Monday, 12 February 2018

Good Vibrations? High Frequencies?

It is common in spiritual writing over the past decades to discuss the raising of consciousness, the evolution of Man towards divinity, in terms of a higher Vibrational state, or high Frequency communications. This is done by many authors and thinkers - including some that I greatly respect (such as William Arkle).

It goes along with several other physics derived terms used in spiritual discussion - Energy is one popular one (especially in Alternative Healing) and of course Light - which is used often in the Bible...

There is a question of the extent to which these are intended to be literal or metaphorical. However, the work of Owen Barfield on the development of language tells us that this literal versus metaphorical distinction may be an artefact of modernity - and not an aspect of reality.

Reality may be, and probably usually-is, both literal and metaphorical; in the sense that literal factuality does not capture the 'symbolism' or meaning of facts, while the symbolism tends to discount or ignore the question of factuality.

So, I recall reading in the Russian Orthodox literature about light emanating from Saints being both literal and symbolic. My understanding is that such glowing could, in principle, be photographed or filmed - and was, in that sense, 'objective'. On the other hand, demons may, it was said, appear in the guise of brightly-glowing angels... so light is not 'evidence' of Goodness.

The question about Frequency/ Vibration is whether there is supposed to be a literal, factual aspect to the description; is high frequency consciousness something that might, in principle, be measurable by a device? Some New Age thinkers clearly suppose so.

But the perspective of Barfield and Rudolf Steiner was that objective phenomena are always and inevitably known via consciousness; and when consciousness is different, what is objective is different. This would include physical records such as photographs, videos, readouts... in reality they are interpretable, know-able, only by human consciousness, and when human consciousness changes, so does our knowledge of such records.

(Perception is thus bound-up-with knowledge.)

In other words, there is no-such-thing as objectivity separable from human consciousness.

This suggests that there may in reality be something describable as a frequency or vibrational state of consciousness, and this attribute may be perceptible or even measurable in some states of consciousness but not others.

On the other hand, I question whether this physics-based way of describing and discussing life and consciousness has in fact been effective - whether this way of speaking and writing is a good idea? My objection is that it is abstract, in the sense of being the opposite of personal.

There is a major divide among those interested in religion ad spirituality between those who seek to escape persons and regard reality as abstract; and the opposite. In general, the movement through human history is to regard higher, more true religion as being abstract. Probably because we all start out, as young children, seeing the world as animated and conscious (everything significant as alive and purposive, motivated - everything as quasi-persons) - then growing-up and becoming intelligent and wise is seen as an incremental process of abstraction.

We mostly regard the abstract as real, useful, generalisable; the personal as childish, unintelligent, crazy... and indeed children, mentally handicapped and psychotic people are often and characteristically 'animistic' in their thinking. (Paranoia, in the technical sense of self-referential delusions, is the natural state of the naive human.) 

To discuss spirituality in terms of Vibrations, Frequency, Energy and Light are all ways of abstraction. Abstraction has been the trend for hundreds, even thousands, of years... And how is this abstraction working out, thus far?...

Well, abstraction is alienation, disconnection; it is to understand God as a series of attributes or properties, God's goals as akin to setting-up a machine, a computer, a force-field... a complex system. It is to see persons in terms of how they serve abstractions; virtues in terms of how we interact with a system; sins and vices as disruptions to our efficient functioning.

In sum, such language feeds an understanding of the universe as unalive and unfolding with inevitability and impartially... when, surely, as Christians we ought to be understanding reality in terms of persons, not the universe; in terms of personal aims, wants, needs, hopes... and of course love?

The recourse to physics concepts as a key metaphor or and the bottom-line factual-symbolic primary description of life, is a thing fraught with hazard; at least for the modern mind.

It is, at any rate, something I am working on noticing and expunging from my own thinking. The intent being to replace it with a conscious animism, an aware knowledge of reality as ultimately - factually-symbolically - consisting in living conscious Beings.

Such an animism is regarded as objective, meaning (as objective always does, in reality) shared perceptually between those of the same quality of consciousness. Those of a different quality of consciousness (such as the mass of modern people, and indeed the naive and child-like, would not and could not perceive this reality of reality-as-Beings.

That is to be expected....

(Note: Reality consists of Beings; including parts or components of Beings... Not everything in reality is a conscious Being in its own right; just as our right thumb, a lymphocyte in the blood, or a calcium ion in our nervous system are not individual Beings, in their own right. Yet everything not itself A Being, is part-of A Being.)


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

You will perhaps disapprove of this comment as too "abstract," but ...

To say that Beings are made up of components which are not themselves Beings, is to say that those components, not the Beings themselves, are the fundamental building-blocks of reality. Reality is not really, fundamentally made up of Beings unless even elementary particles are to some degree conscious (as in the not-at-all-mainstream Mormon theories of W. Cleon Skousen).

I don't think the position you stake out, that everything which is not itself a Being is at least part of a Being, is well thought out. Once Adoni-bezek's thumbs were severed from the rest of him, for example, what became of them in terms of Being-status? No longer part of the Being called Adoni-bezek, did they immediately become conscious Beings in their own right? Did they immediately become parts of some other Being? If so, which? I'm not saying such questions are unanswerable, just that a coherent Animism needs to ask them, and that they seem to invite "scholastic" answers that take us far afield from a child's natural conception of the world.

Bruce Charlton said...


I think the shortest answer comes under the category of 'polarity' (if you word search that term on this blog, to remind yourself). This is that the ultimate categories are 'dynamic processes' - and beings are examples of such processes.

But that is just a different kind of physics!

Polarity includes that many things which are distinguishable (such as parts) are not separable - just as the body parts I list cannot lead a separate existence, they are intrinsically parts. (If they were cut out of the body and kept alive, they would become something else.)

(I suppose this could be termed a kind of 'holism' but that term doesn't seem helpfully explanatory.)

The reason parts are not separable is that the ultimate categories are dynamic, which means that they are lineage-like, occur through-time. the parts participate-in this dynamic existence.

It seems to me that we need to decide whether to do our metaphysics on the basis of personal dynamic entities (Beings) or on the basis of static (abstract) categories. There are probably other possibilities - but my point is that these two do not mix; you cannot get one from another.

The problem for Christianity is that you cannot (honestly) get Beings from Classical metaphysics - which is a deep reason why it keeps turning-into physics!

So, rather than using the alternative-physics language of polarity, dynamos and processes - we need to try and create a thorough-going, Being-based language of 'animism'.