Paradigms

The evolutionary imperative that gave rise to homo sapiens has expressed itself most powerfully in our urge to understand and order reality. As we have come to dominate that reality, our grasp of the scope of our knowledge has become fragmented. In this section, we consider the underpinnings of knowledge, and develop a framework that will serve later to organize our use of the rigorous predictive capacity of science and the intuitions of spirituality.

Thought

Among the forms of life we perceive on this Earth, humanity is gifted with exceptional mental powers. Specifically, our power of thought – the ability to negotiate possible futures through the abstract vehicle of symbols (words, pictures, formulas, etc.) – has made us masters of this kingdom.

Why is thought important? Let’s consider evolutionary theory.

Darwin was not the only proponent of evolution. Lamarck also offered a theory that proposed competition as the driving force of species development. Darwin noticed, however, that in the animal kingdom at large, individual improvements were transmitted only through procreation. If an animal developed improvements during its life – for example, larger muscles due to exertion – these could not be transferred to its progeny.

Lamarck had the opposite philosophy. He held that an herbivore feasting on leaves, if forced to stretch its neck because overpopulation caused depletion of leaves on lower branches, would pass the predisposition for a longer neck on to its progeny. Lamarck preferred this hypothesis because it meant that species could evolve far more rapidly. Rather than only at the moment of conception, every moment of contact between an adult and a child was an opportunity to transmit the benefits of experience.

Darwin, of course, has been preferred. Lamarck was rejected because he appeared to subscribe to magical thinking: he could not specify a mechanism for transmittal of characteristics developed during life to an animal’s offspring. Darwin, on the other hand, had the work of Mendel with peas, which showed that plant characteristics where transmitted through seeds. Today, we know that the specific mechanism of transmittal is DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).

Unfortunately, in one specific realm, Darwin’s ideas have been misapplied. Social competition is engaged almost entirely in the domain of thought. The capacities present in a baby when it leaves the womb are completely unsatisfactory for his survival in the world of adults. Obviously, improved motor skills and physical strength are critical to survival in an adult world, and the limits of those capacities are defined genetically. In the modern world, however, machinery reduces the significance of those differences. Far more important are the social and productive thought processes originating from his elders. To the degree that his teachers have improved the skills passed on to them from their predecessors, the child will also benefit.

Human beings, to a degree unique among living creatures, benefit from Lamarckian evolution. (Bacteria, which exchange DNA plasmids, may also be thought of as participants in Lamarckian evolution. However, this method is not significantly more efficient than normal genetics.) The manifestation of thought means that we adapt to our environment far faster than other species. Furthermore, we are capable, through thought, of conceiving of and constructing man-made environments, to the degree that we have succeeded in redefining the nature of existence in almost every corner of our world.

Dichotomy

Separation and joining are inherent to competitive societies. We must specialize (or differentiate) in order to deliver worth in the service of others, but must also unite to satisfy the physical and psychological needs that our investment in specialization makes inaccessible to us.

Separation and joining appear as a dichotomy in several spiritual traditions. Among these are the Chinese principles of Yin and Yang, and the masculine (aggressive individuality) and feminine (sociability)characterizations of personality. In this discussion, we adopt the dichotomy of power and love.

While the expression of our unique skills provides us power, without power we cannot execute our skills. Since our skills differentiate us from others, by implication we need power to separate ourselves from others. When individuals compose themselves as a society, their combined power enables expressions of choice that give rise to cultural resilience and advancement.

Love, at an emotional level, is the urge to join with others. Practically, its effect is to create power in our chosen associates. Identification of ourselves with others supports cultural cohesion and the raising of children.

Self-love, conversely, can give rise to a clarity of purpose and directness of vision that liberates substantial energy towards the accomplishment of our life goals.

There is a tension between power and love. Love requires sublimation of our individuality in the service of others. Power, in a social species such as homo sapiens, forces others to hew to our agenda, sacrificing their individuality and – if improperly managed – fostering resistance to the accomplishment of our goals.

I have come to apprehend that these dichotomies are woven into the fabric of reality. The physical principles governing the construction of reality may imply that the world we perceive exists for the purposes of fostering the development of beings that manifest an ideal balance of these principles: The universe seeks to create entities that are optimally configured for the management of energy. For people, that endpoint is a mature adulthood. Surprisingly, achieving that state may open the door for our conscious participation in the construction of reality in higher dimensions.

In short: the Universe doesn’t love us, but invests in our capacity to grow up. Ultimately, the Universe encourages those that accept the imperative to practice love, and rewards us for our success.

Opening Words

Love dissolves the barriers of time and space, allowing energy, wisdom, and understanding to flow between us, and embracing us with the courage, clarity and calm that overcomes obstacles and creates opportunities. When we open our hearts to one another, there is no truth that is not revealed. And – for those that truly love themselves – no impulse to harm that cannot be turned to the purposes of healing and creation.

This series (originally published at everdeepening.org in 2005) is dedicated to the incomprehensible power of love. It documents one man’s philosophical, scientific and spiritual journey towards a comprehension of the mechanisms through which we marshal will to accomplish our goals. The statement above is the simplest way of framing its mission: to bring people into full apprehension of the power of love.

While a personal journey, I attempt to relate my experience to the great paradigms of human intellectual advancement. I have found that, if the right threads are woven in the proper weave, a unity of vision arises that enables us to find a great wholeness in what has been revealed to us by philosophy, science and spirituality.

I know today that we all have enormous untapped potential, and that the great figures of history, both female and male, were gifted by those that trusted them with the power of their unconscious will. That trust reflected an apprehension of the progression of human culture, and that their investment would play an important part in bringing the human story to fruition. The members of those societies benefited by being guided to greater human capacity. Unfortunately, they rarely were capable of transmitting the benefits of their experience to later generations. Time and again, fear and hatred obscured our vision of the future that beckoned us.

The road laid out here is not an easy one. As I have, the successful student will ultimately accomplish a reconditioning of the personality, implying a fundamental shift in the way he or she relates to reality. Typically, men will become more open to the “we”, and women will find tools for defending the ego. Many of the principles provided in my discussion of the paradigms will not make sense until they are applied in resolving significant life challenges. The imaginings and my life history are provided to supply an orientation to the depth of the transformations of consciousness that may be achieved, and provide some comfort that love is a tool that can bring us through the most pressing difficulties.

So: Welcome to the journey.

And may the spirit of love be with you.