A New Favorite

In contrast to my last post, I thought I’d add a new favorite. I listened to this for the first time only last night. I think it’s quite beautiful, but I notice a feeling of hesitation in sharing it. Most people will perhaps find it hard to follow or hard to understand.

Rumi is just beautiful. So many of his quotes resonate deeply with me.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

Rumi

The Light In The Eyes

Marjaneh and I have an electronic picture frame that hangs on our living room wall. From our recliners we can easily see it. We have about 500 pictures in it at this time. Most of them are of our children and grandchildren. A few of them are of ourselves.

What I see when I look deeply into the pictures of our grandchildren is a kind of light and joy. It is most noticeable in their eyes, but you can see it in their smiles and their adventurous nature.

When I see the light I think of something that Alan Watts once said: “What is it like, to wake up, having never gone to sleep? What is it like, to go to sleep and never wake up? It’s very mysterious.”

I agree with Alan. Seeing the light puts me in a reflective state of mind. My interpretation is that we come into this world full of wonder and undamaged.

If we are fortunate, we grow up and do not fully lose the light. Or if we lose it for a period of time, we may somehow reacquire it. As we go through life, however, we will accrue damage of one kind or another.

This damage may be simply growing old. Our bodies become less and less able to repair themselves and they lose their youthful vigor. Eventually we pass away.

We may also be damaged by what we see as the actions of others. And just as easily, we may be damaged by actions that we see as our own that are unkind and lacking in true compassion for others.

As I grow older I see my own light dimming in different ways. My spiritual component, however, refreshes the light to some degree. But I think the dimming until it is eventually extinguished does continue.

This dimming does not worry me. Dylan Thomas in his poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” suggested that we should “Rage, rage, against the dying of light.” So my view is a little different. I don’t see the need to rage against it, because I don’t think the light ever dies.

At my death, I expect the light – my consciousness – will remain, even after all memories or sense of my life – will die with my body. So I will lose my identity but my consciousness, or just consciousness, will remain. Eventually, that consciousness will be reincarnated in another person. And the light will shine brightly from that child’s eyes, as part of an eternal cycle.

There really is nothing to fear, ever, in this world of Mayá.

Four Kinds of Luck?

I spent some time this evening browsing an article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (the “SEP.”) It’s a great resource.

I was reading was on Moral Luck. I have heard that term before, yet didn’t know a lot about it. Reading the article hasn’t helped a lot.

The author of the article claims that there are four kinds of luck: Resultant Luck, Circumstantial Luck, Constitutive Luck and Causal Luck.

As I read the descriptions of each I was waiting to see how they would be materially different from each other. You expect that there would be some real difference between them. Yet that’s not what I concluded. Here’s a one-sentence description from the article for each of the four kinds of luck:

  • Resultant luck is luck in the way things turn out.
  • Circumstantial luck is luck in the circumstances in which one finds oneself.
  • Constitutive luck is luck in who one is, or in the traits and dispositions that one has.
  • Finally, there is causal luck, or luck in “how one is determined by antecedent circumstances.”

I wrote previously that all of life comes down to luck. Isn’t it obvious that these supposedly different kinds of luck are all just manifestations of the same thing: Life doing what it does?

Maybe I’ve listened to too much Alan Watts, or smoked a bit too much weed, but it’s obvious to me that all of these four types of luck are completely explained by life just unfolding, whether that means quantum mechanics or what some ancient religions / philosophies call Brahman, the Self, the Ground of All Being, or equivalently, just God.

Solar Conditions Improving!

One of my hobbies is amateur radio.

During the Covid-19 pandemic I took the opportunity to get my amateur radio license. I started with the Technician class license and about nine or so months later, I earned my General class ticket. I’ll probably work on getting my Extra Class ticket before too long.

Amateur radio is a good hobby for someone like me. There really is no shortage of things you can investigate. One of the things I’d like to do is finish a 20 meter magnetic loop antenna that I started researching. One of the characteristics of this kind of antenna is that you need a high quality air or vacuum variable capacitor for tuning the loop. I bought a new vacuum variable capacitor for a few hundred dollars. They are amazing beasts. The RF voltage and current at the top of a magnetic loop antenna are intense!

Here’s an image of the current conditions:

Current Solar Conditions on 9/11/2021

I’m not up to speed on all of the metrics reported on these charts. As usual, you can find a good web page that goes into more detail.

The numbers I currently look at include the SFI (Solar Flux Index), the SN (Number of Sunspots), the A and K values, and the HF Conditions.

In the above, the 30 meter and 20 meter bands are open (“Good.”) Other bands are fair or poor. I usually work on 20 meters when I have time to “go play radio.”

An SFI of 100 or greater and a sunspot count of 80 or more usually seems to bode pretty well for HF propagation. Low A and K values are important too.

All that being said, you don’t really know how the bands are going to perform until you get on the air. And due to fluctuations in band conditions, the bands can open and close quickly.

It’s all part of the hobby. If you love it, you love it.

I Am Only the Self – N. Maharaj

I enjoyed listening to this message from Nisargadatta Maharaj.

Nisargadatta Maharaj (17 April 1897 – 8 September 1981), born Maruti Shivrampant Kambli, was an Indian guru of nondualism, belonging to the Inchagiri Sampradaya, a lineage of teachers from the Navnath Sampradaya and Lingayat Shaivism.

The publication in 1973 of I Am That, an English translation of his talks in Marathi by Maurice Frydman, brought him worldwide recognition and followers, especially from North America and Europe.

I Am Only the Self

Is Success Luck or Hard Work?

All of life ultimately comes down to luck.

From time to time I find myself saying “Life just unfolds.” I’m suggesting that becoming attached to appearances is a mistake. When we become attached, we invariably try to control, and when we try to control we lose The Way.

No one can predict how their life will unfold. The complexity is overwhelming. So we fall back on making guesses and predictions based on past experiences of one kind or another. We do the best we can in the moment and that’s just how it seems to be.

Most people have a strong sense that they are the independent authors of their actions. This strong sense is illusory. Perhaps evolution consed it up out of spare parts and wired it into us because it conferred an evolutionary advantage of one kind or another. Anthony Cashmore has a paper (PDF) that suggests something along these lines.

Suggesting that free will is an illusion often causes people to raise objections.

A fairly common one goes something like this: “Well, if I have no free will, should I just sit on the couch all day, waiting to see how my life turns out?”

You could try to do that. Yet eventually you will get up off the couch and go back to living your life. What people often seem to overlook is how deeply and intimately we are connected to all of … this, and by this, I mean what Alan Watts called “The Colossal Reality.”

You and I cannot get outside of existence. We think of ourselves as separate beings. Yet, if I look for the place where I end and someone or something else begins, I can never find it. Buddhism and other ancient Indian religions often talk about the concept of “No Self.” I subscribe to it. And at times, I wince when language requires that I use pronouns like I, we, me, him, her. (See what happened in that last sentence? That’s what I’m talking about.)

Success definitely requires hard work. Sadly, though, it’s just not up to you whether you will or will not be able to put in the hours. You either have the factors that allow you to work hard or you do not. If you lack them, you may get them in the future. If you have them now, you may lose them in the future.

Every moment of every day, you’re a different person. As Heraclitus said, you cannot step in the same river twice. We are also never the same person twice.

In closing, here is a video that seems helpful in laying out the basic issues:

A Little Amateur Radio for Labor Day

It’s been a few months since I have taken the time to get out and “go play radio.” So I rounded up my totes with radio gear and went to the North Kirkland Community Park here in Kirkland and set up my antenna and transceiver.

It was a good day. The weather was warm but not hot. Setting up the antenna was easy enough. I made about six or seven contacts, all across the United States.

I hope to head out to the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, Washington, again soon. I like that I can park out there and set up a 20 meter (wavelength) half-dipole between two tall masts. That helps with signal strength.

My Antenna Yesterday – It’s about 30′ high.
My Transceiver is a Yaesu FTdx10.