Monthly Archives: February 2011

How do we lose our way? And how do we find it again?

Sensitivity in its highest form is intelligence. Without sensitivity to everything – to one’s own sorrows; to the sorrow of a group of people, of a race; to the sorrow of everything that is – , unless one feels and has the feeling highly sensitized, one cannot possibly solve any problem. And we have many problems, not only at the physical level, the economic level, the social level, but also at the deeper levels of one’s own being – problems that apparently we are not capable of solving. I am not talking of the mathematical problems, or the problems of mechanical inventions, but of human problems: of our sorrows, of despair, of the narrow spirit of the mind, of the shallowness of one’s thinking, of the constant repetitive boredom of life, the routine of going to office every day for forty or thirty years. And the many problems that exist, both consciously and unconsciously, make the mind dull, and therefore the mind loses this extraordinary sensitivity. And when we lose sensitivity, we lose intelligence.- J. Krishnamurti The Collected Works Volume XV

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We explain things to ourselves using ideas and words. These explanations fall short, as they must. They are, by necessity, simplifications. And because we confuse them for the experiences they are intended to describe, something of the essence of our experience is lost in this translation into abstraction and generalization.
We have a great psychological need to banish any sense of existential dread. Because fear can overwhelm us at any moment and we can lose touch with a sense of comprehensible and manageable reality, we calm ourselves with beliefs in the validity of our mental concepts.
Because we use mental models to experience the world, we have a built-in inability to distinguish between our mental models and the world itself. And even while we are experiencing the world by constructing instantaneous mental models of the present, we are reviewing our memories and filling in gaps in perception with previously perceived experience. Instead of attending to what is happening to us in a given moment, we are interpreting events in terms of explanations we constructed in the past.

Our need to understand things compels us to accept explanations in terms we have only incompletely understood. In other words, the ways in which our minds operate require us to make deductions from incomplete information. And the problem with this is that there are many ways in which we can be fooled. Because we formulate hypotheses based upon limited already-existing concepts, we construct measuring devices and scientific instruments, which are designed to produce results in terms we have already encountered. This is not the most efficient way to be made aware of new information.
By the simple act of reminding ourselves that we are losing our way – not by any fault of our own but by virtue of how experience itself occurs, we can learn to recognize our limitations and make corrections. Being aware of the illusory nature of our experience can sensitize us to the true reality which lies behind all illusion, which is after all, awareness itself.
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Image: “Self Portrait” by Tullio DeSantis, 2011

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The Mind of the Multiverse

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This is who and what we are. Our minds are at the focus of all the energetic waveforms of the entire multiverse. The conjunction of being and nothingness, the convergence of all possibilities, this moment in space and time is also an instance of the eternal present. The core of our consciousness holds a unique awareness of the meaningful comprehension of existence in the midst of the utter emptiness, and brutal meaninglessness of matter. And it is this very awareness which etherealizes the material universe, transmogrifying the substance of the world into the luminous experience of mindfulness. This is the nature of our existence, and we share it with all beings in all places and all times in a vast interconnected network of intelligent life.
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Image: “Mind and Multiverse” by Tullio DeSantis, ink drawing, 2011

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Imaginary World, Part 2

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This is the realm of imagining, where all things possible do occur. The boundaries of the world expand to include the deepest mysteries of the mind and the farthest reaches of the universe.
The aesthetic imagination is the ultimate information processor. Art forges connections between the hemispheres of the brain by a multimedia melding of verbal, visual, emotional, and cognitive modes of representation and experience.
Science reveals the parallel dimensions of a quantum multiverse and art transports us there. Metaphorical and associative correspondences connect the myriad waveforms and particles of matter and energy with the trillions of neural networks of billions of human minds. The Hubble Space Telescope, the World Wide Web, and the Large Hadron Collider are instruments of vast reach and great potential and they are also powerful metaphors. Culture expands to include imaginative access to the formerly unknown territories revealed by our ever-increasing methods of collecting and interpreting information and experience.
An aesthetic approach to living involves working creatively with other modes of being in the world. Art embodies great technical and scientific information but it is not just science. Artists draw inspiration from nature and the natural world, but artists are not biologists. The truths and mysteries of philosophy and metaphysics inform much great art, yet art is not religion or metaphysics. Art reveals the workings of the mind and how humans interact with each other and create culture, but it is more than either psychology or politics.
From the cave walls of pre-history to the 3-D multiplex, we come to understand ourselves by projecting our view of the world into the world itself, thereby altering it in an endless feedback loop of creative visualization. We act not so much in the world as we do within our representations of it. And because we are deeply human and not simply machines, our entire lives take place, not in the material of the world, but wholly within our personal and collective imagination. Things are the way they are because this is how we imagine them to be. This is why, tomorrow, everything will be different than it is today…
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Image: “in imagining” by Tullio DeSantis, altered images, 2011

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The Great Mystery

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The great mystery of the universe is with us every instant. It is apparent during our waking hours and present in each moment of our lives. Awareness – consciousness, the instrument of our experience, perception, and cognition–often escapes our attention. When it does, the very nature of its instrumentality tends to render it transparent, and we cannot clearly see it because we are using it to see; we cannot simply think about it because we are using it to think.
We have invented hundreds of metaphors for what we imagine as some ultimate reality, upon which we bestow attributes of knowledge and will. We sense the universe is filled with mystery and we have always endeavored to name it, to describe it, and to understand our place within it.
And all the while, the ultimate mystery hovers just behind our eyes, signals our every heartbeat, and illuminates each thought, feeling, and perception. The way the energetic material cosmos moves toward life and how life turns toward consciousness –these are the hallmarks of the deepest and most impenetrable enigma of all creation.
And we are it. Our minds hold the most elegant meaning, as well as the most elusive riddle, of the entire universe. And even though the very agent of our profound comprehension seems, at times, to be utterly incomprehensible, there are ways we can come to know it.
We can learn about it in the ways we learn about all other things: slowly, methodically, we can become aware of how– and even why–these minds of ours happen and how they operate. We can observe, as naturalists, the ebb and flow of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. We can measure with instruments, the subtle electromagnetic potentials generated when we think, feel, and perceive. And with our hearts, we can fully experience the nature of this vast arc of infinite cosmos and participate in its most excellent expression: the compassionate concern for all of life.
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Image: “The Great Mystery” by Tullio DeSantis, altered ink drawing, 2011

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