Saturday, November 13, 2010

It burns within me

It burns within me; the desire to know. It dances in circles around my senses, teasing me, close within my grasp. But I feel that the more I learn the less I know.

I feel that as I grow larger in learning I grow closer to less, and closer to knowing.
It's a delicious yet scary enigma.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Riddle of the Sphinx - a Trip to Egypt

A note from Will: This is a long blog post. But I really think there is something delicate yet profound in this whole story. I ask you to make a cup of tea and read through this slowly so it can really sink in. If you don't have the time now, or are not feeling relaxed and open then bookmark and comeback later. I think this is worth it. Be happy to hear your comments and thoughts about this whole experience.

I just recently came back from a trip to Egypt and it was a profound experience on a few different levels. I had a variety of goals I wanted to accomplish on the trip including broadening my search for the meaning of it all.  First off I embarked on a very fun adventure which is part of my youtube channel. You can check out that quest here on my youtube channel: Ichabod Oddman and the Quest for the Sword of Lightning.

Egypt is a place of power. No doubt about it and for some reason I had a bit of trepidation about the trip. I just didn't know what it was but I tried to be cautious.  The same kind of thing happened on my trip to Greece and the Acropolis. That too is a place of great power and I approached it slowly. I didn't actually go up to the top of the Acropolis until my  third day. I spent the first two days walking around it, paying a sort of respect to it and seeing the sights around it. It worked well and I planned on doing the same thing with the pyramids and the sphinx.

After my travel day to Cairo I hit the sack and woke up the next day feeling pretty good. I hired a taxi driver for the day and we discussed my plans for all the various places in and around Cairo I wanted to see. I had planned on the Pyramids and the Sphinx on my third day. This would give me time to respect the power and it would give Giza a chance to accept me.
But.... my taxi driver told me that today would be a perfect day to visit the pyramids and sphinx. It was a holiday in Egypt and traffic would be light and there wouldn't be a crowd at the site.

So, against my instincts I agreed to go see the sphinx and pyramid right away, first thing in the morning of my first day.... Bad Idea.......

Maybe it means nothing, maybe it's coincidence, or maybe it is something more but while riding on my camel out to the pyramid site the saddle slipped right off the side of the camel and I fell to the ground hard. I mean hard. This is not a horse. A camel is quite a bit taller than a horse so it was a big fall.  I did fall onto the sand of the Sahara which was a good thing and I only got bruised and hurt my knee a bit. But that wasn't the big thing.

The big thing was that the camel, for some reason, turned on me. I found myself looking up at the camel as it quickly turned. It's legs and hooves were flailing and I think it might have been angered or scared. And it might have been either trying to avoid me or trying to kick me.

So , with those big legs and hooves flailing I managed to roll, tumble, and scamper far enough away so it calmed down and just stared at me. - I escaped getting kicked or stomped on which could have been a real disaster. A kick from a fifteen hundred pound camel could be tremendous.

I don't know if it was a lucky break or a misinterpretation on my part but I came though it relatively unharmed. And I rode a horse the rest of the way to the Pyramids and Sphinx.

After that whole thing happened and I had time to think  the whole trip changed for the best. I had an uneasy feeling about the whole trip going alll the way back to the states. And getting that incident behind me gave me the feeling that I had passed through something and the rest of the trip would be ok. And I was right. The rest of the trip was great. I felt like a weight had been lifted from me and everything was now ok.

Finally Conferring with the Sphinx

I made my plans to go back to the Sphinx and Pyramids on a later day like I had originally intended. I wanted, in particular, just to sit with the sphinx and talk, ask questions.  But a funny thing happened to me along the way to that fourth day.

I spent those  days in a hired taxi. It was a great experience for me. I hired one driver to be my guide and chauffer for four days. This way I had the freedom to go anywhere at any time. And well, over those those days the driver and I got to know each other pretty well.

At first it was formal and informative. We mostly talked about Egypt and the various sights and how we could manage my time to accomplish the various goals I had set out for myself. But by the third day we had become traveling companions and we discussed a lot of things including his dreams, his aspirations, his family, his career, and the challenges he is facing as an Egyptian trying to make a living in Cairo. It was quite wonderful and while I got a lot out of Egypt herself I also got a tremendous amount out of the taxi rides.

Anyway, on the fourth day I finally went to confer with the Sphinx in the right way -so we could just sit together and talk; Not only did we converse about me, my life, my quests and the riddle. But we also talked about my taxi driver. I also asked for guidance for his life. And got answers.  It was a wonderful experience and afterward, during the drive back to the hotel, the driver and I talked about it at length. It affected him deeply.

This has made me think a lot about the meaning of it all and the real reason why the Sphinx drew me in to visit and talk. Was it just for me? Or was I drawn all the way over to Egypt to help my driver? Or us both?

I can't tell you the questions I asked of the sphinx. Nor can I tell you what we discussed. But I can say that aside from those direct things I learned a profound lesson about people, life, and the threads that bind us all together in this mysterious web.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

That star died a million years ago

I have been working on some telescope projects and it got me thinking about stars and light. It is a difficult thing to wrap my mind around but there are stars that we see that are dead.
Let me explain. You probably already know that the starlight we see isn't in the present - it is the light that emitted from the star a long time ago and if that star is 10,000 light years away then that light we are now receiving left that star 10,000 years ago. Well, we are able to see light from stars that are millions of light years away and this means that right now in our now some of those stars are dead - yet their light continues on through the universe.

Ok, the simile is easy to see and you probably already taken a guess at my point here. Same as the star, once we die, does our light continue on?

Ahh.... nope... .that is way too easy. What I am proposing here is that we look at it a bit differently.

What I am suggesting is, and of course it is just a thought, but what about the possibility that in our current configuration and shape we are not the star .... but the light?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kafka's thoughts about my search for the meaning of life

There is no need for you to leave the house. Stay at your table and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t even wait, be completely quiet and alone. The world will offer itself to you to be unmasked; it can’t do otherwise; in raptures it will writhe before you.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Toyota Recall and the Meaning of life

You are probably asking yourself what possible link there could be between the Toyota Recall and the meaning of life.

Well, my thinking here all revolves around a dream I had last night about the Recall.  In my dream I had a toyota and I was with some people and we were trying to get my car in for the recall. Well, the details about the dream, although interesting, are irrelevant. What is important here is the dream itself.

I don't watch much television, I don't watch much news, and the Toyota recall has occupied very little space in my mind.  I have caught little snippets of it here and there but that's it. And I rarely  dream about real things or real people.  So why did I dream about the Toyota Recall?

Well, Is it possible that dreaming isn't just a personal event? Is it possible that there is something going on here? At any one time there are an awful lot of people asleep. They are all in that nether world of sleep and dreams. And if you look at it sideways there is this wave of sleep that washes over the planet, following after the sun.

It's kind of bizarre, yet amazing. If you could do a real time google map of the world as it spins and note the masses of people as they fall asleep it would appear to be this blanket of darkness that just follows around after the sun, people falling asleep in a sort of wave that just perpetually follows the setting of the sun.

Is there something going on there? Did I dream about the Toyota Recall because an awful lot of the world is thinking about it - dreaming about it?

Ok, I don't know why I chose this but this is what I am going to do. Tonight, before I sleep I am going to think about pomegranates. I will contemplate the flavor, look and concept of the pomegranate.

And now that I have planted that seed in your mind let me know what happens. If you have a pomegranate dream tonight send me a comment or email.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Butterflies and Karasses

I watched a Nova special last night called "The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies". In short it tells about how four generations of butterlies make their way across 2,000  miles in a migration between Mexico and Canada. (and back again).

A couple of things struck me about this. First off, yes, it is quite an accomplishment but the fact that is a repeating multi-generational cycle really got me thinking.

Here is a rough sketch of how this multi-generational task happens:
The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies
Generation 1 leaves mexico and adventures into the US and dies along the journey
Generation 2 continues the northward quest
Generation 3 continues northward into Canada and finds the final destination
Generation 4 makes the trek all the way back from Canada to Mexico

Each generation does it's thing and lives it's life as it was "supposed to". And each generation is a critical component of a successful whole, yet totally unaware of the grand plan of the whole thing. ( I can't really speak to the philosphy, wisdom, or Omniscience of butterflies but it's a good guess that they are unaware of the plan)

You can probably see the simile coming but doesn't this seem like it could be plausible when it comes to us human beings? 

Is there a grand plan that we are only a part of?  A plan that spans more than the 80 or so years of one life?

If that is the case then it begs the question of whether or not I will be able to appreciate this "Grand Plan". Will I still be around as it continues it's unfolding? Or will I have just been food in a spider web somewhere between Mexico and Canada.

It brings to mind Vonnegut's concept of the Karass.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

yes, no, maybe so, and I dunno

I have talked about the importance of asking the right question when it comes to the meaning of life.  and in this post I want to shed a little light on that theme.

The point I want to get at is the difference between a person finding and having meaning in their life and something that has been called "Transcendant or Cosmic Meaning".

This branching sheds light onto exactly what I am driving at here.

Everybody finds meaning and meanings in their life. I don't have anything to add to that. That is something defined by the individual. What I am searching for is the possibility that there is a "transcendant" meaning to all of this.

So far I have been able to boil it down to a question that can be asked several ways. Here are two examples:

 "Is there a transcendant meaning to all of existence? "or "Why do we and the universe exist?"

Nice, Now we have two options:

1. No
2. Yes

And of course there is always the fine art of  dodging  the question which gives us some possibilities:

3. Yes... but
4. dunno

This transcendant meaning is something that people have wrestled with for a long time. Here are some proposed answers to the question:
  • Nietzsche (NO): He believed that life had no transcendant meaning but humans can create their own meanings.  This is very much in line with existentialism.
  • Frankl (YES): Believed that transcendant meaning was something that humans could not create. But they could discover it.
  • Many Religions (YES, But...): Believe that there is a transcendant meaning but it is not possible for humans to understand it.
  • Albert Camus: (dunno):"I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I cannot know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it."
Let me leave you with a Stephen Hawking quote

 "If we find the answer to that, (why it is that we and the universe exist), it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would know the mind of God."

hmmm... the search continues..
Am I still at square one?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I get the distinct feeling...

I get the distinct feeling that there is something we are not understanding; that there is a secret we are not perceiving. An angle we are not viewing....

Part of the riddle and the question we have to ask is whether or not this lack is by design, happenstance, chance, inability or something else.

You know I might possibly be ok with it if it's design, happenstance, chance, or inability. It's the possibility of it being something else that really gets me.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Asking the right question

The phrase "The Meaning of Life" has become such an over used term. It's almost as if it has become diluted or even a charicature of itself. It's also become a good source of humor. I got to thinking about this phrase and this search for the meaning of life. And I think, as in all other things, the answers you get are very dependant upon the questions you ask. How and what you ask is a factor in your answer.

And one of the big pitfalls of this particular phrase is the often assumed meaning of "meaning in life" Many people hear the question and automatically jump to " Everyone must find their own meaning in life" or "Everyone is an individual so the meaning will be different".  Some more common answers are: "I find deep meaning in caring for my children" or "Giving to others", "Helping mankind" .
These things are all wonderful and I believe in them. They do add meaning to life, but, this isn't what I am getting at with my search.  The search for meaning in life has been well thought out by brighter minds than mine   (Man's Search for Meaning) .

So, I have been thinking that maybe the words and rthe question "The Search for the meaning of life". needs to be refined, tweaked or even changed.  Maybe something akin to "What is the purpose of life? or What is the reason for life? maybe What is the mystery of life?
What is the secret that we don't understand about life?
What is this thing I really don't understand?
What am I and what is life all about?

Anyway, I have a feeling that when I find the right question I might find the answer.