Monday, October 3, 2016



Reminding myself that wherever I am, I am on stage helps me to recognize the stage on which I am about to perform as my home place.

How could this be?  Life itself, for each and every creature, is being on stage most all the time.  Being prepared for action, for vulnerability, for safety.  Being able to sense, to estimate how comfortable I might be. Being anchored in the here and now, the present moment, riding it like a bicycle.  Learning how to be comfortable in the present moment helps me to sense being on stage as being at home.  Where it is safe for me to take off my armor, to know that it is safe to make myself vulnerable, at home. 

The more often I am on stage the more familiar it becomes to me.  Being prepared to perform, knowing that I am ready, gives me both confidence and courage.  Also the curiosity to explore what I am able to create with those, the audience, many of whom are prepared to reverberate with me, to share in the process of creating the art that brings the beauty of the past into the possibility of the present.

An idea that can be helpful in learning how to be on stage as a performing artist is knowing that I am on stage all the time as a living human being.  I might even be on stage after I die if someone reads what I have written, or recounts some of my escapades. 

Mindfulness Meditation is one good way to find my way into the present moment and learn how to stay in it.  I can anchor myself in the present even though I have the future in mind as I write this.  I envision sharing my experiences with you on October 15, at LearnaPaloozaATL.


In the here and now I am in a choir.  This is a complex choir comprised of several other choirs that are also comprised of several other, perhaps hundreds of sets of choirs within choirs.

The most immediate choir that I am a part of is centered in my own particular human body.  It is a choir of organs. My internal organs, heart, brain, lungs, liver, gizzard, glands, bones and other assemblies of cells which, even at the microscopic level are made up of essential interacting parts. Included in this body is the set of organs I use to sing with.  Ears to hear myself and others, eyes to see my music and look at the conductor.  If I learn the music I can include the conductor and the audience in my vision. I need to feel what is going on inside my body.

In this same here-and –now I am a member of a family and a community, a number of organizations locally, some state-wide, and some nationally.
The extent to which they make music together, metaphorically speaking, is the extent to which you might call them choirs. Some that literally have made music together are the Albany State University Chorus and the Albany Chorale.  The Porterfield Methodist Church Choir  joined with several other  Methodist Church Choirs a couple of weeks ago to perform at Porterfield.
If you stand not too far off and look at this picture you will see a network of networks of people who are alive today. But even this degree of connectedness is not the complete picture of what I am getting at. 

And what might further our grasp of the picture? The word history comes to mind.  Being in the here-and-now brings the past into the present, always rumbling and lurking in the background, then coming into the foreground when its turn comes, in the form of memories, to command center stage.



There are several things I want to bring into my mind and, on bended knee, into yours: They are about making better sense of my self, thereby coming hopefully to having better sense, period. These things are my own current perspective, , which changes continually, as I open my mind to my own ignorance, which I experience not as being dimly witted, but as a hunger to know.  Learning how to have my own point of view is a work in progress.

I don’t believe I have come up with any new ideas by myself.  Often I have what I think is a unique revelation. I do an Internet search and discover that much, if not all, of it has already been thought and written about in depth; however, I enjoy a mind, the contents of which, when taken in their context, and in their entirety, are in some important aspects as unique as my fingerprints. 

In other words, how I am connecting other peoples’ ideas is a result of my own mental activity: how, when, where, and why other people and I have drilled their ideas into my mind.  Lately I have had the idea that is helpful to have an ecological perspective, which requires considering myself an infinitely tiny being.

I concluded recently that an infinitely small triangle is still a triangle, not an infinitely small dot. I didn’t think of it that way when I was studying calculus. I learned that, for practical purposes it is indeed a dot. With an ecological perspective, then, there are as many contexts in which it is important to be subjective as to be objective.  I like to fantasize about mosaic vision.

Mosaic vision means, for one thing, that I want others to have ecological perspectives about the same common kinds of situations that we all struggle to comprehend and deal with. This, in turn, contributes to my hunger for respectful dialogue.  I learn much more  myself, no matter how many geniuses have bequeathed their ideas to me. Many insects have mosaic vision literally. I wonder what it would be like to see like a bug with big mosaic eyes.  Think of what depth of vision we could all share! The good news is that figuratively we have such an opportunity, and when I look around and see what is going on with Google+ and other available venues, it’s happening!

The thought comes to me now that the Old Testament God put in the Garden of Eden a tree that bore fruit that would, if eaten, give Adam and Eve the knowledge of good and evil. Didn’t He know that humans are born curious? Didn’t he want them to be curious and fascinated and ethical right off the bat?  Or did somebody make up this tale millennia later in order to concoct a religion with which to stultify and stupefy and impoverish as many as possible, then and for years to come? Come to think of it, they might not have meant any harm.  I think it was St Augustine, the prolific writing saint, who invented the idea of original sin. God knows I wish, in his story, that Adam and Eve had sat down and eaten the whole apple. I am imagining it was an apple.  That is what many others have imagined. I wish they had eaten three or four. I would be as sure as anything that they would have been able to stand up to the Him and talk him out of his fit. In respectful dialogue. Democracy right off the bat! Pointed out to him that he was operating from unethical premises. Henceforth he wouldn’t have done all the terrible things the Bible said he did. Thinking for myself, I don’t believe that He did such a thing anyhow!

When I started writing the above paragraph I intended it to be parenthetical, but it is, at the same time, a good example of a subjective ecological perspective.   I don’t think there is any such thing as an objective perspective. Although it is an oxymoron, an objective perspective is the base from which mainstream academic science continues to operate.

So far in this section I have been writing about an ecological sense of myself. My sense of myself is that I am, as Harry Stack Sullivan taught, “More simply human than otherwise.” I might also confess, at this time, to being, even more simply, an animal. That stretches my common ground out even more deeply and broadly. If I am struggling with what people call an inflated ego, then there is no way for me to resist the impulse to inflate it even more by considering that I and my species are specially created, and that there are ways that I can rise in what is obviously a concocted dominance hierarchy, and proclaim myself to be high on the pyramid. From my point of view the only way I might have an optimal set of connections in this universe is to notice how small I am on a Cosmic Scale. Only when I look outward and inward into far reaches both ways, might I fathom the possibilities for joining with it all, and attaining the value of being more simply human than otherwise.

Friday, July 31, 2015


Mainstream evolutionary biology teaches us that prehistoric humans, the stone-age hunter-gatherers, survived and gave us the legacy of their genes, as well as the lessons they passed down, because their evolved gene patterns, along with the cultural context of learning---passing down ideas that worked, from one generation to the next---helped them to survive the episodic freezings and thawings of the earth’s surface. Those who did survived to bequeath their genes and their culture, and those who didn't did not.

This is similar to how the Emperor Penguins survive today. The ancient human ancestors knew what the penguins know today---to cooperate, to self-designate and accept particular crucial roles---the entire array of which not a single one of them would have been able to handle alone.

Somewhere along the way we, as a world culture, have either lost or buried the affirming vision and spirit of altruism.

The phenomenon of heartlessness that spread by cultural fragmenting of mind would be a plausible explanation. Cultural fragmenting is a quick recipe for misunderstandings and mutual frustration that can escalate into combat on many levels.

Relative heartlessness is an obvious consequence of population-wide subscribing to the deterministic and emotion suppressing philosophy of stoicism. Combining several sets of pathological ideas, and forcing them into a culture, is not difficult if the ideas have a nice layer of sweetness covering the poison, which seems to be the case with stoic logic, physics, and ethics.

In an experiment of one---my study of the history of my personal emotional life, as I am able to remember instances of it---I learned early on to detach myself from emotional experience: “If you don’t stop crying I will give you something to cry about!.” I didn't and they did. Worse than the pain of being struck was the shame I felt when others laughed at me.

I am still learning how to allow my feelings to come naturally without inhibiting experiencing them. In some circumstances I remind myself that I should experience them without expressing them. Becoming emotionally reconnected helps me to be more genuinely empathic, sensitive to and responding to the suffering of others.

For me, emotionally self-integrating is one of the main roots of healthy spirit and healthy judgment. Thus, every time I succeed in making a healthy connection with another person, even a brief one with anybody---on the street, in church, at any gathering, large or small---a healthy connection occurs within me, between the other person and me, and within the other person. 

As we part both of us leave healthier.

The pattern, the template, of this connecting, its code, is gently and sweetly transduced into increasingly enduring patterns, code, of corresponding neural circuits not only in my brain but also in every cell in and under my skin. I think that aspect of the process is what my voice teacher called muscle memory, the integrated and nuanced  emotional experience of doing it right.

The main point I am wanting you to consider is that there is a wonderful legacy available to us from our Paleolithic ancestors that is exemplified even by our present day teachers, the Emperor Penguins, who survive both as individuals and as a species, by nurturing and protecting each other in extreme conditions.

In order for us to be receptive we must first reverse engineer the cracking and fragmenting of Humpty Dumpty, motivating us to, without the King’s Infantry or Cavalry, ever so peacefully put him together again.

Let us not hoist him back up onto the wall. He has a lot to teach us as a whole egg down here with us.


I like to imagine that, in many years, or stretching cycles of years, it will be possible both culturally and ethically to link all the inputs and outputs of our individual human minds in respectful dialogue. A healthy gigantic level of complexity would result.

Although we will be building increasingly common ground in our outlooks, we will not all have the same point of view, because we would have seven billion human beings experiencing and appreciating the world inside and the world outside of our individual organismic selves.

Toward this Utopian goal ( Remember that this is my imagination! ) we are already using the Internet and its many applications in spiritually humbling as well as uplifting ways. There are reverberating circuits of what we learn as individuals and groups of individuals, and what we find out through the Internet and other technological influences to come. There is respectful feedback to be tapped and shared. 

Sometimes we must dig for this, however, when its discovery and enjoyment lie buried beneath deeply rooted acrimony. 

Extremely valuable human minds have left us their wisdom in many forms. and handed down to us of all the great minds that have preceded those of us currently living; moreover, by both the genetic and the cultural route, our perspectives have been and are continually being shaped.

In my imagination the descendants of today's seven billion some day would all be investing in carrying on respectful dialogue. We would make it safe for each other to be vulnerable. Can you imagine what might pop into our consciousness, both at the individual level and at more complex levels when we become thusly aroused? The resulting mutually respectful runaway feedback might lead to what our prehistoric ancestors experienced as a humanwide culture of innate and acquired reciprocal altruism.

We, worldwide, have not realized together how having only one universe, instead of two or more, explains things much more sensibly and provides a pragmatically useful frame for organizing our faculties---being mentally healthy and having healthy relationships with ourselves, with nature, and with each other.

A pathetic consequence of the split is that further splits continue to occur ad infinitum, with increasing danger to the existence of all life in the form of organized violence and terror 

All the Kings horses and all the Kings men, infantry and cavalry, have tried in countless religiopolitical wars, to put Humpty Dumpty back together again---not surprisingly they have led and are leading, to even more splits.

Wars have not repaired anything, but have brought increasingly dangerous kinds of not only mental, but also literal fragmenting, as tools for destroying have become ever more powerful as the earth has become metaphorically increasingly small.

The fragmenting of mind, the fragmenting of matter and the fragmenting of relationships all are aspects of the same complex process. How ironic that destroying and creating are more coordinated than we as a whole are aware. 

The main but not the only root reason for these countless wars is power and control. Who is going to be in charge of deciding who will be admitted to the postmortem universe, for which there is not the slightest smidgen of evidence? There is truly a huge market for another universe, and the brokers of other universes are working overtime to make their own the most attractive by making this one evermore frustrating and disgusting. 

How are they doing this? They, the Brokers, are doing it at least in part by encouraging an increasing number of poor and undereducated, discouraging sex education, masturbating and birth control.

They have done nothing to foster the right to quality of life of those already alive;
moreover, in the late middle ages and the Enlightenment, nobility and other privileged previously heavy contributors invested their resources in the quality of their own lives on this earth. The brokers of the other universe discovered that they would do better financially by increasing the population of poverty.

They found that an ever increasing number of poor and undereducated human beings constitute a more fruitful financial base. The frustrated poor contribute smaller sums but more of them, to buy their ticket and that of their deceased relatives, into the other universe or heaven.

Moreover, having rooted the integrating of supernatural religion and political power, first dreamed of by Roman Emperor Constantine in the early fourth century, widely and deeply into this earth's populations.

These many problems have been pointed out  by philosophers, poets, theologians and scientists, both gradually and episodically, over the past several centuries, but not with enough influence to bring the answers and their importance sufficiently into awareness in far enough reaches of culture, not just that of the United States, but of the entire world’s.

Our collective mind is hungry to be investigated and understood. There are already many relatively healthy minds connecting with each other and capable of bringing about the quality and extent of increasingly respectful and loving dialogue. In other words, there is the possibility of hope for optimal levels of goodwill, optimism,power and control,safety, trust, mutual respect, boundaries and limits, not only for us humans, but also throughout our context of Mother Nature.

The solutions are being found in recipes for ethical living at all levels of existence and for living with others and with yourself, at the human level.

The split in science has been much more recent, dating from the influence of Rene Descartes, who, using logic and sleight of word to separate his mind or soul from his body, which wore it like a suit of clothes. It is no coincidence that he presented his scientific thesis to the faculty of an influential and powerful university in Paris, representative of the same organization that burned Giordano Bruno at the stake, and sentenced Galileo Galilee to the same fate. And it is no wonder that Copernicus had waited until he was dying to publish his sun centered theory of what we now call the solar system.

Galileo escaped execution by saying in essence that he must have made a mistake in thinking that he had unmistakable evidence that the Earth revolved around the Sun, rather than the other way around, and that there were heavenly bodies that had other heavenly bodies revolving  around them in our solar system. He recanted. He had really not seen and recorded what could have been a particular example of a more general pattern that pervaded the universe, as he viewed the four closest moons of Jupiter through his homemade little telescope. His sentence was changed to house arrest for the rest of his life.

Descartes, however, escaped the fate of both Bruno and Galileo.  He was much more cautious in his ways of dealing with the faculty at The Sorbonne. He was a brilliant mathematician who is credited with having invented analytic geometry. He walked a thin line with what he ventured to expose of his ideas, since doing so would definitely have brought about his also serving as an example of the flavor of Hell. He gave a philosophical explanation for the relationship between his awareness of thinking and his corpus, one that fit right in with what the church expected and appreciated from him.

His soul, he supposed, was an immaterial substance that separated from his body at death, and went up or down or stayed in limbo. He got what he needed and the church got what it needed. Descartes died in 1650, but his ruse was discovered too late by the church, which eventually banned his book in 1663.

This idea of an immaterial substance was not embraced by the scientific community that followed several years later with the Enlightenment, in Scotland, England and France. With Empiricism The soul was swept under the carpet, in what became known as eliminative materialism. Along with the soul went the mind, including affective experience.  Both are still formally lost, as far as mainstream reductionist science is concerned.

Science and religion are both suffering from blurred vision when it comes to seeing how the universe fits together. Religion is afflicted with diplopia and Science with monocular vision.  Each desperately needs the other. All of nature, including humanity, is eager for this healthy relationship to begin.

Once again, an ecological perspective in an educated population, hungry to solve more of the tremendous and fascinating mystery available for all to experience and explore, to know evermore deeply and reverently.


Conceiving of mental process leads us toward thinking with, about, and at a higher level of complexity than either matter or energy or matter and energy.

An example of a higher level of complexity is 2015 Ford F-150 Truck. which is built by ever so many generations of curious and motivated people with much imagination, many material parts as well as much labor feeding into the process, like roots into a tree.

The auto as a whole cannot be grasped as a function of its parts without the parts being imagined or actually viewed as assembled. The parts are ideally imagined as belonging to subsystems, such as the ignition system, the transmission system, the energy system, the emission system, the safety system, the executive system (driver) and so on.

All of of these subsystems connect to become progressively higher systems, up to the level of automobile itself.  

My sharing these ideas with you constitutes an even higher level of mental system, one that includes both you and me—about the automobile—as another perspective of what I understand is a complex system.

The auto can, moreover, be understood as only a tiny part of a system of assembled elements of a system of transportation. The latter includes not only a number of cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, all manner of watercraft, bicycles, motorcycles, rickshaws, wheelbarrows, pushcarts and carriages, horses, donkeys, roller skates and other vehicles, but also the aggregate of human beings who were and are bringing them into existence.

This complex system—of assembled vehicles, fuel, people, tracks, dirt roads, canals and highways, baggage, rules, transportation safety agents, supply and demand (and you can probably list countless more variables)—moves along on a yet higher level of complexity.

That level is mind. Not an individual human mind, of course, but the complex mind of minds that have been occurring and operating across generations processing information having its particular focus on how best to move.

From this you can see that parts tell us much that is useful, as we learn that they are connected in sensible, useful ways. The same holds true about how minds come about and how they are connected.

If we focus on the automobile’s engine and spend all our attention attempting to discover how it is constructed, we will be remiss.

We don’t find any more of our mind in our brains than we find of the automobile in its engine; moreover, I find “the rest” of my mind in my brain’s connecting with my eyes and ears and skin and nose and the body, but also with my ever-changing world outside. Sometimes my world changes because I change it; nevertheless, it is obviously always changing without any prompting from me.

So what is a healthy mind? One way of looking at would be that it is an information processing system. Another way would be that it is a set of ideas. Could it be both? An information processing system based on a set of progressively clever premises?

At any rate, healthy ideas are evolving within individuals and within cultures, toward the hopeful end of being ever more useful.

A marriage or other social relationship cannot be grasped as simply an arrangement of matter and energy. It is a relationship that we are able to grasp of many elements if we know how they are connected: If we know nature’s rules. The laws of physics are just the tip of the iceberg.

A basic rule is that mind, mental process, is transported on encoded patterns of matter and energy. Unwittingly, we creatures are transported into a living system through the latter’s ability to make sense of the codes of warnings, instructions, and advice that impinge on sensors that the system has taken millions of years to evolve. Mental process can be understood as depending on matter and energy, but it doesn’t occupy space. The code and its transformations across interfaces do travel across space.

The levels of complexity that result from healthy connecting of communities, and aggregates of communities, contain the potential for healthy affiliating at even higher levels of social organization than we currently experience. We are descendants of primal cells that by the fact of their continuing lineage signify a fundamentally wholesome and respectful interacting of their organelles.

At many levels, there is fragility and disaster, creating setbacks and obstacles to be overcome. Although matter can’t be created or destroyed, it is possible that we might seek, discover, and create popular avenues for experiencing increasingly successful and rewarding approaches to closeness and reverence for this primal intelligence.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Years ago I witnessed shameless ignorance innocently modeled at a conference in medical school. A visiting professor asked questions for which everyone thought they knew the answers. It was about red blood cells. Even the first year students were laughing. I guess everyone, I included, thought these were rhetorical (theatrical) questions.
But the professor was serious. He didn’t know the answers to his questions. Many of the rest of us thought we did!
Perhaps this was nothing new for him, asking questions unabashed. Think about it though. What a resource he had in the conferences he routinely attended, of  many bright also resourceful scholarly types.
He succeeded in bringing the conference to what was for me a previously unreached and important level of arousal. Something about his manner led us to put our minds together in a kind of mutually respectful dialogue in which no one, it seems, suffered from stage fright.  Several curious, respectful people contributed to the conversation that followed.
Shared perspectives create a super or meta mind, one that brings significant discovery. When shy people venture to share of that which only they are aware, doors are opened.
Now I am thinking that what happened was his making it safe for everyone else to be vulnerable.
I think most of us can remember groups at reunions, marriages, and funerals pooling what we remember and creating something  like putting a puzzle together.
The hunger we have to recreate and realign and be happy and be sad, without prompting, arouses in the the whole being  the spirit of ignorance that over rides shame.
How we value our personal emotional experience and making it known begins when we are babies, and is determined by the responses we receive from the other human beings in our personal world. Everything we do when with another person, whether or not we are doing it in an attempt to relate to that other person, has potential consequences for shaping our mental development.
Emotional self-acceptance is a critically important part of what it takes to seek, discover, and create a universe that affords confidence, courage, judgment, passion, and curiosity.
A satisfying of curiosity might have some necessarily scary aspects, since as you satisfy your curiosity you could be leaving the prevalent culture making you different from others, in aspects that might lead to your being at least looked at askance. Taking care about what you express with whom you consider making yourself vulnerable, in these respects, will mitigate this danger.
Healthy judgment depends on learning from our own as well as others’ successes and mistakes. Emotional arousal--- mental alertness, is necessary to increase the amplitude and frequency of past as well as current reminders that point to possible or probable current and future danger. What is boring puts us to sleep, where we can dream something interesting.  
What is interesting wakes us  up.  Sometimes the difference in whether something is interesting or boring depends on whether I understand, can make sense of what I am attempting to comprehend.  Many times it is necessary to stay in a situation for a while, to understand the language or the jargon.
With mathematics you can’t just jump into the middle of something, for instance like calculus or differential equations, but first learn considerable background.
If your curiosity is sufficiently aroused and if you are confident and willing to clear a space in your life for it, you will learn the background necessary for you to grasp and understand calculus or molecular biology or how to make a nine layer cake without the top layers sliding off as you serve it. ( I gave up!)