Friday, February 24, 2012

Synchronicity: Mystical Mumbo Gumbo

We are excited to share an excerpt from our new book Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence, Change, and Unlocking Your Mind by Kirby Surprise.  Kirby has been getting a lot of nice press lately and we thought it would be fun for you to be able to get a look inside.  

The experience of meaningful coincidences is universal. They are reported by people of every culture, every belief system, and every time period. Synchronicity examines the evidence for the human influence on the meaningfulness of events, and the way the modern computational model of the mind predicts how we create meaning. It demonstrates that these events, based on the activity of the mind, are caused by the person who perceives them. We've shared an excerpt here from Chapter 9 entitled Mystical Mumbo Gumbo.

Commonality of mysticism and science

This chapter is about how you communicate with different parts of yourself. Even if you fully understand that you are a unitary being, you are still only experiencing a tiny fraction of yourself at any given moment. The part of you that experiences reading these lines has its own moment in time and location in space. I have mine as I sit and write them to you. Ultimately, we are part of the same being. But we have separate windows into that unified being from our own physical perspectives.

The energies that make up our forms seem separated by time and space. This is an illusion created by our brain’s limited ability to process information. All energies are part of the same underlying dimensional fields. Einstein was one of the world’s greatest mystics. He stated a simple truth; all is connected and all is relative. Matter is a form of space. A particle is just a place where the local density of the space is a little higher than the space around it. Look at the clothing you are wearing. Imagine the fabric is space. Pinch a bit of fabric between your fingers and twist it a bit. That’s a particle of matter. Think of the fabric as stretching for billions of light years, across all of time and space. Every particle in the universe is a twist in this fabric. It’s all the same fabric. Currently physics is debating which particles are more twists in the fabric, which are threads of the fabric, and how those threads are woven together. Seems the fabric of the universe is a blend of many dimensions. Some threads are woven more tightly from some dimensional fibers than others. Time functions in much the same way. Einstein declared that space and time were inseparable parts of the same fabric. The matter in your body is part of the same fabric of space-time as mine. The moment in time you are reading these words is part of a larger blend of dimensional time. I am writing these words on part of the same fabric, in the same universal present moment in time, but on a different area of the fabric.

You are clothed in these fabrics right now. You wear time and space, multiple dimensions the same way you wear clothing. They move with you, bend as your thoughts bend, and change as your thoughts change. Like a comfortable shirt or a well fitting pair of shoes, you forget they are there, moving with you, part of you. We remove these fabrics occasionally, re-cloth ourselves in them, and mistake them for the totality of our being. You can see the effects they have around you as SEs (Synchronistic Events). In some ways, SEs are like wearing a long flowing robe. You move, and the fabric flows in the space around you. If you were half-asleep, you might see the motion and not realize you were moving the cloth. You might think the fabric moved by itself, or was being moved by some mysterious force. Mysticism and science have a common goal. They look at the motions of the fabrics around us, and speculate about what caused the motion. Mysticism, literally the study of the mysterious, found its general answer long ago. In a broad, general sense, we are the fabric, and we are the forces that move them. There is only one being. But, the devil is in the details. It seems that the overall unity has no single individual awareness, no personal consciousness. Individual consciousness requires a focus in selected areas of the fabric. You, the human being reading these words now, and I, the human being writing them in my present moment, experience only our infinitesimally small, individual, parts of the greater fabric.

The universe is always more complex than it appears to us.

We can understand that everything is connected, but we can only be consciously aware of tiny parts of the whole at any given moment. Even in deep satori, you can experience the full connection, but not the details. The universe may open to your senses, but you are still not aware of every particle of dust blowing in the sand storms on Mars. You know you are one being, but you are not tracking every hydrocarbon atom in the methane oceans of Titan. You become aware of your individual SEs, and some of the SEs in the world around you, but never all of them, never the vast SEs of all things. SE remains mysterious because, as individual beings, we were not evolved to process such vast amounts of data. Science realized something mysticism was never able to fully grasp. The best way to understand how the universe works is to be incredibly humble about your own understanding. Philosophy and religion have some common psychological foundations. Yes, there’s a personal rant about religions coming again. Please bear with my skeptic’s perspective for a few moments. I have a problem with not believing what I think, or what other people think. Good scientists have some of the personality characteristics that make good priests. Characteristics that good priests, philosophers, and mystics often lack.

Advantages and disadvantages of the scientific perspective

Let’s use that supercomputer in your head for a moment. On your stage of internal memory, that place where you construct reality, imagine a scientist standing on a stage. Make him, or her, somewhat of a comic extreme, a stereotype. Perhaps yours has a lab coat, a pocket full of different colored pens, thick glasses, and an air of personal distraction and disorganization. You’re creating this reality, whatever works in your world. Next to him, materialize a priest. Rather than just any priest, we are going to borrow a parody. This priest is a true believer in a ridiculous fundamentalist religion; the fast-growing church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I’d love to claim I created this religion, but it was first thought up by Bobby Henderson as a satirical poke at The Kansas Board of Education. Your Pastafarian priest is dressed in the sacred robes of his religion, a pirate costume. Now, in our internal theatre of the improbable, we ask both our newly created thoughtforms; “What causes global warming?” Our scientist fumbles around for a self-conscious moment or two, then begins to write long strings of math on the blackboard that materializes behind him. “Well,” he begins, “We performed a meta-analysis of 1,400 different studies on the relationship of reported atmospheric temperature variation, taking into account 35 separate variables that affect energy distribution of air masses under different seasonal condition, and looked at amounts of solar radiation and carbon dioxide production during a 75-year period. Statistical analysis indicates a .P value of .92878 within a 6 percent margin of error on a confidence band of plus or minus 5 percent.”

My eyes began to glaze over just writing that. What your little scientist is doing is admitting the limits of his understanding. He is describing, in painstaking detail, the precise limits of what he understands, and how probable it is that his understanding is true. Good scientists are never sure. Good scientists know how likely something is to be true, under very precise and limited conditions. Good scientists give you such exact information, that you could perform the same experiment, in exactly the same way, and get the same results. If you don’t get the same results, and you can explain why, in detail, a good scientist changes his mind about what he believed was probably true. Not only does the good scientist change his mind, he is overjoyed at having learned something new, to have helped the process of investigating the mysterious. Science is an inherently humbling profession. Now we ask our Pastafarian priest the global warming Question. Here’s his response:

“First I’d like to state my humble thanks to our lord, the all mighty creator of the universe, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or FSM as we affectionately worship him. His power and wisdom are beyond all human understanding. Did I mention I represent him? Global warming is caused by the FSM. He is upset with humanity for its iniquities and immorality. Global warming is the result of not following the word of the FSM. You see it is all very simple. FSM is fond of pirates. If you look at a chart of global warming trends, you can clearly see that over the last century the pirate population is clearly in decline. Fewer pirates, more global warming. The FSM is obviously angry with humanity for its persecution of pirates. That’s why we Pastafarians dress as pirates. We are performing a divine service to humanity by increasing the number of pirates and spreading the word of the FSM. We are FSMs chosen people; we need donations to spread the word, hand over yer booty, arrrr.”

Pastafarians, of all denominations, have simplistic answers to complex problems. They are usually sure, in an absolute sense, of the answers they provide. They make declarations about the nature of reality that cannot be tested, can’t be verified, and they stick by them. Pastafarians often declare their humility and humble service to their FSM, while forcing their way of thought on others. Philosophies and religions have positive aspects to be sure. But, all tend to declare the nature of your reality for you. A handy service if you would rather cruise the infinite universe of creative possibility on someone else’s autopilot program. The problem is; unverifiable beliefs limit the way you consider alternate possibilities.

Science has a matching problem. A yin to mysticism’s yang. Some followers of the scientific method have made science itself a religion of sorts. They take the easy, self assured way out. Some devotees of science declare that their way of investigating reality is the only valid means of determining truth. Some priests of physics believe that, until something becomes verified by experimental investigation, it is not true. The problem is, science isn’t supposed to work that way. The scientific method is a humble method. It tests one small, very specific set of conditions at a time. Then it asks others to test the same conditions again independently. If results are reliably reproducible, a small bit of probably true information is added to the knowledge base. Scientists tell themselves stories about reality, just as philosophers do. Good scientists know they are telling stories. They are never sure. The way science is supposed to work is to allow for the possibility of anything not specifically ruled out by valid research. Science is supposed to be where dreams, speculations, experiences, and assumptions, are tested with an open mind. The true scientist is open to alternate probabilities, but sides with the preponderance of evidence. Your conscious awareness evolved as an area of computational processing able to deal with uncertainty. You are never fully aware of the whole of your situation. Your senses always provide you with an overwhelming amount of information. There is so much more to you than a mere conscious awareness can hold at any given moment. The brain evolved to keep the body alive, and to pass on its genes to the next generation. The consciousness it evolved to help you limits and processes the information you receive. You exist in a data stream that constantly dances between being fast, and globally oriented, but lacking in detail, and being slower, more accurate, but missing global connections.

This is the true existential dilemma; to tolerate the ambiguous nature of existence, to remain flexible, to keep moving, to never truly be sure, to find wonder and joy in existence.

You are never going to be sure about SE. You are able to create them, but the more detailed your analysis of them, the more complex they will become. Your powers to create your reality are spectacular, but as an individual consciousness, there are local limits to your abilities. I’m going to start to explain some of the more amazing capacities you have, and to put them into a workable perspective. If I did this from the perspective of spiritual and mystical philosophy, it would sound like mumbo jumbo to the scientist on my stage. If I stick to the minutia of verifiable empirical data, the joy of our situation disappears; the awe and wonder are darkened by seeing only what we know is already there. I like Pastafarians. They often have a delicious sense of humor, whether they realize it or not. I would like to offer you something other than science or philosophy. Please allow me to present you with a good meal. Gumbo is a traditional Cajun dish. It has no definite recipe. Each cook boils the best of his ingredients, shrimp, fish, okra, chopped vegetables, even sausages and shellfish, all in a broth of seasonings that often remain the savory secret of the chef. Gumbo emerged from Louisiana, where a crossing of French, Native American, African, and Caribbean cultures all brought together their own spices and ingredients to the cauldron. There is no scientific formula for gumbo, and no global rules about what it must include. Generally, it is a savory, satisfying celebration of creativity. It tastes good. Rather than being created from a standard recipe, gumbo emerges from the relationship the chef has to his culture and ingredients. To taste a good gumbo is to enter into a relationship with the creator, not to merely consume a product. There are many delightful ways to serve it. Today we are serving SE gumbo. Dip a spoon beneath the broth, and you might find a flavorful chunk of neurophysiology. The next spoonful may have bits of string theory. The broth may be seasoned with perennial philosophy, personal experience, and the timing of SE that appeared and were added to the stock. Gumbo doesn’t require belief.

Dr. Kirby Surprise received his doctorate in counseling psychology from the Institute for Integral Studies. He works in an advanced outpatient program for the State of California where he assesses, diagnoses, and treats clients with psychotic and delusional disorders. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

1 comment:

  1. A book worth reading,so much so that I just had to do a post about it here;

    not that I agree with everything in it,though.
    But definitely one to read.


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