ARCHIVE. For a list of all my published posts:
This is, first of all, a Thank You for the many encouraging and challenging comments I've received about this blog. I feel like I haven't done a very good job in responding to them. It took me a while to understand the mechanics of how they work, and even those technical details have changed a bit since I started the blog. Some readers have found the process of sending a comment to be a challenge; some comments come in as "anonymous," for example, but they also include a signature.
One major concern I have is that, if there are any comments on the current post, they're easy to miss: you have to click on "COMMENT" at the end of the post to see them. They do appear with the post, however, without that extra step, if you retrieve it from the archives.
A more important concern is that once you've read a post there's no way of knowing if additional comments have been added without going back to it later, so new comments on older posts tend to get buried.
So... I've decided to collect all the comments I've received so far and list them in the order in which they arrived (rather than in the order of the posts); and if needed, I've added an occasional note for clarification.
Nothing's easy! -Sam
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RE #9 ("Exchange of Thought"): arleneqazi said... This IS exciting. Having some very dear, close friends who are animals, animal consciousness is something I frequently wonder about. Before Posting 10 arrives, I'm going back to reread the earlier posting on Gorillas. Was it gods and gorillas? I recommend it to any readers who haven't already read it. JUNE 13, 2007
IN RESPONSE Sam said... The earlier posting referred to above is #4: The "biogenetic" perspective. It's in the archives for Feb, 2007. It provides a link to an interview with the anthropologist-author of Evolving God: A Provocative View on the Origins of Religion, a book which deals nicely with the idea that human awareness, including religious behavior, has roots in the consciousness of our primate ancestors. JUNE 13, 2007
IN RESPONSE TO SAM arleneqazi said... Yes, Sam, That's the one. Thanks, I was looking in the wrong places. I can't enough recommend reading it. The reported observations about live apes brought me to near tears (Again!). An archeological find supporting human participation in the sacred dating back three million years, and that's only the beginning. Thanks for putting us in touch with this brilliant mind who took a year off from studying animal primate behavior to read/study "Karen Armstrong and Martin Buber and everyone else in between." ("Quote" from memory. possibly off a shade or so.) JUNE 14, 2007
RE #11 (The End of Dualism): Kpf said... What a wonderful exposition of who we really are! Alas, dualism is all too alive and well in the world still. Is it possible that most humans will never be willing to let go of the "immortal soul" as that is what will enable us to live forever, as most religions of the world contend. And look what religious convictions are doing to the world as we speak. Keep up the wonderful presentations you are giving us. JULY 1, 2007
ALSO RE #11: Anonymous said... It is really hard to shed the idea of a separate spiritual part of us (soul) as the concept was instilled in us from earliest childhood. One way I try to do it is to look at the animals, particularly dogs, and appreciate how they basically express the same emotions we do. They experience delight, contentment, fear, etc. We are a species among species. We need to get over the idea that we are so special and superior. JULY 4, 2007
RE #12 (The Cognitive Extension of Prehension): Mary C. Coelho said... Meaning of Soul - I’ve read with care the End of Dualism and also the Cognitive Extension of Prehension. Your careful explanations certainly show your long experience of teaching. What you write about avoiding a dualistic view with its assumption that one dimension of things is independent and superior to the others is most important. I’m not entirely convinced that what the biogenetic structuralists are talking about covers what has been meant by soul. I agree that what they are talking about may cover self, person, consciousness etc. Maybe I hang on to the old but I think there is a lot of evidence that there is some kind of existence after death, so it seems there is a dimension of the person not dependent on the neurons (but integral with the neurons during life.) I don’t think valuing some of the traditional ideas about soul means we have to return to a dualism but I thought, as I wrote in my book, that there is an inner self-organizing (autopoesis), in the “emptiness” of matter (something like that, in or arising in or part of the quantum vacuum?) that is part of the manifest, physical world, but when the manifest structure dies, the ordering realm still continues. I don’t know, of course, but are you sure soul belongs in your list of names of personal consciousness? JULY 28, 2007
IN RESPONSE Sam said... Mary C. Coelho is the author of Awakening Universe, Emerging Personhood (Wyndham Hall, 2002). She's using the word soul with a far richer sense than the conventional meaning I'm giving it when I list it as a sometimes synonym for person, consciousness, spirit, etc. I mentioned her book in posting #11 (The End of Dualism) and highly recommend it to anyone interested in the convergence of science and religion. Check out especially her Chapter 12: Soul Unfolds in the Evolving Universe. JULY 28, 2007
RE #15 (Re-view and Pre-view): Kathleen said... That our own "inner" life is contributing to the evolutionary cosmic process is a provocative thought. Every person DOES count. There are enormous applications of this concept.
On the aspect of religious rituals, I'm presuming you are thinking beyond church and organized religion. A native American tradition such as greeting the sun each morning is as much a religious ritual as a Catholic Mass I would say.
This is awesome stuff you are presenting. AUGUST 16, 2007
RE #14 (Person as Process): Anonymous said... Thinking of our inner life as a dynamic PROCESS rather than a substance (thing) leads one to wonder what happens when we die. Does the process continue? AUGUST 17, 2007
RE #17 (What is the Universe Doing? ): K. P. said... The profound realization of what the human person really is, as expressed so beautifully here, could be the basis of one's entire spirituality. May it someday be just that for all who seek a meaningful life. AUGUST 30, 2007
RE #20 (Resurrection of the Dead): K. P. said... Such amazing food for thought! Thank you for deepening and enriching our lives. OCTOBER 14, 2007
RE #22 (The Other Half of "Person"): Kathleen P. said... It seems that we are bigger than ourselves. Thomas Berry describes all creation as marked by "differentiation, interiority, and communion". The communion part --we are related to all that is -- is what we want to hold on to in our yearning for eternal life. NOVEMBER 3, 2007
RE #23 (Ontogenetic Development): K. P. said... It is, indeed, a moral and spiritual issue to pass on what is important for the common good, not only of humans but of all creation. "No man is an island." NOVEMBER 10, 2007
RE #24 (Ontogenesis: Phases One & Two): An interested reader said... Dear Blogger Sam: I find the cultural aspects especially interesting. You say: "With regard to our ontogenetic development, cultural anthropologists have observed that most world cultures (although not that of the modern West) recognize that we humans have an internal drive to experience reality at all three levels or phases, and that (at least in all pre-industrial cultures) there is an impetus to guide members through those three stages of ontogenetic development."
---- Why do you think the modern Western culture has lost that internal drive? What are the results of this loss to the culture as a whole and to individuals? Should there be an effort to recover the impetus to guide members? If not, how can the three stages be developed? NOVEMBER 20, 2007 9:38
Sam's note: I've made an attempt to respond to some of these important questions asked by "Interested reader" in #31 (Integrating the Four Functions).
ALSO RE #24: KP said... Blogger Sam, thanks again for laying out so clearly the three stages all humans go through. It seems to me the ability to let go of some of the received knowledge that was handed down to us, requires a certain strength and freedom and a curiosity to verify for ourselves the truth and meaningfulness of that gnosis. As long as there is complacency and blind acceptance of everything, one cannot grow into the fulness of one's own being. NOVEMBER 25, 2007
RE #25 (Ontogenesis: Phase Three): Mollie said... Hi, Sam. I have now read all the posts. What a service you are giving us all by reading these difficult texts and writing up the thinking in such a clear way. I really appreciate the summaries of prior posts that you give along the way; sometimes the way you state it gives me a new twist on the topic. I love learning where the evolutionary process is going because that has always been one of my questions as I learn about evolution – surely it is ongoing and I wondered what is happening now. I like the part about the resurrection but I certainly don’t pretend to understand it very well.
We were asked to bring a favorite quote to an environment project I worked on at Big Sur and mine was from Ghandi: “Whatever you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.” Another way of saying that each of us is a unique manifestation of the universe.
Here are some things I continue to wonder about:
the way that you discuss evolution, it sounds very purposeful, but the science-oriented books I read stress that it just is the result of millions of little selections and some chance by mutations and by external events like weather changes. Possibly this is left over from old science – but could you still speak to it? I do not read the scientists like Dawkins who are so antagonistic about religion.
you have consciousness being a step in evolution, but I have read a little about Buddhist thought which has consciousness pre-existing and in everything. Again I don’t pretend to know this very well, but is this a big difference in your thinking from the Buddhist tradition or is there a way to bring the ideas together.
Just what do you mean when you talk about God? You have not used that name very much throughout the blog and the times I remember are more in the context of “God must love cockroaches..” so perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek. Still, I think God must be something/one different from religion itself – maybe the question is left over again from old thinking, but it still remains my question. JANUARY 7, 2008
RE #26 (Help from Uncle Louie): Anonymous said... You write: He (Uncle Louie) says Greek tragedies and performances like the religious dance-dramas of Bali, for example, were "not merely presentations which an audience sat and watched" but "religious celebrations, liturgies, in which the audience participated."
The novels by the author Mary Renault seem to me to be wonderful examples of the power of myth, imagery, and symbol, both for the Greeks of ancient times she writes about so beautifully and for the modern reader who indeed participates in these "liturgies" she describes so well. I especially recommend "The King Must Die" and "The Bull from the Sea." JANUARY 7, 2008
RE #27 (Radical Honesty: The How-to of Ontogenesis): Sam said... I sent a note to Brad Blanton letting him know I'd published this post about his work. I described the blog as "a somewhat unconventional attempt to share thoughts about the convergence of, rather than the antagonism between, science and religion" and said that "Radical honesty fits right in." He sent a gracious response and a suggestion for a book I'm not familiar with: "Thanks so much for that great review and synopsis, Sam. It occurs to me that you would love reading the book, The Presence Process, by Michael Brown. Take a look. Thanks again. Brad" JANUARY 10, 2008 8:20 PM
ALSO RE #27: K. P. said... It sounds basically like "To thine own self be true". JANUARY 13, 2008
RE #1 (On Recent Developments in Science and Religion): Molly Potter said... Hello Sam: Love your blog spot.
I'm a former student of Charles D. Laughlin. What a thrill for me to see how excited you are about his work, and to witness your writing talent in explaining his complex work in such a comprehensible way. You Sir have a gift!
Charlie is such a unique and special human being. I've often felt he (and his Biogenetic Structuralist colleagues) have been prophets in the wilderness up to now.
I look forward to continuing reading your work, and thank you for your part in bringing this important subject to the awareness of others. FEBRUARY 1, 2008 9:24 AM
Sam's note: This reader is Molly with a "y," a different person from reader Mollie (with an "ie"). Charles D. Laughlin is the author, along with Eugene d'Aquili, of the original 1974 text on Biogenetic Structuralism, the scientific perspective combing evolutionary biology, neurophysiology and cultural anthropology which I see as being of great significance in the contemporary convergence of science and religion.
He is still at work; his latest publication, written, as he says, "with my young colleague Jason Throop at UCLA," is an article presenting a "cultural neurophenomenology of time," due out soon in the new journal Time & Mind. He sent me a copy; it's 55 pages!
RE #28 ("Where I'm At"): Hi, Sam. Paula Ruddy here.
Anne told me of your blog today and I've been reading entries ever since. So much of what you are saying echoes my reading over the years: Jung, Teilhard, Berry, Newberg, Zygon, Wilber. Your clarity in putting it all together is wonderful and helpful. This morning I watched Brian Swimme on cd in the last of the Powers of the Universe series, Radiance. The universe, as you say, is producing persons whose purpose is to radiate. He compares the cultural transformation we are now struggling to enact to the universe's struggle to produce photosynthesis. His delivery is an art form that is hard to translate into prose. I want to tell you that I can't wait to hear what you have to say about relating the Christian narrative in the language of the new cosmology, your #3 project. Can it be done in ritual? Is that what the Guild you mention is doing? Creating language and ritual to make the transition is absolutely necessary. All very interesting, and I thank you very much for being a thinking intuitive. FEBRUARY 18, 2008
RE #30 (Ways of Being Religious): Paula said... I'm wondering if it is necessary to have a somewhat highly developed intuitive function to appreciate the idea that the universe becomes conscious of itself in the cognized environment and to envision a fourth level of complexity as you do in #20. I appreciate the vision very much but I am realizing that I have not appreciated other ways of being religious quite so much. Do you think there are stages of development within each of the modes of being religious? It is hard to think how we can all understand each other. FEBRUARY 23, 2008
IN RESPONSE Sam said... "Yes" to all of Paula's comments. It is indeed hard for us to understand each other. One of the great values of knowing about the four-fold mind is that it lets us have some idea where others are coming from with their personal styles and their ways of dealing with what's important to them. The titles, together, of two popular books dealing with personality types make clear that great value in understanding personal diversity: Gifts Differing by Isabel Briggs Myers and Please Understand Me by Kiersey and Bates.
And "yes," I do think there are "stages of development within each of the modes of being religious." One of the most basic ideas of the dynamic perspective (in contrast to static worldview of the past) is that there are stages of development to everything. (Teilhard says somewhere that "from now all everything must be understood under the arc of evolution.") As I see it, the three basic stages would be those which Biogenetic Structuralism refers to as belief, ego-experience and contemplation (which I described in posts #24 & 25); and a major tool in our growth from one stage to the next is what Brad Blanton calls radical honesty (described in post #27).
"Yes," too, to the idea that "it is necessary to have a somewhat highly developed intuitive function to appreciate the idea that the universe becomes conscious of itself in the cognized environment and to envision a fourth level of complexity." Some people are better at intuitive vision than others, just as some are better than the rest of us in emergencies or make better caretakers. But an important part of the Medicine Wheel teachings is that if we are not to be lopsided persons we can't stay in one place on the circle of life. We have to dance in each of the four directions. (I'm spelling out some of that in post #31.) FEBRUARY 24, 2008
RE #31 (Integrating the Four Functions): Anonymous said... Sam, the blogger, you have outdone yourself with this installment. It simplifies the complexities of patriarchal churches which have only been able to last this long by disempowering the Black Bear function in their members. It is only when individuals reclaim their wholeness that they can truly participate in the evolution of the Universe.
Hijacking the thinking function (Eagle) by imposing external authority on it explains the silencing of theologians who question anything. May we all awaken to the lopsidedness of things, as you lay it out so well in this entry, and do our individual part to make it whole again "on behalf of all and for all". MARCH 7, 2008
ALSO RE #31 Paula said... I agree with Anonymous, Sam. This is a clear and compelling case against lopsidedness. When you speak of the Immense Transition, I am reminded of Brian Swimme's analogizing this to the evolution of photosynthesis. Do you think of it as a transition of that magnitude? MARCH 8, 2008
IN RESPONSE Sam said... I think the Immense Transition is of a much greater magnitude than the evolution of photosynthesis. It's a change at the cultural level (rather than at the biological level) of the evolutionary process, and it changes our understanding of everything: God, world, person, religion, salvation, ekklesia, eschatology-- the whole works! I'm planning to spell out some of it in the near future. MARCH 9, 2008
AND Anonymous said... During this holy season I like to think of the Immense Transition as our Exodus. Each of us is crossing the Red Sea to the Promised Land where we experience the fullness of unity -- where the Great Mystery unfolds before us in all its splendor. March 13, 2008
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This post contains all the comments received before 19 March 08.
Comments coming in after that date (on the current or any previous post) are collected in the continually up-dated "Recent Comments," which will always appear first when you open the blog.
The most recently published post will be at the top of the Archives, to your right.
As always, your comments on any post are welcome!
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