the real net

March 30, 2010

The human behavior that we call perception, thought, speech, and action is a consistency of organism and environment of the same kind as eating. What happens when we touch and feel a rock? Speaking very crudely, the rock comes in touch with a multitude of nerve ends in our fingers, and any nerve in the whole pattern of ends which touches the rock “lights up”. Imagine an enormous grid of electric light bulbs connected with a tightly packed grid of push buttons. If I open my hand and with its whole surface push down a group of buttons, the bulbs will light up in a pattern approximately resembling my hand. The shape of the hand is “translated” into the pattern of buttons and bulbs. Similarly, the feeling of the rock is what happens in the “grid” of the nervous system when it translates a contact with the rock. But we have at our disposals “grids” far more complex than this – not only optical and auditory, but also linguistic and mathematical. These, too, are patterns into whose terms the world is translated in the same way the rock is into nerve patterns. Such a grid, for example, is the system of co-ordinates, three of space and one of time, in which we feel that the world is happening even though there are no actual lines of height, width, and depth falling all space, and though Earth does not go tick-tock when it revolves. Such a grid is also the whole system of classes, or verbal pigeonholes, into which we sort the world [our experience] as things or events, still or moving; light or dark; animal, vegetable, or mineral; bird, beast, or flower; past present or future.

– Alan Watts, from “Psychotherapy East and West”

rare earth

March 16, 2010

By blending water and minerals from below with sunlight and CO2 from above, green plants link the earth to the sky.

We tend to believe that plants grow out of the soil, but in fact most of their substance comes from the air. The bulk of the cellulose and the other organic compounds produced through photosynthesis consists of heavy carbon and oxygen atoms, which plants take directly from the air in the form of CO2.

Thus the weight of a wooden log comes almost entirely from the air. When we burn a log in a fireplace, oxygen and carbon combine once more into CO2, and in the light and heat of the fire we recover part of the solar energy that went into making the wood.

– Fritjof Capra

the false idol of time

February 24, 2010

The politics of those whose goal is beyond time are always pacific; it is the idolaters of past and future, of reactionary memory and Utopian dream, who do the persecuting and make the wars.

– Aldous Huxley, from “The Perennial Philosophy”

mountains and rivers

February 23, 2010

Zen Master Dogen (1200-1253) says that mountains and rivers at this very moment are a revelation of Truth.  Mountains are conditioned, relative, and connecting Beings and are perfect exactly as they are.  Mountains and rivers, in their relative and absolute nature, have no identity that is separate or distinct from anything else.  Mountains express rivers and rivers express mountains.  Mountains are hidden in rivers and rivers are hidden in mountains.  Mountains and rivers are mandalas that have all qualities as potentials within them.

– Joan Halifax Roshi, from “The Fruitful Darkness”