Introduce Yourself

Almost anything, from alpha to omega.
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Speculum
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby Speculum » May 24th, 2008, 6:50 pm

Welcome to TZF. You are among friends.

You have an interesting website. When I started out on my path, I recorded my dreams faithfully every morning, and eventually accumulated half a dozen school-size notebooks full of them. Anna did the same. We took them seriously, and in retrospect, I think it was a helpful exercise in deciphering who and what we had become and were becoming.

As regards reincarnation, if you have read some of what’s on The Zoo Fence, you know that the question which reincarnation raises in my mind is, Who reincarnates? A few years ago, I raised the question in a Brother Theophyle cartoon by having him conclude that he was Napoleon in a previous life, to which Theo’s friend, Rabbit, remarks, “Cool. I wonder who Napoleon is in this life”.

Thus, for me, the idea of reincarnation – which I agree makes a lot of sense, and is undoubtedly a logical representation of what can unfold in the wake of physical death – is unavoidably separative: “I was Napoleon, and you weren’t”, when virtually all of the Teachers tell us that “I am me and you aren’t me” is an illusion, even the illusion.

I can’t help wondering if the concept of reincarnation – the idea that I (whoever or whatever that pronoun “I” is intended to point to) has lived one, three, a dozen, several thousand, previous lives – isn’t just another concept, another basket of thoughts, generated by “Stefan’s mind” to distract him (“me”) from wrestling with the fundamental, overriding question, “Who am I?” the answer to which will ultimately erase “Stefan” altogether as having always been an illusion and therefore never to have existed ... either as "Stefan" or "Napoleon" or any other separate, separative personality.

Similarly, if I am not Stefan (as the Teachers all tell me), then who am I? And if in fact “I” was Napoleon in a “past life”, then surely the Teachers of that day would have said to me, “Just as you are not Stefan in 2008, neither are you Napoleon in 1800”.

Do you see what I mean?
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

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W4TVQ
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby W4TVQ » May 26th, 2008, 1:34 pm

Interestngly, A Course In Miracles asseets that reincarnation is impossible, since it presumes both time and space, neither of which exist. However, it goes on to say that the issue is not whether the doctrine is "true," but whether it is "helpful." As one who for many, many long years tried to believe the "tribal god" scenario of the angry god, pacified by offerings of blood, preparing hell for those who fail to produce the required blood sacrifices, "reincarnation" is a very helpful doctrine and so I find that I use it as a working hypothesis. We will find, of course, once past the transition from this perception to that awareness, that none of our "concepts" really apply, and it's all something we could never have imagined in a million years.

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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phyllis
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby phyllis » May 26th, 2008, 2:57 pm

Here is something Sri Nisargadatta says on the subject "Reincarnation implies a reincarnating self. There is no such thing. Only those who think themselves born can think themselves re-born." I think that the theory of reincarnation is like the theory of heaven and hell, a way the time-and-space mind makes sense of what it cannot ever fully understand. They are true as long as we believe they are true. When that mind is transcended, then its explanations are no longer necessary. That is sort of what I take from U. G. Krishnamurti.

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Speculum
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby Speculum » May 27th, 2008, 2:26 pm

This seems to be “brain week” at TZF. In the past days we have received leads from two TZF friends about books and articles related to the health of the human brain, and then yesterday I read in the June issue of Harper’s magazine a long review of five different books about the brain.

One of the leads sent to us by a longtime friend of TZF is a recent article in the New York Times which begins: “When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong. Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit. “

The article is good news for us “older people”, and probably interesting to others, as well.

The books reviewed in the Harper’s article seem interesting too. The question common to them seems to be, Does the mind exist? That is, are the mind and the brain simply the same thing seen differently, different aspects or different functions of the same thing, or, is the brain just an organ, and the mind something else, something beyond? As the article puts it, Is there a you in you?

In a way, all of this seems to me to relate to the discussion here about reincarnation. That is, if the mind (the you in you) and the brain are simply one and the same thing, then I’m not sure what would be left to reincarnate at the physical death of the latter. On the other hand, if the mind is somehow an entity of some kind separate and distinct from the brain, then at the brain’s death, presumably the mind could continue somewhere somehow to evaluate its most recent performance, and to reincarnate.

As I have written here and in various posts at The Gazebo, I am increasingly convinced that what I know as “Stefan” consists pretty much entirely of a basket of thoughts, fears, desires, tendencies, memories, expectations, and the like which have accumulated around themselves to manifest as “me” and “my life”. Thus, the “inner Stefan” (which I call “me”) and the “outer Stefan” (which I call “my life”) are effectively one and the same thing, seen differently.

As long as I identify myself with “Stefan”, perceive myself to be “Stefan”, then “Stefan” is real, and is in some sense separate from the physical body which seems to “me” to be housing “me”. In that sense, I suspect that “Stefan” is able to continue beyond the physical death of the body. That is, the basket of thoughts, memories, expectations, etc. continues, drawing energy from whatever generated it in the first place. And maybe in some way it reincarnates, in the sense that it generates or anchors itself onto, or is drawn to, another physical manifestation, a different “me” and “my life”.

It is, of course, all an illusion, in the sense that the basket has no permanence and no real identity, and in the sense that it “exists” in media which are also an illusion, as W4TVQ has observed – time and space. That is, time and space are part of the basket.

Whether or not this basket has a purpose is not clear. My sense is that in some way I do not fully understand (perhaps in some way which “Stefan” by definition cannot ever understand), there is a purpose, and it is about relationship: learning how to see myself in others, to share in their lives, to wish for them precisely as I wish for myself, to be as joyful at their good fortune as I am at my own, and to be as distressed by their pain as I am at my own. In a word, to be freely, willingly, enthusiastically vulnerable, open, and receptive.

It may be that the basket is genetically (if baskets can have genes) “separative” (I am me, and you aren’t me; what’s mine is mine, not yours), and the purpose it serves is to provide an environment in which to reach beyond that separative perspective to something else.

Thus, as a seeker, I see my path as an effort to release my relationship with this basket of thoughts, memories, expectations, etc. Clearly, “Stefan” cannot let go of this basket, precisely because the basket is what “he” is. And the more Stefan tries to let go of the basket, the more powerfully attached to the basket Stefan becomes. And that’s because the way Stefan tries to dissociate himself from the basket is by creating or subscribing to various concepts and doctrines and belief systems whose function is to give the impression (illusion) of separating “Stefan” and the basket which is Stefan. It is a bit like quick sand: the harder Stefan struggles against himself, the deeper into himself he sinks. The way to gain release is to stop struggling, float naturally and easily and effortless to the surface, and then step out. And at that instant, Stefan is realized never to have existed, and the entire experience to have been a mirage!

Or something like that.
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

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Speculum
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby Speculum » May 28th, 2008, 1:19 pm

I'm not quite sure about what the big fuss is regarding "enlightenment."


Speaking for myself, that’s an easy one to answer. When I started out on this path, if I hadn’t thought there was something in it for “me”, it is unlikely I would have proceeded with as much enthusiasm and consistency and commitment.

Virtually all the Teachers agree that the way to eliminate the suffering, confusion, fear, etc. associated with separative life ("I am me, and you aren't me") is to eliminate desire and craving, to settle comfortably into "what is", and so we seek to do so. But in the beginning, we keep one desire: The desire to be like the Teachers!

We may not know exactly what we mean by that, but we know we want it.

It’s nonsense, of course. “Stefan” will never be enlightened. Indeed, the attachment to “Stefan” as “me” is the issue, for all that enlightenment really means is the release of the attachment to “Stefan” as “me”.

But if “Stefan” believed at the outset that there was nothing in it for him, indeed that he himself was at risk, he would almost certainly not have been a cooperative player. Of course, he undoubtedly said all the right things, but in his heart he would have retained the hope that notwithstanding all the Teachings, somehow he was going to profit from this process, that "he" would reach "enlightenment".

Ultimately, as you suggest, we come to the recognition that even the desire for enlightenment or Self-Realization has to go, that when the Teachers talk about eliminating desire, they mean just that. And, of course, as we see that ourselves, we realize that it makes absolute sense, and always has. But until we come to that point (and, in my experience, it cannot be imposed or otherwise forced), the desire for enlightenment is the incentive, the carrot.

Or so it seems to me.
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

jenjulian
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby jenjulian » May 29th, 2008, 3:05 pm

Hi doc. Enjoyed your comments much. I'm talking with someone right now who is teaching about ordinary.
Astounding, how astounding ordinary is! :wink:
jen
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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W4TVQ
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby W4TVQ » May 29th, 2008, 8:00 pm

I guess I am a bit mundane myself. I love to hear about the metaphysics of Being and am mostly in agreement that ultimately, there is only One Being ... but knowing that seems to have no practical applicatioon to my day-to-day life, in which I am persistently perceiving "others" and having "experiences" and walking with a cane because my non-existant hip is killing me. I am like the guy in the limerick:

There was a faith healer from Deal
Who said, "Although pain is not real,
When I sit on a pin
And it punctures my skin,
I dislike what I fancy I feel."

I understand that the intention of A Course In Miracles is to create a shift in perception, so that awareness of Reality crowds out unreality once and for all. All I can say is, it ain't happened yet. I still (like the Sunday School kid) need "a God with skin on." Not the pathetic tribal god of the Judaeo-Christian past, all pissed off at Adam and dumping on us all because of it, demanding gifts of blood, etc., but nonetheless a God who is more perceivable than a "vague oblong blur" (or in the case of Christianity, a vague triangular blur). So I still --as ACIM says I shouldn't -- "cling to the old rugged cross" because it's a visible touch point, a reminder that One came to transcend the mundane and limited and show us the way. In reality, He is the touch point, and the Cross only a reminder of Him. He's the "god with skin on" for me right now. In my current state, this prayer from ACIM makes a lot of sense to me: "My name, O Father, is still known to you. I have forgotten it, and do not know where I am going, who I am, or what it is I do. Remind me, Father, please, for I am weary of the world I see. Reveal what You would have me see instead."

Just when i start thinking, "I am not a Christian, can't be a Christian," I re-read Madeleine L'Engle's book The Rock That Is Higher, and realize that I am the Christian described in her book. Being a Christian of some sort is bred into me, and I've tried over and over again to escape from the Christian religion, only to arrive back in it wondering how I got there and why. Certainly Christianity is not the only religion, or Jesus the only Way, but perhaps I'd be better off just following the one Way I know than following a plethora of Ways that end up confusing me beyond repair. When God speaks clearly through Krishna or Buddha or Zarathustra, I am not confused by it so long as I remember that all of them are Christ, and I can put it all in the context of the faith in which I grew up and which I know best. So I'm no longer itchy about being in attendance at church, be it Methodist or Episcopal, because it is, for now, where I belong. It's part of my identity, of who I am in this particular incarnation. Ordinary, just ordinary. Thank God for ordinary. Just as, with the lungs I have, I can't breathe on top of Mt. Everest, so with the spiritual capacity I have in this incarnation I can't breathe the rarified atmosphere of "Being beyond manifestation and perception." And if I could, how would I know I was doing it?

Maybe I just don't "get it" yet.

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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W4TVQ
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby W4TVQ » May 29th, 2008, 8:13 pm

Dr. chispas, yiour original concept for this thread got lost in the mists of reincarnation etc., which is okay because that's the way these threads work. But just to return to your original, for a moment, let me introduce myself. I am 70, retired. I was form 1963-1967 an ordained Lutheran minister; I demittd the ministry while assoc. pastor of a big LCA church in Racine, WI, and spent the next 35 years chasing God all over the place while He ran ahead waving a flag and saying "Can't catch Me." I became an expert astrologer, then a Wiccan, then a Catholic, then an atheist, then joined Unity, and as of late I am part of a very fine Methodist Church here in Naples, FL, though I sense that I will soon be making a transition back to the Episcopal Church, which is where I "grw up" before becoming a Lutheran. (That's a LONG story, I wonl't try to mess with it here.) I currently see myself as a Christian, and a student of ACIM (and many of my Christian friends say that's impossible). I say "Christian" only because I see Jesus of Nazareth (Issa bin Yusuf) as my guru. The word "Christian" has been used to mean so many things that it no longer means anything, so I let it mean what I choose for it to mean for me.

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

jenjulian
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby jenjulian » May 30th, 2008, 3:36 am

Art, this is a beautiful expression of what your truth and path is. It makes me want to honour my own, which is just as unique! It reminds me that all teachers, books, fellow seekers give us a little piece, and we will never fit into the mold of each, for that is not us.
This really touches me, for it feels so very real and true and you can't get better than that!
Jen
"I am what I am."--Popeye

jenjulian
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby jenjulian » May 30th, 2008, 4:18 pm

"We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
T. S. Eliot
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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W4TVQ
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby W4TVQ » May 31st, 2008, 4:53 pm

"I guess that would also apply to what you are chasing, is chasing you."

Indeed, one of the paradoxes of the spiritual life. As I flee from myself, and perecieve God fleeing ahead of me, I also perecive Him behind me pursuing me. I can relate quite well to the Hopkins poem: "I fled Him down the days and down the years..." And it is all so because "time" and "space" are irrelevant, do not exist, and therefore cannot factor into the description of what is happening. Yet I still "dislike what I fancy I feel." The trick, I find, is not to try to resolve the paradox, but to embrace and live within it. Perhaps that is why "paradox" and "paradise" are such similar words...

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Neo
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby Neo » June 2nd, 2008, 7:51 pm

swami vivekananda says that religion is the relation between the soul and God and always exists and always goes with us wherver we are, into any church of any name or any building with any purposee or any group of any kind. I like that a lot.

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Re: Introduce Yourself

Postby W4TVQ » June 3rd, 2008, 12:54 pm

The nature and fuction of the brain are given very much the similar slant by semantics. In the writings of Wittgenstein, Suzanne Langer and Ernst Cassirer the brain is described as simply and solely a symbol-creating mechanism. The best presentation of this idea is Langer's book, Philosophy In a New Key.

Essentially, the idea is that the stimuli entering the brain from outside (the exteroceptive sense you mentioned) cannot be directly perceived by the total person; the mind can only receive and interpret symbols, so everything coming in must be transformed into symbols in order for it to be useful to us. That is the function of the brain. When the brain is damaged, therefore, it cannot make symbols, or makes random and irrelevant symbols, and we are effectively cut off from communication with the environment and each other. This explains, too, why even while we are asleep, the brain is tirelessly creating symbols, which we percieve as "dreams." In Langer's words, this is a "constant process of ideation." "The fact that the human brain is constantly carrying on a process of symbolic transformation of the experiential data that come to it causes it to be a veritable fountain of more or less spontaneous idas. As all registered experience tends to terminate in action, it is only natural that a typically human function should require a typically human form of overt activity; and that is just what we find in the sheer expression of ideas[italics hers]. This is the activity of which beasts appear to have no need. And it accounts for just those traits in men that he does not hold in common with the other animals -- ritual, art, laughter, weeping, speech, superstition, and scientific genius." (Philosophy in a New Key, chapter 2)

That, of course, leaves the possibility that we are even then in direct awareness of God, an awareness not specific to the physical incarnation and therefore not limited to or defined by symbolism. Thus Terri Schiavo may have been quite aware, but not of those things awareness of which we regard as "consciousness." Likewise my father, even as I signed the DNR order to allow him to die peacefuly, may have been already in a totally different state of awareness. I know I had a strong sense as I sat by my mother's side at the moment of her death, that she had been "gone" for some time, and some unexplained force had been quietly going about her body turning off lights, closing doors and shutting down breakers and transformers. The capability of "symbolic transformation" was no longer there, so all that was left was a body.

This raises an interesting question. It has been demonstrated that stem cells (one's own, derived from one's own blood, cultured and "trained"), can and do regenerate brain cells -- in fact, can regenerate any organ in the body. I have only begun to ponder the implications of this fact, because it places the very act of creation of life in our hands. To have a brain that was for all practical intents and purposes no longer capable of symbolic transformation, restored to function, would in fact be a return from death, a resurrection, would it not? Could stem cell therapy have returned Terri Schiavo to "life?" How much could have been done with stem cells had it not been for the government, in the mistaken assumption that stem cell research necessarily involves embryos or fetuses, blocking research and throwing barriers in the way of progress? In that respect, I suppose that if we keep electing stupid people to congress, we will continue to have a stupid govrnment.

In any case, as I see it, the brain, and its function, and the symbols it produces, must inevitably be regarded as a separate issue from actual "awareness." There must be a separation of "ideation" from "knowledge," the latter being the direct awareness of The One which is achieved only when the former has been transcended briefly, as in total absorption in music or meditation. Or in the final escape from the limitation of the body.

So many questions, so little time...

namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley


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