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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
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Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
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
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/14/11

Loc: East of the Sun, West of the M...
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
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/06/09

Loc: Grand Teton National Park
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
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 08/26/11

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
sage


Reged: 12/02/08

Loc: first dark primordial pool.
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
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 08/26/11

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

Post deleted by csa/montana

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csrlice12
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
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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Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
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
Eyepiece Hooligan
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Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
Re: Borderline Mystics new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5474366 - 10/17/12 01:43 AM

Speak for yourself!



- Jim


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ensign
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/16/08

Loc: Southwestern Ontario
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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Reged: 02/02/10

Loc: sebastopol, california
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
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 08/26/11

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
member
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Reged: 07/26/12

Loc: Melbourne, Florida
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
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
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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Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: West Central Florida
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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Loc: Denver, CO
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
Genial Procrastinator
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Reged: 08/30/08

Loc: Clinton, TN
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
sage


Reged: 12/02/08

Loc: first dark primordial pool.
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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Reged: 08/24/11

Loc: Missouri
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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Reged: 08/26/11

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

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