top of page
  • filipvk

Stairway to Heaven - Musings and Meditations

Updated: Jan 8

No, this is not the Stairway to Heaven, I apologize for the misleading title, this is just the stairway to our second floor, for a brief moment the setting for books from my 'to read next' pile, so at most the stairway to some more information.

These are the books on my reading list for next year. They had been piled up in a corner for a long time, and now I have a small book rack to put them in. A little bit of organizing for the new year. Some of the books in this pile I have already read all or in part, of but always keep nearby because I tend to return to them often.  They are all part of my ‘nourishment’, my humus of information and insights that helps me in my search.

Research always includes searching for information. As I said in my introductory video on the home page of the website, everything we think and feel, everything we do and don’t do, in some way depends on the information we receive and process. But Rabbi Heschel said, "The world will not be saved by more information, but by more appreciation”. Information alone is not enough.

We are not just intellect, but also a core of sentience that experiences in many ways, and can also understand intuitively based on all the information we interact with, including information that reaches us through avenues other than books or study. Especially also the information we process on a deeper level than the merely mental. We cannot understand everything that happens in the world solely from the mental realm; we must perceive and act from a much deeper level.

Consciousness extends far beyond the mental and the cognitive, but we have kind of forgotten that in our society which is so focused on the cognitive, and especially on our ‘left brain’. We are also constantly receiving information through all kinds of channels, and the cognitive channel is only one of them. The other channels I will talk about at some point in the blog, because one of the challenges I feel we face is to reconnect with all those other channels and senses through which we can perceive, channels that have atrophied because our culture has not paid attention to them for centuries or even believes these channels exist anymore.

As the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke so beautifully put it, “That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called ‘visions’, the whole so-called ‘spirit-world’, death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out of life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied.”

And information alone does not necessarily lead to wisdom. After all, the Sage said, wisdom is not found in books. The Tao you can talk about is not the real Tao, Lao-Tzu wrote. Yet he devoted five thousand words to his attempt to pronounce the unspeakable, the ‘Tao Te Ching’.

By the way, that little book, written some 2,600 years ago, is one among these piles of books on the staircase, along with a few other books I've already read but regularly return to or reread.

The Tao Te Ching is one of the books that accompanies me everywhere, and I have a small pocket copy ready in every travel bag and backpack. My copy (or rather, copies because I have about four of them) is the English translation by Stephen Mitchell, a masterful re-composition actually, which has its own poetry and sound, and which I heartily recommend to everyone. This actually contains everything a person needs to know. The rest must be experienced outside the books.

Why then so many books on our stairs?

In my opinion, we have lost our way somewhat because of the amount of partial information that we have increasingly broken down into specializations and sub-areas. No one in our secular, high-tech society, seems to know anymore what it's all about in the end. We live in a world of specialists and specialties, and most of the specialists don't know what the others are doing.

When I think about what these books in the picture have in common with each other, I think they are all books that help point the way to some form of connection between all these subfields, which point to a new worldview that is beginning to emerge, a new story that can help us see what is going on and what we are doing.

It seems as if for centuries mankind has been writing books in which all-that-is gets broken up further and further into small pieces, which in turn were also broken up further into even smaller pieces by specialists who were increasingly focused exclusively on their own small piece. A bit like how, in a particle accelerator, reality is broken down into ever smaller sub-atomic 'particles' that in turn also seem to consist of ever stranger and more elusive 'particles'. And at the end of the day, the concept of 'particle' loses its meaning and everything turns out to consist of energy in one indivisible field.

And it seems as if mankind now seeks the way back from that endless fragmentation to a rediscovery of the indivisible all-that-is, to that which ties all those particles and splinters and pieces back together into a story of meaning. What is it all about? What is actually going on?

And virtually all the books on the staircase, I feel, have to do in some way with that search for the whole, rather than for more particles. And books alone won’t get us there, but they can help undo the fragmentation that we have been so immersed in for so long. 

No, I'm not going to get all of these read in the next year, but by now I'm relying more and more on synchronicity. I notice more and more that when I open one of these books on a random (?) page, I very often end up with exactly the information I need at that moment. It's funny and strange, but it works.

Synchronicity is one of those phenomena that our contemporary culture doesn't recognize as being ‘real’. All coincidence, nothing more. But synchronicity is a very special phenomenon that is very much real (and is even subject of 'serious' scientific research nowadays). And it plays a bigger role in our lives than we usually see or acknowledge.

The great yogi Michael Singer, also author of ‘The Untethered Soul’, has made synchronicity his life project. The autobiographical account of his dedication to following synchronicity is a wonderful book, one of those books that shows us the way to all those other channels of information and understanding: 'The Surrender Experiment'.

It is an incredible story, and I very much recommend reading it. I don't want to say too much about it, but just encourage you to read it, because this story teaches us so much about how the world and we are together 'happening’, without having to see it as a process where we are 'in control' (if we ever are - control is probably one of our most persistent illusions).

That is already one of my new year’s resolutions: to continue following my own 'surrender experiment' wherever it may lead.

And I will continue to report in the coming year on insights emerging from the steadily growing pile of books, but only if I feel those insights point to something beyond those insights. Information alone is not enough. Appreciation, perhaps, for I think Rabbi Heschel was right and that it will only be appreciation, or love, that will save the world, not information.

Thanks for reading, and until the next installment,

All the best to you,



bottom of page