Sunday, May 25, 2014

A simple science

Last night I spoke with a young Chinese woman clearly troubled about confronting deeply negative circumstances in her life; and one of my best friends is struggling with disease and heartbreak.

In their own way, each of them brings their whole Being, everything they are, into this personal moment of struggle and suffering, wondering why things have to be this way, and whether there isn't a force, a material inner force, that can go against such things.

It prompted me to explain to my friend that people think metaphysics is about some cosmological pie-in-the-sky stuff; angels and cosmic evolution and so on.  People write extraordinarily complicated texts about metaphysics, filled with magical diagrams and raise of cosmic energy, hydrogens and galaxies, and so on. It's fair to say quantum physics is probably simpler to understand.

But that's not what it's like at all. Metaphysics is about here and now; it is about the power of Being, which emerges from the divine inward flow and is manifested through intellect and will. So we have an ability to manifest something materially, something extraordinary and positive, which affirms our Being; yet outward circumstances so often arrange themselves as destructive forces, and they seem more powerful than we are.

All of the great stories of heroism, from the epic of Gilgamesh to the stories from the concentration camps, celebrate humanity's efforts to manifest the positive forces of being against these destructive outward circumstances. It is easy to swallow them as stories on a grand scale; but it is much more difficult to digest them when they are served cold and dirty on the hard plate of one's personal life. That is when we really have to tighten our belts, pick up the fork, and eat what is true about our life and ourselves; and this is a dish we come to most reluctantly. It takes a greater kind of courage than the courage we read about in the heroic epics to confront our own lives; and although we can take inspiration from the great stories, it is every inward and outward breath of our own life that we have to deal with. This can be an anguishing labor. No one feels as grand as Hercules cleaning out the stables when one is dealing with the mental illness of a loved one or cancer.

This is where real metaphysics comes in. Physics is the study of objects, events, circumstances, and conditions; material things, things as they are. Metaphysics is the study of Being; of what we are as individuals, of how our consciousness encounters the material. So it's an incredibly practical discipline; and everything about it is about beginning to understand that the external forces and events we confront are not who we are; in a certain sense, they don't even exist. All they are is data; and data has no organized form or objective sense of what it is. It isn't intelligent.

In the same sense that atomistic materialism tells us there is nothing more than these little bits of stuff that make up bigger stuff, all that data can ever say is that it is there. But our Being, our awareness — that is what allows us to inwardly form a relationship to the outer, and it is in that place, within us, that the outer events acquire form, which we can have an attitude towards.

This means, oddly, that the realm of heroism doesn't lie in outward action; it is within us, where we form our attitude towards things, that the hero is born, not in the deeds that he or she does to save the world. Every human being who gets up in the morning and forms a positive attitude to overcome their obstacles and live in the face of the destructive forces around them is a hero. And they will always be a hero, whether they succeed or fail, because the hero is already there in the attitude, regardless of whether they live or die in the context of all the forces that would drag us down.  The hero starts here, and starts now, by saying, yes – I can Be. I can have a wish for the good.

We have a choice in our lives. We can practice this simple science of metaphysics in simple ways, by understanding how we form the outer world through our inner attitude; and we can begin in every moment by trying to make an effort for the good, rather than letting everything go down.



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