Sunday, 7 February 2010

Chesterton on Mysticism

Mysticism permits the twilight

"Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of to-day) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that.

"Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such as thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age becsuse it was not.

"It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man. The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid."

— GK Chesterton

One foot in fairyland


"The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid." - this is reminiscent of Gödel's incompleteness theorem, which states that any consistent system of axioms whose theorems can be listed by a computer program is incapable of proving certain truths about arithmetic.

In other words, any consistent computable formal theory which can prove some arithmetic truths cannot prove all arithmetic truths. Or, if an axiomatic system can be proven to be consistent and complete from within itself, then it is inconsistent.

As mathematics is the very foundation of our understanding of the physical universe, Gödel's theorem suggests that there may be an unsolvable mystery or irreconcilable paradox at the very heart of reality.

For a discussion of why the mind is a non-physical, fundamental aspect of the universe which is not derived from anything else, see Confronting Materialism and the Delusion of the Mechanical Mind.

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Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Himalaya Exhibition London, from 8th Feb 2010


Himalaya Exhibition combines art and photography to give an introduction to the cultural forces and trends flowing through the present-day Himalayan Region.

Further details here 


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Monday, 1 February 2010

Upstage the Unbelievers Wherever You Find Them!

Temple fair

'Temple fair pickings' by Wang Shutong:
"Temple fairs are a historic, integral part of Lunar New Year celebrations for many, but their origins are somewhat more competitive than one might imagine.

Buddhism and Taoism both reached their peaks during the Tang and Song dynasties respectively, and they used to compete with each other by holding performances in order to transmit their doctrine and recruit followers. Dances and dramas were added to the activities, and people from all across China came to participate and enjoy. Later, vendors began selling goods at these fairs, turning the temples into markets.

The modern incarnation of the temple fair is a place to buy new years decorations, watch shadow puppet plays and cross talk performances, taste traditional Beijing snacks and to pray for blessings and good luck in the coming year..." Full article at Global Times


I suppose dance, music and drama are OK for wimps, but they're nowhere near as effective as the way the macho Abrahamic religions recruit followers, by chopping unbelievers' heads off or burning them at the stake. - Sean