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April 11, 2013



There are probably three ways I used the word "spiritual" or "spirit" in my post. It's a criminally vague word, sorry about that. The "spirit world" is the world as people 10,000 years ago universally understood it, through the universal experience of altered states, and it underlies all of the world religions (which mainly dispensed with the altered states in favor of texts, because they are riddled with oppressive control games.)
One theme I was trying to communicate is that there are different ways of perceiving, which lead to insight, which are not strictly rational. One way is through the experience of altered states, others are myth and intuition. Your poet's understanding is good, but I hope you do not feel that it is somehow less real than the measurable and reproducible. These ways of seeing are not less than reasonable, but totally critical to living sanely. What is a "right" but a myth? Some see no evidence that humans have rights to life and liberty, and find it much more rational for individuals to enjoy those things only at the mercy of the state. I see atheists denigrate myth and praise reason and evidence on a pretty regular basis, but at this time we need myths like "the land is sacred" and "people are made from dirt," not scientifically-based management from Monsanto and Eli Lily and the government ("the forces of Sauron.") There is nothing fictional about any part of that.


I'm not arguing with you on "the land is sacred," etc. I don't actually believe in "the sacred" insofar as "sacred" implies religious belief, but it works for me as a metaphorical term indicating something of crucial importance. More than that: a something that, if we ignore or denigrate it, we impoverish ourselves "spiritually." To me that means that we diminish our humanity and our sense of connection to nature and all living things.

I also don't think I reduce things to the measurable and reproducible. How do you measure things like love or beauty or that rush of feeling you can get looking at stars in the desert? You don't, but that doesn't mean they're not real. I never said otherwise.

Really i don't think we disagree all that much. I characterize these things differently from you, for the most part. I do think it's true that one can come to perceptions in different ways that aren't strictly rational. If I didn't think so, I would never have read or written poetry and I sure wouldn't know what to make of Ravi Shankar's music. I have always been exceedingly interested in myth as well. Maybe we could make a distinction between perceiving and knowing? Or maybe you want to expand the definition of knowing. I see that argument quite often. Perceiving and feeling and intuiting are all very human and I don't want to trivialize any of those things.

I also think that science could be used not to lead to Monsanto and Eli Lilly but to steer us away from that. I wish the skeptical movement (which is separate from atheism) would turn a critical eye on such things and help save the planet instead of going on and on about Bigfoot, aliens, etc.

Somewhere I read that neo-paganism seems to be growing and I have nothing against that! That would be a boon as long as it didn't become an organized religion.

Finally, I prefer "people are made of stars" to "people are made of dirt." Same thing, in the end, of course.

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