On What We Are Reading and Why (or ... Why Not? What Do We Have to Lose?)

BOOKS are as tombstones made by the living for the living, but destined soon only to remind us of the dead. The preface, like an epitaph, seems vainly to “implore the passing tribute” of a moment’s interest. No man is allured by either a grave-inscription or a preface, unless it be accompanied by that ineffable charm which age casts over mortal productions. Libraries, in one sense, represent cemeteries, and the rows of silent volumes, with their dim titles, suggest burial tablets, many of which, alas! mark only cenotaphs—empty tombs. A modern book, no matter how talented the author, carries with it a familiar personality which may often be treated with neglect or even contempt, but a volume a century old demands some reverence; a vellum-bound or hog-skin print, or antique yellow parchment, two, three, five hundred years old, regardless of its contents, impresses one with an indescribable feeling akin to awe and veneration,—as does the wheat from an Egyptian tomb, even though it be only wheat. We take such a work from the shelf carefully, and replace it gently. While the productions of modern writers are handled familiarly, as men living jostle men yet alive; those of authors long dead are touched as tho’ clutched by a hand from the unseen world; the reader feels that a phantom form opposes his own, and that spectral eyes scan the pages as he turns them.

– From Preface to Etidorhpa by John Uri Lloyd

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We have spoken of the act of reading (Cosmos Café [7/9] - Reading and the Body) and some have spoken about top five “favorite” books. Each day I know I read and each day I know I forget what has been read. I know that I often discard a thread that could possibly lead somewhere. Sometimes there is a strong inkling to be creative, to take what is read and convert into a magical memory for others to witness. Sometimes we just might wish to share an insightful quote; sometimes we might ask for help with understanding where the author is coming from.

Reading may be our guilty pleasure but I like to think we read not because we cannot do otherwise but because we wish to share this knowledge, spread it like seeds and watch it grow. If it attempts to only grow in the single mind our the self, it is dead on arrival. Or simply expired shelf material. Like those stock piling supposed necessities, are we not doing the same when we read to read? When we hop from one book to the next?

Note bene:
If you think it is not worth your time, remember you do not have to read. Sometimes, for example, I am afraid to post yet another essay, YouTube video, etc. in fear that I may lead you down a rabbit hole that is not worth your time. Here, in this thread, there is no fear of missing out, no need to follow along or grab the next book mentioned. But the books are worth mentioning. Perhaps this thread is for those of us that are not willing or able to participate in the Zoom calls, or when we do and we feel we leave out a chunk of what could have been said, etc.

All of this might just take the magic out of reading and our presentation here on the IC. It might seem too sophomoric or limiting or just not out style (we would have started a thread like this in the past if it was needed., for example) …I see this developing as the Music Cafe thread. Or as @Michael_Stumpf had elegantly displayed through Multiple Metaphors. Post when you feel necessary or not. Don’t expect a response; some of us might be busy reading. I start this thread so it will take a life of its own.

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In The Wake of Trauma

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Jurgen Renn The Evolution of Knowledge
Maria Popova Figuring
Amador Vega Dia-Logos

These are the books that I have open right now. Also reviewing Michael Murphy’s Future of the Body

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Reasons why?

This is a compilation of essays around Ramon Llull’s Methods of Thought and Artistic Practice. He was a pivotal thinker, from a Medieval world in upheaval, who influenced our world, too. Probably one of the first Integralists , he was moving between cultures and religions, attempting deep structural reconciliations. The book has a bright red cover and full of gorgeous charts and diagrams.

Future of the Body I am reviewing because Doug had mentioned my previous quotations from it. I read it twenty odd years ago and could benefit from returning to it. It has a tremendous scope.

And who am I, that I dare to read all of this stuff? For what purpose? Well I draw upon these books,out of a sea of books, to contrast and compare. And with lots of poetry and fiction, I look for loop holes, of how we might re-configure, and move through the twists in the big Klein bottle of our original natures. What may unfold from this realization will be weird.

Thanks, Doug, for the chance to reflect upon the intensity of our shared learnings through books, music, art, camaraderie. We can’t do this alone in a cave in the Himalayas or in Kentucky. We need other people to ground our realizations otherwise we end up navel gazing. I might be lying in the gutter, as Oscar Wilde says, but I am gazing up at the stars.

I hope you will share your own list, Doug, and muse upon your own realizations in cave, dream, poem…

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I had intended on adding much more meaning than what I am going to list here. Work has surprisingly picked up and I have little free time to do as I had hoped…

Currently Reading

  • Jorjani’s Prometheus and Atlas - super intelligent fella. Learning much from this one.
  • Evan Thompson’s Why I Am Not a Buddhist - good book that makes a point about Buddhist exceptionalism + the downplaying by the scientific/philosophical groups of religious aspects of Buddhism … the memoir at the beginning is much better than the dry academic niche argument being made.
  • Namkhai Norbu’s Cycle of Day and Night
  • Sandor Katz’ The Art of Fermentation - I have recently learned how easy it is to make kraut, fermented veggies and brews like kombucha. Kids love this stuff too. A good hobby for unhealthy times and current pandemic.

(according to my online records … I am reading 113 books…mostly unfinished books I wish to return to…the above are actively being read/listened to today)

Recently Finished in March:

  • Edward Abbot’s Flatland
  • John Uri Lloyd’s Etidorpha - loved it!
  • Harmon Bro Edgar Cayce on Dreams
  • Scott Sparrow’s Dawning of the Clear Light
  • Stanislav Grof’s The Way of the Psychonaut, Volume One
  • Kastrup’s Dreamed Up Reality

(in some future post I hope to convey my reading journey from 2019 that has led up to most of what I am reading now)

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I loved this book.

I have read a lot of Thompson but I think he is stuck in the physicalist paradigm. His book on Lucid Dreaming is a huge disappointment. Other books by him I admire but not that one. He has seen the gap in first and third person but his academic stance is in my partial view is squarely deficient mental. You can have the experience and miss the meaning. He has in my view missed the meaning. I much prefer the work of his father who is more of an integral thinker than Evan. The son is not in this regard like his father.

I studied Dream Yoga with one of Norbu’s students. I am not a Buddhist as they are often doctrinaire and carry a lot of Buddhist baggage. I am, however, grateful for the techniques of the Varayana.

I read this years ago and like it.

I don’t know this book but I have read many of his books and have used Grof breath-work, which is very similar to Wim Hoff’s breath-work, Leonard Orr’s Rebirthing, Reggie Ray’s Breathing Body, All of them are practicing form of breath work plus trance states with a wide range of theoretical spin. Breath-work is safer than drugs in my view. I would put all of these body based practices under the category of Somatic Studies.

The first book of his I read. I like it. He is more experiential in this book than in many of his others.

So, it is sort of like different notes sounded together produce a chord, a rich overtone is produced. No doubt different readers/practitioners will syncopate differently between the practices and what the symbolic landscapes they employ re-present of the ineffable.

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Pulled out Joas & Bellah’s The Axial Age and Its Consequences to prep for a recent meet-up of our Axial Age reading group. I had finished it back in the fall but wanted to get back up to speed for our discussion.

Just finished Jean Gebser’s Ever-present Origin, Part II for the nth time.

And am working through Bernardo Kastrup’s The Idea of the World which is being group read here on the platform.

In a follow-up to a clip @johnnydavis54 posted in another thread, I read Mario Betti’s Twelve Ways of Seeing the World, which is a highly insightful review of twelve “paradigms” that are all legitimate ways of encountering reality. These are, in turn, based on four lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in 1914 which were collected in Human and Cosmic Thought. In the meantime, I found an elaboration on Steiner’s lectures from 1947/1989 by Sigismund von Gleich, Die Wahrheit als Gesamtumfang aller Weltansichten [Truth as the Total Extent of all Worldviews], all of which are now on the read again/to-read list. (This has turned into a kind of “mini-project”.)

Since Betti mentions him in every single chapter of his book, I’m about halfway through Rüdiger Safranski’s biography of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Goethe: Kunstwerk des Lebens [Goethe: Life as a Work of Art] which relies more on Goethe’s works than facts about his life to bring him back to life … an enthralling read, and I hate biographies generally.

All of the above being spin-offs from interactions here on the platform.

And I just started Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife (recommended by a current email correspondent), which is a fascinating account of the author’s near-deathlike experience while in a coma after suffering a rare brain disease.

So, that’s what’s on my desk at the moment.

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I am curious about doing a read of a work by Goethe. His work on Plants intrigues me? His dialogue with Schiller are relevant and I would love to focus on Goethe’s influence on Steiner. I am way behind in getting a grip on the German Romantics but I love their legacy. I love his Roman Poems and Faust.

And I appreciate your sponsoring the Kastrup event. It has proved an excellent space to develop complex ideas as well as some interesting notions.

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Hi everyone! That´s my first experimental post here… Since English is not my native language, I hope to at least make posts “understandable” :laughing:

Let´s try (on the subject of worth-reading books:

. Trungpa Rinpoche, Chogyam, “Crazy Wisdom” and “Beyond Spiritual Materialism”
. Harvey, David, “The Condition of Post Modernity”
. Wittgenstein, Ludwig, “Tractactus Logico Philosophicus”
. Tolle, Eckhart, “A New World”
. Hobsbawn, Eric, “The Age of Extremes” - that one is really depressing, but very factual

Thanks for reading. I´ll be open to advices and replies. Really enjoyed knowing this (beyond) space community!

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As Betti’s book showed, you can’t engage Steiner without stumbling over Goethe. Johann, however, is a phenomenon all his own. The more I encounter, the more captivated I am. (His birth house in Frankfurt is about an hour-and-a-half south of where I live; his house in Weimar is about an hour-and-a-half east of here … as soon as this necessary self-isolation is over, I need to get out and I know where I’d like to go.)

Steiner is a case of his own, and Goethe’s influence on him is without a doubt a fascinating “side track”. You’ve been getting closer to Steiner recently … we should think seriously about a reading group in the not-too-distant future. Almost no one knows anything about Steiner, but he’s one of those characters whom you can’t avoid: sooner or later he pops up on the radar and everyone says, “Oh, I need to take a closer look” but then shies away because he’s just so damn different than everyone else.

And, I appreciate your appreciation, believe me, but the excellence has more to do with all those involved. I’m just the admin/organizer. But as well as it has unfolded, I still have a twinge of conscience that we couldn’t get Di and Judith and Nate – all of whom expressed interest – involved. I hope others, though, are benefiting from the recordings.

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Thanks, Daniel, for these titles.

I know Trungpa well as I studied with one of his students, Reggie Ray. I liked David Harvey’s book a lot and the Tractaus is one of the great weird books of all time, a work that was so weird the author himself rejected it. As I am no logician I do find it a kind of cracked mirror for the positivist to reflect upon. It is perhaps a new kind of poetry. And thanks for sharing your lucid dream experiences on the Kastrup calls. These are important experiences to reflect upon.

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Emotional Literacy

The time spent on Infinite Conversation has helped with developing the Emotional Literacy I needed to Grow & become Confident with.
I am more confident on the Cafe’s then the written medium.So Thank U “Rascals” of the Cafe’s. I will say this “Emotional Literacy” is from personal experience; something -Very Needed at this time because it is not Only a Mental collapse happening,there’s the Wholeness of what it Means to Be/Make Humans in these "Trouble Times ".

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Thanks for the feedback John! :slightly_smiling_face:

To study with some of Trungpa´s students must have been very auspicious! Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche called him Ocean of Wisdom, while being his teacher… He was also regarded as a vidhyadhara, according to my Lama.
And, yes, I´ve heard about Wittgenstein rejecting the Tractatus in his later years. Personally, I am inclined to think he was more lucid at the time he wrote the book than when he assumed that opinion… I say that because I´ve listened to Lamas saying he realised the notion of emptiness deconstructing the limits of our thoughts on dependence of language, having no contact with buddhist teachings… In the preface of Tsongkhapa´s “Speech of Gold”, Robert Thurman stated L.W. as an emanation of Manjushri! Opinions may vary…

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Well, Daniel, that is an angle that I have not thought of. Thanks for pointing that out. I certainly agree thought and language are in a knot we have yet to untie. Just having a sense of that limit can liberate no matter how it is framed. However, I still think that the capacity to make mental models with language and to use our opposable thumbs and upright anatomy has much to do with what we can know. Phenomenology and Epistemology, as mentioned in our call, complicate one another.

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Assuming a complementary approach of our points of view seems to lead us to a tangible explanation about metaphysics, as we recognize phenomena as a latent attribute of experiencing reality from the meaning-free base of emptiness. Such understanding might amplify the probability of the existence of extra-physical phenomena that due to the present cientific limits of language (numbers, graphics, words…) cannot be proved on a world science-community scale, while being vulnerable to lack objectivity. How does that sound to you…

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This sounds good, Daniel, and you are aware that you are using words to frame a communication to a group of people in different places and time zones with multiple agendas who have agreed to read a text and learn something together. I know English is not your first language but this is a well made communique. Thank you.

And I believe that you, Daniel, and we as a group are on track. ( this is a metaphor). This is a statement of my belief, and I am making an epistemological claim. That can change. All such claims are not based upon a direct knowing but rides upon multiple frames of reference and a shared language and lots of untested assumptions.

we recognize phenomena

What kind of we is that? Does that we, when we recognize phenomena, have a size or a shape? Where does that we come from?

and meaning free base of emptiness…

And how do you know meaning-free? And emptiness…how do you know emptiness? Does emptiness have a size or a shape? What happens right before emptiness? What happens during emptiness? What happens after emptiness? And how do you conclude that emptiness is the base? The base of what?

Perhaps you/we have attached a meaning to emptiness? If emptiness is meaning-free to whom is it meaning-free? Does emptiness that is meaning-free, is that the same or different from meaningful or meaningless? Who determines that?

And that my words are from a meaning-free emptiness… and I would suggest that is very similar to what a therapist might call the unconscious or a theist would call God.

Are we both operating with a self-reflexive loop? Kasturp might say we are dissociated alters. But what happens right before we are dissociated? And what happens after? We have to train our attention to make sense of this claim. This would be second order cognition or maybe even third order.

Phenomenology ( 1st, 2nd, 3rd person) plus ontology( met-physics) , plus epistemology( systems of belief) and all happening all at once. It is messy.

I use the metaphor of a twist in the Mobius strip…or the W(hole) in the Klein bottle. These metaphors are the only way I can communicate this both/and…neither/nor…yes but…different kinds of logics may arise!

There is always the silence but you don’t get far with silence…

And there is a difference that makes a difference which is meta-cognitive in nature…contrast and compare…words, graphs, symbols…

Thoughts arise out of emptiness? Or emptiness arises out of thoughts? And is there a difference between thoughts and thinking?

Can we train attention to be aware of what happens in-between ( a liminal zone?) Lucid dreams, OBEs, telepathic communiques, time travel, we could become more aware of? What kind of culture would such an awareness create?

This would be compatible ( I think) with Kastrup’s project. We are alters. Christians would suggest that we are crucified upon spacetime. Or we could rest in nirvana and evade the whole phenomenal display. I am quite open to believe a great deal. Coping with ambiguity is perhaps a capacity we need to develop.

My questions, Daniel, are my attempt to provide a bridge to a future species which we are creating the conditions for and that future species may function more effectively than we do currently. I don’t find emptiness as a concept is adequate for solving the crisis of the frame in our contemporary worlds in the making. How does emptiness effect climate change? It seems to me we have to be aware of much more than the yogis in the cave were aware of. Meta-cognition can be powerfully agentic and that is where my focus is. As modelers can we co-create new operational chains? This is to be hyper aware of different states of body-mind and appreciation for alternate ways of making sense together.

Blessings upon our efforts and may the merits or our efforts be shared with all sentient beings. We will need to be aware of many different kinds of metaphorical constructs in our emerging networks and communities of knowledge creation.

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I appreciate there seem to interest the group, given there are some likes on the posts, and perhaps a genuine motivation to develop the subject (even with the ambiguity it shows on first moment - and might end-up being an attribute of our “object”, since the paradigm of common physics proof-making is notoriously different from the approach of metaphysics concerning objectivity, as opposed to complementary (or holistic, if you will).

I will write on parts… Glad you noticed I´m not an english-speaking native, as it is a bit exaustive to write a long text. I´ll be writting some more shortly… Thanks in advance!

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Thank you, Daniel, and perhaps on our next call we can develop some of these issues in more detail. I am looking forward to a deeper dialogue. We have much to learn from each other.

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