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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Preparing for the journey

Bro. Clarence and Bro. Juniper returned with the pickup truck filled with seeds and nuts and grains and dried fruits and an assortment of ingredients that will become our diet for next week, some call it trail mix. I understand that Bro. Clarence will be collecting yucca leaves, or I should say, the fibers from the yucca that he will use in his ongoing weaving projects. Most of us are now sporting woven yucca fiber hats, a few with woven yucca fiber sandals, and I can only imagine what his creative mind will come up with next. But for today and tomorrow, several of us will be mixing and bagging our trail mix, and with this vacuum contraption that Bro. Juniper purchased, we will be filling plastic bags with trail mix, then the bags will be vacuumed-packed for long term storage.

On another note, Bro. Robert said something interesting during our noontime meal: "Many people believe that you must first somehow decide whether or not God exists before joining a religion, but the opposite is true. One becomes religious so as to make God present in one’s life. Whether or not God exists is a separate issue. The important point is to make him present and real, and thus inhabit the space where our true humanness emerges."

I thought this is very fitting with Rosh Hashanah just past, the Jewish New Year, the time of reflection, the time to ponder who we now are and who we wish to be or become, and as is his custom, Bro. Sedwick sounded his shofar, the rams horn, the trumpeting that awakens us all from our slumber and reminds us of the coming judgment, and hearing this I ask myself, can one as Bro. Robert suggests immerse oneself in the unknown, at least unknown for the one taking the leap, and upon this new and uncharted path that one then finds oneself, can one experience a newness that one had never experienced before?

12 comments:

Lifewish said...

One becomes religious so as to make God present in one’s life. Whether or not God exists is a separate issue. The important point is to make him present and real, and thus inhabit the space where our true humanness emerges."

God as enabling belief. It's a strong concept. Believing stuff, not because it's true, but because the belief is psychologically useful.

As Ken Miller said:

"I don't think that the existence of God can be proved. ... Rather, I find that the hypothesis of God helps me to make sense of life and of the world around me, and I find that hypothesis congruent with science, not dependent upon it."

As an atheist, of course, I disagree with the idea that belief in God is the only path to humanity, although for some people it may be the best path.

Bro. Bartleby said...

I suppose the mere fact that one finds oneself existing and is encapsulated in 'humanity' by no whim or will from oneself, and suddenly that next breath comes, again, seemingly without whim or will from oneself, these organs within seek their purpose by being seekerless, the heart just beats, just pumps, yet most of the time this I'm unaware, my mind is the playground in which all my consciousness is played out, yet all the invisible, to my mind at least, keep this mind alive, and in all this, primitive man never even knew what was taking place 'behind the scenes' -- inside their own body. And without either knowledge or belief in what was taking place, they still acted their parts in the stage of life.

Lifewish said...

What I find really interesting is that even the concept of "I" is something of an illusion. It's an impression given by layer on layer of processing over which we have varying degrees of conscious control.

Next time you think "I need to go to the bathroom" and stand up to do so, bear in mind that you almost certainly started to stand up before you consciously decided to. Of course, that raises whole new questions about free will...

Bro. Bartleby said...

Give thanks to parasympathetic impulses that take care of the seemingly countless tasks that frees the mind for the free will tasks, yet your example of taking a pee is an interesting one, for this task of the urinary system uses parasympathetic impulses with over riding control from the conscious mind, that which can turn on or off the spigot with a mere thought. Very handy in some situations. Of course this 'feature' would be most devastating if it were incorporated into the other body systems. So let's leave the endocrine system, or the immune system, or the respiratory system, or the circulatory system be, be without over riding concern or thought on our part, for some folks do concern themselves with that which one has little or no control, say the heart or the nervous system, and then they find themselves dwelling upon until the dwelling become obsession, which can easily spiral downward into illness. But back to my previous point, understanding what is taking place within is certainly nice, and can be of value in crises, yet for millions of years our ancestors were ignorant of all this, yet I would guess that some lived very happy lives, concerning themselves with what they had control over, and letting the 'mechanics' of the body do what they were 'designed' to do. ('designed' by your uncaring evolution, or 'designed' by my Creator God). Either way, the point is that science or understanding of the inner workings of things are not a prerequisite for living a happy life, that is, unless you create an artificial environment that requires understanding, if just to keep this artificial environement maintained. The Native American were ignorant of what we would consider the minimum education and skills necessary to survive in a modern city, yet instead of creating an artificial environment, they simply utilized the natural environment, and I would guess many lived happy fulfilling lives. Yes, some died of diseases that modern science can cure, but then again, some of the myriad of modern illinesses were unheard of for them. Which brings us to the ultimate question for humans -- atheists or theists -- "how can I live a happy life?"

Lifewish said...

Give thanks to parasympathetic impulses that take care of the seemingly countless tasks that frees the mind for the free will tasks

What is this "mind" of which you speak? Just a more complex level of impulses?

The Native American were ignorant of what we would consider the minimum education and skills necessary to survive in a modern city, yet instead of creating an artificial environment, they simply utilized the natural environment, and I would guess many lived happy fulfilling lives.

The Native Americans also had an average life expectancy under half that of modern city dwellers. Seeking a lifestyle that brings happiness and fulfilment, with no effort to gain control of one's environment, only works until some part of said environment (e.g. Conquistadores) swats you down.

If a large meteor had hit the Earth any time in the last million years or so, the human race would have been destroyed before it could begin. In fifty years time, for the first time ever, that may no longer be a worry. Given that (statistically speaking) we're overdue for a large impact, I'd say that that's a power worth having.

It's a power we'll probably never have if people "just" aim to live happy, fulfilling lives. We'll need the reality-based community to generate the necessary scientific knowledge, and the action-based community to do something with it. What does the faith-based community contribute to this process?

Bro. Bartleby said...

"What is this "mind" of which you speak? Just a more complex level of impulses?"

That which dwells behind the 'third eye' and maintains the internal dialogue as well as an internal monologue, and controls through will many of the body systems that respond to will, this 'complex level of impulses' that seeks to communicate with the external and does, seeks to know past present future, seeks to know self and self's place in the universe, this mind does far more than is necessary to merely survive.

Lifewish said...

this mind does far more than is necessary to merely survive

But does it do more than it feels it needs to do to survive? Perhaps some brains just get hung up on the reconnaisance phase of operations. Is it a genuine case of going beyond what's necessary, or just a subconscious misunderstanding of where the boundary is?

Bro. Bartleby said...

What our eyes behold may well be the text of life but one's meditations on the text and the disclosures of these meditations are no less a part of the structure of reality.
--Wallace Stevens

Lifewish said...

Nice quote. Doesn't it put rather a big hole in the ideas of free will and of a supernatural soul?

Bro. Bartleby said...

That is what makes life holy, everywhere holes and we attempt to cram 'dark matter' in, for we are an unholy bunch, fearing the unknown, fearing the empty spaces, yet in it all I find my holiness, a path filled with potholes that I dance around ... with delight!

Lifewish said...

So I'll put you down as a "maybe", then :P

Bro. Bartleby said...

Sometimes one must face the abyss before it all begins to make sense. I've known many who simply busy themselves with 'life' and really never face anything, for they are too busy in their busy-ness ... or business. When one can believe in an objective meaning to life, as opposed to a subjective meaning to life, then one can understand that humanity has purpose. Without an objective meaning to life, then purpose is but an imaginary bit of subjective busy-ness between birth and death.