January 25, 2014
Hawking has changed his mind again about black holes (or more specifically, event horizons). He is an example of a great scientist: a probing, inquiring, restless, and ceaselessly open mind. Pure scientists are also seekers — not seekers of government grants or Nobel gold, but of a clearer and deeper understanding.
Great teachers of self-realization and psychological development are also like this. Alan Watts remains a favorite of mine: he knew what folly it was to pretend to teach anyone anything. So, like Hawking the scientist, Watts never stopped exploring; he never gave up on the quest, never stopped trying a new angle, a fresh direction; and actually poured more energy into it all, the more Truth eluded him. He summarizes this approach in this video, which contains one of his greatest teachings.
What more can be added to that? The only way to find yourself is to first become lost, and make damned sure you’re well aware of your loss, your disorientation, your utter emptiness of substance and direction. Then you will be able to embrace every contradiction, hear the music of the cosmic dissonance, and move like a particle in a quantum state, living at opposite points along a pole and fixed to none of it — points, pole, or state.
Reality differs from every conclusion we try to make about it. But you can’t stop drawing conclusions merely because of that — the idea is rather to hold your conclusions very, very lightly — almost as if you’d just as soon let them go. Then you can teach, and teach fairly effectively — as long as you can recall that it’s all a vain and futile exercise.
For both Hawking and Watts, it turns out that our position in the universe of knowledge and/or self-discovery is precisely as Carl Sagan summarizes Hawking’s search for the Mind of God (in A Brief History of Time): “this makes all the more unexpected the conclusion of the effort, at least so far: a universe with no edge in space, no beginning or end in time, and nothing for a Creator to do.”