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Sunday, 21 October 2012


Reality can be pared down to three elements: Source, Other and Self (SOS). God is Source, I am Self, and all my friends, enemies and everything else are Other. Love could not enter my experience (indeed, there wouldn't be any experience - for me) if any corner of this triangle went missing.

I apologise for writing disparagingly last time about the brain. Yes, of course it is important, and surely nobody can enjoy exploring its parts and functions more than I do. But when we try to understand what reality is we should not allow study of the brain to elbow its way into number one position. After all, the only thing that we can observe directly is our own experience and is it sensible to think of the physical universe, which is outside and Other, as more real than we are ourselves? In other words, if someone puts electrodes in our brains and makes certain observations, is the information gleaned more significant than what we can observe or know directly by our own consciousness?

I believe that reality is fundamentally mind-like. I can't avoid making comparisons with dream, which is obviously mind-like. That is not to say that waking life is a dream: no. Waking life follows consistent principles which we call Natural Law and which is best studied by science. It contains pain which can forcefully convince us of its reality. Pleasure, ecstasy and fear occur in both waking life and dream, and whether we are awake or asleep, these three augment our sense of reality. My son Julian tells me he has experienced pain in a dream, which spoils my theory that pain is a characteristic only of waking life. Oh! At any rate, waking life certainly scores in terms of consistency and its willingness to conform to Natural Law.

Now I am going to say something very shocking, which may alienate the few readers that I perhaps have (I've had very few comments and I wish there were more. Am I too peremptory?) If reality is fundamentally mind-like as I believe it is, then there is a very strong possibility that the mind is not in the brain. It seems to me that otherness consists of largely uncontrollable and unpredictable mindstuff which presents itself to us as being solid, consistent and subservient to laws that we can study. The mind does not sit comfortably inside matter. For one thing, it doesn't seem to have dimensions like matter. Where is the top of your mind? Where is the bottom of your mind? Where is the left-hand extremity of your mind? Where is the right-hand extremity? It doesn't really seem to have any extremities, in which case it doesn't have a grid-reference either. You can't truly say that it is in your brain. But the brain can be perceived by the mind. It seems much more likely then that the brain is in the mind rather than the other way round. The mind that harbours, or rather is matter, is otherness-mind and just as independent and just as worthy to make up the universe of our experience as non-mental matter!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Sims or Souls?

Forget the brain for a moment. Would you explain a dream by an object in the dream carried around in a cranial box?

What we have is Self and Other.

Other is only truly other because it is largely uncontrollable and mainly unpredictable. If we had perfect control and foresight the whole universe would dissolve into a solipsistic globule and we (I?) would be God.

If the universe were predictable and controllable by God Himself then He would have no creation. The whole thing would simply be one hellishly boring puppet, unsurprising, unchallenging, lonely and eternally obvious. If God kept control of us we "would just be Sims" as one of my Chinese pupils put it. Perhaps there would be no suffering, but there would be no love either because there would be nothing other to love.

So to put it simplistically, but in the only way I can understand, God did not (does not) plan every detail of the creation, but creates the physical laws by which it creates itself and sustains the substance, energy, waves and rays which give it body. He upholds time and space from which He stands independent. (I make no apology to transient gender tribalism by using 'He' as common gender. Obviously God has no gender).

Although God is able by compassion to intervene, when he does so the independent being of His creation is compromised. He may submit to closing the gap of otherness when one of his creatures prays in love to Him. This is what love is: a longing to return to the original union. If it succeeds too well, however, creation telescopes back and loses its multifariousness.

I may be wrong. Please put your comments.