Making the Cosmic Loop-d-Loop
A loop is, of course, a curving line that closes upon itself. Physicists tell us that our universe is a closed system. What they fail to realize is that if this statement is true, then it is false, because it proves that the system is not closed.
If the universe were actually closed, then we couldn't possibly understand it, any more than a moth knows why it is attracted to the light or a troll understands why he is attracted to me.
To com-prehend is to grasp, as with the hand, in such a way that it encompasses, or contains, the object therein. Thus, to comprehend something is in principle no different than the manner in which our hand contains a rock, except in a higher space. Only things transcending us cannot be fully grasped.
Only human beings may know that "it is possible to act in error." Conversely, "if fate ruled everything, error would not only be impossible, but the very idea of it would have no meaning" (Bolton). Likewise, to entertain a single regret is to acknowledge that things might have been different if only you hadn't been such a jackass and made such stupid choices.
To say "better choices" is to say truer ones -- or decisions aligned with truth and therefore rooted in reality. If the latter is impossible then our behavior is truly arbitrary, and autistics and sociopaths would be our sages and saints, respectively. The autistic's inability to penetrate beneath the surface would actually be the highest knowledge, while the sociopath's inability to behave morally would be the highest virtue.
One may say that there is nothing above logic, but one would be wrong. Even supposing, à la Spock, that our life could be governed by pure logic, we would still have to choose for that to be the case. We would have to say to ourselves, "a life rooted in logic is superior to one that isn't, therefore I will choose the former."
But one could equally say with Nietzsche or Jim Morrison that it is more fun to plunge into the Dionysian world of impulse and desire. (You may recall that the hotheaded Captain Kirk was always there to save the day when necessary, by overriding Spock's mere logic.)
Recall from yesterday's post that if something is purely determined or purely accidental, then it cannot be caused per se. This is because if something is purely determined, it is just an immediate implication of what preceded it, and not truly separate from it except in our imagination. And if something is completely contingent, then there is no meaningful link between cause and effect.
Again, the world of spirit is one of freedom, whereas the world of matter is alternately determined or random. Human beings are the vertical link between those two realms, which is where our freedom abides.
In Kant's phrase, this is the "kingdom of ends," or what Raccoons call the cosmic telovator. For human beings, things don't inevitably come about as a result of fate, i.e., the past. Rather, meaningful human action is always guided by a future we wish to bring about.
In truth, nature is shot through with formal and final causation. What makes human beings unique is the ability to consciously partake of them, i.e., to enact a plan or pursue an ideal.
In both cases, you might say that the future flows into the present, whereas with the material and efficient causation of primitive scientism, the present is purely the result of the past, with no remainder (again, the closed loop).
Any number of conditions are fated by nature, among them death, embodiment, sex (male or female), gravity. As Schuon writes, these may be summarized as the "four accidents of our existence: the world, life, the body and the soul; or we might also say: space, time, matter and desire."
It is precisely these contingencies that we rise above and over which we may triumph in spiritual development. But please note that the physicist who pronounces on the cosmos covertly does the same thing, for surely a mathematical "theory of everything" would represent a triumph over space, time, matter and desire.
Again, hell is the quintessential closed loop, and we would never deny that many people choose to live there. Dante said (in Upton) that those living in hell "have lost the good of the intellect."
And what is the good of the intellect? Well, obviously its ability to know truth. After all, if it can't even do that, then what good is it? Having an intellect would be as pointless as, say, a liberal man technically possessing gonads.
As Upton says, the hellbound "may be 'smart' like cunning politicians and lawyers, but they have no intellectual intuition of higher realities." Translated to politics, our freedom is protected by the Constitution, which is not a document that "gives" us anything. Rather, it preserves our intrinsic freedom by limiting the power of the state.
And it is necessary to go back up to the Declaration of Independence in order to understand the ground of the Constitution, i.e., our sacred rights and duties that can only have a supernatural origin, as Lincoln knew so well.
Now, as mentioned a couple of posts back, whatever physicists may say about the universe, it is critical to bear in mind that they are not talking about anything ultimately "real" in the metaphysical sense, only abstractions they use to frame and understand their data.
But the cosmos is obviously very different from, and infinitely more than, this abstraction. No one lives in the cold and dead universe of physics.
Rather, the world of physics is just one of many departments in the University of Soul. As Bolton points out, the soul is "a sphere of consciousness which contains the physical universe in its own mode, and many more subtle realities besides" (emphasis mine).
Put another way, the soul is "the container of our world-representation." The ego is merely an adaptation to the world (both the objective and subjective worlds), whereas the soul is a microcosmos -- an ordered totality -- that both mirrors and cocreates the experienced world. Otherwise, there would be no cosmos, only a linear succession of disconnected perceptions and sensations.
This is entailed in one of our first principles, "as above, so below," i.e., "man is made in the image and likeness of the Creator." But there is image and there is likeness, and human time is the distance between the two, which is none other than the spiritual path.
This path is a kind of wider, extra-cosmic loop, except that it is a möbius strip, which means that its inside is outside, and vice versa.
Or, in Schuon's description, it may be thought of as "a spiroidal movement around a motionless Center," except that the movement travels in both directions -- in other symbols, (↓↑).