Transcendent Awareness

ImaginedWorld

“The transcendental law, Emerson believed, was the ‘moral law,’ through which man discovers the nature of God, a living spirit…The true nature of life was energetic and fluid; its transcendental unity resulted from the convergence of all forces upon the energetic truth, the heart of the moral law.” — excerpt from The American Tradition in Literature, Vol. 1, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1967

“Undoubtedly, we have no questions to ask which are unanswerable. We must trust the perfection of the creation so far as to believe that whatever curiosity the order of things has awakened in our minds, the order of things can satisfy. Every man’s condition is a solution in hieroglyphic to those inquiries he would put. He acts it as life, before he apprehends it as truth.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his introduction to “Nature.”

With milder temperatures and the blossoming of the natural world underway, I am reminded of years past and the turmoil within me that has always accompanied the onset of Spring. Each time the Earth is in renewal, the passage of time seems more pronounced as the clearly defined changes of the season manifest all around us. All throughout Winter’s cold and extended hours of darkness, we long for the warmth and the sunshine to come. We huddle together against the cold in order to survive. When we first feel the warm Spring air blowing against our faces, and witness the plants and trees begin to sprout their leaves and blossoms, something within us also stirs. Our hearts and minds acknowledge this transformation not only by sensation, but also by intuition.

spring flowers

Somehow, I have been brought to this day and time to fulfill, what must be, some discernible purpose. My heightened sensitivity and enhanced intuitive senses since the events in Massachusetts blew the lid off my steaming pot of consciousness, and I found that I was no longer able to contain the inner struggle. It was a gradual process of unfolding, after the initial burst of energy that one Sunday afternoon, but the flow has been maintained these many years by determined effort to unravel it all. In my temporal world, it seems that life continues to plod along relentlessly. But within me, on rare occasions, particular individuals continue to evoke an awareness of powerful longings, and in several of those instances, it became clear that the consciousness within ME, was connected intimately with the consciousness of the other. It seems, in view of the existence of these intimate connections, that consciousness is a word that describes a transcendent awareness–a manifestation of a non-physical source. By this reckoning, the Universe itself must also be a physical manifestation of a non-physical source. Human consciousness must involve a transformational process through which our transcendent awareness is expressed.

dandelion

During one such experience of transcendent awareness, one connection in particular struck at the very core of my being. Although it seemed on the surface to be a formidable task to reconcile my temporal existence with this connection, I made every effort to maintain the connection, in order to convey the deeper meaning of my attention. In my previous post, I acknowledged the struggle between my heart and mind, trying to distinguish for myself the true nature of the connection, and wrote what follows.

Declaration of Affection

I will never forget the joy and unbridled energy of the first days of our acquaintance. Whenever I close my eyes, I can see you clearly in my mind as you looked on the day when I first saw your face–a shy and giggling gem glittering before my eyes. I remember thinking how beautiful you were; your gently flowing hair surrounding your radiant face and your exquisitely grayish-blue eyes–with a smile that seemed to fill the room with a glow that lingered long after my eyes could no longer see your face. The image of your face will never leave me now.

At first, there was only unencumbered joy when we shared conversation. Your heart and mind were totally open to me. Each new day brought my heart and mind within proximity to a miracle. Your spirit was so dynamic and wondrous, that whenever we spoke, my very life force seemed to tremble, as though I might, at any moment, leave my body and fly swiftly to you. The first time I looked deeply into those eyes, it only took a moment to realize that the world would never again be the same. After several starts and stops, far removed from the everyday routines, when you finally opened your heart to me, my own heart was flung wide open, and pumped wildly as I held you in my arms for the first time. I wanted that moment to last forever.

beginning

The chaotic chain of events that followed made me feel like I was hanging off the side of a moving roller coaster. I can scarcely remember anything from those days other than being with you; as if life began when we were together and was suspended when we were apart. Every encounter with you made me feel intensely awake and alive. After one particularly intense moment of sharing, I realized for the first time, how much you meant to me, and I knew at that moment, with absolute certainty, that I loved you. And yet, even as I contemplated the mysterious swirling hurricane that had become my life, the winds of change had begun to stir. All I knew, was that the feelings evoked by our connection were unlike any feeling I knew or had felt before under any circumstances. When it all fell apart, I was unavoidably altered and shaken to my very roots.

The unfolding of events since then do not fit neatly into any sensible or clear explanation, nor do they seem to lead to any satisfactory resolution. The reality of the temporal world has slowly steered us away from the magical world we had once inhabited, and left us in a twilight world of uncertainty and solitude. How the fibers of our mutual memories will weave themselves into a future cloth is hidden from us now. But one thing is abundantly clear. In any Universe, there could be no greater world than the one that includes your bright spirit. I pray that both of our spirits will endure and remain connected to the wisdom that brought them together one beautiful day, not so long ago.

Deep Forest Vision

dense forest2b

In the light of day, I traveled to a remote forest area several miles from the base in Massachusetts. I had driven-by the turnoff several times before while navigating through the surrounding areas, and the entrance always caught my eye. Curiosity got the better of me one day while I was still in what they called a “holding company,” where you always waited for your permanent assignment to come through. Without really knowing why, I felt compelled to turn off the highway and explore where the road might lead. As I entered the area, the afternoon was still in full swing, and there was no one to be seen anywhere along the way, so I kept driving slowly forward, deeper along what now appeared to be some sort of logging trail more than a road designed for a car. The sun was warm on my face, and the road ahead was strangely compelling in spite of having no real idea where I was going. It was early in May, and the weather was favorable enough to ride with the windows down. I had brought along some water and something to eat, hoping to make an afternoon of it. I had no where to be for the next few days, but fully expected to return to the base that evening.

The road narrowed and rather than risk damaging my brand new car, I decided to pull over and walk for a bit. I had followed the main path all along, and thought it wise not to venture too far from that point in any direction, and made a serious effort to orient myself to my surroundings, and get a firm grip on where I was parked in order to find my way back. I set out with my backpack and walked into the dense forest.

tree fall new

The trek was pleasant enough at first and offered some quiet solace for my mind to wander as I walked. I had no particular thought or emotional state to dwell over, but I slowly began to feel a bit uneasy as I walked further along. I gradually started to sense something odd about the surroundings as I approached a clearing up ahead. Even in May, most of the trees had already sprouted new leaves, but as I got closer to the edge of the clearing, there seemed to be far fewer leaves as I walked. For most of the path, the surrounding trees flirted with the late afternoon sunlight filtering through the branches and sending fluttering beams of light into a scattered patchwork all around me. Now, the entire area ahead appeared to be glowing and unnaturally bright. When I arrived at the center of it all, I looked up and noticed a large tree which had no leaves at all.

bare tree black white

I immediately felt a sensation of warmth throughout my body. It had been mild all along, but I seemed now to be standing in the sun directly and I attributed the change to the bare branches allowing more sunlight to pour through. I found myself squinting for some reason, even though I was looking away from the sun. I thought to move a little further along, out of the increasingly warmer area, but for some reason, I held fast to my position. The background murmur of nature in the woods, which I had only noticed peripherally before, was suddenly absent. I could feel my heart throbbing in my chest. I suddenly felt as though I could sense the blood pulsing through the veins in my neck, and the rhythm of the beat gently throbbed in my ears. The inner conversation I was having for the last few minutes, trying to figure out what was going on, suddenly stopped. There were no birds tweeting in the background. The gentle wind which had previously been periodically rustling the leaves had fallen silent as well. Not a single sound seemed to be detectable.

I tried furiously to shake it off. Beads of sweat were accumulating on my brow as I struggled to get a better grasp of what was happening. I dropped my backpack to the ground and grabbed each side of my head as I fell to my knees. There was a moment of panic right as I tried to look around to see what might be causing my predicament, when I heard a voice call out my name. I jumped to my feet and turned around to see what appeared to be a lone, hooded figure suspended in the air several yards ahead of me. It seemed impossible, but I was now staring in disbelief at the silhouette of a man floating just above me and my first thought was to run–to escape–but I found myself frozen to where I stood. It had to be that my eyes were failing me or a sudden fever overcoming me, but I could not turn away or awaken from what seemed like a daydream gone terribly wrong.

hand split

I raised up my hand to block out the abundant light surrounding the figure and noticed that my hand appeared to be in several places at once in front of me. As I tried to clear my head momentarily by blinking my eyes, everything started to move very slowly, and I felt my body tighten as it seemed to come to a grinding halt. Although I couldn’t hear a thing, I suddenly began to sense words coming into my head. They made no sense to me, and I wasn’t able to rearrange them or put them in any sort of logical order. Gripped in a strange sort of paralysis of mind and body, I seemed to be witnessing the event from outside of myself. After what felt like only a few minutes, my body collapsed and everything went dark.

dense-forest2a

When I came back to consciousness, I was laying on my back on the ground, and felt chilled to the bone. I was trembling as I sat up. It was nearly dark, but I was able to stand up soon enough to see that the last few lingering hints of sunlight were slowly fading, and I grabbed my backpack and sprinted for the car. I drove quickly away from the area, driving a bit erratically at first, breathing heavily, and trying slowly and deliberately to calm myself as I approached the highway. I took a few deep breaths and turned the car in the direction of the base. I didn’t know what to think or do, but when I got back to my room, fortunately my roommate was out, and I sat down at the desk and wrote these words in my journal:

“The path you must travel expands far beyond today, reaching for tomorrow, its foundation in yesterday. Consider all that you have learned here and you will find the Beginning of the path. Recall all that you are and you will discover what is contained in the Foundation of the Fortress. Meditate on your dreams and you will gain the knowledge which leads to the Entrance of the Universe. Know that all people are concerned. You will find yourself at a time in the future, where the energies of those around you now will manifest in people visibly marked with a sign of the purpose. You will know them by a swelling in your soul. The vibrations of their undying desires will reverberate inside you and you will sense their presence whether they are near you or not. Do not fear this sensation for it will guide you to those who will aide you in your journey, provided you give to them of yourself totally. Some may not recognize you or be able to freely open themselves to you. Your challenge will be to receive from them the energies needed to succeed in your journey and fulfill the purpose. It is a difficult path to walk, and you will face many diversions along the way, but you must not allow them to overcome you.”

Powerful emotional, psychological, and intuitive forces had now risen from within me. I seemed to become gradually more and more aware of what others were feeling, but in particular cases, moments of recognition and acknowledgement of a sort of kinship would be especially intense and dynamic, spurring in some cases, feelings of great joy and of an intimate connection that would stir me deeply and irrevocably, pushing the very limits of my endurance, and grow in strength with each new day.

….more to come….

Journey of the Human Spirit

journey-human-spirit-banner

http://bncdance.com/company/performances/a-journey-of-the-human-spirit/

“Once we find the transcendent experience and open up to a greater flow of spiritual energy and security within, something profound begins to occur. We begin to see ourselves and our behavior from a higher perspective, from a viewpoint of our more energized higher self. Our sense of identity moves past the insecure reactions of our ego self and assumes a witness viewpoint, identified now with all of divine creation and able to see our socially defined self with a new objectivity.” — James Redfield from “The Celestine Vision,” 1997

The developments surrounding my experience of what Jung described as”an eruption of unconscious contents,” while poorly understood by me at the time it occurred, set the stage for an extraordinary journey of the spirit. The beginning seemed to be traumatic at the time, and it struck me without warning or my own intention to undertake such a journey, but it felt almost immediately like I was destined to begin it. When the original episode took place, I have no recollection of actually seeing anything in my immediate conscious state, but images figured prominently in the document, which seemed to come in three sections. Most of what I have deciphered came long after the document appeared, and as I will recount in my subsequent assignment to the base in Massachusetts, an extraordinary mystical experience filled in many of the gaps the document contained from being illegible due to the frantic manner in which it was recorded. I eventually incorporated several excerpts in this version that were, to the best of my knowledge, part of the original configuration, but were unreadable when it was created originally.

Dreamscapes #1

It was in a dream one lonely night that first gave me the clue which told me of a life lived in the past–the existence of one unfulfilled life by some cruel twist of fate; some unaccounted for incident that survived the ravages of time–transmitted into the future by an unknown force or energy that permeated my every waking hour. The document was written in a trance-like state, and upon review of the writing afterwards, I realized it was an account of a journey, but not to a place that appeared on any map. The excerpts seemed almost like a commentary by the entity named in the document as Jonas Rice.

The Beginning, The Foundation, The Entrance.
By JJHIII24

The Beginning

Raging seas, darkness, the gap between appearance and reality, and the finality of the good earth.

Emotion has been the first of the significant elements involved in the purpose. An ocean of emotion reflected in the mirror of existence, observable only in the conscious mind inside, invisible to the world.

Years pass and the masses see only the surface. No exploration for fear of discovery. Torturous hours, lingering for an eternity, serve only to irritate and inflame the water’s rage. Pain is washed ashore and left to keep alive the disturbance, while the tide is out. Travel is the only temporary and eventual escape.

Sensitivity increases the spectrum of its effect. It lures and repels erratically, ever changing. Continuity is destroyed, forgotten and flung beyond recall. Destiny is playing his fiddle, inviting, then demanding compliance with his tunes. The weak fall prey and only the strong survive. The moments tell the story; the thoughts display a reality and truth–unacceptable–yet, escape is impossible. The blind go unaware and the sighted are driven to the edge, clinging to the branches of light that only truth can provide. The search appears endless, yet is known to be finite in a reality which cannot be confirmed.

(Consider all that you have learned here and you will find the Beginning of the Path.)

(It began in the year 1770, with the birth of an ideal, the arrival of the correct moment in time–the beginning of an era. The settlers of the new colonies were more than just pilgrims in a new land; they were pioneers in a new world–newborn babes of a destiny not yet realized in its entirety.)

The Foundation

Blackness, darkness, a void–uncertain. Faith flickers in the distance. Defeat is in the air, polluting while defenses weaken, threatening the footsteps. Motivation building a path, shedding an amber light on the doorway to the surface. Time and endurance, hand in hand, break the chains and grapple furiously, transported momentarily to green pastures and blue skies, with the light of day surging through the bloodstream, providing the sword and armor of power, strength, and humanity.

(You are to go forth from this place and seek the Fortress which holds the hidden purpose for existence. You alone are capable of this deed and at this precise moment of your life, as you would not have been prepared to assume the burden of these tidings were it any sooner.)

(Recall all that you are and you will discover what is contained in the Foundation of the Fortress.)

The Entrance

Oh, the joy, the courage and stability. Pause.

Placid sea.
Love rippling.
Its presence, once recognized
Brings sustenance, completeness.
Fullness and solidity appears
As a finely sculptured entity,
Focused to perfection,
Flawless in its detail,
Unsurpassed by any existing structure.
A FORTRESS among fortresses.
Soon to be seen and understood;
Glorious, yet, not divine.

Set apart, protruding on a level far beyond earthly significance. Relating humanly to encountered sameness and varying differences. Strength to friendly, open souls. Menacing to the fearful, the ignorant, and the superficial. Distant from the souls lacking completeness.

(Despite efforts to avoid the purpose, I am compelled to seek it out. Nothing else matters. An overpowering inner drive pushes me toward the mysterious, unknown end, lured to it like the sirens who once lured the great Ulysses. Even now I sense it coming. Distant footsteps echo in the halls of my inner world. It ceases–then begins–and ceases once more. The event of my life is upon me.)

Beginning, Foundation, Entrance documents–© 1973-1975 by JJHIII24

MYSTICAL3

The spiritual nature of the journey of Jonas has now become the focal point of my investigations. The awakening to transcendent knowledge is a most difficult and deeply personal undertaking requiring a sense of urgency that will prevail in spite of the relentless struggle to survive and maintain our daily lives. The leap from the physical to the metaphysical can be the most difficult leap of all, even realizing the potentially profound consequences of neglecting such a vital aspect of our existence. In order to begin, it was necessary to strive toward achieving a level of awareness I had never even imagined was possible. The pursuit of the achievement of higher levels of consciousness is uncommon in our current culture with its emphasis on materialism and the advanced technologies growing exponentially in the 21st century. Ironically, the advances in technology provide a larger number of people with access to the world of information and global educational opportunities, but promote the tendency to provide only the most popular or immediately beneficial of those possibilities, adversely affecting the dissemination of the more long-term essential aspects of those available–aspects which require more time and effort to become evidently as important.

Ancient Mountain of Memory

“Memory performs the impossible for man; holds together past and present, gives continuity and dignity to human life.” — Mark Van Doren, Liberal Education, 1943

“In a large sense, learning and memory are central to our very identity. They make us who we are.” — Eric Kandel, In Search of Memory, 2006

“Has it ever struck you…that life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going? It’s really all memory…except for each passing moment.” — Tennessee Williams, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, 1963

As I contemplated the landscapes along the highways on my way across the United States in 1975, I began to sense more than just the wider world through which I was passing, and often found myself absorbed by persistent thoughts in my mind, still bubbling from all that I had experienced in the extraordinary hills and valleys of California, and still haunted by the traumatic events in Massachusetts. The world had suddenly become utterly incomprehensible in some ways, and every moment of the journey held another new experience–each equally fascinating from my perspective as a traveler, and oddly troublesome in the degree of uncertainty I felt as I approached the unknown.

desert view

The stark desert scenes along the way through the American West were startling to me in a way that felt both unsettling and wondrous. Traversing the sweeping desert vistas of New Mexico and Arizona, I often felt the urge to pull the car over and just stare at these scenes. As oddly as it seemed, they felt familiar to me. I couldn’t understand the feeling at the time, but somehow knew that it would all start to make sense before long. The stunning and occasionally unnerving dreams that had been pervasive and even intrusive in Massachusetts and California, subsided during this trip, and I slept peacefully most nights in a way that seemed to escape me at all other times.

john home cali2f

My arrival back on the East Coast was triumphant in my mind. I had survived the dark night of the soul, and the threat of death, and journeyed thousands of miles across the USA in a remarkable and healing transitional experience. For a short time, the dreams that had interposed themselves in my psyche faded, and I was able to recuperate, and reclaim some of my previous confidence in going forward to the next stop along the way. Visiting with my family was always restorative and rejuvenating; an oasis in the desert of uncertainty that I always seemed to find myself in those days. As the time for returning to military service approached, I felt compelled to review my writings, and as I did, new images and thoughts started to appear in my nightly dreams. In the excerpt that follows, I begin to sense a connection to the “ancient mountain of memory,” and prepared to go deeper into the abyss:

forest within

The Forest Within

“Away from the routines of the everyday, I find my heart in turmoil, withholding the silent sound of my true voice. I can hear the strains of music that have sparked hidden fires, whose embers refuse to be extinguished, nor can I seem to leave them undisturbed long enough for them to simply run out of fuel. The spirit that embodies these fires haunts me in the tremulous strains of familiar and beloved memory. Held at bay by the thinnest of barriers, my most persistent attempts have failed utterly to relinquish the wisps of flame that languish in the furthest reaches of the forest within. The trees grow even still in splendor that penetrates my visions of centuries past, and through the countless millenniums of ancient memory.

When not persuaded by necessity to avoid them, I walk these woods, through dazed states of mind and melancholy. Occasional streams of sunlight peak through the dense forest canopy to reach my face and my heart. Echoes of ancient music reverberate through the thick layers of trees and against the faces of the great cliffs of stone, which hold the forest to the earth. Every so often, the strains of a familiar pattern of notes catches me unaware, and I am transported momentarily to that place–the clearing at the center of the forest–where I find the living memory itself. Each time, I am undone by the clarity and the durability of these memories, and each time, they penetrate deeper within, and stay hidden longer.”

jonas settler

Jonas Rice lived in colonial America, and was one of the founders of the city of Worcester, Massachusetts. He served as a soldier in the struggle of American independence and made important contributions to that effort. Jonas and I came to be linked when his name appeared in the writings that burst forth from me during what Jung describes as an “eruption of unconscious contents,” that brought forth the original document from that experience. My discovery of his tombstone in the center of Worcester literally took my breath away, and I could not shake the sense that he was a part of me somehow.

In those early days, before I had a clear idea about what was happening to me, I felt as though Jonas was alive in me. As a member of an active continental regiment with the U.S.Army, I felt certain that my role in that organization was part of my destiny. There clearly was a purpose to these events, but it was clear also, that it would take time for me to understand it all.

…..next time….the document itself…

Reflections on Chaos

sunset chaos

“In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.” — Buddha

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” — Deepok Chopra

Recent developments in my personal life, which have affected me deeply, have clearly resulted in a degree of chaos for me, and have also pointed to some key distinctions, which I had been creating out of my own mind, and which I believed to be true. It would seem that the Buddha was on to something when he pointed this out. Even now, as I contemplate the events of my life recently, I am beginning to see how this chaos may be a necessary part of the path forward, and how it relates to the unfolding story here in these pages. We sometimes fail to consider how even heartache and emotional turmoil may, in fact, be the only way to discern what is most important in our lives. I am feeling better about these recent changes now, in spite of how difficult it has been to endure them, and I am beginning to see the wisdom in accepting them, rather than fighting against them.

john massachusetts2

The images directly above were taken just before I departed Massachusetts for my next assignment, and they still evoke a powerful sense of those days in my mind. Certain images, even ones I have received recently, can stir my heart and mind beyond the mere beauty they might reveal. It seems that whether they are from the past I remember, or simply so striking in their resonance within my heart-of-hearts, deeply touching my inner world, what lingers is the sense of familiarity and the emotions they evoke.

In the course of my research into the nature of consciousness, which began in earnest after the traumatic encounter with what Carl Jung called, “unconscious contents,” I began to see how the events of my youth were starting to fit into a kind of pattern in the way in which the contents of my unconscious mind were being revealed to me. The sensations and emotions and experiences in Massachusetts felt familiar in a way that didn’t make sense at first, but slowly, subtly, I began to understand that they were all somehow part of the same experience. It would generally begin with a spontaneous eruption of some sort, a flash of insight, a sudden sense of recognition, an unexpected turn in the routines of daily life, a remarkable confluence of deeply personal longing which would suddenly be accompanied by a feeling of fulfillment, all of which seemed to be guiding me toward an avenue of thought or action that I otherwise would never have thought to pursue. The truth is, throughout the many years that have passed since my journey began, as I reflect on the many missed opportunities of my youth, I have found that I no longer wish to miss a single possible moment of fulfillment of these longings. I trust enough in my heart and in my soul to be true to their inclinations, even when they lead me to something painful, or which I don’t fully understand at first.

James Redfield, author of “The Celestine Prophecy,” suggests that what we often consider “coincidences,” are in fact meaningful and essential events in our evolution as an individual:

“It begins with a heightened perception of the way our lives move forward. We notice those chance events that occur at just the right moment, and bring forth just the right individuals, to suddenly send our lives in a new and important direction. Perhaps more than any other people in any other time, we intuit higher meaning in these mysterious happenings.”

Redfield also asserts that the introduction of certain individuals into our lives, at particular moments in our lives, frequently seem to occur at just the right time to help us move forward or to solve some particular problem. In this regard, I have had many remarkable experiences, the significance of which was not always evident to me until long after the influence had occurred. A very small group of significant individuals stand out. Although it would be difficult to quantify their value precisely, it seems clear that my life would have been quite different without the intercession of a few of these “significant others.”

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Many times, the arrival of certain individuals has had a compensatory effect for some other significant influence, helping me to maintain balance at a particularly precarious moment. Some of these individuals have been mentors and teachers. Some have been irritants who have compelled me away from certain situations or ideas. Some have been beautiful angels who lifted me up and made it possible for me to continue when it seemed like there was nowhere to go. Some have been adversaries, whose challenges have brought aspects of my personality to the forefront, broadening my self-awareness. Some have been lovers who renewed my faith in life and all its possibilities. In most every case, in retrospect, I have been profoundly grateful for whatever time I was privileged to be in their company.

Massachusetts tree2

The initial revelation of the Jonas story found me mostly baffled and confused as to the nature of its significance in my life at the time it occurred. While I knew it was important, I was unprepared to assimilate the information it contained into anything even resembling a coherent response. Over the span of years in my life as a self-aware and conscious being, I have gradually come to feel a powerful sense of having been born to some vital purpose, and have been reminded often of the feeling that what was unfolding within me was somehow remarkably different than what I observed to be happening in those around me.

The image above is a photo of the very place where, after months of chaos and confusion and a series of astonishing changes within me and as a young soldier, I realized that all I had endured, suffered, and learned prior to that day had created a foundation for all that was to come. As I sat beneath that tree on the square in front of my barracks some forty years ago, I knew that the journey had only just begun for me. At some point, we all encounter experiences and important events that change us in this way. If we arrive at such a moment reasonably intact, where we finally abandon our naive notions of the world, leaving behind our childhood, we may then hopefully embark upon a truly original individual human life.

….still to come… California impressions…

To Everything…There is a Season

time enemy

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Time is my enemy now. Not only does it often seem to be in short supply when the work of writing begins for me, but over the years, it has been so heavy-laden with intrusions which divert me from the task, that many times, I have found myself near despair. Recently, I have only been able to manage short bursts of productive effort, and with all the chaos of late, I have been so frequently interrupted by a host of other considerations, it seems amazing to me that I’ve accomplished anything at all.

Modern technology has made great strides since the time I began this work, and I have been fortunate to have access to materials and resources that have helped me to make even the meager progress I have managed so far. With only a very limited budget over the years, and many competing priorities for the funds that were available, it has only recently become possible to acquire the tools needed to truly begin to construct a comprehensive summary of what has occupied me for more than thirty years now. At first, much of the work was recorded on hand-written loose-leaf papers, and whatever else I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, many of my original papers have been lost after moving and all the various changes which occurred in those years. However, I was able to preserve the core elements of the writings in the subsequent revisions and copies which I recorded in a series of paper-bound journals that I kept relentlessly during that time.

In recent years, as I was able to acquire a computer and access to the digital world, I was able to preserve and store the accumulating documents on compact discs, along with the many photos which were taken during the early days of my struggle to come to terms with the extraordinary events which led to my ongoing investigations. This blog represents my best efforts to gather the materials from my research and writing, and to make some kind of sense of it all.

Secret Double Magritte
Secret Double by Magritte

“If a man sits down to think, he is immediately asked if he has a headache.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson from a journal entry in 1833

In the autumn of 1973, I experienced what C.G. Jung described as “an eruption of unconscious contents,” which led me to create a document entitled, “The Beginning, The Foundation, The Entrance.” Although I did not recognize it as such at the time, I have gradually come to view the experience as a pivotal event in my life, and I have spent much of the time since it occurred attempting to decipher the meaning contained in the document. The bulk of the document’s contents remained poorly understood by me for many years afterwards, and only in recent years have I finally begun to comprehend it more fully, and to begin to place it in a broader perspective. Magritte’s image above seemed an appropriate illustration of what felt like an agonizing struggle to reveal the inner workings of the process, which I subsequently engaged in attempting to discover what it was that erupted from within me.

Reviewing the cryptic writing in this document has always been problematical for me, as doing so not only reminded me of how it came into existence, but also of how much I struggled to make some kind of sense out of what initially seemed like a “stream of unconsciousness.” Over the years, even though the opportunities to spend time on the writing have been far fewer than my own inclinations would have provided, I have devoted every available temporal and mental resource in the service of enhancing my understanding of both the experience itself, and of the content in the original document. My temporal life during this time, all too often, “pushed” active pursuit of my goals to “another day.” Forced to find ways of getting to the research, I resorted to recording my incremental progress and my relevant observations in those journals, which at least provided a consistent location where I could continue to work as time permitted.

collective unconscious

According to the famous Swiss psychiatrist and scholar, C.G. Jung:

In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature, there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually, but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents. It is man’s task to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious.”

After several exposures to what Jung described as “unconscious contents,” in my early twenties, it became apparent to me that a greater comprehension of my own cognitive processes was necessary if I was ever going to come to terms with the inexplicable nature of these extraordinary personal experiences. The learning process has engaged my own consciousness in ways that have been both rewarding and challenging. In the coming months, it is my goal to organize and communicate this process, as a means of formalizing a theory which will summarize and bring together all of the many pathways which I have been traveling these many years.

To all of the many wonderful readers and visitors here, I extend my best wishes for much success to you all in the coming year……

Consciousness in the World: Memory and the Extended Mind

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“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson in “Nature.”

Every year, particularly for those living in regions which experience the full range of seasonal changes from Spring through Winter, Emerson reminds us to use an “attentive eye,” to see the beauty contained in every season. Each period of the year has its particular rewards: the renewal of all life in the Spring is an affirmation of life; the warmth and lush greenery of Summer is an experience of the fullness of life; the brilliant colors and easing of the summer heat provide both beauty and solace at its peak; and scenes of pristine snowfalls and brilliantly clear winter skies at night remind us that all life is finite in one sense, and limitless in another. Emerson also reminds us that beauty is not confined to the temporal world:

“Beauty is the form under which the intellect prefers to study the world. All privilege is that of beauty;for there are many beauties; as, of general nature, of the human face and form, of manners, of brain, or method, moral beauty, or beauty of the soul.” – from his essay, “Beauty,” (1860)

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It was in the Autumn of 1956 when I first began to establish moments of conscious experience in memory, and had the first recollections of acknowledging my existence as an individual person. I can recall only brief moments of awareness for the most part, but they are potent and remarkably clear to a degree I find surprising these many years later. The image above was an attempt to recreate one such moment, in which I found myself staring at length at a patch of autumn leaves on the lawn of my childhood home. While similar scenes are easily reproduced each year as the leaves begin to accumulate wherever there are trees in seasonal transition, as Emerson suggests, every moment is unique in its own way, and will never be repeated precisely.

At this tender age, even though I had acquired a fair talent for both language and the association of words with objects and people, I wasn’t able to fully comprehend the implications of my experiences, nor was I fully competent cognitively. My brain was clearly functional in every way that the age would permit, and my ability to learn and respond to typical social interactions was well established, but the level of awareness was still in the process of unfolding to fullness, in spite of all that I was capable of doing with my brain. We tend to think of memory as something that only accumulates in the immediate experience of our lives, but as an emerging adult and after years of deliberate and steady contemplation of the significance of my life experiences, so many of the notions of familiarity with the content of those experiences are remarkably varied in their character that it seems possible their origins could be the result of a much wider range of sources and levels of consciousness. The theory of a “collective unconscious” from C. G. Jung suggests a framework for a collection of forms or “archetypes,” elementary constructs that already exist within us, which are filled in by conscious experience, and which resonate in the psyche in ways that we are just beginning to understand.

Copy of BrainSparks

We know now that memory is not an isolated process that takes place in any localized region of the brain, but is rather a symphony of processes acting fluidly in harmonious cooperation to stimulate an astonishing array of neural pathways, which reassemble the components of our recollections. We also know that memory is not like a video recording of events reproduced in exacting detail, but rather more like reconstructing those elements as we perceived them when they occurred. In many cases, we remember more precisely how we felt at the time the memory was formed. The more significant the event or the greater importance our interpretation of the event holds, the more profound and detailed the memory may be. This fluid processing is directly linked to the structure of the brain, formed as the human embryo develops during a nearly miraculous process of cell migration governed by instructions from our inherited genome. As complex and intricately woven as these neural pathways end up, since memory is a combined form of energy and information, stored and recalled through electro-chemical impulses between neurons, the process necessarily depends on particular structural foundations in order to function properly and must, at least to some degree, reflect the nature of that structure.

extend mind

http://consc.net/papers/extended.html

With the publication of their essay, “The Extended Mind,” – – David Chalmers and Andy Clark began the conversation about just how far the process of mind may actually go. We tend to think of the mind as something inside our heads, or at least contained within or constructed by the brain, but as we investigate and contemplate these matters in the 21st century, we are beginning to see that our understanding generally may only be scratching the surface. There are clearly very specific and necessary neural substrates which support our ability to access consciousness, and if they become compromised by some sort of injury or illness, that access can be diminished accordingly. What is not so clear is the exact relationship between the source of consciousness and the temporal structures which support our access to it. Homo sapiens required hundreds of thousands of years to achieve a level of useful cognitive awareness before even the simplest demonstrations of possessing a mind could be made.

In this important essay, Clark and Chalmers make the case for categorizing some of our uses of modern technologies as not simply a means for producing gadgets for consumption, but as manifestations of our cognitive abilities–an actual “extension” of our human mind out into the world:

“Language appears to be a central means by which cognitive processes are extended into the world. Think of a group of people brainstorming around a table, or a philosopher who thinks best by writing, developing her ideas as she goes. It may be that language evolved, in part, to enable such extensions of our cognitive resources within actively coupled systems.”

“It is widely accepted that all sorts of processes beyond the borders of consciousness play a crucial role in cognitive processing: in the retrieval of memories, linguistic processes, and skill acquisition, for example. So the mere fact that external processes are external where consciousness is internal is no reason to deny that those processes are cognitive.”

Excerpts from “The Extended Mind” (with Dave Chalmers) ANALYSIS 58: 1: 1998 p.7-19

What I am proposing in my own work here, while advocating my own interpretations with enthusiasm, is not an especially radical departure from the mainstream views found elsewhere, but might be viewed by some as being a bit “outside-the-box,” in both its premise and development. My life experiences in my years on this planet encompass qualities and characteristics which suggest a range of possibilities which might explain the nature of the mind and consciousness in ways that mirror ideas like the extended mind. Many of the writings and ideas of history’s most notable philosophers and revolutionary thinkers and innovators have been met with great resistance initially, and only gained more widespread acceptance after much consideration and review by a more measured or deliberate approach.

Characterizing external processes and devices as extensions of the human mind, as controversial as this may seem to some, is an intriguing component of the search for a comprehensive understanding of the mind, and the arguments put forward by Clark and Chalmers are coherent and substantial in supporting their premise. It clearly requires a profoundly sophisticated cognitive structure to produce devices which qualify as extensions of those structures. The parallels between our own cognitive components and those which we have produced as cognitive creatures in the modern world are not so far fetched as some would suggest. There are arguably several potential fields of endeavor currently which may well produce what may appear as a genuine cognitive system, with some degree of similarity to our own. At the same time, we should not expect those devices to begin spontaneously producing other extensions of themselves, nor should we expect them to be on a par with the human mind by any comprehensive standard. My overriding sense is that no manufactured device could be expected to appreciate human experiences without actually having them. Not every human can fully appreciate the experience of another human in every case. As C. G. Jung wrote:

“The collective unconscious contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution, born anew in the brain structure of every individual. In their present form, religion, science, philosophy, and ethics are variants of archetypal ideas. It is the function of consciousness to not only assimilate the external world through the senses, but to translate into visible reality the world within us.” – from Jung’s “Symbols of Transformation.”