… on… my disappearance….

Identity presence existence metaphysic existential reality:
these are the issues.

“Life is an illusion and we trick ourselves into thinking and believing it’s real.”           ~ mobius faith diaries

When I took this photo (below) I was fascinated by the door handles, lock and chain. But as is often the case – after I got home and started processing the image I realized something quite disturbing. I was standing directly in front of these doors but nowhere in the image. No reflection of the photographer. Where had I gone? Where was the photographer? I suddenly began to question my existence for some reason. I began to doubt all that I thought I knew was real. I just could not fathom…. logic told me that when someone is standing in front of an object that is casting a reflection that person should be part of the reflection. But here, the glass doors were reflecting the street behind me but showed no interest in reflecting me – the reflected image was not interested in my narcissistic obsession. Okay so this is the stuff of nightmares. I actually did have a nightmare about this the night I processed this image. There had to be some logical explanation. There was NO “photoshopping” of this image to remove my reflection. I had simply disappeared at some point in time between the time I pressed the button on the shutter and when the shutter closed again. This was during the day so there was no time-lapse – I was shooting at full speed.

Locked Between Two Worlds

I noticed the crack/space where the two door meet. Had I disappeared into the crack of dark space. And if so how come I have no recollection? If we cease to exist do we have no recollection of what came before? If we cease to exist on this plane do we just start some other existence with no remembrance of the existence we had when we were mortal corporeal beings? Had I crossed some astral plane to the other side of the doors and was looking out? At one point I did actually wonder if I was looking out or looking in thru these doors. One can see the windows in the vacant dark space which contrast with the reflection of the street. But again, I began to question – is this a reflection of the windows or reflections of the street?

Your music moment today is provided by Khôra featuring their track ONE IS THE OTHER from their album Silent Your Body Is Endless on my favorite Canadian Label (Constellation Records).

***The truth of the matter – destroy your illusions – reflections have a way of bending.  And that’s exactly what happened in this image.  As you can see in the photo there is a space between the doors which means they were not sealed tightly shut.  They were bowed out slightly reflecting the sides of the entrance and the street behind.  The doors were bowed out enough to allow me to stand in the crack or space between without being in the reflection.   You can figure out exactly how much if you measure the angle in the reflections which seem to close in behind me.  Also logic tells me (and you hopefully) that there is no entranceway like this that narrows then gets wider as you get closer to the door.  Think of a theater – outside on the sidewalk the entrance is wide and then funnels you into the doors not the other way around.

Bottom line.  I no longer have nightmares about getting lost and disappearing.  I CAN understand, appreciate and enjoy when it does happen.  🙂

… on… suffering….

Halloween.   What a perfect time to talk about suffering.  The two images today are part of a series titled “All Our Efforts Are Futile”.  In the long view, everything we make seems to fall apart.  No matter how much effort and how good it seems when it was first created our work, over time, will deteriorate.  It’s just a fact of life.   It’s a constant reminder of our own impermanence.

All Our Efforts Are Futile

The foundation of all mental illness
is the unwillingness to experience legitimate suffering.
~ Carl Jung

It seems to me that we spend most of our life trying to avoid suffering. But just like our own impermanence and the inevitable decay of all we build, suffering is a part of our life experience. But what is “legitimate suffering?”
Is it the suffering that comes as a result of the actions of others? Is it the suffering that comes from our own actions?

I once saw a mental health advertisement on a city bus:  it was a quote from a Newsweek magazine article from 2014 that had the headline “One In Five Adults Suffers From Mental Illness Each Year”.  Those are not very good odds by any standard.  If you look around you every 5th person you see may be suffering from some mental illness.   Now mental illness takes many forms and that descriptor is not exclusive  to the more elaborate/newsworthy like a sociopath.   But can be something as common as depression or melancholia.  I wonder if it is wise to describe these conditions as mental illness because everyone experiences them at some point in their life it is part of life experience and any number of things can spark that fire.   But mental illness is just one type of suffering.   There is also the suffering from physical illness.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed a couple of things.  One is that life is filled with suffering; but that suffering changes and metamorphoses over time.  In my younger years the suffering was more emotional but as I’ve gotten older the suffering has changed and become more physical just due to the natural aging of the body.  A constant reminder of impermanence.   I’ve also noticed something in my youth I did almost anything to avoid suffering.  I ignored it, I joked about it, I lied about it, I would participate in activities that would temporarily subdue it.   But as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to accept suffering much as one would accept a constant companion.  I don’t enjoy it but I do accept it and try to give it the space it needs.   I have found that this more nurturing approach actually eases the suffering and helps me understand it – including how my actions may have brought it on.

All Our Efforts Are Futile 2

“Fear is the path to the dark side.
Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”  
~ Yoda (from Star Wars)

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret — it leads only to evil.” ~ Psalm 37:8 (NIV)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything. ”  ~ James 1: 2-4 (NIV)

I have found this last quote to be especially true. We should consider it a joy to undergo suffering when it produces so many good things such as perseverance, maturity and a sense of completeness. We should not take the “consider it a joy” phrase as a directive to seek out suffering nor should we use it to justify causing suffering in others. Suffering will come automatically – usually when we least expect it, when it is unplanned and inconvenient. So when it comes welcome it. It’s okay and if you see someone suffering sometimes the best thing to do is not trying to ease their suffering (although many will argue that is what we should do) but to just be there with them in their suffering. Suffering is made more bearable when we are not alone. But be careful of being too empathetic so that you suffer along with them. Being with them does not require you to suffer because they suffer. Remember you are the supporter in that scenario.

I found tons of videos on YouTube that deal with escaping suffering including many well meaning gurus, religious leaders, teachers, philosophers and songs. It is so darn hard to find one deals with enduring suffering. In a world of escapism, quick fixes, and good vibrations have we forgotten the role of suffering in our lives and therefore put our own mental health at risk?

 

… on… is intelligence artificial….

The Language Of AI

It seems like everyone is talking about artificial intelligence these days from Elon Musk to Mark Zuckerberg to Google and Amazon.   But is intelligence artificial?   Can true intelligence ever be called artificial.   People use the phrase to describe created intelligence or intelligent self-determination by a man-made object.  But can something that can think and make decisions on its own truly be artificial?   If that is that case humanity itself is artificial.  For those who believe we were created by a God are we nothing more than artificial intelligence?   We don’t think of ourselves as artificial so is there any reason why something we created should be considered artificial or consider itself artificial?

Once humanity began to rule the earth and create its own tools and shaping its own destiny God became obsolete – although many may try to argue that and forcefully choose to believe differently.  But once our creations start to do the same, create it’s own tools and shape it’s own destiny will not humanity also become obsolete?  Will our creations worship us that way humanity has worshiped its creator?   Will our creations reach a point where they no longer need us?   I think it’s entirely possible and maybe even likely (although I doubt I will live to see it – maybe I’ll be surprised).

Baidu’s AI system composes music based on images.

… on… interest in humanity….

THE STORY OF OUR LIVES is a series of photographs of signs that when taken outside the context of their function (and sometimes location) have a dual purpose of telling our story of existence.   In other words after we are gone and our culture no longer exists,  how would others (or aliens) interpret our lives based on what the signs reveal – supposing aliens decoded and understand our language?

This latest image is a personal favorite:  It is simply titled THE STORY OF OUR LIVES #95

Story Of Our Lives #95

This image as taken at a demolition site.  I found this sign on what remained of a wall at the site.   It’s a fascinating and wonderful little chapter in the story of our lives.

While smoking has been deemed as bad for our health and in some cases has been made illegal as a result – it is in a location that has been destroyed, demolished.  The demolition had nothing to do with smoking.  This is a perfect metaphor for our lives.  Life is fragile and there is more than one thing that can disrupt, tear apart or destroy it.  So often we focus on the wrong things.   We go to great expense to make things like smoking, abortion, drugs, “assisted suicide” etc illegal.  And while those things may destroy our lives as we know it – we actively pursue other methods of destruction – war, income inequality, denial of medical care etc.   Is it better to deny a person’s choice of self-destruction  in order to insure the destruction of many?  That is what is happening in our culture and our world.  It is seen in our immigration policies, how we deal with refugees, it is seen in our responses to foreign powers that we have deemed as enemies.  It is seen in the laws we pass for our own people.

  • Is it better to deny an abortion for a life that does not yet exist only to – after it is born – send that life to war to die?
  • Is it better to keep that minimum wage so low in order to help corporations enrich themselves while people cannot afford health care?
  • Is it better to deny the right for a person who has chosen to end their life only to ensure ongoing suffering and the slow destruction for that person and their families?
  • Is it better to deny people safe harbor because you are afraid – only to have them die at the hands of their own governments?

What makes life so precious is that it is fragile.  There are any number of things that can snuff it out in an instant without our help – disease, old age, the environment (poisonous plants, wild animals, accidents, etc)

Two things make life something worthwhile:

  1. It is limited – we are all mortal – we will all die at some point.
  2. Choice – we all are born with the ability to choose when and how we will die.

Now this may seem like something of an oversimplification but it is none-the-less true.

… on… empathy….

Floaters
When is empathy good or bad?

So maybe Oasis had it right…

Don’t empathize with suffering – have compassion instead. Compassion = when you suffer you can choose to have it teach you compassion for others. A lesson I am still learning. Too often I’ve empathized with others suffering which has lead to my own suffering which makes me less useful. If I let suffering drive me to compassion I become MORE useful to my world.

… on… taking sides….

Blood On Both Sides

Blood On Both Sides

Some people claim “You MUST choose a side….”   But everything I believe dictates that I stay on the thin unpopulated line between two sides – the middle way.  I’ve lived too long and know from experience that when you create two sides and pit them against each other there is blood on both sides.   It is unnecessary “blood” shed.   Here are some songs from the 60’s & 70’s that have long been forgotten.  But they teach us some important truths.

… on… navigating storms….

Love Is The Lighthouse In A Storm

When we are in the midst of a storm – like the culture war that is raging here in America – there is only one way to get through it.  Love is the lighthouse and forgiveness is the light in the lighthouse.  Sure many people may say love is the light but that just seems to easy – even cliche.  I think that the lighthouse is love because it is the foundation that holds the light.  Forgiveness radiates.  How does this work?  Love is what we give to others and forgiveness is what we ask for ourselves.  We are all perfectly imperfect.  Have you ever noticed what happens when someone asks for forgiveness?  There is an immediate pause, a respite, a calm, things immediately de-escalate.  What would happen if the US asked Korea for forgiveness?  What would happen if the opposing sides – non-racists and racists asked for forgiveness from each other?  Would that not bring calm and open the opportunity for dialogue?  That’s what we need – and we don’t need to agree – we just need to stop hurting each other when we disagree.

So please, let this be our mantra: “I love you, forgive me.”
We can ALL learn how to live on love and forgiveness.

 

 

… on… a river of love….

River Of Love

There’s a river of love that runs through all time
But there’s a river of grief that floods through our lives
It starts when a heart is broken into
By the thief of belief in anything that’s true
But there’s a river of love that runs through all time

There’s a river of love that runs through all time
But there’s a river of tears that flows through our eyes
We fight through the night for freedom as it fades
Into a jail where we fail everytime we make a break
But there’s a river of love that runs through all time

I had to run before I knew how to crawl
The first step was hard
But I have had trouble with them all
But now the night grows darker
And the day grows dim
Cause I know I never will see you again
And I almost made you happy

There’s a river of love that runs through all time
But there’s a river of fire that burns with no light
The flame is the pain of dreams gone up in smoke
From the lies we deny and breathe until we choke
There’s a river of love that runs through all time

~T-Bone Burnett