Denis Fitzpatrick

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It's not a fact that God is not...it's that God is not a fact. God is a symbol.

Many intellectuals argue for the existence of God ... others argue against.

But what if both types, the atheists (who usually emphasize the damage the word has done) and the theist (who often note the benefits) sometimes mistake a SYMBOL for a sign... as if the word were a signifier, meant to reference something specific.

Symbols, however, such as a favourite piece of music or poetry or other art-work, have a way of transforming and intensifying our ordinary awareness... even altering our perception at times... or inducing a deep sense of mystery in the moment. Who would ever claim that a symbol was true or false? Either it transforms consciousness or it doesn't. One would hardly claim that a piece of music points beyond itself... ?

And what of the insights and realizations that dawn on us when we are struck by a symbol ? Its as if we borrowed from the world of our senses, to capture and express inner realities, inaccessible to the senses. However, to demand that a spatial-temporal reference be given for a symbol, or else we won't consider it “true”, is analogous to demanding that we find the location of a specific idea in the brain, or we will not be able to claim that the idea truly exists ! Can't something be symbolically true, without ever being literally, historically, and factually true ? Examples: people don't get “struck” by symbols in a physical sense ! Truth doesn't actually “dawn” on us !


Soooo... what if God neither “is” nor “is not”... ?

I would love to hear different perspectives on this topic...

  • Nov 13 2011: "... what if God neither “is” nor “is not”..
    Perfect! One takes the massage of a paradox either at once or never!
    God is a symbol, no name or image should be attached to it, there is no question of its existence,it does not need any proof of logical reasoning,let alone evidence, it helps to communicate an untellable idea of something that is beyond Time , hence language.What conveys the meaning is not the "word" but the ripple it sends out, one must be tuned properly to resonate with the wave to ''take it in''.

    "Naming is treacherous
    for names divide
    truths into less truths...." but a Symbol is good, it serves the purpose, it sends the "ripple'', our mind or better intuition can catch and bring the feeling of understanding, not the certainty,
    as if "Yes, I know!" , but a warm feeling inside, the feeling of recognition. Like in this story, I've heard recently here on TED:

    When I was little -- and by the way, I was little once -- my father told me a story about an 18th century watchmaker. And what this guy had done: he used to produce these fabulously beautiful watches. And one day, one of his customers came into his workshop and asked him to clean the watch that he'd bought. And the guy took it apart, and one of the things he pulled out was one of the balance wheels. And as he did so, his customer noticed that on the back side of the balance wheel was an engraving, were words. And he said to the guy,"Why have you put stuff on the back that no one will ever see?" And the watchmaker turned around and said, "God can see it."

    And I understood everything what it was about at once, but the very attempt to understand what I've understood cancels out understanding ! / do I make myself plain?! :) /
    I think , it's how a "Symbol" works.

    Thanks, Denis!!! It's a great topic!
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      Nov 13 2011: Quote:
      "the meaning is not the "word" but the ripple it sends out, one must be tuned properly to resonate with the wave to ''take it in''.

      Open the heart it says. Wow!
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      Nov 14 2011: Natasha...

      You are an Angel !

      And that story...Stunning! I don't know what to say...and that's a good thing!




      But I can't resist...Ha!



      It is the sense of the Immediacy of the Moment, that a symbol evokes... thoughts are added after the Opening of the heart has occurred!

      However, the attempt to imprison "the truth" in concepts, creates the very “wall” that such concepts are attempting to overcome! How deeply we want to express what we have Seen, and that for me, is the value of Art !

      And not only are there waves.... sometimes the entire Ocean comes crashing through...who are we then !?!

      (Still...I agree with Christophe...we have to be very careful with that word “beyond”, or even the word “within”.)

      But I am very grateful to you also for something else... something that I hadn't seen before... the relationship between paradox and symbol.

      It is the “coincidence of opposites” within the paradox, that frees the mind from the “error of the found truth”...thereby removing the conceptual filter of a rigid world-view.

      It is as if :

      The minds says: This is the way it is !
      Paradox says: Not at all...SEE!

      So..../do I make myself plain?! :)/

      Thank you Natasha !
      Denis
      • Nov 14 2011: Hi! Denis !!!

        I like your "but.....":)
        Thoughts are added to the heart opening because of our habit to explain everything to make it real. I think we should get rid of this limitation and learn to trust our right half of the brain, which has no voice, but it has a beautiful capacity to provide us with knowledge about the world we found themselves in, the experience of the "Moment" is not less real than something you can define and describe by words, on my humble opinion it is much more real, but it's a long talk...but I can't resist :) words ruin the very phenomenon they seek to define, better leave it there , not defined, not described , not explained and just live fully 'the Immediacy of the Moment" The moment will pass, but the experience will deeply colour your thinking, your perception ; just allow it to happen.

        And I can't agree with Christophe that "we have to be very careful with that word “beyond”, or even the word “within”
        Firstly , I believe that "beyond" = "within"
        - What are you afraid of ? To discover who you are? OK, it's the matter of choice :)

        Denise, I am glad you've appreciated the value of Paradox, I truly believe that the universe rests on Paradox . In the moment of Creation or B.B, whatever you believe in, the balance was broken. And preserved. If you are interested you are welcome ttp://www.ted.com/conversations/6600/paradox.html
        you've already presented me with your paradox:
        "Soooo... what if God neither “is” nor “is "not”... ?

        Thank you!!!
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          Nov 15 2011: (1 of 3)

          Well Natasha...?!

          I'm not sure what gave you the impression that I was afraid, or that the discovery of who I am will eventually happen.

          When I asked “...who are we then !?!”... it was a rhetorical question... a statement that did not need to be answered...and that is the reason for the strange punctuation !?!

          [Note to mySelf... trying to communicate to a person in English, who's native tongue is likely Russian, while using a rhetorical question, in a metaphorical manner... is probably not a good approach to a chat-room experience]

          I appreciate your efforts at guiding me nonetheless, as I am sure such efforts were coming from the Right place.

          Now...some thoughts on what you have written:

          First of all, you stated “words ruin the very phenomenon they seek to define, better leave it there , not defined, not described , not explained and just live fully 'the Immediacy of the Moment"”

          I too like the after-glow of the Moment, but I don't believe that words “ruin” it at all. If they are used in a symbolic manner, they have the power to transform the awareness into what was originally Seen! Good poetry, for example, takes us there directly, and not up some factual staircase, step by step by step in a logical process...

          Powerful poetry is like listening to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT7_Y1pIBb4 ... it transports us... and we KNOW what Mozart was trying to say...and even more... we are almost There!

          And the same is true of other linguistic forms, when something breaks through the Symbol... in stories or in Scripture ! It doesn't matter if they are not factually true... if they are transformative of consciousness.
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          Nov 15 2011: (2 of 3)

          Secondly, if it helps you to think of the “inner” and “outer” worlds as two... or that the {“beyond” which is “within”} is a separate reality...all the Best to you!

          Just be careful that in trying to get “there” or stay “there”...you don't miss out on “here” !

          And besides... is it not the veil of thought which makes the One seem many ? (eg. subject/object, mind/matter, sacred/secular, divine/human, being/nothingness, temporal/eternal, real/apparent, nirvana/samsara, phenomenal/noumenal...and Love went on and on... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxyqhyhSEXc&feature=artist

          Did you notice that towards the end of the video Cohen sings:

          Then I came back from where I’d been.
          My room, it looked the same –
          But there was nothing left between
          The Nameless and the name.

          In other words... dualism had vanished ...

          Now here's Blake:

          To see a World in a Grain of Sand
          And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
          Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
          And Eternity in an hour.

          What divine madness spreads upon the earth...and humans rarely catch it ! Ha!
          What a shame...
          never should have bit that Apple...
          and now I'm looking for a path back to the Garden...huh?

          What did you say...?

          God is where...?

          You gotta be kiddin' me:

          Only God my Friend
          can say “I am”
          the rest of us
          have lied.

          Caught up in
          illusion
          beneath the Tree
          we died.
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          Nov 15 2011: (3 of 3)

          Thomas Merton, a Trappest monk (d.1968) put it this way, in an essay entitled “Trancendent Experience”, when he asks the following :

          “Who is it that has the experience ?

          Very often, descriptions and discussions of this experience seem to take for granted that the only subject of it is the ego-self, the individual person. We assume that this empirical ego, who is able to be aware of itself and affirm itself as “I am” (indeed “I have experiences therefore I am”), is at once the subject and beneficiary of trancendent experiences. These become the crowning glory of ego-hood and self-fulfillment. We doubtless admit that in transcending itself the ego does indeed go “beyond” itself, but in the end this proof of its spiritual elasticity is all to its own credit. The further it can go without snapping, the better and more respectable an ego it is. In fact, the ego trains itself to be so completly elastic that it can stretch itself almost to the vanishing point and still come back and chalk itself another experience on the score card. In this case, however, there is no real self-transcendence. The trip that is taken is ultimately a release for, and intensification of, ego-consciousness."
      • Nov 15 2011: Hi, Denis!
        Thanks for the response !
        They say, we communicate here without a body language...maybe it is not so true :), your "Well Natasha...?!" is a vibe...

        "I appreciate your efforts at guiding me nonetheless..."
        I had no intention to guide you ! I am one/many, the searcher and try to figure it out for myself. If I hurt you in any way, I am terribly sorry !
        Take my apologies!

        My question "What are you afraid of?" was refereed to Christophe's"we have to be very careful with that word “beyond”, or even the word “within”,not to your rhetorical question. Not only because by definition it doesn't require any answer, but, frankly, I don't know :) Though you are right,
        English is not my first language and it may bring about some misunderstanding and it does, sometimes.Should I not participate in the international forum like this? I prefer to ask for your understanding...

        And I agree with you that "I am" is the "self' awakening in self-awareness, seeking to know. And words, language brings mind into contact, it allows new insights to outlive the mind that discovers them, as in your examples/ thank you for the links, I adore Leonard Cohen !/ That is a power of poetry, it creates a "glow'' to understand, or better, to reinforce your recognition of 'beyond", you can apply to another piece of poetry or music or panting or scriptures... to the Symbol, you are tuned to. But try to shape your "glow" in words..in your own words, maybe you can, I can't /in Russian as well as in English/ What I can get are fragments, a lot of fragments, a wordy soup, I can't recognise my insight, in its all-at-onceness. That's why I prefer it leave it there, unshaped. But it doesn't mean that I ignore it, on the contrary, I believe that we have unverbal consciousness and it grows "step by step" through insights or "glows" , we can get though poetry ,which operates with Symbol, rhythm, sound... or nature, music,which tap directly to that level of consciousness.
        (continued below)
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          Nov 15 2011: Well Natasha...

          Thank you for that, but there is certainly no need to apologize...ok? My feelings were not hurt, and to clarify how I greeted you :

          In saying " Well Natasha...?!" I was meaning to suggest that I was puzzled, perplexed, uncertain of how to interpret your comments...

          I thought that perhaps you had taken my rhetorical question LITERALLY, and that you thought I was asking for your guidence.

          This is just one more fine example of what can go wrong without body language!

          So... even though I was uncertain of how you had taken my rhetorical question, I wanted to assure you:

          "I appreciate your efforts at guiding me nonetheless, as I am sure such efforts were coming from the Right place."

          I capitalized the "R" to suggest I believed you were approaching me in a respectful, kind and well-intentioned manner AND I wanted to show you that my intentions towards you were good... and that we could continue the conversation!

          Truth is... this is my first chat-room experience... and I am still learning how to punctuate to show my feelings.

          I don't know what you thought my vibe was... but I certainly wasn't trying to hurt you either...ok?

          That funny little note to mySelf was me, laughing at me...nothing more!

          And by the way ... if you had not participated in this international forum... I would not have received that story, or saw the relationship between Symbol and paradox... so again, thank you for that!

          I hope this clears things up between us... as we say in English... no hard feelings!

          Even if I was sat next to you, and I wish I was, the God-topic would still be one of the most challenging conversations two people can have...

          And I am glad to hear we share the same feelings towards Cohen...
          And I am glad that I sent you the links...
          And I'm glad...
          And I am glad...
          Hallelujah!
      • Nov 15 2011: "Time past and time future
        Allow but a little consciousness.
        To be conscious is not to be in time."
        T.S.Eliot
        Language, in its essence is Time, for it is based on sequence.
        The Chinese sage Lao Tzu said :" he who knows does not speak; he who speaks does not know."
        We are conversing here, because we don't know, and I agree with you that for T.S. Eliot, W.Blake, L. Cohen... not to mention many others " dualism had vanished ..." for a moment, to catch a glimpse of truth and bring it here by the grace of their genius, and we can relate to it and we can grow through "glow".

        Denis, thanks for your time, I appreciate it a lot ! / "a lot" is my favourite number " :) /
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          Nov 15 2011: The Four Quartets... YES !

          And so many of the great ones caught a glimpse of the Light, and it set fire to their words... so that our hearts too would burn in the longing for Truth !

          Its so very good to Know you Natasha !
      • Nov 15 2011: - the pleasure is mine !

        Would you start a conversation about the Garden of Eden? :)
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          Nov 15 2011: Natasha...

          I would love too ... but I am going to take a step back for awhile ok... and it has NOTHING to do with you or anyone else. My desire to participate in this strange place has almost left me...

          So... if I don't see you again ... I will always be grateful to you for helping me see the relationship between Paradox and Symbol.

          OK ?

          Take care !
          Denis
      • Nov 15 2011: Farewell!

        And Paradox is in a close relationship with " nothing " hence "everything"

        Denis, It was nice to meet you !
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      Nov 15 2011: Hi Natasha, nice to meet you.

      Just wanted to comment on your story, particularly the punch line: "God can see it."

      I've a friend with whom I've been debating about appropriateness of making a fuss about things one is upset about. My friend holds that a lot of the noise we make is useless and misguided and won't change the world at all, take Occupy Wall Street as an example.

      I argue that whether or not you'd scream, kick, yell and cry if you were drowning alone in the middle of the Atlantic pertains precisely to this question of whether you "tuned in to" God or not.

      My buddy argues, "What's the point? Nobody hears you."

      But I say "God can hear it".

      Nothing to do with being saved, mind you. It's more akin to what that watchmaker was striving for, I think.
      • Nov 15 2011: I guess, your friend wouldn't hesitate to scream with all his might " God, save me !!!" if he happened to be "drowning alone in the middle of the Atlantic " :)
        And you are right , it is not the point, or may be it is, for nothing is standing apart, and that's the point, I guess, God sees everything because he is everything.
        And nothing has any chance to be lost or not seen. "The seer is the seen"

        Thank you, Dave, nice to meet you too!
      • Nov 15 2011: Thank you!
        I don't have "thumbs up" for you either ! :)
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    Nov 9 2011: I love this idea, Denis. Admittedly, I read it a couple of times to fully comprehend your thought. It's sinking in now.:) Your statement creates a space to place the mystery. The disturbing side of atheism to me - is the idea the mystery is non-existent. I take great joy in the mystery - including aspects of our human experience such as intuition, the supernatural, all things unexplained or unproven. Your post references God as symbolic and provides a framework, a meeting place of sorts, to allow the conversation to take place - while diffusing the polarization. I love that....

    I'm one of those people who refers to God, yet I don't for one moment pretend to know what God looks like. Nor am I attached to institutional religion. All I know for sure is there is so much more we don't yet know, and a higher (or deeper) consciousness holds greater knowledge than I do. Perhaps it's simply collective, but it doesn't matter - it's good enough to just know it's bigger than I am, and a galaxy of understanding awaits to unfold. The mystery makes exploring the questions and the wonder satisfying.

    I look forward to hearing more from others - it is a topic begging for a wide range of perspectives and perceptions. Thank you for a thoughtful post!
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      Nov 10 2011: Well Linda...

      Now it is you who are the Breath of fresh air ! And I suspect, but I can never be sure, its the same Air that we are breathing !

      Your perspective is exactly what I hope an idea such as this can achieve !

      But I am so tired of that seemingly endless argument ... and there are such deep historical resentments at play on BOTH sides !

      I honestly believe that as you mention, it is through this higher/deeper form of awareness, we will be able to embrace both world views simultaineously. In the end, it is our awakening to the overwelming wonder, to the immense awe, in spite of so much suffering, that makes this absurdly meaningful existence worthwhile ! And as to Certainty ? Ha! Who needs it ? I'd take the mystery of this Moment any day!

      You know Linda, when I first read Frankl and others like him, it was out of the deepest despair. So I turned to the Existentialists to help me make sense of the abyss into which I had fallen. Instead of finding “certainty” however, I fell further in... and patiently, ever so patiently, I learned to challenge all of my deepest assumptions, and in fact, the very assumptions on which our language is based. I even began to doubt my own separate existence, and towards the end, I gave up all hope of ever finding an ultimate meaning.

      It was around this time that I remembered a book I had started to read in University entitled “The Divine Comedy” by Dante. And in it, he had placed a sign over the gates of hell which read “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” In a flash I realized, not only where I was, but more importantly, that the countless symbols of my childhood which I had so arrogantly dismissed, were actually about me ! ALL of them... and here's just one example : “There's a light that shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not comphrehend it!”

      Well...I'll spare you the details of the ascent...but let me just say what Mr. Cohen sang "There is a crack, a crack ... in everything...that's how the light gets in !
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        Nov 10 2011: haha! My favorite line ever! Leonard Cohen - my favorite poet. I post "There is a crack, a crack ... in everything...that's how the light gets in" everywhere. I'm right there with you, my friend!

        Dante brings back so many memories too. I'd almost forgotten The Divine Comedy. I think I'll find that again. It is 3 am here, and I've got to get some sleep...but will check back tomorrow. Great to hear from you Denis. I look forward to more conversation!
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        Nov 10 2011: Hi Denis -
        I'd like to challenge something, and hope you understand my intent is simply to explore how we communicate with one another - not to judge or criticize. I notice you changed the title of this post from a question to a statement. I think it changes its impact. Posing the question - particularly on a subject as deeply rooted and potentially polarizing as religion - allows the reader to let the idea sink in without immediately feeling imposed upon - perhaps causing someone with a belief system to shut down before trying it on. The statement 'God is a symbol' infers a belief, and closes the space in a sense. It's the process of opening up to the idea and discovering the space is not threatening that makes this idea so powerful. Am I making sense? It's just a thought...and it's all good! :)
  • Nov 15 2011: The theme of this discussion has mystic connotation. Symbolism and mysticism go hand in hand and are well and strongly interwined with psychic and paranormal realms. Mysticism and related symbolic thinking (excluding morbid mind imaginations) incorporate all sorts of subjective, pure mind visions, emotional fantasies, mental images that don’t exist in objective space and imaginations incapable of being objectively quantified. From certain angle, they represent psychological tendency to seek/create another “reality” aside from the physical reality. They also represent a drive to escape the profane and to get rid of the material munandities of the natural world and hence it is another facet of human archaic delusional occupation with the invisible, the impalpable and the immortal. Symbolism also fascinates some people because it signifies infinite array of interpretation of meaning.

    Pure mind imaginations have the potential of self-deception by inducing non-factual, great feelings such as those of seers and visionaries who report “experiences” at being one with the universe. It is similar to the emotional buoyancy we feel when we look at a piece of a creative artist or when we read Wordsworth (Also one identifies the effects of mystic poetry on many people).

    For the seeker of knowledge, mystecism and its many derivatives don’t contribute to our endeavour to understand the world, to solve mysteries, and to explore the unknown. They may provide individual and societal “comfort” that eases anxieties; but, and contrary to science, they don’t yield real, workable and quantifiable knowledge. Worse, they open the door for superstition, and other mind delusions about “final truths” “hidden secrets”, “miracles”, “magic” …etc.

    It is a point of reflection to observe how some contemporary people still absorbed, despite all scientific advancements available for him, by symbolism and mysticism that have been common norm for ancient societies.
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      Nov 15 2011: Well Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. A Latif ...

      Thank you for that perspective... but Symbolism, as a way of "knowing", has a much broader application than simply mysticism... and I don't believe that it is going to disappear any time soon.

      Consider the whole phenomenon of what James Joyce calls esthetic arrest, when "the mind is arrested and raised above desire and loathing.”

      It strikes me that moments such as these would be beneficial and complimentary to a rationalist approach... it would give you guys a break from that seemingly endless task of trying to map out, analyze, and control "reality".

      Perhaps its time to stop thinking and start Seeing. Consider the enviromental crisis for example ... it didn't come about from people writing too much poetry, or singing too many songs, or watching too many sunsets.

      "Like most religions, reason provides us with the solutions to the problems it creates." ~ John Ralston Saul

      Regards,
      Denis
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  • Nov 13 2011: Religion is about humans needing to feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. We already are- we are a part of a world with wonders in every smile we see and every hand that reaches out to us. We need to get out of the house and touch each other and we will all find our gods.
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      Nov 13 2011: How right you are David!

      As you say " we are a part of a world with wonders in every smile we see and every hand that reaches out to us ."

      And I sometimes fear that this sense of connectedness, of the oneness, or whatever name we give to it, will soon be lost.

      What are all of these communication technologies doing to us....unconsciously?

      On a surface level they seem to be helping us connect more often, and more information can pass between us than ever before.

      But there is something missing in this process that I think you too have noticed it, some Depth for which our hearts are longing... and I really don't believe that religion, as it is practiced in many parts of North America today, is capable of nourishing that Depth. The symbols and metaphors which worked for thousands of years to give our lives meaning are completely out of sync. with our scientific world view and so, as Nietzsche put it, God is dead.

      I know many religious people, and they all say the same thing, with few exceptions: The church is nothing more than a glorified social club... because in the face of Science, the Symbols have lost their power to touch and awaken the Depth. Add to that, all the scandles, and it is tough to get any sense of the sacred from their rituals.

      I agree... its better to find it in each other...directly.

      BTW ... I just commented on a new posting that might be of interest to you :

      http://www.ted.com/conversations/7103/alone_and_lonely_fear_of_in.html
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    Nov 9 2011: Five decades ago my grandfather was teaching me to debate on this very subject and he started the forum with this statement: What if there was a God for those that believed and there was no god for those that chose to go it alone. A decade later I still could not win the debate.
    I have heard many philosophers (in jest) say that their art is merely a debate over semantics. What one means by IS or IS NOT. Each of us carries meaning for the symbols we use (words as various neurons). Hopefully we use these symbols in nearly similar ways so that we can communicate effectively. As a math man I struggle with these wobbly words and often fail to express my mind.
    To your point, God is a word we use to mean a large thing – replace the adjective and noun as your mind fancies. Does this word mean something to all of us? YES! Do we share the same meaning? Not likely. If we lowered the expectation of the word God to mean merely existence then most of us would agree that existence does indeed exist but when we add more and more adjectives we surely will disagree.
    I miss my grandfather and he never did tell me the answer.
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      Nov 10 2011: Well Tim ... how are ya?

      First of all, thanks for the comment and that wonderful story about your Grandfather ! It sounds to me like a very engaging and formative dialogue that he graced you with ! He must have been a deeply spiritual man !

      And as to the philosophers... well... I think it was Bertrand Russell who claimed that the entire history of western thought is nothing but a footnote to Plato !

      And in light of this, what do we mean by IS and IS NOT ? They may simply be projections... a way of apparently stabilizing a dynamic event ... something that we "read in to the script" of nature, in order to make “it” calculable... subjects, objects, qualities, quantities, laws, causality ...all of it!

      I remember reading a French philosopher named Henri Berson, who in one of his lectures at Oxford claimed :

      “There are changes, but there are underneath the change no things which change: change has no need of a support. There are movements, but there is no inert or invariable object which moves : movement does not imply a mobile.”

      So I think we have to be very careful around these words IS and IS NOT ... being and nothingness (And, BTW, have you seen any SUBSTANCE lately ? Or has it all been abused by our addiction to concepts ? Hmmm?)

      “Words are various neurons ?”
      You mean our brains are like Alphabet Soup ?
      I think you lost me there on that one man... and please don't mind my humour... it helps me keep what little sanity I have left !

      You say you are a math man ? Numbers too are created ... based on the assumption of identical cases ... but that's because the sensory apparatus “ignores” the so called negligable differences ! Although I gotta say... if I am speeding down the freeway on a summers day... I am very grateful for all the calculations you guys have done for us!

      BTW do you “get” my notion that a symbol is not a sign. The Golden Arches do not symbolize MacDonalds... they signify that a restaurant may be near by!

      (Continued below...)
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      Nov 10 2011: (continued from above)

      I liked your last point very much ! If you keep our adjectives to a minimum, then the chance of meaningful dialogue around this most difficult of words may indeed be possible. In the end though, to reduce a symbol to a concept really does turn the God symbol into “a very large thing” . (By the way, the word “infinite” can also mean “not spatial” and eternal can also mean “not temporal” ... but I don't really want to get into the difficulties of trying to think about what is, by definition, beyond the limits of thought itself !)

      Anyway... once again ... thanks for your comment ... you have given me even more to ponder !

      All the Best !
      Denis
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      Nov 10 2011: Love it, Tim. Love your grandfather too. Thanks for telling us a story.
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        Nov 17 2011: Well Linda...

        I'm still curious which Rilke line came to mind... he wrote extensively on the subject... in fact, all of his writing can be seen as his dedication to Solitude... in the most sacred sense.

        Here's one that always stayed with me :

        "What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours - that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grown-ups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn't understand a thing about what they were doing."

        But there is another German, whose pen-name was Novalis, who said "the seat of the soul is where the inner and outer worlds meet..."

        That's where I like to live... stradling "both" worlds, as it were.

        Perhaps that's why I am so deeply attracted to Cohen's work...where the "sacred" and the "secular" meet...!

        So which Rilke quote were you thinking of ?
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    Nov 9 2011: I think your statements are quite accurate.

    Though your final question again invokes the idea of existence... and could be applied to all non-facts if you follow that reason.

    The symbolic approach is indeed where value is to be found. There are still some problems.
    - Symbols get an incarnation of meaning: the symbol refers to something (called "le signifié" by De Saussure) the symbol itself is the meaner ("le signifiant"). The symbol exists, the meaning of it might (or might not) refer to something non-existent.
    A symbol referring to a toilet in a restaurant has an existing referential. A symbol referring to an angel does not (as it is not a fact).
    The tension that a person working with symbols has to accept is that it is actually "as-if": one has to declare that the refers to something non-existent (probabilistic if you wish), but at the same time consider the meaning of it as true (This symbol truly refers to an angel, though the angel is fiction, but I consider the symbol having the meaning of an angel, and the symbol exists, so the meaning exists... but it is the demeanor (the symbol, signifiant) that exists, not the meaning (the signifié).

    Aside from that ontological problem, one can just ignore it and worship symbols, or use symbols for rituals, or to make abstract ideas concrete (a symbol is a real object, making something abstract very touch-able). And as some symbols are incarnated with very powerful meanings,...

    Final remark: symbols can be very personal (a final remnant of a beloved who passed away) or very public (the blindfolded lady of justice)
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      Nov 9 2011: Very interesting.
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      Nov 10 2011: Well Thanks Christophe !

      I haven't read De Saussure, but I've seen his name referenced several times in some of the books I have read ! ( Can you recommend a good introductory text ? )

      I agree with all of your points... it is very difficult to use a Symbol as a means of communication within language. As you point out, in making the statement “ God neither 'is' nor 'is not' ” I seem to invoke the 'reality' of God, which unfortunately, I didn't mean to do! How can we even mention “that which is beyond the category of being/non-being” , without suggesting a separate reality ? (Any suggestions ? ) I suspect that I am at the limits of descriptive language on this one. Even the word 'ineffable' suggests “something which IS ineffable”.

      In poetry and literature, however, the Symbol can be used as a means of communication... but I do not mean the descriptive or informative kinds. For example, when T.S. Eliot wrote of “the still point in the turning world... there the dance is....and there is only the dance”... many of us KNOW what he is writing of ! Or if the expressions“the Ground of Being” or “the nameless Nothingness” are used, we can be aware of the metaphorical nature of such an expression, and not reference it to the “empirically verifiable”. Is that what you mean by treating it “as-if”?

      For me, I assume the position of “ maybe... maybe not” with respect to all “truths”... factual and symbolic. In this way, the immediate mystery of the moment becomes more apparent. (I will even admit that there are times I may want to capitalize the word Mystery, or Moment ! Well... so what? ... as long as it works in the symbolic sense, to open one's awareness to a “deeper” aspect of existence!)

      And idolatry comes in many forms! Its amazing how many people have come to trust in the explanatory power of science...to me – it explains nothing ! But its descriptive power is phenomenal ! Literally..ha! It answers the question “How?” not “Why?”

      All the best !
      Denis
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        Nov 12 2011: just a few remarks... "a separate reality" is out of the question.
        "Reality" denotes what is real, so any another kind of "real" is imaginary. You can imagine all you want, but it will not make it real (how to make something real that stems from imagination is an entirely different debate though)

        You can imagine a "beyond category", but that implies everything that can be said about it cannot ever be assigned a truth value. So If you do so, I'll introduce fairyland to that same plane, where unicorns and saters play with Zeus and Thor and the Abraham God... making any statement equaly valid/invalid.

        As for assuming a probabilistic approach to what we think to be true is the right position, though that implies that you can discern between likely and unlikely (say: gravity will work tomorrow is almost 100% likely, a lepricon popping out in a field tomorrow would have near 0 likelihood, and some economic theories currently might have a value of 50%)

        Aside from that: it's fun to get mystical, and can be real profound to experience. (though again, an experience does not always refer to reality)
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          Nov 12 2011: Well Christophe...

          Thanks for your response...I am really enjoying your perspective on this posting !

          How difficult it is to communicate about what is real !

          As I noted in my previous comment to you :

          '' How can we even mention “that which is beyond the category of being/non-being” , without suggesting a separate reality ? (Any suggestions ? ) I suspect that I am at the limits of descriptive language on this one. Even the word 'ineffable' suggests “something which IS ineffable”.''

          In other words, to even mention “a separate reality” is absolute nonsense ! How can anything “be beyond what is” ?

          Am I communicating more clearly..?!

          "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." as Wittgenstein noted.

          So at the risk of my being “categorized” as “mystical”, which, for many empiricists, is a derogatory term, let me resort to the realm of Symbol once again !

          On three k? :
          1
          2
          Row, row, row your boat
          gently down the Stream
          merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
          life is but a Dream !

          Now Christophe, tell me: who is having the Dream ?
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        Nov 13 2011: :-)

        To me it does not matter how you call life (a dream, simulation, a game, reality...), as it does not influence my behavior: how I perceive reality will unlikely affect reality (well, other than my neural connections and firing patterns maybe)...

        For pragmatic purposes, I keep those play of words to a minimum (in conversations, not when kidding or speaking lyrically or when I fantasize).
        The alternative is more fun and confusing though. It allows for :
        "We all are having the dream, and the Dream is the universal self-observer if you like ;-) "
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          Nov 13 2011: Wow...

          Now we're talkin' !

          It reminded me of Schopenhaur's METAPHOR :

          "It is the dream of a single dreamer, in which all the dream characters are themselves dreaming."
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        Nov 14 2011: Although I am familiar and occasional experimenter of mysticism, I still prefer the materialistic worldview (they are not mutually exclusive, as the one is about description of reality, the other is about experiencing connectedness)

        So I propose to put your ideas around symbols and diety in the realm of the "experiencing mind"
        That might be the place where it belongs, and as such poses no problem with the description of reality: the only thing you must be able to remember is that the experience is not always referring to reality.
        As such the content of "experiencing" does not need to hold a truth value within the realm of experiencing.
        Whenever you do, that content needs to be contrasted to all facts and accurate descriptions of reality (It might be interesting to know which experiences reffer to reality and which not,... as this might allow halluciinating or delusional people to get a grip on reality - thinking about 'A beautiful mind' and schizophrenia as example- )
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          Nov 15 2011: Yeah... same here Christophe... there is no real conflict between fact and symbol, the Intellect and the Intuition. Who knows in this coming century... perhaps some kind of a balance will be struck !

          I am curious though... why would you want to place my " ideas around symbols and diety in the realm of the "experiencing mind" " ? Would you place "facts" in a different compartment...labelled "empirically verified thoughts" ? Curious...!?

          When you state "the experience is not always referring to reality" are you suggesting the supremacy of fact over symbol in its revelatory function... or is it because you like to have a firm "conceptual grip" on your world...this puzzles me...

          Perhaps too much "thought" and not enough "symbol" is a recipe for madness as well...?!
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          Nov 17 2011: Hey Christophe!

          So it took me awhile to "get" your above comment, about putting symbols into the realm of the "experiencing mind"

          "Whenever you do, that content needs to be contrasted to all facts and accurate descriptions of reality (It might be interesting to know which experiences refer to reality and which not,... as this might allow halluciinating or delusional people to get a grip on reality..."

          I think I understand now the value of this distinction ... you don't have to go far to realize its pragmatic applications.... for example, as a diagnostic tool.

          Thank you for that!
          D.
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        Nov 16 2011: Dear Kathy,

        I completely disagree with most of what you say.

        If you wish to make truth claims about angels, I suggest you bring some proof and give a comprehensive scientific basis for their possibility of existence.

        Our knowledge of the brain increases, and we can see more and more how our brain works, and to which point we are experiencing illusions and to which point our experience is accurate.

        How you wish to call and describe your experiences doesn't really interest me. Call it what you will.
        I do have problems when you start making unfounded truth claims about reality (when you start projecting your experiences as an accurate understanding of your environment): at that point, we enter the grounds of observations, experimentation, contrasting hypothesis given all the data. Exploring the validity and likelihood of claims and data. Then you enter the ground where the scientific methods rule (not by authority, but because they are also under the same critique as all truth claims themselves).

        That you believe what you are saying is probably true, that you feel strong about them as well, that you think they are true and refer to reality as well...
        Sadly, for the later, there is no ground/reason what-so-ever for me to accept that. And I don't infer that you are stupid or crazy. It is a typical human logical fallacy (to which we all are bound).... We can try and be skeptical and rational to try and understand those processes though...
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          Nov 17 2011: Hmmm...

          Its not a fact, that an Angel is not.
          Its that an Angel is not a fact.
          An Angel is a Symbol.

          To K, an Angel is a real being, of the inner world. i.e. It is a fact.
          To C, an Angel is a fiction, of a fictional world. i.e. It is not a fact.
          To D, an Angel is a Symbol, of our Psyche. i.e. a personification of the energy “within.”

          Soooo...an Angel neither “is” nor “is not”

          Now supposing both K and C are mistaking a Symbol for a sign, a signifier, which has a one to one correspondence with an 'actuality'. (For example, we all know what the word “monitor” corresponds to... the actuality of what is in front of you now.)

          K says there are Angels...
          C says no there aren't... prove it!
          K says you prove to me that they DON'T exist !

          D...who is apparently playing it safe, by providing some sideline commentary, has seen a way out of this debate!

          He rises from his grave triumphantly, to spread his Good News :

          “ You are both misreading the Symbol,” he says, “Angels neither ”are” nor “are not””

          Helen roars with laughter... and bursts into song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pafY6sZt0FE

          Having said this, and being very concerned about his punctuation...he then ascends to heaven at the speed of light, not wanting to look over his shoulder, for fear of being mis-interpreted by the cyber-souls who've been following the argument thus far!

          But just before he leaves the galaxy, and just when he feels he is going to make a clean get away, Latif calls NASA to get the Hubble to zoom in on the recently crucified, resurrected, and ascending Demon !

          And much to the delight of those watching, he blesses himself, before giving the Thumbs Up to Uncle TED... who so graciously allowed him to continue expressing his views... “Bye Natasha... Bye Linda... Bye Frans... Thanks Colleen...Sorry Debra...and Christophe my Friend - I am with you in Spirit! Good Luck!”

          And having a fond place in his heart for both Arnold and Jesus, he prophesized :

          "I'll be back...well...maybe ! "
        • Nov 17 2011: To K an Angel is not a physical body. But for sure, it IS !
          To C an Angel is not a physical body. And that's why, it IS Not !
          Age old question: "What is real ?"
          Soooo....an Angel either IS or IS not.
          Now supposing " the Consciousness is its Content"
          To K an Angel IS.
          To C an Angel IS NOT.
          Soooo.... an Angel both IS and IS NOT.

          As for me, I think that a lot of "things" do not cease to exist simply because our mind moves below their realm.
          And I agree with Kathy, "Symbols typically represent something (generally invisible) by association. This in no way implies it isn't 'real'.

          Hi, Denis !
          It's a long Farewell, indeed ! I hope you'll be back !:)
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          Nov 18 2011: Hi Natasha !

          It took me awhile to “get” at what I think you were suggesting in the above posting ... and if I am correct in my interpretation, then our views align much more completely than I initially thought.

          It all comes down to that age old question of what we consider “real”.

          Does matter give rise to consciousness ?
          Or... does consciousness “in-form” matter ?

          This is indeed one of the oldest philosophical debates that has existed.

          But what you seem to be suggesting with your phrase “the Consciousness is its Content” is that both terms are actually one process... mind is matter, two words for a single event.

          Bertrand Russell put it this way :

          “The whole duality of mind and matter, according to this theory [neutral monism], is a mistake; there is only one kind of stuff out of which the world is made, and this stuff is called mental in one arrangement, physical in the other”

          But if this is indeed what is occuring, how can we possibly speak of a “different” realm, there is only “what is occuring now.” So to me... there is no higher or deeper realm... that's just a manner of speaking... a metaphor which connotes, but DOES NOT DENOTE, a separate reality where God and all the other Angels (besides You !) are existing independently of this Moment .

          The founder of Quantum Mechanics, Erwin Schrodinger, put it this way:

          Consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknown; that there is only one thing and that what seems to be a plurality is merely a series of different aspects of this one thing, produced by a deception.

          Arthur Schopenhaur uses the following metaphor to suggest what is “real” :

          "It is the dream of a single dreamer, in which all the dream characters are themselves dreaming."

          Leonard Cohen sings :

          “But there was nothing left between
          The Nameless and the name.”

          (continued below)
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          Nov 18 2011: All of these writers, in my not-so-humble opinion, through their use of BOTH symbol and concept, are attempting to invoke in the reader what they DIRECTLY experienced...but science cannot measure.

          It is not some “other” reality: it is the reality in which you are reading these lines !

          Symbols and facts are all we have to communicate about this nameless Mystery, but to mistake a Symbol for a fact, is to invite madness...and certainly NOT the divine madness I have referred to elsewhere!

          A fact has a one-to-one correspondence with a given actuality.

          A symbol does not. A symbol, put simply, is the “crack in everything...that's how the Light gets in!”

          In other words, a Symbol is an opening through which the Intensification of our nameless reality occurs :

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT7_Y1pIBb4
          http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f4/The_Scream.jpg

          These two master pieces do not have a “corresponding reality”, they are themselves revealing of the depths, and heights of awareness.

          Symbols do not point to anything beyond themselves... they reveal !

          They do not convey information, they open our awareness of the ineffable mystery of being here.

          The G-word, unfortunately, has lost most of its power to do that, precisely because it is mis-read as a supernatural fact, being loaded down with archaic connotations, and as our science has revealed thus far, does not have a denotation.

          The way out of the theism-atheism debate is for both sides to see it for what it is: a symbol, an Opening, having no reference whatsoever in the so-called “visible” nor “invisible” world, (as if there were two worlds...Ha!)

          If we treat it as linguistic art, it stands a better chance of opening a sense of the sacredness of being here.

          How 
did the rose

          ever open its heart

          and give to this world
          all of its beauty?


          It felt the encouragement
          of light against its being.


          Otherwise
          we all remain too 
frightened.
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          Nov 18 2011: That one was from Hafez!

          Here's one from Kabir:

          THIS CLAY JUG

          Inside this clay jug there are canyons
          and pine mountains, and the maker of
          canyons and pine mountains!

          All seven oceans are inside, and
          hundreds of millions of stars.

          The acid that tests gold is there, and
          the one who judges jewels.

          And the music from the strings
          no one touches, and the source of
          all water.

          If you want the truth, I will tell you
          the truth:

          Friend, listen:

          the God whom I love is inside.


          And one more from Thomas Traherne :

          Your enjoyment of the world is never right, till every morning you awake in Heaven; see yourself in your Father's Palace; and look upon the skies, the earth, and the air as Celestial Joys: having such a reverend esteem of all, as if you were among the Angels. The bride of a monarch, in her husband's chamber, hath no such causes of delight as you.

          You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars: and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you. Till you can sing and rejoice and delight in God, as misers do in gold, and Kings in scepters, you never enjoy the world.

          Till your spirit filleth the whole world, and the stars are your jewels; till you are as familiar with the ways of God in all Ages as with your walk and table; till you are intimately acquainted with that shady nothing out of which the world was made; till you love men so as to desire their happiness, with a thirst equal to the zeal of your own; till you delight in God for being good to all: you never enjoy the world.
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          Nov 19 2011: One final note Natasha...

          As the symbolic passages above evoke the light, so too can language evoke the depths of the darkness within each of us :

          “In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
          I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
          I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
          A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
          I live between the heron and the wren,
          Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

          What's madness but nobility of soul
          At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
          I know the purity of pure despair,
          My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
          That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
          Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

          A steady storm of correspondences!
          A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
          And in broad day the midnight comes again!
          A man goes far to find out what he is--
          Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
          All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

          Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
          My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
          Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
          A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
          The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
          And one is One, free in the tearing wind.”

          ― Theodore Roethke

          God...I hope this tranlates well !

          And so my understanding of the value of Symbolism is that it provides us with a mirror, and a compass ... or rather these days, a GPS of the Heart, to let us know where we are on the Adventure of discovering Who we are!

          What was that guy's name who said :

          "I am the way, the truth and the life!"

          Oh never mind...it doesn't matter...dead words from a dead man...signifying nothing.
        • Nov 19 2011: "I am the way, the truth and the life!"
          I don't know who that guy was, but he was alive and was perfectly aware of it !!!

          Hi, Denis !!!

          Thanks for your comments and sorry for the delay with my response, I haven't found them till now.I think you are correct in your interpretation.Mind is the bridge between formless and form And "form" is not more real than "formless" ; a particle is not more real than a wave. And here is the crucial key, for "reality " and " consciousness ", "mind" and "matter" are not separate. Somehow it makes the measurable matter the stuff that dreams are made of ! Crazy idea, but think about it ! In deep meditation or in the state of creative bliss,the distinction vanishes,so that the seer is the seen.
          Jesus said :" WHEN YOU MAKE INNER AS THE OUTER, THEN YOU SHALL ENTER THE KINGDOM "
          What is it about? Let's ask Kathy, she is an expert, but I guess Krishnamurti, I've quoted "Consciousness is its Content" captured the essence of it.
          We've started to explore "Symbol" and inevitably we need to delve more deeply into the questions, age old question :
          What is real?" Who are we? " What is consciousness / matter / mind...? The list can go on and on... ad infinitum. And no wonder,
          because we can't "comprehend a part without comprehending the whole"

          Thanks for "It is the dream of a single dreamer, in which all the dream characters are themselves dreaming."
          Again, I have no idea what it is about , but it's so true ! :) And beautiful !

          Thank you !!!
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          Nov 19 2011: Wow !

          Now we are communicating !

          You stated: "In deep meditation or in the state of creative bliss,the distinction vanishes,so that the seer is the seen."

          Absolutely !

          And that state of being is exactly what happens when through a sacred symbol, all sense of self and other dissolves ! Who are we then !?! Ha!

          It can also happen in moments of esthetic arrest !

          And thank you for the quote from the Gospel of Thomas ... its one of my favourites ! By the way... it was Jesus who said " I am the way, the truth and the life.! " Again, I was trying to be humourous...

          "And here is the crucial key, for "reality " and " consciousness ", "mind" and "matter" are not separate."

          YES!!!!!! that is exactly what I was trying to say in the above posting !

          Until we See that [God - Universe - self] are not three separate realities, but that they are merely ideas that sustain an illusion... we live in darkness. However, Symbols have a way of bringing Light into our darkness ... IF we stop mis-reading the symbols as facts.

          Kathy will probably not agree with this...but she has found her way...I have found mine... and ultimately... does it matter? Ha!

          Its the Joy of living in the Sacred that counts... because it is from this Awareness that Love flows !

          When you See that everything you perceived as "other" is actually who you are in different form ... all fear falls away, and you see with the eyes of a child...and the world becomes a playground once again !

          But this playground too ... has its dark side, and tragedy is just as real ! To Love, despite all the evil and suffering, is the greatest challenge we face.

          "It is easy to live as a holy man on a mountain top !" ~ Somerset Maughm

          But if we See that who we think of as "other" is actually another child of God, to speak metaphorically, the chance of loving relationship increases dramatically!

          Thank you for your patience with me Natasha... it means alot to me!

          My Passion can easily be mis-read!
        • Nov 20 2011: Hi, Denis !
          You posted 12 hours ago, it's a long distance :) At last Time and Space are reconciled in one dimension, literally !

          "By the way... it was Jesus who said " I am the way, the truth and the life.! " Again, I was trying to be humorous..."
          - You've managed ! :)
          OOPS, sorry, Jesus, I haven't recognised you ! Forgive me my innocent blasphemy!
          Actually it's funny ,I was amazed with this quote, it really carried the massage of a deep insight and my first comment was:
          ... he was alive and was perfectly aware of it and maybe never dead !!! I swear, it sounded like this, but there was a moment of hesitation, I was doubting about the grammar, is it possible to say "never dead" in English and removed it.
          First impulse is the most true !

          Denis, I don't quite understand your repeated warning ; don't misread the symbols as facts. Maybe we are boiling down to semantics here, it's often the case, but what do you mean by "fact'?' "Manifestation" or something else ?

          And no more misreading ! I enjoy our conversation, it's a luxury of human communication, no " patience " required !
          You know, my search for Truth has brought me to a simple revelation : All is One. It's like to know the familiar place for the first time.And everything start to converge..." Love everything that IS " is my daily mantra now. I can't say that I've managed, "your neighbour" is the most difficult part, sometimes :) But it's much easier for me now
          and most impotently it's a real joy to go this way !

          Have a nice day !
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          Nov 20 2011: Hi again!

          I hope you had a wonderful day !

          I just wanted to clarify some of the ideas that I have expressed...and I don't think the communication difficulty is simply semantic...there may be some deeper differences occuring here...I don't know! But I do like to examine the differences...that's how I learn !

          First of all...I believe that all “facts” are created by the perspective we take on “reality”. However, in the title to this posting, I am using the word fact in this sense : an idea which has a one-to-one correspondence to what is presently occuring.

          In the Scientific method, humanity discovered a way to discover, and verify, what is actually the case in an empirical sense... and it never even attempts to establish absolute truth ! The beauty of Science is that it is willing to change its account of “reality” if new evidence emerges that does not fit the current facts.

          Unprovable assertions do not interest it... testable hypothesis do!

          The scientists whom I have spoken with, are more than willing to acknowlege the limitations of this method : that their descriptions are only in the domain of the empirically verifiable, and what is “fact” at one moment...can be seen as nonsense the next !

          What was discovered however, in the early 20th century, was that the ideas that apply to one “level” of reality may not apply to another “level”. It became apparent that Newtonian physics was no longer able to account for phenomenon in the sub-atomic and astronomic “levels”of what was occuring.

          And its not that Newtonian physics was tossed out... it was supplemented by the discoveries of Einstein, Schrodinger, Heisenberg and others. Our technologies had advanced so much, that we needed a new way of considering “what the hell is really going on here anyway !” Ha!

          Now, with respect to the so-called “inner” world, people like Freud and Jung were attempting to use the scientific method in their research, in an effort to name the patterns they recognized “within” us.
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          Nov 20 2011: (2 of 3)

          BTW, I have a friend in Mensa, (and “No - I am not a member!”), who made a very interesting remark to me recently.

          He said,“IQ tests don't really test intellegence.They test how well you do Intellegence tests! ”

          Well... that struck me Symbolically !

          Can the same idea be applied to our scientific approach to “what is real” ?!?!?!?!
          What if Science does not reveal “the way it is”...but only how it appears to the Scientific mind !

          And soooo... I believe that all “facts” are created by the perspective we take.

          My preference is to hold all factual and symbolic truths as tentative ! This way, I remain more Open to what is occuring!
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          Nov 20 2011: (3 of 3)

          So you asked about my “repeated warning; don't misread the symbols as facts”...

          Through Science we have acquired some very useful knowledge of the reality of the “outer” world. The fact that you are reading this statement demonstrates its value!

          Through Symbol we can acquire some very profound Awareness of the “inner” world, to help us to “make the unconscious, conscious.”

          But to believe that a Symbol has a one-to-one correspondence with empirical reality [ e.g. God is above us, looking down, with all the choirs of angels, (except for You!)] is to totally misread a Symbol for a fact. To even claim “God is within us” which I sometimes do, is a Metaphorical truth... God is not accessed through the Pineal Gland, or wherever your friend wants to place Her! God is NOT a fact... nor is it a fact, that God is not... God is a Symbol... perhaps initially intended to evoke our awareness of what is Sacred...our Being here!

          To mistake a Symbol, for a fact is to fall under an illusion ... but this is just my opinion, not a fact !

          Symbols are meant to Open our awareness ... they are mis-used, in my not-so-humble opinion, if we use them as an “Atlas of Reality : The Big Picture.” Not only does this mislead people...there are often powers of influence at play which desire subservience. ( e.g. I KNOW the truth - I will show you - my Image is the correct one – here is what you need to do – and inevitably, the person or group is controlling you ! )

          If this takes place, you end up participating in the same Idolatry that science has freed us from ... the notion of an Absolute Truth !

          Affectionately,
          Denis

          P.S. Here, in my humble opinion, is a more appropriate use of Mythological images... and though we might never meet ... I hope it helps you to understand where I am coming from ok? Enjoy !
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeuyoyMIF0Q
        • Nov 21 2011: And then one day you came back home
          You were a creature all in rapture
          You had the key to your soul
          And you did open
          That day you came back

          To the garden

          We are not debating, Denis, we are searching the way back to the garden !
          And each of us is on his/her own path. But make no mistake, no path is standing apart from the others , nothing is standing apart, no thing.
          You have respect for science, so do I. But I don't think that empirical observation is standing apart from spiritual experience, and why they should if Matter, Mind and Consciousness are not ? ! I strongly believe that there is a point where they are reconciled, complementing each other and leading to one summit, which is unattainable, you may call it "Ultimate Truth " or "Mind of God "
          I do not trust anybody who claims he KNOWS ! It is simply not possible , but I do have respect for different paths, they are also mine,
          Almighty Entanglement !
          With all my heart I wish you good luck with yours !
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          Nov 21 2011: Well thanks Natasha !

          Good luck with your Path as well ! And if I sounded like I was debating, I was simply trying to clarify for you my “repeated warning; don't misread the symbols as facts”.

          Yes the paths are many, but the dangers too!

          That's what makes it a spiritual Adventure !!!

          All the very best to you !
          Denis
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        Nov 17 2011: Dear Kathy,

        When saying something exists, the burden of proof lies with that statement.
        Proving nonexistence can only be done probabilistic: the more you search and not find it, the more likely it does not exist. one can also compare the likelihood of the existence with those things that already exist and see if it is compatible with fitting worldviews.

        Anyway: Angels fall into the same category as leprechuans, elves and flying carpets: you can imagine them, but they don't refer to outer reality: i.e. they are fantasy. You can use them in symbolism, as Denis indicates.

        As for measurable: any form of energy is measurable, or it is not energy (our tools drill down to the lowest state of energy possible). Other than that: if something exerts an influence on something else, then we have indirect evidence of existence (following a causal chain). The idea is always that it must be measurable in principle (have an effect on reality).

        As final remark: explanations that are hard to vary are the ones you might want to prefer (I'm refering to David Deutsch here). Parochial explanations (like yours) aren't.
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        Nov 19 2011: Kathy,
        I think I clearly made a difference between physical reality and how it is perceived in the brain.
        Your relativistic approach impedes any advancement in knowledge about that physical reality.
        I don't think that furthering this discussion will be fruitful.
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    Nov 22 2011: Just wanted to say “Thanks!” to all of you who participated in this discussion, and tolerated my lengthy responses. It has been very rewarding for me, not just in terms of getting to know various perspectives, but also in relation to my growing awareness of what can go well, and what can go wrong, in this strange medium. I really do appreciate your openness around this most difficult topic !

    Soooo...at the risk of oversimplifying, four manners of seeking truth emerged :

    1. through facts... the way of Science
    2. through paradox “and” beyond paradox
    3. through interpreted symbols... the way of religious Tradition...Kabbala , Christianity, Judaism etc.
    4. through uninterpreted symbols... the way of Art...music, painting, poetry etc.

    Reading back through the conversation, I was struck by how persistently ( myself included ) some of us defended our views, with respect to our understanding of facts and symbols. It doesn't seem that any of us wanted to restrict our seeking to a single method, but there were certain assumptions, and limitations about alternative methods that we strongly resisted.

    As some of you may know, I am very new to this form of communication... and I suspect that there are many “unwritten rules” here that I still have to learn.

    It was good to meet you all, and my apologies if I appeared disrespectful to any of you !

    All the Best !
    Denis

    P.S. If you have any input that you would like to add... there may still be time !
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    • Nov 20 2011: Hi, Kathy !!!
      It's nice you are here, as always helpful ! Actually Denis has already revealed me the truth who that man was, IS , but it has always been a problem for me to understand why
      "No one comes to the Father except through me." Now I see how it's true !
      Thank you!
      And one more point I' d like to ask you to clarify. I quoted in one of my posts: " WHEN YOU MAKE INNER AS THE OUTER, THEN YOU SHALL ENTER THE KINGDOM "
      and equated it with Krishnamurti mystic insight "Consciousness is its Content" . I understand it this way, but I'd like to know your expert opinion :)
      Or better take the extend version :
      " When you make the two one, and
      when you make the inner as the outer
      and the outer as the inner
      and the above
      as the below, and when
      you make the male and the female into a single one
      then you enter the Kingdom.''

      Thank you !
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      Nov 20 2011: Hi Don,
      I've just read through a lot of what's been said and love what I see.
      Little testosterone here as we can't suspect Kathy to have much of it.
      She's firm and true to herself, that she is.
      She can't make Christoph see what she sees but that's normal for if people talk they usually look in opposite directions. To see the same way one has to turn around.
      Natasha though has solved that problem as she says: "we can't comprehend a part without comprehending the whole". Indeed if you can't see it in within the totality you can't see it for what it is.
      You may call it God. So all is within God as it is the only way to be omnipresent.
      You can't touch God because to touch anything it has to be separate from you thus the only one you can touch are those that have separate themselves from God, those that suffer. That's where compassion comes in. What about justice?
  • Nov 18 2011: Kathy K,

    When you assert, repeatedly, things like: "emotions, psychology; and mind are not generated by anything physical; they don’t come from the body but are expressed by the body" or "they are elements of consciousness which doesn’t die;” or when you talk affirmatively about the existence of “angels”, demons”, the "body of energy", "the Chakra"…etc…, when you assert all these things, may I ask you about the bases of this knowledge?

    Oh! We live in the 21st century but our minds still lingering in the past…
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      Nov 19 2011: Don !

      That was very kind of you to get back to me... I just loved that book when I first encountered it in my twenties.
      And thank you for the clue to understanding Christophe!

      The Russian author Tolstoy is quoted in this book, where he includes a story which spoke to him in his darkest time. It certainly helped get me through mine... and i have been quoting it ever since. It is one of the finest examples of the potency of Symbol that I have ever read :

      "The oriental fable of the traveler, surprised in the desert by a wild beast, is very old.

      Seeking to save himself from the fierce animal, the traveler jumps into a well with no water in it; but at the bottom of this well he sees a dragon, waiting with open mouth to devour him. And the unhappy man, not daring to go out, as he might be the prey of the beast, not daring to jump to the bottom, as he would be devoured by the dragon, clings to the branches of a wild bush which grows out of one of the cracks of the well.

      His hands weaken, and he feels that he must soon give way to certain fate...

      But still he clings, and sees two mice, one white, the other black, evenly moving round the bush on which he hangs, and gnawing off its roots.

      The traveler sees this and knows that he must inevitably perish; but while hanging there, he sees on the leaves of the branch some drops of honey. These he reaches with his tongue and licks them off in rapture."
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    Nov 15 2011: hey, even science asks for that one maricle. God is either everything, or isnt.
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      Nov 19 2011: Hey Tim !

      To Science, G*D is a useless hypothesis !
      The only Miracle that I know of is ...here we are!

      Forgive my not so humble opinion... please...

      G*D is neither everything, nor nothing.
      G*D is a Symbol for the inexpressable Mystery of Who we are!

      Thanks to your comment, I think I finally understand why Leonard Cohen spells God "G-D".
      I suspect it is out of respect for his Tradition...just speculating!
  • Nov 15 2011: Think of all the wars and pain which that simple realization would have stopped! I have always been an ecumenist b/c I've always felt the key to understanding each other is to understand the passion of belief, the thing that inspires us to to be outstanding and to aspire to connect to each other. Consider also that the east considers as idealistic all the things we consider realistic (money, property, etc), and vice-versa- what we consider idealistic they consider realistic (love, respect, faith, passion). In the words of a modern poet: "I saw you asking for western thinking / I say it's poison that you'd be drinking / Stay as east, as far away as dreams can let you be." So much for the power of poetry, right? The point being, to me, is that we need to do that which is practically forbidden in our cultures - to open our hearts. Peace, K.Man!
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      Nov 15 2011: Hi Kathy...how are ya?

      I actually had you in mind as well when I wrote the above posting to Natasha...(1,2,3 of 3)

      I have a difficult time with nailing down interpretations of Symbols ... it turns them into concepts, like inner facts... but I do at times succumb to the temptation to interpret. Personally, when the Symbolic moment occurs, I tend to let the Symbols speak for themselves ... in Myth, in dream, or just in everyday life. It is AS IF reality were trying to communicate... and it does!

      The Kabbala is not something I have ventured into ... but it certainly seems like a very rich approach ! Very ancient too... isn't it ?

      My only real contact with the Jewish faith was through Martin Buber, and of course through Christianity. The Hasidic Masters were like the Sufi's of Judaism... again, rich in Symbol.

      I really did not want to delve into the various cultural/religious symbols, but it always amazes me when I see parallels between the various systems. If you start a Conversation here on TED about the Kabbala... let me know ok? The Garden of Eden myth simply fascinates me !

      I will certainly drop by and see what I can learn / contribute!

      All the Best !
      Denis
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          Nov 15 2011: Well Kathy...

          Given the way things have been going in my one and only chat-room experience, I doubt very much if i will be starting any more coversations any time soon.

          The potential for misunderstanding seems far greater than my ability to communicate in this strange place.

          When I said "I actually had you in mind as well when I wrote the above posting to Natasha...(1,2,3 of 3)" ... it was because when I had read your posting, I saw your interest in Symbolism, and I was already in the middle of elaborating on my own personal understanding of Symbolism in Natasha's post.

          This is far too much of a strain for me... what Joy there was... has left...

          So all the best to you...

          Maybe see ya around ... who knows?
    • Nov 15 2011: Kathy!!!
      Thank you for being here!

      So God is not "neither “is” nor “is not” . ,but "IS" like "E" !
      Is it a new symbol for the "Age of reason" ?

      If you start a conversation about ..../the choice is yours/ it will be great !
      Thank you!
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      Nov 15 2011: Yeah...

      The whole "idea in the brain" thing was to simply illustrate how silly it is to turn a symbol into a fact.

      And ... yes... truth does dawn on us through symbol....

      The organic chemist August Kekulé claimed that a ring in the shape of Ouroboros that he saw in a dream inspired him in his discovery of the structure of the benzene ring.

      So yes... Truth does break through Symbol, as well as through the scientific method !

      And where do those Hypothesis' come from anyway... if not from the Depth ?

      As to levels of consciousness... for sure... but I do not know what you mean by :

      "...we perceive our levels of consciousness through our senses..."

      Can you give me an example?
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      Nov 15 2011: Sorry Don ...?????

      Have we met ?

      I found the informality of your posting very odd...?
      D.
  • Nov 14 2011: Through innocence and open hearts we will be happy. Who knows.

    It's hard for me to not point out that J probably never said anything like what we were told he did. Read about the construction of the King James Bible and you are lead to the conclusion that the New Testament was likely a well intentioned work meant to keep people from reverting back to Paganism while they were being forced to give in to Roman rule, not to mention being persecuted.

    As a a person always in religious recovery, though, the words do feel comforting to hear as they were taken in practically at the breast. I say, whatever get's you through the night- it's alright (as long as the church isn't hurting anybody . . . . oh well, so much for that!). Peace!
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      Nov 14 2011: Yeah...

      It is very hard to trust anything that has come down to us... I totally agree. This isn't the time or place to get into Xian symbolism either... but there truly is a purity of heart... and as this happens, the Sermon on the Mount mentions, we shall see God...or as you put it, "the source within each one of us".

      Sorry David ... I will need to cut short this posting, as it is getting late here...and I have an early start...
      may I get back to you on this topic?

      k man?
      D.
      • Nov 14 2011: please, please do, and thank you.
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          Nov 15 2011: And so David... the key for me... was the recognition that all of those Xian symbols, which I tried to abolish as an antequated world view, actually had to do with my own awareness. You cannot toss out a symbol like you can a fact! So I had to learn how to read them mythically, instead of factually.

          The Crucifixion, Resurrection, Heaven, Hell, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit... are not real in ANY factual sense, as far as I know, ... which is something that most Xians won't accept ... because they feel that otherwise they have built their faith on a lie... well... NO...they have not... they are simply mis-reading these Symbols (hence the capital letters!) as facts pertaining to an inner world, an outer world, or some after-world.

          Its sad really... because we can all come into the same awareness that J. had... that, to use his most central metaphor: The Kingdom of God is within you. I personally believe that it was the following utterence that got him killed : I and the Father are one !

          J. taught in parables for a reason... that help awaken our awareness of the Sacred... and do not ask me to define that term... for that would be place limits on what is inconceivably real... but not-temporal...not-spatial... the Ground of Being... to use Tillich's metaphor... to avoid the notion of God as a Supreme Being.

          Hope this helps... but still... the Ground of your being is one with the Ground of all Being..."God...in whom we live and move and have our being ! "

          Hope this helps k... get back to me if you want...!
  • Nov 13 2011: God is not dead, but the construct we created called god is too feeble to explain our human passion to connect to each other and that source within each of us. I am a recovering Catholic and it took years to erase the dogma and pessimism from my own spirit and way of life. I know it was right to do so for me personally, though the thing I miss most is ritual. I was telling a friend that I want to visit a Baptist service this Sunday so I can be around their wonderful expression and passion for the world and each other- that sense of community. I want to feel the songs as they fill the spaces, and to share the touch and the tears, and to be somewhere I feel free to cry out to the heavens for guidance with other people not afraid to express themselves before each other. Find THAT on the Internet.

    BTW, I think the Internet should be free and devoid of advertising and profit- a source of collective information and ideas only with no agenda - owned by the world. We better do it soon though because it is becoming pure consumerism at it's worst at this point. Thank the gods for TED for making it vibrant place again! (at least for those who can still take the time to read and think).
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      Nov 14 2011: David...

      I am curious... what do you think J. meant by :

      " Become as little children, and ye shall enter the Kingdom "

      Forgive me for being so direct, but I too am a recovering Catholic LOL, and it took me a long time to reconcile two world views, that of Science and Religion.

      To me, the man always used metaphors, symbols, parables and whatever else he had at his disposal, to Open the hearts and minds of his people. Isn't it interesting that, as far as we know, the only words he wrote were in the sand ?

      The expression "God is dead" is itself a metaphor... for Nietzsche could see the collapse of faith, and the advent of nihilism!

      Here was his view:

      "Christianity is a stone rolled across the tomb, preventing the Resurrection."

      And although he had plenty to say against the ideas that were brought into the early church through Paul, I don't ever recall him writting against the person of Jesus...but I may be wrong about this later point. I do know how much Nietzsche admired his use of symbols though!
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    Nov 11 2011: With this kind of questions I'm apt to think about the painting of René Magritte, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe".
    (This isn't a pipe)
    See image:
    http://www.hexalto-editions.com/blog/la-perception-du-monde/

    Is it, or is it not?
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      Nov 12 2011: Ah Frans...

      That's brilliant !

      It reminds me of a saying from the linguist Alfred Korzybski : "The map is not the territory!"

      What a wonderful piece of Art !

      So you ask : Is it, or is it not?
      My answer: Neither "is" nor "is not" !

      The message is in the understanding !

      I was hoping that you would drop by...

      Thank you Frans... and I'll look forward to getting to know you better !

      See you again soon ?!
      Denis
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        Nov 12 2011: Hi Denis,
        "The map is not the territory!", this sentence was directly under that picture in French.

        Denis, if it's a pipe you can fill it with tabacco and light it with a flame. See what happens if you try that with the painting. So an image of something isn't the real thing whether it is a name, a description or a painting.

        Nice topic.
  • Nov 11 2011: Ha, that is good!! I will be back when I stop chuckling. Thank you, I needed a smile and a chuckle today! ( I mean this respect to you! ) :)
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    Nov 11 2011: well, I do have a few thought, one is, I believe just because god ceases to have a certain meaning, that word can evolve and take on a new meaning. so for me, some things I know will come full circle and god is one of them. For me, I haven't studied chinese lit., for long but 2 things stand out, 1. I need to learn the language to truely know the books, and 2) the open-ended non-difinative way of writing strikes a chord with me, as does the pointed direct way of the english text. For me, big picture, all writings we are discussing here have truth in them as well as non-truth and I seem to feel and understand that when I read and reflext. Most writings are very simple and as things become symetric in one's life with those writings then truth is there. thats my 2 cents! Peace.
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      Nov 11 2011: The message is in the understanding.
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      Nov 12 2011: Well Brian...

      Again you have raised some interesting ideas !

      Sometimes I need to let go of ALL images of reality, and especially god-ideas. Not only does this keep me from falling into the “error of the found truth”, but it also creates a space in which a deeper/higher awareness can occur...where all sense of “self and other” simply falls away... and what remains is '' '' ! It is from such a space that new images, metaphors, and ideas are born... and, in an effort to capture or express what I've seen, the world of the senses provides me with its overwelming abundence! (Something very similar to this approach can also takes place in moments of esthetic arrest !)

      I suspect that the ideographic nature of the Chinese language, is a far better medium than our own, as a means of expressing these deeper realizations. Good luck with the learning process on that... its something that I always wanted to do as well...and still might !

      I also believe that every image, idea, symbol and metaphor both conceals AND reveals the ineffable mystery of this moment.

      I'm curious though what you mean by when you state “things become symetric in one's life with those writings then truth is there.” Is it like the idea of resonance... when you are living what the words so perfectly express... you are living in truth?

      Thanks Brian!
      Denis
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    Nov 10 2011: Ah, sweet mystery of life,at last I've found Thee ! I love that song
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      Nov 11 2011: ...Ah! I know at last the secret of it all !

      Or...how about this one :

      Amazing Grace...how sweet the sound...that saved a wretch like me
      I once was lost...but now I'm found...was blind...but now...I See !

      Or:

      Ring the bells that still can ring... forget your perfect offering... there is a crack, a crack, in everything...that's how the Light gets in !

      But the problem with so many intellectuals is that their minds are “baffled” by the way Symbols operate... and the mythological is seen as being equivalent to a fantasy, or a lie... just because it is not “empirically verifiable.”

      However, a net of concepts, when thrown into the Ocean, always comes up empty. If only they would let go of their thoughts, and plumb the depths of their own silence...ah...but I suspect, that would be a little more than many of them could handle !

      Anyway Helen... I think you and I need to get a Choir started around here... or even better... we'll start a band and call ourselves The Grateful TED... we could go on tour to those conferences, and before too long, people would start to get what Symbols are about... ALL symbols ! TED-heads would start to follow us from city to city... but damn...I'm sorry Helen... I think I'm having one of those weird flashbacks again... I dunno...

      Anyway... thanks for your words... they Spoke to me!

      All the Best !
      Denis
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        Nov 11 2011: Hello Denis......You just absolutely blew me away. I wish I could present concepts like that. But I am grateful that I can read posts like yours. That brings me to The Grateful Ted thought and yes, that is a great idea. Really had a good laugh for which I am grateful. Gratefully yours. Helen
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          Nov 12 2011: Helen...

          You are very kind, and I too am very Grateful... but not yet dead !

          I went to the local Rememberence Day commemoration... at the War Memorial ... the reverential beauty of these shared communal moments ... is something so rare...it induces a sense of the Sacred.

          I can only hope that this 'sense' is never lost !

          Gratefully TED,
          Denis
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        Nov 12 2011: Hi, I cannot travel anymore but I watched the activities on TV and it brought tears to my eyes, just thinking of those brave men who put their lives on the line......I would hope that I could be one iota as brave. And I too have wondered about where the sense of the Sacred was lost ?
        Oh, that we would remember and honor that which makes our hearts expand. Again, thanks for a wonderful thread !!!
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        Nov 12 2011: Denis! Leonard Cohen! I love it! I would love to join this choir!
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    Nov 10 2011: Well at least now we can all agree that he's man made, as all symbols are. Here's the problem though. Religion seems to define itself as a majority belief. Whatever the majority believe about their faith is what goes. There will always be those few people who have thought about faith tremendously hard and have suggested a certain kind of God that's not immediately the kind of God say Dawkins or Hitchens argue about. However, most religious people will not be able to identify with the sophisticated notion of a God that some person has come up with. So atheists make no mistake in arguing against what is the common perception of God, they are arguing against the God or Gods that are believed by the everyday man who doesn't think about God the way you do for example.
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      Nov 11 2011: Hi there Matthieu !
      You have indeed touched upon a major difficulty in, not only the Science-Religion dialogue, but also within the inter-faith, and the inta-faith dialogues.

      I personally do not see that there really is any conflict between Science and Religion, between symbol and fact. They are simply two ways of knowing, the same event. Granted...one is Rational, the other... and I hesitate to use this term...Intuitive. One works well with the so-called “material world”, the other with the so-called “inner” world ... and just to be clear... this draws a line that DOES NOT really exist !

      It seems that many religious types, especially the fundementalists who take there scripture literally, often mistake symbolic truths for factual ones. Christians, for example, might believe that the Garden of Eden was a geographical location, thousands of years ago. In so doing, however, they often fail to “get” the deeper symbolic truth that is embedded in the details of that story. You see to me, this Myth is as true today as it was the day on which it was written...but only in the SYMBOLIC sense, and only for the Western mind. Its as if it were a mirror which reflects the truth of our ”inner” lives.

      However, what happened in most religions, stories similar to this one were taught and taken as statements of fact... and as time went on, and new interpretations of these Stories took place... new sects emerged, each claiming THE authoritative interpretation. And so... what was once mythology, became ideology. As I see it, every conceptual interpretation of Symbol as a fact, is idolatry.

      Let me give you another example, and it is hypothetical, and I certainly do not mean to offend any Christian or Jewish people who might read this...ok?

      ( continued below)
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      Nov 11 2011: Roughly 2000 years ago, a man saw the impact that a particular image of God - the Almighty Judge - was having on his people. [He turned inward, and chose a different Symbol...abba, Dad, Father ... perhaps because he wanted to communicate something of the inner reality of love...who knows? However, the authorities may have been threatened by this Symbol ]* ... and the rest is history, as we say.

      Now...centuries later...in light of our scientific understanding, we know that “Heaven” is not up there, and the Father was actually a Symbol, not a fact. However, to toss out the Symbol at this point, is to fail to intuit the import of the Symbol.

      Now let me change metaphors to see if I can “suggest”, and I really don't like doing this, what this “God the Father” symbol might mean for people.

      For millenia, we have stood in awe of the fact that we existed... that the universe existed... and we wondered at our relationship to it all. It seemed at least to many of us that Mother Nature was providing us with everything that we needed to sustain ourselves...and more besides . Now, isn't that exactly what a loving father would do for his children ? And so, many characteristics of God, of the Mystery, were personified and taken in to the Father image.... and yes, once again, and thanks to the authorities, the image was propagated as fact.

      This reminds me of something that I wrote awhile ago in poetic form:

      When God fell
      from that Copernican sky
      nearly five centuries ago

      do you know where He landed ?

      Dead
      in the Heart
      of humanity

      Not quite the return
      we had hoped for.

      But the Divine does not die so easily
      and the Resurrection is imminent
      in precisely the place
      where God has landed :

      Here
      in the Heart
      of each of Us.

      Now such poetry of course cannot be taken as fact anymore ... except perhaps by a literalist, who, to use another metaphor, has bigger fish to fry: “Hey Marge... let's have Dawkins over for dinner!” Ha!

      * EDITED
      (continued below)
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        Nov 15 2011: Hi Denis, I wish I had the stamina to respond as prolifically as you in these threads. It is such an interesting one. Unfortunately I'll be briefer perhaps than I should be, but here's hoping I'll get my meaning across.

        I don't take offense (I'm Jewish) at your narrative of J's novel conception of God,"discovering Abba", but I do lament that you go with the narrative of how this all came to be in post-Torah scripture. J did not discover anything if he discovered abba, Jews understood the father/child relationship that humanity has with God just as they do the mother/child relationship humanity has with God, just as they do the king/subject relationship that humanity has with God... and so on.

        What Judaism was lacking was not the understanding, it was the imperative/skill to teach it to others. J didn't understand something that Jews didn't in the abba perspective, he, if it raelly was he, misunderstood what the Torah was truly teaching already
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          Nov 15 2011: Wow...thank you for that Dave!

          But I fear my knowledge of the Torah is sparce to say the least... having only read selections of what Xians call the Old Testament, in English, with all the additions, and changes that have come down to us through the centuries, through several languages.

          J. was formed in the Jewish faith, and it never even dawned on me that " the father/child ... mother/child...king/subject relationship" were already present within it...huge mistake... and I am very sorry that I have misrepresented the facts.

          Dave... that's very thoughtful of you to take the time to correct my misunderstanding...

          Is your knowledge of the Torah such that you can suggest where I might find where J got these metaphors from? This is a real eye-opener for me.

          " Fools rush in where angels fear to tread ! "

          Thanks Dave !

          And BTW, I read somewhere recently that some translators are rendering the Tetragammaton " I Become Who I Become "...which symbolically has very dynamic connotations. Unfortunately, I do not know if they were Jewish or Christian scholars who did this...but I will try to find out...and what the reactions were within the various religious communities.
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      Nov 11 2011: Anyway Matthieu, I know that's alot to digest ... and I am not here to push my poetry, or the view point of this posting, upon anyone...ok? The poem is merely an illustration of the tensions and harmonies that can exist between the two kinds of “knowing” , and how the material of one domain, FACT, can “nourish” the inner domain of SYMBOL !

      Any thoughts?
      Denis
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        Nov 12 2011: Your view reminds me a lot of pantheism. I think that it's fair to say that this view of God comes from intuition, although not our intuition I'd say, fed by the rational as it is, but the intuition of the early men of our species who first put a father figure in charge of the universe because that seemed to fit with their experienced cycle of life. Other symbolic ways of looking at nature then followed.
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          Nov 12 2011: Hi again!

          I suspect Matthieu that the reason my view reminded you of pantheism, is due to a spelling error in the poem I posted above. It has since been corrected...sorry about that !

          The notion of a universal substance, say for instance the “ether”, is an entirely unnecessary addition to the “Event”, for lack of an adequate term. Even Kant's idea of the noumenal... an addition? We will never know for sure!

          God – how we love to read stabilities into the dynamic! Ha!

          We want to see order, in chaos...it helps us relax !

          The so-called “real” and the “apparent” may simply be ideas...nothing more!

          (continued...)
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          Nov 12 2011: Here is a passage from Nietzsche's notebooks :

          “The feeling of valuelessness was reached with the realization that the overall character of existence may not be interpreted by means of the concept of "aim," the concept of "unity," or the concept of "truth." Existence has no goal or end; any comprehensive unity in the plurality of events is lacking: the character of existence is not "true," is false. One simply lacks any reason for convincing oneself that there is a true world. Briefly: the categories "aim," "unity," "being" which we used to project some value into the world—we pull out again; so the world looks valueless.

          Suppose we realize how the world may no longer be interpreted in terms of these three categories, and that the world begins to become valueless for us after this insight: then we have to ask about the sources of our faith in these three categories. Let us try if it is not possible to give up our faith in them. Once we have devaluated these three categories, the demonstration that they cannot be applied to the universe is no longer any reason for devaluating the universe.

          Conclusion: The faith in the categories of reason is the cause of nihilism. We have measured the value of the world according to categories that refer to a purely fictitious world.”

          We cling to our world views like children, afraid to look under the bed !

          “Freedom 's just another word for nothing left to lose !” Kris Kristopherson
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    Nov 10 2011: I would defer to the Tao Te Ching and say I believe the word god, is probably a bad description, thanks to mankind and our obsession with labeling and naming. The " " is beyond words, can not be named or called upon or prayed aloud to.
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      Nov 11 2011: Hi Brian...

      I think I know what you are getting at here... and i like what you are suggesting!
      The Tao Te Ching is one of my favorite “wisdom” books.... I almost wrote “sacred” !

      Here is John Wu's translation of the opening :

      Tao can be talked about, but not the Eternal Tao.
      Names can be named, but not the Eternal Name.

      As the origin of heaven-and-earth, it is nameless:

      As “the Mother” of all things, it is nameable.

      So, as ever hidden, we should look at its inner essence:

      As always manifest, we should look at its outer aspects.

      These two flow from the same source, though differently named;
      
And both are called mysteries.

      The Mystery of mysteries is the Door of all essence.

      As you say, the word god is not a good descriptive of what Lao tzu was wanting to communicate.

      In the contemplative movements of the Islamic-Judeo-Christian tradition, many individuals have recognized the ineffable nature of '' ''. Because the symbol “GOD” has been loaded down with so many conceptual AND metaphorical associations, the word is almost useless if we try to use it in any descriptive manner... too many attached meanings, by too many sects, each having their own authoritative ideas on the Symbol. But that's ideology...not mythology !

      The Symbolic nature of the above passage can certainly have transformative impact on the reader, and need not be dismissed as nonsense, because it isn't “fact” !

      Any thoughts?

      All the Best !
      Denis
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        Nov 11 2011: Well put Denis.
        I think similar ideas developed everywhere.
        Trouble started as stories were written down.
        People took the writings to their own aims, to legitimate their claims.
        They called it truth to mend the peoples according to their own interest and weren’t aware that those writings were guides for directing the mind to comprehend the hidden soul or psyche.
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          Nov 12 2011: Yes!!!!!!

          When Stories get written down... this a huge topic !

          Myth becomes Scripture...
          heresy is created !

          Symbols become dogma...
          Galileo is forced to recant ! Bruno and the Wise Women burned!

          Justice becomes law...
          outlaws arise !

          Authority creates rebellion !

          Instead of an Awakening of the Psyche...people are put to sleep.

          What was it James Joyce said :

          "History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken ! "
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        Nov 12 2011: Denis, if I could I would give you many thumbs for this reply.

        If this understanding awakens the human mind makes a real shift in understanding the pitfalls in the world.
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    Nov 10 2011: This God thing is based on a crooked foundation, an externalized idea of an omnipotent guy in the sky, and has been dis-empowering man for thousands of years by caging him in a hell of fear. Look in the mirror to find God, you are the substance of the big bang, a parcel of the universal energy, a hologram of the whole. Find your power of intention in the higher frequencies of heavenly love, right here, right now. Be.
    These endless wonderings, believings, non-believings and idol worshipings are for naught. In the end, we are all the divine creation and the creator. We have been lead astray and just don't get it!
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      Nov 10 2011: Hey there Skipper !

      It sounds to me like you have found your course... and you arrive, even before you leave port !

      “Look in the mirror to find God, you are the substance of the big bang, a parcel of the universal energy, a hologram of the whole”

      That's a beautiful idea ... because we were looking in the wrong direction since we began!

      By personifying God, or what's that other term...anthropomorphicizing... or something like that, we tend to create a divine something/someone somewhere out there !

      Imagine... worshipping our own created image!

      But there's a danger with doing this in the mirror too, don't you think ?

      Hmmm....what was the name of that Greek God ?

      All the Best!
      Denis
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        Nov 18 2011: Hey Fitz, If the "son of man" says he is "one with the father" and tells others "ye are gods", how else can you take that?
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          Nov 19 2011: Hey Captain !

          The beauty of these symbols is that they can bring each of us into that deeper/higher awareness... and if we recover our original purity of heart, if we become as little children...we too will realize that we are already one with the Father.

          You said as much in your original comment :

          "These endless wonderings, believings, non-believings and idol worshipings are for naught. In the end, we are all the divine creation and the creator. We have been lead astray and just don't get it!"

          But if we start thinking "I am God"... we lose the awareness of our inherent Oneness, just as easily as when we were projecting the God image outside of ourselves.

          How about this...?

          Van Morrison : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFEoh8uzkOA
  • Nov 9 2011: I am not sure I can follow your exact line of thinking but would pose some truths I believe are self evident. Man's earlty imagination and wonder at what is and why very probably gave rise to religion.....animism at first and then greater complexity. Those that survived the test of time, the popular religions of today, were in fact the first laws that allowed for civilization to move forward despite war fought (and currently being fought) in the name of a God. Today religion in many areas is an expected norm. It is also fragmented not only in belief systems but within those from extremism to many other definitions. The symbols....be they a set of rosary beads or the movie 2001....that generate reflection can be solace or prayer or continuing wonderment of what is. At a personal level my view is (I hope simple) there is something beyond our imagination that is responsible for what is but what that is I can't answer except to say that it is an order to all things and it was created. It is your choice to attribute that to what you know (and curiously what you do not know). Symbols, ranging from the stick thrown into the air in the movie 2001 by the intelligent ape to a Cross to anything that elicits a sense of wonderment or emotion (music and poetry given your examples) do indeed cause most of us to think. What we do with and where those thoughts lead are personal to each of us. As for truth, your closing, that can be many things....but in the final analysis it is your perception. Hope this helped.....
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      Nov 10 2011: Hi there Stephen !

      Thanks for your comment ... and I'm sorry man... the wording is rather convoluted, and self-referential.

      I agree with your historical perspective though... and what started perhaps with original wonder, and the telling of stories... eventually became politicized. Individuals realized the power of symbol, and often capitalized on it for private and institutional gains ! However, with all the walls around us crumbling, the true beauty of the power of symbol may once again awaken! Consider “Avatar” or “The Matrix” or “Lord of the Rings”. These symbolic works have the power to touch “centers” within our “selves” that we didn't even know were there. Egotism and Materialism are simply a result of not looking into the hidden depths of who we most truly are... and recovering a sense of spirit ( or Spirit or Soul or Creativity or the whatever name you want to give “it”, with or without the capital, before it was co-opted by religion.) It is from the darkest of nights, that Beauty dawns!

      Keep it Real !
      Denis
  • Nov 9 2011: The facts are:

    - all interpretations of 'god' manifest Him as benevolent
    - many, if not the majority (taking history into account), of the actions of those who espouse the concept 'god' fly in the face of a benevolent god's precepts
    - although benevolent, 'god' is not interventionist (except in the über rare cases of, naturally, unverifiable "miracles") and thus lets all manner of atrocity take place every second of every day on His planet, enacted by His children
    - the tenets set forth in the doctrine of 'god', as relayed by the various "prophets", are to be unquestioningly adhered to--an idea that is in direct opposition to his children who are all 'created' to be autonomous free-thinkers

    So, given these facts, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being an everyday schmo who makes the odd boo-boo; 10 being a bone fide, 'euthanase me now, I'm a moron' imbecile who could can't crap without drowning) , what level of idiot would one have to be to think that 'god' is indeed fact?
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      Nov 10 2011: Hmmmm...?

      I know of four letter words that do not have near the evocative power of this three letter Symbol : from the hellish depths of hatred, to the unbearable lightness of Love !

      And as to the kind of idiot that I am my Friend ? I fear that you may never Know!
      Still...

      All the very best to You!
      Denis
  • Nov 9 2011: Wow, that is deep. I got lost reading it.
    Hi Denis, I think this god, is taking a nap. This god is kinda mad at the humans, he or she created. ( nice cut and paste job) With respect! :)
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      Nov 10 2011: god ! god !
      ya there?... wake up!

      There was a bang !
      A big bang !
      god?
      I swear !