Thursday, April 4, 2013

Occupying Oneself II

Scott Bradley

Occupying oneself is a way of talking about realizing the full spectrum of one's being in the world. But already I have introduced a dis-integrating idea, namely that we are "in" the world. Are we not simply "the world"? And is not this perceptible world the Mystery, an expression of what is beyond imagining? I lift my eyes to look out the window and I see a pine tree; I can speak of needles, branches, bark and any one of a multitude of different aspects of this tree, but it is still a tree. We appreciate the unity of the many which constitutes a tree and by which there would be neither a tree nor the many. Similarly, the individual entities which we identify as part of the world are the world, and the world is Mystery.

Dividing things up into individual, seemingly autonomous entities is a necessary part of this human experience of self-awareness and it is something to enjoy and rejoice in. Only it has a downside, namely alienation, if we are not also able to re-integrate into the Totality.

We think of ourselves as "having" a body, and within the narrow context of the thinking mind, we do. But are we not more fundamentally simply "a body"? I am a body. I am this body. With the dissolution of this body is the dissolution of "me". Our immediate response to such statements might be that we have fallen into the extreme of materialism. But the reductionism is not found in the identification of mind with matter, but in the belief that matter is not also mind and Mystery. There is oneness; matter is not some autonomous, dis-integrated stuff unrelated to the Whole. Because that beautiful, tiny little snake that yesterday I held in my hand is alive, everything is alive.

Occupying one's body, becoming one's body, is a necessary part of occupying the fullness of the human experience. It is worth pausing here to look at how we might wish to deny this reality. Our tendency to dualism is both endemic to our self-conscious being and to our cultural development; religion typically tells us that we are not this body; we have a soul, a spirit; we are transcendent of and other than the material world. Consider the possibility that all this dualism is "falsely imagined". In this case, matter is spirit, spirit is matter — the Universe is animate. But then we can have only spoken metaphorically, for we have gone beyond what we can possibly fathom.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

1 comment:

  1. Apparently it's "simple" in physics, if that is you're smart like Steve Carroll. In one of his latest books he points out that the apparent mystery "is it a wave or a particle" has been solved for quite some time. Everything is a field; gravity, electromagnetism, nuclear force, Higgs and so on are all fields that wave. So all is indeed one. We know there is no red and no C# but that the mind renders these for us from waves it interprets. So too any bits we see are the minds rendering and not real. Reality is only waves.

    That 'mind is matter is mind' 'spirit is matter is spirit' however we've seen it, is simply the case. According to those with intelligence, maths and a life's dedication towards understanding the data.

    We see bits and we see individuals but we've never truly seen anything in complete isolation.


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