Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Video: How I See the World with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's Syndrome

Hey all! I did something new last Friday and posted a video on YouTube. It's about what it's like inside my head. I have Asperger's Syndrome, so that's a big theme. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

How I Understand Energy Healing

If you would have told me three years ago that I’d be writing a post about energy healing, I would have laughed at you. And yet here I am. I’ve worked with two energy healers in that time, and both of them did me lots of good But I’d rather not talk about my experiences today. I’d rather talk about my theories about how energy work…well…works.

 On Manifestation

Energy healing is healing with energy. And though energy is everywhere, it's hard to understand. Energy doesn’t have a form in itself; it is the wind that “bloweth where it listeth,” of which you can “hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.” (John 3:8). It is what exists before “things” exist. It is the open field that manifests “things” in the first place. If things are currents in an ocean, energy is the water those currents are made of. Things are condensed energy; energy is an evaporated thing. Things are “nounitude;” energy is “verbitude.” Energy is the bright no-thing-ness that precedes and surrounds all thinghood.

Energy and “things” go together by nature. Each thing has a "vibration" of energy, and all energy wants to manifest itself in a thing. Your body and your personality both have an energy. So does your computer, your chair, and every book, video game, and movie. This isn’t because you or the video game “radiate” that energy. Far from it. Rather, things are “filters” or “prisms” that energy uses to become “many.” For energy is one in itself. It is God's light. But just like light, energy needs to “reflect” off of things in order to gain variety and manyness.  Things do that for energy; they are many ways by which it can discover itself anew.

This "thing-ification" of energy happens on many levels, both cosmic and microcosmic. For one, this is how the famous "Law of Attraction" works, which says that one's thoughts and feelings attract like circumstances in the physical world. I have found that this law works, but it's not obvious why it works. However, when you think a thought or focus your attention on something, energy is pouring from its formless, at-one state into the "mold" of that thought. From there, it radiates out into the world in that thought's "vibration." This law describes how these vibrations find each other in the world. They do this because energy is the ultimate reality. Like goes to like because like is like.

On a more mundane level, the energy-becoming-things process happens whenever we speak or write. What lets these words and sentences you're reading combine together to make sense?  The "sense" of this essay is their energy, at first undifferentiated, limit-less or end-less, but limited into a fixed form by the definitions of the words. As such, any word develops a specific vibration of energy when it gets paired with another word. It blocks some energies from flowing in and it specifically invites others. The reason Nietzsche feels different from C. S. Lewis is because their words act as so many "irrigation channels" that thing-ify energy in very different ways.

In truth, every thing is just a limited face of the limitless - it is a lens that reveals energy by displaying only some of those vibrations. In other words, things differentiate energy that would be undifferentiated without things. But there is always an "overlap" or "excess" of energy between things; there is a part of each thing's energy that applies to other things as well. For instance, in a conversation with you, we share a specific energetic vibration that lets us meet each other as fellow humans Or in a text, each word in a sentence shares a vibration with the next word. Otherwise, the collective vibration of the text as a whole could not emerge.

How Energy Work Works

This energetic excess is what makes energy healing and energy work possible. For when an aspect of someone else's energy falls within the scope of my own "thinghood" or "nounitude," I can manipulate it. After all, I can change my own psychological and physiological well-being by directing energy through my thoughts -- the well-known placebo effect shows this. Why not in another? If I overlap energy with another person, my thoughts can affect their health just as well as it can affect mine. Moreover, this can affect things in the physical world, as with miracles. 

So say someone goes to an energy healer and that healer uses a prayer to heal him. In this case, the energy healer is using her thoughts and her words to help energy descend from a divine place to the physical. Any physical actions or utterances are just aids to thoughts: energy irrigation channels that go down a bit further from heaven. If the person is open to it, he will be helped by the energy healer to the extent that the energy itself is willing to heal him. For energy has an will of its own. If it's not God's will, the energy healing will not work. Healers just facilitate the energetic descent; they don't cause it.

But energy work isn't something only specialists do. You do it every day. For instance, take a conversation around a table in a classroom. The teacher is about to make a joke, and before he reaches the punchline, his lips quiver a bit with a smile. Then when he says it, a few fractions of a second later, we all erupt in laughter. What the teacher was struggling to contain in his smile -- and what erupted in our laughter - is energy. But when he tells the joke, suddenly the energy in him gains an "excess" in us. We "get" the joke and the energy bursts free as a forceful exhalation. The words and movements the teacher made deliberately channeled the energy into his students.

Moreover, key to understanding the concept of energy work is the idea of "correspondences." A thing "corresponds" to a specific vibration of energy if it "emits" that vibration. As such, that vibration manifests itself physically in the thing that corresponds to it. But the key is that -- if energy knows itself by looking at its reflection in things in -- doing stuff with things does stuff with energy. Since things are the "face" of energy, changing things actually brings about a change in the energies involved. Of course, as I mentioned before, the energy can refuse to cooperate. But we can help it do what it would do blindly without us. This opens the door to all kinds of techniques for managing your emotional and physical well-being. If you need energy, for instance, drink orange juice. Orange juice might not be physically energizing (I don't know), but it does have an intense, "zingy," vibe to it. It is a blinding sunrise in liquid form, so you can channel those vibrations into your body by drinking it.

And notice that energy work requires attention. I wouldn't have laughed in the classroom example if I didn't "get" the joke, and I wouldn't feel energized by orange juice if I was doing it mindlessly. This is also why you need consent to do energy healing: if the person isn't expecting it, it won't work on a conscious level. Energy work only "works" with an open door of conscious attention. For example, one day I was sleeping in. I was almost asleep again, and in the half-asleep, "hypnagogic" state, I half-imagined, half-saw a demon of some kind sitting on me. Then, a Gregorian chant started playing on my Amazon Echo from a Spotify playlist, and the demon fled in fear. But crucially, the demon only left when I noticed that the song had changed to a Gregorian chant, when I consciously recognized its energy. If I didn't notice the song, the demon wouldn't have left. The energy healing wouldn't have taken place.

Most importantly, know that everything has its own kind of energy. The above manifests as the below. And as an old aphorism says about this idea: "with this knowledge alone you may work miracles."

Friday, January 6, 2017

On Verbitude

Pick a sentence. Any sentence. Actually, I’ll go ahead and do it myself:

“The weathered veteran beside Cenn turned and inspected him.”

This sentence (from the first pages of Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings, which I’m just starting to re-read), is pretty normal. Specifically, it has nouns (”veteran,” “Cenn,” and “him,”), and it has verbs (”turned” and “inspected”). But which of those parts of speech is more important — nouns or verbs? You’ll probably think: “Nouns, obviously. The sentence is about the older veteran and Cenn, duh.” But I’ll go ahead and counter that claim. I’m going to assert that it is verbs — and not nouns — that label the sentence’s heart.

What do I mean by this? Do sentences even have a heart? Well, when you read anything — heck, whenever you look at anything — some parts of what you read take the foreground and some things take the background. For instance, in that sentence, “Cenn” is probably the most important word to you. For nouns typically take the foreground and verbs take the background. That’s just common sense. But here common sense is wrong — there are other ways to look at language. When you take nouns as central, the verbs are only extensions of the nouns; “inspecting” describes the veteran and Cenn. But if you switch the priority between the two, verbs become the stars and nouns the supporting roles. This drastically changes the way you look at language. Suddenly, the sentence up there isn’t about people anymore. It’s about a “turning” and an “inspection.” Who turns, what the turning is toward, who is inspecting, and who is being inspected are irrelevant or at best secondary. 

But what does this mean, practically, about the fictional situation that this sentence is trying to describe? Well, notice that when I read it in terms of nouns (or “nounwise,”) the sentence is about separate actors. However, when I read it “verbwise,” separateness is no longer a factor. There are actors, but they are not defined by their distinction from each other. Where before what was linked by the verbs was the main focus, now the link itself is what we’re paying attention to. The link’s the thing. No longer are the “weathered veteran” and “Cenn” separate; in that moment, they are one by virtue of the “turning” and the “inspecting.”

Notice something else: the “turning” and the “inspecting” don’t last very long, perhaps just a moment “The weathered veteran” and “Cenn” can last a much longer duration (but not much longer for Cenn, as readers will remember…). However, my point is that the verbs give the sentence a very different “temporality” or “time-sense” than the nouns give it. The sentence’s “nounitude” (the sentence’s character as seen through its nouns) is about actors that existed in the past and will exist in the future. However, the sentence’s “verbitude” (the sentence as seen through its verbs) is about something that exists in a specific moment or duration in time. It can’t exist outside of what’s happening in the moment since it is that happening. You can talk about nouns timelessly; you can’t talk about verbs timelessly. Verbs are inherently temporal, whereas nouns can be spoken of abstracted from time.

But actually, nouns are much more subject to the constraints of time than verbs are. Nouns can be abstracted from time, sure, but that’s always just a mental exercise. There is no such thing as a timeless noun, since whatever exists at some moment. However, the case is different for verbs. Since verbs define the time of the nouns, you can say that verbs aren’t “in” time at all. They may last for a certain duration, but it’s more proper to say that verbs define duration in the first place. If we didn’t have the “ticking” of a clock, the “revolving” and “orbiting” of the earth (all verbs), we wouldn’t know what time even was. In truth, verbs aren’t in time; they are time.

This is true of every “thing” in your life. You, your closest friend, and your computer all have a “nounitude” and a “verbitude.” The nounitude of your computer is that computer as a thing — an object, a fixed point in space that persists for a while through time. The verbitude of that computer is that “persisting” itself. It is the “happening” of it, the way that computer’s nounitude participates in actions with itself and other nouns. As such, verbitude is more fluid. It is movement and change in itself, and it takes part in the nouns of whatever participates in the action it is. When I type, that typing is a verbitude. When I speak, we share in the verbitude of speaking. As nouns, we are separate. As verbs, we are one. Nouns exist in the medium of verbs just like fish live in a river.

But here’s a question: what does life look like as seen from verbitude? Well, it’s actually very different. If nouns see “things,” verbs see processes. Nounsight (what I’ll call it) only notices the actors in a situation, but verbsight notices the processes those nouns take part in. But this has an interesting consequence. With nounsight, you can easily switch from one process from to another, since you have a sense of your own nounitude. But if you use verbsight, it’s not so easy. Someone who can “verbsee” would only ever identify with the process he is in at a given moment. And since verbs are transitory, that person would have a hard time switching tracks. They would hate change since every change from one verbitude to another would feel like dying. There would be no permanence to bracket change in a normal way.

This, as you may have guessed, is at the root of autism. As I pointed out a few posts ago, autism is what happens when the fire of higher worlds gets lost in this world without ever adapting to it. These higher worlds work much more easily in a verbwise way; the “fire” is verbitude. But this world works nounwise. Here, “things” rule the day; processes exist to serve them. But in these higher worlds, nouns exist to serve verbs. Here, time exists because nouns delimit and interrupt the experience of verbitude. But in these spiritual worlds, there isn't nearly as much “interruption.” In the words of Rudolf Steiner:

In this kind of experience it is just the same as when you say about any point of the whole circumference of a circle “Here it begins” and, having made the whole round, “Here it ends.” You have no feeling of having lived through a period of time, but rather the feeling of making a round, of describing a circle, and in this experience you completely lose the feeling of time that you normally have in sensory existence. You only feel that you are in the world that has the fundamental characteristic of being round, of being circular. A being who has never walked the Earth, who has never lived in the world of the senses but has always lived in the world of which we are speaking, would never be struck by the idea that the world once had a beginning and could be coming to an end. He would always think of it as a self-enclosed, round world. Such a being would have no inducement to say that he strove for eternity for the simple reason that everything around him is eternal, that nowhere is there anything beyond which he could look from the temporal into the eternal. 

This feeling of timelessness, this feeling of the circle, appears at a certain stage of clairvoyance, or in the conscious experience of sleep. With it is intermingled a certain yearning, a yearning that arises because in this experience in the higher world you are never really at rest. Everywhere you feel yourself in this revolving movement, always moving, never staying still. The longing you have is: “If only a halt could be made, if only somewhere one could enter time!” This is just the opposite, one might say, of what is experienced in sensory existence, in which we always feel ourselves in time while yearning after eternity. In the world of which I have been speaking, we feel ourselves in eternity with this one desire: “If only at some point the world would stand still and enter time existence!” This is what you realize to be the very fundamental feeling: the everlasting movement of the universe, and the longing for time; this experience of eternal becoming, this becoming that is its own surety, and the longing, “Ah, if only one could but somewhere, somehow, come to an end!” 

With autism, we are holding on to this experience of timelessness (which is really just time as it exists in itself). We never said “If only a halt could be made,” and we go kicking and screaming into the world of nouns and time. We never gave up our verbsight; we retain all of our verbitude. But because we have bodies with a lot of nounitude, we tend to overpower them with our verbitude. This is what a savant is — a verbitude (like drawing or math) that completely enslaves its nouns. All “things” serve that process. Likewise, this is what happens when the autistic person “info-dumps” — the “special interest” is a verbitude that completely overpowers the nouns in the situation. The autistic person is nounblind.

But an autistic person can gain nounsight. It feels like death to us, but we can do it. The process is one of letting each noun have its own verbitude instead of forcing your own verbitude onto it. Let the chair be a chair-ing; let your friend be a “friending;” neither should be a “me-ing.” This is scary for the autistic person because it feels like abandoning a very expansive sense of self. But this is based on a misconception of what the “self” is. When neurotypicals say “I,” they mean the nounitude of their body. However, when autistic people say “I,” they mean the verbitude of their body and whatever it interacts with. The key for an autistic person to cure nounblindness is to spend time and effort “separating” verbitudes from each other. You do this by “naming” them: “There’s the door-ing, there’s the computer-ing, there’s the burger-ing,” but all the while, you keep in mind that you — as a body - have your own distinct verbitude. This isn’t giving up the expansive sense of self that autistic people tend to have; it’s grounding it in an “avatar” that represents that expansive sense of self to the world: your body. It is this separation of verbs from verbs that builds nounsight. Nounsight is the separation of verbs from verbs. Nouns are what separates verbs from each other.

Finally, if you’re neurotypical, you can learn to have better verbsight if that’s what you want. You do that by saying that “not just.” That chair is “not just” a chair. That person is “not just” a person. I am “not just” Christian Swenson, etc. There is a level of “excess” that happens when you do this. You see that all things give of themselves to other things into a shared “middle.” This shared middle is the verbworld, the shared verbitude of things. By practicing this, you begin to see the world less as a collection of things than as a flowing river of interconnected processes. For the verbitude of things opens up and gives; the nounitude of things closes up and withdraws. Verbitude is mercy; nounitude is justice. Verbitude is goodness; nounitude is truth. Pay attention to verbitude to feel at one; pay attention to nounitude to feel like a unique individual. The one links; the other separates. They are both necessary.