(as usual this is a rambling sketch just now. hard to write, my computer's been stolen!)
how does science knowledge satisfy what we seek in god? Creator, comforter, listens in time of prayer, answers prayers, metes out justice, forgives, comforter and gives out justice. How can science address that or should it? When we suffer there are some responses. Compassion surely. That we can give one another.
And if one is alone? is that a good state for humans? maybe not and is why we create god! and why cant earth, the moss, the giving ecosystem be comfort enough? the ecosystem is kali giving AND taking.
where else is comfort? knowing we are PARTS of this creation that it is happening THROUGH us. chemically, ecologically, evolutionarily... but that creator is not the most comforting! the raging tearing apart and putting together mother creating out of risk and death and rampant experimenting with genes and embryos! (is y we created comforting myth of father creator)
how we learn to comfort each other? that is appeal of jesus. he is model how to listen to each other and empathize. but he give LESSONS? like the buddha? dunno, wonder whats in the tradition. certainly somewhere is meditation but it’s not the same. so some form of buddhist/science practice is required to learn to get beyond our fear and desires and general head chatter so that we can truly be present to one who is suffering and be able to listen, empathize and accept.
the other response to suffering is to work on releasing one from attachment to ego which is cause of suffering. realize that this majestic historical creative drama of life is bigger than our petty ideas of ego! but that is personal choice: value attachments to self and fellow humans in the now or value the grand billions year sweep of evolutionary creativity?
see... christians want it both ways they want an infantile version of reality, they want to cheat. they want to worship the creator and at same time worship the individual soul in eternal heaven. sorry, watch your mom. she IS kal,i playing trial and error with genes to make and destroy children higgledy piggledy in the grand drama of creative evolution. THAT is how we got here! yes god created us in her own image and she is KALI! to not accept this is to disrespect our mothers. so what i gotta preach is how to comfort and then teach to accept the frightening aspect of the way we are part of this grand evolutionary drama. even to come to be in awe and thanks of it as horrifying as it can be sometime.
take even this tack. so i have the image of evo toying with me, creating in me many quirks, some very difficult to live with bit at same time, in the evolutionary drama ANY of these quirks can come to be an act of creativity if *I* can find or MAKE an ecological niche for them to thrive in.
AHA. in evo there is just as much creativity on TWO scales. there is the variation and selection across generations but at same time it works because ORGANISMS THEMSELVES ARE CREATIVE. EVERY organism we know of is creative, can explore its environment by trial and error, try out new niches to live in, and of course is free to mix diploid genes into haphazard haploid gametes AND many options to choose mates either higgledy piggledy or with many creative strategies or quirky tastes! look at female birds desiring showy males or bower birds and song birds creating to attract mates!
but at any rate through it all we have to accept the possibility of personal failure. there is no creativity without it.
but bar, there are plenty who do not care about creativity or art or risk. who might think it a risky frivolity we cannot afford, as we struggle to just make ends meet or to keep rigid order in society to curb frightening chaos. how do you respond?
well? why are we struggling? what kind of safe society do we want? how CAN we keep it safe? apart from retreating into some fantasy that the father god will always watch over or we can retreat to eternal blissful static heaven, we must realize that this universe IS IN FACT CHAOTIC. It’s in our genes, in our behavior, its in the very mathematics when even 3 or more perfectly predictable automotons interact.
to create an orderly society to thrive in this world requires creative trial and error. but lets not create a cult of GENIUS about creativity that it is only the ability of the few who have been gifted by some ultimate god source! creativity does NOT come from on high down through us. Creativity comes from the ground up! even the lowly bacteria is creative, then SO MUCH MORE are each of you! if you are alive you are creative! it is not such a mystery anymore. i teach it when i teach math. JUST TRY SOMETHING! Yes, your first few tries might fail, and so you keep trying. eventually you will find something that works. something you uniquely find for your situation. to be willing to fail requires that we are supportive and accepting of one another.
this is of course something the society of science teaches and practices. to be supportive of each other in our failures because we value this creative quest.
buddhist practice unnatach from ego reduce suffering, or dive into cause of suffering that it is part of this chaotic rich fragrant creative universe and love THAT more than hate suffering. learn to accept suffering, it is not the worst fate! numbness is, stasis is. A boring universe full of nothing is.
suffering is from error and error is the flip side of exploratory play, integral parts of creativity. learn that creativity is REQUIRED to thrive in this crazy universe and we CAN ALL BE CREATIVE, do not fear it
why do we say god can comfort and forgive and mete out justice? because we say he is the creator of this universe. well… what if i said that we are ALL creators in this universe? then maybe we too can have power to comfort!
because we can practice meditation, and accept our role as creative, we don’t have to lash out in always predictable responses to hurt and we have the capacity to turn situations on their heads and create an open space of possibility and forgive!
and justice? vengeance? punishment? what is all that? Ah so now i must bring in our radical acceptance of creativity. We cannot be creative unless we are susceptible to failure AT ALL LEVELS.
these levels include:
genetic mutations leading to differences like male, female, homosexual, transgenders, black, white (and everything in between), ugliness (whatever that might mean), mental illnesses of all sorts, radical genetic defects of horrible birth, even spontaneous abortion (between 25% and 50% of all conceptions end in spontaneous abortion the mother is not even aware of!).
and even while our adult bodies are growing, the genetic EXPLORATION of cancer, its hard to watch, yes, i know, but if we weren’t susceptible to it our ancestors would not have even evolved, we’d still be a planet of lowly bacteria or even no life at all.
and all sorts of horrible genetic diseases. and even infectious diseases the most intimate attempts at organisms to join ecologically. the reality is that life must eat life to live. that is what life is, cycles of birth and death, growth and destruction. Growth without destruction would quickly USE UP the entire universe and then HALT! there must be cycles.
and human failure due to us trying things out in our own ways and even willful disobedience and the fact that we are vulnerable so we hurt and are weak so we take the easy path and lash out in anger and violence...
it is not our own FAULTS that evolution gave us this peculiar propensity to join in ecstatic mobs following single leaders or ideologies and warring with one another… Not our own faults that we don’t immediately have the strength to find that meditative calm to accept suffering while we seek out equitable solutions, so we instead lash out immediately to take from others to satisfy our needs.
So here I need to dive into a very difficult topic. Human will power. What ARE we? Are we robots destined to act out the programs in our genes? If we have mental illness or have moments of weakness, laziness (humans are some of the laziest species I’ve ever met), does that mean that we have morally failed some great battle? For sure I cannot by pure power of will grow a new arm. I cannot by pure power of will memorize a 1000 digit number. Not without practice. What ARE the boundaries of our strength of will, our moral responsibilities?
In many cultures we have ideas that all men are equal (and women less equal etc..) and that all men have been CREATED equal by the perfect God, and therefore that those of us who do not show the Calvinistic behavior of succeeding by focused strength of will, must have instead chosen to reject this God, and therefore must be reformed, punished or even done away with.
Alas, we just cannot assume we now understand just what humans are yet. We really don’t know. For sure we know there is a combination of some mind activity and certain genetic constraints which tangle in a complicated way. And each of us as a very different genetic mix. We are NOT EQUAL.
And that is the beauty of it. That ongoing exploratory variation is what this creation is all about. Not about some done deal created by a perfect creator god in the infinite past for some crazy cooked up purpose born out of our hellish awakenings when we were first becoming human long ago.
IT IS DIFFICULT to be human.
the first step in accepting all this horror about each of us is to wake up from the fantasy of heaven, that a perfect eternal god created us perfect with a plan, but to realize that we are one of evolution's GRAND EXPERIMENTS! this is a frightening thing to have been born a human with our higgledy piggledy mix (and each of us has a different mix) of wondrous capacities and horrifying failures.
when we realize this reality we realize we must truly have compassion for ourselves and others. and it is ONLY each of us who can offer this compassion and forgiveness. we are hypersocial and we are on this
wild creative journey together.
and if there is no one who can listen to us pray? what kind of prayer do we want? to grant our wishes? thats just infantile! go out and seek. maybe there ARE people who will help us achieve our goals!
to feel listened to? why on earth are we expending monumental effort to build a god for this instead of helping EACH OTHER learn to listen? most of us can learn to do it!
a prayer in which we are listening? for what? for wonder? for new ideas insights about our predicament? the important thing here is to realize that if we go into prayer with preconceived notions about who we are 'praying TO', we are limiting what we may be open to hearing. merely meditation to get out of our head chatter? this requires no one to pray to.
But even if another human listens to us, we come to realize that ULTIMATELY they cannot share our unique experience of our self and that at heart we FEEL RADICALLY ALONE!
being human WAS NOT AN EASY GIFT! being born into this MONSTROUS labyrinth of neural nets capable of imagining infinite cosmos can be horrifying! in truth because we wire ourselves from the time we are embryos so stochastically and into such a large network of neurons... we ARE each SO DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER! Possibly at root, ALIEN to each other. We don’t tend to think this is so, I believe, because our facility with language and our amazing abilities to mimic and imagine… it may be truly impossible for each of us to comprehend what it is like for the other to have their experience of
so then what? maybe a first step is to accept this! so many religions so many political systems, medical systems, education systems want to imagine that we are created equal (American fantasy) or that at our core souls we are the same (christian fantasy) and CAN experience each other’s reality (Buddhist fantasy). but what if this is not correct? then we are barking up the wrong tree and have to find a different way?
so what can we do when faced with this radical state of unknowable complex difference of hundred trillion connection neural net that is our selves? what god can we commune with? where the comfort?
this universe is radically creative! we certainly have only BEGUN to explore that! only recently have we discovered 2 to 100 million species (we still dont know how many, but alas we DO know that we are erasing significant numbers of them through our economic growth). Dug out 4 billion years of history during which wild trial and error have created these myriads of species and during which 99% of all them have passed away. We’ve opened our eyes and discovered a hundred billion galaxies of a hundred billion stars each with their own planetary systems that might or might not be playing out their own billion year long evolutionary dramas (funny it took brains of a 100billion neurons to count those 100billions!). Opened our own skulls and counted our nets of 100billion stochastically wired neural nets. We are even beginning to explore the mathematics of how pattern, creativity can evolve out of simple rules of physics and math played out in systems of all these billions of interacting parts.
why IS the universe SO MANY PARTS?
maybe complex intelligent life COULD happen because there are 100 thousand billion billion planets to try it out on over billions of years! Each planet surface composed of 10^37 (now the numbers get TRULY big and I have to resort to mathematical notation. 10^37 means 1 followed by 37 zeros, that’s 10 billion billion billion billion! At this point one must practice doing lots of math to truly appreciate what’s going on here!!!) interacting molecules (and a billion years means particles nudge each other 10^24 times. They are bounce into each other VERY fast!). That compounds to a mindboggling 10^84 operations in which to fiddle around with and invent life!
See, after spending so many years learning how creative math can be when played over such huge numbers... maybe god can simply be 10^84 interactions! You may laugh at such a simplistic notion… but until you spend years learning the craft of mathematical and physics complexity… don’t be so fast!
but now that ive taken you to such horrifying dizzying heights can i bring you back down to a comforting human scale? the question was, how can we commune with such mindboggling mechanics when we are feeling at our most achingly human?
[probly go look at how the bhagavad gita does it!]