Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I love the cold weather lately. There's a melancholy edge that the cold brings to the air. Sometimes I just feel more real if it's colder out. The wind on my face. The awareness of the wind on my face. Some of my happiest memories are of being in the cold, and being happy despite that.

Really digging on some Pink Floyd lately. Also listening to bootleg versions of Smile by the Beach Boys. Nothing like psychedelic music to make you feel like your arms are rubber bands, your legs elastic, tidal waves of joy radiating from the center of your brain. Standing on the Earth, but you feel like you're always falling, floating in space, like autumn leaves. The cold night winter air makes spiral mandalas, prayer flags of your breath, fractal complexity that just happens, effortlessly. The stars in glacial motion, celestial campfires far beyond anything known or unknown, in that trackless waste.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what belief. I think I really have to take the Buddha's example here, and remain agnostic on metaphysical matters. Does the soul exist? Is there a creator? Does the universe have an origin? By not answering these questions, I, and many others, maintain that the Buddha felt that these questions are at the least unanswerable, in any real way, and at most, dangerous, in the sense that they are a distraction from the true work of enlightenment, improving human behavior (i.e. 'right action') and removing illusions (i.e. 'right thought'). The Dharma is profoundly different from other religions or philosophical viewpoints, in that what the Dharma is concerned with is how to be a better human being, and this really has nothing to do with spirits or gods or any other non-apparent beings that may or may not exist. Humans exist. Humans suffer. This is the domain of the Dharma.

I have had spiritual experiences that are profound, to me at least. One of the things that I strongly suspect is true is that the universe is (primarily and perhaps solely) material in nature, and that the material is in an of itself mysterious enough (quantum theory) that you really don't need to posit the existence of spirits or souls or such. They may or may not exist, but according to all the evidence that is apparent in human history, 'spiritual' phenomena exists only in the mind of humans (or at least to posit the independent existence of these phenomena apart from human beings is not supported by the facts at hand). So, perhaps it is sufficient for the 'spiritual' to exist in a purely Jungian psychological sort of way. To assert that 'spirits' are essentially and literally real is the worst sort of simple-mindedness I can imagine. They don't need to 'exist' to have a profound significance and a truth that transcends literal reality. I suspect that the deepest truths are esoteric rather than exoteric.