Showing posts with label transcendence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transcendence. Show all posts

Thursday, August 13, 2015

On Transcendence

(And I'm leery of that word 'transcending' - it's too often an attempt to smuggle nonsense into conversations.) Blü
I find transcendence to be a perfectly good word for the natural ability of the mind to focus on a single task.  Normally physical, athletes and musicians call it the zone, but can be purely mental. The mental state is harder to achieve but can be trained just as the physical state is trained.  The problem is that it can be focused just as well on imaginary things as real ones, so it is important to recognize explicitly the focus of the transcendent state.  The Transcendentalists focused it inward, to discover what it is to live meaningfully as a human, and atheists should acknowledge our debt to their efforts.  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Trascendence and Reason.

But you've had 'transcendental' moments, how do you make 'sense' of them.

I'm sure you dont just think 'rationally' all the time so how do you deal with these experiences?

Transcendental moments are the brain's way of saying: Stop. Pay attention.  Something important is happening here.  Neurotransmitters flood certain areas of the brain depending on the nature of the transcendence and essentially cause the whole brain to focus on the experience.  Some are purely a reward for being alive.  Rainbows and halos are one trigger for me.  They are my brain's way of telling me that I am the focus of all the beauty and wonder in the world.  Rational thought is not excluded, indeed one of the purposes of transcendent experiences is to explore why the brain is calling my attention to the experience.  At the very least rain and sun are necessary for life, and although rain may be an annoyance when it stops and the sun comes out I am rewarded by the brain for being outside in the unpleasant but necessary rain, and enjoying "My moment in the sun."   

The experience is far, far older than modern man, and indeed should be unremarkable for one whose only worry is that the car won’t skid on the wet road, but the brain remembers our ancestors who were out planting, weeding and otherwise getting sustenance for the family in the “bad” weather.   

Religion tries and generally succeeds in capturing transcendence and slaving it to the service of God, e.g. a rainbow is God's promise that Hesh won't kill all "that has the breath of life" ever again, with the not so veiled threat that Hesh could if Hesh wanted to.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Experiencing Transcendence

An experience that is intensely moving is a natural reward system in the brain to impose certain patterns indelibly in the memory. Lets define these experiences as transcendental in the general non-religious sense. Music seems to be fundamental in this regard in some theories even preceding speech.

Such experiences are so fundamental to human experience that shamans, priests, pastors and poo-bahs do their level best to co-opt them to whatever it is they are selling, usually a god. I find any such co-option fundamentally degrading.

I will take my transcendent experiences straight. I might try to explain them in retrospect, using physics or music theory, or training but such explanations in no way subtract from the transcendence. I can explain a rainbow perfectly with optics and refraction. But being at the focus of all that beauty and color is a transcendent experience even though I know why it happens. But I can guarantee that I never have and never will think of a rainbow as Gods promise that he won't exterminate all life on earth ever again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spiritual But Not Religious

Dawkins' chapter 8 - Beliefnet

For more years than I like to think about I have been trying to find a word or even a short phrase to substitute for spiritual, as well as a word that I can nail on a theist that means spirituality attributed to God. I have failed.

I finally found a God specific substitute for transcendent in "numinous" thanks to Rudolf Otto.

But I haven't yet found a word that I can say "You mean ..." when a theist uses spirit or spiritual. So I am left with accusing God of hijacking a profound human experience and generally turning it into crap. "Hey, look at the rainbow!" "That is God's promise that he isn't going to kill us all again." I am not impressed, I will enjoy the rainbow without the help of God.

I think the world is making progress in taking spiritual back for human experience, just as we have reclaimed soul from God. I am pleased that it is now referring to human experiences.

I always congratulate a person who claims to be spiritual but not religious. If they ask why I suggest that they have reclaimed their humanity from God's playpen. More than a few have thanked me for expressing their thinking so concisely. I once heard an echo, always a nice experience or should I say a spiritual experience.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Intellectual Poverty of Rationalism

Antitheism? - Beliefnet:

"If a rationalist is unable to suspend disbelief as claimed to enjoy a learning experience or even a rollicking good time at a movie, reading a worth while fiction, listening to an emotional piece of music, or attending a religious service, but must analyze every nuance for compliance with their understanding of reality, usually material, is missing a major portion of what I experience as being an intelligent human.

The wonder and joy of a rainbow does not need be parsed into light ray patterns and ignored as merely physics. Although doing so after enjoying the wonder of the moment does not diminish and may increase the wonder and joy. Understanding that a rainbow is created by and uniquely for oneself is 'not merely physics' the interaction of the non-rational portion of the mind is essential.

I suspend disbelief in God each time I sing a Mass or a prayer in order to appreciate the non-rational wonder and beauty of a transcendant being that watches over me even after I die. Sure when it is over, all that remains is the wonder and beauty, and I might add the appreciation of the faith of believers, although I do not participate in it. I finally came to grips with the finality of death by understand the power of the 'Et Expecto' by believing it for a while."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Transcendence and the Mind


"Transcendence differs from ordinary conscious states for me by simply focusing all of the mind's resources on whatever it is that is stimulating the transcendence. That focus by the way does not shut off the analytical functions but focuses them on the transcendent experience." Which is why meditation at least of the Buddhist tradition does not work for me. I can focus the minds resources on nothing, but why? It is just a cartoon with an empty balloon. A rainbow works just as well and is much prettier than nothing.

"It doesn't interfere with the reproducible transcendence of Bach's Ricercare (preferably by Marie-Claire Alain) to understand the way the melodies and the harmonies interact to produce the transcendence." Just as it doesn't interfere with the reproducible transcendence of a rainbow to understand the physics of why I am always at the focus.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sacred for the People

"...the category of the sacred really pertains to the emotional side of humanity, while the profanes is the languishing, dull, non-emotional side. But the sacred canopy has collapsed, nothing is sacred anymore, and that which was sacred and emotional has become public, pedestrain, accessible to all - in a word, it has ...been profaned.' -Mestrovic, quoted from 'The Emotional Organization' Via Eric Johnson"

Nope, the category of sacred has just been given back to the people from the churches. Or should I say that the people have taken it away from God. Every sunrise, every rainbow, and even the hummingbirds at the feeder in my window are sacred. The sacred is still there. But you do have to look.

Sacred still has too much God for my taste, I have generally substituted transcendental, for the non-God mediated exceptional experiences that make me just stop everything and simply appreciate.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Worship or Beauty - Take your pick

The harmful aspects of religion - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community
You do not believe in god. Fine. What do you replace that 'worship' with and how does it drive your imagination? Or not. Maybe you replace the god belief with nothing.
We can measure our imagination effectors at the end of the day. We can report how we spent our Sundays. OK?

J'C: "I resemble that remark! (Thanks Garfield) As I never indulged in God worship, I feel no need to replace it with anything. In fact I think worship is a perversion of a natural human tendency to appreciate beauty, wherever it can be found. Whether it is natural, man made, man enhanced as APOD one stops everything, thinking, moving, worrying, believing, and just enjoys the moment however long that moment is. One such moment was nearly an hour long when I first heard Uchida play Beethoven's Third. There have been others.

Maybe a theist can get into that moment when the pastor says lets all butcher this hymn of praise to God. But I will take the real thing. It probably won't necessarily be Sunday morning except possibly early when I pull the days APOD first thing on Sunday just like every other day. But if I visit a friend like Abner1 with original art on the walls I might have several such moments.

More frequently for me it will be music, as that is my genre. I have been known to pull over on a freeway to listen. Once a friend said we can't stop now. I said OK you drive. I will listen to the Pie Jesu without you. I try to fit as many of these moments into my day as possible. They cannot be forced however, but I am always open to them. The best thing is for many of them there is no plate. Like Abner I have commissioned art, and happily pay for live performances that may have potential. But if you keep your eyes and ears open they happen frequently, payment optional."

One of the best things about NYC was that some of the best artists were in the parks. I always tried to throw something in the instrument case if I could but it was almost impossible to walk in a park on a sunny weekend day without several opportunities. There is something about a live performance that connects people in away that cannot be duplicated.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Transcendence = Mama's Smile.

Science vs. Faith - Beliefnet
How does one know when they have 'experienced' the transcendent?

J'C: "Supernatural transcendence or natural transcendence is experienced by a feeling of truth or rightness, which cannot be justified rationally in any way. It might be a work of art that the only possible comment is 'Wow' or whatever one uses for the religious expression 'Oh My God.' My opinion is that this is a natural function of the brain and the attribution to a supernatural entity is a conditioned response. In other words I can't explain it therefore Goddidit.

I am quite comfortable with the thought that I can't explain it, therefore a resonance in the entire brain, conscious and unconscious is responsible. It may be that in the deep recesses of my brain a similar thing was associated with mama's smile, and therefore it was beautiful and true. Mama is no longer available to ask, but given the right incentive and time, I could probably trace any transcendent experience to the one that triggered that smile. Probably for a theist God triggered that smile."

J'C: I suspect that this is the reason childhood religious conditioning is so hard to shake. In a religious household God and mama's smile were so frequently associated that one became the other. If the baby does something right mama smiles and says "God bless you." Or even worse baby does something wrong and mama frowns and says "Sin." When I think of how hard some early conditioning was to break, see Too Big for a Fork? That was a transcendent experience of "wrong."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Defining Atheism and Transcendence

Identifying The One True Religion Beliefnet
How do you define Atheist?

The definition of atheist I use is 'Without God.' This is a literal translation of the conventional use of 'a-.' I do not quibble at all about the reasons for being without God in one's life. As long as morality, meaning, purpose, spirituality, and even transcendence* are not attributed to God but considered natural human responses one is an atheist. Whether God exists or not is a belief not an argument, and I don't do belief or faith. Many atheists do indulge in both, but as long as God is not one of their indulgences I have no problem with them calling themselves atheists.

*'Transcendence' is a concept I refuse to cede to supernaturalists. For me it means true or beautiful but unverifiable by natural reasoning or cognition. It is the 'Aha' moment in science when the scientist knows hesh has the answer to an insurmountable (by reason) problem. It is a natural function of the human mind, or brain if you prefer but the insight was not achieved by the usual rational cognitive processes. No dualism, Blü, the mind is purely human, but complex beyond human understanding. Since the human mind created God in a transcendent error, it is even to complex for God to understand."

Note minor corrections 1/12

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Musical Transcendence

Why Athism? - Beliefnet Forums: There are certain circumstances other than religious groups where a transcendent consciousness may be experienced. On rare occasions as a musician I have felt a resonance with the audience, and as an audience member a resonance with the musician(s) in which I feel I am sharing in the experience of the music in a way that transcends my own limited capability to understand the music. My own background in music is of course part of the greater whole, but only a small part when everything works right."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Self-transcendence or self-reliance.

Cosmopolitanism depends on the acceptance of morality and meaning as an inherent faculty of humans not derived from any supernatural source. David Brooks on 'Neural Buddhists' - Beliefnet Forums: "Beliefnet Forums > FAITHS & PRACTICES > Discussion, Dialogue and Debate > Discuss Atheism > David Brooks on 'Neural Buddhists"