Friday, December 31, 2021

A Vast Pattern


"Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars - mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination - stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one - million - year - old light. A vast pattern - of which I am a part... What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?"

- Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988)

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Universal Spark


"Like an explosive awaiting a spark, unimaginably numerous environments in the universe are waiting out there, for aeons on end, doing nothing at all or blindly generating evidence and storing it up or pouring it out into space. Almost any of them would, if the right knowledge ever reached it, instantly and irrevocably burst into a radically different type of physical activity: intense knowledge-creation, displaying all the various kinds of complexity, universality and reach that are inherent in the laws of nature, and transforming that environment from what is typical today into what could become typical in the future. If we want to, we could be that spark."

- David Deutsch (1953 - )
The Beginning of Infinity 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Limits of Comprehension


"Man is not born to solve
the problem of the universe,
but to find out what he has to do;
and to restrain himself within
the limits of his comprehension."

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Perceive the Inconceivable


"What dreaming does is
give us the fluidity to
enter into other worlds by
destroying our sense of
knowing this world.
He called dreaming a journey
of unthinkable dimensions,
a journey that, after making us
perceive everything we
can humanly perceive,
makes the assemblage point
jump out side the
human domain and
perceive the inconceivable. "

- Carlos Castaneda (1925 - 1998)
The Art of Dreaming

Friday, December 24, 2021

Curious Air of Hyper-Reality

"I suppose it is submerged realities that give to dreams their curious air of hyper-reality. But perhaps there is something else as well, something nebulous, gauze-like, through which everything one sees in a dream seems, paradoxically, much clearer. A pond becomes a lake, a breeze becomes a storm, a handful of dust is a desert, a grain of sulphur in the blood is a volcanic inferno. What manner of theater is it, in which we are at once playwright, actor, stage manager, scene painter and audience?"

 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Between Immensity and Eternity


"The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky."

 - Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)
Cosmos

Monday, December 20, 2021

Geological Time

"In reality, a river's basic shape... is not a line but a tree. A river is, in its essence, a thing that branches... Although it flows inward toward its trunk, in geological time it grew, and continues to grow, outward, like an organism, from its ocean outlet to its many headwaters. In the vernacular of a new science, it is fractal, its structure echoing itself on all scales, from river to stream to brook to creek to rivulet, branches too small to name and too many to count."

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Pure Experience


"Zen always aims at grasping the central fact of life, which can never be brought to the dissecting table of the intellect. To grasp this central fact of life, Zen is forced to propose a series of negations. Mere negation, however, is not the spirit of Zen, but as we are so accustomed to the dualistic way of thinking, this intellectual error must be cut at its root. Naturally Zen would proclaim, 'Not this, not that, not anything.' But we may insist upon asking Zen what it is that is left after all these denials, and the master will perhaps on such an occasion give us a slap in the face, exclaiming, 'You fool, what is this?' Some may take this as only an excuse to get away from the dilemma, or as having no more meaning than a practical example of ill-breeding. But when the spirit of Zen is grasped in its purity, it will be seen what a real thing that slap is. For here is no negation, no affirmation, but a plain fact, a pure experience, the very foundation of our being and thought. All the quietness and emptiness one might desire in the midst of most active mentation lies therein. Do not be carried away by anything outward or conventional. Zen must be seized with bare hands, with no gloves on."

- D.T. Suzuki (1870 - 1966) 
An Introduction to Zen Buddhism

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The World is Sacred


"The world is sacred, of course,
it is full of gods, numina,
great powers and presences.
We give some of them names –
Mars of the fields and the war;
Vesta the fire;
Ceres the grain;
Mother Tellus the earth;
the Penates of the storehouse.
The rivers, the springs.
And in the stormcloud and
the light is the great power
called the father god.
But they aren’t people.
They don’t love and hate,
they aren’t for or against.
They accept the worship due them,
which augments their power,
through which we live."

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929 - 2018)

Friday, December 17, 2021

World of Imagination

"I know that this world is a world of imagination and vision. I see every thing I paint in this world, but everybody does not see alike. To the eyes of a miser a guinea is far more beautiful than the Sun, and a bag worn with the use of money has more beautiful proportions than a vine filled with grapes. The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity, and by these I shall not regulate my proportions; and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself."

 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Portals of Consciousness


"In its entirety, probably,
it follows us at every instant;
all that we have felt, thought
and willed from our earliest
infancy is there, leaning over the
present which is about to join it,
pressing against the portals of
consciousness that would
fain leave it outside."

- Henri Bergson (1859 - 1941) 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Forget About Words


"A fish-trap is for catching fish;
once you've caught the fish,
you can forget about the trap.
A rabbit-snare is for catching rabbits;
once you've caught the rabbit,
you can forget about the snare.
Words are for catching ideas;
once you've caught the idea,
you can forget about the words.
Where can I find a person who
knows how to forget about words
so that I can have a few
words with them?"

Chuang Tzu (c.369 B.C. - c.286 B.C.)
The Essential Writings

Monday, December 13, 2021

Meeting of Possibilities

"This accidental
meeting of possibilities
calls itself I.

I ask: what am I doing here?
And, at once, this I
becomes unreal."

- Dag Hammarskjöld (1905 - 1961) 
Markings

Sunday, December 12, 2021

A Magical Illusion


"You have seen that the universe is at root a magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate 'you' to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The only real 'you' is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For 'you' is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new."

- Alan Watts (1915 - 1973) 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

We Are All One


"When we speak of man, we have a conception of humanity as a whole, and before applying scientific methods to the investigation of his movement we must accept this as a physical fact. But can anyone doubt to-day that all the millions of individuals and all the innumerable types and characters constitute an entity, a unit? Though free to think and act, we are held together, like the stars in the firmament, with ties inseparable. These ties cannot be seen, but we can feel them. I cut myself in the finger, and it pains me: this finger is a part of me. I see a friend hurt, and it hurts me, too: my friend and I are one. And now I see stricken down an enemy, a lump of matter which, of all the lumps of matter in the universe, I care least for, and it still grieves me. Does this not prove that each of us is only part of a whole?

For ages this idea has been proclaimed in the consummately wise teachings of religion, probably not alone as a means of insuring peace and harmony among men, but as a deeply founded truth. The Buddhist expresses it in one way, the Christian in another, but both say the same: We are all one. Metaphysical proofs are, however, not the only ones which we are able to bring forth in support of this idea. Science, too, recognizes this connectedness of separate individuals, though not quite in the same sense as it admits that the suns, planets, and moons of a constellation are one body, and there can be no doubt that it will be experimentally confirmed in times to come, when our means and methods for investigating psychical and other states and phenomena shall have been brought to great perfection. Still more: this one human being lives on and on. The individual is ephemeral, races and nations come and pass away, but man remains. Therein lies the profound difference between the individual and the whole."

- Nikola Tesla (1856 - 1943)
The Problem of Increasing Human Energy 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Mental Categories


"Blessed be you,
mighty matter,
irresistible march of evolution,
reality ever newborn;
you who, by constantly
shattering our mental categories,
force us to go ever further
and further in our
pursuit of the truth."

- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 - 1955)
Hymn of the Universe

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Beyond the Tangible


"Abstraction allows man to
see with his mind what he
cannot see physically
with his eyes...
Abstract art enables the artist
to perceive beyond the tangible,
to extract the infinite
out of the finite.
It is the emancipation
of the mind.
It is an exploration
into unknown areas."

- Arshile Gorky (1904 - 1948)
 

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Neither Obverse nor Reverse


"There'll never be a door.
You're inside and the keep
encompasses the world and
has neither obverse nor reverse
nor circling nor secret center."

- Jorge Luis Borges (1899 - 1986)
In Praise of Darkness

Sunday, December 05, 2021

A Sea of Forms

"A work of art is an abstract or epitome of the world. It is the result or expression of nature, in miniature. For, although the works of nature are innumerable and all different, the result or the expression of them all is similar and single. Nature is a sea of forms radically alike and even unique. A leaf, a sun-beam, a landscape, the ocean, make an analogous impression on the mind. What is common to them all, — that perfectness and harmony, is beauty. The standard of beauty is the entire circuit of natural forms, — the totality of nature; which the Italians expressed by defining beauty "il piu nell' uno." Nothing is quite beautiful alone: nothing but is beautiful in the whole. A single object is only so far beautiful as it suggests this universal grace. The poet, the painter, the sculptor, the musician, the architect, seek each to concentrate this radiance of the world on one point, and each in his several work to satisfy the love of beauty which stimulates him to produce. Thus is Art, a nature passed through the alembic of man. Thus in art, does nature work through the will of a man filled with the beauty of her first works.

The world thus exists to the soul to satisfy the desire of beauty. This element I call an ultimate end. No reason can be asked or given why the soul seeks beauty. Beauty, in its largest and profoundest sense, is one expression for the universe."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)
Nature

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Slow Time


"In the vast abyss before time, self
is not, and soul commingles
with mist, and rock, and light. In time,
soul brings the misty self to be.
Then slow time hardens self to stone
while ever lightening the soul,
till soul can loose its hold of self
and both are free and can return
to vastness and dissolve in light,
the long light after time."

- Ursula K. Le Guin (1929 - 2018)
"How It Seems To Me" in So Far So Good

Friday, December 03, 2021

The Sentinel

"Think of such civilizations,
far back in time against the
 fading afterglow of creation,
masters of a universe so
young that life as yet had come
only to a handful of worlds.
Theirs would have been
a loneliness of gods
looking out across infinity
and finding none to
share their thoughts."

- Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008)

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Longing


"A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, the longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home."

Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962)
Wandering

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Slow Growth


"You cannot force ideas. Successful ideas are the result of slow growth. Ideas do not reach perfection in a day, no matter how much study is put upon them. It is perseverance in the pursuit of studies that is really wanted.
...
Next must come concentration of purpose and study. That is another thing I mean to emphasize. Concentrate all your thought upon the work in hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.
...
Man is the result of slow growth; … the most successful are those whose success is the result of steady accretion. That intellectuality is more vigorous that has attained its strength gradually. It is the man who carefully advances step by step, with his mind becoming wider and wider, and progressively better able to grasp any theme or situation, persevering in what he knows to be practical, and concentrating his thought upon it, who is bound to succeed in the greatest degree."

- Alexander Graham Bell (1847 - 1922)