I’ve been gone a week at a retreat. Before I left there was a notion of “catching up”, but I wasn’t thinking that through. I can catch up with the reading, but in the meantime something has been weaving itself here in the encounters with each other (and the encounters with the encounters) that I have not been a part of. So, the color which is added late to the tapestry shows up at the edges. That’s OK I’ve been called fringe before, heh.
Well we’ve got a ways to go yet and I’m still in. So we’ll see what happens next.
I finished SEM last night and then slept on it. In the morning I wondered, what is the one thing that bubbles up to the top? I started writing about that. Then I checked in here and saw what Matt had written. So resonant.
I guess I’ll cut to the chase since Matt so beautifully filled so much in. Two quick things before we move on the next book(s).
First, I am amused that even Brown’s version of solipsism breaks down, in spite of his efforts to be consistent. Here’s one small example:
p 67 (i think, no page numbers?!?)
When a self-conscious stance is assumed, when the perceiver takes an introspective frame of mind, the focus of the object development withdraws from the external world and settles at an earlier stage of mental imagery.
Thus to explain the felt experience of introspection. (And by the way, that’s been a great question to meditate on – how to “I” “know” or “decide” when I am “introspecting”?) So, um, Mr. Brown, who exactly is choosing to take this stance?
In spite of this earlier protestation:
There are two choices with regard to interstates in the perception of the world: a real self acts voluntarily on a real world as it appears in perception or self and the world that are mental inventions. There is no middle ground.
…Brown is clearly trying to have a middle ground when he says that the self is both an epiphenomenon of mental processes, and that someone somewhere chooses to withdraw their “stance” from the “external” world so as to introspect…too bad he didn’t allow himself to pursue this inconsistency further. I so love what he is generally up to, I would have loved to hear where he arrived in the pursuit of this.
The second thing I’d like to do briefly while “catching up” is take up Bonnitta’s invitation to weave Alexander and Brown together (ever so slightly). I notice that Alexander’s view contains something quite the opposite from Brown. See for instance this, which many of you have already commented on (p. 4):
We assumed from the beginning that everything was based on the real nature of human feeling and – this is the unusual part – that human feeling is mostly the same, mostly the same from person to person, mostly the same in every person.
Even though at some level Brown must admit of the same (I mean, he’s doing neuroscience trying to elaborate exactly how something is universally human, yeah?) he arrives at a peculiarly isolated place. Solipsism, aloneness. The universe is all inside and there is no outside. Whereas, something in Alexander reads to me like the opposite – that in a sense, it’s all outside and there is no inside, that when the universal is assumed and felt into we see that we are the universal. So that what is left for us to do is begin to align.
There are variations from this general stance in each case (I pointed out Brown just now). Neither author goes quite far enough to make what I’m sensing absolute, but I do feel there is an essential polarity in orientation here. So it becomes fascinating to feel into how, from opposite ends of a polarity, similar ground is revealed. Bonnitta I wonder if that’s why we started with these two. It seems to matter less what they say than it matters to feel into what is the same and different when certain assumptions are pursued, and begin to see the larger tapestry emerge in the overlap.
So, to that end, I highly recommend spending some time (yes I know we all have so much time, heh) with the opposite author, if not now at some point down the road. Although we’ve been doing some of that here already?
Finally a word of thanks for those of you who have so far posted so much. I am grateful to be able to sense into what each one of you sees and am enriched for it. I hope to be able to interact with you more now that I”m back.