Monthly Archives: April 2009

Heaven in a Wild Flower

SCIENCE now understands that mother nature was ahead of her time in understanding the quantum universe.

The dance of honey bees, and spiral galaxies, Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics, and Yogi Berra all got it right.

It’s back to the future all over again. Poetry, plants, religions, even materialists and atheists—all have a lot more in common as we’ll see.

Celebrated artist-poet William Blake spoke of how he saw “a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower,” and how you could

“Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.”

Children at play — left to their own instincts and intuitions unsmothered by parental intimidations — engage the delights of spontaneous imagination. Theirs is an unselfconscious, non-ideological purity of intent.

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All in Your Mind

Overground Dance Co.

Overground Dance Co.

“IT’S only in your mind, you’re just imagining it,” are things we say to someone who we judge to be naive or confused—or when we think their perceptions don’t fit our accepted notions of “reality.”

A curious comment by H. P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine: “the Universe is real enough to the conscious beings in it, which are as unreal as it is itself,” sets the stage for a deeper discussion of what constitutes “reality.”

In Eastern psychology “the Universe is called, with everything in it, Maya.” We never know “things in themselves.” This is the mystery of consciousness. Yet, being conscious is the one thing we cannot deny.

“What consciousness is can never be defined psychologically,” Mme. Blavatsky wrote with conviction: “We can analyse and classify its work and effects—we cannot define it, unless we postulate an Ego distinct from the body.”

Higher forms of consciousness cannot be explained “as the simple resultant of the cerebral physiological processes” of the brain— they are only a “form for purposes of concrete manifestation.” That is, the brain is only the tool of consciousness.

Ava@tar

Av@tar

Using mind as a basis, it is only through a “stream of spiritual Intuition” that can reveal ultimate reality. To achieve this state, Blavatsky writes, we must begin by distinguishing the higher ego, beyond the five senses, from the personal ego, wrapped up in the brain:

“The pure object apart from consciousness is unknown to us, while living on the plane of our three-dimensional World; as we know only the mental states it excites in the perceiving Ego. And, so long as the contrast of Subject and Object endures – to wit, as long as we enjoy our five senses and no more, and do not know how to divorce our all-perceiving Ego (the Higher Self) from the thraldom of these senses – so long will it be impossible for the personal Ego to break through the barrier which separates it from a knowledge of things in themselves…”

In her article Psychic & Noetic Action, Blavatsky repeats: “The phenomena of human consciousness must be regarded as activities of some other form of Real Being than the moving molecules of the brain.”

Peter Russell

Peter Russell

Mathematician, theoretical physicist and psychologist Peter Russell agrees.

Referred to by interviewer, Regina Meredith (Conscious Media Network) as the “eco-philosopher extraordinaire,” Russell asks tough questions about “the hard problem of consciousness.”

He states that any concept that mind is separate from the brain, “is completely foreign to the current scientific worldview. The world we see is so obviously material in nature; any suggestion that it might have more in common with mind is quickly rejected as having ‘no basis in reality.'”

Following the interview, is an excerpt from the first part of Peter Russell’s multi-part presentation on the question.

Conscious Media Network
with Regina Meredith

Peter Russell Interview

Click above for Peter Russell's Interview

The Primacy of Consciousness

by Peter Russell

(Chapter contributed to Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos by Ervin Laszlo)

See also video stream of presentation given at Physics of Consciousness conference here.

Summary:
An argument as to why the ultimate nature of reality is mental not material.

“Ervin Laszlo has proposed that the virtual energy field known as the quantum vacuum, or zero-point field, corresponds to what Indian teachings have called Akasha. the source of everything that exists, and in which the memory of the cosmos is encoded. I would like to take his reasoning a step further and suggest that the nature of this ultimate source is consciousness itself, nothing more and nothing less.”

“Consciousness is Everywhere”

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Again we find this idea is not new. In the Upanishads, Brahman, the source of the cosmos (literally, “that from which everything grows”), is held to be to Atman (“that which shines”), the essence of consciousness. And in the opening lines of The Dhammapada, the Buddha declares that “All phenomena are preceded by mind, made by mind, and ruled by mind”.

An Alternative Worldview

Such a view, though widespread in many metaphysical systems, is completely foreign to the current scientific worldview. The world we see is so obviously material in nature; any suggestion that it might have more in common with mind is quickly rejected as having “no basis in reality.” However, when we consider this alternative worldview more closely, it turns out that it is not in conflict with any of the findings of modern science—only with its presuppositions. Furthermore, it leads to a picture of the cosmos that is even more enchanted.

All in the Mind

The key to this alternative view is the fact that all our experiences—all our perceptions, sensations, dreams, thoughts and feelings—are forms appearing in consciousness. It doesn’t always seem that way. When I see a tree it seems as if I am seeing the tree directly. But science tells us something completely different is happening.

eye1

Light entering the eye triggers chemical reactions in the retina, these produce electro-chemical impulses which travel along nerve fibers to the brain. The brain analyses the data it receives, and then creates its own picture of what is out there. I then have the experience of seeing a tree.

overground-dance-theatre-companyBut what I am actually experiencing is not the tree itself, only the image that appears in the mind. This is true of everything I experience. Everything we know, perceive, and imagine, every color, sound, sensation, every thought and every feeling, is a form appearing in the mind. It is all an in-forming of consciousness.

The “Thing-in-Itself”

The idea that we never experience the physical world directly has intrigued many philosophers. Most notable was the eighteenth-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who drew a clear distinction between the form appearing in the mind—what he called the phenomenon (a Greek word meaning “that which appears to be”)—and the world that gives rise to this perception, which he called the noumenon (meaning “that which is apprehended”). All we know, Kant insisted, is the phenomenon. The noumenon, the “thing-in-itself,” remains forever beyond our knowing.

Measuring Consciousness

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Indirect Knowing

Kant

Kant

Unlike some of his predecessors, Kant was not suggesting that this reality is the only reality. Irish theologian Bishop Berkeley had likewise argued that we know only our perceptions. He then concluded that nothing exists apart from our perceptions, which forced him into the difficult position of having to explain what happened to the world when no one was perceiving it. Kant held that there is an underlying reality, but we never know it directly. All we can ever know of it is the form that appears in the mind—our mental model of what is “out there”.

A World of Maya

It is sometimes said that our model of reality is an illusion, but that is misleading. It may all be an appearance in the mind, but it is nonetheless real—the only reality we ever know. The illusion comes when we confuse the reality we experience with the physical reality, the thing-in-itself. The Vedantic philosophers of ancient India spoke of this confusion as maya. Often translated as “illusion” (a false perception of the world), maya is better interpreted as “delusion” (a false belief about the world). We suffer a delusion when we believe the images in our minds are the external world. We deceive ourselves when we think that the tree we see is the tree itself.tree1

The tree itself is a physical object, constructed from physical matter—molecules, atoms, sub-atomic particles. But from what is the image in the mind constructed? Clearly it is not constructed from physical matter. A perceptual image is composed of the same “stuff” as our dreams, thoughts, and feelings, and we would not say that these are created from physical atoms or molecules. (There might or might not be a corresponding physical activity in the brain, but what I am concerned with here is the substance of the image itself.) So what is the mental substance from which all our experiences are formed?

The Brain Does Not Produce Consciousness

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Our “Mindstuff”

The English language does not have a good word for this mental essence. In Sanskrit, the word chitta, often translated as consciousness, carries the meaning of mental substance, and is sometimes translated as “mindstuff.” It is that which takes on the mental forms of images, sounds, sensations, thoughts, and feelings. They are made of “mindstuff” rather than “matterstuff.”

Mindstuff, or chitta, has the potential to take on the form of every possible experience—everything that I, or anyone else, could projector6possibly experience in life; every experience of every being, on this planet, or any other sentient being, anywhere in the cosmos. In this respect consciousness has infinite potential. In the words of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, “Consciousness is the field of all possibilities.”

The Infinite Ground of Consciousness

This aspect of consciousness can be likened to the light from a film projector. The projector shines light onto a screen, modifyingrainbows_nordvik the light so as to produce one of an infinity of possible images. These images are like the perceptions, sensations, dreams, memories, thoughts, and feelings that we experience—the forms arising in consciousness. The light itself, without which no images would be possible, corresponds to this ability of consciousness to take on form.

We know all the images on a movie screen are composed of light, but we are not usually aware of the light itself; our attention is caught up in the images that appear and the stories they tell. In much the same way, we know we are conscious, but we are usually aware only of the many different perceptions, thoughts, and feelings that appear in the mind. We are seldom aware of consciousness itself.

“All phenomena are projections in the mind.”

—The Third Karmapa

News and recent additions to Peter Russell’s website, The Spirit of Now

Upcoming Events

Waking Up in Time
Omega Institute, NY, May1-3. Weekend workshop.

An Easier Way of Being
Esalen, Big Sur, CA, June 5-7. Weekend workshop.

“Av@tar” – a musical dance drama
A musical dance drama based on the play “Christ & Magdalene” written by Keva Apostolova
May 29, 30, 2009 @ Judson Memorial Church, NY
55 Washington Square South (b/n West 3rd & Thompson Street)

Admission: $ 20 (tickets are sold at Judson Memorial Church 30 minutes prior to the performance

For reservations email: Antonia Katrandjieva: a_katrandjieva@hotmail.com

Av@tar

Av@tar

AV@TAR is the first dance theater staging of a contemporary Bulgarian playwright in New York City. Directed by internationally acclaimed theater director & choreographer Antonia Katrandjieva, the world premier is based on the play “Christ & Magdalene” by Bulgarian playwright Keva Apostolova. Based on the Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalene and on the Yogic concept Aparigraha “Non- attachment” – A performance bridging religion and spirituality.

“There is no Religion higher than Truth”

“All things exist in and with one another and the whole, they depend on one another, but when the time of dissolution comes, all things will return to their roots and essence. What has come from the above returns to the abode from which it has come, and what comes from below returns to its origin. What is in between has never existed and will return to the Great Void.” (Helena Petrovna Blavatsky)

Av@tar is an interfaith project in times of religious intolerance exploding all over the world. Religion should embrace spirituality. It is a celebration of divine consciousness under the dome of Faith. Faith is not blindness into dogma, it a freedom of the spirit to worship its own truth. All religious paths lead to one source – the attainment of divine consciousness. Everyone is entitled to believe in his own truth. Truth is an interval of many truths, religion is an interval of many beliefs. “Religare” in Latin means to relate, to connect, to share a common origin, to coexist. We need Unity in Diversity, we need to embrace religion with an attitude of ecumenical pluralism, mutual tolerance and respect.

Related:

The Institute of Noetic Sciences is a nonprofit membership organization located in Northern California that conducts and sponsors leading-edge research into the potentials and powers of consciousness-including perceptions, beliefs, attention, intention, and intuition. The Institute explores phenomena that do not necessarily fit conventional scientific models, while maintaining a commitment to scientific rigor.   101 San Antonio Road, Petaluma, CA 94952

IONS’ late President Emeritus, Dr. Willis Harman, wrote:

“[We] have previously acknowledged her [H.P. Blavatsky] as an integral part of our own origins.” … “[T]he modern scientific worldview is inherently flawed and misleading in ways vital to the well-being of individuals and societies, and inimical to the future viability of human civilization.”

The Retreat Center at the Institute of Noetic Sciences
Located on 200 acres of beautiful rolling hills just 25 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, we offer meeting facilities, cuisine, and accommodations for 5-120. Our clients offer educational programs, workshops, and retreats, with a broad focus on health, personal growth, and transformation. We also welcome weekend workshops and retreats for small groups (fewer than 25). Many programs are open to the public.

Lisa VanderBoom 707.779.8224
events@noetic.org

Related Theosophy Watch Posts:

Peeling The Onion

Conscious Without a Brain


Peary could clearly see the mountain tops of "Crocker Land" across the polar ice pack, but it was only an Arctic Mirage. (Copyright Lee Krystek, 1998)

Peary could clearly see the mountain tops of "Crocker Land" across the polar ice pack, but it was only an Arctic Mirage. (Copyright Lee Krystek, 1998)


Over Troubled Waters

polarbearWE emphasized in a recent post how important our thoughts are, and how compassion can lead to far-reaching, practical results.

When the Inner Ruler, our immortal Self, is actively engaged no achievement is beyond our reach. Yet, an elevated state of consciousness is only the first step.

Krishna required of his disciple Arjuna (who is everyman), that he be a “man of action,” not merely a right thinking one.

An Earth Day Message

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Yoga,” Krishna taught, “is skill in the performance of actions.” This seems very different from the image of a yogi sitting cross-legged, hardly breathing, with eyes closed.

Carlyle

Carlyle

Krishna’s teaching is exemplified in the high inspiration of Carlyle:

“The end of man is an action and not a thought, though it were the noblest.”

The Global Oneness Project

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A Law of Service

Practically speaking, what are these “actions” we should take? What exactly are we doing for ‘others?’ It would seem they should be not just efforts to achieve personal self-enlightenment, but to perform service. “Self-knowledge is of loving deeds the child,” according to The Voice of the Silence.

Enlightenment and loving service to others, by this account, are bound together in an endless, spiritual feedback. “Compassion is no attribute,” says the Voice again, “It is the LAW of LAWS.” Teacher Annie Leonard took practical action to help herself, and the entire planet with what has become a national campaign titled “The Story of Stuff.”

The Story of Stuff, with Annie Leonard

What’s Good for Others

Judge

Judge

This is the road less traveled, the “small old path” spoken of by all true Masters.  Those who seek this path unselfishly, have “many duties to perform,” says W. Q. Judge:

“His duty to mankind, his family – nature – himself and his creator—but duty here means something very different from that which is conveyed by the time and lip-worn word, Duty. Our comprehension of the term is generally based upon society’s or man’s selfish interpretation. It is quite generally thought that duty means the performance of a series of acts which others think I ought to perform, whereas, it more truly means the performance of actions by me which I know are good for others, or the wisest at the moment.” (Am I My Brother’s Keeper?)

As important as good intentions are, hell is famously paved with them. A great theosophical Master was adamant in his assertion that “motives are vapours, as attenuated as the atmospheric moisture.”  And like steam fed into an engine, “the practical value of good motives is best seen when they take the form of deeds.”

The Universe – A Living System

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Higher Calling

Julia Butterfly Hill

Julia Butterfly Hill

“Among many ideas brought forward through the theosophical movement,” says William Q. Judge, “there are three which should never be lost sight of.”  In Judge’s first idea we recognize what is meant in the repeated phrase of Blavatsky, “theosophy pure and simple.”

“The first idea is, that there is a great Cause — in the sense of an enterprise — called the Cause of Sublime Perfection and Human Brotherhood.

This rests upon the essential unity of the whole human family, and is a possibility because sublimity in perfectness and actual realization of brotherhood on every plane of being are one and the same thing.”

Practical Theosophy, in this broader sense, Blavatsky writes, ” is not one Science, but embraces every science in life, moral and physical. …

“It may, in short, be justly regarded as the universal ‘coach,’ a tutor of world-wide knowledge and experience…”

Vanishing Glaciers

Tom Gaylord’s glacier photos tell a story, in pictures, about Alaska’s beautiful but dwindling glaciers. The rapid retreat of glaciers throughout the world is an undeniable observation, and that human activities are the major reason for this is a scientific fact.

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When we elevate our inner thought life, this naturally leads to a focus on service to others, not for oneself alone. H. P. Blavatsky defined this highest duty as that which is owed to all men:

Blavatsky

Blavatsky

Duty is that which is due to Humanity, to our fellow-men, neighbours, family, and especially that which we owe to all those who are poorer and more helpless than we are ourselves.

This is a debt which, if left unpaid during life, leaves us spiritually insolvent and moral bankrupts in our next incarnation. Theosophy is the quintessence of duty.” (The Key to Theosophy, p. 229)

Three Areas of Oneness

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Whether you are moved to selfless service through the precepts of Krishna, Buddha or Jesus, or any other great teacher, makes no difference.  These teachings are universal, and what is more, not confined solely to the human kingdom.

“Brotherhood,” Theosophy teaches, “is a fact in nature.” And if humankind is inseparable from the whole of nature, as the ancients teach, our duty towards other kingdoms is self-evident.

Thoreau

Thoreau

“One thing is certain – that we had best be doing something in good earnest henceforth forever—that’s an indispensable philosophy.”

-Thoreau

From our last post:

“It is this action and interaction, this true brotherhood and sisterhood, in which each shall live for all and all for each, which is one of the fundamental Theosophical principles that every Theosophist should be bound, not only to teach, but to carry out in his or her individual life.”

H. P. Blavatsky

Jataka Tales

The Jataka Tales are short stories depicting reincarnations of the Buddha, in various animal forms. A fascinating, and soul-instructive journey — but that will appear as a separate article.

However, one Tale in particular is related to today’s post:

The Monkey Bridge

Jataka Tales

Jataka Tales

The Global Oneness Project is exploring how the radically simple notion of interconnectedness can be lived in our increasingly complex world. Since 2006, we’ve been traveling the globe gathering stories from creative and courageous people who base their lives and work on the understanding that we bear great responsibility for each other and our shared world.

An Ongoing Revelation

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Related posts:

Thoughts That Count

Not An Island

bridgeA Bridge Over Troubled Water

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When you’re weary, feelin’ small,
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all.
I’m on your side oh, when times get rough and friends just can’t be found.
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down.

When you’re down and out, when you’re on the street,
When evening falls so hard I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes and pain is all around.
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down.

Body Electric

This article and videos has be updated and re-posted at:

The Body-Field



The Real Jesus

EASTER week is Christianity’s “Jesus week,” and usually finds the secular media waging its annual knee-jerk assault on Christian beliefs.

Neither the media nor Christianity seem to know anything about the real Jesus, so we decided to enter the fray as truth-seekers, backed by ancient theosophical teachings.

The cover of Newsweek (April 4, 2009) dramatizes “The Decline and Fall of Christian America, ” and is subtitled “The percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 points in the past two decades. How that statistic explains who we are now—and what, as a nation, we are about to become.”

So popular was the article, that runner-up news magazine, bloggers noted, was forced to disable comments on the 2009 Jon Meacham’s lead article.

The article, titled The End of Christian America, received over 5,000 comments, bloggers reported, “making the site wobbly.”

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Not An Island

julia21

THE famous meditation of John Donne, “never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee,” highlights two Theosophical principles:

First, the affirmation that there is no isolation, that nature and all mankind are interconnected — and second, karmic responsibility.

“It’s one thing to fashion a particular work of art, sculpture, painting, a worthy accomplishment,” Thoreau wrote, “but much greater is the creation of one’s life.”

“…to exemplify the highest potential imagined, it is the highest of loving artistic accomplishments,” he believed.

____________________

This post has been updated and re-posted in two parts, and can be found at:

Legacy of Luna

Legacy of Luna 2