My conflict of science vs experience

Union by Kit No Comments »

Dear Maude,

I wants to start a discussion here with you about our spiritual experience together – another way of describing our union. We reach this through sex, which for us has a tantric quality, but we have both expressed clearly on a number of occasions that this is not a sexual state, but instead is one that is reached through sex, which is acting as a gateway. Other people may use other gateways – golf, talking, hiking, nature, cooking – that offer a shared experience where the ego can drop and the sense becomes not just of acting in concert but of being part of something larger.

There is for me a considerable conflict between my direct experience of this and my scientific / materialist view of the world which, starting with Plato’s cave and Descartes’ suspicions about the senses, is more and more showing that our beliefs and perceptions are weak and malleable. To get past this requires stepping past words and logic, to move into the trans-rational, to use Wilber’s term, and I cannot consistently make that leap.

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Dialogue, Union by Kit No Comments »

My Dear Kat,

I want to write about union. It’s a difficult subject, especially for me, because it flies in the face of everyday experience, but time after time we have this experience of union, of oneness. It occurs most often when we are sexual, but plain physical contact can bring it out, too. I want to be clear on one point: there is no loss of self; instead, the experience is of myself and of us simultaneously. I don’t mean a sense of you and your body. It’s a sense of a third autonomous center that only comes into existence (or is perceived, don’t know which) when my own ego and intentionality are quietened.

Sounds strange, right? But here’s the next strange thing: that when you or I talk about this, the other says “Uh-huh … yes … right” and there is no disagreement on the experience. I cannot imagine that much agreement happening were we having separate hallucinatory experiences.

So what is going on here? Two factors come into play for me. Firstly, I want to point out that experience trumps theory, or as I put it in my youth, “the fact precedes the explanation”.   Any theory has to accommodate the facts; if it doesn’t, it is deficient. Of course, illusions may exist — the car wheels caught on film appear to be spinning backwards — but the entire body of theory exists IN ORDER TO explain our experiences, so they must have a certain validity. Secondly, I like theories that explain the facts of my world; they organise it, make sense of it, and have useful predictive powers.

Bearing these two in mind, I propose that both realities are true: that we are both separate and one. This contradicts Aristotelian logic. Tough. Light is both a wave and a particle, which doesn’t make sense, either, but the evidence for it is overwhelming.

In order to make this more palatable, let me offer a metaphor: we are like pages in a book. Every page appears unique; it has its own number, its own words, its own meaning, yet we more easily see the book as the unit. Is there a similar one-ness to the world that we are failing to see?

Just as we can come up with a list of differences between you and me, so we can come up with a list of equivalences: culture, nationality, race, DNA, and the very atoms of which we are composed. So maybe we are both an individual and a species; an individual and a life-form; an individual and a collection of atoms. Our culture emphasises individuality, especially in America, so our upbringing teaches us to only see that fact.

But what constitutes an individual becomes less clear-cut the more it is examined. For instance, a single person is not just an arrangement of 10 trillion human cells, but also contains ten times as many microbial cells that are essential to well-being, for instance see here “some researchers think of our bodies as superorganisms, rather than one organism teeming with hordes of subordinate invertebrates.”

In the West, our belief system is built on an egocentric framework. To admit the experience of union it is necessary to expand that framework to allow for its possibility, otherwise any experience of union will be overlooked or dismissed. Having made room for it, we also need a non-egoistic situation where it can emerge. Sex is one such, but it can be found in intimate conversations or communing with nature.

In the West, we use words for explanations and answers, but they fail to satisfy in answering the Big Questions because language works best as a divisive tool. Words classify the world into this and not this, which makes them very unsuited to describe union, or one-ness. Additionally, a word is not the thing; we can only use a word like a pointer, so expecting words to guide us to union is optimistic. Instead, the opposite is true: silence, listening, observing, being open to the present, can guide us there. The knowledge of one-ness is experiential, not verbal.

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Letting Things Happen

Dialogue, Union by Kit No Comments »

My Dear Kat,

I think we are on to something important in this discussion of allowing something to happen.  By insisting on a particular movie or director or genre rather than a preference, certain possibilities are ruled out, but by being open to alternatives, anything is possible.  This is a subtle point.  It’s different from suppressing one’s desires, different from taking a position of not caring, and different from freezing into inaction.  It’s about being open to other possibilities, of not being locked into a mindset of how things have to be.

We had a discussion about sex this morning that picked up this idea.

Sex seems to get better and better; again and again we have a never-before experience of union, and yet next time we discover something fresh and new.  This feels very mysterious, and contrary to the way things work in the world.  You pointed out that we act similarly to how we behave outside; we don’t have rules about what must be or expectations about what should or will happen, and this allows a spontaneous flow into states that we cannot imagine beforehand.

One way we came to this was when a medical condition precluded intercourse for some time.  This required us to be sexual in other ways, and showed us that sexual excitement and orgasm is not limited to particular body parts, but can occur anywhere and in many ways; it is a state of arousal that we achieve together, a state in which any or all of the body can partake.  Of course it is facilitated by and strongly connected to genitals, hormones, history and erotica, but it is as if they are only a gateway to bonding, that experience of being part of something over and above our individual selves.

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Balance and Stillness

Dialogue, Union by Kit 1 Comment »

My Dear Kat,

I want to speak about balance.  The way we act together is very puzzling.  We come to agreement on what we do together without apparent effort or decision-making.  Certainly there are times when only one of us feels tired, talkative, sleepy, sexual, but mostly we concur on whether to walk, what movie to watch, when to separate, and all those other joint decisions.  It’s that process of deciding that is obscure; there is no sense of pitting my needs against yours, struggling until a winner emerges.  There is scarcely ever even a sense that we have different agendas at all.  But how can this be?  We’re different people with different clocks; the odds of being in sync become more improbable the more it happens.

It is as if we have moved our consciousness from our individual selves to us, that incorporeal being that has both our interests at heart.  I don’t invoke magical channels here; it’s likely that there are signals of body language, smell, voice, etc. by which we adjust to each other.  But such communication is not conscious, hence the puzzlement above, and more to the point, is irrelevant because the focus is on what we do, our intentionality, and here, my best reply is “nothing”.  We achieve this by being, not by doing, and the more still we are, the more intense the experience becomes.


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Presence and Union

Dialogue, Union by Kit No Comments »

Turtle and LilyMy Dear Kat,

To illuminate my main point, I first want to examine what it means to be present.  Yes it’s a cool phrase, and yes I can generally say if it is the case, but what exactly are we talking about?  Here’s my stab at it.

Some things are indisputable because their veracity stems from the experience itself.  Even if it’s an illusion, a mirror, a trick of the light, it’s still indisputably my world.  To the extent that our awareness and attention is on such experiences, we are present.  Phrased like that, presence is a continuum, not a binary state.  Nevertheless, the experience is closer to binary, like a seesaw, because of the way our attention focuses.

And so to my main point; I experience something existing that is not me and not you, but is us.  It is clearer when we are physically together, and most so in sexual union, but it is not simply the sense of touch or the pleasures of the flesh, because my sense of its existence is other than my physical senses.

I struggle to write these words because what I am saying is so beyond my objective, scientific view of the world, yet it fits in with Eastern/spiritual views of oneness and unity.  I feel as if I am in the process of turning a corner and perceiving a whole other landscape.


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Indeed, Union is Odd

Dialogue, Union by Kit No Comments »

My Dear Kat,

The experience of our union has some peculiar properties, notably that you and I report the same thing.  When one of us proffers a description, the other says “Uh-Huh” in agreement.  Pretty much always.  Now you and I have led different lives, have different bodies with sex organs of different types, and whose nervous systems are not connected.  So either there’s a lot of coincidence going on, or WE’RE HAVING THE SAME EXPERIENCE.  We approach so close, we are so in touch, literally and metaphorically, that we are both conscious of the shape and extent of the boundary between us.  I don’t mean boundary in the “barrier, blockage, unavailable” sense, but that of junction, connection, surface.  It exists in meta-space (no time to explain that now), and we both see its shape, albeit from opposite sides, and so we recognise our pattern in the other.

Maybe I’m getting to lyrical and theoretical there.  I don’t experience it like that.  Instead, I’m in quiet agreement with you as you speak.  Always.  Oh, there may be some straightening out of terms, but the agreement is there.  How odd is that?

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The Puzzle of Union

Dialogue, Union by Kit No Comments »

Dear Kat,

Yes, the time phenomenon is very strange, but I’ll put it down to being intensely present.

More puzzling to me is the sense of union, of experiencing another being that is not me and not you; at the same time, I am also aware of myself.  This has happened to me just a few times in my past, but with you, it’s a regular occurrence.  It’s puzzling because I have no place in my scientific cosmology for it; my brain says maybe it’s the experience of chemicals designed to promote pair bonding such as oxytocin or vasopressin.  Maybe it’s a hallucination, a desirable illusion designed to promote sex and reproduction.  It’s just a subjective phenomenon, a trick of the light.

Against this, there is the claim of many mystics that we are all one. “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together” (even though that’s from “I Am the Walrus”, a deliberately meaningless song.)  But then again, maybe those 40 days in the desert affect the brain.

And lastly, I say no, this is my primary experience.  There is only experience in our world; all those theories are ways to explain and classify our experience, so ignoring my experience in favor of the theories classifying it is a dangerous route.  Here, I also have to refer to the Enlightenment Intensives, the epitome of chopping through words to reach the direct experience.

So I have this dialogue in my head and this experience in my body, and sometimes it makes me feel like this.

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A Joint Narrative

Union by kk No Comments »

“How can I speak of this?” he said as they blissed out together.  The sense of contact of their bodies together was so real that no answer was needed; the body sang its mute “Yes”.  And such a pairing made the minds meld, to such an extent that she couldn’t, for a moment, quite grasp who had started this narrative, but her leg rubbed against his cock and she thrilled to the feel, to the familiarity, to the heat as I sat in bed and composed this open letter to you, my dearest, to say “Let us write a tale together, and tell of this sense of the other, and let us intertwine and edit each other’s words and thoughts into a thread that lets, encourages, even makes a reader flip between identities, so they blur into a sense of jointness, and the union of the two becomes the authentic voice of the narrative.”

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