Saturday, October 26, 2013

Not as True as You May Think

Western Rationalism in a nutshell:  "seeing is believing"

In the culture of Western Rational Realism, under which we find ourselves, the definition of objective truth is a hypothesis which can be shown to be true repeatedly under identical conditions enough times to make it statistically improbable that it’s not true. What this means is, basically, you have to do something the same way at least a hundred times under identical conditions and get identical or nearly identical results most of the time. The greater number of times and the greater the percentage of identical results, the more substantial is the claim of this kind of event establishing “truth.” 

As you can see, we already have problems because experiments rarely achieve identical results 100% of the time. Most of the facts that we hold as undeniably true have never been subjected to such rigorous experimentation, but even those that have have only been shown to be true beyond the shadow of doubt, meaning that they may be shown at some point not to be true. If you know anything about science, you know that what is held to be true in one generation is often exploded by the next. Giving the example of the progression of our understanding of the mechanics of the universe from Copernicus to Newton to Einstein to Heisenberg and beyond is something of a sardonic gesture by now.

If science has revealed anything, it's that "objective truth" is a slippery concept indeed.

Furthermore, the only fields where these conditions can even pretend to establish truth is in the so-called “hard” sciences—Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology, and Physics. Note these are all fields where measurements and observations can be made with the eyes—including apparatuses and meters that measure sound, temperature, texture, chemical reactions, functions, operations, and sensations that can be observed with the eyes

This is critical because those fields that are not so-called "hard", namely the Social Sciences--including Psychology, Anthropology, Linguistics, and Sociology--lack this ability to reproduce measurable, observable (with the eyes) data in closed, repeatable experiments.

Missourians aren't the only ones who base objective truth on the eyes.

Out from under the umbrella of Science are the Humanities (which are not held to be Science in any degree), including Literature, Language Studies, Philosophy, Theology, Art, Law, and History. While academics in these fields may attempt it, they have a much more difficult time establishing objective truth in the same sense as it is established in the so-called "hard" sciences. 

What this means is that postulating the existence of an authentic self is no more outlandish than claiming, as Plato did, that all items in this world have an ideal representation in an ideal world. It’s an idea that, if thought about and considered, might be taken to reveal some aspect of the truth, yet cannot be proven in any objective sense to be any truer or falser than anything else someone might claim. It’s just an idea that resonates with some people while not resonating with others. 

"She said she wanted a 'platonic' relationship. Does that mean 'an ideal male/female relationship'? Well, an 'ideal' relationship would mean lots of sex. I think I could live with that."

You can’t prove Plato’s proposal or disprove it. You merely consider it as a reasonable or unreasonable possibility. Nevertheless, so much of the Philosophy, Law, History, and understanding of Language under Western Rationalism is based on these nonobjective proposals by such thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche to name but a very small few. If we are looking for something to believe that has proof, we are indeed in deep trouble because ultimately all truth is founded in what we choose to believe.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Journey: More than Just a Trip

"Journey" implies adventure, challenge, and overcoming odds.

The human psyche, it appears, is primed for hearing of adventure, for tuning into narratives of difficult experiences, challenging circumstances, and trying ordeals that contribute to someone’s growth as a person as that person strives to achieve something important to her personally. This is why movie-goers flock to blockbusters season after season to watch a hero or heroine face incredible odds in order to accomplish important personal goals. 

Countless studies by film experts have confirmed that the more a film includes aspects of the archetypal hero’s journey, the more likely that film is to be wildly successful at the box office. You could go so far as to say that any film that you loved and found a deep sense of satisfaction from watching likely was the recounting of a story that closely adheres to the patterns of a hero’s tale. 

Historically, the most popular films tell the story of a hero overcoming obstacles.

My theory for this disposition in the human psyche relates to my understanding of destiny. I hold the common belief that we exist as souls before coming into this life. Before incarnating into a body in this world, we make plans and goals, choose spirit guides, choose important relationships, and set challenges for ourselves to overcome in order to learn, in order to experience growth as a spirit being. My “destiny” then, is not something set out for me by some entity outside myself, or even some sort of blind fate, but the very goals that I set for myself, to face the very challenges I choose for this life. 

In this theory, I regard karma not as some unseeing hand of fate that doles out a kind of perpetual reward and punishment based on my deeds in this life or a previous one, but the process of acquiring knowledge and experiences that I have set for myself based on whatever it is I have deemed I need to learn. In this sense, we might see karma as a kind of fate. If I don’t get on to the job of accomplishing goals I set for myself in this life, karma steps in to send things my way to get me on the track I set for myself, my destiny. 

Destiny:  a map I made for myself before I incarnated.

This is indeed the hero’s tale. The hero is lost in a pointless life, mired in various problems, ineffectual in the areas he wishes he were excelling in, and trapped in circumstances that seem insurmountable. Along comes some catalyst, the hand of fate (or karma), to remind him of his destiny, the goals he set for himself as a bodiless soul on the other side. At first he resists these promptings, but as life moves on, karma doesn’t let up and eventually he either willingly or unwillingly embarks upon his journey. And this is but the beginning. 

Having embarked upon this journey, he has certainly undertaken far more than he ever bargained for and will be pressed to the very fabric of his being, perhaps even to death or near death in attaining those goals. Karma brings one lesson after the next, which appear as overwhelming challenges, and at times we—and even the hero himself—think he won’t succeed. But eventually, finding his resolve, he reaches deep inside himself and there finds the most important thing he will find in this life; he finds that he is the author of his own life, one with all that is, and capable of creating that which he has destined himself to create in this life.

The accomplished hero:  capable of creating that which he has destined himself to create in this life.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I Pledge Allegiance to the Republic...uh, I don't think so :P

Brainwashing through ritual--not especially classy, but effective.

When I was a boy, each day at school until some time during my first grade year, we would face the American flag that hung in our classroom and the principle would say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag over the intercom. We would chant along with him. I didn’t know what the Pledge of Allegiance meant. I didn't know what a pledge was and I didn't know what allegiance was. It was just something that they taught us to do, so I did it.

I knew what the flag was, a symbol of the USA, and something for which we were taught to be proud. I felt proud. I felt the USA was superior to every other country. I was taught this and had no reason to question it at the age of 6. Sometime around that era, they stopped making us say the Pledge of Allegiance. To be honest, I didn't notice. I didn't miss the ritual. I never really paid attention--just rattled it off like the Lord's prayer at the end of a 12-step meeting. 

I honestly wonder how far away from this we truly are.

Some years later, I heard about a kid whose Jehovah’s Witness parents felt it was immoral to pledge allegiance to anyone but Jehovah. I was raised in church to discriminate against Jehovah’s Witnesses because they didn’t interpret the Bible according to the correct theological paradigm, so I took this as a lot of bull hooey. I was in high school, and sad to say, still hadn’t caught on to the implications of living under a propagandist state. 

It wasn't until I was in grad school that I came to understand why any parent--not only Jehovah's Witnesses--might not want their kids mindlessly pledging allegiance in what appears to be a harmless ritual.  In a random moment, while wandering the University of Texas at Arlington campus, it occurred to me that the grammar of the Pledge is a tad stilted, and carefully puts the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the USA in there before getting to what the pledger is really pledging to:  the republic for which it stands

"I pledge allegiance to the republic of the USA, and to the flag that stands for this republic." Stilted grammar cleverly hides the true intent of the Pledge.

It wasn’t until that moment, nearly thirty years after I’d last said the Pledge of Allegiance in school that I understood the point those Jehovah’s Witness parents were making. I wondered to myself, in that moment, why it took some common people from a somewhat spurious and obscure religious group to figure out what every Baby Boomer hippie should have figured out long before.

Lenin's Tomb -- the former Soviet leader's body is preserved for visitors to adore.
When I was in seventh grade, my Geography teacher showed us pictures of his trip to Moscow. Several shots displayed the scene of Linen’s tomb, where countless Russians ("Soviets" in those Cold War days) were lined up to adore his corpse, preserved and visible behind glass. My teacher was incredulous and disdainful of this practice, pondering what would drive people to do such a thing. I ask, "What's the difference between that and having USA kids recite the Pledge?"

They have kids recite the Pledge in schools again, and I've seen my own kids do it in church as well--pledging allegiance to this republic and the flag that stands for this republic. What does that entail? What does that mean? To consider the things this republic--this group of people who call themselves a "democracy"--is doing in the world, I shudder at the implications and I wonder if it is my turn to do as the Jehovah's Witness parents did so long ago, that the hippies should have noticed, but didn't. 

Something to Think About...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Shadowy Character Next to My Bed

The character was but a shadow, though was clearly wearing a fedora and a trench coat.

I was in between wakefulness and sleep the other night. My room was lit up in a strange, ethereal way, and standing right next to my bed was a character, but I could only see a shadow and an outline. He seemed to wear a fedora and trench coat, and from what I could tell, was looking right at me.

I felt no sense of malice or ill intent from the visitor, and truly felt a sense of wonder from him, and imagined he was smiling at me. But no sooner had I become aware of the being, he vanished in a shadowy wisp, like in a cartoon character, toward the door of my room. When I woke up, my room was dark and the shadowy character was gone.

Journeys to "other realms" reveal that the true nature of
Self far exceeds our "normal" experiences in this life.

As I lay thinking this experience over, I only wondered why the being had fled so quickly. I had a couple of ideas:  that perhaps this was a visitor from another time, or another dimension, or that perhaps it was me, in some future time traveling back to my current station in life. I also considered that perhaps this was a spirit guide, or some other being sent to help me.

I later looked up “shadow people” in an image search, and the first picture in this post came up. I was struck by how well this drawing seem to depict my own experience, that clearly I had experienced something that you might call "the usual unusual."

This was my first, real paranormal experience.

When I saw the drawing, I was really shocked. I might have continued thinking this was a dream, but now, I am pretty sure it was some kind of an out-of-body experience. And that being the case, I realize I've had these experiences before and they tend to be the "dreams" I very much enjoy.

This was my first "paranormal" experience, at least that I remember or that I understood was paranormal. It is a part of this journey, to understand the full scope of our existence and place in this universe. It felt like a step in the direction of my destiny. How very cool.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Agree with Henry...

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

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ego Death -- An Archetypal Dream (Part 1)

One night in January 2011, I took a walk  through the forest on a moonless night. The experience was ethereal, as if I were walking in a dream state, perhaps a trance. In that space, everything had a timing, even the noise of cars and jet engines, and in times of silence, the crunch of the snow under my feet. I now understand how to enter such meditative states, but at the time, it was new and the beauty of it struck me.

That night, home and in bed, I had an incredible dream. In the dream, the surrounding landscape was of rolling hills spotted with oak trees lit by the diffuse light of a sun blocked by clouds.

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013

I was standing in a garage and with me was an old high school friend of mine, one who has always represented to me a kind of narcissistic pretty boy.

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013

He was saying something, but I don't remember the details. It was a story about a date he'd been on with a girl. Suddenly, the sky filled with dark, menacing clouds and a storm rolled in. I could hear thunder in the distance.

Lightning began striking the ground, a hundred yards out or so from the garage...

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013
...and then another strike came, several feet closer...

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013

...and then another, right outside the garage door. I was thinking to myself, "The next one's going to strike this building!" But instead, two huge, white hands came into the garage door behind my friend, who was still telling his story. 

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013

The hands grab my friend around the neck from behind, lift him into the air...

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013

...and electrocute him.

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013

I'm standing there watching my friend convulse and shutter as arcs of electricity cycle around him, and smoke starts coming from various places on his body, until finally, the hands open and drop him to the floor of the garage, where he lay there twitching and smoking while arcs of current continue to cycle around his life unmoving body. I understood in that moment that he was dead. And then then hands receded out of the garage.

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013

Read Part 2 here:

--artwork for this story is original and created by Mark Weaver. Please contact Mark if you would like to use the artwork for any purpose.

Ego Death -- An Archetypal Event (Part 2)

(If you haven't read Part 1 yet, go here: )

I'm standing there looking down at his smoking body, and look up just as the hands come back in...

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013
...and they grab my around the neck and lift me in the air the same way they'd done my friend.

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013

And I'm hanging there in the air, thinking, "This is it. I'm going to die. These hands are going to electro-juice me into oblivion." But instead, they took me out of the garage and lifted me high into the air over the landscape. I looked down and could see the garage and the trees and all the surrounding area. I could also see a road, and I noticed the hand that held me, taking me toward the road.

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013

As I came done to the earth, I saw a white van sitting on the road. The hand took me to the van and put me inside. As the dream ended, I sat in the van, looking down the road, which was well paved and bordered by manicured lawns. I felt I was going somewhere important.

(c) Mark Weaver, 2013
As that year progressed, I came upon some difficult circumstances. I became transient, couch surfing in a couple of places in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and then eventually out to California where I ran out of money in LA and wound up in Santa Cruz, where I was homeless, sometimes sleeping in the woods nearby, and other times staying in homeless shelters.

Looking back at this incredible dream, I can see that it was a harbinger for the times coming, not to put me in fear and depression, but to help me understand that the events that followed that year and into the next were a necessary step in my own spiritual development.

My friend in the dream was my ego, that part of ourselves that accepts the reality of the sense- and experience-imprisoned brain, that has trouble believing anything that isn't blatantly, nearly ridiculously obvious, the part that feels anxious and worrisome whenever there seems to be a chance that we might act out of accordance with the blatantly obvious.

As I see it, my ego was standing in the way of my getting out of this garage--out of my current state of "maintenance"--and following the path of my genuine self. With the ego out of the way, I was freed to pursue this new road. The events that would come later that year and into the next were, indeed, a time of deepening my understanding of myself and the ways in which invisible, non-obvious promptings guide and direct and ask that we trust even if we don't understand.

What an incredible dream, and though something of a nightmare,  it helped me understand difficult and challenging experiences in a different light.

--artwork for this story is original and created by Mark Weaver. Please contact Mark if you would like to use the artwork for any purpose.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ego Death -- Video Version

Dream foretells a time of personal transformation...