10/31/2010

Another atmospheric image

Geomagnetic flux display - photo

This geomagnetic flux display is from Thursday night over Norway. Photo by Helge Mortensen, found on SpaceWeather.com.

-oOo-

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
on Scribd.com
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Natural events

Ice haloes over Finland - photo

This photo was taken on Saturday, October 30, 2010, over Kittilä, Finland, by photographer Sauli Kosk. I found it posted on SpaceWeather.com.

"Yesterday in Kittilä, Finland, photographer Sauli Koski witnessed a brief but unforgettable display when the rising sun shone through a morning cloud of wintery ice crystals. Fortunately he had his camera. "These were the best ice halos I have ever seen," says Koski. 'They were there for only about 10 minutes and then gone. What a delight!'

" 'It was a gem of a halo display,' agrees atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. 'Koski saw at least 13 different arcs. Some, including two types of Parry arc, are rare. Three more arcs, the helic, Parry supralateral arc, and Moilanen arc are exceedingly rare.' "

In religious iconography, represented in nearly every culture that produced religious art, a 'halo' is a ring of light that surrounds a person to represent their sacred or holy status. Our friend Rob Robb says that he 'sees' people as glowing colors. In his many books starting with The Teachings of Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda describes the sorcerer's view of people as like luminescent egg-shapes. Western iconography tended to depict halos as rings or disks around the head. Eastern art usually had the glowing light around the entire body, and sometimes represented by the image of flames.

The physics of solar atmospheric halos, as shown in Kosk's fine photograph above, involves sunlight shining through clouds of ice crystals suspended in air.  The fire of the sun filtered through ice prisms.

Fire and ice.

Fire and ice was a metaphor mentioned in the ACIM urtext,

"Revelations induce complete but temporary suspension of doubt and fear. They represent the original form of communication between God and His Souls, before the intrusion of fire and ice made this impossible."
The reference is to a poem by Robert Frost and I wrote about it here a few years ago.

-oOo-

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
on Scribd.com

10/21/2010

Childhood's End


Childhood's End (1953) is a science fiction novel by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, dealing with the role of Mind in the cosmos and the plausible implications of that role for the evolution of the human race.

Childhood's End explores humanity's transformation and integration with an interstellar Overmind. It also touches upon such matters as cruelty to animals, man's inability to live in a utopian society, and the apocalyptic concept of The Last Man on Earth. The humans' arms race is brought to a halt by the sudden appearance of mysterious spaceships above all the Earth's great cities. After a week of silence and increasing tension, the aliens, who become known as the Overlords, announce by world-wide broadcast that they have benign intentions and desire to help humanity. As enforcers of peace, they bring salvation and life. They also bring the death of some dreams, as humanity is no longer completely independent and may not pursue certain scientific goals, such as space exploration. Some sixty years after the Overlords revealed themselves to humanity, human children begin displaying telepathic and telekinetic abilities and as a result, become estranged from their parents.

The Overloards then reveal the true purpose of why they came to Earth. They are in service to the Overmind, a cosmic mind amalgamated from ancient galactic civilizations, freed from the limitations of ordinary matter. The Overlords are not themselves capable of joining the Overmind, but the Overmind has charged them with the duty of fostering humanity's transition to a higher plane of existence and merger with the Overmind. The Overloards expresses an envy of humanity; thier race is trapped as they are. They are not now capable of joining the Overmind, though he hopes they will eventually learn how to do so.

The Overloards announce that the children with psychic powers will be segregated from the rest of humanity on a continent of their own, and only these children will merge with the Overmind. No more children are born; the narration subtly hints that most of the parents commit suicide, while their children evolve towards merging with the Overmind. Some Overlords remain on Earth, studying the evolved children. It also is revealed here that the Overlords have met and conditioned other races for the Overmind, and that humanity is the fifth race whose apotheosis they have witnessed.

When the evolved children have grown strong enough to mentally alter the Moon's rotation and effect other planetary adjustments, it becomes too dangerous to remain and the Overlords prepare to leave. They offer Rodricks the opportunity of leaving with them, but he chooses to remain as witness to Earth's dissolution. Mankind's offspring have evolved to a higher existence, requiring neither a body nor a place, and thus ends mankind's childhood. Rodricks reports, via radio, a great burning column of energy/matter ascending from Earth bearing indescribable colours and patterns. As he watches the Earth's gravity begins to decrease, the atmosphere starts escaping to space and material objects seem to dissolve around him. He reports no fear but a sense of accomplishment and completion, and then a blinding flash of light as the Earth evaporates.

from Wikipedia

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 
1 Corinthians 13:9-13

Babies scream in rage if you take away a knife or a scissors, even though they may well harm themselves if you do not. The speed-up has placed you in the same position.
— A Course in Miracles - Original Edition

10/20/2010

Die Before You Die - Sufi Thought

Introduction to the Sufi Path

by Peter Lamborn Wilson
from hermetic.com

Of all the strands of thought, tradition, and belief that make up the Islamic universe, Sufism in its doctrinal aspect stands out as the most intact, the most purely Islamic: the central strand. Opponents of Sufism often charge it with having originated outside Islam, but a close study of the various schools of philosophy and theology, and a comparison with "primordial" Islam as revealed in the Koran and hadith (authentic sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), will vindicate the Sufis' claim of centrality, of strict adherence to the original purity of the Revelation.

In the context of the history of thought, in fact, Sufism - always insisting on a return to the sources of the Tradition - can be seen to have functioned at times as a positive and healthy reaction to the overly rational activity of the philosophers and theologians. For the Sufis, the road to spiritual knowledge to Certainty - could never be confined to the process of rational or purely intellectual activity, without sapiential knowledge (zawq, "taste") and the direct, immediate experience of the Heart. Truth, they believed, can be sought and found only with one's entire being; nor were they satisfied merely to know this Truth. They insisted on a total identification with it: a "passing away" of the knower in the Known, of subject in the Object of knowledge. Thus, when the fourth/tenth century Sufi Hallaj proclaimed "I am the Truth" (and was martyred for it by the exoteric authorities), he was not violating the "First Pillar" of Islam, the belief in Unity (tawhid), but simply stating the truth from the mouth of the Truth. So the Sufis believe.

This insistence of total involvement in "mystical" realisation, and on a participative understanding of religious doctrine, sharply distinguished Sufism from other Islamic schools of thought. In fact, considering themselves the true core of Islam, Sufis appeared as outsiders not only to the philosophers and theologians, but even to "ordinary" Muslims. Their peculiarity, their distinctness, manifested itself in every aspect of their lives: their daily activities, their worship, social relations, and even style or means of expression. Like mystics in all Traditions, they tended to remake language and form for their own purposes, and as in all Traditional civilisations, the potency and directness of their expression tended to flow out and permeate other areas not directly related to mysticism in the narrow sense: literature, the arts and crafts, etc.


Leaving This World Behind

Buddha founded his Path on the human fact of suffering. Islam gives the basic situation in which we find ourselves a slightly different interpretation: man in his ordinary state of consciousness is literally asleep ("and when he dies he wakes," as Mohammad said). He lives in a dream, whether of enjoyment or suffering - a phenomenal, illusory existence. Only his lower self is awake, his "carnal soul." Whether he feels so or not, he is miserable. But potentially the situation can be changed, for ultimately man is not identical with his lower self. (The Prince of Balkh, Ibrahim Adham, lost in the desert while hunting, chased a magic stag, which turned on him and asked, "Were you born for this?") Man's authentic existence is in the Divine; he has a higher Self, which is true; he can attain felicity, even before death ("Die before you die," said the Prophet). The call comes: to flight, migration, a journey beyond the limitations of world and self.

Awakening

Imprisoned in the cage of the world (the world in its negative, "worldly" sense, not in the positive sense of the world-as-icon or Divine Manifestation), man is exiled and forgetful of his true home. To keep his part of the Covenant, to be faithful to his promise, he must set out on the Path from sleep to awakening. It is only the blessed few for whom this Path lasts no longer than a single step, although in theory all that is needed is to "turn around" or "inside out" and be what one is. For most seekers the Path is long; one Sufi speaks of "a thousand and one" different stages. "Everything perishes save His Face"; the first step on the Path is to begin to contemplate the futility of the world of dust, the world in which one's lower self is doomed. The seeker must renounce it all, including his own self, and seek that which is Everlasting. He must travel from things to Nothing, from existence to Nonexistence.

How does one get lost on purpose? Our present state is one of forgetfulness toward the Divine - the true Self - and remembrance of worldly affairs and the lower self. The cure for this is a reversal: remembrance of the true Self, the Divine within, and forgetfulness toward everything else.

In Sufism the basic technique for this is invocation or "remembrance" (zekr) of the Divine Name, which is mysteriously identical with the Divine Being. Through this discipline the fragments of our directionless minds are regathered, our outward impulse turned inward and concentrated. This is the act of a lover who thinks of nothing but his beloved.

10/19/2010

Levels of learning

THE SEA OF LIFE

In order to part the dark clouds and see the truth it is important for everyone to be schooled in spiritual awareness and, according to your level, undertake to develop yourself to your utmost capacity. Otherwise you too will, in a different way, again in unawareness, become a plaything of the forces of darkness, your boat will be blown hither and thither, and you will no longer be able to steer, or steer it as well as possible. Neither can you, when trying to see the truth and perceive the core of the problem, dissipate the heavy clouds by yourself.

You can know what to do or not to do to contribute your energy to the service of the good only when you go on a path such as this. Then you can learn the discipline to go into your inner stillness at any time -- especially when the wild storms are raging -- and make contact with God and His divine spirits. Then you can open yourself to the inspiration of truth by observing yourself with all your faults, conquering all resistance.

The spiritual laws can, and should, be made a living reality on three different levels -- and the higher the person's development, the deeper it is possible to penetrate into these levels. They are: Doing, thinking and feeling.

The most difficult task is on the emotional level. This is the highest level, because, first of all, many feelings are unconscious and you need work, willpower, and patience to make them conscious, and furthermore one cannot control one's feelings as immediately and directly as one's thoughts or actions. It requires laborious work on the spiritual level, self-analysis, and the thorough absorption of spiritual laws before the emotions can even begin to change.

The less developed a person is, the more superficial his or her understanding of and adherence to the spiritual laws must be. This is why God gave humankind first the Ten Commandments. They deal with actions. "Thou shalt not steal." "Thou shalt not lie," and so on. This was already a lot to take in for the average person of that time, and still is for certain groups of people who are incarnated from lower spheres.

The next stage is to cultivate one's thoughts. Quite often a person acts rightly, but the thoughts run another course; people act rightly because they comprehend that otherwise they would get into trouble with the outside world, but it is still difficult for them to control their thoughts, and they often desire things which are not in accord with the divine laws. They have not yet understood that the impure thoughts and feelings must lead them into the same conflict within themselves since all thoughts and feelings have a form and a substance in spirit and thus bring about outer effects and chain reactions, even though they are unable to perceive them as such right away. Such an overview requires a spiritual awareness that can come only through higher development. Thus Christ brought you an expanded understanding of the divine laws and commandments and taught that you can sin also in thought. At his time humanity was beginning to become ready for this expanded awareness and depth of perception. And today humanity begins to be receptive to an even deeper spiritual understanding.

People in the second stage, who are doing their utmost to work on the level of thoughts and are purifying them, are well ahead of those who have only reached the stage of keeping the laws to the extent of outer actions. But you, my dear friends, must learn to reach deeper than that and come to your real feelings, to those which remain so often in the unconscious, which are so readily covered up by pretexts, and about which it is so easy to deceive yourselves, so as not to have to look at what is really there. Such self-deception must inevitably bring you into conflict with yourself and often also with your environment; this is so, even if you refuse to acknowledge the true origin of the conflicts. It is difficult enough to purify one's thoughts. Therefore, to have to recognize that many of your feelings still deviate quite a bit from your thoughts or conscious intentions is rather painful.

It is just this extra effort that God wants everybody to make. The last stage and deepening of consciousness is of course the most difficult to reach, this is the goal to which you all aspire: it is the true purification. Those who can bring their innermost feelings into their consciousness and are willing to recognize that these feelings do not always run parallel with what they have accepted as right in their thoughts, have already accomplished a great deal. If you work on this continuously until you slowly acquire mastery in it, you can penetrate not only into your own truth, but can then find, at times of trial, in difficult situations, the core of truth. Then you can scatter the clouds, then you can untangle the ball of threads, knot by knot. For only those who courageously face themselves again and again -- and here vanity is an insurmountable obstacle -- can gain true perspective of another human being or of any outer situation. Those who are blind to their own truth must be blind to the truth of others.

The knots and tangles are also spiritual forms which are a reality, my dear ones. We can always observe them around each group of people. Everybody adds his share to the tangle of threads, woven by the dark forces; and often one person contributes especially much to create tangles and achieve greater and greater confusion. But if there is one person in a group who takes the direct and spiritual high road, who truly confronts himself day by day, he or she is the one who will eventually -- I repeat, not from one day to the next -- succeed in loosening one knot after the other, until there are none left and everything becomes clear. Then the weak person will not be able to deceive himself any longer either, which anyway was most detrimental to himself and had burdened his progress. Of course, at first he will put up a resistance, because confusion feeds the lower self that prefers the road of least resistance and vanity, practices self-deception and thrives on discord. But, in the long run, even a weak person will feel liberated as the clouds disappear from his or her life. When truth illuminates with its clarity a previously obscure situation, there will be no more questions left as to what is the right attitude, what is just, and what is the right action.


Published on Scribd.com - eBook in PDF format

Christ Mind Expressions
The Pierrakos Transmissions
Book One
339 pages
8.5 x 11"



(copyrighted material)
Visit: www.pathwork.org

excerpt from: Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 1
1996 Edition
March 11, 1957

- oOo -


Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

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10/18/2010

Characteristics of Attention and Observation - the Sufi way

symbol

Characteristics of Attention and Observation
from Learning How to Learn
by: Idries Shah


Question: Can you define characteristics of attention and observation as of importance in Sufic studies?


Answer: Study the attracting, extending and reception, as well as the interchange, of attention. One of the keys to human behaviour is the attention-factor. Anyone can verify that many instances, generally supposed to be important or useful human transactions on any subject (social, commercial, etc.,) are in fact disguised attention-situations.

It is contended that if a person does not know what he is doing (in this case that he is basically demanding, extending or exchanging attention) and as a consequence thinks that he is doing something else (contributing to human knowledge, learning, buying, selling, informing, etc.) he will:

(a) be more inefficient at both the overt and the covert activity;
(b) have less capacity of planning his behaviour and will make mistakes of emotion and intellect because he considers attention to be other than it is.

If this is true, it is most important that individuals realize:

1. That this attention-factor is operating in virtually all transactions;

2. That the apparent motivation of transactions may be other than it really is. And that it is often generated by the need or desire for attention-activity (giving, receiving, exchanging).

3. That attention-activity, like any other demand for food, warmth, etc., when placed under volitional control, must result in increased scope for the human being who would then not be at the mercy of random sources of attention, or even more confused than usual if things do not pan out as they expect.

Certain principles may be enunciated.
They include the following:

1. Too much attention can be bad, (inefficient).

2. Too little attention can be bad.

3. Attention may be `hostile' or `friendly' and still fulfil the appetite for attention. This is confused by the moral aspect.

4. When people need a great deal of attention they are vulnerable to the message which too often accompanies the exercise of attention towards them. E.g., someone wanting attention might be able to get it only from some person or organisation which might thereafter exercise (as 'its price') an undue influence upon the attention-starved individual's mind.

5. Present beliefs have often been inculcated at a time and under circumstances connected with attention-demand, and not arrived at by the method attributed to them.

6. Many paradoxical reversals of opinion, or of associates and commitments may be seen as due to the change in a source of attention.

7. People are almost always stimulated by an offer of attention, since most people are frequently attention-deprived. This is one reason why new friends, or circumstances, for instance, may be preferred to old ones.

8. If people could learn to assuage attention-hunger, they would be in a better position than most present cultures allow them, to attend to other things. They could extend the effectiveness of their learning capacity.

9. Among the things which unstarved people (in the sense of attention) could investigate, is the comparative attraction of ideas, individuals, etc., apart from their purely attention-supplying function.

10. The desire for attention starts at an early stage of infancy. It is, of course, at that point linked with feeding and protection. This is not to say that this desire has no further nor future development value. But it can be adapted beyond its ordinary adult usage of mere satisfaction.

11. Even a cursory survey of human communities shows that, while the random eating tendency, possessiveness and other undifferentiated characteristics are very early trained or diverted and weaned - the attention-factor does not get the same treatment. The consequence is that the adult human being, deprived of any method of handling her desire for attention, continues to be confused by it: as it usually remains primitive throughout life.

12. Very numerous individual observations of human transactions have been made. They show that an interchange between two people always has an attention-factor.

13. Observation shows that people's desires for attention ebb and flow. When in an ebb or flow of attention-desire, the human being not realising that this is his condition, attributes his actions and feelings to other factors, e.g., the hostility or pleasantness of others. He may even say that it is a `lucky day', when his attentionneeds have been quickly and adequately met. Re-examination of such situations has shown that such experiences are best accounted for by the attention-theory.

14. Objections based upon the supposed pleasure of attention being strongest when it is randomly achieved do not stand up when carefully examined. `I prefer to be surprised by attention' can be paraphrased by saying, `I prefer not to know where my next meal is coming from'. It simply underlines a primitive stage of feeling and thinking on this subject.

15. Situations which seem different when viewed from an oversimplified perspective (which is the usual one) are seen to be the same by the application of attention-theory. E.g.: People following an authority-figure may be exercising the desire for attention or the desire to give it. The interchange between people and their authority-figure may be explained by mutual-attention behaviour. Some gain only attention from this interchange. Some can gain more.

16. Another confusion is caused by the fact that the object of attention :nay be a person, a cult, an object, an idea, interest, etc. Because the foci of attention can be so diverse, people in general have not yet identified the common factor-the desire for attention.

17. One of the advantages of this thecry is that it allows the human mind to link in a coherent and easily-understood way many things which it has always (wrongly) been taught are very different, not susceptible to comparison, etc. This incorrect training has, of course, impaired the possible efficiency in functioning of the brain, though only culturally, not permanently.

18. The inability to feel when attention is extended, and also to encourage or to prevent its being called forth, makes man almost uniquely vulnerable to being influenced, especially in having ideas implanted in his brain, and being indoctrinated.

19. Raising the emotional pitch is the most primitive method of increasing attention towards the instrument which increased the emotion. It is the prelude to, or accompaniment of, almost every form of indoctrination.

20. Traditional philosophical and other teachings have been used to prescribe exercises in the control and focussing of attention. Their value, however, has been to a great measure lost because the individual exercises, prescribed for people in need of exercise, have been written down and repeated as unique truths and practised in a manner, with people and at a rate and under circumstances which, by their very randomness, have not been able to effect any change in the attention-training. This treatment has, however, produced obsession. It continues to do so.

21. Here and there proverbs and other pieces of literary material indicate that there has been at one time a widespread knowledge of attention on the lines now being described. Deprived, however, of context, these indications survive as fossil indicators rather than being a useful guide to attention-exercise for contemporary man.

Attention upon oneself, or upon a teacher, without the exercise of securing what is being offered from beyond the immediate surroundings, is a sort of short-circuit.

As Rumi said: `Do not look at me, but take what is in my hand'.