Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Daily Parrying

A direct link to the above video is at

I'm nearing the end of the quotes I'm going to be making from Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse, I hope all these references have sold a few books for David Jay Brown. But one of the interviews that I thought was particularly eloquent was with Dr. John E. Mack, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Harvard Professor of psychiatry:

The word "God" has become the shortcut term for what has historically been applied to the overarching or the ultimate creative principle in the universe, that is sometimes experienced in humanlike terms--because I think that our psyche can grasp things if we anthropomorphize them--but, in its essence, is mysterious, luminous, numinous, and overwhelming in its sense of presence when one is open to it. The problem is it's all concept now, mostly, because the actual experience of the divine has been pretty well eradicated from the Western psyche by what Rilke called "daily parrying" so that, as he put it, the senses by which we can know the spirit world have atrophied. So you can only know it experientially, and people that know it experientially are not very good at describing it in a way that's going to create the experience for somebody else. Therefore, somebody who hasn't had the experience, or whose senses aren't open will say, well, you haven't convinced me, because I haven't had the experience. So that's usually where the conversation ends... God as a separate entity, a theistic notion of a being that is separate from us--no, I don't have any sense of that. I have a sense of being part of some infinite spirit wisdom, or spirit intelligence, that is sometimes present, real, and alive to me. But I'm indwelling in it, and it in me.
"Daily parrying" - what a great phrase for what happens in science and culture, where people are trained by tiny little hints every day to be suspicious of anything that hints at something greater than us, or that might plug us into a larger sense of our shared connectedness. In "Animals and Kids" I suggested this might be how kids are taught to be suspicious of the moments when they turn off their narrative voice and just "be". In "Spirituality, Connections and the Ten Dimensions" and "Is God in the Seventh Dimension" I quoted a section from my book that expresses similar sentiments to what Dr. Mack is saying above: the way of visualizing reality that we're exploring here does suggest there are organizing patterns from higher dimensions, and whether you call those patterns "God" or something more clinical doesn't change what we're talking about. However, if by "God" you believe we're talking about an entity who judges and punishes, or who makes your football team win and the other team lose because that's what you prayed for, then we need to be clear that that's not what we're talking about here. Is there something that chose our universe from out of the multiverse, a pattern that unites us, a creative process that causes life in all its complexity and diversity to spring forth from simple chemical reactions, and an enfolded whole that we can return to when we die? That's what we're talking about here.

Quoting Max Planck
This also relates to the currently running poll question, quoting good old Max Planck, whose work is central to this way of imagining how our reality is constructed. The poll question asks if you agree or disagree with the following statement from Dr. Planck: "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it". While I certainly don't want to appear to be so presumptuous as to be claiming that my intuitive way of imagining how our reality is constructed should be equated with the rigorous scientific proofs offered by experts in their field like Max Planck, I do take comfort in the possibility that my ideas are simply ahead of their time: already in the two years since my book was published, major advancements have come from physicists David Deutsch, Sean Carroll, and Anton Zeilinger which confirm key predictions about the nature of reality that I made in my own book. I've talked before about books by respected experts such as Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor and Douglas Hofstadter which agree in many ways with my depiction of the shared, multi-layered nature of what is commonly called the soul, and Jill Taylor's viewpoint strongly aligns with my own ideas about the importance of finding ways to quiet that constantly nattering "narrator voice" we carry within us. Clearly, these ideas speak to philosopher Ekhart Tolle's bestselling books as well: it's all about being in the "now". How many more of the supposedly "fringe science" conclusions I've drawn about how our reality is constructed will eventually be confirmed by mainstream science?

Daily Parrying
This all takes us back to a question asked here before - how much of this "daily parrying" is the result of a deliberate effort to keep the general public from becoming aware of the possibilities that are out there (ideas that are explored in entries like "The Fifth Dimension is a Dangerous Idea", "The Fifth Dimension Isn't Magic", and "Flatlanders on a Line"), and how much is the result of random events? One of the most popular videos from this project, "Secret Societies", takes the extreme position that everything is a conspiracy. This idea is also explored in "The Anthropic Viewpoint" which makes the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that we live in The Great Hydrogen Conspiracy, since hydrogen is the most abundant element! The point we're trying to arrive at here is that if our universe was selected from a larger multiverse, then there must be events and processes we can point to that caused that to happen. I believe that whether you call those selecting patterns randomness, conspiracy, a natural outcome, or God, has more to do with your point of view than what we're describing, and that this subtle "daily parrying" we are subjected to throughout our lives has a lot to with the point of view any one of us now has.

A direct link to this video is at
Another of the songs associated with this project that deals with the idea of subtle influences forming our worldview is Insidious Trends.

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: God 2.0

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