Our present task is to do a Copernican Shift.
Copernicus, you know, realized that the center of the solar system is not the earth, but the sun. Once he put the center in the center, all the phenomena that had been charted for so many thousand years were suddenly seen in a different light. That is all that happened, and all that ever needed to happen. And that’s all that needs to happen with us.
Our civilization has put the wrong thing – human life in time-space – in the center of the system. Supposedly we are bounded by the body, without connection beyond the physical, and therefore with only a theoretical and debatable connection to any form of pre-life or after-life.
It is true that each of us is central to ourselves. To put it another way, each person is central to the time and place in which he or she lives. This is as it should be. Should I be central in your life? Should you be central in someone else’s life? Obviously not.
But it is equally true that none of us is in any way central to any of the rest of our being that is “past-life” or “future life” or non-physical or (dare we say it?) even “spiritual.” If each 3D-Theater personality is central only in one time/space at a time, none of the personalities individually can be the center.
Elementary, is it not? And you at any one time in your life – November 13, 2004, say – are not central even in your own life at any other date. Look at that more narrowly, and you can see that we are all central to our own lives only at the moment we experience as the present. We surf the moment of the present. That is our life, really.
But if the personality living in any given present-moment cannot be the center, and if some center must exist if the thing is to hold together, where is that center to be found? Clearly, it can only be outside of time and space. Anything else is local.
And once you concede that your center must be outside time and space, you have conceded that the material universe, physical-matter reality, cannot be the whole of existence. Either that, or our lives have no center but a continually moving point in time. And this absurdity, of course, is just what most of our materialist civilization does believe.
But if the true center of your being is located outside time-space — outside matter — and if this proposed center has equal access to all the lives to which you are connected, as clearly it must have (assuming for the moment that you have had other lives), then when you re-adjust the picture – what do you have?
For one thing, you have vastly expanded access to other parts of your being. As you clear away obstructing beliefs, you see that all life is going on at the same time, or rather, in the same non-time.
Once you accept the existence of a realm outside of time-space, you see that in a very real way, the part of yourself that is outside time-space is realer than what you experience sliding over the stream of time-space in 3D. It exists; what seems to you to be “you” within 3D merely seems to exist.
Where is the “you” that began to read this, slightly in the past? Where is the “you” that will finish this – or will break off – slightly in the future? Can these transitory phenomena be considered as real as what exists outside of time-space? Plato was not merely skylarking intellectually when he compared the Ideal to the Actual, to the disadvantage of the latter. Of course, preference depends on viewpoint – but even that says the same thing yet again – for outside 3D is the non-place of all viewpoints.
Each time expresses itself, as each person expresses himself (or herself). The advantages and disadvantages make the characteristic “flower” of that particular time. Times are flowers no less than people’s lives are. In each case, your opportunities are different because your culture, your material surroundings, your history, your technology and your feelings about that technology, are all different. But by far the larger difference is that you as individuals and as part of your society are different.
So what is your task now? It is not to be pretend-Egyptian, or pretend-Mayan or pretend-Indian or pretend-anything. It is not necessarily to affect your society by direct action – that may be reserved for others. Your task is to live what you are, to choose among the threads of personality.
The question of guidance from what I call “the other side” is not so much a complicated question as it is a tangled one, tangled because of competing or overlapping or antagonistic strands of culture on our end. The easiest way to make this clear is to go back to basics. Bear with this seemingly theoretical discussion.
Take, as a simplified example, an isolated culture that knows of no other ways of perceiving the world and has no competing ways within its own area and has no discordant tradition cutting against the prevailing ways. In such a society, all is consistency. All think alike, believe alike, perceive alike – therefore it is not difficult for all to act alike. It has:
No neighbors with other ways.
No conflict between tradition and new ways.
No internal strife between competing elements each with its own traditions.
This is about as different from our time-space as can be. The next level up in terms of complexity is a society in which any one of those elements is missing. The next up from that, one with two missing.
So, a society may be uniform within, and not conscious of any discord between its practice and that of its ancestors, but have neighbors with different ways. In such case, the neighbors are regarded either with a blend of indifference and tolerance or with active hostility. Thus, the ancient Romans before they became powerful. Thus, the ancient Greek city-states. Thus, the Hebrew tribes, and Indian tribes, and tribes everywhere. (This is a bit of an over-simplification, because of course these societies had gradations – Greek city-states viewed other Greek states differently than they did non-Greeks; Mohammad distinguished between pagans and People of a Book. But as a simple distinction this will hold.)
When such a society conquers or for any reason absorbs another people, the conquered must become a part of that society – they must have their own niche into which they can be smoothly fitted – or their very existence will shake that society. So, if the society has a niche for slaves, the newly entered may come in as slaves without disturbing anything – unless they maintain their identity in some way, over and above being slaves. We suggest that here you will find the key to the function, plight, and effect of the Jews as a people – especially when you compare them to “the Jews of Asia” – the Chinese communities within non-Chinese cultures.
Without meaning to, without wanting to, without any say in the matter whatsoever, by their very presence as an unassimilated body within the simple social order, they are destructive to its simplicity. They push that society into a new stage of complexity that it may or may not be able to successfully achieve and maintain.
A society that comes to terms with a minority in its midst is one that has gained an advantage in complexity to set against its disadvantage in loss of homogeneity. How each society deals with that new situation defines differences among them. One way to deal with it is to find a way to graft that presence onto the prevailing story the society tells itself. So Jews in a Christian society are precursors of Christ. In a Muslim society, they are one of the three communities descended from Abraham. In a secular society they may be a disturbing anomaly interfering with (the myth of) coherent nationhood.
Do you see, now, why so many societies are insane when they attempt to deal with minorities? They purge, they discriminate, they murder, they exile – why? For economic reasons? Hardly! For religious reasons? Seemingly so, often, but not really. Well, for ideology’s sake? Even less likely. All this happens because the very presence of the minority stretches the culture, distorts it, makes it uncomfortable – seemingly endangers it. Thus, pogroms. Thus, mass murder.
Now add to the disturbing presence of external foreigners and internal foreigners that presence of a contradiction between present practice and tradition. The result is, for instance, 20th century America. America had foreigners of all kinds within its fold, but it incorporated them into its myth by thinking of itself as the melting pot. It had foreigners of all kinds outside its fold, but there was no way the foreigners could threaten militarily or economically or culturally. So the first crack in the seamless façade was the culture war between those who wanted to change to other values and those who sought to retain current nominal values. Each side could claim legitimate descent from the past because of America’s revolutionary tradition – a sort of historical oxymoron. So neither one could be shrugged off as alien. The result is deadly warfare.
By necessity this outline is too short, and glosses over many a complexity and many a difficulty. None the less, it holds. (And, in passing, it offers the key to our society’s problem, which is not the removal of one or the other set of proponents – a return to simplicity — for a return never happens. The problem to be solved is how to move from one layer of simplicity through layers of complexity to a new, more sophisticated, simplicity.)
But the point of sketching how societies differ is that people perceive guidance differently because their cultural traditions describe it differently. In a homogenous culture the expectations are homogenous. The more complex and self-contradictory the culture – the more competing threads – the more diversity in understanding; the greater the number of images and concepts, many appearing to be entirely contradictory.
So, angels. Aliens. Saints. Past lives. Various archetypes. The collective unconscious. Power animals. The ancestors. Earth spirits. That hardly exhausts the list! Every society “creates” its sources of guidance in its own image. If it is a fragmented, self-warring society, then the gods are at war. If a peaceful homogenous society concerned at most with the transgressions of individuals, this is what it will see on the other side.
On this side, we wind up fighting over competing visions of what we call the afterlife, or the spiritual reality, or the other side, or heaven and hell, or nirvana, or even the energy of the great mindless machine. All that this conflict amounts to is us grappling with our own contradictions in the only way we know – by projecting them onto the other side. We projecting our inner stuff; and sometimes we use that projected material to create shapes and beings.
It is all projection: That does not mean it does not exist. It means, merely, we can’t see ultimates.
So – here is the point. In trying to understand, you are doing invisible mental work that, though invisible, is not unreal or not important. It is real work and there are few enough to do it. Consider the work, if you will, to be that of creating and infusing with energy a visualization, a new archetype, a container. Our society may now be considered to consist of all the sub-societies of the planet. In other words, we are in the beginning stages of a global civilization. Is it a surprise that previous containers are not adequate? Society is tearing itself apart because we are in the time of new birth. It is up to us to aid that birth!
It is a great and rare privilege to participate in the coalescing of a new civilization; rarer to participate in a new form of civilization; rarest of all – our fate – to also participate in the coming to consciousness of a new way of being human.
More next Friday