"Memory, learning and identity precede matter." Deepak Chopra
At, Yes, your rich account of the 'becoming' of Michael Faraday struck
many chords for me. People who 'know better' tell me that 'fear of
failure' and 'falling' by association is a paramount concern in both
learning and living organisations. (At, I also do recall once applying to
the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, UK for the position
of cleaning their toilets; so as to to fund a little creativity. I was
politely declined. I didn't then have the opportunity to explain to them
my inspiration was derived as a consequence of reading from Leonardo da
Vinci : -) No matter!
This is the story of a little 'real' boy called Boris.
"Boris had trouble reducing 12 over 16 to the lowest terms and could only
get as far as 6 over 8. The teacher asked him quietly if that was as far
as he could reduce it. She suggested he 'think'. Much heaving up and down
and waving of hands by the other children, all frantic to correct him.
Boris pretty unhappy, probably mentally paralyzed. The teacher, quiet,
patient ignores the others and with look and voice concentrates on Boris.
She says, ' Is there a bigger number than two you can divide into the two
parts of the fraction?' After a minute or two, she becomes more urgent,
but there is no response from Boris. She then turns to the class and says,
' Well, who can tell Boris what the number is?' A forest of hands appears,
and the teacher calls Peggy. Peggy says that four may be divided into the
numerator and the denominator."
--Thus (it is that) Boris' failure has made it possible for Peggy to
succeed; his depression is the price of her exhilaration. This is the
standard condition of elementary education in American (and other
'developed' societies -) schools. --So often somebody's success is bought
at the cost of our failure. To a Hopi or Dakota Indian Peggy's performance
would be viewed as cruel beyond belief. --How else would you run the
world? And since all but the brightest have the constant experience that
others succeed at their expense they cannot but develop an inherent
tendency to hate -- to hate the success of others, to hate the successful
and become determined to prevent it. Along with this, naturally, goes the
hope that others will fail. This hatred masquerades under the euphemistic
name of 'envy'." In this way, " Such experiences imprint on the minds of
all men the Dream of Failure. So that over and over again, even at the
pinnacle of success, a man will dream not of success, but of failure. The
external nightmare is internalized for life." -- And " It is this dream
that, above all other things, provides the fierce human energy required by
'technological driveness'. It was not so much that Boris was ever learning
arithmetic, but that he was learning the essential nightmare. To be
successful in our culture one must learn to dream the dream of failure."
In the United Kingdom we have made a 'fine art' out of this process
practice. " When we say that 'culture teaches drives and values' we do not
state the case quite precisely. One should say, rather, that culture, and
especially the school provides the occasions in which drives and values
are 'experienced in events' that strike us with overwhelming and constant
force. To say that culture teaches puts the matter too mildly. Actually
culture invades and infests the mind as an obsession."
For if it did not then, "- culture will not WORK, for only an obsession
has the power to withstand the impact of critical differences; to fly in
the face of contradiction; to engulf the mind so that it will see the
world only as a culture decrees that it shall be seen; to compel a person
to become absurd. The central emotion in obsession is fear, and the
central obsession in education is the fear of failure. In order not to
fail most people are willing to believe anything and to care not whether
what they are told is true or false. Thus one becomes absurd through being
afraid; but paradoxically, only by remaining absurd can one feel free from
fear. Hence the immovableness of the absurd."
Jules Henry, what would YOU make of the modern business enterprise? "In a
society where competition for the basic cultural goods is a pivot of
action, people cannot be taught to love one another, for those who do
cannot compete with one another except in play. It thus becomes necessary
- without appearing to do so - to teach children how to hate, without
appearing to do so."
What is an echo?
Shall I re-write that sentence, just in case someone important missed the
importance of it? Yes, let me do that.
"It thus becomes necessary for the school, without appearing to do so, to
teach children how to hate, without appearing to do so."
Why would that be so?
"For our culture cannot tolerate the idea that babes should hate each
other. How does the school accomplish this ambiguity? -Through competition
itself, for what has greater potential for creating hostility than
competition. One might say it is one of the most creative features of
school." Not your schools or colleges, of course! Nor your organisations,
of course! NOW, little Boris leaves behind his little wooden chair and
desk, 'warm hand in warm hand' we will long walk our small talk a while
and watch as the sparks fly, hither and yon.
" This is a recreational universe. Your ability to play in it is limited
only by how much you can appreciate." (Deepak Chopra quoting an
Once a child always a child, Mariam, becoming found again is flying within
the branches of trees near Bethlehem around the 1870's. Singing constantly,
her Mother Superior finds her in mid tree, not mid sentence.
"Mariam, come back to earth immediately.' (Well, what would YOU say?) At that
moment she heard the word 'obedience', she came down with 'a radiant face'
and perfect modesty, stopping at several branches to chant, 'Love!'
'Why do you rise like this?' The Mother Superior interrogated her.
'Christ carries me in his hands- if I obey quickly, the tree becomes like
this,' and she put her hand close to the ground." : - )
Please, try and imagine Mariam bending down, her hand 'flower height' above
the ground under which is a great treeā^Ą¦.
Boris is visibly upset; he has seen an old tree and from within the old tree
a bright green bird just flew out. "Mariam!"
"No, it is just a bird. It lives inside the tree."
We walk up to the tree and examine its dark unempty interior. I reckon it to
be six, seven hundred years old, an Oak. Boris asks, "Is it dead?"
"No, it is STILL living."
"Do all Oak trees live with great voids and holes inside them?"
"No, most Oak trees are cut down for the 'heart' wood, to be made into things
like boats, ships and timbers for churches and houses, so to find such an old
tree with it's 'heart' eaten out is rare indeed."
I lifted Boris up and into the lower branches and from there he can see into
the virtual 'dark cave' of the interior. "Look Boris, look, there are pools
of water, in them live micro-organisms and all the life associated with a
miniature 'woodland' pond. It is also home to a variety of other species of
animal from the 'green bird' to the mighty Stag beetle. In it's great age the
tree becomes a 'world within a world', unconditionally supporting life all
"You mean that by kind of giving away at his 'heart' center he is in fact
living on in his dying within himself and he takes within himself many other
living things that thrive and just come and go?"
And I thought but did not say, "Yes my little friend and you may become very
much like that tree."
And he thought but did not say, " When I looked into the dark pool I saw a
face like my own against a pure blue sky."
"Andrew, the tree seems to be reaching out rather than upward."
"Yes, Boris. When he was younger he was like a rationalist, now he is more of
a mystic, both/ and though, not either/or."
"What is a mystic?"
"He or she is a one among the many who loves to discover the many that are
within the one."
Boris' face lit up, a single flame among the many of the autumn leaves.
"Andrew, if that tree could speak to me in mathematics in just one breath
what would he say?"
"I think he would say something like 'ALL IS ONE'."
"Andrew, could we pretend for a while that the tree does think and that
'what' and 'how' he thinks has determined the shape which now I know must
include the 'voids' within him too, especially the 'still mirrored pool' of
< in which I saw myself but which I will not tell Andrew -
"Oh yes, I would love to do that. Let us say that one day after the ground
had shook all around him he glanced down and beheld 'new branches' that were
in fact a kind of mirror image of himself, which we call his 'roots' but of
which hither/and/yon/to he had been unaware, and in this he thought, Blimey,
I'm really a 'rounded (w)hole'."
"You mean l a bit like a great sphere or nought?"
The sphere we can call 'everything' or 'many' and the 'nought' we will call
the 'one'. Now at a certain time in his life span then, let us call it his
'middle age' he realised the futility of growing upward, he had somehow to
grow both outward and inward, this provided him much food for metaphorical
thought. Keeping the sphere in mind he went about his mystical way, we can
call it the 'inward way' and the 'outward way'. 'Inward way' is toward
consciousness of nothingness and the 'outward way' is consciousness of
everythingness. If you wish for a picture try this, 'nothing' is "0" and
'everything' is "8" but pictured as on its side, rather as if sleeping, (the
symbol of the lemniscate). The 'inward way' leads to the 'inner void', where
mental waters are stilled and no longer muddy. Perhaps a mirror, perhaps not."
Boris smiled and I not knowing, because he had not told me, wondered why?
"The outer way leads to building larger and larger pictures of the world,
unifying as you go, making it richer and richer, in this way sympathetic
union may be achieved with everything."
Boris looked pleased and asked what the tree might say of the things he met
in the 'inner way'?
" And that too." I proffered.
He looked confused.
He was learningful.
"But he does do 'both' doesn't he Andrew?"
"Oh yes, both/and Boris, always and forever, both/and."
"Andrew, what is between both/and?"
Boris was beginning to 'vibrate' before my gaze and I am quite sure I saw his
little feet leave the ground. It may of course been an illusion.
"I cannot 'tell' you Boris. But look, climb into the tree again and we will
see what happens when the 'universal rain moistens all creatures.'
Boris climbed up into the first fork in the tree, from where he took a
branching and perching himself there, rather like a 'green bird', (or was it
a singing blue Jay?) he surveyed in perfect safety the panorama surrounding
him. " - A fine rain was falling, so fine that it had not yet penetrated the
tree's leaves. Set back from the City like this, in his leafy perch in the
library garden, it was possible to listen to the incoming honks, roars and
clanks as a single sound, the sound of the City. He noticed a hole in another
branch some two meters above his head, and inched up hugging the still thick
but smoother branches. Inside was a beehive, a musky odour issued forth along
with a steady Zzzz. A few bees patrolled the lip of the hole, but seemed
unconcerned at his presence. He slid down back to his original perch and
reflected for a while upon his experience and learning. His mind seemed to
move two ways. He thought of everything and nothing and the way to both. On
the one hand he imagined Everything by letting his feeling of spatial
immediacy include his whole body, then the tree branch, then the bees, then
the garden, the City and the night sky ('tempus fugit') the rain on his face
asked him to expand his time awareness too, so he thought of the paths of the
raindrops and the thoughts in his head, his childhood, the growth of the tree
and above the spiraling galaxy. On the other hand he imagined a pathway to
Nothing by ceasing to identify himself with any art of his space at all, he
constantly diminished his mental busyness and through this he conjoined a
little vision. Two spheres, one expanding toward infinity and the other
contracting toward zero. A repeated doubling coupled with a repeated halving.
They endlessly drew apart until another newer vision emerged in which they
This was the point of "/" in-between 'both / and'."
"So the mystical tree experiences Void as both everything and as same?"
Not only that my dear little Boris, but a dear old gentleman who was quite
good at 'the physics of numbers' wrote this, "Given that my body functions as
pure mechanism according to the laws of nature, and that I know by direct
experience that I am directing the motions of my body it follows that I am
the One who directs the (many) atoms of the world in their motions."
"More than that 'Blimey' Boris he went on to say, 'Hence I am God Almighty.'"
Insecure Boris remarked, "That sounds a very naughty thing to say about
"Yes, but it is a view held more securely within other traditions of belief
in God, for example in the Upanishads Atman (I am) = Brahman (everything).
The word Atman (I am) in the German language is related to the meaning, 'to
breath' and this is the Sanskrit word for 'individual soul'. So Atman is 'I
am'." (For the Old Testament relation see Exodus 3, 13-14).
"I am growing tired Andrew, so many thoughts whirring around in my head, take
my hand again and let's walk homeward."
Boris expressed his natural confusion and deep seated fear that we should
have joined so many apparently unconnected things. What seemed to trouble him
most just before he fell into a sound sleep; the kind that allows you to fall
asleep with a rock in a desert for a pillow, was that he kept thinking he had
seen God with/in himself in that dark pool inside that great tree.
"You know Boris, sometimes when I look down into old trees that have given
but all their very heart away; for all the world I reckon I sometimes see the
blue sky and my face at one and the same time, a sort of something in nothing
that is everything to me and I hear a very small voice call out, - 'Andrew
this isn't knowledge you learn; it's knowledge you turn into.'"
"Good night Andrew."
"Good night Boris, (sotto voce) ~~~~~~~~~~'light of the world.'" ~~~~~~~~~
Love and best wishes,
Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <email@example.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>
"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.