Shedding symbologies

August 23, 2017 (Tallahassee):

Experience is Reality reflected in human consciousness. Before humans, Reality was Reality, but pre-consciously reflected in pre-human cognition.

Experience is the fountainhead supplying our human propensity to make myths and worlds: symbolic interpretations of experience.

Experience is universal, while interpretations of it are not. If we took one mentally healthy person from every culture on Earth, put them on a beach, facing the ocean during a hurricane, they would all have this in common (allowing for minor variations): feeling of wind against their body, the roaring sound of wind and waves, the smell of salt and rain, the sight of the ocean roiling. That ‘raw’ or ‘naked’ experience is that of Reality, the ‘language of God’…but only before we ‘season’ and ‘cook’ it, or ‘adorn’ it with the raw elements of our minds, rooted in our neurobiology, which ties us right back into Reality itself. Would all these people on the beach agree on their perceptions? Perhaps, if they could bracket their interpretations and give a phenomenological description of their perception. Perhaps, if they were all highly literate in the relevant sciences, like meteorology, oceanography, physiology, neurology, psychology, they could propose a theory.

As humans, we cannot escape interpretation, because we cannot live in the Eternal Now of raw, uninterpreted experience. And yet, we can live as close to the Now as possible – in its ceaseless foreglowing and afterglow. The closer we live to the Now, the less confused or constrained we will be to our own created worlds. The key to moving closer to the Now – for those of us discovering this late in life – is first of all to undergo a process of shedding layer upon layer of accumulated symbologies. Memory (signs and symbols of the past) and prediction (signs and symbols of the future) are the temporal glowings of the Now, brighter or dimmer according to their temporal distance from it. By shedding symbologies, we reduce the amount of self-created mental material to fixate upon, gain false security from, and become self-enamored with. By reducing this material – cleaning house – we can eliminate the hardened surfaces on which the glow of the Now is reflected. This is only a first step. It is required to purge the mind of imperfect symbologies. Both memory and imagination are, of course, needed and beneficial; it is just that the worlds we make should become better and better: more explicit, more harmonious, more beautiful.

One of the major human problems today is the proliferation of incompatible or incommensurate symbologies. Groups of people experiencing Reality together evolve roughly similar conceptions of that Reality and responses to it. This is closely associated with the collective mind or tribal instinct. “We, who think this way are right, and are therefore The People.” These many groups – whether ethnic, religious, political, social, or scientific – tend to judge themselves and their way as superior. Other groups, then, are to be converted, corrected, tolerated, mitigated, or eliminated.

For all humanity to be united in thought and action, we would need, not a common language, but a common type of language. The next best candidate for that would seem to be a ‘spiritual science’ or a ‘scientific spirituality’, that is, the LOGOS-MYTHOS (Word of Life) fueled by PNEUMA (the Life Force). It is not that western science should become the language of thought permanently, any more than Standard English should become the only language spoken globally. However, if Global English were to be used together with thousands of local languages, then we’d have the best of both unification and diversification. If we could manage to cover the globe with standardized scientific literacy, it could create many avenues for communication and shared endeavors between all groups. At the same time, we would want to promote the proliferation of local ‘sciences’ (scientific theories and epistemologies based in local languages). Such local sciences could then evolve our collective consciousness by seeking out epistemic niches that currently major languages never could. This would make space for indigenous knowledges around the globe to competitively find solutions for global and ‘glocal’ problems.

In other words, let us find a way to ‘sciencify’ all the surviving languages.

A universal science based in the λóγος is still mythology, still a fiction of the human mind. However, by its very nature and method (hypothesis → analysis → synthesis), it is more suitable as an evolutionary epistemology in that: 1) it explicates (makes explicit) – therefore creates many new epistemic and conceptual ‘life forms’, something the Cosmos apparently likes to do; 2) and it is designed to reproduce itself and evolve, through constant guesswork, experimentation, theorizing, testing, revising, etc., always leading to paradigm competition, paradigm improvement, and paradigm revolutions….

Both religion and science are human responses to raw experience…what is needed now is their integration, a bringing into alignment of the vertical and horizontal axes of the brain for a total, holistic response to experience. Religion must fling open its doors to the endless explanatory power of science, and science must re-embrace, openly and unashamedly, that powerful dimension of human nature it has repudiated, in short, the spirit of humanity. If such a rapprochement could be realized, both religion and science would ‘wake up’, recognize their mutual affinity, and merge.

I was raised in both science and Christian mythology. Over the last ten years, I realized I could see the end of the arc of the relevancy of biblical Christianity in the future – so I’ve jumped ship. Science – broadly speaking – gets me a lot closer to Reality than Christianity ever could. And yet, I do not wish to become an evangelist of science either because it is, on its own, another ‘deprived’ myth. I could only become an evangelist for a spiritual science and scientific spirituality. But even then, I could never throw my entire weight behind any one theory or model because the Now is ever pouring forth newness of life. It is living and active, boiling and bubbling like a Spring of Living Water. So maybe what I could become an evangelist for is the very process through which the Now constantly creates worlds. That is the λóγος , the Tao, the Dharma: the Way, the Truth, and the Life. With that in mind, I think the next step is to spread a spiritualized science across the globe.

If we could understand how western science grew out of languages like Greek, Latin, and Arabic in the first place, we could teach people like the Ik how to ‘scientize’ their own languages and worldviews and technologies.

None of the religious symbologies of today are ever going to serve as the ‘consensus reality’ that could unite the surging throngs across this planet. But if we could capture the spiritual power and wisdom of religions in the discursive and technological sails of science, this earthly ship could travel much farther into unexplored waters in search of undiscovered treasures.


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