on its way. What are we going to do about it, good people?

Friday, September 02, 2005

President Predator 

Hey, champ, how's the grand neofascist plan going? You know - oppress the American people, drown their government in the bathtub, and use their military to terrorize the rest of humanity into submission. wink wink

I have another rhetorical question for you. This one is philosophical in nature, so take your time with it. Ready?

How many nuclear weapons can dance on the head of pinhead?

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