Tag Archives: Philosophy

The Symbolic Meaning of a Water Fountain

Water Fountain at Chenal Country Club

One can obviously see the phallic symbology of the water penetrating a yoni from beneath, but in a deeper sense, ironically a higher chakra sense, the form of a fountain represents each person and living being itself manifesting from a world of transcendence. And since each particle is of divine nature, so it your whole being.

The water represents the energy, the ambrosia of eternity pouring into the field of time. The endless flowing, the continuous flowing, represents the eternal nature of this mystical dimension and also the infinite nature of its source. Since you can’t see the water’s source, that represents that it’s coming from the ground of being and also that it’s coming from another dimension which is invisible to our senses. On a deeper level there’s the paradox and the archetypal sense of the infinite coming from nothingness, which ironically enough is being postulated as the literal truth in the latest scientific origin stories such as the Big Bang theory.

Most fountains that you see spring from a round bowl-shaped container or vase. The inside of the bowl or pool is sacred space, a “Holy Grail” you might say, which represents the transcendence of duality or on a psychological level, the gap between our thoughts.

Water has long been seen as symbolic of the ambrosia of eternity. A fountain represents a sacred opening, gap or tunnel which is a connection to eternity itself.

In a way, a kind of mini temple, yet completely natural: a religious, mystical experience paradoxically combining both the mystical and the physical, representing a connection created by nature herself.

This is why it evokes an archetypal response of beauty in most people: The aesthetic being, at least on the symbolic level, the manifestation of a mystery.

02/09/16 Update: One element that struck me recently, especially looking at the still photograph, is the Lingam/Yoni symbolism. And there is a strong dichotomy of the Lingam, representing Shiva, coming out of the bowl/vase shaped Yoni, which is representative of the feminine aspect. But if you think about it from a Hindu perspective this makes total sense: The “Void” out of which everything comes and back into which everything goes is the Mother Goddess of the Universe. She is it. Symbolically speaking, the divine feminine represents life itself, and the Lingam, the male divine, represents the snake, who by piercing life, right through the middle, throws off death, just a snake throws off its skin.

The fact that the Lingam and Yoni are seen as together, like the Ying and Yang of Asia, as well as the water and bowl of a fountain, represents that the two are one, that the feminine and masculine are merely two different aspects of the same thing, just like the eternal and the imminent, the mysterious and the manifest, and indeed, life and death: this represents to the soul the transcendent nature of its own being.

Read this quote by Joseph Campbell

“Nevertheless-and here is a great key to the understanding of myth and symbol-the two kingdoms are actually one. The realm of the gods is a forgotten dimension of the world we know. And the exploration of that dimension, either willingly or unwillingly, is the whole sense of the deed of the hero.” – The Hero with a Thousand Faces, page 217, The Crossing of the Return Threshold

Here, the “realm of the gods” is symbolized by the Yoni, the void, the bowl, the feminine. And the “world we know” is represented by the Lingam/Masculine aspect. The masculine is representative of manifestation, but that manifestation has the potentiality to come in contact with the divine, indeed become divine, if it has the energy, drive, and intent to summon itself into one direction, namely that of the spontaneity residing inside the bowl of its own heart.

Another dichotomy: Notice in the fountain and in Hindu temples, the Lingam aspect is coming out of the Yoni, not going in: That’s symbolic of a resurrection. New life (Nova Vita) in this case not coming from sexual intercourse, but from a birth of the heart.

On Ego, What it Is, What it Does, and How to Cure It

“Because the conscious mind has to be in control, even though it doesn’t know anything.” – Dolores Cannon [Youtube Link]

I’ve heard Dolores say in other interviews that the Conscious Mind is the Ego. That makes the definition pretty simple. If that is the case then the cure would seem to be spending more time with the sub/unconscious parts of our psyches, paying it more respect, i.e., meditation, having the intent to remember and write down your dreams, and respecting the images and messages coming from that deep well. – Stephen

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. This post is definitely under construction. It may be so indefinitely. The main reason is: I have a strong sense that Ego is our main problem in life. Ego has hijacked our Consciousness, and it won’t let us be happy. It doesn’t want us to be happy.

But here’s the rub and the reason I created this post: I don’t know why, nor do I know exactly what it is, or how to get rid of it.

The few times in my life that I’ve really meditated, and carried on a sustained practice, it does seem like that exercise had a positive effect on reducing it, much like working out at the gym burns fat.

But somehow the Ego itself, being still in control, seems to stop me in my tracks from doing such things as meditating, anything that would threaten it’s existence. Since it has hijacked and controls the brain it accomplishes this behaviourial control by releasing negative feelings around anything it doesn’t want you to do. Anything that would help you escape from it.

Still, I don’t know what it, Ego, is, exactly. I’m hoping that writing itself, you know how writing is a way of learning, will help me arrive at an answer. If you have any thoughts on this subject, then I would love to hear them in comments.

It occurred to me today that we weren’t born with Ego. It feels like Society somehow injects us with “Ego” little by little, as we grow older, and we don’t notice it, much like we don’t notice our day to day aging, until one day we wake up and our consciousness has changed. The wonderous feeling we had about life as children has disentegrated.

The myths and fairytales, in their picture language, seem to be saying, in an over arching theme that the cosmic or natural energies can’t get through to our consciousness, that they’re being blocked by something. And that if we were to remove the obstruction, those energies would automatically carry us to our destiny. It certainly feels like the Ego is that blockage. So the question becomes, how do we in our modern lives remove that blockage? Certainly the picture language of Myth and Fairy-Tales seem to have a metaphorical answer. As time goes on and things come to me, either through my meditation practice, or reading Myths and Fairytales, themselves, or people like Joseph Campbell and Deepak Chopra, among others, I’ll add to this post. This post may get really long! So what? I do think the answer to this question is the central realization of our lives: To Be or Not to Be? It seems to almost come down to this binary, “Quantum” type answer: Either you’re living your destiny or you’re not.

Ok, since this post is just about writing down the ideas that come to me, that feel true, I’ll start with this:

  • Ego is the sense, the feeling, the belief, that you are separate from the World, the Universe, Nature, everyone and everything around you.

That statement came out of me a few months ago, seemed to come from my “archetypal” self. It felt true when it came out, and although I’m not “feeling” it now, I do remember it, and I want to write it down, so I can refer back to it. That’s good. That’s a start. But it still doesn’t tell me what to ‘do’ about it, how to cure myself from it. Well, I’m gonna ponder this, and hopefully I’ll come back to this post with some more ideas, if not answers.

Update: June 1, 2013.

  • “It’s a mode of existing, it’s a way of existing that sets God apart from anything else”

I just saw this in a lecture about Infinity that the World Science Festival produced last night. It’s talking about ‘Qualitative’ infinity as opposed to ‘Quantitative’ Infinity, an idea that apparently came from Aquinas. This idea of ‘Qualitative’ Infinity as a ‘Way’ of existing produces images in my brain of Purity which strikes me as the opposite or even the ‘Antidote’ to the problem mentioned above of some kind of blockage. A “Pure” connection is unblocked. So how does it relate to this article? It almost seems in this sense that ‘God’ is anyone or anything who is existing in ‘pure being.’ Ego is a psychological ‘impurity.’ So it could be that ‘God’ is simply any ‘being’ that is existing without Ego or any other kind of impurity. That’s a fascinating concept.

http://new.livestream.com/WorldScienceFestival/InfinityEvent/videos/20260843 – (That quote and the talk of the Theologian where I heard it starts at about the 13:22 mark of the video on the page of this link.)

The Essence of Zen

I just got through reading Alan Watts’ “The Way of Zen” which is just awesome, by the way. I didn’t really know who he was, other than, I heard Joseph Campbell mention him a couple times, and in the back of my mind I thought, “Oh, he was just some sort of 60’s new age guy who was sort of in Joseph’s ‘Entourage’.”

Wrong! This guy was the real deal. He was so “in it” so “grounded” that hearing him speak, which may be even better than his great books, you know you are listening to someone who was “transparent to transcendence.”

That’s what draws you to someone who is or has really followed their bliss, is that the ground is so speaking through them, that you can just feel there’s no Ego agenda that’s going to try to fool you, no editing out of anything, even competitive forces, because it’s like the ground of being speaking ‘through’ this person. That’s a paradox in itself, and as you get more into this world, you know you’re headed in the right direction as more of these paradoxes, oxymorons, anamorphuses, start popping up, and not only do you not mind, but they have a delicious quality to them.

Anyway, back to my main point. One thing that strikes me that may be the essence of Zen, especially when it comes to some sort of skill is that the practice isn’t what is making you better. The practice, which is of course required, is rather putting you in tune to receive the genius. The practice, the honest practice, sort of makes you worthy, like an initiation, to receive the message from the Gods. And then it becomes almost effortless, like the craft is working through you. You become a conduit for this genius. So the practice puts you “in tune” to be a conduit for manifesting the eternal.

The Key Insight of Mysticism and Meta-Physics

After having listened, watched, read hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours of material from and about mysticism, over the course of more than a decade, the primary message that keeps coming through these experiences, if I could boil it down to one sentence is this:

Consciousness creates reality. Consciousness creates matter and not the other way around.

It’s tough when 99.999999% of the time your mind, all of your senses (And I would say those false messages are directed by the ‘Ego’) are telling you just the exact opposite. But then, looked at one way, that’s part of the game. That’s the challenge of the game.
And that consciousness is not just our personal consciousness, or even our deep, archetypal consciousness (‘atman,’ ‘soul’), but a pure consciousness that is deeper and “a priori” to the Universe (or even ‘Multiverse’) itself. This could be called “The Ground of Being” which in the language of mysticism “neither is, nor is not.” The fundamental error of our experience is the belief of just the opposite: That “reality” or matter “out there” creates our consciousness “in here.” This is the fundamental source of all of our frustration. Because this latter belief leads to the feeling that life is a prison, that our consciousness, our experience. is determined by an outside force that we have no power to change.

Let’s look at an analogy in nature: An apple grows out of the tree. The apple isn’t made somewhere else and then placed on the tree. It grows out of the tree.

Well, wait, you might say, you are contradicting yourself. If the apple grows out of the tree, isn’t that analogous to consciousness grown out of, coming from matter?

Only if you mix up the metaphor. In this analogy, the tree, the “Axis Mundi”, is a metaphor for consciousness, and the Apple (The “Knowledge of Good and Evil”) is a metaphor for the duality of the “objective” world.

So the question would be, if one believes this theory, or perhaps has even had a mystical experience themselves, is what do you do? How does one expand on that, how does one change? When does the adventure begin?

My answer is that I’m not sure. It may take me another decade to even come up with a hunch. But my gut tells me a practice of meditation is one if not “the” answer, or at the very least a way to get to “first base.” Because when you can step back from your thoughts, it starts to take the energy out of them, to quiet them, and then the mind starts to become “transparent to transcendence” which feels like taking a psychological shower, cleansing the mind, cleansing the personal consciousness, so that the connection between it (Your everyday living body and wakefulness) and your archetypal consciousness (Your ‘Atman’ ‘Soul’ or  ‘Wisdom Body’) becomes reopened. Then the billions (if not infinite) of years of wisdom consciousness becomes immediately available to your present, your ‘right now’,  experiential consciousness.

If that’s not the “It” itself, it would seem, at least at the gut level, to be a great jumping off point. A place where many more options or ‘doors’ become available. A place where an adventure may begin. Like the earlier analogy I used, if the “Ultimate” is like a home run in baseball, then it seems like meditation, or some form of it, is at least a way to get to first base, from where you’ll automatically know, from the wisdom level, of what to do, or not to do, to continue your progress.

Ebert, Dawkins, Maher, & Hitchens’ Neo-Determinism

Painting from "The Red Book" by C.G. Jung

Determinism, the idea that everything can be explained, has a “reason”,  died in 1906, the “Miracle” Year when Einstein came up with Special Relativity. Turned out Light didn’t care what the Victorians thought and didn’t obey “reason.” By 1925, with the Quantum Theory, whatever vestige of this mechanized view of the World was laid to rest once and for all.

Or so one would “think.”

But it seems lately in the voices and writings of Roger Ebert, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, and Christopher Hitchens, among others (those are the ones who spring to mind), it seems to be the “Pragmatist’s Badge of Honor” to drag this dusty, worn out, good for nothing idea, back up from the basement.

For what “reason,” I have no idea, and the irony is that they seem to be invoking “Science,” the very craft of which is the idea’s undoing, as their main witness. Even though “Science” has testified time and time again, that what it saw and is seeing under that microscope and telescope is totally irrational and makes no “sense” at all.

There’s always been this sense that Science and Mythology are at odds with each other, but in this century and with every day that passes, Science seems to be only confirming what the roots of mythology has always been symbolizing.

This “Neo Determinist” Zeitgeist has been on my “mind” a lot over the last few years, mainly because of the above mentioned and other “influencers” of the day, it has become a Zeitgeist, even a hundred years after it was Scientifically swept away. But reading Roger Ebert’s “meta” review the Clint Eastwood movie, “Hereafter,” today motivated me to write comment on his blog, and then hence this blog post.

I say “meta” because it was mostly, not a review, but his take on the whole “new age” movement, so to speak, spirituality specifically, and of course his cynical view of it, but through the course of the blog it seemed like he was trying to rationalize or “bail” Clint Eastwood out, saying the subject matter of the movie could be “explained” without the need of the “supernatural.”  One of the first lines of his “review” jumped out at me:

“All the events we can perceive take place in a rational universe governed by physical laws.”

And lead me to leave this comment:

“Actually there’s nothing rational about the Universe at all. From what we can tell from the IMAP satellite images it began about 13 billion years ago from something weighing less than an ounce, and then for reasons unknown expanded at faster than light (Inflation Theory), symmetries fell apart under these extreme conditions forming “forces” that condensed matter into what we know and see today. But even today the very fabric of the Universe is un-rational. The very fact that electrons, for instance, are in multiple places at once around the nucleus is the only reason our bodies hold together. We can describe this but we don’t know how it works.

Even if we knew how they worked, who’s making them work? We describe the physical laws but who or what is executing them? In this sense then “God” as Joseph Campbell said, is a symbol of that which is beyond thought, beyond what is even possible to be thought.

“Reason,” as Blake said, is simply “the bound or outward circumference of energy”

So, we may can come to “know” this mystery, but not through reason or thinking. We can study for years, for instance, a chemistry book on “how” a baby is born, but a woman’s body actually executes the act without thinking.”

In Defense of Rand Paul

“He who is forced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” – Deepak Chopra

I’m sure you know the back story: Last week, Rand Paul, son of Congressman Ron Paul (R) Texas, won the Republican nomination for Senate in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The day after his victory, his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, announced on “Hardball” that one of the reasons voters should consider him “out there” or “extreme”, I can’t remember Chris Matthews’ exact words, but you know the typical descriptions of Libertarians: “Wacky, Looney, Tea-baggers, etc.” designed not to intelligently debate them, but to label them in order not to have to have the debate itself.  Conway stated, for one reason, is that Paul wanted to repeal the 1964 Civil Rights Act, implying in its entirety. You can imagine all the hairs on the back of Matthews’ standing up. Later that night, on the “Rachel Maddow Show” is when the real firestorm or controversy began. Paul was on the show being interviewed and pressed on this exact question. He explained that his position was that 9 of the 10 sections of the law he agreed with, but the aspect that delt with private businesses, he was against. The red boiled to Maddow’s face.

“Are you saying that businesses should be allowed to not serve black people if they so chose?”

Mr. Paul tried to explain his position in a philosophical context, demonstrating for instance the idea that if we think of private businesses as “public” spaces that the proprietor of said establishment would not have the right to ban guns.

Ms. Maddow would have none of it. She was out for blood.

“Just answer the question, yes or no.”

Mr. Paul was flustered. He knew that by giving a simple answer of “Yes” that a piece of video tape a few seconds long would be produced in order to smear him and possibly destroy his campaign completely. Why? Because answering that question “Yes” without explaining the philosophical context for your reasoning would automatically label him as a racist. Loaded sound bites like these, whether text or video, are like reflexes in the brain. They automatically fire. They are like branding a cattle. They stick for life.

Blood Ms. Maddow did draw. She definitely left him mumbling and stumbling. To say he didn’t handle it well is an understatement, but by know means a death blow, because he did emphasize his reasoning, that he was definitely not a racist, nor would support such a business personally. While she won the debate and definitely drew blood, he definitely didn’t come off as the typical politician, seeming like a puppet. He definitely came off, if stumbling on PR Grades, as someone who was authentic and thoughtful. I don’t think anyone watching it, even an African American, would truly think Paul is a racist, though it was clear it was Ms Maddow’s intent to brand him this way.

I would like to argue that Mr. Paul is right and that Ms. Maddow and her ilke are wrong with two main points.

  1. That the point is moot.

While Mr. Paul did say he “philosophically” disagreed with the commerce section of the Civil Right’s Act, he did say he clearly had no intention of repealing and that was not part of his platform. His thoughts and point of view were simply to display his overall philosophy. Opponents argue that it is impossible to separate his position on this topic as a demonstration of his philosophy from the danger that he would actually repeal the law, assuming he had such power, and bring back segregation to the country. But this is simply not true. For one, no one could ever have the power to over turn the Civil Rights Act. It would entail overturning the whole law, which no one is for, or could ever have the political will to do so. Overhauling such a law would be a mammoth undertaking: the commerce clause has already been decided in the courts, and no one want to change it because the facts of America today are that no one’s interested in going back to the way it was. We don’t want discrimination based on race even in private business, and the facts of America today is that by and large we don’t have that. Now whether that fact is because of the law itself, or that time and the country have simply moved past it naturally might be up to debate. But no one’s really interested in it. We’ve arrived at the place we wanted. Does it matter now whether it was by boat, train, or plane? No matter how you slice, dice, or cut it, the point of the specific law is history and moot. Mr. Paul clearly demonstrated that he and any reasonable person understood it to be that way. Ms. Maddow, if anything, demonstrated she did not. And I would argue that anyone who thought the point of the specific legislation itself wasn’t moot at this point in time would be the one who is “looney” or “extreme.”

2.  One can use a moot point to make a broader philosophical argument

Just because a specific action in the past today is moot, doesn’t mean the action itself can’t be used to make a broader philosophical point, and that philosophical point of view from Mr. Paul’s perspective is this: Freedom is the highest value in our country. Why? Well, I won’t pretend to get in the founder’s head or hearts, but if I were guessing I would say this: In psychology there is the tenant that every brain has a light and dark or “shadow” side. But in order to quell or not let the “dark” side display itself in public, one must somehow find a way, not to exorcise the dark side (that only makes it grow) but somehow ritualistically acknowledge and honor the “shadow” in a private way. It is found that if the shadow side of our nature is honored in a private way, it will tend not to display itself in a public way. For the subconscious knows no difference in “private” or “public” and it’s energy is released with any kind of sincere acknowledgement. Freedom is chosen as the highest value of society for precisely this same reason: a population that is forced in behaving in a way that is deemed socially acceptable, (instead of “choosing” to behave in that way), is a population whose dark side, shadow, and resentment grows, along with its corruption. Instead, a population that has private freedom, has a sacred space in order to deal effectively with their shadow energies, and in turn gives birth to more energy for good in the public arena. A society that chooses to do good, instead of being forced to do good, is the kind of transcendent society that the founders, I believe, had set as a goal, and freedom is its sole and primary driving force. The Founders in their day had seen bad and mediocre societies come and go, but they wanted to build the platform which would foster not just good, but a great society, and the solution they found was a very illuminated one, and as all such solutions are, a very ironic and paradoxical one: the secret to harnessing the greatest amount and best energies of an individual in the service of his society, was not to control him, but instead to free him.

Related Outside of this Blog:

New York Sun – “Rand Paul & the Constitution” May 21, 2010