Tuesday 16 June 2020

What do you want most? Unchanging truth, or creation?

You can desire to have either absolute, unchanging, certain truth as your ultimate goal; or instead creation; but not both. 

One very common driver for ultimate philosophy (i.e. metaphysics: the philosophy of first things; of the basic structure of reality); is to notice that in this world, this mortal life on earth - all is change, degeneration, decay and death. Change is seen as destruction.

We cannot know anything for sure, because we change and everything about us changes. All mortal and earthly understanding is therefore is therefore illusion. Change is seen as illusion.

In modern terms - this world is ruled by entropy. And entropy is bad. We seek to escape entropy and attain changelessness.

The urge, then, is to seek that which does not change - that which is un-changing. This is usually sought in meditative silence, stillness, peace. What is sought is that which is not subject to time - which is outside of time. Truth is that which is everything, eternally.

What prevents us realising this, is the self, and all forms of division of one from another. Individual persons are part of the illusion of change. Thinking is a problem to be overcome, because thinking happens in time.

The state of changeless truth may be experienced in a type of meditation; and the aim of this meditation specifcially, and the spiritual life in general; is to cease thinking, to lose awareness of the self. To be aware of the unchanging, time-less unity. To return-to and merge-with the one temporarily in meditation; and permanently at death. 

Truth, reality, deity is seen as impersonal, universal, unchanging, un-thinking, without time.

Alternatively we may choose ultimately to value creation.

With creation there is purpose; there is that-who-creates: a creator.

And creation is 'dynamic', it happens 'in' time; because creation entails movement, it entails differentiation and distinction.

Creation is change; and this kind of change is good. 

Creation is about many not about one. The individual, the self, is not an enemy, but is instead the very basis of creation (the purposive creator is a self).

A creation valuer would not want to seek silence, stillness, peace, nor to to escape time and person; nor to lose the self; nor to cease thinking... Or, at least, this ought not to be the ultimate aim; although it may perhaps be a means to the end of creation.

Instead the aim of one who most values creation is to participate in the activity, the process of creation; participate in creation partially and temporarily in this mortal life (in order to learn from the experiences); and participate permanently and fully in creation after death.

So, we can see that these world-views point in utterly different directions, want extremely different outcomes.

We can't have both as our ultimate goal.


Sean G. said...

The opposite of entropy may seem like changelessness to some but it's actually creation. With entropy everything decays, with heavenly creation everything grows. Truth itself is growing and expanding. Without the prospect of eternal creation I can see the appeal of a static truth so it's not surprising that people find peace in detachment mediation. It beats decay and day!

"My Cup Runneth Over" sounds to me like growing and expanding.

William Wildblood said...

This is a very good distinction. When you look at the material world everything appears to be in a state of decay and running down but when you look at the spiritual side of things everything is in a state of perpetual growth and unfoldment. If decay were the whole truth then those who sought absolute unmanifested being would be right but perhaps they just haven't looked far enough?

It seems you can have material decay, spiritual (uncreated) eternal peace that remains what it is or spiritual (created) eternal unfoldment. This last seems to be what God really wants for us or why create in the first place? For the second option we probably do not need Jesus but the third and best option is the life more abundant he delivers.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Sean and William - I have been harping on about this quite a lot recently! - Clarifying the distinctions in my mind.

It is this distinction which explains why the eclectic, syncretic spiritualities (any version of Perennial Philosophy) always either omit Christianity (and are therefore, in practice, anti-Christian: or more exactly "Anything but Christianity" like the typical New Age guru), or else change it fundamentally (especially by making Jesus non-essential).