Eternal Waves

in Deep Dives6 months ago (edited)

Human life can sometimes be construed as a cruel cosmic joke. Especially when you've grown up, like myself, with a scientific worldview in which there's no magic and everything happens for a reason, everything can be explained by the movements and interactions of particles and mindless energy.

Image by Reinhardi - source: Pixabay

Adherence to this scientific, or materialistic view of reality is very attractive because with it we have conquered nature to do our bidding. It has been highly successful in predicting the future by applying its basic rules of cause and effect. Even our consciousness is explained as the result of complex interactions of electrical and chemical nature inside our heads. We can prove it even, because we're able to conjure up any desired emotion by attaching electrodes to the correct parts of the brain; even the light at the end of the tunnel, described after many near-death experiences, can be replicated just as easy as outer-body experiences. Okay, that may be simplifying things a lot, but basically this strongly reinforces a strictly material and mechanical view of life and the universe; push the right button for a completely predictable effect.

A completely predictable future is already the past - Alan Watts

At the same time science has impressed upon us the notion that we are but specks of dust in the cosmic winds of existence. For centuries the Roman-Catholic church has guarded and maintained a geocentric perspective on the universe, a perspective in which everything revolved around the earth and ultimately around ourselves. Then Copernicus demolished that notion by introducing us to a heliocentric universe in which the earth was just another planet revolving around the sun. With growing understanding and technology, we now know that the universe is too big for our minds to wrap around, and that life, our individual lifes and life in general, is just a fluke, a fluke that might well be temporary. All in all, we're completely insignificant specks of organic dust, floating on the winds of a mindless machine that has no meaning or purpose, leaving us with the task to find our own meaning and give our lifes our own purpose.

Even the miracle of life itself can be reduced to a purely materialist and mechanical account. When the evolutionary biologist asks why some butterflies have big eyes on their wings, the laws of survival of the species provide a perfectly acceptable explanation. One day, through an unplanned random genetic mutation, one butterfly had an eye on its wings. The bird that eats the butterflies got scared seeing those big eyes and refused to eat that one. As a result the butterflies with eyes on their wings were eaten less and survived better than the ones without eyes. The other ones evolved to have other defense mechanisms, like disappearing into their backgrounds through camouflage... There's that word again: "mechanism"...

This materialistic perspective on all that exists, is relatively recent. In the west this was preceded by the theistic world-view of the Roman-Catholic church. Like I said in the beginning, I was never raised to believe in any religion, and my parents always encouraged me to never be satisfied with explanations from authority. Even question your teachers at school, my father said; when they say something is so, always ask them why they think it is so. This is the problem with Christianity, or religion in general, in my opinion; to believe in God, or in Holy Scripture, leaves no other option than to submit completely to authority. The authority of the Church, of The Bible and of The Almighty Father in Heaven.

How do you explain consciousness? | David Chalmers

And what about all those other religions? If we live in a created universe, how do we know that Christianity's God is the true God? Are all Muslims and Hindus to eternally burn in hell? And why does a benevolent God feel the need to punish anyway? Is He or She that insecure? Especially when you consider that we're bound to sin because we were created imperfect, not at all like Jesus Christ, who set the bar to live up to so high that it's impossible for mere mortals to live up to; we're bound to sin sooner rather than later... And confession seems like a cheat, like God-mode in Doom or Quake; you can't lose, and be granted entrance into His eternal Kingdom as long as you submit to the teachings of the Lord Almighty, and confess your sins. Conversely, if you live a perfectly good life, but don't accept Jesus Christ as your savior, you might burn in hell forever, which seems equally unfair and nothing like a benevolent and loving God.

Isn't it strange that God's realm is modeled as a Kingdom? This implies that the Father rules like a king over his "children". Notice that most churches are modeled like throne-rooms or courts of law, where The Lord looks down upon the congregation from an elevated altar. I think this is not the way a relationship with the divine should work, so I was very positively surprised when I first heard Alan Watts' description of who he believed Jesus Christ was, and I'll try to summarize this as best I can.

In a 1927 letter to Sigmund Freud, Romain Rolland coined the phrase "oceanic feeling" to refer to the sensation of being one with the universe. According to Rolland, this feeling is the source of all the religious energy that permeates in various religious systems, and one may justifiably call oneself religious on the basis of this oceanic feeling alone, even if one renounces every belief and every illusion.
source: Wikipedia

This "oceanic feeling", sometimes called "cosmic consciousness" is a mental state of being, in which the distinction between the self and everything else is dissolved, a space where your actions and the things that happen to you are the same, a reality of timelessness without borders. Sometimes this comes about after intense meditation or after consuming some mind altering drug, and sometimes it just happens without an immediately identifiable cause, like a gift from God, so to speak. It boils down to a conviction that you have mistaken your identity, that what you thought was "you", was just a very superficial understanding of who you really are, namely an individual expression of everything that exists, of something eternal and tightly interconnected. It's said that this feeling comes with a sudden understanding of exactly why everything is the way it is.

You feel like you're like a wave on the ocean and the ocean itself, just like everybody else, a single wave on an ocean that can wave in many different ways; the ocean of existence waves each and every one of us into existence. This interconnected cosmic network doesn't seem at all like the interconnected cosmic network we know from the mechanical world-view, or the created Kingdom of Christianity. In the mechanical perspective one might say that the purpose of a seed is to develop into a tree. But isn't it the purpose of the tree to develop seeds? And is it the purpose of the bird to eat the worm, and of the worm to eat the bird when it's dead? No, in life there is no other purpose than life itself and it is an eternal cyclical process that rebuilds itself with multiple interconnected cycles of life and death. When a part from a car needs to be replaced, that part comes from outside, where life repairs itself from the inside. It is the living cosmos, not the mechanical one, that constitutes the oceanic experience that's so often related to divine inspiration.

This is why youre not Happy - Alan Watts

What if Jesus was an ordinary man, who had such an oceanic or cosmic experience? He would then try to express this experience in the vocabulary, the established world-views available to him at the time; he knew about the Hebrew religion, and maybe a little about Horus and other Egyptian Gods, but primarily the Abrahamic Hebrew God. In Hebrew and ancient Greek (according to Alan Watts; I'm not a linguistic expert myself), "son of" can also be translated as "like" (as in "resembling" or "having attributes of"). Thus, when Jesus said "I am the son of God", he might have meant to say that he felt that he was LIKE God, eternal, omnipresent and omniscient, during that cosmic experience. Alan Watts also points to the possibility that Jesus said he was "a" son of God, instead of "the" son of God, and that he meant to say that we are ALL children of God, because we are just like Jesus, individual expressions of the Eternal All, the Perpetual Everything.

The Bible however, says that there's only one true son of God, and that it's up to God's grace to accept the rest of humanity as His adopted children, and He is only willing to do so if, and only if you've accepted His only true child as the savior who died on the cross for your sins. Well, just like Jesus, there have been many gurus who had a similar oceanic experience in history and all over the world. They expressed this experience with the vocabulary and knowledge available to them, and they founded other religions in which God is explained differently; in Christianity the universe is created by God, it's separated from Him, yet He can interact with his orphan children, whereas in Hinduism, Vishnu dreams the universe into reality. Like the universe is separate from the God of Christianity, our own selves, our identities are separate from who we really are.

I suspect that as babies we knew perfectly well what we are; we hadn't developed our identities yet, and were still blissfully engulfed in an oceanic feeling of unity, and we had to learn that our mothers' breasts were not our own. But we quickly grow out of that as we embark on the life-long quest in search of who we really are, and we forget what we knew to be true as a baby. The mechanical perspective on existence says that the quest is all there is, the path between the cradle and the grave is finite, that the universe doesn't care about you and that when you die, everything ends, you return to a state of non-existence, like you were before birth. The living universe on the other hand shows us that the mechanical universe is in the mind, and that the mind is in the universe, that life and existence are cyclical and eternal, that what happened once is bound to happen again. Existence consists of life AND death, the two cannot exist without each other; from life comes death and from death comes life. Like we separated God from the universe, we separate life from death, when in actuality they're two sides of the same coin. Rebirth or resurrection might not be exclusive to Jesus after all, and life might be its own purpose.

Science slowly moves toward incorporating questions of consciousness and begins to explore other roads than the purely materialistic one, much influenced by the questions revolving around the nature and the role of the observer in quantum mechanics, and the possibility that time, space and even matter could be emergent properties of an underlying, more fundamental property like information or, dare I say it, consciousness itself. As long as science only focuses on the tangible and the external, it can never come to a complete and accurate description of the true nature of reality, simply because reality cannot be seen separate from the conscious mind that perceives it, and that mind is immaterial. A purely spiritual explanation of everything holds the danger of ending up in solipsism, an equally definitive separation of the self from everything else. Like black and white, life and death, ocean and waves, I believe we need both worldviews, all of them actually, and that it's up to us individually to decide which is more logical, beneficial or however you want to frame it. Personally I've shifted back and forth during my life from the purely mechanical to the oceanic view of the universe and back again, without dismissing the validity of the mechanical view during our life's journey; science is still the best way we know of to come to shared truths about the tangible reality around us. However, it may well be possible that this doesn't suffice to give a reliable account of the miracle that is our existence.

The Real You - Alan Watts

The above is a revised and edited version of an article I originally posted in January, 2019, on Steemit.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog and reading my posts dear reader, I appreciate that a lot :-) If you like my content, please consider leaving a comment, upvote or resteem. I'll be back here tomorrow and sincerely hope you'll join me. Until then, keep steeming!

wave-13 divider odrau steem

Recent articles you might be interested in:

Latest article >>>>>>>>>>>Free Market Phantasm
Language Of Lost FreedomFascist Doll
Anarchism And Null-ATrue Leftists
We, The OwnersWhite Moderates

wave-13 divider odrau steem

Thanks for stopping by and reading. If you really liked this content, if you disagree (or if you do agree), please leave a comment. Of course, upvotes, follows, resteems are all greatly appreciated, but nothing brings me and you more growth than sharing our ideas.