Friday, October 11, 2013

The Nonlinear Holism of Time

It isn't that Time doesn't exist, but it is really more of a mode of experiencing this reality...

I'm no physicist and never could be because I don't have patience for the math part of that endeavor. Yet, I find it fascinating some of the discoveries that have been made over the past few years. One of these that really tickled my inquisitive thinking was the idea that isn't all that new anymore, that Time is an illusion. It isn't that Time doesn't exist, but it is really more of a mode for experiencing this reality than the sense it gives that the present is all there is and that the past is gone and the future is yet to be formed.

Indeed, it appears that all of every event that occurs all happens simultaneously, a nonlinear appearance of all events co-occurring with no real division. Looked at this way, it appears that all of everything changes, together, in unison. To make something of a practical application of this:  if you were somehow able to go back in time to your 10th birthday, it would not happen as you remember it. In part, our memory capacities aren't really all that great and out memories actually transform over time as we infuse them with meaning and continue to use them as episodes in the narrative we create of our life stories. But changes aren't only attributable to our faulty capacity to remember objectively. Indeed, there is evidence that the past itself changes.

Most people understand that changing the past, changes the present, but not the other way around.

From movies like Back to the Future most people understand that someone traveling back to 1957 might change the past merely by being present. But as it turns out, we don't need to be physically present in the past to change it. It appears that it changes as we make choices in the present. It has long been held that our future changes as we make choices now, but from what physicists tell us, in fact, past present, and future change simultaneously and exist as a whole, not in fragments or on a continuum. "Future me" is doing things right now that lead me to make choices different than those he made when he was here.

Have you ever had occasions when you second thought something, changed what you were doing, and later realized that changing what you were doing prevented a terrible event from happening? I have an example of this. I was in Fullerton, California last month and was keeping a large sum of money in my locker. I left the hostel one day uncertain that I had locked my locker, yet was far enough away to make it extremely inconvenient to go back and make sure. I made a wish, "I really hope I locked it." And then I remembered, as I was leaving the room, I had this quick little nudge that said, "Make sure you locked that thing." I'm asserting that the wish I'd made sent that nudge back in time to make certain I'd locked the locker.

We don't need to be physically present in the past to change it.

This is a practice of mine now. I will sit and think through my life and come upon a memory, a time when I wish I'd made another decision. I'll send a message back to my past self, saying something like, "You need to stand up for yourself and tell these people you do not want to do this job," as in the case where I felt a lot of pressure to take a position I did not want when I was working in Ethiopia many years ago. I am certain that the past Mark has more courage than I did simply because he's got me here to send back that information saying, "Stand up for yourself, dude."

It might even be speculated that the senses that we have that our higher self is guiding us might in reality, at least in some cases, actually be a future self handing back information to make one choice over another, or to take a particular direction in life. At any rate, this all suggests that our life stories are not as fixed and rigid as the brains we are invested with in this existence would limit us to believe. And I speculate that the confusion in certain dreams is our sleep self passing through nonlinear passages in a timeless space. This has certainly given me a lot to think about, and it lets me understand the power I have to change my life.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Tower Card: Shifting Paradigms

"Whaaaaaa...?"

The Tower Card in the Tarot deck, one of the Major Arcana, reveals that a certain upheaval is coming. This disruption is in the form of realizing that all that one has believed is wrong, flawed, misguided, or just plain credulous. Imagine the Western world at the time of Copernicus, when he was about to reveal a cosmological theory that the world isn’t flat with 3 heavens above and 3 underworlds below, as had been held for millennia by the people’s of earth, not as a theory, but as unquestionable fact.

The Tower Card -- signifies the arrival
of paradigm shifting information.

Here comes information that tells us that our conception of reality is not even close to being accurate. The Tower card portends to this level of upheaval, of information so unexpected and yet so irresistibly compelling that, though still retaining our choices, we see that continuing to hold onto the old paradigm, while comforting and familiar, will not serve us as well as we had always believed, and that some kind of reordering, some kind of palingenesis of self is necessary in order to continue to make sense of all that we are and all that the world is.

A Flat Earth--was at one time the accepted,
unquestioned understanding of the cosmos.

While I admit that the Tower card coming up in a reading rarely portends to a pleasant experience, it does foretell a more accurate and more robust theory of the world, a more holistic and more encompassing philosophy of life. However deep we go into the deconstruction of all that we have known, and however devastating the circumstances leading to it may feel, in the end, we have a greater, more expansive, wiser view of our life and with it know a greater number of possibilities and awaken to choices we may not have been aware of previously.

I go so far as to say we ought not only to welcome the Tower Card in our life, but to invite it, make way for it, search for opportunities to give it space to come in and rearrange the furniture of our thinking. Journeys in life—whether they be to some geological destination, a spiritual journey, or to other realms as in dreams or altered states—offer such opportunities to us to challenge ourselves. Travelers travel for many reasons, and while traveling necessarily come upon values, customs, beliefs, morals, and behavior that are different from their own. Such opportunities give us the space, if we are open to it, to reevaluate our own understanding and make adjustments.

Travelers necessarily come upon values, customs, beliefs,
morals, and behavior that are different from their own.
A spiritual journey is a road to transformation, one of a thousand and one paradigm shifts that get us closer and closer to knowing our authentic self and where we fit in the universe. And on journeys to other realms, in dreams, in altered states, in psychedelic trips, in trance, in meditation, we come to understand reality, ourselves and the universe in a different way. Again, if we are open, we come to find a deeper, wider, more expansive sense of what is true, and our relationship to that expanding reality.

The next time you are hit with a reality check wherein you find yourself reeling from a sense of your paradigm shifting, I encourage you to take the time to accept what this great lesson is teaching you and to live your life from a greater sense of knowing what is true.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Abyss: A Desperate Illusion


...this great void I face, the Abyss, is nothing more than an illusion.

Existentially, I can’t say that I really know what Despair is. It feels like absolute and complete loneliness, as if I am completely cut off from the rest of the universe. Intellectually, I can make a leap and understand that this great void I face, the Abyss, is nothing more than an illusion. In fact, it may be this human experience, being in the world that creates a sense of separation from the whole, that creates this illusion of the Abyss. I can only speculate as to why spiritual beings would choose such an experience. This is where theories of it all being a “game” or a “movie” of some sort come in. 

I can conceive of beings coming into a state like this to “beat” it, to overcome it, to rearrange the parameters of the game in order to transcend it. In that sense, it may very well be the nature of the “game” to have this pervading sense of Despair.  I don’t know that it’s necessary to know what Despair is, but it is certain that on some level we have to choose whether to cope with it or not. 

So, in a very practical sense, we might say that a better life may be lived, whatever cosmological benefits there may or may not be, by having some way to see Despair, face it, and then live beyond it. Indeed, to whatever degree we may be able to transcend Despair, it seems we also gain a greater ability to live life, to exercise individuality within its bounds, and to enjoy more of the experience, even those things which may not be considered altogether pleasant or even tolerable, of transcending the difficulties of this existence.  

...zero is a risk...the letting go of what we
know in favor of something unknown... 

This makes sense, but there is no way to prove it. It is merely an experiential interpretation of “events,” but such is the nature of truth. There is no real way to know truth, only to approximate it and then to make our best attempt to live in the world despite reductionist views that we don’t even consistently hold to or act according to.

Numbers are certain and comforting in their predictability, whereas zero is a risk: the pregnant pause between phrases a master musician takes; the letting go of what we know in favor of something unknown; the redeeming poignancy of death after a life well-lived. 

Nietzsche sums this up nicely, "if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee" (Beyond Good and Evil, 1886,146).

"Can You Trust Me?" Relying on the Wisdom of the Authentic Self

Committing to a spiritual path can take us to some difficult places and leave us baffled at times, but the reward is always an expanded understanding of self and our relationship to the universe.