—A Journey in Being—
Anil Mitra © May 18, 2019—August 31, 2019
THE WAY OF BEING
The rational core of the essay
1. Reason is self contained; it has and needs no ultimate external or a priori reference.
2. Reason includes all aspects of being, entertained reflexively.
The central principle of realization
There is one universe and no other. It is the greatest possible universe.
Though the idea is not new, this is new: the assertion is shown true and consistent with experience and reason, given new meaning.
The assertion is named the fundamental principle of metaphysics. It will be shown ultimate (i) as foundation for a metaphysics that pictures the essential nature of the universe and (ii) in manifestly showing the universe to be the greatest possible.
The principle is developed into a worldview with immediate to ultimate consequences for thought and action. The form of the view is an ultimate metaphysics as knowledge of the real. This shows the possibility of metaphysics in this sense. Appendix 2. Resources, p.31, points to further detail.
A secular way of life sees the experienced natural and cultural world as the place of our Being, support, and meaning.
In the current expanding universe or big bang model the empirical universe began about 13.8 billion years ago and is roughly 93 billion light years across (more than 13.8 x 2 because when the most distant observable regions emitted the light we receive, they were much closer to us).
What lies beyond? This is not known to physics but it is consistent with physics as empirical that it could be limitless and either similar in physical structure or vastly different.
Though the secular view does not require it and a far greater world is consistent with it, the default picture is just the experienced world.
What lies beyond and what is its extent and variety? Are there ways to know other than to wait for answers from physics and that are not mere speculation or dogma of religion?
A harming influence from the widespread literalist views of religion is to shut down the question of what lies beyond almost upon its formulation. It does this for religious and secular persons alike. The religious person is imprisoned by their literal belief; many secular persons are shut down by their indifference or aversion to religion and the thought that it seems to be the only kind of alternative that there is.
One way is to look carefully at the self-imposed constraints of secular thought. Is it possible to know the universe as a whole? Obviously, knowledge of all detail down to minutiae is or at seems to be not just beyond our capability but uninteresting.
The problem of knowledge in detail suggests looking at the universe as a whole. If we think of the universe as all that there is over all time and space—and any generalizations—then it is known that there is exactly one universe.
That is, then, one precise bit of knowledge that we do have—there is exactly one universe. However, it is trivial and hardly interesting. Is there a way to analyze it so as to render it non-trivial? Here is a way.
Consider the word ‘is’ in “there is exactly one universe”. It has at least roughly the same meaning as ‘exists’. What does it mean to say of something, that it exists? This is of course a deep question but let us seek a perspective so simple as to permit a precise answer.
Let us begin with a look at two answers from the history of thought. They are the materialist and the idealist view. In the former the world is made—constituted—of matter; in the latter it is made of mind like stuff. While these views have appeal because they give us a handle on the nature of existence, they have one essential problem—knowledge of matter and of mind is incomplete and without foundation. For example, matter as known in physics is founded in entities such as fields, space, and time, which give us good descriptions but whose nature is unknown. What is a quantum field? It is a posit or hypothetical kind that enables explanation but is itself unexplained. Mind as foundation for the world leads to somewhat different problems for while it is more immediate in that while we are immersed in its web, it may seem too remote to material existence to be foundational.
Classical ways look beyond what there is to what may be foundation for it. The approach taken here will be to not begin by looking beyond (but of course not to proscribe later attempts to plumb what depth there may be).
That is, the approach will be to take what there is on its own terms. That there is some ‘thing’ is beyond doubt, even if we do not know what it is. That is where we shall begin. What is that something? It is what is. That is existence is existence.
This may of course seem superficial and trivial. It is superficial and trivial—and this is what will turn out to be also the power of the approach. That and idea is trivial does not entail that it is not also a source of conceptual power.
Now the word ‘is’ is the present tense singular form of the verb to be. Look at the italicized phrase; there are a number of items of detail there—the three words in the phrase and the assumption of description in terms of time and whatever makes things singular.
The approach will be to use the idea of Being as existence in its most neutral sense.
How will this work? It is now more efficient to begin the working rather than to preview it—even from an instructional point of view for the essence of the development is its brevity and power.
Before beginning the work it is pertinent to observe that the selection of the main concepts of experience, Being, beings, universe, the void, and possibility is not ad hoc. Rather the selection was arrived at by conceptual experimentation whose outcome was a demonstrated descriptive and ultimate pattern of the world.
Human beings emerge in a world originally hidden from clear view. They acquire a sense of time, purpose, civilization, destiny, and limited vs limitless Being.
Realization of purpose is effective when based in understanding and knowledge as in a system of the universe.
A foundation is a secure base for a system of knowledge, practice, or action. Certainty is one criterion that has pervaded thought, often as a tacit default. But proper criteria must depend on the emergent system.
Therefore foundation and founded should co-emerge naturally—and is facilitated by use of the concept of Being.
Some comments on meaning are essential. Clearly, the statement that there is one universe employs a particular definition of ‘universe’ (given later). A word alone is insufficient to determine meaning; it must be associated with a concept. In common use, the concepts are not always explicitly stated but may be determined by usage. What is needed when attempting to move beyond ordinary use?
First, a concept needs to be specified. The word or sign marks the concept. Usually, however, a word may be associated with a family of concepts. Therefore, in any particular development, one concept must be chosen and all others ruled out for the purpose of the development. But how is it known that that concept is ‘right’? Just specifying a concept is insufficient. What is needed is an entire system of concepts; and the system must be shown adequate to the intended application.
The process is experimental—and will involve trial and error at least until we find the system of concepts adequate. This implies that (i) in advance of the search for the meanings of terms, the terms do not have definite meanings and (ii) the search for understanding or knowledge is not one of using only terms with fixed meaning but a search in a dual space of concepts and intended application, i.e. objects. In order to understand the present development, readers must adhere to the specified meanings (it is understood that the adherence ought not to be uncritical).
There is still more to meaning for words are not the only kinds of sign. The simplest words are simple signs. From simple words, compound signs such as compound words sentences and large structures may be built. Part of the meaning is in the forms of these linguistic structures. They are part of the concepts which, too, may be compound. Concepts, then, are combinations of signs and icons. Here, I will not analyze the form of language structures since it is not necessary to this work.
Sometimes language is imbued with all meaning except primitive concepts. This is efficient in representation, communication, and formal use. However, it has a ‘disadvantage’: because of its discrete character it is limited with regard to richness in literal use.
Let us begin development of the metaphysics with some preliminary concepts. Extension is spacetime and its generalization—sameness, difference, and their absence which includes spacetime as a special case. Existence is what is the property of what may be validly said to be in some region of extension. The region need not be connected.
Being and beings
The universe is all Being.
The universe is a being.
There is but one universe, which has no exterior (to seek foundation before understanding is to seek an exterior).
Existence and nonexistence of the void are equivalent and therefore the void may be taken to exist (the void is a being).
Does the void truly exist? This critical doubt of the emerging foundation is addressed later—but note that assertion of existence entails no inconsistency.
Alternatively, the void is there at the side of every being and therefore exists.
There are other proofs and heuristics for existence of the void. See Appendix 2. Resources, p.31.
The void is the null being—the being that has no parts.
Existence of the void contradicts no principle of logic, no principle of science or experience.
The Being or existence of the void will be found so momentous that, given consistency with experience and reason, it ought perhaps to be seen as a principle rather than proven.
Existence of the void may be regarded as—
1. A universal and necessary truth, or
2. An existential principle of action—a principle that, if seen as true, results in the highest value.
If from the void, there is a possible being or state that does not emerge, that would be a law of the void. Therefore all possible beings or states emerge from the void. This may be stated more succinctly as follows.
A limit or natural law or just law is a being. Therefore the void has no limits.
Every hypothetical but possible being emerges from the void and is therefore part of the universe.
What do the developments so far entail for the meaning of possibility? It must be the greatest possibility that entails no inconsistency. This is taken to define logical possibility and so logic.
From this and earlier developments—
The one universe which has no other is the greatest possible universe. This demonstrated assertion is named the fundamental principle of metaphysics.
The principle and its consequences are so momentous that doubt must be addressed. From its consistency, tendered demonstration (for alternate proofs, heuristic, and persuasive arguments see resources, p.31), and moment, we may regard it as a universal truth and existential principle of action.
The universe seen as including the void exists without cause and without need for cause.
Since all possibilities emerge from the void, they equivalently emerge from any state of Being. That is, the universe is absolutely indeterministic in that all states are possible emergents from any state (though not equally probable), and absolutely deterministic in that all possible states do emerge in some phase of the universe.
Necessity may be seen as the cause of the manifest universe.
The universe—manifest and nonmanifest—exists by definition and requires no cause.
Let us establish what possibility must mean. A naïve meaning of possibility is that which can be or obtain. This is not so naïve as to allow the paradox that it is possible that the possible is impossible for that is the same as “that which can happen cannot happen” and therefore obvious misuse of ‘possibility’.
Possibility has kinds according to the meaning of ‘can happen’, e.g. real (e.g. physical and sentient), and logical. Let us clarify and elaborate the kinds of possibility.
The real is what occurs in the universe any where in extension; for the real what can happen and what does happen are the same—possibility is actuality. Examples of the real are the physical and the sentient. The physical is what is allowed by physical law (to which is sometimes appended and the constraints of the empirical cosmos). Sentient possibility is the states of being, and artifactual beings designable and achievable by sentient beings.
Since all possibility is realized in the universe, given a state or being, there is a higher sentient one.
Logical possibility is definable in two different ways (i) as the real and (ii) as the conditions necessary for concepts to be realizable (this also defines logic); we adopt the latter—it will be seen to be the same as the former. Note that logic as so defined is sometimes by appending to it subject to given fact; this is identical to the common notion of ‘argument’.
It may, however, be preferable to substitute ‘necessary fact’ for ‘fact’ above and assign ‘contingent given fact’ to, say, science. If the universe were deterministic in the sense of the whole relative to a part, e.g. a cosmos, given and necessary fact from the perspective of the cosmos would be the same. In an indeterministic universe, the givens of a cosmos do not determine the givens elsewhere and therefore the latter are not necessary relative to the cosmos even though they are necessary relative to the universe.
The part-whole notion of determinism above is more general than temporal determinism because in the latter, the part is a slice in time which is a particular case of the more general determinism in that (i) a slice in time is a particular kind of part and (ii) it applies only where temporality obtains and where past, present, and future are sufficiently distinct.
A conceived being that is not logically possible cannot be (exist). But a logically possible being that did not emerge from the void would be a law of the void. Therefore—logical possibility is the greatest possibility; it is in this sense that—
The empirical cosmos is an infinitesimal part of the universe.
The concepts of Being, beings, universe, and void are filtered from the world to omit detail whose knowledge may be distorted. They are therefore perfectly faithful to their existents or ‘objects’. They are named ideal concepts (which are abstract in the sense of abstracted or filtered and therefore direct and empirical rather than remote or merely conceptual-rational).
(Notes: i. all these are beings, even Being for with sufficient abstraction or filtering the otherwise real distinction is dissolved, ii. the void may be thought of as empirical in the perhaps confused sense of the limit of complement of a part of being as the part approaches the being but for the void this is not necessary for its existence is a necessary fact).
However, as seen above, all those concepts are instrumental in rational inference. The empirical and the rational merge in the ideal.
The imperfectly faithful are pragmatic in being as if faithful for a limited range of purposes. The known range of the sciences does not exceed the empirical cosmos; their projection to the universe is speculative and can now be seen untrue.
Here are some further consequences of the fundamental principle—
This synthesis of ideal and pragmatic knowledge-action is named the perfect metaphysics or the metaphysics.
The metaphysics is ultimate knowledge of the universe in scope though not in detail; it is revolutionary for knowledge and Being (consequences for philosophy and science significant to realization, p.31; resources, p.31). This version of the work is concerned with Being; some significant consequences for Being now follow.
The universe has Being and identity, which are limitless in extension, variety, and magnitude.
Individuals inherit the Being and identity of the universe, merging as one in ultimate Identity, dissolving, and re-emerging eternally, eternally fresh. The ultimate Identity is and knows all significance.
There is no absolutely transcendent being or kind; the sense of the transcendent is relative to limited knowledge. And it is in the present and in-process that paths to the ultimate are conceived and begin. We are of and will be the ultimate.
There are feasible paths to the ultimate; there is imperative to build and be on a path, which is the image of the ultimate in the immediate.
There are ecstasy and pain; they may be sought and avoided—but calm enjoyment and anticipation, even when difficult to attain, are ideal in themselves and efficient in realization.
The foundation of the metaphysics is dual—perfection for the ideal concepts and pragmatic for the imperfectly faithful. Relative to realization of the ultimate, this foundation is intrinsically perfect (this revalues but does not eliminate the significance of local epistemological studies).
Here are the consequences in greater detail.
The universe has identity; the universe and its identity are limitless in extension, variety and magnitude of Being and peaking and dissolution of Being and identity; and the universe has limitless arrays of cosmoses of limitless variety.
Individuals inherit this limitlessness—merging (and diverging) as one in peak identities and ultimate identity (death is real but not absolute—motive to make every instance of life full in itself and as open to the ultimate), then dissolving in eternal and ever fresh process.
The merging-diverging, which includes realization of this inheritance begins—speculatively, for cosmoses and their individuals—at the boundary between regions of near determinism (cosmoses) and regions of near absolute indeterminism… and which is a possible explanation of some residual indeterminism in a cosmos manifested e.g. in evolution and quantum physics.
There are feasible paths to the ultimate; human culture and individuals are capable of beginning—at least—in the development and living in the paths; there is an ideal imperative to be on a path—realization of the ultimate is inevitable and to be committed to it is to improve the frequency and quality of ‘success’ and so the quality of the universe.
And there are pragmatic imperatives of pain and destruction; the process is not ideal—there is pain, dissolution, and destruction; pain cannot be avoided but, where understanding is possible, being on a path is the first approach to the problem of pain; pain must be addressed in local terms but in balance with realization; there is ecstasy too, which as an end in itself is a diversion and may be destructive; the best or good enough approach is moderated calm enjoyment of engaged and anticipating process.
There are consequences for any system of human knowledge. These consequences and an ideal system are not developed in this version of The Way of Being (see Appendix 2. Resources, p.31).
This is shown by the pragmatic concepts which are essential to living in ‘our world’. They are not perfect. However, as instrument and capable of betterment, the pragmatic is perfect instrument toward the ideal for there is no need for better (and no ultimate betterment).
Experience is subjective awareness or consciousness (pure, attitude, agent).
Experience is the place of significant meaning and action; medium of our presence to the world. Metaphorically yet essentially, without experience we would not exist—we would be replicas of human beings but without humanity.
Given a state of Being there is a greater experiential being or agent.
Metaphorically, at least, experience is the place of our being.
Though the seeming objects of experience are subject to illusion, the facts of the existence of experience (‘doubt is experience’ is the Cartesian argument) and of Being (at least of experience) and universe (all Being) are given.
In experience there are built pictures of the world. A standard secular view, SSV, is that of selves with minds, other persons or selves, which coexist in a material environment. This, so far, is SSV as metaphysics.
A cosmology is commonly superposed on the metaphysics of SSV: ‘the’ universe is physical; which manifests—somehow—as experiential selves in the environment; is described as spacetime-matter; is further described by three pillars of modern physics—general relativity, quantum field theory and the standard model of particles, and the big-bang cosmology (which, though empirical is often taken to be real)
Which manifests as all else—life and its evolution (and theory), human being, society and civilization; art, literature, religion, the humanities, and the humanistic view of the world. This system has refinements and bases in terms of the perfect metaphysics; it is essentially local but some of its paradigms may be extended; this is developed in other versions of the way (see Appendix 2. Resources, p.31)
This view, SSV, is adapted to a local environment. However, it may be doubted as in ‘solipsism’—the view that there is nothing but experience. Solipsism is logically possible. However, its usual if tacit meaning is that the experience in “nothing but experience” is the experience of or as if of a limited individual.
Thus the usual interpretation seems absurd even though logically possible (it is often useful to consider interpretations of some view that are logically possible alternatives to a standard interpretation yet absurd in not meeting some conditions of—seeming—robustness of the standard for this may lead to a critique of the standard and improved / true / complete interpretations).
However, it has a non absurd and most general interpretation—the universe is pan-experience—a field of experience or FOE—which is the place of individual experiencers in an environment that is experiential in principle but not for pragmatic purposes.
However, lesser interpretations, if consistent with FOE, may be pragmatically true in lesser contexts.
It seems as though the standard secular view may be true for a cosmos. However if, as in some pragmatic interpretations of the nature of our cosmos, the cosmos is a substance world, the standard secular view must be extended to allow the ‘material environment’ to have in principle experientiality.
The material standard secular view and solipsism are logically possible and therefore must exist. However, SSV is bizarre in not being a stable (substance) world. Solipsism is bizarre on the interpretation that total experience is the experience of a limited individual.
There is a sense in which we do not get outside experience. But from the foregoing we can take ‘the world’ as a given with ideal and pragmatic elements. The forms of experience (with mechanical extension) must be the forms and limits of forms of knowledge.
The view from experience reveals ideal dimensions or categories of Being-experience: the experiencing psyche and the experienced world.
The experienced world includes psyche—i.e. experience appears in psyche as subject as well as in the world as object.
The world may be seen in terms pragmatic dimensions of psyche, nature, society (culture, politics, economics…), and universe.
In greater detail the dimensions are
The pragmatic elements or dimensions of psyche (e.g., feeling, cognition, emotion, will, action, memory…) may reflect the dimensions and joint dynamics that begins with the concrete sciences—and join as search for the ideal and for a better world; and reflexive improvement of the process.
There is no ultimate external agency; search and realization of the ultimate need no external agency or guide.
What are appropriate criteria for ‘better’? Ideally we often think in terms of ‘best’ or optimal; from the process nature of the aim, ‘good enough’ is often adequate.
Synthesis of the dimensions, which include cognition and feeling, in best ideal-pragmatic process is means of realization named reason, logos, or yoga-in-an-extended sense. There is neither possibility nor need to go beyond the reason available to Being. All science and logic lies within the forms of experience.
Reason has been classed as (a) ideal vs pragmatic, and (b) of psyche vs world. The latter may be described as inner-intrinsic vs outer-instrumental.
Reason is the means of realization. It may be divided as (i) ideal vs pragmatic—for the ultimate vs our world and (ii) ‘inner’—experience itself vs ‘world’ or ‘instrumental’.
On inner side there are ancient traditions of yoga and meditation as inner approach to being in this world and the ultimate but which must be regarded as experimental with regard to aims and means; and there are modern approaches such as existential and humanist analysis, useful but limited by the secular paradigm.
On the instrumental side there are the concrete sciences (natural, psychological, and social); abstract sciences (logic, mathematics, linguistics, and computer science); humanities (especially philosophy, history, and study of religion); art; and technology. In realization, these complement the inner by providing a potential base for civilization to better itself in this world and to move out into the universe.
The inner complements the instrumental in immersive and intuitive approaches, e.g. to the natural and social sciences.
A rendering is a system of human knowledge, practice, and reason (see Appendix 2. Resources, p.31).
Here are some templates for the way. Each template is preceded by an essential summary. The templates themselves are brief; they are templates from my use; however, I have abstracted them to be adaptable templates for general use. It is expected that they will be tailored and amplified in actual use.
1. Rise, dedicate, affirm; morning reflection. 2. Review for the day, life, the path or way. 3. Realize; work and relationships; ideas and action; yoga-meditation in practice and in action; tasks. 4. Exercise, exploration of the world for experience and inspiration. 5. Evening renewal, review, realization, community.
Rise before the sun
Dedication to The Way; affirmation of the aim. Morning reflection in nature.
Reflect on realization, priorities for life – the path or way – the day, and means; employ simple reflection, meditative emptiness for re-orientation of purpose and energy, contemplative or analytical meditation to see what is essential now and in other time frames. See ‘experimental yoga’ below.
Work; relationships; ideas and action; yoga-meditation practice—and in action (see experimental yoga, p.26, below); tasks.
Daily-long term; meals. Attitude—an element of realization; light; yoga in action.
A time to practice for realization in the immediate and the ultimate. The practice developed in yoga, continues and reverberates in everyday and universal life.
To keep the template brief, experimental yoga is placed in Appendix 1, p.29.
In nature and culture, photography, explore. Beyul—a tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is travel and being in nature, sometimes to remote places, in search of extended experience of self and the ultimate, with openness to inspiration.
Rest, renewal, planning and review, realization, and community.
…and outline of programs in terms of dimensions of Being.
1. Being—Pure Being, community. 2. Ideas—relation, knowing. 3. Becoming—nature with psyche. 4. Becoming—civilization and society (culture; instrumental and immersive politics and economics). 5. Becoming—artifact (technology). 6. Becoming—universal, unknown. 7. Being—universal.
Dimension: Pure Being, community
Dimension: Relation, knowing
Dimension: Nature with psyche
Dimension: Civilization and society
Dimension: Artifact (technology)
Dimension: Universal, unknown
The phrase ‘experimental yoga’ implies that we are not taking yoga in any received sense. Rather discovery of true yoga, not just received practice, is part of the exercise.
An original meaning of yoga is ‘yoke’ (to the ultimate, the real, i.e. Atman to Brahman) and yuj samādhau—to concentrate (as in analytic meditation).
Though often presented as such, no system of yoga-meditation is ultimate in means and goal.
1. Yoga-meditation involves the whole MindBody (supra categories, east or west, e.g. manas-citta-viññāṇa or emotion-perception-thought-will-body).
2. Yoga is reflexive—in which all elements and levels of MindBody cross and self interact, e.g. it is reflective on its own process (includes meta-yoga), is therefore experimental with regard to means and goal. Reflexivity allows and encourages open, experimental, and reflective interaction of all elements of MindBody and process. It is critical-imaginative feeling-cognition and more.
3. In this extended sense, yoga is the way—and synthesizes east, west, and the elements of The Way of Being.
4. Its ‘goals’ include the ultimate and the immediate—in Vedanta it is being-on-the-way-to-the-ultimate… in Buddhism it is sometimes the quiet that allows space of mind; the great and the little—‘application’ may be made to enhance the quality of any endeavor or finding the mental space to solve ‘life’ and technical problems; enjoyment of reward and duty—understood as whatever points to the ultimate (and allows that we may be ignorant of the same and so ought to consider cultural imperatives).
5. Yoga is opening up to the infinite and the infinitesimal.
6. In incorporating existential thought, yoga may employ reflection on death as transformative (see death, p.17). The aim is to recognize the reality of death; that it is real; that it is not absolute; that awareness of it is a source of what is important in this life; that determining one’s death, even if inexactly and only probably, is orientation to the real—the criteria being enjoyment and usefulness; that beyond death, individual eternity collapses to a moment; and that death is gateway to merging of all identities in ultimate Identity.
7. If ‘reason’ is extended to mean critical imaginative interaction of feeling and cognition in action, then there is identity between yoga and reason.
Appendix 2. Some consequences for philosophy and science significant to realization
1. The universe as realization of greatest possibility—i.e., the fundamental principle of metaphysics—defines logic and the boundary to the real. It joins abstract-concrete sciences and experiential-instrumental practices as a consistent means of realization.
2. The secular paradigm of science and the empirical cosmos—and human nature as source of values—as the entire real projects our microcosm to the whole. This projection is only occasionally explicit but its tacit assumption is widespread. Why is this? It may seem to be the whole when cumulative experience is seen as source and criterion. Together with religious myth as literal cosmology, the outcome is an aberration of a limited truth.
3. The foundation of the metaphysics may proceed, as has been done in this work, from Being as founded and foundation or from the idea of experience as primitive.
4. Miscellaneous significant results. What metaphysics is or ought to be. The nature of Being. Why there is Being at all. What has Being as the fundamental question of metaphysics; the categories; the problem of substance. The nature of mind (consciousness) and matter, their relation and place in the universe. Unification of the abstract and the concrete. Determinism as relative to domain—e.g. the universe is not deterministic relative to a cosmos and its individuals but is deterministic relative to the universe itself. Universe as both absolutely deterministic and absolutely indeterministic. Necessity as cause of the universe; classical cause as result of formation—incremental and selective or otherwise—of patterned domain or cosmos. Principle of sufficient reason with necessity as cause. All consistent abstract systems, mathematical and other, are realized. Foundation of space-time-identity in the primitive of sameness-difference. Physics and evolution as broad paradigms for process and origins, respectively.
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