To Be, Allow Discontinuity
Martin LeFevre: The day is cold and gray. For a few minutes however, a silvery light glistens off the rippling creek. The waterway makes a gentle S curve at this spot, and I can see a quarter-mile downstream. ... Meditation begins when the fire of unwilled attention is ignited by passive watchfulness of the movement of thought and emotion in the mirror of nature. The accretions of the past are burnt away without leaving ashes. ... Some psychologists pronounce that "continuity is everything, and it is change that causes the problems." That is entirely backasswards. The continuity of thought and emotion lies at the root of suffering, and most mental and emotional illness. ... Inner peace and impersonal love have their source in silence and discontinuity of thought, not in the continuity of thought and emotion...
Jan 19, 2020, 11:41am
Two Hinges of History In One Lifetime:
Martin LeFevre: Thirty years ago today I was in the USSR. I had been invited to start a comprehensive joint venture by a Russian I met in San Francisco on a now quaint-sounding program called, "Soviets, Meet Middle America." ... My host Andrei was touted as a leading example of perestroika, the policy of economic restructuring under Gorbachev. ... I had no idea what I was in for. Obviously, the attempt to seize the historical moment and help ordinary Americans and Russians work together failed. ... The core reason America and Russia remain enemies lies much deeper than their governments, or even the political dimension. It's rooted in American arrogance and Russian pride...
Jan 16, 2020, 4:48pm
Self-Knowledge or Self-Knowing?
Martin LeFevre: Consciousness as we know it is cumulative. Hurts, grudges, grievances and resentments often last lifetimes, even generations. That's why there is so much darkness in the world now. ... To spiritually survive and grow, we need to make three essential distinctions, and teach children to make them as early as possible. ... The first is between life and the world. Life is good; the world as it has come to be is hell. ... The second distinction is between knowledge and understanding. ... Knowledge is of two kinds---scientific and useful, and useless and destructive. ... Most experience is useless and stultifying, and much of it is destructive. It has no value where relationship with the earth and others are concerned...
Jan 12, 2020, 5:03pm
Dissolving the Roots of Division
Martin LeFevre: Division, conflict, and war emanate from within us, not from economic or political structures. As much as social structures contribute to the inequity and injustice of this world, they are not the source of these things. The world is the outward expression of the mind and heart of every person living in it. ... Inwardly, we are divided, and that makes cultural and religious differences appear to be primary. ... Differences are the spice of life, but they become a source of division and conflict when one doesn't see that people are essentially the same everywhere. ... So what ends the habit of divisiveness? The root of division is the duality between 'me' and 'my thoughts.' In actuality, there is no separation between my thoughts and me; they are the same thing...
Jan 6, 2020, 2:38pm
Why Does Everything Change Except Human Nature?
Martin LeFevre: In the 4 billion-year history of life on earth, from single-celled bacteria to trilobites to dinosaurs to humans, there have been five mass extinctions. ... The Washington Post recently published a muddled piece about the Sixth Extinction, which is being wrought by Homo sapiens, the smartest animal to ever crawl or walk upon the Earth. ... For example, there is this defeatist canard, which has become a staple of science stripped of philosophy: "Given the environmental crisis we've created, it's unclear how much longer we'll be around." ... The subliminal message: It's probably too late, and Homo sapiens deserves the same extinction our species is bringing about across the planet. ... That's a self-fulfilling vicious circle. The crisis of human consciousness is the crisis of human nature. And human nature is not an immutable thing...
Dec 30, 2019, 5:27pm
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