Galette des Rois (King’s Cake)
Happy Epiphany Day!! I loved this post by Sylvie Rochette and thought it worth sharing - Enjoy!
By Luke Sherlock
A youth who had begun to read geometry with Euclid, when he had learnt the first proposition, inquired, "What do I get by learning these things?" So Euclid called a slave and said "Give him threepence, since he must make a gain out of what he learns." - Stobaeus, Extracts
Went to see the movie "Lincoln" – it was phenomenal, and a good start to this month as we approach the Martin Luther King Holiday. I took a line from the movie and a coincidence from my every day to make a correlation of sameness and equality.
In the movie, the Lincoln character references an obscure mathematician from the days of Alexandria the Great; Euclid considered the father of Geometry but little known for it.
In any event, as President Lincoln is about to dispatch a telegraph on his plan for the Emancipation Proclamation, he asks the young Army officer at the telegraph desk in the White House if he has ever heard of Euclid, the mathematician. The young man says "No" of course. The President proceeds to tell the story in which clues us in on his view of the sin of slavery.
"Euclid", Lincoln goes on to say, "had a theorem which states that 'things which equal to the same thing are equal to each other'." He went on to tell the officer that it is so with human beings as well and felt whatever the politics, the facts were undeniable.
(In a movie with so much dialog such a short phrase could be easily missed, but I had encountered the name of Euclid just weeks ago in the recent snow/rain storm that followed Sandy, named after Euclid, which struck a chord because I pass a street called Euclid Avenue every day. Who knew?)
Concurrently, reading a book on the life of Thomas Jefferson in which covers life in British America leading up to the Revolution. Even at its very beginnings, America knew slavery was wrong, but could not seem to separate itself from the economic expediency of an owned labor force and doing the right thing.
Such irrational rationalization, false justification and self -delusion led to each passing generation indoctrinating the next into believing slaves were lesser beings, even when all evidence and reliance on those enslaved folks pointed to a contrary conclusion, and even when there was stark evidence of mixed race offspring and an expedient categorization for those souls as well.
Looking back it was a very sick a twisted thing, that lingers in today's society in the form of so many prejudices.
It is all so sad when a very simple and logical mathematical theorem from 300 BC so clearly portrays the truth.
Do we think when we dream? Are they real, past or future experiences, or just a jumble puzzle for us to reconstruct? Do drugs enhance the processes of the mind or radically alter them? Is emotion really something we control, or does it control our freedom of thought and feeling? Is all mental illness a limitation on conscience and consciousness, or is it just so misunderstood that we are missing a learning opportunity of the brain's capacity? Do we act for others when we fail to think for ourselves? Why is there always a battle between good and evil, sharing and greed, love and hate, peace and war, and understanding and ignorance?
Whenever there has been a move towards, or a period of time in history when cultures tried, enlightenment, the negative forces of life seem to have reacted to counter that progressiveness. An easy example, and still relative today, is the turn of the 20th Century. It was a time of great advances in science, art, music, literature, cultural exchange, travel, growing civil rights, employment, industry and much more. It all seemed to come to a crashing halt when the First World War broke out, caused primarily by suspicion, paranoia, prejudice, greed, power grabbing and anarchy. It led to colossal loss of life, destruction of nations, economic ruin and political fracturing that all still have an effect on today's world.
Conscience and consciousness were out of whack and put on the back burner. Them and us became the norm, and still is. So the pursuit of higher thought has become an individual goal to a great extent. How ironic is it that a discussion of conscience and consciousness would include a conclusion that there are a multitude of beings on this planet, equally dependent upon each other, who, by the very nature of their cultural, economic, social, educational and political environment, are completely closed off from any free exercise of their own conscience and consciousness.
We live between the sublime and the ridiculous in so much of our every day. The great danger is not knowing this; not being aware, and making bad decisions based upon what we don't know. At the same time we can't know everything, but we can strive to.
When we open our minds, we open our hearts and we nourish our souls. We may not find the answers to all our questions, but we have the best chance to. In our relatively short lives there is a relatively short window for maximum consciousness. How healthy we keep our consciousness will dictate how balanced our conscience will be. When we are in balance, we can see others better, help others better, do more good, influence others, support change, appreciate what life gives us and really live more, and look at love and friendship in a better way. I suppose one way to think of it would be to say we should try to live the life of a poet; always seeking expression from a new perspective.
Music has always been my window onto my inner feelings, my consciousness, if you will, and I think if my soul could produce sound it would be a particular melody that has always touched and transported me. I think it sums up everything I have said here and I invite you for a listen.
It tis': "The Women of Ireland" an instrumental by The Chieftains, the theme song from the movie, Barry Lyndon.
Photo: White Lotus by Japa-Chang's, Japan
Are we born with conscience and consciousness? I believe we are and there are many factors along the life line that determine and shape both, having little to do with their origins. My question may not be answerable. I think of the concept of original sin; the de facto supposition of being guilty of the sins of mankind before we finish taking our first breath may be an unintended clue to the forethought of conscience and consciousness. Could it be that our thoughts, thinking process and/or awareness, or the lack there of, are first passed on by generations and then cultivated by our experiences?
If you believe in past life progressions, do we benefit or falter based upon the souls we've had along the way? Are there helper souls, not unlike guardian angels, who befriend us in spirit and in the flesh. Are muses real? Is love, in all its forms, a part of this realm?
I believe I have met people in this life I've know before, some for fleeting moments and others who deeply touch my soul. It is hard to explain in words because being in their company is not an ordinary experience. They become a soft and comforting part of your consciousness and they know you conscience. If I had to characterize it into concrete thought, I suppose you could say that person's being is as that of a true soul mate even if you don't or cannot share your life with them. It is there, unspoken and utterly appreciated.
So where does this indescribable sensation of love, caring and friendship, whether felt for kin, lover, friend or spouse, go at the end of the day? Does it go to ash as all flesh will or does it travel with the soul on to the next destination, whether that be a reunion in a heaven-like place or a next assignment in a new born life?
Then there is the cosmos to consider and the many universes; not to mention all time past and all time to come. We spend so much of the little time we are given, doing little things and sustaining ourselves that we may well be missing the bigger, or even biggest, picture of what life really is. This is easy for me to say, since I am no less caught up than any one else. I am in a box, no doubt, but I do constantly try to see what lies outside of it.
Am I just following in the many footsteps of others who sought out answers to unanswerable questions? Good question, I suppose.
I do believe human beings are better beings if they seek to think and act on a higher plain. Obviously, that only works universally if everyone tries to do the same thing. Once an inkling of human nature seeps into the higher plain, the game is over. It is a constant out of balance battle over existential being and the survival instinct.
Religion tries to offer a solution of eternal life after human death, but most of us hedge our bets on living life to the fullest and seeking forgiveness before it is too late. Few ever figure about a way to have the best of both; the promise and the life.
So far I have not even taken into consideration the effect other forces may have on our conscience or consciousness. Legal and illegal chemicals, emotion, mental health or the lack of it, imagination, dreams, environment, nature, economics, and society and socialization all play into our consciousness or awareness. And, these same forces can weigh upon our consciences as well.
Photo: Meditation 2 by Miamiamia, India
Conscience and consciousness; does this describe or define our souls? Where do they come from and where do they eventually go?
We are beings made up of the very atomic particles and minerals that existed at the time of, or were created by, the "Big Bang". Somehow, and under the perfect environmental conditions, we became more than just flesh and blood; more than just instinctual animals with limited needs and survival skills, and, perhaps to our ultimate undoing, more than just a partner in the grand scheme of "Nature's Way".
There are many scientific explanations for the development of our brains to a point where our intellect has allowed us to survive unnaturally in a natural environment. And, indeed, this unnatural natural phenomenon has sparked legend, history, the development of religion and government, fierce competition, sexual behavior, love and hatred, intelligence and ignorance; all in a grand concept of manifest destiny, which may simply be a fairy tale among fairy tales in the end.
However, the consequences of this story when viewed from the perspective of our individual selves, or a collection of individual selves, makes up the story of human nature which is as complex as any science, and which leads me to wonder about the why and how of conscience and consciousness.
I have been lucky enough in my life to have had a long standing exposure to two sets of human information; medicine and the law. Within the broader context of life, having a working knowledge of both expands the playing field of thought in general, and, particularly herein, as regards human nature. In both cases the rules are dependent upon the facts. Medicine is dependent upon human illness for it rules and the law is dependent upon human behavior for its rules. And both are driving forces for human progress, whether we think such a thing is good or not. Had there been a real Garden of Eden, there would have been no need for medicine or the law, and humanity would have had no reason to progress; we'd have had all we would ever need. But people ate the apples and still do.
None of this explains why we humans are capable of awareness and guilt. How is it that a specifically sequenced set of chemicals and cells are able to provide us with the ability to see, hear, smell, taste, feel, form sound and form thoughts, thus allowing us to express those thoughts in spoken or written words, backed by leaned information, logic, emotion, misinformation, expressed truthfully or falsely, to be benefit or detriment of others and those others being capable of reading, hearing, interpreting and repeating those thoughts, and on and on? And all of this in a myriad of spoken and written forms.
We know that all flesh must surely die, and we know that accident or illness can bring virtual death to all thought and consciousness. My question herein is primarily aimed at where the energy of a lifetime of thought and being goes when the human vessel is no longer capable of housing such energy?
To begin at the beginning, so to speak, a threshold question to the above question would be where do conscience and consciousness come from in the first place?
For me to try to discuss, or even attempt to answer, these questions, I must ironically delve into my own stream of consciousness going forward and will likely ask or create more questions than answers. If, in the end, all I have done is that, well then I've at least done something.
Photo: Having the Power by Michael Faes, Switzerland
Strange but clear voices, distance shores
Stepping into the great said unknown
Darkness of and in mind's abyss
Breathing slow, now labored
walking, Gasp! leaping,
waking up refreshed
My good friend Luke shared the following two unlikely stories that make you wonder why we do what we do; these are his words:
One morning I was on a subway station getting ready for a journey from NYC to Elmhurst Hospital. An obviously homeless guy, who happened to be a Black man, (this is important since my friend is white and race relations are what they are) and who was limping severely, asked me for a subway token so he could get to a hospital. I told him that I was going to a hospital in Queens and would help him get there. He said OK and I paid his fare and sat with him on the long ride. We talked about all kinds of things and it was obvious his life on the street had taken a toll on him. Like every person on earth, we had somethings in common and the trip went fairly smoothly and quickly. He refused to take a cab and we slowly walked the short distance from the subway to the ER. He thanked me, we shook hands and will probably never see each other again.
Sometimes, I look back on that episode and wonder if it was a test; if this man was real, and if someone or something wanted to see if I would live up to what it appeared to others I stood for. My other thought was maybe I was put there because I would. Fate or Faith? Do you think other commuters found this scene strange?
Another time, I was on a subway platform very early in the morning and looked over to see that I was standing next to two of my pro basketball heroes, Bill Russell (Boston Celtics legend)and Dave De Busschere (Knicks legend), both long retired by that time. They were talking and even though I nearly jumped out of my shoes, I did not want to be a slobbering fan. I said good morning, as did they, and I sat quietly next to them on the train. We even exchanged "have a nice day" at the end of the ride. They actually seemed relieved that the early hour made them less likely to be bothered.
It was a thrill nevertheless, particularly seeing Mr. Russell. I fashioned my game after his, and to some extent my world view. He was not just a ball player, he was a force for equality, civil rights, fairness and for doing the right thing. He used fame in the game to help others. And, he was very adamant that once equality was recognised, it was not a free hand out, people needed to earn their way in this world. Fate and Faith! Something to live by.
Luke has good Karma and it is something we can on build on for this life and the next. So the next time someone looks vaguely familiar - say hello or smile - it might just make their day.
Be abundantly well.
Photo via Stock Xchng: Air Movement by Aurelio S