by Nelson Daily staff on May 13 2013
by Adrian Barnes on May 13 2013
Advanced polling turn-out mirrors 2009 numbers in Kootenay West/ Kootenay East boasts better numbersby Kyra Hoggan on May 13 2013
by Nelson Daily Sports on May 13 2013
Slocan Valley Vendettas knock off Salmo to register inaugural victory; Rossland/Trail too hot to handle for Castlegar Dam Cityby Nelson Daily Sports on May 13 2013
by John King on Thursday May 16 2013
by Kyra Hoggan on Wednesday May 15 2013
by Andre Carrel on Tuesday May 14 2013
by Charles Jeanes on Tuesday May 14 2013
by Adrian Barnes on Monday May 13 2013
Who are you: What story do you tell yourself?
I am currently facing a challenge in my own mind, as I confront a question with my granddaughter. Why does it seem important to teach children about the reality or falsity of elves, fairies, nature elementals , and other spirit beings? What should I say when she says “Are they real?” She also tells me at times, “I don’t believe in them.” Yet she loves stories about them. So do adults. Why else are Tolkien and Rowling such popular authors?
Once upon a time, when I was not much older than she (six) I lived in a culture that exalted scientific, mathematical certainty and poured scorn on superstitions like astrology, Tarot cards, and magic. So, I was arrogant about my knowledge, and proud to say I laughed at believers in God, Santa, or ghosts.
This being Nelson, I am sure I have to say little about the resurgence of Nature-enchantment and old non-Christian quasi-religious spiritual and magical practices. If you live here and do not see it, you must close your eyes and ears to the signs. This is a place of the enchanted alternative culture.
This is the era of frightening crises, too. Earth, humanity’s economy, and politics, are on a threshold. Since 2008, more humans live in urban habitats than ever before, anywhere. Cities, according to some profound thinkers, are humanity’s most wonderful invention. They also originate so many of our crises.
It only seems right that, in a time so perilous and pregnant with challenge, we do not act as if all is “normal,” that we can carry on with the usual ways of life we learned as we grew up.
The title of my column, “Arc of the Cognizant,” is my double-entendre attempt to suggest appropriate thinking for this era: the traditions and religions of our deeply-layered Western culture – referencing the mysterious Ark of the Covenant -- and the moving trajectory (arc) of our minds and consciousness.
I bring us back now to stories, as with my granddaughter and her question about fairies. “The stories we tell ourselves” are the ground of our minds, and our behaviours are generated from the identity we think we have. A human being, in the modern-Western age, is in danger of being reduced to biological materials, a physical being with appetites, free will to consume, “free choice” of goods and services in the free market, a very strong sense of an ego but not of a soul – and no ability to think its way through the oldest human questions. Why do I have life? What is the meaning of this existence?
If I knew why there is Life of any sort, I’d maybe know my individual purpose. Modern science as we’ve practiced it is of no assistance whatsoever with the question of meaning and purpose. Our religions have done that. So have our stories: of family, fantasy, or the fictions we call “history.”
Fairies are part of those stories, as is God (whatever you conceive God to be), good and evil, and origins. I am, myself, for the first time since childhood, entertaining theories of reality that are esoteric, even magical. I am blessed to live in a community where we still have open, childlike minds, able to believe.
A Nelson proverb seems to be, “Everything happens for a reason.” Has someone in Nelson ever said to you, “It must be meant to happen.”? Such things are not heard so much in those concrete jungles, cities. Urban ways aren’t Nelson ways; I am deeply grateful for that fact. Here we can still originate a new mind for the new era. I have to admit that I do not look to urban people and life-ways to find our solutions.
Let me share the esoteric interpretation of what reality is. First, God exists. Consciousness is why there is materiality. From the consciousness that always was, came forth the material world. From the inert, came the living, beginning with vegetable matter and onward to the human form. Our minds needed the body in which to incarnate. The “need” I refer is not impersonal; there is a design that meant this to happen.
Obviously this is unacceptable to materialist science. Even those scientists who play with the idea that human intelligence/ consciousness is “necessary” for the material cosmos and came into being (“evolved” is the favorite word) in accord with “the Laws of physics and subatomic matter” will not admit to a design, because that demands a Designer, and Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Stephen Hawking laugh at that.
Oh gee, those big intelligences are laughing at me.
But if you can accept a design, then esoteric understanding is acceptable. And it offers a mystery for your spirit and soul that materialism will not encompass. Although there is not one agreed esoteric interpretation, there is broad consensus: Humanity will move through materiality back to spirit.
How did I begin (a few columns ago) with Stephen Harper and his political agenda, raise the question of who rules us, and ask about who might be “evil” – and wind up in this zone of weird, far-out-there abstractions and philosophical metaphysics? Well you might ask.
There is no simpler way to put it than this: this is the time to do exactly what I am doing, in my understanding of the times we live in. Not to go on with the program of control of the environment, salvation through technological brilliance, and “pursuit of happiness” in the old fashioned politics.
Fashion a new way. Build a new mind in your brain. Take that mind forth to the material world. Help with the project of salvaging all that is best and most beautiful from humanity’s past.
Religion and spiritual questing will do more for you than politics, in a personal way, but do not turn away from politics. When your mind and spirit are ready, bring them to the political tasks of our day.
Charles Jeanes is a Nelson-based writer.