Belief systems and the individual as fiction

Sunday, August 15, 2010

5 AM. V-J Day 65 years ago. Not a simpler world then, although we tend to think so, but a very different one. What a long, long way toward global integration and disintegration we have come since that time. The coming of the Internet alone is a revolution upon a revolution upon a revolution. Television, satellite links, facsimile machines, international corporations, cell phones – just the revolution in communications alone could fill pages, detailing the rewiring of the global brain.

Back on January 15, 2006, I had an interesting exchange with the guys, in which I – well, I’ll just copy the text from my files.

[On January 14, 2006, the guys said, “Now, let us connect a couple of dots. When is it Joseph and when is it `the guys’ and what makes for the shift and what if anything does the shift imply.” I put them off, feeling it was too much to deal with at the moment, but returned to it the next day:]

[January 15, 2006

So. Here we are again. I shied away from that discussion about TGU versus any one of you. Why? …

This is a bigger subject than you consciously know. You recognize that you almost wish the question had not been raised, but you don’t know why. It is because you know, too, that “Here comes another hit on my belief system.” But that is a danger of exploration: that at some point you will find something that reevaluates – or forces you to do the re-evaluating, rather! – everything you think you sort of know from experience.

When you first go exploring, that is the easy part, at least for a certain temperament. You start, knowing that what you think you know is probably wrong and certainly inadequate. For the first long phase, it is all gain. Each discovery is an item, one more useful trophy. If it doesn’t seem to fit very well into anything, that’s all right, maybe it will fit better later; maybe further discoveries will demonstrate where and how it fits; maybe it will be the key to fitting in other things. And in fact this is your assumption, your reliance, and your experience.

But after a while you have begun to accumulate. You have begun to perceive patterns. You have worked at trying this fit, that fit, another fit. At some point impossible to predict in advance, you obtain a pattern that more or less accommodates your new data, and more or less fits in with older data – via a new interpretation – and you feel that you once again have found firm footing, firm ground.

At that point the temptation becomes strong to stop finding or stop recognizing new pieces that might require readjustment of the new footing. Small accommodations, yes, but not major ones. For one thing, it starts to look rash, given that perhaps a bit more data would reconcile the stubborn item with the rest. For another, it may be that the new item is wrong, and the more that has gone before it, and the better it has fit together, the stronger the weight of evidence has to be if you are to justify overthrowing it or even modifying it heavily. And there is sheer weariness. “I’m tired of never knowing where I am!”

Now, in this you will recognize what you have criticized in materialist science. But it isn’t peculiar to science or to theology either; it is a human response to the continual overthrow of the familiar and even the newly absorbed.

Beware premature clarity. Yet – as in all things in the world of polarities and duality – beware never coming to a useful conclusion, never proceeding with what you have, rather than waiting endlessly for a standard of completion and certainty that may be impossible to obtain.

So that is why you hesitated at the brink. And if you choose to move now in another direction, we have no objection. After all, there is a tremendous amount of material you have been given in just the past five years, still unexpressed though we will say surprisingly much of it absorbed and lived – which is the important thing.

Well, I think I’m going to surprise you – and myself, to a degree – and take you up on the postponement. I sense that I’m not ready for more uncertainty – or rather, more at-sea-ness, if that is a word. I need some closure first. I would like to get some of all this out into the world first, and I am rather filled with dismay at the thought of having to do it all again – and mostly the thought of having all that trackless sea around me again. The only reason not to defer this would be if it is in my best interest, or the best interests of the readers of the project itself – “project” meaning our on-going project of bringing light. In short, if it is better in your judgment for me to overrule my desire for some closure at this point, fine, let’s do it. And if it would hamper my future growth, the same. Only if it is a matter of preference between equally valid paths would I say let’s let the new material ride for a time.

Don’t think for a moment that we do not appreciate the willingness to take the less comfortable path. “Your will, not mine,” Jesus said. “Let the decision be made by the total self,” Bob Monroe said. Three versions of the same willingness to let the lesser be guided by the greater. This very willingness is the most important contribution that anyone can make, because it puts the center into the center.

There is no reason not to pause, or rather – knowing you – to lay down this particular set of strands so that in a while you may pick up others. You do, in truth, have a daunting amount of work to do.

[End of quotation from January 15, 2006]

I guess I’m more ready now to continue the discussion.

But you will find that you have been having it. The question of why your contact changes, and when, etc., is coming up in your conversations with us but also in those with others in body.

Yes. I can’t think how many people have asked me, “is it possible that you and I are sharing some of the same guys upstairs?” And it doesn’t seem to matter how I respond, they hear it each according to what they expect me to say rather than (or, anyway, more than) what I actually do say.

Frustrating, isn’t it? Welcome to our world. We smile.

Yes, I figured you were just getting even with me for my own questions.

We continue where we began with Rita. And you will find that if you were to continue this process for another 50 years, you would find yourself still attempting and still largely failing to get across the simple idea that “the individual as a concept is a convenient fiction.” Certainly you would never come to an end of exploring and explaining and expounding and expostulating over the ramifications of that simple (but not easy) perception. So don’t be discouraged that you have to keep coming back to it, and don’t think you’re wasting your time or spinning your wheels, doing it. What doesn’t come through one time may come through another. What isn’t heard said one way may be heard when said a different way.

And you yourself have barely begun to absorb the ramifications – the very first ramifications – of that new way of seeing things. Becoming familiar with the concept is an act of recognition, not of cognition. That is, said as a warning – just because you’ve heard a term before, perhaps many times, doesn’t mean that you understand it even slightly. This is one objection to trivial but extensive news coverage, is it not? People recognize the names of issues but do not, therefore, realize that recognition is not cognition. To recognize something as having been encountered before is not necessarily to have any idea what it’s really about, even on a surface level.

So, let’s proceed as best we can.

The individual is a convenient fiction. Convenient, because we have to have some way to think about and discuss the “individual” phenomena you know as people, or souls, or spirits, or however you think of them. But fiction, because there is no such thing as an individual in any meaningful sense of the word – that is, as any one unit. What appears to be a unit is not a unit either in time or in space or in non-physical existence. And this means that it is equally so of those “individuals” without bodies you contact, such as we, now.

It (that is, the situation that we all find ourselves in, discussing this) is something like the difficulties that arise when you first realize that your bodies are not solid; that matter is mostly space. “You” don’t very much exist, nor does the table you write on or the pen you write with. It’s all mostly empty space! Yet you write. One body that is mostly empty, contacting another body that is mostly empty, experiences it as equally solid. Your mind knows that it is not solid, but that makes no difference. You experience it as being just as solid as you did before you ever heard of atoms and charges.

Similarly, we will talk of how you – and we – are not really individual, and yet you – and we – will continue to experience yourself as individual because it is one of the preconditions of our understanding. But if we at least know that our experience cannot be trusted absolutely but only approximately, that is still a gain in understanding.

All right, why is the individual a convenient fiction – or rather, how? Let us list the ways, some of which may seem trivial at first but are equally important.

First, as a biological organism you are of course utterly dependent upon your environment for your moment to moment existence. If you doubt this, merely put your head under water and try to breathe, or attempt to exist without food and drink. We actually hesitated to add this second example as it is not absolute, but for our purposes it will do.

Second, you did not create yourselves (seen as a biological organism) and cannot perpetuate your physical existence beyond death. You are temporary, because temporal. And you are the temporary custodian of characteristics and what we might call a physical inheritance from your parents and thus back to the beginning of human existence. You may or may not carry that inheritance into another generation, but you certainly did inherit it. You did not create yourself.

Third, you do not maintain yourselves. You require continual input – food of all kinds, including information, emotion, interactions of kinds you cannot even perceive yet are utterly dependent upon. Kept in isolation you would wither and die, particularly if it were able to keep you isolated from the non-physical world.

Physically, you are dependent upon your surroundings, you did not create yourself and you cannot maintain yourself without cooperation.

On a slightly subtler level, the cells of your body are in continual exchange, and you breathe in the air that was breathed out elsewhere. That’s a metaphor, understand. Your body is not a unit nor a self-contained casing except seen at any one moment. You are a flow, not a unit. So is everyone and everything else, and there’s nothing wrong with the fact or the situation or the implications.

Slightly subtler still, your mind is not a unit, either, but a flow in more senses of the word than one. It flows laterally; it flows in time. Thus, it flows in time as your life flows in time. The things you think, the values you hold, the ideas you are acquainted with, the logical conclusions you draw, the experiences you have absorbed, the situations you respond to – they all change, continually if at different rates, throughout your life. And it would be hard on you if they didn’t! Hard, and impossible because external events and internal flow, they never halt, any more than the sun halts in the sky, and for the same reason.

Only outside time-space might you be said to exist, really. We know that is paradoxical, but think about it. At any given moment in time, there’s a different you. As we’ve said more than once, how could that time-bound you be you when the next minute – let alone six years later – brings another? And it is no escape to think, as your time does, that the same “you” flowed in time. If “the same you” can change as radically as you did between age two and now, not to speak of two years from now or even – who knows? – two days from now, where is the unit in all that flow? In what way are you the same person that you were 10 years earlier? Your physical organism is a reproduction of the former organism of 10 years ago, replicated cell by cell, but it is not the same. Ask anyone who is aging! Your mental world is not the same, either in ideas or in values or in attitudes or in experience. Your habits, your behavior, your externals – the very things you might think would show the greatest continuity – would astonish you if you could become aware of how completely they have changed as circumstances have changed, even while all you see is continuity.

Within time-space there is no continuity, only flow. It has been well expressed in the saying, “this too shall pass,” the only universally applicable, universally true statement ever devised. You can exist as a unit only outside time-space, regardless how you perceive yourselves. But – as we shall try to demonstrate – you cannot do it even there.

But this will have to do for today.

Yes. Relatively few pages but I’m tired!

You did well. An unrecognized feature of this process is the continued need – sometimes greater than at other times – to bring forth sentences not knowing if they make sense, or hang together, or lead to something. The better you can release yourself of the responsibility of making sure it “makes sense,” the easier it is for the information to flow. But it can take its toll, we recognize. Fortunately not a serious or lasting toll. Be well.

And you.

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