Thursday, November 02, 2006

Don't Give Me No Hand Me Down...

The trouble with thinking all the time, the trouble with being the only species that uses symbols to stand in for objects is that the symbols can have more power and impact than the objects they represent.

Symbols are important and powerful and they can be good. Mathematical models allow us to sometimes predict the future. Without words and pictures there could be no communication or history or teaching. I will never see Marcus Aurelias or Castiglione or DaVinci or Lao Tsu but through the power of symbol I have their words and pictures, little pieces of their minds. The ability to argue and fight and die and kill over things that have no real meaning seems tragic, but it is also the same passion for things not yet real that will some day bring humanity (and life itself) to the stars.

Due to the press of time, our own specialization and the complexity of the world, we trust the symbols of the experts. We take the word of scientists about very small and very large things. We take the word of doctors about our bodies. We take the word of farmers and teachers and bus drivers and cops on the things we don't know, don't have time to learn or will never directly experience.

There is a thing that gathers a lot of symbols. I don't care whether you call it 'meaning' or 'god' or 'religion' or 'life'. But as real as it is, it surrounds you and permeates every aspect of your world. It is the one thing that if you look has always been there, something you have direct experience of. You do not and have never needed someone else to explain it to you. You deserve better than a second hand god.

1 comment:

Mac said...

Wow! Just plain wow. Now that you have the feeling of it and the rationalized imagining, now it is time to be it. (If I would only follow my own advice). How to be it - by not-being. It's got to go beyond because if you can even most subtly feel it, you ain't there yet.