Sorry for the disappearing act from my blog. There have been a couple of health issue skirmishes over the past year, and they have been quite the preoccupation. I’m getting better, and so, I hope to reengage my readers with my continuing spiritual voyage. I promise you all, this voyage is going to become one that should tingle and hopefully illuminate the core of your beliefs about your metaphysical composition, as well as your eschatological future.
There is some good news midst the trials I have faced recently. My completed book, The Road to Spiritual Iron, has been published, both in Kindle and paperback formats. I’m quite excited about the whole thing, and do hope you check it out. The link is right here. Give it a read, and tell me what you think.
So, let’s proceed from my earlier post.
I ventured into a subject in God & Man, Part One, of what I refer to as the particulars of creation. They’re around whether man is or not, though not in such a profusion as with man sticking a communal nose in the creation process. Particulars, as I said, are simply the stock-keeping units of all of creation. See it, hear it, smell it, taste it, touch it; name it or not, point at it or poke it, breathe it, ingest it, be ingested by it; walk on it, swim in it, fly through it, wear it or bear it; everything is a particular. These are the physical particulars. What is common between them all, is the capacity for humanity to know they are in one reality of our existence and are of one use or another in man’s quest for continued existence. Particulars can be more than simply sensory and intelligible though.
Particulars can also be quite illusionary, virtual, unconscious, formative, and manifestory; in short, things in the immaterial realm that make one do things in the material realm. And there’s a big immaterial realm out there. For those who question the existence of a non-sensory reality of another kind, I suggest one considers what physicists and cosmologists believe is a reality: dark energy and dark matter. This is not the place for further discussion on such things, but it is said that dark matter might well account for 80% of all matter, and dark energy weighing in at over 68% of all energy in the cosmos. Interesting bit of news, and we haven’t sensed a bit of it; or have we? Perhaps we are greatly influenced by dark matter and energy in ways that quite physical and psychological, and common to our everyday realities.
I had previously talked about the issues of humanity as being particulars. There’s even more to that discussion. What about platonic forms, ideologies, perceptions, and concepts? And what about humanity’s individual and collective conscience? Are not immaterial particulars more responsible for how the human species behaves than any set of physical particulars ever could? And is there not a common goal in all of this; that humanity might one day achieve some kind and level of comprehension of all particulars? Does this not sound familiar?
There are whole philosophies structured about the particulars. One may consider epistemological particularism, for example: A common attribute of human thinking in which one is quite comfortable in believing and acting out through self-evident knowledge that has yet to have been justified through empirical study. Then we have historical particularism, which simply argues the obvious; that each society is unique as it has been formed by a particular set of particulars that are common to that society’s environment. While comparative goals from other societies are common perhaps, the paths by which to achieve such a common, human goal are diverse. Moral particularism asserts that morals and ethics are relative to any one event, and established, institutional morals are irrelevant and impractical. (That won’t go over well with most people, even today.) Of great popularity today is the idea of multicultural particularism: vive la différence over conformity. And then there’s the bane of the political right: political particularism. This is the old-fashion notion (currently in vogue once again) that if a politician caters to a specific interest, their opportunities for power are enhanced and prolonged.
So many particulars… what’s a good person to do? Have we authority over the particulars? Perhaps some symbiosis, or are we totally controlled by them? We are certainly subject to them, for without particulars, we could not exist. We are, in fact, particulars ourselves. And if that’s the case, then is humanity a subject or an object in the grand scheme of things?
It’s obvious to me, at least, that the more we engage the particulars, the more we become the object, and not the subject, in the relationship. Religions have always understood this occurrence as objectification; as humanity physically and intellectually blossoms, so withers his spirituality. To a large degree, that’s what religions are all about; the preservation and advancement of one’s spirituality. However, the more one is the object, the less they are the subject.
It’s interesting to observe current society’s fascination with subjectivity as they rapidly dissolve into the objectivity of their technological environment. It’s like trying to swim upstream, or even better yet, it’s like trying to fight against a riptide. In desperation, subconsciously knowing you are losing the battle for your soul, you consciously and imperatively demand your individual subjectivity. “Well, I might lose my soul, but to hell with you if you think I’m going to lose my intellect!”
It’s also fascinating that the contemporary, conservative movement considers subjectivity as the enemy to the absolute nature of God and society. That’s two issues I will address in future posts. For now…..
Particulars, for the first three-hundred millennium of the existence of homo sapiens, were simpler. In those early days, the particulars were more direct and observable in their manifestation upon the individual and society at large. Then, around sixty millennia before this century, a shift occurred in the human experience, in which the slow, grinding machinery of objectivity began to exercise its weight upon humanity in quite a different fashion than previously. In this era of humanity’s evolution, the inventive mind of homo sapiens began to make a profound change in human society through tools and those things brought about by tools. Humanity’s path of existence veered away from other species at this juncture, and things proceeded once again in a more or less stable fashion until about three millennia ago. It is here, where some proposed, like Julian Jaynes of Princeton University, that humanity finally “woke” to the reality of their self-conscious minds. Reason left the intuitive realm of instinctual reaction and gained a foothold in the cognitive realm of action. With this revelation, humanity entered into a new phase of species evolution that has never been experienced before by any creature of the earthly kingdom. In each of humanity’s first three phases, the particulars played a pivotal role in propelling humanity forward along this new path. The self-conscious, reasoning human being began to grasp the significance of particulars in a whole new way, and with that also came the judgement of those particulars that affected us the most. Some were judged and elevated to the status of virtue, while others became vice. Good and evil entered the arena of human thought.
It is here where religion gained the high ground in society for it offered the methodology by which to procure the particulars of virtue and the suppression of the particulars of vice. In all of its forms and at least for those religions found successful to one degree or another, all religions employ two concepts in a desire to check the objectification of the individual: submersion and asceticism. “Do this, and only this, and all will go well”, would be the prescription of religion. To some small degree both concepts have worked in moving humanity along its path of existence in this cosmos, though for most of us, those methodologies are about as tasty as cod liver oil. Religion has always been about a love/hate relationship.
We all understand asceticism, but what am I referring to when I use the term submersion? There’s nothing complex about it. Each religion sets forth ideologies for the composition of the perfect human being. For Christianity, it’s the Christ, Jesus. To live in the manner that He lived, and died. Its foundational morality for the soul, and outside of the familial structure and religion itself, morality is little taught as it has little to do with the basic sensory and gustatorial needs of the average human being in its quest for every day survival. The premise goes that if we hold our heads under the dogmas of religion long enough, we’ll soon develop the gills of sainthood.
Now, if I were to ask a religious person about the efficacy of asceticism, the answer would be a responding “It definitely works!” Though, such a quick response gives me pause. Do you understand the question? “Does asceticism work?” “Is asceticism a cure for objectification?” (Is objectification a disease?) What I am really asking is whether asceticism – the denial of those things deemed frivolous to the soul, as detailed by one’s religion of choice – has been an aid to humanity’s collective, evolving spiritualism, or is its employ just a temporal placebo for the temporal individual? When one embraces asceticism, does it benefit the collective soul of humanity in a permanent, absolute manner, or does its practice simply retard what is perceived as spiritual erosion?
“Christian asceticism – at least as so far as it was not influenced by decadent Hellenistic philosophy – had as its purpose not the suppression or even extirpation of natural drives, but rather their control and complete spiritualization. It is positive, not negative, asceticism; aimed fundamentally at a liberation of the highest powers of personality from blockage by the automatism of the lower drives.” Max Scheler, Vom Umsturz der Were.
In other words, your base desires have a negative effect on your ability to express yourself in a communal manner. One’s base desires inhibit commitment to the communal purpose and sustenance of a culture.
The notion that Max Scheler is proposing above is that Christian asceticism is a positive force that promotes one’s spiritual identity and elevates the spirit-within an individual above that of the other elements of one’s soul and their base desires. Does it? Is asceticism the virtue that Christianity seems to think it is?
Humanity’s ever-increasing ingenuity of application of the particulars of God’s creation appears to be benefiting humanity since the beginning of homo sapiens. Yet, the influential religions all seem to assert that a necessary control of the particulars will enhance humanity’s relationship with its perceived metaphysical goal; whether that be Heaven, Moksha, Nirvana, or other perfected state of being.
And is it not true that the proper measure or dose of asceticism in one’s life has dramatically changed over the past three millennia? What would an ascetic from 900 B.C have to say about the lifestyle of an ascetic in these times? Today’s call to asceticism says to forgo the excessive use of the smartphone, the internet, the television, and the automobile. But, what about the call to asceticism in the days of Jesus? Was it the same; stay away from smartphones, the internet, television, and the automobile? Quite a different set of particulars that man was called to forgo; yes? Needless to say, most of the indulgent and excessive particulars of Jesus’ time would be considered basic rights today.
Discussing asceticism is a bit of tangent to my purpose, however, it is necessary to my hypothesis as one of many issues will be handled as I build the argument. The practical point I am making here is that humanity is evolving, and not just physically and intellectually. While I believe the spirit-within an individual is absolute, human evolution can affect the efficacy of the spirit-within in guiding a person towards their ultimate, spiritual goal. It’s a matter of revealing and concealing.
Despite humanity’s desire to see good and evil in all things (particulars), a particular, created by God, is inherently good, while a particular created by man is only as good as it is of God’s will; at least that’s Judeo-Christian thinking.
Let me repeat my hypothesis from the last post: Man & God – Part One.
Try to consider the possibility that God created and continues to create only good things. And try to imagine that no good thing can stray from being a good thing; for to see such happen would render God as less than good himself. Now consider, therefore, that mankind is thus good and has not strayed from the course that God set forth for mankind when created. Mankind is evolving; this we must acknowledge, for man has changed in all ways physically and intellectually since recorded historical evidence began, and therefore, this evolution is of God’s will. Here comes the hard part for many. Now imagine that where man is today and where man will be tomorrow is also in God’s plan and of God’s will.
I want to keep this hypothesis front and center as I proceed into future posts.
God Calls Us All Into His Service – Reese