Does God Care?
Martin LeFevre: After sitting for an hour beside the rippling stream, watching the water flow by below my feet and people on bikes and foot flow by on the pedestrian road across the water, I stand in awe as the last sunlight floods the bare upper branches of the oaks and sycamores in alpenglow. ... One has spontaneously left the fabricated reality of thought and entered the immeasurable actuality of the sublime and sacred. It's always a surprise when this happens, and something of a miracle. ... Despite the orgy of consumeristic sentimentality that Christmas has become, I would be remiss in this contemplation on Christmas Eve not to reflect on the life of Jesus. ... The birth of Jesus purportedly attests to God's love for humanity. Jesus certainly felt God cared about humanity. After all, he gave his life for his mission....
Dec 24, 2019, 4:47pm
Nihilism Is Not an Option
Martin LeFevre: I've long wondered why the question that seized me as a young man didn't register with the vast majority of philosophers. Given that nature unfolds in seamless wholeness, I asked, how did nature evolve a sentient creature that is fragmenting the Earth all to hell? ... At one level, this question expresses what 19th century philosophers called "the riddle of man." In the 21st century however, finding an adequate explanation for why man is such a destructive creature has become an existential imperative, not just a philosophical exercise. ... We may not be able to change, and change course, but the fault will be not in our stars, but in ourselves. In any case, nihilism, the belief that humans are hopeless and life is meaningless, is antithetical to life...
Dec 21, 2019, 3:45pm
Is the Human Brain Exapted for Insight?
Martin LeFevre: 'Exaptation' is a word coined in the early 1980's by paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. It means "a trait, feature, or structure of an organism that takes on a function when none previously existed, or that differs from its original function which had been derived from evolution." ... The quintessential example is bird feathers. The consensus of paleontologists is that feathers were not originally evolved for flight, but for temperature regulation in dinosaurs, and only later emerged in the reptilian ancestors of today's birds. ... Clearly the human brain has the capacity for insight. Most of the advances in science have been the result of scientists persistently questioning a phenomenon until they have an insight into it. ...
Dec 16, 2019, 5:09pm
You Can't Love the Earth and Hate Humanity
Martin LeFevre: I'm encountering a lot of people lately that have given up on humanity. ... Indulging in misanthropy, like indulging in self-pity, is an invisible affliction to the bearer. ... Even so, misanthropy willfully misses two important facts. First, nature evolved the 'adaptive strategy' of symbolic thought that gave humans the capability to decimate the Earth. ... Second, the mere fact that a sentient, potentially sapient species can wreak such havoc on its home planet raises the deepest spiritual and philosophical questions. Something is going on here; what is it? Insight is required...
Dec 14, 2019, 4:24pm
Putting the Personal In Its Place
Martin LeFevre: Ever since CNN began its hyper-personal approach to the news a decade or more ago, I've wondered: What is the place of the personal? ... The paradox is that unquestioned conformity to the mass marketed smallest possible unit-the personal 'me'-is shrinking the space for freedom more than other form of oppression in human history. ... To my mind, we have confused and conflated the personal with the individual to our great peril. There is a tremendous tendency to believe that having a life means having a personal life. But what if having Life means negating the personal dimension altogether on a regular basis?...
Dec 7, 2019, 4:52pm
Persistently Asking the Right Questions Ignites Insight
Martin LeFevre: While still in my teens, a question seized me that took 15 years to resolve to my satisfaction. The question was this: Given that nature unfolds in seamless wholeness, how did nature evolve man, who is generating increasing fragmentation and destroying the Earth? ... Science has tried to resolve the dilemma in the last three decades by blurring the difference, by giving evidence that human behaviors have their antecedents and parallels in the natural world. That hasn't cut it. ... The attempt to enfold human evolution within primate and mammalian evolution flows from a philosophical premise---that humans aren't actually separate from nature. That's undeniably true, but it begs the question: why do we think, feel and act as though we are separate?...
Dec 3, 2019, 9:51am
The Brain Is Much Greater Than Thought
Martin LeFevre : I once heard a religious teacher say he could read other people's thoughts, but didn't do so because "it would be like opening their mail." Skeptical, I filed away the quote and kept an open mind. ... Now neuroscientists, who have become the high priests of science, have proven that thought is a material process in the brain, which they can detect and interpret in real time through FMRI machines. ... That means that 'my thoughts' aren't sealed inside the skull, as we tend to believe... Is it possible that especially sensitive human beings can 'hear' what another person is thinking, especially if their thoughts are directed at them? ... I've since had experiences that verify the validity of telepathy and other phenomena...
Nov 30, 2019, 5:39pm
Barack Obama, Already a Footnote in History
Martin LeFevre: Democratic poobahs cannot seem to hold the most salient fact in their minds and hearts: the United States needlessly killed hundreds of thousands of people in a war conceived in the fevered dreams of Republican politicians. ... The Democrats, like Obama before them, are paving the way for (re)electing Donald Trump because they refuse to see America, and Americans, for what and who we are. If Obama had governed closer to how he campaigned, and actually given people some hope and change, than many of the same people who voted for him would not have turned to a demagogue. ... Getting clear on what could and should have been done then is necessary, since it allows us to address what can and must be done now...
Nov 24, 2019, 12:08pm
The Best Spiritual Movie Ever Made in America
Martin LeFevre: Made in 1997, "The Education of Little Tree" is the story of a half-Cherokee boy who goes to live with his hill-folk grandparents in the Appalachians ... From a universal spiritual perspective, the most important scene of the movie occurs after Grandpa has been bitten on the hand by a rattlesnake while saving Little Tree. As his life hangs in the balance, the boy asks if he's going to die. ... "Well now Little Tree," his Cherokee grandmother responds, "there's all kinds of dying. I've seen people down in the settlement walking around just like you and me. But they're just as good as dead. They spend their lives in meanness and greed. And the spirit inside of them went and shrunk down to no bigger than the size of a pea."...
Nov 21, 2019, 5:00pm
A Beautiful, Dangerous Autumn
Martin LeFevre: The moment I arrived at the sitting spot in the parkland, a young deer bounded across the creek and ran by at full speed along the bank, just 2 meters away. ... The close encounter with the deer was an auspicious start to an excellent meditation, during which thought fell silent after passive observation gathered sufficient undirected attention. Just before rising, in a state beyond words, I wrote in my journal: Stillness. Mystery. Reverence. Love. ... Love is not personal, but comes with the ending of personal reactions, concerns and action. Does all content in human consciousness come from the personal dimension, accumulated in the brain as residual memory? ... I'm not sure, but the psychological movement of thought---the ego, 'me'---arises from unnecessary and harmful memories stored in the brain...
Nov 19, 2019, 5:22pm
Look Up At The Moon Tonight
Martin LeFevre: Look up at the moon tonight, as people have done for tens of thousands of years. In the mind's eye, one can envision the few remnants of the Apollo landings strewn across the tidally locked side of the earth's huge satellite we see. ... If the greedy fools in China and America have their way however, instead of the awe-inspiring site of a full moon, your grandchildren may see massive solar farms with the naked eye. ... "The moon offers humanity the materials to become a space-faring species...and the country that establishes a viable jumping-off point from the moon will be the first to get the opportunity to benefit from trillion dollars worth of space-based resources." ... The moon may offer humanity the materials to become a space-faring species---if we can begin to live in imperfect harmony with nature and each other on the earth...
Nov 16, 2019, 2:22pm
Big Freeze or Big Squeeze?
Martin LeFevre: Does the universe as a whole, as all life on earth, and indeed the sun and stars themselves, go through cycles of birth and death, or is the universe somehow exempt from the cycle and end in a Big Freeze or Big Rip? .... The cyclic universe is the only logical hypothesis that fits the pattern at stellar, planetary and terrestrial levels. ... That's not to say we live in a reincarnated universe, but rather that each 'bounce' of a Big Bang incarnates an entirely new universe. ... Let's suppose that what astronomers are calling "dark energy" is actually a property of the continuous creation of the universe, flowing from the same source that produced the initial inflation as well as all observable energy and matter...
Nov 12, 2019, 5:13pm
Being Suspiciously, Subversively Religious
Martin LeFevre: A strange, creepy piece appeared recently in the Washington Post. It was disingenuously and lugubriously entitled: "What Will Christendom Look Like When It Is Almost Entirely Scrubbed of Christ?" ... You know America's moral exhaustion is complete when WAPO feels it necessary to attempt to shore up the disintegrating Christian foundation of the West. Even so, dishonest questions are sometimes the best ones to honestly ask. ... Responding to a dishonest question with an honest one, it's fair to ask: Do reasonable people have to now presume that conservative politicians, religious figures and commentators are coming from some degree of projection?...
Nov 9, 2019, 5:34pm
The Universality of Human Nature
Martin LeFevre: A curiously and spuriously Western idea has crept into academia, and from there, into civil society and politics. Having ruthlessly dominated and colonized Africa and Asia under the guise of universal human values, Western intellectuals now proclaim that there is no such thing as human universality. ... Information and people cross increasingly porous borders in an irrefutably global society. That alone disproves the claim of non-universality. ... We are all human, and though there are many superficial differences between people and peoples, the underlying commonality of our humanness is what gives us the capacity to understand and relate to each other, irrespective of language, culture and tradition...
Nov 7, 2019, 5:26pm
Carter's Faith and Obama's Intellect
Martin LeFevre: Jimmy Carter's faith is plain for all to see. Barack Obama, as far as I can tell, has no faith except in himself, and misguidedly while president, in the American people and system. ... In direct proportion to the ecological emergency, described as a "climate emergency" by over 11,000 scientists, man's darkness is saturating human consciousness. ... Is only darkness operating effectively in human consciousness? Clearly yes ... Calling for more incrementalism at a time of ecological, economic and ethical emergency amounts to gross negligence...
Nov 5, 2019, 2:14pm