Key quotes from Part II of More Than Allegory

Traveling the ocean of space and time (Texel, the Netherlands).
Photo by Bernardo Kastrup, hereby released into the public domain.

Continuing on from where we left it in the previous post, here are the key quotes of Part II of my new book More Than Allegory, where, amongst other things, I discuss the illusory nature of the ocean of space and time. I hope these quotes give you some healthy, wholesome food-for-thought for the weekend!

Could there really be such a thing as raw cognition without narratives? Was the mind of a newborn truly story-free, or was it simply in the process of weaving its first stories as it perceived the world for the first time? … Could anything—anything at all—be perceived without being couched in an explanatory narrative? (pp. 87-88) 
‘The intellect is an unstoppable narrative-making machine of unfathomable power. It constructs our entire world, like a cocoon that we end up inhabiting. In my search for the intellectual ideal of an “absolute,” I have only found my own limits.’ (Pollux, p. 88) 
The past is a mental, intellectual construct meant to give context to your present perceptions. There has never been a moment in your entire life in which the past has been anything else; I challenge you to find one. Again, I am not saying that this mental construct is false; I am saying that it is a mental construct. ... [Therefore,] all explanations are myths whose truth-value we assign subjectively. (p. 94-96) 
We imagine a future wherein we remember a past wherein we predicted a future that matches the future we are now imagining. From this tortuous intertwining of imaginings we conclude that the future and the past must exist, well, objectively, even though all the while we’ve never left the present. … What an amazing trick of conditioned cognition this is! Past and future are myths: stories in the mind. (pp. 98-99) 
The present is today, while the past is yesterday and the future is tomorrow. Yesterday is a memory and tomorrow is an expectation, so both exist only in mind. But today is really out there, isn’t it? Well, ... within today there is last hour, this hour and next hour. Last hour and next hour can only exist in mind. Only this hour is really out there. Or is it? Within this hour there is last minute, this minute and next minute… (p. 101) 
The present moment is the cosmic egg described in so many religious myths. … It is a singularity that births all existence into form. It seeds our mind with fleeting consensus images that we then blow up into the voluminous bulk of projected past and future. These projections are like a cognitive ‘big bang’ unfolding in our mind. They stretch out the intangibility of the singularity into the substantiality of events in time. (pp. 102-103) 
The cognitive ‘big bang’ is not a process unfolding in time. Rather, it’s a qualitative pattern of distribution of mental contents across the map of human cognition. This complete pattern exists now and only now. … Each of [its] mental contents is a particular reflection of the central singularity on the mirror of human awareness. (p. 103) 
The past and the future are thus projected images—symbols, icons—of the intrinsic, timeless attributes of the singularity [that we call the present moment]; of the intangible essences contained in the cosmic egg. There is nothing else the past or the future could consist of. Myths are the form taken by these symbolic projections of intangible essences. (p. 103) 
Existence only appears substantial because of our intellectual inferences, assumptions, confabulations and expectations. What is actually in front of our eyes now is incredibly elusive. The volume of our experiences—the bulk of life itself—is generated by our own internal myth-making. We conjure up substance and continuity out of sheer intangibility. (pp. 103-104) 
In reality, nothing ever really happens, for the scope of the present isn’t broad enough for any event to unfold objectively. That we think of life as a series of substantial happenings hanging from a historical timeline is a fantastic cognitive hallucination. (p. 104) 
Even the Christian New Testament hints at [Idealism] when John the Evangelist writes: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... Through [the Word] all things were made.’ ‘Word’ here is a translation of the original Greek Λόγος (Logos), which also means reasoning or thought. So through thought ‘all things were made.’ (p. 110) 
Ponder about this for a moment: just as John’s incarnated Logos makes all things, the cognitive ‘big bang’ resulting from human reasoning (logos) creates the substantiality of the universe across space and time through a trick of self-reference. (p. 110) 
The world we ordinarily experience is a mental creation. Its concrete form arises out of emptiness through cognitive self-reference, a process whose inherent circularity makes you believe that you were born in the world. But it is you, through your human thinking, who is creating the whole of it now; now; now. (p. 111) 
Clearly, our culturally sanctioned notions of truth are meaningless concepts, idols of delusion. We’ve been chasing ghosts, mirages conceived and maintained entirely in the human intellect through circular reasoning and projections. This delusion pervades the way we relate to each other and the world. (p. 112) 
Instead of contemplating our experiences in an open and self-reflective manner, trying to sense their symbolic meaning in a way analogous to how a therapist analyzes dreams, we continuously search for external references in a futile quest to determine their ‘validity.’ In doing so, we close ourselves up to reality and proceed to tirelessly chase our own tails. (p. 112) 
When we had unsettling dreams as children, our parents would try to reassure us with that notorious, fatidic statement: ‘Forget about it, it was just a dream!’ That was a seminal moment in the process of our entrancement. It was then and there that we began to learn that an experience is either bigger than ourselves—the ‘real world out there’—or so insignificant that it should be dismissed without a thought. (p. 113) 
‘It was just a dream’ is probably the most pernicious, damaging thing that good, well-meaning parents say to their children. It inculcates the notion that each and every experience is to be categorized as either nothing or other; that each and every experience must either be killed or exiled. By doing this, we surrender intimacy with our own lives and become estranged from ourselves. (p. 113) 
[We dismiss] the most transcendent moments of our lives and aspects of ourselves; precisely those that could offer us a passage—elusive and brief as it may be—to visit something beyond the ordinary human condition and sooth our existential despair. We have been educated to dismiss the natural paths to transcendence. (p. 115) 
Yes, there is no external, mind-independent reality to religious myths; not to a single one of them. But there is no external, mind-independent reality to anything else either. The only meaningful way to conceive of truth implies that truth is internal, not external. Realizing this is probably one of the most urgent and critical challenges humanity faces at the present historical nexus. (p. 115) 
The experiential bulk of human life is a collection of stories, myths. Whether we live in transcendence or existential despair is simply a matter of which type of myth—religious or deprived—predominantly composes our world. Whichever the case, we always live in a myth that can be neither confirmed nor disproven by reference to states of affairs outside mentation. (p. 117) 
The very essence of what it means to be a human being alive in the world is the linguistic hallucination that creates that world. There is valid information in the hallucination for the same reason that there is valid information in a nightly dream. Although the dream is entirely conjured up in mind, it does reveal—if interpreted properly—something true and significant about the dreamer. (p. 117) 
There are no external, mind-independent states of affairs. … One cannot hope to overcome this inherent subjectivity by crafting ever more refined models of reality, any more than one can hope to fly by crawling in ever more refined ways. No matter how strong one’s conviction is in one’s model of reality, the model is still mental. … One cannot pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps. (p. 123-124) 
Explanations and predictions are symbols of the nature of mind. Some of these symbols—like the Big Bang of modern cosmology—are shaped to be consistent with our current, subjective models of reality. Others—like Brahman hatching from the cosmic egg—aren’t. But it is only their symbolic content that carries any significance, not their consistency with circular linguistic models. (p. 124) 
The symbolic similarity between the Big Bang of modern cosmology and Brahman’s hatching from the cosmic egg is striking. [However,] these two myths aren’t pointing at each other but at a third and ineffable element: the structure of human cognition in the present moment. The significance of both myths lies solely in how they symbolically portray what is happening in your mind now; yes, right now. (p. 125) 
Our own nature is clearly transcendent, for that which conjures up time and space through a trick of circular reasoning cannot itself be bound by time or space. (p. 126) 
One might [point] out that many religious myths promote the worship of external agencies: deities, angels, saints, etc. This may seem to contradict the idea that the myths point inward. [But] what seems to be the worship of external agencies is, in fact, a conversation with estranged aspects of ourselves through symbolic proxy. (pp. 127-128) 
Never before have we been in as dire a need of religious symbolism, liturgy and iconography as today. True religious myths negate the implications of delusions—implications that would otherwise obscure transcendence—helping us stay open to the mystery of our own nature and the possibilities it entails. This openness is, in fact, the true meaning of faith. (p. 129) 
True religious myths can help bring transcendence into our lives … in three ways: first, by helping us turn our gaze inwards to realize the truth of our own nature; second, by projecting symbols that cancel out the implications of deprived cultural inferences and abstractions; and third, by lifting us up to the edge of the ‘hole’ of cultural conditioning, from which grace can help us take the final step to freedom. (pp. 130-131) 
My ideal Church would be centered on liturgy. Its sermons would repeatedly tell the Christian myth in as evocative, nuanced and alive a manner as possible, not pass judgments. Confession would be a ritual of self-inquiry lovingly facilitated by sensitive and supportive clergy, not a trial. Churches would be wombs of warmth, safety, tolerance and unconditional love … not chambers of blame, guilt, shame or control. (p. 134) 
An individual mind is formed when a segment of mind-at-large collapses into itself, creating a point of dense, highly localized cognitive activity, [a] singularity. … Each living being thus corresponds to one among countless such singularities. … Traditional religious myths have symbolically described the cognitive collapse of a divinity as the formation of a ‘cosmic egg.’ (p. 135) 
The myths of explanations, predictions, past and future, when properly contemplated as symbols, provide a unique window into something ineffable and otherwise impervious to self-reflection. This may be an important clue to the very meaning of human life. (p. 141)


  1. A very good book i've read is Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga

    The desire to be Human is definitely to be played out in myths :)

  2. Reality is the shadow of myth, not the other way around.

  3. Hi Bernardo,
    I'd like to know your comments on this...

    "That is why religions are always mistaken—always—because they want to standardise the expression of an experience and impose it on everyone as an irrefutable truth. The experience was true, complete in itself, convincing—for the one who had it. The formulation he made of it was excellent—for himself. But to want to impose it on others is a fundamental error which has altogether disastrous consequences, always, which always leads far, very far from the Truth.

    That is why all the religions, however beautiful they may be, have always led man to the worst excesses. All the crimes, the horrors perpetrated in the name of religion are among the darkest stains on human history, and simply because of this little initial error: wanting what is true for one individual to be true for the mass or collectivity.

    Religions are based on creeds which are spiritual experiences brought down to a level where they become more easy to grasp, but at the cost of their integral purity and truth. The time of religions is over. We have entered the age of universal spirituality, of spiritual experience in its initial purity.

    The Mother (Mirra Alfassa)

    1. Religions have not led people to the worst excesses---it is deranged or power or money hungry people that have hijacked the organizing and authoritative principles of Faiths to persuade others to kill, steal etc. and therefore tarnish the name of religion, the source of myth making. Read the quote that begins the text again.

  4. I'd like to comment on this quote from the book:

    One might [point] out that many religious myths promote the worship of external agencies: deities, angels, saints, etc. This may seem to contradict the idea that the myths point inward. [But] what seems to be the worship of external agencies is, in fact, a conversation with estranged aspects of ourselves through symbolic proxy. (pp. 127-128)
    This reminds me of the statement: people create God in their own image. And they always have--maybe it was Bernardo or Watts or someone that said, and I'll probably get the title wrong: Most High Lord, Ruler of all the world (or something like that that has has been used to describe God) was nothing but the title of the Persian Emperor in ancient times. and Jung's famous statement: A man's concept of God is indistinguishable from his concept of Self.
    For me I stick with the statement, God is sanctified from all attributes which is another way of saying we are not in a position or have the mind to be able to describe God---but why should people want to?? Only atheists that spend more time thinking about what God must be so they can dismiss it on objective grounds or the paucity of their subjective experiences have a use. But to me they are fleas on the back of a dog that sit around and say, "There is no such thing as Dog"---for precisely the same reason, they, we, are not in a position to describe a transcendent thing. If we could, it would cease to be transcendent, and of course must be described only by negative statements, what It is not, as in God is beyond ascent and descent, beyond time and space...etc.

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