Life in flatland

While the previous three posts (map, emotions, insights) gave an overview of my spiritual journey, I will share a more detailed version in the following posts.

***

I am from Germany and was born in the end of the sixties. Both of my parents were teachers.

I grew up without any spirituality other than normal Christian religion. We were Protestants but went to church basically only on Christmas Eve.

However, I remember that I often had a hard time to hold back my tears when the pastor talked about the love of God. I never knew why this touched me so deeply.

But other than that, religion didn’t play a major role in my life.  I wasn’t sure whether there was really any God and whether prayers would be answered.

One day when I was still a little child,  the doctor said with a sorrowful look that a family member very likely had cancer. I was devastated. I cried and prayed with all my heart, “Please,  God, make that this isn’t true!”

And then, it wasn’t true. The result from the biopsy was negative.

I remember my relief and gratitude. Had my prayer been answered? I wasn’t sure.

Early interests

During my teenage years, I developed an interest in science. My motivation was to look behind the appearance of matter. I thought if I could only zoom into the world and look at all the tiny atoms and molecules, then I could understand the world.

I read books like Double Helix by Watson and Crick about the DNA structure and thought that must be really exciting to do scientific research and find out about the secrets of our world.

My earliest aha moments were with Einstein’s relativity theory and with quantum mechanics:

Time and space are not what we think they are. If we move very fast, then they change.

Atoms are pretty empty and subatomic particles can behave as particles or as waves depending how we look at them.

Fascinated by these world-view shattering insights, my wish was to become a scientist and find out about the secret truths of our world.

Back then, I didn’t imagine what kind of more profound secret truths I would eventually discover later.

Illusions were another topic which fascinated me. A book about optical illusions impressed me deeply.

Later, I devoured books by neuroscientists Oliver Sacks and Vilaynur Ramachandran about people who experienced a radically altered perception of the world as a consequence of brain damage.  All of that left me with the impression that our sense perceptions and our brain are not the appropriate tools to see reality as it is.

I was also interested in psychology, always asking, ‘What is it that makes us happy?’ When I came upon the theory of flow of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, it made sense to me at that time.

I experienced flow during painting, dancing, solving math problems, and computer programming.  These activities kept my mind engaged and were creative. Back then, I thought the recipe for a happy life was that I just needed to make sure that I could fill my time with a lot of activities that allowed me to be in the flow state.

Because of my interest in science, I studied chemistry.  But after my doctorate (German PhD equivalent), I thought that staying in science would not contribute to finding out the truth about the world and it would not make me happy either.

Therefore, I decided to leave science and got a job in the corporate world.  That was not about finding the truth and understanding the world any more, but at least it gave me some financial security. In addition, part of the work was fun and allowed me to sink into a happy flow state.

Then I got married. And in 2003, our first child was born.

For my spiritual journey, I use the metaphor of a hike up and down a mountain. This part of my journey was in flatland. Even though I loved mind-boggling new insights, I was unaware of a dimension behind the visible 3D world  (- the mountain at the horizon was covered in clouds and invisible to me – ). And I was always busy achieving the next step in my life.

Flatland_1

 

I had it all, a job and a family. Life could go on like this, I thought.

But life had different plans for me.

***

This post is part of a series about my spiritual journey (table of contents).

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12 thoughts on “Life in flatland

  1. I look back over my life and shake my head sometimes. If someone had said to me that I would do this or that, I would suggest they see a doctor. But that journey took me where I needed to go, even if to just stub my toe, it all teaches beautifully.
    Looking forward to the posts of your journey 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Karin,
    It is fascinating to discover your early interests and how your life led you here. I am really enjoying your new posts and will encourage you to keep writing!

    hugs, Linda

    PS I watched the film Flatland on youtube and just received Flatland in paperback. Dimensions are so interesting and this concept is helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Subatomic particles can behave as particles or as waves depending on how we look at them.” My understanding is that they are always both particles and waves, but that we “perceive” their behavior depending on how we look at them, and strangely their behavior differs based on whether or not we are watching (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980227055013.htm). I also loved quantum mechanics as a child, and still do. I felt like my beginning with understanding the world should start with the small and move on to the large, however just as children and adults have different rules so do the small realms and larger ones. It’s fascinating that Higgs Boson particles can borrow energy from the future momentum they will have to break out of an area they don’t have sufficient velocity to break out of, like an atomic payday loan or finals week for a student (http://hitoshi.berkeley.edu/public_html/susy/susy.html). I also loved “Flat Land” it’s really interesting how something so simple can be more engaging than something more complicated, that also why I love books so much because while some books are good movies, books have the power to create worlds and characters that aren’t really possible in movies. A simple description of the idea of karma is the Flat Land treck expanded onto a large sphere, winding around and around. A simple description of the idea of dharma is that like a rented horse that gives horseback rides keeps taking the same route that it is trained to take, the boundaries are mostly mental, the horse could take almost an infinite choice of paths rather than take the one it has been repeating. I’m of the opinion that there is no act or certificate or blessing from any outside force needed to change from one path to the other path or back again, rather it’s an always available mental choice. I was an intern at a Daoist Temple for many years, the spiritual descendants of Shakyamuni Buddha, and they always talk about how to live with the Dao, which is like the essence of the universe, rather than on the karmic path. I’m open-minded, but not 100% sure about any philosophy or religion, so if the stories about the Buddhas are true many decide to return to the karmic path as guides to help other people, then they are called Bodhisattva (in Daoism rather than in Buddism where that would be a student Buddha). Overall being a buddha is not about advancement as everyone is a buddha, it refers more to being in a state of wholeness with your awareness and putting your best self forward whether or not you prefer to live karmically or dharmically since some Buddha’s choose to live on the karmic path even though they don’t “have to”. One of the main ideas of Daoism is that our spirits are all from the same origin like “water” is the basis of mostly all drinks, though we can appear very different there is a part of us that originated from the same source and will return to the same source. I enjoy reading ancient stoic philosophy, quantum mechanics and studied Eastern philosophy for many years, though some minor things I disagree with (like the Buddhist belief a bad man reincarnates to a woman) I find some things are strongly universal to all three perspectives about the world. Cheers! ☕🥤🍵

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your long comment and for sharing your knowledge about quantum mechanics and Daoism.

      It is interesting to hear that you have been an intern at a Daoist Temple. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

      I resonate with the idea that our spirits are all from the same origin.

      Like

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