The Consciousness Within…

God can be (and has been and will continue to be) defined as a great many things, including:

  • The Creator of the Universe and the Source of all moral authority.
  • A perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped.
  • The One who has power over nature and human fortunes.

I’ve never proactively gone to church, but I have over the last two weekends, not only as an opportunity to see parts of a location not usually frequented but also as a way to remove myself from a heavy workload, tourist schedule and external factors, even if just for one hour.

St Georges Cathedral in Cape Town is steeped in history and is renowned for the political stance it took during apartheid and is recognised as a strong symbol for democracy in South Africa. It’s significance lies not just with the building itself but also by the actions of different clergymen, including Desmond Tutu, the first black archbishop of South Africa who led numerous marches and campaigns for the formal end of apartheid from the front steps. It was a common meeting point for all activists of all races as well as woman’s rights groups who were part of the resistance to apartheid laws and the struggle for social justice, equality and human rights.

cape-town-cathedral

As I sat there listening to the gospels and hymns, one thing struck me. When I started to strip back things within this place, a certainty revealed itself to me at least, hidden for those who choose not to, or know not how to, peel back the layers.

Take away the church building itself. Take away the religious symbols and iconography. Take away the ceremony. Take away the physicality of the congregation. What is left is connection; oneness of being in the same place, a spiritual and aggregated consciousness tuning in to the same frequency.

Whilst in quiet contemplation or prayer during certain times of the service, external reality closes off its influence on the mind and allows one to go beyond the physical to get closer to the core, to inner essence (call it Heaven, call it Nirvana or call it Consciousness – for me it is the same thing).

On the topic of the resurrection, we were reminded by the Bishop that we ourselves should not fear death as life is eternal, and when we leave our mortal bonds we become one with God and join him in Heaven. It was at this point that I was also reminded of a lyric in a song I hold dear, “Presence” by Anathema:

“One has to come to term us with one’s own mortality, and you can’t really help people who are having problems with mortality if you’ve got problems of your own. So you have to begin to sort things out and I thought I had sorted things out until I saw this excerpt from this book, of certainty I shall remember what it said:

“Life is not the opposite of death. Death is the opposite of birth. Life is eternal.”

And I thought that it’s the most profound words I have ever heard and it really put me at peace. And that’s it, what else is there to say? Life is eternal. Surely the opposite of life is not the death, but life is eternal. There is no opposite. It is a state of pure consciousness, stillness and silence. What we are looking for now, we are searching for and we have been searching for is already there; there for ever to seek. It is there and it’s going be there, all the time, forevermore”…

Leaving church left me with a great many things to contemplate. Without the offertory, the amount of churches would diminish and with that those who rely on buildings and ceremony as symbols for hope and peace would be lost. Churches, synagogues, temples and mosques are bricks and mortar, but true spirituality lies within its patrons and not itself, yet if by going to them reminds one to be more spiritual and less materialistic, then one should go.

So it was no shock to me that soon after my return from the cathedral, that flicking through the channels on the afternoon TV I found one of my favourite films Groundhog Day, an ontological orgasm of a film, whereby Bill Murray plays out the Buddhist eternal return (resurrections included) until he gains enough knowledge and wisdom to move on.

After the film had finished, I phoned home and asked the wife how things were going three weeks in to my six week stint in South Africa, the first words from her mouth were “It’s like Groundhog Day”.

capture

As if that was not odd enough, I was in work this morning when my colleague and friend shared with me the last two chocolates from the UK, namely two boxes of Mini-Smarties. He turned to me and said “What’s the answer to life, ‘maybe Smarties has the answer’ eh?” the jingle/phrase that accompanied the product on a UK TV advertisement. I turned to him and said “Well you know the answer to the ultimate question is 42 (according to Douglas Adams and his Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) and if there are 42 Smarties inside that box then that is proof that there is something else beyond physical death and life is eternal”.

So there he sat, next to me counting out the Smarties in the small cardboard box into piles of ten. The look of shock on his face and mine when, after four piles were laid out on the desk, he showed me the open box to reveal two left inside.

An extraordinary synchronicity, could that have really been just a coincidence or was it a message from the other side?

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Cloud consciousness…

Logic dictates that as an IT professional and a cosmic crusader on a constant quest for the truth, evidence is sought across all forms; science, technology, philosophy and religion.

In work recently, we have moved our solution to the cloud and as such the vendor pitches presented diagrams of the benefits of moving away from in-house infrastructure and applications.

Whilst listening to the sales spiel, my mind drifted away from the corporate patois and focused in on the on-screen diagram depicting a typical overview of cloud computing, instantly taking on a whole new angle.

Take Drop Box. I currently take pictures and videos from various mobile devices and store them in my local cache (local cache being RAM when I’m viewing them, hard drive when my computer is turned off). So that such “memories” are not lost, I log on to the Drop Box cloud via a user name and password (personal to me) and upload the said pictures and videos. All such “memories” are materialistic, physical.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing

Brain Function

Take your brain. You currently take pictures and videos from your senses and store them in your local cache (local cache being the limbic system, a store which lets you recall memories during conscious awareness when you are awake and also during unconscious awareness when you are asleep). All such “memories” are non-materialistic, metaphysical, but where is our esoteric ethereal Drop Box?

Cosmic Consciousness

Take the Akasha (or cosmic consciousness). As individuals, reality or existence is a subjective experience for each and every one of us. There is a growing body of (noetic) science which posits that all human experience is captured and uploaded to a central core which exists outside the space-time-continuum (though a Drop Box style upload is replaced with an entanglement to the source), a belief held dear by ancient Hindus.

The previous skeptical me would have laughed that off a while back, putting it down as a work of fiction. Now however, the evidence for such a mechanism grows exponentially. Near Death Experiences, Out of Body Experiences, After Death Communication, Medium Communication and Past Life Recall all point to a premise that not only does conscious experience appear to exist beyond the brain, but that under certain circumstances the “consciousness cloud” can be accessed.

Let’s take a look at the example below, and in particular Derek:

Akasha

Like ourselves, Derek logs in and uploads his personal data to Drop Box so it doesn’t get lost in case he has a local hardware failure. Additionally, Derek works for the Drop Box Security Management Team and as such has universal access (via the Admin user name and password) to see the photos and videos of others.

Derek’s skills do not end there. Derek is a medium and has the ability to tune in to the cosmic consciousness and obtain the memories and experience of others. He has in cosmic terms been imbued with the ability to both upload and download to and from the cloud.

If we are to believe that such growing “alternative” evidence exists and it’s sources can be trusted (including our own non-materialistic experiences), then so it will be that the cosmic consciousness will continue to evolve and mature.

Whether our not we are simply perception transmitters or whether our consciousness continues to exist beyond our hardware failure (physical death) remains to be seen…

Signs are there, learn how to look…

Synchronicities, according to Carl Jung, “are events that hold meaningful coincidences if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related”.

Coincidences, according to Plutarch, “are no great wonder if in long process of time, while fortune takes her course hither and thither, numerous coincidences should spontaneously occur”.

Serendipity, according to Horace Walpole, “means a fortunate happenstance or pleasant surprise, discoveries which happen by accident and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of”.

Over the last three weeks, the wheels on my Buddhist motorbike have been well and truly out of kilter, and so it seems have those to close me. Looking for the root cause of my problems these days is a lot easier than it used to be, my mind is relatively clear and signs of cause and effect present themselves with transparency.

My daughter came out of school on Friday visibly upset and after some of my soothing words and warm hugs, enlightened me with the root cause of her classroom woes. I told her not to worry and that we would talk about it at the weekend and if needs be I would go in to see the teacher.

So sitting down on the sofa after breakfast, I grabbed a piece of paper and a propelling pencil from my office desk and went over to the bookshelf to find a hard back book to lean on. The one which (almost) literally jumped off the shelf was Coincidences by Brian Inglis. That was the start of it. I had a pretty rough time in school and in part it was down to the lack of parental support, very rarely did my parents sit me down to understand or tease out from me the root cause of the problem and guide me to potential solutions (the only one I recall them suggesting was “punch them”, not sage advice).

Here I was 30 years later on the sofa with my daughter, evidently with more wisdom on my side. In truth her current issues are quite minor (noisy boys in the classroom and a bossy friend) but truly listening to her, soothing her and agreeing to put a plan of action in place to reduce/remove her suffering turned her frown upside down. We drew out a map of her classroom and she showed me where the noisy boys who were disturbing her concentration sat; she showed me where the bossy friend sat; she showed me where the teacher instructed the class from. It was clear that explaining her situation and my offering to see the teacher next week to improve the situation would help her a lot. After our conversation she turned to me and said “I love you Dad”. Beautiful.

Climbing the stairs to the bathroom for morning shower, I briefly reflected on the book I had picked from the shelf and our very own coincidence of school-time woes. Showers and baths are great places to think and to purge oneself of thoughts and negativity and today was no exception. I thought long and hard over the last three weeks and the root cause of my current dhukha state was work. The high profile project I am working on has gone off the rails a bit of late and as a result has piled on the pressure and stress for all those involved. I understood this. I also understood that there is little I can do about it, but what I can do is to stop getting stressed about things that are not under my control.

After stepping out of the shower, I felt like the dhukha had washed away with the suds and for the first time in a few weeks my head felt clear. As I dried myself, I stood a while looking at the picture we had bought for our bathroom re-fit this year. It’s not an expensive piece, just a few pounds from the local store. It’s not a masterpiece by any stretch, just a photograph of a collection of seaside paraphernalia. For the first time I looked at it, really looked at it, deconstructing each element, and it wasn’t long before a surge of energy and synchronicity hit me.

The elements that stood out:

  • The Shell (the company I work for).
  • The Anchor (the heavy weight dragging me down).
  • The Rope/Noose (the constricting nature of working in high profile projects and for “the man”).
  • The Net (a symbol of entrapment).

Here staring me right in the face was the root cause of my woes, my dhukha, but there are two further symbols to counteract the negativity:

  • The Fish (a reference to the Almighty).
  • The Stars (for me, a symbol which represents the Universe and of cosmic consciousness).

I am a firm believer that with a clear mind, the signs (call them breadcrumbs, call them synchronicities) are there, you just need to learn how to look…

“Ists” and “Isms”…

Soul mate. Betrothed. Life partner. Wife. She’d be the first one to admit she is not very philosophical, nor is she scientific, nor religious.

As we lay next to each other last night before hypnogogia set in, I was reading an interesting piece on HuffPost relating to the belief scale, from materialist science to fundamentalist religion and all points in between, she was checking what was going on in the “real world” over at Facebook.

As I read on, stroking my everlong beard and grunting in approval to what was being presented by the author, she turned to me and said something quite profound:

“What are you actually looking for? Why do you spend so much time trying to fit yourself into a certain category, why can’t you just be you? I don’t fit into any category and I’m not concerned by that, I live in the here and now and don’t care too much of the past and the future, living in the now is what’s importantly surely?”

Well knock me over with a set of meditation beads. I’ve read a lot recently (mostly of Buddhist orientation) but here was a statement which summed it all up in one breath. She is of course right (as wives always are of course) and living in the now is the most important thing, having supporting Buddhist principles (the Four Noble Truths) can also help in dealing with the now situation so it has not been wasted time by any means.

Living in synchronicity with everyone and everything in the Universe is something “we” should all aspire to (on the basis the “we” are all one anyway).

Snippets from the article in question below:

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It’s time to use the power of the Internet to confront the two great strands of the modern world, the “two cultures”: the scientific, and the humanistic. Must these two cultures run on separate tracks? Must they be at war with each other? Or could conflict shift to comprehension?

We are not talking about making science into a religion, or religion into a science. We are talking about finding the unity in diversity that’s basic for a healthy community.

Both religion and science are key factors of life in our communities. There is no question that religion plays a crucial role in how humans make meaning, create community, act politically, and find mandates for how to live a good life. We can say the same thing about science. It, too, plays a crucial role in our life already because of all the science-based technologies we use. They shape how we live, what we consume, and what we want to, and can achieve.

Both religion and science shape the way we see the world, and for that reason they shape how we act in the world. We all carry a view of the world in our head and act in light of it whether we know it or not. The trouble is that religion and science create different, and in some respects opposing, views. The time has come to look at these views and see whether their contrasts really are a chronic, irremediable cause for conflict. Conflict between religion and science is dangerous, for it rends asunder the fabric of society and can degenerate into violence.

Of course, there is not just one science worldview and one religion worldview but as many as there are science-minded and religion-minded people in the world. Yet there are some typical features of the individual worldviews, and these are useful when we try to compare them and seek to understand their agreements and disagreements.

Take, for example, the typical worldviews of the following people:

The Classical Scientist
The world, including all things and all people, is but a collection of bits of matter that move about in space, impacting each other. There is no meaning or intention behind this, it’s just the way things are. If you think differently, you only project your own subjective values and feelings into the objective, and objectively meaningless, world. The worldview of the classical scientist is that of Newtonian physics: the universe is a giant mechanism that runs harmoniously, if meaninglessly, through all eternity. It’s the view of most of the people who consider themselves scientific. The classical scientist is on the science end of the scale. He is in direct opposition to the orthodox religionist, who, particularly if he is a fundamentalist, is on the other end.

The Orthodox Religionist
The world we experience is the work of a divine Creator. It’s not the entire world or even the highest world; it’s only the temporary world below, the precursor of the eternal world above. The earthly world derives its meaning from the will of its Creator, and human beings achieve their personal worth and ultimately gain their salvation by obeying His commands. The worldview of the orthodox religionist is shared by the devout Christian, Jew, and Muslim. The world is the creation of a transcendent God and testifies to His omnipotent will and spirit.

The Mystic
The entire world, with all things in it, is infused with spirit and consciousness. We are who we are, and everything is what it is, because of the divine spark we all embody. The entire cosmos is a whole and is holy in its entirety. The world of the mystic is the world of traditional peoples and Eastern religions. It’s a world infused by spirit and consciousness; all things are alive and everything that happens to them has deeper meaning. The mystic is on the religion side, but he is not at its end, for he is generally less explicit and dogmatic than either the classical scientist or the fundamentalist religionist.

The Atheist
The only things that are real in the world are the kind of things that we see with our own eye and grasp with our own hand. The rest is just talk, illusion or wishful thinking. The atheist’s worldview is clear-cut: only what we can see and touch is real, everything else is imagination or wishful thinking. The modern atheist is dogmatic on what he claims to be the side of science. He is opposed to all views that claim that reality has a higher dimension.

The New Scientist
We can know the world by following the scientific method: codifying and quantifying the data of human experience and applying the laws of reason to them. This gives us a complex world furnished not only by what we can touch and see, but also by quarks, black holes, and quantum fields, things too small, too large, or too subtle to perceive. The new scientist should be open to all ways of thinking about the world but tends to disregard or dismiss ways that don’t measure up to his concept of sound knowledge. The new scientist’s worldview is in principle open to everything we can experience and to everything we can rationally derive from experience, as long as it’s verified by repeatable observation and controlled experiment.

These are the prototypes of the principal kinds of world views people espouse today, even if they don’t espouse them as cleanly and starkly as this. They line up along a scale with science on the one end and religion on the other.

What about you and me, what kind of worldview do we hold? Only you can answer the question regarding your own view. Entering this “worldview café” doesn’t need to make you collapse your differences or become dominated by just one kind of view. Instead, it can create a better appreciation of your differences and a greater willingness to live with them.

After all, we all share the same planet and would best share it without ignoring, dismissing, or denigrating each other. A little more understanding could produce a good deal more tolerance and a greater will to live together in peace. This would be a good thing indeed in a world rent by incomprehension and miscommunication and rocked by occasional violence.

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Based on the above, I would say that I was primarily a Mystic with New Scientist tendencies, but perhaps as my wife has said, I should focus on being me…

The path is clear, but no eyes can see…

Each dawn that breaks gives one a renewed chance to wake up. Not from slumber in the literal sense, but metaphysically speaking. Each day that arrives brings about change; a day older (for sure); a day wiser (perhaps) and a day closer to death (depends on how you define death…).

Some people (by choice or otherwise) live in a perpetual state of the un-awakened, happy to continue to live out their existence without feeling the need (or having the capacity) to challenge the true nature of reality. As all human experience is subjective and individualistic, no one can truly say that their approach is right or wrong.

For those who choose to challenge the five senses and Einstein’s cosmological principles, the first steps are the most difficult as there is no set path to follow. What is clear is that something usually sparks a flame for knowledge, knowledge which is hitherto forgotten or as yet unknown.

Science, religion, philosophy and noetics seem to be the most logical places to start looking, and most quests invariably encounter all four. Like countless others, my quest had to start by looking inside myself. What I found wasn’t pleasant. What I found was suffering, anxiety, stress and disorder. What was more difficult to find, but not impossible, was the root cause of such pain. What I found was craving, wanting and desire. What was even more difficult was how and what to change. What I found however was the solution and for the first time in my life I could start to see true nature of reality emerging. This was my spiritual epiphany.

Over the course of just a few months, I came to the conclusion that my suffering, fueled through my own desires, could ease by diminishing this metaphysical concept known as the ego or the self and that sustained focus on my “ikigai“, (in my case the family) would yield a new peace within me. Through yoga, meditation, reiki and complimentary therapies, I would keep this inner light with me at all times, ready to distinguish the darkness should it return.

My path was now clearer, and it was only after reading Buddhism: Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen did I realise (without knowing it) that the path and resolution I had followed related to the Buddhist Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path:

  • The Four Noble Truths
    • The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction).
    • The truth of the origin of dukkha.
    • The truth of the cessation of dukkha.
    • The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha (the Eight Fold Path).
  • The Eight Fold Path

    • Wisdom
      • Right view (viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be).
      • Right intention (intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness).
    • Ethical conduct
      • Right speech (speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way).
      • Right action (acting in a non-harmful way).
      • Right livelihood (a non-harmful livelihood).
    • Concentration
      • Right effort (making an effort to improve).
      • Right mindfulness (awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness; being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion).
      • Right concentration (correct meditation or concentration).

Whilst I could concur that the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path were a set of principles that everyone true to themselves (forgive me for the use of the word self, Steve) and others should adhere to, what was missing for me was the true nature of reality. Nietzsche was not entirely complementary of Buddhism (as you would expect) and classified it as a subdivision of nihilism, which to some extent I can agree with.

But what is reality? What is it that our senses experience and translate into pictures, sounds, smells, tastes and feels, is it all an illusion? Does true consciousness reside within the brain? Is the true nature of reality hidden from view for a reason? All these questions puzzled me, so the path I took at the crossroads led me to noetics, and in particular the works of Ervin Laszlo and Anthony Peake (my conclusions detailed in The Noetic Nook).

One thing is for sure, life and human experience is subjective and there appears to be no single path to the truth. The key however is to awaken, awaken to the truth that it is desire that causes suffering and to put a stop to ones ego will yield rewards to ourselves and to those around us. We may never truly experience the true nature of reality until we depart from the physical plain, but what we do each day can reduce our physical (and mental) pain.