Sunday, 25 November 2018

“This is the Home Service calling”: The Sufi Way

“This is the Home Service calling; Home Service calling. Are you receiving us?”

We live in a world inundated with information – of fact and fiction, opinion masquerading as fact, misinformation, disinformation, and misguidance, and we exiles from the Real World are in constant and growing danger of drowning in it, and of being buried and lost, like a hidden treasure, beneath an ever-growing mountain of egotism and globalized sham-materialism.

Perhaps we are not in a position to do much, at the present moment, about the all-pervasive beast of sham-materialism, but as the wise saying goes, “If you want to change the world, first change yourself”. As a part of that more manageable, but nevertheless difficult task – not least the question of how to get in touch with our own self at our authentic core and discover its real needs (as opposed to its desires) – we can turn our attention to how we communicate – with ourselves, with others, and with something transcendent that has risen above our own miserable difficulties.

So, we turn first to facts.

Of course, facts are very useful as correctives to misconceptions or misguidance (if we can sift out fact from opinion, falsity and fake news), and to provide pointers to remedial material and growth – I don't doubt that for a minute. But it needs to be emphasized that knowing a fact such as “Apples are nutritious” is not at all the same thing as actually eating, digesting and deriving nutritional benefits from a fruit. As Alfred Korzybsk is reported to have once said, the map is not the territory, or more accurately in his own words: “A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.” So the fact that certain fruit are nutritious might be useful in getting us to actually research nutrition and locate and consume suitably nutritious foods; though its limitations would be disclosed if it were to lead a person instead to binge on crisps and chocolate biscuits and eventually become obese.

The statement of facts is useful in some ways, then, if it goes beyond asserting and taking pride in one's opinion, or hiding behind intellectualism. And yet the facts may contain little or no developmentally-higher information, that is, information that carries with it, or provokes, or invokes, higher development; and a particularly challenging fact may either successfully goad-on the recipient's donkey, or it might just as easily cast the recipient into a state of self-doubt, collapse, and sad resignation.

Another thing, too. Factual statements largely belong in the domain of the mind, and the organ I'd like to turn our attention to is the heart. As a wise healer once remarked to her students: “Don't just stand there and nod. The mind observes and cogitates, the heart engages, and I would encourage you to engage with the process."

Thankfully, the statement and exchange of facts or niceties, questions and answers, etc, of everyday communication, and their nominal meaning and interpretation, is by no means the only mode through which we are able to communicate with one-another, even in this restrictive and often oppressive shadow-world, which has been described by some mystics as akin to being stuck at the bottom of a very deep, dark well, with only a slight – though very real – chance of escape.

Perhaps you can “get my drift” if I speak of the transmission or relay of a signal using a carrier wave. The sinusoidal carrier wave itself (as in radio transmission) simply enables the wave to travel from transmitter to receiver through the “ether” and to be detected; and we also need an antenna of some description at both ends to direct and amplify the radio signal. The carrier wave needs to be sent in a frequency range for which the antenna and receiver are designed, equipped, or currently set to pick up (“Speak to each at the level of their understanding”).

What we are interested in, however, is the information that is communicated, that modulates this basic sinusoidal carrier wave – which needs to be detected; discriminated to remove the carrier wave and to leave us with the information; and processed at the receiver, for example by adjusting its tone, amplifying the signal, and transforming it back via mechanical movement into sound waves through loudspeakers or headphones. In a broad sense you could say that the original integrated communication is first differentiated, then transmitted, and finally reconstituted or reintegrated at the receiver, just as water vapour is taken up to form clouds, the clouds travel across the land, life-sustaining rain is deposited, and forms streams, rivers, and the like “beyond the distant mountains”; water that is perhaps stored in a reservoir for a time, to smooth out supply and demand, and drawn from a well for eventual use.

The information that we isolate from the incoming radio waves could contain tapped-out Morse code or spoken facts at its most basic, poetry, music, even electronic data, or in the case of television transmission, images.

Moreover, in the same way that this information modulates the original carrier wave – and ultimately effects change in the recipient – so, too, more subtle, hidden, esoteric things (such as “love”, “real knowledge”, “wisdom”, the “inner state” of the radio host) may be communicated, using the speech, the music or the images as its own carrier wave of a higher order and, in a similar way, these higher communications may be detected and processed, if the transmitter or relay, and the recipient are sensitive and developed in certain ways.

Thus we may be able to detect subtleties or other dimensions in speech, music, art; etc, not only when physically present, but also when present through this mechanism of “remote sensing” or “distant learning”. This method transcends the terrestrial limitations of time and space.

Certain factors will cause difficulties in fulfilling the process, and these are things like adverse atmospheric and environmental conditions, static and dynamic interference, resistance, reluctance, reactance, impedance, distortion, restricted bandwidth, clipping, loss, and so forth, in so-called “real world” (ie practical and limited) systems as opposed to theoretical or ideal systems.

The most general requirements for enabling the process, at a human level, would be to develop the overall patience, trust and “capacity” to communicate in this way. Having a high internal signal-to-noise ratio (inner peace, tranquility); being open, transparent and receptive (willing and able to admit); being directed, sensitive, tuned, discriminating (“Pip-pip-pip – I grr – learnt it from English By Radio!”), being able to correctly error-check, filter and smooth fluctuations; and also being able to relate and integrate this new information intuitively into other personal or collective experience.

Where necessary the recipient may need to refer back to established facts from source material acquired through other means, or from an adept in the field, such as a teacher, in order to perform a “reality check”, and estimate the significance and relevance of the new information.

Not least, the recipient needs to be open to the idea and reality of induced change, which in the case of human interaction may be a two-way, reciprocal process or “service” of mutual induction and resonance, involving two or more people able to act as “transceivers” (that is, both transmitting and receiving, one to the other).

At a bare minimum, it is desirable to admit this means of operation as at least being one more possibility, rather than unadvisedly limiting one's options to only those considered wholly rational, because we are not able to ascend this deep, dark well of forgetfulness – toward the numinous Green Light of the celestial Pole / Qutb – by purely rational means.

~ Image: "Sender Gaisberg" ("Gaisberg Transmitter").
~ Image author: Florian Fuchs.
~ Image licence: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.
~ Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

Text: Copyright (c) 2018, Eric Twose. Licence for re-use: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

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