118 – Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? III

This is an update on my attempt to answer what I believe to be the most challenging questions posed to the human mind: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? These questions were immortalized by Paul Gauguin on one of his most beautiful and enigmatic paintings (The painting can be seen in the Pictures page. See posts 78 and 95 for previous attempts.).

Where do we come from?

We emerge out of a primordial and transforming Source; a self-organizing, self-reflective phenomenon whose onward movement we call Evolution. But Evolution is just the self-generating process with which … amid trial and error, formation and dissolution … the primordial Source unfolds into higher and higher orders of complexity and order. And because the progression of the Source is relatively measurable, its ingenuity evident, its self-determination palpable, some of us call it God, but we tend to call God what we cannot understand; some of us call it Nature, but Nature is just its creative manifestation into myriad components; some of us call it the Big Bang, but that was merely the birth of one of many universes.

And even though the Source is thriving inside of us and around us … in the pulse of primal blood in our veins, in our inborn urge to bond and reproduce, in the compelling instinct to adapt, in the boundless creativity of Life, in the selective self-organization of galaxies into spiral and globular shapes, in the constant birth of solar and atomic systems out of recycled forms of energy and mass, in the self-reflecting contemplation of self-reflection … we are not developed enough to comprehend it – yet.

What are we?

We are manifestations of the Source (infinitesimally small from the dimension of the stars and immensely immense from the dimension of the atoms), mandated to obey from the moment of origin its universal blueprint … self-generate, self-organize, bond, adapt, reproduce … so its onward movement is renewed and perpetuated; and yet it infuses us with a certain degree of freedom … mostly instinctive but highly self-determined … to choose, to act, to transform, to see beyond immediacy. Therefore we are sources of Transformation.

Where are we going?

Driven mostly by primal instincts and limited by internal and external environments, we forge ahead, pregnant with possibilities, transforming ourselves and our world until we no longer can, to begin the inexorable process of dissolution back into the ancient Source from which we initially emerged. But this process is not an End but the Transformation in which, in equal measure to

what we have done,

what we have imagined,

what we have created,

what we have destroyed,

what we have taken,

what we have given,

how we have changed ourselves and our world … the significance of our Legacy … will, or will not transcend into higher levels of complexity, into the beginning of a new chapter in other realms of the self-organizing, the self-transforming and … since its onward movement towards complexity is evident … the self-imagining Source.

Think of the Socratic Method – still stimulating critical thinking and illuminating ideas; think of Mandela’s courage – still inspiring a pacifist rebellion against the tyranny of unaccountable power; think of Einstein’s E=mc2 – still challenging our understanding of reality. The deeds of Socrates and Mandela and Einstein live on. The measure of their contribution to Humanity transcended their lives and is with us, encouraging us, challenging us, transforming us.

How far into the future our Legacy will live depends on how significant what we do with our life is.

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117 – Can we look not at what Separates us but at what Unites us …

Early in my life I was introduced to the concept that “Everything resembles everything”. The search for the Origin of this concept led me to Anaxagoras, the Greek Philosopher who said that in Nature “Everything is in everything”; the search for its Meaning led me to study the theories of some great thinkers. As I began to understand the Philosophical Thought behind the mathematical and insightful prowess of their theories, I came to the realization that, as a human animal, we are constituent parts of Nature; forms of Life insignificant from the perspective of all of Nature, yet significant from the perspective of the world of the atoms and molecules and cells from which we are made. And so, by trying to understand the world within us, I began to understand its interconnection with the world from which we come to be what we are.

Spiritual leaders and great philosophers have told us in many ways throughout the ages that we are One with the Universe, and although this Truth sounds wonderful, it is alien, detached, inscrutable to us. The main reason for this detachment is that between the reaffirmation of Science … with its increasing capacity to explore the farthest reaches of space and the minute world of the atomic particles … that we are apart from those worlds, and the affirmation of Organized Religions … with their dividing dogmatism that their god is the “true” god … are making it impossible for us to perceive our Oneness, our intimate unity with Nature.

It is thus amazing to realize that Religion, with a fundamental credo that man is created in the image of the Creator, and Science, with enough proven theories which confirm our intimate connection with Nature, have obscured instead of elucidating the connection.

Through proven scientific theories (in brackets below) and the lessons of ancient philosophies, our connection with atoms and galaxies … and with all of Nature … is apparent.

See it for yourself.

As atoms and galaxies … and everything in Nature … * We are congregations of elements unfolding as a unified whole [Bell’s Theorem]. * We are, at the most fundamental level, forms of energy and mass in relative states of equilibrium, and once equilibrium cannot be sustained we cease to exist in our current form [Relativity]. * We are syntheses of complementary properties manifested as particle-like in our individuality and wave-like in our participation in the evolutionary process of a species and universal-like in the sharing of common characteristics; we are not one property at a time, we are all of them at the same time [Complementarity]. * We are embodiments of the pre-disposition of all things in Nature to adapt … with a degree of choice … to changing and challenging environments [Evolution]. * We are transient manifestations of existence developing in relative autonomy, yet we are completely dependent upon our ability to sustain a more or less continuous equilibrium between integration and dissipation of energy sources [Dissipative Structures]. * We are self-bounded, self-generating and self-perpetuating systems infused with the innate capacity to make and regulate our own elements, while preserving a relatively pre-determined structural organization [Autopoiesis]. * We are relatively self-governed systems yet pre-programmed to reiterate the primal mandate to Self-regenerate and Bond amid uncertainty and infinite probabilities; thus ensuring the continuity of a creative evolutionary movement towards Complexity and Order (Mandelbrot Set). * We are instruments for change, ultimately determined by our internal and external environments, yet possessing the extraordinary capacity to manipulate and be manipulated by those environments [Quantum Field Theory]. * We are catalysts for transformation. As the world can change us, we can change the world.

These are some of the fundamental characteristics of the primal mandate steering the natural Process Darwin called Evolution; they are the blueprint that, inciting creativity and a constant movement towards Complexity and Order, has allowed, amid trial and error, the evolution of a being so beautiful as to be able to self-reflect upon the meaning and the power of its own capacity to self-reflect.

Science and Religion are the two most powerful sources influencing our understanding of ourselves and of the world from where we come into existence; shouldn’t we demand of them to focus not on what separates us, but on what unites us?

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116 – The Primal, Sensual, Creative Creature Throbbing within us …

Without a rival we know of, the human mind … that mystery of all mysteries … wanders anywhere it pleases – imagining infinity, scrutinizing atoms, feeling feelings, remembering what’s been learned, mapping the future   –   a visionary without par.

But we let our minds be imprisoned under the chains of dogma, shying away from self-knowledge for the pleasure and comforts of those who care for us not, estranged from our own Beauty for the pleasure and comforts of those who deceive us to engorge their greed.

Obey our authority, they demand, even if it destroys you and divides you and makes you hate. Kill for our macabre beliefs, they demand, even if those we kill have done nothing to us;

Without a rival we know of, the human mind … that mystery of mysteries … when given a bit of a chance, and a bit of freedom, blooms like an Einstein, or a Beethoven, or a Rilke.

E=mc2 … the greatest insight into the nature of Reality: Self-reflection in Nature.

The Choral Symphony … a joyful cry out of a world without sound.

“Help me. You see, we slip back,

without knowing it, from our advance,

into something we didn’t intend; where

we can become caught up, as in a dream,

and where we could die without waking.”* … a cry from a beautiful mind begin us to see that, imprisoned under the chains of those who do not want us free to Know, we will never come to know the incredible beauty within us: That primal, sensual, creative creature throbbing within us … fiercely craving to know and to be known, to understand and to be understood, to love and to be loved.

* Rilke

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115 – We Have Lost our Way …

Two sets of things we already possess will help us out of a Paradigm ruled by the unsustainable concept of “Unlimited Growth”, which not only incites greed, conflict, destruction and division, but also devastates our humanity and our world; and move instead into a Paradigm ruled by self-reflection, prosperity with moderation and harmony with Nature, which will bring us into a world of peace, happiness, understanding, love.

These two things are:

1 – A revival in Education of three of the fundamental principles … know thyself, moderation, and the eradication of dogma … which guided Greek civilization into a Golden Age of the Mind ruled by Critical Thinking and Self-reflection.

And 2 – The incorporation into all branches of Learning of the Fact that, being indivisible from Nature and as dependent on environments as molecules or galaxies, the essence of most physical scientific theories apply to us as they apply to everything in Nature.

The essence of Relativity is Equilibrium, which we innately know how to achieve from the moment we come into Life (breathe in=breathe out; motion=rest; eat and drink=discharge) until the moment we die.

The essence of Bell’s Theorem is the Fact that we are a congregation of myriad parts intimately interconnected to create the complex organization of what we experience as a dynamic, cohesive and self-directed self.

The essence of Complementarity is the Fact that we are syntheses of complementary properties … utterly unique in our individuality and common members of a species (not one property or the other, both at the same time) … each property complementing the other and unable to exist without one another.

The essence of Dissipative Structures is the Fact that as complex systems we grow, develop and move around through the intake and release of energy sources.

The essence of Evolution is the Fact that, although our development is relatively pre-determined by internal and external evolutionary processes, we do posses a relative degree of choice in adaptation.

The essence of the Mandelbrot Set is the Fact that we innately know how to organize the structure of our bodies by replicating a primitive yet pliable model.

The essence of Autopoiesis is the Fact that, self-contained within a sensory boundary, we self-generate and self-perpetuate a fundamental yet flexible configuration.

The essence of Quantum Field Theory is the Fact that in the midst of constant environmental change, we are catalysts for transformation with the capacity to evolve into higher orders of complexity.

Although the Golden Age of Greece was far from perfect … slavery and the complete disregard for women’s participation in matters of State and Science … the fundamental principles that guided it to reach a pinnacle in human civilization give us a simple and attainable pathway to achieve a better society; and Science, with its profound insights into the nature of reality, gives us not only the blueprint to better understand what we are, but also to understand the world from which we come into Life

The dominance of our current Paradigm is clearly unsustainable and devastating; it is thus that without a shift into a creative and sustainable Paradigm we are lost.

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114 – On Vacation …

I am on an extended vacation, but I will try to post again on December 1st.

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113 – Metamorphosis …

The word Metamorphosis derives from the Greek (meta) “change” and (morph) “form” or more simply, to Transform.

The most common example of metamorphosis in Nature is the transformation of the caterpillar into a butterfly, but we do not usually think of metamorphosis as part of our own development. And yet, after the moment of conception, upon the fusion of a male sperm and a female ovum, the human body begins a passage through the most amazing series of metamorphoses in its labor to adapt to environments.

Ovum and sperm morph into a cell imparted with the primal knowledge to not only replicate itself, but also to create hundreds of diverse cells that, replicating themselves billions of times, re-create a brand new yet typical human being. Without question, this kind of metamorphosis takes a lot of intelligence, ingenuity and, especially, self-reflection. Think about it: Although the whole process is done mostly by instinct, cells could not remember exactly how, when and where to build and replicate themselves in concert with the ongoing transformation of the whole organism without a degree … instinctive as it might be … of self-reflection.

This instinctive self-reflection is the primordial learning force of Evolution that brings together trillions of cells into building, progressively, more sophisticated systems … skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous … to support the morphing of the embryo into the fetus, and the fetus into an oxygen-breathing being, and ultimately the newly born into a fully developed human being progressively more conscious of the capacity to self-reflect. This is one of the greatest metamorphoses in Nature: From purely instinctive self-reflection into conscious self-reflection.

Embedded within the relative stability for over eight hundred thousand years of the composition of the earth’s atmosphere, the human being has slowly been able to morph into the most consciously self-reflective creature we know of in Nature. But under a Paradigm dominated by conflict, hate and greed that benefits a few, we are … fully consciously … rapidly altering the composition of the atmosphere with high concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide and methane to levels never experienced in all of our history; thus changing dramatically the environment that has slowly and steadily nurtured our evolution.

Will we, including those accelerating the change with their devastating greed, be able to morph … hastily, intelligently and successfully … into the altered human being that the rapidly changing environment will demand? We can only hope.

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112 – Will we be able to find the Beauty in us?

How can Humanity be such opposing extremes?

On one side we are a most beautiful, intelligent, adaptable and highly self-reflective species; on the other side we are the cruelest, stupidest, most dogmatic and … with a brain highly capable of rational thinking … the most irrational creature in Nature.

In a time when the survival of our civilization is in question, what side of us will prevail, if at all? Will we be able to find the Beauty in us, or will we let our stupidity destroy it before we even find it?

We belong to a Natural Order that is as old … probably even older … than our Universe. All things in Nature unfold, including us, by making self-determined choices, or forced by internal and external environmental demands, or by a combination of both. We walk a path that meanders through the continuum we call Existence making choices with a degree of freedom, as we are pushed and pulled by our environments through a spectrum of opposites. At one end of the spectrum we find our instinctive drives – at the opposite end our self-determined choices. At one end we find our destructive actions – at the opposite end our creativity and ingenuity. At one end our capacity for cruelty – at the opposite end our tenderness and love. At one end our fear – at the other end our courage. At one end our irrational aggression – at the other end our nurturing rationality. At one end our unconscious meandering – at the other end our conscious and self-reflective capacity to choose. The closer we move towards one of the extremes, the more estranged we become from the other.

Under a Paradigm based on Aggression and Consumerism, we are currently dominated by irrational and destructive choices. And we will not change unless we realize that, as elements of a Natural Order that endows us with a relative degree of freedom to choose, we can take charge of our destiny.

We posses a degree of freedom to make conscious choices to decide on which side of the spectrum we want our lives to be, but most of the time our choices are dominated by unconscious instincts that are influenced, not only by our development, but also by the choices of others.

As far as we know, we are the most beautiful creature in Nature … intelligent, adaptable, ingenious, visionary, highly self-reflective … but instead of choosing a course towards the beautiful and nurturing side of our spectrum, we are letting the immoderate greed of a few to choose for us an irrational and destructive course that is putting civilization, as we know it, in peril.

We will find the Beauty in us when every human being knows that, although we must unfold within the boundaries of a natural Order that allows a degree of freedom to choose, nobody … nobody … has the right to tell us how to choose our freedom or take away our right to choose.

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111 – What has Become of Our Capacity to Reason?

It has not been my intent to write about current events. My focus has been, and will continue to be, a Vision of an attainable world void of the dogmatism that leads us into division and hate and destruction, a Vision of a world open to our understanding of the natural processes from which we emerge into Life. But in lieu of the irrationality of current events, it is impossible to remain silent.

In the midst of an unprecedented environmental crisis, and without immediate threat to its sovereignty, the United States … with the subdued assent of its citizens … is on its march to war, again.

The ‘stated’ reason for this war is to destroy a brutal people who call themselves the Islamic State (or IS or ISIL or ISIS), a people engendered, mind you, by humiliation and hate for the gruesome devastation of their homeland.

But the ‘real’ reason for the United States to go to war is not to destroy ISIS, but to destroy its own weaponry (which was provided initially to rebel factions and is now in the hands of ISIS), and with full knowledge that the countries in the region are abundantly armed to handle the threat, to provide fresh new weaponry to ‘moderate’ rebel factions, thus gorging the ravenous apparatus of the greediest and most destructive corporation on earth.

We have done many irrational things in our evolution … it is supposed to be the way we learn … but instead of growing wiser, we are growing more and more irrational.

Nature has nurtured us for thousands of years, endowing us with the capacity, the resources, the intelligence, the ingenuity to advance the course of our development by imparting Education … free of dogma and the influence of money interests … to every human being on earth; to focus on expanding, not restricting, the reach of the human mind; and instead of inciting conflict, to resolve it with tolerance and understanding of its roots.

It is therefore terribly sad to see that in the face of the greatest environmental crisis Humanity has ever faced, the current leading power on earth … the people that showed us all a most beautiful experiment in Freedom … willingly walking, for all the wrong reasons, into the most irrational course imaginable.

What has become of our capacity to Reason?

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110 – The Primordial Force of Life in Us …

(I am trying a new format with this post … not a shot at poetry … hoping to accentuate the concluding thought with the cascading sentences).

 

When we feel the beat of our heart

or the warmth of our skin

or the pulse of blood running through our veins

or the instinctive need to take a breath

or the onslaught of desire

or the survival urge to constantly re-invent ourselves from within,

we are feeling the Primordial Force of Life in us.

 

The Primordial Force of Life is not just in us, it is

… in many forms and in many orders …

in everything alive.

But because it manifests temporarily in us,

and because we are beginning to comprehend

how it gives us Life

and how it ties us to the cycles of Nature

and how it gives us a degree of freedom to choose,

we have come to know

that we have the power

… some more than others …

to direct the Force of Life in us

and make an impact,

not only in our lives,

but in the Life of the world that gives us Life.

 

The Primordial Force of Life in us,

with our advancing awareness of the degree of freedom it bestows upon us,

is our most magnificent possession, and yet

we allow others to impose on us

their vision of our lives.

 

Why?

 

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109 – Self-reflection (Part III) …

How incredible it is for a mind to be aware of its own capacity to self-reflect.

Whichever way our Universe had its beginning, it was born with an absolute, non-negotiable rule: If anything coming into being within its realm was to exist as an ongoing and evolving Process, no matter how complex its development or the diversity of its components or the distribution of its contents, it will have to find a way to keep its fundamental complements … Mass (as condensed energy) and Energy (as liberated mass) … through ups and downs, creation and transformation, growth and repose, in relative equivalence.

This is the universal rule Einstein encapsulated in E=mc2: “The mass of a body is a measure of its energy content”, and vice versa, I add. But the true significance of the equation is not the quantity of energy and mass contents in a body; it is the fact that they have to be in relative equilibrium … one content always equivalent to the other … as the body develops and evolves. And a continuous equilibrium between two contents cannot be achieved without a degree of self-reflection.

Although the equilibrium between the contents can be thrown off by internal and external events, it must be restored if the body is to remain functional. Once this self-reflective process is no longer feasible, the body disintegrates back into the environment.

And thus, for instance, for a body like ours to remain functional while we develop and evolve, our total mass content (bone, muscle, tissue) must remain in relative equilibrium with our total energy content (action, motion, force). This is primordial self-reflection. Our bodies do it instinctively … mostly without our awareness … which is why we get hungry and sleepy when it is time to replenish the energy exerted during activity, and this is why we feel unwell when our body cannot bring us back into equilibrium.

And so it is for solar systems or atoms or cells: In order to remain functional as they develop and evolve, their total mass content (sun, planets, moons, asteroids – nucleus, electrons – protoplasm, membrane) must remain in relative equilibrium with their total energy content (the push and pull of gravitation, kinetic energy, the forces needed to keep the units together). Once this primordial self-reflection cannot be sustained, they disintegrate back into their environments.

Self-reflection is inherent at different levels and degrees in everything in Nature. And we are no exemption to the rule. The big, big difference with us is that … as far as we know, and due to a relatively steady and beneficial environment … we are developing one of the greatest gifts Nature can bestow on its creations: Conscious self-reflection.

But look at us, we are wasting this greatest gift away on wars and greed and deceit and hate, instead of self-reflecting on the grave consequences we are bringing upon us with the imbalance between the unsustainable consumption of our exponential growth and the limited resources of the environment in which our lives depend.

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