Sunday, January 31, 2010

All Is One

(Or Not)

I find lots of scientific evidence as well as direct experience that there is some kind of "intelligence" or "movement" or "order" to the Universe.

I don't mean this as some kind of God or personality or being that is apart from Nature. I mean that Nature is not completely random, there are laws that govern how things work at different levels of being, like the everyday physical world as well as the quantum level.

These laws are what they are, not something different. If any of these laws like the "conservation of momentum", or "an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by another force", or even more basically "the law of gravity", was even a little bit different, the whole Universe would be completely different.

Why is it this way and not another? I don't think we can ever answer this question. It's just a mystery. And these laws at whatever level you look at them are embedded in everything at that level. It's not like some planets have gravity and others don't. (At least it sure looks that way. I'm not ruling out other dimensions but we haven't found them if they're there.)

It's really science that convinced me of "the oneness of everything", since scientifically it's impossible to argue for the existence of separate objects. Separate objects seem to exist only in our minds. Outside of our minds, there's no way to show where the border between any two things really is. Where does the tree end and the air or soil begin exactly? And what is a tree without water, sunlight, gravity, food, millions of micro-organisms and a person to call it a tree?

According to science, everything is interdependent and is made of the same mysterious stuff. Even the "space" between "things" is made of the same stuff. So to me, separateness is a convenience of the mind to help us sort out this "oneness" of the Universe. And yes, of course, from the everyday life standpoint, I'm here and you're there. This is my book, that is yours. But there is another dimension where there's no difference between my book, your book and apparent space between the books.

I think of a metaphysical teeter totter. I like to stand with one foot on the everyday separateness of things and people, and the other on the ultimate oneness of everything. I try to keep my balance between these too points of view without denying either. To deny either, in my view, contradicts all kinds of evidence, scientific and personal. If "all is one", nothing can be excluded, not even separateness.

A big problem I have with so many religions is the concept of "the sacred" and it's inevitable opposite, "the not sacred". It seems to me that as soon as you have a "sacred" and "not sacred" the Universe is split and trouble follows (usually wars of some kind). I prefer to think of everything as being sacred, as in, awesome and worth worshipping. When people say, "This is sacred", I just hear, "I like this."

The beauty and balance of the Universe at every level is awe inspiring to me. The more I find out about anything, either personally or through science, the more of this awe I feel. I mean Chickadees have a language with many variations, each signifying a specific thing or concept. Electrons under certain circumstances behave exactly as if they "know" what other electrons are doing. Circles seem to be Nature's favorite shape all over the known Universe. Not one spec of the Universe can be created or destroyed, only transformed into something else. Just looking at the night sky fills me with awe. If it's all a dream, it's a great one.

The whole Shee-bang is sacred to me, not just the parts I like. And it seems to be moving somewhere, always becoming something else. I chose to see if there was a way for me to harmonize with this motion by listening to my body, which was created by this Universe itself (and made of the exact same stuff as everything else), and then doing what felt most deeply right within it.

T'ai-Chi, which is a Taoist martial art, is not mystical "chi" bullshit. It is based on the physics of this planet. The main principles can be applied to any physical activity. Using no more than the force needed to get a result is a principle obeyed by many people in all kinds of disciplines. Even Evangelicals building a creationist museum don't want to waste energy. Contrary to what most New Agers believe, T'ai-Chi is based more on science than religion.

I came to this "Taoist" point of view by experimenting, with my life as the "lab". It was not a conversion experience or a blind faith thing. I decided to try living this way and see what happened. With time I got better at telling which feelings came from the deepest place in me. I gradually stopped doing things that I had to force myself to do and focused on the things that felt right and that I felt impelled to do.

When I did this, my life felt better, with less pain, more pleasure, more peace of mind, more of a feeling of connection and community with the world. And yes, more of a sense of the ultimate "oneness" of the Universe. Sometimes this "right feeling" tells me to do things that really seem irrational and contrary to my best interests, but it hasn't steered me wrong yet. I now trust this feeling completely, even if what it wants me to do is at times disconcerting or mystifying.

You can call it intuition, but where does that come from? To me, it's me, a conscious little chunk of the whole, listening for a right feeling that seems to come from a source of information that is beyond my sphere. I can call it the Tao, or the intelligence of the Universe or whatever, but I have no idea if it's real or what it is. All I know is that this is the point of view that I like, and that works for me. It's not my only one mind you, but it's my favorite point of view.

(Sometimes I'm alone in an impersonal mechanistic world simply unfolding as it does. Sometimes I'm in awe of the mysterious nature of existence and can't help but assign some kind of purpose to it. Sometimes I "feel" that purpose without understanding it or being able to describe it. Sometimes the Universe feels absolutely alive and responsive to my state of mind and heart. Sometimes the Universe "speaks" to me. Sometimes the only voice I hear is my own. Each is a point of view with value and benefits. To paraphrase Werner Heisenberg, "What I observe is not Nature, but Nature exposed to my line of questioning.")

I just like this particular point of view best. But that's all it is really. I have no idea what's "really" true about anything. I experience that there's something inside worth listening to and encourage others who are inclined this way to listen to it too. It helps if I think it's something bigger than my little head and it sure feels like it is, but I don't really know what it sure doesn't seem "transcendent" though, it's seems like it's an inside out thing that is embedded in every single thing in Nature.

I do have some "religious" feelings in all of this and yes, in conventional everyday life, I call it my "religion", but mostly it's just my favorite point of view, and if and when it is a religion, it's probably the most scientific of all them. It states as science does that there are mysterious laws and "ways" of the Universe that are best aligned with if one wants to live harmoniously.

In practical terms, my religion boils down to "Flow More~Force Less". Anyone can benefit from that regardless of why it seems to work...


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Caring And Honesty


Below you'll find an email from my friend Marian Spadone regarding what you can do for the people of Haiti. This organization seems on the level and doing great work. I just made a donation myself.

Here's a little side story: I was sitting around talking with my wife Samarra and I started talking about how we all naturally are constantly organizing and prioritizing the constant torrents of information that we are offered from the world. We have to really. It is not possible to give equal weight to everything that is happening. We have to favor some info, forget, ignore or prioritize as "low" other info. We can't "care" equally about everything except intellectually. We can pretend to "care" about everything but not really.

As an example, I said, if that earthquake had happened in New York, or Chicago, or Portland, or Ashland (progressively closer to home), I would naturally "care" more and more about the effects on people. But realistically, to be totally honest, I said, "I just don't care about the people of Haiti, not enough to give them any money."

Interestingly, though, the minute I said this out loud, a shift happened in me and I did care enough to give them some money. So rather than pretending that I care, or "caring" out of some guilty feeling that I should care, I prefer what I would term a more Taoist approach, which is to care if I care, don't care if I don't care, but to be honest about it, recognizing that when I am honest, I may change.

So here's my request of you.

Think about making a relief donation, and, if you would like to but seriously can't afford it, say it out loud.

If you honestly care, but not enough to make a donation, say that out loud.

If you honestly don't care and don't want to make a donation, say that out loud.

And, if you do care and would like to make a donation, consider the Mercy Corps link below.



And here's Marian's email:

Hi friends,

If you've been stricken speechless, and feeling helpless about what to do for the people of Haiti, there's a great local organization called Mercy Corps who are doing exceptional work already there and can use all the help they can get. They're a 4 star charity, at least 89% of donated funds go directly toward relief, and they're primary focus is disaster relief. They've got teams in place in Haiti, some great ideas, and are already working to help the situation. I just read that estimates of the number of people dead are as high as 200,000. That's like one third...1/3.. the population of Portland. It's hard to imagine. So...if you've been a bit paralyzed, here's a link to easily go and contribute. No amount is too small.

Blessings on us all,

Much love,