Only God Knows

Science and Religion

Only God Knows by jjhiii24

You must have sensed it.
I’ve been talking to you since
The moment you pulled away.
Even though you could not hear
The voice in my head,
Your heart has been listening–
Through our mutually open channels
Of thought and feeling.

I know you have been there with me;
The opening is wide on this side–
The welcome mat is brightly colored–
Luminous in a way that only you know.

You’ve been peeking through the keyhole
In the door on your side;
I have heard your gentle sighs;
I have listened as your heart
Whispered in response–You suppose
I do not hear–But I do.

When I turn to see you peeking,
You retreat behind the door;
You put your back against it and wait
To see if there is a sound–
Listening intently for footsteps approaching–
But they do not come.

When you think it safe
You slowly bring your mind’s eye
Back to the keyhole, as I resume
My vigilant stance.
Prepared to answer, but
Bound by a loving promise,
I can only stand and wait.

Love will always remain true in this way,
No matter what the cost–
No matter how much time passes in between.

Only God knows if it will resolve itself eventually–
Or if the silence will deepen,
Or if the light will dim,
Or if the channels will grow fallow,
And empty into eternity.

Only God knows if love will endure,
And perhaps, for now,
That is enough.

Belief and Reason

magritte Not to be reproduced

“There is an existence for me, of which I am an inseparable part, that is beyond the physical dimensions of time and space. It beckons to me in nightly dreams. Whenever I shift my gaze to my inner world, I sense that there is a path leading to it, and I must find a way to connect to it. Leading me into this world is an ever-present emptiness–a void for which no earthly offering seems sufficient. It is a longing–an unquenchable, unearthly thirst that drives me to seek solace in the waters within.”

– Journal Entry from my personal journal

As a very young boy, I frequently had astonishing experiences in my mind as I grew in my temporal life, which I found perplexing, not because I was young so much, but more importantly because I had no context within which to comprehend them. It was basically forbidden by my parents and teachers, and their strict Catholic rules, to examine anything that happened within or without except as it applied to Church doctrines. If it couldn’t be explained that way, it was simply to be viewed as “one of God’s mysteries.” This environment, which for most young people is stifling at the very least, was for me, a particular torment, as my whole being ‘knew” that this way of looking at things just didn’t make any sense.

young boy

It took leaving home at the age of 20 to join the military to escape what felt like the absolute rule over my mind and soul, and once liberated from this suppression, it was not surprising at all that the first really extraordinary event came at me with such force, that it nearly disabled me completely. It was so disturbing, that I took the extraordinary risk of seeking out a mental health professional at the military base where I was stationed. It was a risk because I was training as a military intelligence specialist with a security clearance, and any demonstration of unusual or reckless behavior or any report of such behavior, could lead to dismissal and reassignment. Much to my surprise, my sessions with this professional person, while not particularly helpful in resolving the explanation of this event, did point me in a helpful direction, and I began my own research into a variety of disciplines in my quest for understanding. The event was dismissed by the counselor as the stress of being separated from my family for the first time in my life, and I went on to successfully become an accomplished military intelligence specialist.

john army spec

The more I studied and read and contemplated and researched, the more intrigued I became by the notion of an “inner life.” Some of the most extraordinary events of my life took place during those years, half of which were in the USA and the other half in Europe. It was during the cold war, and I was assigned to monitoring and intercepting Soviet military transmissions and operations in East Germany. During my tenure in Europe, I had the distinct advantage of having been trained in the USA as a German linguist, and this proved to be the single-most important training I had ever received. It opened many doors and resulted in extraordinary experiences that never could have happened otherwise.

At the height of my powers with the language and my research, I attended a German school in the city of Kaiserslautern, taking a course of instruction on the “Science of Creative Intelligence,” which included Transcendental Meditation as the means to reach the core principle of all creative potential within us. It launched me into the world within me in a way that no other experience ever had. I seized upon the knowledge and the openings it provided with great enthusiasm, and upon my return to civilian life, I continued the search whenever the opportunity allowed.

I wrote a fairly lengthy report of this experience when it occurred, but was never really able to make heads or tails of most of it. I continued to review and refine the writing over the years, and have recently felt that I have progressed sufficiently in my understanding to begin the work of formalizing the writing into some form that might be useful to many others, who I suspect have faced similar difficulties. Perhaps it might shed some light on our current world circumstances in a way that would increase the chances for an eventual resolution.

Of particular relevance is the portion of the work which deals with the recognition of particular individuals we encounter and our efforts to determine their importance in the grand scheme of our lives. Since I have come to terms with these experiences from my past, almost always, when I encounter startling or unusual circumstances, it generally signals to me that I should be alerted to the arrival of an important event in my inner world.

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The compelling inner conviction I have regarding the existence of a spiritual component to consciousness is so strong, so real, and so powerful, that even if I could set it aside, I do not believe that I would. It is saturated with positive energy. It feels so intensely right in my heart, so powerfully stimulating to my mind, and so beneficial to my soul, that all of my previous education and conditioning to resist the experiences that inevitably result, have failed to dissuade me from pursuing it.

This conviction is strengthened whenever I reflect upon how I have been affected in the past by what I perceived to be the lack of success in previous experiences. My repeated failure in my youth to connect in a meaningful way with the other spirits I encountered often left me so bereft of fulfillment that I would try to compensate in ways that were not especially productive. In retrospect, I recognize how unprepared I was when such spirits would burst forth into my temporal existence. After examining a lifetime of what I considered “lost opportunities,” it seems more probable to me now that other forces may have been at work in my life. When I found myself in the presence of a particularly kindred spirit, the spirit within ME surged with an urgency to move closer. All of my work to come to terms with and to put into words, the core matter of the nature of human consciousness since that time represents nothing less than the very essence of my spiritual longings.

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Even these days, when I encounter a kindred soul, each moment increases the certainty of feeling of being connected to them, and yet, it is frequently accompanied by a chaotic swirl of uncertainty regarding how to reckon with the feeling. The periodic incongruous nature of particular temporal circumstances, which appear to be in disharmony with the spiritual, used to be a great deal more daunting for me. There are still times when I am perplexed by the character of the experiences surrounding particular events and pivotal moments. I used to attribute this disharmony to my own inability to bring the circumstances together correctly. It always seemed that there was something wrong with ME.

The realities of the temporal world have not escaped me. I haven’t been flying blindly into the sun. I’ve lost my footing on occasion due to some extraordinary circumstances which occasionally accompany these experiences, but even what initially may seem like a disappointment can eventually lead to further positive development of our growth as an individual. Every aspect of the spirit within me is invigorated by the possibilities existent in the potential represented in the spiritual connections we encounter as we move forward.

More recently, I have come to understand that the very nature of life itself is rooted in uncertainty, and most temporal outcomes are largely undetermined, except in the laws governing phenomenal properties and principles. The laws of physics are both beautiful and exquisitely illuminating with regard to the physical universe. They can be relied upon to predict many outcomes with astonishing precision. However, as well as science has equipped us to understand the nature of particular temporal events and phenomena, the unpredictable intervention of human beings and their cognitive responses to natural events are far less comprehensible.

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Within the temporal world of the phenomenal and the predictable, but likely beyond both the laws of physics and the dogmas of religion, we may one day discover the unpredictable and poorly understood world of unseen and currently undetectable forces that may be driving life itself. What we might call the “universe of the spirit,” and the degree to which we can interact with it or gain access to it, is at the heart of the uncertainty of life. In my view, life is a manifestation of the “universe of the spirit,” and the nature of that existence, and everything that can be described within that universe, cannot be explained completely in terms of only either belief or reason.

All of our experiences as cognitive creatures over the centuries since consciousness has manifested itself have required us to devise ways of referring to these ineffable aspects of life and existence, particularly as they apply to human nature. We must acknowledge them as being existent in a domain which is as far removed from the temporal plane, as we are from both the quantum world of the very small, and the farthest reaches of the physical universe.

The Stream of Life

stream of life2

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

– Rabindranath Tagore

The days of sultry summer have begun to vanish like forgotten promises, and although they seem to swiftly fade, my heart still clings to the hope that some remnant of their charm and character will be sustained as the seasons change. Yesterday morning, after an extended period of work to generate income, I stepped out into the blossoming light of day, hoping to absorb some of this essential life-affirming light, to infuse my heart and soul with its gifts, since several cups of coffee in the cool morning air had little or no discernible effect. In spite of our best efforts at times, it can still feel as if someone pulled the plug, and somehow drained all the energy out of the world. Even after several hours of quiet solitude, I still seemed to need more. This morning, I lay in bed as the sun rose to fullness, slipping back and forth between awareness and sleep. Something was different. My heart felt lighter. I lingered as long as I could in this state, before finally rising to meet the day.

The significance of my half-conscious state, drifting in and out of consciousness, is beginning to coalesce within me, and my mind seemed to clear a bit, as my heart opened to the gifts imparted by my vigil in the morning light. The tasks that are ahead for me in the days to come seem daunting, but I know there is a connection to the stream of life available to me. The opening to the stream has always been there, since my days as a child, and the realization came to me again this morning in the form of a daydream while reflecting on my life as a young boy. Many of those moments were spent in a similar condition of solitude, and as I contemplated the opening to the stream of life that I was feeling today, it provoked a vivid memory of the very same feeling I experienced as a child.

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Even though I wasn’t consciously thinking about my youthful reveries, the recognition of the feeling was unmistakeable. We can think about breathing sometimes and can alter it to a degree deliberately with effort, but thankfully it occurs most often without conscious intervention. We actually have the ability to temporarily affect the functioning of our normally involuntary responses while conscious, but nature has seen to it that the really important stuff is maintained even when we are unconscious. Our conscious minds are constantly reviewing such an array of different thoughts, that sheer volume of neural firing at times can be overwhelming without some effort to focus them. In the twilight world of slowly coming to consciousness in the morning, or whenever we are waking up from sleep or unconsciousness, the pace is usually stepped down to allow something that has been trying to come up, to finally rise. What follows is some of what rose up from within me this morning:

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“I can sense the power behind my heartbeat. As fragile as our humanity can sometimes be, as tenuous and uncertain as life can be, there is also a truly awesome power that drives us. We witness it in the flurry of events on our planet each day. We see it in the fleeting moments of our lives.

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We see it in the faces of children. We sense it strongly in times of great anxiety, and great joy. We can feel it and sense it and see it with every breath–every miraculous breath. Since we only get a limited number of breaths, each one is a gift. Even if that breath is labored or painful due to some malady, by virtue of its limited duration, and its ability to sustain our lives, it is nothing less than a miracle. The power of the heartbeat, the necessity of air, the way we struggle when it comes with difficulty, are all indications of the spirit of life–the unseen world which has a causal effect on the seen. It is not detectable through any scientific experiment or proof, nor can logic, or reasoning, or technology reveal it. Without it, nothing lives.

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Something has been stirring within me these past few weeks. It contains both anticipation of new experience and a degree of anxiety produced by the uncertainty of it all. Generally, I tend to look forward to new experience, but in this case, the uncertainty finds me feeling puzzled. The weight of these considerations has led me to suspend my response to them repeatedly, but in my unguarded moments during the everyday routines, I can feel them pressing me forward, and my desire to make progress and to unravel the mysteries eventually wins out. Everything within me points in the direction of engaging my longings, and everything outside of me points toward pressing myself toward the future. It is unclear to me whether these are complementary urges or opposite inclinations, but the chaos within is contrasted by the beauty of the world around me, leaving me somewhat uncertain just how to feel. Thankfully, as I paused today amidst the chaos, I was able to marvel at the splendor of the changing season against a brilliant blue sky. I inhaled deeply in the afternoon air, with gentle sunlight on my face, and for a few moments, I forgot all about the uncertainty.

Swishing my feet through the ankle deep golden leaves as I walked along the path home each day as a child is one of my fondest memories of those days, and I distinctly remember collecting the most beautiful leaves I encountered along the way and bringing them home with me. When I look out on the changing leaves today, I briefly close my eyes and swish my feet through the memories of those days, forever locked in my heart and mind, and contemplate the feeling in this moment now, and how it is that we arrive at a place where we can open to the stream of life.

Our Secret Wish For Life

Well established artist, Kathy Ostman-Magnusen lives in Hawaii where she expresses her life passion through painting and sculpture. http://www.kathysart.com/

Our Secret Wish For Life
by JJHIII

There is a beauty rising in my dreams.
Her face is pure joy; her heart is still mending.
She gives all she is without restraint.
The child within me runs to her
As I cry out my tears,
And hope to feel the softness
In her heart as it beats
Against my ear in our embrace.

My heart aches in time with hers;
The pain is shared as I tremble
To the rhythmic beat,
And deeply inhale the scent
Which accompanies the soothing sigh
Of her loving arms around me.
I dare not speak or move;
I do not want this moment to end.

In my dreams, the world is hidden
Beyond our desires, beyond our limits–
There is an infinite bounty of love
And perpetual longing to satisfy;
We cannot know what every dream contains.
Only fly through the possible absurdities
Until the moment we awaken and realize–
The dream is our secret wish for life.

© May 2012 by JJHIII

Allow Yourself to Feel

Image courtesy bike through Creative Commons License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0

Just yesterday morning, as I floated between wakefulness and sleep, drifting blissfully in between, I found myself writing in my sleep. It was a particularly vivid dream as I watched myself slowly transcribing my thoughts on the paper, felt a gentle, warm breeze flowing across the air around me, apparently not needing my reading glasses which I normally cannot write without at all, and in a glowing, white shirt which appeared to sparkle with whiteness. The image is actually magical. I know I’m asleep. I know that I’m kind of awake. And I just gently switch back and forth. I tell myself, when I DO wake up, I will write all this down. Well, here is what I wrote in my dream:

“Allow yourself to feel.”

“Acknowledge what you feel.”

“Unlock what you feel.”

“What is inside?”

“Examine the structure.”

“Peel back the layers.”

“How did we get there?”

I slowly allowed my mind to let go of sleep. I did not immediately rise from my bed. The sun was trying very hard to burst through the blinds in my room. Beams of sunlight pierced the stillness, and the beauty of the silence which surrounded me, made me hesitate. I was alone. There was no place I had to be. There were no children at the foot of the bed, peeking at me. There was only silence.

The message for me seemed to be that I should acknowledge, examine, and analyze the feelings which occupy me these days.

The delight I experienced in the dream, and the same warm feelings of affection and connection to the spirit, also inspired the poem I shared in the previous message. The spirit of poetry is apparently alive and well here at WordPress. It’s busting out all over!

Hopefully, there is much more to come……John H.

The Brightest Star in My Nights

The Brightest Star in My Nights

 

Whenever I fly to you,

Across the infinite realms

Of imagination, I release

My fears and doubts,

And with them my attachment

To the tangible world.

 

As my soul drifts away

From the endless darkness

That enfolds me

In your absence,

I travel to another world

Where the sky drifts with me,

As I seek your spirit.

 

I see you finally and descend

Toward you, basking in the warm glow

Of the starlight which surrounds you.

You are the brightest star in my nights,

And I embrace the moment with joy

That is untouched by doubt.

 

© March 2012 by JJHIII

 

Exploring Below the Surface

A recent article in the New York Times, (“Decoding the Brain’s Cacophony” by Benedict Carey-Published: October 31, 2011) reports on research by Dr. Michael Gazzaniga, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which suggests that the functioning of our left brain hemisphere is responsible our familiar view of ourselves–an interpreter–and that what we view as our “coherent self,” is a construct of mental processes that are, in large part, unconscious:

“We are not who we think we are. We narrate our lives, shading every last detail, and even changing the script retrospectively, depending on the event, most of the time subconsciously.”

In his most recent book, “Who’s in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain,” (Ecco/HarperCollins) Dr. Gazzaniga addresses his ideas at length, and presents a strong case for resisting the urge to equate all of our behaviors and explain our humanity by “studying neural circuits:”

“Can brain science tell exactly where automatic processes end and self-directed “responsible” ones end? Not now and not likely ever, Dr. Gazzaniga argues in his book. Social constructs like good judgment and free will are even further removed, and trying to define them in terms of biological processes is, in the end, a fool’s game.”

Dr. Gazzaniga says our inclinations to be generous or loving, ruthless or responsible, are not properties of brain function, but rather a “strongly emergent” property — a property that, though derived from biological mechanisms, is fundamentally distinct and obeys different laws, as do ice and water.”

Writer Benedict Carey reports Dr. Gazzaniga’s contention that with all the benefits of research in neuroscience, the tendency to draw conclusions, particularly in a courtroom setting, may be premature:

“Brain-scanning technology is not ready for prime time in the legal system; it provides less information than people presume. Brain images are snapshots, for one thing; they capture a brain state at only one moment in time and say nothing about its function before or after. For another, the images vary widely among people with healthy brains — that is, a “high” level of activity in one person may be normal in another.”

Carl G. Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, wrote extensively about our unconscious nature, concentrating his formidable intellect in the pursuit of understanding the psyche by exploring the worlds of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy. In what may be his most important work, “Symbols of Transformation,” (from his Collective Works, Volume 5) Jung described his idea of a “collective unconscious:”

“The psyche is not of today; its ancestry goes back many millions of years. Individual consciousness is only the flower and the fruit of a season, sprung from the perennial rhizome ( perpetual root) beneath the earth; and it would find itself in better accord with the truth if it took the existence of the rhizome into its calculations. For the root matter is the mother of all things.”

Jung’s theory points to a much larger view of how our conscious awareness may rely on numerous layers of unconscious processes, whose influence and effects come through a synthesis of our cognitive functions, including sense perceptions, the process of recognition, evaluation, intuition, feelings, instincts, and even dreams, which Jung says warrant inclusion on the list:

“…because they are the most important and most obvious results of unconscious psychic processes obtruding themselves upon consciousness. The dream as such is undoubtedly a content of consciousness, otherwise it could not be an object of immediate experience. For it is the function of consciousness not only to recognize and assimilate the external world through the gateway of the senses, but to translate into visible reality the world within us.” – (from “The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Collected Works, Vol. 8”)

Expanding our views of what might be contributing to our humanity through consciousness, beyond what we discover through cognitive neuroscience, as amazing and important as this work can be, requires an exploration below the surface.