Form and Reflection


I set out, some weeks ago to read the French philosopher Levinas. I got sidetracked because, a couple of pages into the book, somebody mentioned in passing that they had seen a video called Monte Grande and that I might be interested in it. I got the video. I watched it. It was a documentary on the Chilean cognitive scientist Francisco Varela. I bought one of Varela's books and began to read it. Levinas went back onto the shelf for the time being.

As those who have been reading this blog know, Varela is a Buddhist, and this dimension of his thought raised questions for me, who has struggled with the interface of Buddhism and Christianity for many years now. There are enough Buddhists in my family to stock a reasonable sized monastery, although I haven't spoken to any of them on the subject of faith much at all in the past year or two. At the very time I was reading the Buddhist bits of Varela, however, most of them made contact, for the good reason that I was sick and they were concerned. With the renewed contact, my brother sent me emails which I have posted on here. It all smelled a bit of what Jung called synchronicity and the rest of us call coincidence.

Just when I got through Varela's Buddhist chapters, Clemency's brother Jonathan phoned me, again, because I was sick and he wanted to wish me well. In the midst of a long conversation he mentioned that he was writing for this website. He asked if I would look it over and give my opinion, in the course of doing which, I came across some interesting articles on the subject of evolution. They were so interesting in fact, that I put Varela on the shelf beside Levinas, printed off the stories and read 'em. Fascinating stuff.

They were all about how Darwinism (that is the theory that natural selection acting on random mutations is the main force behind evolution) is not a sufficient explanation to completely account for the process of speciation. They shared some insights from the rapidly developing science of genetics and speculated on what mechanisms might be responsible for the development of species.

I finished the articles. I took up Varela again, and opened the book at where I had left off. The very next chapter was about evolution, and how Darwinism was not a sufficient explanation for speciation, and how some insights from the rapidly developing science of genetics might help us find the mechanisms that were responsible for the development of species. Good afternoon Mr. Jung. What are you smirking about?

I find these sorts of synchronicities deeply reassuring. They tell me that the universe is ordered and that unexpected patterns of interrelatedness make themselves known in the great and trivial details of our lives. The geneticists, evolutionary biologists and philosophers who will meet in Altenberg in July to rethink evolution and potentially alter the entire direction of Western science, are looking for such patterns in the mechanisms of evolution. And me? I can't wait to finish Varela and get on with Meister Eckhart, because Eckhart speaks of just this phenomenon: of Being finding expression in form. I've got maybe an hour and a half to go on Varela, but, until I can finish one tricky book and get on with another, I know this:

My bone scan is clear and the great mind who ordered the universe has plans for me. And even better, as he has shown in his dallying amongst us, he loves me, he loves me, he loves me.

All things shall be well, and all things shall be well and all manner of things shall be very well.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I work with your Bridget and just wanted to let you know that we have all been thinking of you and are thrilled that the bone scan came back clear.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" Jeremiah 29 v 11
VenDr said…
Thank you for this lovely verse. You're the second person to give it to me. I think I'm meant to take notice of it.
Anonymous said…
Hi Kelvin - thanks for the wonderful news! These words seemed appropriate to me in this happy moment:

I feel the winds of God today; today my sail I lift,
Though heavy, oft with drenching spray, and torn with many a rift;
If hope but light the water’s crest, and Christ my bark will use,
I’ll seek the seas at His behest, and brave another cruise.

It is the wind of God that dries my vain regretful tears,
Until with braver thoughts shall rise the purer, brighter years;
If cast on shores of selfish ease or pleasure I should be;
Lord, let me feel Thy freshening breeze, and I’ll put back to sea.

If ever I forget Thy love and how that love was shown,
Lift high the blood red flag above; it bears Thy Name alone.
Great Pilot of my onward way, Thou wilt not let me drift;
I feel the winds of God today, today my sail I lift.
Jessie Adams
Janice in Canada
Anonymous said…
Great news about your scan.

Whatever comes our way we are held and supported,

"...because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings." -- G. Man. Hopkins

Alden
Anonymous said…
Kelvin~ I'm so relieved and thankful~ there is so much I feel god plans to do through you.

Set us free, O God,to cross barriers for you,
as you crossed barriers for us,
... Brother Barnabus
Anonymous said…
Dear Kelvin
Praise God your bone scan is clear. That is the best news I've had today, and I can see Dame Julian nodding in approval. We keep praying; you keep working on your mental and physical well-being. God be with you and Clemency.
Anonymous said…
Kelvin - I may not have read Levinas or Varela but I agree that he does love you and I agree with Julian of Norwich. In the meantime I thank God that the bone scan is clear, and let you know that the candle/light will keep burning in St John's Church. Our prayers for you continue
Anonymous said…
Hi Kelvin! I was thrilled to read your bone scan was clear. I have prayed for this, as I'm sure many have. Glad the date is set for your surgery, and know here on the other side of the world we are praying for your quick recovery. Greetings and hugs from, OKLAHOMA. Susie
Kathryn said…
Fantastic news Kelvin!

I'm so glad your bone scan is clear.

I will continue to pray for your good health and peace of mind for you, for Clemency and your family.

And God does love you, so much!

In His Love, Kathryn, Perth W. Australia