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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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Otto Piechowski
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Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Borderline Mystics
      #5461425 - 10/08/12 11:28 PM

I think some of us, stargazers and scopists, suffer (enjoy) a condition I am going to call Borderline Mysticism.

Tonight, in the space of an hour I saw a blazing Draconoid and then saw an LBV (luminous blue variable) in a galaxy (NGC 7259) flaring some 60 million years ago.

This LBV is a star whose heat, luminosity, and size can only be represented by the expressions of size-language (numbers) around which our imaginations can not be stretched.

This star exploded in a repetitive outburst of energy when dinosaurs walked the earth.

This star's existence perhaps ended long before our kind became conscious.

And now after the object ceases to exist, and even longer after it did exist in all of its alien behavior...only now does a creature (us) come into existence who can be aware of being aware of the unimaginable immensity and loneliness of this event when it happened in its own time.

Not up there with the experience of the birth of my two children.

Not up there with the experience I had only a couple days ago on the feast day celebrating the death (birth into eternity)of St. Francis of Assisi. At the moment I read that witnesses reported larks began to sing just outside the room in which he died at the moment of his death; I became aware of larks singing outside the windown of my office; something I had never noticed or become aware of before.

Not quite up there with that photo on spaceweather.com today from Norway of a moonlit background, bioluminescent microbes in the foreground, and aurora in the background.

Not among these.

But pretty close.

Edited by Otto Piechowski (10/08/12 11:45 PM)


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killdabuddha
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Reged: 08/26/11

Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5461457 - 10/08/12 11:57 PM

Quote:


And now after the object ceases to exist, and even longer after it did exist in all of its alien behavior...only now does a creature (us) come into existence who can be aware of being aware of the unimaginable immensity and loneliness of this event when it happened in its own time.






Safe to say, then, that if we're determined to imprint upon "existence" some "purpose" or "aim," self-awareness is as good as any? But as mystics are generally understood as transcendentalists seeking blissful union, maybe it's enuf that we're transcendin spacetime toward reunification, or simply participatin in a cosmic dance as a variant of "ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny?" We know that we're not really separable from the universe, and sumtimes at the eyepiece I can forget that I think that I am distinct in any way.


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sg6
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Reged: 02/14/10

Loc: Norfolk, UK.
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5461900 - 10/09/12 10:53 AM

Am I the only one that just feels cold?

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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: sg6]
      #5461987 - 10/09/12 12:04 PM

No, I do too. It was freezing outside lastnight. I was out in it for four hours. Took me three hours in bed to finally warm up.

But, that's not what you meant. Was it?

Otto


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: sg6]
      #5462925 - 10/09/12 09:45 PM

Quote:

Am I the only one that just feels cold?




Sometimes it's cold and tired...

But I find there is certainly a meditative aspect to viewing an the night sky through a telescope... It's not so much the wonder of it all or how long ago/far away it is but just that it is... How many times can I look at M7 and still find wonder in it...

Jon


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Dennis_S253
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Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: West Central Florida
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5463021 - 10/09/12 10:53 PM

Otto, what size scope you got? Or where you looking at hubble pics? It is amazing how we are just a grain of sand on a beach in the grand skeem of things.

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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Dennis_S253]
      #5463031 - 10/09/12 11:03 PM

Quote:

It is amazing how we are just a grain of sand on a beach in the grand skeem of things.




But we're not. We're the beach inasmuch as we're anything at all. How not? I often wonder how it is that we've come to think similarly of life in the universe. How far out of our way have we had to go to arrive at a place where we think that we're it, that we're all that there is of "intelligent life" failing sum further proof to the contrary. And even tho knowing what we do now about the physical processes by which the universe is producing us, we still insist that we're here, all alone, and the rest of "it" is out there sumwhere, removed. Sorry, but of that there neither is nor can be any evidence. Trouble is, we really believe or think that a grain of sand and its beach are separable. LOL. Even if you carry that grain away in yer shoe when you go home, how you gonna leave the universe?


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tecmageModerator
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5463116 - 10/09/12 11:43 PM

Carl Sagan used to say we are made of the stuff of stars.

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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: tecmage]
      #5463522 - 10/10/12 10:12 AM

Quote:

Carl Sagan used to say we are made of the stuff of stars.




Yes, and a lotta people before him did, too, even tho they didn't have the "scientific evidence/proof" to have been "correct" as we judge that today. But for our ancestors to have said, "We come from the stars," and for us to say, "We are made of dust," well, these can be two very different things. The first suggests a continuing process and an identification with it, an intimacy of belonging to this and of coming and going, but the second smacks of sum strange, sterile, "simple-past-completed tense" finality, cut off or far removed from those stars or from anything other than ourselves and maybe our parents. Both may be inevitable, but only the first can be correct, logically, scientifically or otherwise, as well as "psychologically welcoming" or "digestible," in its "present-continuous tense" form. I make the distinction not to be critical, but to be more accurate/precise about the profundity that confronts us and for our mutual edification. My apologies to those who may otherwise see the unlimited or present-continuous aspects of "being" in the confusing phrasing of Sagan's "are made."


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Steve Daniel
super member


Reged: 06/03/12

Loc: Austin, TX
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5463887 - 10/10/12 01:49 PM

For me, it's the feeling that matters, the feeling arising from me, in awareness, thinking about what I know of distances and sizes and times and structures, while at the same time perceiving beauty with senses, and coming up with awe, wonder, clarity, fear, hope, and love... and the realization that just one more eyepiece, one more piece of kit, another inch of diameter might lead to ... who knows what feeling! LOL

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Otto Piechowski
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Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Dennis_S253]
      #5464002 - 10/10/12 03:05 PM

Hi Dennis,

I have three well-spaced optical tools; an 11X56 binocular, a 90mm F5 refractor, and a 12 inch dob. Nothing great. All good. The scopes 2nd hand.

Otto


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5464150 - 10/10/12 05:08 PM

I don't think there's anything "borderline" about it.

There is no greater mystery than the how and why of the vast Universe around us. There is no more genuinely spiritual pursuit than applying one's consciousness and sentience, the great gift of the Cosmos to us alone on this rock, to contemplation of the nature of the Universe and our place and role within it.

Regards,

Jim


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5464216 - 10/10/12 06:15 PM

Your words were beautifully articulated, Jim.

Otto

P.S. An idea....what do you think of you/me/us starting a new thread here called, say "Mystical Moments", and invite people to share those observing/stargazing/scoping/experiences that touch their spirits?


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mountain monk
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/06/09

Loc: Grand Teton National Park
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5464385 - 10/10/12 08:25 PM

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon...

Joni Mitchell

For me it is about wonder and beauty--even the science is derived from them, or rather the experience of them. What you pay attention to is what you experience, and what you experience becomes your life. Choose carefully.

Dark skies.

Jack


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5465107 - 10/11/12 10:24 AM

I like your words, Jack, that science is derived from wonder and beauty.

Otto


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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5465113 - 10/11/12 10:30 AM

Quote:

Quote:


And now after the object ceases to exist, and even longer after it did exist in all of its alien behavior...only now does a creature (us) come into existence who can be aware of being aware of the unimaginable immensity and loneliness of this event when it happened in its own time.






Safe to say, then, that if we're determined to imprint upon "existence" some "purpose" or "aim," self-awareness is as good as any? But as mystics are generally understood as transcendentalists seeking blissful union, maybe it's enuf that we're transcendin spacetime toward reunification, or simply participatin in a cosmic dance as a variant of "ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny?" We know that we're not really separable from the universe, and sumtimes at the eyepiece I can forget that I think that I am distinct in any way.




Ah, but it has not ceased to exist, it has merely changed its form...Everything that was that sun still exists; it just doesn't exist in the same relationship it had before.


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Dennis_S253
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Reged: 11/22/11

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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5465127 - 10/11/12 10:43 AM

Wow, this is beginning to sound like a great song, lol.

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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Dennis_S253]
      #5465140 - 10/11/12 10:52 AM

More like a "Rain Dance", we're talking astronomy here....and the clouds are already forming at just spelling the word......

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cadfour
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5465194 - 10/11/12 11:23 AM

I felt a drop, but I am not here to feel it.

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Stargazer2012
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Reged: 09/01/12

Loc: Maine USA
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: cadfour]
      #5465264 - 10/11/12 12:03 PM

For me it is the Wonder. It is the child within peering upward, wide-eyed and speechless beholding the majesty of all that Is.

When life presses in with concerns, it is the stars that put all things in perspective. They remind me that life is bigger than bills or the stress of everyday life. Many say we are nothing compared to such majesty, yet I am reminded that each of us have an important role to play, and that worth is not determined by size. Just look at the lowly ant.

When I consider the vast expanse of this limitless creation, I sense my soul being drawn into a dance older than time itself.


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: cadfour]
      #5465304 - 10/11/12 12:29 PM

Quote:

I felt a drop, but I am not here to feel it.




Ah, the impermanence and illusoriness of all...reminds me of my other favorite joke...

The Buddha found himself really hungry after gaining enlightenment in a NYC cab, so he got out at the nearest hot dog vendor...

"Make me one with everything," said the Buddha to the vendor. The vendor piled everything on, but the Buddha's play on words wasn't lost on him either.

"Eight dollars," said the vendor. The Buddha handed him a $20. "Next" shouted the vendor.

"Wait," said the Buddha. "What about my change?"

"True change comes from within," said the vendor. Still, it was a great hot dog.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5465749 - 10/11/12 05:57 PM

Not all mystical experiences are pleasant. Some are confusing. Some overwhelming. Some frightening. And some, depressing. Such experiences are often referred to in the writings of mystics, auto-biographical and biographical narratives of the lives of mystics, and in the instruction given by teachers of spiritual theology, spiritual direction, and counseling.

The same is true for me as regards stargazing. In addition to the many warm, humbling, pleasureable experiences, that accompany stargazing, scoping, an astronomy club-meeting, a public-observing event, the star party, the purchase of a new piece of equipment, watching a particularly well done program on astronomy, or attending an astronomy convention; there are these other experiences as well.

Sometimes, early into a planned evening of stargazing I find myself having a vague feeling of physical nausea.

On a few occasions, when alone gazing at a clear transparent sky saturated with stars, I have chosen to imagine there is no creator of all that I see. When I do this, each and every time I immediately feel a deep uncomfortable loneliness.

And sometimes, the hours of a night of ongoing observing are attended by no feeling whatsoever. Expecting to revisit the frequently experienced pleasureable feeling of a night of observing, I am aware I feel nothing other than the ennui attendant to just-going-through-the-motions; not unlike the experience of which addicts speak when they discover the substance or behavior to which they are addicted no longer gives pleasure regardless of the amount of increased indulgence.


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5466077 - 10/11/12 10:23 PM

You're not alone, Otto. Blaise Pascal said in his Pensees, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me." He examines therein such paradoxes as infinity and nothing, faith and reason, soul and matter, death and life, and meaning and vanity. In the end he seems to conclude that the only things he can know are humility, ignorance, and grace. I've sometimes wondered exactly what it is I'm doing and why, and whether I'm not just being indulgent, especially if I'm not able to fully appreciate what it is I'm seeing. And by what right do I so feebly use an instrument that Newton or Galileo woulda given their eye teeth for? I've just begun a study of ancient astronomy, but otherwise I'm pretty much just thrown back on what Pascal was able to resolve for himself.

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Otto Piechowski
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Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5466147 - 10/11/12 11:22 PM

Pascal certainly has powerful things to say. None I've read more articulate, fluid, candid as your words.

My favorite of his [paraphrased]: "Man is neither angel nor beast. However, should he be so foolish as to attempt to act the angel, he most certainly will become the beast."


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Dennis_S253
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Reged: 11/22/11

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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5466158 - 10/11/12 11:30 PM

It always makes me wonder about the mayans and ancient civalizations being able to predict eclipes and all. They knew a lot. I sometimes wonder when looking at a galaxy if there isn't someone there looking at ours. What happen to mathematicians? Computers have taken over. Hubble has taken over. I remember making my first sun dial. That was so cool, it worked. Who needs it anymore, we all have watches. There trying to prove everything they want to prove.

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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5466165 - 10/11/12 11:37 PM

Quote:

Pascal certainly has powerful things to say. None I've read more articulate, fluid, candid as your words.

My favorite of his [paraphrased]: "Man is neither angel nor beast. However, should he be so foolish as to attempt to act the angel, he most certainly will become the beast."




My favorite, tho I can't place it off hand, is, "You wouldn't be looking for me if you hadn't already found me." So tomorrow nite I'll be goin out without "lookin," if you will, but rather just to see. Thanks.

And Dennis, I'm just beginnin to appreciate their accuracy. According to one source: their calculation of the solar cycle was so accurate that the calendar they based on it is still 1/10,000th of a day more (I thought it was less, by the same margin tho) accurate than our own; in the highlands of Guatemala Maya day-keepers still count the days in the ancient way; their calendar has not lost a single day in 2500 years; their lunar calculations are off by only 33 seconds after 1500 years; the complex orbit of Venus was predicted within 1 day in 6000 years; their predictions of the orbit of Mars are equally accurate, and; their table predicting solar and lunar eclipses can still be used today. Another source has them less accurate. For instance, their astronomer-priests used a lunar month which averaged 29.53086 days. Since the actual average month is 29.53059 days, they would be off by 1 day in 299 years. Considering how long they kept records, this may not be very accurate. Ptolemy, however, was off by a ridiculous 1 day in 32 years. YMMV.


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5466186 - 10/11/12 11:59 PM

I love it Otto.

Or how about an occasional CN column called "Nocturne" that explores the intellectual, spiritual and emotional (rather than the literal, visual) experience of different observing sessions?

Regards,

Jim


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mountain monk
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/06/09

Loc: Grand Teton National Park
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5466233 - 10/12/12 01:13 AM

Otto:

Thanks for starting this post. A few more comments...

The sky is a common metaphor/analogy in Buddhism, especially Tibetan Buddhism, where it is used for instruction and in descriptions of enlightenment. A popular story:

A student wants to know what the "fundamental fact" is. The master asks him to lie next to him under the night sky. He asks "Do you hear the sound of the dogs in the village barking?"" Yes," says the student. "And do you see the stars in the sky?" "Yes," says the student. The master says "That's it."

Your comment "a deep uncomfortable loneliness..." We are born alone and we die alone. Staring into the open sky strips away many/most of the constructs that give "meaning" to the life in between. "Sabi"--the sense of isolation, is a key term in Japanese aesthetics. So is "yu-gen"--the mysterious depth of nature, which, of course, is often felt under the night sky. All of which SHOULD make you uncomfortable. Pascal was, hence his wager.

Dark skies.

Jack

Edited by mountain monk (10/12/12 01:16 AM)


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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5466508 - 10/12/12 08:44 AM

When I look at the sky, I'm looking at home. It's where I'm from, it's where i live, it's where I'll die, it's where I will return to.....

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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5466610 - 10/12/12 10:17 AM

Quote:



A student wants to know what the "fundamental fact" is. The master asks him to lie next to him under the night sky. He asks "Do you hear the sound of the dogs in the village barking?"" Yes," says the student. "And do you see the stars in the sky?" "Yes," says the student. The master says "That's it."






The long night.
The sound of the water
Says what I think.

There's another, on the loss of a child...

This dewdrop world.
It may be a dewdrop,
And yet, and yet...


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ensign
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/16/08

Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: tecmage]
      #5466756 - 10/12/12 11:55 AM

Quote:

Carl Sagan used to say we are made of the stuff of stars.




Well, whether Sagan was right or wrong, according to Wikipedia:

"The average 70 kg adult human body contains approximately 6.7 x 10**27 atoms and is "composed of" 60 chemical elements."

Does this give you a realistic or even usable picture of what human beings are like?

I wonder if describing Beethoven's symphonies in terms of the total number of notes (or notes per second, or frequency ranges over time or any other quantitative measure) would provide even the barest hint of the essence of the compositions.

Thus the deep need for the mystical and although often inscrutable, I'm convinced that this part of the sum total of reality need not be divorced from reason.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: ensign]
      #5467130 - 10/12/12 05:24 PM

Along those same lines....I think the following was both humorous and delightfully insightful.

Crazy Bob (Bob Summerfield) of the company called Astronomy-To-Go and I are friends. We have worked together and we enjoy each others' presence. He is, I believe, culturally Jewish and religiously an atheist. I'm a dyed in the wool Roman Catholic.

Anyway, we were waxing philosophical one night and I had reason to recall the quote I heard of at Stellafane (which I visited this summer) and which was appropriated by them from the book of Psalms. I said to Bob, the gazing at the sky makes me think of that quote, "The heaven's declare the glory of God." Without a pause, and with the same tonality of voice Bob said, "The heaven's declare the glory of hydrogen."

Got to love a guy like that.

Otto


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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: ensign]
      #5467139 - 10/12/12 05:31 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Carl Sagan used to say we are made of the stuff of stars.




Well, whether Sagan was right or wrong, according to Wikipedia:

"The average 70 kg adult human body contains approximately 6.7 x 10**27 atoms and is "composed of" 60 chemical elements."

Does this give you a realistic or even usable picture of what human beings are like?

I wonder if describing Beethoven's symphonies in terms of the total number of notes (or notes per second, or frequency ranges over time or any other quantitative measure) would provide even the barest hint of the essence of the compositions.

Thus the deep need for the mystical and although often inscrutable, I'm convinced that this part of the sum total of reality need not be divorced from reason.




Life is Highly overrated; I've yet to see anyone who has died decide to come back.......


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mwedel
Works with Sauropods
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5467714 - 10/13/12 03:12 AM

Since beaches came up earlier in this thread...

From 2001 to 2006 I lived in Santa Cruz. When I was having a lousy day, I'd go down to West Cliff and sit on the rocks and just watch the waves. I knew that there had been waves rolling onto the west coast of North America for longer than North America had been a distinct entity. It always eventually made my problems seem small, and gave me a measure of peace.

That was before I got into astronomy. I don't live by the Pacific anymore, but as Carl Sagan said, "The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean". When I am feeling down I can still go watch the waves roll in...light waves, that is, rolling right into my retinas. For me the night sky is a bigger, older, more endless ocean. I like to think I traded up.


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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: mwedel]
      #5468027 - 10/13/12 10:41 AM

Ah, but a scope, a clear calm dark night, and a nice beach off the Coast Highway (Point Arena area is especially nice).....Kinda miss CA too, with the Redwoods, Yosimite (another fantastic viewing spot), Northern CA Redwoods, the Ocean. Don't miss the traffic and prices though.

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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: ensign]
      #5468033 - 10/13/12 10:44 AM

"Does this give you a realistic or even usable picture of what humWell, whether Sagan was right or wrong, according to Wikipedia:

The average 70 kg adult human body contains approximately 6.7 x 10**27 atoms and is "composed of" 60 chemical elements."

"Does this give you a realistic or even usable picture of what human beings are like?"

Explains a few I know.......


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: mwedel]
      #5468133 - 10/13/12 11:35 AM

What a terrific thought, Mathew!

I have been drawn to ocean, shore, surf, wave all my life. My education and reading tell me the ocean is a metaphor in thought, if not in reality, of the presence of spiritual reality. This intellectual formation has been reinforced by a number of experiences of being on the shores of the earth's oceans, by being a commercial fisherman, and by coming from a family of sailors.

I often wish to spend more time by the waves and surf, but am not as able as I would like.

And then I read your wonderful idea; that the biosphere-of-the-earth in which we live is the-shore-line-of-the-cosmos on which we stand. I feel a warmth from that thought settling over me.


There is a brief passage from the biblical book of Jeremiah which captures my feelings about the power of the sea/shore/waves and the human relationship with the same.

"Should you not fear me, says the Lord, should you not tremble before me? I made the sandy shore the sea's limit, which by eternal decree it may not overstep. Toss though it may, it is to no avail; though its billows roar, they cannot pass." (Jeremiah 5:22)


The next time I gaze at a dark, clear, transparent, night sky, filled with stars, I will be on the look-out for this feeling your words have generated in me, Mathew. This feeling being expressed as:

"Should you not stand in awe of me? I made the biosphere the cosmos' limit, which by eternal decree it may not overstep. Toss though it may, it is to no avail; though its billows roar, they cannot pass."

Otto


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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5468634 - 10/13/12 05:02 PM

One plus to the beach for a scope on a tripod: Somehow, the sand actually helps control vibrations in the tripod.

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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5469860 - 10/14/12 02:00 PM

Yes Otto, all language is metaphorical as are all categories of thought (tho sum mathematicians may assert that theirs is the only literally and objectively true language..."God is a geometer," said Galileo, etc.). I read a book once, "Thomas Gray Philosopher Cat," about the Greeks' discovery of irrational numbers, couched in the exploits of a cat who stumbled onto the desk of a Cambridge(?) mathematician. Its tail had covered over an extraneous, and therefore confusing, part of the old Greek manuscript under study, and because of this "serendipitous chance" the mathematician was able to see what he'd been looking for by having the unoriginal bit removed.

I relate this because in the book the cat also related the experience of his grandmother who'd been a rat catcher on board a fishing vessel. When I read the account I experienced infinity. I'll never forget it. He said that she related how she'd watch the ocean surface as waves formed and dissolved and how, in a transcendent moment, she realized that between the general and the specific is the infinite. Whether you're squaring the circle or reconciling being and non-being you encounter infinity. Physicists may abhor the infinities they encounter, but mathematicians and poets (and mystics and cats) don't seem to mind so much. This can also be understood as the middle way. Or in the words of Neil Young, "I'm the ocean, I'm the giant undertow..." Or in the sense that we, and everything, are like Schrodinger's cat--even astronomical objects are not now what they appear to our eyes and instruments, having long since passed into other forms...All is alive and dead simultaneously and everywhere you look, filling the infinite space between this and that.


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drollere
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5469973 - 10/14/12 03:11 PM

i've enjoyed the views presented here, although some seem rather dogmatic. dogma is not something i associate with mystical states or talk about them.

the point i'd make is, to borrow from james's "varieties", that there are varieties of mystical experience. it's confusing to use the same word to mean very different things. mysticism as it's usually described in religious contexts shows a great variety that includes visions, insights, instructions from god, ecstatic unions with the divine, etc.

to my knowledge no astronomy has received instructions by looking through a telescope, or had a naked insight into the universe, or ecstatically united with god; the mysticism here is apparently something different.

the "mystical" states we associate with astronomy are what i'd call imaginative mysticism, because some imaginative component, based on a learned concept often presented as the voice in the head ("just imagine, that galaxy is..."), is necessary to incorporate visual astronomy with the "fact" that a galaxy is far away, a supernova exploded long ago, a globular cluster is very large, and so on. what we see through an eyepiece gives absolutely no evidence of those dimensions. this is classic burnham junior mysticism, and it's basically the kind of frisson that children all discover by lying on their back and voluntarily imagining that the ground cannot hold them and they will fall into the sky.

sigmund freud wrote a long and famous paper on the fact that he never experienced the "oceanic feeling" which romain rolland put as the source of all religious sentiment. he concluded that the feeling originated in something infantile ... freud always had kind words for religion. but it raises the issue of justification -- not *what* a mystical experience may be, but *why* we consider it valuable, why it matters. why is a mystical experience any more remarkable than a dizzy spell or a remembrance of childhood helplessness?

one thing all the posts agree on is that it is a very pleasant mysticism. in deep depression i once had the convincing insight that the universe was made of lifeless ash, and illuminated by darkness -- xrays or gamma rays only -- which was a deeply painful and consuming experience that might resemble the "mystical" temptations of st. anthony. we don't like the terrifying or ego devouring forms of mysticism. the point of imaginative mysticism is that it is fun and gratifying; that's why we indulge in it.

i have to say that imaginative mysticism is not compelling for me. if i wanted mysticism, i wouldn't look at a globular cluster through a telescope and imagine it is large; i might lie on my back and look at the stars and accept their light. i am happiest when perception floods my awareness and sweeps out all concepts and language as nasty cobwebs and biting insects, or when looking at something as a means to sketch it. this "perceptual mysticism" is a distinct emotional state that is not a normal social emotion but is similar to a good acid trip. time stops, the body recedes, the radio station in the head goes silent; light becomes substantial and warm, surfaces evanescent and permeable, colors vibrant, breath liquid and space corporeal. i don't have that experience at the telescope.

certainly, it's fabulous and amazing that the universe is big and inexplicable, but to say that the motivation to do astronomy or an important benefit from it is so that we receive a kind of mystical state seems to me a stretch.


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jrbarnett
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: drollere]
      #5470075 - 10/14/12 04:02 PM

Ah, Bruce! My friend, it's because you are a glorious symphony that yet remains unfinished, to all our detriment. When your last note is penned, you'll "get" RJB.

As for this..."the ground cannot hold them and they will fall into the sky"...

Been there, done that. I am a graduate of Reed College, after all.

But I didn't find it mystical, really. In fact, by the time I rounded 61 Cygni and was picking up velocity, I realized what a heck of time I was going to have getting home. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my lives.

Samsara is like the river. It is imagination, not the oppose-able thumb or even reason, that separates us from our brothers, the beasts.

All in good fun,

Jim

Edited by jrbarnett (10/14/12 04:04 PM)


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amicus sidera
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5470273 - 10/14/12 05:59 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Carl Sagan used to say we are made of the stuff of stars.




Well, whether Sagan was right or wrong, according to Wikipedia:

"The average 70 kg adult human body contains approximately 6.7 x 10**27 atoms and is "composed of" 60 chemical elements."

Does this give you a realistic or even usable picture of what human beings are like?

I wonder if describing Beethoven's symphonies in terms of the total number of notes (or notes per second, or frequency ranges over time or any other quantitative measure) would provide even the barest hint of the essence of the compositions.

Thus the deep need for the mystical and although often inscrutable, I'm convinced that this part of the sum total of reality need not be divorced from reason.




Life is Highly overrated; I've yet to see anyone who has died decide to come back.......




Well, I know of One...


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mountain monk
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5470471 - 10/14/12 08:20 PM

Pleasant astronomical mysticism...

Most of the biographies of the "mystics" that I know of include a passage through St John's "dark night of the soul." Comparing or confusing them with acid trips was one of the classic mistakes of the 60s and 70s. They seem to me more like psychotic mashups, and I doubt anyone would describe such things as pleasant. In any case, how does a pile of chemical debris from supernovas do that?

Dark skies.

Jack

Edited by mountain monk (10/14/12 09:28 PM)


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5471523 - 10/15/12 12:58 PM

Quote:



As for this..."the ground cannot hold them and they will fall into the sky"...

Samsara is like the river. It is imagination, not the oppose-able thumb or even reason, that separates us from our brothers, the beasts.

Jim




Jim,

Don't recognize the first. Reference please? Sounds delicious. As for imagination...the "images" of early cave and rock art exploding onto the scene immediately come to mind. And as Chesterton pointed out, we don't find lions doin pics of gazelles progressively better and better. Also, from the mystical vantage point, neither were these hunting renditions. They're a blending of shared identifications, and of the seen and unseen, especially those earliest of the hand prints which seem to say that on this side (of the wall), we and the beasts, but on the other side...Also, they've recently discovered that the overlaid images act as cartoon cells...flip the pages of the separate pics and you'll see the horses neigh and even run.

Yes Otto, as Jim said, we could use a thread like this, and there's plenty of it around, especially ancient when there was nobody to tell them that they were "wrong." Besides, I gotta expand my vocabulary, and it seems that for this we are sorely lacking...


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ScumotheUniverse
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5473364 - 10/16/12 02:06 PM

Much of this "mysticism " can be explained by the act of translating the utterly impersonal into the realm of the personal where it is tainted by personal belief systems. It makes for beatific poetry, but flies in the face of hard cold reality. The universe is a cold, unfeeling, misanthropic locale that is devoid of these purely human emotions. This mysticism stems from a mammalian trait and is most definitely linked to the K reproductive strategy. The cultivation of egoism in the caregiving giving aspect of offspring rearing the main source of this human error. I, as most here, read what reinforces our personal beliefs and I wish to cite a cogent piece of philosophy that addresses most accurately this question.

"In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the haughtiest and most mendacious minute of "world history"- yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.

One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has no further mission that would lead beyond human life. It is human, rather, and only its owner and producer gives it such importance, as if the world pivoted around it." From "On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense" by Friedrich Nietzsche.

When I gaze into the unbounded depths of infinity I do not experience nausea, or loneliness or a deep sadness, but an exhilirating freedom. As they say, "It is what it is" not what we would wish it to be.


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics *DELETED* new [Re: ScumotheUniverse]
      #5473516 - 10/16/12 04:06 PM

Post deleted by csa/montana

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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5473571 - 10/16/12 04:44 PM

It's all our attempt to comprehend the uncomprehendable...

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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5473679 - 10/16/12 05:38 PM

The thought crossed my mind some few posts ago, to state that it is not correct to speak of mystical experiences as purely immaterial, intangible, transcendental, out-of-body experiences. For two reasons

First, whatever the human person is aware of, she/he is aware of it through his her body.

Second, even psychotic/neurotic/emotional states can be the vehicle of mystical experiences. I think of Ezekiel and perhaps Amos and St. Francis of Assisi. Let us assume there is a all powerful God. Could an all powerful God choose to communicate through a person who was a few fries short of a happy meal? Yes, of course. Why would a God do so? In asking my high school students this question they offered many good responses, not the least of which included that the mystic would be less resistant, that the hearers would be less inclined to accept it (if the hardness of heart thing is important), and a few others I can't recall.

Theoretically, I should also include drug-induced states as a means of mystical experience, but I am uncomfortable with that. There is an intentionality aspect here usually not present in mental illness.


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jrbarnett
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5474366 - 10/17/12 01:43 AM

Speak for yourself!



- Jim


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ensign
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5474730 - 10/17/12 09:41 AM

I like this thread!

If, for no other reason, than it makes evident that a thoroughgoing naturalism is a truncated world-view.


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drollere
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: ensign]
      #5475065 - 10/17/12 01:12 PM

i'll leave the dogmatic assertions about reality to those who enjoy dogmatic assertions. (and smile at dogmatist's belief in his own mystical savvy.)

to come back to the OP, this thread came to mind last night when poor seeing invited me to park the big aperture and enjoy extended binocular viewing of the summer milky way at culmination.

it seems to me that in the quest for the faintest fuzzy and closest most difficult double star and largest globular cluster and most arcane NGC object and the intellectual pastime of naming and imagining distances and sizes and volumes of space ... we forget just to look at what is right in front of us.

this was my point about "imaginative mysticism", that it is a way to leverage what is out there for some imaginative purpose, an appropriation or adaptation of perception by concept. the fact that it *is* an appropriation is clear from the history of astronomy: up to a century ago it was entirely unclear, from their optical appearance, what was the true distance and nature of deep sky objects (cf. google the curtis/shapley debate of 1920).

imaginative mysticism requires us to recall something learned from a book about astronomical research since 1920 and apply it to a perception in a way that produces a "mystical" insight. and this "mystical" insight is always readily expressed in words, as a particular feeling or as a statement of the self in relation to the world. since it is based on something learned through words, it easily converts back into words.

in my personal experience, i contrast that kind of experience to my experience of the grand canyon -- in particular, hiking into the grand canyon and discovering that it contains a second canyon as deep as the canyon visible from the rim -- or of the total solar eclipse of july 11 1991, or of looking out on yosemite valley from the glacier point rim hike. the power in those experiences is external, unlearned, unexpected and profoundly empty of words or concepts. it is primal and immediate. in the eclipse, for example, i had the compelling vision of an actual hole, black and infinite, in the sky, ornamented with pink (not red!) spots of light and cloaked in the most exquisite, flowing, pearly light. and when the sun came back, the sweetest part, i couldn't tear my eyes away and i almost cried with an overwhelming gratitude, even as the voice in my head woke up and began yelling --"don't look! it will burn your eyes!".

in fairness to the OP, *borderline* mysticism does clearly indicate that we're not talking about full blown mystical experiences. but it does imply a transition state, as if repeated borderline mystical experiences might take us all the way to a transformative experience. and i don't believe imaginative mysticism is transformative: it's specifically an educated response and therefore has a socializing effect -- freedom is a social condition, not an existential one.

has anyone become a different person because they looked through a telescope? perhaps in the sense of becoming more obsessed with the weather, or compulsively collecting equipment, or reading books on optics, or more aware of the physical aspects of the universe, or of the unanswered questions the universe reveals. all of that, in words.

but transformatively, fundamentally, spiritually? let those who can testify and affirm on that question speak up. then we can see whether their testimony is heartfelt or merely dogmatic.

for myself, the transformative experiences have always lacked concepts and words, and had the uncanny force of a wholly unexpected encounter. nothing in burnham to guide me then.


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: drollere]
      #5475215 - 10/17/12 02:28 PM

Traditional shamans often were marked for shamanism by the schizophrenic splits that they had undergone in various fashion, as Otto touched upon, and from the newly found "seeing" that resulted. Whether you'd come out of a high-fever illness, or were an Ayahuasquero, a Tibetan yogi, a neurosurgeon like Eban Alexander after an NDE, a psychiatrist like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross whose departed patient visited her in her office, a university prof like Robert Pirsig whose nervous breakdown produced "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," an astronaut like Edgar Mitchell who experienced Samadhi while in space, a Harvard Medical School prof and psychiatrist like Dr. John Mack whose experiencers of alien visitation and abduction were not delusional, or a religious persecutor like Otto's St. Paul on the road to Damascus, or his or Martin Luther shaken witless by a lightning bolt, there was always an expansion of consciousness by the intrusion of sumthin into their world by sumthin outside of their expectation or by a simple undoing/transcending of that previous reality thru shock and awe. Maybe transcendence is what we're talkin about, transcendin the boundaries of our own realities toward a greater personal awareness and consciousness? If this comes by bein knocked off a ladder by sumthin that hits you thru the EP, so much the better. "The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size." "Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you."

It's been a hoot. "So long and thanks for all the shoes."


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cadfour
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5475393 - 10/17/12 04:24 PM

D

E

E

P
.
.
.
Anyone have an aspirin?? My head hurts.


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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: cadfour]
      #5475430 - 10/17/12 04:40 PM

I just waved a spider web over some chicken entrails...your headache should be gone now...

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Dennis_S253
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5475673 - 10/17/12 06:50 PM

Once while camping out, I was lying there. It was a wonderful calm summer night. A strange feeling came over me. I felt as though I was looking through a tunnel. This tunnel seemed to go for miles and miles. At the other side of the tunnel was an eye, looking at me. I will never forget that night.

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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Dennis_S253]
      #5475803 - 10/17/12 08:20 PM

You weren't by chance camping out in the desert surviving off cactus buttons and water were you?

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aa5te
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5475951 - 10/17/12 09:53 PM

I find it to be a much more mystical experience when you're in a true dark sky location (with no moon), and scanning the sky with either your naked eyes or a low power, wide-field pair of binos (we had a Minolta 8x40 with a 9 degree TFOV).

A Facebook post of mine from earlier today, about how I spent part of last night with my fiancée:
It's simply amazing how many stars you can see from a truly dark site vs. being near a city (a few hundred vs. countless) - naked eye/direct vision Andromeda Galaxy (M31), Melotte 20/Colinder 39 (Alpha Perseus Moving Cluster), The Perseus Double Cluster (NGC 884 & NGC 869), The Pleiades (M45/Seven Sisters), Aldebaran and Capella twinkling like multi-colored Christmas lights, and massive, bright star fields of our own galaxy spanning the full width of the entire sky from one horizon to the other.


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ScumotheUniverse
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Re: Borderline Mystics *DELETED* new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5476117 - 10/17/12 11:55 PM

Post deleted by csa/montana

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Astrodj
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: aa5te]
      #5476190 - 10/18/12 01:21 AM

First, let me tell you all how much I have enjoyed this thread, and the opinions, insights, and critiques everyone has proffered. Thanks to the OP.


"but transformatively, fundamentally, spiritually?"


Like all of you, I have had my share of tremendously beautiful views through an eyepiece. Have any of them fundamentally changed me? Maybe so. But was the experience mystical, even borderline? No, that has a different meaning for me. I am not convinced a mystical experience can be "borderline". It either is or isn't for me.

The few mystical experiences I have been a part of, I could not explain. Words could describe the event, but words could not "explain" the experience. In your face, unexpected, leave you awe stricken, mystical, experience.

1st skydive: Most thrilling self induced experience ever? Quite possibly. Mystical? Nope.

Finding Saturn (I know, cliche) in my 3" when I was 11: Coolest thing ever, hook me into astronomy forever? You bet. Mystical? No.

Seeing my children born: Yup. Mystical, transforming, fundamental, spiritual, experience.

I have had a few others more private in nature, but I've said enough.

Thanks again.


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics *DELETED* new [Re: ScumotheUniverse]
      #5476889 - 10/18/12 12:41 PM

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csa/montana
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5477205 - 10/18/12 03:16 PM

Well folks, since the thread has gotten personal, time for the old locky-lock.



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csa/montana
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5477533 - 10/18/12 06:28 PM

Folks, after much cleanup; the thread is now re-opened, for those members that have enjoyed this thread.

Thanks for your patience, everyone!


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Starlon
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5511777 - 11/09/12 02:41 PM

For me, looking out into the universe, it is the poets that seem to 'get it'. Like Tennyson's 'Vastness'

Quote:

MANY a hearth upon our dark globe sighs after many a vanish’d face,
Many a planet by many a sun may roll with a dust of a vanish’d race.

Raving politics, never at rest—as this poor earth’s pale history runs,—
What is it all but a trouble of ants in the gleam of a million million of suns?




---- Alfred Tennyson ---- http://www.bartleby.com/246/396.html

Exactly! The beauty, the vastness.. it's all there. While humans are so busy with.. well, WE know. We know. You can see the rest at the link.

To me it's always exciting, exhilarating! A great time to relax and put things in perspective. Tennyson knew.


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Starlon]
      #5512908 - 11/10/12 10:09 AM

Quote:

For me, looking out into the universe, it is the poets that seem to 'get it'. Like Tennyson's 'Vastness'

Quote:

MANY a hearth upon our dark globe sighs after many a vanish’d face,
Many a planet by many a sun may roll with a dust of a vanish’d race.

Raving politics, never at rest—as this poor earth’s pale history runs,—
What is it all but a trouble of ants in the gleam of a million million of suns?




---- Alfred Tennyson ---- http://www.bartleby.com/246/396.html

Exactly! The beauty, the vastness.. it's all there. While humans are so busy with.. well, WE know. We know. You can see the rest at the link.

To me it's always exciting, exhilarating! A great time to relax and put things in perspective. Tennyson knew.




Also from Alfred Lord T (excerpted)

"Is this . . . A time to sicken
and to swoon, When
Science reaches forth her
arms, To feel from world to
world, and charms her secret
from the latest moon?"

and

"Many a night I saw the
Pleiades, rising thro' the
mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies
tangled in a silver braid."

But I find yers--the first two lines especially--the most sublime. TY for that.

"Go and catch a falling star,
get with child a mandrake root,
tell me, where all past years are..." --John Donne

or Byron--

"She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies..."

and Keats--

"Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature's patient sleepless Eremite...
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death."

...

"...Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!
Descend with broad-winged flight,
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,
The best-beloved Night!" --Longfellow


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5512960 - 11/10/12 10:49 AM

"I am dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun...

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift..."

--Rumi, "Say I Am You"

This was long before Sagan and Darwin. Question is, does it still count? Without the particular test-tube type of "evidence" or "proof" that we think stands for "truth" today? There's nuthin in the universe that says mysticism and science are mutually exclusive, except a few very recent muckrakers (not referrin to CN) who have to give a nod to both to even have a quarrel.


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mountain monk
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5514990 - 11/11/12 07:47 PM

All,

I find it dispiriting that people continue to drive a wedge between poetry (or any other art) and science, especially when it come to the Romantic poets. They loved science. Look at Richard Holmes famous book--The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science. I cannot recommend it too highly. Among other things, Holmes pens two marvelous chapters on Herschel and his influence.

Dark skies.

Jack

Edited by mountain monk (11/11/12 07:49 PM)


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5515671 - 11/12/12 09:40 AM


Thanks for that. Will check it out.


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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5515799 - 11/12/12 11:14 AM

Mysticism is how we explain that phenomena we can't yet explain.

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Pinbout
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5515821 - 11/12/12 11:24 AM

I think shakespeare had something when he wrote:


Horatio:
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!


Hamlet:
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.




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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5515903 - 11/12/12 12:15 PM

Quote:

Mysticism is how we explain that phenomena we can't yet explain.




Only as defined by some who think that "everything" is amenable to, or requires, "explaining," "phenomenal" and otherwise. This shrinking and narrowing trend today of divesting even words/concepts/experience of their original content portends/forebodes a new "unenlightenment." Heaven help the kids who have to be dumbed down by Lewis' "Men without Chests" and the like. Not that I'm worried. For every "new" "thing" (including "explanation"), I'm sure that I and others will find more in it rather than less, if they haven't already. And even if some manage to banish "myth" and "mystical" to some "enlightened" book-burnin pile, nature is always greater than we and our misfortunes. One mite even imagine a day when we'll burn the witches who burned our witches, whatever hat they happen to be wearin. There will always be some who think nature is a problem/puzzle to be solved, and these will always be eclipsed by those who can do this and more. That, or get a better dictionary. Maybe the OED. “We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Only the deluded think otherwise. Maybe look further into the implications/lessons of quantum indeterminacy, entanglement, etc. The new enlightenment is the same as the old--there is no "there" "there." The "mystics," "poets," and a good many others knew this and many still do, including scientists. It's not sumthin that you can "explain" away, either. But maybe even more to the point, why would sum1 come to a post about mysticism just to say that there's no such animal, except insofar as itsa poor substitute for ignorance, all the while admitting that they know nuthin of it but will nonetheless presume to tell others what it is? This I will never understand.

"The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding." Otherwise,

"These earthly godfathers of heaven’s lights,
That give a name to every fixed star
Have no more profit of their shining nights
Than those that walk, and wot not what they are." --Will Shakespeare

"No one can date that remote epoch when astronomy 'began'—we can say only that the fascination of the heaven is as old as man’s ability to think; as ancient as his capacity to wonder and to dream. And in company with most of the special enchantments of human life, the unique appeal of astronomy is incommunicable; easily understood through direct experience, but not to be precisely defined or explained. Nor should any explanation be thought necessary. The area of astronomy is both intellectual and aesthetic; it combines the thrill of exploration and discovery, the fun of sight-seeing, and the sheer pleasure of firsthand acquaintance with incredibly wonderful and beautiful things." --Burnham’s Celestial Handbook

"Yet nature does not always prefer conventional explanations, least of all in astronomy." --Roger Penrose

Neither love nor obey the word, but what it tries to tell.


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Paco_Grande
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5516173 - 11/12/12 03:05 PM

Quote:

Mysticism is how we explain that phenomena we can't yet explain.




Ah, a major problem in understanding the mystics is most people confuse the method with the result. The method appears to be mystical, often because it deals mostly in non-dual traditions and hence, paradox. The result of this is not mystical at all. But you can't explain it with words, either.

Quote:

We talk to ourselves incessantly about our world. In fact we maintain our world with our internal talk. And whenever we finish talking to ourselves about ourselves and our world, the world is always as it should be. We renew it, we rekindle it with life, we uphold it with our internal talk. Not only that, but we also choose our paths as we talk to ourselves. Thus we repeat the same choices over and over until the day we die, because we keep on repeating the same internal talk over and over until the day we die. A warrior is aware of this and strives to stop his internal talk.
~ don Juan Matus






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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Paco_Grande]
      #5517962 - 11/13/12 01:32 PM

"If then th’ Astronomers, whereas they spie
A new-found Starre, their Opticks magnifie,
How brave are those, who with their Engine, can
Bring man to heaven, and heaven againe to man?" --John Donne

"The task of the observational astronomer is to survey and explore the universe, and to describe and classify the various types of objects which it is constituted, discovering what law and order he may in their observed arrangement and behavior. But only the dullest of human minds can rest content with a mere catalogue of observed facts; an alert mind asks always for the why and the wherefore." --Sir James Jeans

"The biologist can push it back to the original protist, and the chemist can push it back to the crystal, but none of them touch the real question of why or how the thing began at all. The astronomer goes back untold million of years and ends in gas and emptiness, and then the mathematician sweeps the whole cosmos into unreality and leaves one with mind as the only thing of which we have any immediate apprehension. 'Cogito ergo sum, ergo omnia esse videntur.' All this bother, and we are no further than Descartes. Have you noticed that the astronomers and mathematicians are much the most cheerful people of the lot? I suppose that perpetually contemplating things on so vast a scale makes them feel either that it doesn’t matter a hoot anyway, or that anything so large and elaborate must have some sense in it somewhere." --Dorothy Sayers


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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5518011 - 11/13/12 02:02 PM

"...or that anything so large and elaborate must have some sense in it somewhere."

No doubt why we call Earth a small, insignificant spec of dust....cause thee sure ain't no sense here.......


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5518050 - 11/13/12 02:30 PM

I'm with ya lice, and admit freely that it's our human habit to render, to project, and to play with "[t]he forms of things unknown...[t]urn them to shapes and give to airy nothing A local habitation and a name." It's easy to say (and I do it) that "the only sense here is the sense that we give it," until sum1 like Dirac gets hold of an equation that's "smarter than [he is]," and voila! let's have some antimatter with our tea and jam. That's why I've abandoned the preposterous notion that there's any "truth" that can be said to be truly external to us. We're in the mix, so to speak, and in the words of Jean Paul Sartre (after "Au revior, gopher"), there's "No Exit."

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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5518137 - 11/13/12 03:22 PM

I tend to agree, there is no exit or entrance....only the door. How we view it is only how we view it; and may have nothing to do with the reality of the situation.

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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5518240 - 11/13/12 04:26 PM

Quote:

...only the door...




Huxley? Doors of Perception?

Or Rumi maybe?

"I've lived on the lip of bewilderment,
wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door.
It opens.
and all these times
I've been knocking from inside."

Same same probly.


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csrlice12
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5518247 - 11/13/12 04:31 PM

Jim Morrison???

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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5518261 - 11/13/12 04:40 PM


The book and title were what the Doors lifted for their band.


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Paco_Grande
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5518516 - 11/13/12 06:57 PM

“in the universal womb that is boundless space
all forms of matter and energy occur
as flux of the four elements,
but all are empty forms, absent in reality:
all phenomena, arising in pure mind, are like that.

just as dream is a part of sleep,
unreal in its arising,
so all and everything is pure mind,
never separated from it,
and without substance or attribute.

experience is neither mind nor anything but mind;
it is a vivid display of emptiness, like magical illusion,
in the very moment inconceivable and unutterable.
all experience arising in the mind,
at its inception, know it as emptiness!”
~ Longchenpa


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cheapersleeper
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Paco_Grande]
      #5518995 - 11/14/12 01:54 AM

I have no interest in driving wedges anywhere but have to say that I am apparently hard wired NOT to ever feel things of a spiritual, mystical, or supernatural nature. The fact that I don't experience them certainly does not PROVE that they don't exist. At the same time, the fact that various altered states of consciousness can be reached reliably by many different methods does tend to make me question whether there is anything at work other than a common quality of the human mind.

As for the poetry and the prose, I do not see any reason why it cannot be appreciated for it's beauty without trying to tie it into something bigger.

Regards,
Brad


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: cheapersleeper]
      #5519340 - 11/14/12 10:52 AM

Quote:



As for the poetry and the prose, I do not see any reason why it cannot be appreciated for it's beauty without trying to tie it into something bigger.

Regards,
Brad




As one of the post-ers of summa the poetry, I can say that I'm not doin it to "tie into sumthin bigger." To the contrary, I tend toward deconstruction and dialectics. And for the cited works themselves, I welcome any1 to show me "sumthin bigger" in them, unless by bigger you mean either the cosmos referent (but blame cosmology for its size?) or the infinite space between the words. Moreover, kindly demonstrate what are "beauty's parameters" so that we may cease and desist in our offense against the finer sensibilities. Or maybe tell us what you do find beautiful in any of it? I, for one, would be as happy to hear about the beauty of the experience as the mystical aspect of it (whatever that is)...anything to "in-spire" (breathe life into) what we do or which otherwise allows our personal expanse to reach as far as the space we spy. Hopefully "inspire" isn't on the banned-words list of "culture" yet. How about awe, wonder, sublime? Preferably anything that is not susceptible to mere "point-counterpoint" dogma or strict rationalism. Or is it that we're expected to love our family out of sheer duty but we're otherwise forbidden to deeply experience it or talk about it? Got milk? Maybe a jackboot? Most would prefer a bootjack, I suspect, but I could be wrong. I wonder...when Edwin Hubble realized what he was seein, did he feel bigger? Or smaller? Was he contracted or expanded? Maybe it was sumthin in between and not so easily expressed, even for a lawyer...

"At the last dim horizon, we search among ghostly errors of observations for landmarks that are scarcely more substantial. The search will continue. The urge is older than history. It is not satisfied and it will not be oppressed."

At least he tried. And if that search is considered in an outward-looking aspect, then the inward aspect need not be suppressed. One could just as easily make the case that the outward is nuthin without the inward, logically, lexicographically, ontologically, etc., etc. And if mysticism is simply the merging of outward and inward, a larger Venn diagram, or the experience of the dissolution of these artifices, so be it. Just because a thing (like experience) is "indefensible" doesn't mean that it's not real. Or are we all livin in a courtroom?


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Paco_Grande
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: cheapersleeper]
      #5519522 - 11/14/12 01:10 PM

Quote:

I have no interest in driving wedges anywhere but have to say that I am apparently hard wired NOT to ever feel things of a spiritual, mystical, or supernatural nature. The fact that I don't experience them certainly does not PROVE that they don't exist. At the same time, the fact that various altered states of consciousness can be reached reliably by many different methods does tend to make me question whether there is anything at work other than a common quality of the human mind.

As for the poetry and the prose, I do not see any reason why it cannot be appreciated for it's beauty without trying to tie it into something bigger.

Regards,
Brad




Indeed. There are many frauds within the world of the mystics. In fact, I would suggest that most are frauds. Some are nuts and some are dangerous.

That said, the true world of the mystics has nothing to do with the supernatural or fleeting phenomena. Here's a rather long quote from Carlos Castaneda during a discussion with his fictitious Toltec nagual mystic, don Juan:

Quote:

The essence of whatever don Juan said at the beginning of my apprenticeship is encapsulated in the abstract nature of the quotations selected from the first book, The Teachings of Don Juan. At the time of the events described in that book, don Juan spoke a great deal about allies, power plants, Mescalito, the little smoke, the wind, the spirits of rivers and mountains, the spirit of the chaparral, etc., etc.

Later on when I questioned him about his emphasis on those elements, and why he wasn’t using them anymore, he admitted unabashedly that at the beginning of my apprenticeship, he had gone into all that pseudo-Indian shaman rigmarole for my benefit. I was flabbergasted. I wondered how he could make such a statement, which was obviously not true. He had really meant what he said about those elements of his world, and I was certainly the man who could attest to the veracity of his words and moods. “Don’t take it so seriously,” he said, laughing. “It was very enjoyable for me to get into all that *BLEEP*, and it was even more enjoyable because I knew that I was doing it for your benefit.”

“For my benefit, don Juan? What kind of aberration is this?” “Yes, for your benefit. I tricked you by holding your attention on items of your world which held a profound fascination for you, and you swallowed it hook, line and sinker. “All I needed was to get your undivided attention. But how could I have done that when you had such an undisciplined spirit? You yourself told me time and time again that you stayed with me because you found what I said about the world fascinating. What you didn’t know how to express was that the fascination that you felt was based on the fact that you vaguely recognized every element I was talking about. You thought that the vagueness was, of course, shamanism, and you went for it, meaning you stayed.”

“Do you do this to everybody, don Juan?” “Not to everybody, because not everybody comes to me, and above all, I’m not interested in everybody. I was and I am interested in you, you alone. My teacher, the nagual Julian, tricked me in a similar way. He tricked me with my sensuality and greed. He promised to get me all the beautiful women who surrounded him, and he promised to cover me with gold. He promised me a fortune, and I fell for it. All the shamans of my lineage had been tricked that way, since time immemorial. The shamans of my lineage are not teachers or gurus. They don’t give a fig about teaching their knowledge. They want heirs to their knowledge, not people vaguely interested in their knowledge for intellectual reasons.”






I'm with killabuddha on this. I see the traditions of the mystics main value in their methods of deconstructive inquiry into the nature of the world around us. Traditions such as Tao and some schools of Buddhism, or the philosophical tradition of Madhyamika (see Wiki.)

The methods used are often called "mystical" and it's important to remember they are methods designed to reach a particular result. As I said earlier, people often mistake the method as what's of value instead of the result. The quote above deals with this head on. Hope it helps!


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mountain monk
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Paco_Grande]
      #5519991 - 11/14/12 07:03 PM

Phil,

Thanks for reminding me of Carlos. Re method and result: Many are called, few are chosen. Based on fifty-six years of Zen study in both the Soto and Renzai traditions, I say: Zen is not a mystical practice nor are it's results (whatever they might be) best described as mystical. I will not comment further.

Dark skies.

Jack


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5520444 - 11/15/12 01:11 AM

Quote:

Phil,

Thanks for reminding me of Carlos. Re method and result: Many are called, few are chosen. Based on fifty-six years of Zen study in both the Soto and Renzai traditions, I say: Zen is not a mystical practice nor are it's results (whatever they might be) best described as mystical. I will not comment further.

Dark skies.

Jack




The trouble with Zen is that it's like tryin to sell water next to a river. I'll defer to Thomas Merton, "Mystics and Zen Masters," regarding Monk's guess-timation of what Zen is probably not best described as. The description at Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Mystics-Zen-Masters-Thomas-Merton/dp/0374520011

is even uncannily what Paco seems to have been tryin to express:

"Thomas Merton was recognized as one of those rare Western minds that are entirely at home with the Zen experience. In this collection, he discusses diverse philosophical concepts-early monasticism, Russian Orthodox spirituality, the Shakers, and Zen Buddhism-with characteristic Western directness. Merton not only studied these traditions from the outside but grasped them by empathy and living participation from within. 'All these studies,' wrote Merton, 'are united by one central concern: to understand various ways in which men of different traditions have conceived the meaning and method of the 'way' which leads to the highest levels of metaphysical awareness."

I also thought that I sensed sumthin of this in Otto's original post. Where did that go?


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Paco_Grande
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5521485 - 11/15/12 04:06 PM

Quote:

... 'All these studies,' wrote Merton, 'are united by one central concern: to understand various ways in which men of different traditions have conceived the meaning and method of the 'way' which leads to the highest levels of metaphysical awareness."






I agree with Merton. But they are not higher levels of awareness, just less cloudy, since mind does not change, just our view of it - or better put, our experience of it. These teachings require a genuine teacher with integrity...

Quote:

Nagarjuna - “True knowledge is a virtue of the talented, But harmful to those without discernment. Spring water free of impurity, entering the ocean, becomes undrinkable.”




Zen only appears mystical to the western eye because of its practices. Westerners can't fathom sitting in front of a wall for hours, or hearing the utterance of a koan, or a master whacking a snoozing monk.


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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: Paco_Grande]
      #5522728 - 11/16/12 11:25 AM



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killdabuddha
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5522790 - 11/16/12 12:01 PM

No kyosaku required,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YG9P7JWtxhw

unless we believe Stanley Kubric

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML1OZCHixR0

I don't choose. The monkeys do

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_6c8CKpXQI



Cheers


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Paco_Grande
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Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5522871 - 11/16/12 01:00 PM

Awesome



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