Training for Ultra

Sunday two weeks ago, I was listening to an Abraham Hicks CD. Abraham said, “quit picking fights with yourself.” Somehow at that moment, my energy shifted. I had a moment of clarity regarding a fight I was having with myself. I know what I want to do with my life and I was suddenly able to do it. I immediately quit my part-time cashier job and focused all my energy on training for ultra marathons. The S&P 500 went up. My life expanded.

For the past two weeks, I’ve achieved 90 miles per week in jogging and walking plus an average of 20 minutes a day of strength training. Even some cross-training on exercise machines has been accomplished. No wonder I spent part of the afternoon laying on the bed, digesting food and reading books.

Every morning, for two hours, I study philosophy. I’ve recently been heavily interested in Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Plato plus Descartes plus NASA have given me an equation for the operation of the universe and the meaning of life. Yeah, I won’t bore you with the details of universal microwaves and folded dodecahedrons.

I always wanted to be an athlete and a scholar. This is what life looks like for such a person.

In 3 weeks, I have a 50k (31 mile) race. Barring a heat wave, I am ready to go. I am better trained than I was last April when I did the same course. But the real goal of this fall is a 50-mile race in October. The 90-mile weeks are really aimed at this. In the 50k race, I will be the oldest entrant. In the October race, some people my age will be doing 100 miles. I have yet to figure out that mental challenge.

I was jogging around a small park in Missouri, wondering when I would stop for the day. Other people were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Other runners were touring Mont Blanc. All of us were expressing the human need to expand; and not the chain of pain that most people drag around with them. I’m glad I’m a runner.

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Chronicles – June 17, 2021

RIP dear one

Deer are dear.

Even though I am a somewhat solitary person, a lot can happen in a morning.

In my morning reflection I thought about how it feels to be a writer but never publish a single thing. Is it only in the internet age that a solitary writer would think that they need to publish and also get followers? Why do I bother writing my thoughts in this blog instead of just letting them go? I almost vowed to stop blogging, until just now when the urge to write this blog struck me. Because of the deer, and because of Pascal.

This morning, I failed to make it out of bed when the alarm went off. This is because in the last 7 days, I have completed 106 miles, done because of a virtual race. I knew yesterday that my legs were exhausted. So this morning, I decided to skip running. It worked out that I did not miss a day of my virtual race because the morning was cloudy and I still went for a 7.5 mile walk. As I started my walk, I walked past this deer which was laying next to the bike path. It was looking at me. Obviously, it must be badly injured or it would have run away. I was deeply touched by it’s black eyes looking at me. What could be done besides call animal control?

And so I went on with my walk. When I came back 2 hours later, the deer had croaked. It was laying belly up, half it’s face already torn away. RIP dear one. But also on this walk, I saw another deer with a new born fawn.

During my walk, I got many texts. A man in my fellowship had covid. That makes two with covid, possibly from one exposure scenario in which I was present. Both people were vaccinated. Both thought they had colds. The man did not isolate, so I hope he didn’t infect anyone else. I myself had got tested a couple of days ago and am negative.

The men who do landscaping in the complex finally got around to trimming bushes. The bushes look very nice.

I suddenly remembered that estimated taxes were due 2 days ago. Quickly paid them online.

But what interesting thoughts are in my mind? Pascal’s God wager: God is either everything or he is nothing. What is your choice? Wait. This line shows up in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous in the chapter to the agnostic. The Big Book asks the alcoholic approaching step 2-3 to make a choice of God is or is not. (Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore us to sanity. Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him). Pascal says that a game is being played where heads or tails will turn up. You are forced to play and wager your life: your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness. If you lose, you lose the true and the good. If you win, you gain all, your life.

Pascal even has this line which seems very apropos in the context of alcoholism, “…there is no time to hesitate, you must give all…he must renounce reason to preserve his life…Learn of those who have been bound by you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are the people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured.” To get, you must give all. In sobriety, we give it away to keep it. The Big Book talks about walking far over the bridge of reason to the desired shore of faith (see chapter to the Agnostics). Again, Pascal said it first: renounce reason. Why? Because you cannot understand God, the infinite since you are finite.

That a quotation from Pascal (1660) appears in the Big Book shows that the big book did not come out of nowhere. The authors were educated men. Pascal was a philosopher/mathematician and his wager came up for me as part of a beginning philosophy course. I was astonished to read Pascal after 35 years in AA. Two ideas: choose the existence of God; and follow the people who went happily before you. In AA, we find a power greater than ourselves, and thoroughly follow the path (see How It Works, Chapter 5 of the Big Book).

Pascal finishes by saying, “I will tell you that you will thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you take on this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognize that you have wagered for something certain and infinite, for which you have given nothing.” Well, in my opinion, you wagered your very life, the only possession you actually seem to have.

Citation: From Pensées, 233, Blaise Pascal, 1660, Trotter translation.

An Essay on Human Wanting

            You are sitting there in your chair thinking about what to eat or which drug to obtain and where. You want something. Potato chips? Another beer? More likes? Your brain is used to wanting a fix and you getting it. It is difficult to think of anything else. That is why your addiction has such a powerful hold. Most people want to find something. We are all drowning in our obsessive thoughts and desperately wish for something, some satisfaction of the wanting. Human minds always seek something more than what they have. I propose that this property of wanting something is a function or resultant of panpsychism, a philosophical theory of consciousness.

“The word “panpsychism” literally means that everything has a mind. However, in contemporary debates it is generally understood as the view that mentality is fundamental and ubiquitous in the natural world. Thus, in conjunction with the widely held assumption (which will be reconsidered below) that fundamental things exist only at the micro-level, panpsychism entails that at least some kinds of micro-level entities have mentality, and that instances of those kinds are found in all things throughout the material universe. So whilst the panpsychist holds that mentality is distributed throughout the natural world—in the sense that all material objects have parts with mental properties…” (Cited below).

Our brain is designed to want. But to want what? Potato chips and beer won’t cut it. The human mind always has access to the property of consciousness present in the universe, and the higher-order consciousness continually pulls on the human consciousness. Stop and think. Allow yourself to consider this massive revelation: Human brains are designed to want and the perfect fit for the wanting is a fundamental consciousness present in the material world. Now that you know of the existence of higher-order consciousness, connect with it.

            Neuroscientists and philosophers have developed theories of consciousness, to explain the mind-body problem. This problem is the existence of consciousness in a physical world. Is consciousness physical or non-physical? How and why is there consciousness? What is consciousness? Consciousness is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of reality, and exists throughout reality. Like gravity or other laws of physics, consciousness exists. Scientists do not like to venture outside their supposedly fact-based science bubble, but I can. So I say now, consciousness as a property of the universe could be the same thing as what many people call God or Spirit. If consciousness is explained by panpsychism, then consciousness is a physicalist mental state. This conclusion is reached because panpsychism would locate consciousness in the physical world as a property. If consciousness is not explained by panpsychism, then consciousness is more likely a dualist mental state. This conclusion would be reached because consciousness cannot be detected or sourced with current methodology, therefore it would be non-physical. So?

            Humans have a tremendous need to fulfill their wanting. This wanting drives our societies, inventions, material progress, athletic prowess, everything. People fill this longing for something somehow. Addiction is a phenomenon of the unfulfilled call of higher consciousness. Our brains have been designed specifically to answer the call, but mostly we answer the call with material world devices like various addictions. Addiction to a harmful substance or behavior can destroy you. There are other methods of filling the wanting. What are you looking for in your life, or your addiction, or your religion, or whatever? Is there a hole in your soul? Face it. You are looking for something. There is an unfilled need and you think that the addictive substance or behavior will fill it. Instead, consciously find a way to connect with higher-order consciousness.

            Do you want to find an inner strength that supports you and stays with you always? Do you want to feel accompanied by a trusty power always? That feeling is what I mean by connecting to higher-order consciousness. Reach mentally into the consciousness property of the universe, into higher-order consciousness. You will quickly receive something. It might be a better feeling, a new thought, something someone says, or something that happens. Look. Feel. Be on alert. Something which helps you will come, but you have to watch for it. Then, keep it conscious.

            Right here, right now, think, “I want something more than a fix.” Relax. Close your eyes. Breathe. Cling to your Something within for a moment. Consider an abstract notion of divine energy beyond any religion or anthropomorphic concept of God. You have a spiritual component beyond addiction, resentment, pain, failure, ordinary consciousness. Transform your wanting for your drug or behavior of choice into an insistent connection to higher-order consciousness. Something more will come from an inner sense of something. Something more is now lodged in your gut with an insistent wanting for connection with the conscious you. Something more wants a relationship with you, to be in your conscious mind. So transfer your wanting to the inner something. Stop and feel something more. Whoever you are, at whatever age, there is Something more. Focus on something more. You may not know what to call it, that feeling of something more, but you know you want it and wish for it. The words Something more in relation to your life itself, tug at you, want you to connect. You can strive higher in consciousness. You don’t have to be special to connect with Something. Pause and feel the inner urge. The feeling is there. Discern it.

Citation:

Goff, Philip, William Seager, and Sean Allen-Hermanson, “Panpsychism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2020 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2020/entries/panpsychism/&gt;

Consciousness of Consciousness

One of the goals of my life has been to know my higher self. This project is by some estimations an impossible task. Some contemplative texts such as \”The Cloud of Unknowing\” posit that you can\’t know. Other writers describe knowing this higher consciousness but only after a phenomenal incongruity, like a near death experience, like an LSD trip, like some other experiential extreme, including visits by supernatural beings. None of these things have ever happened to me and I have frequently been pissed off about it.


Because I wanted the experience. I wanted to know. 

So…

Anyway…

I am reading a difficult book. The book started off so difficult that I almost gave up. But starting on page 11, I ran into a series of ideas which I actually understood. The series of ideas lead me to a consciousness of my deeper consciousness. This knowing, this ability to know, is what I have been seeking. What I know is that inner pre-reflective non-self-conscious consciousness; my vibrational beingness, pre-manifested existence. 

I will show here the series of ideas. Each could be contemplated and possible you can achieve knowing that you know, perceiving the non-reflective.

“…consciousness is the knowing being in his capacity as being and not as being known” (Being and Nothingness page 10).
“All consciousness … is consciousness of something … there is no consciousness that has no content” (Being and Nothingness, page 11).
“…the necessary and sufficient condition for a knowing consciousness to be knowledge of its object, is that it be consciousness of itself as being that knowledge” (Being and Nothingness 11).
“…reflection or positional consciousness of consciousness, or better yet knowledge of consciousness. This would be a complete consciousness directed toward something which is not it; that is, toward consciousness as object of reflection” (Being and Nothingness, 12).
“…the known, the knower known, the knower known by the knower, etc…the totality always falls into the unknown; that is, we always bump up against a non-self-conscious reflection…” (Being and Nothingness 12).
“…there must be an immediate, non-cognitive relation of the self to itself” (Being and Nothingness 12).
“…every positional consciousness of an object is at the same time a non-positional consciousness of itself” (Being and Nothingness 13).
“…those fleeting consciousnesses which have passed by without being reflected on.” (Being and Nothingness13).
“…it is the non-reflective consciousness which renders the reflection possible; there is a pre-reflective cogito…” (Being and Nothingness 13).
Every conscious existence exists as consciousness of existing.” (Being and Nothingness 13).
It is from following this difficult trail, including ideas previously contemplated, that my mind became conscious of itself; that is, the higher consciousness and the lower ego consciousness somehow perceived each other. They knew of each other’s existence but also that they were one being. The higher consciousness which does not speak in words was aware, and felt in this world by the lower consciousness which does think in words.
In my words: Behind the existing consciousness is a non-existent consciousness which is conscious of existing. 

The book is Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre. Nearly 800 pages, written in 1943, I don\’t recommend it to anyone. But I enjoy chewing on ideas. And this book does provide that. 

In other news, I am 432 miles into my virtual race across Tennessee. More than two thirds done. 


Thanksgiving Day 6

Don\’t you think it is funny that someone who doesn\’t participate in Thanksgiving has 9 days of blogs entitled Thanksgiving? Today is THE actual day. I have 9 days of gratitude because it is so precious that I ever get a week off work.

Today I was clearly tired from my 30 miles yesterday. Nothing was damaged so I went for an 11.2 mile, 3 hour walk. That went really well. I was pleased with the walking speed and that nothing felt injured. But also, I couldn\’t jog at all. No bounce in my steps. So, I know what day 2 of my 55 hour multi-day race will feel like.

I\’ve had extra time today to think about a potential project. A few days ago, I thought about the word \”essay.\” It struck me as a technical term and a specific type of highly thoughtful writing. I wondered if learning more about how to write an essay and then applying my mind to the practice could improve my thinking. By improve I mean depth I guess. I\’d like to think with more depth and wisdom. Reading Plotinus has shown me what depth could be. The engineer in me thinks of this idea as a solvable problem. It doesn\’t require God or enlightenment. Just study, do the work, learn, succeed.

I found an online philosophy course. Mainly, you study written materials and then write an essay on one of the questions. You can then submit the essay and have a mentor critique it.

In relation to Thanksgiving, I\’ve noticed that the topic of working in soup kitchens is a dogma for a good thing to do. Helping others is often touted as making something good out of your life. I think for me, training my thinking would be a way to add value to my life. Writing a good essay, even if unrecognized, would be a metaphysical triumph.

The Yearning

The blog was silent for a number of days, as I had nothing to say. But now I am on a 9 day vacation, in the solitude of my house; and there is now space for thinking beyond work and daily life. In that is disclosed the purpose of the monastery or the hermitage. Monks and Hermits are those with the holy leisure, time to ponder something more than survival in the world.

The past 24 hours, I have been attempting to make sense out of the first 6 pages of Plotinus\’ first Ennead. Plotinus was a philosopher existing around 250 ACE. It occurs to me that 250 ACE was formative for the human mentality. In a sense, the discontinuity of Christ formed and discontinuity in mental evolution. Many of our theories of God and Spirit and Soul were born at this time.

I as a 20th century American have struggled with many of these ideas. I live in an age where access to information is easier than 50 years ago when I was born. This in and of itself explains who I am and my insistence that I satisfy the yearnings of my soul.

Sitting here in Texas, in a cold rain with hot coffee and table lamp, books and journals, I ponder Plotinus. What am I? I feel like St Therese: a little bird which cannot reach the sun.

I answer in my own words. Words not given by Plotinus or A Course in Miracles. Words based in my life and all of its 54 years of experience. The yearning has been with me for a long time. It was a girl on a play ground by herself shooting baskets. A girl walking. A girl riding a bicycle. A girl swimming laps. A girl lieutenant on the traffic squad.

The yearning has been with me forever. And so now I say the I am yearning embodied. I am a yearning principle which lives. All my athletics are yearning. All prayer, all getting out of bed day after day. I accept this state of being. If it me as separate from God that yearns? Or is it Soul that yearns and I am a function of the Soul\’s yearning? Why would Soul yearn? Still, either way, I am yearning itself.

As yearning, I can also call myself love. Yearning is love. If I achieve stillness, I swing the scale of yearning to silent love, Being Itself. And then I am completely coherent. The problem of yearning is solved.

Surly I will have more reflections.