Archive for category Fiction

Three Seekers of Truth

Meet Warren. Warren is a physicist. He loves understanding things. He gets excited about calculus. He thinks that black holes are the coolest things ever. He thinks that they’re even cooler once you know the physics. To Warren, a rainbow doesn’t lose any of its beauty after you understand how it works. What Warren wants to do with his life is use science to make the world better, and share his love for the truth with other people.

Now meet Alexander. Alexander is a lot like Warren. He, too, loves understanding things. He, too, loves the truth. But unlike Warren, Alexander believes in God. He had a conversion experience as a teenager, where God revealed Himself to him, and his life was changed forever. Now Alexander studies philosophy, theology, metaphysics. He sees himself as a privileged witness to a great, hidden truth. He sees himself as a light-bringer, one who was sent to bring knowledge of the spirit to the world.

Now meet Ram. Ram is a lot like Alexander. He, too, has experienced enlightenment. He, too, feels himself to have been a witness to a deep, eternal truth. But Ram rarely talks about it. Maybe he’s a monk living in the forest; maybe he’s homeless; maybe he’s bagging groceries at the store near your house; maybe he’s teaching math at a local high school. Ram is enlightened, but his response to that fact was just to keep living his life. He’s the Zen master on the corner; he’s the Buddha begging for change; he is an enlightened man disguised as an ordinary person.

Warren is the rationalist. Alexander is the metaphysician. Ram is the mystic. These three have an intimate, tangled relationship with each other. I have seen the archetypal conflicts of that relationship played out in my life over and over again: between me and my friends, between public figures and other public figures, and most especially, between me and myself.

I pointed out that Alexander is a lot like Ram. But Warren is a little like Ram, too. Warren’s wonder at the beauty and order of the universe can approach the same sort of stupefying ecstasy whose momentary occurrence shapes and defines the lives of Ram and Alexander. Warren’s steadfast conviction of the worth of knowing, the vow he made in his heart to follow the truth wherever it leads, is rather akin to the religious conviction that captivates and consumes Ram and Alexander.

Warren has strong beliefs about reality. He believes that science is the only way to seek the truth. He believes that materialism is true; reductionism is true; the mind is the brain; God does not exist; we do not have souls; everything follows the laws of physics. To Warren all of these things are basic and obvious.

Alexander, too, has strong beliefs about reality. He believes that God is real, and the purpose of human life is to seek union with Him. Alexander believes that we live forever. He believes in a metaphysical realm beyond the physical universe and the means of human observation. Unlike Warren, who believes that truth comes only through reasoning and empirical observation, Alexander believes that truth can come through gnosis, through “inner knowing.”

Warren and Alexander have an ongoing drama. They each have their philosophical convictions, and each feels that these are important points that everybody needs to appreciate. Each feels not only that their beliefs are *true*, but that the world would be a better place if everybody accepted them. But they don’t agree with each other, and so they get into interminable arguments.

What a complex relationship these two have! How many layers there are to their social dynamic! Each feels superior to the other. Each feels like he is enlightened one, and the other is lost and off the path. Each wants to convince the other.

Why? Partly as a demonstration of dominance. Partly out of a sincere desire to help the other, by sharing with the other what was so valuable to the self. And partly out of a sense of insecurity, a buried fear that maybe you are right and I am wrong.

And funnily enough, each feels, deep down, that the other has something to offer them. They might never admit it. But this is part of the perversity of their relationship, that each is rather attracted to the other’s philosophy. If only subconsciously, they want to learn it.

If you are skeptical of this claim, consider this. When I am totally sure that somebody else is wrong, and I don’t expect to change their minds, then I just ignore them. To feel the impulse to argue, I need a little fear. Cranks don’t scare me. What scares me is when I think somebody’s wrong, but I have the feeling of truth pulling me toward their view, and yet I can’t stand the thought that it really is true. That is when I will start trying to refute them.

Warren is scared of Alexander, and Alexander is scared of Warren. Neither will admit it. Warren admires Alexander, and Alexander admires Warren. Neither will admit it. This is the secret, buried aspect of their relationship. Neither will admit that the other affects them.

That is the social aspect of Warren and Alexander’s relationship. But they see their problem as an intellectual one. For them, it is not a matter of how you make me feel and how I make you feel. Rather, it is a question of whether or not God really exists, whether or not the mind really is the brain, and so forth. It is purely a question of what is really true, and not about the people talking about it. That is how they feel.

To a great extent, they obscure their social problems from themselves by thinking that there is only an intellectual problem. Of course, let us not make the opposite mistake, of thinking that there is only a social problem, and ignoring the intellectual problem. It is clear that there is a genuine intellectual problem being discussed. But this intellectual aspect is almost overly clear; it is so naked and so thoroughly examined that it seems like there is almost nothing more to gain from analyzing it further. On the other hand the social aspect of the problem is quite obscured, quite ignored, quite neglected. Mightn’t making new intellectual progress depend upon first making new social progress? Mightn’t having a productive discussion depend upon finding a new *way* of discussing?

So that is Warren and Alexander. There is another complex relationship that we must examine: that between Alexander and Ram.

Ram is quite obviously the entire source of Alexander’s inspiration. Alexander can be himself only insofar as he can approximate being like Ram. His metaphysical knowledge is an empty and worthless shell indeed without the pure, experiential mysticism that Ram lives so fully; and Alexander *knows* this, if not in every moment.

Alexander’s entire game can be described like this. Having imperfectly grasped, through the veil of the intellect, the wisdom that Ram lives, Alexander practices a mysticism that is always distorted by his continual attempts to employ logic in areas where it is not helpful. (The concept of “areas where logic is not helpful” amuses Warren immensely!) Sometimes Alexander is oblivious to his own folly; other times he is aware of it but doesn’t know what to do about it. He doesn’t know *how* he would live other than through his intellect.

Ram’s attitude towards Alexander is very simple. For Ram, Alexander is exactly as beautiful and insignificant as the flowers he passes on his morning walk. But Alexander has a very complex attitude towards Ram. He is allured, bewildered, mystified, humbled, belitted by Ram. And, at the same time, he routinely utterly fails to notice when Ram passes him by on the street. He routinely fails to hear Ram’s worldless teachings because he drowns them out by all his talking.

That is Ram and Alexander. Our final pairing is Warren and Ram, who barely know each other at all. Warren doesn’t know what mysticism is, and even if he did, he would have no problem with it. Warren doesn’t have anywhere to disagree with Ram, because Ram never says anything. On the other hand, Ram has heard of science, and he finds it as beautiful and insignificant as the flowers he passes on his morning walk.

A corrollary of this fact is that, for Ram, there is no problem of reconciling rationality and mysticism. Ram never saw any conflict to begin with.

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Logic and Intuition

There once was a little boy called Logic. Logic loved to stay in his room solving puzzles, doing math problems, and making plans. He was a voracious consumer of facts and trivia, and he would share whatever he had learned recently with whomever would listen.

Logic had a twin sister, whose name was Intuition. Logic and Intuition were as different as night and day. While Logic was holed up in his room, Intuition would be out socializing, making art, and having adventures. Intuition loved people, and jokes, and religion, all things which were too irrational for Logic. But the two twins shared a mutual deep appreciation for beauty.

Intuition regarded her brother as prudish and dull. Logic regarded his sister as completely insane. All the same, they were the closest of companions, because they needed each other; they could not function by themselves. If they were traveling, for instance, Logic would look at the map and plan out the route, while Intuition watched to make sure that Logic did not get hit by a car. So, though they did not always appreciate each other, they were inseparable and completely co-dependent.

Logic and Intuition had two teachers: Truth, and Falsehood. Truth and Falsehood were also twins. Truth was a man, and Falsehood was a woman. Predictably, everything that Truth said was true, and everything that Falsehood said was false.

Each student could understand only some of the things that their teachers had to say. Some of the things the teachers said were incomprehensible to Logic, but Intuition understood them immediately. Conversely, certain things that were grasped by Logic, flew right over Intuition’s head.

Logic would have very little of what Falsehood had to say. He saw that it did not fit together, and that it was not consistent with what he already knew. Plus, whenever he tried to verify something that Falsehood said, he wound up either disproving it or finding it to be unverifiable.

Intuition, on the other hand, believed a great deal of what Falsehood said. Falsehood would spin wild tales that appealed to Intuition’s feelings and imagination, and she would eagerly gobble them up. These tales got combined with Truth’s teachings in her head, so that Truth and Falsehood were inextricably mixed up in everything she said and thought.

Now, Logic and Intuition were Wisdom’s secretaries; they did odd jobs for him, assisting him in his quest for understanding. Wisdom knew that Logic’s knowledge was almost entirely Truth, and that Intuition’s knowledge was a mixture of Truth and Falsehood. Now, Wisdom loved Truth, and hated Falsehood. So it was a source of constant consternation to him that Intuition was so filled with Falsehood’s nonsense.

One day Wisdom thought of a solution to this problem. He tried using Logic alone, while never calling on Intuition. He reasoned that he could get closer to Truth by ignoring Intuition’s nonsense.

Wisdom eventually discovered that this course was no good. Though he had rid himself of Intuition’s falsehoods, he had also rid himself of Intuition’s truths, which as I said before, included many, many truths that Logic did not and never would understand.

The work that Logic did, without Intuition’s artistic touch, was correct but dry and lifeless. It was not of much use to Wisdom. What’s worse, there were many tasks that Logic simply left undone, because he did not know how to approach them. So Wisdom terminated his experiment, and welcomed back little Intuition with open arms.

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Love, Wisdom, and Unity

I am considering beginning a project to construct a mythological explication of the Ra material. The basic idea is to personify the central philosophical concepts of the Ra material as gods, and write stories illustrating various points about these concepts and their interactions. If this project goes far enough, I am thinking of writing a novel set in the universe of the Ra material, featuring interactions between humans, gods, and entities from other densities, again with the goal of illustrating the philosophical concepts. But that’s all dreaming. Anyway, here is a starting point for this proposed project, defining the characters for three of Ra’s foundational concepts.

Three of the Creator’s most treasured children, for whom the highest praise and worship rings throughout the four corners of creation, are called Love, Wisdom, and Unity.

Love is a young woman with fair skin, a medium build, brown hair, and green eyes. She wears a light, silken dress, and a golden cross on a chain dangles between her breasts. She lives in a cottage in the forest. Love is never alone; she always has companions about her. Sometimes she puts on a disguise and goes to visit people in the cities, hoping to brighten their days.

Love has many, many partners. She wishes that she could give herself to all beings. Whenever two people kiss each other out of true love, she is there, delighting in the experience with them. In every romance, she is the secret third participant. All beings love Love; that is, all beings except for the disciples of Power, who regard her as a sentimental fool. But Love loves even them.

Wisdom is an old man, strong and hardened in body by all that he has endured. He has blue eyes and a shaven head. He is extremely beautiful, in defiance of his age. He wears white robes, and has a yin-yang symbol tattooed on the back of his neck. He lives by himself in a cave, meditating on the mysteries of existence, and contacts the outside world mainly to share his revelations — that is, those that the world is capable of understanding.

Wisdom is the keeper of the Great Record of Creation, in which is contained careful documentation of everything that has ever happened. His ongoing project is to make sense of it all. He seeks to discern the order in apparent chaos, and to devise principles which will improve the creation and its processes. Whenever any being feels lost or confused, and in need of guidance, they consult Wisdom.

Love and Wisdom are married. They are metaphysical opposites, and this is the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of their partnership. It is a strength because, being so different, they find the most unimaginable depths of joy and beauty within each other. It is a weakness because it makes it hard for them to relate to each other. This has led Love and Wisdom to drift apart, so that their precious meetings are infrequent and brief. Love and Wisdom are estranged lovers, lost to each other, seeking to rediscover their missing half.

Wisdom is celibate, and so the two have consummated their marriage only once. From this act Love bore a child, whom they named Unity. The Creator dubbed Unity the greatest expression of his true nature, those of his children who was closest to himself.

Unity is a young child, androgynous, dressed in white robes, and with indigo-colored eyes. He wears a bindi on his forehead. Though on the surface Unity is youthful and filled with joy, if one looks into Unity’s eyes one can see great age, the experience of aeons, and the burdensome memory of unbearable suffering.

Nobody understands Unity. Wisdom has spent innumerable hours studying Unity, attempting to comprehend his nature, but to no avail. Meanwhile, the precocious Unity has blazed past his father, effortlessly solving problems that baffled Wisdom for years.

For her part, Love believes that she understands Unity, but in fact all that she understands of Unity is that of Unity which is her own self. She sees Unity as love, without fathoming Unity’s deeper nature.

Wherever Unity goes, he transforms the creation. Everything he touches becomes like himself. If he touches a rock, that rock becomes alive. If a diseased person touches him, they become well. Once a person who was so cured asked Unity how he had accomplished this feat. Unity responded that he had done nothing; that the person had been well all along.

Nobody can look at Unity for very long, because it seems as if everything were happening simultaneously in him. His facial expression conveys every possible emotion. Nobody can figure out what he is, and this is uncomfortable for most people, so he has few friends. But those friends he does have, treasure him as the greatest gift of the Creator.

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