Friday, April 06, 2007

Sometimes life lives you. Forgiveness, Love, Habits and other Timbers (revised and updated)

Not long ago, Joan of Arghh! chided that the result of all of our philosophizing was that it seemed that Love "...has to be caught up into an intellectual subset, or pre-set, or something.... The Meaning of Life. It can't be all about building consciousness; it can't be all that mechanical-- flowing in a straight line, spiral, or any other geometric description. ...'Oh please!' says my heart, "Please let there be mystery!" else God is less than I am. .... If it can be contained in words, in thoughts, in a glance or an appeal to the senses, it is less than I.”

Cosanostradamus, a comment friend from One Cosmos, having recently had a family friend struck down by an act of pure senseless evil, stated "But when it gets close, there is a visceral red gut reaction that comes from the deep. We don't live life just in our heads; we have far more investment here than that.... Our spiritual core must be hands-on or our philosophy is worthless."

I agree, what use the words and intellectual subsets. What use indeed. Cosanostradamus's situation brings that question into stark demanding relief.

What use maps? What use words? What use knowing anything ABOUT anything?

Philosophy helps you to grasp the terrain of your ideas, of your mind. The purpose of modeling it is to enable you to hold such things in contemplation before you, at arms length, so you can see, reflect and foresee reality as it is taking shape in the future, and what future you will consciously seek to approach.

But it is a lifeless map; the life within it must come from you. Recall that when we discuss principles, Right and Wrong, Morality, it is as if discussing the interstates, turnpikes and highways we are driving on... which route to take, which route to drive upon? That discussion can be an abstracted discussion, but if you should forget that you are indeed traveling at 75 mph (I can't drive 55), or forget that the curve on the map means that you'd better take care, slow down and look for cross traffic before you as you are driving, you run the risk of likely suffering a frightening, perhaps even mortal, collision. The map corresponds to life, but it is not life - but if you don't both consider the map and apply it while driving, you may lose your life, or lose your way.

We use many illustrations, they help us to understand and appreciate in our slightly out of sync minds, the life we are living, in order to better understand the actions we must take in our lives that we are living, right now.

When I speak of the One Cosmos as one united and massively integrated whole, it is an illustration, but I try never to lose sight that the illustration I spin is of the reality I see, feel and live within right here and now. In my AHA! posts, I put out the idea that our minds Integrate ideas and values with time and action - and that when we make that conceptual connection that enables us to bring 2 and 2 together and realize that it makes 4, at that moment of integration, we get the AHA!, the spark as it were, of separate electrical cables - coming together and sparking on their integration, welding themselves into the whole of the mind. Your conduits expand, more juice flows through your conception of the whole expands.

We are Truth seekers - but not just seekers, we are Truth assemblers. We crave it - that sense of integrating one thing, one value, one understanding with another - deepening and expanding your grasp of the whole.

Watch a toddler, nearly everything is new and unknown, and each moment is surging with such integrations - a Childs life is one nearly continuous stream of AHA!'s "Oh, I let go of the fork and it falls!' "OH! It always falls DOWN!" "This yellow stuff... it tastes GOOD! I bet it has a name, it does! And I KNOW IT NOW!"

As we grow older, and the new discoveries either dwindle, or we've become so sotted on them, that they become like a sip of wine which no longer brings a noticeable buzz, we forget the sensation, but occasionally we are able to reexperience that integrating Aha!... perhaps as we chance to discover something new, or someone tells a joke. What is a laugh, but something that jolts us from the sudden integration of several seemingly unrelated items in an unexpected context unlooked for truths unexpectedly united - from that we get the kick of an AHA! a Laugh. The bigger the disparity between the items, or the more unlooked for the integration, the larger the voltage which we display as a belly laugh.

Philosophy, Religion, help us keep on the right track... and it is important, because we can get turned around, reversed. There is a 'charge', a 'jolt' a spark that can be seen and felt when you yank a connection apart as well, and that can be experienced from disintegrating truths. If you aren't careful, if you aren't fact checking your map with reality, you can pursue the quest of disintegrating, disassembling the whole, pulling apart, pulling down.

Here is the darkness lit by the flashing sparks of torn cables and exploding transformers. Those without philosophical and religous schematics can mistake these flashes for light in the darkness, but it is a light that doesn't grow and doesn't glow, it only requires more and more distruction to provide a flickering half-light to see by.

Describing that, as if a schematic, helps me to understand the wiring so to speak, but just as an electrician doesn't live to become an experienced electrician if he doesn't also keep in mind that the actual wires he's handling while following his plan, are something far more energetic than his schematic. I, we, must do our best to not lose sight of the fact that we are speaking about real life - the life we are living now.

It is of the utmost importance that we continually and honestly check to see that we are in fact integrating, not disintegrating, for sad to say you often experience a larger jolt from blowing a circuit than from making a connection. Look carefully - don't seek to shade your eyes against the clarity of seeing reality as it is, with shades of what we wish it were - live this life here and now - guided by our maps and overviews, yes, but never mistaking them for the reality of the life we ARE living. Are you putting together or tearing down, or just coasting along and doing neither?

Our Values, Ideas, likes and dislikes, preferences - when we find something which brings them together in experience, we enjoy that, we seek that out. Such activities we become known for enjoying, for practicing. People that enjoy the same enable us to experience those joys and pursuits in an even higher form, drawing them up from the horizontal plane of life, and into the Vertical, conceptual, moral experience of life - these are integrations that sustain, that open the conduits to deeper flows of spiritual energy. The more a person unites our interests through them, who enables us to connect to larger numbers of these values integrations, or perhaps only one or two, but INTENSELY so, these persons rise up our hierarchical ladder of vertical experience into the level of friends, Friends and Dear Friends.

Those pleasures which we find united through our friends - the more perceptual, horizontal, they are, the more limited the friendship will be if based upon them alone. Some people you can have a blast watching football with, but when the game is over... time becomes very noticeable..."Right... well then, see you next week!".

With other's you find that your experience with them flows more directly through their minds and hearts, higher up than the perceptual. At this level you find you integrate and approach more, many, even infinite shades and applications of conceptual, vertical thoughts, shining, glistening and glittering; it is upon the horizontal we see them, yes, but it is a horizontal lit from their minds fire, and that fire leaping between theirs and yours - these are our close and dear friends.

Love occurs when a person seems to embody a significant amount of your highest values, pleasures, admirable qualities - like caps upon a pyramid, they reach down and outwards, from a single focal point at the top of the hierarchy, they cover much ground. They seem to embody many of these pyramidal caps, not only in their words and ideas, but in their actions - even in their person itself, their fleshly form, their eyes and touch. They move, walk smile, and deep in your mind and heart, all of these values you hold dear are touched, stirred and connected, strummed and integrated anew - a constant almost unbearable rolling thunder of AHA!'s - and the jolt of it causes your soul to absolutely surge with it - this we call love.

This leads to the integration of our bodies in touch, in sex, and eventually perhaps in a child - the physical, moral, spiritual integration of your two lives and loves into a new life to be loved.

I can speak of this in words and illustrations, but you and I should never forget, never lose sight of the fact that these words and illustrations are of the life you and I are living, RIGHT NOW, here, in your breath indrawn through your nostrils. Mark it! Feel the breath pass into you, flow into and through your skull, down your throat, into your lungs - it is crisp, there is a tingling charge in it, can you feel that? Can you reach beyond the routine, pushed to the background of sotted familiarity, of the known and expected, and FEEL it? Now? You can, if you apply your attention. You can touch you life as it is being lived. You must. We must.

Make a practice of applying that attention in your daily 'routine', of Seeing those around you, those you like and love. Routine doesn't mean assured, routines can be disrupted in a blink of an eye, an accident, a disaster, a thoughtless or evil act can remove those routines from your life - or you from theirs - don't let that be what wakes you up to the fact that though much of the living of life will almost inevitably become routine, it is, and they were and are unique, irreplaceable - the values that spark your life.

Use Philosophy to grasp them deeper, make them more conceptually clear, perhaps foresee how to better understand and touch them, but always remember those symbols of word and thought are of realities felt and lived. They represent your life, but you are your life and it is your Life that they are about, not the other way around.

As Joan said, "It's something Bigger, pulling us through the fog of forever. I take that personally."

Yes indeed, very personally. Don't forget. It is easy to. My kids are upstairs watching a movie... they'll be in bed soon, I could do this after - why now? Sometimes it seems that words, even those honestly pursued, pursued in search of truth, can subtly shift and become ends themselves, shades drawn down between you and your life that you should be living. This isn’t what I intended this post to be about, but there it is. I'm tapped out, more on the rest tomorrow... later. I'm going upstairs.

You can touch your life as it is being lived. You must. We must.


Rick said...

Great heart there, Van.
Yeah, God wants us to do these things.

Seems some unusual reverberations going through the week – felt by all Raccoons – shaking them up a bit – and in different ways.

Anonymous said...

Van, you and I use words at a ratio of about 10,000:1 - but I too wrestle with the need for what I call "presence." To me, the actual experience of being present to one's life, is the basis from which all true spiritual growth must proceed; without it, all I see is "dreaming."

In business, I used to pay some attention to the work of Tom Peters. One of his books put the challenge thusly: "Do I have the imagination and ZEAL to re-create myself daily?" That's a kind of non-spiritual approach to the same sort of dilemma.

From your post, it sounds like you've spotted the problem, and noticed the down-sides that come with it.

Ephrem Antony Gray said...

Some lyrics to ponder -

(James Taylor, Line em up)

At that time my heart was all broke
I looked like ashes and smelled like smoke
And I turned away from my loving kind
Try to leave my body and live in my mind
But it's much too much emotion
To hold it in your hand
They've got waves out on the ocean
They're gonna wear away the land


Another day goes by
Little time machine
I'm breaking my brain
Over what it might mean
Just to claim the time
And to turn away
To make today today

Who waits for you
Lonely tired old toad
It's your life laid out before you
Like the broken white line down the center of the doggone road


Something profound in there, whether James put it there on purpose or not.

Kind of applicable, I think.

wv: emuoak?

Van Harvey said...

Rivey Cocytus quoted "Try to leave my body and live in my mind"

LOL! There's a true zinger if there ever was one! One of the sneakiest mind parasites there is. Fortunately it's fairly easy to squash: take 1 part awarenes, 1 part attention, 2 parts hugs and stir smoothly. Remember to repeat dosage - it's a weed & will reappear intermittently.

Van Harvey said...

I went through the Tom Peters books & tapes too..."In Search of Excellence"?

A master of re-packaging simple little ideas into book & tape sets & seminars. Gotta love it.

Rick said...

Have you read/listened to Steven Covey’s ‘7 Habits’?
I did many years ago, dramatically organized my way around my horizontal life. He lead me to McCullough’s books and Victor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ - which I call my ‘little bible’ and gift to anyone I think might need a healthy dose of cheering up. I must have read it a dozen times – easily finished in one or two nights. Before I found my way to OC, this book always ran me through and cheered me up – got my priorities back on track even when I thought I didn’t really need a tune-up - if that makes any sense.

RE ‘7 Habits’, that book had a dramatic effect on me too. It wasn’t complete, but was life changing for me way back then. And having pointed me to McCullough and Frankl, I’ll stick up for it any day of the week.

Not sure what the coon-squad’s take would be on McCullough but I still love the way he writes and the way he presents the material. Everybody else (history writers) so far seem to put me to sleep. I buy his audio books along with the printed books just for his voice.

That’s why I recommend ‘1776’ and Frankl’s book on my site – great places to start I think for the reasonable-minded nearly-coon. Particularly 1776 – that one really took root in me.

Anonymous said...

A moving post, Van.
It is so easy to take those we love for granted.
To let 'routine' take over to the point of selfishyness.

We all need renewal. Rebirth. That awe-struck life, and life-inspired awe!
Those Aha moments amplified by spiritual growth, sparked by grace
and the pursuit of Beauty, Goodness and Truth.

To live in one's mind only is to forsake spirit and body.
The spirit must precede the mind, and control it, just as the mind must precede the body and control it.

We can't reduce love to the mind or it ceases to be love.

Van- Thanks for keeping me aware of the Real!

Anonymous said...

For those who like Covey, you might look at First Things First.
He wrote it after 7 Habits.

Interesting thing about Covey is, in hearing him speak as well as in his writing, you can tell- the man is NOT in a hurry!

Anonymous said...

Van, you might also enjoy Time and Soul, by Jacob Needleman.

In one chapter, he attributes a saying to Aristotle: "A wise man is never in a hurry." (That's one we all should inscribe on the insides of our eyelids. Interesting to turn it around, too.)

Van Harvey said...

Thanks guys. Ben - you got it.

Walt & Ricky, yep, I went through all the Covey & Peters books & tapes too... and many more, and at the time they were very helpful.

I remember Covey's line about the time line of the farm... things grow at their own rate and won't be rushed. Kind of like Aristotle's line, and yes indeed it most certainly goes both ways!

Yep on 1776 & Frankl as well. On the history side, "Miracle at Philydelphia" by Catherin Drinker Bowen is one of the best tellings of the constitutional convention there is - a really fine job of putting things and events and personalities into context, and the miracle that it truly was.

Also Jeff Shaara wrote a really fine novelization of the Revolution - he's also done several on the Civil War, Mexican War, WWI - I haven't gotten to those last, but I'll bet they're worth the time.

Rick said...

Thanks for the racoonmedations, Van.

And you said:
“…miracle that it truly was.”

It was, wasn’t it. And sad that it was kept from me till I was nearly 40. My son I’m afraid has it even worse. You would not believe…the most boring ‘events’ being passed off as something of greater worth than this miracle in his own history. I’m doing the best I can in that department, but there’s only so much airtime in a 13 year old head for this sort of stuff. And I wouldn’t want him to reject the whole lot. The movie ‘The 300’ has made a dent though, as I mentioned before.

RE the miracle, if you’ve also read “John Adams”, wasn’t it wonderful to read his letters to Jefferson and others in his final years? Adam’s particularly looked back at what they’d taken part in with utter amazement. As if even he couldn’t believe what ‘happened’ either.

Anonymous said...

I see you're writing again!

How's the job search going?

Van Harvey said...

Joan of Argghh!,
Hi! You know, last Saturday before writing this post I was actually thinking 'I'd better put something new up here before Joan comes by and asks what the blogs here for anyway?!

Started new project about a month ago, working on PocketPC & SmartPhone apps - something I've been wanting to do for quite some time, so once again, the crises of one day becomes a blessing in the next.

With any luck I'll get to the post this one's title was supposed to refer to, tonight, and post it tomorrow night.

Something about counting chickens before they hatch is running through my mind.

Van Harvey said...

Ricky Racoon said "also read “John Adams”, wasn’t it wonderful to read his letters to Jefferson and others in his final years?"

Yes, and that was where I started wondering whether the esteem of history was centered on the right one of the pair?

Taking nothing away from Jefferson's greatness, but I think Adams had a deeper grasp of... oh, I suppose Wisdom, where Jefferson had a wider grasp of what was Intelligent.

A while back I heard a professor, Daniel Robinson, remark that he had the opportunity to examine both the books owned by Jefferson and by Adams, and noted that Jefferson's were in very good shape... whereas Adams were much dogeared and used looking. I can believe that.

Anonymous said...


I hardly remember posting that comment; must've been the cuba libre talking. However, the beauty of living the life we're in can only become more beautiful by understanding Truth.

Saying that, I'd reassert that the lofty thinking processes that help us arrive there can seem like dry-sledding but we really are called to think about Truth. It makes the AHA! a transcendent moment.

Now the temptation to just giggle and sing, "Sweet mystery of life, at last I've found you!" like Young Frankenstein at this point in the discussion must be avoided. :0)

But the Lenten recitations of, "remember man, thou art but dust, and unto dust thou shalt return," should serve also as warning to allow the vertical to lead the horizontal, and not the other way around. Ben said it well:

"To live in one's mind only is to forsake spirit and body.
The spirit must precede the mind, and control it, just as the mind must precede the body and control it."

P.S. Google found my blogs. Not sure if I'm happy or sad about it. Trying out wordpress just for grins.

Rick said...

Adams. He’s my favorite.
As if you couldn’t tell (wink).
I picked up the habit of writing in my books too from him.
That’s why I bought 2 copies of One Cosmos Under God. One nice clean copy (autographed Bob-style) for the shelf of honor – the other, well, it’s a mess.
I think I have 3 copies of ‘1776’ one autographed in person by my adopted grandfather Mr McCullough.
I need to post a pic of my copy of Meditations on the Tarot. I started this habit of sticking those little cigarette but sized post-its next to sentences, paragraphs, etc. Reminders.
I’ve gotten a little carried away with those.
Bob suggested I write the thoughts out longhand as an aid to memory – which I am also doing. I’m still doing that but it interrupts the flow of reading so I’m sort of marking them first with the post-its and then going back later and writing the long hand.

Rick said...

Just wanted to say this was just perfect yesterday on OC: “Go moot yourself.”