Posts Tagged ‘opposites’

Whole Universe Of Necessary Opposites End Of Life Story Chapter 4

January 9, 2010

The back and forth banter between the devil and I continues as our conversation moves into, via examples of aesthetic religious traditions, a discussion of the universe and the necessary opposites that frame the universe. Without these opposites there would be no bumble bees, frogs, whales, polar bears…; no music, cell phones, hospitals, universities…; no coliseums, museums, markets, billionaires…; no planets, sunshine, galaxies, black holes…Big Bang.

We Do Not Become Conscious Of The Universe The Universe Becomes Conscious Of Consciousness

The Sectarian Nature Of Brahman Is Not The Ultimate Expression Of Religion

Future Time Nine Continued

“We must shift gears here,” said MV, “and think of the universe not as something that consciousness defines, but, rather, as something that defines consciousness, and yes, I think this premise does include Whitehead’s philosophy, but taking a structural approach to this idea is a bit of a stretch, hence your inability to communicate it.”

“You don’t have to tell me what I already know,” I replied. ‘However, in the aesthetic religions of Buddhism, the Upanishad philosophy in Hinduism, and the Chinese Tao Te Ching, you also see the principle of ‘divine necessary opposites.’”

“How so,” responded MV.

“Take, for instance, the atman/Brahman distinction in the Upanishads; the ancient sages of India perceived no chasm between nature, humanity, and divinity. As the source of being, Brahman was the manifestation of all existence. But, for the wise sage, Brahman and atman are one, atman been the “seed of individuality,” or what we call in the West “self.” This unity follows because at the source of being lies double negation and after the appropriate transformations this same double negation ends up in the more complex structure of b~b~bb, the structure that grounds human individuality. In the Brahman/atman/self distinction double negation implies the affirmation of nature, humanity, and divinity, and,—as above as below—this affirmation is embedded in the necessary opposites of divinity. In the language of my synchronic description of the universe, double negation turns into the ‘self-content’ of self-consciousness, or the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self. And again, in the language of Christian mysticism, the double negative turns into what the Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, called the ‘purest form of unity.’ A word of caution here, though, just because the Upanishads and Christian mysticism may celebrate the same source, they remain products of different religious traditions; this follows from the b~b~bb structure that grounds human individuality. In other words, the sectarian nature of any religion speaks only through its own tradition because all religions are a product of the individuality that speaks through the form of b~b~bb, which, in turn, lies embedded in nature, humanity, and divinity. The Buddhist tradition comes as close as any tradition in expressing this idea. Here’s how one of my old Professors expressed divinity from a Buddhist perspective:

[“There is a cloud here in this piece of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either.

The cloud and the paper inter-are. Perhaps the word ‘interbeing’ should be in the dictionary.

If we look deeply, we see that in the paper there is also the sun; nothing can grow without sunshine. The paper and the sun inter-are.

We can see the logger. The mill (and its effluent). We see the wheat from fields that fed the logger. For there is no paper without the logger, and the logger cannot log without daily bread. Likewise, the logger’s father and mother are also in this paper.

Looking deeply, we see ourselves in the paper. When we look at the paper, it is our perception; your mind and my mind meet in this paper, and we are both there.

What is NOT here in the sheet of paper? Time, space, the earth, rain, minerals, the sun, cloud, river, heat—everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains the universe in it. How can it fit?

The paper entirely depends upon non-paper elements, things that are not in themselves paper, such as carbon, and the sun, and the logger’s mother. And yet without them, there is no paper.

To be is to inter-be with every things, non—us things. Like the paper, we are inevitably vast; we include all that is other than ourselves.

As one Civil War nurse (Walt Whitman) said, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” When we pay close attention to who we really are, there is no one else, no one who is left out.

Acting from this understanding, service is not a strained sacrifice, but a natural activity. Within this mind, helpful care is not exactly compassion for another, but more like a reflex, a spontaneous gesture.

The right hand does not congratulate the left hand on having given to the poor.

No credit, no blame. No Trace. This is Buddha.”]

Adapted by Guy Newland from “Interbeing” in “Peace is Every Step” (Bantam, 1992) by Thich Nhat Hanh

Future Time Nine Continued

“Yes,” said MV, “but necessary opposites encompass so much more than what your so-called sages have revealed, and excuse me if your examples do not impress. All Saintly beings, not to mention sinners, exist because I exist. Without me existence blinks out of existence, and yet in your celebration of clever geniuses I do not recall hearing praise for me! I am the source, sustainer, and slayer of everything and my shadow is long and feared, as it should be. Oblivion is only an instant away, if you catch my drift. Enough said!”

“Do as you please,” I replied, “but there’s more. In the Chinese symbol, Tai Chi, or what is commonly recognized as the yin/yang symbol, the black and white complementary parts of embedded circles, there is, from my point of view, all the divine necessary opposites represented. The divided nature of the circle expresses freedom’s form, ~~b, and, the back and white contrasts in the circle, denote the different levels of consciousness, ~bb and b~b~bb.

“Again, in the self-awakening philosophy of the Japanese Mahayana Buddhist, Nishida, freedom is discussed in terms of the logic of basho, or the interconnectivity of three different pulses of freedom. Freedom, for Nishida, is not a manifestation of being; rather, being is a manifestation of freedom. Everything that is, is within the interconnectivity of basho. The logic of basho works to support and restrict all beings. The logic consists of (1) ground–absolute nothingness, which, in turn, connects with (2) the basho of relative nothingness, which, in turn, exists only in relation to (3) it’s opposite, the notion of being. Interconnected with all of these bashos –relative nothingness, being, and absolute nothingness—is the pulsing, creative nothingness that emerges from and returns to the basho of absolute nothingness. What I am hearing in Nishida’s philosophy is my description of freedom’s liberation. The ground state, or absolute nothingness/absolute affirmation, (~~b), connects to the higher levels of freedom through the medium of the conservation of necessary opposites. It is Liberation throughout, but freedom, at each level, exists within its own unique restrictive environment—physical/duality, life/death, individual/factual events. Everything that is then exists within the interconnectivity of the logic of necessary opposites, which, in turn, liberates, supports, and restricts the aesthetic continuum, life, and the “knowing” of self-conscious beings. Ultimately, in Nishida’s awakened state, there is no distinction between inside/outside, whole/part, or, for that matter, there is no distinction between transcendence, immanence, and freedom. Does any of this sound familiar?

Well, from my point of view,” responded MV, “I could care less! Academic comparisons mean shit to me! Show me the Devil in any of that and I will salute, but until then you’re just killing time, and, I might add, the time of killing is what delivered you over to me in the first place. Do I make myself clear?”

“Fine,” I said, “then show me God. That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?”

“I’ll show you God in due time,” replied MV, “but first you have to get clear on the necessary opposites of divinity. Your not there yet, or you can’t remember, which is it? You’re slipping into reverse. Too bad about that! You don’t want to listen to me, so how about listening to yourself. It’s important to stay physical here. Guess what, it’s time to go back to the future! “

“Okay, let’s go back,” I replied, “back to where you are much more comfortable. First we’ll look at the divine necessary opposites and then we’ll see how all that plays out in terms of Relativity and Quantum physics.

Door Into Language, Myth, Religion, Art, And Knowledge Creation

The Logic Of Divine Necessary Opposites—The Logos Incarnated

The idea that consciousness pervades the universe is not new. The Greek philosopher, Heraclites, believed that a non-human intelligence or the Logos ordered everything. For Heraclites, all the discrete elements of the world were organized into a coherent whole and the Stoics, picking up on this idea, turned the Logos into God—the God that is the source of all rationality. But, those ideas were developed some 2400 years ago. Can the Logos be equated with the universe and all its elements today? When the noted logician, Alburey Castell, was confronted with a similar question, he responded:

“Suppose the sciences divided into four major groups: the mathematical, the physical, the biological, and social. Suppose the philosophical disciplines also divided into four major groups: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and aesthetics. Where among these does logic belong? Is it a fifth in either group? Or a subdivision of some one of the eight divisions? It seems to me to be neither of these, but somehow common to all divisions. The nerve of every science and every discipline is inference, or argument. In every science and every discipline two questions are always being asked, and their answers sought: If these facts are granted, what follows? From what prior facts do these follow? That is If P, then what? And, Upon what does P rest?” (A College Logic, 329)

Before I begin to answer the question –Upon what does P rest? I want to talk, a little bit about the law of logical contradiction and the meaning of negation.

“The laws of logic,” says the Dictionary of Philosophy, “are regulative principles governing the pursuit of knowledge and the construction of scientific theories (and, for me at least, are grounded in the nature of the reality that we seek to know). Seen in this way, logic is the most general of all sciences… To assert a contradiction would be to depict things as being one way and yet at the same time not that way. But nothing can be p and not-p at the same time. To believe a contradiction is thus to hold as true something that is necessarily false” (Antony Flew, 1979, p.210). What the rule of non-contradiction means in practical terms is that if a contradiction is found in a work of reasoning then that work is of little or no value. On the other hand, if a reasoned work identifies the condition for the possibility of any contradiction whatsoever, then that work would be valuable indeed!

As regards negation: It is true that the meaning of negation is a product of language and the laws of logic cannot be totally separated from the socially instituted conventions of language, but the conventions for the use and meaning of negation are not arbitrary. The capacity to know what can and cannot be asserted in any language will rest upon negation and the law of non-contradiction—the minimum condition for speaking sensibly. What follows is the logical form that births language, and, for me, answers the question– Can the Logos be equated with the universe and all its elements?

Let one side of the V represent the empirical world (aesthetic continuum) and the other consciousness. Identify the vertex, the V bottom, as ~~b (not, not-being). Not, not-being then, characterizes the entire V as it also implies that which lies outside the V—the indeterminacy of God, or, more to the point, an affirmation of the indeterminacy of God. Somewhere above the V vertex, on the consciousness side of the V, let the letter b represent life and ~b represent the negative space of life (~b on the empirical side). Life moves freedom forward and in this case upward too. Further up the V, let ~bb (discontinuity occurring in continuity-Sartre’s structured for-itself) represent the next stage of freedom—the participatory moment of a conscious self, and let b~b (continuity occurring in discontinuity-the negative condition of self-consciousness) represent (on the empirical side of the V) the embodied physical event of human consciousness. Freedom again moves forward, only now in the form of embodied human consciousness. The V grows larger (and wider) as the story of civilization unfolds.

Well, that’s it, the logical model of freedom’s dialectic! Oh, by the way, freedom’s dialectic is the answer to the question –Upon what does P rest? More specifically, however, P rests on the experience of ~bb (discontinuity occurring in continuity). This experience opened the door to meaningful symbol creation, and that door swung forward into the creation of language, myth, religion, art, theoretical knowledge, and the civilizing processes that we call “civilization”. But, not to forget, all of this rests on the pre-existing liberating processes of liberation that come together in human consciousness, and, ultimately, on the “ground condition” of affirmed Divinity. Freedom’s dialectic is at once bond and liberation, bond as Divine affirmation and liberation as consciousness progressively becomes freer!

Self-Aware Consciousness In Physics Remains A Unifying Occurrence

The Hole In Self-Consciousness, The Hole That Denies The Possibility Of My Ever Becoming Fully Self-Aware, The Hole That Condemns Me To Freedom, That Hole Truly Becomes A Unifying Occurrence Of The First Order

Freed consciousness is self-aware, but, in the broadest sense, self-aware consciousness remains a unifying occurrence. One of the interesting consequences of both Relativity and quantum physics is that both imply wholeness. David Bohm writes:

“Relativity and quantum physics agree in suggesting unbroken wholeness, although they disagree on everything else. That is, relativity requires strict continuity, strict determinism, and strict locality, while quantum mechanics requires just the opposite—discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality. The two basic theories of physics have entirely contradictory concepts which have not been brought together; this is one of the problems that remains. They both agree, however, on the unbroken wholeness of the universe, although in different ways.” (The Reenchantment of Science, p, 65)

As Bohm points out, quantum mechanics and Relativity seem to be describing the same reality with contradictory concepts. These contradictions disappear in freedom’s dialectic. Self-consciousness is embedded in its own negative space—continuity, determinism, and locality. This negative space becomes the necessary condition for a physical event to occur. Thus, determinism, locality and continuity allow for the reductionist methods of science to work; that is, until science penetrates deep into that area where the integrity of the physical universe breaks down, where the deterministic motions of mass points no longer exist!

At the depths of the “material world” there exists a fuzzy world that exhibits behavior only when we observe it– when we separate ourselves from it. There we find a physical reality with no uniquely determinable location, a physical reality that exists in several states at the same time, and a physical reality structured by a mathematical equation. Do we find there also the “ground negation” that connects all subsequent levels of negation and affirmation—the affirmation that connects everything to everything? If we do then the connectivity problems found at the quantum level of our experience begin to make sense!

In freedom’s structural form, two forms stand out. The same attributes that arise from the structure of self-consciousness– discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality—also arise from the ground structure. Both of these structured forms generate implication. At “ground,” implication simply affirms. On the level of self-consciousness, implication opens up the possibility of the world-historical-process. In other words, the negation that lies at the center of self-consciousness, the same one that births logic, language, creativity, inquiry, analysis, conscience, and imagination, also fuzzies up the world at the quantum level of physics. Because observation (and affirmation) takes place in the space of continuity, determinism and locality– self-consciousness’s embedded physical condition— there is an unavoidable clash of worlds—the world of Relativity clashes with the world of quantum physics. Bottom line—Relativity accurately describes natural phenomena. Einstein’s equations, when applied to physical events, accurately describe our relationship, as participating agents, in a physical universe. Likewise, the physics of quantum mechanics accurately describes natural phenomena. Only the phenomena being described are “fuzzy” because, as it is throughout freedom’s dialectic, the space that separates also embeds and connects. In other words, on the quantum level, self-consciousness confronts its own ground condition in the form of the “quantum strangeness” that gets experienced at that level of experience.

Ultimately, from it’s most holistic perspective, freedom’s dialectical structure (opposites are necessary to conserve wholeness) tells us: Were it not for the negative space/condition of determinism, continuity, and locality, human consciousness—the consciousness of discontinuity, non-locality, and indeterminism– would not be free in a world of our own experience (by degrees, experience of our own choosing), seeking truth, justice, and religious meaning!

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End Of Life Story Chapter 1

December 19, 2009

Here’s another short story—a story of redemption (four, five….chapters probably). The content of this story covers some material already posted but from a different angle—the angle of my personal life. In my journal writing, in order to spice it up and add perspective, I couched my story in a plot where I made a wager with the devil (the Faust story was/is a favorite of mine). In the wager, if I found God the devil would take my soul (a pretty safe bet I thought). The devil, in the beginning, I knew to be the onset of my insanity (a voice in my head that had a life of its own). The upside of the wager, however, was that I could tell the voice to go away. In other words, I got control of my mind back. The devil still popped up occasionally—to teach me how to find God—but he would also leave at my command. Throughout my journal writing I would have conversations with this voice, but in this story I am having my end of life conversation with the devil.

Redemption—The Indictment

Future Time Nine

“So it’s finally come to this,” said MV.

“Come to what?” I replied.

“Look at yourself; alone again,” said MV. “Most people, in the end, are consoled by real accomplishments, services they have performed, treasures they have accumulated, and extended families they have produced. They can say, ‘Hey, I’ve lived a good life and here’s the proof.’ But you, you sit in that hard rocker, listening to ancient and sad music. Perhaps you’ve missed something, eh?”

“My kids are grown now. Some things don’t work out as planned,” I said. “Their mother, after a long battle with Lupus, has passed over. My memories, if not too impressive, are still consoling. Regrets? Sure, why not, who can go through life without them, but, if it’s my time, I’m ready, bring it on. In fact, I look forward to it, it will be like going home.”

“But, don’t you think that ‘home’ would be a bit more hospitable if you hadn’t left so many opportunities unanswered?” MV responded.

“I’m not sure I like these questions,” I said. “Certainly there would be less suffering if people only knew they were on a ‘chance of a lifetime’ journey. But what’s that got to do with me? Everybody is on that journey. I found God, but it took me half a lifetime to do it. It can’t be forced. What are you saying, that my time was wasted?”

“No, not at all,” replied MV. “I’m just saying, in terms of squandering resources, which you chronically badger about, your education could have been put to better use. I mean education doesn’t grow on trees you know. It’s a dream unrealized for most people. To bad it’s not like popcorn, plentiful enough to give away. But it isn’t, so the lucky ones have to give back. At least that’s the way it used to be. It’s all about accountability you know!”

“A death bed indictment; is this what I’m hearing? I didn’t rob, commit adultery, or murder anybody,” I said. “I found God. I’m not guilty of anything. Besides, as you know, my education came late, and that’s not very helpful. I mean, Jesus, I spent mouths trying to do volunteer work for the criminal justice system. They didn’t want me. I guess I was just too honest, but I kept trying; that is, until I broke my leg. It was my custodian job that paid the bills. Being thankful for small favors is one of life’s difficult lessons, but I’d say I learned that one pretty well. Why should I feel guilty?”

“It sounds like somebody wrote that old blues song just for you,” replied MV. “You know, the one: ‘If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.’”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” I said, “employment, for me, has always been difficult to find, but otherwise I’ve been pretty lucky.”

“You can say that again,” responded MV, but it wasn’t luck.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Turn on your radio,” said MV, “turn to public broadcasting.”

“What?”

“Do it, said MV. “There’s a ‘dedication song’ playing right now. Eric Clapton is singing it, and it’s dedicated to you!”

“If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all…”

“Wow, how did you know that song would be on the radio?” I exclaimed.

“Because your time is up. You are my property now,” responded MV.

“I’m nobody’s property.”

“Come on,” said MV. “Don’t be obstinate. I hate to break it to you like this, but remember back in ’75, in Deadwood, when you tried to put your lights out in that cocoon full of lethal gas? Well your luck wasn’t all that bad back then. You succeeded, but then again, so did I. You didn’t die because I wouldn’t let you die. You are alive today because of me, and further, because of me you found God, you found God in a place where others would never dare even look. Now I’m here to collect my due!”

“I didn’t die in Deadwood. You’re crazy. Go away. I command you to go away.”

“Those days are over,” said MV. “Besides, telling me what to do only worked before you found God, not after. From the moment you drew your last breath in Deadwood, I’ve been the consummate puppet master. I lead you down the path that you desperately wanted to find. Go ahead, ask yourself, was it worth dying for?”

“I thought I was finished with you. I thought I was rid of you.”

“You might want to rephrase that—‘Breaking news story, the king is dead. Long live the king’–you’re dead,” said MV. “Death by affixation the coroner said. Congratulations! On that cold February afternoon in 1975 you succeeded in killing yourself. It was just another suicide, didn’t even hit the paper, but that was expected. Deadwood had an image to uphold.”

“What is this! I might be dying, but you’ve got nothing to do with it. I have lived a good life–family, God, and the memories.”

“Arrogant to the end, I see,” said MV. “You have been living in a kind of limbo since your death, living at my behest. But it all stops now. What matters is that you have lived your dream. You should thank me. It hasn’t been easy, though; you’ve been a challenge, even for me.”

“I am not dead.”

“You wanted to discover God and you did,” said MV. “What more can I say? At first, you were slow, but, with a little help from me, you did it. Think of it this way: it’s our mutual success. You got what you want and I, well, one might say, for me, its all in a job well done. We can both be proud! Who knows, if you hadn’t murdered yourself, you might even have discovered God without my help. But we will never know, will we. Why don’t you just think of yourself as a little voice in my head, that shouldn’t be to hard should it! Hey, nothing goes as planned you know. How does it feel? Call it your just desserts. Ah, how sweet it is; that song I mean, ‘if it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have no luck at all.’ Don’t you agree?”

“I’m not dead. The joys, sorrows, love of family, love of life, love of God, all of that was real. It is real. You’re a phony. You don’t exist.”

Redemption—My Refuge Lies In Your Nothingness

Future Time Nine Continued

“If I don’t exist, if I’m not real then who am I then?” said MV.

“You are something that has gone radically wrong. You are an unhinged piece of my brain. You are insanity–my insanity,” I said.

“Don’t flatter yourself. You’re not insane, never have been. That’s a lame excuse, a rationalization,” exclaimed MV, “and you know it. Wake up. I’m real. This is not a dream. God is real and, at least from your point of view, the rest was also real.”

“I know it’s all real. That’s what I’ve been saying all along,” I replied.

“Only the part about God,” said MV. “Your metaphysic—our metaphysic–turned out to be pretty accurate, but it is far from the whole story. I’m not just an unhinged piece of your mind, a figment of your imagination. I’m a hell of a lot more substantial then that—in due time you will see for yourself.”

“You are an empty voice in my head, caused by the firing of to many or to few synapses in my brain,” I replied, “or maybe your just some unconscious, out of control demon haunting me from the past. I don’t know what you are. I just know that you are not who you say you are! Without the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self you wouldn’t even exist–nor would I.”

“Very good,” responded MV. “Now you’re beginning to talk sense. But I’m more than that. Think about it. It’s all there in your metaphysic. Am I just a product of the for-itself, or am I something else? Let me give you a hint. Without me there wouldn’t be a for-itself.”

“You are the force that keeps opposites apart,” I said. “You are fragmentation. You are the enabler of life, and self-consciousness, but you also subvert freedom, subvert that which seeks liberation.”

“Now you’re starting to get it,” MV replied, “but you can do better. Remember, as you pointed out many times before, you have to take the bad–with the good. Go deeper.”

“You are the reason I am here. You liberated me so I can be here, so we can both be here,” I said.

“You’re on a roll. And who are you?” responded MV.

“I am consciousness that is free because of you. I am the divine incarnate, the discriminator of right and wrong in the here and now. I am in partnership with God in the ongoing process of creation.”

“That’s right,” said MV, “and what does that make me then? Take your time. I want to hear this. Go for it!”

“That makes you the source of my consciousness, the source of my free will, the source of purpose. You truly are the fallen angle of God, God’s compliment in every way. Without you there would be no awareness, no sacredness, no wholeness, no God! ”

“Great, I thought we’d never get there,” replied MV. “I am the enabling force of creation. Wouldn’t you say that makes me a little more than a run amuck voice in someone’s head?”

“Yes, I suspect it does. I see now,” I said.

“It follows from everything I know, but you don’t know everything. You can’t! You are the negative side of the universe.”

“Indeed, that is true,” replied MV, “but that is enough. It is more than you can imagine or even dream. What you call creativity is little more than a sensing body’s stimulus/response to a space/time event. I, however, exist across time, everywhere, from eternity and back, so don’t tell me who I am. I will tell you who you are. Remember, ‘There are many mansions in God’s house,’ and your arrogance has been duly noted. In God’s house you are barely a spectator, so stop trying to second-guess me!”

“You’re missing something, though. And that something is everything,” I replied. “The potential for beginnings precedes all beginnings, and it is in your nothingness that that potential gets affirmed. You may be a part of it all, but what’s really real is above that, above you! Your job is to keep everything, including me, separate from the creator. By your own admission, I have found God, and you cannot trump that. I am not your property. God is above everything.”