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John Taylor

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January 31st, 2007

A Reconciliation, Part II [Jan. 31st, 2007|11:02 am]
John Taylor
[mood |Rocks before a sandy fate]
[music |Story of the Year - Sidewalks]

Oy, this took a lot longer to post than I meant it to. It's been sitting on my laptop for almost a week. Picking up right from my last post...

Now imagine for a moment that all of humanity can be likened to a single human, with the same senses that we have individually. Science becomes a sense, a means of interpreting the world around us. Science could be referred to as the sense of vision, for its ability to see what lies around us. We can observe natural processes and cycles and achieve an understanding of the physical world. As the information we collect about the world through this sense of sight accumulates, we process it on an individual level and use it to shape our lives and societies. The comparison of science as vision is limited though - science extends beyond the merely *human* senses, for through science, we have observed phenomena such as magnetism, gravity and radiation, things we cannot directly see. So think of it instead as all things observable being in the realm of science and being categorized as a single sense. However, just like our own bodies, there are more things around us than what we can directly 'see'.

As we focus only upon one sense, that sense becomes stronger and the rest weaken. Even to some degree, we could say that the sense we use most weakens, because we lose distinction. We lose the ability to perceive in a new way. Keeping your eyes open, everything tends to blur together over time and you become accustomed to looking. Close your eyes for a while and then look at the room again - new things will jump out at you, new details will emerge.

Science has tended to separate mankind from the reality it exists in. This should be done for experimental purposes, but not permanently. Science looks for objectivity in nature and often considers humans as a very large source of error in experimentation. Humans *must* be considered though - there is no removing your humanity from your own understanding. The only way we can learn is through our own personal input, process, and output with the world. The data must be interpreted. That is the nature of the universe, that someone must exist to observe if models are going to be made. The universe needs no models - they're a distinctly human creation.

Senses are integrative. I find it hard to believe that the human brain evolved or was created solely for the purpose of looking at things from a scientific standpoint - science can study, but science does not understand emotion. Science doesn't understand subjectivity. Science doesn't understand sensitivity or spiritual matters. If you place your fingers over your ears, you can claim that the visible world is the only one in existence, that vision is the only way to perceive the world. You might actually begin to believe it. If you close your eyes, you could claim that the only world that existed was that of touch.

Remember that there are an infinite number of phenomena in this universe. Consider that only a tiny fraction of them can be perceived with the human senses - take care to use *all* of your senses, for they are the window to understanding. How do you do this? Work with each sense in isolation and work with it integratively. Darkness is a good exercise for this - our sun naturally sets, but we keep our nights well lit and the darkness at bay with electricity. In the absence of light though, our other senses grow and strengthen. Our society places an emphasis on sight - we've let our other senses take the backseat in order of priority. As such, we can understand the physical world on a deeper level, but we're still missing a lot of the bigger picture.
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A Reconciliation, Part III [Jan. 31st, 2007|11:05 am]
John Taylor
[mood |Befallen amplitudes]
[music |SR-71 - Let It Whip]

Science has its limits. Reason does not, but science itself does. Science is like weather forecasting - it's only accurate so long as reality decides to accomodate it. I have yet to see a scientific field of study that we can say we understand completely. Did you know for example that even the world's best physicists and theorists can't explain why Brazil nuts always rise to the top of a can of nuts? Oh, there's theories, but nobody can say why. Musical theory, medical theory, economic theory, social theory, political theory, quantum theory - there's no solid ground for science to stand on, just a fairly large number of commonly accepted assumptions.

It's all theory! Humans created these theories, and the theories emerged gradually after humans questioned and challenged their own ways of thinking and then checking it against what they could observe.

What happens when something is unobservable and unmeasurable? Let us speak of ghosts for a moment - how many times have you had the hairs on the back of your neck rise for no apparent reason? Had lights flicker nearby, seen a shadow that wasn't really there? Seen a flash of light or a flicker out of the corner of your eye? How often have you thought you heard your name being called and nobody was around and nothing was around to make the sound? Yet how do you interpret it? You place it on a trick of the light or shrug it off as being overtired or mishearing something.

We've let science, a thing of theory and observation, determine how *we* view the world. We let our ideas filter through science before we think about something. Can this be real, can science prove it, can I depend upon others to verify it. You're willing to blame your senses and accept that it's not really happening and that it's all in your imagination, rather than a truth of reality, if it goes against the whims of science. You're limiting your creativity and your imagination to what you think might be possible. Your imagination is one of your greatest assets though - from it, we can produce science. Einstein himself came up with relativity while musing upon what it might be like to 'ride a star, or a moonbeam'.

Think to the master/slave dialectic. We created science and now we've handed it our beliefs, given it a strong voice in how we think the world should be. We've let it tear apart a world of personal insight. We're no longer allowed to believe in something, because it might not be real. We gave science the reins and let it take charge of our lives. As masters, we've given up our freedom and have given up our ability to rise through that dialectic to greater heights of mastery. Why? Science is right some of the time. It's a good system to live by. It's secure, it's firm, it can produce repeatable effects. But we are not always predictable beings!

We are creatures of chaos! We create new patterns! Yet we find ourselves being locked into this one idea of an objective reality, one where things either are or aren't, one of single, simple, causal effects; a reality that's hard to escape or refute. People have taken science to be infallible. Maybe someday it will be, but only if it remains fluid. As soon as science takes the stance of "Yes, this is the way the world is", exceptions to its opinions arise almost instantly. Science is constantly playing catch-up. We enjoy the security science brings us, but we chafe under the amount of reality if leaves unfulfilled.

Science uses a lot of ad hominem attacks against evidence counter to its theories. Anyone familiar with debate knows that while this can allow one to win a debate, it doesn't actually counter the arguments raised. "Such and such doesn't exist because it's not scientifically proven, it goes against the laws of physics, it's a common misperception, it's a bunch of bogus, it doesn't make sense" - well duh! A lot of things haven't been scientifically proven. Raise your hand if you can explain why gravity works the way it does, that eerie action at a distance. There are a lot of areas science hasn't even explored yet. It's mapped out some basics, but it's got no explanation for how a qi gong master can punch through a stack of stone slabs. It hasn't 'gotten around' to studying how young children can lift things many times their own body weight when there's an emergency. Some things happen in such rare instances that it's possibly beyond the limits of science to study, impossible to repeat or measure. For many processes, science simply hasn't developed the tools, technology, or paradigms to process. We're groping blindly through life in an attempt to feel out the shape of this place we're in. It will take time. And it will never be 100% accurate.
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A Reconciliation, Part IV [Jan. 31st, 2007|02:34 pm]
John Taylor
[mood |The smoke of a fiery incense]
[music |QFG - Erana's Peace]

Science is not closed to the idea of paranormal, people are closed to the idea of paranormal. We've let a lot of our senses deaden while we focused on trying to figure out the visual world. I speak now of things that have disappeared without our fully knowing it, because there is no physical loss or marring of the body. We appear to be complete by most standards - if we have our five senses and our health, then we have everything. But we're lacking sensitivities that we once had, we're missing affinities for things that we possessed at one point.

In the natural world, there is an increased sensitivity to things that humans can no longer sense. Birds track weather patterns and know instinctively when to migrate. Squirrels start gathering winter stores according to these subtle changes. Mating patterns often happen according to the cycles of the moon. Ecosystems have a tendency to fill their own deficiencies and ensure unbroken cycles. Some seeds will only sprout when conditions are precisely and very delicately correct. Cats and dogs will occasionally raise their hackles and snarl at presumably nothing. How do any of these beings have any means of sensing when something is appropriate, or right? What are they reacting to that we can't sense? When we revisit the natural world armed with science, we've neglected to take with us our own instinctive sensitivities to these things.

No animal other than humans can be made to drink water against their will. You know that old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."? People are different. People can be persuaded. They can be intimidated. They can be made to drink water. If your pet isn't thirsty, no amount of coaxing will get it to drink, if it's not what he wants. People have been given the gift of choosing - people can look to the future and see that a long, hot day awaits and can drink more water to compensate, to plan ahead. But we've long since lost the discipline to moderate our behaviors and drink only as much as we need in between our activities, lost the discipline to keep our natural sensitivities sharp.

Don't you think it odd that magic and spirituality sprang up in almost every single culture on earth, independently of each other? That ritual and laws to govern sorcery and the misuse of power arose in tandem with these traditions? If such things are indeed devoid of any scientific merit, then why would mankind go to such great lengths to protect itself from injury caused by these things? Because they were primitive savages who didn't know any better?

These are the cultures that created writing and language so that the things they learned could be handed down. Not simple things that all men knew and took for granted like how to make hunt or create fire, but to preserve their wisdom and their spiritual findings! Which books have most survived history? Law codes, religious scriptures, texts about the divine! This is not an accident. These findings have been what people have valued most since time immemorial. There is more to their preservation than simple holiness - this kind of knowledge is judged holy by men for a reason. When conquerors swept through cities and villages, putting whole populations to the sword, burning houses, and razing buildings, among the first things to be hidden were the relics and scriptures.

In many cases, people have not even been aware of the consequence of the things they guard. Look to the New Testament - documented accounts of miracles, but in the two thousand years since, where are the other healings through faith alone? The exorcisms? The restoration of limbs and curing of the afflictions of the mind and body? If everyone had access to this kind of knowledge, why is it that common men have been unable to perform on the same levels? These things are *magical* in nature, at least by the rules of science. Nothing can accelerate cell regeneration, or return the dead to life. Why then do people insist that they've really happened? The answers are right in front of us - they did happen. There have been healers of this sort in every major culture across the globe, recorded by eyewitnesses and documented for thousands of years, without evident explanation for the phenomena.

In the same way there are applied and theoretical sciences, there are also distinct realms of theoretical spiritualism and applied spiritualism. The theory lies in the wisdom of the ages, handed down and refined over generations. The applied is what has been lost; the reason many 'magical' things can not be produced or measured scientifically in laboratories is that their effects lie wholely dependent upon the abilities of the individual. The people who invented spirituality, who pushed the limits of humanity to its brink at the dawn of time were not fools. These were the same elders responsible for governing whole populations, for guiding others spiritually, emotionally, physically, and culturally, for handling logistics of managing nations, for defending their lands from invaders. These people invented language, they developed symbols to convey meaning, they tested and theorized and learned, and then tested some more. They lived closer to the earth in those days. What they knew about demons and spirits would boggle the mind. Legends speak of wise men who could summon and bind creatures and beings both ethereal and corporeal to do their will. They had a knowledge of extracting chemicals and properties from plants that no trial and error could ever produce. Some could foretell the future with amazing accuracy. There isn't a lot of room to call their findings invalid or false. These are the men who created civilizations and forged or brought together doctrines to keep humans from destroying each other. To say they were primitive or didn't understand the world is like saying the founding fathers of America didn't understand politics. In a world governed by science, we've lost the internal mechanisms necessary to bring forth these things, to even give respect to the men who wrote about and studied such things.

Religious sects have long been the keepers of wisdom and sacred writings - who better to guard things than those who knew that the wisdom lay in the hand of the individual? Knowledge was made portable so it could be passed and preserved, so it could be recreated within the individual, when the oral traditions failed and the direct line of descent was severed.

As with all learning, the greatest achievements occur behind closed-doors. Knowledge is deadly when misused. Applied spiritualism has had the natural defense and barrier of requiring devotion, self-discipline, awareness, and an open-mind to be of any use. To practice the art, you must live it. This weeds out many people insincere in their beliefs or looking for quick fixes or attention, or personal gain. Elimination of doubt is crucial as well - a person determined to learn can overcome their scruples, whilst a closed-minded person would never advance in their studies. There is an entire path of maturity that goes hand in hand with the acquisition of power. When dealing with dangerous ideas or power, anyone rushing in suffers severe consequences. Most training happens unseen, occurring within the person, as they acquire heightened senses, awareness, and mental defenses and abilities. Masters reveal knowledge in carefully controlled doses, once the student had reached a certain degree of maturity. It was equally a test of a master's personal maturity to correctly assess the abilities and preparation of the student.

Still, every so often a trick can escape into the general public for everyone to witness and believe in and then be misguided by a fool who pretends to understand it. Sometimes the practitioner did harm or damage to himself or to others and the art as a whole might be banned. The same kinds of charlatans and con artists existed to the ancients that exist even to this day. Self-proclaimed scientists making outrageous claims, garnering public attention and support and financial backing and using smoke and mirrors and false bravado to back up their claims.

So what is to be reconciled here? Science makes demands of an objective world. The human life is a subjective thing. There are ways in which objectivity can influence the human mind and effect changes within the body, but it is ultimately the subjective experience upon which life hinges. How many moments have you had when things simply fell into place, that you reached a new height of awareness, came to a new realization? How many moments have you had that seemed perfect, that felt right? How many moments when suddenly the beauty and magic of the very life you're living become clear to you? Science will not produce these things for you. There is a lot of self-actualization, self-fulfillment, and self-empowerment along the path of disciplining one's mind and spirit, but there is no subcontracting the work. Science can be done externally and independently of the person, and you thus become a tool of science, a replaceable part. You advance a scientific understanding of the world, but not your own. Through pursuit of the subjective world, we refine and hone our tools of consciousness, we understand the world on a much deeper level. When pursued completely, we become capable of things that no other human dares to dream of. You establish your role as a unique individual capable of greatness and become capable of wielding that greatness however you see fit.

My fear is that science disclaims subjectivity, this spiritual arming. Our generations are encouraged to forget discipline, to redirect our problems onto other things and to shirk responsibility. Knowledge grows while wisdom wanes. What's worse is that people have lost the sensitivity to fight against an attack of a spiritual nature, to even remember that we have a spiritual side, and what it means to develop it. The spirit is not a thing far removed from you, it is a part of you. It is one of your senses, it is a part of your being, the same way your blood or your limbs are. Think twice before you let science discredit and belittle something you hold with you at all times.
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