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Could it be that ...

Posted: November 23rd, 2009, 8:48 pm
by Speculum
The following are excerpts from an e-mail conversation I have been having with a couple of TZF visitors. It seems to me sufficiently interesting to warrant sharing here with others who may wish to join in.

As I often do, I awoke this morning at 4 AM, and sat for a while, listening. The Question returned. "How do I know, how can I know, that 'today' is not the only day that exists, that has ever existed, that Today or Now truly is all there is or ever was or ever will be? "

Could it be that ...

1) On the morning of this day which is the first and only "Day", God creates (manifests Himself as) "Stefan" and installs into his brain a basket of thoughts, memories, and expectations by which and through which Stefan's sensory system generates and perceives a separative "reality" designed to appear as, seem to him as, “my world” and “my life”, complete with memories of “past” history, including “personal” experiences and acquaintances, “current” events, and “future” expectations; and then,

2) On the evening of the first and only Day, God puts “Stefan” to deep sleep, during which “Stefan”, including the entirety of “Stefan's life" and "Stefan's world”, ceases to exist, is erased and gone forever.

One day, no more. Now is all there is. Not in some airy-fairy metaphysical sense, but really, actually, truly.

Of course, the immediate response is: That can't be. I've got plans for tomorrow, plans involving other real people. And I remember yesterday. I visited the Public Library, what about that? What about all the books I saw there? Who wrote those?

But to that question, the answer is (or could be), the plans for "tomorrow" and the memory of “yesterday” are simply in Today's script. They are an aspect of Today, of Creation. None of it ever actually happened, because yesterday never actually was and tomorrow never will be. There is no Public Library, no stacks with rows upon rows of book-filled shelves. Those are simply props in "Stefan's memory" which was created at the same moment "Stefan" was created at the creation of "Today". Yesterday with all its "inhabitants" is just a memory, and tomorrow with all its expectations, are a fiction, to make full and "real" the character “Stefan”, to make “Stefan” seem complete and whole in his “appearance” during the “first and only Day”,Today, which is the Entirety of Creation.

That generated this comment.
If a question "makes sense" to the rational mind, its spiritual power is suspect. Rational mind says, "What about the dinosaur skeletons? Did you put them there also "right now"?

... which generated this ...
Absolutely right! That's the whole issue here, isn't it? All of "Stefan's" objections to The Question are rational. "It doesn't make sense," Stefan whines endlessly.

Precisely so. Again, "Rational mind says, 'What about the dinosaur skeletons? Did you put them there also 'right now'?'"

Again, right on. This morning, the very same question came to my mind. I say "very same", by which I mean in substance.

Here it is. I know that Nancy and I have been married 45 years. There is no question in my mind about that. I even have documented proof (marriage license) of it somewhere.

Yes, but.

Could it be that, at the onset of Creation (also known as "4:00 AM this morning"), Nancy and Stefan had actually been married only a few moments, but Stefan was created with a clear "memory" of 45 previous years of marriage, and he even had the "documented proof" in a drawer somewhere?

Rational mind says, "For goodness sake, don't be ridiculous".

And then picks up a copy of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", and thinks absolutely nothing of the fact that we are introduced to a basket of characters all of whom have life histories which predate the action of the play but which no one has ever actually observed and which we nonetheless take for granted as having happened because the play script says so. We don't whine "Don't be ridiculous"; quite the contrary, we flow right along with it, fill in all the gaps wherever necessary, and applaud with vigor at the end!

If there, why not here?

Yes, the dinosaur skeletons. Who put them there? Why skeletons and not living dinosaurs? Maybe for the same reason that in Shakespeare's Hamlet, we meet Hamlet's father only as a deceased ghost, because if he were a living person in the play, the story wouldn't work. Hamlet's father has to be dead (and a ghost), and we have to accept the circumstances of his death, in order for the story to work. Never mind the fact that we actually observe none of it and all of it pre-dates the play action. That is, it "happens" before Act I, Scene I. How do we know that? Because we are told so. And we accept it.

Likewise, dinosaurs have to be "pre-historic" (skeletal remains) in order for "millennia of history" and stuff like Darwin's theory to make "sense" in Stefan's "rational mind"!

My head spins. I take refuge in Rumi: "I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home".

... and then ...
Clearly if "Stefan's life" and "Stefan's world" is "an illusion" as all the Teachers insist, then it is clearly equally "possible" that it has been in existence for "millennia", starting with a couple of atoms and evolving over time into the complex pattern of interlocking patterns Stefan now calls "the universe", or that it all came about in an instant for the first time when "Stefan" opened his eyes "this morning" (the morning of the first (and only?) day), and peered through a pre-installed package of thoughts, memories, and expectations designed to generate the sense of things having been in existence for millennia.

Is that the heart of the argument between Evolutionism and Creationism? An illusion either way, just differently described -- horizontal vs. vertical (or is it vertical vs. horizontal?). Both work, and what's the difference, anyway? If there is a way to prove (or disprove) one or the other, I don't find it. Except from the perspective of Self-Realization which is beyond everything "Stefan". From there, the Teachers tell us, the I Sees What Is, and there, there's no "Stefan" to be perceived. Again, Ibn 'Arabi, "thou art not thou, thou art He without thou".

In the end, I guess it comes down to Chico's query to his brother Groucho Marx: "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"

... and so on. Anyone interested, please join in.

Re: Could it be that ...

Posted: November 24th, 2009, 5:24 pm
by W4TVQ
Your question, "What's the difference anyweay?" says it for me.

It's an AA thing. We learn to live one day at a time, remembering that "yesterday is a cancelled check and tomorrow is a promissory note: today is cash." The past is what it is: if it exists, it does so only as a contributing factor to what I am now, nor can I summon it back to change it in any way. Tomorrow may develop along lines laid down to day, but I cannot "cash in" on those prospective results; i can only BE in this immediate moment; and besides, a big semi truck may dispute my claim to a place on the road leading into town later today and make tomorrow a moot point.

As Erhardt's "est" method streses always, "what is, is; what is not, is not." And really, what "is not" is yetsterday and tomorrow. I'd guess that that is what the Buddha meant by "Right Mindfulness." Christians call it "tjhe gift of discrnment." We drunks call it "the way to freedom."

Jai Ram

Re: Could it be that ...

Posted: November 24th, 2009, 7:09 pm
by Georg
and peered through a pre-installed package of thoughts, memories, and expectations
Most (all?) of the package is not pre-installed from an "external source".
It's actively being re-installed by / as an illusion which keeps itself alive.
"You" could just forget about all those thoughts, memories and expectations - and stop being "you".

People say "my experience told me that this would happen again"
where actually their "experience" is the fixation that made it happen again.
This can easily be seen with many social relationships.

And thoughts, memories and expectations make them happen again as an individual -
I think that is what is called Karma.

What lets it happen? - The unseen, god.
Not as a cause, but as an infinite potential, the light that enables the screenplay.

Imagine "it" waking up without that package being "you".
4AM and it is just dark. There is breathing and awareness. There is seeing, hearing, feeling. Etc.

There is a movie by Aki Kaurismäki called "The man without a past",
where a man is waking up in the hospital after having been beaten up
at night and has forgotten all about his name and his past but has not
lost his actual capabilities.

What would stop "it" from reinventing a new personality every day as this man does in the movie?

Re: Could it be that ...

Posted: November 25th, 2009, 9:26 pm
by Georg
Two afterthoughts came to me after the last post:

First, I wrote that one "could just forget" about the package.
Actually it came to me that this is not as easy as it sounds.
How can I actively unlearn a habit or something I know?

And it appeared to me that a lot of Zen and
meditation exercise is actually about unlearning
as the way to freedom.

Google then found something very nice for me on the topic of unlearning:

Second, the dinosaur skeletons (part of the argument of evolutionist vs. creationist).

I think evolutionists are wrong because they exaggerate the meaning of those for everyday life.
For most of us, this is book knowledge, not first hand knowledge, isn't it?
I'm not saying it's wrong or unimportant, but for me it is about as far away as the relativity theory.
And evolution does absolutely not explain better why I am here now and who I am and where to go next than the theory that god created me.

Creationists are also wrong shortcutting god as an in-worldly cause of everything.
God is not a cause in the sense of scientific cause-and-effect in a similar fashion than I am not just an
effect of evolution - so even the creationists are betting too much on bible "science",
where the authors of the Genesis perhaps intended to write a poem and certainly not a scientific essay.

This was an age of science belief which even the traditional religions that have their roots in earlier times could not escape -
it's just that psychology after Freud and the brutal history of the 20th century has punched such a big hole
into this belief of humans as "rational" beings that can be scientifically explained that it is collapsing.
Many of todays Hollywood movies can be seen as a vivid expression of this ongoing apocalypse of our science belief -
strange times where the apocalypse is being converted from an esoteric vision into a popular movie genre.

So the battle evolutionist - creationist is actually over and has left a vacuum filled with perplexity.

I remember some philosopher saying that the elder might have known less than we do,
but they were nontheless as sharp as we are and sometimes they knew better when to stop
explaining where we tend to lose ourselves, trying to apply science outside it's own principles and restrictions.
One could say they got their "metaphysics" right where we tend to confuse it with the "physics".

Re: Could it be that ...

Posted: November 29th, 2009, 2:22 am
by Speculum
Here's one of the last comments in the email exchange ...

As we consider all of this, a touch of humor works wonders. ...

Agreed. Without humor, we are brittle.

And there the email exchange dissolved.

Maybe time ended?

Most (all?) of the package is not pre-installed from an "external source".
Actually, none of it is installed by an "external" source, for clearly there is no such thing as an “external source”, God (the Infinite One) being all there is.

Indeed, so I wrote, “On the morning of this day which is the first and only ‘Day’, God creates (manifests Himself as) ‘Stefan’ and installs into his brain a basket of thoughts, memories, and expectations …”.

Manifests Himself as. That’s One on one, the One on itself. Nothing external.
I think evolutionists are wrong …. Creationists are also wrong.
I agree. Both seek to explain the inexplicable, and they do so in their own terms, knowing no others. Our job, as seekers, is to see through that, and to recognize the identity between, within, and among them, as you have done. That is, creationists and evolutionists are, like all the rest of us, saying precisely the same thing. In the words of Brother Theophyle’s friend, Frog, “What if Evolution was created at Creation?”
Your question, "What's the difference anyway?" says it for me. It's an AA thing. We learn to live one day at a time …
Yes, ultimately that is the only reality.

Still, my question remains, what if one day truly is all there is. Not just conceptually, but actually.

How do I know that I was not created merely five minutes ago, fully adult, fully equipped with a full set of memories, thoughts, and expectations, and a sensory system designed to generate a reality to “my” brain, a reality which consists of the “I am” idea, the “me” and “my” concepts, and the perception of “my life” and “my world”, including of course the sense that I have been around not just five minutes, but decades.

Thus, I feel that I am an aging man because that is the perception of the brain I have, the perception that the brain I have gives me. But how long have I had this brain? Is that perception a product of decades of experiences, or is it something I was created with … five minutes ago?

It remains an impossible question to answer, and probably, as you both seem to suggest (as did my email correspondents), a silly one to ask.

But for me it serves to force the idea of NOW. Of course, I have read about it, written about it, taught it, but this formulation forces it … for me, at least … in a way it has not been forced before.

Five minutes ago. Is it impossible?

Tonight, while asleep, I will likely have a dream. It will consist of and be populated by a fully complete “world” of people and places which will endure, what, a few minutes? And yet, in the dream, it will not seem an unusually short time, not just a few minutes, but some duration of appropriate length. Neither will it seem to have begun without an appropriate beginning, although in the dream it will likely begin in “mid-sentence” as it were. Just an event without any lead-in or introduction. But, again, it will not seem so. I will not know the history of the characters in the dream; they will simply be there, whoever they are, without a past. And I will not wonder about that. In the dream, it will all simply be … NOW. It will start in mid-sentence, it will likely end that way. Just an isolated event. And it will be enough.

Is that what we are – just an isolated event, enduring perhaps merely five minutes. And if so, is it enough?

Re: Could it be that ...

Posted: November 29th, 2009, 1:02 pm
by Speculum
Speaking of creation vs. evolution …

Anyone who has built their own house (as Anna and I have) knows that when doing carpentry, plumbing, masonry, electrical work, or the like, the presence of a prehensile tail would be a tremendous asset. Just imagine the usefulness of having another “limb” capable of holding a brush or a wrench or holding onto a ladder when the two hands are already otherwise occupied!

Darwin argues – convincingly – that by the process of natural selection, we evolved from simians into the bodies we have today. Maybe. But why would we have given up tails!

On the other hand, why would God – who clearly knew already how to create prehensile tails, and surely recognized their utility – create humans without them!

Could it be that neither Creation nor Evolution offers a complete explanation?

Now there’s a subject for a PhD candidate: What happened to the prehensile tail, and why?

Yea, yea, I know, humans became hunters and gatherers. Well, all I can say to that is, in the Maine woods where we live, we do lots of hunting and gathering, and we would be delighted to have a prehensile tail.

Re: Could it be that ...

Posted: November 29th, 2009, 9:15 pm
by Georg
Is that what we are – just an isolated event, enduring perhaps merely five minutes.
That depends on the perspective.
If the perspective is the one of an individual, then time kicks in (and also space and a history consisting of causes & effects).
"A duration of five billion years", "A duration of five minutes" is something that only makes sense from this perspective as well
as the notion of "an isolated event" or the notion of "the result of 100 million years of evolution".

If the perspective is the one from nowhere (or "sub specie aeternitatis"), all there is is all there is.
True or false, dream or reality, "we" against "something not ourselves" (which implies time & space) - they don't matter seen from this perspective.
And from this perspective, there is no real difference between "five billion years" and "five minutes" - there is only "now".

Maybe you know this picture: ... -feder.jpg
One can see in it either an old woman or a young one - never both at the same time.
Both your descriptions, the one where all the history is "for real" and the other one where it is "just created for five minutes"
are like flipping between two such views at the world that seem very contradicting.
One can describe how each drawing line changes meaning when "flipping" between the two meanings of the picture -
but it will still be impossible to see both meanings at the same time - the contradiction remains.

But one can say that the picture shows neither an old woman nor a young one
(isn't it just black & white on a screen or a piece of paper?)
both are meanings that are projected into it.
This is an analogon to the perspective "from nowhere".

Could it be that neither Creation nor Evolution offers a complete explanation?
Yes, briefly speaking: Because "all there is" may be not much but certainly is more than our mind can handle,
any complete explanation is including everything and therefore also the opposite.

Or even shorter: Distinction is the essence of thinking. Contradiction is the necessary result of distinction.
We defined "black" and "white" implying that "black" cannot be "white" just to later complain that we cannot have it all :wink:

We don't like this inclusion of the opposite in our scientific theories but it gets in unwantedly
(it's like the particle vs. wave antagonism in physics or the determinism vs. freedom antagonism in psychology).
Science resolves the problem by declaring the contradictory part of the story as another science's business -
we've all agreed that it must be done like that because otherwise it's not science.

But if you look for the whole ("who am I ?"), you can't delegate the problem to somebody else.

Religious theories are a bit better with respect to that - if they are good, they usually they end up explaining "it is neither this nor that"
leaving in the open what truly is. Whether you look at zen teachings or at the christian dogms essentially all of them are about such a
negative formulation.

Re: Could it be that ...

Posted: November 30th, 2009, 1:40 pm
by W4TVQ
But one can say that the picture shows neither an old woman nor a young one
(isn't it just black & white on a screen or a piece of paper?)
Actually, I'm getting a bit away from the subject here, but this observation reminded me that I ave seen it before, in the amazing book Philosophy In A New Key by Suzanne Langer. In that volume she discusses the way we can trace a sngle black line "just so" and see it as a rabbit; or trace a stick figure and see it as a man. All in the context of a rather innovative and remarkable discussion of the nature of human perception. Definitely worthwhile reading.
they usually they end up explaining "it is neither this nor that"
Indeed, that is the genius of the approach taken by Jesus and by the Buddha and found as well in the Vedas; that "beyond" cannot be explained or even discussed in terms of "here and now." I believe that is why the Heart Sutra insists that "Form here is only emptiness; emptiness only form." The mantra that is thought to be the ultimate mantra, the key to nirvana itself, is

gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté, bodhisvaha

which translates roughly, "Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone beyond the beyond, hail to the enlightened." "Beyond the beyond" any human words are meaningless to explain Being Itself. "Beyond the beyond" places one in the instant prior to the big Bang when no known laws of physics were operational, in the instant known as "Planck time," of which it is said, "No smaller divison of time has any meaning." "Beyond the beyond" there is only IS; neither "was" nor "will be" exists at all. And even "IS" is, obviously, a human word, and therefore inapplicable except as a signpost pointing to "beyond the beyond."

Surely, then, the object of any attempts on our part to grasp, discuss or even circle around this paticular question is simply to bring the mind, spirit, heart, call it what you will, to awestruck silence and stillness. "Be still and know that I am God." The mind is like a very small child: one cannot make it shut up except by trickery or force.

Jai Ram