Archive for Perception

Eye of the Beholder

Posted in All, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by marushiadark

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” ~ John Keats, poet.

I was sitting on my back porch today and I happened to look up at the clouds in a particular moment and noticed that they were exceptionally beautiful.  In my mind, I found myself saying how only God could make such a thing as that.

Now, I’m not what you would call a religious person, but just sitting there staring at the clouds was both deeply touching and deeply rewarding for me.  For a brief moment, I felt at one with everything around me.

I think the idea that only God could make something so beautiful is quite true.  After all, what mortal man, with all of his technology or artistic skill could make something as beautiful as a bona-fide sunset?  Certainly no one thus far.

There have been times where I’ve looked out upon nature and it all seemed almost artificial to me.  For instance, sometimes I’ll notice a slight curvature to the sky, as though I was under a giant dome.  Other times, when I’m high above the ground (especially in an airplane), I’ll look out and the world will appear more like a diorama than actual life.  Sometimes I’ll walk through the park and remember that the landscape there was arranged by man – ordered, tamed, unnatural, almost clinical, even.

And yet there are always those times where I look upon nature and feel the presence of God and life in everything around me that fills me with peace and joy and love.

“Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.” ~ David Hume, philosopher

Many people of lesser mind use the argument of beauty as proof of God’s existence without truly understanding what they’re talking about.  Almost immediately after I made my remark about the clouds today, my mind took a dualistic position.  I reasoned that God didn’t have any effect on the clouds.  That it was just water in the atmosphere collecting to form a random pattern.  If there was any beauty involved, it was all in my own mind and not something objective outside myself.

I contemplated this argument for a minute and then realized that it was also true.  There wasn’t anything outside myself that made it particularly beautiful.  Beauty was an internal conception, something only a human mind could conceive of.  But that just goes to further prove that God had a hand in making what I saw.  For if God is in all of us, which he is, and if God is the observer looking out through our minds and bodies, and if our perceptions create a sense of beauty in the mind in reaction to some external stimulus; then through a transitive line of reasoning, it stands that God created the beautiful scene that I observed.

In my lecture on symbols, I talked about how symbols only have those meanings we apply to them.  Without that, they’re just a collection of random lines and shapes.  But it’s the creative and associate processes that take place in our minds that make these symbol something else.

What is a cloud but a randomization of water molecules in the air?  If we see shapes in the clouds, we are taking that raw material and creating something out of it.  It’s no different than an artisan taking a lump of clay and molding it into a shape conceived of in his mind, except that we’re not touching the vapor with our hands.  We’re crafting it solely (soul-ly) within ourselves.

“No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Beauty is something that has been analyzed for millenia.  The dictionary defines beauty as “the quality of a person or thing that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction, whether arising from the senses, meaning, pattern, spirit, or other.”

In layman’s terms, beauty is everything that you expect a thing to be.  If you see a beautiful sunset, it has every quality that you, personally, think a sunset ought to have.  It fully meets your expectations of a textbook sunset.  Likewise, a beautiful man or woman has all the qualities you are looking for.  If their personality matches your unique expectations, then that person has inner beauty as well.

Because each person has their own mind with their own thoughts, tastes, and preferences, their perception of what is beautiful and what isn’t will be inherently different from that of everyone else; unless said individual has been influenced by social trends and molded to think a certain way.  Remember, societies have minds too on a different level of consciousness.

Even putrid, disgusting, and malevolent things can be beautiful in their own right.  Ugly dolls , for instance.  Or pugs.  Many people adore pugs specifically for their ugliness.  Similarly, a crime that is said to be a “work of art,” such as a murder, has everything you’d expect from the perfect crime.

In traveling down I-95, going through Elizabeth, New Jersey, there is a certain chemical plant along the side of the road that spews steam and, quite possibly, pollutants into the air.  Yet at night, it is a sight to behold with all its lights.  It almost reminds me of that scene from The Matrix Revolutions where Neo is blind and yet everything he sees is made of light.  Even though he’s in the most hellish place on earth, he can’t help but be in amazed at the beauty all around him when viewed from a higher perspective.  Whenever I pass by that plant, I can’t help but gaze in awe myself and wonder how something so bad for the environment could, at the same time, be so beautiful.  Only something from within, the divine spark, could create that.

The ability to see beauty or ugliness around us depends upon what level of consciousness our mind is in at the time we observe a given event.  If we are on the dualistic level of lower consciousness, separated from God, we will see nothing but horror and strife.  Conversely, if we are resonating with love and oneness on a higher level of consciousness, then we will see beauty in all things.

The phenomena around us are simply random, neutral events.  What changes is our perception of them and the order and beauty and meaning we bring to them.  We’re the ones applying bias one way or the other, depending on the lenses we choose to see the world through.  We are the creators, creating our own universes.

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Mindfuck #2: Time and Space

Posted in All, Psychology, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by marushiadark

“You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.” ~ Rod Sterling

When I was in high school, I joined the Math Team because I had great interest in math.  I was better at it than most people I knew and enjoyed it a lot.  If I was being fair, I would have to say that I was probably the weakest link on the team, but I still took great pleasure in going all the same.

Our coach had ordered a great many copies of the book Flatland, A Romance of Many Dimensions, by Edwin A. Abbot.  He didn’t know what else to do with them, so he gave each of us team members a copy of the book to keep.  I read it with great interest, despite the first half being very difficult and abstract material for me at the time.  But it was a book that would forever change my perspective on life.

I was maybe only fourteen or fifteen years old at the time, but after reading Flatland, I became intensely fascinated with the notion of there being other dimensions besides the three that we live in.  In the years following, I would encounter Flatland again many times.

When studying Dante’s Inferno in my junior year, I tried to apply the concept of multiple dimensions to the different levels of hell.  In my AP Physics class, we watched What the Bleep Do We Know? and I recall having in-depth conversations with my teacher about hyperforms.  I even tried to draw out my conceptions of them on the white board.  Eventually, I bought the sequel to What the Bleep? and there came across a retelling of Flatland in the adventures of Dr. Quantum.  I also became fascinated with books like The Hitchhiker’s Guide series and movies like the Cube triology, which had similar themes of dimensionality in them.  It was from watching the movie Hypercube that I first learned the word “tesseract” and their visual example struck deep to my core.

In college, I came across this little gem of a video by the late, great Carl Sagan and my fascination with Flatland was once again renewed.  At about the same time, I also happened upon a most excellent video on Moebius Transformations and their connection with dimensionality.  I also just recently learned that there was a movie made in 2007 about the tale of Flatland, narrated by Patrick Steward, which I’m interested in seeing.

Such obsessions with dimensionality also pushed me to learn about things like black holes and wormholes.  As you might well imagine, I spent a great deal of my time thinking about those too.  In particular, I hold a special place in my heart for Alcubierre Drives and Krasnikov Tubes.

“There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man.  It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity.  It is the middle ground between … the pit of man’s fears and the sum of his knowledge.” ~ Rod Sterling

My fascination with dimensions was equalled only by my fascination with time and my obsession with time travel movies like Timeline, Back to the Future, Clock Stoppers, and Time Cops.

Most people know that we live in a world of three dimensions: height, width, and depth (or x, y, and z).  Some will even say that we live in a four-dimensional world with time being the fourth dimension.  But even as a teenager, I never really bought that time was the fourth dimension.  To me, dimensions were more a thing of space than of time.  After all, you could have a “2-D” movie that was changing over time.  Should we relabel that a “3-D” movie?  And should all the new “3-D” movies coming out be relabled as “4-D” movies?  I bet they’d sell even better if we did.  And what about a “1-D” object (a line) or even a “0-D” object (a point)?  Can’t those move in time as well?

Most people know that velocity / rate / amount of change (v) is equal to distance (d) divided by time (t).  Your car moves at a rate of fifty miles per hour, for instance.  But the equation v = d/t can also be written t = d/v in which case time is defined as the distance between two points divided by their change in distance.  In order for there to be time, there must be at least two things and a change in their relationship.  That’s all that time is.

If we perceive lots of change, like when we’re having fun, then we say that time flies.  Conversely, if not much is changing, it appears as though time is dragging on.  How can time change?  It’s not a physical object.  Numbers and objects can change, but time can’t change.  Time is merely an associative thing created in our minds with no real counterpart in the physical world.  It’s like a metaphor, it doesn’t actually exist in reality.  When you look at your clock, you’re checking the relationship between the hands and the face.  Without a change in that, there is no time. If you look at the motions of the sun in respect to the earth, it’s the same.  No motion, no change, no time.

Consequently, that explains the phenomenon known as time dilation as well.  The observers are observing different events, different changes in the same objects, so in their minds, the time appears to be different.  But it’s simply a difference in perception of change, not the actual change itself.  We are defining all this stuff backwards.

It’s like that familiar episode of The Twilight Zone where the man presses the watch to “stop time” and everything else around him stops moving.  He didn’t stop time, he stopped the people around him.  Time continued as long as he was still moving and doing things in respect to everything else.  The movie Clock Stoppers is similar in that the kids don’t stop time, but are actually moving very fast in comparison to everything else.

Why can’t we tell what happened before the Big Bang?  Because there is no object besides the singularity to give us a sense of time.  That’s why the Big Bang is said to have created space-time, because space is defined as the distance between two points and time is defined as the change in their relationship to one another.

Why do we say that God always existed?  Because before God made the universe, there was just God – one object – and time did not exist before he made something else.

To me, the concept of a fourth dimension always brought to mind a fourth spatial dimension, like height, width, and depth.  I don’t really know what to call it, since no one’s yet come up with a name for it.  Maybe I’ll do that now and call it “inth,” as in “inside,” “inner,” or “inward,” since most fourth-dimension projections appear to show one thing inside the other.

It’s hard to imagine what such a realm would look like because we only live in three spatial dimensions, and anything that enters our space from the fourth dimension would necessarily appear to us as being three-dimensional.

How do we know if something is coming from a higher dimension?  Well, one way would be to take the various trends of lower dimensions and apply them to higher ones.  For instance, a line is a point traveling in a direction.  A square is a line traveling perpendicular to itself.  A cube is a square traveling perpendicular to itself.  So a hypercube, or tesseract, would be a cube moving perpendicular to itself.

In another example, a circle is a point rotated around a point.  A sphere is circle rotated around a point.  And a torus is a sphere rotated around a point.  So in one light, a torus is a four-dimensional object.  And then a hypertorus would be a torus rotated around a point, thereby creating a fifth-dimensional object.  Pretty neat, huh?

It’s important to realize that these are, as Carl Sagan puts it, just three-dimensional projections of four-dimensional objects.  Just as the denizens of Flatland can only ever see a slice of the whole form, so we can only ever see a slice of the whole hyperform.  It’s also important to realize that, although higher dimensional objects are made of an infinite number of intermittent component parts between their two ends, the objects themselves are considered one object, not several.  A cube is just a bunch of squares lined up between two squares, thus making a hypersquare, which we call a cube.  It’s a more holistic level of conception.

So imagine that the tesseract in the previous link is not two nested cubes, but really an infinite number of cubes lined up between the inner cube and the outer cube, thus making one single hypercube.  In the case of the torus, imagine many spheres all packed tightly together to make one single hypersphere, i.e. a torus, with an inner and outer radius, instead of just a radius.  And in the case of the hypertorus, imagine that there are infinite toroids all pressed together and overlapping as they go around the center, thereby creating one single hypertorus with an inner and outer hyperradius, as well as inner and outer radii.

That’s one way of understanding hyperdimensional objects.  But this becomes more difficult when we consider more complex hyperforms, and so we must rely on more abstract ways of thinking.

“The deepest level of truth uncovered by science and by philosophy is the fundamental truth of unity.  At the deepest, subnuclear level, you and I are literally one.” ~ John Hagelin

If you look at a tree, it has many roots and many branches.  These are all individuals and each of them different.  And yet, they are all connected to one another.  They are all the same tree.  They are just different parts of the tree.  If we stick the tree in the ground, the roots are covered and we can’t see them because of the limitations of our three-dimensional vision.

We are like the Flatland square that can only see the outside of objects that pass through its dimension.  However, the sphere is operating at a higher level of consciousness in its three-dimensional world and can see everything inside the square and even pass through its insides.  Were we gifted with four-dimensional sight, we would be able to see through the ground and through the tree and be able to view it in its entirety all in one glimpse.  We could see its insides and its outsides, and its front and back as well without even having to rotate it.

Even though the tree is divided in space by the plane of the ground, thus limiting our ability to see the whole thing, we understand that there is more to it than we can see and that it’s all another part of the same tree.  In much the same way, philosophers and religious leaders have told us for thousands of years that we are all one with God.

In this case, our individual bodies would simply be the roots and branches of a very large God tree, the Tree of Life.  In the Book of Genesis, the Tree of Life gave man eternal life, because he was still in the realization that he was connected with God and that everything is all part of the same holistic God, which is all that exists, therefore there is no time.  Thus, everything was eternal. Man was like the Flatland sphere, able to move in and out and through the world of lower dimensions at will and could see everything at once and, theoretically, be everywhere at once, because he was not limited by the interactions of lower dimensions.

However, as soon as man took from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, his consciousness changed.  He became dualistic, seeing himself as a separate entity from the other beings around him, forgetting that they were all just other branches of himself.  He entered the lower dimension, the lower consciousness and became like the sphere turning into a planer circle and then forgetting it was actually a sphere.

In this realm, there was now time and so there was death – or at least apparent death.  There was nothing to suggest the parts that left simply didn’t go somewhere else only to reappear back in the plane in another point in time in some other form (hint, hint).

So now man was bound to the motions and rules of interaction on the lower plane.  If any part of him moved along the higher plane and did something spooky like levitate, pass through solid objects, have actual knowledge beyond his five senses, disappear, or appear in multiple places at once, it was a fluke or magic or an act of some higher dimensional being.  But the reality of it is that he is the higher dimensional being and he’s simply forgotten.

We can speculate as to the reasons why God would suddenly become more dualistic and enter a lower level of consciousness.  My personal belief is that he was just bored and tired of being alone in an eternity of nothingness and emptiness as far as his all-seeing eye could see, so he decided to split his consciousness up and put on a finger-puppet show for himself.

I mean, think about it.  What would you do if you were stuck in a void for all time?  It’d probably drive you mad as well.

M is for Money

Posted in All, Economics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2010 by marushiadark

“So you think that money is the root of all evil.  Have you ever asked what is the root of all money?” ~ Ayn Rand

At the time of my writing this, I’ve yet to read Atlas Shrugged.  I think I might already know a great deal of what’s in it, much like when I first read The Lost Symbol.  However, at the insistence of my mother, and many others, apparently, I’ve made Atlas Shrugged the very next book on my reading list.

Even still, Ayn Rand makes a very good point.  What is money?  Have you ever really thought about it?

For most people, when you mention the word “money,” a lot of things come to mind.  To some, it means little green pieces of paper or metal with pictures of dead presidents on them.  For others, it may call to mind an image of the mint printing vast rolls of the stuff.  On the one hand, money can be the source of great stress and grief if we don’t have it, or great opportunity and abundance if we do.  Pious people avoid it like the plague, while people that have it are willing to do anything to get it and can’t seem to get enough of it.

Most of these are probably incomplete observations, made by equally  ill-informed observers.  I know that, for most of my own life, I kept having the wrong impression about money, and only recently am I beginning to see money for what it actually is.

But what is that, exactly?

The Uniform Commercial Code is the Bible of commercial law.  UCC Article 1, Section 201b, Line 24 gives the definition of money as it’s used throughout most of the world today:

“Money means a medium of exchange currently authorized or adopted by a domestic or foreign government.  The term includes a monetary unit of account established by an intergovernmental organization or by agreement between two or more countries.”

In brief, money is simply a medium of exchange, an I.O.U.

When you play Monopoly, the paper is just there to help regulate how much you’re worth in comparison to the other players.  If you run out, the game even tells you to make more money out of regular paper, because it’s just a medium of exchange with no inherent value of its own.  Or if you play in digital form, it’s all done via electronic transfers and moving numbers around.  It’s Bookkeeping, the Game and boy do we love playing it!

If this were a barter system, we’d trade goods directly, like a camel for five bags of potatoes, or whatever we happened to agree was an equivalent exchange.

Money is just an indirect way of trading.  For instance, say I had a hat, but needed a pair of shoes.  I meet a man who needs a hat but has an extra pair of shoes.  So I trade him the hat for the shoes.  Now this man, some time later, needs to buy food.  He needs the food more than his hat, so he finds someone who will make the trade with him.  In that process, the hat was used as money because it was the medium that facilitated exchanges.

If we wanted, we could really use anything for money, as long as it was agreed upon by everyone involved; and in ancient times, that’s exactly what happened.

It used to be that money was more than just worthless paper.  When things like gold, silver, beads, shells, stones, and feathers were all used as money, the money itself had inherent value.  It could be used in trade, or kept by its possessor because it was worth something for its own merit.  Over time, certain things like copper, gold, and silver became more standardized as money because their value as a medium of exchange was more universally accepted among disparate cultures.  Eventually, people began to store, lend, and borrow coins and soon the first banks were formed.  From there, it was a short while before people started carrying around certificates that represented an amount of hard currency being kept in a vault somewhere.  And thus, we arrive at paper money.

The documentary Money as Debt elaborates more on this concept and gives a brief, allegorical history of the evolution of money.

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:10

Money is a form of power.  So it follows that the love of money is the love of power and of control over one’s self and others.  What we do with that power, however, is the determining factor.

Greed and lack are just flaws in perception.  The world is nothing but abundant with wealth and resources for all, and then some, yet this misguided belief of never having enough to survive is what leads people to commit both great and terrible acts in an effort to get more money.  Rest assured, it’s not the paper or the numbers that they want, but the power and the goods that said money represents, as you will see later on.

The cure for greed and the cure for poverty are one in the same: recognize that there is more than enough to go around for everyone and find a way to satisfy everyone at the table.

It is important to note that money is not, itself, a bad thing.  It’s just a tool, like a hammer or a pencil, that facilitates a purpose.  In the case of money, that purpose is to act as a catalyst for the trade of goods and services.  Just as guns don’t kill people, neither does money create problems.  It is only people that kill people or create problems.  How can money create something?  It’s just a tool.  Only divine beings, living souls, can create anything.

Without getting into too much detail, there is a principle in law that states that the created cannot be higher than the creator.  Who is the creator in this case?  We are.

We humans are the creators of every organization and institution on this planet, and we are the creators of governments and money.  They are our tools, our creations.  They have only the power and authority and value that we say they do or that we give to them; and we alone have the ability to revoke that power, authority, and value.  Whether we choose to abdicate our role as creator and be overrun by these Frankenstein monsters or not is our choice.  But eventually, the human race will be pushed to the breaking point unless it wakes the fuck up and remembers that the power was ours all along.

Like what Glinda, the good witch, tells Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz, you’ve had the power to go home all along.  It’s just that you weren’t in a position to accept or believe it, and so no one told you, but instead left you to figure it out for yourself.  Well, consider this your wake up call, with me giving you formal notice the power is yours.

“The man who has no money is poor, but one who has nothing but money is poorer.” ~ Orison Swett Marden, New Thought author

Return we now to the subject of paper money.  It’s really almost absurd how everyone knows that paper money is just worthless paper, and yet we still choose to rely on it for everything.  We covet it as though it were the secret of eternal life.  But why?  What makes paper money so valuable?

Recall that, in ancient times, people used mainly gold and silver as money in the form of bars or coins.  Bars and coins were used because they could be regulated in terms of weight and purity, but they were not without their flaws.  The most basic reason for switching to paper money was because it was lighter in weight and easier to carry around.  You could write up a certificate for really any amount of money that you wanted, so long as you had enough gold or silver somewhere to back it up.

For hundreds of years, it was the case that all certificates of this kind could be turned in any time the holder felt insecure and he would be given an amount of gold or silver equal to the amount that was written on the document.  What had value wasn’t so much the actual paper, but the confidence that it could be exchanged for something of worth.  And soon people began to trade these papers as though they were actual value.

If you look at the top of any American dollar bill, you will see the words “Federal Reserve Note” scrawled on it.  The word “note” in this case means a promissory note.  In other words, it’s a promise to pay.

If you’ve ever taken out a loan, you probably filled out a promissory note and gave it to your creditor or bank.  That promissory note is your promise to pay.  It’s your promise to them that they can redeem it for something of actual value.  With that confidence, the note can be exchanged as though it were actual currency.  They can trade it in for whatever it’s worth (which these days is just an extension of credit).

Things start to get interesting when you begin to realize that all cash is just a promissory note.  What we think of money is really just our promise that the holder will get something in return for it.

More interesting still is that, if you look at a dollar bill, it no longer says “redeemable in gold or silver.”  Prior to 1933, all dollars were promises of payment in either gold (which was standard) or silver to the holder.  So what happened in 1933?

“What difference does it make how much money you have?  What you do not have amounts to much more.” ~ Seneca

For a more in-depth history, I would recommend the documentary The Money Masters, but suffice to say that the history of America has really been one of banking and trying to avoid central banks, in particular.  The Founding Fathers resisted the Bank of England and wrote into the Constitution the power of Congress to coin money and to regulate its value.  And our country managed to survive well enough without a central bank for over a hundred years.  Since our inception, private international banks have tried to get Congress to give over that power to them and, in 1913, President Woodrow Wilson finally caved with the signing of the Federal Reserve Act.  From then on, the Federal Reserve (a private international bank) would be the sole creator of all the currency used to fund the government, which it lent to us at interest.

Prior to 1933, the United States was on a gold standard and most of its currency was backed by gold.  In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered a seizure of all the gold held by private citizens in an effort to pay off the national debt.  With the signing of HJR 192 on June 5, 1933, the use of promissory notes backed by gold was ended and a new form of currency replaced it: the Federal Reserve Note.

Federal Reserve Notes (which replaced United States Notes) are what’s known as fiat currency.  Fiat means that is isn’t backed by a commodity (like gold), but has value because of government decree.  It has value because the government says it does and will force you to accept it if offered for the payment of any and all debts in the United States.

If you look in the corner of the dollar bill, it says as much.  The word “tender” in this case means “an offer of money.”  It’s an offer of money because it’s only a note, which is a promise of money, not actual money itself.  There is no money.  Roosevelt took it all from us to pay the debt, which we still have hanging over us to this very day.

Following World War I, Germany was in bankruptcy because a lot of its infrastructure was destroyed and it had no money to rebuild or to pay the war reparations that its enemies demanded as a condition for accepting German surrender.  As a result, Germany suffered massive inflation and the Deutsche Mark became incredibly devalued without anything to back it.  It is said that marks were used to wallpaper people’s houses, that’s how worthless they were.  It was only through the aid of private banks and corporations – some of them American – that the Nazis were able to rise to the levels they did, and we all know how that turned out.

Similarly, after the Great Depression, people began to hoard gold as the only valuable form of currency.  Without gold and value passing through the American economy, the government had no funds to operate with.  It couldn’t afford to maintain its military in wartime or repay the Federal Reserve and its other creditors.  So the United States was also forced to declare bankruptcy and stole all the gold of its citizens in an effort to pay off its debts.

While we may have gotten out of the Great Depression through a re-stimulating of the economy via Roosevelt’s New Deal, we continue to employ the Federal Reserve and its worthless paper.  So a rational person would have to conclude that it’s only a matter of time before we fall back into that same pit again.  Only next time, it’s liable to be a lot worse.  Remember, we brought the Fed into this world and we can certainly take it out.