AUTHOR'S NOTE: This blog is a draft of an e-book I am writing that will include video as well as text. Since they provide an environment similar to an e-book, I will be using this old blog of mine as an ESB, i.e., Electronic Sounding Board (Things can sometimes read differently via electronic media than they do on a printed page) ... But ESB also means I am inviting those Facebook friends who first saw the beginnings of this endeavor and encouraged it, to subscribe to these pages, if they wish (see link in upper right-hand corner) and to comment on what they read, as they did on Facebook . One more caveat... For puposes of my own clarity of content, the reader will have to scroll down past the previous ENTRY to get to the newer ENTRY. Enjoy! ..... BA
THE ETERNAL FRONTIER: A PERCEPTUAL MEMOIR
"To find something original and true, something timeless, you cannot come to it with the burden of memory, knowledge. The known, the past, can never help you to discover the moving, the creative. No amount of technique or learning, no amount of attending talks and discussions, can ever reveal to you the unknown. If you really see the truth of this, actually experience if for yourself, then you are free of all Masters and gurus, of all teachers, saints, and saviors. Because, they can only teach you what is known, and the mind which is burdened with the known can never find what is unknowable. - J. KRISHNAMURTI , Hamburg 1956,Talk 4
The Perception Problem
Why is it, that what should be a grabber from the moment we’re aware of what we’re actually watching, is generally perceived, by most of us, as a slow-moving, even tedious affair with few redeeming qualities? Possibly because of the fact that what we’re seeing is, indeed, a slow-moving tedious affair with few redeeming qualities. This was the question posed and the answer suggested by one of the most unusual men I ever had the questionable fortune to meet. He was talking about our lives. And the implication, as I would later – much later! – learn, was that there can be a significant difference between what we’re watching and what we’re seeing.
I have good reason to question whether fortune was shining on me or not the day we met. My life seemed to be doing just fine. “Fat, dumb and happy” comes to mind in describing who, or rather what I was back then. Today, I’m still fat, perhaps a little less dumb, and as for happy, well… let me put it this way. The term “the pursuit of happiness” should be excised from the Declaration of Independence. It’s misleading.
That phrase wasn’t always there, you know. The precise verbiage of philosopher John Locke’s original three-part dictum was: “life, liberty and property.” Made a lot of sense back in the 17th century when Locke came up with it. But hip, creative 18th century Jefferson, who was the natural-born head honcho of that august group we call “the founding fathers”, apparently had a problem with the word “property”. As a slave owner, perhaps deep down, his humanity made him a bit uncomfortable with the word. Or maybe, one night, Sally Hemmings was having some fun with ole Tom and, in the heat of the moment, let slip: “If you like it then you oughta put a ring on it.” Whatever the cause, Jefferson changed the words and “pursuit of happiness” now gives us license to do all sorts of things—including invade other countries.
To confuse matters further, “happiness” or rather the state of “being happy” has taken on a life of it’s own. You’ll find it working its magic in hundreds of song lyrics. How could one not respond to the extraordinary Judy Garland (with whom I twice! had the privilege of working) singing out as only she could “Forget your troubles and just get happy!” – and not get happy! Even Bobby McFerrin’s ridiculously redundant , “Don’t worry, Be Happy” made many succumb to its hypnotic message – at least for as long as it was on Casey Kacem’s “American Top Forty” Chart.
If one is hard-pressed to sink to the level of Pop Culture to get my point, right down the block from where I presently live, there’s a PhD. on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin whose become internationally famous by lecturing on “How to Be Happy”. Furthermore, the technique he uses to achieve this “state of happiness” has even been sanctioned by the Dalai Lama. I should mention here that I also spent some time with that venerable leader of millions of Buddhists around the world. It wasn’t exactly like the time I spent with Ms. Garland – but it was significant in its own way. (More soon.) The D.L. has visited the UW often –sometimes accompanied by a group of monks who allowed themselves to be connected to a gizmo that attached to their skulls and apparently measured the “state of happiness” they were also capable of achieving; using the same technique that some call “Meditation” or “Mindfulness” or (maybe just to cover themselves) “Meditative Mindfulness”.
So now we have all these alternatives to consider – if we want to be happy:
1) Download movie Ms. Garland sings “Get Happy” in, (“Summer Stock” – 1950)
2) Download a copy of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy”,
3) Attend one of Dr. Davidson’s lectures.
About the event described in the poster in which the good doctor was apparently a participant. I would think professional atheists Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins would have had a field day at it if in fact the participants did indeed attempt to fuse “Science” and “Religion” through something called “Neuroscience of the Spirit”. And their dear departed cohort Christopher Hitchens would be cheering them on from heaven above – if those three guys believed there was such a place. (Which reminds me, isn’t “atheism” a believe system in in itself?) As for me, I have a bigger problem with just the definition of the two words “Neuroscience” and “Spirit”. In fact, the former seems to have taken over the realm of what used to be the exclusive domain of “Spirit”. Put the prefix “neuro” in front of any word and people genuflect at its mention. So far, my favorite is something called “neuroeconomics” . Swear to God.
If all this appears to be getting a bit too muddled, let me suggest a simpler way of approaching it. What the hell does “being happy” mean?
Find me any two people on the planet who can agree with a one-sentence answer to that question and we can move on. That’s what my friend who I told you about on Page One might have said. Or he’d suggest we just move on, period, since all of the above is really quite irrelevant to the real dilemma our species finds itself in at this point in its development.
Briefly stated, it appears to be connected to how our species has evolved its perceptual capacities; and the subsequent development of a very serious dysfunction called -- self deception. To further exacerbate the situation, a school of thought has developed which claims that self-deception is a necessary quality that should be duly utilized whenever it is deemed appropriate - rather than castigated! In other words, lying to oneself is a naturally developed capacity that has its place in human development . And therein lies the essence of what I call “The Eternal Frontier: A Perceptual Memoir” is really all about.
ENTRY #2 - Now About My Dalai Lama Encounter(s)
There were three of them.The year: 1990. The Place: Amsterdam, Holland. Although they occurred within a few days of each other, there was a certain uniqueness about them, that qualifies each as a very separate encounter. In fact, the last one didn't even involve me directly - but, perhaps this is the one that gave me a true insight into the burden this man has managed to carry so elegantly throughout his life.
The picture you see above is of the D.L. and the man who invtied me to join him in Amsterdam - Professor David Bohm. To call Prof. Bohm a theoretical Physicist is like calling Einstein a Mathematician.In fact he was a protégé of Einstein’s, who predicted that Bohm might some day take Science to the next level beyond Quantum and Relativity. There are many who believe he did just that before his untimely passing in 1992.
I met Bohm back in ’73 while visiting the unusual man I spoke of on Page One, at his school in England where Bohm was a Trustee. And over the years, he was kind enough to take the time to “mentor” me in his fascinating groundbreaking work, not only in Physics but in Consciousness – which he perceived as a very real part of the totality of the Universe. “Dave” as he preferred to be called by his friends –(such was the humility of the man) told me that he was once asked by the famous historian of science Carl von Weizsacker how it was that a scientist of such renown in the field of theoretical physics should turn his attention to the subject of Consciousness – Dave answered: “To me it was all one movement”. One can readily discern this from the title of his final epic, which was published posthumously: “THE UNDIVIDED UNIVERSE: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory.”