Toward a Unified Metaphysical Understanding: Clarifying Contexts to Avoid Confusion and Develop Mutual Understanding    
 Clarifying Contexts to Avoid Confusion and Develop Mutual Understanding
2008-07-10, by John Ringland

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Clarifying Contexts to Avoid Confusion
and Develop Mutual Understanding

This article is intended to hopefully help minimise the likelihood of unnecessary confusion and conflict. When we communicate we use words and therefore ideas. This leads to many misunderstandings even amongst people who fundamentally agree, let alone between people who are coming from entirely different perspectives.

The aim of my work isn't to just bring together people with a particular perspective, but to bring together many different perspectives and to work together towards mutual understanding. In light of this please contemplate these issues...

Within the cosmic context there are two main sub-contexts, let me loosely refer to these as empirical (world of the senses) and transcendent (that which underlies the sensory world) – they are not fundamentally separate but when we speak we either speak in one or the other context so in order to work towards mutual understanding we need to understand which contexts we are speaking in and the differences between them.

Ultimately there is only one reality, but there are two fundamentally different ways of looking at it. To simply state one side and deny the other widens the factional divide between empiricists and transcendentalists. To help bridge the divide and resolve these unnecessary conflicts I will attempt to explain how these two contexts fit together in the wider context, using virtual reality as an analogy.

Imagine that the world that we are talking about is a virtual reality world, not like the simplistic ones that humans create at present, which only create simplistic illusions of surface appearances, but rather one that simulates both inner dynamics and outer form. (see Virtual Reality Analogy Alongside Science and Mysticism for a little more on this analogy)

The computational process is without flaw and the virtual world is exactly as it must be so it is true that on a transcendent level everything is perfect just the way it is. And if a being within the virtual world overcame the illusion of its senses and realised that they were the computational process itself then they would rightly say that everything is perfect and that they are God.

For example, “That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman – that thou art.” (Sankaracharya)

However at the same time, within the virtual world there might be a huge war being fought with massive destruction and needless casualties. To anyone who is operating within the virtual world something IS seriously wrong and the virtual beings can clearly feel its wrongness. That feeling is a part of the logic of the virtual world, just as every perception, experience and action is a part of that logic. Hence the perception of something being wrong and the actions to redress it are ultimately a part of the perfection.

Mixing these contexts and making transcendent statements in the empirical context or empirical statements in the transcendent context leads to endless confusion and only serves to widen the factional divide and this divide is a major cause of unnecessary confusion and conflict. By leaving the context unstated then people interpret statements in their favourite context and most likely get confused because anything taken out of context loses its meaning.

When transcendentalists say that “everything is just as it should be” and just leave it at that, then many empiricists simply reject it because it seems to be naïve wishful thinking or just the parroting of some spiritualist propaganda.

Similarly when empiricists say that “there is a problem and we must work towards resolving it” and just leave it at that, then many transcendentalists simply reject it because it seems to be a judgement based on dualism and fear or just the parroting of some egoic, materialist propaganda.

From a systemic perspective both statements are clear and both make sense in their own context. For instance, I agree with the idea that there is no fundamental crisis but I also agree that there is a crisis, which we ignore at our peril. This is not a contradiction, it only seems that way when we confuse the contexts. And I know that all is One, but I also know that there are a multiplicity of perspectives and world experiences. Each is true in its own context.

Hence a part of my work is to build a bridge between these contexts so that people on both sides of the divide can understand each other and not merely ignore each other or engage in futile debates that use the same words but with different meanings, which only widens the factional divide and leads to confusion and conflict.

So on an empirical level there can be things that are wrong and that need to be redressed even though on a transcendent level everything is perfect and just as it needs to be. The urge to redress a wrong is part of the perfection.

That is why all the great mystics from Buddha to Christ to Dalai Lama and so on all follow the urge to redress the wrongs and untangle confusions because by doing so they are participating in the transcendent perfection.

To obsess and worry about the problems in the world is a form of delusion, but so is sitting back and doing nothing whilst saying that everything is perfect whilst still dwelling in the world. The path of wisdom is to do what is required without attachment to the outcome, i.e. to let spirit flow through you and let the cosmic will be done.

In Daoism this is called wu-wei, literally meaning non-action, but it is a paradoxical concept to many. It implies that actions happen but there is no 'doer' behind them. “... the sage keeps to the deed that consists in taking no action” (Tao te Ching)

Also from the Bhagavad Gita: “He who perceives that all aspects of actions are performed only through prakriti [cosmic nature] and also that the self [individual person] is a non-doer, he may be said to have truly perceived.”

Also the Buddha said: “Events happen, deeds are done, but there is no individual doer of any deed.”

Most discussions leave the context unstated and implicitly speak from an empirical context, believing that context to be all there is. Many other discussions leave the context unstated and implicitly speak from a transcendent context, believing that it is the only one that is real, whilst implying that the empirical context is just an arbitrary, meaningless delusion. Both of these types of discussions widen the factional divide and add to the growing confusion. It is not just a matter of expressing one view or the other and building a following that will overwhelm the other, that only leads to a propaganda war.

Whilst most transcendentalists are still able to recognise the empirical context and understand what is being said, most empiricists simply cannot understand anything expressed from a transcendent context. And generally there simply isn't enough time or space to explain to the empiricists what the transcendent context is. Hence, like virtually all mystics, sages and saints throughout history, it is up to the transcendentalists to express things in empirical language wherever possible. Otherwise we just end up with a growing factional divide that will work against the interests of growing wisdom within the world.

Perhaps there is a way to be inclusive to both transcendentalists and empiricists. It would be a very worthwhile endeavour to develop such a discourse. Until that happens I personally speak mainly to empiricists using rationalist terms that they can understand, but I speak about the relationship between the empirical and transcendent contexts. By building a conceptual bridge of this kind we may be able to come together in mutual understanding.

I feel that empiricists need to develop an understanding that there is something beyond empiricism, but they need to be included in the discussion and not put off by unqualified transcendent statements. Only then can they see through the cracks in the empiricist paradigm and thereby get beyond it. That is why I use a rationalist approach to help them come to an understanding of the meaning of spirituality and the value of inner work. Then the words of transcendentalists may make more sense to them.

Such a bridge may also help transcendentalists develop an understanding of the empiricist perspective so that they can speak more clearly to the empiricists and not merely arouse confusion and division. But also remaining true to their transcendent understanding.

We should all speak our truth but when speaking in a world with such divisive confusion we need to work towards approaches that help reduce the divide rather than widen it. Then once we all come together in mutual understanding we can find a way of speaking that is inclusive to both because for the foreseeable future we will all be operating in a world in which there are both. What do you think? How do you think we can achieve this?

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