Thursday, May 7, 2015

email to that Jesus guy

A few years ago, arranging a visit to the University of Memphis, I joked with my collaborator there: "Hey, have there been any good Elvis sightings out there lately? Any day now I expect to hear stories of people seeing him on a date with Princess Di."

His response: "No, not really, but we have seen a lot of Jesus lately. In fact, he'd like a little talk with you when you come down." OK. He was a nice guy, and I got his email. This morning I sent him
an email, slightly pruned... below..


Good morning, Yeshua!

Yesterday I had a long dinner conversation with .... where we got into a lot of areas -- like religion, politics, Boeing, and small bits of many other related topics. He has generally identified himself as Catholic.

At some point, your name came up. I said something like: "A lot of people would ask -- is he the real Jesus or Ben David, omniscient from heaven, or is he a charlatan? But I believe these simple binary categories are out of touch with reality. It is like the people who ask 'Would this system be conscious, or would it not?' It is not a binary world."

"Let me make an analogy between Yeshua and Karl Pribram. 
Of course, Karl was well known and at the top level on neuroscience and psychiatry and connecting the two, but he did not understand mathematics so much as we do. I remember talks he gave, where the first slide was a quote from Schrodinger (from the book "What is Life?"),
which Pribram liked and endorsed. Schrodinger's quote said something like:"All real understanding of big questions like this requires a crossdisciplinary approach -- and a deep conversation between people from different disciplines. Conversations like that cannot happen unless someone form one of the disciplines is willing to offer himself up as a kind of fool, suggesting things about the other disciplines which require vast improvement... and so in this book I offer myself up as that kind of fool, to try to begin a most important conversation." Karl would then say: "In this talk, I plan to do the same. I do not know as much about quantum theory or mathematics as many of you, but the conversation has to start somewhere. I look forward to working with you all later to improve the story."

So I said to him: "Yeshua is also a bit like that. As we come from the world of mathematics, to some degree, he is coming from the world of spiritual experience, where he is quite real and authentic. (I told some water stories, and we talked about human rapport.) Not godlike nor mundane, but real as he is, and, like some of us others, trying to learn
more about the aspects he does not yet know."

Before that, when we discussed Washington politics, I mentioned my image of spiritual couch potatoes. "Consider the analogy between health of the spirit and health of the body. Imagine a room full of people who believe very deeply in physical fitness, who implement their belief by sitting on couches in a big living room cheering for their football team (a model of physical fitness).  The biggest exercise they get is screaming at the top of their lungs to support their team and express hatred of the other team. They fill themselves both with physical poison (excess alcohol) and poisonous thoughts. They grow fat, unhealthy and old, and fall apart both inside and outside."

"In the midst of all that, if a real mountain climber (even a mezzo-mezzo one like us) were to walk into the room, and briefly say something about exercise or health, they would all just raise their voices as they usually do, and not even begin to understand ... the reality."

So later, when we talked about you, I referred to that, and basically said
how you are the opposite of those couch potatoes.

I also mentioned about our trip to India last month. (Many people in this little restaurant, Ravi Kabob, were Indian or Pakistani, and it seems that many ears were listening at some point.) On its visa application form, India demanded that we state our religion -- either one from a list of five or so (Christian, Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist, whatever), or "other... what?"
Luda just checked "Christian." But to Indians... this would indicate a kind of sectarian commitment which would be both unfriendly and misleading in my case, so I felt duty bound to pick something else.
For a moment, I considered checking "Buddhist," since there are strands of high Tibetan Buddhism where I feel pretty much in harmony with people... (like the mindfulness people) but really, that is a small part of Buddhism and it would also be misleading. So I checked "other," and wrote "Quaker Universalist."

I then said to him: "But if I was telling the whole truth, and not just part of it, I would have written instead that my religion is given at Yeshua and I have discussed that, and we see pretty much eye to eye on these things."

(Luda says: "That's not your religion, that's your belief. Religion is an organized thing." By those semantics, Quaker Universalist was more or less the right thing for me to write.)

I mentioned Teilhard de Chardin again at various times. Early on, he asked: "Noosphere, what's that?" That was a very vivid moment for me. What is a noosphere? What would you say if someone asked
"What is air? What is water? What does it mean to be alive? What is an internet? Can you tell me what colors look like, and where they can be seen?" It reminded me of the old expression "stranger in a strange land." (Two days ago, we saw the movie 'Avengers' in IMAX 3D, and it 
also reminded me of that expression.)

So I started from basics... recalling that I was once VERY well informed and committed to a certain mundane point of view, until experience reached a critical threshold where I could not ignore the empirical data. 
Fortunately, he remembered my newspaper/Mao story, so I did not have to repeat it. 

I think I then jumped ahead to the article by Greeley years ago in the New York Times Magazine, which I saw at a very good time, which I 
pointed to as one of the most important things ever written on this subject -- and also both highly readable and scientifically solid. I went over the whole story, including a key point from the end of Greeley's article: After having a really major mystical experience, ALL of the high-ranking professors in the final sample had reacted by saying: "OK, God, thank you for that, that was really very impressive. But I don't think I could handle any more of that. Thank you, but please not more of that. I promise I will be good boy." So if they were Christian, they would be more avid, diligent and correct Christians; likewise, if Jewish, more Jewish; likewise if Moslem, more Moslem. All trying to be good boys, to respect the source of the experience, and to prevent more of it.

"My response to this kind of thing, just like my response to learning about the green sky threat, was completely different from that of the others. I did not run away. My response was 'This is important and I want to know more.' Yes, when people open their eyes, they can see scary things, but at the end of the day I feel more secure in the light than in the darkness. Yes, I was thankful, but I resolved not to run away from this, but to try to understand. That implied seeking more data, among other things, because things like religious speculation not grounded in reality and experience is obviously rather useless and harmful in the world around us."

I mentioned the problem we have today, when religious organizations are largely dominated by a mix of outright crude power-seekers and lackeys of vested interests, and by people who are fiercely saying " not more of that, I'll be good boy," who try to cut off themselves and their parishioners from real life and real hope. I mentioned the "credit card model of the soul,' in which the soul is just a hidden object where credits and debits are accumulated."

And so, as first step in answering the question "what is a noosphere?", I said -- my view is that the soul is not an object in our back pocket, but in many ways WE ARE our souls. More precisely, we are a symbiotic combination of mundane 'body' and 'soul.' We are alive as soul
(except maybe some of those couch potatoes who succeeded in poisoning themselves to death). 

But... with experience... 'we are not islands.' As soul... our individual souls are like cells in the greater spiritual life which includes all of earth. That is what the noosphere is.

I also mentioned how Luda recently asked: "Paul, how can you be so
interested in silly popular movies like the new Netflix video Journey to the West, or Shaolin soccer? We have the original book Journey to the West , and it is so much deeper and more intelligent than this silly movie which does not even have the right to pretend it is a remake of the story." My response: "Yes, I value that book. But those movies, like our recent tour of India, give a kind of window into the noosphere. A window into the thoughts which really fill the minds and souls of so many people. Windows into the noosphere are of huge importance... especially for those of us whose mission is to try to assist in the evolution of that noosphere, hopefully rapid enough to prevent the physical death of our species, but important in any case."

After a slight break (when I went back to get more water), Don started to explain the idea of the world of forms, which he attributed to Socrates, and the notion of form and substance. Certainly I knew of that ever so long ago, including those parts of the high Upanishads which get into the metaphysics of form and metamathematics and logic and so on. "I still value mathematics, of course, but the point is... soul and noosphere are not just a matter of form or formalism. They are a matter of substance. What IS the substance for soul and noosphere? Maybe stuff like dark matter or dark energy, maybe fields in physics we do not know about as yet, but whatever... It is a matter of substance." And Don agreed.

I believe Don raised the question then of the True God of everything. I expressed the view that this whole earth, and all of its noosphere, and the entire solar system, is really just a very tiny dot in something immensely bigger , and that humans are really very very far out of touch with reality when they assume even subconsciously that earth is bigger than it is. We are each so much smaller than our noosphere, yet our noosphere is just a baby, a very tiny entity in the larger scheme of things, and certainly not all-knowing,
even if it subsumes as data all of fully conscious human experience and thought. So what lies beyond that? 

"From all I have seen... there is no justification for imagining that ANY consciousness at all is omniscient and all powerful, as the PR agents of various churches have tried to sell... except to the degree that you consider that maximizing a Lagrangian exactly could be seen as a kind of consciousness, which is worth thinking about. So when Jesus talked about 'the Father," just who was he talking about? Was he talking about a kind of powerful archetype floating around in the noosphere, or a paternal organism of the same species as our noosphere in the real biology of our cosmos? Something like that, maybe a mix... as we all can leave archtypical reflections, shadows or traces in the noosphere."


All for now. 

Best regards,


P.S. Please forgive some jokes... Jung would say I give the trickster a place to be heard in my mind,
but not allowed out of control... A joke which popped up a few weeks ago: "And then, in the dying days of the great Republic, as corruption and contradiction drew it into the gradual decay and death
of empire and slavery, the voice of Yeshua came to Paul as said 'Hey man, don't you think it's time for a few more good epistles here and there?" Whatever. This month, I intend to do some meditation on questions in physics for which I know no one on earth knows the answer, an exercise of the mind for which there is no local or cheating short-cut, even though it does entail some mobilization of local resources.

Now that I think of it (posting this), I discussed both of the books by Teilhard de Chardin which I cited in my own paper. For example, from Activation of Human Energy, how we are called to engage with the rest of humanity and life, the noosphere, regardless of how high we rise. Even in Buddhism, many understand that the correct model is less like nothingness and more like the boddhisatva...


Yeshua had some interesting thoughts in his reply, but I am not sure which ones he would want me to share
right now.

One is.. maybe I should be a bit more clear, in discussing this, that these are not "my beliefs."
In a world where so many people choose "beliefs" the way they choose clothes, as a kind of esthetic fashion statement about themselves... it is important that there is another way. This conversation was summarizing a paper
(Mind_in_Time) which was the outcome of decades and decades of focused and disciplined search for the real truth, using a scientific type of approach (as discussed in the paper). That included  incessant brutal self-criticism,
highly iterative, at a level most people would not want to undergo. To understand such things as quantum field theory is/would-be much less challenging and painful than ripping it all apafrt and rebjuidling it with one's own efforts.

Just this week, I did some of that again, for one of the many topics I have tried to understand. It reminded me how I have imposed disciplines on myself I would certainly not expect of others these days. I understand it is challenging enough for folks to understand when it's served on a silver platter... but someone needs to probe the unknown, for any kind of real knowledge to grow. The university system, in the US in the past century or so has played a critical role in the culture (and noosphere) of the US, with huge economic benefits, in providing an outlet and channel for the kind of exploratory thinking needed to make progress -- but for the past two years, pressures form folks who want to convert it all into just another factory IPO cheering squad and vehicle for corporate welfare have become very worrisome.

 Big subjects, but I am getting beyond what Yeshua said....

Yeshua also mentioned how a lot of what he is doing is really carrying forward a very long-standing family tradition, going back to Biblical times. But neither he nor I feel it is appropriate to distract people with esoteric bits of family history here.

No comments:

Post a Comment