Layers of reality

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

6:30 AM. Okay, proceed.

The gods at war (continued)The next analogy to consider is at a lower level. Just as it is true that a person-group may be considered one thread of a larger organism, a person-group of its own, so it is true that each thread – each trait – of your own may be considered a person-group of its own at a lower level. And of course all of this will need to be spelled out – or hinted at, really, as we must proceed mostly by analogy. It remains true that we are attempting to convey information that cannot be expressed directly in words.

If you will look at the photo of the painting that you send out, look at it now with new eyes. Or, let’s put it this way, it is a sketch, an outline, a suggestion of a relationship and also of several stages in that relationship. For the purpose of clarity, consider that it shows —

– the composition of any given “individual.”

– the vertical integration of one layer with another above or below it

– the composition of any of those layers, as well.

Now, notice how hard it is to really grasp the meaning of so abstract a statement, yet how it seems to bring things almost into view. Consider an abstract statement to be a road map, good primarily for indicating relationships but not good at much else. If you already know any of the territory, it may remind you. If you do not, it can’t give you the idea. So the thing to do is to use an abstract statement as it is meant to be used. First, as an orienting device, then – after you’ve been to the territory – as a reminder, as a way to integrate what you have newly seen with what you knew beforehand.

This is a way of saying that abstractions must be alternated with something that will engage your emotional bodies, not only your mental bodies. That’s why we alternate abstraction and analogy. Thus, if we accustom you to see yourselves as a person-group rather than as a unit, we can then proceed to tie that understanding to new abstraction. But until we had illustrated it in ways that lead you to be able to relate it to the rest of your lives, we couldn’t have done much with it. This is why this tutelage proceeds so slowly and so discursively. It isn’t our whim or Frank’s; it is a teaching method, and a preference. No Metaphor Left Behind.

[Now – do you see how you were tempted to free-associate away? It is the grounding of concept, in what we might call mental experience, that produces a change in understanding. Now, put down the political associations and return with us now to the days of yesteryear – we could do this forever, but we suspect you have enough examples, in your own lives, of how free-association usurps attention. In this case, the second association should have somewhat canceled the effect of the first.]

So if a person-group, taken as a whole, that is functioning as a unit, may be considered as one strand in a larger unit, equally may each strand in your lives be taken as a person-group in its own right, and that strand – that person-group – may be considered to be itself a complex group of strands functioning temporarily as a unit.

Can we say it any plainer? We will try. We do recognize that our careful habit of using qualifiers and modifiers may impede clarity. So the skeleton is: As above, so below.

You’ve often heard it, but have you ever understood what you were hearing? How could you, in the absence of explanation? Yet how could the explanation be given to anyone who clung to the “obvious” accepted explanations of life? If “common sense” is your guide, you will never get beyond it to any uncommon sense. Think how long a trail to get to so simple an explanation.

Every layer of reality is, in the first place, not a “level” at all, in the sense of a different discrete “place” or stage. A level is merely a part of reality temporarily considered out of context. The fact that it is studied out of context does not mean that those particular facts belong together more than they belong to the context from which they were (temporarily, provisionally) ripped. It is merely a necessity, a convenience, to consider them in isolation so that they may be given a label and considered as one. So – you as person-groups. You are not in any way separate from your constituent parts, nor from the larger context (that which you are part of). It is merely that for the purpose of analysis is usually convenient to consider certain relationships in isolation. Anything held in isolation is thereby distorted. It is unavoidable given the limitations of mind functioning in time-space, but it must be noted. To study anything is to study it somewhat in isolation from factors that are important to its understanding. Just remember that, or try to come back to it, anyway.

The fact that a given set of phenomena, closely linked, are usually or always considered together will mean that your minds will tend to make into units what are only parts of the flow. Necessary for understanding, but necessarily producing mis-understanding, in the process.

Although we, and you, are accustomed to thinking in “layers,” that is merely because it is easiest to slice reality that way. But it can as easily be sliced in other ways, and you do so when, for instance, you consider physical versus non-physical. In that mental association-set, you take every physical manifestation from the smallest so-called atom to the largest physical manifestation you can think of – galaxies, universes – and disregard for the moment the divisions that otherwise seem so important and real to you. For that moment, the physical world is seen, dimly, as all one thing. But of course even the division between physical and non-physical is a created division, a perception of a relative difference made more absolute than it really is.

In pointing out that reality doesn’t really separate in the way it is convenient for us to analyze it, we don’t intend to therefore throw up our non-physical hands and give up trying to explain. We are merely bookmarking the fact that there’s a difference between structure and scaffolding.

So, to descend. Within you as person-groups are what seem like past-life traits and knowledge. But how can that be, when these past lives are also seen as part of a higher-layer being of which you are but a strand? Can a thing be both smaller and larger than you? (Yes, of course “smaller” and “larger” are only physical analogies, but you get the idea, so they serve the purpose.)

Or, moving upward, can something separate from you (for that is how another life feels, is it not?) be at the same time a part of you, so that the entire “unit” that is a past life is only a part of you, yet you as “unit” are only a part of it?

As Thoreau said, “but so much for analogy.”

Yes, but it doesn’t free you from the dilemma, does it? The very inexplicability of the situation – inexplicable by logical development, we mean – is what drove and drives so many explorers to say that it cannot be expressed. And yet, once you get the sense of it, thumbnail expressions such as “as above, so below” are able to remind you of relationships understood, and suggest to you an extension of these relationships. A mystery-school’s mysteries had to be kept secret not lest the general populace would understand but because they couldn’t. Think what a mystery school’s contents did, released to the public as an emotional story.

Christianity, you mean.

Certainly. Jesus expressed profound truths and did so in parables – as religions are always forced to do – so that he could at the same time say what was true, for those who could hear, and say what was helpful even though it would be misunderstood, for those who couldn’t. Yet anyone who came to be a part of the Christian religion came to assume that the inner truths Jesus taught were understood by them ex officio as Catholics, so to speak, or ex officio, later, as Protestants listening for the direct voice of God.

It has become necessary to destroy the shell of Christianity in order that new life could arise from its ashes (to mix metaphors) but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t embody the truth. It did, but the truth could not be understood by people at a common level of being no matter how acute their intellects or how fervent their faith.

The situation is no different today with the religion of scientism. There’s a very good reason for not worshiping idols, and it has nothing to do with the jealousy of an almighty creator, and everything to do with the distortion that results from seeing things in wrong proportion, wrong context.

And that’s enough for the moment.

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