Friday, September 25, 2015

Francis greets Luda and Paul the Pirate and views of sufis

Francis greets Luda, Paul the Pirate and views from Sufis, Buddhists

So much to say and report... a busy week... but I must take it easy this week.
On Wednesday, Luda went downtown to see Pope Francis (picture above), while I followed directions to prepare for cataract surgery and watched the speeches of Obama and Pope Francis on TV. I would also have wanted to tune in hard to Francis's speech before Congress right when it was live, but my surgery was scheduled for 9:45AM (scheduled weeks before) and happened at 11:30.

Both speeches of Pope Francis were quite important.  Just now, on Saturday Sept. 26, I was able to see the full Congressional speech, and really tune in. I will discuss these speeches at length, and only at the end append comments about my eye experience and those other viewpoints.



Luda joked: This has been amazing fair turnabout, almost like karma.  First, we visit the Vatican, and the old Pope resigns. Then he visits here, and Boehner resigns. First, we talk about de Chardin and Greeley as exemplary sources in Catholicism, and then he talks about Lincoln, King Day and Merton.  In truth, I see the real, concrete operation of spirit – of flows in the noosphere – in all of this, and just possibly a bit more. But when we visited the Vatican, I had a clear image of pater galacticus and of the need for a return and reassertion of authentic spirituality. What will be get after Boehner? That I do not yet know. Reasons for worry, and reasons for hope, and reasons to imagine the usual mix of a bit of both.


In truth, Obama’s speech on Wednesday was also powerful. As I heard him, I felt very deep regret that there are people making shallow, overconfident (even sinfully arrogant) assertions about Obama’s faith, when the truth was so clear. Yes, Obama has many human limitations (some of which really hurt me last year), but we should not let that blind us to something as serious and powerful as his speech, and the Pope’s, on Wednesday. I hope that back-to-back sequence gets the attention it deserves,

But then... Thursday.

On Thursday, Pope Francis made it clear he was speaking not only to Congresspeople but to the people they are responsible for representing. 

Early this morning, Luda and I discussed the word “dialogue,” an important word indeed. Pope Francis said his main mission in this speech was to try to open a dialogue with American people – specifically working people, retirees and youth, which Luda and I have all been.  He said “dialogue” at the start,. An d in closing, but when he talked about climate change and the camera panned to Senator Inhofe, he used the word “conversation.”

“Dialogue?” asked Luda. “Isn’t that what a business guy says when he wants to force you into whatever he wants to foist on you?” “No,” I said. “I agree that the ‘word ‘dialogue’ has bveen abused by cynical and greedy people, just as the word ‘intelligent grid’ and even ‘god’ have been abused in the same way. But that is no excuse for ignoring the original concept.”

“In fact... in a way this word ‘dialogue’ needs to be fully respected as a kind of word of power in human culture and in the noosphere itself.  Just a few years ago, I learned the full depth and power of the word ‘zhengqi’ in Confucianism, and then last year the word ‘aloha,’ which is more than it seems. Then I checked into ‘oy veh.’ In a way...
‘dialogue’ is a word of similar gravitas, especially in Quaker and some core Christian cultures, but also a universal true concept like the others. OK, some of us might choose ‘peace’ or ‘light’ instead, but it is important.”

Why is it SO important?

In a way... the most important spiritual action which we are called to perform and expand IS dialogue... inner dialogue where we listen and speak within our souls to the souls of others,  in communion with the larger noosphere of which we are part. We are not called to cut ourselves off from personal spiritual experience and connection, as fraudulent power seekers pretending to spiritual authority often demand. We are not called to demand our own personal desires in the noosphere, or to be entirely passive. Barbara Marx Hubbard, a follower of Teilhard de Chardin, has an apt phrase: “We are called to be Co-creators” of “Gaia,” of “the noosphere,” of humanity and of the earth.

Pope Francis said much the same, and pointed in a uniquely positive direction. Would that other leaders of religious institutions would be so positive and in tune with the spirit! As Obama said, it is Francis’ own spiritual characteristics more than his title which resonate with the spirits of people in he US and in the whole world. (Those who do not resonate tend to be either coldly responding onbly to his title, or, worse, responding based on cold personal ambitions which they hope to advance through various types of hypocrisy and pretense.)

So, OK, hye’s a nice guy and a real person, in a VERY important and fundamental way. And he said lots of important things about that. Thomas Merton was his concluding example.

But... for real dialogue, I do have some duty to get into some fine points.

One fine point: both science AND experience tell me that our call to advance and defend life is NOT AT ALL restricted to “human life.”  The long introduction to “The Phenomenon of Man” defines the “noosphere” as a crystallization of the minds of HUMANS, and that is dead wrong. I have written before on why cats have souls. In truth, both from experience and from science, I would go further: a litmus test for whether one has any true spiritual vision is the realization that dogs and cats have more  consciousness, soul and connection to the noosphere than a three-month old human fetus. (I remember the folk song from a Southern guy saying he would not even accept to go to a heaven that wouldn’t also take his dog... and how happy he was when he found god agreed, and found that the guy who excluded dogs was only the devil pretending to be god.”  Thus outlawing abortion would be grossly inconsistent and spiritually wrong if one did not with equal force outlaw the eating of meat.

Of course, that violates centuries of political commitments of pontifices maximi, from even before the time they adopted a Christian mantle. . I would NOT ask Pope Francis to nullify the past history, as we must be realistic about human minds – yet this aberration reminds me a bit of aberrations introduced by various Roman emperors and by ulemas in Islam, without one hint of true spiritual input.  Just a lot of freak out faces, like the face of Fiorina when she expressed her conviction that Planned Parenthood is doing barin transplants (or Trump suggesting that Obama is a Moslem).

The truth is, of course, that Jesus never said a word against abortion or birth control, or about the spirit entering the body at birth. What links I have to the original culture.. say they viewed the fetus as partaking of the soul of the mother, until the very moment of birth, the first breath or “anima.” And Jesus certainly stood up against Pharisees to defend women’s rights against those who would stone them.

Where did tis weird abortion fetish cpome from? Why do so many people fixate on that matter of legitimate difference  of belief, when life on earth itself is threatened in a much more urgent way?

The answer lies in history. When I was young, the abortion fetish was mainly a Catholic thing in the US, and conservatives were proud to stand for freedom and for the right of Protestants to live by THEIR principles, as they have since the great time of the Spanish Armada.  But power hungry political types saw how they could exploit
what Catholic activists got from this cause, and embraced it for that reason. At about the same time, the church organization was also teaching that birth control and books and movies they disagreed with should also be banned for everyone; in a visit to Quebec, I saw first hand how moving such beliefs into power wold result even today in things like what the English struggled with to get out of the Dark Ages.

How did it get into Catholicism?

It came back from Aristotle... a history I know ever so well, compared to a lot of those cognoscenti. Back in Byzantium,  even those “Christian” emperors tended to view the Bible as an exoteric text (or, more precisely, as a middle-level text), with the inner circle still following in inner mystery school of Stoicism, which they took great pains to try to propagate even in the years when they could see the Eastern Empire falling.
The old Catholic theological texts cite Aristotle as if it were an incontestable foundation of Christianity. (Whence some of the Copernicus unpleasantness. Jesus never said the world was flat either.) Aristotle stressed the idea that proper humans... are true to themselves... their own nature... a lot like the zhengqi of Confucianism, but commonly without accounting for the qi or spirit side. And so, without spirit, a natral human would behave just like the human depicted in the book “Sociobiology” by E.O. Wilson. They strive to survive and reproduce above all. Long ago, I realized -- if Aristotle is telling us to be true to our biological nature, as if that were a spiritual imperative, would not refraining from sex be even more unnatural and unacceptable than birth control and abortion?  

A true Aristotelian would say it is often more natural to refrain from sex, because what matters is the ultimate outcome, the end, and enlightened people would not like the end which may result form ill-considered sex. But by the exact same token, a true Aristotelian would be concerned about what unlimited population growth can do in the end on a larger scale, looking ahead, as he says, "a moderate number of generations" into the future. 

It is ever so weird that Aristotle’s description of what a natural human does without a soul got translates into an ETHICAL imperative for the spiritual side of human nature!

The Rosicrucians do say that we should strive for an “alchemical marriage.” Creating a balance of what we want from our body and what we want from our soul.  It is grossly weird and confused to imagine that we have a spiritual obligation to eat, fight and reproduce whenever our body impulses point that way even when our body brain says that this is not even rational from a pure body point of view! This is an extreme example of “category confusion.”

Still, there are those on the other side who do not respect basic family values as much as a sane human, spiritual or not, would do. When Pope Francis spoke of family values, I wondered whether he fuly understand just what a strong ally Chinese culture could be on that?

I do not agree with what Dan Brown says, in his novel Inferno, that sustainability is ONLY about population stability. But like it or not, it IS part of it.  A big subject; maybe I should not say more, since already says more than I can here today. Female education and women’s rights, as well as their spiritual growth, are ever so important to whatever chances we have of survival on this planet.

All of this leads up to a more serious, fundamental and "true" question:
what kind of universal social contract, to apply to all people in a large society, would  allow the society to avoid decay into overpopulation, and ultimately nuclear war and human habitat destruction, even when the individual members of the society pursue a natural mixture of biological and spiritual goals, supported by theit individual beliefs? In fact, this subject of social contract is right at the heart of what Yeshua is now discussing, unavoidably tightly coupled to the issues of peace, love and community which he stresses. So far as I know, the US constitution, and the later constitution developed for Germany after World War II, were the most credible efforts to develop such a social contract anywhere, ''way beyond the instabilities of earlier systems like twelve tablets of Rome, Ten Commandments and sharia. Yet in recent years, we see how a legal contract by itself is not enough for enduring peace and stability, when powerful elements WITHIN the society fight for narrow but powerful changes, de facto or de jure. This is an important subject, beyond the scope of today's blog.

Enough for now.

The a bit on my eyes:

But for now... the eyepatch is off. Surgery Tuesday, patch off today Friday morning (but still around to use at night for a week, to be sure I do not injure it in sleep). Outcome exactly as I was predicting to myself as most likely outcome... and not what social pressures suggest, pressures sometimes too optimistic and sometimes too pessimistic. I am glad I chose intermediate over far. Even now, when I look at the "totem tree" behind out house (about 100 feet) I can see it MUCH more clearly with my right eye now than with my old left eye.  That means I can continue to right a bicycle on the local trails without glasses, just as I have done recently in the past. Maybe I will still need glasses when driving; maybe not. But my far vision has been good enough, and will be better.

More serious is the near range. It is a weird situation where I can read well eight inches away (using left eye) or two feet away (as I am now doing with the computer), but if I lean a bit closer the letters get out of focus. When I try to read a hard copy contract (as folks have asked me to do)... it is really awkward because I have to hold it some distance away...  and for just one week, they say not to bend down at all while the eye heals more.  Not bending over is weird... keyboard... shoes...

Yet to decide: left eye also intermediate, or near, or untouched?

Sent to my doctor’s office today:

All is going quite well. Based on what I now see, I am hoping you would be able to schedule the exact same procedure for the left eye -- EnVista intermediate -- as soon as possible before November 11.  (After that, our travel plans could get in the way of recovery.)

Dr. Hoang did say before "If you do one eye intermediate, I would recommend doing the other the same." It was not easy for me to reach real clarity on this, but I am now ready to commit fully to that recommendation.

It was very quick and easy for me to decide against the three other logical options -- left eye far, no operation on left eye, or multifocal left.

For far -- my far vision really seems more than adequate for me and my lifestyle already in the right intermediate eye; for example, when I look out at a tree far behind my house with my old left eye and my new right eye, the right eye has at least ten times the resolution! Since I feel I can ride a bicycle safely enough even with my old eyes, without glasses, I will certainly still be able to do that.  I hope I can even drive without glasses, based on what Dr. Jain told me, but it would not be so bad for me to wear driving glasses anyway. Probably I will ask for a prescription for transitions lenses and optimal far vision, to use for things like driving and like walking in big outdoor parks to see vaster nature.

For operation or no operation -- the contrast between my old left eye and the new right one has been very graphic, at all distances. I might have anxieties about eye tests... but the difference between what I see on the left and what I see on the right is very impressive! And Dr. Jain said the right will be even better a month from now. Only at a distance of 6 to 8 inches or less from my eyes doe the left show any advantage. I even worry that keeping the left eye as it is too long will encourage my brain to just write it off!  
For multifocal... since EnVista is a Bausch and Lomb product, but CrystalLens also is, and I liked the CrystalLens booklet you showed me, I did do another check. If t looked good, I would have asked if it is too late for the left eye.
But as I do another literature search (with the help of the new right eye!), it seems as if their materials technology for glistening-free EnVista does not yet transfer to CrystalLens, and, worse, that all the multifocals still have buigs to work out at the intermediate distance.  

BUT: intermediate versus near for the left eye took a lot more thought.

My biggest disappointment has been the difficulty of reading hard copy books or contracts now.
With the right eye or both eyes open, there is a very sharp gradient at about 20 inches to two feet from my eyes. So right now, at a bit more than two feet, I get sharp images of the words on the computer screen -- and I see a LOT of them. But if I get closer, just 20 inches, it defocuses. And my left eye saves the day only at about six inches -- not any real cooperation between eyes!

So with a "near" left eye, after cataract surgery, I'd expect more resolution and better cooperation between the eyes -- but I am just speculating on that! Probably I would not need reading glasses, and I have never needed reading glasses ever before. I do a huge amount of reading, and it's important to my life. (I'd guess it is the same for Dr. Hoang too!). Even in college, my left eye was more near-sighted than the right eye, so I guess it would be OK with my brain. I have felt a tiny bit of on=again off-again vertigo and pain... more yesterday and early morning than today, and probably less than what most people experience. (( briefly learned of two other of Dr. Hoang's patients from Thursday, and it sounds as I did better. I* hope I was cooperative on the table! I have almost no memory of 
that time...)

But for now... if both eyes are the same, and if I use reading glasses for reading, I suppose that will minimize both eyestrain and adaptation pressure on both eyes, and make it easier to use them together with maximum cooperation and focus.  And perhaps the risk is a little less that way. That, plus the doctor's recommendation, is enough to convince me that I should go ahead with both intermediate, and should go ahead as soon as possible (to sustain binocular cooperation).


thank you again, and I hope we can all move ahead on this.

Best regards,



And... well, just a few words on views from Sufis and Buddhists.

As I think of the deep[ly wrong strategic planning of the Third Caliphate Movement, I think of how they seem to be rebuilding the more corrupt and less sustainable First Caliphate, while failing to appreciate the huge importance of the Second Caliphate. Such Moslem pseudo-spiritual political leaders seem to have envy of those Christain crusaders who would reinvent the Old Testament... inoring the progress achieved by Jesus in seeing further.
In my view, Rumi is to Mohammed what Jesus was to Moses, and Moses and Mohammed would both agree now. The greater spiritual vision of Rumi, building on previous revelation but going beyond it, was crucxial to the great spiritual strength of Sufi and even Janissary orders, which were the real foundation of the enormous power and creativity of the Second Caliphate. False imams say “God would not speak to anyone after Mohammed, he is the last prophet” – but in my view those statements are basic anathema, and violently deny the true power and mercy of God. They are power-driven psychopathologies, and a litmus test of people whom no one should trust.

The wisdom and spiritual authenticity of Sufis is thus widely respected all over the world. I certainly remember gatherings of Quaker Universalists where Sufi dances were on the core program, and Quaker schools where they are part of the curriculum, rightly so.

And yet... even Sufis are humans and faillible, like me or Pope Francis.

Many years ago, I had deep contact with four of the dozens of schools of Sufis, all of which have a unique character. In the US, the vast majority of sufi followers follow Inayat Khan (or his successor) or Idries Shah, whose books are available and whose people I met. Khan embraces a  cosmopolitan benevolent approach, has many followers in the West, and is probably the source of those dances I have seen in the US. Idries Shah sounds a lot like Gurdjieff, with pretensions to be “the real truth of what Gurdjieff teaches,” but I question that, since I have had other access to Gurdjieff’s sources and ideas. I was also impressed by many of the books of Corbin, who really got deep into the “real stuff,” including even links to the exercises of the Pythagorean Order, just as important as the Platonists and the Stoics in the deep inner culture of the West.

Most Sufis of the Middle East are somewhat bemused by those two American orders of sufism, regarding theirs as deeper and more powerful but st\ill happy to see a few Americans able at least to reach kindergarten.

In past years, I was honored and grateful to have serious dialogue with two orders of Sufi which, so far as I know, are the most powerful and real in the world today (though I regret I had to decline the invitation to Azerbaijan, due to restrictions from emerging powers within the US government)/ Those two – the Ummayad order, and the Mehlevi order (sp?).

The Ummaya/Ommaya order fills me stilll with profound, strong feelings of regrety, loss and guilt.

I will mention just a small part of that story here today, since it relates to Pope Francis!

Ayub Ommaya was a great and deeply spiritual friend, whose family actually ledf/leads the Ummaya order based in Pakistan. He even have me a major manual of his order, which I retain still. Part of that manual... compared the true sufi to a surfer who rides the wave of the spiritual energies of their people. Of course, I recalled Mao’s comment that the revolutionary is like fish swimming in the water of the people, but the sufi was talking more about the spiritual energies, like the qi in the noosphere.  This is EXACTLY like Francis’ understanding that “the shephrd must take on the smell of the sheep.” It is valid and powerful, far more powerful than people can know who never feel the qi.

However... Ayub got caught up in the spirit and feelings of HIS OWN people, th specific PART of the noosphere he was most connected to. And I deeply regret  that we lost touch before I could help him with one step beyond that – because the noosphere is more than just one lobe. In a way, it is LIKE what Carl Jung says, that humans who play with powerful archetypes are at VERY great personal risk, is they do not learnm certain disciplines much higher even than what Ayub had learned.

In fact... I found it a bit unnerving to go to India last March, after two really amazing enlightened people (Ayub a Moslem and Mani Subramanian a Hindu Vednata Society leader) both returned, became spiritually active... and died of sudden unexpected brain attacks. And then I went to India!  And I did not refrain from spiritual engagement as deep as either of them., on all sides. At one point, I felt first hand the kind of bad stuff which may explain what happened to them. And at a later point... there are many facets to the archetype of the Monkey God, and I did make a gaffe at one point which it took efort for me to su5rvive physically.

IN actuality, the concept of theOne God was not just an idle product of a cold theo-logician. It toks some really heavy inner energy form some people, construing it and evolving it... yes, to fit better with reality, but also to finesse teh nasty “antibodies” which existed in the noosphere.. and which exist even now for many other areas of truth, such as the truth that time is just another dimension. I suppose that “right to life” politicians are basically just like worshippers of the monkey god... though with less actual spiritual truth.

Enough for now. Mehlevis and Buddhists will wait for another time, worthy as hey both are.

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