Sunday, February 8, 2015

Is your soul like a piece of paper?

Is your soul like a piece of paper?

Many mystics of the old school say that your personal soul is like an individual cell in a larger body. It has its own existence and is real, but is not really meaningful except as part of that larger body. The larger body we humans are part of is recently called “the noosphere”, but was earlier called “nous” and other things; it is similar to what some people recently call “Gaia” (as in the Gaia hypothesis) or “the morphogenetic field.” There are other words. In addition to cells, the noosphere also has some matrix, as does a human body. The entire noosphere of earth is just a tiny dot in a much larger cosmos, but we make a grave mistake if we underestimate how big the noosphere is compared to each of us as individual people.

That’s a much better metaphor most times than the one I will give you today. Today I ask: How is your individual soul like a piece of paper?

For the past month, my top job here has been to sort pieces of paper. Because I am retiring from NSF, I need to dispose of all the paper in files in my office – and likewise files at home, to make more room for files from the office. Part of the problem is that Adobe Acrobat works right at NSF, where lots of people use complicated firewalls to keep the beast under control; at home, I bought it, but it never worked well enough to use hardly ever.

And so, for each piece of paper, I had to make a judgment:

1. Do I simply throw it away – which is like tossing it into the fire. (OK, I use a recycle bin, but
This is like what the Book of Esdras says happens to the souls of the unworthy. They are burned, not as torture,
But as a simple quick elimination of chaff. Imams say that humans should never burn humans, but who says that Allah cannot ever clean his house? Who says that human bodies and computer systems can get away without garbage collection systems? Actually, brain scientists know that when humans reach two years of age, there is a huge cleanup of brain cells by the developing brain.)

2. Do I digitize it and THEN throw it away? (This reminds me a lot of a thing called “the causal plane” by various schools of mystics who spend a lot of effort doing what people call “astral; travel” or “Out of body experience.” Those words are a bit misleading , but in my view the experience is quite real in its own way; I have gone to see for myself.  The metaphor is that “the causal plane” is like a garden of Greek statues, a place where initially there seems to be no life or activity but where you can “touch” a statue to animate it. I suppose there is also some analogy to what people call “the Akashic records,” where passive memories are available – but only for those who know how to activate them. So this week I get to assign many pieces of paper to the digital “Akashic records” on our computer systems.)

3. Do I put them in the most privileged position – where I digitize them AND put them into an active file, either at home or to be moved to home within the week now?

Of course, as I do this, and face a heavy deadline, I put some pieces of paper into drawers at home where I haven’t done that sorting in time. Also – because I have limited time and throughput, I try to handle pieces of paper in GROUPS as much as I can; I scan or toss entire documents, made of pieces of paper stapled together, or even bound. Books are a different category; because I don’t plan to scan any but a few of those, I will wait and either relocate, donate or toss.

Most religions of the world say that all personal souls are kept active and relocated – some to better places than others. But of course, human vanity easily explains why the power-seekers who put heavy spins on large organized religions say what people want to hear. And the normal human level of neurotic, not-yet-disciplined thinking explains why the egos of many religious leaders encourage them to assume what they want to assume. The opposite extreme, of saying we have no souls at all, is a natural reaction to such neuroses – but in my view is based on insufficient data and a lack of personal effort to go out and really see and feel what is there. Neither Faith nor Doubt are sufficient in themselves to take one to real truth; it requires effort to increase real understanding, and patience as we admit there are bigger things than us out there.

But in fact – there are garbage collectors out there, and those who get bound together in books like the Faith of the Mass Murderer may well be the first to get into the recycle bin.

OK – an interesting metaphor.

But I was thinking more about a different metaphor two weeks ago, more about my own personal situation. I am grateful in many ways for the job I am now leaving, and for the way that NSF was at its peak.

When I was in graduate school, my father worried that I was going to become a “perpetual student.” (I have digitized a lot of what he wrote this month, including things I never saw before, like a precise accounting of how much money I cost him through the years.) He was well to worry – since my job at NSF was in many ways like a perpetual graduate school, in which I learned exactly what you would from 8 to 10 PhD. My review panels were like seminars – only with 8 of the very best professors trying to teach just one lucky student, who got to ask all his important questions, but who had to follow up with the homework of reading compact well-organized 15 page essays by more than half the people doing advanced research in a whole variety of fields – especially fields connected with understanding intelligent systems (brains and computers and internets and so on), with understanding what humans really know about how the universe works (where electronics and photonics account for more than 90% of the real empirical data, data much more interesting than most people know), and with issues of energy and space technology and their eocnomic implicatoins (which connect to almost all the world economy).

For a week it seemed – now I will finally have my graduation ceremony. My father would be proud.  I will really leave school, and I will go out into the world a lot like one of his heroes, John Galt of the book Atlas Shrugged. (But maybe with less of the political posturing and lewd gestures Ayn would want him to make.)  I actually found a guy in the Detroit area, with former GM connections (hey, tis tracks the book really well), and found a way we could bring a new enine to the world that really could be a huge benefit to real people. And if the funding worked out, maybe we would move on to the more advanced technology I had up my sleeve, just like the book.

But... a problem here. The engine guy was very positive at first.. but became scared as it became real. He remembered the many people who really did mistreat him in the pastm in a way he was justified to remember forever, from crooked narcissistic VCs to legally corrupt higher-ups in some government agencies (fortunately not NSF at that time), and even university types who could not really see and feel his vision and its importance. So now...

Now... maybe, maybe not... but I have to remember the bleak possibility that this whole “earth office” may be relocated.  It’s not something I want to think about, but I feel as if I have been pulled kicking and screaming to face up to how real that possibility is, every year that goes by. Not just me personally, but the whole thing. I know about the earthy realities of nuclear proliferation and terrorism. (I ran the joint NSF-DNDO research program on that subject, probing the limits fo what we know on that subject, and had lots of prior experience at DOE. My files also have lots of open source stuff from CIA, NSA, DIA and others – mostly in the causal plane now.) I know about the earthy realities of climate change, a lot more than Al Gore ever did, which are very different but a lot scarier than what Gore talks about. And more.

And so, where am I? Is it just another stage, graduating from elementary school to middle school?
What emerges? Certainly a lot of new math, ala physics or emergent nonlinear systems dynamics. And... it occurs to me... that old stuff of grading papers, which I had to do for the professor back in graduate school a bit. I hated it, but so did he, and it did seem appropriate to assign some of that to a graduate student. In fact, isn’t that a major part of what I was trained to do at NSF for over 25 years? More sorting, more grading. Oh, dear. I hope not. I still really hope the “earth office” won’t be relocated. Not that kalpa stuff! I am not really planning for that. But today, I will keep sorting, keep reliving past history in so many sectors of life on earth, and – when it is done – I will certainly try to see Jupiter Rising, despite the bad reviews. (Hell, they did not like Bruce Almighty or even Avatar at first...
And those were worth seeing.) I hope the harvest of souls is not coming “soon”
(whatever “soon” means – the Biblical metaphorical week?) ... but it would be interesting to see their take on it. After all, their last big one, The Matrix, was interesting. Poor young Gaia...


As a footnote: I have also digitized a few technical papers on the role of metaphor in the human brain, a subject for which I have a more complete mathematical explanation than those modelers do. So much to digitize! And eventually a decision as to which to keep in digital form just in my home, and how much to secure cloud. And things to digitize on security too...   

Another footnote: I have two papers in press, one of which explains more about the noosphere and mental discipline
for mathematically competent people. After I wrote the first draft, I received long-distance calls from the orthodox church accusing me of heresy, and saying that the Noetic Institute is a front for The Devil and should be shut down -- but that there might be some hope for me.  Long story. I was discouraged... but I also got an email out of the blue for Kazan, asking for almost exactly the new paper, so now it's in press from there both in English and in Russian. Not exactly Nature magazine in either case, but I haven't had time to play the usual games required of academics. That paper goes for a new level of unification of science and spirit -- but a new part of the relevant science is also in press, actually following two or three channels. Who knows? There might be a little hope for us here, maybe -- just as maybe the engine might still happen. We will see, and try. I also sometimes think of the year I spent working in the Hart building of Congress, where we had a kind of quiet initiation in which an experenced guy said: "Above all remember-- you must play, you can't win." Not a grand synthesis, that, but the words do come to mind at times.


Added later, Sunday morning:

All the words above the double line were written in the middle of the night. As I lay in bed, fully conscious, the words started gelling more and more, and I knew what I was supposed to do. I quietly murmured the word "muse" to Luda, put on a bathrobe and slippers, and went down to the study to type them in and post.  (I also sent a very brief email to
one of the folks mentioned, to be sure it's OK.) When I got back, Luda asked what the muse was this time.
Just a blog post????  I mentioned the title, and she asked: "What are you saying about people's souls? How some are 
clean, some are even shiny and glossy, while others are tattered and falling apart?"

My response: "Wow. You are reminding me of that video play, Cats, where almost everyone ends up in the recycle bin by default. The only one who gets digitized is that tattered old woman. Actually, for the past month, I have simply tossed a whole lot of new and glossy paper. I have put in a lot of effort to digitize some old and tattered pieces of paper, where I had to use the flatbed reader a sheet at a time.  Some are more valuable than others."

I  also thought immediately of the Buddhist monastery on Chicken Dragon Mountain in Korea, where I saw an old monk who made a very striking impression. The monk seemed to be a Zen monk, almost completely successful in her long goal of achieving total nothingness. Her soul was old and dry, and about to drift away the powder of disintegrating paper into space. Her face had a very strange rictus kind of smile on it... the smile of pride of success in achieving a goal pursued for so long, mixed in with a horror that something was wrong about what was happening... that strange rictus of an unhappy frightened smile reminded me of the "Crystalman smile" mentioned by Lindsay in his important book Voyage to Arcturus... but I now realize he had something different in mind. 

The Zen school does declare nothingness as its supreme objective, but the high TIbetan Buddhists would be more in tune with the idea that the whole world is a school, something we also hear form Rosicrucians like Joel Whitten (sp?),
author of Life Between Life.  The TIbetan Mahayana Buddhists even have an image of people being judged, after death, by folks a lot more like teaching assistants than like the Almighty Galactic Father Whom Christians often hope to see. 

But... back to more files to be sorted....


Well... a few less important thoughts, for those amused by arcane things.

I never learned the full history of the play Cats. (It would be interesting enough to be worth digitizing if I did!)
I have the impression that it had something to do with T.S. Eliot, who had something to do with Gurdjieff.

Gurdjieff folks used to say that they had three serious schools, and a lot of hokey imittaors. The three serious ones were basically ranked: (1) Ouspensky/France; (2) Bennett/UK; (3) New York. They also had three books, starting from the long one in poor English, followed by Meetings with Remarkable Men (closer to the empirical source), followed by a third series which was very secret. I do have a copy of the third series lying around in my house, and I was a bit surprised when I saw it. It was more like dirty linen people wanted to keep secret... or was it? It was mainly about how the people who try highest and get to highest ranks can easily just totally screw up anyway. My vague fuzzy memory was that New York had some pretty interesting folks after all, and maybe Eliot was of that tradition.

Years ago, in the house of the fanous art collector Stuart Carey Welch... I remember a young woman of the NY Gordjieff tradition dmeonstrating some of what she could do, in a low lit huge room with the Tibetan MASK OF THE DEAD AND MANY SUCH THINGS ALL AROUND.  (Caps courtesy of my touchpad.) Her enertgy was so impressive I was instantly overwhelmed by wanting to marry her... though of course I did not say so. All kinds of energies broke out amongst the four of us there... lights going on and off.. poltergeist.. the whole bit. I never returned, but always wondered a bit. But I have lots of other things to wonder about, and later my own trip to Tibet (at least to a place which the local Tibetans call Tibet).

Am temptyed to say more about what I have digitized, but must run..

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