Tuesday, November 28, 2006

There are Seven Levels!

Reader Curious George notes that in yesterday’s post I made “a passing reference to ‘levels below the material’ that ‘should not detain us right now.’ However, I should indeed like to be detained right now -- I would like to apprehend the whole spectrum from the highest to the absolute lowest at least once."

“Can you help out here?”

What, you want to try to eat the the whole existentialada of lumin development in one siddhing? I dare you!

This reminds me of the first time Paul McCartney dropped acid. He had such an important insight that he searched frantically in his hotel room for a pencil and a piece of paper to get it all down. Not trusting himself to preserve that precious insight, he handed it to an assistant, Mal Evans, for safekeeping. In the morning he remembered the note, and asked Mal to read it to him. On it was scrawled the words,

“There are seven levels.”

And of course, McCartney was correct. It reminds me of when I entered graduate school, and we were learning about various models of the mind. Naturally, when you first start out, you don’t actually “know” anything about the mind at all. So you are given various theories and models, many of which are not only incompatible but completely contradictory -- everything from psychoanalysis on one end to behaviorism on the other, to neurobiology below and Jung above.

The professor mentioned that the mind was ultimately like a watch. We can only see the face, so we really have no idea why the hands move. Therefore, our theories are just models about how the watch works, but we can never know the thing in itself -- the noumena behind the phenomena. Primitive animists imagine a couple of squirrels chasing each other, while modern primitive materialists imagine a fancy machine or computer.

This is one of the reasons why highly educated people are often the most confused. That is, as they become more educated, they eventually become committed to a particular model of reality, and then confuse the map with the territory. They then spend the rest of their life trapped within their little model and doing battle with other academics who have a different model. This is why, if you look back at the history of ideas, it is often difficult to understand the passion generated in various battles, since we can see in hindsight that both parties were completely wrong.

Regarding the nature of reality, there are only three possibilities: 1) The world really isn’t all that weird. We can understand it; 2) Reality is pretty damn weird, certainly weirder than our current models would suggest; and 3) No, you’re both wrong. Not only is the cosmos stranger than we suppose, it’s stranger than we can suppose.

You’re always on safe ground if you opt for the latter, as you can be sure that our current scientific models will eventually be replaced by even weirder ones. Imagine -- just a little over a hundred years ago, the most elite minds on the planet were thoroughly committed to a model of reality that was completely overturned by Einstein and others. No one then imagined that the universe was expanding or that it banged into being at a specific point in time (indeed, creating time as it did so).

So when you ask how many levels there are in the cosmos, it depends to a certain extent on how you look at it and how much acid you have taken. At the very least, human beings are condemned to span two great dimensions -- the exterior and the interior, an objective pole and a subjective pole, the “great outdoors” and the even greater within. The more general category of existence simply presents itself on the one hand as ponderable matter, and on the other as a pondering subject. These are not opposites that can ever be resolved, but complementarities that give rise to perpetual ambiguity in the space in between.

Now in Rom 8:22, Paul says that "the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs," and that "we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." In other words, not only is creation itself a process of birth, but the locus of that birth process is within our very bodies.

Sri Aurobindo speaks of existence as “God’s covenant with night.” In his poem Savitri, he writes,

And laid on the Spirit the burden of the flesh,
That Godhead's seed might flower in mindless Space

If existence represents God’s “plunge into the night,” as being descends from level to level, then spiritual development reverses this cosmogonic process, so that human beings, in their vertical aspect, potentially span all levels of creation, from top to bottom.

And that is the end of this post for now. I can see that there’s no point in trying to finish it this morning. The baby woke up earlier than usual, so my services were required while Mrs. G., who is revovering from a cold, slept in. More on the seven levels tomorrow!

18 Comments:

Anonymous Curious George said...

My curiosity is thoroughly whetted. I await tomorrow's post on the seven levels eagerly.

11/28/2006 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Jacob C. said...

Robin Skynner had a similar first-time experience with acid, although he took it as part of an early-Sixties "what exactly does it do" lab experiment. The revelation that he came back with was a paradox on the level of a Zen koan:

"Everything is exactly like it is, only more so."

Which in turn reminds me of CS Lewis' vision of heaven in THE GREAT DIVORCE: instead of being ethereal, heaven is real - even more real than we are.

11/28/2006 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>> . . .human beings, in their vertical aspect, potentially span all levels of creation, from top to bottom<<

Could be that the Resurrection Body (a.k.a. the "Diamond Body")is just that, a transcendent vehicle that exists in and can effortlessly travel through all planes of existence, top to bottom. The actualizing of the potential, in other words.

11/28/2006 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah I had one of those too. The revealed wisdom was "Black dots are not red." Profound, huh?

11/28/2006 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NoMo here -

My 2 cents worth: Spiritual development, or spiritual growth, only begins with spiritual birth. Until one is "born of the spirit", one can grow older, smarter, wiser, etc., but not spiritually. Without a spark there is no flame. One might say that fallen man (flesh-born) is a level between animals and spirit-born man. The levels of creation are matter, plants, animals, flesh-born man, spirit-born man, exalted man (deceased spirit-born man), and angels -- so yes, there are 7 levels!

Thoughts?

11/28/2006 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I remember seeing a painting of a Dutch Master --- don't remember which it was -- but my comment was that it somehow looked realer than reality. Somehow the painting captured something that a photograph could not.

11/28/2006 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

The seven levels can also be directly linked to the philosophy behind the popular seven layer dip! Yummy!

11/28/2006 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NoMo here...

Lisa - what did you call me?

River - what about a photograph of a painting?

11/28/2006 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Nomo: provided the photograph keeps the hues and shades the same-- and even so, I was looking at a photograph (or a reprinting? Isn't that a high quality photograph?) of the picture. The original no doubt had a lustre that the photograph could not capture (since the photograph's surface was gloss paper, and the painting's surface was canvas with a variety of different paints.)

But that distinction is somewhat lost on people of my generation. Well, to be fair, a big black dot looks like a big black dot whether or not its a photograph. So I guess the modern artists achieved something...

So I can only imagine what the original looked like when it was painted. The same can be said for orchestral performance; it sounds 'nice' when you hear a recording.

But when that recording is a reminder of a live performance, then the listener is 'hearing' the music inside the music, even if it isn't 'there' in the recording.

I once sang in a Choir performance of Vivaldi's Gloria with a fair sized orchestra + real harpsichord. The energy of the concertation (concertment?) it wasn't antiphony-- between orchestra and chorus was incredible.

It was like a reverse process; having heard/sang Vivaldi live, now the 'dead' recordings have new life, which opposes the usual process of listening to a recording until it dies to your ears.

Some songs bring tears to my eyes no matter what I do -- even if they aren't sad songs. It's as though the vital itself is being reached from above.

Lisa: What about seven-grain bread? What if gobstoppers actually had 7 layers?

I wonder what flavors are associated with the seven-fold spirit of God. Just off the cuff, I would guess, Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Orange Sherbet, Mint, and Cookies n' Cream. There could theoretically be some cross-flavoring, I think.

If quarks have flavors... you know.

11/28/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul Mcartney is proof positive that too much pot kills creativity.

11/28/2006 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

"Seven is the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be seven. Eight shalt thou not count; neither count thou six, excepting that thou then proceedest to seven. Nine is right out! Then, lobbest thou the holy hand grenade at thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."

Monty Python and the Holy Grail - with apologies to the Number Three.

11/28/2006 09:27:00 PM  
Anonymous ben usn (ret) said...

RiverC-
I believe that is what true art is...beauty...the noumana behind the phenomena, as Bob puts it.
Even the artist cannot fully know it, only the Artist can.
True art, IMO, isn't subjective at all.
If the beauty of True art doesn't move someone, they aren't human.

11/28/2006 10:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Lisa,
My problem with versions of the seven-layer dip that I have eaten is that there aren't really seven layers. My brother-in-law makes a very delicious version, but when we get to counting layers...well, frankly, they are ingredients, not full layers. Of course, he disagrees, and, no matter how much I compliment him on the deliciousness, he feels cheated.

11/29/2006 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Why doesn't ten want to stand next to seven?

Because seven ate nine!

Seven layer dip:

Ingredients:

* 10 - 20 oz. refried beans
* 8 oz. fresh or ready made guacamole (2 - 3 avocados)
* 8 oz. sour cream
* 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
* 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
* 1/2 cup green onions
* sliced black olives

Method:

Layer beans on the bottom of a round pie plate (doubling the recipe yields enough for a 9 x 13 cake pan). Layer remaining ingredients in order given. Chill until ready to serve.

That's one of many recipes, remember though, that you have to get a really big chip so that you can get to each layer in one dip! Personally, I prefer black beans rather than refried, but don't call me a hater! As in all things in life, it is vital to CHILL until ready to serve. I believe Bob refers to that as slackdom!

11/29/2006 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

River- I'm afraid I have to make a few adjustments to your ice cream list. Peanut Butter is not acceptable. Dulce de Leche is much better and don't forget about cookie dough ice cream but I suppose that could be counted with the cookies n cream. ;0)

11/29/2006 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger MikeZ said...

Is there something significant about the number 7? For instance, psychology's famous "seven, plus or minus two", seven rainbow colors (though I read that Newton believed in numerology), the 7 protocol layers of computer science, ...
And of cource, the Old Testament is shot through and through with sevens. (But this could be explained by noting that the biblical writers were heavy into numerology - gematria.

11/29/2006 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous PsychoPrincess said...

Seven is the Number of Spiritual Resurrection, Life-in-God, and Transcendence to classic Kabbalists & in Gematria in Judaism.

It is the most Sacred number to the Hebrews. It is considered to be the combination of 4 + 3 => 4 meaning the world; 3 meaning God/Trinity, so its often seen/called The Perfect Number or Perfect Completion. 7 Also indicates Spiritual Perfection.

It is also linked to the concept of Being Finished (Completed). In Rev. 16:17: "...And the 7th Angel poured out his vial into the Air - and their came a great voice out of the temple of Heaven, from the Throne, saying, "It Is Finished."

It is also my favorite number and I'm a Scorpio - we're all about rebirth & death & resurrection & Spiritual Transformation. Trust me if you know any Scorpios, you know its true.

There are Seven notes in a musical scale. When you get to the 8th you go back to DO it over again. It is said, "Man named the notes, but God fixed the Sounds, even as Man named the Days of the Week, but God established the 7 days of a week."

There are 7 Beatitudes. All kinds of Spiritual intimations ring throughout the history of the number Seven. Seventh Sign. Seventh Seal. Seven Dwarfs...er...LOL!

- PsychoPrincess -

12/13/2006 11:55:00 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

Just so you know, Paul McCartney didn't say that the first time he dropped acid. It was when he first smoked pot with Bob Dylan and the rest of the Beatles. But the rest of that anecdote is right (check it out in The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz).

5/19/2010 08:16:00 PM  

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