Evolution and the Anthropic Principle
Richard Dawkins vs Ken Wilber
Where Am I
The Cheshire Cat
I Could Have Been a Contender
What I Wish Id Said
Keeping Up with the World
The Flight of the Phoenix
The Power of Fog
Naming the Unnamed
Principles in Art
Spirit and Matter
The Enlightenment Conundrum
On Believing
Water? What Water?
Telling Stories 2
I believe in Rainbows
Whom Can We Believe
Patterns by Paul Simon and Douglas Hofstadter
Copyright Inheritance
Broad Minded
Beliefs Part Two
A Long drawn-out solstice
The Quest for, and the Illusion of, Certainty
To the Ends of the Earth
The Meaning Of Life
We Hold These Truths
There are Beliefs
Music and Language
Circular Thinking
Runaway World
Deep Playmate
An Alchemy of Telling
Cultural Genes
The Joy of Science
The Conundrum of Human Nature
No, The Computer Isn't Smarter than I Am!
A Rant on Religion
The West Wing Turning Right?
The Geometry of Spring
Music as Language
What is Art
Beauty and Spirit
You Don't Understand Us
The New God of Probability
Gene Hackman as President
Being Lifted Out of the Ordinary
The Head and the Heart
Pay Attention!
Music Poetry and Meaning
On Seeking Truth
Perceptions and Reality
The Marriage Bond
Taboo is a Right
Copyright versus Copyleft
Cycles of Transcendence
Ego and Self
The Big Picture
Mindfulness as Larger Mind
The Power of Words
The State of the Union
Out of My Mind
Family Thoughts
One Life
Telling Stories
Small World
Bigger Realities
What Comes Next
Humor as a Higher Level of Consciousness
Sometimes Everything Goes Wrong
Emotional Resonance
Extraordinary Respect
Insight Meditation
Us and Them
Paradox and Paradigm
To Reach
I Don't Know
Don the Romantic
The Guy in the Blue Saab
The Sound of Silence
Eating is an Intimate Act
Evolution of Spirit
On Cloning and Other . . .
Creativity and Psychic Phenomena
Magic in My Life
My Difficulty with Aaron
Mindful & Mystic
Taste of Irony
Music Appreciation
Levels of Consciousness

The Big Picture

In another essay, "Mindfulness as Larger Mind," I explored the mysterious terrain of intuition as a larger mental context from those we normally inhabit.

Diane Ackerman, in her wonderful book, A Natural History of the Senses, describes the launching of a space shuttle and her train of thought that flowed from that. "You know what home is," she wrote, and described all the related feelings and concepts the word conjured for her. Then she wrote about her first flying lesson, and how it affected her perceptions of the earth, of Earth, even. "How can you understand the planet without walking upon it, sampling its marvels one by one, and then floating high above it, to see it all a single eye-gulp?"

Beyond that, even, is the view of the earth from space. To see that "big, beautiful, blue, wet ball" and know that that is home, that that is indeed who we are, is a leap of perspective that is not just visual. "It will change our sense of what a neighborhood is. It will persuade us that we are citizens of Earth, her joyriders and her caretakers, who would do well to work on her problems together."

The idea of community was once a passion of mine. I yearned to be in a place among people who all recognized the interdependence of living things—fauna and flora and everything between and beyond. That sense of relatedness among people gave me my first glimpse—only a glimpse—of a kind of ultimate meaning. 

Transcendence simply cannot be described adequately in words.  The "big picture" is far beyond words, and yet words are all we have to try to communicate the experience to one another. The best we can hope for is to say something like, "You know the feeling you get sometimes that there's more to life, more to experience, than the milieu you live in everyday, with bills to pay and family to love and a job to do?" Because we can't describe the experience precisely, it's as though it doesn't really exist, and is somehow only in our own imagination. We depend upon our religious leaders or our philosophers to come up with words to tell us how to think about these mysteries. Because "thinking" is really a function of words, that may give us a handle, but it does not—not ever—reveal to us the really big picture. I've read a mountain of books by this time, and through them I may understand a little of how ideas fit together (those that do, anyway). I can write all the stuff that is on my Web site, this billboard of my ego, but I'm not giving anyone the experience that I'm talking about. We can be led, if we're lucky, to an overlook of the mind, but once there we have to open our eyes and just see.

Diane Ackerman exemplifies the experience eloquently: "The view from space is offering us the first chance we evolutionary toddlers have had to cross the cosmic street and stand facing our own home, amazed to see it clearly for the first time." That's true, and not only in the visual sense and not only relating to other human beings and our environment.

As Ken Wilber reminds us, if we are lucky and if we are observant and if we are patient, we can "transcend and include" our current world-view, whatever it is. We can then see from a longer perspective that does not deny what we knew before; it only puts it all into a Bigger Picture. We can do this again and again and again, . . . forever.


July 3, 2003

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