Thursday, September 13, 2018

Know Your (Sacred) Surroundings

In a recent interview, Peter Thiel said we need to look up and not so much around (which just creates a mimetic trap).

He studied under René Girard, so he's aware that the wisdom of crowds can easily devolve into the madness of crowds. It's an easy trap if we don't stand deep and high. So perhaps better to center ourselves vertically, otherwise we just fall into utter horizontal fragmentation that is never unified.

I'm getting this point in another book I'm reading by Jonah Goldberg. His thesis is that civilization is fragile, but works because our pluralism is centered around deeper principles. Once those principles go, we just become pre-modern tribal power mongers trying to subsume or battle everyone else. Watch the news lately?

But maybe there are some things worth being with down here. 

Shall we get a little woo-woo? Well, I suppose this blog often touches on the woo, but hopefully holds on to enough traditional and intellectual rigor to not let the other ‘woo’ come in. We’ll leave that to the Deepak’s of the world.

I found this (white paper)* very compelling. What it shows is how much relational exchange goes on beyond the physical. And not just between us as people but also the objects we come into contact with. We are indeed always transmitting and receiving energy and information with each other.

One profound example, that has been scientifically verified, is that highly-conscious human beings can change the properties of an artifact through focused intention on it. “Not only can properties of inorganic materials such as pH of water be changed in line with the intention, but liver enzyme activity (chemical potential) of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) can be augmented.” This can be tested on any device that is unimprinted to where it becomes an Imprinted Host Device (IHD). This setup is illustrated below, and has been replicated numerous times.

This has huge implications for how we consider sacred relics! Many relics that have been offered virtuous intentions by saints and sages throughout the ages can potentially store and continue to transmit this information to others. I know when I enter some sacred spaces, it's no accident that my state changes immediately. It's as if my contemplation is being done to me.

Moreover, “Another important observation is that the Buddha [sacred] Relics have an aspect of consciousness and one could even say that they have an innate intelligence. It is well observed that relics multiply in reverential environments; they also disappear if kept in what we could consider ‘unholy’ places like trouser pockets! In this sense they are meta-stable. ... A dynamism enters from these higher dimensional intelligences through the Relics.”

The cliché is true: we are all interconnected in more ways than we realize.

We are what we consume, what and who we surround ourselves with, what we think, and who we love, or... 

Mass ↔ Energy ↔ Information ↔ Consciousness

Best to get right with our surroundings above and below!

* All references and illustrations are from the paper “The Sacred Buddha Relic Tour: For the Benefit of All Beings” by Nisha J. Manek, MD, FRCP (UK) and William A Tiller, PhD. Presented at the Annual Toward A Science of Consciousness Conference: Forum on Eastern Philosophy Symposium. University of Arizona Center for Consciousness Studies, Tucson, Arizona, April 9th, 2012.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Ultimate Confession

In reading Fr. Stephen Freeman's blog post Saved by Weakness, I was taken back at how small our aims are. I'll admit to feeling good about myself when I have not done any recent explicit transgressions against my fellow man. It's the secular bar of being a "nice person". But this hubris comes from a lack of Truth in being, where we lose sight of the ultimate goal in life is to become a saint (i.e. sanctification, deification, theosis). Yet, we either dismiss this as being unattainable for ourselves or we conclude this was never attained for those seen as such (who we believe to being corrupt in reality despite narratives told to us by history or an institution).

If I am to see my brokenness sincerely and with gut-wrenching honesty, I can also come to feel some healthy guilt in all of this. The guilt is there to show there is something inconsistent with my values, my essence, my telos. The point is not to compare ourselves to others in spite of falling short, but to muster the courage to transform the image to the likeness. Spiritual atrophy can easily creep in, and if we're not moving upward eventually we fall downward.

In his post, Fr. Freeman brings in a remarkable passage from The Way of A Pilgrim that elaborates the deepest confessions from the nameless Russian mystic. Here, our anonymous pilgrim offers a vulnerable and courageous self that is not limited by secular treasures. I feel the need to repost these confessions, as a reminder how I fall short by low aims and to inspire me to repent evermore.
“1. I do not love God. For if I loved Him, then I would be constantly thinking of Him with heartfelt satisfaction; every thought of God would fill me with joy and delight. On the contrary, I think more and with greater eagerness about worldly things, while thoughts of God present difficulty and aridity. If I loved Him, then my prayerful communion with Him would nourish, delight, and lead me to uninterrupted union with Him. But on the contrary, not only do I not find my delight in prayer but I find it difficult to pray; I struggle unwillingly, I am weakened by slothfulness and am most willing to do anything insignificant only to shorten or end my prayer. In useless occupations I pay no attention to time; but when I am thinking about God, when I place myself in His presence, every hour seems like a year. When a person loves another, he spends the entire day unceasingly thinking about his beloved, imagining being with him, and worrying about him; no matter what he is occupied with, the beloved does not leave his thoughts. And I in the course of the day barely take one hour to immerse myself deeply in meditation about God and enkindle within myself love for Him, but for twenty-three hours with eagerness I bring fervent sacrifices to the idols of my passions! I greatly enjoy conversations about vain subjects which degrade the spirit, but in conversations about God I am dry, bored, and lazy. And if unwillingly I am drawn into a conversation about spiritual matters, I quickly change the subject to something which flatters my passions. I have avid curiosity about secular news and political events; I seek satisfaction for my love of knowledge in worldly studies, in science, art, and methods of acquiring possessions. But the study of the law of the Lord, knowledge of God, and religion does not impress me, does not nourish my soul. I judge this to be an unessential activity of a Christian, a rather supplementary subject with which I should occupy myself in my leisure time. In short, if love of God can be recognized by the keeping of His commandments—“If anyone loves me he will keep my word,” says the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:23), and I not only do not keep His commandments but I make no attempt to do so—then in very truth I should conclude that I do not love God. St. Basil the Great confirms this when he says, “The evidence that man does not love God and His Christ is that he does not keep His commandments.”
2. I do not love my neighbor. Not only because I am not ready to lay down my life for the good of my neighbor, according to the Gospel, but I will not even sacrifice my peace and my happiness for his good. If I loved my neighbor as myself, as the Gospel commands, then his misfortune would grieve me also and his prosperity would bring me great joy. But, on the contrary, I listen with curiosity to accounts of my neighbor’s misfortune and I am not grieved but indifferent to them and, what is more, I seem to find satisfaction in them. I do not sympathize with the failings of my brother but I judge them and publicize them. My neighbor’s welfare, honor, and happiness do not delight me as my own; I am either completely indifferent to them or I am jealous or envious.
3. I do not have faith in spiritual realities. I believe neither in immortality nor in the Gospel. If I were firmly convinced and believed without a doubt in eternal life and in the consequences for our earthly actions, then I would be constantly thinking about this; the very thought of immortality would inspire me with wonder and awe and I would live my life as an alien who is getting ready to enter his native land. On the contrary, I don’t even think of eternity and I consider the end of this life as the limit of my existence. I nurture a secret thought within and wonder, “Who knows what will happen after death?” Even when I say that I believe in immortality, it is only from natural reasoning, for down deep in my heart I am not convinced of it and my actions and preoccupations with earthly cares prove this. If I accepted the Holy Gospel with faith into my heart as the word of God, then I would be constantly occupied with it; I would study it, would delight in it, and with deep reverence would immerse myself in it. Wisdom, mercy, and love hidden within it would lead me to ecstasy, and day and night I would delight in the lessons contained in the law of God. They would be my daily spiritual bread and I would earnestly strive to fulfill them; nothing on earth would be strong enough to keep me from this. But on the contrary, even if I sometimes read or listen to the word of God, it is either out of necessity or curiosity; I do not delve deeply into it but feel dryness and indifference to it and I receive no greater benefit from it than I do from secular reading. Further, I am eager to give it up promptly and go to worldly reading, in which I have greater interest and from which I get more satisfaction. I am full of pride and self-love. All my actions confirm this. When I see something good in myself, then I wish to display it or brag about it to others, or interiorly I am full of self-love even when outwardly I feign humility. I ascribe everything to my own ability and I consider myself more perfect than others, or at least not worse. If I notice a vice in myself, then I try to excuse it or justify it; I pretend to be innocent or I claim that I couldn’t help it. I am impatient with those who do not show me respect and I consider them incapable of judging character. I am vain about my talents and cannot accept any failure in my actions. I grumble and I am glad to see the misfortune of my enemies, and my intention in doing anything good is either praise, self-interest, or earthly comfort. In a word, I continuously make an idol out of myself, to whom I give unceasing service as I seek sensual delights and try to nourish my carnal desires.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Unbearable Lightness of Believing

I find it fascinating that someone can have a mystical experience and still be an atheist. It just proves there is no test or observation that can be performed to prove the existence of God when your noggin is a hard shell. I suppose there are miraculous divine intervention experiences that could make a crack, but even then, the rigid logic of their minds would make every attempt to explain it away.

It always comes down to faith; on both sides of the fence. Either we make a leap to it’s all random chance (and those mystical experiences are purely epiphenomenal), or we leap to something comes from someThing.

I only mention this because I’m reading Micheal Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. It’s a fun read, and Pollan is an excellent writer. He’s also into immersing himself into his subject matter. As such, in this book he does the noble task of tripping away on psilocybin, LSD, and 5-MeO-DMT (“the toad”).

I’m not strictly opposed to some people who use these technologies. (Yes, I have experience.) But I also acknowledge their limitations. First, you can’t cheat spiritual development. In fact, these mystical tools could make your ego more inflated than it already is. You start to believe in you're special because of your spiritual athletic abilities. Also, the intensity of the experiences could make it challenging to fully integrate them in everyday life, as well as truly cultivate a relationship with God. You’re more caught up by the light show than the light itself. This also makes it challenging to discern the "fools gold" from the gold. Lastly, it could be a form of spiritual adultery that works against the tradition you are rooted in.

With that being said, Pollan makes a good point that psychedelics can bear fruit for those suffering from addictions, obsessions, depression, and existential dread. Funny enough, during their journeys people often report a banal platitude that they already intellectually knew. (For instance, one woman reported "eat right, exercise, stretch" during her journey.) However, psychedelics seem to “relax the brain's inhibition on visualizing our thoughts, thereby rendering them more authoritative, memorable, and sticky.” While before you think you know, but now you just know.

Yet, despite all of Pollan’s mystical experiences and research, he still holds to the idea that it’s all in the head. He says, “it seems likely that all mental experiences are mediated by chemicals in the brain, even the most seemingly transcendent.”

If mysticism is all in the brain, why would random mutations see an evolutionary fitness to it? It all seems superfluous to me, but then again I’m sure our logical atheists would argue that it gave us religion and myth; and therefore communal bonding that allowed for our survival. Aww, come on. 

I tend to side with DávilaMysticism is the empiricism of transcendent knowledge. It may not be proof of the transcendent itself if you’re vertically closed off to that sort of thing. But that's your problem, not God's. 

Or as the Aphorist said: The truth does not need the adherence of man in order to be certain. You may not be sure, but the Truth always is.

And if you really need to explain God away, then you may have to throw in yourself as collateral damage. Two negatives make a positive. Problem solved.

The atheist devotes himself less to proving that God does not exist than to forbidding Him to exist. — Dávila

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Give Me Depth, or Give Me Death

I have a craving for spiritual depth these days. But what do we mean by depth? For some, it could translate as a stoned hippie who sees the whole cosmos manifesting in his dirty fingernail. For others, it could be seen as a pseudo-intellectual with the right mix of charisma and prowess to pontificate abstract drivel disconnected from reality.

As for me, I could just say I know it when I resonate with it. But I think we could do a better job explicating this depth thingy.

Best I turn to this passage in MotT as Tomberg has some interesting things to say on the matter:
“It should not be forgotten that Christian Hermeticism is not a religion apart, nor a church apart, nor even a science apart, which would compete with religion, with the Church, or with science. It is the connecting link (hyphen) between mysticism, gnosis and magic, expressed through symbolism —symbolism being the means of expression of the dimensions of depth and height (and therefore of enstasy and ecstasy), of all that is universal (which corresponds to the dimension of breadth), and of all that is traditional (corresponding to the dimension of length). Being Christian, Hermeticism accepts the cross of the universality, the tradition, the depth and the height of Christianity, in the sense of the apostle Paul when he said:
'That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians iii, 18-19)' ” 
So here Tomberg brings in the word enstasy which he equates with depth. It's not a word I'm familiar with, so let's see what Mr. Encyclopedia has to say:
“Enstasy (Gk., en-stasis, ‘standing into’). The experiences, or abolition of experience, arising as a consequence of those meditational, etc., techniques which withdraw the practitioner from the world, and even from awareness of the self. The word was coined in contrast to ecstasy. Examples are dhyāna, jhāna.”
Fascinating concept, as it would appear to be a sober intoxication; with the emphasis on sober while intoxication equates more to the ecstasy (or height). Enstasy is not always proportional to depth of spiritual experience, but how fully you are living from your realizations, intuitions, and gnosis. This is good news for those of us who are not natural mystics!

If we go back to Tomberg, he also mentions breadth (universal inclusion) and length (reverence to tradition). It would seem to me a person with true depth would need to be somewhat immersed in these dimensions also. 
So depth may be what grounds us as to how our whole being relates to existence itself. We also add in Paul's "rooted and grounded in love" and you get yourself a person who is awake, alive, integrated, curious, and (w)holy.

This person can't be measured, quantified, or mapped-out. They tend to be more analog than digital. And it's not someone who is easy to come by in today's world. But like can know like, so when cultivated within it can be seen without.

“To be in the depth is to be depth.” — A.H. Almaas

Thursday, August 2, 2018

I'm Out of Control Until I Lose All Control

“Some things can only be known if we do not know them ahead of time. ... We need to leave space for gifts.” — Fr. James Schall

I was recently recalling how my old friend Joe would half-jokingly say “I never know what is going to come out of my mouth next.”

I know for some, the thought was probably 'the old man has gone mad!'

It was more that Joe was immersed in the spontaneity of Divine play. It was probably a gift from above after a lifetime of self-conscious anxiety and neurosis (which most of us suffer from to some extent). He was now in his nineties, and the cosmos decided to give him a taste of home before making his way there.

I came across a passage from Almaas that expresses loss of control best:
“The most interesting part of this lack of self-consciousness is the experience of spontaneity. Without self-consciousness there is no self-watching and no cautiousness about our expressions and actions. There is no premediation and no rumination about what to do. Hence, we are totally spontaneous, like young children. We are totally open and innocent, with no defensiveness and no strategizing. There is no holding back, no hiding, no protection, no pretension. There is complete openness, presence, and genuineness. There is no self-control whatever. So the spontaneity is total. The absence of control is absolute. We simply experience ourselves as freedom, lightness, delight, openness, and spontaneity. Without self-consciousness, action and expression are absolutely spontaneous, and hence totally free.”
Joe had lost control, but was no longer out of control. He had found a center beyond his control, which freed him up to manifest his being with playful ease.

At his memorial service, there was a former colleague who had recalled Joe at his retirement from teaching. Joe was in his mid-sixties then, and apparently still finding his way. His spiritual breakthroughs would come much later. This is inspiration for all of us; while we can't force growth, we can set the conditions for it during any point in life. And then surrender to what we don't know from there on.

Or as Joe would say, “always be open to what's around the corner and never predict.” 

It’s this need to control our lives that prevents us from fully living our lives. Oh, the irony.

If we stop trying to capture it and allow ourselves to be captured, then we eventually can say we lost all control.

Friday, July 27, 2018

From the Ordinary to the Miraculous and Back

There are the laws of nature, and then there are the laws of Nature.

The distinction is clearly a matter of the physical things that are constrained by Newton’s propositions, and things that are not. For instance, there is some vertical aspect of us that is not limited by such mechanistic laws. I am not going down the quantum realm, for that is all together another matter in the microcosm of the physical world. Nor do I want to walk down in to the new-age vortex.

Instead, I am making the point there are times when the metaphysical and physical touch. I can’t make sense of it, but I know it’s Real. 

Call it miracles, if you’d like. The fact we exist is a miracle in itself. God does not even exist, for He just is. For something to exist, it means there is a beginning and an end. Maybe our souls are eternal, but there had to be a beginning somewhere: even if we are a particular expression of the Universal Spirit.

Frithjof Schuon said, “If the divine Principle is transcendent in relation to the world while at the same time em­bracing it within its unique substance, then miracles must occur; the celestial must sometimes break through into the terrestrial, and the center must appear like a flash of lightning on the periphery; to take an example from the physical realm, inert matter is of little worth, but gold and diamonds cannot fail to appear within it.”

The gold and diamonds sometimes appears in serendipitous events or in happenings that are not so coincidental. 

A friend of mine got me to read the Magus of Strovolos by Kyriacos C. Markides, about Stylianos Atteshlis (a.k.a. Daskalos), a 20th-century Christian mystic and healer who lived in the town of Strovolos, Cyprus. Although rooted in Christian Orthodoxy, he would go rogue with his skills of clairvoyance, exomatosis (willfully abandoning one's body), and expansion. Here he would heal people and materialize/dematerialize objects by working “from the highest dimensions and descend through the lower levels until you reach the gross material plane.”

Unlike most healers, he saw himself no more than a conduit for the Absolute (the Source of his miracles). 

Still, I enjoyed the stories of his healings and the insights around other dimensions: meeting people on psychic planes with a silver cord means they live within the gross material plane; the most difficult healing method is expansion, “namely bringing the entire body of the patient within my consciousness and working from within”; and the importance of the etheric double that keeps the three bodies (physical, psychic, noetic) of man alive and linked to one another. I want to believe all of it.

In another book I’m in the midst of, Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy, the author, Jonah Goldberg, has his own version of the Miracle. Goldberg notes that “Around the year 1700, in a corner of the Eurasian landmass, humanity stumbled into a new way of organizing society and thinking about the world. It didn’t seem obvious, but it was as if the great parade of humanity had started walking through a portal to a different world.” Up until that point, we didn’t generate a lot of wealth, innovation, or civilization. Then something converged. 

His version of miracle is less supernatural, but spectacular nevertheless. Were we nudged in some way or did we just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps?

The bottom line is miracles are all abound. It seems there’s a “transitional space” where we play in, and that the boundaries between nature and Nature may be more porous after all. If you’re closed off to it, then it’s just one thing after another. If you’re open to it, the miraculous can be in moments or all-at-once.  

But the point of a miracle is not to prove anything, other than to see the extraordinary in the ordinary and the ordinary in the extraordinary.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Not Faking It and Making It

On a recent listen to an interview with Christopher Wallis, a scholar-practitioner of Tantric Shaivism, I was drawn to the distinction he made on spiritual growth verses realization. He sees it like putting the cart before the horse (or the self before the Self). I'm sure the resonance I have around this point is based on my own transgressions in this area. For instance, all this "seeking" with blogs, books, practices, and teachers can inflate the personality at the cost of knowing one's true personhood. I can feel exalted about my experiences and knowledge, but all that will do is get entitlement and pride to sneak in.

Wallis says: 
“What most people think of spiritual development is a kind of retooling and rejiggering of their personality; or a reconditioning of themselves according to whatever spiritual narrative they've bought into. I think this is ultimately counterproductive and dangerously so, because if you develop an effective spiritual ego that's all shiny and everybody praises and strokes you, you have so much less reason to wake up out of your ego structure than you did before. So to go about things back to front is not only a waste of time but you can actually end up digging yourself a much deeper hole and the exact thing that you started out interested in [to realize Truth] becomes almost impossible in this lifetime.”
Not in this lifetime?! How dare you?!

But thankfully, I'm aware of this and I'm constantly keeping my gnostic and intellectual curiosity in check. In that, my intention around reading and blogging is more so that God can read and write to me. I am staying with what I love, because what I love is what I can be. And since I don't golf, why not read spiritual books and blogs? Moreover, I believe the metaphysical pointers matter so we don't lose sight of where the realizations are taking us.

Yet, we never want to jump ahead of ourselves. Instead, this will just develop more concepts around what we believe it means to be a Self-realized person. This is a constant re-prioritization of undoing, where we are unhooking our entanglements of the mind.

We need to be utterly naked in every moment to what is, while falling in love with the whole of it. In turn, the recognition of the solid ground we are rooted in will allow for real growth to emerge.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Backwards and Onwards

John Henry Newman said, “we walk to Heaven backwards.”

What he meant by this could be seen from a couple angles. First, we can only rest in the deeper nature of our innocence when we commune with the Divine. That requires us to step back from grasping on to the contents of our mind. It is almost like a falling back away from the conditional world while we become more rooted in an unconditional (heavenly) absolute.

The walk backwards could also mean the re-cognition of first principles. While there are no permanent outcomes, there are permanent values. Sometimes we need to go backward to go forward, and with this I believe Newman was espousing the value of (heavenly) tradition.

There are two countervailing impulses of human history: Arcadianism and Eutopianism. The view of Arcadia holds that everything was perfect in the beginning, such as the Biblical Eden, and that all corruption is the result of man's fall from original innocence. The project of Arcadianism then is to return everything to its original state, reverse the effects of the fall, and shed all of the accretions of the fallen world. We see this with traditionalists, eco-radicals, Romantics, perennialists, some eastern religions, etc.

The Eutopian view asserts that the situation was not ideal in the beginning, and that our focus must be on man's progress. The goal is therefore to build the Great City of Zion. The City of God is subsumed into the City of Man. We see this with modernists, evolutionists, Hegelians, some Judeo-Christian movements, etc.

As with most things, the truth is more nuanced than either of these impulses. We can’t resolve these tensions, but maybe we can inhabit them.

While things were probably never pristine by any stretch of the imagination assuming we could take a ride on the wayback machine, the sense of original purity is not to be dismissed. It points us to the deep feeling-sense that something is not quite right today. The real issue is when we compensate that vertical loss for some horizontal gain towards progress. We reject the transcendence for some false good to be immanentized in the world. But the sad truth is such a transformation can never be completed in history, but only in ourselves.

I believe evolution and progress should be seen more as man's progress towards Godliness. Man's salvation/liberation/sanctification is individual, happening to one person at a time, and constitutes a metamorphosis of the person into a more mature, God-like entity. Natural selection and civilized advancements are not the key factors here. The evolution of mankind as a species and life on Earth at large, in which natural selection and man-made advancements plays its real role, has to be understood in light of building up the City of God, a city fit for gods to inhabit.

Maybe we need to walk backwards first.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Freely Willing and Chilling

I’ve always found the materialist position on free will amusing, because to believe in just the material you could not concede that there was an immaterial element to the person making decisions — whether we call it the soul or whatever mediates the natural to the supernatural.  Yet, neuroscience and psychology have come up with some evidence that we are not so free, so maybe it is us more “woo-woo” types who need to (unfreely) make concessions.

I enjoyed Alfred Mele’s book Free: Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Free Will, because he doesn’t go down any “woo-woo” tracks as to what makes free will possible, but instead offers a lucid and decisive refutation to the recent evidence that attempts to undermine it.

Perhaps the best known evidence against free will comes from the experiments conducted by neurobiologist Benjamin Libet. Participants were asked to flex a wrist whenever they felt like doing so, and then to report on when they had become consciously aware of the urge to flex it while being wired to an EEG machine. The results found that that the activity in the motor cortex would begin an average of 300 milliseconds before the participant had a conscious sense of the willing to flex the wrist. So from the materialist view, this proves their case. If free will requires that conscious willing to do something is the cause of doing it, then we don’t act so freely.

Mele posits that there are issues with Libet’s approach: (1) we have no evidence that the specific kind of neural activity really is sufficient for flexing; and (2) the approach is quite artificial since it does not take account for active deliberation by participants.

Moreover, there is some nuance to the idea of free will, and as to whether or not we have it depends on what we mean by free will, and more importantly, where are we coming from? 

Mele admits the following definition raises the bar too high: “(1) Having free will requires making conscious choices that are entirely independent of preceding brain activity, and (2) Having free will requires being absolutely unconstrained by genetics and environment (including the situations in which we find ourselves).”

If you take that as the straw-man argument, then yes, you have to concede that we are soul-less mammals. But truthfully, we can see our actions as being more fluid, in that, we are pre-consciously making choices in each moment as to where we place our attention to act, and consciously deliberating more complex choices during other times. We are both conditioned and unconditioned, with mixed motivations in respects to many of the behaviors we enact.

Again, where are we coming from? There is also the possibility of coming from not our will, but God’s will. There is no “do-er” and yet we individually align to fulfill actions not necessarily of our own making. This is where it gets most interesting, and while Mele does not dare explore such terrain, it makes the contrast of “thy will be done” and “Thy will be done” all the more compelling.