Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wean Yourself

One of my teachers usefully pointed out to me that my “scientific” skepticism about the existence of otherworldly realms was, essentially, fashionable.

Across the broad sweep of human experience, an enormous chorus of mystics and wisdom seekers have encouraged us to look beyond the evidence available through the “five” senses—beyond even what we can perceive aided by powerful tools like radio telescopes and electron microscopes.

I join that chorus. A meditation practice is one place to begin a search for what lies outside ordinary perception.

Here, listen to Rumi—


little by little wean yourself.
this is the gist of what i have to say.

from an embryo, whose nourishment comes in blood
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,’to a searcher for wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.

think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
you might say, the world outside is vast and intricate.
there are wheat fields and mountain passes
and orchards in bloom.

at night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.

you ask the embryo, why stay cooped up
in the dark with eyes closed?

listen to the answer:

there is no “other world.”
i only know what i have experienced.
you must be hallucinating.



walk2write said...

You're right that we need to be actively searching "for what lies outside ordinary perception." Otherwise we're not really thinking but just processing sensory input.

Rachel Bird said...

Your blog is heaven!

George said...

A wonderful post, Dan, and I love this Rumi poem. I'm not sure I could go on with life if I believed that we are no more than we perceive with our five senses. Personally, I believe that what is ultimately important lies beyond our understanding. I give it no name because it is nameless, formless, and inpenetrable. It is there, however, and we are part of it. That, at least, is my perspective.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh this is so fantastic! I love Rumi, but had not come upon this poem of his. Thank you so much. It says it all!

steven said...

dan - such a good poem! it makes me laugh sometimes when i read rumi. the simple richness of the truths he shares. so good. so very good. steven

Sarah Lulu said...

Perhaps the answer that lies within us is different, also for each of us. xx

Dan Gurney said...

W2W-- Yes, our "five" senses miss plenty of information that is worth paying attention to.

Dan Gurney said...

Rachel, thank you!

Dan Gurney said...

Thanks, George. Yes, what lies beyond is difficult to talk about and share partly because it's not as clear and partly because what is seen isn't going to be widely shared. It seems that only the five or six ordinary senses can be talked about because it is only this information that most people share.

Dan Gurney said...

Sherry Blue Sky, thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed this Rumi poem. It's among my favorites.

Dan Gurney said...

Sarah Lulu, exactly!

Sabio Lantz said...

Though pretty and nice, I must say that it must be balanced with the view of the importance of seeing through self-deception. This, in part, has also been a goal of science which questions fantasies and manipulative cosmologies.

Sabio Lantz said...

I think such wonderful thoughts must be balanced with one of the valuable efforts of science to dispel self-deception and see through manipulative fantasy cosmologies.

Dan Gurney said...

Hello, Sabio, I was wondering when you'd chime in on this one. I'm glad you did.

Balance is good, for sure. Is it balanced for the embryo to be so confident that the uterine walls form the boundary of the universe?

Scientists are prone to self deception because they are human. Scientists can be arrogant because they are human. Scientists have the cosmologies, too, because they are human.

This is not to say I favor of manipulative fantasy cosmologies. I don't favor them. And I agree with you that science has done a good job of dispelling many mfc's, many from the religious traditions. For this, I am thankful to science.

But it's important for us to watch for the mfc's science might wish to put in place of religion's. Must we be skeptical of skepticism if we wish to be truly skeptical? Is that even possible? I think you're the kind of guy who might have something useful to say on that topic.

Sabio Lantz said...

I totally agree: skeptical of skeptism, of scientists, of lama, of senseis, of bloggers, of self!

Skeptical of easy feel good too.

Dan Gurney said...

Okay, cool, Sabio. We're in synch. Thanks for getting back.

Sabio Lantz said...

Actually, I am sure we are not "in synch", I just can't find the tension point so as to continue the dance.

I can tell because the voices here sound so unlike the voices in my head.

Dan Gurney said...

Perhaps, then, some harmonious, syncopated, triangulated form of synchronicity?