Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Having experiences, doing experiments.

I find it more understandable than ever that consciousness, thought, will, morality, spirituality... are simple empirical phenomena that should not pose any problem to positive science. It is true that for some strange reason scientific positivism has generally been conceived as totally antagonistic to the study of faith, spirituality and to the sensitivities of the human soul in general. But, are these psychological phenomena not like any other? Why must not science study them? Did not about objective facts of experience?
Spirituality is a fact manifested in subjective experiences (all psychological manifestations are subjective) that can be the subject of scientific study, like any human behavior. These are personal, measurable, real experiences, beyond the dogmas of religion.
It will seem paradoxical, but science and religion, in the background, they share the same objective: to know the truth, understand the working of reality. Simply. The raw material for scientific research are empirical experiences, which are events of personal experience as any other, as are, of course, spiritual or religious experiences. Scientists simply create a specific, controlled conditions of laboratory, in order to experience, in the broadest sense of the word, events that do not occur regularly in everyday life. What is at issue in science is to create the conditions for people who is researching to experiment new phenomena. To experiment is to have experiences, to compose certain conditions to have a personal experience of perception of reality, as we have in any everyday psychological experience at any time, or in a spiritual or emotional or aesthetic or poetic experience.
Science and religion are (or should be) something very similar, if not the same thing. Joan Mascaro said it in a straightforward manner:

'The spiritual experience, as scientific experiments, is based on the observation of facts.'
'There is inner observation and experiment and outer observation and experiment. From the first comes poetry, spiritual vision and all human values; from the second, science and technology.'
'If science is one, religion must be one. Science is based on experiment, religion should be based on experience.'
'It's the experience that matters, not the concept.'
'Pure consciousness should not be affected by the experience: should observe the experience.'

Religion and science, in the background, share object and method: observation of the facts of empirical experience. The difference between religion and science is 'just' of perspective, is that religion has an overall view of nature as a whole (which corresponds to the idea of God), while science has a partial view of the constituent parts of nature. So religion has to resort to the contemplative observation and imagination to encompass the whole, unable to reason or understand the discrete elements; while science uses analytical thought and observation of isolated elements of a complex whole that is very difficult to encompass item by item. Religion needs of imagination to maintain overall articulation, needs faith, needs to trust that things are or may be in a certain way, because it can not observe or certify element by element, unlike science. The problem with religion is that it fails to go deeply into any subject in order to keep the vision of the whole, not depth intelige any particular aspect of nature, has to conform to the faith and 'contemplation'; while the problem of science is that it almost never comes to appreciate the whole of reality, the real functioning of the reality that is hidden because thoroughly analyzes elements but is not able to articulate each other. The truth, or the meaningful of truth, which is relevant to people, is beyond the scope of science normally.
Mascaró says:

'Life avoids the microscope and the telescope.'
'Appearance is the visible world, the reality is the unseen world.'
'Imagination fills the visible things with a high unseen meaning.'
'When you see the many forget the All.'
'God is the All.'
'The world of the poet and of the artist is more real than the object of physical science.'
'The poet sees the words in contemplation, not in the mere thought.'
'Art is a way of contemplation.'
'Intelligence deals with material things. It is very important in science, but it can not deal with the spiritual values and poetry.'
'Analyze the whole into its constituent parts is useful; but what do you say about contemplation of all? Because the whole is much more than its parts and the whole can not be understood by analysis but by synthesis, synthesis of contemplation. Contemplation is beyond thought.'

The important thing is to know the truth, understand the working of reality either by way of science or by way of religion, it is indifferent. The debate one way against the other is completely sterile. The only thing that can bring us freedom and happiness is empirical knowledge of the world, with the only tools of observation, thought and imagination, regardless of the framework within they are used. What is needed is to always go beyond, discover, keep learning... Anything else is deadlock, empty words, dogma.
Knowledge, which is to capture the order of nature and its future, is what makes us free. Capturing intelligence or 'logos' that exist in nature is like capturing God. The freedom and happiness of people lies precisely in that, in understanding the world.

'The thought must have freedom to think. But there is only freedom in truth. We are not free to think that 2 + 2 = 5! If we do we are not free, we are in the bondage of error.'
'You are free to play wrong notes on the piano, but that will not produce music. The freedom to make music comes from playing the correct notes. '
'We are not free to see the sun if we close our eyes.'
'As the harp string is subject to fixed rules just get the freedom of music.'
'The task of man on earth is to learn to read and write, to read the life and to write the life.'
'There is only one truth in the universe. Science is one and religion is one, but there are many false religions.'
'The world needs a new religion, a new philosophy of life free from dogmatism of science and technology and free from dogmatism of organized religion.'

The true path is not science nor religion per se, but a harmony between observation and imagination, a reciprocity between the two. It is the way of observation directed by imagination, while imagination controlled by observation. It is the way of empirical reality, the truth that feeds on reality. The way of discovery. Of imagination that raises new possibilities beyond thought, but at the time verified its reality by thought.

'Just reason and spiritual imagination both together can do self-sufficient man: reason and God who has given us the reason.'
'The ideas come from the imagination.'
'What matters is an inner experience verified by the wisdom of reason.'
'The actual apprehension of the ultimate truth is available to all men.'
'Great things are beyond words and insignificant things should be resolved in a few words.'

Words themselves do not lead reason. Reason lies in truth, and truth in reality. What is at issue, then, is to do science, but empirical science of things that really matter to people.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Articulating Joan Mascaró

'The Truth of the whole universe stands in front of us every moment of our live.'
'Everything is energy.'
'The sun of the Spirit shines on all things and is the life of all things.'
'There is truth in this universe. We can call it 'being of the universe' and it is in us and in everything.'
'The God at our heart is also at the heart of everybody.'
'If you love your life, love God, which is your life.'
'Everything in the universe is a part of an infinite soul.'

Joan Mascaro said that while 'in the West people talk about God of Universe, in India talk about Soul of Universe'. Indeed, the conception of God as absolute spirit, as Brahman, is linked to the idea that this God, spirit or Brahman is also a part of us, deepest: our soul or atman. Brahman or God is part of everything in the universe, that is to say that is everything. It is what we can find in the whole of nature but is especially at our soul, our heart, and equally at heart and soul of all people.

'The goal of soul is to become Spirit.'

So my soul is (or will be) the spirit of Brahman and is the same soul that everybody's worldwide. And soul mean the will and intellect, called higher functions of the mind. Reason and will are not exclussive of man, created alone in him. They come from Brahman. It is nature that behaves rationally and which gives rise to intentionality in people. Intelligence is simply the order of nature that transcends chance or random:

'Because you and I can become one 'Let your will be done' is 'Let my own will be done.'
'Your will be done' means that the superior will and our will can be one.'
'How can the blind nature behave so rationally and with such a miraculous intelligence? Because reason and intelligence are also in nature. The Spirit of creation creates chance and fate and allows imperfection because perfection may arise from this imperfection.'

Linked to the concept of God is the idea of the continuous matter-spirit. Matter and spirit, happily, unlike what we use to think, are NO different things. We can not and we must not distinguish between matter and spirit. Matter is spirit and spirit is matter. All is one. The matter is heavier and more dense, and the spirit is more subtle, volatile or 'free', true, but the difference is purely quantitative:

'If we make an absolute distinction between matter and spirit we were wrong.'
'The matter is thick spirit and spirit is subtle matter.'
'The essence of the matter is the heaviness, the essence of spirit is freedom.'

Mascaró in this regard claims that

'The matter is not material: it is energy. It is the energy of love that moves the universe.'
'The universe is driven by a spiritual force.'
'Everything is energy', says the scientist. 'All is love', says the poet.'

Being of the spirit (or God) is in the sky, literally forever, right now. What we call the spirit, then, is a form of matter that is invisible and extending across the sky:

'Being in God is being in heaven, even now.'

There are visible and invisible universe. Matter, perfectly, can be invisible, such as air. That something is invisible does not mean it is immaterial. In fact, if all is one, nothing real is immaterial.

'Behind the visible universe we must feel the invisible universe.'

What we call spirit is merely a manifestation of matter, comes from material phenomena.

'The ocean and the ocean waves are one: Nirvana and Samsara are one.'
'The physical and the metaphysical are one, not two.'

Then we can say that what we call spirit 'interacts' with matter, because this 'spirit' comes from and acts on matter. The Spirit uses matter, is a manifestation of matter, is matter:

'The Spirit beyond time uses matter and mind and life, that are in time.'
'Intertwined with the world of matter there is the world of spirit, and the spirit is Being, Consciousness and Bliss.'
'I am God: Pure Being'

People are all different and unique in our experience, but at the same time we are identical to share the depths of the soul and the general ability to experience per se (the Spirit). Our everyday life is very diverse and variable, but we are all one in the background. We are all equal and we should not reduce ourselves to any label, which shows only the apparent. Each person is a soul that participates equally of Brahman and each person, therefore, has the same value.

'The small butterfly that flies and passes along is unique in the entire universe. Much more is each person. Look at each person as one in many and look at the many in one.'
'Every person is much greater than appears. In his interior life each person is a soul. Labels such as 'tourist' or 'rider' reduce the person to which they apply.'
'Our current life is the shadow of our spiritual being.'

In our daily life happens that what we believe that we are normally is not really what we are. We confuse our personal experience with the reality. We identify ourselves with an aggregate of thoughts, memories, sensations... what we experience and learn each time but that are not our real self. The real being is Brahman, and us, like everything else, we are also Brahman. Therefore, our innermost being is divine, as recognize all religions. This is the primary message of the Upanishads, which collects Joan.

We find Brahman at the whole of nature, at the whole extension of the vast universe; but the place where it is actually more accessible and is displayed by most unambiguous terms is just within our interior. 'The God that moves the universe also moves our hearts.' God, Brahman, Spirit... this is what lets us live and lets us think at each moment, without necessarily being the content of our thought, because the thought, although searches it, do not always find the truth. On the contrary, very often thought is lost in the things of the world without capturing its true order, without capturing the objective reason of the real things. Except, of course, wise persons, which, in addition to being themselves, as everybody, a manifestation of the Spirit or Brahman, they capture this spirit with the thought and they understand it. They find the truth in themselves. This is reminded by Tao Te Ching, quoted in Lamps of Fire:

'Without leaving my door
I can hear all the things of the earth.
Without looking through my window
I see the paths of heaven.
Because as farther you travel away
less you know.
Wise therefore arrives without traveling,
he see everything without looking.
He does everything without doing.'

The vast majority of people don't come to understand the origin of the movements of their intellect and their will. We do not understand, at least not entirely, to ourselves. 'Our' reason does not move by itself, it doesn't auto-generate, it cannot understand to itself by itself:

'The cause for that reason can think is superior to reason.'
'We cannot see with the reason what's beyond reason.'
'We live our lives with our mind. Our life is a succession of mental events. The world of the mind, conscience, is closer to us than the world of matter. We live this world.'
'The world of mind is certainly closer to us than the world of matter: it is our inner world where we live, where we experience happiness or misery, peace or agitation, joy or sadness, pleasure or pain.'
'It's only when we understand that we can forgive: when we see why we and others are in the dark, then we can have the Spirit of the Gita in dealing with people and things.'

Intelligence is located, to a large extent, in the outer nature. The nature, although is blind, has in itself an order, some regularities, a 'logos', that our intellect captures at the moment that we say that we capture the truth. Our intelligence comes from the nature and is directed to the nature.

'How can the blind nature behave rationally and with such a miraculous intelligence? Because reason and intelligence are also in nature.'
'The Spirit of creation creates random and hado and allows the imperfection, because of this imperfection may arise the perfection.'

God is intelligence. In other words: intelligence is that superior and 'divine' that we have, is 'the deep soul' or 'spirit' itself. It is the most high, it is which allows us access to knowledge of nature, when, in fact, the thought is the truth of reality. But the thought also very often loose us in the routinary content of ideas of everyday life that are mere association and that do not provide true knowledge. In fact, this is most common in the people that we are not wise. Then, in our case, the intelligence is not the thought, but rather the absence of thought. The first step toward wisdom is, therefore, to realize that many times our thinking is erratic, and fails to find the truth:

'The Bhagavad Gita says that God is the thread that unites the worlds and all things as in a group. Our thoughts always fly from one thing to another, or, as a caterpillar, cling from leaf to leaf.'
'When thought is silence, deep -or higher, which is the same- then we can see eternity between two thoughts.'
'There is a silence that is beyond reason.'
'The "I am" within us is deeper than what occurs within our understanding.'
'With thoughts alone, we can only get more complicated thought. We can not have anything above thought.'
'The thought alone can never reach the essence of the universe.'

The soul, reason, intellect, access to knowledge of the 'logos' of nature, trascend us. They are not truly our creation, but we are rather a manifestation of them. They are the manifestation of Brahman, the outer spirit, acting in our hearts.

'The soul that never dies is not something that belongs to us, but something to which we belong.'
'We are in the world, but we are not of the world.'
'Man is a spiritual being. It has a body, but the Spirit is the owner of the body.'
'Infinity and Eternity are always with us.'
'God in his essence: eternal rest. God in his people: eternal work '

So we are not real actors or anything nor active agents. Our mind is moved by something superior that is real (Spirit, God...), while the product of our mind, the contents of our thoughts do not correspond with realities normally but are wishful thinking. Things just happen. Thoughts just happen, apart of its true. In this consists the reality.

'There are no problems: there are only facts.'
'Solving a problem is a fact. The greater peace of mind, the easier
to find the solution. Any concern, agitation or fear hinders the solution.'
'There is suffering, but not sufferer. There are actions, but not an actor. There is a way, but not a traveler.'
'It happens' is wisdom. 'It happens to me' is ignorance.'
'Anxiety, fear, anger, agitation, are all illusions, not realities.'
'Mastering the mind should be as a breeze. Do not let the illusion of ego says 'I have an idea.' Do not do subjective what is objective.'
'The true consciousness has no subject.'
'These thoughts are not 'mine', because they happen and I just watch them.'
'Consciousness is one, but the objects of consciousness are many.'

If intelligence and thought always would lead us to knowledge of reality and truth, we would enjoy absolute freedom and happiness, but, as we see, that happens with difficulty and usually does not succeed. However, we can approach. We can acknowledge mistakes and do not be fooled by what is apparent, to become aware, at least, of our limitations. We can stop the movements of mind when ideas move us away of truth instead bringing us closer to truth.

'When with a clear mind we consider the ideas, we are on the right path; but when with a confused mind we are possessed by ideas, we are in the path of darkness.'
'The problems are not problems if thought does not let them to be.'
'Happiness is to stop the movement of the mind.'
'If we stop the movements of the mind, we can feel the Spirit of God.'
'When the mind is silent we can hear the voice of God.'
'The pure perception occurs when we stop the movement of mind.'
'Observation is relaxation.'
'Relax your life in a greater life.'

'There is a music of the mind, and the silence of the mind.' Mascaro said. In addition to the path of 'silence', or thought stopping, there is the path of the 'music of the mind', or the effective articulation of thought. This 'music' is a harmony between observation and imagination, a reciprocity between them. It is the way of observation directed by imagination, while imagination controlled by observation. It is the way of empirical reality, the truth that feeds of reality. The way of discovery. The way of imagination that raises new real possibilities.
Imagination is very different from the fantasy: imagination, well directed, conceives or intuits new realities beyond our knowledge. It makes us to be active. The fantasy takes us into the ghosts of our 'knowledge', it does not question nothing, does not bring nothing new. It keeps us passive:

'Imagination is active. Fantasy is passive. Imagination awakens us: fantasy makes us sleep.'
'Only reason and spiritual imagination both together can make man self-sufficient: reason and the God that has given us the reason.'
'The ideas come from the imagination.'
'Imagination is a light and inner fire.'
'Imagination is an intensity of consciousness.'
'What matters is an inner experience verified by the wisdom of reason.'
'It's the experience that matters, not the concept.'
'Intuition is an experience, not a thought.'
'Pure consciousness should not be affected by the experience: should observe the experience.'

Knowledge, which is to capture the order of nature, is what makes us free. Capturing intelligence or logos in nature is like capturing God. The freedom and happiness of people lies precisely in that, in understanding the world, or at least not being fooled by appearances of daily life and recognizing the errors to mantain chances to know and understand in future. This is the salvation by knowledge.

'The thought must have freedom to think. But there is only freedom in truth. We are not free to think that 2 + 2 = 5! If we do we are not free, we are in the bondage of error. '
'You are free to play wrong notes on the piano, but that will not produce music. The freedom to make music comes from playing the correct notes.'
'We are not free to see the sun if we close our eyes.'
'As the harp string is subject to fixed rules just get the freedom of music.'
'The task of man on earth is to learn to read and write, to read and write the life.'
'The brain is my instrument of thought. I feel that my brain is my servant.'

Pointed Mascaró.

What we need to do is to properly direct our minds to distinguish what is real and what is not real, ignore what is illusory and chimerical (invention of our mind) to see what is pure and immediate in nature, however simple it should be, because what exists in reality is all that matters, as it can not be otherwise. This is to capture the 'grace of God', which is continuously given us. It is to shed light on the 'blind' nature. It is not to go against nature but join it and move on with it. It is to enter in nature and stay at reality. It is the way of empirical reason, so frequently underestimated...

'The whole of the universe is always everywhere, and we can only direct our mind towards this whole to be one in will with the whole.'
'The grace of God is given continuously, but we need our own capacity to receive it.'
'Walking the road is joining the deeper forces of Nature.'
'The actual apprehension of the ultimate truth is available to all men.'
'Yes and No are only true in logic, not in life.'
'In silent meditation we learn how to act, not how to react.'
'We know the mind. We must control the mind. We must free the mind. '
'We must not be governed by the mind: we must govern the mind.'

It may seem paradoxical but science and religion have really the same task: to know the truth, understand the working of reality. They also share the same method: empirical reason. God and nature are the same, matter and spirit are the same. All is one. We must just focus on what is real and avoid fanaticism of reason by reason, metaphysics, empty words.

'The spiritual experience, as scientific experiments, is based on the observation of facts.'
'If science is one, religion must be one. Science is based on experiment, religion should be based on experience.'
'There is only one truth in the universe. Science is one and religion is one, but there are many false religions.'
'The world needs a new religion, a new philosophy of life free from the dogmatism of science and technology and free from dogmatism of organized religion.'
'We need less fanaticism and more compassion and understanding.'
'Fanaticism allows people to be cruel and to have a good conscience at the same time.'
'Great things are beyond words and insignificant things should be resolved in a few words.'

And finally: As the highest of the mind transcends our individuality and is real and eternal as pure matter, we can say that we, in the higher functions of the mind, in the real thing that comes from outside and that affects our soul (God, Brahman, Spirit ...) are also immortal:

'For us there is an ego that may be old, or sick, or can die: but above it there is a spirit that can not be old, or sick, or can not die.'
'The 'I am' is not born and therefore can not die.'
'As I am universal my private situation does not exist.'
'The Kingdom of Heaven does not exist just after physical death, but it is something eternal that exists before, during and after life and is eternally available.'
'The soul can not die because it is beyond life and death. Beyond our mortal body we have our immortal soul.'
'The immortality of man is a part of the immortality of God.'
'God is the life of our life.'
'The earth looks flat and the sun appears to rise and set. The man seems to born and die.'
'The Spirit becomes a living soul, and takes a body to have experience.'
'There is no death. There is only the end of a light and a new light illuminates us.'
'While a man is alive we do not know if he's his body, or he is in his body, or he is else different of his body. How can we say that after death of his body he is dead?'
'Is there a God, a soul, a life after death? These questions can not be answered with thought; are beyond thought, and only our Being beyond thought can answer.'
'That which is beyond our birth and our death can not die.'
'In the Being there is no death.'
'The body dies, but we are more than the body.'
'The Real can not be finished.'
'The unreal does not exist, the Real never ceases to exist.'

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Mind of dog

Do you remember I mentioned to you the vision of a mouser trying to cross the road? It let me thinking…
It was early morning, I was driving to work. The road was fairly busy at that time. The mouser was just outside a gate at the side of the road and tried to cross it, with great difficulty. It looked very uneasy and nervous. Its movements didn’t appear to follow an established plan. As soon as it was up it was down, always along the road. It looked right and left in a disorderly manner. I saw it to make some attempts to cross just when passing a truck or a car, aborted attempts, fortunately, at the last moment before the wheels of vehicles catch it. Given this fact, it increased its anxiety and hyperactivity. The moments that could have crossed, did not. It seems clear that the situation completely overflowed it, had no control whatsoever. It looked but did not know what to watch, had no criteria for deciding when to cross. But did not desist in their attempts, but quite the opposite. Immersed in some kind of loop or short circuit, failed attempts and imminent danger increased its insistence, to almost frenzy. At that time I thought poor dog was doomed to inevitable death, and that it was itself who focused on it with its limited mind of dog. I also thought that it probably would be better if it could do without its own judgment and simply cross the road without any consciousness and total distraction, to do so following the issuance of a limited mind that led directly to the disaster.
I thought later that the people we should go just as that dog. We are engaged in occupations of everyday life with our limited mind, in a sort of loop that we are unable to transcend. The concerns, desires, goals... in principle, should be used to develop orderly behaviour, planned and directed in order to meet our needs. But often, paradoxically, the way that people have to order the world it does is alter the natural order of things. So our intentional activity can lead us directly to disaster. Like the dog, by simple chance, should have ignored the sole discretion to decide when and how to cross the road, we should also ignore our human judgment and rather trust and have faith in the natural ‘order of things’ (‘delegate to the will of God’ as Eckhart had said in a religious way).
It's like the episode of Simon's boat that Tauler referred and you review on L’actitud contemplativa:
‘(Jesus) went up into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to depart a little dirt, sat down and instructed the people from the boat.
When he finished speaking, he said to Simon,
- Into deep and pull the fishing nets.
Simon answered
- Master, we have worked all night and caught nothing, but since you say so, I will let down the nets.
They did so, and gathered so much fish that their nets began to break.’

You add: 'Tauler focuses on the order given by Jesus to Simon. Go to deep water, stay away from the shore and place the boat where there is more water over the abyss (...) Tauler imagine a huge lake, becomed an ocean, and the center of the lake where the water is deeper becomes an unfathomable and frightening abyss. There man is suspended on its own emptiness, because he is experiencing the most extreme fragility.'

Simon, victim of fear, avoid the abyss of deep water and tries fishing near the shore, with no results. Asserts his discretion by imposing his personal wrong order to the natural order of things. Jesus makes him fall into his error and shows the true order of nature, and Simon transcends its limited look. He no longer see the deep waters as a terrifying abyss but as a suitable place to fish, if it is able to naturally accept his weakness and his place in the order of nature, and is able to contain his fear.
The mouser may learn to cross the road if someone shows how to do it, accepting the inevitable inherent danger, it could contain its anxiety. We haven’t to do suicidal behavior, but to distance ourselves from what we worry about, from worrying about things rather, from what we are absorbed about and captures our attention. It's about being able to redirect attention from the affection that things cause on us, to things as they really are in nature, to its natural harmony. It is an ‘objective’ (and ‘scientific’) look to the harmony of the world. We must look beyond our limited vision and meet the natural order of things, that has always existed. Because when we use our way of thinking, without realizing that, we turn away from it.
In this everyday situation in which ‘the flower do not becomes fruit’ is necessary self-restraint and to trust on the existence of what we do not see or know yet. An act of faith in the existence of  a ‘superior’ order, an ‘intelligence’ beyond ours and beyond present, is necessary. We must believe in the existence of a ‘logos’ we don’t yet know but that we can do on future. This is the open attitude that scientific people must have, exactly the same that religious people must have.
Usually we are in a similar to the mouser situation, or to Simon before Jesus' teaching situation. With our idea of how things of the world must be, immersed in relativism of everyday life, we subvert the harmony of how they really are, and we do not let them show us their potentials.
It's no delusion to say that things are now in a certain way and that they change in future. The truth of things is the transition from potencies to acts. It is the flower that bears fruit, it is the child who grows up... The truth that Simon discovers is that he can (and he should) fishing on middle of the lake. For mouser maybe someday the truth will be it will cross the road. What to do, therefore, is to watch for the potential of things and let nature to be revealed. Exactly the same for science and religion.

Saint Augustine's quote is fine: ‘Do not try to feel what we want, but wanting what we feel’. When we attend adequately the nature and focus on what really matters to us, to what we feel, we create a feeling, and sooner or later it appears as it really is, the potency becomes act and we found perfectly the truth, with no mistaking. This is the criterion of truth, common to science and religion: the becoming of potency onto act. The path to lead us to the discovery of truth (scientific or empirical or of any kind) then it is none other than the containment of our ideas and conditions at the moment, to meet the (real) natural order of the world as it shows along time, wich we do not grasp at the moment but whose existence we must believe firmly. This attitude finally ends up being rewarded with the discovery of truth. The road indeed leads us somewhere, but maybe we do not know exactly where or how long will be until we arrive... Of course, until the power become act.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Reality, thought and time.

Thinking is 'lead to presence', 'to present' or 'do present' something in consciousness, whatever it is. This is precisely the present time: to think. It is true, an irrefutable truth, that we always think and we always are now, as Descartes realized. At all times we think or we feel or we are doing something now. Present is what joints thinking and being.
To think is to present a content or an idea, do present, but also we create the past and the future from the present. Always we are and always we accede to things in a  mental action of present. The act of consciousness is instantaneous. We think (and dream and feel and are) at present. But the content of thought (or dream, or feeling...) refers to events of the past or the future, if you look. And they are just that: contents, ideas, fallible products of our mind. We think on possibilities of acts of past or future, heartfelt or less, believed or less. We invent the past and the future, which are probably false, because they are what they are: a construction of thought. They are not reality, they are the result of the act of thinking (not the reality of the act itself).
The contents of thought take us out of the present and lose us in the time that they create, with they disappear the 'truth' and is imposed 'subjectivity'. Objective present and reality are not accessible to our subjective consciousness. The future and the past, in contrast, are only ideas, necessarily far from the reality of the present. The real flow of present is beyond our thoughts. The contents of thought are always far from the reality of the present. It is a paradox: thought takes us away from reality.
The past and the future are the times of ideas, the times of mental contents. Our thoughts are about what has happened (past) or what can happen (future). Moreover, the past and the future, what has happened and what can happen, can only be thought, has no more presence than as an idea. The present, however, is an act, an intuition outburst but not a thought or a developed mental content. Present is time of true events, of objective reality of  events and actions that simply happen instantly. Present is the act of showing things itself, but not the things shown. The actions of present (it is a redundantly talk because actions occur always at present) affect us, necessarely, because they are the real thing that exists and happens, but they do so in a strange way, because its nature is not the mental content or knowledge, they are not almost visible or perceptible to us the instant that occur, they can not become ideas rather than later. Arround immediacy we can only intuit (this is why intuition is more useful than eleborated thought, it is much closer to present and reality).
The present is thinking and act. Every act of life has its temporality in the objective present, always happens in the present. But thinking is unique in that is the constitutional act of 'subjective reality' of human existence, that is, its contents give the way to the past and future, create temporality and subjective reality, create the mental world. The present is the act of thinking (and feeling and imagine and understanding...) itself; it is to exist, it can not be more than the present, it is what is real, not mentally yet, of the psychic act, what has not yet caught the thought because it is still generating it, it is what is undefined and inconceivable the instant that happens. The rest, the past and the future, on the contrary, are ideas, are the subjective world.
The present is the 'reality principle', as opposed to the 'world of ideas' in which we extend the past and future of the content of thought.
The reality of acts of thinking is terribly elusive: thinking is not a thought or knowledge, it is the action that produces them, action that can not be thought itself, or if not, it becomes a thought and fades away, escapes of their size, loses nature of act of objective present. Thinking is condemned to remain as hidden reality. And the past and the future are rationality, mental content, known possibility, but not real, just a possibility, interpreted, thought, believed: invented at the end. Unrealistic and 'false', therefore. So our world is made of hidden reality and of false thoughts... and we are continuously deployed by the contents of our thoughts to the mistake, once and again.
Only if we play an smart sensibility we head, even at moments of insight, towards positivity of empirical reality, in a back and forth between thought and reality. Without this empirical intelligence or sensibility only remains the continued madness of subjective elaborated thoughts, false, conventional reason and opinion, in the paradoxical appearance of possessing absolute truth when we are farther from it. This is the reason insensible to reality, the reason by reason.

Why is the reality that is? What sustains the chained events, the realities that happen? Alain Finkielkraut asked. No way to know, he answered. Even things that we need to know we do not know. What are our motives, the internal logic and the meaning of the acts? It is creepy what we do not know. We think we know, but we do not really know. Although we believe otherwise, we do not know even what will happen, what we will think or what we will feel the next hour. Nor do we really know why happened what happened just now, or for an hour, but we always seem to be convinced to know everything. Our thoughts and knowledges, by themselves, do not allow us to know a lot about reality. On the contrary, often constitute a network of wrong ideas and we will see that reality disassembled again and again, we’ll observe if we test, as suggested Josep Pla referring to the ideas of our complete biography.
Ignorance is not a knowledge gap, however, is the folly of too much certainty we need to dismantle, Alain Finkielkraut argues magnificently in ‘Un coeur intelligent’. The reason that justifies itself, than for its survival should disregard reality, the reason that it is not sensible, is terrible. And reason exactly has a tendency to do just that, unfortunately, to become subjective, to lose its objective measure, to do not question itself. "The dream of reason produces monsters". The rule of reason becomes the drama of reason, where the world becomes allegory, a world in which the doctrines and dogmas are more alive than life, and ideas replace reality. The concepts and names are more real and tangible than beings. We run a veil of narrative texture on things, we do not stop using and producing stories, continuosly, always conventionally reasoning, Finkielkraut says. We turn everything that happens into words in a plot of predetermined and predictable arguments. We build a wall of representations and thoughts, completely fictional, that separates us from reality, including our personal reality. What is particular, different and diverse stops mattering. The concrete reality, each of the realities cease to matter. Even people cease to matter, because they are subjected to something that matters more: to a political, religious, identity… doctrine, whatever, that instead of trying to envision how it is, dictates how the world should be.
Finkielkraut picks it up in some sensitive and intelligent literary readings, to alert us. As does Heidegger from philosophy, who dismantled metaphysics as an excess and disproportion of reason, from the finding of the paradox that the lighting itself (think) is not shown, in favor of the lit thing (thought) that it does, and thus inscribed metaphysics and ontology into the phenomena of personal experience, within the show (or not) of things: in the empirical dimension of manifestation of things. With Heidegger metaphysics becomes empirical, a natural manifestation of the world, accessible in a varying degree, sometimes with great difficulty but still accessible, not to reason but to intelligent observation and to the method of science, eminently empirical.
Everything would be easier, surely, if we admit that the time, strictly speaking, does not exist, but thinking and thought, mental activity and mental content. People are like a kind of machine that makes its own time, a machine set in the present that creates the illusion of past and future, of cause and effect. A machine that plots ideas about what may have happened and what can happen, farther or closer to the marks we put on the clock and the calendar, but has almost no information on its own mechanics, does not capture the thinking itself, the act. Does not capture the precise moment, nor, therefore, the successive moments, its true causality. This machine can not know itself. Knowledge is the content of thought, not the action of thinking. The product never is the process that produces it, is something different, this is inevitable. The machine can not do anymore than withdraw explain itself by mechanisms that actually do, and try to be understood and justified by its product, that are just thoughts. We are a machine that does not understand nor governs itself, we have to admit. We have the illusion that we do, even a great need to believe in it, a practice and very “reasonable” need, but, basically, everything stays on justifications and excuses, pure fickle ideas that don’t give us neither understanding nor real control of ourselves, only its fantasy.
But happens that we are subordinated to what our ideas and plans are. Man is thus the measure of things. And "as more exclusively he conceives himself, as subject, as the measure of things, more equivocal is the measure". In hold onto the apparent, in going back and forth between the near and habitual ideas (attitude that Heidegger calls “insistence”) is where lies the error, in the sense of aimlessly roaming. This is precisely the source of the errors that disfigure and hide the reality. Subjectification of reality is trivialization of reality. Succeeds when we put into words, to give it a narrative texture, by reasoning after all.
We are lost in the narrative time in everyday pre-established knowledge, by definition wrong, that is a simple mental habit and a reflex response, associations of the most common, easiest, and most ordinary conventional ideas. Man, hopelessly, attends the ideas, becomes helpful to ideas and strays into them. He forgets himself in the spontaneous evolution of thought, precisely in the conviction to do the real thing and attending the need of maintaining consistency with himself. Recklessly, he equals his being to the set of personal ideas, he reduces to it, not realizing that the truth belongs to the realm of reality and not to the realm of thought.

The truth is not a system of propositions that can be invoked. It is not a formality. Present and reality (events) are the carriers of truth, because truth appears at the time they are shown, it presents in them. Truth can never be a correction trial we make based on predefined ideas, because if we force so against nature, sooner or later, we completely disregard the objective becoming of reality, and we forget, deform and destroy truth.

Thank you, Alain.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

About time: mind and time.

Personal time is not linear, psychological moments are very different. The reason for this is that our internal states, which are what, more than anything else, shape the course of our existence, are also very diverse and variable. It’s not the world around us which changes maximally, although we seem, but even when the environment remains stable objectively, if we dedicate to observe ourselves, we can see that our subjective experience is still fluctuating, without any specific reason, external and real, or 'scientific'. If we are suspicious, we can also see that, to address this paradox, what we do is look for (and find) the apparent motives of our personal changes in a fully imagined mental contents dependent on our individual psychology. Apparent, not real causes, invented by situation and condition of each one. More or less shared daily illusions…
Motivation, expectations, effort, performance... of people are naturally variable along moments and days. The same activities we do usually make us feel much desire a day than another, we like them to a greater or lesser extent, we perceive that cost us more or less maintain focus, we perform better or worse… And this regardless of the 'excuses' we found. Exactly the same task at a time and at another, in the same context. And we decide to do it or not do, change one way or another, change our mind or intention, justify or otherwise, to think in different ways, understand it in one way or in another really very different one...
Thought is terribly unstable and unpredictable. It flows apart from any overlayed metric, even it flows apart of the objective world! We do not know what moves thought and what does it work, but if we know something is that it is not our will (which is part of it, actually). Thought and will are the most unstable while 'highest' of our mind, as philosophers have always said, it's funny. The 'highest' is what is most properly human and is, at once, what is farthest from us, paradoxically, because is the most variable, unknown and strange to our knowledge. We usually project onto a hidden and mysterious 'God' we invented to explain what we can not explain.
In his high potencies the mind moves by itself, has its own life. It seems an autonomous being, indeed. It is what shapes our subjective life, because, despite that knowledge of its mechanism is completely ‘forbidden’ to us, it is precisely what defines the succession of our life experiences, our personal biography, which gives us the existence in the human way as it is, and orders our experiences as individuals ('soul' of classical speaking or 'being' of phenomenology).
The mind has knowledge but unknowns himself. It is an act of knowledge but not an object. No abstract time of clocks, nor are the apparent objects of world governing mind, it's nothing that we know what does that in reality, we must recognize if we are to be honest. But even as more unknown the mind is, more fundamental becomes and more autonomous, more essential. It is, we must admit, what imposes its vitality and inherent variability.
Showing the mind, by its contents, the attributes of the world, somehow endorses them. The act of knowledge that is the mind is indistinguishable from the object of knowledge that is the world. Mind and world are confused. The mind reaches a level of reality enormous, as the world itself, or the whole, as Spinoza taught. Anybody is shocked by the magnitude that reaches mental world, equivalent to real world, and wonders if must not resign from the search for something so excessive and overflowing. Religious faith is the expression of this waiver, so humane and reasonable when it is due to the inevitable resignation to the recognition of personal inability to understand, but, on the contrary, so irrational and inhumane when imposes a closed doctrine to somebody having the will and the ability to discern beyond, as was the case of Servetus…
Faith, unlike science, should never be programmatic, but healthy and natural acceptance of failure, when it occurs, of what it is programmatic in the field of knowledge and science. The failure must not be programmed. Faith must be, if anything, point of arrival, not the starting point. Otherwise, becomes taxation doctrine, obstacle, waiver and preset and programmed ignorance. Religion and science should be part of the same process, which should not have, really, contradiction or conflict, but pure desire for knowledge, on the one hand, and healthy acceptance, from personal opinion, of the limitations of each one in achieving this knowledge, on the other, in a relationship of complementarity and pure personal freedom.

And what matters to me now is to get knowledge: if not mechanical time or situations or objects themselves around the world, then what is it that gives the becoming of the psychological experience? Is it something magical and metaphysical? (is the mind something magical and metaphysical?) Mind becomes world, but is it actually world? Is its secret so inscrutable that we should withdraw explain it scientifically, by simple caution, or, on the contrary, have we to believe that something empirical, although hidden from our knowledge, influence or conditions or govern the evolution of our consciousness, thinking and willing? Should we ignore Servetus or should we believe him? Can we really make a science of the soul and spirit, in terms of Christianity or any other religions, without falling into a kind of sacrilege?

Friday, 3 January 2014

About time

Time is not linear. It isn’t the repetition of anything constant. Every moment is different from above. And are different because body conditions, which are what give the cadence of our existence, so are: time-varying. Mechanical watches count has nothing to do with durations and sequences of personal experience. Watches add constant units without entity. The seconds, minutes, hours. A simple counting: one, two, three, four, five, six... Go adding something that has no reality, seven, eight, nine... A linear and empty footage we impose on events and experiences in trying to get there in a dimension analogous to space, certainly by the illusion of marking what we feel, what we think (the real 'real time') with signs that perhaps might contain our lives. A bubble fueled by its permanent dissatisfaction.
Linear time exists only the moment we try to put life in a a grid. The calculation of time is a mental content as any. The moments of experience that occupies the clock are not occupied by other contents of the infinity of possible thoughts. It's just a thought. That's it. But when we repeatedly submit to the marks clockwise, we are forced to neglect what would happen frank and spontaneous. But it is only a moment. Our being and our thinking flow apart from empty counting (even flow apart from our own will!).
The mechanic of watches is stupid and opposed to natural thought, because is pure routine succession of fractures of feelings, dreams and cogitations of people. It is the superposition of millimetered emptiness to mind filled with content that continuously flows fluctuating, unpredictable, indosificable. Time of clock is a simple sequence (endless) of ruptures and interferences, which we usually resign ourselves hopelessly.
Josep Pla pointed in the preface of Humor, candor...: "One thing is physical time, which clocks measure and divide in a mechanical way and with calculations of which calendars are built and are established divisions of  years and centuries, and another thing  is the succession of time through the duration of our body. To  clocks  all hours are equal, to our body, all - or nearly all - are different. Some are long, others less, there are some that are empty, others full, there some that are gray and poor, others likely to create the flash of a moment, an unmistakable, unforgettable real time. On the perfectly accurate succession of the hours of watches, on the confusing flow of psychological hours the moments are produced, that are the jabs that projects time on our body. These instants influence our lives in a decisive manner. They are the intersections of the fabric with which the Fates weave our lives.”
Indeed, there are very long hours and others very short, there are some that are full of content and are successful and others are empty and boring, there are mediocre and unproductive and others just the opposite, not because we want to or we decide it, but because they simply happen, without really knowing why. This is the "formless and confusing" becoming of psychological hours. It is a becoming that we don’t know how to grab, which has not a specific form, which does not obey to minimally defined or stable durations or guidelines, even without repeated defined cycles.
The inability to predict our own personal existence, the absolute lack of control we have on it, is manifested in this temporary inconsistency, so far from the uniformity of the mechanical hours. There are hours or moments of intense and absorbent mental activity, which passed very quickly, it is true. Other moments are totally bored, we're not able to mentally prepare anything. Without intervention of our will at all.
The vast majority of times, much to our regret, are an "overwhelming mediocrity," writes Pla. Just out above them, fortunately, there are some moments of illumination, bright, which we believe have a decisive influence on our lives, but, despite they possibly set the direction of our personal existence, also escape, like other moments, of any pretended control. Well fate of oneself is not in his hands but unknown: a kind of unique 'projections' that takes 'time' on our body, says Pla, which would be final and determinant of our existence, as knots with which the Fates weave our fate... These moments are rare, very rare, and are what we say: bodily and mental reactions to an unknown species of 'time', more intense than the majority, deeper, reaching more credibility and weight of personal meaning than the others, and is with them with which we create the most solid of our individual reality... These shining hours of our existence, however, also show, sooner or later, as a succession of pure pretexts, with which we certainly had the illusion that they were the solid foundation of our life at the time, but finally they lead to disappointment, because basically they are just a bluff, a mental elaboration as another, and over time we become aware.
They deflate completely. These 'brilliant' hours are made of ideas and convictions personally heartfelt, true, but they are illusions after all, psychological artifacts different of objective reality, which always goes through independent pathways. They are highly developed thoughts (from sensed and repeated) that have guided our actions, but that, over time, are as plain excuses for mistakes, big mistakes we made along our existence: "successive pretexts of disappointments and unedifying adventures" says Pla.
The frames of the most elaborate personal ideas just rid themselves, like a huge martingale with which we have been fooling ourselves, without being aware of it. Over the years, the notorious ideas our biography are only a feeling of disappointment, even a personal testimony of our own foolhardiness (unconscious at the time).
 Pla can not say more with so few words: "In the period that we has played live we have had moments of all kinds. We have past dangerous hours. Many, many hours of overwhelming mediocrity. Scintillating hours have been extremely rare - successive pretexts of disappointments and unedifying adventures."

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Thought by Servetus

Mind is the faculty of thinking. Basically consists in the ability to identify elements that are common and to discern those that are different from the information provided by senses and memory. Based on this 'scrutiny', similar ideas, or similar elements, are combined in new ideas or elements, are inferred ones from others, are associated or simply are mixed or differentiated themselves, Servetus explains.
This activity is not performed in the metaphysical vacuum or in a non-physical manner. The complex vascular network of brain and nerves machine performs it. But even this machinery does not create mind out of nothing, it is not as magical and wonderful. It isn’t an 'unmoved mover', it does not work in an isolated way by itself, but is moved and fed by the 'air-spiritus', which has an inherent 'logos' that is expressed in the comings and goings of thought in time, in the flow of temporal evolution of consciousness. This is, according to Servetus, what makes the brain and mind go and it is what gives them their unpredictable fluctuating dynamics.
Ideas are not what rule and govern the machine (which would be a concession to metaphysics) but they are the result of movement of the machine. The mind is not autistic and autonomous of the environment, it is not anything closed itself that 'emerge' miraculously from the organic structure, it is not anything whose explanation is depleted in this structure, but on the contrary, it receives from outside an energy and pulse that moves it (air or 'spiritus' of Servetus) and also receives some informational contents, from external sensory energies, which are so 'moved'. It's when they move that mind works, elements are combined and inferences, associations, etc. are made. It is when you think. The organic machinery merely responds to stimuli of external nature. And consciousness, what we think and feel, is only a temporary manifestation of this operation.
What is emerging and unpredictable, wonderful, magical or divine of our mind and our consciousness is gived from the veiled, hidden nature, of the action of 'air-spiritus', from the fact that, despite acting so powerfully in us, we don’t know it actually and it is completely beyond our control. In fact, the hidden 'air-spiritus' logos is responsible that we know so little of ourselves and that we become as little predictable, that thoughts and feelings are beyond our control as they are, that in an identical situation sometimes we act in a way and sometimes in a completely different one. Because, in fact, our experience fluctuates greatly over time even at an invariable situation or task.
Motivation, expectations, effort, performance... are highly variable by definition. Vary without an established known cause. We like more or less the same activities we do every day, we perceive them as different, it is more or less difficult to keep the attention on them, and we perform better or worse. Exactly the same task at a moment or at other. And we decide to do it or not do it, change it, change our opinion, justify something or other, understand it in one way or other... The mind is terribly unstable and unpredictable. The 'air-spiritus' logos must be indeed responsible of our desires, thoughts and feelings as variables, because the absence of an unknown 'language' as this, and if their causes were really known, these mental processes would be, on the contrary, entirely predictable. Human behavior would be, in this hypothetical case, something totally linear and boring. And psychology would be an exact science. Too far from the truth.
The unpredictable and unattainable 'logos' is manifested in mental activity, but comes from environment. The brain is the interpreter, and thought and consciousness are the final expression of the process. It is the 'language of air'. Mental functioning called 'superior', at level of thought, conscience and will (voluntary and conscious mental activity) does not exhaust its explanation in the ability to associate sensory information and memory alone, which work at a 'lower' level as involuntary and very predictable automatisms of mind. 'Superior' logos, on the contrary, originates from something much more fluctuating: the air of atmosphere, concludes Servet, which is picked up by breathing and transported by a circulatory system that opens in a wonderful network of vessels and capillaries penetrating the entire nervous system, and confuses with it anatomically and physiologically. So the air "fuels the fire of the mind", and variations in some dimension of air quality (originated outside the body, at atmosphere) express in the variable quality of 'igneous' activity (metabolic, we can say) of the brain and mind. The ability to mix, identify and differentiate contents, which is 'thinking', and even moral quality of this thinking, depend on changes in some dimension of the intake air, that is, the 'universal spirit', or 'holy spirit' or 'God' as such in the Christian sense, as interpreted Servetus. Thus, changes in our conscious activity depend on changes that occur in the air-spirit-God.
What defines this 'air-spirit-God' in essence is that it is dynamic and fluctuating in time. It is more stimulating or less along time. Sets the tone of the conscious mind, and manifests itself in the quality of the acts deriving from the voluntary and directed mental activity. 'God' lights us some moments to discover the truth of things with aeration, through the lungs and blood, of the ‘igneous’ spirit of the brain. Thus, intelligence, penetration of thinking and understanding are a function of 'logos of air'. So are the moral of our thoughts and actions, our motivations and desires.
Thus, can be said that 'God' governs our thinking and our behavior and gives us intelligence and enjoyment of understanding the world in which we live, if we call 'God' to 'logos of air'. And equally, that our intelligence is as 'divine' we have got, and that human 'virtue' is to think and behave intelligently, according to the logos gived to us. And that intelligence is not exactly 'ours' but it is gived to us by nature, actually comes from the energies of nature that stimulate our senses and, especially, energy of 'air-spiritus', which directly stimulates our mind and orders it and gives the flow of consciousness. And that consciousness, in short, while concretes in the personal experiences of each individual, belongs essentially not to the particular individual but is a universal phenomenon of nature... All these statements come to express the same, in one way or another. It is what Servetus wrote, that all these elements are equally spirit: air, pneuma, our impulses and thoughts, our intelligence, angels, God...

As seen, Michael spectacularly achieved the goal to develop a natural theory, truly empirical, observable and verifiable, capable to explain what unfathomable depths of the human mind. He had the courage to rise, 500 years ago, in detail and with scientific foundation, a concrete way of operation of the higher powers of the mind, its anatomy and physiology, its physical and psychophysical mode. He tried to explain empirically the unattainable metaphysical soul of philosophy and Christianity.
Unfortunately, however, they have been 500 years of neglect of the deepest thought of Servetus. His greatest intellectual hit has not been still openly discussed, as if it were sacrilegious still, as if fire of 'Holy' Inquisition had achieved, effectively, to scorch it…

However, the fundamental idea of the existence of a sort of mechanism by which surrounding air element fluctuates and acts powerfully on the thought and the 'psyche', other people have been able to put in words in other moments in history. Originated and released with an almost innocent frankness and simplicity in the distant times of pre-Socratic Greece, became, a few centuries later, a totally blurred and buried idea. But long time didn’t remove that, by contrast, it seems to return always, with renewed interest and evidence, under the impulse of free thinking people like Servetus. Nevertheless, or precisely because of its eternal return over the millennia, one can not stop feeling, as Hölderlin, a profound and shooting nostalgia for the era of ancient Greeks in which must existed, we have reasons to believe, some certainly shining moments in history (the early philosophers) that soul and human spirit had no veil. …Or is it just an illusion?

Friday, 8 November 2013

Prana, qi, ki...

‘Prana’ is a Sanskrit word for breath or ‘air inspired’ (from the verb ‘pran’: aspire), but also means ‘universal and invisible energy that enters the body through breathing’. Prana is a physical principle that permeates all forms of life, that which gives life and wisdom to beings and that is or comes from a kind of ‘universal spirit’.
The first mention of the word ‘prana’ appears in the Rig-Veda, the oldest text of India, in the mid-second millennium B.C.

Prana shares the global sense of ‘air-life-wisdom’ with many terms of different ancient cultures: Greek ‘psyché’ and ‘pneuma’, Hebrew ‘ruach’ and ‘néfesh’, Latin ‘spiritus’ and ‘anemos’, Arabic ‘ruh’... or the Hindu atman, which also means soul while air or breath. (See the post ‘Pneuma...’ of this blog). Often, too, prana is confused with jiva, another Sanskrit term for soul-air, as there is a close connection between them. Jiva, in particular, would be the portion of air or prana which is located specifically in the cavity of the heart, which tends to be associated with the structural physical body as opposed to the more voluble etheric body of prana, but they are essentially the same air. (One can get an idea of ​​the meaning of prana -or atman, jiva...- consulting the Sanskrit-English Dictionary of Monier Monier-Williams.)
In Vedic tradition prana means ‘vital air’ or ‘life force’. In China it is known as ‘qi’, ‘ki’ in Japan, in Polynesia as ‘mana’. The fact is that it is understood that it is present throughout the universe, in the macrocosm (space) and the microcosm (body of living beings). Its proper flow to (and in) our bodies ensures our good health. Prana is the subtle material energy that arises from the universe and that functions as an interface between the physical body and the subtle or ethereal 'body' of mind, allowing all psychophysical functions (ie, the ‘animation’, from the Latin ‘anima’) .
According to ayurvedic medicine and yoga, prana flows through a network of channels called nadis. They are tubes (bronchi, arteries, veins...) through which flows the prana (inspired air). In the western hermetic interpretation, nadis are not just holes where the air flows into the body through breathing and blood circulation, but also hypothetical channels, called ‘akashic’ or ‘ethereal’ (being ‘akasha’ ether in Sanskrit). These channels would be distributed throughout the universe and also intertwined throughout our bodies, and through them would flow prana energy. As C. W. Leadbeater wrote, prana would be an energy that comes in inspired air, which flows through the nadis and that is used in some way through the cardiovascular system and the nervous system to bring soul and knowledge.
In Chinese medicine, especially acupuncture and its derivations, the equivalent of prana is qi. Qi is literally breath and mood, is an active principle forming part of any living thing which has to be understood as a ‘vital energy flow’. Qi is an air energy that continuously flows by nature, and a disruption of its free flow in the body is the basis of physical and psychological disorders.
Most oriental spiritual and therapeutic systems include attention to breathing or some breathing techniques. The main tool to understand qi is breathing. In Japanese, ki is sometimes translated as ‘energy, presence, will, health’. In some contexts the Japanese word ki translates directly by ‘breathing’. Through meditation on breath, or breathing techniques, it is claimed that you can develop the natural energy of your person and harmonize your personality and metabolism.

Some zen and budo masters say, moreover, that breath is the breath of cosmos, and that all elements of nature are a piece of whole, and reality is expressed in alternating opposite processes (which are called ‘yinyang’). Cosmos breathes while we breathe, alternately. In meditation, also, breathing is considered an expression of mood, as well as the link between emotions, thinking, instincts and physical states.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Prana in the dictionary

Air, breath, life, wisdom...
Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Monier Monier-Williams (1819-1899).

Friday, 27 September 2013

Michael Servetus, the pneumatic mind.

Servetus exhibits in his thesis that "air spirit" (air) is carried by blood from lungs to heart and brain, the same that happened in that the original divine inspiration, the Creation one, the Genesis one, says Servetus. Hence every new inspiration and ulterior illumination stimulates that. In each inspiration “pneuma” or “spirit” enters the lungs. This air, by blood circulation, illuminates the mind when arrives to brain, continuously, blow to blow, breath to breath.
Soul quality depends, at structural explanation, on conformation and disposition of blood vessels in the brain, recognized Servet. At the functional level, however, depends on the quality of “spirit” that enters these vessels. Servetus speaks of bad spirits and good spirits acting in the cavities of the ventricles of the brain. And as pointed out A. Alcalá, with bad spirit Servetus do not mean "evil spirit" or “demon”, but simply notes that the "spirit" (air) can be physiologically and mentally (and morally) either beneficial or harmful. According to this would exist a physical basis, a "good air" and a "bad air", in the root of all mental activity (and also of morally good intentions and bad ones).

What is essential is the air, not blood. The spirits, good or bad, are in the air, or rather, are the air. So much so that Servetus proposes a second route of entry of air-spiritus different of that of the pulmonary circulation of blood. He explains that, in small proportion, the capillary arteries of the choroids, "where the mind is located very safely" when expand absorb "directly" additional air that penetrates through the ethmoid bone.
Needless to say that to current physiology is unacceptable to locate mental functions at the brain ventricles and not at the brain mass. We have seen before that brain mass, to Servet, has a secondary function of pure physical containment and temperature regulation of highly subtilized blood. "The power of the spirit is air," says Servet literally. Moreover, the spirit is air, always defends. Therefore, the air or spirit, when is given in a pure state, necessarily is located in empty spaces, in this case in the hollow cavities of the brain ventricles, where there is no cerebral mass or other form of matter. So there is pure spirit. Says Servetus this air aspired from ethmoid is conducted from the two previous ventricles into the central one. Here, the action of this ventricular pure air is added to the one of the subtle and light air that provides blood of the arteries of the choroids. At the central ventricle, being smaller and also more abundant in vessels of arteries of choroids, is where spiritual light shines more and mind is more lively and understanding more lucid.
The mind, according Servetus, is the ability to think or combine 'something new' (new contents, we would say) that bear some resemblance, mix them, infer one from each other and differentiate each other based on innate ideas or already received images. This ability lies in the functioning of the brain as a “light” or igneous spirit, which feeds on universal spirit (air) and body (blood). The universal spirit, which is God and air at once, literally, lights in us the light of the mind by itself and blood.

It seems an "energetic" theory of the mind. Mental activity is explained as subjective experience of igneous activity (metabolic, we might say) that occurs in brain and nerves, which is fed by the air coming from environment. Mental performance depends primarily of this contribution of air. Possible variations in quality of air regulate quality of metabolic activity and therefore quality of mental activity. The ability to mix, identify and differentiate contents, which is thought, and quality (even moral) of this thinking would depend directly on variations in aspirated air quality, that is the universal spirit of God itself in the christian sense, according Servetus. Thus changes in our mental activity depend on changes that occur in air-spirit-God. This air-spirit-God is dynamic, fluctuates over time and so is also manifested in the actions that result from mental activity. God enlightens us, at times, to find the truth of things, with aeration, through blood, of brain igneous spirit (our own light mind).

Servetus confronts with the difficulty of having to explain how a purely material activity causes mental activity. He escapes, however, of philosophical approaches that attempt to explain what is inexplicable and, far from wanting to explain everything, opens the possibility of a pragmatic and empirical study of mental activity as a manifestation of fluctuations in the air acting on organic systems: respiratory, circulatory and nervous. Servetus basically raised a scientific hypothesis, which still remains open and not studied yet.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Michael Servetus, the mechanism.

The most recognized contribution of Servetus to science is the first description of minor circulation of blood, which exposes in his work The first description of blood circulation. It is recognized a great value to, totally deserved, since it was not known at the time the existence of pulmonary circulation of blood. This writing is an excellent lesson in anatomy and physiology of the moment. But to Servetus it was not an exclusive anatomical and physiological matter but much more, as he always expressed. What Servetus really intended was to make a "divine philosophy" that meets "the complete knowledge of the soul and of the spirit". The discovery of the pulmonary circulation of the blood means to him the empirical understanding of the functioning mechanism of “soul” and “human spirit”.
In Latin spiritus, and the Greek pneuma, mean, on the physical plane, air, and also breath or blow, and even what we now understand as wave or vibration. On a philosophical level these terms remain the meaning of “spirit” or “spiritual” in the metaphysical sense. Servetus specifically links the two planes, mixes the concept and proposes it as the central thesis of his theory. At the beginning of The first description of blood circulation Servetus resumes De trinitatis erroribus. Refers invariably air as the spirit of God, in the two planes of the term: "God gives us his spirit when breathes the soul", "God holds the breath of life with his spirit", "gives us the breath", "divinity of God fills the air", "soul penetrates the wind and breath", " ... for the simple fact he breathes the soul to us we can say that God gives us his spirit”, “our soul is like a God’s lamp”,  “it is like a spark of the spirit of God...”,  “God breathes into Adam's nose the soul as well as a breath of air, so it's up to him” (Isaiah 2; Ps 103).
And furthermore: “God himself holds the breath of life with his spirit and gives breath to people who’s living on earth and spirit to them that walk therein, so that we live in him and move and we are in him (Is 42, Act 17)”, “wind from the four winds and the four breaths breath, called by God, the dead returned to life” (Ez 37), “from breath God takes the souls of men, which are innate life of intake air”, “from the air God takes the soul, and produces both the air and the spark of divinity that fills the air”, “truth is what Orpheus said: the soul goes on the wind and penetrates entirely by breathing, as quoted by Aristotle in De anima". (The first description of blood circulation)
Henceforth, Servetus introduces into his argument a new element, which is organic: blood. Blood will be, as the air, the main idea of his "divine philosophy". Blood is mixed with air in the lungs and delivers the 'spiritus' throughout the body, firstly to brain. He mentioned before blood and heart at the end of Declaration on Jesus Christ, when he quotes Jeremiah and says that the spirit of God "prints" into the hearts of men with "inside ink" (blood) the knowledge of Christ. "What soul has some elemental substance, Ezekiel tells, what have something of substance of blood, God tells. I’ll explain this in more detail, so you'll understand (addressing the reader) that the substance of the created spirit of Christ is essentially linked to the substance of the holy Spirit. I'm calling spirit to air, as holy language has no special term to designate the air. Moreover, this fact makes us understand that in air there is some divine breath that fills the spirit of the Lord." (The first description of blood circulation)
Servetus, once again and said so expressly, if there was any doubt about what he calls spirit, initiates, from this paragraph, his lesson in anatomy and physiology of the soul. First he distinguishes three bodily "spirits". The first two come to constitute the soul (then he conceives the soul as organic). They belong to body element on which acts external universal spirit or air, which is blood. These are the “natural spirit”, which corresponds to the venous blood, and the “vital spirit”, which is blood of the heart and arteries, once is mixed with the air that has passed through the lungs. He calls them both as “blood spirits”. The third bodily "spirit", which he calls “animal spirit”, corresponds to activity of the brain, "a ray of light that acts on brain and nerves". Servetus clearly identifies brain activity with mental activity. Brain or mental activity is fed (and so is the soul that resides in the blood) by the universal spirit or air, which is the spirit of God. At the three bodily spirits, therefore, there is energy of universal spirit-air-God.
Soul is blood; its bodily matter is blood. And when blood passes through the lungs and combines with intake air collects power of God's spirit (becomes “vital spirit”). This “vital spirit” is blood on its bodily nature and air on its “spirirual” nature.
Servetus explains in the following paragraphs as blood, driven from the right ventricle of the heart, "throughout a long circuit through the lungs" is combined with the intake air, and this oxygenated blood returns to the left ventricle of the heart and, from this, is distributed throughout the body.
Blood mixed with air (“vital spirit”) is transfused to entire body throughout arteries. But the more subtle one, which has more air (by some natural mechanism that Servetus does not specify but it seems that points to the simple physical fact that the lighter material rises, in contrast to the heavier, which goes down) directs to the upper parts, to the brain. In the reticular plexus at the base of the brain, the blood would be subtilized again, so continue up through "a very thin vessels or capillaries arteries, located in the choroid plexus, which contain the mind itself".

Servetus then states that "sensitivity" does not concern specifically to the "soft matter" of nerves and brain, but to subtle contribution of “vital spirit” through very thin blood vessels and membranous filaments extending to "the origin of nerves". The spirit, the blood with more air ratio, lighter and subtle, constantly tends to go towards the "membranous filaments" of nerves. "The sensitivity of the nerves is not in soft matter, nor in the brain. Every nerve ending in membranous filaments endowed with exquisite sensibility, so that the spirit tends constantly toward them. Thus, from these little vessels of meninges or choroid, as from a source, it spreads like lightning the bright animal spirits through the nerves to the eyes and other sensory organs. And by the same paths, but in reverse, are sent from outside to the same source light images of sensed things, penetrating inward as through a light environment." Thus, the seat of the mind or rational soul is not properly the soft mass of the brain, which is cold and insensitive, but rather the blood vessels "that are united to and provide power to sensory nerves".