The Symphadox: Physics, Animism, Synchronicity, and Neural Nets

Back in 2014, musing on Emma Restall Orr’s excellent Wakeful World, I presented a paradox at the center of the mind / body dualism that’s usually assumed by both western science and religion. The crux of the paradox is: why are we conscious, but other things aren’t? Most people consider humanity conscious, but all other…

Things Fall Apart: Why We Think Everything’s Getting Worse

Most Americans, year after year, continue to think that the country is on the wrong track. The older you are (i.e, the more experienced you are, and the more of history you’ve seen), the more likely you are to think everything is falling apart. And it’s not just in America: worldwide, people tend to think…

Meditation: Animist Consecration

Last night my awesome wife Ali and I joined in a set of consecration ceremonies at our Unitarian Universalist church. Along with the Reverend’s UU blessing and our friend Chris’s Wiccan consecration, we demonstrated a Druid / Animist method of connecting with an object. I say “connecting with” an object instead of “consecrating” because in…

The Mind of a Rock: Musings on Orr’s ‘Wakeful World’

For thousands of years, Western civilization has been living with a striking paradox. On the one hand, we are clearly physical beings living in a physical universe. And yet, we have these thoughts, feelings, dreams, and perceptions… They seem related to the physical universe, yet fundamentally different in character. We have an ‘inner’ life, which…

The Sea and the Soul

The Proto Indo Europeans of the steppe near the Black Sea had no word for “ocean”. They had mori or mari, meaning “lake” or “sea,” but this most likely referred to the sparkling quality of its surface (cf PIE mer, “clear, sparkle”) and did not carry connotations of vast continent-wrapping waters. When the Indo Europeans…

The Song of Self

A puzzle: Do you exist? Descartes famously answered this one by saying cogito, ergo sum: I think, therefore I am. Is it true, though? Does “thinking” have to be attached to a “thinker”? And what is “thinking” (cogitare) anyway? For Christians, the Self definitely exists, and is in fact eternal: after you die, your soul…

Sphere, Spirit, Stone

My old blog, the Word of the Day, is defunct, and I’m getting ready to take it down. Before I do, though, I’m going to repost some of the best words here over the next few weeks. Enjoy! Sphere Sphere comes from the beautiful Greek word sphaira, which meant “globe” or “ball”. By the time…

Meeting the Dream Master

When I first laid eyes on the Dream Master, he was Death. In meditation, I had rowed my boat out to the Island of Smoke (a place in my Inner Landscape where I frequently go to ask things of gods and spirits), and docked it in its usual spot along the rocky, pine-forested shore. It’s…

Subjective Reality and the Structure of Consciousness

I have lined up a whole lot of little black letters talking about the structure of consciousness, and I imagine that a broad cross-section of both of my faithful readers wonder why on earth I’m wasting so much time on it. The simple answer is that the structure of consciousness is the structure of our…