The Metaphysical Food Pyramid (3.15.09)
Another reader asked me what I thought about a book by an eminent physicist whose thesis is that time does not really exist. True, a number of reviewers felt the book was so boring that they thought it would never end, but endless time is not the same as timelessness.
Obviously this physicist has never heard of the Islamists, who are days away from the nuclear bomb but centuries from the nuclear age. That's a long time. In other words, it takes only one Islamist to disprove all of the quantum physicist's elegant theories about the non-existence of time. For time is not an empty and abstract category of mere duration, nor is it merely an illusory by-product of change. Rather, human time -- which is a distant echo and reflection of divine time -- is both full and directional.
Of all people, the scientist should be aware of the various developmental stages he had to have traversed in order to end up a scientist capable of detached, abstract cognition about the foundations of reality. A rock cannot do that. Nor an animal, a child, or a radical imam. The changes that occur on the way from child to man are not merely horizontal but vertical. As Ken Wilber has said, true development -- which is to say transcendence -- is not just a matter of rearranging the furniture on the floor of a building, but taking the elevator to the next floor.
Any materialist has failed the first test of spirituality -- or "temptation in the wilderness" -- which is to not try to turn stones into bread, or quantity into quality. For in so doing, the materialist inevitably reduces bread to stones, or life to death, spirit to matter. We are left with only stones, so there is "nothing left to eat," speaking metaphysically. And with nothing to eat, there is no way to grow. But if time is an illusion -- a mere "quantity" -- then growth cannot be real anyway. A man is just a large child.
Those of a materialistic bent like to say that religion is speculative, but in a very real sense, the opposite is true. When it comes to metaphysics -- the science of the absolute -- the scientist can only speculate, while the religiously informed person has access to a realm of perennial knowledge and truth that is as stable and secure as a rock, for it is the "axis of the Real." It reflects truths that cannot be untrue. For example, Paul's delineation of vertical levels of maturity along this vertical axis is a universal truth of spirituality: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
Thus, at its very heart, Christianity is clearly both evolutionary and developmental. No Christian could ever maintain that "time is an illusion," for time is of the essence of Christian life -- again, not the abstract quantitative duration of the physicist, but the explicitly qualitative time that distinguishes the spiritual child from the spiritual adult in the arc of salvation.
Elsewhere in the same epistle Paul proposes a three part schema of spiritual development: infant, child and man. Each requires a different kind of "food." In 1 Corinthians 3:3, he implies that the infant, or "babe," is equivalent to the carnal man, an ironic reversal of secular hubris, in that carnal man is but a spiritual babe in the woods. The infant can only be fed milk rather than solid food (which is for the child) or meat ( which is for the adult). Thus, as one moves up the developmental axis of spirituality, we eventually graduate to meat -- not only meat, of course, but as a supplement to the other foods. To try to live only on meat would be somewhat analogous to trying to live only on vitamin pills, which are highly potent but not necessarily nourishing if taken out of context. Metaphysics without religion is like the vitamins without the food, which "activates" the vitamins, so to speak.
Needless to say, a Raccoon is not just mdesxcarnivorous, but omnivorous. If you check out the library of a typical Coon, the first thing you will notice is that they'll eat almost anything -- literature, poetry, science, psychology, philosophy, scripture, theology, mysticism, the Baseball Encyclopedia -- but not in an indiscriminate manner. Rather, they respect the "food pyramid," which obviously has a top and a bottom. You've seen the Raccoon food pyramid on the back of any dollar bill -- it has that little eye at the top, radiating light.
An eye radiating light? How does that work? I thought the eye only receives light. How can it radiate light?
Don't worry. We'll get to that.
Not infrequently we have visitors in the Cosmos who are infants or children, which is why they find me indigestible if not frankly nauseating. I'm trying to think of a delicate way to put this, but those of you with babies of your own are certainly accustomed to dealing with the full spectrum of bodily fluids. Let us just say that Dupree's unenviable job is to clean up the projectile vomit these babies leave behind here.
Paul says to his audience -- which by now numbers in the billions, including you -- that there was a time when he could not speak to you as an adult -- not as a spiritual person but only as a carnal one. Furthermore, he "fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still very carnal." Why is that? Because, "where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?"
Well? What say you?
When Paul refers to "divisions among you," he also means divisions within you -- which is to say, within oneself. For among other things, both the line of spiritual development and the arc of salvation are a function of increased integration -- which is to say wholeness, which is to say centration. If your eye [I] is single, then the whole body is full of radiant light; conversely, if it is divided, your I is full of darkness.
Full of darkness? Darkness does not actually exist in any positive sense. Rather, it is only the absence of light, a seemingly paradoxical fact, since the cosmos is made of light. So how can someone be "full" of "absence?" If it is the nature of light to radiate, how do we end up with all these non-radiating lacunae of darkness, both individually and collectively?
Before discussing how it happens, let us just stipulate that it only happens all the time. As a matter of fact, the human being is the only living thing that can be "filled with darkness." Light is knowledge just as love is its heat, which is why these individuals and cultures are filled with an absence of each -- which is to say envy and strife, just as Paul says.
For envy is both a cause and an effect of existential emptiness. It is truly "darkness visible," because it represents insatiable emptiness, exactly analogous to the black holes of quantum cosmology. The strife that accompanies these "hungry ghosts" is simply the "giant sucking sound" produced by their contact with the world. The perennial "class envy" of the left is simply the clattering noise produced by institutionalized darkness as it tries to pull down everything round it. This is why it is so indiscriminate and cannot just attack "wealth." Rather, you will have noticed that it also always pulls truth, beauty, and decency into its vortex -- the three "faces" of metaphysical light.
The black hole is an emptiness that pulls everything into it, including light, which becomes "inoperative" in its presence. The primordial property of light, like love, is to "radiate," and in fact, light is a property of radiation rather than vice versa. The envious, divided person is a black hole who will suck the light out of you to no purpose whatsoever-- no good purpose, anyway. The light simply disappears beyond the event horizon, into the darkness of their corrupted soul. Elsewhere in the cosmos, light radiates into darkness, but in the case of a black hole, light is surrounded and swallowed up.
Talk to the mullahs! Yes, why not? Why not talk to a black hole?
The U.N.? A black hole of darkness visible within the heart of light. If Turtle Bay were any closer to Washington D.C., perhaps the Shining City on A Hill would be pulled into the Valley of of the Shadow of Death. Understood metaphorically, this could actually happen, since it has already happened to most of the rest of the world, which has fallen into this night-cloaked principality ruled by the Cosmocrats of the Dark Aion.
Paul goes on to suggest that human beings may be the efficient or formal cause of their own evolution, but that the Creator is the final cause. In other words, you may cultivate the soil, plant the seeds, and water the garden -- in fact, it is your duty to do so -- but you are not responsible for the growth that results. Rather, as Paul says, "God gives the increase," which is another way of saying that we do not invent ourselves but become ourselves. We are God's "field" or "building," and the strength and resilience of your building will be tested by fire. If it is built on a foundation of reality it will endure, but otherwise it will be destroyed.
Again, time is not mere duration, but the time it takes for something to become what it is -- say, an acorn to become an oak tree or a milk-drinking infant to become an omnivorous Raccoon.
Now, a recent visitor suggested that I am "manichean" in my views. Manichaeism is a dualistic philosophy that divides the cosmos into good and evil in the manner of the Zoroastrians, who saw all of reality as a struggle between Ahriman, the god of darkness, and Ahura Mazda, the god of light.
I just checked out the wikipedia entry to brush up on my Manichaeism, which was an actual ancient religion. I believe the differences between it and the One True Doctrine are evident -- although there is probably every reason to believe that certain Manichean principles found their way into Judaism and therefore Christianity.
Manichaean theology postulates "two natures that existed from the beginning: light and darkness. The realm of light lived in peace, while the realm of darkness was in constant conflict with itself. The universe is the temporary result of an attack from the realm of darkness on the realm of light," so that the cosmos is literally said to be the result of a mixture of light and darkness. This is obviously quite different from the conception of the cosmos as the peripheral radiation of the central Sovereign Good.
In fact, "A key belief in Manichaeism is that there is no omnipotent good power. This claim addresses a theoretical part of the problem of evil by denying the infinite perfection of God and postulating the two equal and opposite powers mentioned previously. The human person is seen as a battleground for these powers: the good part is the soul (which is composed of light) and the bad part is the body (composed of dark earth). The soul defines the person and is incorruptible, but it is under the domination of a foreign power, which addressed the practical part of The Problem of Evil. Humans are said to be able to be saved from this power (matter) if they come to know who they are and identify themselves with their soul."
Here is a perfect example of what we were discussing yesterday, that is, the garbled interpretation of the Divine Message as a result of human impurity. For the truth is that existence is a battle between light and darkness, but with extremely important modifications. But at the moment, I am running short of time, so I suppose I'll have to continue this line of thought tomorrow, assuming anyone -- including me -- is interested. For now, just remember, Phase I: milk. Phase II: solid food. Phase III: meat.
Or, in the immortal words of Pink Floyd, How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?