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Universal Truth: Two Metaphors - Peter Hentges

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December 6th, 2006

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01:40 pm - Universal Truth: Two Metaphors
For some reason today, I'm thinking a lot about the nature of reality and my beliefs about the universe. My overall philosophy is that the universe exists so that conscious beings can be happy. It may not succeed all the time, but it is trying.

On the way to that, I've been struck by two metaphors for explaining how the universe works.

First, that we are like cells in a body.

I am not aware of every cell in my body. I still try to protect all of them as best I can. I don't always succeed. If I don't pay attention or try something beyond my capabilities, I can harm myself inadvertently. I can stub my toe in the dark or hit my thumb with a hammer or pull a muscle by lifting something incorrectly.

I can (and do) cause harm to myself on purpose. I don't eat enough vegetables. I consume alcohol. I don't exercise. All of these behaviors can be seen as objectively harmful to some part of me. I bet the cells of my liver think, "Why is He doing this to me again?" If I truly cared about every single one of them, I'd quit drinking. For now, the benefit outweighs my concern.

Sometimes cells in a body don't get the right information. The transfer of DNA in cell division goes wrong and a cell becomes cancerous. Or a virus adds some extraneous information and a cell is hijacked to do something destructive to the rest of the cells around it. Sometimes the rest of the cells can fight off these destructive messages, sometimes they can't.

So I think that we are all connected to a greater consciousness but that, in some superficial ways, we are like the cells in the body of that greater consciousness. It isn't always aware of our every little action but we can let it know what we need and once it's made aware it can try to fulfill those needs. Sometimes, some of us get infected with messages that run counter to our default programming and this may cause us to become destructive to ourselves or others.

The other metaphor is that life is like a video game.

This metaphor, I'm stealing whole cloth from this explanation of Hinduism.

I've always been troubled by the idea that, if I'm responsible for my own reality, I'm somehow responsible for the bad things that happen to me (not to mention others). It is somehow comforting to me to think that whatever it was that chose to be manifested in physical reality as me maybe chose the "hardcore" level of difficulty for this game of life.

If we have all made such choices and we are all connected then it follows that our experience in life can be seen as a sort of co-op mode of play. We may face difficult challenges, but we don't have to face them alone. The other players can help us overcome those challenges and there may be some that we are unable to overcome alone.

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:December 6th, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC)

Blore's Razor

"Given a choice between two theories, take the one which is funnier."
-- Blore's Razor

While this implies "funnier to you", the philosophy doesn't explicitly say just who is most amused.

I agree that we are part of a system. In practical matters, we are but cogs in a machine, drops in the ocean, split ends on pouffy hair, blogs in the blogosphere, dandelion spoors in the wind. (*whew* that was tiring.) How can we get along? Are we cells or the plasma for something we cannot comprehend? Another philosophical conundrum:

"We are all here on earth to help others; what others are here for I don't know." --WH Auden

If by "responsible" you mean "causation", then you get into your past life(s) or Original Sin or any of that nonsense. I would prefer you to be "responsible" enough to clean up your own messes, whether or not you were jostled into spilling the gravy, and proud of your "choices", the good ones, even the ones you didn't really have a lot of control over making.

"The object of life is to die a weird death."
-- Pynchon, "Gravity's Raindbow"

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[User Picture]
Date:December 6th, 2006 10:35 pm (UTC)
The Universe is doing lots of dope, and the cells are paying for it. Makes sense to me.

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