Tuesday, July 07, 2009

On Packing Light for the Eternal Journey

They say that the sales of a book will be diminished by the percentage of pages that contain any kind of mathmatical equation. People might pluck the book from the shelf, but as soon as they see any numbers, they put it back.

I'm afraid it's the same with my symbolic oquations, perhaps with the exception of O, since it can camouflage itself as a letter. But throw in stuff like (•), →, (¶), or •••(¶)•••, and people start to recoil. There, see. Wait! Come back!

But for me, these symbols were a kind of lifesaver -- or mind saver -- because they allowed me to see through to the unity beneath all of the various revelations I had immersed myself in at the time -- not just across revelations, but within them. Really, it's like musical notation. Imagine how musically limited we would be in the absence of an abstract system to describe it.

The other day I was reading about an album Sinatra made with the Duke Ellington band in the 1960s. Sinatra always worked with the very best studio guys, who both had jazz chops and could also sight read as easily as you're reading this post. But as great as they were, no one in the Ellington band could sight read. Ellington wrote hundreds of compositions, and the band learned each one by simply playing it. In a way, it makes each composition a unique entity that cannot be seen as anything more simple or abstract than itself.

This is largely the position mankind at large was in prior to the scientific revolution. No one knew, for example, that the same force that caused the apple to fall from the tree, also caused the earth to fall through the curved space around the sun -- or, in Newtonian terms, that there was an underlying g-force that accounted for such diverse phenomena.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered the similarities between certain yogic approaches and Orthodox Christianity. Faced with such a similarity, one has several options. One could say that one is a debased or partial form of the other; or that one is a premonition of the other; or like Schuon, that each is true in its own right and in its own human world; or that they are symbolic or mythological expressions of perennial truth.

In my case, I suppose you could say that I attempted to develop a "general theory of spirituality" that would apply to all particular spiritual experiences, so that modern people who otherwise cannot appreciate religion could begin to access its priceless wisdom. And I am particularly interested in reaching the many westerners who are attracted to Buddhism or yoga, because only a revitalization of Christianity will save the West -- and therefore the world. We need you on our side. There is nothing in eastern religions that cannot be found in Christianity, but much in Christianity that is responsible for our uniquely valuable civilization.

Please bear in mind that the experience always takes precedence, and that the symbols are merely a means of "storage and communication," so to speak. Instead of musical notation, it's spiritual notation. But in neither case does it exist for its own sake. Rather, the purpose of music is to be played, heard, and understood. And the purpose of spiritual experience is to discover your true self, and therefore, God (and/or vice versa).

Sherrard writes that "to know oneself may be said to be a condition of knowing God.... In other words, if one cannot know God without knowing oneself, one also cannot know oneself without knowing God. To be ignorant of oneself is thus to be ignorant of the divine source of one's being. If to be ignorant of oneself is to fail to achieve an authentic human life, then by the same token to be ignorant of God is to fail to achieve an authentic human life."

So, each is a prerequisite for the other, which is why I say that (¶) is a kind of "prolongation" of O, whereas (•) is a reflection of Ø. Thus, you can see that I simply abstract the essence of what a Sherrard is conveying. Then it's up to you to refill the abstraction with your own experience. The purpose of life is to reflect and embody eternity within time, or let us say O through (¶).

For a real life example of what happens when someone fails to know themselves -- and therefore God -- see Scipio's two recent posts on the eternally clueless Maureen Dowd.

On one of Scipio's pieces, I left a comment about having viewed the Ingmar Bergman film Wild Strawberries yesterday evening. If you haven't seen the film, it's about an elderly professor who is about to receive some kind of honor. During the course of the journey to where he is to receive the award, he reflects upon his life.

I haven't gotten to the end of the film yet, but one can sense that it is all about a kind of nightmarish realization that he died long ago, and that he is solely identified with (•). The painful realization that he has missed out on his own life comes to him in the form of disturbing dreams and images. At one point, his daughter in law says to him, You know so much. And yet you know nothing.

This is the fate of all (k). It really has no living relationship to O, but is merely a kind of cloak with which intellectuals cover themselves in order to produce a kind of self-generated warmth and security. But upon your death -- or birth, it's up to you -- this (k) dissolves like a dirt clod in the water. It just decomposes and returns to the earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

There is a living source and a living knowledge (n), and only this is free from the grip of Death. It is what you take with you when you grow. The rest of your intellectual baggage is eternally lost in the errport.

@ American Thinker, another dangerously false self, Obama.


Van said...

"But for me, these symbols were a kind of lifesaver -- or mind saver -- because they allowed me to see through to the unity beneath all of the various revelations I had immersed myself in at the time -- not just across revelations, but within them. Really, it's like musical notation. Imagine how musically limited we would be in the absence of an abstract system to describe it."

For me it was Database's Third Normal Form & Modules and Classes in Object Oriented Programming. No point in trying to explain it, those who understand them might get it, those who don't would hunt me down and beat me unconscious. But the concepts allowed me to see Philosophy, history, life, the Cosmos and everything in it, differently... or undifferently.

(And no, I'm not in ANY way shape or form talking about any form of A.I.)

I suppose we all walk to the beat of our own notation.

Van said...

"There is a living source and a living knowledge (n), and only this is free from the grip of Death. It is what you take with you when you grow. The rest of your intellectual baggage is eternally lost in the errport."

Cooncur. The living source is the only thing that fits through the In/Out door.

Anonymous said...

Bob, I sense your mission in life, and your desire to reach large amounts of people with your general theory of spirituality, and your belief in the special utility of Christianity.

My mission or itention is similar, but I have abandoned attempts to reach large numbers of people via writing or music. What became clear to me was that my "orders" (how I was to serve God) entailed smaller, more detailed work.

How it shook out is that I would become entangled with a person and then some kind of conflict or mutual influencing would occur. I would impart (or try to impart) some progress, and in return I would recieve some kind of an education in kind, or obliquely through the mechanism of pain, from this person.

So, my point is, in your efforts to reach the masses, have you not also been given some 1:1 missions as well? And where should one focus one's energies? These are germane questions.

If a book does not sell well, perhaps its because you are needed elsewhere. An inventory of persons close by may reveal your workload ready to go.

Northern Bandit said...


The basics of the relational calculus came to me in a dream when I was 21. I am/was self-taught in software, and after toying with flat files I literally dreamed up the PK-FK thing, which of course had already been done by Codd & Date.

I still maintain a handy wallet-sized laminated card containing quickie definitions of the coon symbols would be of great use to many. Would presume you've read the manifesto, natch. Flip-side of the card could contain drinking songs or other crucial info.

Anonymous said...

A.I. is not only possible, it is inevitable.

Northern Bandit said...


My favorite "A.I." is Rolaids, but Tums work too.

Northern Bandit said...

Or maybe you were referring to that stuff they do with prize bulls... hardly seems inevitable though.

Speaking of bull, artificial intelligence is impossible by definition. Kurzweil is a funny monkey.

Cousin Dupree said...

Artificial intelligence is an absurdity, like "false virtue," or "phony truth." Come to think of it, each of those three applies to the left.

Magnus Itland said...

I like Kurzweil. When people wring their hands about the sea levels in the year 2100, I can point out that it is 60 years after the Singularity, and posthuman beings with an IQ in the billions surely can handle a little meltwater.

Northern Bandit said...

Ray is in a race against time. He has to hang in there until the Singularity (daily intravenous vitamin supplements, other wackiness), but things aren't looking to promising, considering we can't even create a secure web browser let alone a global hyperintelligence.

Van said...

NB said "I am/was self-taught in software, and after toying with flat files I literally dreamed up the PK-FK thing"

Sounds familiar! Self taught here too. I was trying to figure out multi-dimensional arrays, relational design and Classes ("...not an object until instantiated, but then the class still isn't an object, the object is defined by it..." WHAT!?!), and philosophies 'One in the many" and Rands ideas of Concepts, percepts, conceptual common denominators... all at the same time... and one day in one of those dizzying, swirling frontal lobe moments, it all clicked into place at the same time... and I've been even weider than ever before, ever since.

Van said...

Magnus & NB, Big LOL!

aninnymouse "A.I. is not only possible, it is inevitable.", even bigger LOL!

If you can't even figure out the difference between calculation and intelligence, it's no wonder aninnies are such ninnies!

Aquila said...

Interesting bit from Kurzweil's Wikipedia entry:

"Though Kurzweil's parents were Jewish, they raised him as a Unitarian and exposed him to many different faiths during his youth. Kurzweil gave a 2007 keynote speech to the United Church of Christ in Hartford, Connecticut, alongside Barack Obama, who was then a Presidential candidate. In The Singularity is Near he expresses a need for a new religion based on the principle of mutual respect between sentient life forms, and on the principle of respecting knowledge. This religion would not have a leader, instead being purely personal to adherents. Kurzweil expects that, once the human/machine race has converted all of the matter in the universe into a giant, sentient supercomputer it will have created a supremely powerful and intelligent being which will be Godlike in itself."

Anonymous said...

I'll state my case for A.I as succintly as possible:

1. Intelligence is defined as self awareness. e.g, anything that can feel or state "I am." Must discern boundaries between itself and environment.

2. Evidence shows intelligence is associated with complexity. The human brain is currently the most complex item in the universe.

3. Logic dictates a manmade "brain" (of whatever material and charged with whatever energy) on a level of complexity which meets or exceeds the human brain, will be self aware. This conclusion is reached because there is little or no evidence to refute it.

4. On the level of spirit, an aware artificial brain is as fit a vehicle for a soul (jiva, psychic being, or other term) as a bioelectric spontaneously evolved brain. Therefore, the complex machine would be both self aware and eligible to harbor a soul using it as an instrument of incarnation. We can say this because the argument for is stronger than the argument against.

4. All of the above is speculative and based on current observations. All refutations of the above are speculative as well but are weaker because they are not based on currently available observations. In other words, we observe people, machines, etc. They seem superficially similar. They move, use energy, etc. Soul mechanisms are not understood except dimly at this point.

So the conclusion is that A.I is likely to occur.

Petey said...

We reject premise 1. Intelligence comes from Truth, not the inverse.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:20 said
"Soul mechanisms are not understood except dimly at this pint."

Heck, If I'm going to try and convince you otherwise Anon, but if you care to, check out my blog for what it's like to live a
soul-full existence



Anonymous said...

Petey, you said:

"We reject premise 1. Intelligence comes from Truth, not the inverse."

Please elaborate the connection between this statement and artificial intelligence. I do not grasp it.

Petey said...

The secret protects itself. Especially from artificial intelligence.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Anon's definition of self aware and ours is separated by that tiny little thing I like to call "infinite gap."

Ricky Raccoon said...

Oh. And while trying to sound like a robot instead you just sound like an idiot.

Ricky Raccoon said...

What makes the A.I types think their robots won't just be telling them what they want to hear?

Magnus Itland said...

There is a saying in parts of the software industry: "Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity."

More related to the main course, biological evolution of awareness had its time until sometime during the last ice age. At that point, cultural evolution took over. Even much more recently, evolution became personal. To the best of my knowledge, there is no upper limit on this.

I have seen people whose brain had great processing power, yet chased short-sighted and pointless goals as if their life depended on it. If you increased their processing power a tenfold or a hundredfold, they would still just chase their own tail ten or a hundred times faster.

Anonymous said...

what happened to dr. sanity??

Van said...

aninny made some more 'points' for A.I., and wow... more A. than I.

"1. Intelligence is defined as self awareness."
No self awareness is defined as self awareness. Being sentient is not the same as intelligence.

Intelligence is the ability to recognize within a given scenario, relevant concerns, with the imaginative ability to determine goals & make useful movement towards a deeper understanding of the issues involved, as well as potential solutions; which all requires the ability to recognize what is true (which also entails participation in that truth).

"2. Evidence shows intelligence is associated with complexity."
Really. So... my brain is more complex than yours? Ever see a kid who learned ‘new math’ trying to solve a math problem? Lots of complex effort, little intelligence. Seen a Rube Goldberg contraption? Few were called 'intelligent' designs. Complexity is a non-essential attribute of intelligence; in fact 'evidence' shows that simplicity is a more reliable indicator of intelligence at work, than complexity. Those who simplify their thinking through principles, show more intelligence, than those who propose more and more complex ‘epicycles’.

"3. Logic dictates a manmade "brain" … on a level of complexity which meets or exceeds the human brain, will be self aware."

Logic does nothing of the sort, it is a non-sequitor, the conclusion does not follow from the premise. Nothing indicates that complexity will lead to intelligence. Again, you mistake calculation for intelligence.

I'll dredge out my old examples for you. There is nothing, zilch, nada, which a PC can do, that given enough room, time, and stupidity, a person could not recreate through the use of Lincoln logs and tinker toys. Charles Babbage's first design for a computer was in wood. The first adding machines were mechanical. Electric circuits are a more efficient solution, but there is nothing which a PC can do, that could not be accomplished mechanically through spinning gears and levers flipping switches - all a computer is or ever will be, is a contraption for flipping switches according to a set of instructions defined by the actual intelligence involved, its human programmer.

I've no doubt whatsoever that a computer will eventually be able to fool a person in a Turing test, into thinking they’re talking to a person. That will not indicate an intelligent computer, only one with a detailed enough set of instructions, and a speed of calculation enabling it to execute its intelligent human programmers instructions smoothly enough to seem as if it were conscious and intelligent itself. But that computer will be every bit as empty of intelligence, of imagination and grasp of truth, as Babbage’s wooden computer would be. No matter how fast the, switches are flipped, they will exhibit no more intelligence than a player piano exhibits musical talent.

Your PC will also never be able to make a mistake. It only follows the laws of physics - if the result isn’t what the programmer wanted(or more likely, what the person who asked the programmer to design the software wanted), it’s because the programmer didn't correctly write the instructions to return the desired result. He made the error. The computer only produced what the laws of physics tell us electrical impulses will do. The computer never, ever makes a mistake. It never, ever does anything correctly. Just electrically flips switches, in no fundamentally different way than a waterwheel turning a mill.

Your 1st #4 isn't an argument for A.I., but for whether or not suitable bodies could ever be designed and built by men, that could house souls - to say there is no evidence for that possibility, is as under an understatement as is possible – and arbitrary, which requires no response be given. Your 2nd #4 is as unintelligent as repeating the #4 to indicate the #5... oh... a mistake?

Yeah, something only intelligent beings can do... darn the luck.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Pffft!! A mountain knows more than any human computation can muster. And men can't even make mountains, just puny little pyramids as graveyards.

Leo said...

I determined long ago that at the end of my life I would be asked to answer two questions: "Who did you love? What did you learn?" I live, as best I can, to answer those questions as fulsomely as possible.

Dr Freud said...

Anon. 10:23,

Do you not see how utterly screwed up your own life is to be offering anyone else advise on how to go about their mission? And that you are of absolutely zero help to anyone, most particularly yourself, because of your self appointed grandiosity?
Try a little self healing at a hermitage for a couple decades, then get back to us.

Anonymous said...

While I appreciate replies to my comments, some of them were verbally abusive and therefore unacceptable.

One can only hope you mates are not on the recieving end of similar.

ximeze said...

Anonymous said...

While I appreciate replies to my comments, some of them were verbally abusive and therefore unacceptable.

One can only hope you mates are not on the recieving end of similar.

Dude, you are so not ready to play in this sandbox.

Anonymous said...


..you are so not ready to play in this sandbox.

You sound, pompous braggart, like you're positing that as a bad thing. Always sad and predictable when "bright" dulls out to "cynical". Try to remember back to when you weren't an old dog, tired of learning new tricks. C'mon girl- you can do it.

ximeze said...

Tisk tisk, that's rich coming right after
some of them were verbally abusive and therefore unacceptable

Dr, Curly said...

"One can only hope you mates are not on the recieving end of similar."

Us mates would hopefully be able to recognize the truth when it hits us upside the haid.

anonymoose said...


You also appear, shining dullard, fat and soft when you can't tell one aninny from another. The tail you're chasing isn't remotely like me. Yet another telltale sign that your edge is in need of some honing, dearie.

Try to remember the kind of September...

wv: tristist - No. No. I said no. No go away.