Topic 1: To Be or Not to Be

Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Series-The View from Here | 18 comments


Episode 1When the extraordinary body of work, the Tao Te Ching appeared roughly 2500 years ago, the question arose as to whether its source was a single individual, Lao Tzu, or a compilation of people, and for some the jury is still out. About 500 years ago, William Shakespeare presented the world with an astounding body of work, and again historians and theorists entertained the question of authorship being one man or several.

I never put much stock in those debates, for authorship was of secondary interest to me, relative to the measure of the work that mankind had at its disposal in each case. But it points to an interesting question. Why are we so quick to doubt ourselves; to think that marvels are not in our purview?

On the other hand, we have a rather cocky notion of our species, believing we represent the highest order of evolution to date on earth, and some imagine even beyond this planet. What we tend to base this on is rather dubious: the credence we give our brain for intelligence, and the esteem we grant to speech as a means of communication. Were we to look more closely, we’d see that the brain is a computer-like structure that requires software (programmed view of the world) and data (intake by the senses). It is not an originator, it is a processor, and our cherished thoughts are its output based on nothing more than algorithmic twists and turns of the data we put into it and the programming we use to interpret that data. And as for speech, whales communicate with each other across oceans, and your cat knows precisely what mood you’re in throughout your day even while you’re at the office. Even you houseplants pick up on your emotional state, likely before you mate does. If effective communication is our measure of intelligent hierarchy, these facts alone should give us pause to wonder.

What this points to is that in spite of all our study, all our efforts to understand ourselves, the world, and the interactions that take place in both, we have yet to arrive at a conclusion that assists us in changing significantly any part of human life on earth. We have always had suffering, starvation, disease, war, and fear and with all our looking and thinking, we have not been able to alter that. Some take the line – that is the nature of life as a human being on earth – but that leaves us with the rather unnerving notion that we’ve landed on a rather mean-spirited planet, not to mention raises questions about the nature of God or Whatever is responsible for this universe. I suggest the explanation lies elsewhere,that being, in the way we’ve been taught to view ourselves and the world about us. If that’s so, then the problem doesn’t lie with the world, rather it lies with us.

Well then let’s take a look to see what it is we’ve been taught. Your next episode is Topic 2: Who Are We Really?

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  1. Begun with a bang, my friend! Oh, this is going to be a breathtaking series, I just know it! No. 2 sounds intriguing. I ask myself that every day. Who am I? Why am I here? Surely this is not all there is…

    • Thank you, Jo. And those are the questions that haunt us and that we’re here to answer.

  2. Man is such a clever beastie, clever but always a beastie. We rise remarkably as Twain noted in his “Letters from Earth” as some nickle-plated version of an angle, and then sink to unimaginable depravity. Thus we bob on the waters of history. This is why I study history and am saddened that it is taught so poorly. We need to study our story from beginning to end, sifting the wheat from the chaff so that we may emulate what is good and avoid what is bad. Unfortunately, few have the courage. They prefer rather to avert their eyes from evil, they worship false gods, and they fall victim to the same scams over and over again. How sad…

    • It’s even deeper than that, Jack. We aren’t here to fix ourselves. We are here to understand how we have withheld from ourselves the truth of what we truly are. But first, it is imperative that we see clearly what we aren’t.

  3. Just spend some time at Walmart and you’ll know we’re not the highest order of evolution to date on earth or anywhere beyond. This planet of ours is perfect. It’s just that the people who occupy it can be greedy and mean-spirited.

    • What we are truly is as perfect as the world in which we live. We just do such a fine job of obscuring our true nature from us. It’s crazy, but unfortunately so.

  4. Christina, sometimes I think asking a person to understand God or the Great Ground of Being, or whatever name we ascribe to the essence of things is like asking a dog to think like a person. The two essences are so distinct that there is little overlap.

    • You are right. That is why we can’t get there from here. First we have to realize that “here”is something we cobbled together from such a limited point of view that it’s amazing we even function at all. But there is a way to see this caricature of a being and there is a way to move beyond it.

  5. I’m with Jo, this is going to be a great series!!

  6. Well, I’m glad you’re along for the ride, Laura!

  7. You always have an amazing perspective and bring to light the “obvious” in an interesting, introspective manner. Thank you for your contributions!

    • I respect your openness greatly, Lawrence, so your experience of this series touches me deeply. You are so welcome and I am most fortunate.

  8. Our “mean-spirited planet”, I love that! Love the way you’ve presented what is a fundamental query and like everyone else here, I’m looking forward to the next installment! At first I thought you were going to focus on what we as writers see as our role, but I can see you’ve thrown the net wider, indeed a very wide net focused on the human condition as a whole…Perhaps your third installment could be about the place of Art with a capital A (meaning it encompasses Literature and of course Poetry)?

    • So glad to receive your comment, Claude. Yes the net is wide, for at some point I realized that the way we perceive is responsible for the experience of life we have. And like so many, I would love to see life on earth reflect a great deal more of the extraordinary potential we human beings are endowed with. The Arts are a gift to us and truly need to play an even greater role in our lives, because they assist us in getting in touch with our true nature. Interestingly, people today are even less cultivated in the Arts just when we could use their gift to our advantage. But we have a bit more to stumble through to grasp deeply exactly the mess we are in because of our mental conditioning. So stick with us. The Arts will be addressed eventually.

  9. So much to think about and consider. Your inputs to my computer will take some time to process. Caleb said, this planet is perfect– so true.

    • I do understand. It is quite the puzzle, but I’m just delighted to have your company on this trip. Great to hear from you as always.

  10. Actually, this construct, matrix, theatrical stage we call earth is designed quite elegantly, perfectly balanced to provide all the physical duality that we need to experience as a developing species. Not only does it allow us to experience physical contrasts through our 5 limited senses, but most importantly mother earth patiently, lovingly, supportively allows us to experiment with our minds, no matter how destructive we may be. If we humans are lucky enough to evolve beyond our petty egos, greed, fear and prejudices… then we can restore the earth to it’s original heavenly state, a natural Eden if you will. Only then can we leave our skin-suits behind and ascend like our ancient forefathers before us. This is the natural order of all things.

    • Thanks for adding your thoughts, Maddie. The moving beyond ego is something we must intend. It doesn’t come about by happenstance or acts of commerce. My interest in writing this series is to describe what it is that stands between us and our capacity to effect this intention. Perhaps then more could find their way to greater awareness and harmony.

Thoughtful comments are always welcome!


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