233 – “Life Feels Itself” …

I do not remember exactly where I first read that “Life feels itself”, but I do remember how those three words seemed to carry more meaning than an entire philosophic theory. So I looked into Wikipedia trying to locate the source. What I found was information about a man, the French philosopher Michel Henry (10 January 1922 – 3 July 2002), whose phenomenology had the soundest understanding of Life I have ever encountered. Michel Henry was not only able to see beyond the walls of pre-conceived notions, but affirmed the capacity of the human mind to feel, to love, to experience itself as one of Life’s manifestations.

What follows are selected portions from Wikipedia’s information on Michel Henry’s phenomenology (link to entire information below).

“The work of Michel Henry is based on Phenomenology, which is the study of the phenomenon. The English/German/Latinate word “phenomenon” comes from the Greek “phainomenon” which means “that which shows itself by coming into the light”.

“The object of phenomenology is not however something that appears, such as a particular thing or phenomena, but the act of appearing itself.

“Henry defines life from a phenomenological point of view as what possesses the faculty and the power “to feel and to experience oneself in each point of its being”. For Henry, life is essentially force and affect; it is essentially invisible; it consists in a pure experience of itself which perpetually oscillates between suffering and joy – “Suffering and joy belong to the essence of life, and they are the two fundamental affective tonalities of its manifestation and – self-revelation.

“Thought is for him only a mode of life, because it is not thought which gives access to life, but life that allows thought to reach itself.

Life feels itself and experiences itself in its invisible interiority and in its radical immanence.[1]

“Two modes of manifestation of phenomena exist, according to Henry, which are two ways of appearing: “exteriority”, which is the mode of manifestation of the visible world, and phenomenological “interiority”, which is the mode of manifestation of invisible life. Our bodies, for instance, are in life given to us from the inside, which allows us, for example, to move our hands, and it also appears to us from the outside like any other object that we can see in the world.

“The “invisible”, here, does not correspond to that which is too small to be seen with the naked eye, or to radiation to which the eye is not sensitive, but rather to life, which is forever invisible – No-one has ever seen a force, a thought or a feeling appear in the world in their inner reality.

“Western philosophy as a whole since its Greek origins recognizes only the visible world and exteriority as the sole form of manifestation.

“Henry rejects materialism, which admits only matter as reality – “He equally rejects idealism, which reduces being to thought and is in principle incapable of grasping the reality of being which it reduces to an unreal image, to a simple representation. For Michel Henry, the revelation of the absolute resides in affectivity and is constituted by it.

“The deep originality of Michel Henry’s thought and its radical novelty in relation to all preceding philosophy explains its fairly limited reception. It is however a philosophy that is admired for its “rigor” and its “depth”. But his thought is both “difficult” and “demanding”, despite the simplicity and immediacy of its central and unique theme of phenomenological life, the experience of which it tries to communicate. It is the immediacy and absolute transparency of life which explains the difficulty of grasping it as a thought: it is much easier to speak of what we see than of this invisible life, which fundamentally avoids being seen from the outside.

“Life loves itself with an infinite love and never ceases to engender itself.

“Life is nothing but this absolute love that religion calls God.”

Yet science, enslaved by a methodology that demands a measurable proof to endorse a theory, fails to see that we are the immensurable proof of Henry’s phenomenology: We love, feel, and experience ourselves; we are Life trying to understand itself.

WE ARE LIFE TRYING TO UNDERSTAND ITSELF.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Henry

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[1] The doctrine or theory of Immanence holds that the divine (the living Cosmos) encompasses or is manifested in the material world. (parenthesis is mine)

232 – Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? …

 

Update on my ongoing quest to find answers to a set of questions I believe are the most profound challenge posed to the human mind. The questions are the title of the above painting by Paul Gauguin.

Where do we come from?

We emerge out of a primordial, self-generating, self-regulating, self-transcending, living Source; a phenomenon whose onward movement we call Evolution. But Evolution is just the progression through which the primordial Source unfolds into higher and higher orders of complexity and order. And since its progression is measurable, its creativity discernible, its self-generation evident, its power immensurable, some of us call it God, but we tend to call God what we cannot understand. And since its evolution manipulates us and it can be manipulated, some of us call it Nature, but Nature is just its manifestation into diverse, myriad forms. And since we can only imagine its beginning as an explosion out of nowhere, some of us call it the Big Bang, but that was merely the emergence of one of its myriad manifestations.

And since the Source thrives in us – in our desires, in our fears, in the pulse of primal blood in our veins, in the rhythmic beat of our hearts, in our inborn urge to bond and re-generate, in our compelling instincts to adapt and survive, in our boundless ingenuity and creativity, in our constant creation and regeneration of the organic systems with which we share our existence, in our self-reflective contemplation of self-reflection – some of us call it Life, but although we emerge from Life, thrive in Life, are changed by being alive, Life remains beyond our comprehension; perhaps it always will.

What are we?

Infinitesimally small when perceived from the dimension of the stars and immense when perceived from the dimension of the atoms, we are manifestations of a primal Source that imprints us from the moment of Becoming with the mandate to bond, self-organize, re-generate, self-regulate, adapt, survive, transform, thus ensuring our participation in the renewal and perpetuation of its onward movement.

And although driven by primal instincts while developing amid physical laws that regulate our internal and external environments, we are nonetheless endowed with a degree of freedom to choose, to see beyond immediacy, to transform ourselves and our world. We are sources of Transformation.

Where are we going?

Pregnant with the possibilities of a degree of freedom to transform ourselves and our world, yet limited by our internal and external environments, we forge ahead until we no longer can; we forge ahead until the inexorable moment when we must begin the disintegration of our physical body and the re-integration into the unfolding Source.

Like everything in Nature, human beings have evolved through the developmental steps taken in our evolution as a species. Each step building upon the ones taken before. Each step with its degree of significance. Some steps may affect immediate progeny, some may affect entire generations, some may affect not only the course of our evolution but Evolution itself. This is Transcendence, the reaching out beyond our lives, but its significance is measured by

what we imagine,

what we create,

what we destroy,

what we take,

what we give to the world.

And thus we transcend in equivalent measure to the significance of what we do with our lives. 

Think of Einstein – how his ideas live among us, opening new visions of the Universe and challenging our understanding of Reality; think of Darwin – how his theory of Evolution live among us, stimulating research in the origins of Life; think of Mandela and Gandhi – how their courage live among us, inspiring pacifist rebellion against the tyranny of unaccountable power; think of Socrates – how his method of inquiry live among us, stimulating discussion about ourselves and our world; think about motherhood – how its wonder live among us, recreating Life by gestating Life in the womb of mothers; think of Gauguin – how his haunting and profound questions live among us, daring us to search for answers. These individuals live among us in our progression towards complexity, in the greater reaches of our perception, in the heightened insights of conscious self-reflection; they live among us reminding us of our ancestry and the impact they made on every step we take; they live among us challenging and transforming our understanding of the unfolding phenomenon from which we emerge; they live among us helping us move forward in the transcendental process of Becoming, making us more daring in our visions of the future, more aware of what is right and what is wrong, more self-conscious about the struggles and wonders of existence. And as the significance of the lives of these individuals transcends into our lives, so we can transcend into the unfolding of the Future.

WHERE DO WE COME FROM? We emerge out of a primordial, self-generating, self-regulating, self-transcending, living Source.

WHAT ARE WE? We are sources of Transformation.

WHERE ARE WE GOING? Back to the living Source from which we emerged but in equal measure to the significance of our lives.

TRANSCENDENCE IS A MEASURE OF THE SIGNIFICANCE OF EXISTENCE.

Last updated on September 14, 2018, Post 205

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231 – To Render the Invisible Visible

To increase the chances for survival, our early ancestors blunted the reach of their senses to focus on Immediacy – threats, nurture, self-perpetuation. And so we survived, but somehow enfeebled by lacking the awareness of an immense part of the world: the world of the molecules in the air we breathe and without which we could not live; the world of the waves that penetrate our ears and create the patterns of sound; the world of the atomic particles that transform into images in the retina of our eyes, the world of energy currents that entice the imagination through the labyrinths of the brain.

Although molecules, sound waves, and atomic particles are microscopic, the organized patterns they collectively create as they interact with our bodies are as real as we are, but they have become invisible to us. And so it is that we don’t see the connections they forge, nor the patterns they create, nor the transformations they go through; we don’t see how they interact with each other and with our immediate world, nor how they organize the world inside of us, nor how they fathom the world of our imagination.

There is nothing more present in our lives than the air we breathe. We feel its touch in the softness of an afternoon breeze or its power in the harshness of stormy weather; we feel it in its changes in temperature, in its humidity, in its dryness, yet it is invisible to us.

And so it is with the physical phenomenon of sound: How it modulates the waves that travel through a medium like air or water to create the intelligible information that assists us to understand and respond to our world, yet they are invisible to us.

Or the quite common phenomenon we experience when we focus our attention on a person and have that person sense us and look back at us. The force that is projected and sensed by the other person is a physical, measurable, detectable force, yet it is invisible to us.

By failing to recognize our limitations we are failing to understand that we are incomplete.

And so, by recognizing how far we have progressed in our evolution yet how incomplete we are by being unaware of our interconnectedness with the natural world, we may attain the capacity, if not to see the microscopic components, then to render the world of the connections they forge, the patterns they create, the transformations they go through,     visible.

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230 – We are Elements of Something Extraordinarily Beautiful …

Science has proven the existence, the constancy, the measurability of Natural Laws in the physical world (motion, gravity, kinetic energy, electromagnetism, relativity, polarity, thermodynamics). Although these laws exist independent of our understanding, they appear to be implicit in the development of all evolving systems in our Universe, including you and I (the way we self-energize and transform energy into motion, power, bonding; the way we generate and conserve an optimum temperature for our bodies; the way we search for equilibrium amid opposing tendencies). But scientists, to my knowledge, have never investigated the inherent Order that underlies the constancy and tenacity that have characterized these laws across eons of evolutionary time.

These laws are the fundamental building blocks that buttress the steady progression of our Universe towards greater and greater complexity and order: Atoms into molecular compounds, molecules into organic systems, stars and planets into solar systems, solar systems into galaxies, galaxies into the complex Order of our Universe, and so on and on in between and beyond.

This progression towards Complexity and Order cannot exist without Direction, nor can Direction advance towards Complexity and Order without Purpose.

This Purpose is how Life has learned to look at itself. This is how you and I – homo sapiens – have come to sense that the Order in which we inhabit, is the same Order that inhabits us.

There is something extraordinarily beautiful we cannot yet comprehend – and we are a part of it, and it is a part of us.

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229 – On Vacation …

If everything goes as planned, I will post again on October 15, 2019

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228 – How Do We Change a Global Culture of Greed? …

What is it going to take for the minds of those individuals blinded by greed in the pursuit of power and profits who, without regards for the consequences of their actions, are threatening the future of the human race?

The mind of these individuals, overtaken by the doctrine that Growth and Power are the measures of Success, is so completely brainwashed, so far removed from reality, that they fail to comprehend the obvious Fact that their actions are driving humanity into self-destruction.

How can someone with a relatively high degree of intelligence, as demonstrated by an ability to run successful enterprises, play with Life – not just human life, but the life of an entire planet – as if it were an inconsequential game of cards? How can they be so heartless, so utterly removed from the destructive consequences of their irresponsibility, as to be able to ignore not only the warnings of science but the impending signs of an environment thrown into an unprecedented crisis by the immorality of their actions?

What kind of paradigm have we created where human beings come to believe that to prove themselves worthy of the predator culture that obliterates their moral compass, they must plunder the living planet that gives them life?

It confounds and saddens me.

I want to feel happy and hopeful for humankind because I know it has taken us eons of evolutionary time not only to get to be the most cruel yet beautiful, destructive yet ingenious, close-minded yet visionary, prejudiced yet tolerant, regressive yet progressive, selfish yet altruistic, hateful yet loving creature on the planet, but because on the path to the stage were we find ourselves today, although rife with  excruciating struggles for survival, we have experienced moments of sublime insight; short periods of time in which we touched the Beauty and the Hope in us – the Greek Golden Age, the Carta Magna, the European Renaissance, the promise of American Democracy. These magnificent moments, although soon obliterated by the force of human greed for power and control, opened our eyes to the unlimited extent of our true potential: To join the magnificent force of Life with greater and greater awareness of its unremitting progression towards the highest reaches of conscious self-reflection.

How do we change a culture of Greed that is not only bringing out the worst in us, but impeding us from achieving what we are born to achieve?

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227 – Where is Humanity Headed?

What would happen to us, to the way we understand what we are, to the way we want our future to be, if we could see the direction we are taking from a wider perspective, a perspective that encompasses all of us on Earth?

We would see a world where human life is a commodity that can be discarded without consequences.

Where lies are accepted as Truth.

Where the Law is crooked, racist, and bent on protecting the powerful and the rich.

Where the purpose of Government is to curtail Freedoms.

Where Justice is monetized.

Where the purpose of dominant economic-political paradigms is to make the rich richer and corporations untouchable.

Where Racism and Hate are tools to keep us divided and at each other’s throats.

Where the boundless reach of the Human Mind is confined to serving the greed of the powerful.

Where Learning what we are in the scheme of Nature is nonexistent in educational curriculums.

Where Education is sold to the perpetrators of destructive economic and political ideologies.

Where youth is constantly besieged with images of violence, destruction, and a bleak and dark vision of the Future.

Where the livelihood of myriad species, including our own, is threatened by increasing levels of destruction.

Where technology is geared not to help us understand each other, but to spy on each other.

Where disconnect from reality, obscene inequality, coldblooded avarice, torturing unhappiness with the status quo, fuel devastating opioid and drug abuse.

Where millions of us are forced to migrate – by war, political or religious invasions, cruelty, oppression, despotism, crime, poverty – into lands where they are despised.

Where the vision the future offers is not of a better world, but of a world where there is ever greater suffering and injustice.

Is this the world we want?

Although this kind of affairs has plagued humankind since recorded history, it does not mean it is right. It is the contrivance of minds whose aim is to control us with the courage-murdering, brain-washing idea that we are ‘powerless’. We are not powerless. In the indubitable force of our Will, we have the power to create the future we choose for humankind.

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226 – The New Paradigm (Part III) Humanity’s Destiny …

We came to transmit the shimmering

from which we came; to name it

we deal with a permanent voyage,

the becoming of that which itself had

become *

I believe the destiny of Humanity is to unravel the connection – the undeniable link – that exists between us and the Cosmos, and the Cosmos and us. A connection that induces our relationship with an Intelligence (a deity?) developing on an unwavering course towards ever more advanced spheres of complexity.

Throughout our history, the unraveling of our relationship with the Cosmos has been the quest of great thinkers, philosophers, poets, sages, and wise men and women of all venues of life. But the forces of myth, dogma, indoctrination, imagery, special interests, by imposing the image of man on our deities with some of our worst inclinations – ire, vengeance, bigotry, aggression, control, cruelty, genocidal punishment without regards for innocent life – make it very difficult to even imagine what a link with the Cosmos might be.

But aside the misleading imposition of the worst of man on a deity, there is certain truth in the ancient concept that we are created in the image of the Creator = the Cosmos from which we are created and without which we would not exist – because the concept does offer undeniable corroboration of some of our true likeness to the Creator:   We are not only made out of its atoms, its energy, its urge to adapt and survive, but are also infused with its mandate to follow a path of development it itself follows:   Like the Cosmos, upon Becoming, we self-generate, self-organize, bond, self-regulate, adapt, self-perpetuate, transform. This path of development is the common foundation linking all of Existence with the urge to evolve towards Complexity and Order.

I believe that Humanity’s destiny is to evolve into a paradigm based on the premise that in our connection with the Cosmos and the Cosmos with us, we are One.

*Lines from “Surge” by Etel Adnan

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225 – Life is a Property of the Cosmos

Although we need to be nurtured for a while longer after we are born, we begin to take control of our lives the moment we take our first breath – learning how to manipulate and be manipulated, how to awaken our senses to new environments, how to feel our power, how to challenge our limitations.

Although all these things are obviously critical for survival’s sake, at that early age in our lives they are pure instinct – we are born already knowing how to awake them into action. These instincts had to be learned by Life as it was itself emerging into Life. And then Life had to learn how to clone them on to us through eons of time and generation to generation. They had to be learned if we were to survive.

How, emerging on Earth in a primordial soup – as we currently believe – did Life learn on its own account to replicate itself and move with such determination toward higher and higher levels of complexity?

How does something learn to self-replicate?

I do believe that Life is neither a property of Earth nor that it was here that it had its beginnings. Life is a property of the Cosmos. Before the Universe began to form, Life was already present in the dynamic form of energy, which funneled momentarily into fleeting forms of mass under the force of primordial currents, until a moment when a form of mass and energy reached a state of equilibrium – one became equivalent to the other – and Life, sensing the promise of Continuity, replicated it.

What makes Life special on Earth is not that it exists at all; it is that the living planet has been a nurturing womb for the unfolding of us – the magnificent life-form growing not only conscious of our own awareness, but also conscious of the consequences of our presence in the unfolding of something immensely greater, self-determined, and wiser than us.

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224 – This is Transcendence …

How would we live, how would we behave, how would we understand ourselves and our world, if we knew, without doubt, that we are not only able to affect the Future, but that measured by what we do with of our lives we can continue to be a physical, living, dynamic presence in the unfolding of the Future?

We, each one of us, perform for humanity the basic functions the DNA molecule performs for us. Like the DNA molecule that carries the instructions for the development, functioning, growth, reproduction, of the organic system in which it exists, we also carry the instructions for the development, functioning, growth, reproduction, of the organic system we call humankind.

Although the length of the evolutionary process through which the DNA molecule developed into its current configuration is not clear, it is clear that the role of mutations, environmental stresses, catastrophic events, or the role of the individual constituent, played, and continue to play, a transformative factor in the evolution of the molecule. But even though these factors can often be harmful or neutral, they can also be catalysts for the adaptation and re-configuration of the molecule. And if the new configuration proves to be beneficial, it is adopted and transmitted to succeeding generations, with the source of the re-configuration becoming a physical, living, dynamic presence in its unfolding.

Our lives mirror our own DNA.

For us, for humankind, the transmission of information from generation to generation – inheritance – goes mostly unabated for long periods of time     until a natural or human factor demand Change, which can be expressed through a single or group of individuals     who compel us to alter, not only our organic configuration but the way we function as human beings.

Think about our simian ancestors who dared to leave the protection of the jungle to explore the open savannah – what they did with their lives was so transformative that it demanded the physical re-configuration, not only of our bodies but also of the way we function in the world. Think about Einstein, Darwin, Copernicus (to name a few), whose insights into the nature of reality were so transformative that demanded a re-configuration, not only of the neural connectivity of our brains but also of the way we understand ourselves and our world.

As with the molecule, the source of the re-configuration is and will continue to be imprinted as a physical, living, dynamic presence in our unfolding as individuals and as a species.

This is Transcendence.

To some degree or another, we all transcend through the impact of our Existing – parents in their progeny, teachers in their students, scientists in their insights – but those whose imprint make us change course as a species are, and will continue to be, a presence in our Becoming.

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