Metaphor, Utility and Limitation

Our existence is like a wave. Simile or metaphor? Our existence is a wave. Statement or illustrative analogy?


Whatever… associative thinking is useful in building understanding. It can lead to a radical shift in perspective. Take the statement  “our existence is like a wave”. We typically ground our sense of self in the material. And yet.. the cells in our bodies are constantly changing. There are very few molecules in you now which were in your body at birth. You, we, are not material. What then? Certainly existence seems to me to be validated in relation to other. Without – other – there is no existence. Indeed existence as relativity (see AN Whitehead) seems logical to me. In that case – is there not a wave of influence that we have on other and it has on us? And does that wave of influence (on our children, our friends etc) not continue after our material body seizes up and degrades? In fact, isn’t the influence and therefore real existence of Michelangelo more apparent now than when he was “alive”?

Existence is like a wave. Metaphor has utility. But, limitations too.


There are many ways that existence is not wavelike, but granular. Influence stems from individual tiny acts, which stem from individual thoughts.


Anyway, there you have it. Metaphor appears, to me anyway, to have immense utility. However we need to be ready to abandon a particular metaphor or association by recognising when its limits have been reached. Perhaps this is immediately when it has achieved the objective of fracturing and shift our set thought patterns?

Reality as Momentum

Reality is bound up with the present. This, according to Zen and as re-expressed by Eckhart Tolle – the Power of Now..

The present, now, is the door to reality and focus on the past and future distracts from the intensity of experience.


How does that square with Alfred North Whitehead’s theory of relativity – where reality is a process and certainly not an instant?

It seems to me that the integration of these two concepts through the interpretation of the present – Now – as momentary rather than instantaneous. By this I mean to include the immediate past and the immediate future into a lengthened and extended instant. I think (though I’m never certain when trying to understand Process and Reality) that this is what Whitehead refers to as prehension.

It seems then that consciousness requires some element of time, that which immediately surrounds the instant in which we exist. It is observation that crystallises out the particular reality which we choose. (Bohr, Born, Schrodinger – the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics). The experience of reality requires the flow of time – to allow the immediate past and future to give context to the instant that is now.

Consciousness can then be described as observation surfing on time, and the fragment of time that surrounds the instant creates the moment in which we exist. Hence – reality as momentum.

I and Thou

“To man the world is twofold in accordance with his twofold attititude

The attitude of man is twofold, in accordance with the twofold nature of the primary words which he speaks.

As experience, the world belongs to the primary word I-It. The primary word I-Thou establishes the world of relation”

Martin Buber: I and Thou

Our brother whose heart be heaven

Hallowed be thy pain

Our kingdom come

Our will be one

On earth as it is in heaven

Live in us today, our daily bread

So we give up our trespasses

And see you in those who trespass against us

And lead us not to isolation

Which delivers each to evil

For ours be our kingdom, our power and our glory

Now and for ever