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J. Harmon Grahn — About The Writing on the Wall


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Confessions From Almost, But Not Quite, Nothing, Nowhere:
Cosmos seems to consist of a very large number of components, each of relatively infinitesimal size: so that each of them, from quarks to galaxies, in comparison to the Whole, amounts as near to "nothing" as would seem to make no difference. Yet without all of them, Cosmos would not exist: because they are, in their aggregate, what Cosmos by definition is.

In the course of presenting The Writing on the Wall essay series here, I have come to the realization that "What I Have to Say" may not have much relevance or interest for very many besides myself; and viewing myself levelly, including "What I Have to Say," I must admit that it sums up to about as near to zero (0) as a non-zero fraction can imaginably be.

I mean to say: Here I am, at even date, constituting approximately one seven-thousand-millionth of the human population now resident upon this planet — and an even more infinitesimal fraction of all beings who live, or have ever lived, upon planet Earth. And mind you, that's only on planet Earth: a minor fragment of matter in orbit, among many others, around a G2 yellow dwarf situated "Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy. . ."[1] that we humans have been calling the Milky Way. And I By Golly have "Something to Say!" Sheesh! What a sublime presumption![2]

Nevertheless, I have taken up the habit of scribbling my thoughts, such as they are, and offering them to . . . well, to the wind, basically; and maybe to anyone else with enough idle time not crammed to overflowing with matters of "real importance" (such as keeping pace with the latest gossip aobut celebrities and sports stars) to spare a glance in their direction. The only "recommendation" I can give these scribblings is that they are offered in the spirit of peace, love, and gratitude to whatever mysterious Presence Who, or What it is, that inhabits, nourishes, and sustains "All Things," everywhere. If anyone (besides the wind) discovers a nugget of insight, or a provocative thought among them, then my mutterings shall have achieved as much as I have expected of them.

If this sounds like self-depreciating cynicism, I would like to add the observation that being an infinitesimal yet non-zero fraction of "All Things" is not necessarily something to be sneezed at — for me, for anybody, or for anything:

Every Blossom, every Bee,
Every Leaf on every Tree,
Every Snowflake, every Drop in every Sea,
Every Atom, every Planet, Star, and Galaxy
Is a Part, and has a Place
In the Whole that forms the Face
Of Living, Loving Divinity.

—J. Harmon Grahn
The Writing on the Wall #5, 6/1/12, p. 23.

I have organized this series in the reverse of the order in which it was written: because like the strata visible in the Grand Canyon, and other geological formations, the more recent layers are supported by the layers beneath, and may be of more immediate interest than earlier layers, in the context of continuously unfolding human events. Yet there is an overall continuity to the series that does not rely upon their being read in any particular order.

  • The Writing on the Wall #8: "The Emergence of 'Post-Civilization'" (4 November 2012, 34 pp., 191.4 kB) is the concluding number of The Writing on the Wall series of essays. It is, to the best of my ability to give developing thoughts articulate expression, what I seem to have been aiming at, without having had a clear vision of it from the beginning of the series. I am sure this is not the "last word" I shall have to offer on the vast and beckoning topic of "post-civilization;" and I am already anticipating a follow-on series of essays exploring "post-civilized" possibilities.

    In addition to being a continuation of the discussion developed in the prior number of this series, the eighth edition was initially prompted by the seemingly simple question a friend of mine put to me, as to why his modest life had smoothed out so nicely, and seems to be sailing along, sweet as a nut — I suppose in contrast to many people, near and far, who seem to be struggling from day to day, just keeping their heads above water.

    Unfortunately, I am not very good at giving simple answers to simple questions, and this one turned out to occupy about 34 pages, by the time I had got to the end of it. And of course, even that is not the end, but only a very modest beginning on something ("post-civilization") that I hope may have no end — if it turns out as I imagine it might. . . .

  • The Writing on the Wall #8, HTML version. I am finding numerous advantages in producing these writings in parallel PDF and HTML versions; and so I am continuing the practice; and may eventually (time and circumstances availing) produce HTML editions of prior essays that are now available only in PDF format. Mainly, the HTML format facilitates embedded links between different but related parts of relatively long presentations; whereas the PDF format allows precise presentation in an easily printed form that is reliably identical to its reader as to its author.

  • The Writing on the Wall #7: "Not All That Can Be Imagined Works In Practice" (21 September 2012, 64 pp., 309.2 kB) springs from a remark in the prior edition, § 4 Transdimensional Realities, in reference to a "Cosmic, Creative, Purposeful Intelligence" that may be imagined to have designed and created the Cosmos in which we find ourselves at this time. "Such a Cosmic Being," I wrote, "would have discovered early on that not all that can be imagined actually works in practice."

    The Writing on the Wall series of essays has developed the idea that there is "something wrong" with what we humans like to call "civilization:" mainly, that it does not work; and that it consequently cannot last in its present and historical form, and must — somehow — evolve into "something else" with a potential for long-term sustainability in Cosmos. This "something else" I have been calling "post-civilization" — yet exactly what that is, or might become, has been a challenging and illusive puzzle for the "civilized" imagination, not excluding my own.

    In confronting this dilemma, we "civilized" humans are all significantly handicapped by the fact that for hundreds of successive generations, spanning at least tens of consecutive centuries, "civilization" in its various forms is all we have ever known, or remembered in our severely abbreviated "histories." If it really is so that "civilization" does not work, and cannot last, then what are we to do instead, that might work better? This is not an easy question to answer; and I have been grappling with it . . . for a long time.

    Finally, in the seventh edition of this series, I feel I have at least had a glimpse of a plausible approach to this vital question. I doubt that it will appeal to everyone. Among the seven thousand million humans now resident upon this planet, there are a staggering variety of opinions about everything — one infinitesimal element of which is comprised of my peculiar collection of opinions and speculations; and I will not be surprised if they fall short of universal appeal. However, they may "resonate" with some, and I offer them with that possibility in mind.

  • The Writing on the Wall #7, HTML version. The advantage of the PDF version above is that it may be downloaded and saved, printed, shared as an e-mail attachment, etc. in the page format, and with the exact appearance intended by the author. The advantage of the HTML version is that it may be read on-line as a single Web page, in which are embedded numerous internal links among related parts throughout the document. Links within § 0 Introduction & Synopsis to other Sections, and in footnotes referring to other files within The Wellspring Library, are coded with absolute (as opposed to relative) URLs; so if an excerpt (such as § 0) from the HTML version is copied and pasted into an e-mail, for instance, and relevant footnotes are included, links to other files should work for the recipient of that e-mail. Additionally, the HTML version is (sparsely) illustrated, whereas the PDF version is text only. These differences may give some readers reasons to prefer one version over the other, which are otherwise as parallel as it was possible to make them.

  • The Writing on the Wall #6: "Inquire Within" (7 July 2012, 26 pp., 156.7 kB) is prompted by The Writing on the Wall #5, at the end of § 6 Speculations, where is written: "Each of us, who will, is eligible to vote in the election of Earth-humanity into the peerage of self-governing Cosmic beings — simply by becoming a self-governing Cosmic being." So, what is "a self-governing Cosmic being?"

    It is a larger question than at first it may appear to be; and the convoluted path in quest of an answer returns consideration to the "Virtual Reality" discussed in prior essays; looks into the Subtle Anatomy of the human body; reviews the ways of Wealth and Power discussed in #5 § 2.2; and reaches toward Transdimensional Realities that, perhaps surprisingly, occupy the largest part of human experience within the three-dimensional world.

    The essay concludes with a series of statements describing a coherent path beyond "the mounting cascade of crises that seem to be bearing down upon all who happen to reside at this time upon planet Earth," for those who take the internal measures necessary to make of themselves "self-governing Cosmic beings." It is suggested that this path might be submitted for verification by "Inquiring Within," and consulting the oracle that resides within each of us.

    Click here for an audio rendering of The Writing on the Wall #6, read from beginning to end by the author. [1:26:40, 437.5 MB]

  • The Writing on the Wall #5: "Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels" (1 June 2012, 45 pp., 236.0 kB) began as a continuation of the discussion of money and economics touched upon in The Writing on the Wall #4 § 5.1 What is Money? and other recent essays. Its scope swiftly enlarged, however, to consider the nature of wealth and power — particularly in relation to recently disclosed conditions reported from Fukushima, Japan, in the wake of the 9.0 earthquake off the east coast of Honshu, and the resulting devastating tsunami, 11 March 2011.

    . . . during the course of writing [I wrote], the decisive crossroads the human residents of planet Earth seem to have reached during the past year was gradually borne in upon me. It appears that the destiny of the human race upon planet Earth today may hang by a thread; and the issue might very well be decided, for weal or woe, during the current year 2012. All it would take, so it seems, is a single large earthquake near Fukushima, Japan — which geologists consider probable, within the current year.

    In this essay, accordingly, I have attempted to draw together a number of threads developed at greater length in prior essays, along with threads developed by others; and weave them into a fabric that is intended . . . not to provide "answers" to the human challenge, but to provoke thought, and expanded vision and awareness. I suggest that thought, and expanded vision and awareness, are always useful, and today may be urgently needed among humans everywhere, anywhere, if any of us are to find our way to a brighter future.

  • The Writing on the Wall #5, HTML version. The scope of this essay kept getting broader, and wider, and deeper, as I cast about for a plausible basis for a "happy ending" to a set of circumstances that have emerged very naturally for Earth-humanity, over the entire course of "civilized history," with antecedents buried deep in "prehistory."

    By the time I got done, I had become somewhat discouraged. I got my "happy ending" — in a manner of speaking. But I had to reach for it beyond the fences of "conventional reality;" and I began to wonder, "Who is ever going to read this crazy-quilt of errant nonsense?" I sometimes get that way after pouring myself into a project for hours, days, and weeks on end. During the process I often feel inspired, and incandescent with enthusiasm — but then when the fit passes, I sometimes wonder if what I have written will make any sense at all to anybody but me — and I sometimes question if it even makes perfect sense to me.

    Accordingly, I asked my highly respected and widely informed friend, Gary Sycalik to look over my MS, and let me know what he thought of it.

    "It addresses at length the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe," I wrote to Gary, "and extrapolates a plausible outcome (as I read the signs) for the planet, in the event no significant change is made to the situation from its status during the past year.

    However [I warned him], it reaches into the "Twilight Zone" for a more favorable plausible outcome. This is where my self-doubts began to emerge: because looking at the scene with an unflinching gaze, it looks to me like "the outlook isn't brilliant for the Earth seven billion" just now: with a score of four to two, two away, and two on base, in the bottom of the ninth inning. And so, in my endeavor to "keep the corners up," and sustain an optimistic appraisal of things, I've had to reach somewhat "around the bend" in groping for a plausible basis for a "happy ending" to the harrowing tale.

    So before making my screed public, I would like to run it by your appraising eye, in hopes you will let me know whether it has any plausibility at all; or is only the raving of a crazy old man walking around in circles in the New Mexico high desert, like someone who has had too much sun.

    Gary replied promptly:


    I have read your Writing on the Wall #5.

    I deem it to be brilliant and comprehensible to many, perhaps most.

    I would like to obtain your final copy (whenever) so that I can share it with some, who have electronic newsletters, with an intention that they consider making it available to their readers. How this could be accomplished is up for grabs as it is too long to be included in the newsletters. However, an initial amount could be included, along with a URL link to the remainder on your website.

    In addition, I would like to share it, if and when you agree, with a selected number of people as an attached file.

    Additionally, I would like to make it available to all of those on my Outgoing list in a similar manner in which the newsletters could accomplish this objective.

    . . . You have created a wonderful, deep sharing document, containing many important thoughts about critical issues of our day.

    On behalf of Humankind, I thank you.


    Thus encouraged, I make The Writing on the Wall #5 freely available here; in hopes that you may find it a stimulus to thought, and expanded vision and awareness.

    The excerpts Gary suggested, in HTML format, have since been upgraded to the HTML Version of the entire essay; in which links to The Wellspring Publishing Group pages cited in footnotes are "absolute," not "relative." Thus if parts or all of the The Writing on the Wall #5, HTML Version, are pasted into an e-mail for onward distribution, the embedded links in included footnotes ought to work properly.

  • The Writing on the Wall #4: "Don't Believe Everything You Think" (30 March 2012, 18 pp., 138.8 kB) continues exploration of the dichotomy between "reality" and belief — and suggests at the outset "that no: 'reality' really is not very much at all like anybody imagines it to be. Yet how we imagine it to be is the only 'reality' in which any of us actually live, move, and have our being."

    The argument makes the following radical proposal:

    In seeking an alternative to perfecting our perceptions of "reality" — which seems itself to be a task far beyond our reach, and farther beyond our grasp, simply because "reality" seems to be effectively "infinite," whereas we seem to be irrevocably "finite" — what if we were to accept our beliefs as our nearest possible approach to "reality," and focus our attention and efforts upon shaping our beliefs into closer alignment with our hearts' desires — instead of attempting in vain to shape "reality" to fit our desires? If we live "in here," in other words, within our beliefs, and have only the most fragmentary, tenuous, and minuscule access to "reality out there," then why not shape our beliefs in accordance with our most sublime aspirations, and allow "reality" to continue doing what it has always done, and being what it has always been; and cease our vain attempts at bending it to human ends?

    The qualities of beliefs are discussed, and personal examples are offered illustrating the consequences in one's life of different kinds of beliefs. Among these is the concept of metaconsciousness, described in The Writing on the Wall #3.

    In § 5 Shifts Happen, the nature of money is considered, referring to my essay, A Discussion of Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein, and to the longer work by Eisenstein.

    On the basis of 26 centuries' hindsight [I write], turning loose upon the world the human invention of money has produced a number of consequences for later generations that could hardly have been anticipated by anybody at the outset:
    • Money, with no intrinsic value of its own, came swiftly to be more highly valued among humans than any commodity money could buy.

    • The artificial, abstract value of money emphasized the general principle of abstraction, encouraging conceptual separation between complementary relationships at all levels: such as between essence and form, spirit and matter, mind and body, the "inner" and "outer" aspects of all things.

    • Money, combining concrete substance with abstract value in precisely defined identical modular units, has had the cumulative effect over time of reshaping all that it touches into modular likenesses of itself.

    • The "commoditization" of all things has had the effect of emphasizing the "outer" aspects of what it touches at the expense of their "inner" aspects — as in removing the "spirit" from the "substance;" or keeping the "husk," and discarding the "meat;" or transforming living humans into walking corpses.

    • Money, being more highly valued than anything else, has created an insatiable demand for more of it; and being abstract, there is no conceptual limit to how much more of it there can be.

    • The nature of money is such that, no matter how much of it there is, there can never be enough of it; demand is perpetually greater than supply; and money is therefore the perpetual source of scarcity, and the destroyer of abundance.

    • Money, being more highly valued than anything else, capable of limitless replication, and subject to insatiable demand, occupies a fundamentally unsustainable presence upon planet Earth: at this time, the money economy has run its course, and hit the wall at the end of a dead-end street.

    We may chalk these up as some of the "unintended consequences" of the invention of money in ancient Greece — locus today, perhaps, of the "first pebble" that launches the cascading avalanche, by the time it has run its course, that may take down, as the Hathors[3] expressed it, the House of Cards that can no longer be sustained on Earth.

    There's more, of course; but maybe this is enough of a preliminary glimpse into the content of The Writing on the Wall #4.

    Click here for an audio rendering of The Writing on the Wall #4, read from beginning to end by the author. [1:01:06, 228.4 MB]

  • The Writing on the Wall #3: "How Do You Know That You Know What You Know?" (5 February 2012, 14 pp., 121.7 kB) further explores some of the matters discussed in Numbers 1, and 2 of the series; including Perception and "Reality", "Virtual Reality", Consensus Realities, and The "Real Reality" supposed by many to exist "objectively," and independent of anybody's perceptions. The discussion concludes with an expanded description of Consciousness, and Metaconsciousness, and develops a simple yet innovative argument for the presence of intention, purpose, and design among the "causal agents" operative throughout Cosmos — held as anathema by "scientific orthodoxy."

    Excerpts from The Writing on the Wall #3

    • In the opinion of this writer, perhaps the most grievous error firmly embedded within "scientific orthodoxy" is the doctrine of rigid exclusion of intention, purpose, and design among the "causal agents" operative anywhere in Cosmos — excluding only the designs of humans resident upon planet Earth. It is a doctrine as crippling to contemporary science as were the fanatical dogmas of medieval Christianity to the peoples of Europe during the Dark Ages.

      I mention this by way of "full disclosure" of the bias of the personal mythology that informs what I write, and seems "self-evidently obvious" to me; but may not be at all self-evident to those who believe myths different from mine.

      The palpable fact of consciousness — in you, in me, in innumerable beings, large and small, subject to our observation — is, to me, a jaw-dropping mystery of seemingly bottomless depth. How is it that you, or I, or a bear, or a bee, can live, and move, and exercise volition within the tapestry of innumerable other beings resident upon this planet? This question, expressed in various ways, is a source of endless fascination and speculation for me; but I have no clear "answer" to it. In pondering it, however, I have formed in my mind a concept to which I have given the name, metaconsciousness.

    • Click here for an audio rendering of The Writing on the Wall #3, read from beginning to end by the author. [47:53, 241.7 MB]
  • The Writing on the Wall #2: "Who Do You Think You Are? Anyhow?" (11 June 2011, 34 pp., 181.5 kB) explores a few of the many strands that wend away from the question, "How do you know?" — a very good question to ask almost anytime — especially when you think you're certain of the answer.

    The discussion includes, but is not limited to, a consideration of the idea that we humans particularly, and all life generally, may — in some ways as water takes various forms in the course of its circulation about the planet — have existences prior to our physical, bodily manifestations; which may continue existence after our physical manifestations dissolve. The discussion arrives eventually, and surprisingly, but not finally, at what I believe to be a viable, and a very simple basis for a moral principle.

  • The Writing on the Wall #1: "Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, Everything is Out of Control!" (24 September 2010, 28 pp., 161.7 kB) is the first of a series of essays that address a wide and densely interrelated spectrum of contemporary and historical issues that have cascaded over the past few thousand years into seemingly intractable "problems" that now threaten all contemporary humans, and possibly all life on Earth.

    Today, there is a growing awareness among people everywhere of the breadth, depth, and seemingly incomprehensible complexity of an approaching "tidal wave" that many may find too intimidating even to contemplate. Yet although The Writing on the Wall does not propose an "out-of-the-box solution" to these cascading "problems," it does substantiate the optimistic view that intelligent, intentional individuals who are not gripped by paralyzing panic, or lulled into the stupor of abandoned resignation, may be able to combine our creativity and richly varied genius in the emergence of natural solutions that may in a future retrospect seem "obvious" and "easy."

    The Writing on the Wall draws ideas and inspiration from many sources, and the first essay in the series concludes with an invitation to those who "resonate," to join intentionally and deliberately in the evolution of the human species, beyond the "problems," or "growing pains" of today, toward the boundless potential of a genuinely mature, sustainable future humanity of limitless potential in Cosmos.

    Excerpts from The Writing on the Wall #1

    • The key to the whole process is simply this: Be the change you would like to see. That is all. Anybody who believes the world can be improved in any specific way is at unfettered liberty to put that specific way into effect within their own lives, "try it on for size," and find out directly how well it actually works. If it works well, or even if it works only somewhat, others will see the result, and act accordingly, possibly adding their own improvements along the way.

      If this seems to you like an "insignificant" contribution to the human evolutionary process, in the midst of the vast turmoil of pulling and hauling with might and main, by teaming billions of people endeavoring to put "wrong" things "right" by their various "lights," then consider this:

      It appears to me as though a major fraction of the human population act largely at random, or in impulsive reaction to immediate circumstances, without a carefully developed plan or purpose aimed at a long-term objective. Even the "movers and shakers" at the "high end" seem increasingly to be operating their power agendas in "panic mode," from week to week, instead of from generation to generation, century to century, or millennium to millennium — which on the time scale of evolution is still almost "instantaneous." This results in a kind of "white noise" that, whatever its detailed content, has a tendency to neutralize itself, rendering it effectively "silent." The minority who do have a long-term objective, or vision, and conduct their lives accordingly, are therefore likely to have a disproportionate effect upon the course of human events: because they are moving purposefully in deliberately chosen directions, in the midst of an ocean of people moving at random. To be the change you would like to see may therefore be a surprisingly potent strategy; and "Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, Everything is Out of Control!"

    • (Click here for an audio rendering of the first Section of the essay, read by the author. [6:38, 33.5 MB])

1. Borrowing from the opening sentence in Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 1979.

2. For a glimpse of how sublime, have a look into the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

3. The Hathors are described in Tom Kenyon's article, Who Are the Hathors?

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