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Science’s reliance on sensory perception to establish what’s real is neither objective nor rational. It is inherently subjective and irrational. This was pointed out by the physicist-philosopher Erwin Schroedinger, an admission that was noted in Carlo Rovelli’s Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity (2017). Our bodies and their senses being part of their own material environment disqualifies them from attesting to its reality. For this another perspective is needed, one that is not built into its own environment and doesn’t have to be “spiritual.” It only needs to be mind, which is manifestly not coterminous with the brain, as distinguished neuroscientists have concluded.

Putting sensory perception on the witness stand to attest to its own reality is self-referential circular reasoning. It isn’t reasoning, which means the logical foundation for all of body-centered “science,” including the science of mind, is inherently illogical. It means “science,” which prizes objectivity, is subjective. A “science” that denies itself access to the perspective of mind, that rigidly adheres to bodies’ sensory perception and their brains’ circular reasoning, sacrifices not only objectivity for subjectivity, it sacrifices its legitimacy.

This, I think, is ample reason to question Christof Koch’s “hypothesis that all our thoughts, memories, percepts (sic) and experiences are an ineluctable consequence of the natural causal powers of our brain rather than of any supernatural ones”. If what he means by “supernatural ones” is mind, nothing could be farther from the truth. Reason says so, and that’s what near-death experiences (NDE’s) are telling us. NDE’s reveal that, in the space between sensory perception and what lies beyond, attributes of reality take over that mock the limits our bodies impose.

They do so just as the behavior of quanta mock the limits of reality that physics imposes in the space between matter and what lies beyond. Whether the neuroscientist Koch is willing to question all-knowing sensory perception, theoretical physics concerned with quantum mechanics long ago expressed its doubts in Nils Bohr’s “Copenhagen Interpretation” [ref: Adam Becker, What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics (2018)] and, more recently, in Rovelli’s appeal for help from philosophy to make sense of quantum gravity.

What the brain during NDE’s and quanta under observation may both be telling us is that what lies beyond material reality is another reality. Koch says NDE subjects describe it as “realer than real,” a subjective valuation that can’t be measured, so he and science will leave its significance to us. But to NDE subjects and to this observer, its significance seems obvious: The reality they are experiencing is mind beyond matter.

Koch explains that NDE’s “are triggered. . . when the body is injured by blunt trauma, a heart attack, asphyxia, shock, and so on.” Then why does it change the logic of what transpires when the cortex is stimulated electrically or “exciting the gray matter elsewhere”? In either case an external force physically alters the brain, the subject’s mind is released from the body, and it takes with it all the powers of consciousness – observation, thought, and feeling – except the power to act and sense with the body. What transpires is a clear separation of a part of consciousness that belongs to mind from a part that’s tethered to the body, and that would be the brain. Electrical stimulation of the brain only differs from the usual causes of NDE’s by being deliberate.

The “origin” of NDE’s can only be traced to the brain because, by definition, a “near death experience” refers to a condition of the body and its brain. It has nothing to do with the death of the mind or “spirit.” Since there was never any logic to declaring that the “origin” of NDE’s is “spiritual,” it’s absurd for Koch to conclude that “subjective experience provides support for a biological, not spiritual origin” – to declare, in effect, that the origin can’t be “spiritual.”

The issue isn’t “origins.” The issue is causes and effects. The cause is physical alteration of the body’s brain, one that places the brain in a weakened, dying state, that gets it out of the way of mind. The effect is an irrefutable experience, documented many times over, of an other-worldly state of consciousness which can only be mind.

If we can get the distinction clear between brain and mind, and the cause-effect relationship between brain alteration and mind that’s unattached to body, NDE’s will begin to make perfect sense. They clearly suggest that there’s another reality that’s not matter but mind. And, if NDE subjects are to be believed, it’s the reality of mind that’s real and the other that isn’t. It’s the reality of mind that’s natural and the other that ought to be labeled “supernatural.”

But we don’t have to go there to make a point. The point is that messing with the brain is no grounds for siding with body-centered science that there’s no reality beyond sensory perception or that all consciousness is seated in the brain. To do so is to fly in the face of evidence provided by NDE’s. Worse, to do so is to side with circular reasoning -- not to be truly “scientific” but to be hopelessly subjective and irrational.

Let Rovelli search for quantum gravity and Professor Koch study the brain. But while they’re at it, let’s all get off our self-referential addiction to sensory perception and acknowledge its subjectivity. Let’s get serious about metaphysics and trace the story of mind. Why? Because only in intuition, an attribute of mind, will we find objectivity. Only there will we find reason beyond appearances, the perspective that’s qualified to distinguish between competing realities. And because that’s what quantum mechanics and NDE’s are telling us to do.

Like the story of the brain and matter, all accounts of the human experience are ultimately the story of mind. To learn it is not to surrender to unreason, to contradictory ideologies that science rightly fears, but to open the door to guidance that is both rational and felt, that provides values and meaning. It is guidance that science dependent on numbers and measurements cannot provide by itself. Should Professor Koch convince us that we have only the brain, matter, and measurements to guide us, that the evidence of NDE’s to the contrary can be ignored, it will be a disservice to his own cause – to the cause of reason and knowledge, science and learning. It will be a disservice to the cause of mind.

Letter submitted to Scientific American
Commenting on Christof Koch, "Tales of the Dying Brain"
In Scientific American (June 2020 pp. 71-75)

May 30, 2020

A purpose of my forthcoming book is to question the structure of our “reasoning” – its knowledge-information base and its premises -- by examining it from another perspective, the one implied and given form by A Course in Miracles.

The break we need in our circular reasoning can be accomplished by reflecting on the role of Energy-Force: in defining appearances that our bodies’ senses register; in establishing the properties-attributes that distinguish them and describe how they behave, how they interact to produce the variety of forms they take, the variety of compositions with different functions and uses; that collectively prop up our sense that we belong to a grand movement of causes and effects that must have an intelligible purpose, because they constantly change, and the changes have consequences.

Energy, whether or not it enlivens-animates appearances that mean what we think they mean, still attests to the connection to our Source, whatever or whoever it is, that cannot be broken. Even if it enlivens what mind is only imagining, Energy is still Energy, and even if our thoughts are trapped in self-referential reasoning, the Force that powers our flawed reasoning is still active, is still here.

Breaking through the circular chain of thoughts so infused with Energy and dominated by it can be accomplished by changing one assumption, one premise. This is the premise that the Mind, the Logic that produced the Energy that animates our appearances and now our reflections on what they mean, can only be in a conscious state. That because the appearances Energy makes seem so real for us, seem so consequential, only a mind in a conscious state could possibly cause them.

Have we not ever experienced vivid dreams? Have none of us ever hallucinated? Do not some of us exist in a mental state that’s divorced from “reality?” Is not the record of psychological states replete with bizarre three-act dramas that Freud himself couldn’t unravel?

Another premise that’s ripe for questioning is that Energy itself can only “exist” in one state. In a context, an environment, that clearly includes substances of endless variety, varieties that pit opposites against one another, why is it not possible that the attributes we associate with Energy, for instance, that it can neither be created nor destroyed, are only the attributes that can be “detected” in one state? What if the attributes of Energy serving the Logic, the Thoughts, of Mind in a Conscious state were distinguishable from mind that’s in an unconscious state?

What if Energy that enables the Creation of eternal Life, by joining in its extension and expansion, does just the opposite if it enables an illusion, a dream of death? What if Energy there, in Mind’s Conscious state, in Reality, is living, while here, in mind’s unconscious state, is dying? What is “entropy” telling us if not this?

What is entropy telling us about appearances? About vitality and decay, order and disorder? About how things can transform from energized to inert? Why should Energy not be subject to the same laws of cause and effect that govern everything else in our state of opposites?

What we assume about perspective is another premise that can break through self-referential reasoning. This is the assumption that the “knower” that we connect with the “known,” the mind that interprets appearances, is capable of only one perspective. Certainly if our perspective is confined to bodies consulting one another on our little planet, in our little solar system, in our little galaxy, in our little universe that may be only one of billions of universes, in a moment of time that stretches into infinity, we might draw our conclusions with relative confidence even if appearances on a human scale bear no resemblance to reality on a micro-quanta or a macro-cosmic scale.

But what if we interrupted our conversation with one another to bring in another point of view? One that isn’t bound by the attributes of our existence, by our appearances, that answers to a Reality governed by their opposites?

Just because our bodies’ senses won’t let us sit down and talk to this perspective can’t mean that it’s not there, that it’s not accessible to mind, when, actually, it may be here in a way that we aren’t. Must our little bodies that come and go, and our little planet that comes and goes, lock us into one point of view that can’t possibly admit another, that doesn’t come, declare its singularity, its infallibility, and then disappear?

Must the tortured reasoning that’s led us to a standoff on this question stand in testimony to our irrationality, our fecklessness, forever? Must we really wait for an outside force, a magical “redeemer,” to rescue us from helplessness? Or is it enough for some to lead the good life, La Dolce Vita, to amuse themselves in Rome’s Trevi Fountain while others can’t, and everyone eventually runs out of energy and dies?

Three premises: that Mind can only be in a conscious state; that Energy can only exist in one state; that sensory perception only allows us one perspective, could free us from circular reasoning if we let Logic and Intuition, with the Holy Spirit’s help, reflect on their implications. If we gave ourselves the opportunity to exercise Free Choice: the power to change our minds.

John Wild's book, Introduction to Realistic Philosophy (Harper and Row 1948) (RP) has made a contribution to my thinking and thus to my forthcoming book, for which I am very grateful. However, as I hope these reflections will show, it makes a better case for my book than it does for his. [See "My Forthcoming Book" and "On Circular Reasoning" posted to this website 4/25/20] We agree on the need for "realistic" philosophy, but we disagree on the fundamental question of what's real. What's real for him is matter; what's real for me is Mind.

My understanding of what’s going on with us and our world is that the Child we are, our spiritual ancestor, was stripped of the knowledge base he depended on for free choice when he lost consciousness. He lost much else, besides, but here, in this world, his focus has been on rebuilding his knowledge base. Without it he is operating in the dark, and getting out of the dark, returning to the light of consciousness by exercising free choice, is what he must accomplish.

This provides the context for my understanding of RP, its contribution to this broader purpose. Its specific contribution is to the pursuit of knowledge through experimental and theoretical science, which has, until recently, relied exclusively upon sensory perception, because RP does provide an argument to support it, if inadvertently. Its argument, not coincidentally, joins with body-centered Church dogma which, through Thomas Aquinas, gave cover to science when other faiths did not.

“Inadvertently” because science seems to play hardly any part in RP. Einstein isn’t registered in its name index even though general relativity upended Newtonian concepts of absolute space and absolute time. This dealt a momentous blow to certainties about material reality that one theoretical physicist, Rovelli, has likened to “the stuff that dreams are made of.”

RP makes no mention of Einstein’s theory in its discussion of time, a significant omission which suggests that undermining dark-age enemies of science played little or no part in its motivation. RP’s declaration that “Time is to be sharply distinguished from spatial extension;” that it’s “a mental measure with a foundation in extra-mental reality,” [p. 347], that we experience a “now” that’s more definable than Einstein’s “present” that’s neither future nor past, [pp. 375-376] are at odds with the science of its day.

The injustice that RP seems intent upon righting is “idealistic philosophy,” the synthesis of “empiricism” and “rationalism” propagated by Immanuel Kant. Its exact offense was positing reality in the eye of the beholder, a subjectivist take on reality that made a bystander of the body and its senses. But where idealistic philosophy rates a rebuttal, “spiritualism which reduces the physical to the mental” [p. 400], is dismissed with nothing more than it’s “far removed from the common insight of mankind.” [p. 395]

Had RP hypothesized the existence of a spiritual reality its reasoning would, I think, have yielded an opposite result. This is because its own take on reality treats as extrinsic any material object outside the body that senses it. Thus, it can claim “objectivity;” it becomes a common-sense “objectivist” philosophy; and “facts” are its exclusive domain. Since this assumption is intertwined with our everyday perceptions and feelings, it rings true.

But were a spiritual entity given a voice, the logic behind it would quickly be revealed for the fallacy that it is. Bodies integral to a system of material appearances are logically unqualified to pass judgment on their own system’s reality, i.e. on themselves. To grant them this status – to include the knower in the known -- is to grant rationality to circular, self-referential reasoning, which is irrational. Of even greater concern to RP, it would substitute subjectivity for objectivity, the ultimate violation of its logic.

In the event, RP is at pains to keep this from happening. Not only is spiritual reality not allowed to challenge “the realistic analysis of hylomorphic substance,” [p. 400], RP doesn’t allow Plato, its co-founder, to interpret the meaning of his Allegory of the Cave in his own words. These are the words RP uses: “perfection,” “sound social order,” “social justice,” “jointly ordered, cooperative community,” “just community,” “unjust community,” “bad society.” “good society.” [pp. 173-174]

How can the primary issue with captives of deception imprisoned in a cave be about justice and not about appearances and reality? About truth? Here are Plato’s own words:

“[O]nce seen, [the form of the good] is inferred to be responsible for whatever is right and valuable in anything, producing in the visible region light and the source of life, and being in the intelligible region itself controlling source of truth and intelligence. . . . When the mind’s eye is fixed on objects illuminated by truth and reality, it understands and knows them.” [Quoted in Wapnick pp. 298-299, my emphasis added]

“[O]ur true lover of knowledge naturally strives for reality” is a statement attributed to Plato in an earlier passage about Plato’s philosopher-kings, “the truly wise,” in Wapnick’s words, “who. . . no longer value the appearance of the Good but the Good itself; the reality illuminated by the truth and not the shadows.” [Wapnick p. 300. Wapnick’s and my emphasis added] Socrates, killed by Athenians, was the model for the freed prisoner “because he tried to awaken in them the truth of the difference between appearance and reality.” [Wapnick p. 298, my emphasis added]

If they relied on its interpretation alone, RP’s readers would not only miss the gist of Plato’s allegory, they would be mis-led. They would be victims of an intellectual cover-up that presents itself as beholden to the highest ideals of reason, common sense, and objectivity. Manipulation of facts is a predatory manipulation of people who depend on facts to make informed choices, a betrayal of their trust, and a sign of disrespect that would make fools of them.

The basis of RP’s logic is that if a thing appears real to body’s senses then it must be real. There’s no possibility that anything internal or external to our minds can be real that isn’t detectable by the body’s senses, an assumption about the place of the body in all of Creation that is breathtakingly ego-centric.

If I were to interview one of the shackled prisoners who occupied Plato’s Cave about what he was observing, I would expect a near-perfect articulation of Realistic Philosophy, a viewpoint that’s firmly committed to the logic of the Cave and oblivious to anything outside it. I would expect something on the order of, “What I observe in these flickering shadows is real because it appears real.”

The point of Plato’s allegory is to suggest that appearances may deceive, and, indeed, when an occupant frees himself to discover the reality outside, he confirms it. Plato’s philosopher king, modeled on the prisoner liberated from the deception of appearances, is possessed of an awareness supported by reasoning derived not from ignorance and misapprehension but from knowledge and truth. Elevating his subjects’ minds out of ignorance and misapprehension into the light of knowledge and truth – liberating them from appearances through reason and virtue, – was the inspiration for the philosopher king’s rule and for Plato’s Academy.

On the strength of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave alone I disagree with RP's claim that Plato "co-founded” its school of thought. [p. 379]

In another instance of selective truth-telling, RP begs off anything to do with “theology.” But it can’t resist noting that it accords with body-centered Church dogma and in so doing takes sides in theological controversy:

"Genuine Christianity. . . has much more in common with authentic materialistic thought. . . than with that extremely widespread spiritualism, , , which tries to deny matter and other basic facts of life. How surprised most of our contemporaries would be if they could discover the fact that Christianity, , , is actually a hardheaded campaign for the conquest of ourselves and the world we inhabit, , , , [F]or nothing is of more decisive importance for a people and its civilization than its religion, and how this is understood." [pp. 234-235]

Though gratuitous, RP’s acceptance of added cultural legitimacy from Western civilization’s most influential religious institution would be acceptable were it not for the fact that it’s also disingenuous. “Hardheaded” Church dogma contains an obvious contradiction which RP fails to mention: miracles. Miracles whose purpose was to demonstrate that our world, our material universe, our “laws” of science, our bodies and their senses, are illusory.

The author of miracles inspired Gnostic Christianity that was unpersuaded by Church dogma and was forcibly suppressed as a result. He has restated his message in A Course in Miracles, a unique system of thought and practical guidance based not on unquestioned faith but on tightly-reasoned philosophy and psychology. Its affirmation of Jesus’ miracles and their purpose was not available at the time RP was published, but the elephant was certainly in the room. How could this aspect of Church dogma not have drawn RP’s attention?

The answer must be that RP would have been obliged to confront a central article of Church followers’ faith and thus potentially offend many in its audience. The Church would be obliged to weigh in, and “the common insight of mankind” would be common no more. It would have been better had RP given spiritualism a hypothetical voice – the voice, say, of authority, reason, and compassion from Conscious Mind, like A Course in Miracles -- not only to correct philosophical subjectivity in its argument for sensory perception but also to practice the Platonic virtue of honesty.

Acknowledging that there were competing versions of Christianity; that “genuine Christianity” – Church dogma – achieved dominance only by force; and miracles that were part of dogma and opposing theologies flatly contradict RP, would be honest.

RP: I’m sorry, dear reader, but Realistic Philosophy says your revered miracles could not have happened. You’ll have to try another religion.
Believer: Yeah, well how about trying another philosophy?

Reliance on sensory perception is being questioned among theorists, I suspect, in many fields, and so it’s highly unlikely that RP could be put out there today with a straight face. Its author will have read books by Becker and Rovelli on quantum physics, a field whose discoveries are so bizarre that physicists protective of their careers steer clear of it. The search for quantum gravity -- the synthesis of general relativity / cosmology with quantum mechanics -- shreds “the common insight of mankind.” Neuroscience going back to the 19th century has questioned RP’s notion that consciousness resides in the brain. A material world that has become strange, incomprehensible, disorderly, and threatening can no longer anchor our sense of place and familiarity.

But why rely on RP’s argument to refute it when sensory perception can do better? Let it run its own course with cosmic reality and it will self-destruct.

The “potency” that RP depends upon for many of its conclusions is Energy. The Energy that powers our universe originated with Logic that powers Creation. The Big Bang was a release of energy from Reality-Consciousness – from the irrational thought of splitting up the oneness of Being -- that initially empowered our material, illogical universe. It is an imagined break with the real Logic-Energy of Creation, a disconnection, not a connection. Which implies that it is not a real-living current that can maintain its force but an illusory-dying current. It’s the flip side of real Energy -- flip side like everything else in our universe, the opposite of what’s real. Which explains why our illogical, illusory universe is in a state of entropy, destined to decay, tending toward disorder, and becoming inert.

This means that all the forms of energy – nuclear strong and weak, electromagnetic, and gravity – will gradually weaken until matter will no longer be produced by energy and its components will no longer hold together, from the quanta level on up. When the energy that’s locked up in matter dissipates, bodies will be long gone and nothing will be left that’s detectable by their senses. The Achilles Heel of RP is its reliance on "potency," i.e. energy, that eventually will abandon it. So, all that's really needed to put it to rest is time-lapse photography and a lot of time on our hands.

While it supports the physical sciences RP can also be appropriated by a less enlightened pursuit. This would be “objectivism,” the personal credo of Ayn Rand and her libertarian followers who noisily denied the legitimacy of any interest beyond individual self-interest. They suffered the handicap of narcissists unable to see beyond themselves, to accept the presence of a larger, communal self-interest, that makes governance in the public interest, for fairness, justice, peace, and civilization possible.

Objectivism makes a close match with the thinking behind “conservatism” that masks its will toward unopposed power, the license for its followers to do whatever they want behind the flag of “freedom:” their freedom to take away your freedom. It’s a prescription for fascist dictatorship which frees the dictator to take himself and his captive audience to the bottom of a sea of contradictions and “appearances.”

The reasoning that supports RP is that of a human mind corrupted by irrationality – the ego and its purpose to deceive. RP’s reasoning is flawed because its knowledge base is both unintentionally and intentionally mischaracterized and omits critical material that has since come to light. RP’s reasoning is flawed because it has been invaded by the ubiquitous manipulations of power relations – by self-interest in our state of competition and conflict. And RP’s reasoning is flawed because it intentionally compromises with the truth, not the minor infraction of everyday discourse but a betrayal of Philosophy’s Hippocratic Oath.

The reasoning that supports Jesus’ A Course in Miracles is reasoning from Conscious Mind, the spiritual perspective that could have corrected RP’s flawed reasoning had it been given the hypothetical hearing that the logic of philosophy, science, and fairness demanded. ACIM’s knowledge base lies beyond human access, but it invites the reader to dismantle the logic of its guidance with reason. After over thirty years of reflection, this reader so far cannot. The ubiquitous manipulations of self-interest are beneath it, but this is not to say that it lacks self-interest when all Creation is composed of self-interest. The difference lies in the logic, the definition, of “Self” that is Reality, that is Truth. Guidance from ACIM that cannot compromise with the Truth, by definition, that cannot betray itself, leads to the Truth about ourselves, our Worth and our Purpose, that cannot be compromised.

The search for scientific “knowledge” was supposed to end successfully before it reached the end of useful experimentation. But quantum physics-gravity requires that inquiry extend beyond physical experiments into philosophy, which takes us back to Plato’s unfinished business, the philosophic system that he never fully developed. It takes us back to the unified theory of everything that Einstein never finished.

A Course in Miracles accomplishes what Plato, Einstein, and experimental science have failed to do: construct a coherent thought system that isn’t shot through with contradictions and irrationality. It accomplishes this through uncompromising non-dualism, the proposition that between Mind and matter only Mind can be real.

It must have been in the backs of the minds of those who have clung to sensory perception –the learning disciplines, the professions, politics, the arts, communications, religion -- that it’s the first and last line of defense for civilization. They must have feared what populist politics, pop culture, the internet, and social media have wrought, a breakdown of consensus around reality, truth, morality, and the institutions – the “establishment” -- charged with maintaining it. Fears around replacing a paradigm as ingrained in the human mind as sensory perception are not to be taken lightly. The stability it has provided cannot be taken for granted.

This could have been the larger purpose of RP’s case against “idealism” and “spiritualism,” philosophies it considers subjective and irrational and, therefore, unrealistic, a threat not only to the reign of sensory perception but also to common sense, learning, and civilization. It takes its place among the Child’s evolving experiments with regaining its knowledge base for informed choice, a flawed product of the insights, the threats, the irrationality, and the politics of its time, but a worthy cause, nonetheless. It deserves respect.

Works cited:
Kenneth Wapnick, Love Does Not Condemn: the World, the Flesh, and the Devil According to Platonism, Christianity, Gnosticism, and 'A Course in Miracles' (Foundation for A Course in Miracles 1989)
Adam Becker, What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics (Basic Books 2018)
Carlo Rovelli, Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity (Riverhead Books 2017)
A Course in Miracles (Foundation for Inner Peace 1975)

Dave Harrison
May 5, 2020

Freedom and spontaneity imply no limits on doing whatever we want. Absolutes of all our gifts-values imply having it all without limits. This violates the logic of Reality because we live in a state of opposites, a condition where logic says being or having it all without limits is impossible. Defying this truth can have painful consequences. The way we go about using our gifts requires discipline.

Spontaneity that’s allowed to cross this line will insist that the only permissible approach to feeding the body is to gratify-indulge its senses for our wants-pleasure (excess). It will overrule an approach that recognizes and respects limits (moderation) in order to care for its needs-health. Spontaneity will do this because its purpose is happiness-fun that we experience from living uninhibited in the moment. It will do this especially when it is an idea raised to the level of an ideal -- when it’s part of a value system linked to a feeling that’s compelling because it’s become an absolute, because it’s idealized.

Weight management requires spontaneity management. It requires discipline that respects the logic-limits imposed by mind-reason and Reality. Evidence that spontaneity has been allowed to rule beyond reason is arrival of the opposite of pleasure-fun: disabling abuse and pain. Our bodies are saying they need less pleasure-gratification from spontaneity and more health-nourishment from caring-discipline. They need less free-spirited happiness-feeling and more disciplined reasoning-thinking.

Excess weight is concrete evidence of an imbalance between body-feeling-spontaneity and mind-thinking-order within a sensing-feeling-perception (spontaneity) personality type. The conversion of feeling-pleasure into its feeling-pain opposite is the body’s signal that it’s time to correct the imbalance. It’s a necessary stage in personal growth that focuses on the role of youthful passions in obstructing maturity.

The creative sanctuary that makes spontaneity and freedom possible has boundaries that protect as well as confine. The onset of body abuse-pain says the time has come for the Illusion of spontaneity without limits to cease its irrational rebellion against confinement. It’s time to recognize and appreciate the protection of boundaries. Accepting limits on our gifts, respecting the mind-logic that put them there, bringing thought to our choices as well as feeling, keeps us within our boundaries and safe from opposites.

Strenuous exercise while carrying serious excess weight beyond our youth is physical abuse. Straining muscles-tendons-joints-nerves to “burn calories” can wait until after healthy weight is restored by light exercise (walking) and by managed diet. Risking permanent damage and chronic pain is not rational. If burning calories by intermittent strenuous exercise was once rationalized to permit bouts of undisciplined excess – the joys of youthful spontaneity, -- those days are over. Undisciplined excess is over.

Attempting weight loss while preserving the ideal of youthful spontaneity is unworkable. Our bodies carry us forward inexorably. Clinging to youthful spontaneity is pointless. Resistance to parting with youthful fun that imagined it could do whatever it wanted, without consequences, is pointless. It reflects not the exhilaration of life but morbid fear of the loss of life.

Too late, we declare, “I’m going to beat this.” What clinging to an idealized spontaneity translates into is, “’I’m an exception; I won’t have to part with my youth.” It translates into “I insist on being who I’ve always been: a loving-lovable, happy-go-lucky, live-in-the-moment, carpe-diem guy.”

The pain, the loss of resiliency, that accompanies aging requires adjustments not only in how we live but who we are. The old identity delivered a cornucopia of benefits for family, community, and profession. It wants to prevail beyond its time because it was hugely successful. But time requires identities better suited to changing circumstances when our bodies can no longer support the fantasies of youth.

Willpower – psychic energy -- that’s needed to remove excess weight, restore health, and avoid pain is now directed toward preserving an idealized self-identity that can never grow old. The feeling that’s getting in the way of doing what circumstances call for isn’t just spontaneous pleasure, fun, and happiness. It’s fear of separation from a self that served its purpose and belongs in the past.

Being overweight may actually reinforce the illusion that it’s not necessary to let go of the past, because it’s become a part of the self-identity that experienced the fruits of spontaneity: gratification, indulgence, fulfillment, camaraderie, contentment, and pleasantness. This may explain why obesity has been so well tolerated. The onset of chronic pain could be a wake-up call that forces a more realistic calculation, an awakening to costs that now outweigh the benefits.

All these considerations lead toward a new paradigm, a new definition of self and the world the self occupies. They lead toward acceptance of what mind-thought-logic can contribute to the life of a mature person, along with feeling, in achieving a kind of happiness that’s better suited to circumstances: happiness with limits and discipline, happiness that may never deliver super-bowl euphoria but it can let our bodies live in contentment without pain.

If our youthful objective was achieving pleasure, our objective beyond youth becomes preventing debilitating pain. The balance is tipped toward realistic thinking-logic-discipline and away from when idealized experience-feeling dominated. It’s tipped from needing constant contrived action toward the calmness and serenity of thankfulness for life-being, from the joys of sensation (indulging the body) to the joys of thinking and awareness (indulging the mind). And always connecting.

Why do selves who idealize spontaneity falter in their efforts to manage weight on their own? Why do they need to borrow someone else’s self-discipline to succeed and lapse when it’s gone?

The sensing-feeling-perception personality type who idealizes spontaneity has purposely deprived himself of the function of self that’s essential to management – mind-logic-order-discipline, i.e. deliberation. This is done to allow instinct to open him to unlimited possibilities to feel and express the joy of living (joie de vivre), creativity, happiness, fun, pleasure, and gratification in the moment.

In pursuit of an ideal of fulfillment that’s rooted in gratification of the body’s senses, the deliberative self that normally imposes limits is discarded in favor of impulse whose only guide is the “moment.” The void this leaves in self-management reveals itself when obesity calls upon willpower, an essential attribute of self, that’s been turned over to its opposite, the “moment.”

Precisely what’s been sacrificed to achieve the ideal of spontaneity is self-discipline. No wonder the perception-spontaneity type can’t manage weight on his own!

The personality type intuition-thinking-judging experiences satisfaction and contentment from continuous learning and growth. Yes, without super-bowl rapture but also without debilitating pain. This can’t be a role model for an opposite personality type. Or can it? If needs and aspirations come together as we age, maybe it can.

Children will have recourse to their immediate ancestors’ examples to guide their own choices – their parents and their grandparents. They deserve to experience their own youthful spontaneity. They deserve the gift of role modeling that lets them express the joys of life without being conditioned to believe that their gifts come with no limits, that discipline isn’t necessary, and that excess has no consequences. What will be the legacy, the imprint, of an overextended youth troubled by its consequences and preoccupied with its preservation? What can it offer to guide its children’s choices if it struggles with its own?

The role modeling that guides children toward happiness can’t come from other children. It can only come from parents and grandparents who put their own childhoods behind them, who take their responsibilities seriously, have their acts together, and pay attention to role modeling. It can only come from grownups.

His god is a lie that does not exist
That hangs over no man’s land like a flare in the night

That casts the dream in the shadows of its evil
Willing us to kill, willing us to die.

I rush across no man’s land to meet his god
Who wishes me dead, there in his trench

The enemy who begs to be killed with a hug
And I pray to my god who wishes him dead

Let me do this
Let us go.

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Explanation

Students of the modern Gnostic version of Christianity taught by Jesus in A Course in Miracles learn that our minds are corrupted by irrational beliefs that place us in a hellish world where we project our guilt onto others to regain our lost innocence. It is within this no man’s land of condemnation and endless deadly conflict, that’s depicted in this poem, that the Christian message of forgiveness – “love thine enemy” – must be absorbed and put to use.

We can undo the deception in principle by reasoning, with ACIM, that we did not sin in Reality when we lost conscious connection with our Source. Reinforcing this message is the point of my forthcoming book. But in this world of separate bodies meant to absorb and inflict punishment, reason doesn’t stand much chance against the passions of fear and hatred.

Though it’s unreal, our no man’s land is a place “where the unreal has been made real.” It is within this hellish environment that overwhelms our sensibilities, our pitiful attempts at reasoning, with its ear-splitting clamor for deception and passion, that I have tried to imagine the only way to put a stop to it. Instead of savaging my “enemy” in his trench, I need only to give him a loving hug. “The hug” would then represent the precise moment when the deception is undone, and its illusory vision of hell is removed from my mind.

It will do this not by my killing the person but by killing what makes the person in my mind my “enemy.” My enemy begs to be “killed” with a hug because only then, with a gesture of Love, will innocence be restored to the image of him that exists within my mind. Only then can the innocent person that he really is be spared from the projection of my own imagined guilt, from my condemnation, and my savage attack.

What the poem tries to convey is an honest humility, if not total despair, in the presence of a simple request that asks the impossible, that I love my “enemy” at precisely the point when my external circumstances and the passions they invoke overwhelm my humanity. I acknowledge its impossibility because I have no pretensions, at this stage of my training, of being a role model for forgiveness under any such circumstances.

Should I ever encounter my enemy in his trench, for real, of this I am certain: giving him a hug instead of making him pay for his infuriating offenses, his inflammatory provocations, will have to be a pure act of Grace. It will occur because another Mind – the Child’s right mind – has gently moved my corrupted mind out of the way. And only then if I have truly asked for it. It will do this if it has finally trained my corrupted mind to reject the deception of guilt and to affirm the Truth of Innocence. Otherwise, my clear expectation is that I would kill the bastard.

Praying to the darkness – to “my god who wishes him dead.” – to allow the hug to happen. is an admission that my mind is not ruled by reason in this world. It’s ruled by madness or I would not be so desperate for help that it would occur to me to ask an executioner practiced in cruelty -- the god of war -- for help with an act of compassion.

But “The Hug” is not the hopeless capitulation that it may seem. My training continues. The Holy Spirit speaks for the Truth, and, in time, the deception will lose its force. “Where the Trouble Lies” notes that energy, the force that keeps the illusion of material reality in place, is dying out. The illusion is in a state of entropy, coming apart. Our bodies will find a better use, and our passions, too.

What put my “enemy” there was hating him in the first place, before he committed any offense. What put him there was fear and hatred in my own mind that needs to revert back to its natural state of Love – back to Reality. The restoration of Reality, with our Free Will doing its part, is inevitable. Reason will prevail. The innocent Child that we really are will prevail. I am sure of it. My “enemy” will get his hug.

There is yet another meaning to the poem that’s implied by its military setting: conflict between opposing armies whose combatants have surrendered their individual sovereignty, and thus free choice, to a group, presumably to their respective countries. The “barriers to an awareness of Love’s presence” ACIM speaks of are many, and this is one of them: signing onto groups – employers, professions, organized causes, faiths, etc. -- that then superimpose their imperatives for survival onto our freely-chosen personal morality.

The “Sophie’s Choice” that The Hug presents is between loyalty to the ethics of individual free choice or to the amoral dictates of our group masters. In praying to the god of war – to Caesar – for permission to hug my “enemy,” I am asking, in effect, for manumission: for release from subservience to his army so that I may exercise free will and reclaim my integrity, my spirituality. I seek freedom from the curse of humanity: serving two masters, doing what’s right while “following orders” – an impossibility. We don't often have the option of separating from organizations that feed us, that trap us in situations where our only choice is some form of death no matter what we decide. If there remains a tone of discouragement, of hopelessness to "The Hug," this would account for it.

Five words express thoughts and feelings that I believe are among the most important to humanity. Four of these are Love, Reason, Intuition, and Worth.

What I want to share on my website, with you, is what I try to share in all my personal relationships, especially with children. It is a truth that stands up to the deception that says that I am my body, my body is insignificant littleness, and my destiny is to die and disappear into nothingness. I believe the truth is the opposite: Worth that is not only a thought but also a feeling, that I not only have worth from its Source, I am Worth. I am not my body.

My true Worth is a gift that can never be taken away because it is who I am. I cannot help but share it with children because we are all children of the same Source, because who we are is also what we do, sharing our Worth that is shared with us by our Source, by Worth itself.

Love, Reason, and Intuition that lead us to our Worth lead us to the fifth word: Happiness. Everything we have is who we are: Worth that leads us to Happiness if we will let it, if we choose every day to follow it. For it must be chosen of our own free will.

What I try to share with children, with all my brothers and sisters, is the abundance given to me, my Worth, and the choice Love, Reason, and Intuition would have me make, every day, to follow where it leads us all, to peace, truth, and sanity – to Happiness.

The ultimate purpose of my writing is to share Worth from its Source. It’s to share the truth about the Child we are, whose Worth, whose Happiness, was hidden from us by an event that our ego-corrupted minds have misrepresented and covered over with guilt. The truth that we separate ourselves from is Mind that is Innocent -- the Child’s and ours.

Little rational thought has been given to what caused the Child to lose consciousness before he supposedly lost his innocence and dreamed up this world. The purpose of the very modest contribution I hope to make, to metaphysics and ontology, is to help remedy this. With guidance from Love, Reason, Intuition, and Worth, these thoughts might help to undo a truly awful deception, the root cause of human suffering: the belief that we are our bodies that live, suffer, and die, and within our bodies lies guilt.

My purpose is to be of service in the Child’s awakening to the truth – to our Worth and where it leads, to Happiness.

Asking our bodies to tell us if they’re real is self-referential, circular reasoning. Of course, they will tell us -- sensory perception will tell us -- that they’re real. This isn’t rational; it’s irrational. We must go to an objective source to tell us if they’re real. And until we settle on who or what that source may be, we must suspend judgment on whether our bodies and their material environment are real. We must rely on Reason and Intuition. We must try to be rational without rationalizing.

Let sensory perception do what it’s designed for -- helping us to procreate, achieve some measure of comfort and satisfaction, avoid pain, and survive. It can play a support role, but it cannot lead us into matters of truth and reality that are the province of Mind. Sensing and rationalizing lead us nowhere in philosophy – metaphysics and ontology -- where the only possible guides are Logic, Reason, and Intuition.

Instead of asking matter, our bodies, to tell us if Mind is real, let us ask our Mind to tell us if matter is real.

That so much of civilization is based on this absurd premise, that our bodies and their material environment are real just because they say they’re real, is sheer madness. It is a mental wall that imprisons us in endless conflict, suffering, confusion, frustration, and deception, that undermines and sabotages every effort toward true progress instead of ever more sophisticated technology and half-baked, conflicting ideologies.

Circular reasoning on what’s real has been unquestioned, even propagated for centuries, by science, because without it physics, neuroscience, and other disciplines couldn’t exist. “Shut up and calculate!” has become the mantra of physics now that quantum mechanics has upset Plato’s and Einstein’s perfect order of the universe. Circular reasoning, with few exceptions, has been unquestioned by philosophy going back to antiquity, because without it, academies and careers that require students and patrons couldn’t exist.

If we are going to stick with circular reasoning because any other kind of reasoning is beyond us, or because letting go of sensory perception is too big of a paradigm shift, let us at least be honest about it. This is chaos.

Intelligence complicit in its own deception, warped by self-interest, won’t lead us anywhere but back to the choice where our story began. It began with letting ourselves be led by Love, Reason, Intuition, and Worth to peace, truth, and sanity -- to Happiness. Whatever our circumstances, I believe we all want to make the right choice.

I write to help us look into the story of the Child – our story, – honestly and with Reason instead of guilt, because this is where the journey begins. This is where thinking begins. I find it quite interesting, consequential, and relevant. I hope you will agree.

Watch this space!

David Clark Harrison

www.DavidClarkHarrison.com

April 17, 2020

Asking our bodies to tell us if they’re real is self-referential, circular reasoning. Of course, they will tell us -- sensory perception will tell us -- that they’re real.  

Circular reasoning that’s allowed to support belief in material reality comes with a major cost. It corrupts the human mind, already split into opposing thought systems, one good-oneness, the other evil-separation, with yet another split into opposing realities, one body-matter, the other mind-spirit. A mind tasked with reasoning that’s burdened with contradictory thoughts can’t work very well, and if we want a good explanation why our world seems ungovernable, this would suffice. Something has to give.

Only one of these sets of competing truths can be true, good-mind or evil-matter. The human mind has been trying to do its job with both, and it isn’t working. Our choices are sometimes rational but too often they aren’t, with tragic consequences. We live, today, in “interesting times” that should be a surprise when two world wars, a cold war, and the onset of global mass extinction should have taught us the error of our ways. But we seem to have learned nothing. The mind-set of a political cult that entrusts its fortunes to a concatenation of lies, deceptions, and contradictions advertises our plight: we are failing, and failing badly. We aren’t thinking.

Understanding that we must choose between competing realities can’t be the end of the world if it’s the beginning of Reason. Accepting that between the two competing realities our sensory world of matter must be unreal can’t be the end of sanity if it ends insanity. It can’t be the end of light if it leads us out of the darkness. It can’t be the end of innocence if it ends our addiction to guilt. It can’t be the end of good if it disempowers evil. The forces arrayed against the good can only lose their strength if our belief in their reality – the logic of their argument – is withdrawn. The deceptions that clog our thinking with contradictions, confusion, and ambivalence, can only give way to the truth if we take away their premise. They aren’t real. And the idea that they should be taken seriously, that we should simply adapt to them the way we adapt to our insane politics and every other calamity, is a joke.

Understanding that our bodies and the material world that they inhabit are part of an illusion, a dream meant to deceive, can’t cause more confusion if it explains it. Our confusion, our endless mistakes, owe their existence to nothing more than a misperception: that two contradictory states are real, and logic will prevail in a split mind, already beset with fear, that holds contradictory thoughts. It won’t. It never has and it never will. The wars between conflicting ideologies will never end until we find a way to end the war between conflicting realities in our minds – until we get clarity on what’s Reason and what’s not and learn to make the right choice. Circular reasoning that’s allowed to support belief in material reality is not the right choice.

David Clark Harrison

www.davidclarkharrison.com

April 18, 2020