Archive for Spirituality

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.

Mindfuck #1: Nothing

Posted in All, Humor, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2010 by marushiadark

“Ha!  Brave warrior, then fight the Nothing.” ~ G’Mork

One of my all-time favorite movies is The Never Ending Story.  Ever since I was a child, I’d always enjoyed watching it.  A great story with great characters, great music, and a great message … and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that you can learn pretty much all the secrets of the universe from watching The Never Ending Story.

When I was younger, my favorite scene was the one in which Atreyu journeys with Falcor to the Southern Oracle and passes through the two Spinx-like gates.  However, more recently, I’ve come to appreciate the scene with G’Mork, mainly because I now have the awareness needed to understand exactly what G’Mork is talking about when he describes the Nothing.

Throughout my life, I have experienced a number of incredible mind-fucks in which the act of realizing what something actually is has disturbed me to my very soul.  Many of these revelations were very scary at first, but then they ceased to be shortly thereafter.  I don’t know if my mind has since adjusted to accept those realities, or if I just withdrew from them to a more stable position because I was simply incapable of handling that amount of mind-fuckery.

More than likely, I will have to experience this sort of thing again in the future.  Maybe I’ll even return to some of the ones I’ve already dealt with in an attempt to see what’s changed, if anything.  But in the pursuit of my own spiritual growth, it is imperative that I go through this type of ordeal every once in a while.

Among these revelations was when I first understood what “nothing” is.  I mean like what it actually is, and it’s nothing like anything you think it is, literally.

What exactly is “nothing”?  It’s just nothing, right?  It’s the same thing as nonexistence, and literally means “no thing.”  You can’t describe it or put a label on it, can you?  After all, it’s just nothing.

Go ahead and think about nothing.  Can you even do it?  I bet you can’t.  What are you thinking about right now?  Not nothing, I bet.  Maybe you’re thinking of a jar or a bowl without some object in it.  But is that nothing?  No.  Why not?  Because the jar may appear to be empty, but there’s still air inside it.  So it’s not really nothing, is it?

Maybe you’ll close your eyes and think of blackness or the void of space.  But that’s not nothing either.  Black is black (like the song says), which is something.  The void is an idea, which is something as well.  All ideas and conceptions are something, by definition.  A thing is a thing.  If it exists, it is something.  If it’s an illusion, it’s still something because an illusion is a thing.  It’s a fake thing, but it’s still a thing.  The word “fake” is just an adjective and an adjective is only a description of a noun, which is any person, place, or thing.  Things like blackness and the void are merely the closest we can come to associating nothing with something, because we cannot conceive of nothing.

The concept of zero implies nothing, but zero is itself a concept and a thing.  It is what we commonly use to represent nothing, but it is not actually nothing.

Even my trying to describe it right now is doing it an injustice, because I am trying to apply labels to a non-thing, which is impossible.  By its very definition, it is impossible.  All I can do is point to the idea of nothing, which isn’t even nothing, as I said before.

Those of you who’ve come to this same realization – and by that, I mean really understanding it from more than just a conceptual and intellectual level – will know what I am talking about when I say it’s a truly terrifying revelation.  Those that haven’t, it will completely fuck with your head when you finally do.

So how do we think about nothing?  How do we experience nothing?

Well, how do you have “no things”?  If you are talking about apples, you have no apples when you have no apples.  If you have apples, then you have apples.  To have no apples, you must either get rid of the apples, or redefine the space that you are talking about so that the area around the nothing does not contain any apples in it.  For instance, if I have all the apples in a bowl, I can safely say there are no apples in the cupboard.  I can’t say there is nothing in the cupboard, because there is very clearly something in the cupboard, even if it’s air.  If the inside of the cupboard was a total vacuum, absent of light, closed and isolated from the outside environment, then there might be nothing in it.  I say “might” because we’d never really be able to observe it to confirm it.  We could only ever know it from a logical point of view, one based on definitions and rules of logic.  But we can never observe it because in order to observe anything in a physical sense, there must be light hitting the optical nerves of our bodies and sending an electrical transmission to our brains, which then gets read and interpreted by the mind.  Or any other similar sensational experience, which would negate the idea of there being nothing.

To experience nothing, we would need to become aware of the fact that we are not experiencing something in that moment, and that is the truly mind-fucking part.

The familiar Buddhist concept of “empty your cup” applies here.  If you were to empty your mind of all thought entirely (something I’ve only ever been able to do once in my life, and even then for only a brief moment), then you’d be able to experience what “nothing” is like.

Once you do this, though, you will be like “Oh my God!  Holy fuck!  What the fuck!  Oh my God-damn fucking fuck!  Fucking fuck!” for a long while thereafter, as if you were that guy from District 9 saying “fuck” and “fuck” every other sentence.

If you aren’t sure whether you’ve done this before or not, then I can safely say you haven’t done it yet; because once you do, it will be like nothing you have ever experienced before … literally.

Two Parables

Posted in All, Economics, Humor, Politics, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2010 by marushiadark

“Did universal charity prevail, earth would be a heaven, and hell a fable.” ~ Charles Colton, cleric

When I was in grammar school, because I went to a Catholic school, we had to take religion as a class.  My eighth grade teacher was incredibly strict, but I learned a great deal thanks to her.  Among other things, she taught us this parable about the nature of heaven and hell that I retain and use to this day.

Imagine that you are in a great hall filled with all the people that you’ve ever encountered in your life.  In this hall, you are all seated at an enormous table.  Before you is a banquet of any and all the types of food that you and all the other guests could ever want to eat, and this food continues to replenish whenever more is needed.  Truly, it is a feast unlike any other.  However, there is a catch.  Instead of hands, every guest at the banquet has six-foot long chopsticks attached to their arms.  No one is capable of eating any of this food because no one can reach their mouths due to the chopsticks.  So the food just sits there, tormenting the guests, until both it and the guests waste away to nothing.  In this hall, everyone is greedy and self-serving and gets nothing but misery and pain as a result.

Now imagine that you have an identical hall with the exact same set-up, only in this hall, everyone works to feed each other instead of their own selves.  Everyone gets what they want and there is more than enough to go around.  Everyone is both a giver and a receiver, satisfying their own needs and the needs of those around them.  All the guests receive nourishment from the food and the enjoyment from the company.  There is no pain or suffering, but instead genuine love and happiness.

I don’t think I need to explain that the first hall represents hell, while the second one represents heaven.

Such a metaphor is so simple that even a naive child can understand.  I should know, since I was a naive child when I first learned it, myself.

Now imagine if the whole world acted that way.  If everyone was selfless enough to contribute to the benefit of others, while still occasionally taking time out to let others return the favor.  Each person doing what they can for a person within their range of ability to help until everyone is eventually satisfied.  From each according to his means, to each according to his needs, until everyone has everything that they want and need.

Because of the complex nature of life, it’s impossible for anyone to ever be completely self-sufficient.  We all need other people, whether for emotional support, or to make or do something that we can’t in order to improve our quality of life.  When we consider the potential gains to ourselves and others from what amounts to a modicum of service, the world becomes a much better place.

“Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child cannot be a true system.” ~ Thomas Paine

Another parable, this time of my own making, along the same lines is as follows.

A Zen Master had two young sons that would not stop fighting with one another.  So one day, he called the boys together and the three of them sat down at their father’s table.  The Zen Master set a box of building blocks on the table.  To the first son, he gave seven blocks and to the second, he gave five.  He then commanded his sons to construct the tallest tower they possibly could with what they had been given.

The two brothers took their blocks and each built a tower out of the blocks he had in front of him, stacking them one atop the other.  The second son noticed that the first son’s tower was much larger.

“No fair,” he said, “He got more blocks than me.”  And in a fit of jealousy, he knocked the first son’s tower down.  “Now my tower’s bigger,” he said.  Out of anger, the first son retaliated and knocked over the second son’s tower.  Now neither of them had a tower and the two sons began to argue and fight over what had happened.

The Zen Master then separated the two boys and stopped their fighting.  “Look at the mess you two have made,” he said, “I commanded you to build the biggest tower you could, but instead you have created nothing but ruin and hatred between yourselves.”

“But he knocked down my tower,” said the first.

“But you gave him more blocks,” said the second.

The Zen Master shook his head in disappointment.  “I said build the biggest tower you could with the blocks you had.  You chose to hoard your lots and build separate towers, when you could have come together to build a tower twice as tall as what either of you could have built alone.”

The two brothers then felt ashamed for misunderstanding their father’s commandment after realizing what they had done.  The Zen Master then poured the rest of the building blocks out of the box.  “Now, let the three of us together build an enormous tower that stretches towards the ceiling.”  And so the Zen Master and his two sons worked together and used up all the blocks in building an enormous block tower.  Between the three of them, there were enough blocks to build out laterally as well so that the tower was better supported and able to rise that much higher.

The two sons were so proud of their accomplishment that they went and told their mother and their sisters and their friends and brought them all to see the magnificent tower that had been built and everyone was in awe at what they had done.

Yet another story that even a child can understand.  The moral of which is that we all are given different gifts, different skills, different resources, different connections in our lives, and different experiences.  We all have our own paths unique to us.  But rather than keeping these all to ourselves, we can accomplish much greater things if we shared all that with others in cooperative union.  To build each other up instead of tearing each other down.  To see ourselves as partners, rather than rivals or enemies.  In a world where we see nothing but lines of division and differences and separation, there is no rule that says we cannot come together to make the world a better place for all.  The world is fundamentally an interconnected system, and what affects one affects the whole.  So why not work with each other, rather than at cross purposes in pursuit of what is common to us all?