reconstructing the spiritual hierarchy with scientific mysticism Jan 8, 2023

Some spiritual hierarchies present a dichotomy, with the physical world at the bottom, and the spiritual world on top. The spiritual world is seen as better or more important, and the physical world as base, dangerous, and less important. People from traditions across the world express this viewpoint. It has its merits, but i would like to present a slightly different take, which i believe to be more accurate.

Here is reality, which is everything that is. Formations within reality give rise to new layers of existence. Time and space, forces and particles, molecules, stars and planets, life, thought, society. None of these things is separate from reality, nor from any of the other layers. They are emergent configurations of the underlying system. My whole body is made out of atoms, and that's all it is. But the arrangement of those atoms encodes a result of millions of years of evolution, and decades of human life experience. Evolution mixes all species and substances together in a combinatoric quest to discover what all can happen. The connections between the neurons in my head allow me to write these words. It's all just atoms, and it's all much more than atoms.

So at the bottom of the hierarchy is the vast realm of concrete reality. It is devoid of abstraction; there are no things, and nothing is happening. It is simply a structure, full of redundant information, and predicated on a very simple* rule. It is the highest level of detail, and from here we will embark on a journey of generalization.

* That the rules of the universe are very simple is a guess, derived in part by playing with complex systems like conway's game of life, the collatz conjecture, or fractals like the mandelbrot and julia sets. All of these systems have very simple rules which give rise to incredible complexity. In the world, too, we have seen this from the opposite perspective: That there are levels of simplicity within the hierarchy of existence. The enormous complexity of life, for example, is all built on the properties and combinatorics of the genetic molecules. Of course, we don't yet know the rule of the universe, and it may even be impossible to know it. But don't let logic stop you. Logic is only half of the mind's power. All great scientific discoveries were performed with intuition. Logic is busywork in comparison.

Moving up from there, i find the ideas of "1:03 pm in rain's room on january 7, 2023", "rain's favorite pebble, found several years ago", "rain's hand", and "raincomplex". We can do a meditation here and touch "the experience of being a human". Continuing up the hierarchy, eventually we reach large concepts like "humanity", "living things", "goodness", "molecule", and "time". Sitting at the top is "the universe aka* god", containing everything else.

* That god and the universe are the same thing is derived in part by reading the writings of the mystics. It is not a philosophical or metaphysical position, but a linguistic or semantic one. We find in these writings, as we read with as little interpretation as possible, that when they talk about god (or whatever term for unity), they are talking about reality itself, seen without human ideas in the way. It is later interpreters of these works who create the separation between god and reality, by moving god from the concrete realm into the abstract.

There are many ideas which are based on other ideas instead of directly on reality. Some of these ideas match reality well, while others do not. There are many "false universes" which are not grounded. Strictly speaking, no idea can perfectly match reality, because in an idea there is always a loss of information or context (as compared to reality).

But there is more to say about god. If you like, substitute the word 'universe' or 'reality' for 'god'. God is definitely in the concrete reality, because that's the definition of god. Is god in abstraction? There are two* answers to this question:

The first answer is that all abstractions are mental states, and all mental states are physical states. An abstraction is only a configuration of reality, and so god is in it, in that sense.

The second answer is that an abstraction's truth is determined by how well it fits reality, and how sensitive its context is. The degree to which an abstraction fits reality determines how much god is in it. This sense is sometimes employed to point out the separation between humans and god, called sin or illusion. As union with god, it is a measure of our understanding of reality.

* These two ways of looking are called "ultimate" and "conventional". The ultimate perspective is that of reality itself, devoid of human conception. It is about unity and the interrelation of all parts of the universe. The conventional perspective is the ordinary human way of looking, with the separateness of things and ideas. How is it even possible that we can adopt the ultimate perspective? Strictly speaking, only the universe does this, by virtue of its being the universe. But there is a way of thinking which is very close to the ultimate.

So at the bottom of the hierarchy, we have god, and at the top of the hierarchy, we have the idea of god. In this way, the hierarchy is almost a loop. The hierarchy itself is not a map of reality, but of the space of ideas as they emerge from reality. Ideas are the map of reality. Reality is not mappable without abstraction; a map is an abstraction. The ultimate cannot be described, but simply is. And it's our job to understand and describe it.

reconstructing the spiritual hierarchy with scientific mysticism

links to:
- glass marble meditation
- reaching for the fruit
- the clay jug and the molten iron
- the universe in a nutshell

linked from:
- reconciling atheism and theism
- when the sky breaks, and the raw power of the universe roars in every direction

category: exploration/meditation
previous: we must look at the entire picture

all writing, chronological
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