As we enter the world we are infinite. We have no boundary. We are also zero. At three months, or so, we begin to distinguish that there is an “other” – the breast as part object. By 6 months old the boundary between us and the other (usually mother) is clear; and often frightening. Warmth, food, security and affection can be withdrawn as well as present. Our world is strait, though we do not know it. As we age and explore we push the boundary back; and back. If we are fortunate, and conquer our fear, we realise once more that there is no boundary. We are existence and all of existence is us. Death is an illusion. When we leave the world we can then fade to white and lose the loneliness and fear that haunts life, to experience all that is directly once more.
Furbelows and curlicues
Flow tow below bellow follow glow
Hassock haired carded tows to rope gripped snake charming up to the pipe yet unremembered
Grip strip and magnify until chrysalis burst
out to new dimensions
(We are the process of weaving existence together)
January meeting preamble and poem
Our Fathers who part at eleven
Allow me this quatrain
Our income’s come
Our fill be done in mirth
As it is from seven
Live verse this day so gaily read
And forgive us our mess’d verses
As we forgive those press verse against us
And lead us not into prosation
But deliver us from drivel
Though mine is just dinkum
The hour, and the story
As ever. A river..
Life is like a River
This life is like a river
A silver shiver this life
A gurgling-guddling quick’ning sliver
Wrangling-tangle of strife
All we be is water-taught
Aught but water our withal
Our tumbling jumbling ripple of thought
Pride before a waterfall
Strong brown God is the river
Reiver of sods and odds thrown
Our brownian drownian motion a-quiver
Deep pooled in tides of its own
Our day is like a lifetime
Wild thyme and strawberry day
But frighteningly nightly tight-coiling the lifeline
Which runs through death and decay
Well the still point of the world
Whirled without end to be well
For waving and curling dimensions unfurled
Love which is ocean’s salt swell
We think in terms of opposing forces, opposites. Duality flows from the fact of boundary created as we separate from the whole of existence – initially physically at birth, and then psychically in infancy. This schism has been expressed in many ways, often as opposing forces.For instance – good / evil ;life / death; aggressive / erotic ; Me / Not Me ; extrovert / introvert. I believe that the point of duality is in our response to it. There is a fundamental difference in outcome between choice between, and integration of – opposites.
Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein conceived of opposing Life and Death instincts. However surely a “Death” instinct is incompatible with evolution, what purpose is served by a “Death” instinct? More natural is Donald Winnicott’s expression of an Aggressive component, born of opposition and an Erotic component, born of complementarity – the birth of these components arising as an infant realises that there is a Me and a Not-Me. Carl Jung conceived of the struggle to integrate opposing forces. Many of us are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality typing that arises from Jung with its 4 dimensions – Extrovert-Introvert; Thinking-Feeling; Sensing-Intuition; and Judging-Perceiving. From the dawn of our species we have observed the difference between Light and Dark and described our nature as Good or Evil. Martin Buber gives us the double-dual-whammy of I-Thou way of being “over against” I-It.
“There is, Buber shows, a radical difference between man’s attitude to other men and his attitude to things. The attitude to other men is a relation between persons, to things it is a connexion with objects. ..These two attitudes represent the basic twofold situation of human life, the former constitutes the world of THOU and the latter the world of IT” Ronald Gregor Smith, translator of Ich Und Du
It appears then that fundamental to our reaction to the fact of our existence; woven into the fabric of our way of thinking and being, is duality – expressed as an opposition of forces.
What then is our response? Is it passive as in choice or balance or active – as in process or integration? Admitting polarity in all things – what should be our reaction. Do we choose – for instance between Good or Evil? Should we seek balance between different drives into a kind of dynamic equilibrium – for instance striving to be at the centre point of extroversion and introversion? Is reality in fact a process budding eternally at the very boundary that arises out of duality – life within Winnicott’s Transitional Space or Whitehead’s point of prehension? Or is it there a further truth behind this duality – the point being what arises out of unification of opposites ? After all paraphrasing Beethoven – there cannot be loud without soft, it is in contrast that music arises.
Perhaps its personal taste. If so then, at least for me, integration of duality is our purpose, and one which is unceasing because there is a counterveiling force of differentiation. There is a flow of existence which is driven by splitting and unification, birth and death. Duality is dynamic not static and the fundamental creative contrast is actually that of differentiation and integration. Freud’s Life/Death instincts replaced by Integration/Differentiation forces. This isn’t an original thought, and it’s not mine. It is inherent in the world-view of eastern tradition (Yin-Yang etc) and possibly our western ancestors (see Wisdom of the Wyrd, Brian Bates). It was one of Carl Jung’s fundamental insights – “Much of Carl Jung’s writings are linked by the theme that mental illness is characterized by disunity of the personality, whilst mental health is manifested by unity” (Jung: Selected Writings, Anthony Storr).
If then we conceive of a schism-powered flow, what is the destination and what is the fundamental motive impulse? Well there you have Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the fundamental duality being spirit and material – an inner and outer. For him underlying existence is the force of Love, which powers evolution. An evolution conceived as complexification through spheres of the physical, chemical, biological to that of ideas – until we become conscious of God that is Love that is all. “There is a duality of material and spiritual, which he calls the “without” and “within”. He traces the development of the “within”, an evolution of consciousness. He names man as a stage in that process associated with the phase-shift from the evolution of biology to the evolution of ideas”.
In Teilhard de Chardin’s words:
“If there were no internal propensity to unite, even at a prodigiously rudimentary level — indeed in the molecule itself — it would be physically impossible for love to appear higher up, with us, in hominized form. . . . Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being.”
The Leaf I’m alive. I’m new and unfurling from my bud. My greens ooze with majestic succulence. I, in short, am IT. All there is, and who would want to be more. Than me? I came from nowhere and I am alone. Existentially alone. Just me and wind as it gently (and sometimes just a bit roughly) sways me here, up here in the space of the canopy. The canopy that is all there is. There was nothing before me and there is nothing beyond me and the canopy. There is no purpose, nothing beyond. Me me me.But wait, I’m withering, turning brown. The wind isn’t so much rocking me as mocking and throwing me up down and awaaaayyy. I’m falling and I’m fading.
The Tree My little bud, my dear heart – why don’t you listen to me. Feel the sap rising through me out to you. Don’t you feel that you are me? I am the canopy, but even I am just a part of the forest, which is also me. And you. You are not alone. We are all in all. Together. Ah, the autumn comes and you’ve cut yourself off from the eternal phloem. Don’t. Please. Well goodbye then. But only for short while because. Yes, it’s springtime again and I can feel you as the blanket of mould by my roots. Now you are my sap. My leibchen. Hello again.
What is evil?
The anti-thesis of good. Ah, but what is good? In fact are these useful constructs at all, or simply perceived positive and negative outcomes of random events?
Is it reasonable to equate good with happiness and evil with unhappiness? If so, where does happiness lie?
It is politically (but not scientifically) correct to assume a materialistic existence built on a series of microscopic random events unfolding in intransitive time. Therein lies the evil that we must embrace. In other words we focus on and believe in, like Thomas, only on what we see. We do that at least partially because we fear there is no meaning below or beyond what our sensory organs are capable of registering.
Surely one of the great lessons of the exploration of mind started by Sigmund Freud is that the more you avoid a fear, or abyss, the unhealthier you become. All of the mechanisms of dealing with unconscious pain (projection, avoidance, repression etc) simply lead at best to neurosis, at worst to psychosis.
It seems to me that the fundamental issue that haunts each of us is insecurity. That is the symptom of existential angst. How, then, to deal with that?
And it’s worth addressing.
The more secure a person is, the more creative, compassionate, generous, and capable of joy they be. Security leads to happiness and connection.(Happiness being life lived in the expectation of joy).
Conversely when we feel insecure we experience withdrawal. We become self-centred, and disconnected. Our horizons contract to a narrow unhappy world devoid of meaning. (Unhappiness broadly equating with isolation).
The thesis is then, that good is expressed through happiness and that lies in our interconnectedness. We feel able to reach out when we are secure. Conversely insecurity leads to withdrawal and unhappiness, which is nominated – evil.
Are we right to feel insecure? Are we simply minds floating on an ocean of random events and therefore at their mercy?
What does science have to say? Experiments on matter at the most microscopic levels shows that pre-existence is an infinite series of possibilities, potential – until observed. It is the act of observation that, in effect, crystallises out this particular existence that we experience from the cloud of possibilities. That raises the issue of observation. What is it? Surely there must be an “observer” to create our particular reality. Sure enough, what our species is really really good at is just that – observation, whether through science or the arts. We each of us spend our life in observation (or as some would call it – witness, some accumulation of knowledge). Interestingly our gathering of knowledge is escalating in a geometric progression. (Are we approaching Teilhard de Chardin’s “Omega Point”? Is that the Mayan meaning to the end of time?)
It appears to me that our real individual human purpose is to be just this – engines of observation – crystallising existence from potential. (Or as our ancestors put it – we are three sisters of wyrd sitting at the foot of Ygaddrsil, the tree of life, spinning fate). That puts the onus on us collectively. We, the creators of life and goodness.
So if good and evil are the outcomes of our individual witness then what are God and the Devil?
I believe, and in my experience only, that God is expressed in the space between us, in the connection between all things. It is the smile shared between strangers that briefly connects and illuminates us. There have been those who with great discipline, have been able to sense directly the mass of loving connections underlying all things. Most of us however “see through a glass darkly”, it is in only in small moments and in our intimate circle – family, friends, community, even our pets – that we touch and feel the common good. Put another way, God is an emergent property of our connections each to each, and we feel that larger love in the individual links and bonds between us.
The Devil, then is absence of good – the opposite of shared experience. Our de-mergent selves.
There is also some evidence in science, not only that existence is cystallised by observation, but also that this can run backward in time, with reverse causality. Belief or knowledge of an outcome can cause – at least at the level of the electron/photon – history to be reshaped to create the experienced outcome.
So then, perhaps God – the personalisation of the emergent property of our observation and connections to each other – lies in our future. God is what we create together in the future, and this future God intervenes where necessary to ensure that the path of existence-formation will lead to him/her/it/us. (God, the word existing beyond time…)
Was this through the lives of Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha?
Does that not change our world view? Good and evil as made by us. A secure future, which is God beyond the Omega Point. Let us accept that good and evil do exist, as outcomes of our collective path through life. When we embrace our joint task – to work for good effect around us. In that way our eyes open to our divine purpose. We no longer need to live with our eyes tight closed against the fear that we are floating on a sea of random meaninglessness. Face up to existential angst and it disappears. As the psychological defence mechanisms fall away – we’re left with the revelation of love behind all things and experienced in our connection, in the Ich-Du of Martin Buber.
It is by embracing evil that we puncture it and experience joy.
Animus, Anima. Declension of nouns describing polarity, intending integration
Animare. A verb. To live lovingly. Already connected, in conversation. A dance. Conjugation to wholeness.