In a moment of calm, you sense a space that lies between your thoughts, perceptions, and intimations of the external world. It is within you and has been for your entire life. Inhabiting this unchanging place, your very deepest awareness is the observing witness to all that has occurred.
Over the years you have learned to identify this place within yourself and you have practiced various means of accessing it. Perhaps as a result of these practices, you have become much more able to bring your attention to a point of focus and to transport yourself there. In fact, because it is ultimately just a step away from your ordinary waking consciousness, being aware of it it is similar to simply looking past a lens to see the unfiltered reality that lies behind the glass.
When you observe from this vantage, you sense layers of consciousness, which are involved in processes that can be described as loops of thought, feeling, reflection. These seem to be most concerned with identifying and naming the various states of being and imagining, which constitute your daily reality.
So again, there is a calm center within your field of awareness. And there are also many layers of thinking, feeling, identifying, and naming occurring at the same time. You can shift between them at will.
But sometimes we get lost. We forget that we are simply observing a mental process and instead, we identify with whatever content is being experienced and named at that level of awareness.
We get lost because in order to fully experience an event, we automatically identify with it. We identify with each layer of awareness as it happens. This is the nature of subjective experience. It is why illusions have such great power over us – illusions of every kind have great power because we cannot clearly distinguish between what is happening in an objective way and our subjective experience. The lines are blurred. And they are blurred because we cannot clearly distinguish between subjective awareness and the external aspects of experience.
We are easily fooled by appearances. And appearances are easily manipulated.
The knowledge of the calm and focused place of being where you can observe all the other layers of your awareness coming and going, streaming forward in future focus, or backwards in memory…where you can detach yourself – your clinging fearful sense of identity – from the inescapably frightening feelings of being caught up in the whirlwinds of living in the world…this knowledge serves you well.
Knowing you can move from a hurricane of mental confusion to the calm and secure place of pure awareness, relaxes you, and gives you strength. It is a quietly gathering sensation of powerful, yet peaceful, contemplation. This is the place to be…
Image: “Intelligent World” by Tullio DeSantis, ink drawing, 2011
You Tube Video: Deepest Mandelbrot Set Zoom Animation ever – a New Record! 10^275 (2.1E275 or 2^915)
Snow holds the moon
My thoughts are moving waves of wind
Stars arc, connecting me to blue hills I cannot see
I am warmed by the glow of their gravity
Walking through chaos
A mind forms in the darkening sky
Deciding to be born
Image: “One Mind One Moment” by Tullio DeSantis, altered ink drawing, EEG map, brain, and astronomical images, 2011.
“I strongly believe that the less a thought is mutilating, the less it will mutilate human beings. We must remember the ravages that simplifying visions have caused, not only in the intellectual world, but in life. Much of the suffering of millions of beings results from the effects of fragmented and one-dimensional thought.” – Edgar Morin, “On Complexity”
The urgency with which we pursue simplicity and certainty is reminiscent of the most persistently predatory and compulsive behavior in the animal kingdom. If there is one thing that has characterized our thinking during the millennia of recorded history it is the evident need to reduce the world’s chaos and complexity to a system of simple explanations. And when we believe we have found such a system of thought, it has been used as a justification for our most heinous collective crimes.
We have arrived at a point in our evolution where a deeper and more thoroughgoing self-knowledge is our only means to continued survival. And to come to know ourselves in deeper ways will require a kind of knowledge in which the complexities, uncertainties, and interconnectedness of things, once considered to be simple, absolute, and separate, are seen as open-ended systems, in ways we are just now beginning to comprehend.
By definition, it is not possible to describe a new paradigm in terms of the old ones preceding it. What emerges as a new global understanding of humanity and our place in the world is a sense of new connections between areas of knowledge and of ourselves once thought to be separate and unrelated, such as physics and biology and matters of the mind and heart.
These new views descend almost imperceptibly, for they constitute a truly collaborative vision. Each of us embodies and communicates some significant information about the world seen in new ways. The patterns of our interactions create the contemporary culture, which we also internalize as aspects of our own perception and ways of thinking and behaving. This is the recursive feedback process of an open, living ecosystem.
We begin to see that there is a new matrix of possibility forming – with new more interconnected and compassionate ways to be human and new, more comprehensive ways of thinking about ourselves and our place in the universe.
Image: “GYRE 001” by Tullio DeSantis, ink drawing, 2011.
YouTube Video: Sound of the Earth in Space Recorded by NASA(Our planet is a natural source of radio waves at audible frequencies. An online receiver at the Marshall Space Flight Center is playing these songs of Earth so anyone can listen.)
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein
How can we rescue ourselves and each other from the dangerous world we have created?
We seem to know so much. Our science has produced technologies which evidence tremendous power. We are able to move great objects at high velocities. Our machines perform trillions and trillions of calculations in fractions of a second. Everywhere around us our knowledge of material processes has refashioned the world of our experience. We have changed the planet and ourselves in ways unimagined by previous generations.
But all this scientific and technical achievement has also produced situations that threaten to bring us great harm – harm to ourselves and to our world. Our knowledge turns out to be severely limited. By focusing our minds on abstract, reductionist, and materialist conceptions of existence, we produced a century of physical and psychological horror on a scale unprecedented in all of history.
As we look back upon the twentieth century, we must ask ourselves, what is it about the way we have conceived of the world and our place in it which has resulted in such monstrosities in the name of reason and rationality?
Our search for order amidst the apparent chaos of life has created, on the one hand, systems of order so rigid that they have banished all forms of novelty and dissent, and on the other hand, the chaos of unending war and political strife. Even our entertainment media, which we have ostensibly created as havens from the roughness of the real world, are replete with violence and images of inhumanity.
Prodded by our fears, we have been impelled to create shells of safety and security and yet, each time, we fail to notice until it is nearly too late, we have the most dangerous thing still within the fortress. The most dangerous thing is us, of course. We have the power to multiply the natural dangers of the world a thousandfold. When we desensitize the connections of empathy and feelings of compassion for others, we lose empathy and compassion for ourselves as well.
We are learning that we must reformulate our very ideas of the world and our place within it. The end of our old science of separation, reductionism, inflexible logic, and certainty leads us ineluctably toward the new science of connectedness, relativity, complexity, and possibility.
As we learn to listen more attentively to the beating of our hearts and more deeply feel the breath in our lungs, we come closer to our common humanity. As we begin to ask the right questions, we observe the answers are already here within us. Our minds begin to move inevitably toward the evolutionary notion that empathy and compassion are the purpose and meaning of our lives…
Image: “Heart and Mind” by Tullio DeSantis, altered ink drawing, 2011.
YouTube Video: Interview with C. G. Jung