Monday, January 28, 2008

Of Monkeys and Typewriters

I was just reading Alan Watts on the train today with my girlfriend, who we will call Siamese Dream. We were talking about how, no matter who you are reading, it seems that many of these teachers resonate with the same meaning, from Wilber, to Krishnamurti, to U.G. Krishnamurti, to Thich Nhat Hanh, to even Eckhart Tolle. Even those who disagree, who may have metaphysical or intellectual disparities, resonate the same understanding; that there is more than bickering, that there is a greater awareness, consciousness - or all pervading spirit in all things.

"Why is it that, with all of these teachers, nothing has truly shifted? You'd think that with all of these individuals, something would have changed by now in the general culture."

"True," she said as the Brooklyn train came to the next stop, "But it gets no coverage. The media chooses to ignore it."

She brought up a good point. No matter who we read, and how we read it, it is often very difficult to bring about change without the assistance of media coverage. Especially today. A minute later, after the train picked up again, I looked up to find a lady reading Eckhart Tolle. We smiled at the synchronicity, and continued reading.

"What's that?" My Siamese Dream asked, looking at a picture in the Watt's book. It was a picture of, literally, squiggly lines, or as Watts calls them "Wiggles." The universe, he points out, is just a bunch of wiggles. You don't know where it starts, where it ends, and nothing is outright cut and dry. 

It is the "Net" or "Web" or "Grid" which we have imposed on the world which allows it to start to make "prickles" or straight edges. The wiggles are made sense of. Yet, even this "grid" is another image imposed on the world. The stars, he notes, are not perfect geometric shapes, but rather like drops of water splashed randomly across the sky. It is our minds that creates and maps out the universe, making "start charts" and grids to help us navigate. I looked around, at the subway train, at the buildings outside, the tracks, the cars, the roads, and didn't find one wiggle at all. The only wiggly parts, it seems, are the people themselves. We're quite Wiggly, as Watts points out, and with our minds we make "prickles" to shape the world and make sense of it. That's all right of course. Our brains are developed in such a way as to promote this. But if we are to truly transform, or at least be able to get along better, we have to understand inter-dependence on everything, and the very nature of "prickly" making vs. the natural wiggly world.

So that all really means - self knowledge. Understand your own being, how you come into being, who you are, and how you "are." Part of this is questioning and openly exploring your own nature, and your own assumptions about the world.

As we got off the train, we discussed the last lines read in Watts. One being - given infinity, all random things will happen. This myth explains away all 'meaning' behind life, existence, love, beauty, etc. And the bleakness of this theory is meant to be embraced, toughed out. We both eyed this scientific myth with a skeptical eye. I feel that it is better to be skeptical, to be open to the possibility of "randomness" being wrong, just as much as we are open to it being right. 

Given enough time, would a monkey on a typewriter create Shakespeare? Even if they did, what would the gibberish be after it is finished? There seems to be more "consistency" in our consciousness, for me to outright embrace this example.

As we walked toward the school, we entertained one last thought: Although the theologians defend the faith in deeper, more meaningful ways - it is the stereotypical images of faith, it is the general mentalities that people embrace and utilize. As much as we like to look to the defenders of the faith, or any belief or system in general - we must not forget the general, surface levels, because they are what effect the culture, the consciousness, the collective, perhaps at an ironically deeper level than the deepest of theologies.

Bringing it to light, "Perhaps that's why these great sages haven't deeply affected us - because every shallow surface is shinier and more attractive, and the public takes the bait." They dare not take off the swimmies and dive deep. This doesn't make any kind of superiority in anyone who does, it just shows that, generally speaking, if we want change, it has to affect people on a massive, surface level - the media. A look at Kucinich is a great example. He is an excellent thinker, politician and has great plans for the U.S. Yet, the media willingly chose to discredit him, and then outright reject him. The effect? No coverage, no mass support, no voice.

To end on a good note, I have hope for the future, and am excited to see more sages getting a louder voice in a world that is increasingly filled with "white noise."

Check out what Alan Watts says about "Prickles and Goo"


iggs said...

UG would shout something like this often to his groupciples (forget the exact exact wordage - from one of the videos): "IF THERE WERE TRULY ANGER THERE WOULD BE ACTION THERE!"

lvs said...

he infinite monkey theorem says that if you give a million monkeys typewriters and infinite time, the probability that they can come up with Shakespeare’s 'Romeo and Juliet' is close to zero. But what can you expect if you give a million people computers and internet connections?

Interesting thoughts.....

If you are interested read mine here:

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