ETHICS: A PERSONAL ENLIGHTENMENT (Part II)
Part I of this article told of a peak experience I had about twenty years ago and something of what I’ve come to know from it. http://www.extremeethics.org/?p=827 It concluded with a brief narrative on the consciousness that underlies the Universe, and how we are integrated with it. Part II concludes the article with something of what I’ve learned from it personally. It was a true enlightenment and is presented here for your consideration. What you do with it is up to you…
The Big Bang theory about the beginnings of our universe satisfies most of the scientific community because: 1) it makes sense; and 2) vital parts of it can be proven. Basically it postulates that the universe began about 13.7-billion years ago from a singularity—a dimensionless point—whereby mass (no less than the entire mass of all that makes up the universe) was created (sorry for the word, but give me another—how else would one define it?), virtually instantaneously and totally, from …what? WE. DON’T. KNOW. Actually, particle physics, quantum and string theories suggest answers, but for now let’s just stipulate that whatever “it” was had to be there prior to the Big Bang. Anything greater than the universe must be important!
It follows that this primal singularity must be the source of everything that follows, both material and not (like our minds), dimensional (how many of those are there?) or not. Further, there’s no real reason to doubt that it still exists.
Please realize that this is a subject that can’t possibly be resolved at this time. We can’t use the product (universe) to prove its source (?) any more than we can use science to prove its source (philosophy) or words to prove reality. We can’t begin to explain the origins of that initial something/nothing that fuels our existence. There’s no standard by which to even estimate it, nor do we know that one is possible. We don’t even have the words to articulate it. For instance: Because of the non-existence of time before the Big Bang (our very concept of time depends on matter in motion, so time in our terms could not have existed before matter), that singularity cannot include time and therefore must be by (our) definition ageless, dateless, timeless and continuous. We could say, for now at least, that it could be eternal and immortal (maybe even instantaneous? Now there’s some food for thought…).
Since we can’t use the terms energy or force because their scientific/engineering meanings can’t be used to define their precursor, it is perhaps best described by the philosophical term dynamis (of which energy is its actualization), which will have to suffice for now.
It may come as a surprise that this suggestion of some eternal singularity (and its undeniably spiritual overtones) springs from the very science that often seems bent upon proving otherwise. At any rate, we may postulate with some certainty that whatever preceded the universe not only still pervades everything in it (and perhaps–why not–beyond?), but also is continuous within it, existing in an unbroken continuum within and between quarks, solar systems, constellations and galaxies. It was, is, and will be, at least until the end (if there is one) of the entire system that contains it. Disbelieving or not accepting this potency doesn’t change it (it doesn’t matter): if the Big Bang makes any sense at all, so also does the idea that we must be given of it and whatever preceded it, whatever else we may be.
So much for the (quasi-)scientific aspect. There’s another. The stuff of religious philosophy, at least in this context, turns out to be no more or less than assigning the dynamis preceding the universe to some entity, power, potential or what have you that precedes (and pervades) our world. This singularity is universally continuous from mankind’s point of view–a given. It was, is, and as far as we can know, will be—ageless, dateless, timeless, eternal, immortal, all-being and unproveable. Given these parameters, many religious philosophies (along with Isaac Newton, arguably the most brilliant and influential scientific mind of his time—possibly ever, for that matter) choose to equate it with an all-powerful supreme entity. (And why not? Consider the Big Bang vs. “creation theory.” Darkness must have preceded the Big Bang, light not being possible without mass and energy. How different is this from conditions preceding the pronouncement: “Let there be light!”? Both require an initial darkness, and what’s the cause of the Big Bang anyway?)
Are they wrong? Was Newton wrong? Let’s just say that you don’t know, nor do I. Without making judgment as to the validity of any particular religious belief, it seems clear that for there to be a universe at all, there must at least be some primal cause beyond our current ability to comprehend. We may debate its origins or purpose, but it’s reasonable that it was, and is, there. And it is scientifically consistent with the Big Bang, as far as science can go with it, as well as with the spiritual proclamation re: light.
So. What does all of this mean to you and me? It means to me that we are integral parts of the whole, not only in the world but of it as well. We are part of what’s happening and, while we have no control of it, we do have control of what we, individually, do with it. It doesn’t matter what anyone or any situation does to us. We can only accept its being done. Whatever happens, happens; it’s our reaction to what happens that determines its effect on us—we can only deal with our response to it. But each of us is responsible for his own life and its effect on others. This means that we retain ultimate control of ourselves. We are truly autonomous, responsible for and in complete control of how we handle our individual lives. And we all have the same resources!
In order to live right, you need only be right. Life continues, time passes, and things move ahead. You can even stop thinking. But you cannot stop knowing. And once you know that you don’t know what you know, you will begin to know more and more. Let it come to you–you don’t have to chase after it.
If you’re aware, you will realize things that even the highest levels of science cannot teach you, because you already hold the knowledge. Wisdom is a gift, there for the taking if you will only accept it, within each and every one of us, no group required. You can be in complete control of your life, directing it wherever you choose. The trick is to know yourself completely and believe what you already know. It’s all there for the taking. That’s your project—the rest of it, all the rest of it, doesn’t matter.
One thing I’ve learned, and it’s about ethics: Knowing that mankind will progress in any case takes some of the pressure off each one of us but doesn’t excuse our personal responsibilities. These responsibilities are best served by living the truth. It’s all about truth. Life itself is a truth. Truth is the norm–the way it really is, the way it’s supposed to be—a primary First Principle. Any doubts regarding what to do are resolved by reverting to truth. We can always return to an even keel by returning to truth. It’s universal, a given. We do not define it; it’s simply there for the appreciation of it. Not accepting it is our loss.
“Human beings do not realize the extent to which their own sense of defeat prevents them from doing things they could do perfectly well. The peak experience induces the recognition that your own powers are far greater than you imagined them.” Colin Wilson…and I can second that.
You may wish to read the book. It’s built on this fact.