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A bit of Philosophy

31 Oct

A bit of philosophy.

I had this wonderful book I originally bought when I was living in Japan – it is called Poems of The Enlightened Heart. I carried it with me everywhere but managed to lose it somewhere in Nepal. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology (even in India…) I was able to replace it via a 7 week postal service.
I am still amazed at how geniusful it is –  it is a compilation of enlightened or sacred writings from every time period, religion and philosophical school you can imagine. Basically it shows that throughout history people who have realized the truth have found the same thing. Irrelevant of time period or country the truth never changes. It transcends names given to it by religions or philosophers or scientists. It is what it is, irrelevant of definition. Its a comforting thought. So here are a couple:“We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows”  (Uknown Author)
(from: Upanishads)

Self is everywhere, shining forth from all beings,
vaster than the vast, subtler than the most subtle,
unreachable yet nearer than breath, than heartbeat.
Eye cannot see it, ear cannot hear it, nor tongue
utter it; only in deep absorption can the mind,
grown pure and silent, merge with the formless truth.
As soon as you find it, you are free; you have found yourself;
you have solved the great riddle; your heart forever is at peace.
Whole, you enter the whole. Your personal self
returns to its radiant, intimate, deathless source.

when we understand, we are at the centre of the  circle, and there we sit while Yes and No chase each other around the circumference”  Chuang-Tzu

 My personal favourite…..

(rumi 1207-1273)

I have lived on the lip
Of insanity; wanting to know reasons;
Knocking on a door. It opens.
I have been knocking from the inside

Genetic Memory & Reincarnation, The Spirit, The Soul and The mind. Part 3: Reincarnation

30 Oct

Read Part 1: The Prologue
Read Part 2: Genetic Memory

Reincarnation:

Reincarnation features as a belief system in many religions and philosophies from Socrates and Plato to the more well known eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Less well know is that it is also a belief of certain sects of Judaism (Kabalah), Islam (Ghulat) and was a mainstream part of Christianity (Cathaari) until the 5th century. (I’m not here to debate those statements today – maybe that is for another blog!).

It is also a belief within many indigenous populations, the aborigines, many of the native American tribes and many of the polynesian tribes including (historically), the Maori.

So what is reincarnation? It is probably easier to  stick to the most well know versions here: the Hindu and Buddhist views.

These two views are almost identical except for one major wording, the duality of which has always made me laugh. Hindu’s believe in everythingness and Buddhists believe in nothingness. The two closest doctrines use polar opposite language… and nature is in balance! (if you haven’t seen, “I heart Huckabees” you go watch it now). I will return to this later…

Reincarnation, in simple terms,  is the belief that the soul or the consciousness carries on after death and eventually inhabits or forms another body on earth (this could be human, animal, plant, earth or the spirit realm*). The birth we end up in is based upon our karma – or the consequences of our actions / thoughts in our current and previous life/lives, not by someone judging what we have done is right or wrong and punishing us, but by the sheer fact that our nature becomes defined by our repetitive actions and thoughts and the way we view ourselves.

In these views the world we live in is called Samsara, the material world, the cycle of ignorance and suffering. It is illusory, perpetuated by the karma of all the beings in it (ie if there were no actions of thought, body or mind and therefore no consequences, the world would cease to exist).

Our pursuit of this material world leads to our continual suffering and to the ignorance of our true-self/supreme soul/God/ primordial mind, which in turn leads us to wrong perception (seeing things “not how they really are”) and to be reborn back into Samsara / worldly ignorance.

The goal of these religions is the liberation of the soul/mind from constantly having to endure the suffering of being reborn back into samsara / the world of ignorance. It attains this by finding/connecting with the true-self/Supreme Souls/God/Primordial mind/Source, this is learned through controlling the mind through righting thinking, right- actions, right-intent and meditation leading to the cessation of worldly longings and aversions. Meditation and mastery over the mind, to stop it wandering into worldly distraction, is key.

*note – the spirit realm is considered as ignorant and misguided as the human realm, the spirit realm is just another type of birth. It is still not the whole truth or the Source. To commune with the spirits might be possible but in Yogic, Buddhist and Hindu traditions it is advised against. It is yet another distraction from the correct path.

Additionally getting attached to the idea that you have otherworldly powers will only serve to strengthen the ego. There maybe good spirits who know more than you, but they also are still searching for the Truth themselves… Equally there are bad spirits who will deliberately mislead or maliciously taunt you.

How, what, where and who you are reincarnated as depends on your karma (actions) and your thought patterns. If you are heavily obsessing over one idea at death or throughout your life, it will impact your rebirth as you have something to learn.

Excerpt from Maori Poem

From body to body your spirit speeds on
It seeks a new form when the old one has gone
and the form that it finds is the fabric you wrought
On the loom of the Mind from the fibre of Thought.
As dew is drawn upwards, in rain to descend
Your thoughts drift away and in Destiny blend.
You cannot escape them, for petty or great,
Or evil or noble, they fashion your Fate.

Somewhere on some planet, sometime and somehow
Your life will reflect your thoughts of your Now.
You are your own Devil, you are your own God
You fashioned the paths your footsteps have trod.
And no one can save you from Error or Sin
Until you have hark’d to the Spirit within.

http://www.indianweekender.co.nz/Pages/ArticleDetails/25/2466/In-focus/A-little-known-Maori-philosophy

Hence to have no thoughts at death and to be able to keep the mind at peace without fear or aversion is how one should aim to die. Meditation, in many ways, is preparing for the moment of death.

Karma

Karma simply means “action” wherein “consequence” is implicit, nothing more profound than that. However, when you examine it closely you will see how deeply profound and far-reaching actions and consequences are. Every action you take has an effect, every thought you have and every word you speak, every perception, longing and aversion you have shapes not only your world but the world around you and directly impacts people that come into contact with you.

If you are feeling vulnerable, and you react in a self-defensive manner to someone whose intent may have been pure, you may undo their good feeling and in turn make them insecure/angry, changing how they themselves interact with the next person…. and so on and so forth.

A problem many people have with reincarnation is the suggestion that, if someone is born disabled or a terrible thing happens to a person, that reincarnation would say that it is punishment for some previous sin in another life – as if they deserve it.

I don’t see it this way, I think the interpretation has been misunderstood down the ages. At its heart, the goal of reincarnation is the liberation and freedom of the soul from the pain and suffering of constantly being reborn, that it attains enlightenment and the cessation of attraction and aversion to worldly things. If a person has a great attachment to their good looks in one life and are very prideful or egotistical – perhaps they will be born ugly in the next or with bodily impairment in the next.

This is not a punishment, it is a gift, an opportunity. Over that life, they will (hopefully) learn to let go of caring about shallow concepts such as outer appearance and may find humble happiness in genuinely connecting with people. One layer of ego is destroyed and that person is one step closer to freedom. The rebirth is a gift of kindness to try to help the person learn and move along the correct path. This is how I view any bad things that befall me, and with this view I’ve been able to turn bad experiences into a positive, meaningful experiences. In fact, if you did not believe in this concept, then explaining things such as being born with awful afflictions is far harder – as it suggests that this person has never, nor will ever know any other worldly existence except the pain of his current one. Where is the love, compassion or reason in that?

Liberation/Enlightenemnt and The difference between Hindu and Buddhist beliefs

Liberation (moksha in Hinduism) or Enlightenment (Nirvana) in Buddhism means that you have let go of all worldly desires, longings and aversions in the truest sense. Your mind is at peace and full of compassion, you have no thoughts of being this or being that, your only function is to help other beings where there is need. And upon dying, with the mind state stable like this and not becoming fearful of death or grasping at the failing life – you will simply blend with That. You will not be reborn into the material world, you will be of the Source/ with God. There would be no distinctions of “you”. There would be no time and space. The rest who knows.. im not enlightened but you get the picture!

However the details of these two religions, although seemingly similar on the outside, are polar opposite in wording. Their views on reincarnation are also differing:

Hindus believe that when we die and are reborn, we are the same piece of soul that we were before. The Buddhists would say that there is no conscious connection in that way, but that the rebirth is like a stack of blocks – each its own discrete entity and yet dependent on the one beneath it for its position, but they have no commonality beyond that.

Think of it as a string of pearls with each life being a pearl – the Hindus would say that the soul is the string through the beads. The Buddhists  that there is no string, only the beads. The buddhists view all things as illusory or empty of an independent existence, (as all things are dependent upon a multitude of other things to exist)nthey call this anatma (no self).– this is where the notion of “nothingness” comes from. But, to me, that doesn’t mean the  *root source* of these things has to be empty.

(things get a bit technical and wordy here I’m afraid)

In hinduism, they believe everything is one, “I am that” is the simple phrase. We and everything are the same and connected. They use the word “atma” self or personal soul. They would say we need to merge atma (self or personal soul) with the supreme pure soul (purusha) which is and is in everything. This is the main sticking point, buddhists would argue vehemently (or maybe very calmly in fact) that “atma” does not exist there is “anatma” (no self / personal soul).

This “anatma” concept is drawn from the fact that as every entity is interdependent and connected to everything else in the world karmically, nothing is distinct and therefore because nothing can exist without everything else – it is inherently void of its own distinct nature or self/soul (atma).

However, they also acknowledge that the reason delusional beings continue to be reborn in samsara is because they have the delusion of self as a distinct entity. Therefore they acknowledge that the *concept* of atma as a delusional state.

The problem with Hinduism is the interpretation of atma as a soul – distinct from a supreme soul/god/the source. That it is something that needs to be unified with the supreme soul, rather than that everything already is the supreme soul.

My thoughts:

In fact, in my opinion, they are both correct. “Atma” or self that we see in the world, is just a construct we have made with a wandering mind, its not really substantial at all – and yet it *functions*in the real world. But look beyond that, deeply through mediation and find the true, calmly abiding mind and you know that that “atma – self” is no more than a mere illusion – you find the true state of mind which connects you to the Source/Truth.

Therefore atma doesnt “truly” exist in the sense of the spiritual Truth, but it does exist in the construct of world. Like wise “anatma” (no self) is true in the sense that “atma”  is a construct of the world and therefore there is really no distinct self, so buddhists are equally right to argue there is anatma “no self” as atma “self” is a false construct. But clearly we still perceive it to exist.

Do you feel like we are going round in circles here.. i certainly do writing this! But circles are clearly topical.

Essentially, like everything else, I believe Hinduism and Buddhism are saying exactly the same thing, just in different language they mean exactly the same thing, but its unlikely i’d ever get them to agree that. I remember my Indian Yoga teacher waving hand when we discussed the nothingness of the Buddhists – “no no no,” he says “its not true!”

The error in Hinduism is that the concept of atma transcends to liberation and the error in Buddhism that the concept of anatma transcends to liberation.” (my interpretation)

Both terms, atma and anatma pertain only to worldly things, the self and the destruction of the self – both of which only exist in samsara. Neither of which expresses what is the state at liberation and what is liberation, which really is both nothingness and everythingess.

What about Mind vs Soul?

The normal thinking mind (sem) and ego is that which we seek to quell, allowing us to rest in the state of the primordial, or natural mind which would exist if we had no worldly concerns or knowledge. The primordial mind, rather than the soul is the focus of Buddhism. They talk of  “the view” and “rigpa” (the ground luminosity of mind) which is attained through meditation, when the mind is completely at rest and sem/ego are obliterated. The “view” is seeing things as they really are, without perception, reaction or opinion.

Hinduism focuses on the soul, but my own experience would lend me to say that, “the view” and “rigpa”, are in fact allowing you to see through the eyes of the untainted, pure soul of which you are made up. You experience “the view” in rigpa and it allows you to connect with the soul/God/source/primordial truth in a very direct way. You have no perception or conception, everything is luminous and beautiful, you can see That Source in everything, everywhere.  It is only through experiencing, that the true realization of the words is comprehended.

In short: the mind state allows the soul to be revealed and experienced.

Now we have introduced Reincarnation and Genetic memory (see part 2), part 3 will be a discussion on the possibilites of how these might be connected (i have no idea yet!) and how the mind/spirit/soul fits in.

Thanks for reading 🙂

And remember:

“Knowledge is proud he knows so much, Wisdom is humble he knows no more”

Knowing and debating all this stuff isn’t relevant in any sense to your spiritual journey – seek within and be quiet and listen and you will get all the answers.

PART 2 of “Genetic Memory & Reincarnation, The Spirit, The Soul and The Mind” – PART 2 – Genetic Memory

17 Oct

Read PART 1 here: The Prologue

Genetic Memory

I’ve always been fascinated by genetic memory and have a pretty substantial belief in reincarnation – if I believe in them both, how can I marry the two together? They are too similar to not be related but too dissimilar for me to be able to work out how….. How does Karma fit in?

Jump to – My Experiences
Jump to – Can The things genetic relations do, have a direct effect on you, even if you have no contact?
Jump to – How can memory be stored in the genes/atoms in the body?
Jump to – Passing on of memory down the genetic line
Jump to – Mechanism for passing of genetic memory in “real-time”

Introduction

Genetic memory is essentially knowledge which is inherited and carried from one descendant to the next, without having first-hand experience of it.. It is usually applied to things like instinct – birds building nests, turtles hatching and crawling to the sea etc but more recently it has been increasingly discussed on the human level and whether or not our actual DNA holds the memories of our past.

It is deemed to be a much newer concept than most spiritual ones, although this is not exactly true. Many indigenous peoples have long held the belief of a connection with the ancestors through the bloodlines, and conservation of their knowledge (or genetic memory) through the bloodlines.

I come at these thoughts from my own experience of being adopted – in short, separated from my genetic background and not influenced by my “blood relatives”.  As such, I feel I am as blank a slate as nurture had to write on in her attempts to override my genetic nature, so we can dispel the comments of, “Your actions were influenced by the interests and habits of the people around you”.

My Experiences (feel free to skip!)

I cannot explain to you what it feels like to meet a blood relative Continue reading

In-Vitro Meat: Some Metaphysical Questions

10 Oct

In November 2012 the world’s first burger grown in a laboratory will be eaten in a press conference.

The tech was first inspired as a way to feed astronauts on long space missions to places like Mars, but was quickly picked up as a possible future commercial venture for feeding the ever growing human population.

On the surface it has many logical benefits:

  • It could be a sustainable food product for an ever increasing global population;
  • it could hugely reduce carbon emissions, as farming is one of the highest carbon producing industries ;
  • it would be engineered without all the growth hormones and antibiotics given to our domestic animals;
  • it could be engineered leaner with better food safety;
  • it would cease all land clearing for animal farming and destruction of rainforests for meat cattle.
  • but first and foremost (for me) – no living animal would have to be killed.

However…there are several questions this new food source throws up.

What happens to the cattle and the farming knowledge?
There are billions of animals on farms all over the world, these cattle would presumeably be petered out.

This might be beneficial for the environment, less deforestation, less desertification, less destruction of habitats by grazing. But what about the thousands of years of farming and land management knowledge that would be lost? and what, if for some reason we were suddenly unable to produce any more in-vitro meat, would we do? how could we suddenly start farming again? Knowledge of the land and of animal husbandry is something which takes generations to acquire, what would happen in the interim? war? mass starvation?

And what about the other ethical issues?

To quote:
One researcher recalls a student, a vegan, who asked if she could just biopsy herself, grow up a steak and eat it. If you want to eat truly victimless meat, perhaps it is time to put yourself on the menu.”

This of course would be entirely possible.. but without knowing the exact reasons *why* this would be wrong, I think many of us  would feel that it is, on some fundamental level.

Is there something about the genetic code we don’t know yet?(well yes lots and lots) We know the genetics of reproduction has a huge impact on who we are, but does the genetic code we eat also have an effect on us? Can the dead genetic code of a digested animal somehow influence our body?

Some scientists have recently worried about one particular strain of GM wheat which has the potential to modify human genes and cause liver failure if ingested:

http://www.naturalnews.com/037170_gm_wheat_liver_failure_gmo.html

“‘What we found is that the molecules created in this wheat, intended to silence wheat genes, can match human genes, and through ingestion, these molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our genes’, said Heinemann in a press conference on the threat of GM wheat”

So if scientists are suggesting that something  ingested has the potential to influence our DNA, what are the repercussions of a global population potentially eating the exact same meat from the same cow? over and over again, for an indefinite time period?

Are there any repercussions to eating the flesh of animal that’s still alive? For both the animal and the human? Is part of the consciousness retained in the genes and so whilst we are growing the cows flesh, does it have any minute concious attachment to it?

Here I’ll delve into the metaphysical and fantastical world..

One argument about genetic memory suggests that our actual experiential memories are stored in the body and not the brain. So using Ockhams razor – that all being equal, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one… Then…
the body stores the memories for 2 attribues:

1) how to build a body
2) And how to fight disease (memories are actively created and stored over time)

So why not a third?
Why not experiential memory?

Surely, in evolutionary terms, using the same memory system (the body) for  experiential memories is easier than creating a whole new system of storage. In that scenario, the brain would function like the processor and RAM of a computer, processing the experiences as they come in through the various senses like the eyes, ears, nose and mouth, then forming them into some kind of coherent experience/data – which the body “feels” as an experience and somehow remembers akin to the computers hard-drive.
Then to recall that experience/memory the brain simply functions a bit like a tv, retrieving a signal from the body and reorganizing it back into a coherent, audiovisual memory which we perceive.

You can see this type of thing in action if you are asked to think about someone who makes you feel a certain way, the feeling is always there with the image. If you have no feeling about a person they are harder to recall.

And again, looking at visual memory techniques that people like  Derren Brown employ, they state often its not enough to simply link a string of images together, you have to make them funny or strange so they evoke a feeling so you can remember them. Creating a reaction in the body is key to remembering.

After all, storing the memory/information on how to build a body is surely far more vast and complex than anything we might see or do in our life? We grow a body quite well without a brain for a good length of time, so surely it would be easy enough to retain our strongest life experiences in there?

Anyway, I digress – what if there is any truth to the Morphic field theory and the grown flesh, being genetically identical to the animal, is still linked to it somehow? In the same way that twins feel linked or can tell if something bad happens to the other? what are the implications for the animal to be eaten over and over again?

The reality of these lab-grown meats hitting the supermarkets is still not in our immediate future, as the cost of producing just this one lone burger was €250,ooo. But it is certainly worth starting to think about and discuss the implications.

What do you think? do you have any ethical issues? it would be great to erradicate animal suffering – but maybe becoming vegetarian is a better option!