Mind and Matter

Margo's Magical Letter Page

copyright 2002
by Margaret Magnus
all rights reserved

This is a work in progress on the topic which most preoccupies me these days.

Spinoza says that mind and matter are one thing, only that when inwardly viewed, the process is experienced as mind, and when outwardly viewed, the process is viewed as matter. Descartes sits in his armchair and asks, "What do I know for sure?" And he answers, "Well I know there is an 'I am', and I know there are a bunch of sense impressions, but I don't know whether these sense impressions emanate out from something really out there, or whether it's just a giant dream."

The answer is that the sense impressions emanate from something really out there to the extent that one is identified with the physical body. That is, the world as matter and the world as mind are not absolute truths, but only truths relative to a system of axioms which are rooted in how we identify ourselves. Am I a body? Then the cosmos is material. Am I that which transcends the body? Then the cosmos is a thought.

What sense impressions emanate from are the thoughts of what is separate from the body, and there really are those thoughts. But Kant isn't happy that mere thoughts are out there. He doesn't feel grounded unless what's out there is substance. He wants it to be substance, so for him it is substance... he's certain of it a priori, and that subjective sense of certainty both regarding causality and substance is what he is arguing from. I don't think Kant saw the nature of the relationship between mind and matter very clearly. I think Kant is overrated, and I think the reason he is overrated is because so many people are so emotionally desperate to hide from the nihilism of Hume, just as Kant was. I don't actually think there is any reason to fear the nihilism of Hume, because there is another side of the coin. But the true nature of that other side can't be seen clearly unless the position of Hume is stated clearly without equivocation. So God bless Hume.

Kant is too literal and too invested in a particular outcome. He correctly recognizes that Hume is not the final word, but he is too impatient to seek out a genuinely accurate statement of the truth, so he jumps the gun on so many points. Kant has not directly experienced the Absoluteness of Beingness. He has only thought about it. And for this reason, the only mooring he has is in matter. He has to tie his ship down to something and Beingness doesn't seem to him Absolute... doesn't seem to him like anything at all. So he moors his boat to matter, as have I for much of my life, and as do the vast majority of us the vast majority of the time. The Absoluteness we experience subjectively in matter is only the Absoluteness of Beingness in a form that we can countenance.

Unless you have experienced the Absoluteness of Beingness, you tend to regard mind as unreal in comparison with matter. Therefore the notion that everything is a thought seems the same as the notion that there is no absolute, no knowledge possible, no morality. It's this which Kant fears... the collapse of everything that makes any difference. And Hume seems to lead you right up to that gate, but he has the good sense not to cross it. But you can realize that the Absoluteness hails from elsewhere, not from objects outside you. And then you are emotionally safe letting go of certain things which you rationally recognize can't be true.

So there are two fundamentally different world views, one of which is rooted in identification with the body, and one of which is rooted in identification with God:

God, Mind

Mammon, Matter

identification with what transcends the body identification with the body
knowledge through faith knowledge through doubt
a priori a posteriori
learning means bringing to awareness that which you already intuitively know learning consists in the acquisition of facts which cannot be known other than by being told - the president of France, the distance to the sun, the cost of Oreo cookies. (Clairvoyance is the learning of such facts a priori)
morality means being true to the inner voice, virtue is understanding morality means being of service to the community or family, virtue is being law-abiding
mind seems real, matter is merely a thought matter seems real, mind has no status as real. mind is an epiphenomenon of matter
the more you give, the more you get the more you give the less you have
natural law individual specific events
holds at all points in space-time OR transcends space time confined to space and time
unity multiplicity
i am that i am i am my function
eternal - nothing appears or disappears birth and death, beginning and end
focus on content focus on form
love is uncomplicated by social obligation, love is the immediate longing of the heart marriage, family and special relationships
motivation by love motivation by fear
the end is the means the end justifies the means
meaningfulness success
meaninglessness failure

the search for meaningfulness results in material failure
acquiescence to meaninglessness results in success
no hierarchies hierarchies
all men are created equal some are better than others
there are no sides to choose between you must be partisan
indestructibility, you are never born and never die you are born and delay death by preying on others
subconscious, unconscious conscious
firstness secondness
principled impossibility of deceit all things are on some level false or illusory, they have a face which differes from their essence
absolute everything is relative, there is no absolute truth
the root of existence what you manifest in the material realms demonstrates what you believe to be true
nothing can be hidden things are hidden
guilt is impossible guilt is implicit
no factions all entities are factions warring for limited resources and forming temporary alliances (friendships) to achieve ends
perfect abundance all resources are limited
no dependence all things are interdependent
virtue is found in leisure virtue lies in hard work performed to increase wealth, leisure is sinful
no control, no moral base to control anyone you control to the extent that you can get away with it and have the strength to manifest yourself
from the male perspective, the realm of mind is male from the male perspective, woman is earth, matter, sex, not high minded
from the female perspective, the realm of mind is female from the female perspective, man desires the physical - sex, not that which is holy, not mind or spirit
what manifests on the physical plane is what you believe, the pattern of the mind's vibrations determines what you see - like tuning in on a radio what manifests on the physical plane is given, you can alter or rearrange it. you can invent and build airplanes, but you cannot make UFOs exist just because you believe they do

what keeps you incarnate is love/dependence of others on you, and incomplete tasks carried out for the purpose of greater awareness what keeps you alive is eating, breathing, drinking
explanations are descriptions, very general descriptions, like F=ma describes the motion of bodies explanations are mechanical, something moves because it was pushed or allowed to fall
only love exists properly speaking. all else is derivative and contains some impurity or some element of non-existence love, spirit, passion do not matter, are foolish, and properly speaking do not exist
introverted extraverted
those of the other camp are greedy, lacivious, thoughtless, power-hungry, narrow minded, like sheep, potential weapons in the hands of the unscrupulous, rule-followers who are incapable of questioning the ultimate value of these rules those of the other camp are lazy, selfish, deluded, intoxicated, out of touch with reality, narrow minded, lawless, unwilling to sacrifice to the greater good
there is no law but what mustbe, but natural law. the only true law is nature/love/goodness. government by man-made arbitrary rules, law-abiding
religion is private, spiritual, and prayer is unmediated, its purpose is the discovery of truth religion is public, social and mediated through the clergy, its purpose is social order
all things as manifestations of the spirit are alive and conscious on some level only man and animals are conscious, only plants and animals are alive
thought has power. thinking is visible. thinking is an Act. if you eye a woman lustfully, you've already committed adultery with her in your heart only action is powerful. no sin of thought is a sin
only right attention matters. action happens of itself to reflect this attention. no point trying to control the body. everyone's culture, customs, actions are free and equal. unity is of content and is always already the case... cannot be caused what you believe matters. how you act, what group you belong to. seeks to have everything join its mindset or way of thinking and to kill everything else. unity of form is achieved through persuasion, coercion, threat and annihilation
highest achievement is reverence, right attention highest achievement is competence
happiest gifts are love, joy and understanding happiest gifts are fame, fortune and sex
relationship is rooted in love, natural affinity. it is spiritual. break up occurs when there is no longer a natural affinity relationship is physical rooted in function, and is engaged to the extent that someone is useful toward the achievement of sex, money, maintaining status quo, getting work done. break up occurs which usefulness is finished
most pleasant state is spiritual epiphany, a recognition of union with God most pleasant state is orgasm - a solitary experience
religion rightly understood is science. the process of knowing truth through observations and reason atheism/agnosticism/science are all opposed to religion. you must choose
if you follow this route to the exclusion of the other, your body will be crucified if you follow this route to the exclusion of the other, your life will be devoid of meaning
union implies truth and happiness union implies power and and effective control
union is found inwardly, the essence of all things and a recognition of what is already the case union is sought through conformity of action, the form must look right.
all that matters is content. the truth can take many forms, all of which are acceptable all that matters is form. things must look a certain way. if two different things look the same, the difference is invisible

the primary threat to this way of being is rooted in its blindness to money and physical survival. this way of being is defenseless and is easily killed or stolen from the primary threat to this way of being is its blindness to differences of content which have the same form, so this system can easily be invaded by a Trojan Horse/invisibility cloak which looks the same, but is not
no good or evil, only IS, truth is absolute, good and evil are functions of matter and are relative to the social framework truth is relative and good and evil are absolute, because the social framework is taken literally
beauty precision, accuracy
truth concerns a state of mind/poetry truth concerns accuracy of stated facts relative to the 'outside' world. truth is rooted in logic
be seem
is/is not degree, measurement, shade
the right way is natural, painless and requires no sacrifice the right way battles the passions, no pain, no gain, and one suffers so that others may be free from suffering
nature is good, the root of innocence and grace nature is evil, dog eat dog, rules must be instituted to suppress nature so that something may be accomplished
greatest wrongs are lack of understanding, lack of reverence and blind adherence to status quo greatest wrongs are theft, killing, disruption
instinct reason
calls for introspection, look before you leap demands action, leap before you look
feedback and reward are instantaneous; you do something because you love it and are immediately compensated with a sense of satisfaction there's a time lag in compensation; you do something and feel the consequences on the material plane somewhat later.
there is no buffer or 'savings'; everything is its own compensation you can save up and live off it for a time

Now as I see it, the $64,000 question is, "Are these world views reconcilable?" In other words, is it possible to remain physically alive and yet attain true understanding and happiness? I don't know how it seems to you, but these two world views strike me as pretty profoundly irreconcilable. In other words, the evidence presented here suggests to me that the crucifixion of the god-man is inevitable. The more direct is one's view of God, the more speedily will the crucifixion come.

I mean, consider Jesus' resolutions to the problems of material survival. 'Oh men of little faith, trust that the Christ in you can turn water to wine, stones to bread and trust that you can walk on water.' Now I ask you, is that reasonable? If my child complains of hunger, do I retort that if they had the faith of a mustard seed they would be able to change their toothbrush into a hotdog? No, we do things the hard way... we sacrifice meaningfulness to go out and earn money or kill innocent plants and beasties so we can feed our babies. And the suggestion that we could do it any other way is unfair and unreasonable on Jesus' part. Any claims to perfect innocence are pretense, failure to see deeply and/or efforts to steal worldly power by duplicitousness.

I regard this world sort of like an electronic circuit. We live in paradox... What drives the circuit is the surge toward eternity, toward death, the flow from one pole of the battery to the other. The default state is short circuit. Schopenhauer writes that walking is a delay of falling, life is merely a delay of death. An electronic circuit is simply a delay of the short circuit. The dynamo is powered by will, a desire which can only be satisfied in death. In the meantime, we experience the suffering, the friction that lights the bulbs and the diversions that cause the circuit to do something. We take some satisfaction when the circuit works... when the system is set up in such a way that the Force flows through it and its nature is permitted to manifest as form, as an Act. Nut and Geb, man and woman are forced apart into the two poles so that a world can manifest in between, a world of suffering, a world of paradox.

As long as one is incarnate, one must do deference to both systems of thought. If one fails to acknowledge the validity of love, one will be disabled by sorrow, crippled by meaninglessness, haunted by guilt, afraid of death, defensive, hopeless. If one fails to do deference to matter, one will be killed, bankrupted... not necessarily in that order. So if you encounter any of the problems which arise by ignoring the one world (sorrow, fear, meaninglessness, boredom, lovelessness, ugliness, emptiness) or the other (cold, hunger, poverty, slavery, emotional vulnerability, shame, rejection) beyond the point that you have the strength to bear, then you must surrender your principles and either die or go insane. In the one case, you must surrender the social perks - fame, fortune, coolness, status, social acceptability, morality in the public eye. In the other, you must surrender freedom to engage in activities which are meaningful or joyful. You must surrender morality in the eyes of God, become sullied by the world, make a pact with the devil. You will do it, because the alternative is to let yourself or someone you love die. The Christ cannot intercede and forgive you before you make this pact. The legitimate alternative is to leave no trace in the world, to expire noiselessly... and to allow what you love to expire with you. The Christ will forgive, because Forgiveness is His essence... His Forgiveness is perfect, because it is rooted in perfect blindness to the sin... the sin occurred in a realm which the Christ cannot see. The Forgiveness of Christ is the recognition in us that the eternal pervades all, that we are always already innocent.

It is a world of suffering, illusion and paradox as a matter of principle. So what's the point, I've been asking myself a long time. I mean the genuine experience of meaningfulness is only in the short circuit. Everything else is suffering and delay.

Well, there are a few things that prevent me from killing myself, a few levels on which I can answer that question. On one level I can say that I have friends and family who would suffer were I to kill myself. That violation of their faith in me is a more impenetrable barrier than the resistance to death itself. Actually, my essence surges toward death with infinite might. It can only be delayed in the realm of illusion, in the realms of space and time, in the realms of seeming, in dream... in this life. I might say also that I have a sense that I have something left here to accomplish, and that were I to short circuit that process prior to its natural conclusion, it wouldn't go right... it would have to be compensated for in some way... everything is interconnected... I have to keep up my part in the circuit or the whole thing collapses and must be rebuilt... karma.

On another level I might say that I don't kill myself because this scene is kind of cool. I take satisfaction in a working circuit. Or I take pleasure in the evening light through the autumn grasses, the gait of my cat, the line where a man's neck meets his shoulders, the fragrance of my morning cup of tea... I know that what I am enjoying is only the Absolute as it manifests in small ways through the world of form, a pleasure which can only be known fully in the dissolution of form. But I take pleasure in the details and idiosyncracies nevertheless; I grow fond of them and do not wish to dispense with them.

Or you might say that I don't kill myself because in this realm, one has an opportunity to achieve higher awareness. One is tested here; one evolves, grows in understanding. One's actions in this realm bear witness to what one truly believes.

Now the higher the voltage, the more direct the vision of God, in other words, the more robust the circuit has to be if the components are not to wear out. So prayer or meditation is not for the weak. If you are going to take it upon yourself to pray or meditate properly, you are going to face extinction in this realm on fairly short order... unless you have built up circuits, bank accounts, university degrees, skills and alliances in this world which can withstand the higher voltage. But I find that generally speaking, human psychology is structured such that you will avoid genuine prayer to the extent that you are not capable of handling the resulting force that will manifest within you.

The church is an attempt at a reconiliation of these two opposites. The priest tells you to seek God within and then tells you to be a good citizen. Which does he want. He tells you that Jesus says that only men of little faith don't trust the stones to turn to bread, and then reprimands the lazy who don't work to earn MONEY to buy bread for the family. These churches are beginning to fail, because the public is sufficiently aware to see the paradoxes, contradictions and duplicitousness. What was once avoided and dealt with simply by force (Jesus was the only Son of God and Mary was a Virgin, and if you don't believe it, we'll chop off your head in good Christian fashion.)... What was once resolvable by the use of force must now be faced squarely and dealt with consciously.

So a sort of abstract image of the state of affairs is growing in my mind's eye. If you would remain in this world, you must accept its conventions and work within its framework. And its framework is by nature limited... it has form, and is therefore inherently not whole; it must choose one path and in so doing reject a legion of others; it is therefore imperfect. So working within the existing framework means accepting a sort of duplicitousness. You offer explanations for your motives which are different from your real motives, because you must speak in terms of the existing paradigm. You seem to be what you are not. You speak a language which carries with it a host of presuppositions, many of them flawed... but you must speak the same language as your listener nevertheless, or you have no basis for interacting whatever, and you will expire, the way a rose expires on the moon for lack of oxygen and water.

The rose has chosen to express one limited set of possibilities - those of the rose... the rose manifests only one idea. It will never have the intelligence of man or the longevity of granite. It is dependent on favorable conditions which it has no power to control. It cannot even move out of the way of impending doom the way an animal to some degree can. It can only sit as passive victim to any bypasser who chooses to uproot it. The rose is flawed. And yet it is perfect. It is flawed in its utility. But it is perfect in the eye of God. For the same reason, the perfection of man is not to be found in his/her abilities, in technology or its potential for yogic magic, because these will always be pitiful from the perspective of eternity. And yet we will seek the perfection of technology and competence, and that is good. It is an expression of our nature.

From the eyes of eternity, I think there is no inherent wrong in expressing to such a degree the perfection of God that you are crucified as Christ was crucified. You will be judged by the forces identified with the body as lazy, selfish, unrealistic... Your crucifixion will nevertheless resound and be felt through time, though on a conscious level, you will probably not be as famous as Jesus when you do it. The vast majority of the Earth's Christs die in obscurity, but are felt subconsciously in the body of humankind and Earth through their effects; man and the planet are altered for the better as a result. It's not a question of what you should do, because either way is legitimate. It's a question of what you can do. A series of factors will determine your course... the extent to which others depend on you, the depth of your meditation, the extent of the worldly resources that you have accumulated or inherited... The deeper your meditation, the fewer your resources, the fewer people who depend on you, the quicker you will leave.

In the material realm, it's possible to build up a buffer, a surplus of money, goodwill, skill. Therefore, the means by which one can buy time to live according to the principles of spirit-identification, is to build up a surplus of money or goodwill (so someone else will support you) and then live for a time off that surplus. It's possible to convert other forms of equity in the material world into money. Competence can be converted into money through, say, venture capital. Someone trusting your past experience invests in your potential. Sex can be converted into money through marriage or prostitution... if a woman provides sex to her husband, he might support her financially... or if a man provides emotional support for a woman, she also might support him financially. And children livee off the surplus of their parents. The wealthier the society, the longer it is expected that children will not be required to earn their keep. Also pure physical force can be turned into money through military might and slavery. Physical force is also implicit in taxation, for example. And intelligence can be turned into money through use of natural resources, animal husbandry, hunting, farming, invention, theft, bribery and deceit. At any given poit in history, some of these methods are sacntioned and others are not. Some are sanctioned relative to some people or animals and not others. But if none of these methods are sanctioned, then we cannot survive. A very wealthy society or an aristocratic family can find itself with such a big buffer over so many generations that it begins to lose track of the fact that wealth is in fact always won as it is.

Questions for Myself:
What is the nature of the interface between these two perspectives? Where do they meet? How do they interrelate?

You see in living things an organizing force which ina cat perpetuates the process which is 'Cat', and in a lily, the process which is 'Lily'. A living organism conforms also to the laws of phsyics while alive. However when it dies, it is turned over entirely to the laws of physics, to decay and entropy. While alive, it is governed also by an organizing life force and not merely by the disorganizing physical force. We know something about the laws which govern physics. What of the laws which govern this organizing force? Are there some analogous laws of life or of mind? And what of the conscious force which leaves the body in sleep?

And what are the linguistic correlates to each of these?

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