The Meaning of Life
The Metaphysic of AR: Introduction
[Click here to jump down to 'My Musical History']
I want to change the world. Call me what you will, idealist, dreamer, foolhardy, or worse, but I know we can do better. I just cannot accept that this is it! That this is the best we can do or hope for. Maybe its because I was born in the 1950s and grew up in the age of dreamers, the 1960s. By the time I was fourteen(1970) I was writing poems of social and ecological protest and had memorized the lyrics of the protest song Monster by Steppenwolf for an English class. I also began to grow my hair long and wear clothes that made me look and feel different from most everyone else at that time in small town Kentucky. To me, what everyone else thought was alright and normal was sick and evil. The foundation of this viewpoint was derived from my study of the teachings of Christ. What I saw in his words, then as now, was the need for the total radical revolution of human character and culture, a complete overturning of the ways we naturally thought and behaved, which is largely instinctive still, although our instincts are filtered and to various degrees moderated by cultural constraints.
I was raised by a good Christian mother who took us to church most every Sunday, and at age fourteen I had a true epiphany conversion experience at Camp Loucon (the Louisville Conference of the United Methodist Church summer youth camp meeting grounds located on Nolin Reservoir in Kentucky), yet like most people when confronted by my own instinct-driven impulses and actions, (many of which I would later regret) I found myself doubting the validity and rationales for Christs commandments that went against nature, questioning the infallibility of the accuracy of the extant Bible and the ideological dogma of the modern church that allowed no other access to God except by "accepting Christ as your Savior". During the 1970s a series of personal experiences led me to examine every aspect of myself and my beliefs. I wanted to know why we think as we do, feel as we do, believe as we do, often with deadly tragic consequences which we seem helpless to avoid. I wanted to know what really was right and most of all, what was Truth?
At that time, beginning in 1970 at the age of fourteen I embarked upon a journey of discovery that continues to this day. As the archetypal doubting Thomas I sought to dig up for myself the very root of the 'Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil', overgrown as it was by the debris of millennia of human folly and abuse, and replant it in my own garden of Truth. There I would remove, one by one, the clinging vines of mans self-serving, instinct-driven interpretations that have nearly choked the life from it, revealing the true beauty of what is, along with love, and the teachings of Christ, Gods greatest gift to man. It is a gift because a God who is omnipresent and omniscient would know that Adam and Eve would eventually eat of the tree (meaning in my view, that the primate man eventually evolved to the point of developing a conscience, reasoning, and a morality) and become sapiens. I believe it was, without a doubt, part of Gods plan for man from the beginning that he become wise (eat of the tree) and eventually overcome the original sin of our often self-destructive evolutionary-remnant of instinctive drives and impulses, which a close examination reveals as the true intent of the revolutionary teachings of Christ.
I began searching for the Truth in each religion, first by attending services and studying the beliefs of the various Christian denominations in my area, including Quakers, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses. I played drums at a Pentecostal (Holy Rollers) church and attended various meetings of local Charismatic groups, at both of which speaking in tongues was practiced, though I did not participate. This was a time when I and other Charismatics were referred to as Jesus People or Jesus Freaks. It was also the time of the musicals ,'Jesus Christ Superstar', and 'Godspell'; both of which were made into films. Both musicals were also very influential to me personally.
I felt, then, and throughout my life, the love of God and divine providence working to guide and protect me, and always felt it was for a specific purpose. However I had been unable to unequivocally establish what that calling was to be until the 1990s. Right or wrong, I decided that the best I could do with my time here was to write (these essays, poems and commentary), and to create music. To those ends I have practiced my arts with what time and energy I could muster, squeezed in and around the demands of gainful employment, romance, family, and sleep. In my early years I thought I was going to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and preach the Truth and the Truth would set us free (i.e. change the world). Problem was, I had no talent as a public speaker and was a worse speechwriter then than I am now! Even so, at the age of seventeen (1973), already married with a baby (thats another story!), I was nominated and accepted as a lay preacher of the Methodist Church. I preached one sermon, and it was such a miserable experience that I never attempted another. Still, I believed it was possible to change the world and sought out to find a way to help do so. I began in the mid-1970s to acquire and study religious texts from the worlds major religions. I turned eighteen in 1974 and entered college at Western Kentucky University, where I took religion, philosophy, psychology, and anthropology classes. I read the classics of Science Fiction, including Brave New World, 1984, Stranger in A Strange Land, The Martian Chronicles, and Dune. Yet the works which had the greatest impression on me at the time were the series of anthropological novels by Carlos Castaneda, which began with the book, The Teachings of Don Juan, A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, which I read in the spring of 1975. That summer I traveled the country with my girlfriend (my first wife and I divorced in 1974), Pam Upton, who was going away in the fall to start graduate school in San Antonio. During that journey I acquired and read the three other books of the series which were out by that time, reading Journey to Ixlan’ as we camped at the Grand Canyon, and buying the fourth book, ‘Tales of Power’ in San Francisco.
The astounding possibilities of human potential presented by Castaneda, which I felt must be related to the miracles in the Bible, if such were true, stirred within me what is still today an unquenchable desire to fathom the depths of the mystery of being, to understand what underlies the nature of reality we perceive through our senses and our minds. Anthropological studies, including the World Cross-Cultural Survey which was available on microfilm at Western Kentucky University’s library, reveal the truly unbelievable varieties of unique beliefs and customs which a mere century ago could be found in thousands of native cultures around the planet. I wanted to know what Truth must be common to them all, and to understand the dynamics of how and why such diverse creative interpretations of reality become static dogmas that stifle or prevent any further questioning of Truth by group members. I had to dig deep into the ground out of which these cosmologies and moralities had grown to find the answers.
It would be many years of research and contemplation
before I was prepared to present my philosophy of 'Absolute Relativity', however
the seeds of the ideas within AR were already in my mind in 1975.
During the 75-76 college school year I wrote two
papers for two different classes using the Castaneda books as
primary source material to support the demonstrable validity of
spiritual phenomena. The first paper, for an English class I
titled Holistic Reality, to emphasize the unifying
principle of Truth, the Absolute, which all the diverse
interpretations sought to obtain, and out of which, by measure
of the degree of nearness to the absolute contained
within a given interpretation, did it derive its intuitive
support and strength and validity among a given groups members.
The second paper was for a Psychology of Religion class. This
one I titled:
The Teachings of Don Juan
The Key to the Understanding of
The Metaphysical Psychology of Religious Thought
As this title states, this paper (largely the same as the first) proposed an argument for the validation and efficacy of spiritual phenomena and the religious thought derived there from. I used the phrase, ‘Metaphysical Psychology’ because philosophy, in its highest expression, must seek out the ‘first causes’ (= Metaphysics) of how and why we think and feel as we do (=Psychology, particularly existentialism, being a psychological philosophy), as it correlates our subjective, relative, perspective to the Absolute which creates the metaphysical framework, the ‘sacred ground’ out of which our relativity grows. In the paper these ideas had not yet been so formulated. The idea of AR did not come to me until a few years later when I had already left college because I had to take a day job (I had been working nights at a factory until they closed down). My ‘research’ continued unabated after college, reading book after book of invaluable insights into the mysteries I confronted: Why must man be like he is, one a warmongering blood thirsty brute, another a gentle artist, or a self-sacrificing compassionate martyr; one an insidious, treacherous coveter; another a giving open-hearted saint?
What is ‘Evil’, and why? What can be done, what can I do (I hope you will ask yourself this question with me), to end Evil, in myself and in the world? And the ultimate questions, upon which all other answers hinge, What is Truth? How do we know what Truth is? How can we say one Truth is better than another (relativism)? Is there 'The Truth’, Absolute, true for all? These questions ultimately define what it is to be human.
'My Musical History'
Of all the mysteries of humanness there is none closer to my heart or more powerful in its effect upon mankind in general than music. At ten or eleven years old I wanted a drum set and got first a snare drum for Christmas; then the following year I got a Torodor shell set and began playing in my first band (which never had a name) at age 14. I had met a kid named Bobby Baldwin who had a Gibson hollow-body electric guitar and soon we were playing Proud Mary and House of the Rising Sun (by the Animals). Within a year we got Tommy McMinnimee to play bass guitar and were performing Soul Sacrifice and Evil Ways (both by Santana), on television at the local television station during a telethon (at 3:00 a.m.) and at our High School in the auditorium for some now unknown reason.
After High School and into and beyond our college years Baldwin and I played in several bands together and remained the best of friends until careers and families separated us over the decades. During the mid and late 1970s Baldwin wrote a number of songs (musical pieces), which were of the progressive-rock genre that I still feel great pride in having been part of the creation thereof. In a band we called WindenSilver from 1979 to 1980 we performed those works for various venues locally and received good reviews from the audiences. Two pieces particularly were quite extraordinary: For the Fallen, and As One, written by Baldwin in 1976 at the age of twenty-one. It was a privilege to be part of that time and I have always said that, creating music gives you a feeling you cannot get any other way. After being in several other bands in the early 1980s I retired from performing while my first daughter was young. I actually was a Mr. Mom (stay at home Dad) for her first year and a half (born in 1984). Beginning in the winter of 89-90 my brother Michael (Mike) and I began jamming regularly on weekends with an assortment of friends including my old friend Bobby (on occasions). Mike had played a little acoustic guitar as a teen, but had not further pursued music till this time, when he soon became quite an accomplished musician. We began collaborating as songwriters and within a couple of years (I have written poems and lyrics throughout my life) we had written over two-dozen songs together, and formed a band with our friends Rick and Jesse Smith and later with Tom Grider. Around that time I started acquiring equipment for a home recording studio where we had planned to record our songs; unfortunately our professional career demands intervened. Now we seldom get together musically, but I still have my studio and have recorded and produced Albums (CDs) for myself and various local artists, which still gives me that "feeling you cannot get any other way"!
In addition to being a musician I have had the privilege and joy of being in the presence of many great musicians over the years, both performing with and listening to. I have been fortunate to have been to many concert performances of what I consider to be the most important musical genre in history: Progressive Rock, which is a fusion or synthesis of the clarity and complexity of classical music, the freedom and innovation of jazz, with the soaring, powerful, and passionate voices of the electric guitar, the power and rhythmic driving force of drums, and the most moving, powerful instrument of all, the human voice.
I have seen my personal favorite, The Moody Blues, thirteen times: 1978, 1993 (twice), 1994 (twice), 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, and 2010 (twice). I have seen my other favorites, Yes five times: 1977, 1980, 1994, 2000, and 2011. I saw Pink Floyd in 1994, Genesis (in their prime) in 1977, Kansas (in their prime) in 1978, in 2000 (with Yes, on their 30th Anniversary Tour), and again in 2011; Rush in 1978 and 2004 (on their 30th Anniversary Tour), and Jethro Tull, in my first really memorable concert at the age of fifteen on Nov.12th, 1971. I saw Journey (when they were still unknown) at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in 1975 and Santana in Bowling Green at WKU. My wife Sharon and I also saw The Police at Churchill Downs in Louisville in July 2007, and we saw Genesis again in Sept. 2007 (thirty years after I first saw them)!
Sharon and I just saw Kansas again May 13th 2011, on their 35th anniversary tour since the release of their brilliant iconic album, “Left Overture” (released in 1976). They still are incredible! Then we saw Yes with Styx in Nashville July 16th 2011, and we saw Journey with Foreigner and Night Ranger in September!
These virtuoso composers/musicians/singers are truly the Mozarts and Beethovens of our day, taking music to new, higher, more meaningful places. Particularly, their words express the hopes and dreams of a higher existential awareness and awakened spirituality, which can create an enlightened social consciousness. As a result the music of these conscious composers often conveys powerful messages as a force for change (for the better), fostering and bolstering feelings within the listener which inspire and motivate change within themselves and activism in the world - a world that desperately needs change of this sort---spiritual change, or as it has been called for millennia, enlightenment. The power of music to change the world - this is the reason, the motivation, the force majeure for which I have dedicated so much of my energy, time, and resources, and gladly done so. The highest aspiration is the only worthy quest for the spiritually awakened. The highest aspiration of the mind is the Metaphysic of AR, Absolute Relativity! Yet the mind cannot know what is the highest without a spiritually awakened consciousness with which to perceive the Truth of the Metaphysic. Without spiritual awareness, without spiritual eyes to see the wheat, separated from the chaff, spiritual truth lies hidden beyond the veil imposed by the limitations of our physical senses and our meager measure of available attention span (bandwidth), preoccupied as it is by instinct-driven exigencies. Except in the all too rare instances where musical genius, visual beauty, philosophical insight, religious intuition, love intoxication, prayer, meditation, yoga, or revelation (entheogenic or spontaneous), as well as other forms of induced altered-states produced by entheogens, lifts the individual out of their normal awareness and reveals some hither fore unfathomed aspect of spiritual truth, most of us simply dont have the time and energy, or the motivation, to explore such insights with any depth. And, unfortunately, to understand something completely you must experience it.
In a sense each generation must rediscover Truth, must experience it. Some are more successful than others, of course, depending on circumstances. The music of progressive-rock during the late '60s and '70s is just such a circumstance. The world has indeed become a better place because of it.
The Metaphysic of AR is a seed planted in a fertile bed, yet for it to grow and prosper will require each of us to care for it. To take time to 'water' and nurture it.... To hope and to believe, and to act.
The times will not wait.
It’s now or it could be too late.
This day that will pass just might be your last.
We sing a new song... How short or how long?
©2008-2011 Thomas Theodore Welborn