181– What do I really Love?

I love humankind. I love the incredible beauty, complexity, dexterity, ingenuity of the human being; its boundless capacity for love, for tenderness, for compassion, for imagining the unimaginable and, oftentimes, making it real. I love its capacity to see patterns in Nature, to feel awe in the presence of beauty, to create out of its hands and mind beauty as never heard or seen before. I love what it can do with its own body, shaping it, making it stronger, healthier, pushing it into challenging environments, making love, slowly, not just to impregnate like most animals, but to feel pleasure and give pleasure. I love its desire to travel around the earth to experience other cultures, other ways of living, other ways of learning. I love its capacity to evolve out of the bonding of two cells, already knowing how to self-organize into the most amazing creature we know of in Nature, already possessing the gift of language, the urge to survive, the need for love, the want for learning, the curiosity to look at itself and wonder about its roots, about its destiny.

Yet I cringe at the capacity of the human being to reach the most atrocious levels of cruelty, intolerance, hate, deceit, destruction; its capacity to kill, not for sustenance like most animals, but out of hate, barbarism, greed, envy, and, oftentimes, horribly killing in the hundreds and thousands without a hint of remorse, but instead with pride in the repugnance of its actions. I cringe at the capacity of the human being to use fear and deceit to incite the destruction of other cultures, other set of beliefs, for the sole purpose of appeasing its own fears.

I do believe that human beings are born with certain inherited, latent capacities … language, sensuality, curiosity, love … but no one, absolutely no one, is born with the capacity to be cruel, hateful, destructive; these capacities are incited through continued and premeditated oppression, brutality, torture, abuse, ridicule, humiliation; and these capacities are more damaging and lasting when incited in the vulnerable and impressionable human mind during the formative years of early childhood.

Yet I marvel at exceptional human beings; those who go through unbearable emotional and physical experiences and, seemingly out of nowhere, muster the courage to turn themselves instead into creators of incredible forms of beauty: Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, Mandela’s untiring search for justice. These individuals have shown us that great beauty sometimes comes from pain.  But they are so few, when compared with the innumerable ones throughout our history who, attaining a degree of power, lash out what was done to them on the vulnerable, the powerless, the innocent.

There is no escape from the Fact that modern human beings are a consequence of a primordial evolutionary process, a consequence of an ascending universal force that has brought into Life the miracle of conscious self-reflection. We are the recipients of this miracle. And so I do believe that the destiny of humankind is not to incite hate and oppression, but to propagate and deepen the knowledge of the incredible beauty of what we have come be, what we have come to possess.

Believing in this is what I really love.

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180 – My Life Meanders between Opposing Complements of Existence

Right  <>  Wrong

Temporary  <>  Lasting

Supple  <>  Rigid

Free  <>  Dependent

Creative  <>  Destructive

Sobering  <> Trivial

Knowledge  <>   Ignorance

Tolerance  <>  Prejudice

Courage  <>  Fear

Security  <>  Danger

Dynamic  <>  Passive

Organized  <>  Chaotic

Self-determined  <>  Pre-determined

Conscious  <>  Instinctive

Open  <>  Closed

Love  <>  Hate

Happiness  <>  Terror

Compassion  <>   Cruelty

Feminine  <>  Masculine

Health  <>  Illness

Pleasure  <>  Pain

Truth  <>  Deceit

Light  <>  Darkness

Soul/Mind/Spirit  <>  Body

Life  <>  Death

Etc., etc., etc.

My Life is like the flow of a river meandering between a spectrum of the opposing complements of Existence, as I choose, oftentimes consciously, but mostly by instinct, which side of the spectrum to lean towards to, which one to move away from. There are times when I take measure of the power of a side, which one is strongest, which one weaker, which one can change my life, which one just the course of a day. There are times when a side has the power to overtake me, even if I don’t want to … prejudice, for instance, instead of tolerance … and there are times when I have the power to overtake them … courage, for instance, instead of fear. There are times when leaning towards a side makes me feel ugly and scared, while moving towards the opposite side makes me feel beautiful and happy.

It is uncanny and utterly fascinating to be able to look back into my past, recollecting, examining the decisions I made or those that were made for me; remembering the push and pull of opposites on those decisions, how they shaped me, how I shaped them, how they led me into corners … as when I was enrolled into a school controlled by religious dogma, or when my father would made me stand for hours with my face against a corner in his room as punishment for being a child … or how they opened doors to new horizons … as when I followed my mother’s example to look for beauty in the midst of chaos, or when I gathered the courage to leave a world intent on constricting the mind, for a world where Knowledge was readily available.

This capacity to examine events that have shaped my life, and to remember, oftentimes vividly, the strength of the forces behind those events, have let me delve into the world of the primal instincts that urge me to survive, to bond, to engender, to learn, to love; and into the world of the spirit that endows me with the power to manipulate those urges, and the wisdom to know when to let them conquer me. This capacity, although not a given, but a privilege, makes me realize what a wondrous creature I am; it gives me insight into the ingenious force that created me from the bond of two minuscule cells, already having the power to envision a path between the opposing complements of Existence, and to choose.

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179 – I Am One of Their Ascendants

The way I think, the way I speak, the way I breathe, the way I walk, the way I love, the way my body is organized, the way I understand and perceive Reality, the way I produce the energy to power my constant transformation, all are the result of the ongoing evolutionary process in which I am embedded; the ascent of an amazing species that, amid a relatively propitious period in the planet’s own evolution, has populated every inhabitable niche on the surface of the earth, and was born to the awareness of self-awareness.

Through this ascent, the human brain has come to develop the complex neuronal connectivity that endows me with a high degree of intelligence, dexterity, a level of inquisitiveness rare in Nature, and the awareness of my own awareness.

But the insecurity, fear, trauma, abuse of a dysfunctional upbringing, and the oppression of an educational system heavily tilted towards dogma and indoctrination to control the young, vulnerable mind, stunted the development of my intelligence to be able to understand and perceive the world that exists beyond the limitations of my organic senses. The combination of these two harmful factors forced the natural defenses of my body to numb not only my feelings, but also my empathy; the wisdom of Nature to halt the complete annihilation of my rebel mind, allowed me to feel nothing, to care for nothing. It has taken me a lifetime to get my feelings back, to awaken my compassion.

It is heartbreaking to realize that I am not an exemption, that the history of my upbringing is accepted as ‘normal’ in most of our cultures.

But the force of a legacy passed along in the lessons of flourishing civilizations and the wisdom of great thinkers, eventually overcame the traumatic events of my upbringing, awakening in me an insatiable need to understand what I am.

I was born with the soul of a rebel, the hunger of a questing mind, the capacity to perceive patterns that sustain the creative order of Nature. And so in my quiet ways I fought any so called ‘authority’ wanting to dictate, oftentimes forcefully, the way I think, live, love, and understand Reality. And so I devoured books, especially those that opened my mind to new horizons and dared question the status quo. And so I learned to love science, philosophy, poetry, music, especially classical music, because they fed my uncanny capacity to perceive balance and beauty out the chaotic world we have created.

My rebelliousness, the hunger of my mind, my capacity to perceive patterns, have taken me, as someone said, to places I would not know how to get to. They have helped me feel my participation in the magnificent order, equilibrium, and astonishing beauty of our Universe; they have helped me clearly see that I could not have attained a highly evolved level of perception without the heritage of innumerable generations of thinkers, lovers, dreamers, rebels, pioneers, wanderers, visionaries, untiringly seeking knowledge through the mysteries of the mind, tenaciously wanting to unravel the Source that engenders the boundless creativity and beauty of the evolutionary process we call Life.

I am one of their ascendants.

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178 –A Touch of Wonder …

One day, reading in the living room I hear a thump in the enclosed patio. I run out afraid a bird has hit a window. I am right. A little hummingbird lays unconscious on the cement floor just outside the patio.

I carefully pick it up, weightless and limp but alive; it is breathing. I hold it in the palm of my hand for what seems a long time. Then, abruptly, it opens its eyes … did not move … just lay there, catching its breath.

It fluffs its feathers as if shaking off whatever knocked it down, and straightens up. I can feel its tiny feet as it stands on my hand, looking around, checking things out.

And then … and then … the wonder:

The little hummingbird flies up like a tiny helicopter to the level of my face, and hovers there, staring straight into my eyes, looking at me with those tiny black beads, one first, then the other, as if wanting to remember.

I cannot help but smile; I am making eye contact with a tiny miracle.

Then it takes off, like a little jet plane, out of sight in seconds, leaving me awestruck.

I take a deep breath realizing I hadn’t been breathing. This little miracle took my breath away, making me feel the joy of being alive with the intensity of a moment I will never forget.

Moments like this compensate, and make me forget … not erase … the moments – especially those that hurt others –  I created with my stupidity and my mistakes when I was trying to survive; learning that Life is not always wonderful, but that it is constantly offering me its wonders.

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177 – The Universal Language …

Upon genesis, everything in Nature is infused with the self-propelled universal process of Becoming: Self-organizing, bonding, self-generating, adapting, self-perpetuating, transforming. This process is written in the ovum and the sperm that created me. And from the moment those two cells became One, a Self was infused with the process of creating what ‘I’ will be.

Not knowing that I have known from the start, I instinctively followed what everybody else has followed before me; creating the language through which I instruct every cell I engender within me, with the common makeup of the human species, and with that makeup, my cells recreate and recreate the uniqueness of me until the day I die.

This language … this intimate conversation between what I create and what creates me … is the most important thing there is; my life depends on it.

This language … this conversation … is how my body unfolds and creates my mind; is how species are created and evolve; is how solar systems form and bind together; is how spiral galaxies keep myriad stars spinning in a synchronized dance within their arms; is how billions/trillions of galaxies, and all their contents, create a Universe that can engender me, like everyone else – unique – yet Oh, so common.

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176 – The Saddest Thing …

Anyone who has witnessed the eyes of a human being at the moment of death, can attest to have seen the departure of Life from the body, leaving in place the indescribable unknown we all must face in our return to where we came from. But experiences like this, instead of reaffirming how encompassing, transient, fragile and implausible Life is, only reinforce the illusion of our sense of individuality, our distance from each other, our separation from the natural world, thus veiling the reality we have not been able to grasp – refuse to grasp – that we are immersed in an environment that connects us all as participants in the unfolding of the organism we call humankind.

Life is energy in motion; never at rest. It has its own sparkle, its own impetus, its own power to constantly self-renew. We are immersed in a living atmosphere in which we participate in a constant process of consumption and dissipation that perpetuates self-renewal. But when this process cannot be sustained, when the power to self-renew is no longer there, we die – of old age, injury, disease, lack of oxygen, starvation.

Our consumption and release of energy sources make a relative impact on the atmosphere that supports and dictates our lives. But because we have made Consumption a god to service a few … it is the measure of success, the measure of happiness, the measure of power, the measure of control … and since this god demands a growing number of consumers to unendingly consume, we have runaway population growth. We have populated every habitable niche on the surface of the planet, and our level of consumption, our intake and release of energy sources, is altering – rapidly and severely – the chemical balance of the environment in which our lives depend.

Our current world population is at seven and a half billion. And with the worldwide number of daily births at 360,000, which more than doubles that of daily deaths at 151,600, * we are projected to reach eight billion by 2023. The chart below shows clearly the speed of our exponential growth.

Population
Years passed Year Billion
1800 1
127 1927 2
33 1960 3
14 1974 4
13 1987 5
12 1999 6
12 2011 7
6 2017 7.5
6 2023 8
United Nations Population Fund 2011 estimate. Two last lines are updated with current information.

The beneficial environment that for millennia has supported our evolution cannot sustain this kind of growth, and it is already showing signs of distress. We are watching these signs, stupefied – they are so ominous some of us prefer to be in denial.

What do we think Life is? We take it for granted because even if we know how implausible it is that we are alive, we are that implausibility. We are the most beautiful and ingenious creature we know of. And so, to see that for the benefit of a few we are destroying ourselves by destroying what gives us Life, is the saddest thing.

*Source: Population Reference Bureau & The World Factbook, 2011 Estimate (Central Intelligence Agency)

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175 – An Inescapable Conclusion …

Some of our own physical properties are incomprehensible to us: How, for instance, two cells can come together knowing in advance the astonishing process of creating an organism able to reflect upon itself; or how billions, trillions of minute elements can bond, oftentimes fleetingly, into a cohesive organism that can adapt to its constantly changing world; or how can a microscopic double helix encode the relatively pre-determined yet supple line of ascent of the entire species.

But, on the other hand, there are some physical properties that have become self-evident as we develop higher levels of comprehension:

The fact, for instance, that we are utterly unique … there is no one with my exact composition in the entire Universe … while simultaneously being a common member of a species.

Or the fact that we thrive in a body that regulates itself, while simultaneously being regulated by the environment in which we exist.

Or the fact that we are controlled by primal instincts that determine our development and our ultimate disintegration, while simultaneously being liberated by a relative degree of freedom in adaptation.

Or the fact that we imprint every cell we create in our bodies with our specific characteristics … eye color, skin pigment, blood type … while simultaneously we are imprinted with the same characteristics for the extent of our lives.

That these properties are self-evident lead us to an inescapable conclusion: As there is a physical connection between our every cell and us – the organism that creates, imprints and endows them with a relative degree of freedom in adaptation – so there is a parallel physical connection between every one of us and the organism/system/Universe that creates, determines and endows us with a relative degree of freedom in adaptation.

The impact on Humanity of incorporating into our understanding of ourselves and our world the physical connection that unites us all, will liberate us from the devastating divisiveness of intolerance.

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174 – Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? VI

Update on my ongoing quest to answer what I believe are the most profound questions posed to the human mind. These questions are the title of one of the most beautiful and enigmatic paintings by Paul Gauguin.

Where do we come from?

Like cells in our bodies, we emerge out of a living Being; a self-organizing, self-generating, self-transforming phenomenon whose unfolding we call Evolution. But Evolution is the progression of this phenomenon amid trial and error, creation and destruction, towards higher levels of complexity and order … from clouds of ice and dust into solar systems, from cells into human beings, from stars into galaxies, from nervous systems into the wonder of the mind. And because the progression of this phenomenon is relatively measurable, its determination tangible, its power to destroy and create self-evident, yet it remains incomprehensible, some of us call it God, but we tend to call God what we cannot comprehend.

And although the unfolding of this phenomenon is the archetype of our genesis … the coming together of elements into our self-organizing organisms; the flow of ancient instincts in our blood; our primal urge to bond, to re-generate, to survive; our boundless ingenuity in adaptation, our reflective contemplation of self-reflection … what this phenomenon is, how it might have been engendered, what its purpose might be, we cannot yet comprehend – perhaps we never will.

What are we?

I do not know. But I do know that we are incredibly complex and beautiful manifestations of the living phenomenon; insignificant in the scheme of the Universe and significant in the scheme of the atomic elements; promoters of its universal mandate to Become, to Self-organize, to Bond, to Re-generate, to Adapt, to Self-perpetuate, to Transform; participants in the renewal and perpetuation of its onward movement.

And even though our actions and reactions are limited by physical laws that regulate our internal and external environments, we nonetheless have evolved the capacity to be self-conscious of our degree of freedom to transform ourselves and our world … and thus we are self-conscious sources of transformation.

Where are we going?

Limited by internal and external environments, yet pregnant with the possibilities of a degree of freedom to transform ourselves and our world, we forge ahead until we no longer can; at which point we begin the inexorable return to the environment from which we emerged.

But in equal measure to what we have imagined,

to what we have created,

to what we have destroyed,

to what we have taken,

to what we have given to the world, we may re-emerge into a more complex form of existence.

Think of Einstein – how his ideas live among us opening new visions and challenging our understanding of Reality; or Darwin – how his theory lives among us stimulating research on the origins of Life; or Mandela, or Gandhi – how their courage live among us inspiring pacifist rebellion against the destructive tyranny of unaccountable power; or Socrates – how his method of inquiry lives among us stimulating critical thinking and the awakening of the intellect to the study of itself; or Gauguin – how his profound questions live on his beautiful painting, daring us to find answers. These individuals live on in us, changing and challenging our understanding of the unfolding phenomenon from which we emerge, helping us move forward in the transcendental process of Becoming. Humanity is better because of the significance of their lives.

WHERE DO WE COME FROM? We emerge out of a self-generating, self-organizing, self-transforming Being.

WHAT ARE WE? We are self-conscious sources of transformation.

WHERE ARE WE GOING? We transcend into the Future in equal measure to the significance of our lives.

Imagine how different our world will be when these manifest Facts become the foundation of what we teach our children.

Imagine

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173 – On Vacation …

I am on vacation. If everything goes as planned I will post again on June 1, 2017

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172 – The most beautiful Universal Pattern we cannot yet perceive …

Human beings can perceive many universal patterns … the periodic table of the atomic elements, the preference of galaxies for spiral and globular shapes, the double helix of the DNA molecule, the Fibonacci sequence, e=mc2 … but we cannot perceive the Universal Pattern I believe is the most beautiful of all … not yet.

Although in plain sight, the pattern of a universal blueprint that creates order and induces a movement towards greater and greater complexity remains beyond our powers of perception. And to think that all we need to perceive it, is to look at the similarities between our own Becoming and that of everything else in our Universe.

If we look for similarities between an atom, a cell, an animal, a tree, a planetary system, a galaxy, you and I, we can see that upon genesis, as we become supple manifestations of existence, we all follow the same fundamental sequence of events: We organize, generate, bond components into a cohesive body/system capable of sensing, responding and adapting with a degree of flexibility to the changes in our internal and external environments. As we encounter and surmount challenges, this flexibility is the key to survival and the catalyst for our transformation into greater complexity.

Becoming through Self-organization, Self-generation, Bonding, Adaptation, Self-perpetuation, Transformation, comprises the pattern of a Universal Order that ensures the progression of the creative process of Evolution toward the levels of complexity we see in ourselves and in our Universe.

And when we are able to perceive this pattern, we will not only perceive the beauty and magnificence of a higher symmetry, but we will also see how it connects us all.

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