Tag Archives: Spirituality

Why spiritual talk has the same root as economic talk

It turns out I crave for rationality. I’m even sad about the lack of it. Now. I see chains on people who declare themselves free. Cuffs on my wrists. We are failing on all fronts, because we could not find the exit on time. Or maybe I read too many Logicomix.

I wouldn’t straight away state that Nussbaum was wrong when she said that emotions carry important messages. They might. They probably do. No, I agree with her. It’s not for nothing that I just dug her up from my past convictions. But to blindly follow emotions is a different thing…

Anyhow, that’s not what I was going to talk about. You see, I have a fulltime job as a commercial writer now, and that has made this blog into a haven. I don’t need to care about pleasing my readers anymore. Not that I ever did. And of course I still do. But this is where I’m free. Part of me, anyhow. So I say what I want to. Ha!

No. What I wanted to talk about, or at least what triggered me to return here is once again the fact that people believe things. Two things in particular: purpose and growth. Why are we here? To grow. Become stronger. Improve. Yes. We improve.

You see, it turns out that I tend to surround myself with people who hold some kind of spiritual belief. Both my parents were into esoteric shit, my sister likes shamans. One by one, my friends convert to something. Parts of myself are trying to make me believe I’m some kind of sage in a silly society. As within, so without?

We all seem so certain. Have you heard it? Things happen for a reason. We may not always know the reason, but there is one. Really. It helps us become who we are.

But hold on. Step back. Sure, there might be a reason, yet there might be none. The truth is we don’t know. Even if the angels tell us, how can we be sure that they know? That is, once we’re sure they’re not a delusion. We cannot be sure that they do or don’t, clearly, that is far beyond us, Where that puzzle may not be a puzzle.

Surely, this fight concerns myself, mostly. It’s me struggling with my tendency to believe. I’d love to say and be certain, like I used to, that our paths are laid out, that all we have to do is sit back and walk them. Learn. Ingest the info, the experience. Fulfill and die. Yet I’m back with my old, even younger self. The mindful critic. You may say so, but you cannot know and you should accept that. In fact, the reason why you say things, is because others did before you.

So I want to plant a seed. What if nobody takes care of that seed? It dies. A death of abandonment. How many did? How many have simply perished? How many never had a child? Infinite. All of us in many ways. With a purpose? None we’d ever know about. Knowledge into oblivion.

Yet what of growth? Isn’t that what it’s about? Certainly. And what if not? Are we caterpillars emerging into butterflies emerging into spirits emerging into memories emerging into the infinite for eternity? Is that learning? It may be. It may not. More likely it’s neither.

That’s where I miss most. It may not. There’s no way around it. It’s right in front of us yet so few seem to look at it. Live it. Sooner or later we will die. Spirit faded when it got a voice, I’d say. And I would probably be wrong. I’d probably not even exist if I did. Say. My imaginary sanctuary behind this screen, probably an illusion. I’ll believe in it for now, knowing I can’t be sure.

Am I really the only one who sees this parallel? Probably not. Nor do I feel alone in it, in fact. Just a little misunderstood at times. Sure. There is a place and a time where growth exists. But to say it goes on forever… Only economists and spiritualists do that. Where will they end up, I wonder. Nowhere, likely, because they are little different than I. And I’m not going anywhere. Or I may be seduced. Unknowingly. Guess it’s better that way.

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On Reincarnation

People usually assume that I believe in reincarnation. I don’t. I believe reincarnation is a hopeful thought that propagates itself through the noosphere, fuelled by the fear of disappearance of whatever people believe to be themselves.

Reincarnation presumes incarnation and excarnation of an individual spirit in a body. To me, there’s no sharp separation between the two. That is not to say that I don’t believe in ghosts, past life memories, visions of the future or out-of-body experiences, but I interpret them differently. My outlook on space, time and life differ, I believe, from the status quo of, let’s call it Western Reincarnation Theory. I think it’s an interesting topic, so I’ll try to explain my point of view here, starting with some examples.

Let’s start with ghosts, they’re one of the trickiest subjects. Haunted houses, dead people walking or even just the feeling that something heavy is trying to tell you something, but you can’t quite catch what it is. Some perceive it, others don’t. To me, ghosts are a charge, released by a living person during their lifetime. It can be mental, emotional or spiritual, so let’s just call it a psychosomatic charge. Imagine Lonely Jack, who constantly sits in his living room, complaining to himself about the woman he never had, the job he missed and the choices he never made. I believe this guy can leave a footprint on his living room for as long as he’s alive. Then, once he’s dead, new inhabitants could still perceive this footprint as a ghost.

Would that footprint be self-conscious? One might ask. My answer would be: only to the extent to which the complaining is self-conscious, which is not that much at all. I don’t believe that the charge is Lonely Jack himself, I’d say it’s what he’s left behind. Then again, I do believe it is possible to send extracts of awareness into, for example, the furniture we possess, and make it look back at you. Or at another, when you’re not around. We can charge our surroundings with thoughts the way our surroundings can charge us with thoughts. Thus, some parts of us can live on. If others interact with those they empower them, and the bits of us empower those who interact.

Another typical proof for reincarnation and the separation between body and soul is the memory of past lives. The reasoning: since I experienced being in the past, apparently “I” have lived past lives. I value the occurrence of such experiences, but they don’t necessarily point to reincarnation. I see them as bridges between eras. Between lives if you will. Like meeting someone in the tram, but different. Sometimes, psychosomatic charges find their way through “wormholes” in such a strength that they invoke the “I” sensation upon the perceiver. To me, they really are just messages from the past with relevance for the listener of today. Think about it this way: you were a different person as a kid, but the aspect of “I” hasn’t changed. Ask the oldest person you know about this, and he or she will tell you there’s no difference between being old and being young. Nevertheless, all molecules have alternated time after time, lessons have been learned and forgotten, and the body has evolved and worn out. Throughout a single lifetime, we are many different people, but we don’t perceive it that way. Then why is it so hard to believe that temporarily being a different person would feel differently than being yourself?

The topic of future visions is similar. I believe that the general consensus there is that they are impossible, yet if they occur, they pass through the spirit world , mediated by beings who reside there because they have reincarnated many times. I believe the moment or vision that is foreseen is simply very psychosomatically charged, and therefore radiates back in time. Perhaps the meaning gives the charge, and the need for meaning on the other side the attraction. Metaphysical pressure differences, so to speak.

Out of body experiences? To me they are instants of high psychosomatic charge in the body, where the mind bridges space in the same way as it could bridge time. The fact that the people see and hear things in this different space, I believe, is a way for the mind to accommodate itself when away from the body. But I still think the phenomenon is powered by the life force inside the body of the one who perceives it as “him or herself being out of his or her body”.

So, if not in life after death, what do I believe in? I believe that there’s only one core soul, which is hidden deep inside all of us. Time, space and basically all rules an limits we take for granted are expressions of that soul. I think it created them all for fun. So are our bodies. Without our bodies, we would just be that one soul, undivided and forever, free from the illusions of existence we’ve created all around us. We are borrowing our bodies, our spirits and our minds from this big shared illusion, and when we die we give what we borrowed back.

Don’t ask me how that would feel by the way, I wouldn’t know.

Marrying words

It just dawned on me that words, in fact, are an experience. Rewind? Okay.

I am adjusting a scientific article on spiritual experiences in nature. One of the central problems is the definition of the word ‘spiritual’. It has so many meanings! It all depends on who describes it. Some authors have the courage to define it as something ‘non dual’. They say that within a spiritual experience, there is no connection between a person and God, because there is no distinction between them.

One can dismiss those words as elitary blah blah, but whoever does that ignores the fact that every word manifests itself as an experience to the one who uses it. He denies the experience of another. It is the same with words such as God or Allah. The user experiences them and they are therefore meaningful.

This is an essential insight for a frequent writer such as myself. It might be one of my core drives. Writing, for me is about letting go, about enjoying the ride. It’s about discovering my relationship to the words, separately and combined. And I invite you as a reader to do the same.

So how did I get entangled in this quest to pin down ‘spirituality’ as a truth seeker? It seems paradoxical to look for objectivity in a place where the topic cannot exist without the lived, personal world. But it’s a beautiful paradox, because the role of the truth seeker brings me to a new experience of the word ‘spiritual’. As a scientist, you have to believe that words have a certain objective meaning in order to create a valid story. Even if only temporary, you have to believe in order to be believed. In that sense, science is not more than a theatrical act, an impersonation of ‘the objective’. And by impersonating the objective, we get into a closer relationship with the word ‘objective’. A word that cannot exist outside of our experience of it.

The relation we ultimately have to our words defines our communication. The more we cling to the word, the more intimately we experience it and the harder we are willing to fight for it. It makes sense, because the way in which we experience our words makes us who we are.

Wiggle

In the series of ascribing names to emotions I know no name for, I’d like to discuss ‘wiggle’. Now, wiggle is not a new word, it has been used mainly for wavy physical movement, sometimes with sexual connotations when done with the ass. Yet it fits excellently.

I think that the best way to grasp wiggle is to go out on a sunny day, take your shoes and socks off, sit on the grass with legs straight in front of you, watch your toes, then move them a little. Not too much.

To me, wiggle resides in the heart. It feels a little like a flower that gently opens and unfolds slowly, thereby revealing its colour to itself and the world. But wiggle is more reserved, it has no need to show off. And it literally feels wavy, with slight ups and downs. Yet the base tone is joyful.

What can trigger wiggle? Comfy blankets, cute animals, the arrival of spring, gentle sounds, meeting lovely people. But the state of mind is important here. Wiggle can easily be buried under more intense sensations, and it can be easily spilled. For me it only really unfolds if I’m ready to receive it, give it my attention.

In essence, wiggle has something in common with Outsling, but it is not directed. It is contained. The outside world does not perceive its effects, except perhaps by gentleness or a slight smile. Wiggle is fragile, it has an unstable balance that can easily over stretch. It can be smothered and lost. Instead, when it is cherished, it can turn more subtle.

But even if carefully nourished, wiggle does not last. Sometimes I think it exists as a transition, a subtle unblocking of something that was stuck. Like a refreshing drink that releases its intensity while slowly providing gratification. Tiny sips prolong the joy, but at some point it will end. Still, if I manage to seize wiggle without disturbing it, if I let it seize me, it imprints my state of mind with delicateness. It leaves me in touch with a finespun lineament of the web of life and by that, it changes everything.

Wielding Attention

Do you own your attention? Do I have it? Are you giving it to this text? Am I luring it?

I’m on the final two pages of my booklet. The first text, ‘Revolution’ was written in 2012. I kept it close for all that time. These papers have grown dear to me. They are turning from a living presence in my life into an artifact on a shelf. End of an era. To make our final union count, I’d like to write on a subject that matters.

Attention is our most intimate tool of perception. Think about it. A nagging pain in your knee disappears if you have a good meal. Worldly troubles fade when we fall in love. An ugly face turns beautiful once we get to know the person behind it. Our attention, more than anything else, determines who we are. And yet we are so unaware of it. So limited in our capacity to use it.

Knowledge. Beliefs. Habits. Patterns the attention follows over and over again. Until bolts of insight pierce them. Seduce the attention to flow over their borders, see them from another side. Some patterns of belief do never crack. Dissolve, at most, when their container treads the grave.

Can you watch your attention? Can you see where it goes? Can you direct it? Redirect it to a place it never went before?

If I’m frustrated in life, it is because I see how many people are not free. And don’t want to be, either. Most believe they already are. There are so few who dedicate themselves to their attention. So many just wave it around, letting it spill on places where others do before them. People in the modern world waste so much of their precious, limited attention on worthless things. If I call myself a freedom activist, it is because even if I don’t know how, I need to break that chain.

Whether something is painful or beautiful, attention will see it. Jew, muslim, atheist? Attention will be with you. We blame ourselves for looking at midgets on the street. Our attention did not judge. It just travelled, as it would, if we didn’t pull that leash. ‘Stay away from that midget’. ‘Run from the weak’. If we let it be, our attention will go where it is needed.

By giving attention to the world around, senses sharpen. They become receptive. If you give attention to your garden, it will flourish. By listening to another with care, two souls will shine brighter. Attention is our pathway to bring the world to life.

Do you sometimes hold your attention in your mind’s hands? Pet it gently? Does it stay with you?

By giving my heart to this booklet one last time, I imbue it, one last time with a desire that does not sleep. I see the scratches of my previous words, I feel my booklet push my pen, I see the black ink stick here, on this paper, for as long as it will. From a far away conceptual world, I bring down images, experiences, meaning which, when I close it, will keep living as a part of me. I try, I have to try, to testify of this potential. It’s an urge that reveals itself in the interaction with this last page.

Of course, attention is meaningless. It’s a concept, like all others. Elusive, uncontrollable. Tell another he is not free, and he’ll present to you his freedom to hit you in the face. You’re a prisoner of your own mind. Hit me. But break the wall between our cells. I want them to crumble.

Have you cleaned your attention today? Thanked it? Let it wander for a bit? Did you follow? Did it come back to you? Did it bring you something?

My last words in this booklet, better make them count. A final kiss. A final breath of us together. In a few short lines, can I still imbue it with something meaningful?

How much charge can you contain before the charge contains you? How much pain do you need, before you accept this responsibility?

Do you charge your attention with love?

“Judge not, that you be not judged”

For the past ten years I have wondered: why do religious and spiritual groups unanimously condemn the act of judgement? What is so fundamentally bad about it that we all tell ourselves and each other to stop? And if it really is so bad, why do we keep doing it? What is judgment in the first place?

In a recent bright moment I understood that judgment is bad at the point where our thoughts create reality. For example: if I believe that homeless people are losers, I will subconsciously express this while talking to them. With my tone and behaviour, I will impose the thought of their inferiority upon them. At the same time, my surroundings will see how I behave towards homeless people and whether they want it or not, be influenced by it. This way, people collectively turn their back on the homeless, and such a person will find reason to believe in their nature as an outsider. The surroundings don’t see their role in it, because they stopped paying attention. Consequently, the very word homeless and all its connotations act as a mental net, limiting the possibilities of those it has caught.

Politicians and activists use judgement as a discursive tool for control. They justify this behaviour by calling it “framing”. Even if the act often affects minorities in the same way as man-to-man judgement does, it is seldom frowned upon, let alone condemned or punished. It is sometimes even used as a way to take away power of those who stand out, meaning it can restore the power balance somewhat. Yet even then, it probably does damage to people who don’t necessarily deserve it. Think for example of the ingenious declaration “bankers are wankers”. As if all bankers are men.

This question becomes more interesting at the point where you genuinely ask what is true about a certain judgement. Some bankers, for example, have played a vital role in the way their guild are currently perceived, and some homeless people may indeed have called their situation upon themselves. But others didn’t. Curious beings as we are, we don’t necessarily need to judge ourselves for trying to make sense of the cosmic blob of information that surrounds us, but we should remain aware of our weakness.

Somewhere on the way between our sensorial perceptions and our mental interpretations of them, our desire to be in touch with our surroundings turns into an attempt to dominate it. We place ourselves on the sideline  of the same existence we so deeply want to belong to. I think that what religions want to say is not that judging is something to avoid; that idea is confusing. What I think is meant is that we should spend time in making an effort to distinguish our illusions from reality. Otherwise they might invade it.

The Mystery of Loneliness

I remember when, one day while I was living in a mountain village in the Andes, an older lady came down from her little one-person hut in the Puna, about a day’s walk up from this remote place. She seemed remarkably easy to communicate with. Far more than most villagers, she listened. I asked her how she was able to live in a little cold hut all on her own and so far away from all others. “I live there with God” she answered. It made sense. “But don’t you miss people?” Then she replied – and I’ll never forget – : “you know, every human will one day let you go”. Something inside me knew she was right. If it’s not in the breaking of your ideals, or in literally moving away, it’s in the inveterate tendency to die. It amazed me that she smiled with it.

We’re approaching the darkest day of the year. This darkness guides me back into my inner world. I am very aware of the motions inside of me, to notice that even among groups of beautiful people, I have always been a very lonely guy. I notice that it’s simply very hard for me to tear down the projections and the expectations we all enforce on each other. To keep sensing through the facades. To touch each other from beyond the material or even the mental, and be aware of it. Because this is so hard to conceive, I settle for the cages casting themselves around me. I even fight to keep them there.

Out of this internal view, I see that most of my actions are attempts to avoid the loneliness upon me. I think I’m not alone in that. Career tigers, for example, seem merely to run so that one day their isolation vanishes before their eyes. I believe that the search for the spiritual is in fact a search for proof that we are not alone. Creativity a scream to be heard by the unfathomable other. Our fear for isolation stows us on towards utopia.

It’s in days like these that my expectations towards others disappear. We’re all in it, struggling to be in touch. The awareness opens the gate to another world. A place where everything is more common. Suddenly, I connect with people on a deeper level. Just as long as I don’t forget.

On that day in Huancaya, the lady from the highlands asked me “am I wrong?”

Thesis Spiritual Experiences in Nature

For those who are interested, I wrote a thesis in 2011 on spiritual experiences in natural areas in the Netherlands. I got an 8,5 for it. I have have written an abbreviated version for publication, but it was rejected for one or two good reasons and a whole list of quite silly ones. My intention remains to publish it when I have more time. Whenever that may be.

Here it is:

Havik2011ThesisSpiritNature

Sailing on Dreams

When you’re sailing on dreams, there are no rules. No laws. Just dreams to obey. There is no time. Everything joint. But that does not mean you can always join the breeze. There are puzzles to be solved, to wander the untold.

But watch out! Nothing is what it seems, when you’re sailing on dreams. To live in danger may be safer than was taught. There are no lessons. No fathers or sons or brothers, nor a girl or a boy. No leaders or crowd, but the sailors of dreams. Dreams are not easy to sail. When you think you do, you are far from it. And when you do sail a dream, you are closer to the black abyss than believed is healthy for you. Hold on to a dream and you crash. If you let go, you drown. There is no good way to sail on a dream. Drowning is common for sailors of dreams. And burning. Being shot in the face. Poisoned. Crushed under rocks. We lose everything all the time.

Imagine how big your children’s children’s children are now. Little gates to an enormous world. We need a telescope to see that from here. Fireworks of inflated worries burst a sailor’s dream. Trees’ roots grow into it’s skull and become a pulsing brain. Up, up, up.

Catch a dream and it catches you. Zins you in your sleep. Kins you in your creep. Watch out! Or it bins you in your deep. Know where you go, when you’re sailing on dreams, or the slow of the flow will take all that you know.