" Through the years, a man peoples a space
with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands,
fishes, rooms, tools, stars, horses and people. Shortly before his death,
he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of
his own face. "
Jorge Luis Borges
February 26 2006
The additional development to the black-hole model (see Holed in One) has got me on a roll and I've been reflecting on the nature of mirrors in the last few days. It seemed that the various insights that various provings have been bringing in over the last year or so needed to be brought together in a kind of meta-theory that would be capable of modelling the entire shebang and be consistent with the quest for the whole elephant. This whole thing is starting to shape up into something approaching a book on the subject, and may yet turn into one. Watch this space ...
The critical thing about mirrors is, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains in his introduction to the principles of Dzogchen (Dzogchen: Heart Essence of the Great Perfection), “When you see a reflection of a form in a mirror, the reflection appears within the mirror but it is not projected from within.”
So common questions such as "why do mirrors reverse left-to-right but not up-to-down?" are really asking the wrong question. Mirrors don't actually "do" anything. They just reflect. It's we who do all the doing in our interpretation of the image we see. Mirrors appear to reverse left-right because we, in standing vertically viewing them, are interpreting the image we see as if it were being projected from within the mirror, in which case the object in the mirror appears to be rotated about the vertical plane and hence reversed left-to-right (and also front-to-back if we interpret the mirror-image as three-dimensional). The fact that the reversal doesn't appear to be up-to-down is simply because we see the reversal as occuring relative to the vertical plane. If we rotated our imaginary object in the mirror about the horizontal plane, the reversal would appear to be up-to-down.
If we make this elementary interpretive error when confronted with a two-dimensional panel which we know to be reflective, what hope for us correctly interpreting all that comes at us from "out there" in three, even four, dimensions, while being unaware of the reflective nature of it all? It thus becomes highly plausible to countenance the prospect that all our explorations, models and rationalisations about the world outside ourselves are back to front and inside out, most particularly that daft notion that matter is primary and gives rise to consciousness as a secondary phenomenon.
Does this mean we need to deconstruct all our models of existence and start again? Not at all. We merely need to turn them inside out. So, for instance, the extraordinary gravitational forces of a black hole don't arise from the collapse and implosion of a star, but the collapse of a star occurs when its gravitational forces become too great to sustain its material manifestation. Thus the emperor stands without his clothes, a victim of his own spin, revealing his naked energetic dimensions for us all to reflect upon the nature of our own state.
February 26 2006 | | | Permalink
" Mindfulness is a state of mind in which we realize that we are not our state of mind. "
Dechen Yeshe Wangmo
February 21 2006
Thanks to a mention in Suzanne Taylor's The Conversation dialogues, I came across a superb site put together by Jungian analyst and author Anne Baring. Among other commentary well worth reading, she has this to say about our present global idealogical situation:
"Having survived the four totalitarian psychoses (when killing on a vast scale is legitimized by a belief system, whether religious or secular) of the last century in Germany, Russia, China and Japan (a fifth if Cambodia is included), it seems unbelievable that we are now seeing the rise of another. There seems to be no end to the endurance of the desire for absolute power and the ideologies which serve it, nor to the tragic credulity of vast numbers of people who look upon this desire as legitimate and even favoured by God. Religions which carry such rich treasures in their inheritance have also apparently taught people that the supremacy of their belief-system is what matters to God, not the way they treat other human beings. So power rather than compassion and relationship continue to rule the world and continue to cause unimaginable suffering."
It's back to this idea of being caught up in a particular spin (see the essay Holed in One, which has just been expanded and developed further, for a fuller explanation) that gives the illusion of the "rightness" of any one position, and the momentum fueling the desire to swallow up the entirety of existence within the same system of thought. The faster the spin, the greater its depth and intensity and its impact on the collective, and the greater the collateral damage when two well-spun systems collide.
It's fascinating in this context that Sufi mystics have used whirling around on the spot as a means of meditation for centuries. Whirling forms part of their practices which work towards letting go of dualistic thinking (and therefore of the individual "self"), and realising the underlying unity of existence. Homeopathy (treating like with like) in action?
February 21 2006 | | | Permalink
" A human being is a part of the whole called
by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself,
his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind
of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of
prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection
for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves
from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all
living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
" He who wishes to secure the good of others
has already secured his own."
February 11 2006
It's interesting how the rapidly escalating furore over the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten's publication of cartoons illustrating and in some cases satirising the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) dovetails very neatly with the British government's present focus on respect (see last month's blog Respectfully yours). So much so that the fact that the one can provide the answer to the other becomes rather too obvious to ignore.
The cartoon row has been portrayed throughout as an issue over freedom of speech, but there's a crucial differentiation to be made between protecting the right of every individual to speak their truth without fear of being censored or intimidated, and speaking that truth with respect. Freedom of speech – however it's enshrined in cultural codes of behaviour – wasn't really conceived with the idea of freedom to insult in mind, and can't be considered in isolation from the responsibilities that all rights carry. If the right is exercised in a disrespectful manner, then all that will happen is that same lack of respect will get reflected right back. Just as if I were to walk up to someone in the street and call them a f*!^#*g w@#*^!r and get a fist in the face for my pains. Bleating about my rights to freedom of speech in such circumstances would be plainly nothing more than an attempt to substitute a red herring for a red face.
It might seem an incomprehensible furore over a few cartoons, but when reactions seem disproportionate, it's often pertinent to ask what the various dynamics of the situation are touching on at a much deeper level. What's been demonstrated in the commissioning and publishing of these cartoons is a profound lack of respect for the sensibilities of millions of people of the Islamic faith, exhibiting the same profound lack of respect towards Islamic nations as the West has been displaying for centuries. So long as each side keeps mostly to itself, the situation is perhaps tolerable. But when the West goes marching into two Islamic nations on the basis of a bunch of trumped up lies and is presently flexing its muscles in preparation to do the same thing all over again, such a reaction becomes entirely understandable.
Peace on Earth can only be achieved by genuine tolerance of differing viewpoints, customs and ways of life, and an attitude of respect for all by all, informed by the fundamental knowledge that we're all ultimately one. Any absence of conflict achieved by enforcing the ways of the world's biggest and most powerful bully on everyone else has got no more to do with peace than an absence of symptoms has to do with health. The only possible response that can be elicited by bullying behaviour is ultimately always a reflection of itself. With power to match.
February 11 2006 | | | Permalink