Tuesday, September 4, 2007
This is a letter I wrote to a long-distance friend back in '97, in an effort to explain New Age/metaphysical thought, which in his opinion, was bollocks. Don't know if he still thinks so, but he broke off the friendship because he could not relate to my interest in such things. He did appreciate this letter, though.
Mitch is a talented musician (jazz pianist). He put a couple of my song lyrics to music, did a fine job.
So, heeeeeere's the letter:
Your letter is giving me an opportunity, which I appreciate, to set forth as clearly as I can what the "New Age" consciousness is about. I'll respond to some points you brought up and expand on them as I see fit.
You reiterate several times that you don't think the workings of Life are comprehensible, implying that metaphysical thought is simplistic. In truth the subject is vast, the ideas complex, beginning with the difficulty of understanding "God." This brings us to what seems to be central to your philosophy--a disbelief in a God or any kind of cosmic order. Then; we come from nowhere, are going nowhere, and all that happens is a chance occurrence. In light of this, I wonder how you find astrology personally meaningful. The key to its workings are to be found in the esoteric dictum: "As above, so below." The microcosm reflects the macrocosm. Thus, we live in an orderly universe, and nothing happens by chance.
"How could each individual have the kind of power for such mastery?" you ask, referring to the concept that we create our own reality. Well, it's certainly the case that most of us, not being in touch with our abilities, are unable to make much use of it. Hypnosis has shown us the ease with which a person can be manipulated under its influence; most of us are hypnotized by our beliefs, and this is faithfully reflected in our experience.
The New Age mantra of You Create Your Own Reality (YCYOR) has been shown to be valid by the science of quantum physics. The double-blind procedure came into being in scientific experimentation, based on the quantum understanding that there is no such thing as an objective observer--the expectations of the researchers have a definite impact on the results. The same, of course, is true outside the research lab.
The parable "Before The Law" in Kafka's The Trial, illustrates in exaggerated form, how we can limit ourselves through our beliefs. For years, the man from the country pleads with the doorkeeper that he be allowed to pass through the door of the Law, even though the door is always open and the doorkeeper, though refusing admission, tells the man to try it "if you're that tempted." Hypnotized by what he sees as the power and authority of the doorkeeper, the man from the country can only languish there, his entreaties turning to mutters. Only at the moment before his death does he discover that the door was meant for him all along. He asks: "Everyone strives to reach the Law, so how does it happen that for all these many years no one but myself has ever begged for admittance?" The doorkeeper recognizes that the man has reached his end, and, to let his failing senses catch the words, roars in his ear: "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it."
The door was meant for him because he was meant to achieve mastery through self-determination; but he projects his own potential mastery onto the doorkeeper. The esoteric law of "as above, so below" here implies that we are one with the "above" (God, the macrocosm, the universe), but we have to understand and align with this law in order to become free. This is an example of the synthesis of polarity, in which the two poles, of being subject to law and of being free, are unified. "Becoming one with the law, we ourselves become the law." - Thorwald Dethlefsen, The Challenge of Fate.
An essential point about polarity is that the two poles depend on each other to exist. You bring up the subject of opposites in comparing the political Left with the Right. Without the Left there would be no Right and vice versa. As you said, the resolution is in the merging of the two--a synthesis--resulting in their forming a unity. You speak of "the evil of monism", but without monism there would be no pluralism. Much of Jung's work dealt with the integration and unification of the opposites; he pointed to the ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail, as the archetype of this alchemical process.
You see the "belief creates reality" concept as "solipsistic, narcissistic." I would say that description fits the conventionally subjective point of view, wherein it seems obvious that the self is separate and without power over the myriad influences in the "outer" world. It takes a leap of faith, an openness, to entertain the possibility that there may be more to "reality" than can be perceived by us. To paraphrase the Bard: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Mitch, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." With our limited consciousness, we don't see the whole picture. The drama unfolds on the screen of our minds, but that screen isn't big enough to take it all in.
You say that "Pluralism does not--as you misunderstood--state that truth can be found in many places because that implies a metaphysical unity that pluralism rejects (the implication being that all those places are reunited spiritually somewhere, as in, for example, some higher level, that all religions teach the same thing ad nauseum). Instead pluralism states that there are many truths." But upon investigating the different religions (as distinct from the churches) it becomes clear that they all do teach the same thing. Only the trappings are different. And if we were to examine seriously all the different truths, we would find the one truth behind them.
I found your Thomas Moore quote on blame interesting because it dovetails rather precisely with metaphysical thought. As the generator of our experience, it is up to us to accept responsibility for all of it, not in the sense of blaming ourselves, but with the understanding that the world is a mirror of our consciousness (individual and collective); of who we are and what we think.
Now this does not mean we're doomed unless we constantly police our thoughts: "Since you have all kinds of thoughts, there are reasons for having them, as you have all kinds of geography. This does not mean that you have to collect what you think of as negative thoughts, any more than it means that you should spend a month in the desert if you do not like them. It DOES mean that within nature as you understand it, nothing is meaningless or to be pretended out of existence." --Seth channeled by Jane Roberts, The Nature of Personal Reality. So much for the widespread perception that New Age thinking insists on an arsenal of positive thoughts to shoot down the enemy of negative ones.
Again, we don't see the whole picture, which is why we perceive people and things as being separate and unconnected. But there is tangible evidence of our connectedness, i.e. in biofeedback, wherein the electrical system of the instruments and that of the body become one, and in Kirlian photography, whcih shows that everything is charged with electricity of high voltage frequency, interpenetrating and emanating out of the whole system. The universe is a single living entity.
This does presuppose a God or Creator or First Cause to which all is connected. Separation and connection here form a polarity which become unified through experiencing the pain of this separation, and in seeking the connection, we find it has been there all along.
But in the final analysis, one cannot understand God through the rational intellect, logic, or the five senses, but through feelings and intuition. Those who profess not to believe in a God (I was for some years one of them), usually experience the energy of the Divine in some way, be it art, music, or anything that lifts the mind and emotions above the muck of the mundane.
When I was considering the points here, I went for a walk, ending up at a playground by a lake. I sat on a bench, planning to read my book, and there, facing me, sitting in four adjacent baby swings, were two pairs of twins: identical twin boys and identical twin girls. Their age was about three, they were all about the same size, and each twin pair was dressed the same. I remember the boys' outfits well; they were quite the young dandies in bright yellow sweatshirts, blue trousers, and green plaid caps. The twins were being pushed on the swings by a white-haired man, perhaps a grandfather, who was clearly fond of them.
I wondered what the odds were of this kind of thing happening. I mused that I could probably go all over the world, visiting playgrounds, and never see what was now in front of me. The twins were adorable as well as identical, and I thought of helping to push them, but I thought that might be a little over-familiar for a first meeting.
It occurred to me that this event had some correspondence with the ideas I've beens exploring in this letter. The twin boys and twin girls were a pair of complementary opposites; each was physically (and, it seemed psychically) "one with" their twin; and the two pairs formed a unity, side by side on the swings.
The boys especially caught my interest because of their overflowing humor and cheerfulness. Their dark eyes sparkled as they smiled and laughed nonstop. Later I went over to them when they were playing in the sand, and asked the obvious question, just to make contact: "Are you twins?"
"YES!" Clearly they were pleased to confirm this fact, even to someone like me, slow on the uptake. "That's what I thought," I said, and they went back to their playing.
We're all identical at the core of our beings, and we're all capable of living with as much joy and enthusiasm as those little boys. I guess this is the meaning of the Biblical passage: "Unless you become as a little child, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." I hesitate to quote the Bible because so much of it has become distorted through the ages, but I certainly felt the truth of those words on that day.
At the time, I was wearing my pendant with the yin/yang design, the Oriental symbol for the polarity and synthesis of all things in the universe. A coincidence, of course...?
You say that you and I are "fundamental opposites", that we "disagree on so many things." It seems we form a polarity of opposing belief systems. How to bring this, and our friendship, to unity, synthesis? Well, as I've said before, we can agree to disagree!
From your fun. opposite,