Leopoldo on being An Instrument of God

An Instrument of God
Letters from Leopoldo Giordania to Arturo

Arturo, we are flutes with missing key pads, guitars with broken strings and pianos out of tune. I have often thought of us in this way, out of harmony with nature’s rhythms, discordant and atonal. But there is a better metaphor, that of the lens.

At one moment we see the world as if through a microscope, drilling into the finest minutia, lost in an argument with a friend or ruminating on a simple persistent compulsive behavior like staring compulsively into a mirror at blemishes, folds and wrinkles.

The next moment we are carried up into physics, unifying theories, the vistas presented by NASAs orbiting Hubble telescope. But it is all the same thing, bits of a whole, dependent on our focus at the time.

While gazing at stars an ant crawls beneath our feet. Looking down, a comet passes overhead unnoticed. We are limited, as the ancients tell us, by eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. Even imagination is limited as it requires the connection of disparate ideas to understand the whole of a thing, to give our lives context and help us plot the next step.

In your lifetime, with the resources at your command, you will have access to quantum computing. Think of what that capability could do for the enterprise. Imagine the focus required to play three-dimensional chess as we do, but elevated to eight-dimensional chess. Imagine access to computational devices capable of winning that game, every time. I cannot. I am a human being who, like God, uses the instruments at hand to reshape the universe around me.

Do you remember our lessons with the slide rule? Your father’s engineers carried the ability to make complex calculations in their minds and breast pockets. Long before that, the abacus and Pascal’s mechanical calculator. The point I make is simple. Focus is limited to the resources and information at hand, and that body of information is always changing.

What is in front of you now that you have taken on the business, is dense nearly impenetrable amounts of information. Your father ran on what he called his gut, very often making horrible decisions based upon too little information, and then forcing square pegs into round holes to make it all work. He used and abused the people around him as if they were mere machines and disposable instruments of his will. He never understood, nor tolerated, weakness, believing at every step that he could force the outcome.

I thank God every day that you are not your father. Your spirit is genuinely curious. These traits lift you above the men and women in your life. Use your gifts. Be patient. Stay focused.

Leopoldo: Look deeper. Look elsewhere.

Look deeper. Look elsewhere.
Letters from Leopoldo Giordania to Arturo

Arturo, mind is not in control of mind. We spend our lives believing in control. We talk to each other as if aware and purposeful, but are we really in control of anything? “A mere heap of conditions this, where no being can be found.” That is another of the things the Buddha said. Consider the words mind and thinking. To me mind is much larger than thinking because it acknowledges the thinker and what the thinker is engaged with through the senses. We think, but owning a thought is for your father’s intellectual property lawyers and the courts to decide, not for us to take seriously.

There is a very practical element where we are responsible for our thinking, but actually what we think is just a position within mind, a spec no larger than any given star in the sky, on any given night. It is easy to come to this understanding, so try it. For a few minutes each day try to grasp the enormity of all the things you COULD use mind to explore. Mind is vast. Mind is limitless. Mind is right now!

Move in mind to investigate mathematics, physics, prayer, astronomy, languages, history, philosophy or nothing grand at all. Cooking. Consider whether you need new shoes or if you can help someone who needs shoes. There is no limitation on WHERE you can focus thought, only that you should attach thinking to only one point at a time, the present.

We are responsible for where we position thinking within mind, but there is no limit to where in mind we can place our thinking. You are the shepherd. Picking the next thing to reflect upon is like picking which of your ten thousand observations needs attention. Past and future are transfixed. At any given moment, Arturo, we are in command of only so much.

Thoughts do not arrive fully formed. Each thought carries with it the predicate of what we thought before, and the unfortunate capacity for cynicism, extraneous emotion, distraction and confusion. Each is short-lived and requires concentration or repetition to stay in focus. When we feel clear and certain, we are probably deluded. Often when confused, it is because we are confronted with some difficult problem and are not confused at all, just working our way through ambiguity toward an understanding or solution. Trusting that any single thought is in control of other thoughts is folly, and yet, with concentration we can sustain delusions for a lifetime.

Ask yourself. What thoughts would be in your frame of reference if you’d been born a thousand years ago? Maybe you would plan to appease Zeus? What will people be thinking about, and what problems will mind solve years from today? We work on, and are worked upon by, the sea of thoughts and impressions that surround and spring from us.

Even as I write to you, I wonder. Why? Who am I to talk like this to you, a young man with unlimited potential? Maybe it is because we share an understanding of many strange and wonderful ideas. We share mind. Our thinking is aligned on more than a few important questions, because we share a place in time and many experiences. It is as if we have reached an understanding on all things, but what is it about understanding that leads to questions?

We talk about so much, but are in control of very little, just busy repeating what we like to hear about our situation and what we believe is important. We are not in control of our thinking. It is more likely that thinking is in control of us, and for that reason, it has come time to throw out what we have come to believe is true and begin the greatest search of all. It is time to set aside the set of ides fed us by a thousand years of thinking, and by your father. God moves on, Arturo. It is time for us to move on, too, and look elsewhere.

There are secrets in this manuscript that set us apart. You and I together have embarked on a great journey. In time all will be revealed.

Leopoldo on the Duty to Philosophize

A Duty to Philosophize
Letters from Leopoldo Giordania to Arturo

Today you asked about philosophy. What a great question for a young man to ask. I am not formally trained in the discipline, but let me point to the difference between having a philosophy and philosophizing. One is what we think we know, the other is action!

Thoughts rush like a turbulent river, over and through us. We have little choice but to flow with them from birth to death. We are all in that river, Arturo, and when the truth is told, we are the river itself. Human beings think. Turning thoughts into a memorable, repeatable and useful philosophy is the goal of philosophy, but the act of doing this is philosophizing.

No one should have to embrace a particular philosophy, only to philosophize. This is one of the tenants most dear to Socrates, a man we’ve talked about at great length. Our minds travel in diverse directions, sometimes all at once. Mind can also become stubborn as a donkey. When that happens, remember this little joke. Kick your ass in the ass and keep going.

Some call Socrates the father of philosophy. That is a bit ambitious, but the life he lived, and the arguments he made, have influenced thinkers for centuries. He philosophized, debated, and challenged the thinkers of his time. In the end, they killed him for it, the whole while believing in their own piety.

Let me tell you a secret. Everyone around me claims to know God. That word to them is a noun. How can that be? I only know God as a verb. Nouns exist outside of the self. That is what Aristotle was all about, labeling things ad infinitum.

There is no money in philosophizing, so says the bastard. He may be right, but why condemn this old friend for intellectual curiosity? There is no value in money except what to do with it, so what does he do? Little of value. I love the bastard, but there is more to living.

You asked for my philosophy. It is to philosophize. That is my duty, pleasure and passion. Making and losing money is enticing. Ascending to power is going to be seductive, celebrity is alluring. But in the end, I am just Leopold and you are just Arturo. Your father can believe he is something more, but even that lovely bastard is just a man.

Here is a philosophy for you, be what makes you happy!

Leopoldo on Circumstance and Epistemology

Circumstance and epistemology
Letters from Leopoldo Giordania to Arturo

What does it mean to be human, Arturo? Begin every day with that question. We are blessed with exceptional innate, acquired and mediated qualities, but in that we are not alone. All sentient beings have the common quality of awareness, and where there is awareness, there is the pursuit of God. That is what sentient means, to have awareness, perception, a sensory connection to the world around us. To be connected is to be present. To be present means we are in pursuit. What does it mean to be in pursuit?

Intrinsic with awareness is the impulse to act, and our first impulse is to survive, as individuals and as a species. The rooster crows at dawn. Dogs bark at intruders. Fish seek their depth. Birds migrate and  build elaborate nests in accordance with their innate skills. What is your essential nature, Arturo? What does it mean to be human?

Is humanity defined by the opposing thumb, upright stance, brain size, spectral range of senses, the creation and use of tools, unbounded language, complicated social systems and command of technology? We are unique in all of that, but what is our innate essential wordless nature?

We use our senses to create information, recall and combine it into communication, and in communicating learn that all things are at once wonderful, impermanent and imperfect. As the master says, we live in a paradise of form, but what is taken as fact one day can be debunked tomorrow. That pattern of reassessing permeates the history of consciousness and leads us to happiness and misery, brilliance and idiocy. Accept all of it. Embrace life as an unfolding play. In the first order, use your gifts to overcome shortcomings.

Let information flow around and through you without clinging. The most honored one said, “Knowledge cleaves the mind and makes us dull.” The same is true in our religion, though many around us conflate the desire for certainty with truth. Don’t become so concerned with heavenly things that you are of no earthly good. Believe in process and test ideas. When what we believe turns out to be biased, short-sighted or inadequate, smile and move on. Be a willing player in the great project and you cannot ultimately fail to realize that skepticism and false truths are simply temporary impediments. Even God moves on.

Your father and I disagree on the final line of this section. “What we are aware of at any given moment is less important than that we are aware.” Why are you aware? What does it mean to be human?