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11 Dimensions and the Mind of God

Click Here For God—4 min. video Michio Kaku

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Contradictions

          “In formal logic a contradiction is the signal of a defeat, but in the evolution of real knowledge it marks the first step in progress toward a victory.”

                                                                         Alfred North Whitehead

Contradictions abound in life.  This is the nature of so much of our existence.  But shouldn’t we accept contradictions in some instances?  One could argue that dismissing contradictions just because they’re everywhere isn’t good thinking.  A spiritual system such as Subud has contradictions, but if a scientist publishes a finding that contradicts previous theory, the contradiction is clarified, or the community will reject it.  This is the basis of good thinking (Thank-you, Gordon!).

           Yes, I agree, this is true.  However, I’d say that we can’t dismiss contradictions in the realm where they’re meaningful.  Yes, contradictions are a problem in orthodox scientific thought, or in deductive or systematic thought.  Alfred North Whitehead said, “Speculative philosophy is the endeavour to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas…”  (Process & Reality, p. 3).  Major contradictions in Whitehead’s metaphysics would be a serious problem (luckily, there are no major contradictions that scuttle the whole system).

           However, would you agree that in religion, mysticism (Subud), poetry, mythology, etc., contradictions don’t render the entire area meaningless?  Another way to ask this question is to ask if we can really tolerate a scientific hegemony.  Ironically, one of the structures that hinder science is scientific hegemony itself!  Think of all the heartache suffered by the unscientific scientists of the late 19th century because they kept coming up with results that didn’t fit the paradigm, and how they got bashed about the head and upper torso, but then Einstein came along in 1905 and vindicated them all.  But this wasn’t simply science saving the day!  In order to accept Einstein’s ideas one must abandon the previous scientific worldview that produced contractions.

           Today we have legions of “contradictions” that aren’t really contradictions.  Two examples are “contradictions” associated with String Theory/M-Theory and the “contradictions” prior to the discovery of epigenetics.  There are paraconsistent logics (where we deny the explosive character of classical logic) and dialetheisms (where contradictions have meaning), etc., etc. Extremely smart people have dismissed huge swaths of territory because orthodoxy held that contradictions were present.  Yes, in logic class we don’t look at things like paraconsistent logics, dialetheisms, and other such systems, rather we focus on Aristotle, noncontradiction, and the orthodox view.  But I do point the students to the kind of synoptic thinking to which I’m referring here, in the hopes that some seeds of a larger worldview are planted.  (It’s simply a matter of time…in a 10 or 15 week course we must focus on the basics.)

           One way to move beyond mere contradiction, of course, is resolution in a Hegelian-type synthesis.  A better way is with William Desmond’s “Metaxological” approach that transcends Hegel’s synthesis and effectively deals with contradiction.  But those of us in Process philosophy and theology are talking about going even beyond that.  We’re talking about a radically empirical move into an entirely different metaphysics.  In other words, in a sense, we’re dumping Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and even Kant to the extent that his thought came out of the same modern ontology and metaphysics that fueled Hume.  (That may not be entirely fair to Kant, but this is a blog post, not a book!)

           What is meant by “a radically empirical move into an entirely different metaphysics?”  What I mean is this:  What we take as a contradiction is contingent upon our metaphysics. “Logic presupposes metaphysics” as Whitehead says in Modes of Thought. The Standard Model in particle physics is a hot mess, and we’ve had a hard time with the recent Higgs discovery.  This is because we’re all still addicted to a “metaphysics of things.”  Much of the hard evidence in science points away from things and toward “spaciotemporal events” a la Whitehead and Process Philosophy/Theology.  Poof! Most of the contradictions disappear when we realize the world is event-driven rather than stuff-driven.  When we encounter contradictions on the new metaphysics, at least we know they are REAL contradictions; so we have the possibility of making real headway by sussing out the causes of those contractions.  Importantly, this opens the way for us to take the radically empirical stance that religion, mysticism, spirituality, poetry, mythology–and other areas formally relegated to pure subjectivity–do deliver meaning.

 

Surrender and Connection to Being

We want to feel happy or in balance. We don’t want to be depressed or dissatisfied. But no matter what the content our present experience is, even if it’s depression, there’s no getting around the fact that even within that depression we are connected to the larger existence, to Being. If we are aware of this fact, well, the world is at our service.

But many of us are out of touch with this fact, so we have desires, such as the desire to be “happy” or “quiet” or “enlightened” or “balanced.” But it’s possible for human beings to get to the point where we naturally realize that these desires appear WITHIN something that is ALREADY present. The depression, the desire to be happy, etc., appears within a more fundamental context: the context is the feeling that we are already connected to Being. That connection to Being already exists before anything else. Thus in a healthy person it supersedes everything else. It’s a touchstone, a wellspring. It can be used to alleviate the desire for enlightenment or happiness. After all, those things are only ideas and desires, and they aren’t enlightenment or happiness!

But what does it mean to say these desires of wanting to be happy, etc., appear within the more fundamental context of Being? It means this: We are always immersed in the present moment. The present moment is the only thing we have control over, and no matter how things may be screwed up in our life story, no matter how bad the problems in our life, the present moment simply IS. Period. It’s not a problem, it IS. It is a solid, brute existence that we can shape in the immediate moment. We can make the right decision, NOW. The present moment is abundantly full, and we can be fully and consciously present in it.

How do we do this? We have the power in the present moment to put less emphasis on the content of our experience (e.g., our desire to be happy or enlightened). We have the power in the present moment to focus our attention and our awareness on the simple FACT THAT we experience the world–we flow–we are already connected to Being or the universe. How do we do this? One way is by letting go of the past, and not giving into worry about the future, and putting our attention in the Now only. Surrender. Let it all go. Once we truly realize this, then when depression arises, or a desire to be happy, quiet, or enlightened, it immediately falls away because through surrender we are convinced that we are “already there.” If we’re convinced that we’re “already there” then we are, in fact, “already there.”

We can become convinced that we are “already there” by realizing that our desire to be “enlightened” or “happy” itself is only an empty idea generated by those very desires. Once we realize this and surrender these desires, we ARE enlightened, or happy, or satisfied! Yes, this is question-begging and a bit like a dog chasing its own tail. If you realize this, welcome to the club.

Nevertheless, we can be awed by existence! It’s an amazing mystery that we are here and are connected to Being. What came “before” the Big Bang? It’s miraculous that we get the chance to exist, and to put less and less identity and attention on the passing forms and ideas and ego, and put more and more attention on simply letting go and surrendering in the present moment and experiencing that sheer fullness of existence, that connection with Being.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2011 in Buddhism, God, Philosophy, Subud (General/Intro)

 

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Classical Theology vs. Process Theology

Process Theology is a different way to think about God. It is very different from Classical Theology, and it makes much more sense than Classical Theology. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, just trying to make people aware that there is another way to look at reality:

Classical Theology is what we’re all familiar with: God created the world from nothing, controls most things (“What did we do wrong to deserve this…?”), judges souls and sends them to damnation or paradise, is all-powerful (omnipotent), is all-knowing (omniscient), is all good (omnibeneficent), knows the future, in fact, God DETERMINES the future, etc. God runs the whole show, and our role is to try to figure it out God’s will, and hope God is on our side in the end, and hope that God doesn’t have a bad road in store for us in the future. God puts huge obstacles on some people’s paths, while God lets others sail along smoothly. We can’t know or figure out why. That’s just how it is.

But Classical Theology leaves an entire universe of questions unanswered, and even worse, leaves these questions unanswerable even in principle.

One such example is the “Problem of Evil:” It’s a LOGICAL CONTRADICTION to believe that there is an omnipotent and omnibeneficent God, and that evil befalls innocent people in the world. If God was all-powerful and all-good, there’s no way God COULD LOGICALLY permit evil things. And when we say God could not “logically permit” such a thing, and when we say it’s a “logical contradiction,” we mean it in an absolute sense. God cannot logically create a square circle, regardless of God’s infinite power, infinite intelligence, infinite ability and skill, etc. It’s illogical and simply can’t be done by God or anything else. It’s the same with the “problem of evil;” it’s logically impossible for evil to occur, given the meaning of the words “all-good,” “all-powerful,” and “evil.” But clearly evil does occur.

There are a dozen or more fundamental problems like these. These problems are the main cause of atheism today.

Process Theology, on the other hand, conceives God differently from the start, and thus the problems in Classical Theology aren’t found in Process Theology. Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne (and some others throughout history) set this theology out most clearly. The basic idea is that God is not omnipotent. Rather, God genuinely “surrenders” some power to creatures. And because of this, God thus “co-creates” reality along with creatures. This means that God and creatures determine reality together; God doesn’t solely determine someone’s fate. So when someone gets into a car wreck it’s not God’s fault. God is all-good, and all-knowing, and thus God knows you have to replace your windshield wipers. Thus God bombards you with guidance (“replace your windshield wipers…”) and the person ignores it, thus eventually the distorted visibility in the rain causes an accident. God didn’t cause the accident.

God communicates with creatures through what Whitehead called “the divine lure.” At the base of reality, at the sub-sub quantum level if you will, God is continually “feeding” God’s perfect vision of the world to creatures (humans, animals, etc.). We have the ability to pick up on this lure or guidance. “Replace your wipers…Take that job…Don’t take that job…Eat healthy food…Take Elm Street…Treat your co-workers with respect…” Each creature is free to tune into God’s will or to tune God out. In my opinion, the latihan is a way to tune directly into this guidance that Whitehead and Hartshorne talk about.

God isn’t “a being,” but like everything else God is “a becoming.” God is ubiquitous and not locatable in spacetime. God is everywhere, all the time, at the base of reality. This is not Pantheism, BTW. The closest theological view is called Panentheism.

On Process Theology, God didn’t create the universe. The “stuff” of existence (whatever that is) has always existed. Science is a good explanation (although a very limited explanation) of what happened. Our current universe big-banged into existence 15 billion years ago. The wider stuff, “before” our universe was born, and “after” our universe finally dies out, has always existed. Nothing was ever ultimately “created” thus God doesn’t create from nothing (again, it’s entirely illogical and impossible for anything or anyone or any God to create a thing without something with which to create it). There’s no damnation or paradise model, and God doesn’t sit in judgment. God doesn’t control things but guides things and it’s up to creatures to respond to the guidance or not. God is the source of Order and Value in the process. That’s why it’s called “process” theology and “process” philosophy, because there are ultimately no “things” and no “beings” but only “processes” and “becomings.”

God doesn’t know the future because there IS no future to even know. “The future” as an actuality doesn’t exist. All that exists is past and present. God and creatures, together, create the present. The word “future” is just a word and doesn’t point to any kind of reality.

On Process Theology, our task is to be fully in the moment, feeling the divine lure, and dealing with the elements in our experience that work against us actuating that Divine vision. What a HUGE task!!!

Technically speaking, what human beings call “God” is what Whitehead called the three “Formative Elements:” Creativity, Potentiality, and God. The Formative Elements can’t exist apart from each other. But they are not “actual” thus they don’t “exist” like a chair or table exists. (Thus, arguably, there is no issue or dispute about “whether God exists” like there is in Classical Theology.) The Formative Elements are non-actual and non-temporal. Again, I can’t argue this here, but when you do a deep logical analysis of what is actual and temporal, you see there must be something which is non-actual and non-temporal. Whitehead does most of this analysis in a small book called “Religion in the Making.”

Just some thoughts this Saturday night.

Aloha!

 

The Future (4 min. Ted Talks vid)

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2011 in Other Cool Stuff, Video Links

 

Response to Fred’s vid: Mental Illness and Violence

Fred’s original video is here (it’s on Mental Illness and Violence, and it’s also posted below).  My response to Fred’s video is HERE.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2011 in C. Mental Health, Video Links

 

Fred’s Vid: Mental Illness, Religion, Violence

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2011 in C. Mental Health, God

 
 
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