Monday, October 4, 2010

The Trick of Dualism

Most of us have been taught to think of the physical and the spiritual as two distinctly different things or places. There's the prevalent idea that we're here in the physical and are stuck here until death, at which point we're transported to the spiritual. Some people choose not to believe in the spiritual, but few, if any, have disbelief in the physical. This idea of what spirit is disconnects us from thinking we have access to it; for, it is there and we are here and there is no way to get from here to there. Religion claims to be the path to the invisible spiritual. However, a definite problem arises when we realize most religions claim to be the only correct path to the spiritual. How confusing! To top it off the more religions one looks at subjectively the more it can be realized they all lead absolutely nowhere. This has caused science to argue against the existence of the spiritual and that in turn has caused the religious to fear science.

The argument is invalid.

I propose a holistic view: Instead of assuming that the physical is one thing and the spiritual is another we look at them as different sides of the same coin. When thought about this way we can realize there is only one coin, and there is nowhere to go. This also opens the door to the view that the spiritual is not invisible at all, and is instead the force that animates. The beating of your heart, the wind chimes swaying to and fro, the sound traveling through the air, the plants following the sun, swaying trees, the clouds rolling through the blue backdrop of the sky, the tides, the rotation of our planet, the travel of our sun and solar-system though space, the expansion of space, to the infinite. You may be thinking “oh come on, all of those things can be reduced to physical processes,” and that is exactly the type of thinking I am trying to dismantle. Nothing can be in physical space and not be animate, vibrating, at it's core. The more we try to pick apart matter by smashing atoms together the more smaller and faster particles we find until eventually everything disappears into a sea of movement and flux. Everything we see and experience emerges from this ever-changing sea of movement. We are all eternally bound to that sea, both mind and body. What we call the “physical” is nothing more than the result of a process that takes this sea of movement and filters it into experience. This sea is spirit, possibilities, physical, the creator and the creation all rolled into one. In this view, if there is an afterlife it too emerges from this same sea.

The key is perception.

Our perception of the world around comes primarily from our upbringing and surroundings. We are taught how to view the world around us. Ultimately though, we are responsible for the perceptions we hold. We can change them any time we want with a simple choice. One person may see a dog in a park tied to a bench and think “poor thing,” while someone else may think “that dog looks well groomed and cared for.” In the same way someone may hear an ambulance in the distance and think “oh no, someone is hurt,” while another may think “thank goodness someone is getting help.” Both points of view are equally legitimate and correct but one makes you feel happy and the other sad. We make decisions everyday about how to feel, even if we don't realize that we're making them.

How does the world look to a dog? Obviously, we have no idea how a dog perceives it's environment and can only offer speculations. When I was a teenager we had two dogs and since I was the only one home during the day they liked to hang out with me in my room. Both of them would sometimes appear to be looking at something in the hallway and turn their heads simultaneously as if watching something move past. This would happen somewhat often and in different places throughout the house. I would try to see what it was that they could possibly be looking at and I could never see anything. Were both of my dogs just pranksters screwing with me? Possibly, but it's somewhat doubtful. I eventually just accepted that they must see something that I simply did not - that they were on a slightly different wavelength than I. The dogs and I both shared most of our experiences of the world around us - but not all of them. Is it possible that I could see things that they could not (color)?

The Band of Possibilities

Think of a radio, there are several stations that the radio could be playing, but you have to pick just one. Our perception is is like that radio in that there are tons of possibilities but we have to choose which to tune-in. Those who choose to view spirit and physical as separate are limiting themselves to that “station” and are limited to the possibilities within that station. Those who hold strong disbelief in “paranormal phenomenon” are limiting themselves to that band of possibilities and will never experience the paranormal. Just as you can reach out and turn the nob of a radio to change its station so can you also reach within and change what station you're tuned to.  


  1. Isn't the spiritual just something we've made up? Isn't your discussion of the "sea of movement" just the laws of physics? Opening one's mind to paranormal phenomenon won't make it exist any more than it does.

    Just thought I'd challenge your ideas a little. Just 'cause. :)

  2. Challenges are always welcome. I'll do my best to describe the images in my mind. :]

    The "spiritual" and "physical" are just labels that have been given to different aspects of what we call reality. The "sea" is just physics in a way, but not in the mechanistic way we tend to think of physical law. Within this sea exist all possibilities or "stations." This sea could contain countless parallel worlds, beings, and anything imaginable. It is the act of observation that gives rise to experience and meaning.

    When we're born our biological receiver (body) is tuned-in to a given wavelength and will remain tuned roughly into that station for the duration of the life. The station tuned to waivers a little bit throughout an average life, but the reception remains basically consistent. Just like 103.2FM can pick up the station 103.3FM, even though it's not exactly on that station. If one is listening to the station 103.3FM but the dial is set to 103.2FM one may be able to hear static and other voices/noises from nearby stations that wouldn't be heard if the dial was moved to 103.3; It is in this way that some are able to perceive things that others do not.

    The shared aspect of reality causes each of us to be subject to each others observations and expectations; this has the effect of keeping our stations more-or-less synced with one another. In the Biblical story of Jesus, in Mark chapter six, Jesus walks into a town and is unable to perform miracles because of the lack of faith in the people of the town. He is able to heal a few individuals of illnesses, but unable to perform showy miracles in front of a crowd. When thought about like this we can see why "paranormal" phenomenon are rarely able to be studied. For example: A person that claims to be able to bend a key with his will walks into a controlled environment full of skeptics and is asked to tune into another station (bend the key) even though the skeptics' observation adjusts the station of the person attempting the feat and prevents it. Don't get me wrong, skepticism has it's place and is necessary, but absolute ridged skepticism can prevent understanding.

    Opening your mind to the possibility of paranormal phenomenon doesn't make it exist or not exist. However, the beliefs within you can allow or disallow your perception of said phenomenons.

    I hope this explained the idea better and if nothing else was an entertaining reply! Thanks for reading! =D

  3. It's a boring, depressing view, but I'll always have the opinion that "we'll never know." I can only fully believe in what is in front of me and can't fully disprove the existence of anything.

  4. Thanks for explaining, I figured I'd reply so you'd know I read your reply.

  5. A good course in biochemistry might be in order. Nonetheless, interesting read.

  6. In what way do you mean Futomara? What does biochemistry state that contradicts the point of view proposed here?

    I'm glad you found it to be an interesting read.

  7. Spiritual is a keyword for bullshit, btw, nice to see you are still blogging!

  8. Hello Nigma! I tend to think that it is Religion that has turned people away from spirituality. Religion turns spiritual ideas into fairy tales and dogmatic nonsense. Real spirituality is nothing more than the study of mind and consciousness and the influence it has on our reality. It is my experience that personal thought causes a reaction in the world outside of us, and it is my intention to study this effect.

  9. "I tend to think that it is Religion that has turned people away from spirituality."

    Actually, the whole spiritualism side of things has probably become more prolific in the West than less. Take for example the recent poll that found that atheists and agnostics knew the Bible better than most evangelical Christians and Catholics. Those that fared the worse also tended to be those that viewed religion as something from the heart, that is felt, rather than something that comes from religious study.

  10. Beginning your sentence with "Actually" makes me feel that you are somehow contradicting something I've said, but I fail to see the contradiction. Just because Religion turns some people from spirituality doesn't mean spiritual ideas haven't become more prolific over time. The idea of spirituality has definitely gained ground in the West in the past five to ten years. I attribute this to a few things but probably the primary factor is the "New Age" Movement (religion). Much like other religions it has some good things going for it, but sadly has become rigid to a set of beliefs and doctrines. Rigid religious belief systems act like a pair of blinders which do not serve us as individuals or as a species. I still feel that it is religion that turns spirituality into something scary and intangible, which makes the very idea of spirit laughable in the eyes of a skeptic.

    I certainly believe that most Christians are probably the least educated about the Bible. I take great pleasure in asking Christians a set of questions about the Bible and watching them scratch their heads and think in circles. A favorite question is: In several verses we're told to praise the -name- of God. So, what is God's name? This will get a variety of responses, but never have I received the correct answer - that is, from a Christian. There is a sad trend I've noticed in some Atheist and that is: The Bible can't have it's roots in reality, therefore, all spiritual ideas must be bunk and fought against for the betterment of humankind. This guilty by association mentality acts like the religious person's pair of blinders custom-fit for the Atheist. Atheism may not be a religion in it's own right, but a lot of those who wear the label of Atheist also wear very similar blinders to those worn by the religious.

    It would make sense that those who view spirituality as something that is felt, would know the least about the Bible as it does not interest them. Failing a test on a subject you haven't studied and aren't interested in doesn't really mean much. Personally, I am interested in the Bible as a text with real, practical, and applicable truths embedded within its fantastical stories. Did Jesus exist? I don't know, but what I DO know is that if he did exist his name wasn't Jesus, he never proclaimed himself to be the savior, and he never claimed responsibility for his miracles. Every single time Jesus performed a miracle he attributed it to the faith of the individual he performed it on. When Peter was walking on the water with Jesus and he became afraid he started to sink. Jesus reached out his hand and said to Peter "Oh ye of little faith, wherefore did thou doubt?" Jesus wasn't responsible for Peters ability to walk on the water, Peter's faith was. When a lady grabbed Jesus' clothes and became healed he turned to her and said "It was your faith -alone- that has made you whole." Institutionalized Religion teaches its followers how to interpret the text and in doing so strips the text of its value and deliberately misleads people for profit and control. Most of the stories in the Bible, to me, tell the tale of human life, awareness, and consciousness not being separate at all from the world around us. In a way, it's the same story that particle physics seems to be eluding to. That story being: There is no separateness, we're all connected, and this experience is what we individually and collectively make of it.