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A creative blog by Philip Horvath on The Whole 9

Philip serves as a catalyst working with individuals and organizations on turning change into transformation, and ultimately creating meaningful experiences and relationships. He combines his years of experience architecting and running projects for Fortune 500 companies with over twenty years of studies in yoga, alchemy, various esoteric systems and transformational psychology.

… and who are you?

It is always funny to me to watch people in social gatherings. We all like to meet each other and get to meet interesting people, but we never know who will indeed be interesting to us. In part, this is due to social convention and rituals that have been established. Most of the time, we introduce each other by name, and typically, the next question is “and what do you do?”

What’s in a name?

Most of us did not choose our name. It was given to us by our parents and included their hopes, aspirations, familial obligations, and often their projections and hopes for legacy (as if they were able to extend themselves through their children). The old Romans used to say “Nomen est Omen” – our name is an omen for who we will be. In Numerology, people go so far as to take the letters of your name and convert them to numbers, then adding them up and creating life path and soul urge numbers for you.

Decided to run a test on that. Mine (based on philip) apparently are 7 and soul urge 9. Characteristics of a 7 are analysis, understanding, knowledge, awareness, studious, meditating – and 9 indicates that I am interested in humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors, and that I am generous in sharing my knowledge and experience – perfect for someone writing a blog about creating better meaning and relating in our world – wouldn’t you say?

Of course, I had to run it for Bob, Michael and John (because those names came to mind as somewhat common), and for a few of my friends’ names. Turned out, several of them seemed pretty appropriate.

What does this mean? Who knows. If we live in a fractal universe, as seems to be indicated by many of the esoteric traditions and even modern science, I guess it would make sense that everything has a level of coherence and that you would be able to gleam insights into anything through analysis of anything else – as long as you have coherence in your system of analysis.

For now, I suggest, you think about some of the people you know who share the same names, see if you find correlations. You can also find many name calculators online, so check out what your name might indicate…

…but what do you do?

My friends and I have a running gag based on one of my friends being a poet. Most of the time when someone asks him what he does and he says “Poet”, the next question is “yeah… but what do you DO?”

Typical introductions seem to include occupation. There also appears to be a running list of appropriate occupations, and then the “meh” category, meaning “I don’t care about you, you are not useful to me.”

Especially living in Los Angeles, if the list does not include an industry profession, oftentimes the conversation ends up being rather short. One of my friends, who has produced and engineered some groundbreaking records over the years likes to answer the question “What do you do?” with “I make shoes.” This is a pretty good indicator. If the other person is indeed still interested in going beyond this introduction, they are probably worth talking to…

You are being profiled

In today’s world, we are used to filling out profile information: name, age, sex, relationship status, etc. What this is doing is getting us used to viewing ourselves through the lens of structured data. Each time we fill out a profile, we are learning about socially accepted ways to present ourselves. While this is helpful (especially to marketing companies who mine this data in an attempt to determine your shopping behavior), this is also very limiting. For example, I have yet to find a system that would have a classification I would deem appropriate for my relationship status. There is no way to explain the complexity and “It’s complicated” also does not sound too enticing.

So while it makes sense to create a common basis for how we look at a human, we might also want to add categories that are more meaningful for humans themselves, and not just for those who want to sell products and services.

Hello…

A couple of years ago my friend Dyana brought these wonderful “Hello – I am really good at:” stickers to the Artwalk opening I was hosting. Inspired by her, I created the sticker below for the last Artwalk I opened for a couple of weeks ago:

hello I am changing the world by...

The result was close to a thousand people asking themselves – often for the first time – how they are impacting the world they live in. And beyond that, they got to proudly show it off to each other and were seen for how they change the world by the people around them. We all want to ultimately be seen and heard for who we are – something we get little opportunity for in most of our daily lives. Shifting toward thinking about the impact you create rather than the job category it might fit in allows you to be seen for what you do much more so than a title could possibly convey.

Think about “I am a lawyer” – does this mean you help under-priviledged wrongly accused people? Does it mean you like to find ways to screw your greedy company’s partners? It does not state much about the impact you create. It’s a title, it means you learned to think, analyze and find patterns in other legal documents that might apply to your case. It does not say anything at all about your motivation, about what you value, about who YOU are.

Who are you?

“Who are you?” is a tough question. I have confessed my love for Alice in Wonderland before, and how she realized that she kept changing. Also love the idea that I seem to be a verb (as Buckminster Fuller expressed it). We seem to be processes not static entities, so it would make sense for us to describe ourselves through our processes, too, rather than through static nouns.

So, the next time someone asks you, or you get to meet new people, think about how you want to be known. You can share your designator, your name, if you wish, but instead of stating your profession, think about what you are passionate about, what brings you joy, what you are good at, and how you are benefiting others by doing what you do.

It will probably make for a more interesting conversation. And if whoever you are talking to doesn’t get it, tell them you make shoes…

comments

Outstanding blog as always Philip. Would have loved to be at the Brewery Artwalk to see your experiment :-) Look forward to hanging out one of these days and talking more about changing the world.

Thank you ;-) Look forward to talking, too, and thank you for all you are doing already: with this community, the Peace project, Operation Rise… Seems to me that sticker might be too small for you ;-)

We’re all in this together, my friend. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that sticker became too small for everyone :)

Well written and insightful post. The buzz-word these days is “brand’, as in creating and promoting your personal one, your signature so to speak. That’s what’s supposed to attract attention, cut through the clutter, make you stand out and be remembered; whether it be applying for a job, selling your art or getting people to read your blog. But for many, particularly the ones who take this advice seriously, it’s a tough assignment. Reducing the complex, often contradictory and typically diverse nature of ‘who we are’ to a logo, a tag line, a sound bite or a twitter message is virtually impossible. It requires a dumbing down and flattening out of our multi-dimensional selves to a caricature, a sales pitch that rarely does justice to the fullness of our lives. Yet that is what our easily distracted consciousness and ADD culture demand. And it’s not all a bad thing. Summing up what’s important to us, the essence of what we’re up to or trying to say or searching for can be a valuable exercise. And even if it fails to encompass the totality of one’s multi-dimensional being, a lot can be learned by it if we’re honest. The world demands a ‘log line’, a way to identify us, when it comes to that cover letter or artist bio or internet profile or presentation. Just beware of buying your own hype once you’ve reduced your soul to a slogan.

Great post! And yes dangerousideas…reducing your soul to a slogan…sad.

The Metaphorical Mind

Picasso Bull

“Every child is born an artist, the problem is to remain one once they grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

One of my favorite art stories as a child came from a documentary about Picasso. It was showing his progression in understanding and communicating his reality. The documentary started with a water color he had made of a bullfight as a sixteen year old. It was beautiful and attempted to depict the bull, the audience, the vibrant colors with as much realism as possible.

The documentary went on to show his progression as a painter and artist using his depiction of bulls as a baseline. The bull went on to become reduced bit by bit as Picasso was learning to communicate the essence. Slowly it turned into the line drawing of a bull that Picasso is so famous for today.

Picasso Bull

The very last item shown in this exploration was a piece he had made out of a bicycle handle and a bicycle seat. He had arranged them in a way that they looked like a bull’s head. And even though I knew I was looking at bicycle parts, I saw a bull looking at me from the wall…

This was my first direct experience of what I have come to call the Metaphorical Mind.

The metaphorical mind is that of artists, poets, inventors and engineers. It is a mind that can see something for what it isn’t with as much ease as seeing it for what it is we commonly agree on.

A bicycle saddle or a bulls head. A handle and horns…

What something is

We tend to get stuck in determining what something “is”. But what “is” something? What “is” “it” to “you”?

Your reality is created by distinctions. Patterns you have signifiers for. Signifiers being signs which convey meaning to you. The more signs you have, the more distinctions you can create in your experience, and the more complex it will become. Benjamin Lee Whorf created the concept of linguistic relativity to account for this phenomenon. He is usually cited when people bring up that Eskimos have many words for snow, as for them subtle distinctions about the snow (its ice level, depth, crust, etc.) are crucial to survival.

Similarly, your vocabulary has developed to ensure your survival. You learned to call for your parents, direct people around your physical experience from hunger to full diapers, and later learned more subtle distinctions that allow you to manipulate and function in reality.

Schema, Schema on the Wall

Distinctions are grouped into schemata. Schemata are higher order concepts. E.g. Lemons, Oranges and Mandarins are all part of the schema “citrus fruit.”

citrusfruitNow that you have the schema “citrus fruit,” I can tell you about Grapefruits, which you might have never encountered before. All I need to say is that it is a citrus fruit, and you will know various properties and I can now compare and contrast it to other citrus fruit you know. E.g. I can say it’s usually bigger than an orange, pink in color, a bit more bitter, etc.
Schema are higher-level principles. We can build schemata infinitely until we end up with meaningless oneness. So obviously, it is a tool to be wielded wisely. The key being that it allows for us to abstract something from what it is, and by abstracting it into a higher level order find parallels that might be surprising, amusing (there is a great theory about humor as a benign violation but that’s a whole different story), or sometimes simply beautiful.

Living with a metaphorical mind

Living with a metaphorical mind allows for a difference experience of reality. A poet friend of mine once wrote about LA that it is “a great place for paranoids, because nothing is what it seems like and the earth could open up and swallow you at any point.” I think it is a great place for enlightenment for the same reason. Realizing that nothing is what it is allows you to create your own meaning, your own symbolic reality. This is where you begin to live a magickal live of correspondences. Having a metaphorical mind that can jump in experiencing things, not just for what they are, but what they can be, provides you with:

  • A richer experience of reality
  • The ability to be playful in your experience of reality
  • The ability to relate to others more easily
  • The ability to see the bigger picture

Magritte

A richer experience of reality

On a most basic level, it’s fun to create stories. Children love it (some of my last posts where about beginner’s mind and the wisdom of children). We like to make up things. Depending on our early conditioning, we will later in life adopt either the controlling parent stance that this is non-sense and a waste of time, or – as Picasso mentioned – we remain artists, having an ever new experience of this reality, learning new distinctions, delving into an ever new sense of wonder.

And be playful…

Living in a wonder world opens you up to the idea that you might be able to create aspects of your reality. I am not necessarily talking about “The Secret” here. Not the naive magical thinking of a child… and exactly that – with a dose of realism. There are probability patterns to contend with and as much as I wish somebody would knock on my door and tell me that there is world peace now because I sat on my couch and wished for it, I doubt it will go quite that way… But, imagining a world in peace might allow me to see new opportunities to apply my knowledge, skills and abilities toward that. If I only see the world for what it “is”… why would I want to get up and participate in anything? Being able to see the world for what it could be, drawing widely from all the metaphors available, might open up new realistic possibilities.

Empathy

Being versed in switching viewpoints, in drawing parallels to archetypal patterns, in seeing schemata, also allows for a deeper sense of empathy. Once you grok cubism, how can you ever assume that there is only one way of looking at the world. And if I can leave my default perspective, I might as well try on other people’s point of view and see what the world might look like from their perspective. Nothing connects people like being able to empathize with each other. We are growing up as a human species where for the first time we are beginning to have global awareness of each other. For this not to end in tragedy, we will require a lot of empathy.

The bigger picture

As we begin to have more distinctions, see more patterns and create ever higher level of schemata, it is impossible, not to see the big picture. While the big picture might be warped due to some primary assumptions that might be off (e.g. if I accept the idea that oil is required for human survival, the “big picture” would entice me to build a highly controlled society with a small oligarchic elite), it will still encompass a global understanding. With the technologies available to us today, we cannot help but to. Within this new experience, having a metaphorical mind will allow us to integrate schemata while being confronted with ever more complex distinctions. It is not easy running a city and having a political mind (from Greek polis = city). We are now being asked to step up to run a planet and having a terrestrial citizen mind. It will be easy to see differences between each other, but even more important to see the parallels. For that, a metaphorical mind will be extremely helpful.

It’s not just for artists anymore

The metaphorical mind is something each one of us has access to. We use it daily and have used it as a child to begin to make meaning of this world. Each of us can access it, and we have no excuse not to exercise this circuit. Especially in a world of crisis it is crucial for each of us to begin to see the world for what it could be. To do so for the world is a tall order. To even do that for your own life is not an easy task. But it’s like a muscle. You can exercise it. Think of all the uses for a brick. Write them down. See? Easy… Start small…

brick

Be like Children

kids drawingOne of my favorite things about children is their openness and willingness to explore.

During the Brewery Artwalk which just occurred a couple of weeks ago, children came into my place, immediately found the paper and crayons I had put out for them, and without fear began to express themselves. And not just express but process what they had been encountering. Often I saw aspects of my neighbors’ art or art in my house in the children’s drawings. Their way of dealing with all the impressions is to get it out of their system through expression. And without fear.

Their minds are open and willing to be filled. They actually crave information and input.

kids drawing of four elemental forces

The Crystallized Self

This seems to change as the years go on and school becomes more intense. Having to cram in all kinds of information into their neurology that is often not really that interesting to them, and which is ultimately geared to turn them into good little worker bees and consumers, defense mechanisms start setting in that separate personal from impersonal knowledge – and that begin to close down the mind.

With growing development of an identity, curiosity dies. Only information that is relevant to daily activities or entertaining will now make it past the filters. And worse, with a growing idea of identity come new defense mechanisms, which will actively avoid or deny new information that might be contrary to held beliefs.

This explains why people – even in the face of scientific probabilities – still hold on to beliefs and ideas that they might have encountered years ago in Sunday school. They have become part of their identity, their source for stability, and are therefore “untouchable”.

The cup overfloweth

In Buddhism, there is a concept called beginner’s mind. There is a beautiful story that illustrates this:
The student and teacher are having tea. The teacher fills the student’s cup and continues to do so as the student watches the tea overspill on the floor in horror. Upon inquiring the teacher says to the student: “You are like the cup. You are full already. I cannot teach you. For me to teach you, you have to empty the cup first.”

In order to be present for new opportunities and ideas and possibilities of self, we have to be willing to give up our established notions of self. This is not an easy task. Your established personae will do their best to keep their status.

Are you willing to risk who you are for who you could become?

Sometimes, in order to become somebody new, we literally have to kill off aspects of our selves. It can be a treacherous journey, full of demons waiting to be slain – or waiting to devour you. It is an ego death that warrants all the stages of grief as described by Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross’s famous model. And we have to allow those stages and make space for them. At least, until we get to a zero state again, a neuroplasticity of identity.

kids drawing

The Fool

In the Tarot, this idea is represented by the fool. This card is the symbol of true innocence, a perfect state of joy and freedom, the sure feeling of being connected to life as a whole.

Out of all the trump cards, the Fool is the first one and has the number 0. A number with no beginning or end. This indicates someone ready to go in any direction, and be open to all possibilities. He belongs nowhere specific, has no past, but an infinite future. Every moment is a new beginning.

The Fool is change, motion and the readiness to jump into life, without any cares. For the Fool there is no difference between possibility and reality, the zero means a total lack of both hope and fear, the Fool suspects and plans nothing. He responds directly to the current situation, lives fully and authentically in the present.

Living la vida loca

How practical is it to be the Fool in our society? For the most part, we are, of course, discouraged from such foolishness. We are supposed to know who we are, what’s going on and what we are doing at all times. Not knowing oftentimes comes with a sense of embarrassment, shame and even guilt.

That is the key, though. We might not always be a Fool and completely open, but what is important is that when we don’t know, when we find ourselves invited to be the Fool, we are okay and take respite in that instead of experiencing any form of anxiety.

Especially in our current times, even our leaders seem to not know what is going on… and how could they. Technology, economy and our society as a whole have become so complex, that no individual can actually still understand all that is happening.

And it is time for us to accept that we don’t know. I harped on that before in the essay on facts. So let’s embrace it and be fools, beginners, like children.

Even Jesus said it: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

comments

Great post!
I feel when we stop and just explore with fervent curiosity and a willingness to learn and be reshaped I have found that life is seemingly more fulfilled.

Breathe and remember…

For those who have been following this blog, I have been laying it down heavy on the get go. While I do believe philosophy is everyone’s job and not something to be locked up in ivory towers, it’s also important to take breathers from all the thinking and remember what it’s really all about…

So… let’s take a deeeeep breath….

Good.

Breathing is the number one thing you can do to bring yourself back into the present. The other day I read my favorite definition of neurotic so far: “neurotic means fighting the present”.

So, to reduce neurosis (and anxiety/stress in general), breathe. Presence yourself to this moment. Breathe. This also kicks in your parasympathetic nervous system and begins to regulate all your physical functions toward perfect equilibrium.

Ok. Another deep breath…

Good job!

Now enjoy this and let this wonderful little girl remind you why we are all here doing this:

comments

Exactly what I needed to hear!

She’s right! We should all have such insight!

Of all things physical and life sustaining, breathing tops the list. We can go without food for days, even weeks. We may get closer to our ‘hollywood’ weight but we won’t perish immediately. We can live without water for a few days, maybe less depending on conditions but breathing is another matter..yoga, martial arts, meditation even scuba place such emphasis on breathing. Nothing is more important in achieving focus, calming your ‘monkey mind’ or being, “right here, right now”. Go ahead, hold the phone, hold the elevator, hold that thought…just not your breath.
Philip…can I exhale now?

Now that’s a fact!

factThe facts of life are everywhere surrounding us, immersing us in ever new media streams. Radio and TV are already becoming the slow media, even blogs are making way to a bombardment of 140 character factoids wrapped in status updates and riddled with abbreviations and code. If we are not consciously managing our media diet, we can easily get swallowed up in a never-ending barrage of expert opinions, evidence, “truths” created by this or that individual with the apparent proper credentials or endorsements.

But what is a fact?

The Latin root of fact is facere, which simply means doing. A fact is an event that has occurred, the deed has been done. Interestingly, the original use of the word was primarily concerned with “evil” deeds – deeds that require punishment…

The dictionary of current use defines fact as:

  1. Something known to exist or to have happened
  2. Something known to be true

Now… there are some curious issues with either definition…

Who knows what really happened?

Experiments have indicated again and again that human memory appears more fallible than reliable. Multiple observers of the same event will have sometimes drastically different accounts of it, and it has further been shown that those accounts change over time and depending on situational context. So then whose imagination can you trust? Really.

But the event occurred… there is a “Truth”, right? Something that can be proven… Maybe… The core issue here is a materialistic assumption about an objective material universe that exists independent of the observer. That this does not seem to be the case is something that quantum physicists have postulated repeatedly over the course of the last century (does a falling tree in the forest make a sound if nobody listens?). Some even went so far as to suggest that we might be able to affect past events…

One of the oddest studies in that regard that I have come across was an experiment where a random number generator produced strings of ones and zeroes which were carefully sealed in envelopes without anybody observing them. Then, several weeks later, supposed psychics were asked to focus on creating either more ones or more zeroes in the outputs before the envelopes were opened. The curious thing was that they were indeed able to influence the outcomes with statistical significance.

So who can actually without a doubt prove that something did indeed occur?

This question – among other things – gave rise to the theory of Phenomenology in psychology. One of its main tenets being that therapy is a partnership aimed to create better functioning and experience within a social context rather than a doctor (the one who has the facts) and patient (who apparently has the “wrong” facts) relationship in which the patient has to be cured of errant beliefs.

But what about the “Truth”?

truth - next exit

“Believe those seeking truth; doubt those who find it.” – Andre Gide

We want to know. We need some level of stability for our experience, crave safety on a fundamental level (after basic physical needs, the need for safety ranks next in Maslow’s pyramid of needs). And we want to know the “Truth”.

So you want to know the “Truth”? You can’t handle the truth!

Just kidding ;-)

True and False

True and false are primary tools of logic. Logic is a coherent closed and abstract system. Within logic, statements can be evaluated as true, false, currently or ultimately indeterminable. Logic is not reality. In reality, there is no “Truth” – especially not one with a capital T. From a logical perspective most claims of “Truth” are nonsense as they fall into the ultimately indeterminable category. As such “God is love” is equally non-sensical as “God loves pepperoni pizza.

Science, properly conducted, is a process of evaluating probabilities. The scientific method knows no “Truth” – only it’s aberrant cousin materialism who sometimes cloaks itself in science’ name. Apparently something even prominent scientists and thinkers fall prey to at times when they drink enough of their own kool-aid.

Philosophy also knows no “Truth”, only interesting problems – at the very latest, the early sophists figured that one out – which is probably why their reputation was destroyed by those who peddled “Truth” at the time, and why their wisdom inspired name has since become synonymous with opportunism.

Any belief system that claims “Truth” – whether materialistic or spiritualistic – sooner or later will require you to suspend your disbelief. At some point you will be required to accept some basic axiom on which the entire tower of theory and lore is built.

How to live without “Truth”

We do need some stable sense of self and reality in order to function. Each of us holds our own truths. Our values and beliefs make up that which we hold dear, in addition to a collection of probabilities and abstraction systems like logic or mathematics, which together allow us to function in this reality as individuals and in the collective.

Humans need “certainty ” to function. We cannot question everything all the time. If we did… well, you imagine it ;-)

And it’s great. If I had to e.g. revisit gravity every day, I might find myself a bit challenged. It’s a well functioning hypothesis, a good stable platform to work with.

What I do practice is to leave a circuit open in case there is an invitation to revise my understanding of reality. Rely on what I know to be “true”, but be open in case there is new information that might affect its probabilities. Things do change. Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur – times are changing and so are we. And, on top of that, I do not simply accept change, but demand it, challenge myself to transform by engaging with change consciously and creatively.

The idea of growth

The idea of continuous growth has been applied to human systems, and mostly to externals such as wealth and what is commonly referred to as progress.

Growing up as a child I was still reeling in the echoes of the constant progress (and infinite consumption) ideology that had been installed in my parents and the whole post WW2 generation. While ideas of sustainability and the need for holistic closed circuit resource loops have replaced my notions of economic progress, and while I carefully embrace the progress of technology, I primarily hold on to growth as it relates to human evolution (especially as I believe it is crucial if we wish to not find our own demise in uncontrolled technical evolution).

While I find solace and stability in what I do know so far, I have fun challenging myself to ever new visions of self: who I know – and sometimes don’t know – I can become. Within that, I take great care to balance love of, forgiveness for and trust in who I have already become.

Who you can be tomorrow

yoga as a birdYoga can be seen as a tool set and a collection of means to allow you to do something tomorrow that you are not able to do today – whether this relates to your physical, emotional or mental experience of self. One of the wonderful stories my yoga teacher shared with me at some point was the idea of yoga as a bird:

  • The head faces forward and looks at ever new expanding horizons coming into view.
  • The wings represent your ability to adopt new helpful habits (including habits of emotion or thought) and your ability to let go of that which no longer serves you. In their interplay, they allow for continuous course correction.
  • The tail stands for our human tendency to form habits in the first place – it is what provides us with stability.

I have always enjoyed this story of the bird. I treat “facts” that way. I can see what I can see now, but I know I am in flight and new ideas, new notions will soon show themselves in the distance. While I base myself on things I know to be “true”, I also constantly adopt and let go to reach that which I am setting out to attain.

So…here is an invitation: as you go through your days, ask yourself, what is fact to you? How attached are you to ideas or concepts that others might find ludicrous and vice versa? What new things have you learned lately? How have you shifted your perception of reality?

Staying open

alice`Who are YOU?’ said the Caterpillar.


This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

Now that’s a fact! ;-)

comments

What a powerful, thought provoking post. I’ll comment but not before I’ve read it at least a couple more times. So much here, I feel as though I’ve had the most exquisite meal but my system can’t easily digest such rich fare. That’s a fact!

Thank you so much for taking the time and giving it your attention in the first place ;-) I consider that a most valuable gift…

Likewise. Fascinating stuff! Requires more than a jot and dash to address. Apologize if I don’t get to it right away. One quick note though, love the Alice in Wonderland etching and actually used this exact same image in a personal, ‘underground’ marketing campaign back in the late 60s… Hopefully more later.

A Multi-Solipsistic Manifesto

Carl Sagan once said “If you want to make a cake, you have to start with the universe.” As I am beginning this blog, let’s start with the beginning. Scientific theory requires that previous theories are accounted for by any new theory. The idea of solipsism is not a new one, but seems to this day a good starting point.
Here a piece I wrote recently that describes this starting point of investigation…

solipsism

I seem to be here right now

No matter which religious, spiritual, or materialistic idea ultimately holds true, the one and only thing I do know as a fact is that I seem to be here right now. With that, I acknowledge, that all my memories of the past and all my projections into the future are in my imagination. “I” seem(s) to be an immediate Point of Perception (PoP).

You seem to be here right now

While I cannot prove to you that either one of us is actually here, I seem to be writing this, and you seem to be reading this. While there is no Turing test for consciousness, nor an effective zombie test, I give you the benefit of doubt, and assume that you, too, are real and an equally valid Point of Perception. I request the same of you.

Experience requires separation

For me to have the experience of writing this and for you to have the experience of reading this, and for any experience to actually be experienced, separation of Points of Perception seems required. While there would logically be an underlying unity, a oneness, of all existence, you and I need to be separate in order for us to have any experience. Within this separation, I realize that if my perception is accurate, there appears to be one universe and one biosphere. As such it would make sense for all of us to collaborate and aim to make each other’s experience as pleasant as possible.

Experience levels

From the level of Points of Perception, we are equals. Anything that appears to perceive would therefore have to be on the same level, of the same value, no matter what kind of bio-robot it appears to manifest in (plant, animal or human of any kind, let alone other possible life forms). It is indeed the diversity on levels below the Point of Perception that makes this life interesting.

Separation can be overcome

On the PoP level, there is “I” and apparent “Other”. In order for there to be experience, this is required. Experience unfolds in dualistic poles. If I remember that ultimately, there is a unity, I can choose to integrate “Other” in my definition of self, embrace the polarity and hold the whole spectrum. In actively doing so, I experience connectedness, love and belonging.

All transactions require agreement

Right now, in this transaction of writing and reading a text, we agree on many things, to begin with, the language and meaning of the symbols and words used to express these ideas. If we did not agree on these things or meaning thereof, we could not have this exchange. At the same time, this agreement is based on probability clusters. We seem to agree on our definition of terms, but even that is to be continuously refined.

An agreeable meaning

All this might seem obvious. If this was a starting point for our actions in this world, though, we would not face many of the atrocities committed every day in the name of noble goals. If we truly accept that we are separate and alone in our Point of Perception, and that we can never even begin to understand someone else’s, our actions would show it. We can strive for empathy and compassion, and as such, we need to start from common ground. I seem to be here right now, I like to feel good, I don’t like to feel bad. Sometimes I am afraid, alone; sometimes I feel confident and connected. I am interested in you because you are different. Through sharing with each other we can enhance our understanding of this world. Each one of us brings something to the table. Each one of us seems to be here to provide their piece to the puzzle. Due to the dualistic principle of experience described above, the universe is full of challenges. Challenges are opportunities for transformation.

How can you and I transform this world together?

…’cause why else would we be here?

comments

Being a mother I know that it all starts here…as Gandhi says…

“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”

That holds true for how to solve most of the world’s problems I believe…like children, we must lovely freely, forgive immediately, and laugh often…and then figure out how to allow our children to grow and flourish in this state.

I think with any striving to communicate, entered into honestly and openly, with a desire to connect on equal ground, has the potential to create something new. Something other than two separate personal points of view. an understanding. The world is transformed when this connection is made.
jerry

What? I think I better read that again.

Wittgenstin explains 3DTV.

Allright. Kinda dry and you make a number of proposals and assumptions that ask for our agreement rather than providing proof that they are true. I might argue that it is not necessary to integrate the ‘other’ into ‘myself’ in order to feel empathy or to experience connectedness and love. Also, although we share a common language, when it comes to the intricate and subtle shadings of meaning in the words we use and the ideas we present, we may well have differences in our interpretations and understandings (thus smokinjoe’s Wittgenstein whose greatest contribution to philosophy was his investigation into the nature of semantics). Whether the universe is “full of challenges” solely because of the “dualistic principle of existence” doesn’t seem to necessarily follow and your final statement that I understand to be, “The reason you and I are here is to transform the world”, is a a statement of purely personal idealism. But those quibbles aside, and having a fondness for the zen-like, ‘unified field’ theory of existence (possibly based on mystical experiences in earlier days), I put aside my argumentative nature for the moment and say, “sounds good, what’s next?!”

Applied EsoteriX. What the #%$@!

Applied EsoteriX? What the #%$@! is that supposed to mean?

Applied EsoteriX is about:

  • Synthesizing the various wisdom traditions of the world
  • Putting perennial wisdom into contemporary language
  • Helping to create a new global cultural operating system

…and ultimately: to give you perspectives and tools to create your own meaning in life and have better relationships with the world around you.

What does this mean?

this machine don't run on woo-wooWell, let’s take a step back and look at esoterics in the more traditional way: In any religious tradition we find esoteric and exoteric components. The exoteric component (from greek exo: outer) consists of the stories told to the common people (what Marx referred to as “Opium for the Masses”). It’s what allows people to abdicate their personal responsibility to a “greater” something (the same dynamics apply in any pseudo-religious social movement), and it is what various power structures over the centuries have used to control the population (your life might suck here on earth, but if you are a good _[insert  religion here]_ you will make it to _[insert some sort of milk and honey or nothing exists place here]_ in your next life).

Esoterics on the other hand are what traditionally has been passed on to initiates, to the chosen ones that would join the inner circle of whichever movement, and over the years, some of it got written down and shared (Islam has Sufism, Christianity has gnostics and the Vatican, Judaism has Quabala, Buddhism has Zen and Tantra, and there are many more variations). While there are different symbol systems used, different stories told, most esoteric practices have one thing in common: they require taking full responsibility for yourself and your actions. Esoterics are about the applicable parts of religion, the tools, perspectives, and means by which a more meaningful existence can be created, and by which one learns to relate to self and other in free and – at the same time – responsible ways.

Unfortunately, esoteric studies have received a questionable reputation – especially over the last fifty years – or at least since the purple shirted crowds emerged, speaking of goddesses, unicorns and yet more better “other” worlds (including ones located on passing comets which require a specific brand of sneakers to be worn on).

This fell straight into the old Cartesian debate of mind vs. spirit. Descartes’ compromise with the church that allowed him to pursue his medical explorations has created a deep chasm between materialism and spiritualism. One denying any other world but the world our brains experience through the epiphenomenon of consciousness (materialism often cloaked as science), the other denying this world, which each of us experiences at times as all too real.

It might seem obvious that neither can alone provide sufficient answers to the question of meaning. We require a combination of both. In Uncle Al’s words: “Religion is the aim, science the method.

From African tribalism to Anthroposophy, from Alchemy to Yoga, from Tibetan Buddhism to Magick, I have found that there are uncanny similarities in their esoteric teachings – the human experience is not that different around the world after all…

But the way these empirical findings have been expressed differs indeed. Different languages provide not just different words and grammar, but entirely different cognitive structures and ways to comprehend reality.

Now this is a great thing. It provides us with many facets, many perspectives, multiple points of comprehension. But, like a cubist painting, it is sometimes a little tricky to make out what each angle is clearly depicting.

Hence Applied Esoterics. Posts here will be about ideas, thoughts, and experiences as they occur in the 21st century, in the language of the current times, with a rational mind, an open heart, and with the lessons learned from applying wisdom traditions from around the world.

The goal? Two-fold:

  • Give you perspectives and tools to enhance your experience of being here
  • Ultimately entice you to live as a prototype for humanity, in the long run creating a new way of being human.

Because it’s time: Our current civilization is in crisis. We have learned that we live in one biosphere. Any child can now download pictures of the earth from space, but many programs in our consciousness are still running 20th century – or even older – code, still tied to our emotional-territorial imperatives. We require a new global operating system.

Hence the need for new human prototypes, for people willing to live in ways too adventurous for the masses, but which are still grounded in human history. Hence the need for artists and creatives to take their rightful place as beacons for society’s development. Hence the need for you!

So let’s get to it…

comments

I have just one thing to say…HELL YEAH! Great to have you here Philip…thanks for joining us and look forward to joining you on this adventure.

i look forward to your blog

Sounds good. Set the controls for the heart of the sun and all that jazz… I’m ready to engage.

Hell Yeah! Please keep blogging.