There was a story in the news about the oldest human figurine yet discovered. It is a 35,000-year-old image of a “Venus”. This figurine is of a woman with exaggerated sexual features. What was the carver thinking? Shame on him! Men haven’t changed a bit in 35,000 years!
This is a fascinating story on many levels. What does this figurine, along with the beautiful cave paintings, say about early man? Human beings are artists, from cave man to Leonardo da Vinci. Other humanoids did not share this ability, such as the Neanderthals who never created artwork. Imagination seemed beyond the Neanderthals. But early mankind had an abundance of imagination. Perhaps imagination is one of the key defining qualities of humanity, along with the ability to think symbolically.
What do these continuing discoveries have to say about religion? Some think these carvings were shamanistic. There are theories that cave paintings represented a form of magic in their imagery of game animals. There is a more sophisticated theory that the cave setting for the cave paintings actually represented a physical depiction of what a shaman experienced in his spiritual journey into the underworld/spirit realm.
The shaman would enter the pitch-black cave with only his torch for illumination. As he descended into the cave, animals would appear as if out of nowhere as his torchlight fell on the painted imagery. One “spirit” image of an animal would appear, fades away and then another image would appear in the light. If combined with hallucinogens it would really feel as if he had entered the spirit world. These painted caves were not meant for the masses, but represented the shaman’s experience and journey
If this was the actual reason for the cave paintings, then it reveals an advanced spirituality…and imagination. It seems imagination and spirituality co-exist like brothers. As far as we know the Neanderthals lacked a similar sense of spirituality.
How did human imagination mysteriously appear? Long ago something very strange happened in human evolution. We may never know how or why. But somehow imagination came into the world.
In Greek myth the Titan Prometheus molded mankind out of clay and then stole fire from Zeus, giving it to mankind to better their lives. In the Prometheus myth fire seems to be a metaphor for intelligence and mastery over matter. Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock to have his liver eaten by vultures. Why was Prometheus punished for giving mankind knowledge? Perhaps the ancients recognized that human nature itself is a double-edged sword…capable of both good and evil.
In the Bible God also made Adam from clay. Eventually Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge and were transformed from innocent animal-like creatures into self-aware humanity. Once more, as punishment for gaining knowledge, they were cast out from the Garden of Eden. The ancient authors recognized a state of existence before “human” and that it was different from we are now. Also, there is a dear price necessarily associated with self-awareness.
Here is the news story about the 35,000 year old Venus:
secret of true magic
The law of attraction, manifesting reality, and magic are concepts that are basically interchangeable. The methods and techniques used to alter reality are similar when brought down to their essentials. Essentially, it is using our thoughts to create patterns in some form of cosmic energy or vibration which then reverberates down to affect our physical existence.
The law of attraction uses control over our thought process to accomplish this. Magic uses ritual and altered states of consciousness to achieve the same thing. An interesting question is…how does this work? There are vague ideas about vibrations and energies and unity with the universe. It seems the techniques are highly developed, but the theories behind the mechanics are not. Which is reasonable since nobody really knows how it works. But lack of understanding won’t stop me putting in my two cents worth!
What is this cosmic vibration that manifests reality? I will offer the ideas developed by mystics, occultists, spiritualists and cabalists. These ideas are speculative, but make for interesting food for thought. Above is a graphic I made to illustrate the point I will make.
According to some mystical viewpoints, there are different levels of reality. At the highest level is the realm of Spirit which exists outside out time and space. We have no direct contact with this reality. Spirit created the Big Bang as an act of creation, the ultimate manifestation of reality. From the Big Bang and the creation of the Universe, all the levels beneath were created.
The level below Spirit is the Abstract level. These are the laws of reality which are revealed in mathematics. It is not matter and not energy, but the rules that govern physicality. It seems to be closely related to the science of quantum mechanics. These laws created evolution…and sentient life.
The level below Abstract is the Astral level. The astral level is the level of consciousness, sentience, the subconscious, and the mind. The mind (Astral body) is not matter, it is not energy, and it is not only biology or even information, but something all together different then anything else in the universe. Consciousness is unique. It is the pinnacle of Universal creation, the big bang’s last act.
Below the astral level is the etheric level. This seems to be a finer form of matter invisible to us. It is closely related to life, auras, chakra and our invisible body. It might also be related to cosmology’s dark matter. Not long ago the idea of an invisible world all around us would be scoffed at. Now science recognizes that invisible dark matters makes up most of the universe’s matter, but have zero idea what it is. It is the realm of ghosts and possibility other entities.
Finally we have the physical world we all know, the realm understood by science, of matter and energy.
What then is the mechanics behind magic? The secret is that all these levels co-exist simultaneously in everything. All individuals are made of the spirit, abstract, astral, etheric and physical levels. According to the theory, the astral level (the mind) can send patterns up to the spirit level, and then it returns descending back down vibrating through all the levels until it reaches the physical world…manifesting reality. The tricky part seems to be contacting the realm of Spirit which exists outside of time/space. The techniques for magic seem to have that as the ultimate goal in one fashion or another.
In future posts I will examine each of these levels of existence in more detail.
Mona Lisa and the Eagle Nebula
The pictures above are the Mona Lisa and the Eagle Nebula. Here is a riddle, what do they have in common? Actually, everything! How so?
When we look at Da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa, what do we see? We see a painting of course. But what else? The painting is much more then just the image of a woman. First, the painting is made of pigments used to paint with. It is made of canvas. Look deeper, and we see that the canvas and oil paint are made of molecules, then atoms, and then quarks. Look even deeper, and we see the painting is made of time and space along with energy and matter. Look even deeper still and we see the painting consists of the laws of physics and quantum mechanics.
Look again, and what else do we see? We see the artistry. We see patterns in the brush strokes. We see design. Somehow complex thoughts and emotions are conveyed with the strokes of a paintbrush. When observing the Mona Lisa we actually are looking inside the subtle mind of Leonardo Da Vinci. We are looking into the expression of his genius. Immaterial human thoughts are transformed into material expression.
Can we see more? The painting is an expression of the totality of human culture and civilization. Not only does the painting express the culture of Da Vinci’s time, it is an expression of our culture today. It is Art. Without humanity’s history, culture and art, this painting could not exist. It symbolizes all that is human, our consciousness and our very existence.
What does this have to do with the Eagle Nebula? I suggest the Universe is like a painting. Obviously the universe is composed of atoms and energy, time and space, just like the Mona Lisa. In addition to that, the universe also has a design, sort of like a cosmic paintbrush stroke. This design is the laws of nature, the order behind everything. But is that all?
Look at the universe deeper, and we see the universe also paints pictures! Not just expressed by the beautiful nebula, but through our human created paintings. How? The universe is creative…it creates. The universe created life, humanity, sentience, civilization and art. It all came from the Universe. The Universe literally painted the Mona Lisa. The Universe is an artist.
If a painting is an expression, a reflection of the mind of its artist, does the same apply to the universe? Looking at the universe and its finely tuned design, we can see into the Mind behind the universe. If a painting and the universe are indeed one in the same, then it was not only Leonardo Da Vinci who painted Mona Lisa. The Universe “painted” Leonardo himself, and every one of us as well. We are the Universe’s reflection, made in its image.
The Third Eye
Can spiritual practices alter the structure of our brain? The answer is yes! The current issue of Time Magazine has a cover story titled “How Faith Can Heal”. It has a lot of material to chew on. I quibble with the article “Biology of Belief” and it’s stance on applying “brain science” in trying to explain why people have religious or spiritual feelings. Neuroscience has no clue what consciousness is but they sure make a big deal about what parts of the brain are activated by certain thoughts. Do we need brain scans to explain why someone enjoys a game of chess? Here is the article:
What really caught my attention was this passage from the article:
“Pray and meditate enough and some changes in the brain become permanent. Long-term meditators — those with 15 years of practice or more — appear to have thicker frontal lobes than nonmeditators. People who describe themselves as highly spiritual tend to exhibit an asymmetry in the thalamus — a feature that other people can develop after just eight weeks of training in meditation skills.”
We can actually thicken our brain’s frontal lobes by long term meditation. That is very interesting! The density of our brain can be altered by such practices, like a muscle getting larger with exercise. Here is another article to confirm that:
When Buddhist monks were tested during deep meditation, monks with years of meditation experience showed dramatically higher gamma wave activity in their brain. Gamma waves are considered links to consciousness. What is intriguing from an occult view is that the frontal lobes, along with the pineal gland, are considered the “Third Eye”.
The Third Eye is a way of describing the area in our brain that is a link between the physical world and the spiritual world. It is associated with clairvoyance, second sight and contact with higher dimensions. This was thought to be the Pineal Gland at the center of our brain. But it really is our frontal lobes, the seat of our consciousness. It is fascinating that science has physical evidence of our Third Eye and how it is modified by spiritual exercises.
If you want to experience your own Third Eye, close your eyes and feel your consciousness…where do you feel you dwell? In your forehead’s frontal lobes. Along with meditation, if you want to develop your third eye and its potential, try this as an exercise. Again close your eyes and imagine you can see with your imagination. Look at your surroundings with closed eyes but visualize the area with your mind, your third eye. In time this visualization will become uncanny. Done regularly this will thicken your frontal lobes!
What are the ramifications of the theory of evolution on spirituality? In the news lately have been stories of “hobbits”, a miniature primitive version of mankind. It has created quite a stir in the scientific community. What are the religious and spiritually minded to think about this? According to polls about 50% of Americans believe in Biblical creationism (a 10,000 year old earth beginning with Adam and Eve), about 40% believe in a version of theistic evolution (evolution guided by God), and 10% believe in naturalistic (Godless) evolution. Is there a divine influence guiding human evolution? If so, what about these hobbits…were they human? Half human? Would God create a halfway humanoid?
I think we can dismiss the idea of Biblical creationism. I know a lot of people believe in the literal version of Genesis, but do we really want to believe in something that can be easily disproved? Here is a joke…how did the kangaroo get on Noah’s Ark? The answer…the backstroke! That pretty much sums up the argument against biblical literalism in one jest…the kangaroo. Exactly how did the kangaroo (or the kola bear) travel all the way from Australia to Noah’s Ark? It’s a long swim across the ocean, not to mention avoiding being eaten by all the dinosaurs that supposedly existed at the same time before Noah’s flood. An even bigger riddle is…after the flood, why didn’t the kangaroo settle down in the Middle East around Mount Ararat? Why swim all the way back across the vast ocean, suffering starvation and dehydration, just to return to Australia? Add to them every unique species inhabiting every isolated island in the world…it’s a LONG swim from the Galapagos Islands to Mount Ararat. Maybe they paddled on logs? Rejection of absolute literalism does not mean anyone has to abandon his or her religious beliefs. It just means we have to understand that things are not so simpleminded.
The other side of the coin is the atheist’s view of reality, which dovetails nicely with the theory of evolution. It is harder to dismiss their viewpoint, based as it is on science and logic. However, I think the atheist worldview is also flawed. Evolution is a process, and that begs the question…where did the process come from? And it is not a simple process, but one that led to the development of human consciousness. Science can’t explain where this process came from, or how any of the laws of physics emerged.
The biggest challenge for skeptical materialists is the anthropic principle. In the past December 2008 issue of Discover Magazine was a fascinating article: Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse Theory
The article concerns itself with how science can’t explain away the fine-tuning of the laws of nature, which allowed life to evolve. The chances of every law of nature being “just right” to permit evolution is pretty remote if not virtually impossible. The article suggests there is a multiverse, an unlimited number of alternate universes separate from ours, each having their own different laws of nature. And out of this infinite number of universes, we reside in one where all the laws have (by accident) come together “just right”. Virtually every other universe would be a dead zone incapable of evolution. The multiverse concept is a remarkable idea. So remarkable that it is hard to believe. And so far, there is zero proof in a multiverse…I call it science’s Noah’s Ark. The idea of an infinite number of universes is an act of faith. Not too different then believing in God is a matter of faith.
Other then a Multiverse, what else could explain why we exist? Another explanation could be pure coincidence. It could be just chance at work. What are the odds that a few different types of quarks emerging from the Big Bang could eventually configure itself into sentience? The odds would seem almost infinitely remote. It seems the only way life came into existence is by some form of infinity…an infinite number of universes, an infinitely small chance of pure luck, or an infinite God. All of these ideas require faith in the unknown.
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Hamlet