Thursday 30 November 2017

Who are you going to blame for cancer?

Human life hasn't had an easy time getting here and it faces no easy status keeping safe.

It's biggest enemy is itself. Ecology, the balance of everything that sustains our living planet, is not any servant of human agency. Economy, a man-made balance of artificial wealth, has seduced our sensitivities away from ecological reality. We are killing our planet because of greed, as any informed person knows. Greed begets greed, and the way of big business is to interrupt, disrupt and get bigger.

Not logical, as far as earth logic goes.

Ecological intelligence makes for a good partner with emotional intelligence, and the rub is that all living items feel emotion. Maybe even the minerals.

I was prompted to write these thoughts because of a thoughtless post made by some-one in respect of faith healers and hospitals.

Who do you turn to when cancer is diagnosed? What do you feel and think when mortality gets you into a staring competition? What can medicine do? Why do three more years matter?

The fact is that human bodies are delicately poised items of ecology. They are built to survive, make no mistake. This struck me forcibly when my son was born prematurely, weighing 850 grams, his head smaller than my palm, and his feet way below my elbow. But he was fine. Delicate as that situation was, that body was made to live. All bodies are. Yet, nothing is promised, and really, anything can go wrong at any moment because of something that slides off a fly's wing, or a microbe that craps under your toenail, or a worm in your gut that decides otherwise. The universe as well as planet Earth is not a well-oiled machine, and living tissue is prone to failure under circumstances beyond our control.

A delicately poised ecology requires recognition, respect and co-operation. While it's better to climb a tree than to be polite to a lion that's chasing you, there are things that take less urgency. Like watering your garden, if you have one. Like noticing and feeding the birds. Odd relationships have been formed that way. Like learning to notice and love the ground on which we walk. Tracking: not checking on our trucks kind, but observing who has come and crossed our path, and where the small grains of sand are earlier or later than the bigger grains: this matters, if you want to read the patterns of living earth.

Communicating with our own species: we're actually almost one hundred percent useless at this. While neurons are designed to communicate at all levels, quasi-levels and para-levels, our failure to say, mean and communicate has been thwarted by bad ideas that confuse and constipate that so-called mind.

If we were to think less and respond more truthfully and clearly, and never mind the social embarrassment, the delicately poised ecology might start noticing us for what we are, and not what what we would prefer to be.

I am not for not thinking, but for better thinking, which means that what we say should be more in line with emotional authenticity and less in co-operation with everyday chatter and impressionability.

I am for assisting with the healing of the people, and the world, and against the rubbish of destructive behaviour and attitudes, no matter their origin or agency.

We have always lived in a delicately poised ecology, and no enterprise on earth can change that, or diminish our responsibility. There's nothing wrong with crocodiles, though they eat us from time to time. At least we know what they are.

Is there something wrong with cells that grow without obedience to DNA? That's more difficult.

What can we do about it?

I have the sense that it's not about dread disease. If your lifestyle is wrong, let's get educated. If you're struck down by a rare disease, share your story. The doctors and professors do try, for sure, but they are not the PR for humans. They simply try their best.

The rest of humanity needs to do that, too. Industrialists, bankers, brokers, business of all kinds. If you're in it for the greed, or self-comfort, at least admit it, if only to yourself. Your body's immune system is organic, not economic.

I'm not picking only on cancer, that's just a headline. We do not live in a sick world, we live as part of a sick species.

So never blame God while we can change what we are able to change. Bear that delicate balance of ecology in mind with every real dawn, drawn breath and recognition that you affirm.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Hard science, soft science and story.

There are many approaches to understanding anything, and for my own convenience, I separate them into hard science, soft science and story.

Hard science, in my view, would depend on closed systems of language known as jargon, and maths and statistics. As a field of study becomes more and more narrow and tested for validity, its language becomes more and more obscure to the layman. Physiological jargon, which comprises many other kinds of jargon, including chemistry, physics, anatomy and links to pharmaceutical jargon as well as statistical values is such an example.
The study of electricity can be complicated when you get down to the level of electromagnetic movement. My physics teacher at school taught me that electricity was measured going one way, but that it actually went the other way. Most of the time is doesn't matter. If you move the switch, the light comes on. But if you want to understand it properly, you need to learn the jargon and be able to speak it someone else who knows it.

Soft science is more interdisciplinary. It allows jargons to make friends. Take NLP, neuro-linguistic programming, for instance. This blends psychology, psychotherapy, neurology, linguistics and sometimes hypnosis, but they prefer not to talk about that, usually. Musicology links vibrational resonance with performance with theory of all kinds, including anthropological differences of taste, meaning and movement.

Story is what the neural system does in order to produce subjective stability, purpose and change.

Ever noticed how archeology finds a tooth, a bone and a fossilised dropping, and comes up with a story and a picture of a new cryptosaurus? I'm not poking fun: this is the best way to go to establish anything at all. Advocates have to test each others' stories in court, and the judge and jury decide who to go with.

So, to simplify, hard science locks you into jargon, soft science allows stories to mingle and story is what it is. Or, more significantly, what you declare that story to be. Neural activity is said to connect the dots, but the story I perceive is that it actually creates the dots and then connects them. Your subjective role is crucial. "Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones". Thanks, Mike Dooley. Choose your dots, because if you don't they will arise more likely to be your enemies than your friends.

There are obvious dots, such as finance, legal systems and contracts, but they are all man-made and mean nothing in the longest run. How to live, how to love and how to say goodbye are ways of creating the dots we choose to connect. There are even more dramatic dots such as earthquakes, floods, plagues and droughts. These are not man-made, and require a different kind of reading and connecting.

The head doesn't think, it merely houses the brain. To separate the brain from the neural network is to declare the lines and stations more important than the trains and passengers. What you feel is important to you, and so you will figure it out, like how to avoid the next earthquake. This is useful, like anaesthetics.

The point is not to judge or evaluate hard science, soft science and story. Each of these has a real role to play, and all knowing is incomplete until every story is known which is poor expression and incomprehensible language.

But one story to cover everything in this universe? Never.

Studying fingerprints, unique as each one is, is interesting, touching and being touched is exciting, negatively or positively. Each time you point a finger and create a dot, something becomes possible. The story is the next step.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

The story of death, and what it doesn't mean.

I was about five or six years old when I became aware of inconsolable grief. I became aware that when things went badly wrong, or someone died, people were strongly affected in ways that seemed irreversibly sad and desperate. What made this insight strange to me, was that they said comforting things to each other, which my ears and mind heard, and my guts knew to be false. The words were like leaves blown by the hard wind of loss: they were merely evidence of the strength of those gusts of desperation that no-one really knew what to do with.

Quite something for a six year old to perceive. Today I would say that the story of death is less mystifying than it has ever been before. Even though the human mind hasn't even begun to learn what it can, it's turned many corners since people were publicly executed, burned at the stake, drowned at the drowning-pole, hanged, drawn and quartered, and all the other horrible experiences devised by the contemplators of cruelty.

The pain in death is an ogre, and medical science has done what it can to alleviate that pain. But the pain of death is something else, and if one steps beyond the human sphere for a short moment, one can see our planet and the universe don't share the pain of death.

While life is there, strong organic systems and instincts help to sustain and preserve life. Yet organic life is a delicately poised ecological balance of give and take, host and parasite, cycles and seasons, aeons and nano-seconds, in which everything happens, all comes and goes, and movement and stillness mark significance that has little to do with the superficial wash of words.

Every living thing protests death, even shrimps and plants. (Read about Backster's experiments, I think that's the correct spelling). That's natural, and deliberate killing is generally inhumane.

Yet death is entirely unavoidable, and this must be the hinge on which the story turns. I think we should be taught of the wisdom of seasons, and the necessity of cycles and the fluidity of emotions from five or six years old. The sense of our stories should not be about the fear and horror of being snuffed out, utterly meaninglessly, but of participation in something so awe-filled that words fail, not because of fear, but because of grand generosity. That's the hallmark of being a human mind: to be able to recognize not only the generosity of what we assume to be our immediate universe, but to grasp that that's only the vaguest beginning of the multiverse.

We ought to feel that being alive is vastly important because it hold hands with so much more. What that "more" is, is no easy meta-story. Wording and storying that one is a matter of participation, and my sense of that activity is that it pans out into a mix of fierce joy and powerful peace. Like music.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

The end of the world and the left-over story

It's a strange story to tell, but yes, the world will eventually come to an end, and all the political madness and economic eccentricities will have no meaning at all.

I have a strange theory that the world comes to an end each time some-one dies. We have not even begun to realize how living reflects heaven. The Western world believes in nothing, or heaven. The Eastern world......I don't know, I would need to experience more, but I sense there's more respect in those parts.

The brain creates stories, or at least, the sense of story, as it tries to make meaning of the body's experience. The body's experience is all one has to go by, but it goes all the way, if you have the guts.
The brain knows the guts well, but there's that little voice of the self that insists on getting up and declaring something, to try and make itself real.

The sense of what's real is something of a luxury if you're trapped. Trapped is trapped, and that's where most of us are. In emotions, lack of money, need for love, loss of loved ones, powerlessness, illness, pain of all kinds, purposelessness.

How does it end?

Is it a good story or is the end heroic bravado in the face of fruitlessness and failure?

I once asked a world-famous physicist if there are parallel universes, since this was in fashion. His answer still resounds within: "No-one can tell you". It seemed to me that his thinking allowed for much, but in the end it's up to you. I had a similar experience when I was studying religion, and my tutor was an important rabbi I never met, but he read my essay, and his remark was that everyone has to work this out for themselves, and you've done that, so well done.

You come to your limits, you don't know more, and your bank of feeling is full to overflowing. What do you do?

You choose. There's always something more to the story, or the sense of it, and don't you declare closure when you don't know the ending.

That's the point. You don't know the ending, and anyone who claims to, is over-enthusiastic.

You're allowed to choose the ending, and that's complex, because endings and beginnings are all mixed up. Ask the table of elements. I have a sense of these, because that's who I am.

The universe is made of fire, and I'm part of that whether I like it or not. The earth is a cooling bit of it, and somehow I got mixed up in that. When I know more, I'll tell you. For the time being, your sense of story is the most helpful path to follow. You're important, you're not important, you certainly have much to contribute. Your life counts, your love matters. Your words do not make you, but they steer your choices. Your decisions are important, but it's not you making the decisions.

Language is the hallmark of humankind, and it's a red herring, most of the time. The scalpel of truth knows the difference between what you say and what you mean.

Yes, the world will end, and you and I will be forgotten, as we know forgetting to be, now, but the table of elements is wiser than the awareness which we assume.

The left-over story is the really interesting one, and we'll be telling it because we can't get out of it. I think we're telling it already, however well or badly, all depending on how well we know and trust our body.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Subtle sensitivities, stories, and the sense of reality.

Paying attention is the shaping of attention. It's like driving a car. You learn, do the test, get the license, and then obey the rules of the road. Driving the mind, the body, emotions is not dissimilar. Only problem is that formal stuff drives out the sense of reality, and replaces it with artificial urgency.

Formal education, formal religion, formal economy, formal language in particular, all have a way of impressing a sense of reality on a mind that's easily led by felt importance. I have always been utterly annoyed when someone expects me to stand still and listen. Perhaps I was born a rebel, perhaps with special sensitivities. And I have also always been polite: I have stood still and listened, even when I knew the fruitlessness of it. I prefer a conversation, a reasonable one, with urgencies that are reckoned with, not imposed.

My own body has its imperatives, which are mostly under self-control. I would prefer to be wild, and throw off these stupid constraints, but then, I would be imprisoned, punished and lose what I have.

So having given up on wildness and reasonability, I turn to sensitive subtleties.

I think these are what give us a sense of truth which then blows up like a balloon, and we refuse to pop it, at any cost.

Let me suggest a few examples:

the first time you ate a meal that impressed you
the first action you took that meant freedom
the last thing you have done to give you pleasure
the last thing you've done for which you would ask forgiveness
the next thing you would do, no matter the cost
the next person you would want to hug
the next person you would hug
the people that come to mind that you miss
the last time you were still, and noticed nature
music that you wish to hear, now

There are infinitely more. Intensities of subtleties of which you are hardly aware, but they make your living story what it is.

Think of what occupies the minds of political leaders, and how far these thoughts are from realizing their own subtle sensitivities. Like bullets and bandits, they simply smash a way into general experience, without respect, without recognition.

Whose story is the important one, why, how, and how is it to be told, and who will listen?

I think these answers are the stuff of heaven.

They really aren't difficult answers, but their utterances seem to be a long time coming.

When I chat with the next person who's there, in front of me, I experience a new reality, and I am glad of it. That sense of reality is a good one. There are many examples of the opposite. Human cruelty is its own devil. Human love is more normal than one would think. It takes little more than a touch.