A Road Less Traveled

If we seek reality, I am told that we look in the wrong direction by obsessing over the human condition. I think that is right.

Curiously, it is also partly to my endless dalliance on the perimeters of science that I owe an appreciation of this insight. Always fascinated by the natural world, I missed my calling as a young teenager when I failed to appreciate mathematics and its importance in the scientific endeavor. No matter, while even the lower reaches of mathematics remain largely a mystery to me, I have made great strides over the years in acquiring enough skill to master and code algorithms. And to at least begin to appreciate their deeper meaning. All life seems to depend on simple rules, repeated infinitely and fed back on each other. Such is complexity. Such perhaps is sentience. An infinitely complex weave, a beautiful rug.

And science also seems to be telling me that a single species on a single rocky planet in the middle of eternal emptiness is not where it’s at. Consciousness maybe – ah, but that is a different matter. A universe without sentience or the ability to contemplate its own existence is a dire thought. But true sentience may be rather different than the dull day to day routines we normally use to stumble blindly through life. Sentience, awareness, even that curious word “information” may be at the heart of the matter but more in the Buddhist sense – awareness without attachment, pure unsullied sentience.

Keith Hancock has been an invaluable guide in pointing out to me that reality is not about humanity. Or more accurately, furthering my increasingly important realization that humanity is just one part of the puzzle.

Keith achieved his understanding of reality spontaneously, and not through study, practice or any sort of religious or spiritual observance.

I have spent many years on a path to understand “reality” but my journey has been very different. And I am not at all sure I “understand” anything very much although, I have very probably achieved what I have been seeking. Or so it seems at 6 am this sunny morning as I wonder at the sheer beauty of my garden in the morning sun. Eden indeed.

Oddly, I am drawn back again and again to the song of certain phrases, to thoughts which seem to me to embody either great beauty, or perhaps truth. Snippets which seem to provide a peek through the curtain.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

A quote from Blade Runner may seem an odd choice as I contemplate the rising sun but the link is wonder. And beauty and peace. Moments lost like tears in the rain. A time to die. Metaphorically at least – I have no current intention of shuffling off this mortal coil although who knows, given the current environment.

I confess that I do practice. I am not so very sure what it is that I practice, but whatever it is, it seems to be slowly bringing me what I most desire. Emptiness, awareness, peace perhaps. Sentience without thought or attachment. Glimpses of an eternity.

A frog and a dozen or so of his friends sit at the bottom of my garden. They croak. Buzzards wheel overhead and they shriek. Doves coo. All manner of things weave and twist and twirl. Plants and trees, birds and the sun. Wind and rustling breeze and beauty. What perfection.

And increasingly I find myself able to become a mere part of that tableau as I sit, an old man in a deck chair, and let my mind drift into a state of mere awareness.

Should I be bothered with beauty? With art? With any sort of artifice, human or otherwise? With frogs or birds or the life giving sun?

Well perhaps that depends on attachment or rather non attachment. For me such things are all part of an intricate pattern, a Persian rug if you like. Of which I am a part. A great and complex and beautiful pattern, woven it seems by humble algorithms which have brought all into existence and which seem to be the very fabric of what is.

So no, there is nothing very spontaneous about me or my reality. But there is increasingly a passivity, an acceptance. A melting into the back ground. A merging into the intricate patterns of the rug of being. In a sense a gentle disappearance and the emergence of something rather different.

I am dissolving like tears in the rain. It is indeed a time to die. Or rather a time of metamorphosis. And if my change, if my emergence from some metaphorical chrysalis has arrived after many years of some sort of practice – well, that is just the way it is. Perhaps there are indeed many paths up the mountain. Perhaps there are many mountains.


  1. These are strange days we are living in for sure. I had a similar observation as I walked the dog on the beach last night, incredible sunset and no one around but me to see it (from my location at least).

    It was (and is) a time for real contemplation, and when doing so both positives and negatives emerge. Positives in terms of isolation with loved ones and reviewing our moral and social compasses – making our bond stronger each day, and negatives by reading the daily edition of The Existential Times (on any screen, from any publication) and what the future may look like and how change could impact the relative freedoms we currently have.

    It’s difficult to predict what will happen after the current predicament ends, but yes individual and collective metamorphosis will take place I’m sure, and hopefully towards positive means and positive ends.

    “Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world. The disarray. I choose to see the beauty. I believe there is an order to our days, a purpose” Dolores Abernathy Westworld

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “All life seems to depend on simple rules, repeated infinitely and fed back on each other. Such is complexity. Such perhaps is sentience. An infinitely complex weave, a beautiful rug.”

    This observation really struck a chord with me. Simple rules governing the nature of complexity only repeatedly iterated and “fed back on each other,” is an interesting way to think about the nature of reality, and the history of philosophy, science, and all manner of theories seem to point to some version of this idea, at least in part, as a means of investigating the nature of all things.

    I’m currently slogging my way through a book by Philip Goff called “Galileo’s Error,” and it attempts to break down the complexity of sentience and consciousness in terms similar to those you present here:

    “We have good reason to think that the conscious experience of a horse is much less complex than that of a human being, and the experiences of a chicken less complex as those of a horse. As organisms become simpler, perhaps at some point, the light of consciousness suddenly switches off, with simpler organisms having no experiences at all. But it is also possible that the light of consciousness never switches off entirely, but rather fades as organic complexity reduces, through flies, insects, plants, bacteria, and amoeba.”

    Sentience seems to have a fairly broad threshold generally, even as dependent as it is on a sufficiently complex mental or physiological brain capacity in order to be acknowledged and observed in behaviors and abilities to be creative or productive, independent of instinctual leanings.

    I very much appreciate your musings on this subject and detect in your insightful machinations that the deficit in mathematics you experienced as a teenager have not prevented you from producing fertile intellectual ground upon which you build your current efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah! A full on defense of panpscyhism which as you know is my favourite theory. It is a book I have also had my eyes on although whether I have the stamina to wade my through it I’m not too sure. I suppose what I am talking about is some super powered version of Conway’s Game of Life. By which I have long been fascinated.


  3. This reminds me of Paracelsus. He believed that the only way to learn about something was to understand it’s nature through observation. You definitely think for yourself and genuinely seek to understand things as they are. Always a refreshing read. Thank you good Sir.

    Liked by 1 person

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