[In this chapter, I have mostly copied the exercise, modifying just a bit for the online circumstances. -- The Mgt.]
Let each member of the study group say aloud, "I do this exercize because ... "and then attempt to state "all" the reasons. For instance, you will do this exercize because you are participating in this online discussion group. Why did you join it? How did you get interested in the topics discussed in this book? How did you find the discussion? How did you arrive at this particular blog among all of the Internet sites around the world?
Carry the analysis further. How did you happen to be born? That is, how did your parents come to meet and mate? How did they come to be born? Amid all the wars, earthquakes, famines and other disasters of human history how did those genetic strains which combined in you survive when so many other genetic strains disappeared?
How did this continent emerge in geological evolution? Can you estimate how many migrations, wars of conquest, economic upheavals etc. led to the genetic strains of your father and mother coming together?
Attempt in at least a rough, vague way to account for the formation of the planet Earth and the appearance of life on Earth.
When each member has had a chance at this game consider the improbability of all of you coming together at this location on the Internet, at this time, to do this exercize.
It will probably prove necessary to do this exercize at least three times before the full meaning sinks into the neurons.
I do this exercise because I wanted to read Quantum Psychology and discuss it in a group, as the book suggests, and I didn't have a group to go to in Cleveland. I do it because Eric Wagner suggested I could participate in a group discussion online instead.
I do it because a couple of years ago, on a whim, I created a blog on Blogger to record some thoughts about Robert Anton Wilson after I had just read "Coincidance." I do it because a group of scientists created the Internet, and then other folks created the World Wide Web, and other folks invented blogging. Eventually someone came up with Blogger, which came to be owned by Google, which was invented after somebody came up with the concept of a "search engine."
I do this exercise because after I created the blog, I got support from other Robert Anton Wilson fans such as Eric and Michael Johnson, who offered wise words and comments. The feedback and the sense of an audience out there helped me persist with the blog until the idea of a discussion group for Quantum Psychology came along.
I came to be born because my father, an American soldier, was asked to be the best man for another American soldier at a wedding in West Germany. My mother was the maid of honor for the German woman who was getting married. Both of them were in a particular area of Germany because of World War II -- my father because the American army wound up occupying Germany and staying because of the Cold War, and my mother because her family fled what became East Germany to avoid being overrun by the Red Army.
I don't know how to account for life on Earth, but I'll note we haven't found life anywhere else yet.
Many of the folks who have popped up in the comments so far for Quantum Psychology are people I've gotten to know through the blog, email etc. None of them live anywhere near where I live, and if it were not for the blog and the discussions on it, I would never have "met" them.
I do this exercise because I am participating in this online discussion, because I wanted to read Quantum Psychology anyway and this gave me the impetus, because I want to read all of RAW's books, because I discovered an audio tape of one of RAW's lectures ("Religion for the Hell of It") at a metaphysical bookstore in Boulder, CO, where I was pursuing an MA in Buddhist studies, back in 1994. I got interested in the various topics in the book because of my conservative religious upbringing, the challenge that science has posed to that upbringing and vice-versa, my questions about the nature of truth, and my desire to "figure it all out."
How was I born? My 17-year old mother was living in a juvenile facility as a ward of the state because her father repeatedly raped her and her sister when they were younger. She met and fell in love with a friend of her father, around 20 years her senior, and I came along. Three days after my birth, I was adopted by my parents (those who raised me, rather than those who made me) who had mysteriously moved from 25th to 1st place on the list of potential parents in time for me to come along. So the "genetic" strains that came together in me aren't simply reducible to selfish genes, but many other factors, including some that are downright spooky.
Reflecting on all this reminds me of an example I give to my students to explain the Buddhist notion of dependent arising or pratityasamutpada and which I have mentioned in an earlier comment to this blog. In short, everything, even something as mundane as a pencil, implies everything else in the universe, from the nuclear reactions in the sunlight used to grow the wood to the language passed on from parent to child that allowed the workers in the pencil factory to communicate with one another. When all this really sinks in, which is rarer than hen's teeth (at least for me), the best response is something I heard from Huston Smith about a Zen teacher with whom he worked:
"Infinite gratitude to the past, infinite responsibility to the future."
Well, I started answering this, and my computer froze. I joined this group because I love this book. I first encountered this book right when it came out. I immediately tried to form a group, but it didn't last. A few months later some friends and I tried again, and we finished the book. A few years later my Steve and I from the first group joined some others and worked through it again.
I became interested in Bob's writing in part due to a review Spider Robinson wrote in Analog after John Lennon's murder. I first got into Spider's writing in junior high when my mom bought me a copy of Galaxy magazine.
My mom and dad met on the beach near Washington D. C. They both worked for the NSA. My dad had done cryptography in the army during the Korean war. My mom had majored in history at Wellesley. Both of their families came to America around the time of the American Revolution, my dad's as Hessian soldiers for the British, my mom's fought for the Americans.
I guess both groups came over as a response to Columbus's evolutionary strategy whose roots go back to Roman and Greek thinkers, I suspect. These go back to Egyptian ideas about the world and various other human and pre-human models of the world and other worlds.
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