Archive | February, 2022
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Life strives through Form for actualization

21 Feb

What is Important to You- Personal Reflections

18 Feb

What things do you think you cannot live without?

I was asked to answer that question and in fact, this is an important and complex question. There are many things that are important factors that I cannot live without.

Most of what I definitively cannot live without are my body’s physical necessities to survive, such as oxygen, clean water, nutrients, warmth and coolness, protection from the elements, movement, sleep, etc.. Without all of these and others, my life would be short and miserable. So, I am careful to honor these requirements by being mindful that I have them of good quality in my life allowing me to maintain sound physical health.

For because of my body’s healthy balance, with a good physical foundation and salutary environment, and the quality of my emotions and thoughts being uplifted and positive, I am much less likely to become depressed, anxious, etc.. My life will not be constricted and unhappy. Also, in this regard, I can not live well without the wisdom of maintaining a balanced perspective on life and my situation in it.

And then there is the spiritual social aspect. By spiritual I mean
intuitive knowing that everything is interconnected and interdependent within the mysterious universe. A quote from Albert Einstein expresses this well, ‘The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as aII serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. Ta sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our mind can not grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me, it suffices to wonder about these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is.’ This perspective prevents any alienation since I know that all the creatures on this earth are a part of the larger universal life force that we share together. All beings on all levels want to thrive, we are all intertwined in the web of life. We are all together.

This brings me to the point of how I came to know and value that experience of oneness. Well, when I was younger and with many extended camping trips with friends, in the wilderness, I came to see not only the awesomeness and vastness of the universe but also my companionship, on this planet, with all other sentient beings including the forests, plants, etc.. Then, finally, after a long search to
clarify that intuition for me, first with awareness training and then the meditative and ethical Buddha’s Path and Satori, I came to clearly recognize the oneness of everything with the subsequent empathy and
compassion for all life of this world. This insight I cannot live well without.

So, I cannot live without the requirements of life which means
having shelter, and other necessities that give my physical needs
support and basic comfort to thrive. I cannot live happily and satisfied without my knowing my innate inter-connection with everything alive on this earth. I cannot live happily without simple expressions of my interests and activities. Finally, I cannot live well without actively expressing my feelings of connectedness and openness, on various levels, with other people and beings, measured by the available and possible reciprocity.

Overall, besides the requirements of the survival of my physical life, the foundation of my happiness and satisfaction and guiding principle is my spirituality of feeling the interconnectedness and interdependency of all life on this planet. This is always a satisfaction I know and honor through my positive interactions in living.
 Rodger R Ricketts Psy.D. 2021

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God is the grace that lives within all lives.

17 Feb

Language and Reality Construction: A Process of Abstraction

17 Feb

The first words that an infant learns are normally simple nouns with
repeatable syllables, such as ‘puppy’, ‘papa’, or ‘mama’. However, as
the number of concepts and sounds in a child’s repertoire increases,
language becomes progressively abstract. As we grow from infancy to
maturity and develop our capacity for language and critical
evaluation, we naturally categorize experiences into classes that
share certain characteristics, for example: Animal, Vegetable,
mineral. The game of 21 questions nicely illustrates this process. As
we gain experience, and this continues through all phases of our
active mental life, we both place experiences into already defined
categories, such as Animal: dog or cat, breed; and create new
categories where we don’t find the existing ones convenient. Each of
these classes and there is an exacting logical science for
classification, is a level of abstraction. As the class of objects grows,
new subclasses, more abstract formulations, occur. Carried far
enough and we have, as in the field of natural history, the story of life
on this planet and an array of scientific subjects, an encyclopedia of
species, and specializations that fill a catalog.

Scholar Korzybski identified a problem with abstractions in that the
further along the chain you go the greater the distance you get from
the original, first-order, experience. Reality loses its concreteness
and concreteness is the foundation of a sane, rational mind. One
major problem with this process is that we tend to think that the
word represents the thing itself. Ultimately you get into
philosophical debates about whether categories or forms have
independent existence and the mind-body split, a phenomenon
Korzybski concluded was one of the major pathologies of modern
life. Related to this pathology is identification.
The Buddha calls this process of mental construction papañca,
“elaboration,” “embellishment,” or “conceptual proliferation.” For the
Buddha, the elaborations block out the presentational immediacy of
phenomena; they let us know an object only “at a distance,” not as it
really is. But the elaborations do not only screen cognition; they also
serve as a basis for projections. The deluded mind, cloaked in
ignorance, projects its own internal constructs outwardly, ascribing
them to the object as if they really belonged to it.

As a result, what we know as the final object of cognition, what we
use as the basis for our values, plans, and actions, is a patchwork
product, not the original article. To be sure, the product is not wholly
an illusion, not sheer fantasy. It takes what is given in immediate
experience as its groundwork and raw material, but along with this, it
includes something else: the embellishments fabricated by the mind.
In the end, the original direct experience has been overrun by
ideation and the presented object appears only dimly through dense
layers of ideas and views, like the moon through a layer of clouds.
Language, then, enables us to conceive and express about objects
and relationships with no concrete physical referents. Examples
include hypothetical relationships, mathematical concepts, and
highly complex social constructions such as ‘liberty’ or ‘justice’. Once
constructed via language, these mental entities, rules, obligations
and expectancies govern human thought and action to a remarkable
degree. In short, language shapes not only communication but also
understanding. Our “worldview is inescapably shaped by” our
language.7 Language clearly draws our attention to certain aspects of
the world and influences our judgment about it.

Language gives a name to an object for purposes of easy
communication. When it has the sanction of others, it becomes a
convention. There would be no shared world that human beings
enjoy in common if there were no shared dimension of this
subliminal awareness. It is only through conceptual categorization
that we can objectify ourselves in contrast to others and in relation to
remembered pasts and anticipated futures. “It is a final irony,”
Deacon concludes, “that it is the virtual, not actual, reference that
[linguistic] symbols provide, which gives rise to this experience of self.
This most undeniably real experience is a virtual reality”
1. Most of this,
though, occurs without our awareness of it.

Our ‘shared virtual world,’ which arises in correlation with the
common cognitive structures and linguistic categories, is so deeply
engrained and so utterly habituated that it occurs almost
automatically and nearly unconsciously in every moment. Our
human worlds are collective and consensual, yet unconscious,
construct, and the concepts are invested with the necessary flexibility
and set on their tracks to proliferate. The uninstructed average
person succumbs to it; the disciple training on the Eightfold Path
resists it, and the Emancipated Ones transcend it. Concepts for them
are “merely worldly conventions in common use, which he made use of,
without clinging to them” (D. N. I. 202). The Buddha reminds us that
language is only based on conventional usage and that these worldly
usages are not to be taken with an absolute perspective.
Over the course of a lifetime, this shared-world of linguistic concepts
becomes deeply engrained in our thought and speech patterns.
Indeed, these concepts are unavoidable when we learn to speak and
live as members of a specific culture. Of these concepts, perhaps the
the most elaborate and deeply engrained psychological category is our
concept of the self, which evolves and is defined dependent on and in
relation to a complex web of other concepts. Since language provides
most of these concepts to us, one can easily agree that in large part
our sense of self reflects our cultural inheritance, the shared reality
that we tacitly agree upon with others.

Our concept of self-arises from a perceived division between
subject and object, which contains yet further divisions within itself.
On the one hand, there is the self as agent, the subjective I who
performs various actions at the moment. On the other hand, there is
another view of the self, the objectified ‘me’, as an enduring entity
with a set of personality traits that we evaluate and judge according
to cultural norms. This split becomes evident when people say things
such as “I am a very intelligent person”. Such an expression is only
coherent if we accept a split between our self in the moment, and a
deeper, more permanent, and reflective self. At this point it is
significant to remember that the human brain is a rather creative
storyteller that uses language to organize the world of conscious
experience, thereby efficiently making sense of the otherwise
overwhelming volume of perceptual information processed by the
nervous system. Building stories to describe the world of concepts
around us, it means at the same time defining ourselves, an idea
referred to the “narrative self”.9 Let’s put it more simply: as we gain
mastery of our native language, we begin to use words to tell stories,
and in these stories, we create what we call ourselves. This ongoing
and reflective personal narrative constructs the fiction of a time-bound, continuous self. The great drawback to the structure imposed
by language is that our words emphasize the separateness of things at the expense of perceiving the unity of experience.
Transcending the Dualism of Language
For the Buddha, the central snare of language is that we become
confined in the misconception of the identifications of the self which
are encouraged from the grammatical use of agent and object. Once
we establish the intentional ‘I’ as part of our lexicon, I-related thoughts
enter our inner dialogue of mental chatter. We select the ‘I’ thoughts
that build and maintain a story about ourselves that we are willing to
accept; we are all creative writers in the service of the self. As a result,
our reality is filtered through the selective and often self-serving vision
of our subjective I lens. Engrossed and compelled as we are in our
stories and our I, me, and mine, which are founded on dualism, we
cannot comprehend the actuality of existence, which in turn leads to

our state of suffering. We now turn to the question of how to
transcend this unhappy state.
In Buddha’s psychology, the term Nāma-rūpa or ‘name-form’ is used
to describe the interplay of psychological and physical processes,
which define a human being. Nāma(name) refers to the
psychological dimension and includes processes such as feeling,
attention, and perception. Rūpa(form) refers to physical substance,
and provides some consistency and recognizability to the individual,
giving shape to abstraction. However, in keeping with the doctrine of
Anattà (no-self), neither nāma nor rūpa has any meaning or
significance without the other: they are complementary or mutually
necessary. Rūpa can secure a basis in consciousness only in
collaboration with nāma, and vice versa. In other words, without an
observer, there is no object. We perceive the world in dualistic terms
because language helps make any unity experience elusive to our
cognitive apparatus. Enlightenment becomes possible when one
understands that the shared social world, which includes a self, is a
construction, and becomes open to directly experiencing the unity,
which underlies Nāma-rūpa and other apparent dualities.
Importantly, this unity cannot be fully grasped by exercising
one’s intellectual faculties alone because that inevitably brings
symbols and concepts back into the picture, which is self-defeating.
Instead, Buddhist meditative practice teaches disciples to clear their
mind of concepts in incremental stages, gradually dissolving the
illusory boundaries which confuse us.

Through a systematic meditative practice, we can free our
perceptions from all the restraints and burdens of the preenlightened mind and achieve Awakening – a non-verbal appreciation of the world as it continuously comes into being.
Adherents of the apophatic tradition hold that ‘God’ or (X) is beyond
the limits of what humans can understand, and that one should not
seek ‘God’ by means of intellectual understanding, but through a
direct experience.
So, Awakening consists in seeing and reflecting on things just
as they are, impartially, without exclusion, bias, attachment,
obstructions, or distortion. The grasper-grasped relationship ceases.
When this transcendence is achieved, the use of language and
symbols to describe a God or mystical being is easily seen through as
mere human language fascinations and abstractions. There is the
clear recognition of the inadequacy of human language to describe
God or the divine essence.
In the apophatic tradition, this fetish of using language and cognitive
constructions to create a dualistic reality is stepped back from. There
is no attachment to this as it is seen for what it is, a fantasy, or as
Deacon called it ‘virtual reality, perhaps at times a helpful one but
still a fantasy. Instead, as the Buddha taught in the seen shall only be
the seen, in the heard only the heard, in the sensed only the sensed,
in the cognized only the cognized.

Language and Reality Construction: A Process of Abstraction
Of the Book, God is No-thing. The Apophatic Assertion. Copyright Rodger
Ricketts Psy.D.,2020. All rights reserved. Protected by international copyright
conventions. No part of this chapter may be reproduced in any manner
whatsoever, or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, without the express
permission of the Author-publisher, except in case of brief quotations with due
acknowledgment. Published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Platform

Social Consequences of the Dualist/NonDualist perspective.

16 Feb


Usually the social and relationship consequences of the dualist
rationalist perspectives have not been explored in depth. In fact, there
is little exploration regarding the direct social consequences of the
adoption of either perspective after a focus on language, cognitive
modeling, spirituality, and Awakening.
Therefore, I want to use the excellent detailed analysis of the modern
Jewish philosopher and educator, Martin Buber shows that
whichever of the two perspectives (Non-Dualist/Dualist) one uses,
there are significant relational consequences. Here is a good place to
remind the reader that the Dualist and non-dualist perspectives are
not exclusive from one another.

Martin Buber’s (I and Thou) and (I and It)
Martin Buber is best known for his 1923 book, Ich und Du (I and
Thou), which distinguishes between “I-Thou”, in which the du or
thou, is intended to convey the most intimate and loving relation
possible. Thou means the you in a subject-to-subject relationship,
while “I-It” is a relationship of subject-to-object modes of existence.
‘I’ is not a solitary concept that stands alone unconnected; ‘I’ is
always in relation to ‘It’ or ‘Thou.’ This relation indicates the two
basic ways in which we relate to the world.
In the I-It relationship, the subjects are independent, isolated, and
separate from a world that consists of things. According to Buber,
most human beings solely adopt the I-It dualistic perspective over
the I-Thou. The ‘I-It’ relation is dominated by categories of dualism,
like ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’, and focuses on universal definitions, while
in the I- Thou relationship, human beings are aware of each other
through unity of Being.

Alienation
I-It is a relationship of separateness, detachment, and ultimately
alienation created by the dualistic subject/object dichotomy.
Identifications appear by comparing and setting themselves apart
from others. So long as you “have” yourself as an object, your
experience of self and others is as of a thing among things.
Once a subject, in the subject/object dyad, is analyzed as an object,
the subject becomes an object or an It. When both objects and
people are analyzed (subject-object relation) and judged by their
capacities, they become means to an end. The I is experienced as
isolated from the It, resulting in “alienation”.

To view the world as an “objective reality” separated from my
consciousness and universal Being is a form of alienation. The state
or experience of being alienated includes
isolation, estrangement, separation, and severance. Alienation is the
state of being as an outsider or the feeling of being isolated, as from
others or the original being. This experience is expressed poetically
by songwriters Simon and Garfunkel; ‘I am a rock, I am an island, I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty, that none may penetrate.’

Alienation is the process whereby people become foreign to the Being of
which they exist in. This is the dominant alienation in modern
society. As Derrida wrote, “Face-to-face relationships, communities of
direct caretaking, control, and ownership of one’s own labor power, all
these are giving way more and more to relations mediated by cell
phone, digicam, digital communications replacing the immediacy of
speech.”
He describes well the virtual world of I-It.
The principle of alienation is found in all the great religions namely,
the idea that people in the past have known the non-dualistic
Absolute and lived in serenity and harmony. But with the
development and rise of the ‘I’ analytical linguistic world, there was a
rupture that left people feeling like strangers to each other and in
the world. Also, there has often been the vision that at some time in
the future this alienation will be overcome, and humanity will again
live in harmony with itself and Nature.

The I–It is the mode of experience in which we engage the world as a
detached object. It is based upon the axioms of logical
empiricism/positivism: objectivity, determinism, abstractive
contemplation, and a utilitarian approach to the other. This is the
method of the rational investigation of truths and principles of
science and philosophy, through which we come to understand
things abstractly and intellectually, eventually for our egocentric use.
Buber claimed that modern Western culture believes that this
dualistic mode is the fundamental way for human beings to
participate with the world. Therefore, other perspectives, which are
vital to our authentic and awakened spiritual existence, are dismissed
and even vilified.
While I-It is relevant to everyday living, the obstacle is its

overwhelming predominance in modern technocratic society, with
its basis on the principles of logical empiricism/positivism:
objectivity, determinism, abstractive contemplation. It is a
mechanistic model of the universe as a machine, and the rational
and empirical is operational in all areas of study with the grand

vision of Humans gaining mastery over everything. In the end, however, it creates a state or experience of being alienated.
SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
In social relationships, the alienated I-It individual is primarily
egotistic and selfish and finds it problematic to empathize and put
oneself in another’s place. They find it wearisome to be accessible
and receptive because they are eremitic and solitarily orientated.
They fear experiencing disappointments and disapprove of
acquiescing.
Yet, every success cannot satisfy their craving for indisputable
success. They rigidly think in or act in an egotistical manner of
accepting only what pleases them and tenaciously maintain their
likes and dislikes. Their personality stagnates by not maturing and
from not expressing their own creative capacities. Therefore,
encapsulated, they never come to know the opportunity and
satisfaction of interconnections and empathy with the world. The rigidity
of the ego ‘shell’ is one of the afflictions of the solitary ‘I’, and
integration with the inner refuge of peace, serenity, and nothingness
is absent.
The self, therefore, remains preoccupied with maintaining, by means
of the organization of rigid structures or schemas, its secure position
in the historical world. Through their filtering ‘glasses’, a person
believes they perceive the world ‘the way it really is’, rationally and
logically. If success is created, the egotistical person attributes it
only to their own efforts, which only strengthens and heightens the
the wall separating them from the realization of their interconnectedness
with all
.
The imagined self, preoccupied with establishing and classifying facts,
constantly acts to satisfy its worldly cravings. With these fixed points
of view, the world is clearly divided into a dualism of selfworld/otherworld, subject/object, etc. While a person needs to be
skillful to manage the world well, the predominance of the self-centered perspective, with its claims of supremacy, distorts not only
a person’s personal and social status but any possible spiritual
connection with existence, in which there is an apperception of
oneness and inter-being to be realized with experience, insight and
practice.
The egotistic life constantly seeks to thrill itself in the available ways
of the sensual materialistic life. The intensity of their cravings varies,
but the feedback loop is continuous and based on the subject/object
duality. This exaggerated ignorance based on dualism creates
foolishness and unhappiness. At the root of why many people seek relief
in many ways is a clear example of spiritual sickness, and hence
suffering, i.e. alienation from life. Egocentric ignorance creates
suffering for self and others.
Modern Society
Buber believed that with modern technological society increasingly
supporting the I-It dogma, the loving relationship between
individuals and nature, between other sentient beings,
understanding their identity and the divine in an apophatic sense has
become increasingly more obscure and incomprehensible. He wanted
to revive the link between the individual with the deepest levels of
existence. To do that, he considered it necessary to unveil the
impediments that hamper a person’s capacity to see and understand
the No- thingness.
As a result of the modern trend, it continues to become more
difficult to develop an appreciation of an immanent, universal being.
The problem is rooted in the supposition of the primacy of the
dualistic subject-object relation. Buber believed that there had been
a dramatic shift from relation to separation, creating a growing crisis
of existence in ‘modern’ society. He believed that the relationship
between individuals and people and creation continues to become
increasingly that of I-It.
The doctrine of Inherent Self

Even the study of modern Western philosophy and psychology yields
mostly the narrow point of view of the World of It, which easily
exacerbates the difficulty of a person achieving a transcendent
understanding of the World of Being. These disciplines mostly teach
the doctrine of self, or ‘I’, denoting an awareness of a firmly held
identity which includes three factors. First, there is stability and
permanence of the self throughout all life changes. Second, one’s ‘I’
or self is unique. Third, there is a clear separation of the subject from
the object, or ‘other’. Therefore, in the consciousness of the normal
person who firmly believes in the cultural affirmation of their ‘I’,
there is a splitting off from the primal unity of life which lies beyond
the pairs and duality of opposites.
Once a person firmly believes that I am ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘mine’, their life
is experienced through the comparisons of opposites: subject and
object, me and other, mind and body, etc. Every effort to categorize
and rationalize the reality of the human condition drives a person
first to one extreme and then to the other. Even more, they believe in
the deep split between the static ‘I’, entrenched within the habitual
cognitive patterns, and everything else.
In the techno-scientific cultures, even though the normal flow of
normal daily life and experience seems to confirm this, there is the
the faulty view of the reality of entities that exist independently from the
observers.
Furthermore, the use of simple operational agreements of daily life
for successful predictions of the consequences of most of our actions
with objects also contributes to supporting this implicit view. Therefore,
without being instructed beyond this perspective of the dualistic,
inherent, and craving I, it is almost impossible in the modern world
to understand how to achieve Awakening of Emptiness. I wrote
about this underlying fallacy in the previous chapter Why We Can’t
Know.
OVERCOMING ALIENATION
As all Awakened teachers have known, ‘Without rationality,’ humans
cannot live. But the person who lives with ‘It’ alone is not a spiritual
and complete person. Much of the alienation, greed, anger, and
heedlessness of modern living is the result of our living only
heedlessly in the I-It world. As is attributed to Albert Einstein, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has
forgotten the gift.”
The overcoming of alienation occurs as awareness and consciousness

increases, by recognizing that the external world is not separate from
the interiority of consciousness and that, as philosopher Hegel
expressed it, the “I is the We, and the We the I.” ‘I’ can then be said to
recover from alienation, which characterizes my I-IT everyday
engagement in the world, when a person regains their pure
subjectivity. This book expresses that conviction for the possibility of
a final state of connection, friendliness, and unity.
The immanence of the divine is always present in one’s own being,
and it is the possibility to learn how to unveil the Absolute, and live
life through that purified conscience. Through the inner refuge and
the experience of emptiness, there is an opportunity for knowing the
equanimity and serene awareness within. By becoming accessible
and empathic, one opens to the mysterious sense of something
beyond the I and the explicit world and is sensitive to the hints of the
spiritual experience of agape, sublimity, and transcendence which
constantly urges transformation and development. Buber, reflecting
the mystic’s insight, moved into a position undercutting the subject-object dichotomy. I-Thou (You) involves understanding how we all are interconnected, a part of a whole. The “I” is not experienced or
sensed as singular or separate; it is the “I” with the All of Being. The
next chapter will explore more in-depth Buber’s I-Thou perspective.

Of the Book, God is No-thing. The Apophatic Assertion. Copyright Rodger Ricketts Psy.D.,2020. All rights
reserved. Protected by international copyright conventions. No part of this chapter may be
reproduced in any manner whatsoever, or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted,
without the expressed permission of the Author-publisher, except in case of brief quotations with
due acknowledgment. Published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

The Universality of the Mystical Experience

16 Feb

Over the centuries and throughout many cultures, ordinary people as
well as monks and mystics, have reported a personal experience that
transformed their lives and perspective on life and existence. While
interpretations of this experience have differed, researcher Walter
Stace outlined important common characteristics which distinguish
them from any other kind of experience. These include:
*The Unitary Consciousness; the One; pure consciousness.
*All life is interconnected and the One is in all things.
*Nonspatiality, non-temporality.
*Sense of objectivity or reality.
*Peace, bliss, serenity, rapture.
*Feeling of the sacred or mysterious.
*To be transcendent, immanent, indescribable, ineffable.
*No judgmental quality. “Insight into depths of truth
unplumbed by the discursive intellect.”
*Transiency. Most transcendent experiences have a short
occurrence, but their effect persists.
While the discernment of this Reality is subjective, it is not
exclusively personal as the experience has been shared often
throughout different epochs and localities.
Although a supramundane experience can occur spontaneously, it
is usually discerned profoundly after living virtuously and immersion
in deep states of meditation. In that consummate state of awareness,
the illusory boundaries of the separate self-dissolve and there is no
longer any cognitive distinction between subject and object, and
time and space disappear. To paraphrase psychologist William James:
This overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and
the Absolute … we become aware of our oneness, however, (labeling it
as) “union with God” is only one possible interpretation of it, which
should not, therefore, be given as its definition. The same experience can
be interpreted non theistically as in Buddhism…. All this can be
experienced and felt without any creed at all. … The mystic in any
culture usually interprets his experience in terms of the religion in
which he has been reared. But if he is sufficiently sophisticated, he can
throw off that religious creed and still retain his mystical experience.’
This discernment can be experienced without any ideology at all and
it is still understood as sacred and spiritual.

The Apophatic theology proposes that instead of aiming for worldly
glory, wealth, or power, it is far more worthwhile that we become
fulfilled with our own existence and strive for virtue, goodness, and a
quiet mind to eventually gain access to the essence of Being or ‘God’.
In fact, as Angelus Silesius wrote, ‘God’ is a pure No-thing; concealed in
now and here; the less you reach for ‘Him’, the more ‘He’ will appear.

The All is the divine immanence that embraces all.

The Apophatic and Cataphatic Relationship
‘The (Emptiness)relation between the individual and ‘God’ is a universal
relation which is the foundation for all other relations.’
said Martin Buber
Reflecting Apophatic theology. Jiddu Krishnamurti, an
Indian
philosopher, and teacher taught that the Middle Way offers healing
from the dualistic mechanical perspective of science and technology
by reuniting the divide between subject and object, and emotions
and rationality – making our personal world whole again.
A core of Krishnamurti’s teaching is contained in the statement:
“Truth is a pathless land”. For Krishnamurti, humans cannot realize
the Truth through any organization or creed, through any dogma,
priest or ritual, nor through any philosophical knowledge or
psychological technique. It must be found through the
understanding of the contents of one’s own mind, through
observation, instead of through endless intellectual analysis or
introspective dissection.
The religious, political, and personal descriptive manifestations of
symbols, ideas, beliefs that dominate our dualistic thinking,
relationships, and daily life, create our alienation for they divide us
from our true nature, each other, and nature. Instead, Awakening to
Nothingness by showing the interconnectedness and inherent
emptiness of all reunites us with our true nature and each other.
Once a practitioner has succeeded in experiencing, thereby
understanding, that the Apophatic relation is based on the pure
experience, all their encounters are free of a cataphatic
categorization and separateness. It is a relation not driven by
a dualism using categories of “same” and “different” which promotes
experiences of a detached object from subject, fixed in space and
time. To perceive from the dualistic, rational perspective makes the
world classified, predictable, manipulable, and an alienated
object. The I is detached or separated from the other. The world is
viewed as consisting of categories and rationally knowable objects.
While in a pragmatic way this positive relationship with the world is
necessary, to only live with this perspective is living in a world of
ignorance and alienation, ending in a refusal to affirm life. Every
natural impulse is viewed as bad or evil.
In this dualistic-based relationship, Interaction with people is mostly
guided by a person’s social role. The conversations are mainly
superficial and impersonal. A person stays within their social roles
and keeps their private selves veiled. Communication is with less
depth than with those we love most. Casual friends, service
providers, work associates, and interactions with distant family
members typically involve this type of communication.
Differently, the Apophatic relation participates as the dynamic, living
process. In the Empty, non-dualistic relation there is no split self, or
simultaneous experience and self-reflection. It is not used to gain or
have an object or goal, but a relationship involving the whole unified
being of all. No aim, no craving, and no attachment are possible. There
is not a thing among things.
This Apophatic relationship cannot be explained; it simply is. This
relation is based on mutuality, openness, directness, and being in the
present. It reveals the mystery that underlies all forms. By
understanding that mystery, as manifest through all things, existence
becomes a divine picture, and each sentient being is expressed
through that transcendent mystery. Those who understand that
always greet each other with the awareness of the divine presence in
each other. It is a recognition that the divine is within all. We
interact with the world in its whole being which brings a deep
richness and empathy to life
.

Of the Book, God is No-thing. The Apophatic Assertion. Copyright Rodger Ricketts Psy.D.,2020. All rights
reserved. Protected by international copyright conventions. No part of this chapter may be
reproduced in any manner whatsoever, or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted,
without the expressed permission of the Author-publisher, except in case of brief quotations with
due acknowledgment. Published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Awareness of our oneness

15 Feb

Although a supramundane experience can occur spontaneously, it is usually discerned profoundly after living virtuously and immersion in deep states of meditation. In that consummate state of awareness, the illusory boundaries of the separate self-dissolve and there is no longer any cognitive distinction between subject and object, and time and space disappear. To paraphrase psychologist William James: ‘This overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and the Absolute … we become aware of our oneness, however, (labeling it as) “union with God” is only one possible interpretation of it, which should not, therefore, be given as its definition. The same experience can be interpreted non theistically as in Buddhism…. All this can be experienced and felt without any creed at all. … The mystic in any culture usually interprets his experience in terms of the religion in which he has been reared. But if he is sufficiently sophisticated, he can throw off that religious creed and still retain his mystical experience.’ This discernment can be experienced without any ideology at all and it is still understood as divine and spiritual.

Visualizza immagine di origine

Creating Heaven on Earth.

15 Feb

Written and copyright claimed by Rodger R Ricketts, Psy.D. July, 2019
‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and
getting the same result, but expecting a Different One.’
Albert Einstein

The Creators of our own destiny
Indeed, the path of human existence is solely in the hands of
humans. This is a path that requires training
, discipline, a giving
up of selfishness, immaturity and unethical living to achieve a human
existence resulting in well-being, happiness, compassion and
wisdom. As the expression is: “If we have not found the heaven within,
we have not found the heaven without.” While this project of the
construction of peaceful coexistence, dignity, equality and prosperity
for all sentient beings at first glance might seem if not impossible,
very difficult, it is possible.
This needed profound change in our fundamental model of
understanding correctly how reality is, while paradoxically not new,
it finally needs its rightful place of importance and actuality in
human’s operational definitions of sanity and wisdom. Therefore,
humankind must shift from the predominate dogma of dualism
which creates most of our problems, to a non-dualism which is not
only different, but also better. Non-dualism is a radically different
way of understanding and organizing
personal beliefs, complex
systems and organization policies, by transcending dualistic thinking
and organization.
Both the principles of life-based on Transcendental Idealism and a
course based in Transcendent Psychology require recognizing a very
different even radical approaches how to live our lives as successful and
prosperous human beings. But, as history has continually shown us
and human behavior continues even today to destroy, murder,
annihilate and create massive suffering not only for all sentient
beings but also the destruction includes the earth – transformation
from ignorance is absolutely necessary. The course is clear and the
guidelines are well situated and proven. What is needed as in any
important human endeavor is not only the desire, which in this case,
humans want peace, prosperity, and happiness, but also the correct
effort and knowledge for success.

The New Possibility
The simile which expresses well what will it take to reach this new
phase of harmonious human existence on earth is that of the
butterfly. To actualize its beauty and freedom it must emerge from
the darkness of a cocoon. However, through the natural process of
giving birth to itself, with the correct effort and intention, the
butterfly larvae slowly emerge from the cocoon into the mature and
capable butterfly. Similarly, following the path away from immature
greed, anger, and ignorance into the light of the day and out of
darkness is the basic thing humans must do in order to reach a level of
stability and peace. Ultimately, the way we understand and think
about existence, a paradigm shift must be advanced which will
change our human character and end further suffering.
This opportunity of living in a world without the horrendous
suffering and destruction of war and conflict created through
ignorance has long been recognized by visionaries as a possibility
since it is solely in the hands of human beings to do this. It is only
through taking responsibility for our actions, thoughts and emotions
and living in a way that will we create our own peace. We also see
that by not including others in this vision, we are still living in the
cocoon, in ignorance, selfishness, and in anger which is based on our
old dualist mindset rooted in separation and alienation.
The lesson is that our deep happiness depends on our
mental/emotional state as well as living conditions. And in both
cases, we have the possibility of creating positive, realistic and
pragmatic mental states which include the living conditions that
promote, foster and sustain our well-being. This project depends on
the way we understand and implement it. Our suffering is created by
ourselves; therefore, the ending of our suffering is also possible by
ourselves together.

Looking to each other to remove the ignorance and hindrances to
our vision of life on earth without the suffering created through
wars, greed, hatred, ignorance, and injustice are a must. As Wells
wrote during WWI: ‘This monstrous conflict in Europe, the
slaughtering, the famine, the confusion, the panic and hatred, and
lying pride, it is all of it really only in the darkness of the mind. At the
coming of understanding, it will vanish as dreams vanish at
awakening. But never will it vanish until understanding has come.’ For
the mind enmeshed in ignorance, greed, and anger feeds on itself
and, therefore, has difficulty letting go and rising above the quagmire
in which it remains.
This blindness needs an empathetic and compassionate approach to
assist in showing how it is possible to live in a world without the pain
and distrust and suffering created through ignorance. And the
path can be clear and successful without much difficulty. What is
difficult is allowing oneself to give up the hatred, the anger, the
greed, the points of view of egoism and selfishness – like those of a
child. In the book, Lost Horizon, there is this passage: ‘Look at the
world today. Is there anything more pitiful? What madness there is!
What blindness! A scurrying mass of bewildered humanity crashing
headlong against each other. The time must come when brutality and
the lust for power will perish by their own sword. When that day comes,
the world must begin to look for a new life.’ The new paradigm is away
from that, and instead, the whole movement is a development of
maturity of perspective and therefore action with wisdom about the
way we understand and think about existence. Therefore incorrect
ideas and beliefs have to be renounced, which will change our
human character and end further suffering.

For as the Buddha taught and is now clear through scientific
investigation, humans and the environment are deeply enmeshed
and co-dependent on each other. This is one world and every action
by all living and non-living forces interact with and alter the previous
reality- some more than others. Therefore, once we are inspired and
apply the truths that the Buddha discovered and now are explicated
in more modern terminology and description, there is a real
possibility for a heaven on earth without the distraction of seeking
supernatural intervention. The heaven on Earth can briefly be
described as a world of humans acting through wisdom and empathy
and compassion
,

Everything is inter-being, interconnected and all living Beings are a Family of the Universe or divine

15 Feb

Philosopher, educator and writer, Martin Buber wrote, “Now from my own unforgettable experience I know well that there is a state in which the bonds of the personal nature of life seem to have fallen away from us and we experience an undivided unity…. I can elicit from those experiences only that in them I reached an undifferentiable unity of myself without form or content. I may call this an original pre-biographical unity and suppose that it is hidden unchanged beneath all biographical change, all development and complication of the soul.’

When that happens, we understand and empathically feel that everything is inter-being, interconnected and all living Beings are a Family of the Universe or divine. The realm of pure experience is not an ontological category, but the ordinary world of phenomena experienced directly, with no intervening conceptualization.

May be an image of 1 person, beard and text

The Biological Origin of “Self”

14 Feb

 Everything should be as simple as it can be but not simpler!” ~ Albert Einstein

 In my book, The Buddha’s Teachings: Seeing Without Illusion, I explore the Buddha’s concept of Anatta, or no-self. I show that the Buddha described the concept of self as a relative, linguistic, social construct dependent on culture and time. Experiencing this insight of ‘no-self’ helps us to comprehend and dissolve away the attachment and clinging to self-identification that causes suffering until ultimately all traces of self-identification are gone and all that’s left is freedom.  However, the nature of self is one of the most enduring assumptions of humankind, and if asked how one knows they have a self, often the reply is, “I can make decisions, I can choose; therefore, I know there is an ‘I’ who is the chooser behind my choices.” This blog explores the question, “How real is the conscious self as the cognitive executive in charge?”

 The newest research in neuroscience and biology indicates that besides some significant cognitive embellishments on the original phenomena, selectivity and choice is a function based on an organism’s biological and evolutionary need to minimize and sort out all possible “blooming, buzzing confusion” (William James) that would occur without the body’s filtering system. In his book, Quantum Reality, Physicist Wolfram Schommers quotes physician Hoimar von Ditfurth, who stated: “No doubt, the rule ‘As little outside world as possible’, only as much as is absolutely necessary is apparent in evolution. It is valid for all descendants of the primeval cell and therefore for ourselves. Without a doubt, the horizon of the properties of the tangible environment has been extended more and more in the course of time. But in principle, only those qualities of the outside world are accessible to our perception apparatus which, in the meantime, we need as living organisms in our stage of development. Also, our brain has evolved not as an organ to understand the world but an organ to survive.”

 In fact, every second, we are inundated with information from the many stimuli around and in us. In order to keep the brain from becoming overwhelmed by the steady stream of data competing for attention, brain cells work together to sort and prioritize information. Our sense organs and our brain operate as an intricate kind of filter that limits and directs the mind’s focus, so that under normal conditions, attention is concentrated on just those objects or situations or sensations that are of importance to the organism. This ability to pay attention to relevant information while ignoring distractions is a core brain function.

 Without the ability to focus and filter out “noise” we could not effectively function. As reported in Science Digest, in a study appearing in the journal Nature, researchers from Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine and the University of California Davis studied communications between synaptically connected neurons under conditions where subjects shifted their attention toward or away from visual stimuli that activated the recorded neurons. The results point to a novel mechanism by which attention shapes perception by selectively altering presynaptic weights to highlight sensory features among all the noisy sensory input. “While our findings are consistent with other reported changes in neuronal firing rates with attention, they go far beyond such descriptions, revealing never-before tested mechanisms at the synaptic level,” said study co-author Farran Briggs Ph.D., assistant professor of Physiology and Neurobiology at the Geisel School of Medicine. “Many processes in the brain occur automatically and without the involvement of our consciousness. This prevents our mind from being overloaded by simple routine tasks. But when it comes to decisions, we tend to assume they are made by our conscious mind. This is questioned by our current findings.” The researchers found that it was possible to predict from brain signals which options participants would take up to seven seconds before they consciously made their decision. The fact that decisions could be predicted so long before they were made goes against our usual intuitive sense that we always make our decisions with conscious deliberation, and that this deliberation process is a foundation of our self.

 How does our brain achieve this ability to choose and focus attention? The answer is believed to be connected with what is called “efficient selection”, which is likened to a filter; routing important sensory information to higher-order perceptual areas of the brain while suppressing disruptions from irrelevant information. Reporting their research in Neuron, Justin Gardner and colleagues at the RIKEN BSI, found that sensory signals were efficiently selected. They said that stimuli that are particularly disruptive to our ability to focus and that evoke high neural activity, are preferentially passed on to perceptual areas of the brain because stimuli with high contrast that evoke large sensory responses, such as flashing lights or loud noises, can easily disrupt our ability to focus. 

  Expanding on the description of the neurobiological-cognitive system in his paper, The self: social construct or neurobiological system?, Philipp Rau wrote:‘We can rightfully reject the social theory of selfhood with its claim that the self is only a social post-lingual emergent. Rather, the self is at root a neurobiological-cognitive system that, long before socialization, allows the individual to be conscious of itself in the world. But having rejected a social account of how the self emerges does not compel us to deny that the self, once emerged, can be shaped by sociocultural factors. The processes contributing to the self are distributed across a number of neuroanatomical structures. It is only their synchronous neural activity that generates a self.  The core self of the neuro-cognitive theory only arises when the organism becomes conscious of itself interacting with the world. Thus, the self emerges precisely when the internal-external boundary is straddled. The phenomenal content of the neuro-cognitive self, however, corresponds to what Cartesian intuition would have us conceive of as an ontologically independent self. There is no such self-independent of the brain and body, of course, but the self-representational processes described by the neuro-cognitive theory, in creating a conscious self-model, produce in us the illusion that there might be (cf. Metzinger, 2003, chs. 1, 6, 8).

 What Descartes in his Meditations believed to have isolated as “a res cogitans” (a thinking thing), is the content of the core self, the product of a neurobiologically driven cognitive system.’

Biochemist Mae-Wan Ho goes one step further by saying that this system is a function not only of the brain, but of how the organism functions as a coherent whole; what she calls “the quantum coherence of the organism”. In an article on the ISIS website titled, Quantum Coherence and Conscious Experience, she wrote, “I propose that quantum coherence is the basis of living organization and can also account for key features of conscious experience – the ‘unity of intentionality’, our inner identity of the singular ‘I’, the simultaneous binding and segmentation of features in the perceptive act, the distributed, holographic nature of memory, and the distinctive quality of each experienced occasion.”

In her book, The Rainbow and the Worm, she explains that:“The liquid crystalline water matrix pervades the entire organism from the extracellular connective tissues to the interior of every single cell, and is the carrier of electric and electromagnetic signals. Special membrane proteins have water-filled channels that cross the cell membrane, acting as ‘proton wires’ to transport protons in and out of the cell. This is a special instance of the proton jump conduction that’s much faster than ordinary electric currents through wires, and it could be happening all over the body. The same liquid crystalline matrix transmits the heart’s large pulsating electromagnetic field throughout the body, including the brain, which paces and intercommunicates with the myriad local rhythms. Within the cell, it transmits the much higher frequency electromagnetic waves emitted by molecules that depend on specific frequencies to recognize one another and coordinate their actions even at a distance. So we see that the body is a quantum coherent organism which creates and recreate herself from moment to moment.”

 Mae -Wan Ho likes to call this process “Quantum jazz”, which is the music of the organism dancing life into being. She goes on to write that: “Quantum jazz is played out by the whole organism, in every nerve and sinew, every muscle, every single cell, molecule, atom, and elementary particle, a light and sound display that spans seventy octaves in all the colors of the rainbow. There is no conductor or choreographer. Quantum jazz is written while it is being performed; each gesture, each phrase is new, shaped by what has gone before, though not quite. The organism never ceases to experience her environment, taking it in (entangling it) for future reference, modifying her liquid crystalline matrix and neural circuits, recoding and rewriting her genes. Quantum coherence is the ‘I’ in everyone that gives unity to conscious experience.”

 As we can see from these examples of a new understanding about the significance of biological regulation and coherence of the organism, the previously intuitive construct of the “Cartesian Theater” in the brain, wherein the self sits as a spectator on the world and self acts as the CEO executive of all decision making, is exposed as an illusion. Clearly, the biologically based core functions of organization, selectivity, and coherence are necessary for organism survival. The abstracted cognitive embellishments serve as relative, convenient designations or identifications, which constructs a virtual presence of the ‘self’ illusion, and is based in ignorance, and through steadfast identification creates craving and suffering. Only now are we able to empirically support the Buddha’s insights of ‘anatta or no-self’ which he gained through the introspective practice of bhavana, or meditation.

Copyright Rodger R Ricketts, Psy.D. 2021