Sunday, May 14, 2017

Homo Sapiens — Physical and Metaphysical

From an evolutionary viewpoint, the human species is just a mammal, a primate evolved further than other primates.  Ok, that evolution has produced a burgeoning of intelligence, unprecedented in earlier species. But this misses the point: another function somewhat removed from intelligence.  Consider the single phenomenon of sex/mating. In itself this is common to a wide swathe of animals and even plants.

Now view it in decreasingly wide concentric circles:

  1. Animals
  2. Humans in remote tribes
  3. Amongst people similar to ourselves
  4. Among our neighbours and nearest
  5. In ourselves
As we go from 1 to 5 a strange almost unnoticeable change of attachment occurs.
For example for the question of urban sprawl there have been interesting models that cities grow according to almost deterministic (eg fractal) patterns.

And from there when I go to considering a change/new residence, invariably these considerations have a strong tinge of wishing to be happy with someone I love. Rarely do I stop to consider that this ‘happily-ever-after love’ has been well-nigh captured in a mechanistic, dead, deterministic model.

That is while it is obvious at a more distant detached level, at the most personal level we find it impossibly hard to see the sexual function as just another function like excretory.  Instead we see it as the manifestation of the most high, the most ethereal, the most divine emotion: Love!

In short

Homo Sapiens are Stuck In Between

Sex and mating ← ←    Homo Sapiens → → Love and God

Or alternatively

Physical realm ← ← Our Being → → Metaphysical realm

And from here it is not a large leap to see that all our human existence is likewise, eg Money

Possessions (material) ← Money → Abstract concept of value → indefineable feeling of value

And much else

And this should explain why the modern scientific ‘secular’ outlook of the human species is such a devastation: It is a negation of a fundamental law of ourselves as metaphysical beings.

Admittedly the spiritualists err on the other side: ‘Man’ is such a spiritual1 being that
  • physical just does not have real existence — the oriental view of maya
  • ‘Man’ is sinful ‘carnal’ — in the Abrahamic traditions
The mouse utopia experiments imply that mice, rats, and by implications mammals have a fundamental existential need for a certain tension

The difference between humans and rats is that we have a metaphysical dimension.  In fact

Tensions are always both physical and metaphysical

In fact this is almost the definition of tension:
From somewhere in the subtlest regions of our psyche a factor issues that modifies the physical — muscle tone, digestion, sleep, not to mention of course sexual function.

And the establishment of a right world-order can only proceed if the world's ‘cells’ — we people! — are in a healthy state of tension.

Religions have traditionally been the principal purveyor of these healthy tensions
  • Do not sin!
  • Surrender to the will of Allah!
  • Escape illusion and bondage to Freedom, mukti
  • Free yourself from suffering and enter nirvana
Sure, based on our heredity, background, culture, etc we liable to prefer some and to reject some of these sources of tension.  And that is of course good.  But when we go from rejecting some to rejecting all, we are at peril of losing baby with bathwater.  The rejection of some forms of religion can be deeply invigorating, rejuvenating and is in fact present as a key element in religions, eg conversion, second-birth (dvija), but when we reject in toto the entire religion-frame itself we have taken away

The fundamental factor that gives us existential meaning

In the coming posts I would like to discuss:
  • Why what is normally called religion is a misunderstanding of what it actually is
  • Some thoughts on how we may go about correcting our misunderstandings
  • True religion-less-ness is an impossibility; all that we can manage is the replacement:  sacred-set2 = {Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad...} with a secular-set such as {Darwin, Marx, Freud, Ayn Rand, etc}


1 The contemporary more fashionable word is ‘spiritual’ and some may prefer this to ‘metaphysical’.  Maybe in other languages like Greek where pneuma evokes spirit as much as breath it would work.  But in English ‘spirit’ and therefore ‘spiritual’ seems to have lost all connection with reality
2 I should also add Zarathustra to the sacred-set since that is the religion in which the author was born. Since most readers will not recognize the name, he respectfully stays in this footnote

1 comment:

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