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article imageBestselling author Joseph Kazden opens up about his books Special

By Markos Papadatos     Jan 7, 2021 in Lifestyle
Bestselling author Joseph Kazden chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos about his books "Gita: Between the Unknowable and the Unreal" and "TotIs."
He has delved into the disciplines of yoga, martial arts, Tai Chi, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, First Nations, and other non-western native cultures as well as the study of altered states.
Both your books Totls and Gita dig deep into ideas that for readers can be life-changing. What inspired you to start down this road?
The existence of what are called altered states led me to write both TotIs and Gita. States like satori, nirvana, and enlightenment as well as those psychotropically induced by plants, drugs and illness caught my attention. Being a scientist at heart, the world that modern Physics was describing grounded my understanding that what we experience as conscious beings is very different than what actually is, in reality, real.
Space-time, Quantum mechanics, wave-particle duality, the uncertainty principle all describe the reality of our world quite differently than our experience of it does. Einstein’s famous quote has always intrigued me and acted as a focus for my investigations; “reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” What could be the mechanism whereby such an illusion could be maintained so persistently. An insight in 2012 led me to write TotIs, and later, Gita.
Consciousness, born of biology, relies on a bio-sensory system of various and sundry biosensors to create our ‘observed’ experience of reality. This world then, that we observe, is composed of experiences fabricated from unique, though limited, biosensors. We, each of us, is surrounded by ‘other’ consciousness’, and though we are certain that ours delivers a ‘real’ experience, ours is not a ‘pure’ or ‘perfect’ form, it is simply ‘another’. In fact ALL ‘states’ of consciousness are altered phenomena, including the one we experience as human and believe is absolutely ‘real’.
The essential point is that in the sense that all of these ‘conscious realities’ are fabricated by the organism for the organism, they are interpretations or simulations, and as we know, an interpretation of a thing is not the same as the thing itself. Herein lies the mechanism of the persistence of the illusion because our, and all, consciousness exists by means of this bio-sensory process of detecting, transmitting and interpreting sensory signals into a fabricated experience of ‘reality’ they are, by definition and for all intents and purposes, illusions.
The contents of this fabricated experience are the attributes of that reality, an ‘antIs’ reality, which we believe is actually real. Red/blue, fragrant/putrid, loud/quiet, hard/soft, sweet/sour, up/down, before/after are all products of our bio-sensory machine, an illusory tapestry that forever separates us from the source reality on which this interpretation depends. Most importantly the actual reality, totIs reality, is not constrained to comport with these bio-sensory creations because, as source, it lies beyond any container or boundary any consciousness might construct in its craving to ‘understand’ it.
While writing Gita, your most recent book, did you have any new insights that surprised you?
An insight I had was one of how exquisitely subtle is the anthropomorphism that our consciousness’ experience imparts to a world we think is real. Our biology delivers to us an experience of a world whose reality manifests in space through a ‘now’ moment in time; existence only occupies a ‘now’. But modern Physics tells us that this is not a fact, there are infinite now moments in space-time depending on the observers mass, speed and direction.
A number of schools of thought, Eternalism and the Block Theory among others describe a universe where what we experience as the past and future actually exist, always, and are as real as the reality our consciousness delivers to us in those relative ‘now’ moments that each observer calls their own. How can this be possible? The reality we experience as ‘out there’ outside of our biology only exists ‘in here’, in our biology, within our central nervous system itself.
This fabricated experience of separate objects in space undergoing state changes in time is the only reality our biological bio-sensory process allows us to experience. Is it any wonder that the world looks and feels the way it does? But the matter and energy of the universe neither ‘observes’ nor ‘experiences’ anything; there exists no ‘now’ for a snowflake or a photon, only for a conscious observer.
Observation is not an attribute of reality like mass or wavelength. We only ‘know’ that time has a direction because that’s how we experience it, and we’re the only thing that does because the existence of the conscious observer is dependent on a flow of time. We believe unquestioningly that if the grand ballet of dancing energy and particles could be somehow removed from existence that time would still remain as an empty stage upon which other performances could be played.
Through flowing time does consciousness exists, it is a ‘manifest’ phenomenon and so that is the only kind of universe we can observe and experience. But because we experience reality as a manifest phenomenon does not mean that the ‘source’ reality itself must acquiesce to such, in fact it wouldn’t. The universe is not a manifest phenomenon, neither space nor time as we experience them mitigate it. I like to think of it this way, no amount of time will change it and no amount of space can contain it. It lies beyond these bio-sensory constructions we believe are real, it IS; an incomprehensible unity whose existence is not conditional but absolute.
Your work takes readers on an epic philosophical adventure. I think the ideas you take on in your books are particularly helpful for readers during this rather trying year, which one did you find the most helpful?
An important but challenging idea that impacts greatly on us conscious beings who must live our lives in this veil of uncertainty is an idea dealing with the source of action. Dharma, an ancient Vedic idea, explores the nature of action, specifically human action, and whether we are responsible for our own actions as they relate to free-will, so-called ‘action in inaction’ or if our actions are tied in a relationship connecting them to the unknowable source of this universe via said Dharma, called ‘inaction in action’ and also called fate in the West.
Albert Einstein had this to say on the subject: “Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” The question of how we act is dealt with brilliantly in both the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching as exemplified by this quote from the latter, “Teaching without words and accomplishment without doing, very few indeed understand this at all”.
When we act out of self-interest and desire, attempting to control and bend to our will the external world and its circumstances, we are willfully engaged in “action in inaction”. Trying to affect results on external circumstance is simply being in the world while completely gripped by the illusion of separateness, one remains a separate “I” in a world of separate things.
On the other hand, practitioners of “inaction in action” act with an understanding that they and the external world are an inseparable one. Stuff isn’t happening “to them” stuff happening “is them”. When such a one joins with their Dharma their actions are the worlds actions and their true natures are revealed in those actions. This is a very powerful way to engage with the world, one stops being a victim of circumstance and instead enters into a journey of self-discovery.
Our Dharma tells us that the moment we were conceived as biology we were already dead. But the quality of our life is not based on this fact but instead, it is based on the content of our experience of it, a content we have the power to actually control. Though it seems counter-intuitive, if we wish to master the world then we must learn to master and focus our only real power, the power of self-control.
If you could go back in time and talk to anyone about your written work who would it be and why?
I guess this answer would depend on what particular day you asked me this question so for today I think I’d love to visit with Diogenes, the Greek Cynic, and see what he would make of my works. To me Diogenes is the Zen Master of ancient Greece. His was a philosophy of action, and his actions, ingenuous yet piercing, pushed beyond the boundaries of societies default mindset of getting ahead by getting over on others.
His response of “I’m seeking an honest man” to the puzzled queries of his fellow citizens when they asked him why he was using a lamp to light his way in the middle of the day resonates deeply within me. This image is an illuminating beacon to us all, especially in today's confusion born of minds that see self-interest as the highest interest and lies as alternative facts.
2021 is quickly approaching, and with the new year often comes new projects. Do you have something in the works you can tell us about?
I’m putting the finishing touches on an interpretation of the Tao Te Ching that I started working on when I began writing Gita. This work will not be a ‘translation’, instead, I am interpreting it in such a way so as to clarify the ideas within it that are reflected in the dichotomies of totIs/antIs in my works and Brahman/Maya in the Bhagavad Gita.
Specifically the ideas of conscious experience as illusory, the non-manifest nature of actual reality, the super-deterministic or fate driven nature of that reality, and the nature of our conscious actions in the face of such a reality.
His books are available on Amazon.
More about Joseph Kazden, Author, bestselling
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