Conversations September 18, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

5 AM. A better night’s sleep then I had a right to expect. All right, I get that if we are going to reprogram our robots, it takes analysis among other things, and I can see what I will have to do but I don’t see that I need to do them in public, though I’m willing to be corrected. So — you all have anything on your minds?

It has been a big week, with many developments. Take a moment to scan the typed up conversations.

Even a fast scan of the week’s conversations reminds me of how much material is piling up here!

We are covering some ground. And what you sometimes see as detours we see as facets. If you are describing a diamond, you could describe each facet in no particular order, and as long as you kept track, you’d get the job done. Let’s talk about spiritual influences on the ringmaster.

All right, let’s.

We’ve said the person-group is a sort of temporary collection of elements for the purpose of fusing various strands into one new coherent point of view, one new bit of mind for the universal mind.

If you have, I don’t know that you’ve put it quite that way.

The Catholic dogma you were given as a child said the purpose of life was to “know love and serve God in this world and be with him in the next.”

It certainly did. It certainly did, and I doubt that the nuns who taught it understood that answer any more than the kids they taught it to. And it certainly didn’t connect to anything in our secular lives. I mean, even those of us who were naturally inclined toward the mystical life (not knowing even the word, of course, much less the distinction) ever quite grounded it in our lives when we were in church.

You might say some more about your inner experience, because this is going to play out as we go along. It is the finding relevance — finding congruence — between what has been thought of as sacred and what has been thought of as secular that is the work here. What is a new world-view but a re-remembering what has been dis-membered?

Well, I touched on this in Muddy Tracks, but I can see that I didn’t touch on it very much. And I begin to see the relevance. I was a boy in a largely Italian town, going to Catholic school, reading among other things a Catholic history of the United States, which is a very different history than the mainstream edition.

Hard not to get political. To return to the point: I was one of a community. Catholic school was a world itself, and given that I had few friends and none outside school

No, that isn’t it either. Why is it so difficult to say the important thing? Maybe because I’ve never said it, so it isn’t organized. You guys want to say it, instead?

We’re willing. You lived a life in two compartments, each seemingly valid, each taken for granted, with the implied contradiction not evident and not a problem. Your pious inner life had its support in the weekly ceremony of the Mass that reinforced strand-minds you didn’t suspect you had. Your absorption in American history, and Lincoln, and then the Kennedys — and Churchill — reinforced other strand-minds, and the two groups were not at war, and indeed overlapped in places. Your interest first in science fiction, then in real space flight (how many 11-year-olds, do you suppose, were even aware of Sputnik let alone struck by it?) And in technology in general, reinforced a different, but overlapping, set of strand-minds. How many books do you own about the Wright brothers?

You wanted to be a saint. You wanted to be a statesman. Later you wanted to be a writer of fiction. “You” wanted; that is, one or another of your strand-minds took center stage and you let it, because you didn’t realize a few things. First, that not every (in fact, not any) “you” is you. Second, that it is the ringmaster’s job to decide, actively, and you weren’t aware of the concept of ringmaster, weren’t aware of all those competing strands. Third, that nonetheless, a life will have a sort of center of gravity that will be its optimum path, and part of fulfillment lies in finding it. Fourth, that

Lost track.

Your life in compartments could be looked at as a life being led with some awareness of different strand-minds with different draws, though of course not conceptualized that way. It was clear to you the draw of this kind of life, that kind of life, and your illness kept you somewhat isolated from life as it is lived normally, hence gave you a more abstract view of it, though without much introspection or self-awareness.

We are discussing this in the context of two major strands, two major inclinations, almost two “you”s that coexisted pretty easily until in your teens they ceased to coexist and you lost sight of that mystical world.

Your catechism spoke truly, but it spoke to an earlier age and a different way of being, and was dead to most ears by the time it was taught to you more than half a century ago. How much deader, then, in 2010! And yet eternal truths are not dependent upon the fashions of any one time; they merely need to be dressed up. If they do not resonate when seen with new eyes, how true can they be?

To know, love, and serve God in this world. If you’re thinking of “God” as a remote judgmental being who is going to judge you when you’re finished and maybe send you to hell, that’s going to be an important thing — and it’s going to fall away from you when you cease to be a child, because nothing in your life will lend it credibility. It won’t make any sense in the terms it was presented in. (Besides, you should love something that might send you to hell?)

Now, note, the fact that such childish concepts fall away from people as they cease to be children does not mean that they disappear. It means they fall into the unconscious, where they continue to operate, unsuspected, as programming for various robots. Many a person is vehement against religion (rather than indifferent, or ambivalent, or supportive, or quietly dismissive) because he or she is actively fighting remnants of such forgotten beliefs. Or, if not forgotten, discarded. The vehemence comes because they are at war with themselves.

But to return. As in examining anything, so in this case: Look to find what is really being said, by trying with as much intellectual sympathy (even if tentative and provisional) as you can bring to bear. In the absence of intellectual sympathy — that is, of a willingness to approach the subject humbly rather than from a position of already knowing — nothing can be learned. All you’ll get will be polemics that will — big surprise! — reinforce the position you bring to it. You can conclusively prove that you were right, whatever your position on anything. It’s merely a matter of refusing to examine with real openness and curiosity, and instead defending the established position of various strand-minds, usually only vaguely perceived by you the ringmaster.

So, look at that catechism phrase. Tell your Protestant or your materialist or your Renaissance or your scientific or your secular strand-minds to shut up for long enough for you to really examine what is being said. Reassure them that such examination won’t result in your having to become a Catholic, and won’t result in your having to believe in a bearded God on a cloud. Some people will find this very difficult to do — which should demonstrate that it is worthwhile. Others may not find it hard, but may find it not very interesting. This may show them some robots, or strand-minds, protecting their terrain by a veneer of boredom. And some may find it easy because no one inside is threatened by the act of sympathetic examination.

Whichever is your case (and it may vary by time of day or, more precisely, which strand-minds are occupying center stage at the moment), look at it and see that, whatever the phrase meant to the devisers of the catechism, it is a paraphrase of what we have been saying. At least, it may be seen that way if we make certain assumptions.

“To know, love and serve God in this world.” That is, to experience, join with, and unite your will with your experience of a non-physical reality in which you somehow take part.

“And be with Him in the next.” Or, to be an active functioning part of that non-physical reality once you drop the body.

Isn’t that a fair paraphrase of what we’ve been spelling out?

Again, that doesn’t mean that’s what the catechism-makers meant. But it does mean, or let’s say it hints, that the two descriptions are two different intellectual schemes for apprehending the same reality. The difference is — one difference is — that the old religious phrasing and understanding is largely dead to the people living and those that are on their way in the Western world, which is a huge strand-mind of the world-mind. Yet it resonates and reverberates in what is still called the Third World, because the clothing fits them better. They haven’t yet had five generations immersed in technology.

So are we teaching theology here, or advocating the study of theology? Not exactly, or perhaps we should say not exclusively. We are saying, you may not want to reinvent the concept of the wheel even if you have to (especially if you have to) refashion the wheel to new uses.

I wonder if anybody is still listening. I can imagine howls of outrage, or anyway derisive smiles, at the concept of taking a catechism question and answer and considering it seriously. Everybody’s caged animals will be pacing restlessly.

We remind you, the question to which that was the answer is, “what is the purpose of life?” Or as they put it, “why are we here?” If you already know, you don’t need to look. But if you don’t know and you know you don’t know, it doesn’t make sense to close off certain doors that have labels on them specifically promising to lead where you want to go, merely because you don’t like the lettering.

Oh, you don’t need to persuade me.

Nor were we necessarily addressing ourselves to you.

Okay, next time. Thanks.

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