Key quotes from Part III of More Than Allegory


Dome of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy.
Photo by Bernardo Kastrup, hereby released into the public domain.

And now closing the series, here are the key quotes of Part III of my newly released book More Than Allegory. I hope these quotes can give you a fair taste of the book! Have fun.
‘And there I finally was, comfortably but firmly strapped to a customized recliner made to perfectly accommodate my body shape. … I knew that the complex and rather large rig around my head was about to kick into operation. … I took a deep breath to try to relax and—as instructed—began counting down from ten. At around seven, I already knew that nothing would ever be the same again…’ (The Explorer, p. 146) 
‘The alleged headhunter’s name was Sophie. Disarmingly attractive, … she was the key recruiter of a large, massively well-funded, yet completely stealthy project initiated by an unacknowledged club of (former) corporate leaders and high-net-worth individuals. Some would call this club a secret society, but the conspiracy connotations are totally inapplicable. I will refer to it simply as “the Club.”’ (The Explorer, p. 148) 
‘The Club’s assets thwarted the budget of some small nations. Through third-party investment funds they controlled, the Club financed several external projects. … Their key project, however, wasn’t external: it was supervised directly by the Club’s leaders and carried out mainly in Club-owned premises. Its codename—for reasons I never really understood—was “Trilobite.”’ (The Explorer, p. 149) 
‘Originally inspired by the psychedelic revolution of the 1960’s, the Club had set up Trilobite to find more effective and controllable methods for accessing what was described to me as ‘transcendent realms.’ I once asked the project’s Chief Scientist whether these were actual realities or just otherwise unconscious mental spaces. He replied by asking me, rather rhetorically, what the difference between the two was.’ (The Explorer, p. 150) 
‘Through exhaustive and unbelievably expensive trial and error over many years, project scientists had converged on a … technique that they called ‘the Recipe.’ It entailed three different elements: a carefully coordinated series of intra-venous infusions; … a programmed series of E.M. pulses at specific locations of the subject’s brain; … and brain function measurement technology to monitor the subject’s neural activity during the trance.’ (The Explorer, p. 153) 
‘Your confusion arises from a fundamental inversion: it is your head that is in your mind, not your mind in your head. This realm is indeed entirely within your mind. But so is your ordinary waking reality, your body included. Both realms are mental worlds unfolding within consciousness at all times. The act of focusing your attention on one particular realm obfuscates the others.’ (The Other, pp. 161-162) 
‘When you dream at night, the objects you see in your dreams do not correspond to a world outside your mind. … Yet, dreamed-up water can get you wet and make you experience cold within the dream. … Whether this is the case or not depends merely on the particular rules of cognitive association that govern the dream. … In ordinary waking reality, you call the applicable rules … the “laws of cause and effect.”’ (The Other, pp. 164-165) 
‘It’s true that all reality is in your mind, but the “your” here does not refer to you as an individual person; instead, it refers to your true nature as impersonal mind. … [So] the universe unfolds in your mind. It’s just that your mind is not only yours; it is also my mind, the neighbor’s mind, the co-worker’s mind, the cat’s mind, the ant’s mind, etc., since we all share the same instinctive “I” feeling.’ (The Other, pp. 167-169) 
‘Whatever I have never been asked about by a self-reflective cluster of mind-at-large like yourself, I know only in potentiality. Think of it as the light of a match: until you ignite the match, its light exists only in potentiality. … But when you ignite the match, its light becomes actualized. Only then can it be seen. My knowledge is like the match: it exists complete, but only in potentiality, until you or someone else asks me about it.’ (The Other, p. 172) 
‘Upon coming round in the laboratory, I found Sophie starring me in the face. Her beautiful big eyes, full of anticipation, screamed out the question: ‘So?! What has he told you this time?!’ Behind her, several nurses and technicians pretended to busy themselves with their usual chores, secretly paying attention to what I had to say.’ (The Explorer, p. 175) 
‘The belief system that governs ordinary reality is like a collective instinct: it’s an automatism unreachable by lucid reasoning. … You cannot think about the mental processes that underlie and give rise to your instincts. You can only attain lucidity of the instincts’ effects, not of their source. Likewise, humankind cannot change the rules of cognitive association whose reflection is the laws of nature.’ (The Other, p. 180) 
‘space-time allows you to mentally “spread out” simultaneous [mental contents] … thereby rendering their links … treatable by the intellect. [However,] all associative links are simultaneous, overlapping mental evocations. They do have structure, but this structure doesn’t inherently span time or space. Instead, it is determined simply by which mental contents evoke which other mental contents.’ (The Other, p. 186) 
‘To create a particular realm of mentation—which you might call a “world,” a “universe,” or even a “reality”—two steps are required: … a belief system must congeal in a first group of adjacent layers of cognition; then, in a second group above and conditioned by the first one, this belief system must be experienced from within. One experiences a belief system from within when one forgets that it is a belief system in the first place.’ (The Other, p. 189) 
‘What you call reality is a reflection of the first layer of your cognition that escapes your critical self-reflection. If you were to become lucid of the cognitive layers underlying all your beliefs—that is, if you could “look behind” all your beliefs—reality, as a standalone phenomenon, would dissolve. You would immediately realize, with a laugh, that you are making everything up.’ (The Other, p. 190) 
‘Belief, when experienced from within, generates a reality. Looking behind belief, in turn, gives away the secret and reveals the imaginary nature of this reality. Consensus reality is the belief you humans, as a species, don’t look behind.’ (The Other, p. 190) 
‘Mind-at-large has the innate predisposition to get drawn into its own imaginings. … Ideas expressing symmetry ... are particularly attractive at an intrinsic level. So as mind-at-large began conceiving of purely abstract symmetries—mathematical in essence—it became captivated by them. With the increasing commitment of mental energy that resulted, cognitive associations began to form spontaneously.’ (The Other, p. 192) 
‘It was the emergence of a self-referential loop of cognitive associations that created the first enduring reality, the first universe. In the case of your universe, your science refers to this moment as the “Big Bang.”’ (The Other, p. 193) 
‘The growing seductive power of the universe pulled mind-at-large further into it, like a child is pulled into a rich fairytale. [The] accelerating process could no longer be slowed down. … And so it was that mind-at-large punched through and entered its own imaginings with tremendous momentum. … The first entrance or protrusion of mind-at-large into your universe was what your science calls the origin of life.’ (The Other, pp. 195-197) 
‘There are two singular but analogous moments in the cosmological history of any universe: the first is when surging mental energy circulating in a self-referential loop forces it to blossom out into a tangle. The second is when surging mental energy circulating in the tangle forces it to blossom out into life.’ (The Other, p. 199) 
‘When you perceive the world around you through your five senses, you witness the mental activity of what your mythology calls God from an angle that isn’t accessible to God Himself.’ (The Other, p. 202) 
‘The deeper layers of mind-at-large do not experience the world the way you do. The experience of sense perception—vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch—is unique to the inside-out perspective. As such, God cannot see or hear the sun, the planets, mountains, rainbows, thunderstorms, etc. He does experience something corresponding to the visible sun, the planets, etc., but in a way qualitatively very different from yours.’ (The Other, p. 211) 
‘If the ordinary world around us suggests its reverse side—that is, God’s perspective—then the world is a symbol of something transcendent. It points to what God thinks and feels when conceiving the universe into existence.’ (The Explorer, p. 213) 
‘The sun has rich symbolic meaning. It represents something beyond its perceivable self. It’s a window into transcendence. The same applies to everything else: the planets, moons, thunderstorms, volcanoes, rocks, even specs of dust. They are all symbols of transcendence. The romantics were right!’ (The Explorer, p. 213) 
‘The world around you is a book waiting to be deciphered. Figuring out how to do it—that is, finding a suitable hermeneutics of the universe—has been the quest of poets, artists, shamans, mystics and philosophers since time immemorial. Only modern Western science, plagued by its materialist metaphysics, has chosen to dismiss the universe’s symbolic significance.’ (The Other, pp. 213-214) 
‘The vibrations of mind-at-large are themselves symbols of its own intrinsic—but forever elusive—nature. They reflect that which vibrates, as the notes produced by a guitar string reflect the intrinsic nature of the string.’ (The Explorer, p. 214) 
‘You have never experienced your death—the end of your primary sense of being—have you? And neither have you experienced other people’s deaths from their perspective, which is the only perspective that counts. In the now there is no death. Are you dead or alive right now? This is the only question that matters. Everything else is just stories you tell yourself.’ (The Other, p. 216) 
‘The direct experience of death is akin to waking up from a dream. One realizes that one was making the whole thing up all along. Moreover, one begins to experience the universe from the reverse side: instead of the sun, one feels the corresponding outpouring of love; instead of a thunderstorm, one feels what the thunderstorm had been symbolizing all along; and so on.’ (The Other, p. 217) 
‘Eventually, I could discern a seemingly human figure. He appeared to be dressed like a nineteenth-century stage magician, complete with tailcoat, black top hat, bow tie, magic stick and all. A thin, twisted moustache provided the final touch to his bizarre looks. The grin on his face evoked a mixture of affection and mistrust at the same time: a trickster for sure, but somehow affable.’ (The Explorer, p. 222) 
‘With no warning, the magician shook his stick and turned it into a semitransparent veil. … He then took a step forward, coming within half an arm’s length of me. My apprehension level skyrocketed. … Slowly, as if not to startle me, he reached around my head with both his arms—one on each side of my neck—and stretched out the veil behind my back. His grin became accentuated, as though he were very proud of what he was about to do.’ (The Explorer, p. 223) 
‘For some reason, the experience moved me to tears. Tidal waves of emotion welled up. I felt awe, love and gratitude of an intensity orders of magnitude higher than anything I had ever experienced before. I fell to my knees in a spontaneous, irresistible manifestation of overwhelming gratefulness. I was witnessing what I could only describe as a miracle.’ (The Explorer, p. 228) 
‘At bottom, the laws of classical physics are as whimsical as the regularities of any idiosyncratic dream; as quirky as the rules governing the brick world you visited, which had just as much internal consistency as your ordinary world. The only difference is that you are used to your classical physics.’ (The Other, p. 233) 
‘Your everyday world would also look fantastic and implausible to living beings from another reality. Like theirs, your world arises from a complex tangle of circular cognitive associations. If you could traverse the tangle all the way through, you would find out that there is no essential difference between … primary causes and secondary effects. Instead, you’d find that it’s a closed, self-generating system.’ (The Other, p. 233) 
‘The truth isn’t, and has never been, a secret. It isn’t locked away in libraries of secret societies. It has been told and retold in ten thousand different ways. … The problem is that efforts to disseminate it are often drowned out by the hysterical cacophony of our media. … Or worse: … discredited by an uncritical academic establishment that has come to confuse reason and empirical honesty with the metaphysical conjectures of materialism.’ (The Explorer, pp. 236-237)
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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)
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