The Way of Being
Anil Mitra, Copyright © October 5, 2020 – November 14, 2020
This work has four numbered divisions or chapters. This chapter is a gateway to the work. It supplements but is not part of the main development in the next two chapters, metaphysics and realization. The final chapter, into the world, is a view on living in the world from the perspective of the work.
The aims are of this gateway chapter are (i) to provide an informal introduction and overview, focusing on provision of a demonstrated and ultimate view of the universe and the individual, and a way to ultimate realization, (ii) to anticipate difficulties of understanding and tell the reader how the difficulties may be overcome, (iii) to anticipate technical issues, e.g. the nature and possibility of metaphysics, and how they are overcome, and (iv) make the conceptual development in later chapters easier to absorb by preparing for it and by avoiding the clutter of an excess of informal explanation.
The way of being is to live well in this world, inspired by and as a way of shared discovery and realization of the ultimate.
This raises questions. Here are some questions, responses, and links to responses. (1) What is the ultimate? The fundamental principle of metaphysics > two conclusions. (2) Is it possible to realize the ultimate? The real metaphysics, the universe and the individual, realization. (3) Is not the ultimate too remote to know? No, if, as shown in the fundamental principle of metaphysics > two conclusions, the ultimate is without limit, it must be present in the immediate world. This work describes approaches to seeing and realizing the ultimate. (4) Why do some people think that we ought not to seek to know and realize the ultimate? The view from the perspective of this work is that it is based in a mistaken concept of the sacred as something we ought not to touch. (5) Does seeking the ultimate entail ignoring or minimizing our immediate world? No, for as stated in the previous paragraph, living well in this world may be a way to and inspired by the ultimate. How, then, ought we to live well in this world? This is addressed in the work, particularly in pathways and into the world.
There are three broad classes of reader to whom the work may appeal—general, those interested in the concepts, and those interested in realization. These classes are not exclusive.
The general reader is one who sees some truth in common secular and religious views of the world. They may or may not think of that truth as complete or infallible, but they are open to the idea that they may be incomplete and capable of improvement.
The metaphysics of the work and its method may be of interest to readers who have an interest in worldviews and paradigms of the real. It may be of special interest to readers, academic and other, with a background or interest in philosophy and science.
There are many versions of the text on the Internet, most experimental. There is one previous print version that was not widely distributed.
Human beings see and seek meaning to living in the world. We, and perhaps other species, are capable of some understanding of the universe including ourselves. Though the understanding is incomplete, it enables some ability to design and negotiate the future. This gives us a sense of destiny—of have a concept of our ideal future and present and designs and actions toward that end.
Since we do not know all the possibilities of beings—of evolution, without further analysis we do not know where we lie on a continuum of possible beings possessed of design and destiny. Perhaps we are near the low end.
Experience and being are the mutual essence of the world.
Experience is conscious awareness in all its higher and elementary forms. The measure of experience is experience; thus, experience is the place of meaning, knowledge, and intrinsic and instrumental realization. Thus Being (that which is) is experiential and has two sides, ‘experience of’ and ‘the experienced’ (pure experience is ‘experience of’ in the case that ‘the experienced’ is empty).
The world is a field of being—of form and change.
Change is necessary to experience; the form of experience is body; and being (body) is always at least primitively experiential—actually, or potentially. The universe is a field of being (and relation and change). That is, no mind without body and no body without mind.
The universe is the greatest possible or ultimate. Individuals inherit the power of the universe. There are paths to realization of the ultimate.
The universe Individual beings (persons, individuals) are elements of the field. The universe has identity and is the greatest possible—all possible beings are realized. Individuals inherit this power, which is realized in individuals merging as the universe in its ultimate power. There are intelligent, effective, enlightened paths to the ultimate. There is a problem of pain. Its resolution is not in eliminating pain but the dual of its therapeutic address and being on a path (being on a path is therapeutic). The path is the destination and the way.
Let us now elaborate the wide-angle view.
A being is that which exists. Being is existence.
An account of knowledge of beings. Experience is phenomenal awareness in all its forms. There is experience of experience and experience as if of a world of self, others, and environment. Two consistent interpretations of the as if side are (i) that the as if is real (ii) that the world is a field of being and experience with individuals in an environment of a lesser degree of experientiality. These interpretations are consistent with experience and one another, the first is a special case of the second which is most inclusive, the first is untenable if it is a strictly material interpretation of our world but tenable as monist. Over and above pure experience, there is ‘experience of’ and ‘the experienced’ (pure experience may be seen as ‘experience of’ the ‘internal’ realm of an organism). It is possible that the experienced is illusory, but when it is not, the experienced is said to exist.
A more detailed account of being. A being is that which exists—i.e., to which some form of the verb to be (e.g., ‘is’), temporal or trans-temporal, validly applies. Being is existence. The power of the concept of being begins with the fact that as foundation it does not need to refer to another datum—it avoids the problems of substance and infinite regress. But can it be truly foundational? As developed in the following paragraphs, the concept of being enables clear conceptions of universe and the void and so (i) of the power of the universe and (ii) grounding of knowledge and action in being—and experience.
The universe and the void. The universe and the void are all being and the nil being, respectively. The universe and the void exist.
The universe is the greatest possible.
The italicized assertion above is named ‘the fundamental principle of metaphysics’. It is implied by existence of the void. It says that in the greatest consistent sense of possibility, all possible beings are realized.
The principle implies that the universe contains the good, the best, and enlightened enjoyment; and that there are also evil, and pain. The universe is not entirely good or joyous.
The universe is the only world, for if there were another the universe would not be the greatest possible
The universe has identity.
The universe and its identity are limitless in extension, duration, variety, and peak and dissolution of being.
Individuals inherit this power.
How do individuals realize the power? They do so in merging with one another, if not in our cosmos, then in the dispositions of the universe and across the limitlessness of extension and duration. Explanation of realization is continued in discussing experience, below.
There are intelligent, effective, and paths of enlightened enjoyment to the ultimate.
The path is the destination and the way.
If enjoyment is a value, it is imperative to be on a path that learns from community but also expresses one’s learning.
There is a critical problem of pain and lack of security.
Their proper address is twofold—the better therapies of society and being on a path.
Path and therapy may overlap and interact. The best therapy is direct address individually and communally together with being on a path. Being on a path has therapeutic value. In a path, there are good balances between being in, accepting, and learning from the moment and looking beyond the here and now to the world and to the limitlessness of all extension and duration.
The individual as individual does not get outside their own experience
That is because the measure of an individual’s experience is their further experience.
In merging of individuals, individuals get outside their experience; but still being does not get outside all experience.
Does the foregoing say that perception creates being? Is it asserting a kind of substance idealism? This not to say that experience creates being but that experience (experiencing) and being are one. Further, this is not an idealism, e.g. “ideas and only ideas are real”.
Rather, that we do not get outside experience does not make the body or the world either not real or really kinds of idea. Instead it has the interpretation, that experience and experienced—mind and body are one and same; there is no mind without body—body is the form of mind, no body without mind—mind is the relationality and processing of body. Can there be a mind without a body or a body without a mind? Body—or part of it—is the form of mind, so no mind without body. Is there body without mind? Clearly, bulk matter as in clay, rocks, and rivers does not have feeling and consciousness as we do. But in a monist world, matter—body—must have a primitive to feeling that, in organisms, is constitutive of higher feeling. In the universe at large, which, from the fundamental principle cannot be substance in the classical sense at all, form need not have an actual primitive to feeling. But there must somewhere be a potential primitive. Where? On general grounds we can say no more than ‘somewhere’. However, from the fundamental principle, we may say ‘everywhere’. Where there is mind, there is form, which is body or matter; in a monist world, form has a primitive to mind; otherwise form has a potential primitive to mind. The universe may be seen to be a field of being and experience.
Therefore, in the immediately following paragraphs one may read ‘experience’ as experience-in-its-most-expansive-sense, or, equally, as mind-body, and as including selves-in-the-world.
A person is a mind-body process and agent in relation with the world which includes the person. It is important that a person is a mind-body and not a mind and body; and mind is not understood in a restrictive sense but in the expansive sense that includes perception, feeling, thought, and intention (and therefore will and choice)—where some people emphasize mind as mind-heart, here heart is already an aspect of mind.
How may the interpretation above be used to show merging of individuals in and as peak being? In the greatest interpretation above, the universe is a field of being and experience; individuals are centers of being and experience, and the environment is a region of low to nil but not null experientiality. Merging is a process of transaction in the universe.
Experience is critical and foundational in realization as subject, object, and means.
How is experience foundational? Experience is foundational and grounding in two ways. The first was tacit in defining and employing the concepts of universe and void above. A second is in the pragmatic and imprecise human traditions of knowledge and action. Even though imprecise by traditional criteria, they are instrumental in realization. Therefore, the dual system of ideal knowledge from the fundamental principle joined to what is valid in tradition, constitute a system of realization of the ultimate. In terms of the revealed value of realization, the dual system is perfect and named the real metaphysics.
There are two sides to deploying experience. On the subject side, realization occurs within and of experience.
On the object side, realization is of the world—natural, social, and the unknown relative to a civilization.
All these are elements of realization.
From the truth of the real metaphysics, it transcends and integrates the conventional secular-universal divide.
Given that the real metaphysics is an ultimate truth—not a speculative or dogmatic belief—it ought to inform all areas of life. It ought to weave together, to cross the divide between the secular, understood conventionally, and the universal (universal’ is preferred to ‘transsecular’ as the latter suggests a divide and a speculative region beyond the immediate).
The real metaphysics will inform the individual in their everyday and universal action and perspective, which will be a balance between living in moment and realization of the ultimate.
An everyday template reflects this balance and incorporates some elements of traditional pathways. The template, which is based in experience, is generic and adaptable to particular circumstances. Here is an outline of the template—
1. Rise early, dedicate to, and affirm the way. Morning meal.
2. Meditative review of the way, life, the day—infusion with mindfulness, projects, and tasks.
3. Realization—work, relationships, yoga and meditation practice and action, engagement in the world.
4. Tasks. Daily and long term. Attitude—mindfulness, yoga in action. Midday meal.
5. Physical activity, exploration of nature and culture for experience and inspiration; art, photography.
6. Evening—rest, renewal, review, meditation and realization, network, community, tasks, supper, preparation-dedication for the next day and future. Sleep early
Public life ought to integrate the common or secular world, i.e. as normative and valid, and the universal and ultimate (this will naturally be delicate). The ultimate will inform the common, and the common will serve both common and ultimate ends.
Intrinsic realization, addressed in the everyday template, is that of the individual (mind-body) and their trajectory.
Civilization, too, has a trajectory of realization, which integrates the secular and the ultimate. Immediate life and institutions include persons, groups, society, politics, economics, technology, and the growth and lateral and vertical communication of knowledge; these elements are instrumental. In a larger perspective, civilization may progress from cosmos, to cosmos, with the ultimate universe as a destination along the way.
The dimensions of world or categories of being are real and pragmatic.
1. The real is (i) pure or being itself as being-experience (mind-body) as experience itself (pure concept), ‘experience of’ (concept), and ‘the experienced’ (‘object’) and (ii) real—the universe as a field of being-form informing formation-change experience (via relation, which is part of form).
2. Pragmatic—i.e. instrumental if incomplete and imprecise—nature (elementary or physical, complex including the living, and experiential or mind), civilization (institutions and technology), persons (mind-body agents, individuals), and the universal (lying beyond our experience of the nature, civilization, person, and including the unknown).
A universal template weaves together the intrinsic and the instrumental. The template is generic over the foregoing intrinsic and instrumental elements, and is customizable to particular situations, interests, and personality orientations.
Whereas the everyday template is arranged by phases of a day, the universal template is arranged by phases of personal and social action. Here is an outline of the universal template—
1. Being in the world, community, retreat.
2. Ideas—reflection and investigation of the real metaphysics and its real and pragmatic divisions; experience, reason, and action.
4. Becoming—Civilization as vehicle and path to the real. Instrumental and immersive transformation of civilization and its institutions.
5. Becoming—artifact, technology, civilizing-populating the universe, artificial-organic being interaction and syntheses.
6. Becoming—the universal, the common way to peak being, via immersion in and emergence from the dispositions of the universe, across cosmological systems.
7. Being in the universe—realizing peak being in this life, which is possible and therefore real (per the real metaphysics); means—the foregoing elements of the universal template.
Our experience of the world is a source of knowledge. Though there is error and illusion, we can sharpen our observation and find patterns. This results in worldviews, e.g. the view from science. That science has truth is known from success in using it. However, while some scientists and laypersons project current science to the universe, such projection is not known to be valid. Outside the empirical region—defined in time, space, and limits of acuity of observation—the realization of all possibility that does not violate the empirical is consistent with science. Thus, there may be limitlessly many cosmoses of limitless variety beyond our empirical cosmos, and entire worlds among us but below the threshold of observation. And philosophically, even within the empirical region, our experiential worldview of selves in an environment may be in error—e.g., the universe may be experiential with individuals as experiential centers and what we think of as the inert environment may be a place of low to nil but not null experientiality (it is informative to consider such positions, regardless of their truth or absurdity, for the attempt to evaluate the truth may improve our knowledge of the real).
Can we talk of the ‘trans-experiential’ region at all? Yes (i) we can talk of what is possible in the sense of being consistent with experience and reason and (ii) we can recognize that with sufficient conceptual omission of detail (i.e., with sufficient abstraction) there is no trans-experiential region—e.g., if we regard the universe as all that there is then there is one and only one universe.
While that conclusion appears trivial, a line of reasoning beginning with abstraction will be found potent. It will enable the conclusion that the universe is the realization of the greatest possibility. This conclusion will be named the fundamental principle of metaphysics.
It immediately follows that the universe has identity—is, at least in some phases, an experiential being that is limitless in extension, duration, peak, dissolution, and variety and that individuals inherit this power of the universe. I.e., individuals merge with or as universal identity in its peaks.
How may we visualize that conclusion? Marvel for a moment at your being. It is, in one view, made of elementary particles. An abstract mind with power of thought similar to yours would not know from the particles themselves that they can form a human being. Yet we arose in evolution—a natural process intrinsic to the material particles. Now, if we have arisen in about 13.8 billion years, the possibilities for an infinity of time, a time in which the physical elements themselves might arise in forms far more complex and potent than in our cosmos, the beings too may be far more potent than what we see in our cosmos. The possibility of peak universal identity in infinite time would seem approachable. One point to this reflection is to acknowledge human limits and death as real but not absolute. If the limits reign over the time frame of a human life or a cosmos, they may be transcended in eternity—in traversing the limitless array of cosmoses and more in extension and duration. But even in the present, we are also amid the ultimate. The real metaphysics discussed in the next paragraph, but developed later, enables seeing this conceptually. It shows the necessity of ultimates and their realization. A system such as meditation may be instrumental as an experimental approach to attempting to see this in perception.
Of what use is this knowledge? We can appreciate it, but can we use it? Does its abstract foundation make it inapplicable, except as illumination of the world? A first answer is that armed with the abstract knowledge, there is motive and reason to seek realization of the ultimate. But we can do more. We will develop a real metaphysics as a join of the fundamental principle (and consequences) with pragmatic knowledge from the history of human thought and culture including that of the present time. The abstract will illuminate and guide the pragmatic and the pragmatic will be instrumental in realizing the ideal. The result, named the real metaphysics, together with experience, reason, and experiment will be our way to the ultimate. All this is the content of the first main division on metaphysics.
The second and final main division is on realization. The first sections of this division reiterate and elaborate some aspects of the real metaphysics that are pertinent to realization. It takes up the critical issues of enjoyment and pain. It discusses and develops pathways to the ultimate with reference to major world systems, seen as experimental rather than final. The relevance of the systems, even though not final, is their insight and their synthesis into the pathways. This division also presents path templates and further resources for realization.
The final chapter is a series of reflections leading from the ideas into the world.
The source of the way in reason and intuition is outlined in the preview, above.
The idea of search for ultimates is not new. Further, many specific ideas from the history of thought contribute to the way. Some influences are noted in a resource section.
The way of being as developed here has origin in my life, reflection, experience, and constructive and critical thought. While I have learned much from the history of ideas, I believe that this work contributes. I believe that demonstration (proof) of the fundamental principle, the worldview and rational synthesis, and much of the elaboration and application are also new. This development stands in contrast to our secular and religious paradigms. It sees the secular view of the universe (e.g. the big bang, the evolution of life on earth, and secular humanism) as having truth but only a small part of the truth (of course, when it is our truth, a view tends to loom large in our minds). It goes far beyond most religious paradigms in the magnitude of the revealed truth and in that it is neither speculative, nor dogmatic, nor final in presentation—for it is demonstrated and even though it reveals an ultimate, it shows vast scope for improvement in understanding and realizing that ultimate. Indeed, for limited beings the understanding and realization are a journey—amid the myriad cosmoses and more—without end in time, variety, magnitude, or quality. ‘Being’ is revealed as an endless adventure.
For major sources for the way in the history of ideas, and for the influences on my thought, see the section on resources.
This section is an aid to anticipating and overcoming what may be difficult in understanding and living the way.
The work is not a mere compilation or synthesis of established ideas. It is a synthesis of some received ideas and new thought. If their worldview fits a standard mold, readers should expect disconfirmation of their view and perhaps initial disorientation. They may expect a significant broadening of horizons.
It has been discussed how the way goes beyond the standard secular-scientific paradigm or worldview. It was established that a far greater view of the universe is consistent with the truth contained in that standard view.
Thus, it is quite valid for someone who seeks meaning and truth to be interested in the spiritual side of religion for meaning and the history of metaphysics for truth. Though religion is often dogmatic and metaphysics sometimes excessively speculative, it has been established that these are not limitations of what is possible in religion and metaphysics.
The real metaphysics of this work negates the dogma and excess speculation and goes far beyond what may be true in established religion and the history of metaphysics. This ‘going beyond’ is not just in quantity of the universe revealed but also, fundamentally, in conceptual quality.
The reader should anticipate having to relinquish their preconceptions, at least temporarily (this point was made in the previous section, but it is important enough to bear repetition). If readers anticipate validation of their preconceptions, they may be unable to absorb the new content. Once the main ideas of the new content are absorbed, readers may return to a more critical mode and an analysis of detail. In fact, they ought to do so for it would correct what may be in error in this work and enhance what is true. Just as importantly, for the reader, it should result in a synthetic view of the work.
Since the worldview of the work is new, it is inevitable that the concept meanings shall have newness. Mostly, the new meanings shall be attached to terms that are already in use. Readers should follow the meanings (definitions) given. They should be prepared to set aside their received and intuitive senses of meaning—at least temporarily.
It is critical to see that the meaning of a paradigm or system of thought is not the collection or some kind of sum of meanings of the individual terms. It is rather in how the terms constitute a system. In the present case, as it will be seen, the system also includes its means of reason. The aim is not just to absorb the terms, but the system; and not just to absorb the system as a complex structure, but also as an intuition and a whole—as a Gestalt.
Some readers may be opposed to system in thought. There are good reasons to be opposed to imposed, forced, or merely or highly speculative system. However, the present system is emergent from and with experience (and, further, its development was significantly experimental and incremental). Further, the system may be regarded as in-process rather than final. Therefore, while it may be viewed axiomatically, this aspect of the system is not emphasized in this version of the work.
In summary, readers may temporarily set aside worldviews and meanings, and seek to absorb the view of the way as a whole. Of course, part of the way to the whole is to begin with absorption of the small parts while seeking to understand them as well as their interplay.
Understanding is not sufficient to realization (in fact it will become clear that the view of the way is that at a sufficiently inclusive level, knowing and being are inseparable). It may not even be necessary, but it is one foundation. The understanding needs to be put into practice. Two parts to this are (i) continual effort to rectify understanding in formal and intuitive terms, especially potential internal conflicts and conflicts with received understanding and (ii) putting understanding into practice and daily living, interactively—for which the chapter on realization is a guide.
As a guide, realization is not intended as a ‘how to’ manual. It is not just about following an ideal pathway. It is also about sharing and developing pathways. For to share and develop is not just to be on a more efficient path, it is essential to being in a state of realizing.
Community is significant in maintaining a sense of the truth of any worldview. It is important to have others with whom to share knowledge—we recognize here that it is not about belief for one either knows or does not know and here we have developed knowledge. This is especially important regarding the way since its worldview is at odds with and transcends the common worldviews.
In Buddhism, the term Sangha refers to community that maintains the Buddhist tradition as immanent in everyday life. Regarding the way, there is a paradox—while it is important to share and develop, community tends to divide into leaders and followers. We must seek community and common truth but also to maintain the originality of every member of the community. The individual ought to seek to develop courage to speak the truth.
What is metaphysics? Traditionally, in philosophy, a metaphysical system, in the best interpretation, over and above direct experience and the science of its pragmatic patterns, has been seen as rational but also speculative. That is, it is concerned with what is consistent with experience but does not necessarily follow from experience. It may concern the entire universe or just a part of it.
Naturally, as definite knowledge, metaphysics has come under criticism. For when it acknowledges its limits, its utility may then be questioned.
Here, we will consider metaphysics to be knowledge of the real and to the extent it may be achieved, all the real. We have spoken to the issue of addressing all the real. But given illusion, how is it possible to know the real at all? This is the approach we shall take. (i) We have seen that there is more than interpretation of the world from experience that is consistent with experience. (ii) On the ideal side, beginning with abstraction, we demonstrate the fundamental principle and its ideal consequences. (iii) On the pragmatic side, we have appeal to the history of human knowledge, which we take pragmatically. It is an instrument of realization. It is not regarded as perfect depiction of the real, yet we know it has some purchase on whatever the real may be for it enables some negotiation of the world. (iv) While the pragmatic side may be ever at best an approximation to the nature and fact of truth, if that is so its perhaps at best approximate character cannot be an intrinsic negative, for the way things are is not a negative. But the ideal side shows it to be an instrument in realization and therefore it is in some sense perfect, even in its imperfection. In the present we see our ultimate selves and that our temporal limits will be overcome in some cosmos and some life (even this one, should we perchance to arrive at the ultimate). (v) As noted earlier, the ideal illuminates and guides the pragmatic—and shows it to be perfect in its own way; and the pragmatic is an instrument in realizing the ultimate; and the two—the ideal and the pragmatic—constitute a perfect instrument toward the ideal according to criteria of perfection revealed by the ideal (the process is not and need not be linear or free of pain—here, perfection is about aiming at the ultimate and accepting unavoidable difficulty in the immediate and the ultimate). This is the system named the real metaphysics (which we now see to be open ended for it is not to be set aside as distinct from our own practice and process).
The real metaphysics is not a theory of everything. While, as seen in the next section, it is ultimate in ‘depth’ or foundation, for limited beings it is ever open to discovery and realization of variety—it is open with regard to ‘breadth’. Breadth is the realm of discovery, realization, and adventure.
The metaphysics begins with the concept of experience as subjective or phenomenal experience in all its forms. There is such a thing as experience, for it is just another name for subjective awareness. It is not assumed that experience of all things is ‘objective’ but (i) as just observed there is experience (ii) there is experience of experience, which is necessary to knowing that there is experience, (iii) since there is experience of experience, there is a world, even if only of experience, but (iv) there is a range of interpretations of experience, e.g. world as selves in an environment and world as experiential with individuals as heightened centers of experience and environment as subdued experience to the point, sometimes, of nil but not null experience, and (v) starting with experience, the work develops the real metaphysics which enables evaluations of the interpretations—and what is found is that world as experiential is the greatest consistent interpretation while world as selves in an environment can be interpreted as having restricted purchase as a particular case of the larger interpretation (and there are other interpretations that also have limited purchase—and where these may be logically indistinguishable from the local standard or selves in an environment, they may be argued to be insignificant existentially and improbable numerically).
To build the metaphysics, the concept of being is introduced as ground. It plays the role that substance plays in substance metaphysics—i.e., it is foundational. However, substance is fundamentally limited as it is a posit without justification (regardless whether non neutral as in materialism and whether a single substance as in monism). Being is just existence and we have seen that there is a world, which includes experience. Beginning with being as existence, and beings which have being or existence, we take up examples of beings in the universe and the void. The universe exists, but we may doubt existence of the void and therefore a demonstration is given.
Next, the work takes up possibility. This is subtle on the following accounts (i) what possibility is—here the earlier treatment of beings as experienced is critical, (ii) the kinds of possibility—and the essential distinction of real and logical possibility and related sub-kinds and subtleties, (iii) that in considering possibility, knowledge and reason—content and method—are co-emergent (which has implications for the idea of the a priori and whether logic is a priori to experience).
We still have not said what possibility is. Consider a concept of some state of affairs. The concept may or may not be realized. If it violates the constitution of a cosmos, it is impossible for that cosmos; an example is physical impossibility for the cosmos. But the form of the concept may rule out its realization in any world—i.e., in the universe as all being. For example, since the concepts of ‘square’ and ‘circle’ are mutually exclusive, a square circle is never realized. If the concept itself does not rule out existence, i.e. without reference to the world, it is logically possible. In fact, this is one conception of logic. In some sense, logical possibility is the outer limit of possibility; if the universe had no real, e.g. physical, limits, valid conceptions of it would still be bounded by logical possibility (we could admit concepts that violate logic but would then have to recognize that the part of the universe described by them is empty). Our logics, of course, since they are defined by forms of conceptual expression (e.g. as in the predicate calculus), do not exhaust logic and may be subject to empirical correction. In what sense is logic empirical? Science is empirical over the world. Logic is empirical over relations between concepts and the world.
Logical possibility is a notion of possibility that inheres in the concept. If the possibility inheres in the universe itself, the possibility is ‘real’. But the notion has subtleties. Suppose a state of affairs obtains on one part of earth. Is it then possible? It is not a given that the state will occur again, because for some states the necessary conditions might never occur again—even if the state on the part of earth repeats, elsewhere things may be different. It is highly improbable that we will ever have a war identical to the second world war. But if I enter a room, it is clear that to say it is possible that I can enter the room has at least pragmatic meaning. To say that something is possible in our cosmos is to say that we estimate that it could obtain, even if it never does (it might obtain in a constitutionally identical cosmos). But is that true of the universe? I.e., if a state never obtains in the entire history of the universe as all being, can it be possible? No—for a limited space-time region of the universe possibility may exceed the real but for the entire universe, real possibility and the real are identical. But it is certain is that the real possibility of the universe, e.g. physical possibility, is bounded by logical possibility. What the fundamental principle says is that for the universe, the real, real possibility, and logical possibility are identical (thus making real possibility significant for a limited part of the universe but superfluous for the universe as a whole).
Now, two approaches to demonstration of the fundamental principle can be given (various heuristic arguments can also be given). One is to show existence of the void, which in turn implies the principle. A second is via possibility and showing necessity of the fundamental principle. The former implies necessity and necessity implies existence of the void. However, even though multiple proofs and heuristics enhance confidence and understanding, both proofs may be doubted in that they do not and cannot stem from an examination of all experience. Rather, they stem from necessary reason applied to an abstract of experience. But existence of the void and the necessity argument are not absurd since they are (found) consistent with reason (and science). Therefore, if we insist on doubting necessity of the demonstration, which we ought to do (for it may result in epistemological, ontological, and existential soundness), we may regard existence of the void as (a) an ontological axiom and (b) as an existential principle.
We have observed that we will see that the fundamental principle is the principle that the universe is the realization of the greatest possibility. We can now see that this means that the universe is the realization of logical possibility. As seen above this includes but is greater than possibility in terms of our limited systems of logic.
From this point on the flow of proof is ‘downhill’. That is the significant machinery of proof is in the demonstration of the fundamental principle. As far as fundamentals are concerned, the remaining consequences are easy.
If the universe is the greatest possible, why do we not see all possibilities in this world? That we do not, would seem to contradict the universe as the greatest possible. Well—what we observe so far, is one possibility and the observed history can only be one. That we see only some possibilities in the known world, present and past, does not imply that all possibilities do not occur in the entire universe—past, present, and future. Now, it is possible that our standard view of history (the big bang and evolution) is illusory for (as Bertrand Russell pointed out) it is logically consistent with our experience in the present moment that the world, complete with evidence and memory of what we think is past, may have come into existence five minutes ago. Further, it may cease five minutes from now. Can we rule these possibilities out? No, they may indeed obtain. But (i) they do not alter the large picture that flows from the real metaphysics, (ii) arguments can be given that in the universe with its realization of limitless possibility, the five minute universe is so infrequent as to be irrelevant to our eternal being, and (iii) it is pragmatic to take the stable and meaningful view of our history, even without appeal to the real metaphysics which reveals the necessity of meaning (though not necessarily of our interpretations of meaning).
But what does ‘greatest possibility’ imply? It does, as pointed out earlier, imply the greatest variety and adventure. However, it does not mean ‘best’ (even if our notions of the good have universal meaning)—but it includes the best. Thus, we do not expect a pain free universe. There is a problem of pain (and its dual, which is enjoyment) and it is addressed later; in fact, at the ‘lower rungs’ of experiential being, pain is essential.
A referent of experience is that of which experience is possible.
However, experience may be illusory.
A being that that which is a valid referent of experience or, equivalently, that to which some form of the verb to be validly applies.
Being is the characteristic of beings as beings.
Being specifies no particular set of times or locations; particularly, it does not distinguish past, present, and future; nor does its use imply the existence (or structure) of time, for its use allows that there may be being outside time.
Some alternate terms—for referent or a being: object, existent; for being—existence.
A cause of existence or a state of being is a reason inherent in being for existence of or state of being.
Power or effective cause is interaction, i.e. the giving and receiving of effect.
Effective cause may be between beings or within a being. That is, beings may be self-causal.
The hypothetical being that has no power, self or other, does not exist.
In the following, cause without qualification will refer to effective cause.
In talking of being, ‘experience’ was used in the phrase ‘experience of’. The real world is the world of being—the world that may be experienced; it includes experience itself and not just conventional objects, for we have experience of experience; and it is seen as the sum of internal or private objects and external or public objects, but the distinction, internal vs external, is neither clear nor universal among experiencers and we shall not make much of it.
But experience is not always of something. There may, at least seemingly, be pure experience—i.e. experience without an object or ‘of the nil or null object’. However, even pure experience is likely the result of interaction of an experiential center with internal data, and even apparently pure experience may be seen as having sources in and consequences for the real world. Thus experience, and consequently, being are relational.
Let us now begin to employ a more inclusive concept of experience.
Experience is subjective or phenomenal awareness in all its forms: perceiving, thinking (conceiving), feeling, emoting, pure experience, willing, intending, experience of causing, experience in acting, and more.
Other uses of ‘experience’ include the earlier ‘experience of’, which is a kind of experience; and cumulative experience which is not experience but the result of experience.
When there is experience of a referent, actual or potential, the experience of is the concept and the referent is the object.
Of course, the object is a further set of experiences which, may, in the case of sufficient faithfulness by abstraction or any other adequate means, be taken as objective.
An iconic concept is one that refers in virtue of sufficient faithfulness to the object.
A linguistic concept is one in which a sign, simple or compound, is associated with icons, sufficient to identify a referent. The reference is the result of the icon, and, if it is compound, the form of the sign as well.
Concept meaning is a concept and its possible objects.
Knowledge is meaning realized.
A language is a system of signs, grammar (rules for forms of compound signs designed so as to refer with degrees of specificity adequate to contexts), and meanings of relatively simple signs (such that compound signs also have meanings with specificity adequate to contexts).
Language is efficient in thought and communication in virtue of the fact (and when) that signs are simpler than objects and icons. Finitary systems of signs lend themselves to precision and necessary inference in virtue of being linear and completely accessible to inspection. This is also a weakness of language but only so, relative to the erroneous thought that language ought to be adequate to all thought and communication regarding the real. Thus, while science derives precision from expression in terms of sign systems, significant meaning, feeling, and emotion are conveyed as metaphor, poetry, and art. Further, there is a wide-open region between the sciences and the arts where there is room for non-finitary thought to complement the finitary thought of sign systems.
The epistemic and ontological significance are bound together in experience as measure of being and place of being and knowledge of being, respectively.
The existential significance of experience begins in its ontological and epistemic significance. There is a sense in which the individual does not transcend their experience (except in, say, becoming a more inclusive being, which, in turn, subject to the same exception, does not transcend its experience).
Thus, the world is the world of experience and its interpretations (which, though it begs the question of what is real, does not entail that the question has no answer). The measure of the real in experience, is further experience.
Experience is not just the place of knowledge but also of concept, linguistic, and significant meaning. Though not all that is significant for an individual, it is the place that the individual experiences significance.
The hypothetical being that is not experienced by self or other has no significance—is effectively nonexistent (that is, the concept of such a being has no significant object).
It is the place of intrinsic realization and the essential place of action toward instrumental realization.
The discussion of beings anticipates the discussion of possibility. Care has been taken to avoid circularity.
The most elementary experience is that of sameness or difference.
The identity of a being or self is sense of sameness across change, whose measure is named time. The measure of difference without change is labeled space. In that identity is indefinite, so are space and time; in that different perspectives may differentiate space and time differently, the two are not entirely separable. Are time and space universal? Beings require space, experience requires time. An ideal point and the absence of being, if they are beings, are the only beings not marked by space and time (though, if they exist, they may exist within space and time).
That beings have form, implies the existence of space. Given beings, the existence of space is necessary. Given that experience is always an experience, the existence of time is necessary. Time is necessary to significance. A dynamic being is one whose change is a function of its form.
The concept of being was defined so as to make identification of beings trivially simple in principle—if a form of the verb to be is validly applicable, i.e. if the concept of the being has an object, then a being has been identified. Though simple in principle, the identification may be far from easy in practice. The problem of identification is the problem of error which arises in the case of percepts and free concepts formed of iconic and symbolic images (the two are intertwined, e.g., when I see a stone there is the perceptual image which may be distorted or even a hallucination and the concept of a stone, which is phenomenal in nature and may fail to capture the real). Such problems are among the reasons that, starting with the British empiricists, epistemology came to play a central role in philosophy.
Here, however, we will find, from the real metaphysics, that there are ultimate purposes for which metaphysics, properly understood, is philosophy. Consequently, while epistemology remains important in issues the nature of knowledge and its kinds, and of claims to knowledge, especially in the local realm, it is of diminished importance
Experience, sameness, difference, identity, form (and space), and change (and time) have being. Laws and theories will be seen to have being.
Given a being, the entire being (all) and any part of it beings. The null part or void will be seen to be a being.
We—humans—are experiential beings with a sense of identity. The forms of experience include the range from perception and thought, to meaning and knowing, to feeling and emotion, to will and choice in action. We are capable of enquiring into our nature and the nature of the universe, and we have some ability to design and know destiny. We are perhaps the lowest rung of such being, possibly along with other species, for we do not have appear to have native knowledge of the full nature and reason for being.
The universe is all being—over all form and change, i.e. over all space, time, and their absence.
The universe exists—i.e. it is a being.
The universe contains dynamic beings but is not known to be a dynamic being (it will turn out that it is not a dynamic being).
The universe is not caused or created by another being, for there are no other beings.
So far as there is cause, the universe is self-causal.
No being is self-created in that self-creation presumes simultaneous existence and non-existence.
The universe is not created, either by another being or by itself.
If the existence of the universe is caused, the kind of cause must be other than effective cause.
If we consider logic as cause, possibility without necessity is mere accident and therefore not a good candidate as logical cause. Necessity, where it obtains, is a reason (logical) inherent in being, and therefore a kind of cause.
Necessity is an effective candidate for the cause of the existence of the universe.
The void is the absence of being.
The void contains no beings (except perhaps itself).
Given experience, the definition of the universe implies its existence. However, the definition of the void does not imply its existence.
However, for the void, existence and non-existence are equivalent. Therefore, the void may be taken to exist.
The void is a being.
A naïve concept of possibility is that which can happen (obtain) or exist. The naïvety is due to the vagueness of the term ‘can’. There need to be specific criteria regarding ‘can happen or obtain’.
Given a concept, it has possibility if it can obtain according to certain criteria, if the criteria allow existence of referent. Otherwise, it is impossible.
Thus, there are kinds of possibility.
Real possibility obtains where the form of the universe allows existent of the referent. Scientific possibility is an estimate of possibility in terms of science—i.e., usually our sciences. Physical possibility and economic possibility are examples of scientific possibility. Sentient possibility is what is possible for sentient organisms and their designs and technologies.
A pattern obtains for a part of the universe when the data to specify the state of the part is less than the raw data.
A law or theory of science is our reading of patterns in a part or region (in space, time, or both) of the universe.
Our readings may have error. In science, method refers to ways we have found to be effective eliminating error or, alternately, moving out the boundary or part or region. This what is meant in calling science empirical.
However, the pattern itself is immanent in the part. The law, though an approximate reading, corresponds to something real—the pattern or law.
Laws, patterns, and theories have being—i.e., they are beings.
Real possibility is identical to universal possibility, the possibilities of the universe.
The possibilities of our world are a subset of the real or universal possibilities.
Logical possibility obtains when the form of the concept itself does not rule out existence of the referent (this is one way to define logic).
Whereas science is empirical over the world, logic is empirical over the relations between concepts and the world. This is the way to discovery and improvement of logics.
Thus defined, logical possibility is not of the world as an object but of the relationship of concepts and objects, i.e. of experience of and experienced, i.e. of knowledge of the world.
There is, therefore, a tentative definition of logic in terms of the world. It is that to be logical, a concept must have at least one instance in the universe.
Our logics, where valid, provide examples of logical possibility. They do not exhaust the ‘possibilities’ of logical possibility (this is because our forms of expression do not exhaust the forms of expression). Logical possibility is the greatest possibility, but our logics provide only examples of logical possibility.
Real possibility presumes logical possibility.
Real possibility is bounded by logical possibility; real possibility, which includes scientific and sentient possibility, cannot be greater than logical possibility.
In the following, possibility without qualification will refer to logical possibility.
If a concept must have a referent, it has necessity (i.e., it is necessary).
Necessity implies possibility, possibility allows but does not imply necessity.
If a concept is possible but not necessary, existence of the object is contingent or contingently possible.
Various kinds of necessity correspond to the kinds of possibility.
Logical necessity obtains when the concept itself requires existence of the object.
In the following, necessity without qualification will refer to logical necessity.
A being is unconditional if it is instantiated without exceptions allowed by its concept.
A being is absolutely unconditional if it is instantiated without exception. For example, if the universe were temporal, an absolutely unconditional being would exist for all time.
In the following, unconditionality without qualification will refer to absolute unconditionality.
Unconditionality is a measure, relative to the universe, of necessity.
Necessity and unconditionality are identical.
Since necessity makes no presumption—has no premise—from symmetry, a necessary being must manifest in all its forms.
If an unconditional being has more than one possible form, it must exist in all its forms.
The nothingness that the universe would be, if it were to be nonmanifest, is there beside—and amid and immanent to—the universe when manifest. That is, the void is unconditionally (e.g. eternally and ubiquitously) existent.
Metaphysical possibility is a condition of existence due to a necessary characteristic of a kind of being. Metaphysical possibility is a useful concept when we want to consider general questions and questions about general kinds of being without being tied to the specifics of a particular world.
Because it concerns kinds of being, metaphysical possibility is a class of possibilities. Of course, every being is a kind of being, so all possibilities are metaphysical. Physical possibility is metaphysical. But the interest is, as stated above, in general kinds. While we might be interested in physical possibility as metaphysical, we would be more interested in the possibilities of form as metaphysical. While the possibilities of human mind are interesting, we would be inclined to consider the possibilities of sentience or experience as metaphysical. Definitely, logical possibility as the boundary of all being, is a kind of metaphysical possibility.
There is a powerful use of the concept of metaphysical possibility in the following discussion of the universe as a field of being and experience.
An interpretation of experience is a picture or description of a part of the world or universe, at some level of generality with regard to features, that is consistent with a range of experience. The interpretations here concern not just a part but the whole world or universe and the range of experience will be the entire range, but not in all its detail.
Given two interpretations, they may be consistent with each other—or not. However, if two interpretations seem inconsistent it may be because of tacit presumptions. Often, an interpretation is regarded as standard because it agrees with a received paradigm, e.g. materialism. (A paradigm is usually an interpretation of a range of experience that is projected speculatively beyond the range and as such, a paradigm is not known to be an interpretation while some paradigms may be known to be inconsistent with experience even though widespread. Paradigms may be interpretations if their range of application is restricted or their conditions relaxed.) Alternate interpretations may then seem absurd. Attempts to determine which interpretation is true are useful because (i) the standard interpretation may be reinforced, found to have limited purchase, or discredited (ii) the ‘absurd’ interpretation may be found to have purchase and to not be absurd after (iii) a better interpretation or interpretations may be found (iv) if there are two consistent interpretations the less inclusive one may pertain to a particular world, e.g. ours, and the more inclusive one to a more inclusive world or to the universe, and (iv) we may learn about the real and about reason.
A common and standard view—and interpretation—of the world is that it is constituted of experiential individuals, selves, and others, in an experientially inert environment or universe. Now this view is true of some possible worlds. However, it is not possibly true of a strictly materialist world—a world made of a single substance, matter, which has no mental characteristic at all. Such a world would be experientially inert. Therefore, this standard view enhanced by strict materialism cannot be a description of our world—cosmos. However, our world may, for limited purposes, be a single or monist substance world—have a substance interpretation, if we allow the substance to be experiential (the monism is not ‘neutral’). Individuals would be bright centers of experience, the environment would be dim to nil but not null, experientially. This may seem absurd from a materialist perspective but (a) not only does it resolve the problem of strict materialism in allowing for experience but (b) it allows a material side in that the form of experience would manifest as matter like. It is an extended version of the standard and materialist view. Though its conceptual distinction from the standard and materialist view is significant, the phenomenal difference is small. Why is it an interpretation for limited purposes only? It is because substance theory cannot be a theory of origins or of inherent reasons for existence.
It is not given or known that our world is a substance world. From the impressive but incomplete success of physics and the absence of strict need for biological and mental substances, that our world is a monist world does seem to be a good but empirically localized paradigm for the world (the empirical limits being the thresholds of observation, e.g. remoteness in time, space, size, and energy of interaction). It has just been seen that if it is a substance world, the substance must be experiential, with matter and body not being other than mind but the form of the experiential substance. That is, experience and matter are one. What is the relationship? Experience is relationship and must therefore be relationship or interaction among the material elements. That would seem odd if it said that elementary particles have experience as we experience having experience (this and unfounded materialism are the main objections to pan-experientialism). However, that is not being said. What is said, is that the elementary particles have properties that, in certain complex structures (e.g., brains), compound to experience as we experience it (just as materialism does not argue that the fields of quantum field theory are rocks or Eiffel Towers but that rocks and towers are constituted of the fields and it is the form of the fields that adds up to the form and dynamics of rocks and towers). Nor is it being said that experience of something creates or is necessary for its being. Rather, it is being said that experience, properly understood, is being and the essence of being.
A larger interpretation is one where the substance requirement is relaxed. In this description the universe is a field of experience and being, with form (space), and change (time), and possible regions of absence of space and time. Such a world may be the greatest possible universe in terms of categories, for experience is relation but has no categories beyond the matter like and experience, as imagined by Spinoza, for experience is relation and therefore relation of relation is just relation and therefore also experience (but there may an infinite number of qualities). Categorially, the universe as a field of experience (and being) is the most inclusive possible and therefore bounds the actual universe.
Note that universe as field of being is a pan-psychism that is a template that avoids major problems of pan-psychism. The problems with resolutions are (i) the composition problem in that in a field view, an ‘atom’ of experience is an approximation, (ii) the complexity problem in that experience does occur in non-complex entities but is not a bright or complex as our consciousness and may also lack self-reference or experience of experience, and (iii) the problem of qualia (the hard problem), which is only a problem in terms of a physicalist ontology.
But does the actual universe realize this categorial boundary? What possibilities does the actual universe realize? How does our world fit in the actual universe? What is the significance of other interpretations of the world and universe—e.g. a strictly material world and a solipsist world, i.e. one that is nothing but the experience of what we think of as a single individual?
How do we know our world is not a metaphysically solipsist world, e.g. just the world of my experience? Logically, I do not. However, there is an interesting dichotomy on this solipsist account—either the world or universe is reduced to my (the solipsist’s) capacity or I am raised to the capacity of the universe (or somewhere in between). The first case is an interpretation alternative to the standard view on monism; the second is universe as field of experience, which, since it relaxes the substance requirement altogether, includes the first as a particular and restricted example.
Some common arguments against solipsism are (i) from analogy—like causes (we are similar material organisms) must have like effects (we must be experiential) (ii) the standard approach (without strict materialism) is the best explanation and (iii) behavior (or some other criteria) is the criterion of mind. But all these approaches presume some metaphysical background. Therefore, while they may be considered good arguments, they are not necessary arguments.
Resolution of these issues and further considerations are deferred to universe as field, revisited.
The assertion that the universe is the realization of the greatest possibility is named the fundamental principle of metaphysics.
All possibilities must emerge from the void, for non-existence of a possibility would be a law in the void.
Therefore, the universe is the greatest possible.
The power of the void is without limit. The void may be regarded as playing the role of substance. However, it is not a classical substance and requires no posit or foundation in another being or reason. There is effectively one void.
It follows that the universe has identity and is limitless in extension, duration, variety, peaking, and dissolution of being. Particularly, there is a limitless number of physical laws, of which each manifest in a limitless array of cosmoses, all in communication with a sublayer which is a near void in transient communication with the void. Individuals—all beings—inherit the power of the void and the universe and merge with and as the universe in its peaks. Death and limits of individuals and cosmoses are real but not absolute.
Now, a set of meta-conclusions. First, the power of the fundamental principle is great, yet the demonstration near trivial; further it is rational and ontological; further, if we accept the argument that the void cannot be observed, it cannot be empirical (but the argument is not obviously true). Therefore, it ought to be doubted—and doubt is addressed below; part of that address is an alternate demonstration (and this is also a reason for having given two demonstrations of the existence of the void, earlier). However, there is no doubt that the principle is consistent with experience (which includes science and logic). Second, many implications of the principle are trivial and will be made below, without remark.
Consider the system constituted of the void and all manifest being (the system is in fact the universe). This system has unconditional being. Its existence is therefore necessary and therefore it must exist in both its forms—the void or non-manifest and the manifest. Similarly, the manifest has many possible forms; and therefore, all possible forms must manifest—which concludes the demonstration.
Also note that neither the void nor the manifest is necessary. The universe can therefore be neither void nor manifest eternally. It must phase between void and manifestation.
Since (i) the fundamental principle is consistent with experience, including science and logic, and its demonstrations are at least good reasons to think of it as true and (ii) it promises power and illumination of being, therefore it is appropriate to maintain doubt but also to have the following positive attitudes toward it—(a) as a postulate to found an ultimate metaphysics and (b) as an existential principle for foundation of attitude and action.
Metaphysics is study of the real. It has been thought impossible on two related counts (i) we do not know that the phenomena—the world as experienced—are faithful to the world (ii) there may be parts of the universe beyond the empirical boundary. There is a third count, (iii) it is a characteristic of many metaphysical studies that they are based on only some of the phenomena and the conclusions are consistent with the phenomena but only likely but not necessary.
The answer to (i) is that we have in fact been developing a metaphysical system beginning with experience and concluding via necessary inference with the fundamental principle and its immediate consequences. Regarding (ii) the abstract treatment of being permits necessary consequences for all being, which includes the entire universe as part of experience even though it is currently beyond detailed instrumental investigation. Regarding (iii) the conclusions concern all possible being and experience and are necessary. In summary of this paragraph, we may say that the metaphysical development so far is well founded—is complete with regard to depth.
However, it is open with regard to breadth. That is, we do not know the range of being in detail—it is the object of logic, but we do not know all possible logics and we do not have a specification of the possibilities even of our logics. Which, however, is not a deficiency. It is true that there is a variety currently unknown to us, but perhaps that is a source of adventure. The fundamental principle illuminates the universe as a place of ultimate realization and of our given lives as potentially ground for adventure. Can we undertake the venture? How?
We have access to tradition—what is valid up to the present time in human knowledge and exploration.
We can form a system of the abstract metaphysics so far and tradition. The metaphysics illuminates and guides tradition. Tradition is instrumental in finding ways to approach the ultimate. The two together illuminate the meaning of ‘living well in this life’. Of course, even so far as valid, tradition seems to get us only so far. But what we have learned from the fundamental principle is that our beings will merge with the peak being of the universe. It is possible that individuals could realize this in this life on this earth. It seems perhaps more likely that realization would be a multi-life, multi-cosmos process—across deaths and limits of individuals and cosmoses. In some manifestations, a pragmatic knowledge illuminated by metaphysics of the ultimate comes into play (other manifestations are still born). What of the various limits of our pragmatic knowledge? We recognize them and acknowledge that the problems of epistemology and metaphysics in our world are valid interests. However, the new abstract metaphysics shows them in a new light. The standard epistemic and metaphysical concerns pertain to a limited world (the subsequent section shows how some concerns are overcome); they do not pertain to the ultimate. If the local limits of knowledge and transformation are not overcome in our cosmos, it is not a limit on ultimate realization. If they cannot be overcome in our cosmos, it is not a negative, for the truth is not a negative. But all limits are overcome in the ultimate (it is not being said that all pain and all negatives are overcome; these are inevitably on the way). And in this process the abstract metaphysics illuminates pragmatic knowledge, while the latter is instrumental toward the ideal shown by the former. The two sides, each with its own epistemology, combine as one metaphysics under one epistemology (our pragmatic epistemologies being shown by the ideal value as perfect as they are, relative to the goal of the ultimate). This one system with dual constitution is named the real metaphysics.
Having established the fundamental principle and the real metaphysics we can talk with greater definitiveness on universe as field.
Since the universe realizes the greatest possibility, it realizes the greatest categorial possibility. Categorially, therefore, the universe is a field of experience and being (with form and space, and change and time, and their absence). The universe is the greatest possible, a field of experience and being, subject to no limit but that descriptions or concepts of the universe are subject to logic. Sub-worlds include the experiential substance and material substance worlds above as well as solipsist worlds.
The universe is not a solipsist universe equivalent to ‘my experience’ but it does have the real interpretation of universe as experience of the greatest possible being.
But can we rule out that our world is a local solipsist world?
Because every logical possibility is realized, some presumption must be made to then necessarily conclude that the standard interpretation (with experience as substance) captures our world. Of course, even if the standard interpretation does hold, it does not rule out the universe as field interpretation, which, being the greatest possibility, must hold. For pragmatic purposes, of course, we hold to the standard interpretation (while we also ought to acknowledge the more inclusive universe as field). It seems that to think otherwise is foolhardy. But we would like to go beyond seeming and argue that it is probably foolhardy. That would require us to argue that among all worlds, the standard one is most probable regarding our world.
I will argue not just that it is most probable but that it is overwhelmingly probable. Because solipsism is possible and not logically distinguishable from the standard views (substance, field), that is (probably) the best that can be done.
We must appeal to the real metaphysics. Three paradigms arise out of tradition—the material and physical paradigm of physical law, which is a dynamical paradigm of form and change; an evolutionary paradigm—i.e., the paradigm of origins via variation and selection; and the paradigm of being as essentially experiential, to which we have already made appeal as a necessary paradigm. The evolutionary paradigm suggests that formation of cosmoses from the void is ‘superior’ with regard to stability and number, when it occurs via incremental adaptation. That is ad hoc worlds—interpretations—such as the solipsist, Bertrand Russell’s five-minute world, world as simulation, and so on, are possible, therefore real, but unlikely. We think that our world is not a solipsist world or another ad hoc world by appeal to a paradigm of the real (over and above pragmatic reasons to hold it non solipsist). That we think the standard world overwhelmingly probable is to say we think it is the result of incremental formation, that the ‘absurd’ worlds are more or less randomly thrown together (e.g., from the void), and that incremental formation is overwhelmingly more likely than random throwing together.
There is another approach to the question of solipsism and ad hoc worlds. We will begin with an example. Consider whether a mind is possible without a body. Thought without a body is not logically contradictory. However, thought has form and form is an essential characteristic of matter. Thus, thought must be associated with some kind of body, even if it is not a body of grey matter etc. Though logically possible, thought without a body is an example of what we shall call metaphysically impossible. Metaphysical possibility shall be a condition for being that reflects some essential (and argued) aspect of things; it need not reflect the particular constitution of beings in our world. Let us now define the concept of metaphysical possibility.
Metaphysical possibility was introduced as a condition of existence due to a necessary characteristic of a kind of being. If we are the kind of being whose knowledge of their world is far less than full knowledge of it, then my personal solipsism is metaphysically impossible; further, other people, roughly, are my epistemic equals. Therefore, they have minds. But do they really have phenomenal minds or are they just automatons that are functionally but not phenomenally my equal? This is not an easy problem—indeed the nature of the problem itself and whether it is a problem are debated today. Here’s a rather weak argument—the weakness lies in the conditional premise ‘if’—if an epistemic equal is a roughly metaphysical equal, there are other minds; and, if I am not the metaphysical center of the universe, there must be other minds. In other words, if the world is sufficiently uniform, there are other minds (and, if it is formed incrementally, we expect uniformity—but the argument here is metaphysical rather than based in process or formation). Let us ask whether my physical equal is my phenomenal or experiential equal. In a non-substance world, the answer would be—not necessarily. In a substance world—yes. So—there must be worlds in which some beings have minds but other, seemingly like beings do not. In our world there are other minds if it is pragmatically and locally substance. If it is a ‘metaphysically ordinary’ world, there are other minds; this does not say much because ‘ordinary’ is anthropic.
Why have we taken this detour through solipsism? Such alternate interpretations, logically possible, but seemingly absurd on standard paradigms, are challenges to our knowledge of the real and, if overcome, they teach us about the real. The purpose to the detour has been that the real metaphysics teaches us powerfully about the real.
In two conclusions from the fundamental principle, it was seen that individuals inherit the limitless power of the universe—
“It follows that the universe has identity and is limitless in extension, duration, variety, peaking, and dissolution of being. Particularly, there is a limitless number of physical laws, of which each manifest in a limitless array of cosmoses, all in communication with a sublayer which is a near void in transient communication with the void. Individuals—all beings—inherit the power of the void and the universe and merge with and as the universe in its peaks. Death and limits of individuals and cosmoses are real but not absolute.”
This illuminates our being-in-the-universe but does not show how to achieve the ultimate. The real metaphysics, which combines ultimate but ideal knowledge with pragmatic knowledge, “together with experience, reason, and experiment will be our way to the ultimate” (quoted from the preview of the way.
Given the ideal, there is an imperative to seek the ultimate. But the seeking ought not to deny the immediate. Rather (better) it would be grounded in the immediate. Since the ultimate must have a presence in the immediate, else it would not be ultimate, (i) its presence must be sensible, at least in its effects, even if not sensed and (ii) the seeking of either of the immediate and the ultimate is and can be the affirmation and not the denial of the other.
From the real metaphysics, there are effective, intelligent, enjoyed paths to the ultimate. To be on a path is not just to follow, but also to share and develop paths.
What are the elements of a path? From the identification of experience and being, two elements are (i) intrinsic—the transformation of experience to inner awareness and experiencing of the ultimate in the immediate and (ii) instrumental—the use of, e.g. science and technology, in the transformation of external form. These two elements work together. While (i) is realized in yoga (with meditation) and reason, (ii) is the same applied to material form. The ultimate is approximated in the intrinsic, stored in the disposition of being in the universe, recreated and re-realized via the instrumental as ‘we’ move from cosmos to cosmos and higher as we approach peaks of being. Occasionally, an individual realizes the ultimate in ‘this life’.
A little more can be said on the transcendence of the individual on the way to ultimate being. From the fundamental principle (i) the universe as a whole is not temporally deterministic (ii) multiple trajectories intersect as a given individual, and given one realization that is born and dies, it is the multiple trajectories in which the disposition is ‘stored’. This last conclusion is arises speculatively but from the fundamental principle it is possessed of truth, even if not the entire truth.
There is enjoyment and adventure without limit. To say this is not to ignore the problem of pain.
There is a basic issue of pain (and other negative elements of the world). The real metaphysics affirms that pain is unavoidable—that the universe is the greatest implies only that it contains the best but not that it is the best (of course in terms of our ordinary values). Pain and enjoyment are twins, and an aim of life is to balance the two for net enjoyment on the way to the ultimate.
The best address of pain and other impediments is dual—therapeutic and engaging with a path. Though not the same, engaging in a path and therapy ought not to be distinct.
Community enhances the process in a number of ways.
It is the store of wisdom and source of support for the individual. In Buddhism this function is named Sangha.
It is store of knowledge and technology for transformation of the form of individuals.
Civilizations disperse into the universe, mingle, approach universal civilization as peak being.
Kinds of being are classes of being, at some level of inclusiveness, at or below being itself, that are introduced so as to make metaphysics as study of being and the world effective. Generally, but not necessarily the classes are near being itself in inclusiveness.
Alternative terms for kinds are classes, categories, dimensions, and modes.
Typically, the intent is that the kinds should be ideal or pure in the sense that they are (capable of being) known perfectly. However, pragmatic classes may be introduced (i) the high level pure classes make improve study at the pragmatic level and it is understood that conclusions from the pragmatic level are no more reliable than knowledge of the pragmatic classes, or (ii) if the ideal classes reveal values relative to which the pragmatic kinds may be perfect, despite their imperfection according to other epistemic criteria.
It has been seen that being is essentially relational and relational; the non-experiential case may be seen as experiential with value zero
The most elementary experience is of sameness and difference
The pure kinds are ‘experience of’ and ‘the experienced’; the experienced is also called ‘object’ and ‘referent’
That is, being-experience divides into experiencing self and world; the world includes the experiencing self, others, and the environment
Experience (also) divides into inner (self), outer (environment, other), free, bound
In give and take between self and world, experience is attitudinal, active, and pure (pure experience is the case that the experienced is actually but not potentially null)
Experience is the place of sensing, perception (world), feeling (body), conception (higher), emotion, will, choice, foresight, designs and plans, action, and causing, and more
Identity is sense of sameness and difference of ‘the experienced’ which includes self
Difference without change in identity is marked by duration or time; change in identity is marked by space; alternatively—
On the necessity of form, relation, and change—form is essential to being and the elements of a form are related in space; change is essential to formation and occurs in duration or time; a form is dynamic to the degree that form and its elements determines change
Experiencing and experienced aspects of form as ‘mind’ and ‘matter’; matter is the extensional aspect of form
Is all form experiential at level 0 or more
The pragmatic classes may be selected from secular western culture, compensated for its incompleteness by the universal-and-the unknown
Elementary to cosmos
Complex, replicating, living, social
Intelligent, foresightful, designing, building
The selected pragmatic classes are psyche, nature (includes psyche), society (and civilization), and the universal
Nature divides into the elementary or physical, the complex or living, and the experiential aspect of the physical and the living
Society is arranged as groups and institutions and its elements are—cultural (explicit and implicit knowledge, discovery, lateral communication, and vertical transmission including education), political or decision and consensus, and economic—all activities and social structures--institutions--involved in delivery of value, including 'meta-activities', e.g., value determination, planning, and improvement (optimization); modern economics emphasizes a subset of these activities. Civilizations are cohesive collections of societies across continents (space) and history (time).
The universal is what is beyond the world of immediate experience of a civilization, all the way to the ultimate, known (via reason) and unknown.
Memory, conception—iconic and symbolic, and thought
Reflexive experience, intentional, self-aware, self-direction; flows with—
Individuals, persons, agents (a) capable of apparent understanding and design, but from the fundamental principle is also true understanding and design and (b) capable of understanding and knowing this… and Heidegger’s Dasein and comprehension of the question of the meaning of being (with Sorge or concern, the structure of consciousness par excellence, elevated to the ultimate—per Heidegger)
Human beings and perhaps some other animals are likely on a low rung of intelligent agency
Possible and therefore per the fundamental principle, true higher and remote kinds but, if their power is not organic, the kind is likely improbable and ineffective except in limited locales
Hypothetical higher forms and awareness of multiple lives; gods
Hypothetical self-aware phases of the universe; into which all forms merge
Of which there is a highest kind, as an actual or a progression, into which all lesser kinds (agents, remote gods) merge
We are in constant contact and communication with the highest kind even when we do not have explicit knowledge of it
Two ways to describe abstracta are (i) by abstraction (ii) by construction
Effective talk of abstracta is enabled (a) via possibility and (b) metaphysical system
From two conclusions,
“The universe has identity and is limitless in extension, duration, variety, peaking, and dissolution of being. Particularly, there is a limitless number of physical laws, of which each manifest in a limitless array of cosmoses, all in communication with a sublayer which is a near void in transient communication with the void. Individuals—all beings—inherit the power of the void and the universe and merge with and as the universe in its peaks. Death and limits of individuals and cosmoses are real but not absolute.”
Further, the fundamental principle of metaphysics implies that there are effective, intelligent, enjoyed paths to the ultimate. This requires that to be on a path is not just to follow, but also, while we are in limited form, to share and develop paths. That is—
The way is process. sangha—community and sharing pathways—is effective in discovery and realization.
The means is the real metaphysics, which entails (includes) experience, reflection, reason, action, and sharing.
That is, to think of an ultimate metaphysical system as distinct from its use is to not understand its nature (the separation is meaningful for limited spheres of knowledge).
The aim of the destination and the path—they overlap but are not entirely the same—is ‘enjoyment’. Enjoyment does not have to do with ‘having a good time or not having a good time’ but it is effective realization in the time of focus. The time may be a moment or a phase of life. In the moment, there is the present, with its changes in situations and moods, of which we have some acceptance. But moments are part of longer periods in which we do have plans and can affect outcomes (i) aiming at realization (ii) activities of living (iii) integrating moments into the previous items.
Pain is a general term for the negative—physical and emotional pain, disappointment, and more. Pain is why we often hesitate to face the ultimate and go beyond moments. So much so that alleviation of pain is a primary task of religion and that in the modern world, given alleviation of pain, e.g. with economic success and security, and comforted by a secular metaphysics, many (secular thinking) individuals seek not further. It is clear that this comfort seems adequate for some people, but not for all.
While pain ought to be addressed by the best therapeutic modes, being on a path to the ultimate is, effectively, where it is possible because basic needs are met, an essential element of the best therapy. But it is not undertaken for therapy; it is undertaken for its value. Realization of the ultimate, is an ultimate value.
Pathways from traditional sources begin with a view of the universe, from which they posit or derive a pathway. From the perspective of the way, the most useful the eightfold way of Buddhism and the similar path of Yoga (of which yoga as practiced in the west is a supporting part). A difference between the two is that whereas the Buddha saw (roughly) ‘this world’ as ultimate, Yoga recognizes an ultimate similar to that of the way. The templates below have elements of traditional pathways, for which the resources point to sources (the sources have information on some other ways over and above Buddhism and Yoga). Beyond the content of the templates, the reader is referred to the resources for further information.
Traditional religions are or have largely become isolated from the secular world (for a number of well-known reasons). However, if a way is the truth, then, since truth does not recognize a science-being or secular-transsecular split, the way ought to concern the secular and the transsecular, not only as distinct, but as one. Therefore, path templates address all dimensions of the kinds of being.
Let us address a question from what is the way of being—i.e., “Does seeking the ultimate entail ignoring or minimizing our immediate world? No, for as stated in the previous paragraph, living well in this world may be a way to and inspired by the ultimate. How, then, ought we to live well in this world?”
It is useful to address the question in terms of the hierarchy of needs—and values—as stated by Abraham Maslow. It is not necessary to think that the hierarchy is rigid and universal but only to think of it as a reasonable guide. The idea behind the system as a hierarchy is that usually, the lower needs need to be met before the higher. The needs (1) Safety, (2) Security—physical well-being and adequate provision for the future, (3) Belonging—a sense of comfort at home and work, including love and friendship, (4) Status—recognition of worth, which may be reflected in income and symbols, (5) Self-actualization—awareness and realization of one’s human potential, and (6) Self-transcendence. Note that Maslow originally proposed the first five items of the hierarchy and this is often how his hierarchy is represented. His suggestion of a sixth element was a later idea.
Safety, and security are individual and community endeavors. If they are not met, community works toward meeting them. There is no guarantee that they will be met and even if met, happiness and contentment—satisfaction with one’s life—are not guaranteed. The actual and potential physical and psychological frailties of human individuals are a problem for many. And, while some received pathways, even though otherwise sound, do not explicitly recognize this. Sometimes there is unresolved and perhaps unresolvable suffering. The individual’s psychic and physical resources are inadequate to get out of this situation. Perhaps in these cases all that is available is courage and received faith but even these may be inadequate. The faith, if there is to be faith, must be received because the individual has not the physical, economic, educational (intellectual), and other psychic resources to create a faith. Besides, there is strength to communal faith.
Let us assume, however, that safety and adequate security are met. There is still a problem of psychological pain which includes fear, at least, of physical pain. An in the moment approach, suggested by some Buddhist thinkers, is to begin with knowing and accepting the negative and the moment, which is better than denying and avoiding it, and letting it be a teacher. The idea is that we do not seek to avoid inevitable discomfort, but to begin to live with it as a condition of life. Then, instead of being stuck in the pain, we attend to the other elements of our lives. As we become comfortable with ourselves, the way through our world opens up as negotiable. That which was a narrow and difficult path becomes broad and direct. Life becomes livable because we have learnt to live with the reality of our interior human condition. Living well, may then be the result of an initial and sustained act of courage (but some individuals are more fortunate with their external circumstances and internal disposition).
What one does next depends on our disposition and our view of the world. A person with a secular view, may seek a family, and status. But given adequate security, belonging and status, may not be important for all. Some may seek actualization in a range of secular activities—as a technician, an academic, a social mover working for the good of others, a politician working for their society and the world. An individual with a religious view may do just what the secular individual does but more and even the secular occupations may be done in the name of the religion. In this sense, religion is not only about a view of the ultimate and its realization, but also the immanence of the ultimate in this world—that is, the presence of the ultimate here and now is a reason to do what is good. Some persons may focus on their calling to the ultimate, but for others the focus on the ultimate is meshed with their interior lives in the immediate and with their self-actualization. In these cases, self-transcendence is not submersion of prior needs and values on a hierarchy but meshing what is essential in the entire hierarchy so that the self is an instrument for good in the worlds. Of course, this is entirely possible for the secular individual and the difference is that the religious individual has a further purpose, i.e. they have a focus on a transcendent value and its presence in our world. For the religious individual, self-transcendence is in this world but also points to another, regardless whether that other is real or symbolic.
What is self-transcendence in terms of the real metaphysics? It begins with the description in the previous paragraph. Particularly, however, it has an ultimate conception of the real, which is accessible to individuals and civilizations. In the most likely approach to realization, the ultimate is something of which an image is accessible here and now, but realization begins in this world. It is possible, according to the real metaphysics, for realization in this life but that would likely entail transformation of one’s physical being, which suggests that it is infrequent and requires at least one of special effort and special ability.
The templates have been used in practice but are modified to be adaptable to a range of life situations and foci of interest.
The template may be adapted for use by individuals and groups.
The detailed template on the Internet has (i) explanatory notes and (ii) a column for times of day.
The template incorporates all dimensions of being. It may be adapted for use by individuals and groups. It is likely that no individual or group will engage in all activities in the template. However, reflection on the breadth of activities may enhance awareness and be useful for later phases of life.
The detailed template on the Internet has explanatory notes.
The main sources for the way are (i) western and eastern philosophy (ii) natural and social sciences and technologies (iii) accounts of religious and political leaders.
Here is an extended account of the sources and influences for the way of being.
Here are some main ideas for the way and the influences for those ideas.
Being and existential thought—Thales of Miletus (for early western metaphysics and substance theory of being—a critical development, even though rejected here), Plato, Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, AO Lovejoy.
Experience (consciousness)—a range of modern and recent thinkers, especially Alexius Meinong (for generalizing the notion of the object over concept and object and kinds of object), Hans Vaihinger (for his philosophy of ‘As If’, which I see as uniting experience and being), Thomas Nagel, John Searle, and David Chalmers.
Meaning, logic, and knowledge—René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, GWF Frege, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Karl Popper, Kurt Gödel, WVO Quine,
Science and scientists—the influence of the following scientists in the development of the worldview of the way is significant (some contributions are by contrast to the worldview of the way)—Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, James Clerk Maxwell, Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Steven Weinberg, and Ernst Mayr.
The transsecular—Adi Samkara (for Advaita Vedanta, its ideas on experience as being and identity of individual and ultimate identity), Charles A. Moore and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (for their Sourcebook on Indian Philosophy, 1957), the anthropologists Hugh Brody and Richard Nelson (for their insights into primal traditions and their empirical aspects and storytelling), and John Hick (for his insight into the nature of religion, its true meaning and consistency with the modern secular worldview).
The worldview of the way of being seems to go beyond received paradigms in (i) its ultimate nature (ii) its necessity and demonstration (iii) incorporation of what is valid in tradition through the present day, and (iv) its program of realization of the ultimate. If this claim is true, the development of the way may be of interest.
The motives for the way were the beauty and inspiration of the worlds of nature, culture, and ideas. The cultivation of experience of these worlds led to (i) desire for more experience in depth and breadth—and consequently, reading and reflection over years (ii) consequently, familiarity with a broad range of paradigms and knowledge that later became useful toward the way or as elements thereof (iii) acceptance of valid elements of the received but rejection of any idea that they were complete (iv) the thought that a range of critical philosophies were rooted in excessive positions, some tacit, as to the limits of being and knowing, (v) a search for and writing on the ultimate—the writing, though premature, was useful as a record to be criticized and improved with regard to depth and breadth (v) a phase of thought in which there was an intuition of the ultimate but which lacked in foundation—the essence of this period was an attempt to base knowledge of the ultimate in proximate science (vi) a turn away from received knowledge and paradigms to focus on the universe itself and, then, to realize that it was equivalent and simpler to focus on the void and its properties—particularly that there are no laws in the void and that formal demonstration of existence of the void is trivial (vii) consequently demonstration of the fundamental principle (and alternatively to recognition that the fundamental principle could be treated as a fundamental metaphysical postulate, consistent with all experience, and as an existential principle of action (viii) recognition that the ideal consequences of the fundamental principle revealed a value according to which the tradition would be perfect (even though imperfect by its own criteria) and so to a join of the ideal and tradition as the real metaphysics (ix) in parallel with the foregoing early recognition that knowledge alone is essentially an incomplete phase of being and for its completion, i.e. not just as application, it must phase into action, which, in turn, phases back into knowing (x) and finally to understanding of paths of realization and development of path templates.
In summary some critical elements of the process are (a) passion driven search for understanding, meaning, and realization (b) breadth of experience (c) rejection of naïvely critical modes (essentially the entire history of thought is infused with naïvety with a façade of seeming criticality (d) living with intuition when foundation was not forthcoming (f) persistent and imaginative search for foundations.
Ian Baker, The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise, 2004. An exploration of travel to the heart of nature as means of self-transformation.
Chagdud Tulku, Gates to Buddhist Practice: Essential Teachings of a Tibetan Master, 1993, Rev. 2001. A readable account of Tibetan Buddhism, its worldview, and practice. Has practical advice, based in the worldview, on dealing with everyday issues, especially blocks to being on a path.
John Hick, The Fifth Dimension: An Exploration of the Spiritual Realm, 1999. An excellent account of the meaning and reality of spirituality from within the worldview from modern science.
Christopher Wallis, Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition, 2nd ed., 2013. An immense source of ritual for those who may be interested. Somewhat aligned with Tibetan Buddhism.
Pema Chödrön, How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind, 2013. On the practice of meditation and its use in becoming centered—in living well with one’s imperfect self. The book is open with regard to aims of meditation.
Eknath Easwaran, trs., The Bhagavad Gita, 1985. A practical guide to a world view similar to that in this work, as well as an account of the realms of Yoga.
Richard K. Nelson, Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest, 1983. Nice account of a primal world view and way of life.
For more on yoga, see A Sourcebook In Indian philosophy by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore.
The internet pages below are reading suggestions for a program and its development. The pages themselves are under development.
For a system of knowledge based in the real metaphysics, a system of human knowledge, reason, practice, and action. It attempts to synthesize and go beyond sources that include the ancient and the modern, the eastern and the western.
The way of being and other essays linked from the site above.
The main influences on my thought.
For a program of action in our world, a journey in being: problems and opportunities.
Background on yoga in traditional and modern approaches to living in the world as a system of realization and on the ultimate nature of the self.
Life as we find it versus the ultimate often presents as paradoxical. To live well requires acceptance of pain and impermanence; but to seek the ultimate—over just allowing it—is to seek overcoming impermanence, at least seemingly.
So it is, that in writings on the Buddhist ways, the presentation is often seemingly paradoxical. The writings are not telling us to not love or to not work; but if those endeavors are constructive, then what does it mean to accept impermanence?
I find it to mean that attitude is a continuum, not a polarity; and even if we seek constancy, constancy eludes us; therefore, amid the endeavor, we do not cling to outcome or even the endeavor itself; the path seems narrow but not straight.
However, if we accept the narrow and not straight, adjusting without forcing, looking to the future while attending to the present, we become acclimatized to that situation, and what was narrow, now opens up, and there is direction even though the path is not straight. The fine grained adjustments and meanderings now fade into the background and what we notice and encourage without clinging is the net path; but there is a time—there are times—when we need to return to the fine grained and cultivate it and reintegrate it into the net endeavor.
And it ought to be recognized that where a ‘way’ is prescriptive, individuals are different, and some will, on account of their personality, find ease on the way, but others will find difficulty.
Still, and while there are no guarantees for all, ‘diligence’ offers hope and opportunity for some, perhaps optimal, overcoming.
Pain and suffering ought to be addressed but the address is dual—the available therapies and being on a path which may also be seen as a therapeutic modality. While we understand that pain is unavoidable, pains ought to be addressed. The individual and the community (Sangha) are both significant.
The path is both the destination and the way.
Even where there are prescriptions, the way is not given. In the way of being, we understand some contours of the greatest universe. But the path itself always has an element of being experimental, always meandering around some real or felt ideal. It is not enough to follow; it is required to engage; engaging is the way. And what was prescription gives way to that sharing called ‘Sangha’, the communal wisdom and practice that is a guide for individuals—a guide that is more an experimental template than a completed map.
Change is intrinsic—inner, of experience and experiential states—and instrumental or of the world. Both are important for we live in the world with its empirical realms of cosmos, nature, and society and the trans-empirical realm that includes the ultimate. However, the distinction of inner from outer is not a true distinction, and the essence of being and becoming is ultimately experiential and in experience, which is not immaterial or transcendent of the body, for matter and bodies and societies are phases of experience.
Death, birth, pain, and the forms of the world and bodies are real—not to be transcended on magical thought; but they are not absolute—we are already in the ultimate even as our experience is that of the immediate and its limits; but it is in realms of time beyond the narrow cause and reason of a given cosmos and body, that we move from cosmos to cosmos and merge with the ultimate.
And all that is enhanced and enjoyed by intelligent (‘wise’) engagement—and may occasionally be realized without discontinuity in and from this life.
When we look at the history of ideas, we find some persons who come closer to truth than others; but then they die and their thought ceases in a sense prematurely—before reaching its possible potential. The history of ideas is a collection of such threads, which sometimes collect together as braids, but which again may be dead ends but in other cases, cease before potentiating.
There is a place for a notion of continuous text—an occasional summation of what has gone before, both critical and synthetic, enhanced by going beyond with critical imagination.
This would be a social project whose efficiency would perhaps be enhanced by information technology.
Text, ideas, being, and becoming would merge.
In the ultimate, past, present, and future are one.
In this life perception and action are distinct. In meditation, the scope of perception may enter into what was the realm of thought, and via meditation and relinquishing judgmentalism though not judgment, perception and action may merge.
Having constructed some system of ideas, we may allow those ideas to enter intuition as we enter the world again, with the narrow path now broadened into the world around us.
As we have done in the past and will do so again in the future.