Foundation for a New Consciousness,
chapter 7 Copyright © 1987 John Caris
Copyright © 1987 John Caris
Birth is a lucid symbol of life's journey. When a child drops from the womb, she becomes immersed in a radically different environment. The sense organs are turned on, providing constant stimuli for the brain. Visually, the child develops pattern recognition and stereo-vision. Many patterns are reinforced by society through language and acceptable behavior. The child learns which patterns are "real," which her society accepts.
As the child learns to cope with the environment, developing her body consciousness, she is suddenly hit at adolescence with a major bio-chemical transformation. The budding ego consciousness is often submerged under the sexual energy, not resurfacing again until the gateway at menopause, which is true for both female and male. A new birth can take place in one's life, and frequently it occurs around this time. This is a birth on a higher level and is described by the myth of the cave, for the cave is both womb and tomb. Christian art uses the cave in this way, as a symbol conveying the paradox of beginning and end.
Leaving the cave and the distorted images of convention, one steps into a new and strange reality. No wonder mystical tradition comments upon the ineffable quality of this experience, for the convention of human language is too restricting. What if you were an astronaut who had just returned from a space flight? How would you describe the experience of free fall to someone who has never been in space? You can show her video tapes of yourself floating and describe your feelings and thoughts, but that is not the actual experience.
Attempting to bridge the gap, ancient science has developed a language using symbols and artistic images. This language is non-linear and has a vertical axis for its linkage. Consciousness of paradox is the first step toward the higher level. At the end of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-glass, when Alice has awakened, she wonders aloud to her kitten who it was that did the dreaming. "You see, Kitty, it must have been either me or the Red King. He was part of my dream, of course--but then I was part of his dream, too!"
Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2001 ends with a symbol of rebirth when astronaut David Bowman becomes a child while the sequel 2010 finishes with a challenge. Can a bridge be built between earth humans and the sentient creatures living on the planet Europa, which orbits the extinct Jupiter? This great galactic game has been planned as an evolutionary experiment by another group of sentient beings, the star rovers. If Earth and Europa cannot grow together, will anyone inherit the solar system? Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge concludes with a similar predicament. Will humans find their ancestral home?
There are many paths, and the end is always the same; yet our experience of it is shaped by the path chosen. One who has traversed a desert will discover an oasis while one who crossed an ocean will find an inviting beach. Truth exists and it exists absolutely. Since humans are the measure of all things, they measure or define truth. Here is a paradox until we remember that the act of measuring or defining something imposes limitations on that thing, yet the limits are those of a particular frame of reference. Once we recognize these limits, we are ready to move beyond them.
A fascinating literary paradox is presented in Charles Harness' story "The New Reality": Is the "apparent" universe a human creation? The dramatic idea centers on the connection between the human mind and the basic fabric of reality. One Professor Luce is conducting experiments which, he hopes, will make radical changes in the apparent universe and thus transform physical laws. He intends to restructure reality by destroying a photon. The destruction will occur by sending a photon to a completely flat edge of a prism and it will have to choose whether to reflect or refract. Or, will it solve "the unsolvable by disintegrating"?
The philosopher Kurt Godel has bequeathed a challenging gift to all of us who are moving into the twenty-first century. The gift is a paradox called the incompleteness theorem. Any rational system cannot be both complete and consistent! A complete system always contains opposites while one that eliminates contradictions is incomplete. For example, God told Adam and Eve that if they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would die. Yet the beguiling serpent told them that they would not die. A universe where God is dead must be incomplete, and so too one where God is alive. If we want a completely whole universe, can we accept a God who is both dead and alive?
The spiritual quest has always involved journeying to the land of no-return and then returning bearing as many treasures as one can. If mysticism is nothing but dancing on the point of free will, then perhaps, what we learn in life is eternity.
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