THE WAY OF BEING
Anil Mitra © May 18, 2019—June 15, 2019
AN IN-PROCESS DOCUMENT
This essay is near completion but some work remains.
THE WAY OF BEING
The Way is an approach to living, thinking, feeling, and acting—an approach to Being.
It is centered in a worldview—a view that goes beyond our science and myth in being (i) demonstrated, (ii) a picture of the universe as the one and greatest possible.
As developed here this presents issues of (a) what the way is about, (b) what it says and how it may be implemented, and (c) what it means – in general and intuitive terms, how it is known to be true, how it does not contradict experience – science – reason, and how to address issues of doubt and criticism.
There are various ways to order these issues—and all will present problems of understanding because the issues are meshed.
The approach here is (i) to tell the reader what issues to expect, and (ii) to begin with general understanding and the practical side of the way.
Thus the order of presentation is the order (a), (b), and (c) above.
This order is not essential. If you want to begin with the essential conclusions for the way, you could start with (b)—The View from the Way of Being, p.6.
There currently is one other version, an analytic version (see General web resources, p.16) whose development is analytic—it begins with the metaphysics and its general consequences; this leads to the way and its necessity; which is followed by consequences for the way and, finally, path templates and resources.
This section shows sources and motives to The Way.
Human beings conceive the ideas of meaning and purpose (which are more important to some persons and cultures than others).
These ideas are motives to the idea of a Way of Being.
The Way of Being is an approach to discovery and realization of meaning, purpose, and destiny (destiny is the idea that some part of our future is under our control or influence).
Let us first look at some received “ways”.
1. An ordinary way: “This life is enough”— may be encouraging, neutral, or discouraging toward greater purpose.
The remaining ways are not distinct from but become full only in mesh with the ordinary way.
2. Science as rational and hypothetical over the empirical—but minimal with regard to degree of hypothesis. The view of the cosmos, life, and society from science is often complemented by humanism for values—ethics, aesthetics, and the concept of the legacy of individuals and civilizations.
3. Myth and religion that typically project hypotheses—mythic, speculative, and so on—to the entire universe, often dogmatically. The purpose may be control via palliative or fear. However, myth and religion may also be suggestive in form—and carry a superstructure of useful ethics, meaning, and purpose.
4. Traditional metaphysics as rational and hypothetical over some elements of experience, but it is not minimal for the purpose is more than just prediction or depiction but also includes understanding and application to the human endeavor.
About the entire universe—i.e. beyond the empirical cosmos—these ways are neutral or hypothetically projective and therefore essentially speculative.
Is there an approach that is neither neutral nor projective?
A tentative approach is to look for foundation in the immediate—i.e., not behind the apparent (deep explanation, e.g. as in science) or in the remote (as in myth and religion).
Noting that it is the detail and the seeming disorder (“messiness”) and incompleteness of the immediate that in part prompt science and religion we would abstract from the detail that which is perfectly known. What might that be? We select the fact of existence or Being—we might not know the detail but we do know that there is Being (existence).
The Way of Being is based in the concept of Being. Being, defined later, does not seek (or shun) explanations in depth or remoteness but begins in the immediate. Being, it will turn out, is not just immediate but the metaphorical “medium of all things and knowledge of things”. Its power is its neutrality, generality, and abstraction—not an abstraction to the remote but of what is given in the concrete. There is a possibility that the neutrality would render ‘Being’ impotent, but we find the contrary to be the case—the approach from Being is ultimately powerful. It allows truth to emerge via discovery.
A metaphysics—a system of knowledge and understanding based on Being is developed in the section A perfect metaphysics, p.11.
Though the system begins with abstraction it is fleshed out by synthesis with the ‘ways’ above.
The perfect metaphysics, p.11, is a resource… (i) it develops a way of reasoning about what lies ultimately beyond the empirical and (ii) conclusions about the entire universe, especially that ultimate “beyond”.
Some resources are in the sections Path templates, p.7, and A system of human knowledge, reason, practice, and action, p.14.
In the section A perfect metaphysics, p.11, it is shown (a proof is given) that the universe is the realization of the greatest consistent possibility.
Here, the main conclusions of The Way are presented without demonstration. This approach is likely to appeal to a wider audience than a beginning with definition and proof.
If the universe is the greatest possible:
1. The universe has identity and the universe and its identity are limitless in variety and extension (spacetime and its precursors) and variety and magnitude of peaks of Being. This is eternal process.
2. Individuals merge with (“are”) these peaks (death is real but not absolute; it serves existential functions in this life; understanding death is transformative on the way to the ultimate; which includes that personal death and its timing as an object of meditation are transformative).
3. There are effective paths of ultimate realization, grounded in the immediate. The Way integrates the immediate and the ultimate (this is manifest throughout the text—especially in Doubt > The Way ignores this lovely and immediate world, p.16).
4. There is an imperative to be on paths and their discovery.
5. Society and civilizations are beings as Being. Sharing is given; its cultivation is imperative.
6. Paths necessarily involve pain, suffering, ecstasy, diversion, and enjoyment. Pain is unavoidable, its best address even where it seems to have no meaning, is (i) to understand it as a mechanism that is adaptive rather than fine tuned, (ii) to give it adequate immediate attention where possible, but (iii) to continue on in the path where possible despite pain and diversion. Enjoyment (Nirvana) is not cessation of thought or feeling but balanced, restrained, and sufficiently detached reflection (contemplation) and action on the path.
There are adaptable path templates. As a famous human once said “there is suffering” and “resolution of suffering”. These templates address and go beyond those issues.
The templates are not to be seen as rigid and fixed but a skeleton that is changeable and adaptable to a wide range of circumstance.
This continues the hands on approach of results and means before analysis, proof, and doubt.
Rise before the sun
Dedication to The Way; affirmation of the aim.
Reflect on realization, priorities, 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 in action (see experimental yoga, p.8, below).
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, reverberates in everyday and universal life.
To keep the template brief, experimental yoga is placed in an appendix, p.8.
In nature, 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.
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 ascriptions of yoga are to ‘yoke’ (to the ultimate, the real, i.e. Atman to Brahman) and yuj samādhau—to concentrate (as in analytic meditation).
Should we consider yoga to be an aim or a means?
What is the meaning of a word, especially one at the edge of human knowledge and performance? At the edge, meaning—concepts and their reference—is tentative. Arriving at meaning is ongoing search in a dual space of concepts and objects (source: Herbert Simon). The meaning of ‘yoga’ is in evolution.
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 Individuals merge…, p.6. 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.
8. Employ reflection on death as transformative—see Individuals merge…, p.6. 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.
Pure Being, community
Nature with psyche
Civilization and society
What is shown in this section is a method of construction of a metaphysics based in Being, reason, logic, and other concepts as empirical. It follows that the conclusions are necessary. From the construction, the conclusions are neither confirmed nor contradicted by science and common experience.
A being is an existent; Being (capitalized) is existence—the property of all existents.
The concept of Being is pivotal to a true understanding of the world and realization of its best potential.
It is the abstraction of Being—it specifies only existence—that gives it its conceptual power. This abstract is direct—of-the-concrete, not remote; therefore, because distortable detail has been filtered out, it is perfect, especially in the case of Being. This is a source of essential grounding of The Way and the ultimate in the immediate.
Further, Being is neutral to all categories but existence—it therefore does not suffer the limitations of posited categories such as ‘substance’. The following concepts of universe, law, the void, and possibility (and logic) inherit this neutrality and perfection.
The neutrality of Being includes that it does not posit space-time-matter (or other substance); instead it posits only emerging difference-sameness-Being, which includes and is precursor to space-time-matter.
The universe is all Being; there is one and only one universe.
A natural law (a law) is a pattern in a part of the universe.
The void is (defined as) the being that contains no beings.
That is, the universe, parts, laws, and the void exist.
The universe, parts of the universe, laws, and the void are beings.
Demonstration for the void. Its existence and non-existence are equivalent. Note—existence of the void is conceptually consistent (i.e. does not violate logic); and empirically consistent for it contradicts no experience.
Existence of the void is so pivotal that it may be doubted. Given these consistencies, and in the interest of the best expectation, we may therefore hypothesize it as a fundamental law or regard it as an existential action principle.
Demonstration for laws. A law is immanent in and therefore of the universe.
The universe is the greatest possible (this is named the fundamental principle of metaphysics or just ‘the fundamental principle’, or FP).
Demonstration. Otherwise the void would have laws.
A consequence (an equivalent) is an abstract metaphysics, faithful to the real: all logical possibility is realized.
Tradition is (defined as) the pragmatic truth in all traditions, cultures, and systems of knowledge (i.e., tradition is what is valid in those traditions etc).
The perfect metaphysics, or just ‘the metaphysics’ or PFM, is (defined as) a join of the abstract metaphysics and tradition in which the abstract perfect illuminates and guides the pragmatic tradition and the pragmatic illustrates and provides instruments for realization of the abstract (the good in “all possibility”). The perfect metaphysics is thus a single perfect system—the abstract as faithful to the real but not anchored and which illuminates tradition; and tradition as the perfect instrument illustrating and anchor to the ultimate (for there is no better available… and the abstract guarantees realization). Thus the perfect metaphysics is dual (though not a dualism or ‘ism’ at all) of the abstract-concrete as a continuum; and implies a perfect epistemology—perfectly faithful in the abstract and pragmatic for tradition (which is perfect in its own way as just seen; and thus the older epistemologies are not displace but revaluated).
Main consequences for The Way were given the section The View from the Way of Being, p.6.
Here are some of those consequences.
Metaphysics. (1) The perfect metaphysics is an ultimate metaphysics; its construction restores an older meaning of metaphysics as knowledge of the real and shows the ‘possibility of metaphysics. (2) A form of the principle of sufficient reason but with necessity as its base rather than Leibniz’ base in common causation. (3) Resolution of what has been called the fundamental question of metaphysics—Why there is Being at all, i.e. why there is “something rather than nothing”. (4) A theory of abstract and concrete objects as lying on a continuum but, generally, with conceptual vs perceptual grounding respectively; which resolves the nature of the abstract—provided a concept is consistent it is realized somewhere in the universe.
Cosmology. (1) See The View from the Way of Being, p.6, for some general consequences. (2) All consistent forms are realized. However cosmology is far greater than modern physical cosmology. (3) Most analytic philosophers as of 2019 accept modern physical cosmology as cosmology (a significant change since the 1960’s). (4) Tradition, however, via some of its ‘mechanisms’, e.g. the dynamical theories of physics and the self adaptation of ecological systems via Darwin’s indeterminist-determinist model of variation and selection, necessarily generalize to form models of form and formation that, although they are not universal, are mechanisms that probably obtain (a system of concepts: concepts-details.html—see General web resources, p.16). (5) Spacetime is not “original” it may be seen as emergent and immanent with Being (“matter”) rather than as an eternal, external, given framework for Being. It emerges from a precursor—difference and sameness within experience—Being which, in turn, emerges from the void (which too may be seen as emergent from any being)
Science. Science is pragmatic. It is not universal or near universal thus far. The mechanisms above suggest models for origins of the cosmos and its laws (these ideas are not new). From Beings, Being and abstraction, p.11, and other subsequent discussion, we may infer models for the origins of quantum-general-relativistic-worlds.
Being and human destiny. This is manifest in this text.
Here reason will refer to effective or productive relations between mind or conception and world. How is ‘effectiveness’ measured? It is measured by value, which is part of reason (the relations). It was seen in The perfect metaphysics, p.12, that perfect faithfulness is such a value but not the only one; another one is pragmatism; and there is the join of the two.
The perfect metaphysics illustrates perfect reason. There is perfect reason (i) that there are phases of the universe in which perfect mind has perfect knowledge in the sense of faithfulness (ii) even human mind has perfect knowledge in the dual sense explained in The perfect metaphysics, p.12; further, human being can aspire the greater perfection in this world; and merge with it beyond.
There is a plethora of words pertaining to effective relations between conception and world—method, science, rationality, analysis and synthesis, logic (deduction, induction, abduction, conduction), and rhetoric. These all fall under reason.
The word logos was used in a similar sense in Greek philosophy; I might use it here but for its religious uses.
For a system of human knowledge… for the perfect metaphysics, see General web resources, p.16.
Doubt—criticism—and response to criticism is essential to any system of understanding: it is especially critical to the claims of the metaphysics.
An example—the assertion “It is possible that the possible is impossible”; it is self-contradictory.
Response. Such assertions violate any reasonable meaning of ‘possibility’. This is formalized by defining the greatest possibility to be logical possibility.
Response. If not, the meaning of “greatest possible universe” is that given a realization, there is a greater one.
Response. Physics and its laws are empirical whose domain is finite. The above claim about physical possibility projects the laws to the limitless universe. It is of course probable that the laws project to regions just beyond the current empirical boundary.
Response. It is critical to maintain doubt. However, the doubt does not arise from experience of the world as seen in the two previous doubts. It arises from (i) doubts about the nature of the proof and (ii) the magnitude of the implications of FP. Regarding i, note that the proof is not merely formal but based in the filter from the real named abstraction which results in perfect knowledge; alternate proofs and heuristics can be given (in the way of being.html—see General web resources, p.16); and alternate interpretations of the fundamental principle as universal law and existential action principle were given above. Regarding ii, this is not a disproof but a reminder to adjoin caution to any positive attitude toward the principle.
Response. The concepts of Being and so on are indeed trivial. However, it is the triviality that is their demonstrated source of power. The trivial and the deep are not exclusive—here the depth lies in the choice and analysis of the concepts.
Response. The foundation, the path, the metaphysics are all grounded in and give dual weight to the immediate and the ultimate; the metaphysics sees the immediate and the ultimate as interwoven—as one at root.
This objection has various sources (i) this world is lovely enough, (ii) we should focus on the problems of the immediate, and (iii) we should not tamper with the ultimate (it is dangerous, holy etc).
Response. There is no reason to oppose any individual’s choice regarding the ultimate. However (a) the way has been seen as imperative and lovely itself and it is sufficient that some resources be dedicated, (b) the ultimate illuminates and is not distinct from the immediate.
Response. There is value to the religions. However, their positions on metaphysics and cosmology, even where not dogmatic, are posits without demonstration. Even when seemingly reasonable, those posits are metaphysically negated by the present metaphysics.
Go to http://www.horizons-2000.org/0. 2019-site/essential resources.html for the following web pages and site referenced in the essay (alternately, enter the link addresses in an Internet browser):
The Way of Being website;
A source for doubt—the way of being.html;
A source for concepts—concepts-details.html;
A source for a system of human knowledge, reason, practice, and
The analytic version of this essay;
Yoga—by yoga I understand a system that integrates cognition, insight, emotion, body, and experience that is always experimental with regard to means and ends.. That is, there is no final expertise in yoga but ongoing experiment and reflection in relation to fundamental purpose.
Meditation—a part of yoga, is also experimental. It is not only an exercise or a practice (e.g. of contact with the real) but, in action, brings one back in the moment to the small and large essentials requiring attention—it is a practice in avoiding ruts.
Some readings on yoga—Pema Chödrön: How to Meditate, Chagdud Tulku: Gates to Buddhist Practice, The Bhagavad-Gita, and the from traveler Ian Baker: The Heart of the World on the idea of Beyul or nature journey for insight into self or Atman and world or Brahman.