Sounds of the Secular Spirit

When Nikki and I wrote The Book of Baphomet we were both intent on exploring (amongst other things) the idea of the imminence of spirit. That’s why the book opens with a re-telling of the story of creation based on the latest scientific ideas. This account, rendered in prose poetry style, was for us the modem mythology of Baphomet; the story of how physics gives rise to chemistry, chemistry to biology and biology to awareness. Where the divine is situated not in an ex nihilo alien dimension, but right here, right now.

The scientific story of creation, as far as we know it in the early 21st century, is truly mind-boggling. A tale easily as vast, complex and dramatic as anything in the narratives of religion. Moreover this scientific story, like Baphomet, is forever incomplete and ramifying as new discoveries, in and through the world, are made.

milky-way

Space is big.

We can easily retell the scientific story in a way that meets our human need to recognise the sacred, the awesome. “We all have a thirst for wonder. It’s a deeply human quality” in the words of the great Carl Sagan (Peace Be Upon Him).

The Seven Secular Sermons are, for me, the most beautiful way I’ve yet encountered of poetically expressing the awesome truth of reality as science currently describes it. I’ve mentioned the project on this blog before and am enjoying immensely the emergence of each poem (or song, or meditation…the text could be these and many more things) as they are published here.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to interview Daniel Böttger, the author of the Sermons. At Daniel’s request Nikki Wyrd and I have made this recording of the First Sermon. Find yourself a nice bit of planet to hang out on, and have a listen.

“This meditation’s rhyming verse
describes a paradigm
of us inside this universe,
adrift in space and time.”

Enjoy!

JV

 

 

 

 

Push Me Pull You: A short, enlightening meditation

Once, while meditating upon my actions, a reverie occurred where I found myself wondering about whether I was the source of my movements, or the world around me was manipulating me into those movements.

From one perspective, I was deciding to move my arm, shift my centre of balance, place my gaze in a certain direction.

From another, my physiology was reacting entirely to external cues, both those present immediately in the environment around me, and those stored in my neurological patterning and muscle memory from previous situations.

So which of these was correct? To keep you reading this essay, I shall withhold the answer until a later point.

Talk with the animal

Talk with the animal

This meditation, wondering about where the causal motivation arises from in a situation, has become a habit for me since then. Spending time trying to attribute initiative frees one from other trains of thought, in itself an interesting output of this methodology. Other questions become apparent as one ponders: What do I understand as ‘external’? Do chance fluctuations in the biochemical electric soup that ‘is’ my mind affect my choices? Or that flicker in attention when the sunlight falling in the room alters, as the wind moves a branch outside the window; deos that make me think differently?

The old puzzle of (individual) free will vs (divinely ordained) destiny presents a similar thought process, though my version is more materialistically science based. But, they share the same base question of “Do I do this because I choose to or, because outside forces make me do it?”.

The answer of course lies firstly in considering where the border is between oneself and the outside. Once this has been identified, the scoresheet of factors originating in either domain can be drawn up.

My own conclusions to this part of the meditation are ongoing, my choosing of boundaries altering as I investigate further. Some days I can’t quite even believe there are any.

I have found my own satisfactory resolution to this, a kind of flow state where the push/pull are illusory perspectives meaningless in any context other than the human animal’s desire for narrative. Holding on to this perception for more than a short time proves tricky, and tbh I don’t know that it actually helps! Such is the way with enlightenment results/processes. They are, as my daughter would say, a thing.

And then I start to wonder, whether the urge to question this kind of thing; does it arise within me, or from external cues…?

NW