Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Two Aspects of Reductionism

I have given considerable emphasis in my writings over the years to the manner in which Conventional Science is directly based on a strongly reductionist type of understanding. In the most general sense this implies that emptiness (as the ineffable essence of spiritual reality) is reduced to (phenomenal) form.

However it struck me forcibly in the past few days that another fundamental form of reductionism is equally possible in the opposite direction whereby form is ultimately reduced to (spiritual) emptiness.

Though both types are inevitable and indeed necessary for development, a crucial imbalance often characterises the relationship between them.

So one extreme tends to foster its opposite. So in contrast to the traditional scientific worldview we have the opposite contemplative perspective where the pure attainment of spiritual awareness is held to be paramount. However in practice this is often associated with an unduly transcendent orientation where phenomenal form is understood as secondary to spirit. So in effect through attempted spiritual transformation matter is thereby reduced to spirit.

In Einstein's famous formula, the equivalence of mass and energy is maintained. Likewise in psychospiritual terms rightly understood there is an equal equivalence.

Thus when properly appreciated the traditional scientific and contemplative perspectives represent two valid forms of (extreme) specialisation with respect to the experience of form and emptiness respectively.

However ultimately when both aspects have undergone sufficient development in this way, the task then should be to relate them ever more closely in a dynamic interactive manner.

Thus the most balanced and comprehensive scientific worldview is one where reason is genuinely motivated through an authentic contemplative vision.

Likewise the most balanced and comprehensive contemplative worldview ultimately leads to a deep need to transform worldly affairs through an active and committed form of engagement.

So spirit and matter are really two sides of the same coin and equally necessary for balanced development. So through recognising such interdependence one can potentially achieve an ever more refined appreciation of both spiritual and material reality.

However - by definition - the relationship between both cannot be finally resolved through the process of human existence.

In this context, death can be given a special meaning in enabling this ultimate identity to be achieved.

However even in this ultimate sense spirit and form maintain a certain equality. So pure spirit always entails likewise the pure potential for the generation of form.

What happens at death remains - as it should - a deep mystery and I would be highly sceptical of the pronouncements of those who claim to somehow know what transpires.

My own belief would strongly suggest that as our essential being is spiritual (with the potential for creation of form) that this always remains present. In this sense death never really takes place (with respect to our essential being). Rather what we call death represents the ending of what is accidental with respect to our true eternal identity (which is shared by everything and everyone in creation who lives and dies).

One could rightly call this shared existence God. But if you ask me what this further entails with respect to the nature of life involved neither I - nor anyone else for that matter - truly knows.