Posts Tagged ‘spirit’

A prayer to the sun at Broadway and Clark

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Broadway at Clark has a community garden, “La Cosecha” next to the bus stop. A car sits in its corner with the top cut off and dirt where seats should be.

This morning, remnants of the weekend’s snow fall lurk in the shadows. Fortunately there are few places to lurk as the late wintry morning light floods most of this side of the street.

Any peaceful warmth the sun may bring, however, is ignored by the endless and overfed traffic. Clark is the main artery for industry in east Vancouver. It’s the kind of road whose flow rips with the dirty roar of metal combustion and a speedy indifference to the stillness of its salt-sprayed sidewalks.

Some busy roads offer the personable context of community: Large sidewalks with cafe destinations here. Not even a spring-time version of the roadside garden can outweigh the onslaught of this road, though. Its business is a destination sustained only by a noise that industrial city angst can maintain.

Today, I wait foolishly hoping that the sun may banish, however slowly, the chill from the wind sneaking around the glass sides of the bus shelter. The traffic monster next to me drones on with its technological existential crisis. Movement captures my attention as I turn away from it.

An old Chinese lady in a burgandy jacket sits cross-legged on her balcony facing the sun. Her eyes are shut and she rolls back and forth on her seat transfixed. I can’t tell if she is crazy, just trying to stay warm or engaged in some practiced exercises. I decide that it would be better for the world if it were the latter.

So with my decision, at once I am impressed with the humour and beauty of the situation. She is obviously passed the needless worry of self-consciousness that plagues spiritual practice and youth in western society. She is in clear sight of a busy intersection that wouldn’t have time to notice anyway.

On the one hand, what kind of meditative peace could you possibly find next to the hungry traffic monster caged in cement, meridian dividers and paint? And on the other, what could be more symbolic of the conceptual struggle between movement and stillness?

I’m astounded by the easy power it would take to turn the roar into some white noise, some ocean. She sits next to that mechanical river of contemporary life and prays to the morning light while I jump in, carried away on a numbered boat and can’t pull my mind from its flow.

Running with Drunvalo’s Liminal Philosophy

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I watched this half-an-hour video and to be honest, I wasn’t too impressed. I’ve heard too many people recite a liminal philosophy for it to hold credence.

All such philosophies have similar characteristics. They include similar points based on the idea a pseudo spiritual-dynamic critical mass:

  1. a citation of contemporary international or political circumstances as proof of the necessity of transformation
  2. paradoxically this transformation is always the first that has ever occurred in the history of a cyclical universe
  3. the time is not quite right – one or two more things need (and will) fall into place very soon
  4. the speaker is always absolutely certain that the transformation is going to take place

The idea that we are on the verge of a massive collective transformation that will happen at some undefined point in the very near future just tears at our hearts and hopes. Wouldn’t that just be wonderful? Yes! Ugh, but why does it seem like a regurgitation of not only a message that positions its speaker in the egoic role of prophet but also one that is still stuck in the duality of time?

Aside from the wonderful music from The Mission and the awesome Philip Glass sound track to put you on guard, should a philosophy that espouses a transcendence of polarities, still be dependent on one of the biggest there is: past and future? I just can’t get passed that hypocrisy. If you are going to transform, it only happens now.

Currency, immanence and transformation can’t be separated.

That being said, Drunvalo’s description of some of the more advanced stages of physiological transformation and biologically symbolic beginnings were great if not wild.

I laughed with delight when he established that the heart is given more authority and power than the mind because its development is biologically prior (and therefore older)! He also points out the Westerner’s addiction to action: We always have to do something about a problem. Things require action to the point that we so often forget that action is based on being: We forget the necessity of transcendence in daily activity.

But he throws these gems in with casual declarations of the other worlds from which many conscious beings originate.

What?! Where does he get this information? This question may sound like a typical skeptic’s but at its base is the point that Drunvalo’s authority is never firmly established. His authority comes from some anonymous indigenous group of elders. A group untouched by the modern revenges of ego-based western society. A group that has kept the mysterious heritage of power and spiritual knowledge we’ve all forgotten.

They have the power, and he is privy. Spiritual authority just doesn’t translate in video without context and although I have provided no contextual backing for his defence, my point is that this authority, this knowledge, this liminal philosophy is outside me and it’s in the future. I can’t take it.

Tacit, Spiritual and Artistic Knowledge

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The premise of this paper is that non-dual spiritual knowledge can be equated on a limited level with tacit non-verbal knowledge-in-action. The paper takes a general conceptual and philosophical approach to the issue, using writers such as Schön, Polanyi, Wilber, D. T. Suzuki, and D. Tacy.

The author offers a list of conventional types of spiritual knowledge and compares one of the types (spirit-in-action) with Schön’s definition of tacit knowledge-in-action. The paper presents the idea that both spirit and tacit knowledge lie somewhere at the foundation of everyday personal experience. To that end, several examples are given to illustrate how tacit knowledge manifests in specific wisdom traditions and by extension how those forms can be carried into everyday life.

The paper concludes with an attempt at relating these ideas to the author’s artistic practice and by proposing some potential theoretical problems with the premise. The scope of the sampled wisdom traditions is limited to the selection of Taoism, Zen Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta and Neoplatonism.

Download (PDF): Tacit, Spiritual and Artistic Knowledge

How not to fill a sieve with water

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This following update turned into a combined short story slash observational essay. It’s worth the read if you have the time…

During conversations over the last few months, I have observed myself avoiding explicit statements of truth with a shocking indifference.


Andrew Cohen

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Evolutionary Enlightenment: Spirituality for the 21st Century / WIE Voices from the Edge Lecture Series / EnlightenNext

Sitting uncomfortably in a medium sized room overflowing with the middle-aged well-dressed upper middle class, I notice that a circular window symmetrically framed the podium for this evening’s lecture on Evolutionary Enlightenment. The room is normally used for these sorts of presentations when it’s not bathed in the silence of a group meditation. As most of us realised that the newly installed and recently broken down air conditioner would not relieve the swelling heat of a particularly hot spring evening, one of Andrew Cohen’s long-term devotees gave a noticeably long introduction – he was obviously filling time. Andrew Cohen was introduced as a man who never stops questioning, as someone who is always moving on to the next thing. His tardiness introduced him as a busy man from America.


George Ellis, EnlightenNext

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A South African theoretical cosmologist, Dr. Ellis has written numerous scientific books, including The Moral Nature of the Universe, co-authored with Nancey Murphy, and The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, co-authored with Dr. Steven Hawking. Ultimately his work as a scientist and activist won him the 2004 Templeton Prize and acclaim from President Nelson Mandela in the post-apartheid era. In this talk, Dr. Ellis addressed some of the provocative spiritual issues emerging from the field of neuroscience.

Dr. Ellis gave a rather lacklustre performance, however, unexcitingly reading from a PowerPoint slide presentation. The highlights of the talk were firstly an emotionally powerful example of “kenosis” in a group of Scottish peacekeepers  and secondly when he came alive during the question and answer period (when he wasn’t reading).

He did a good job of illustrating the differentiation of the value spheres of judgement and art in comparison to the qualitative spheres of science and objective truth. He pointed out that Science and Religion crossover mainly in three areas: firstly, during questions surrounding the origins of universe, secondly, during questions surrounding the origins of humanity and lastly, in consciousness studies.

He came across a little unkempt and dishevelled as only a theoretical cosmologist could. Large complex terms rolled off his comfortingly accented tongue with ease and speed. I look forward to more talks that so directly relate to my own thesis.