Expecting God

It is early morning, my house is beautifully quiet as everyone sleeps. I put water on the stove, return to my blogging keyboard and wait for the pot to whistle.

Ah, there it is! — what a beautiful whistle. I prepare my sacred brew and now my blogging proceeds much more inspired.

While I sip my coffee and compose my post, my house remains quiet except for a rare car rolling down our gravel road, an occasional train in the distance or one of my dogs snorting during a dream. But sometimes I think I hear that coffee pot whistling again. But it only takes about a half of a second for my brain to tell me that of course it isn’t — I emptied the water, turned off the stove and put the pot on a cold burner. If there was a noise, it was not the coffee pot. Nonetheless, I have that hallucination a few times each morning. My illusion is primed by sitting in wonderful expectation each morning for the sign that my brew is ready. With that priming, my mind is always ready to hear the wonderful whistle that does not exist.

I have had several camping trips where, throughout the night, I vigilantly hallucinated bears prowling around my tent.  During many a morning jog, I see shadows of menacing people ducking around the back of houses.  And many days as a believer, I have heard the expected soft voice of God.

Even nowadays, when I expect my daily encounters with people to be pregnant with Yuan, my meetings are often more interesting.  If I imagine that the landscape breaths me, I smile more often.  When are deluded expectations harmful?



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

26 responses to “Expecting God

  1. ah, apologies… thought that you asked “when are deluded expectations normal,” rather than harmful. 🙂 my response is the same, using the revised word: what is ‘harmful’?

  2. Hey Nicole:
    I will let you define ‘harmful’ and then tell us when you think deluded expectations are harmful. [hopefully it is clear from my post that I feel all of us have deluded expectations]

  3. Oh my goodness, I cannot wait to be sitting at my MacBookPro later today – boy oh boy do I have an extreme opinion on this, and I cannot wait to share! Thank you for inviting me to discuss!!!

  4. Hey Nicole (or anyone else),
    When you “like” a post, what happens? Does your “like” get noted somewhere else? Is that just a FaceBook thing? I am embarrassed to say I don’t know.

  5. Gosh, your brain seems to be rather more prone to patternicity than mine. I’m slightly envious. Now that you know that’s what’s going on, you can do fun & interesting things with it. (While I’m mostly stuck in flatland 🙂 )

  6. WordPress has its own “like” button, separate from the Facebook one.

    I’m not sure whether it does anything other than add your avatar to the bottom of the page.

    It would make sense if they use it to figure out what content to promote to whom (and how strongly).

  7. When are deluded expectations harmful? When they collide with reality.

  8. I would say all deluded expectations are harmful, if for no other reason that they support the deluded mind. Perhaps all expectations are delusions.

    But I sure know the sensations you describe. The camping one is really good. Especially if the only light you have is the morning sun. All you can do is wait.

    By the way, the link to the image of the whistling water kettle is broken.

  9. @ David Chapman,
    You got it. Definitely high paternicity sensitivity — I am sure this has fed much or my religiosity over the years. It is a curse and a blessing — as you point out. Thanx for the “Like” button explanation.

    @ Fester and Paul,
    I am not convinced all delusions are harmful. We are deluded into our understanding of love — for the most part, but I am not sure that is totally bad.

  10. @ Paul
    This pics don’t have url links — so nothing is ‘broken’. 🙂
    Is that what you meant?

  11. So… depression, failure to recognize pattern where it does exist, and nihilistic philosophical views go together. (That’s my tendency.) Hypomania, patternicity, and eternalistic philosophical views go together. (That’s yours.)

    Fun question: which way does the causal arrow run? Does depression suppress recognition of meaning, or vice versa? Do hypomanics become eternalists because it makes sense of their experience, or do eternalists become hypomanic because they are overstimulated by imaginary meanings?

    (My guess: the causality runs in all possible directions.)

  12. CRL

    A delusion such as yours would become harmful were you to lose hours of sleep for fear that a bear is coming for you, spend half your morning getting up to pour coffee promised by the phantom whistle, or live your life in fear of the strangers in the shadows. In other words, delusions become harmful when they are not recognized as such and acted upon to harmful results.

  13. @ David I’d wager the constitution vector of your mutually creating model are the most heavily weighted. But I agree on mutual creation. And yes, I have always been rather pleased with my curse, my wife has your temperament and it does not look very fun at times. Though she chuckles at my delusions.

    But those delusions, as David hints, are fed by a temperament and changing that tendency is difficult. In fact it is a very helpful temperament in seeing patterns, finding happiness even if I must occasionally miss a night sleep, jump up for coffee unnecessarily or look twice at shadows!

  14. I remember a night when I was a teenager and left alone at my parent’s house. I was reading in the living room and thought I heard things upstairs and my mind began to run so wild that I ended up leaving the house and standing across the street until my parents came home.

    One of my favorite camp sites over in the Minister Creek area in PA is right by a loud stream. I imagine all kinds of sounds when I’m in the tent at night. One night I awoke and was sure I’d heard something. I was with two friends who were in another tent. I opened the front of my tent and poked my head out to see what I perhaps was imagining, only to see a family of raccoons dragging my friend’s underwear all over the camp site. I scared them off and learned that, while we had hung nearly everything in a bear bag, my friend thought powdered non-dairy creamer, since it was sealed in packets, would be safe. Not so much. 😉

    I remember when I was reading Frank Peretti’s novels about spiritual warfare, and at the same time listening to Bob Larson exorcise demons over the radio, I used to imagine demons in the shadows everywhere. I recall awaking late at night one time and feeling a dark presence and seeing some shapeless mass in front of me. Of course, I prayed it away with the power of Christ, and now know it was all in my head, thanks to my obsession.

  15. CRL

    But, of course, you don’t pour the mythical cup of coffee, nor do you live in constant paranoia of bears or demons in the shadows. Or, at very least, you do not mention these behaviours here.

    It’s a pretty natural human tendency to see figures in the shadows. I hear words in the repetitive sounds of dishwashers, windshield wipers, and the like. It’s not natural to live life haunted by the fear of demons in the shadows or convinced that the dishwasher is speaking to you. I guess this is what I was hinting at. When mild delusions become life altering paranoias, they become harmful.

  16. TWF

    Great post! The harm varies. The question is, as perhaps David alludes to, can you get rid of the harmful delusions without losing the fanciful and good ones?

  17. Wow, Mike, great examples of what happens when you expect to hear or see something. Are their images you maintain nowadays to help you see the world better?

    @ CRL ,

    @ TWF ,
    Agreed. I think we can use delusions instead of letting them use us. That is the trick. Hijack the mental machinery — remember, it does not have your total well-being in mind, so hijacking may a valuable strategy.

  18. It’s interesting, I still think about those things today from time to time. There’s a shortcut that I take at work, which is in darkness, aside from a little light coming from emergency exit signs. When I cut through it I usually think something like “What if zombie movies were real? This room would be a terrible place to run into them.” I don’t, however, imagine them or anything else to be there in the shadows. Of course, my brain still sees familiar shapes in shadows and other places, that’s just like seeing shapes in the clouds, but I don’t imagine any of them to be supernatural.

  19. Oh, I am so jealous. What a great mind and imagination you must have. I admit when I was creating more art I had similar sensory experiences, but now I’m a bit away from it. What a rich life we have when we use our creative minds. Enjoyed this post!

  20. @ Mike :
    Zombies? Wow, I have never seen them.

    @ amelie :
    Yes, the creative mind is something we dare not let atrophy — it offers us too much pleasure.

  21. @Sabio Well, I’ve only seen them in movies, TV shows, and video games. Can’t imagine why I would think of them. 😉

  22. @Sabio @David
    Patternicity recognition is not fixed, though I guess we all have tendencies. But you can train to adjust the volume knob for your patternicity recognition. When you are adept at turning it high or low at will, you can use it to yana-switch (change practice methodology) according to circumstances.

  23. @ Rin’dzin,
    I certainly know what you mean. I can dial mine up fairly easily and sometimes do it to enjoy my world. (if we are talking about the same thing) However, I am wondering if even that ability is easier for some dispositions than others.

  24. I think probably it is easier for some than others. A more fixed worldview at any part of the spectrum would correlate with less versatility. Is the ability to adjust the intensity of pattern recognition due to disposition (personality/genes)? I suspect it’s more to do with learning/training, because once recognized, you can hone the skill. That’s good news because it means you can work with it (or lack of it) proactively rather than ‘being a vehicle for it.’ I’ve nothing other than subjective evidence for this. It’d be great to run some experiments!

  25. I am always amazed at how fast we can be conditioned. Great visual post. I can almost picture the start of your morning.

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