Electron Dreams

Is one really All?

Allow me to explain: Reality (that is consensus reality) behaves like a canvas that shapes and transforms before the beholder.

BuzzzAn End to the Schrodinger Conundrum—the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle assumes that the observer also has powers to predict unconsciously the outcome. You see, the observer cannot inherently possess the qualities of a conductor, as the Uncertainty Principle implies. Because the electron appears as a wave and particle, the observer cannot have any bearing upon the outcome. The real question is the observer sees either wave or particle because both he and the electron are one and the same.

From the electron’s perspective (does this seem so outrageous? Are humans not also electrons; more complex certainly as there are amalgamations of many electrons to form layers of skin, organs, hair, etc. etc., but electrons all), is not the observer also particle and wave? Not metaphorically the same, mind you, but actually.

When you stare at your reflection before breakfast, do you marvel that you appear? Do you question whether you are there or not there? Do you wonder if you are both here and there? Do you try to walk through the looking glass? It is the same with the observer and electron, as the electron becomes reflection of the observer, and the observer reflection of the electron. As such, what measurable difference between observer and electron can there be?

Inside the Riemann SphereGolden Symmetrywhen the electron moves as does the observer. Think of the intimacy between observer and electron as analogous to the eye of the beholder, only observer and electron are more like eye and beholder. As if the observer were the eye and electron the beholder, and electron as the eye and observer as the beholder. If this relationship seems symbiotic, no actual host and parasite exist, as the existence of host and parasite assumes there is a distinction between them. With observer and electron, no such distinction exists.

Oneness as Reciprocal Union—the concept of oneness is the same mistake as the uncertainty principle assumes there is distinction between observer and electron. This thought is not in error, but incomplete. There is no distinction between any singular entities (the proverbial ‘We’ whatever that includes) from which to pinpoint an all-encompassing oneness, no origin. To say We Are All One is to observe the electron in wave state. I posit, mustn’t there first be a distinction to have elements that can connect into this action at a distance known as oneness?

Peering in again at the Uncertainty Principle: How is it possible for any one (any beholder or electron) to possess control (that is the ability to determine as observer the eventual appearance of the electron)? I mean, the idea that the observer can inherently possess the ability to control (conduct, as if the observer were separate) the universe to such an extent as to predict the electron and himself is kind of just like hugging yourself.

Homage to BoschLet us follow another thread further. To believe that because the boat has a motor and rudder whoever holds the wheel steers the boat across the ocean is like thinking the observer controls/conducts the appearance of the electron as wave or particle. No matter what the engine horsepower or nuclear powered propulsion used, one hiccup from the ocean depths renders any expense useless.  It is more like the ocean steers the boat. The conundrum of the Uncertainty Principle occurs because humans do not control the motion of electrons, they and the electron move simultaneously, neither conductor, neither observer or observed, neither at the wheel, both floating along in quantum foam.

Einstein spoke of relativity; I can see his point. In the guise of oneness, the only point of reference from which all things can be relative is the reflection, which means relativity may actually be an illusion.

...and so on to Infinity...Ones Within Ones (or A Way Out of the Heisenberg Absurdity) —  See, the beholder and the electron may be symmetrical (do not be so limited in imagination, symmetry does not have to be identical in appearance to be symmetrical. Two concepts can be symmetrical, as such two conceptual masses, an object, can be symmetrical of one another’s motion). This is no contest to thinking; however, let us move laterally to the left and see what we can see. Imagine a Cartesian coordinate system, x-, y-axis. Turn the axis sharply to the left and arrive at a z-axis, a 90-degree turn from the y-axis. If you turn your mind 90 degrees from the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle . . . are we still beholder or electron, wave or particle? This idea of borders must first be unlearned.

“People say to me, “Are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics?” No, I’m not… If it turns out there is a simple ultimate law which explains everything, so be it — that would be very nice to discover. If it turns out it’s like an onion with millions of layers… then that’s the way it is. . . . [M]y interest in science is to simply find out about the world and the more I find out the better it is, I like to find out…” ~Richard Feynman

Limits to GrowthOneness and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle are incomplete as within the depths of their meaning sits the assumption that there is but one level of observation. That of the observer and electron as separate, so the conundrum is the observer can only see the electron as wave or particle and nothing else. Within the Uncertainty Principle and Oneness exists the real question that there is no distinction between observer and electron, like the electron the observer is both wave and particle as well. As Einstein’s theory of relativity posits, the observer and electron are relative to one another, in motion simultaneously, so observer cannot see beyond wave or particle. The illusion exists because the observer has only a single lens perspective; there are other ones. The flaw of oneness, which assumes We Are All One, rather than We Are All Ones Within Ones . . .  within ones, and so forth in all directions. It is more a matter of peeling away the layers, than a single perception.

Quantum_reflections_003Oneness does not stop at one, no prime mover exists (no which from which there is no whicher. Apologies to my fine fellow, Alan Watts), no origin, no nicely spelt out beginning to the story, motion does not require cause and effect or effect and cause. As the photon emitted from the electron, it simply moves as randomness disguised as cause and effect.

When oneness appears as social diversity (the continual perpetual mind-spinning circular categorization of intangibles, the tree-ing of an otherwise single concept, i.e., departmental hierarchy within a body corporate) bureaucracy abounds, actually epitomizes that there is no real origin. When it is used for the pleasure of finding things out then you have onion-ing. Where each one within one has all other ones, yet, out of nothing also appears as a new one (within one). Analogous to a field of probable action constantly flexing to accommodate new ones, without bias or judgment.

Like an elaborately woven tapestry with fractal designs, the tapestry as first layer oneness (or the observer’s perspective/perception), and all the threads are the ones within. One can look at the tapestry and say We Are All One, and then one can look at a thread and say We Are All One. It is not so much that we forego the trees for the forest or the forest for the trees, as looking closely at a thread. It works in the other direction, too; the tapestry does not end at its borders. Think of the tapestry as our known universe, and the threads as people-ing, earth-ing, sun-ing, solar system-ing, hell, it could even be universe-ing.

Let us not end here (wherever ‘here’ may be; our imaginary 90-degree turn), as further question beckons: What is I?

The Portal*Image Credits (all work used with permission through CC license)–
“Limits to Growth” by anua22a
“Homage to Bosch” by ellenm1
“The Portal” by Neil Carey
“Buzzz” by Gloria
“…and so on to Infinity…” by anua22a
“Inside the Riemann Sphere” by fdecomite
“Quantum_reflections_003” by Caitlin Tobias

This post originally appeared on EXPLORINGtheLATERAL here.

Psychotic Episode (I Have No Ego)

I have no ego. . . my psychotic episode.

The schizophrenic experiences a stunning barrage of continuous, horrifying symptoms: auditory hallucinations, delusions, ideas of reference, paranoia, etc. The “indescribable severe torture” is unrelenting and can go on except during sometimes restless sleep, at whichtime the symptoms are even active when one becomes conscious at all. This experience is so overwhelming it is beyond the imagination. It cannot be conceived of intellectually. By its very nature it in fact necessitates the concept of religion in order to relate to it at all. This continuous experience of psychotic symptoms can be viewed as “spiritual exercises in perfection”. The effect on the schizophrenic is similar to that of monks when practicing their rituals in monasteries. When these spirited exercises become a lifestyle for the schizophrenic (lasting 8-10 years) with no real evidence given to the schizophrenic that he will ever recover, a fascinating thing happens to the psyche of that schizophrenic—he loses the perspective of “ego”. Ego consists of all his identifying factors in the world: his age, sex, race, religious affiliation or lack thereof, education level, social class, political affiliations, nationality, etc. He begins to see his environment with the eyes of a newborn, without the bias or prejudices, preconditions of his particular circumstances. It can be seen as a sort of continuous baptism by fire, a kind of purification, enabling him to see reality for what it is in actuality, rather than being viewed through the preconceptions of his individual mental, emotional, and behavioural repertoire instilled in him from birth. The schizophrenic in this condition is able in his interior to walk around in someone else’s moccasins with perfection. This can be seen as loving your neighbour as you love yourself, perfectly. I do not believe it is a condition that can be acquired by a “normal” individual by any method, because the horror of the symptoms of schizophrenia are unduplicable by man. (Religious persons would call this condition repentance for all one’s sins, e.g. “perfect repentance”.) ~Source

Recommended readings on the absence of ego in the SchizoAffective (schizophrenic) mind:

“What You Want”, “Bent and Broken” and “The Complex” by Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech.com
“Tech-No-Logic” by In[Perfektion] off album Perfekt Chaos, freemusicarchive.org/music/InPerfektion/
“In Suspense” by Psychadelik Pedestrian off album Nocturnia, freemusicarchive.org/music/Psychadelik_Pedestrian/
“Eerie Horror Scene”, “Strange Days”, “Hell”, “Spooky Water Drops” and “Pterodactyl Scream” sound FX recorded by Mike Koenig, SoundBible.com

*Image Credit (used with permission through CC license):
“walking on the razor’s edge in the underground train world : manhattan (2007)” by torbakhopper

Religion and Science

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~Albert Einstein

Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of felt needs and the assuagement of pain. One has to keep this constantly in mind if one wishes to understand spiritual movements and their development. Feeling and desire are the motive forces behind all human endeavour and human creation, in however exalted a guise the latter may present itself to us. Now what are the feelings and needs that have led men to religious thought and belief in the widest sense of the words? A little consideration will suffice to show us that the most varying emotions preside over the birth of religious thought and experience. With primitive man it is above all fear that evokes religious notions—fear of hunger, wild beasts, sickness, death. Since at this stage of existence understanding of causal connexions is usually poorly developed, the human mind creates for itself more or less analogous beings on whose wills and actions these fearful happenings depend. One’s object now is to secure the favour of these beings by carrying out actions and offering sacrifices which, according to the tradition handed down from generation to generation, propitiate them or make them well disposed towards a mortal.

I am speaking now of the religion of fear. This, though not created, is in an important degree stabilized by the formation of a special priestly caste which sets up as a mediator between the people and the beings they fear, and erects a hegemony on this basis. In many cases the leader or ruler whose position depends on other factors, or a privileged class, combines priestly functions with its secular authority in order to make the latter more secure; or the political rulers and the priestly caste make common cause in their own interests.

The social feelings are another source of the crystallization of religion. Fathers and mothers and the leaders of larger human communities are mortal and fallible. The desire for guidance, love, and support prompts men to form the social or moral conception of God. This is the God of Providence who protects, disposes, rewards, and punishes, the God who, according to the width of the believer’s outlook, loves and cherishes the life of the tribe or of the human race, or even life as such, the comforter in sorrow and unsatisfied longing, who preserves the souls of the dead. This is the social or moral conception of God.

The Jewish scriptures admirably illustrate the development from the religion of fear to moral religion, which is continued in the New Testament. The religions of all civilized peoples, especially the peoples of the Orient, are primarily moral religions. The development from a religion of fear to moral religion is a great step in a nation’s life. That primitive religions are based entirely on fear and the religions of civilized peoples purely on morality is a prejudice against which we must be on our guard. The truth is that they are all intermediate types, with this reservation, that on the higher levels of social life the religion of morality predominates.

Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God. Only individuals of exceptional endowments and exceptionally high-minded communities, as a general rule, get in any real sense beyond this level. But there is a third state of religious experience which belongs to all of them, even though it is rarely found in a pure form, and which I will call cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to explain this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it.

The individual feels the nothingness of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvellous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. He looks upon individual existence as a sort of prison and wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. The beginnings of cosmic religious feeling already appear in earlier stages of development—e.g., in many of the Psalms of David and in some of the Prophets. Buddhism, as we have learnt from the wonderful writings of Schopenhauer especially, contains a much stronger element of it.

The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man’s image; so that there can be no Church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with the highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as Atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.

How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are capable of it. We thus arrive at a conception of the relation of science to religion very different from the usual one. When one views the matter historically one is inclined to look upon science and religion as irreconcilable antagonists, and for a very obvious reason. The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who interferes in the course of events—that is, if he takes the hypothesis of causality really seriously. He has no use for the religion of fear and equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man’s actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God’s eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it goes through. Hence science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear and punishment and hope of reward after death.

It is therefore easy to see why the Churches have always fought science and persecuted its devotees. On the other hand, I maintain that cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest incitement to scientific research. Only those who realize the immense efforts and, above all, the devotion which pioneer work in theoretical science demands, can grasp the strength of the emotion out of which alone such work, remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue. What a deep conviction of the rationality of the universe and what a yearning to understand, were it but a feeble reflection of the mind revealed in this world, Kepler and Newton must have had to enable them to spend years of solitary labour in disentangling the principles of celestial mechanics!

Those whose acquaintance with scientific research is derived chiefly from its practical results easily develop a completely false notion of the mentality of the men who, surrounded by a sceptical world, have shown the way to those like-minded with themselves, scattered through the earth and the centuries. Only one who has devoted his life to similar ends can have a vivid realization of what has inspired these men and given them the strength to remain true to their purpose in spite of countless failures. It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man strength of this sort. A contemporary has said, not unjustly, that in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific workers are the only profoundly religious people.

You will hardly and one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a peculiar religious feeling of his own. But it is different from the religion of the naive man. For the latter God is a being from whose care one hopes to benefit and whose punishment one fears; a sublimation of a feeling similar to that of a child for its father, a being to whom one stands to some extent in a personal relation, however deeply it may be tinged with awe.

But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past. There is nothing divine about morality, it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. This feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work, in so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages.

By Albert Einstein, The World as I See It, Secaucus, New Jersy: The Citadel Press, 1999, pp. 24-29.

To Understand Is To Perceive Patterns


Albert-László Barabási, author of LINKED, wants you to think about NETWORKS:

“Networks are everywhere. The brain is a network of nerve cells connected by axons, and cells themselves are networks of molecules connected by biochemical reactions. Societies, too, are networks of people linked by friendships, familial relationships and professional ties. On a larger scale, food webs and ecosystems can be represented as networks of species. And networks pervade technology: the Internet, power grids and transportation systems are but a few examples. Even the language we are using to convey these thoughts to you is a network, made up of words connected by syntactic relationships.”

‘For decades, we assumed that the components of such complex systems as the cell, the society, or the Internet are randomly wired together. In the past decade, an avalanche of research has shown that many real networks, independent of their age, function, and scope, converge to similar architectures, a universality that allowed researchers from different disciplines to embrace network theory as a common paradigm.’

Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From, writes about recurring patterns and liquid networks:

“Coral reefs are sometimes called “the cities of the sea”, and part of the argument is that we need to take the metaphor seriously: the reef ecosystem is so innovative because it shares some defining characteristics with actual cities. These patterns of innovation and creativity are fractal: they reappear in recognizable form as you zoom in and out, from molecule to neuron to pixel to sidewalk. Whether you’re looking at original innovations of carbon-based life, or the explosion of news tools on the web, the same shapes keep turning up… when life gets creative, it has a tendency to gravitate toward certain recurring patterns, whether those patterns are self-organizing, or whether they are deliberately crafted by human agents”

Patrick Pittman from Dumbo Feather adds:

“Put simply: cities are like ant colonies are like software is like slime molds are like evolution is like disease is like sewage systems are like poetry is like the neural pathways in our brain. Everything is connected.

“…Johnson uses ‘The Long Zoom’ to define the way he looks at the world—if you concentrate on any one level, there are patterns that you miss. When you step back and simultaneously consider, say, the sentience of a slime mold, the cultural life of downtown Manhattan and the behavior of artificially intelligent computer code, new patterns emerge.”

James Gleick, author of THE INFORMATION, has written how the cells of an organism are nodes in a richly interwoven communications network, transmitting and receiving, coding and decoding and how Evolution itself embodies an ongoing exchange of information between organism and environment.. (Its an ECO-SYSTEM, an EVOLVING NETWORK)

“If you want to understand life,” Wrote Richard Dawkins, “don’t think about vibrant, throbbing gels and oozes, think about information technology.” (AND THINK ABOUT NETWORKS!!

Geoffrey West, from The Santa Fe Institute, also believes in the pivotal role of NETWORKS:

“…Network systems can sustain life at all scales, whether intracellularly or within you and me or in ecosystems or within a city…. If you have a million citizens in a city or if you have 1014 cells in your body, they have to be networked together in some optimal way for that system to function, to adapt, to grow, to mitigate, and to be long term resilient.”

Author Paul Stammetts writes about The Mycelial Archetype: He compares the mushroom mycelium with the overlapping information-sharing systems that comprise the Internet, with the networked neurons in the brain, and with a computer model of dark matter in the universe. All share this densely intertwingled filamental structure.

An article in Reality Sandwich called Google a psychedelically informed superpowered network, a manifestation of the mycelial archetype:

“Recognizing this super-connectivity and conductivity is often accompanied by blissful mindbody states and the cognitive ecstasy of multiple “aha’s!” when the patterns in the mycelium are revealed. That Googling that has become a prime noetic technology (How can we recognize a pattern and connect more and more, faster and faster?: superconnectivity and superconductivity) mirrors the increased speed of connection of thought-forms from cannabis highs on up. The whole process is driven by desire not only for these blissful states in and of themselves, but also as the cognitive resource they represent.The devices of desire are those that connect,” because as Johnson says “CHANCE FAVORS THE CONNECTED MIND”.


Knowing Something and Knowing the Name of Something

You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something. ~Richard Feynman

*Image Credit: “Richard Feynman — Paine Mansion Woods 1984” copyright Tamiko Thiel (used under CC license BY-SA-3.0)

Body Ritual among the Nacerima

The anthropologist has become so familiar with the diversity of ways in which different people behave in similar situations that he is not apt to be surprised by even the most exotic customs. In fact, if all of the logically possible combinations of behavior have not been found somewhere in the world, he is apt to suspect that they must be present in some yet undescribed tribe. The point has, in fact, been expressed with respect to clan organization by Murdock.  In this light, the magical beliefs and practices of the Nacirema present such unusual aspects that it seems desirable to describe them as an example of the extremes to which human behavior can go.

Professor Linton first brought the ritual of the Nacirema to the attention of anthropologists twenty years ago, but the culture of this people is still very poorly understood. They are a North American group living in the territory between the Canadian Cree, the Yaqui and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles. Little is known of their origin, although tradition states that they came from the east….

Nacirema culture is characterized by a highly developed market economy which has evolved in a rich natural habitat. While much of the people’s time is devoted to economic pursuits, a large part of the fruits of these labors and a considerable portion of the day are spent in ritual activity. The focus of this activity is the human body, the appearance and health of which loom as a dominant concern in the ethos of the people. While such a concern is certainly not unusual, its ceremonial aspects and associated philosophy are unique.

The fundamental belief underlying the whole system appears to be that the human body is ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease. Incarcerated in such a body, man’s only hope is to avert these characteristics through the use of ritual and ceremony. Every household has one or more shrines devoted to this purpose. The more powerful individuals in the society have several shrines in their houses and, in fact, the opulence of a house is often referred to in terms of the number of such ritual centers it possesses. Most houses are of wattle and daub construction, but the shrine rooms of the more wealthy are walled with stone. Poorer families imitate the rich by applying pottery plaques to their shrine walls.

While each family has at least one such shrine, the rituals associated with it are not family ceremonies but are private and secret. The rites are normally only discussed with children, and then only during the period when they are being initiated into these mysteries. I was able, however, to establish sufficient rapport with the natives to examine these shrines and to have the rituals described to me.

The focal point of the shrine is a box or chest which is built into the wall. In this chest are kept the many charms and magical potions without which no native believes he could live. These preparations are secured from a variety of specialized practitioners. The most powerful of these are the medicine men, whose assistance must be rewarded with substantial gifts. However, the medicine men do not provide the curative potions for their clients, but decide what the ingredients should be and then write them down in an ancient and secret language. This writing is understood only by the medicine men and by the herbalists who, for another gift, provide the required charm.

The charm is not disposed of after it has served its purpose, but is placed in the charmbox of the household shrine. As these magical materials are specific for certain ills, and the real or imagined maladies of the people are many, the charm-box is usually full to overflowing. The magical packets are so numerous that people forget what their purposes were and fear to use them again. While the natives are very vague on this point, we can only assume that the idea in retaining all the old magical materials is that their presence in the charm-box, before which the body rituals are conducted, will in some way protect the worshiper.

Beneath the charm-box is a small font. Each day every member of the family, in succession, enters the shrine room, bows his head before the charm-box, mingles different sorts of holy water in the font, and proceeds with a brief rite of ablution. The holy waters are secured from the Water Temple of the community, where the priests conduct elaborate ceremonies to make the liquid ritually pure.

In the hierarchy of magical practitioners, and below the medicine men in prestige, are specialists whose designation is best translated as “holy-mouth-men.” The Nacirema have an almost pathological horror of and fascination with the mouth, the condition of which is believed to have a supernatural influence on all social relationships. Were it not for the rituals of the mouth, they believe that their teeth would fall out, their gums bleed, their jaws shrink, their friends desert them, and their lovers reject them. They also believe that a strong relationship exists between oral and moral characteristics. For example, there is a ritual ablution of the mouth for children which is supposed to improve their moral fiber.

The daily body ritual performed by everyone includes a mouth-rite. Despite the fact that these people are so punctilious about care of the mouth, this rite involves a practice which strikes the uninitiated stranger as revolting. It was reported to me that the ritual consists of inserting a small bundle of hog hairs into the mouth, along with certain magical powders, and then moving the bundle in a highly formalized series of gestures.

In addition to the private mouth-rite, the people seek out a holy-mouth-man once or twice a year. These practitioners have an impressive set of paraphernalia, consisting of a variety of augers, awls, probes, and prods. The use of these objects in the exorcism of the evils of the mouth involves almost unbelievable ritual torture of the client. The holy-mouth-man opens the client’s mouth and, using the above mentioned tools, enlarges any holes which decay may have created in the teeth. Magical materials are put into these holes. If there are no naturally occurring holes in the teeth, large sections of one or more teeth are gouged out so that the supernatural substance can be applied. In the client’s view, the purpose of these ministrations is to arrest decay and to draw friends. The extremely sacred and traditional character of the rite is evident in the fact that the natives return to the holy-mouth-men year after year, despite the fact that their teeth continue to decay.

It is to be hoped that, when a thorough study of the Nacirema is made, there will be careful inquiry into the personality structure of these people. One has but to watch the gleam in the eye of a holy-mouth-man, as he jabs an awl into an exposed nerve, to suspect that a certain amount of sadism is involved. If this can be established, a very interesting pattern emerges, for most of the population shows definite masochistic tendencies. It was to these that Professor Linton referred in discussing a distinctive part of the daily body ritual which is performed only by men. This part of the rite includes scraping and lacerating the surface of the face with a sharp instrument. Special women’s rites are performed only four times during each lunar month, but what they lack in frequency is made up in barbarity. As part of this ceremony, women bake their heads in small ovens for about an hour. The theoretically interesting point is that what seems to be a preponderantly masochistic people have developed sadistic specialists.

The medicine men have an imposing temple, or latipso, in every community of any size. The more elaborate ceremonies required to treat very sick patients can only be performed at this temple. These ceremonies involve not only the thaumaturge but a permanent group of vestal maidens who move sedately about the temple chambers in distinctive costume and headdress.

The latipso ceremonies are so harsh that it is phenomenal that a fair proportion of the really sick natives who enter the temple ever recover. Small children whose indoctrination is still incomplete have been known to resist attempts to take them to the temple because “that is where you go to die.” Despite this fact, sick adults are not only willing but eager to undergo the protracted ritual purification, if they can afford to do so. No matter how ill the supplicant or how grave the emergency, the guardians of many temples will not admit a client if he cannot give a rich gift to the custodian. Even after one has gained and survived the ceremonies, the guardians will not permit the neophyte to leave until he makes still another gift.

The supplicant entering the temple is first stripped of all his or her clothes. In everyday life the Nacirema avoids exposure of his body and its natural functions. Bathing and excretory acts are performed only in the secrecy of the household shrine, where they are ritualized as part of the body-rites. Psychological shock results from the fact that body secrecy is suddenly lost upon entry into the latipso. A man, whose own wife has never seen him in an excretory act, suddenly finds himself naked and assisted by a vestal maiden while he performs his natural functions into a sacred vessel. This sort of ceremonial treatment is necessitated by the fact that the excreta are used by a diviner to ascertain the course and nature of the client’s sickness. Female clients, on the other hand, find their naked bodies are subjected to the scrutiny, manipulation and prodding of the medicine men.

Few supplicants in the temple are well enough to do anything but lie on their hard beds. The daily ceremonies, like the rites of the holy-mouth-men, involve discomfort and torture. With ritual precision, the vestals awaken their miserable charges each dawn and roll them about on their beds of pain while performing ablutions, in the formal movements of which the maidens are highly trained. At other times they insert magic wands in the supplicant’s mouth or force him to eat substances which are supposed to be healing. From time to time the medicine men come to their clients and jab magically treated needles into their flesh. The fact that these temple ceremonies may not cure, and may even kill the neophyte, in no way decreases the people’s faith in the medicine men.

There remains one other kind of practitioner, known as a “listener.” This witch-doctor has the power to exorcise the devils that lodge in the heads of people who have been bewitched. The Nacirema believe that parents bewitch their own children. Mothers are particularly suspected of putting a curse on children while teaching them the secret body rituals. The counter-magic of the witch-doctor is unusual in its lack of ritual. The patient simply tells the “listener” all his troubles and fears, beginning with the earliest difficulties he can remember. The memory displayed by the Nacirema in these exorcism sessions is truly remarkable. It is not uncommon for the patient to bemoan the rejection he felt upon being weaned as a babe, and a few individuals even see their troubles going back to the traumatic effects of their own birth.

In conclusion, mention must be made of certain practices which have their base in native esthetics but which depend upon the pervasive aversion to the natural body and its functions. There are ritual fasts to make fat people thin and ceremonial feasts to make thin people fat. Still other rites are used to make women’s breasts larger if they are small, and smaller if they are large. General dissatisfaction with breast shape is symbolized in the fact that the ideal form is virtually outside the range of human variation. A few women afflicted with almost inhuman hypermammary development are so idolized that they make a handsome living by simply going from village to village and permitting the natives to stare at them for a fee.

Reference has already been made to the fact that excretory functions are ritualized, routinized, and relegated to secrecy. Natural reproductive functions are similarly distorted. Intercourse is taboo as a topic and scheduled as an act. Efforts are made to avoid pregnancy by the use of magical materials or by limiting intercourse to certain phases of the moon. Conception is actually very infrequent. When pregnant, women dress so as to hide their condition. Parturition takes place in secret, without friends or relatives to assist, and the majority of women do not nurse their infants.

Our review of the ritual life of the Nacirema has certainly shown them to be a magic-ridden people. It is hard to understand how they have managed to exist so long under the burdens which they have imposed upon themselves. But even such exotic customs as these take on real meaning when they are viewed with the insight provided by Malinowski when he wrote:

Looking from far and above, from our high places of safety in the developed civilization, it is easy to see all the crudity and irrelevance of magic. But without its power and guidance early man could not have mastered his practical difficulties as he has done, nor could man have advanced to the higher stages of civilization.

Originally written by Horace Miner


Cosmic Consciousness

You are literally made of stardust and whatever becomes of you the particles from which you are made have been around since the dawn of time and will continue to live forever. ~Danny Scheinmann, Random Acts of Heroic Love

In other words, we are all a continuation of the big bang (if there was such a thing, but rather than looking at this as an actual event, let’s look at it as if it were the adjective about a particular event). Much the same as humans are conceived, and as thoughts are conceived, and as atoms collide, and as the earth peoples (like the apple tree apples–an idea borrowed from Alan Watts, but that is apropos I think), humans are.

TardezitaYes, no one can truly see the world the same way as another. Truly cannot see because each human has experienced his or her life, uniquely, through a unique set of happenstances and occurences and accidents and guidances etc; it is this uniqueness that establishes the subtle distinctions that can make each one of us a guru. In this way, all humans inherently possesses an infinity of probable potentialities. Each probability disappears or appears according to the conscious and willful choices made as human beings. These constitute the lovely differences between humans, which make it possible for humans to relate to one another on differing levels. When we find ourselves among greatness (whether that is a work of art, music composed, ballet, basketball game, graphic design, architecture, voice, etc.) we subjectively feel the meaning conveyed and we perceive that greatness wrapped up in a little piece of ourselves. . . so, in some ways we still experience it differently rather than the same. What we can all agree on is that as far as we know there does exist an external dimension, separate from us, yet somehow connected, called external reality (the amalgamation of all realizations, the collective mind). These are the genes of our sameness.

Fossil Sitting In Sun LightI, too, perceive in such a nondualistic manner. As the Winter leaves its cold tendrils in the early days of Spring, and as does one galaxy merges (not collides) with the other, passing through one another and leaving bits of each other within the makeup of the other, as is the nonduality in things. It can be difficult to distinguish one from the other, but only at certain levels of magnification. At one level, the distinction cannot be perceived, as a single point from which to begin or end cannot be perceived. Where do I end and Life begin?

The space around us is full of a living essence, which we are just beginning to understand. This essence is like a conduit that is affected by our thoughts. Like oscillations of a bowed string, the notes we play do matter. ~Shawn Hocking

It’s easy to travel down the nihilist path; I find myself doing this on occasion myself. Although, I don’t think of basing the why of things on their function constitutes nihilism. I think it’s a very realistic (no pun intended) way of perceiving the world about us. Nihilism only comes into play because this way does not include the existence of a god (as an anthropomorphic entity). Also, nihilism does not necessarily mean ending as in destruction. Even Nietzsche, the so-called father of nihilism, did not think this way, evident by his philosophy of the Superman. Nietzche was an evolutionist! He wanted a better kind of Man, as he was extremely displeased with the present lot.

Shawn Hocking ArtworkAnd so, that brings us to Love. Love, to me, is not an emotion, it is a way of being, a way of living in the world. Not so much with love, as *being* love’ in this way with every action, with every motion and with every will and want of your being embodies love, which is the natural tendency in humans. Love is a form of consciousness/conscience, and without them love cannot be experienced. And no, love is not only a human trait. The iconization and commodification of love is a human trait, yes. It is obvious that animals and other organisms love. Observe the cow, the lion, the cat, the dog, the deer, the elephant, the dolphin, the whale, the penguin, as well as the flower, the rock, the sea, and the desert.

Are we not all the embodiment of Life and Love, a cosmic consciousness?

[Cosmic Consciousness]*Image Credits (artwork used with permission through CC license and with express permission from Shawn Hocking)–
“Yin Yang Sky Earth — Illustration” by DonkeyHotey
“Fossil Sitting In Sun Light” by A Guy Taking Pictures
“Tardezita” by Eduardo Amorim
[Cosmic Consciousness] by Shawn Hocking
[Untitled] by Shawn Hocking

Nature By Numbers

Film by Cristobal Vila

*Image credit (used with permission of CC license)–
“Fibonacci” by Cedward Brice

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