Thursday, August 1, 2013

Duncan Trussell & Graham Hancock - Consciousness and Duality

We see our lives twisting and turning, writhing every day. Thus is nature.
Duality / Paradise Fountain Santa Barbara 
If you're a fan of comedian philosopher Duncan Trussell and psychonaut historian Graham Hancock, like me you have also probably reveled in the wonders that are coincidences and their significances, if any. 

Lately, as my time frees up during this hot Japanese summer, I have noticed the number of coincidences I am experiencing rev up a notch. For example, I was talking to a friend yesterday about the strange nature of the El Paso/Juarez metropolis, how it's not dissimilar from Detroit/Windsor or Portland/Vancouver, WA or even Miami/Havana for that matter, and low and behold, during my commute this morning (my last for a month, thank you very much) the This American Life Podcast that I fired up was about a woman who, through unfortunate circumstances with her Mexican husband, was forced to move with him, across the border, to Juarez and commute back to El Paso each morning for work. (You can check out her blog here. Very interesting stuff. She has a funny wit and humble nature to the way she broadcasts her unique circumstance.)

Anyways, I digress. The point is, maybe part of my subconscious started the conversation about El Paso/Juarez because I scanned the program notes when I downloaded the episode (though I have no recollection of doing such a thing) or maybe it really was a coincidence of some sort. Not sure. What is sure is that the consciousness works in mysterious and strange ways, ways that we do not fully understand yet. I wonder if we ever will? I have faith in science that we will. But is it OK for us to hold any sort of faith in its magic? Does it indeed float out of us like a scavenger of information, even darting into the future for little tidbits, or is that the stuff of fantasy? 

@person from the Duncan Trussell Family Hour Forum writes:

While I understand the need to be open-minded, I still can't get behind the idea of disembodied consciousness. I can see how consciousness is useful to the body and how it would arise as evolutionarily advantageous, but I can't see how a body would be useful to a consciousness that could exist independently. Take out of body experiences, for example. If it were possible to see without eyes, why bother with physical eyeballs? They'd just be redundant. Also, it seems to me that all aspects of conscious experience (perception, language, etc.) could not exist without physical interaction with the material world and with other human beings. There are some philosophical viewpoints that are entirely distinct from both the standard "materialist" and "spiritualist" views that I think can provide some valuable insight into these topics. Heidegger (as interpreted by Dreyfus), for example, is an interesting and unique perspective:

Then @Adur writes on duality:

All that being said, psychedelics are incredibly potent tools for mental development and consciousness. Loved the conversation! I really love Graham Hancock... but I think he is still stuck in the old dualistic good-against-evil worldview. Gnosticism is a fascinating philosophy, but we can go beyond it... following the teachings of the great Duncan Trussell, prophet of absolute Cosmic Love. expansion.

I understand where both of these guys/gals are coming from and, speaking of coincidences, I think it ties nicely in with my post yesterday about the slippery slope that comes along with spirituality. It is easy to go all-in with either camp and be tempted to say a) everything is dualistic or b) the ideal world is outside of duality. What we should be focused on, Ram Dass would say, is awareness -- awareness of the here and now and acceptance of duality as a part of some moments and the acknowledgement of those moments, but also having the ability to let them pass us by and live new again in a new moment that is outside of past or future.

Enlightenment is seeing perfection in each moment, but also letting that moment pass us by so that we can see a different version of perfection in the next one, and so on, and so on. Of course, I have not mastered this skill but I am beginning to see the simplicity of it and appreciate the perfections more and more the less I cling to them. Let us witness these tiny fragments of perfection together and think of the process like putting together an ethereal, ever-morphing puzzle.

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