Random musings on subjects often beyond the reach of the human brain and not touched upon in other sections on my website
- A wonder unseen
- The science religion
- The universe - an organism
- Properties of nature
- Entanglement amongst organisms
- Are we robots?
- Our primitive brain
- The purpose of life
- Making sense of life
- On dreams
- Ego and Self
- Do we have a soul?
- Are we victims of suggestion?
- The superior mind
- The future of mankind
- Entering the beyond
- Will robots replace man?
- On God
- On suffering
- Mankind as a spectator of the universe
- On co´ncidence
- The new man
- Survival of mankind after a disaster
- Links and French translation
INTRODUCTIONAllow me to introduce myself. I'm a Dutchman, 92 years old. I have traveled all over the world and come into contact with many religious and spiritual movements and disciplines. From youth hood onward I have pondered about what lies behind the world we live in. In philosophizing I preferred my insights take into account the latest discoveries of science, such as cosmogony, evolution, and subatomic (quantum) physics. Also I should not cling to conclusions but constantly hold them up against the light.
My overall view is that the coming in existence of the universe may be likened to the birth of a baby. It comes to life from a fertilized egg and develops to a body in order to take part in life. In a like manner the material universe was born from a tiny, yet big 'bang'.
My idea is that evolution is not limited to the material world but also implies growth and development in other spheres - ultimately becoming tuned into the inner Divine core.
May our universe be likened to a cell in our body ? Is it part of an immense supra systen, or organism, outside our universe, like the cell in our bodies is ?
We live in a sea of life as it were - Nature transcends everything. It has different properties. Amongst them creativity, identity, intelligence, evolution, dramatisation (see below). All particles in living organisms embody nature's properties - so have some sort of a diffuse identity.
Man in the present stage of development is a conscious spectator of the universe. He/she arose from primeval volcanic conditions. How life could arise in physical matter is a mystery as yet. Once the cell came into being the triumphal procession of life could begin, ending in homo sapiens.
Man owes his existence to instincts which made him survive and adapt to adverse conditions. But now he is a prisoner of these animal instincts - the ego clutch. His task is to rid himself of these clinches and develop access to 'higher' conscious realms - tune into them and enrich his, or other people's lives. His potentialities will awaken by the the way he/she puts them into practice. Creativity and aligning with the inner self, will bring out his true human nature. Alas, most of us are not born in conditions conducive to make this happen - we are just starting out.
It is open to speculation whether we live in a 3-dimensional world, or that our plane is part of a fourth or more-dimensional one. In that case our realm is an aspect of a 'higher' dimension with its own properties. Another approach is that the physical universe is part of deeper layers - also in a state of unfolding. One being the consciousness level. Each organism has its imprint in this consciousness layer or matrix. The consciousness layer is also in a stage of evolution, intertwined with the progress on the physical plane. After a physical organism has ended its life an impression on the consciousness level remains - its deeper core returning to its abode.
As 'higher' planes are outside time and space, it is understandable that we have hardly any conscious access to it. Yet, those who had a near-death experience report that they felt that it is timeless, radiant and profound in depth. This also applies to people who had a spontaneous spiritual experience. It is a phenomenon that is more common than expected.
More details below.
A WONDER UNSEEN
Scientists do not seem to see the wonder of the world they investigate so meticulously. They do not realize that nature, as we perceive it, is just the outside shell of a complex world composed of different layers of quality - most of which are not perceptible to the human senses in our present state of development.
Gazing at a wonder and not seeing it as such has deluded even the cleverest minds from times immemorial. In early history people watched the sun rising in the morning and disappearing behind the horizon. So did the moon and the revolving night sky. In their simplicity they thought that the earth stood still and the heavens rotated. Astronomers made all sorts of clever calculations yet did not hit upon the idea that it is not the sun, moon and stars revolving, but the earth itself. In hindsight so obvious an explanation - yet it took centuries and lives to assail the erroneous conception of the ruling elite.
Another example: For ages different species of plants, insects and animals were observed, yet hardly anyone came to the conclusion that they might have evolved, or mutated, from one to another, resulting in the emerging of mankind finally.
And now scientists have it that not God is the creator of all things, as religious folklore claims, but nature. Scientists claim that the miracle of life can be explained in a simple manner. 'Nature' is credited now for the creation of man by intelligent adaptations over hundreds of millions of years. They find it self-evident that from dead matter - masses of glowing lava - that existed on earth in its early phase, by adaptation and co´ncidence the phenomenon of man arose. In that belief they are not so far off from the Koran which says that man was created from clay. Scientists seem impervious to the notion that it is not a matter of course, but exceptional, that there is evolution. One might well have expected entropy taking place, matter/energy/coherence diminishing - falling apart and disintegrating.
And so, as in religions, the priesthood of science is caught in a paradigm, a creed, that there is no more than what meets the eye, the senses and the instruments used in research. Even consciousness is just a by-product of the brain, it is claimed.
Besides, academics leave the common man with enormous questions as to the baffling complexities of life: natural inequality at birth, misfortune through fate, co´ncidence and natural disasters. Why is human existence for many steeped in great undeserved misery? The only explanation clever minds could think of is to postulate a superior being, a god, responsible for the creation of this inhospitable world. It is all in the hand of an 'almighty' god, or gods, to which offerings, even of children, were made to ward of their wrath - appease their whimsical nature, coax them into letting the crops grow and save man from natural disasters and misfortunes. In short we are faced with mysteries and cannot find a satisfactory explanation.
At this stage I must admit that I do not have an all-encompassing answer either. One of the first things one has to realize is that our minds cannot grasp the true nature of our existence to a full extent. In my opinion, what we perceive with our senses is but the outside physical layer of a grand organic system. Behind it are deeper layers of consciousness, spirituality and divinity. We only lack a sense to perceive that.
Our lack of comprehension may be compared to the minds of animals that watch us, human beings, behaving quite erratically in their comprehension. At times they see us gaze in a large leaflet (newspaper), or a book, for hours. We seem absorbed completely in gazing - what the hell for? They see us pick up an oblong object (Iphone) and speak in it - sometimes getting exited. etc. etc. Animals have no clue as to what we are doing, that we are communicating. (Or do they?). And so we, as human beings, look likewise at what happens in our material world but cannot comprehend the deeper dimensions of it.
The science religion
The paradigm of science may be likened to that of a religion. It has its dogmas, heresy, doctrines and even a god. The name of that god is Nature. Science marvels at the accomplishments of nature in organisms adapting to environmental challenges and their ingenuous ways to face obstacles.
In religions followers should not form an image of their God. Jews are not giving the Divine a name. But the god of science does have one: Nature. If one were to enquire further nature appears to be in some definitions: 'the natural forces that control what happens in the world'. That resembles the antecedents of the God of religions! Evolution was defined by Darwin as 'the process by which organisms change over time as a result of changes in heritable physical or behavioral traits'.
What is carefully avoided is to mention that those changes are dependent on a co´ncidental mutation of DNA. Molecular evolutionary biologist Masatoshi Nei insists, If you say evolution occurs by natural selection, it looks scientific compared with saying God created everything. Now they say natural selection created everything, but they donĺt explain how. If itĺs science, you have to explain every step. Just a replacement of God with natural selection doesnĺt change very much. Mutation created the different types. Natural selection is secondary.
Thus science tries to explain how a human being arose from the inhabitable environment of planet Earth hundreds of billions years ago. But is there proof for their contention? After all science insists that extra-ordinary claims require extra-ordinary proof.
So let us take the example of an ape who types on a keybord at random. How long will it take him to type by co´ncidence a play of Shakespeare for instance? Most people say that that is impossible, even in eternity. So let us add a feature: the ape is given some reward when he makes a useful advancement. The first accomplishment will be when he types an English word in between a row of letters, then two words, next two words next to each other, then more words in a row, next a sentence, then a meaningful sentence, two sentences, two sentences with related meaning, succesive sentences with meaning. Finally sentences that can be found in a play of Shakespeare, culminating in a complete play. All steps rewarded with sweets. How many billions of years (and sweets) would that experiment take ? More than creating mankind ?
Science knows its heresies. For instance to believe the evolution theory of French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744ľ1829) who maintained that acquired characteristics could be inherited, was tentamount to heresy. Yet in recent years emerging evidence supports the notion that the inheritance of acquired characteristics does occur.
Scientists ought to be careful not to trespass the paradigm of science. For instance there are subjects that they ought not to give credence to. Respected scientists like prof. Brian Coe, Carl Sagan, Hawkins etc. will/would avoid at all costs showing believe in UFO's, crop circles, paranormal phenomena, telepathy, consciousness not evoked by the brain, near-death-experiences, etcetera.
However, would there be the slightest possibity of evidence they would hasten to swallow their ridicule and maintain that they had always been interested. They did so in the past, ridiculing Louis Pasteur's germ theory, cave paintings linking to cavemen, airplanes, antiseptic practice discovery by Semmelweis. Books have been filled with instances of science failing to recognize breakthroughs. (see http://amasci.com/weird/vindac.html). It took thousands of years to discover the power of electricity, because steam already provided sufficient energy and another source was beyond comprehension.
However after writing the above the US Air Force has recognized the existence of what so far were termed UFO's. They renamed them Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in 2019.
THE UNIVERSE AS A DEVELOPING ORGANISMLet us assume that the universe is kind of an organic system of which only the physical shell is perceived by us. The inner levels are hidden. They have potential properties that still need being discovered. Consciousness is one of them. It unfolds when linked to an outer vehicle on the physical plane, for instance the brain of man. The consciousness (or quantum) field may be seen as a matrix in which centres manifest which have their counterparts in the physical world - or alternatively these (soul-)centres make imprints in the matrix.
From the beginning of the universe elements in interaction have undergone staggering transformations. Symbiosis led to the birth of homo sapiens who finally had the capabilty to witness the wonders around them. Whether there are other conscious spectators in the universe is an open question. But there are indications.
PROPERTIES OF NATURE.
One is always struck by the sort of intelligence at work in evolution in adapting organisms to a changing environment. Is intelligence in various sorts of grades a property of reality, of nature, which gives life ? Is nature a sphere in which all living entities, including humans, have a centre. Centres which interact.
Which other properties might one ascribe to 'nature'?
- DRAMATISATION. As human beings we are flooded with signals through our senses. Dramatisation makes us construe a meaningful world out of them and interact with it. Even of our body we bear a phantom image in our brain. Dramatisation makes organisms interact with each other. What is needed is that they construe a world, however primitive, from the signals that reach them through the senses. In this dramatised world they are capable of interacting with other organisms.
In Indian philosophy the concept of Maya - illusion - was introduced. This should not be seen as a negative typification. Although dramatisation may be seen as an illusion it propels and gives meaning to existence.
- MEMORY/CLOUD. Memories are stored somewhere, like we store digi data in a 'cloud'. Our brain gives acces to our stored memories.
- IDENTITY. An organism takes on an identity. An 'I', however diffuse, takes control of the organism. Even the smallest organisms may have a feeling of a self that steers it, defends it and takes care of offspring, procreation. The feeling of self may be a dramatisation of impulses received through the senses. Hypnotic suggestion shows that the 'I' may easily be overruled - one personality supplants another. Self-awareness may be seen as a property that living beings are endowed with to manage the organism.
- PROPERTIES, fixed laws of nature.
- CREATIVITY. Just one glance at the workings of evolution and one is impressed by the creative adaptations of the species in constantly varying conditions. Man is inspired to create great objects of art. Creativity is all around us.
- THRUST, pushing power impelling the organism to advance, survive, procreate.
- GROWTH. The compelling drive to multiplicate, reproduce.
- UNITY. Entanglement, harmony, symbiosis, affinity, association, forming groups, interdependence, togetherness, atunement.
- FAITH. Faith is the hallmark of the universe. Creatures are endowed with trust in their abilities to face the vicissitudes of their existence. Men has faith and trust to embark on fresh challenges, or persevere, even in hopeless circumstances.
- ORDER, structure, patterns, symmetry, complimentarity, regularities.Patterns/fractals are formed spontaneously.
- RYTHM, dance, movement, vibrations, flow. Tuning into the flow, being in harmony with. Dance is one of the first manifestations in primitive communities. Hindu gods dance.
- PLAYFULNESS, learning by playing
- LOVE. We know love in various manifestations: sexual, fraternal, or unselfish. At the lowest level it may manifest in attraction of organisms towards each other. Symbiosis. At the highest level it is experienced as what is termed the 'Grace of God'.
- INTELLIGENCE. Already mentioned, in different gradations.
- EVOLUTION, as opposed to involution. Adaptation seems the result of a blind mechanism steered by co´ncidence in cell-division. But is it? In time evolution results in more and more complex organisms/beings.
The above characteritics are only a schematic outline of what properties may be attributed to the nature-sphere. It has some resemblance to the noosphere, be it that 'nature' has qualities: material to the sublime.Similarly, apart from the fundamental forces of nature, some others may be postulated:
- The GREAT LIFEFORCE empowering conscious action in evolution.
- The WEAK POWER. Soft, sweet, all-pervading power - the Holy Spirit in Christianity. It harmonizes, dissolves conflicts and so stimulates interactions.
Entanglement amongst organismsThe phenomenon of swarms of birds, or insects, ant-like colonies and other similar hybride groupings show that organisms may unite for a common good. Something that in our species is reluctantly realized. We see ants sacrificing their lives, if need be, make themselves subservient to their colony. The thousands of ants work in unison and behave as one singular entity, forming the hive mind.
Simularly birds join to form a swarm that behaves as one organism, training for migration, or escape in unison attacks of predators. Birds know exactly how to take distance to neighbours, never colliding.
This has aroused the curiosity of scientists, reluctant to admit that this may prove telepathy. They have already made an intense study of what is called swarm science or hive minds. What is this mysterious power that makes bees, locusts, ants, wasps, birds unite to form an entity outclassing the participants individually for a common good, or danger ?
The phenomenon of quantum entanglement comes to the rescue. In quantum physics particles can communicate with each other instantaneously. The position of particles cannot be ascertained independent of the others. Two photons ejected in opposite directions from an atom remain Ĺentangledĺ, as if they were one particle. So when the state of one photon is altered, this instantaneously affects the state of the other, wherever it may be in space. One particle always "knows" what the other is doing.
Many phenomena that would suggest telepathy, may have quantum physics as a cause. Applied to beings in our world, interaction between two and more minds may be explained this way. Concentrations of people in football stadiums, concerts, demonstrations etc. In biology the human brain may be considered a collection of billions of nerve cells that operate in unison as one entity that manifests as our ĹIĺ. Sometimes a complex of associations entangle and manifest as a secondary personality, as I will go into next.
As far as I can ascertain the way an identity is formed in an harmonized group, has not been explained so far.
In general: What is this thing called life? Does it have some relationship with quantum physical energies?
Are we robots ?
Now that robots become sophisticated they appear more and more in movies. Spielberg's 'Artificial Intelligence' and the recent 'Westworld' TV-series portray robots who are in search of their soul. We view these pictures with a certain satisfaction believing that we have a soul ourselves. But do we have one? Are we not moulded by genes, family, environment, education, friends etc. to kind of automatons ourselves as well and act predictably to an extent ?
In psychiatry it is known that patients can have multiple personalities. Our brain can produce a number of personalities which manifest in response to certain circumstances. Even in 'normal' people different personalities take over. There is one that manifests when we get angry, another one when feeling hurt after being accused of something, another takes over if one is swept of one's feet when seeing an attractive person, and so on. Our personalities resemble a robot. Animated by a soul ?
It may well be that we are in search of a soul as well, like in the movies. What qualifications would a soul have ? I speculate that it is a deeper centre in the subconscious mind that has a far greater reach than known to us. In it lay properties that are latent now, but may be awakened when so spurred on by the activity of the personality: selflessness, compassion, unconditional love, creativity and all the higher human qualities. Also a person's willingness matters: to surrender - to tune into the soul - open up to its intimations. All these actions are not automatic, but require action - a decision by the personality.
Returning to the subject of robots, are we not ourselves clones manipulated by our DNA string? Human DNA consists of about 3 billion bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in all people. Yet can you picture amongst the billions of people on earth one being exactly identical to you? May be identical twins come nearest to looking alike. Yet they do show differences.
In spite of all varieties that exist our homo sapiens range is tied to hereditical traits formed in evolution. Admittedly we have excellers: geniuses, great artists, composers, gurus, prophets, who tower above the mass, yet a close study reveals that they too could be very human. Small-mindedness, sexual liberties, peculiarities, all sorts of characteristics rooted in animal instincts may be found even in the most revered individuals.
So can we, clones, escape from our robotic behaviour? Can we free ourselves from our ego prison ? The ego who governs us is loath to let go. Sages advise us to reach beyond the mind and open up to intimations from a higher level. A challenge indeed - going with the inner flow. Or should we wait for higher developed aliens to give us a needed push?
We might compare it to animals who are taught to learn certain things from us - of a higher species. Yet they cannot, because their DNA limits their capabilities. So, in turn, we may receive rays of experience, intuition, awareness, from 'higher' levels but are limited in incorporating the glimpses to permanent use.
The limiting brain
It occurs to me that there is another way of looking at the mind/brain - mind/matter controversies. Scientists have it that consciousness springs from physical brain activity. However, many people outside their league take it that the mind encompasses far more and are convinced that much is stored up subconsciously. The brain is given in their view the function of a hatch passing on part of the contents of our total consciousness. I surmise that man's consciousness has a larger reach and detects far more of life in and around us than we are aware of. For instance if a person meets someone in a hateful state of mind that condition is picked up by the mind subconsciously. Intu´tively the subconscious mind may sense far more than we perceive.
One way of reasoning is that not all impressions reach the active mind in order not to overburden it. The physical brain is a product of evolution. Its circuitry was aimed at serving the animal and in the latest stage apeman in his struggle for life, but not yet for properties that makes him a civilised being. So the brains are only wired to pass on certain necessary signals to help in survival, but no more than that. What makes the individual truly humanized has to come to him in an indirect way - in practice.
This also explains the struggle people have to change their character. Its basic traits are fixed in the circuitry of the brain from birth onward. It is awfully difficult, if not impossible to change or correct its imperfections. We may compare it to a computer. If it is malfunctioning one of the advices given is to delete the command program, such as Windows, altogether and install it again. It would be difficult to undertake such task with the brain and program it again.
Yet some events are known that makes such happen. For instance when a near-death-experience occurs after an accident or during surgery. Some of the people who have undergone such disaster report that their mind becomes emerged in a heavenly sphere. When woken up from their coma they can hardly communicate the bliss they experienced. This may illustrate the state of mind as perceived unhampered by the physical brain, which is the product of animal evolution. Yet I do hope that animals whose death will often be a terrible experience may be saved from the agony by falling into a similar state of bliss.
The primitive state of the brain makes that in sophisticated cultures man may become burdened with traumas which he cannot erase from his mind, however much psychotherapists may try. In general, mankind suffers from the fact that the brain has fallen short to hold pace with modern man's higher cultural development. In fact this may be seen as the reason why wars remain recurring, and economic and social systems keep failing. As evolution needs time we cannot expect the situation improve soon.
Recently Dutch professor Witte Hoogendijk contended that the human brain has not had time to evolve as yet to cope with modern stressors. This is the reason why there are so many people afflicted with depressive moods in this modern age.
We might place this in a broader scope and apply it to the development of a truly human being. Always the brain interferes with human endeavours on a personal or national scale. Why can we not recall a time in history that there was no war? When human beings did not behave like animals, specially when herded together?
A study of metamorphosis gives much to think about. A caterpillar changes by a sort of a magician's act into a butterfly. Other species transform in like manner as well: a maggot into an adult fly and in amphibians, a tadpole into a frog. Metamorphosis was so successful in adapting to different environments that as many as 65 percent of all animal species on the planet are metamorphosing insects. Nature gave in this transformation species the chance to go both ways. The caterpillar feeds on leaves, the butterfly sucking up honey and at the same time becomes useful in spreading pollen.
It may be a leap too far to compare the miracle of metamorphosis to the human condition. Are we not a species undergoing a metamorphosis to a human being?Do we not over-estimate our being ? Is it not the instinctive primate's mind that lurks deep in us and influences our actions and thoughts ? Mankind has hardly been able to exist without wars. Even ideal political systems failed because these were misused by men who were possessed by their instincts and egoism.
Chimpanzees have their primitive rituals to make peace with one another - often by having sex. That is frowned upon in our society nowadays. But we lack other proper solutions.Primates had the use of less developed brains. The ape in us has at its disposal a far more perfected brain. But if used to satify instinctive drives it can cause a lot of havoc, as we can see in racism.
We ought to be aware constantly of the ape-nature in ourselves. Homo sapiens has still to develop and take control.
THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
We may be part of an immense proces that not only encompasses mankind, but the universe and even beyond that. We could compare the cosmos to a cell in our body. Its function is to go along with the processes in our being. On a human scale we are part of mankind. We have evolved so far that we have the ability to be spectators of the universe. From subatomic physics we know that the presence of a spectator influences processes. Mankind may play a part in a gigantic cosmic process, without being aware of it. What our influence is is difficult to discern as we do not have a complete picture of what reality encompasses, especially in its deeper unseen levels. We have no inkling of what happens after death for instance.
Another big question is why is there so much inequality and suffering ? Why do certain (groups of) people suffer so much just because they happen to be born in a country, at a time, in a family, with a fixed set of genes ? In fact, is there justice in the universe, or is it a blind mechanism subjecting us to all sorts of conditions ? Is there reward and punishment for the way we conduct our lives, or can we live egoistically at the expense of others without any form of repercussion ? In Indian philosophy the concept of Karma has been put forward to give an answer. In this law of cause and effect justice is meeted out. We shape now our next lives. When we re´ncarnate we shall meet circumstances that we have evoked in a previous one. This process appeals to our human concept of justice. But is it true ? In the animal kingdom the group counts, not the individual. We grope in the dark as regards a possible heavenly justice for the individual.
Another possibility should be considered. Could it be that it is our task to create circumstances that protect individual lives ? By so doing our spiritual nature might evolve. Is it our mission to open us up to spiritual and divine inspiration and shape a just society ? In fact this notion is not new. It is an ideal that may be found in all societies, religions and philosophies in a variety of ways.
Next we may ask, what is the purpose of life for each individual ? In my opinion the first step is to see and feel our place in the collective whole - and act accordingly, led by a feeling of being part of it. In the arts it manifests in the overpowering force of inspiration. Creativity drives man to surpass him/herself.
People may feel being guided in helping others. Stepping out of their cocoon and show compassion, manifest concern for one another - breaking through vestiges of the ego´stic self. Being alert to the now. These are advices that one can find anywhere, in books, in talks, interviews, courses, often given by people who have benefitted from their advices.
But what about those who are not in the enviable position to open themselves up as a result of adversery conditions - who are victims of fate? Indeed to help them requires a superhuman effort. There are those who, for whatever circumstances, do not want to be helped ? One will have to follow the saying 'time will heal all wounds' and leave it to another sort of process.Ultimately, imho, is the purpose of life finding an inner contact with a spiritual dimension. It means reaching out from our consciousness level to something outside our ego. Indeed a vague allusion. It comes spontaneously by some persons when overcome by watching nature at awe during a sunset, the expanse of the evening sky - whatever greatness of nature. It may also manifest in creativity - in the arts for example, or when aiding fellowmen - sacrifice. Others seek it in following a method: yoga, meditation, breathing exercice, zikr, latihan. And then there is also the phenomenon of a spontaneous spiritual awakening which occurs suddenly to people all of a sudden, often in their twenties sitting in nature. They feel overwhelmed by a feeling of oneness with nature.
Contact usually occurs in solitude in a state of surrender. It cannot be forced but presents itself at its own time, beginning in a vague awareness. It should be focused on in submission. Intense attention is required - and then going with the flow, letting it spread throughout one's being.
It is to most people a temporary experience but one that one should cherish, specifically when one is down or lost.
MAKING SENSE OF LIFE
We are bombarded constantly with impressions from our senses of what happens inside and outside our bodies. In order to cope with them we have evolved a filtering mechanism in our minds that brings the most urgent details to our attention.
Most of what comes to us is filtered out. We need not know the state of digestion, blood circulation etc. unless something serious calls for attention. From the signals we receive through the senses we make sense out of the environment we live in and the people we see. The contours of their heads are fed into our mind's archive in order to recognize them. The same happens to inanimate objects. So our world is construed for us more or less. Many of the impressions illicit associations in us - evoke instinctive responses - most of which do not come to the surface - remain hidden, but colour our responses.
Anyhow, our normal life is geared to making sense of the world we live in to cope with it and for self-preservation. From the impressions the 'I' may evaluate whether a response is required.
The person who sets out on the pathway of self-knowledge needs to know more of what happens inside himself - of what is left out actually. There are various disciplines: contemplation, meditation, yoga, latihan and so forth to lower the threshold to the subconscious mind. A tradition has it that there is a dweller on the threshold. The dweller personifies all that has been suppressed from daily consciousness because it served no direct purpose, or is not according to the image we wish to present to the outside world. This encounter with subconscious instinctive contents may not be pleasant and better not be undertaken by someone who may not have sufficient stamina to resist being overwhelmed by unexplained moods and forces.
In mysticism an attitude of submission is recommended. It postulates that inside ourselves are dormant spiritual layers waiting to be contacted. The 'I' recognizes its limitations but has faith that it be helped from within. He/she surrenders -opens him/herself up - to the harmonious forces he/she hopes to receive. The spiritual enlightenment he/she longs to receive cannot be commanded. It comes 'like a thief in the night'. 'Ask and it shall be given to you'. It requires faith and determination, but it may lead to a deeper sense of life and less questioning.
Dreams are a clue
In dreams the 'I' - the sense-giver - is on holiday and so allows the mind resetting. Chunks of incoherent information surface. There is an 'I' observing, but it accepts all that is happening without questioning. It is not even aware of its own age or period of time, whether people it meets are dead, or alive.Dreams are an important clue as to the working of our mind indeed.
It is as if the daily activities seem to arouse in us memories and associations of which we remain unaware. A filter seems active to block such irrelevant asociations. In dreams that filter is not active anymore, allowing a conglomerate of odd reminiscenses, impressions and fears to emerge from which a storyline is being concocted.
Didn't Shakespeare write: We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
EGO & SELF
When I made a mescalin trip more than fifty years ago I felt split in two parts. I experienced the spectator - say the deeper Self - which observed the lower ego, the mind, the personality, the 'I' and its doings. From the Self's spectator point of view the 'normal' personality responded to all it encountered in a way based on routine. Even when questions were fired at me the Self knew what I would answer as a creature of habit. The lower ego is a powerful system without which we cannot live. In its evolution the organism through experience has built up standard responses. Its system heals the body when it falls ill, regulates the intestines and so forth. It is endowed with powerful instincts because the first rule in nature is to produce offspring. It handles emotions. The 'I' accomodates and defends itself in the group/society it is part of. It knows its place or how to achieve a better one. In short, we are ruled by the ego in all its complexity to stay on top of our lives at best. But the ego may also become a burden.
The experience I had, not the only one, indicated that deep down in us is an observing deeper Self that seems to be completely independent of our earthly doings. Yet it is deeply involved albeit we do not sense it. In all folklore/traditions there are indications that man is not on his own. Gods, spirits, demons, angels play an important part in tales, stories, even revelations. Mystical traditions hint at a union with the spiritual in various ways and through all sorts of disciplines.
In my many years of probing the issue I have been strengthened in the belief that the simple fact of opening oneself up to inner union leads to an awakening of deeper levels and as a result a fuller life. In our present state of society with all its ways to capture the person's attention by television, computers, tablets and advertising, there is no room for inner silence. Silence starts when the 'chattering monkey mind' in our brains has stopped. But to stop the dominance of the ego with its constant flow of thoughts, reminiscenses, moods, which hold us in its grip, is awfully difficult. The ego has brought us to this stage of life and is not prepared to give up.
Blessed are those who have had an experience in their lives that has convinced them of other dimensions of perception, such as those who have had a near-death-experience and thereafter feel lost in the world we live in. Yet they have had an experience that gives them quite a different view of life. It gives them faith that deep in themselves is salvation they can reach out to.
In many disciplines followers have felt contact with the spiritual which spurs them on. The scientific view instilled in the younger generation, which was guided once by obsolete religious dogmas, has created a vacuum as the big emotional and other perplexities in their lives are not met by scientific nihilism. There is a need for answers on such matters as the purpose of life, its inequality/injustice, life after death, to name a few.
DO WE HAVE A SOUL?In construing one's vision of life, Occam's razor's principle should be borne in mind. No fresh elements ought to be introduced to explain a mystery. Well, I have often trespassed that rule, yet try to base myself on facts which have become more or less established. Not so long ago everyone believed that man had a soul. Science now has done away with this belief. Yet we are hopelessly entangled in observations of human behaviour which demand an answer. We cannot deny that we have self-awareness . Its consciousness seems to have limited control of our being, though. Processes take place, like digestion, or healing, without our interference. We are at the mercy of moods, instincts, flows of thought and in a higher realm we benefit from creativity, intu´tion and inspiration. Some would add a sixth paranormal sense to it as well. Self-awareness is very much dependent on the brain. When some part of it does not function properly, for instance after a stroke, accident, or disease, the frame of reference of the 'I' is impaired. Family members may not be recognized anymore. When the brain functions on another level, as in dreams, it seems to have lost its personal frame of reference. In a dream the most absurd circumstances may exist. In a dream deceased family members come to life again and are taken for granted. All sorts of strange situations are undergone without questioning. This begs for the question, when we die what frame of reference is left after the brain stops functioning? People who have experienced a near-death state report that they entered a heavenly sphere. The experience makes such a profound impression on them that when restored to normal health again they have such a different view of our world that they can take it hardly seriously. They have experienced another state of awareness. Not surprising that science is exerting itself to disqualify the nature of the near-death experience as being a hallucination.
We know now that the basis of organic life is a cell, a self-preserving unit. Cells organized themselves and self-awareness developed to take command. The physical chain of evolution produced mankind finally. I wonder whether a similar process took please on a subconscious level without our being aware of it. This point of view presupposes that there are internal levels which were developing at the same time as matter organised itself. The idea is that each particle of matter makes an indent in the presumed consciousness (or quantum) layer. The soul of man may be understood to comprise, besides the body, also its presence in the field of consciousness.
Somehow we are only partly aware of this consciousness sphere and our functioning in it. It has an existence of its own yet closely connected with our physical organism. We can only guess how it has developed and taken part in the physical evolution process. This would mean that our physical being is interwoven with conscious and even higher spheres.
When we die the subconscious part of the entity remains and functions in a sphere, possibly created by other 'souls' in the past. The soul dramaticizes life like it did while on earth, but now on the basis of other impressions than those that came by the physical senses.
A FEW OTHER MUSINGS
VICTIMS OF SUGGESTIONEver seen a hypnotism show? Participants brought in trance perform the most ridiculous acts - believe that an ice cube placed in their hands is burning hot. In post-hypnotic suggestion a person may feel perfectly normal .But sitting indoors he may go and collect an umbrella and open it up after someone sneezes in the room. The hypnotised person may come up with a host of excuses to explain why he has opened the umbrella.
In shows a mentalist may guess long beforehand the choice a person will make after he has planted a suggestion.with the participant Lest we think that we make our own choices, or harbour views of our own, we should bear the foregoing paragraph on suggestion in mind. The truth is that we are bombarded with suggestions from birth onward. We are steeped in the culture we are born in simply by being subjected constantly by the suggestive effect of views, customs and education we are exposed to in our environment.
How do we safeguard ourselves against being influenced and discover the suggestions which have already taken root in ourselves? Difficult - but the first remedy is doubt. Doubt whether what is being claimed stands up against scrutiny. In religion claims are being made about their origins. Followers accept them blindly. Historical research and archeology should give evidence as to the veracity of their holy books. But, alas, researchers usually find no proof that accounts of religious beginnings are correct.
Not only in this field, but in politics and the media views are being aired which in the long run prove to be wrong. Science, medicine and other disciplines hold on to tenets which lead to a certain paradigm which in the end may prove to be absurd.
And we as laymen do accept such prevailing view. Their suggestive power is illustrated by youth being prepared to sacrifice their lives in terrorist attacks, instead of spending some time in examining the beliefs suggested to them. The observation that we may be manipulated tells us something about our minds. The fact that they are suggestable should be an important key as to understanding identity and consciousness. Is the outside world the only source of suggestions or are we also influenced from inside? Think of obsessions, fobias, depressions. Genetic influence it is often attributed to - but is that always the case?
OTHER EVOLUTIONARY PATHSEvolution on our planet - life emerging from matter on an uninhabitable surface resulting in an intelligent human being - astounds one as a miracle. Yet according to science it is a 'natural' process. But is it not a laborious roundabout way for Nature to develop its innate potentialities? Is it worth the immense suffering of living creatures to evolve through co´ncidence and chance to an intricate organism? Could we think of an easier way for Nature to exploit its potentialities to produce a being endowed with great powers? Science is fixated on the prospect of a possible encounter with a civilisation like ours. But suppose omnipotent Nature devised a completely different method to evolve life ? Should its beings be physical, or are there other states of existence ? For that matter it might even have happened on our planet. Could parallel with our evolution another one have developed synchronously ? One on say a consciousness level? Or in another dimension ? One that we call the hereafter ?
THE SUPERIOR MINDIf we take it that circumstances forced our apelike ancestors to search for intelligent solutions to survive - or alternatively that leisure allowed them the luxury of self-reflection. - the glimpses of insight they had must have been fleeting and could not be commanded. Only when the frontal lobes developed intelligence and higher thinking became slowly part of their capabilities. Likewise presentday man has glimpses of genius - but not at its command. It is more a sort of spontaneousl inspiration, insight, or paranormal power that cannot be commanded. Are we waiting for 'co´ncidence' to further develop our brains - DNA - to incorporate lobes that support supernatural capabilities?
The future of mankind.Reflecting on the future of man is only practical if one bases oneself on developments in past history - the way existence used to develop. We observe that from the big bang onwards by innumerable co´ncidences man came into being on one of the planets. The inhaerant properties of 'nature' made it possible that in a hostile physical environment through ingenuous adaptations species developed. Only that of man made the mark - at least in intelligence. But man has still flaws. He is destroying his precious environment and often they begrudge each other the light in their eyes. The handicap seems to be the grip of his animal instincts which have gone haywire by the development of his intellectual capacities. Nature is now groping for a solution. Disappearance of our species is one option - it having run to a dead end. This may occur as the result of a cosmic collision. It may be followed by a fresh beginning of a species evolved through upgrading an existing animal.
A quite different approach is that of man developing his potential capacities. This would only have a chance to grow if individuals on such path were to unite in groups. For the whole of mankind to accomplish such feat seems impossible More likely is one or more small groups developing into a superior state, astounding the rest of mankind.
There are some phenomena that have been overlooked so far. That is that in unison man's minds seem to melt together. We see this in concerthalls, public meetings. Something develops amongst those present and is felt as a special atmosphere which takes over. The quality of this conglomerate field may develop into various directions - towards something greater - beyond the individuals' states of mind towards a field that unites them. The purpose of their meeting will be given a deeper aspect. If the meeting is for a spiritual purpose a special dimension will develop .The field may take on amazing forms. In spiritistic seances all sorts of phenomena are reported. Unknown powers manifest, lifting of objects, lights, sounds etc. Even figures materialize, construed of what has been called ectoplasm - a life-giving substance taken from the bodies of the participants building up presencies who may even converse with those present and exhibit healing powers. Read the Presence phenomenon
I am entering slippery grounds now and many readers will find me wandering into debatable fields. Well, it serves only as an illustration of what small groups of people may develop in unison. The phenomena mentioned have been investigated by highly respectable scientists - some of them Nobel prize winners - admittedly without much public success. Partly because of the hostility they encountered. The prospects of this avenue have not beem fully explored, although such esoteric groups existed all through history and may have been of great influence on our civilisation. I have only to mention the roots of pre-existing groups on which the Christian tradition is based. click for more details
ENTERING THE BEYONDHow to enter the beyond - the more dimensional realm? Spiritual movements offer various disciplines: yoga, meditation, contemplation, ecstasy, latihan, etc. to transcend one's habitual nature. The pitfall is that in the end one becomes addicted to that particular method. Freedom in spirit is identified then with the particular path one has followed to attain it. In Zen Buddhism there is a wisdom saying that one should not stay on the steps of a ladder to the moon, but push it away in order to reach enlightenment.
I understand this to mean that one should attain a lightness of being, free from nature and nurture, from the ego clutch and drift upward entering into harmony with a spiritual reality beyond. In that state of being one is attuned to its spiritual qualities. In surrendering one becomes part of its processes. In that more-dimensional atmosphere time and space are fluent. Existence in that state depends on one's ability to keep on floating with it. Otherwise one will sink back to earthly spheres.
THE FUNDAMENTAL AND ULTIMATE QUESTION.
What would be the ultimate issue in all existence, even beyond our universe? Shakespeare quessed it: to be, or not to be. It is already difficult for us to conceive our world beyond space and time in eternity. But it is even harder to think of nothingness from which no thing can ever come into being. That must be the ultimate challenge and counterpart of all existence: annihilation followed by non-existence forever.
Will robots replace man ?Nowadays Artificial Intelligence is much in the news - the speculation that eventually perfected robots may replace human beings that made them. Significant is that the unique properties of man (male or female) are hardly mentioned. Only his limited reasoning power and frame of reference are referred to, but his typical human assets, such as creativity, compassion, unconditional love, inner reflection, intuition, healing power, sixth sense, to name a few, are hardly mentioned. Would robots compose musical masterworks that have captured audiences for centuries ? Would robots astound the minds of man with their writings? Start meditation and reach out towards levels in him/herself that surpass mere reasoning power?
Man is built of living holistic cell elements that display properties outlined in chapters above. By co´ncidence and adaptation these elements have grown into the miracle of the human organism. Would the same happen to robots ? Admittedly Nature may 'play' with the properties of robots with unexpected results. One should be aware, however, that robots are essentially stupid machines without morals.
Another venue is that of genetic engineering. Promising advances have already been made in identifying molecules in the DNA strands that contribute to vulnerability for certain diseases. The time may not be far off that heightened intelligence, or amiable character traits may be obtained by genetic modication.
However, this is a most dangerous and slippery path already explored in eugenics in the past century. It may be used easily by dictators, or countries, to advance the mentality of its population so much that it may achieve dominance over other nations. Also it may be expected that those persons, families and classes, who have the means to have their offspring benefit from such manipulation, will obtain special postions in society and fight for it remaining so.
Professor C.G. Jung proposed that our mind produces archetypes - for instance of a heavenly father. Redemption is enacted by sacrifice of a heavenly son - another archetype.
In non-archetypal thinking God might be seen as the soul of the entire universe. The 'I' of reality, not only of our physical universe, but of everything existing in our world. Mystics have reported that they came close to a divine source that appeared to them as a giant pillar of light of an unbelievable majestic splendour reaching till far beyond their vision. It was of such an overwhelming creative power, radiating encompassing love, that it could only inspire awe and devotion to all who beheld it.
Another approach is to see existence divided in qualities: from the physical to the divine. All organic particles are holistic units wich reflect the whole. In the ultimate state of our universe all layers and qualities have evolved from the material upward - to one majestic splendour of the Divine, being the highest quality.
ON SUFFERINGWe find our suffering and that of living organisms a puzzling negative aspect of evolution. Suffering can hardly be fitted into our image of a loving God. Yet suffering is not always considered miserable. Absense of wellbeing results ever so often in suffering. In masochism suffering is even hankered after. Hotels in Europe sometimes guarantee Arab visitors who are so used to drought that during their stay it will rain. In their case rain and absense of scorching heat is felt as a blessing, whereas people in the cold North consider rain unpleasant. It exemplifies the saying 'It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good'.
We might also imagine that before our time entities were so used to an existence without resistance that they would see suffering as an unknown experience and were attracted to it although it meant a sacrifice. Entities who in their adoration of the Divine would be prepared to take part in a world in which the Divine would unfold through evolution involving suffering. In other words participate in our world by an ultimate sacrifice as exemplified by the tale of the crucifixion of demigod Christ. Ultimately the Divine suffers Itself in one of Its manifold processes.
MANKIND AS A SPECTATOR.
The fundamental importance of a conscious and cognitive mankind as ours may be that in our universe, subject to unchangeable physical laws, a body of spectators has evolved. And, as we know from sub-atomic physics: a spectator influences the outcome of a process. We, and the countless other societies of advanced beings on other planets, may influence the outcome of this cycle of the unfolding universe merely by being witnesses.
ON CO¤NCIDENCE.Co´ncidence often shapes our existence. Our physical laws came into operation during the first fraction of time after the 'big bang'. Co´ncidence appears to be the main factor effecting the chaotic interplay of forces that ultimately shaped evolution, history, important events, great inventions and ultimately the course of our personal lives.
What is the nature of co´ncidence one may wonder. What is behind it ? One approach: the universe - from the end to the beginning - is predeterminded The dissolution is fixed and we move towards it . Co´ncidence is the instrument to force events to occur in such a way that a predestined future will be the outcome. In that view the future casts its shadows backwards. A sort of 'Back to the future', or the future shapes the present. If so, how much is the future fixed, or are detours possible ? Can one speak of free will ?
THE NEW MAN
Traditions in societies and cultures as well as religions suggest that deep in man is imprinted an image of the ideal man. In some traditions the archetype of it is represented by the image of a child which in its purity inherits the Kingdom of Heaven.
That image is subject to cultural change. Yet, one wonders where did it come from? What is the image of presentday ideal man like?
"The New Man" is the title of a book by Maurice Nicoll. He refers to chapter 3 of St.John's gospel. Jezus' mission was to show that man should be born again - in the spirit."Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Those who answer this call would behave incomprehensibly in the eyes of their fellowmen: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
The characteristic of a new-born Christian is given as: "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no wise enter therein." (Mark 18:17). "Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek and the pure in heart", Jesus says in the sermon on the mount. It is puzzling that Christians should have adopted the image of a dying man on the cross instead of the model of an innocent child, pure at heart, as preached by him, or 'the good shepherd', as in earlier presentations in Christianity.
The innocence of a young person is natural and not attained by an act of free will. For a grown up to become like a child would mean laying aside all pretense accumulated in the course of his life. It would involve an enormous sacrifice in order to become so pure as to stay in contact with the source of grace. In receiving divine grace he is nourished and given a quality of power that transcends all human conditions, yet makes him highly vulnerable. Few have reached that condition.
SURVIVAL OF MANKIND AFTER A DISASTERIn the past decades science has made it clear that an inhabitable world like ours, the emergence of life and finally the human species is the result of an unbelievable chain of lucky 'coincidences' from the 'big bang' onwards. The evolution of man lifted him/her to a living organism capable of self-observation and so to a special place in the cold threatening universe.
The enigma of the possible existence of a hereafter I have posed in my essay Parapsychology and personal survival after death. Is consciousness and identity of man completely dependent on his physical existence? If it does persist, as near-death-experiences suggest, the hereafter must have had a similar evolution as mankind on earth. It must have had kind of a history based on erstwhile experiences of life on earth. If a human being has awareness after his death what does it look like? Is it as chaotic as in a dream ?
I wonder whether man during his physical life can work on the quality of his/her character and so his/her existence in life after death. In religious visions heaven and hell were created as a reward or punishment for life on earth. This postulates a creation by a god of such abodes in like manner as that of the physical world. We know now that the story of a biblical creation is an exercise in phantasy and so are heaven and hell. No, the hereafter, if it exists, must have had a line of development. And here we arrive at another riddle: that of the existence of a sphere of consciousness in which each physical organism makes an impression, like mass in a gravitational matrix. If we go a step further we might consider such impressions incorporate a holistic reflection of total existence - up to the Divine - potentially. That is to say that these latent qualities are there in all entities, but not active.
Returning to man, can he/she tap latent qualities in him/herself that are more-dimensional ? In mystical tradition transcending his cognitive capabilities has always set a person apart from the others. They were shamans, medicinemen, mediums or prophets. Meditation and other disciplines for contacting and atuning to deeper layers of his consciousness has become a way of their lives. A way of deeper qualitive living. But it may also have consequences for his future non-earthly life. Going one step further, can such people in the hereafter become part of a circle that in their sphere transcend far deeper into layers of universal existence that forges them into a botherhood of spiritual significance? Such superhuman fellowship may be(come) a blessing to mankind but also a refuge for its souls if a disaster would strike earth and bring an end to civilisation.
One wonders whether starting a civilisation on Mars will succeed before, or after man has developed a mutation of mind.
Evolution based on co´ncidenceHas ever an attempt been made by mathematisians to calculate the chance that from lava, or matter of an uninhabitable Earth a human being could emerge, sheer by a series of lucky co´ncidences in faulty genetic multiplication? How many billions of lucky co´ncidences should occur to produce an organism like man and what length of time would be involved for such a wondrous event? Why is there no entropy ?
If you have come thus far: my compliments for your efforts to keep pace in my flights of thought.
For the undaunted, I have an essay Precepts for living.
- Spanish translation: Reflexiones filosˇficas
- Turkish: Biz bir ruhu var ruh ?
- Georgian translatian: 'Philosophical Reflections'.
- Kazakh translation: Random Musings, philosophical reflections
- Estonian: Juhuslikud peegeldused
- Yuval Noah Harari: Homo Deus (2015)
- D.M.Stokes: Reimagining the Soul. Afterlife in the age of matter (2014)
- Audretsch, David: The entrepreneural society (2008)
Responses are welcome. Email to: manandu@NOSPAMxs4all.nl (but delete the word NOSPAM from the address) in English, Dutch, French, German, or Spanish.
On the web since 2 April 2008. Last revision: 27 November 2022
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