How Smart is God? by Lee Horstman

If you were as smart as God, what would you do?

I have long been fond of this mental exercise or gedanken (thought) experiment.

Well, first of all, I would not want my enemies to know how smart I am.

This obvious corollary – it seems obvious to me – explains so much. It explains, for starters, why they who in ignorance construct elaborate theories about why God does not exist seem to carry the day. They do indeed seem to carry the day. In all these thousands of years since Socrates and before, thinkers as noble as Spinoza, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine, Immanuel Kant – many of them mystics of evidently singular depth – have sought for a penetrating rational demonstration that God irrefutably exists; whilst, a sort of loyal opposition featuring thinkers such as Bertrand Russell, have similarly sought to demonstrate that, no, God is but a pitiful fiction: a refuge for the weak-minded; a delusion; ‘the opiate of the masses;’ an anthropomorphic conceit. And so on. It seems to be so clear-cut a standoff, does it not? I say it’s a precisely balanced standoff. And moreover a very deliberate one. Thus is freedom vouchsafed. Freedom after all is paramount. Without freedom where is love? Freedom is the necessary oxygen for love. Thus we behold a cosmos well furnished with all manner of freedoms: freedoms great and small; all of them orbiting merrily within a sort of lawful superstructure that implies, every so slyly, that we inhabit something grander than just random cosmic soup. We inhabit in point of fact ‘the mind of God;’ withal, a mind subtle indeed. I will say it this way: a mind of boundless precision and intelligence; every inch the match for a nature possessed as well of boundless compassion, forbearance, love. While the antithesis of either, or both, might bloom for a day here or there, all such counterpoint but reinforces the cosmical leitmotif of wisdom most artfully veiled; love most adroitly shown. And vice versa.

So while it is in fact structurally impossible to ever construct an airtight rational ‘proof’ of God’s even mere existence, let alone whether God might be smart or not, by the very same token it is structurally impossible to ever construct an airtight rational proof of God’s nonexistence. Is this a fluke? Not. It accomplishes two things. First. It represents an ambuscade behind which God is permanently hidden: never, by mere rationality alone can God ever be accessed. Suggestions for and against can endlessly be mounted. Such playful efforts in each direction last forever. Each effort is as endless as the number “pi.” (Thanks to recent computer power this number has been taken out, now, to several hundred decimal places; yep, still no end in sight).

In sum it takes a supra-rational (not irrational) struggle, to arrive to…intelligent infinity.

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[1] Briefly, I affirm cafeteria-style religionism: a little of this, a little of that, and mix to your – the seeker’s – taste. That this is a virtue and not a vice. My own plate seeks to reflect the virtue of the Trimarga (three paths) Yoga (Bhakti- / Karma- / Jnana-yoga), as recommended by Aurobindo among others. The Bhagavad Gita; The Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object and Without a Subject; and, The Law of One books:

These three highly disparate tomes have by far the largest impact upon my seeking for – and to notable degree finding – the Presence of God. ‘Be results oriented; not technique oriented.’ With this in mind I continue, always, to canvas for the teachings of seekers whose wisdom / love // love / wisdom, might impart yet further clarity upon ‘godnature.’

What did I get myself into? by Chuck Post

I offered to facilitate a non-credit course at Yavapai College (Prescott, AZ) on “Science Meets Mysticism”.  Easy, right?  Well, I thought so.

What a century we just wrapped up.  Relativity and Quantum Theory opened up some discussion a hundred years ago.  What is real?  What is “solid”? Are things just probabilities?   Do we affect, in a sense create, what we experience?  These and other discussions have been enjoined.

I have learned that the largely German community of physicists that launched the era of quantum physics were more open to the mystical implications of these new discoveries than the Anglo world that later got into it.   A reflection, perhaps, of the differing views of German Idealism versus British Empiricism.   Heisenberg, Bohr, and Pauli, early quantum theorists, seemed quite open to the possible links between quantum discoveries and Eastern philosophies.

What has happened in the meantime?   Perhaps Analytic Philosophy, influenced by a no-nonsense Bertrand Russell, among others, put the brakes on the mystical inferences of the Germans.  Along with the sidelining or diaspora of the German physicists during and between the wars.  Anyway, it seems like a more vigorous debate might have taken place in the early years than we have now.

The Existentialist fashion that broke forth after World War II seems a cousin of the mystical leanings, or at least openness, of the early quantum pioneers.   The Existentialists seem to have had in common with the mystically-inclined Germans, a reaction against the limits of the rationalist rigors of European thought, going back to Aristotle.   Allowing for irrational notions seems to link Paris’s Latin Quarter fifty years ago, with Schopenhauer, Heisenberg, and Herman Hesse.  But this is a stretch.   Ancient Eastern wisdom is a long way from Marxism, even if they share a disdain for chains.

I am trying to get a handle on where the world is right now, as regards the linkage, if any, between the mystical traditions of the East with quantum physics.   There are a few science-based writers going all out for the East-meets-West implications of modern physics.  Such names as Peter Russell, Deepak Chopra, Bruce Lipton, and Amit Goswami, are science-trained writers who have taken public positions linking science and the ancient wisdom of the East.

I’ve got a course bearing down on me in late August, and I need to have some…. well, I was going to say I need to have some answers by then.   Maybe I just need some questions.

Any ideas out there?   Any lectures, websites, video materials that gets into this intersection of science and mysticism?   I’m all eyes and ears.

 

Understanding Consciousness With the Herd by Marilyn Rousher

Just as it is a daily habit for some to pray, it is my inclination to go out into the barn and spend some “herd time.” It is there, amongst my equine family that my meditation begins, where my consciousness melds with my mind.  Horses are my lifeline and  true teachers. Bay, paint, sorrel and roan, are my four-footed gurus.  Exemplars not encumbered by “outside thoughts”, nor fighting against the sacred harmony of the soul, but flowing with, the All That Is.  The paddock is the location wherein I  am able to close my eyes, slow my breathing, and feel my connected consciousness merge with their heartbeats and the life breath of the divinity that is Creation.  Franklin Merrell-Wolff, a yogi in his own right, taught followers that by understanding consciousness we become part of the universal oneness.

Contemplative “being-ness” did not emerge  easily for me.  Universal union is my birthright, just as it is to all; but the delusion of separateness has afflicted my true existent self, and my need for reconnection, has been an ongoing, and driving force. My best-est, happy thoughts come from my horses.  When things are the worst, and believe me I have had my share of worse things over the years, my equine buddies have always been out in the barn waiting for me.

Buddy, my twenty-eight year old mustang gelding was my best friend, confidant and  worthy opponent for twenty-one years.  We had high-five occasions, and tornado frenzies.  There was many a day I swore I’d sell him for dog food, and many days his forelegs struck out in an attempt to make me into hamburger.  We both vowed that until one or the other of us was properly instructed, we would not, could not, give up.  Separate and at odds with one another and the world in general who would want us anyway?

He, like all of the others of his kind who have been a part of my life, was full of heart.  “Heart” is the best compliment a horseman can bestow upon an equine.  Buddy always gave me what he had and then some.  Whether negotiating technical mountain paths, teaching young children to ride, or schooling this cowgirl in the sentience, the evolution and consciousness of all beings, Buddy did his jobs superbly.

Of all of the horses I have owned, and worked with, he was the one, who by taking ownership of me, became the better teacher.  I’ve been told that the horse you need is the horse you get.  Never has that saying  been as true as when I was entrusted with my wild gelding.  Budsters took me by the halter and led me into the world that is Horse, and the collective consciousness of spirit.  A place where I had been a spectator as opposed to a participant.  He was my teacher/companion through cancer, a daughter who became pregnant at sixteen, and the death of my mother.  He bucked me off every year, stomped me down, and packed me out of some dire situations.  He was a rough teacher, able to instruct me like no other through these experiences, to teach me to be the best horse I could be.

It was many a day that I trekked out to the pasture, put my forehead to his forehead, and breathed his breath into my lungs, as he breathed his into mine.  It was in those moments that I was able to be in the nirvana of yoga, or partake of the complete peace found in church.  Breathing in the same air, taking up the same space, our souls became infused like fiberboard.

August  22,  2011, out in the pasture, under his favorite pine tree, my friend was down.  I hoped he was doing what I often take pleasure in- just being lazy and comfortable- enjoying the earth, the birds in the maples, and the sun poking through the clouds.  But, in my hoping, I went up to the barn and got myself a halter and lead rope.  Entering the pasture, the other horses ran up to me, crowding for a pat, a sniff, or a goodie.  Buddy did not move, he looked up at me with his calm brown eyes, front legs splayed out in front of him, hind legs tucked under his belly.  I drove the herd away, I wanted to be alone with my friend. I was ready to laugh when he jumped to his feet and put his head to my head.  Only, he did not jump up.  He stayed where he was.  I talked to him, petted him, checked him out.  I reminded him that no self-respecting mustang would continue to lie on the ground while a predator stood over him with a halter and lead rope.  I sat down on the earth, he put his head on my lap and closed his eyes.  Stroking his forehead I scanned his body.  The years had not been kind, and old age had robbed him of his sturdy muscles.  His once soft coat had become boar bristles and grew mammoth long.  Yearly, I body-shaved him so he could stay cool during the hot summer months.

Putting his halter on, I encouraged him to get up and get moving.  We had places to go and things to do.  Slowly, drunkenly, he stood.  His head hung down nearly touching the ground.  This was not the high headed snorting Buddy I knew.  In walking him he staggered and swayed, putting one foot in front of the other was a torturous affair wherein he pointed his toes and straighten his front legs in an awkward strut .  His hind legs splayed outward, a traveler on a swinging bridge trying to keep his balance.  He was elbows and hocks, bones and sunken muscles.

The herd gathered round, a protective circle.  They still revered him despite his decrepitude.  They took turns nibbling his neck and withers.  Honestly, it had been a long while since he had been able to keep up with them.  The snorting, bucking – tails flying – stampedes from one field to another  had long left Buddy watching,  standing somber and alone under his tree.  Once a bell has rung, there is no way to un-ring it.  Once you get old Buddy taught me, there is nothing to do but accept it with grace.

Our forehead to forehead days are gone.  Buddy gave me great joy, and taught me to delight in each moment.  I am able to live in the “now” because of his teachings, an ingredient of the consciousness and the mind, of the  All That Is because of him, and not just a spectator to It.  My wild mustang days are over,  I have had to say “adios” to my old caballo amigo from the hills of Bishop, California.

A friend came over and reverently dug a grave for my compadre under his favored tree.  Our vet did the deed of injecting him, and swiftly and peacefully he crossed over  to the wild places that are waiting for such a good fellow as he was/is.

I know that when my time comes, Buddy will be waiting for me on the other side.  In heaven he will meet me, standing belly deep in good grass, licking and chewing, to let me know he is ready to join-up and begin a fresh adventure.  At that point my aged body will be set  free and I will run to my stable mate, swing up onto his back, and without saddle or bridle we will gallop faster than the wind, and follow every trail our wandering hearts beckon us to.  There will be no fences or damaged bodies to stop us.  But for now, alone under the favored tree, I will be the best horse I can be to the herd followers left behind. I’m a better horse, a better human and most importantly, finally able to be  in tune with my connectedness with all things.  And so it is on every morning that I stride to the barn, my true meditation spot, the spot where I begin understanding consciousness  through the breath, the same breath that is freely given to all creatures; my thoughts slow and I am able to connect with the heart of all, and find myself one with Universe.

Connections and Resources

Franklin Merrell-Wolff

Franklin Merrell-Wolff was a Stanford and Harvard trained philosopher and mathematician who claimed a mystical experience of root consciousness in 1936. He spent the rest of his long ninety-eight year life writing about what he called consciousness-without-an-object and his philosophy of introceptualism. One of Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s fundamental realizations that was in alignment with the psychogenic theory of Larry Horstman was “Consciousness is original, self-existent, and constitutive of all things.” As a mystic with formal training in western science, he was featured in the book Mind in the Balance: Meditation in Science, Buddhism, and Christianity by B. Alan Wallace.

B. Alan Wallace

B. Alan Wallace spent fourteen years as a Buddhist monk, ordained by H. H. the Dalai Lama. He then earned his undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, in physics and the philosophy of science at Amherst College, and his doctorate in religious studies from Stanford University. A prolific writer who has translated numerous Tibetan Buddhist texts, he is the founder and president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies, www.sbinstitute.com Continue reading