I Dreamed I Was Awake

Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind

PD Ouspensky | Albert Einstein | Marcus Aurelias | Alan Watts | Karen Armstrong | PB Shelley | Darris Golinski | AH Clough

P.D.Ouspensky: A New Model of the Universe

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“When one realises one is asleep, at that moment one is already half-awake.”

“There is no possibility of remembering what has been found and understood, and later repeating it to oneself. It disappears as a dream disappears. Perhaps it is all nothing but a dream.”

"There is a very very deep well of dreams from which we haul a bucket from time to time. It is from this bucket of dreams that we shape our reality."
It was said of Ouspensky that, though nonreligious, he had one prayer: not to become famous during his lifetime.

Ouspensky also provided an original discussion of the nature and expression of sexuality in his A New Model of the Universe; among other things, he draws a distinction between erotica and pornography.


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The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the sower of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger...is as good as dead. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself to us as the highest wisdom and the most radient beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms. This knowledge, this feeling, is at the centre of all true religiousness. In this sense I belong to the ranks of devoutly religious men.

A Whole Lot of Nothing

Shelley's sonnet Ozymandias is a keyhole stare into the transience of everything.

Great empires, spanning centuries and continents, arching over generations of millions of people, become sandpapered by time into fragments of wall and parchment and armless headless statuary underwritten by proclamations of its subject's eternal glory. Vain and in vain. Of interest only to archaeologists. Significance and meaning are not ours to bestow…

Marcus Aurelias

Meditations Book Three #7

Never value the advantages derived from anything involving breach of faith, loss of self-respect, hatred, suspicion, or execration of others, insincerity, or the desire for something which has to be veiled and curtained.

One whose chief regard is for his own mind, and for the divinity within him and the service of its goodness, will strike no poses, utter no complaints, and crave neither for solitude nor yet for a crowd.

Best of all, his life will be free from continual pursuings and avoidings. He does not care whether his soul in its mortal frame shall be his to possess for a longer or a shorter term of years; this very moment, if it be the hour for his departure, he will step forth as readily as he performs any other act that can be done in self-respecting and orderly fashion.

No other care has he in life but to keep his mind from straying into paths incompatible with those of an intelligent and social being.
Not only can the flea behind the camel's ear have no conceit of the nature of 'camel', it can have no remotely adequate concept of 'flea'. And we, likewise, an inseparable part of this universe in which we have our brief existence, can have nothing but the most rudimentary concept of the Universe which is our solution (ie we are dissolved in it). Nor can our minds have anything but a similarly approximate concept of what a 'mind' is. It is, and always will be, beyond us. And yet in some magical paradox, the Universe, however imperfectly, but probably uniquely, is conscious of itself in us. Go and pray.

Alan Watts

Karen Armstrong

On God and Cave Paintings

The very first extant documents of Homo Sapiens indicate that we devised art forms at the same time and for many of the same reasons as we created religious systems.

Our neocortex has made us meaning-seeking creatures, acutely aware of the perplexity and tragedy of our predicament, and if do not discover some ultimate significance in our lives, we fall easily into despair.
In art as in religion, we find a means of letting go and encouraging the 'softness' and 'pliability' that draw us towards the other; art and religion both propel us to another place within ourselves, where we find a degree of serenity.

The earliest cave paintings created by our Palaeolithic ancestors some 30,000 years ago in southern France and northern Spain almost certainly had a ritual function. From the very beginning, therefore, art and religion were allied. These frescoes and engravings have an aesthetic power that still evokes awe in visitors.
Their depiction of the animals on whom these hunting communities were entirely dependent has a numinous quality; intent as they were on the acquisition of the Four Fs* - the ferocity of the hunters was tempered by a manifest tenderness towards and affinity with the beasts they were obliged to kill.

*Feeding, fighting, fleeing and fucking - the functions of the hypothalamus, the 'reptilian', earliest in evolutionary terms, part of the brain.