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Comments

Christine E

Wow. Thanks Robert! There is so much out there right now it is often difficult to know what to believe. I think your instincts are right on, though. Critical thinking is one of the most important faculties we have and needs to be developed just as much as any spiritual discipline if we are looking for truth and not diversion or ego gratification. It's a long and winding road...

Timothy

Hi Robert. I agree with Christine that it is often difficult to know what to believe these days. There is much here in your insightful post to comment upon. First though, I wonder if you can clear up a question for me. I have often wondered where this New Age understanding of the word 'metaphysics' comes from. Was it, perhaps, Blavatsky? When you refer to the "lack of true scholarship in the field of metaphysics" you are using the word in this sense and so it prompts me to ask where it comes from. As someone on the margins of academia (I do have a Ph.D in Philosophy and teach courses in both Asian and Western philosophy) I can tell you that there surely is a great deal of scholarship in metaphysics. All you have to do is search "metaphysics" in Google Scholar and I'm sure there will be ample evidence. In the academic world (is this what you mean by 'true scholarship'?) the word 'metaphysics' means what it originally did when Aristotle originally coined the term. Well, actually it would be more precise to say Aristotle's students who coined the term. The story goes that when his students were compiling Aristotle's lecture notes sometime after his death into the corpus we know today, they came across one book that they simply couldn't figure out a title for. The problem was its subject was so broad and general they didn't know what to call it. They had just completed a work called the "Physics" so they ended up with the simple solution of calling this yet unnamed book the "After the Physics" book. The subject of the book was the question "what is reality?" So, in the world of scholarship, 'metaphysics' is any theory of reality. A view that holds that there is more to reality than the atoms in motion that constitute the physical world is thus certainly a metaphysics, but so is the view that there are only atoms in motion. One could, for example, just check out the metaphysics of Thomas Hobbes to see that a materialist, too, puts forth a metaphysics. So my point is that it is perhaps unrealistic to ever expect "true scholarship in the field of metaphysics" when the term 'metaphysics' is itself misunderstood. At the beginning of each semester when I have to introduce the branches of philosophy and then come to 'Metaphysics' I always find I have to explain why the word is so often misunderstood.

I also wonder about your 'wisdom of the ages' thesis--the tendency to doubt new thinking when it challenges or negates "the established spiritual principles of accumulated human wisdom." While I think it is certainly shortsighted to simply dismiss the accumulated wisdom of the past, if humanity is to evolve, which I think this crisis of our time is demanding of us, it seems we must be willing at least to question the wisdom of the past, and that would seem, perhaps, to call into question the very notion of "established spiritual principles." Which principles are the "established" ones anyway--those of Plato or Aristotle, those found in the Old Testament or the New Testament or the Koran, or those found in the Upanishads or the Pali Canon or the Mahayana Sutras, or maybe the Daodejing?

I think that it might be very worthwhile to examine a philosopher like Nietzsche for example; and he was someone who certainly did take on the task of questioning much of the accumulated wisdom of the past. I say this not necessarily because we should agree with him, which would be impossible to do on everything he wrote anyway, but because, for one, he did take on this task of radical questioning, but also because he seems to have anticipated this crisis of our time. He often used the word 'metaphysics' to refer to the entire tradition which frames Western thought since roughly the time of Plato. For Nietzsche, if humanity is to overcome this crisis of modernity, it would be necessary to overcome the 'history of metaphysics.' On the one hand this means giving up the pretention, characteristic of philosophers throughout the ages, of claiming to have discovered the truth about reality. The 'philosophers of the future' which Nietzsche looks forward to, will have gotten over their "youthful madness in the love of truth." They will have thus left behind the arrogance of the 'history of metaphysics' in no longer thinking that they have unmasked reality and discovered the truth. Instead, they will more modestly understand that their 'truths' are only views framed from a limited perspective. The dreamer finally realizes he is dreaming, the boundary between philosophy and art dissolves.

Nietzsche also thought the crisis facing humanity resulted from that tendency within the 'history of metaphysics' to equate the "truth" with what is eternal and unchanging and to understand the meaning of existence to be the liberation of the eternal soul from the prison of the mortal body and earthly existence. I think the most obvious target of Nietzsche's critique would be those who really don't care if we destroy the world through environmental negligence or nuclear war because they already have their ticket to the next world. For Nietzsche a further evolution of humanity would involve overcoming the split between spirit and nature that is so dominant in the 'history of metaphysics' and understanding the soul as rooted in the body just as a tree, in reaching for the heights, most be rooted in the soil of the earth. The source of the crisis facing humanity at this time, according to Nietzsche, is that human beings have yet to evolve to being capable of really saying "yes" to this life. For Nietzsche the 'history of metaphysics' is framed by the "no" exemplified in Socrates' last words, which suggest that death is healing, and for those who have ears as Nietzsche says, that life is sickness.

Perhaps Nietzsche would have found some affinity with the Daoist thinkers of ancient China for whom there certainly is no split between spirit and nature. Maybe we find this "yes" in the bodhisattva ideal in Mahayana Buddhism, since the bodhisattva is the one who finally gives up the preoccupation with escaping samsara and takes the vow to come back to this life again and again as long as there is life in order to help all beings overcome suffering. I think we find this "yes" in John Lennon's music, especially in songs like "Mind Games" and "Imagine." That's what drew him to Yoko by the way. I'm sure you remember the story he told about when they met, when he went to an opening of her work in London, and one piece in the middle of the room just was a ladder and a magnifying glass and a word written on the ceiling in very small letters. So after climbing up the ladder and looking through the magnifying glass he sees the word "yes." He said if it had said "no" he wouldn't have stayed.

Robert

Hi Tim - Glad you dropped in. Though this dialog could stretch to book length, I'll answer what I can in this limited forum. I'm using metaphysics in the sense that it is the study of that which is beyond the physical, but all encompassing of both the physical and subtle planes of existence, including the powers latent in humanity that have only been awakened in Avatars, Sages, Gurus, some advanced healers, and some who keep them concealed so that they don't attract trouble from mainstream society. It encompasses the study of evolution itself on every level, including all the energies of existence which modern science, philosophy, and religion have largely excluded from examination, having confined themselves to artificially constructed limitations of reasoning around forms. Metaphysics does encompass the study of the known, but there are established unknowns that have never been adequately investigated. Unfortunately, this is where metaphysics has been hamstrung by the erroneous assumptions of the so-called "scientific method" and its obsession with replicability

Some metaphysical things never examined by academia? Levitation among the Yogis, healing powers demonstrated by countless miracle workers, from Arigo to the psychic surgeons of the Philippines to St. Issa, Blavatsky's power of materialization and dematerializaton of objects, Babaji's popping in and out of physical forms, shifting from being ancient to young in the blink of an eye, Sri Yukteswar reappearing in a physical body after his death, Yogananda's body smelling like flowers with no decomposition for a month after death with no embalming fluid, to name but a few. These are powers latent in the human mechanism that have NEVER been adequately studied by any Western academic institution. More? How about remote viewing, remote diagnosis and healing of disease, astral travel, precognition, past life traumas and karmas influencing our lives today are only a few of the 10,000 things that have never been addressed by the official culture.

Probably the closest thing to true metaphysics being examined by today's scholars are the various OOB experiences, life after life and across lives, and such things. At least we have HH Dalai Lama to demonstrate these things are not as fantastic as they seem, and there is such a thing as "cosmic memory," as it persists in the frequencies of the Akashic records.

To me, metaphysics is beyond philosophy, biology, chemistry, physics, and whatever else is form bound, but all-encompassing of them and a lot of other things. Blavatsky offered the world a sound set of arguments against ALL Western philosophy, science, and religion as being too form obsessed without understanding the larger sweep of evolution, the subtle forces and frequencies of Earthly existence, and evolution itself building the collective Wisdom of Humanity. She also addressed our collective history, global and individual and all that encompasses, in her masterwork "The Secret Doctrine," a translation of the first 2 of 33 volumes of antiquity known to exist for many thousands of years in a few Tibetan lamaseries. The writing predates Sanskrit, and there is a considerable canon of scholarship built around those ancient chronicles. Of course, we can't even admit that St. Issa, miracle worker that He was, actually might have had a wife, kids, and settled in Kashmir, (thoroughly documented through the impeccable scholarship of the respected Dr. Fidas Hasnain!) so how much can we expect from "official sources?" Despite the international reports of the Russians finding remnants of Atlantis many decades ago, exactly where it is supposed to be located on the ocean floor, no one has studied it. It seems there are some branches of scholarship that are more approved of than others.

There is an ancient Wisdom, comprised of ALL Wisdom traditions of every land of every age. Theo-sophia is all inclusive, and there is no thing that isn't a part of it. All of the established principles exist across disciplines, which makes certain principles more timeless and universal than others. Like the Golden Rule, or Karma in the higher sense. That is a Universal teaching, whether the followers of the local tradition practice it or not. In any case, some principles are core, some are marginal, some are conditional, some are unconditional.

As you know from studying the precepts of Buddhism, there are absolute Truths, conditional truths, and those things which are inherently untrue, since they have no permanence and are derived from other impermanent aggregates. I have no problem with newer approaches appropriate to our need for new metaphors to describe our evolving understanding of reality, but I cannot put much credibility in New Age assertions that (to name one popular example) evil space aliens have stolen our DNA. That seems a bit too much like Genesis to be believed, given the nature of the Infinite Force we call "God."

In another example, we are told the Infinite and Eternal Source is beneficent from sources said to be ancient when Sanskrit was birthed as a language. It would seem that our collective wisdom would dictate this is so, since the Sun shines, the Earth puts forth flowers and fruits regularly (assisted by our collective scholarship in horticulture) but we can't figure out that in fact this is a beneficent reality, and waste time arguing about whether we are innately vicious, nature innately indifferent, and other useless speculations. Rather than cooperate with what we know, building on those premises and accepting those that lead to well being and rejecting those that lead to suffering, we lump everything into a big "what if" hopper and leave it all to the subjective judgment of the perceiver.

Of course, since the bias of the perceiver conditions what is understood, that seems a futile experience in wheel spinning if we expect a larger comprehension to occur. If a person tells the child they are stupid, the child invariably accepts the reality of that perception. Much of modern science, philosophy, and religion seems very much the same situation. Even the science of thought-form building, aka "affirmations," is a study in its infancy. The fact that many do not practice the precepts with any degree of diligence does not negate the fact that matter follows thought, in ways undreamt-of by our modern superfical world with its 45 second attention span. An unconditional Truth remains true, regardless of which local forms find ways to express fragments of that Truth. Evolution to me involves not confining Truth to old wine skins, allowing each new revelation to contribute to the sum total of the Knowledge-Wisdom of the Human Race. New metaphors for new eras, and all that. There is much I've found meritorious in some "New Age" authorship, but a lot of it is pure speculation and not very coherent in its view.

You definitely hit on an important part of the metaphysical disconnect that creates so much human suffering. We are indeed one with the Earth, the dirt of Her dirt, and have gotten woefully disconnected from Nature which has created most of the disasters now confronting humanity. We are a whole electromagnetic system, involving the Solar System, the Sun, all the planetary "intelligences," as well as our beautiful 3rd Rock from the Sun. Yet we act like ignorant, destructive parasites arguing which philosopher, scientist, or spiritual teacher is "the one," superceding the others. It would seem like the fact that we shouldn't be killing each other wouldn't be such a hard thing to grasp, given how we're all made up of a body, feelings, and rational mind, mirroring the upper triad of Atma, Buddhi, and Manas, with all six being the aggregates of Monad. All separation or comparisons on any level occurs in the world of duality, the world of speculations and assumptions I spoke of earlier. Metaphysics examines all that is dual and non-dual, the known and the unknown, the actual and the potential. Yes, I'm quite familiar with how John met Yoko. And while I say "yes" to many things, there are some things we must say "no" to, lest we fall into attachment, avoidance, illusions, fear, vanity, unhealthy appetites, confusion, superstition, corrosive doubt, or any delusion about the nature of the self to the Self. Perhaps these are within the metaphysics of the psychology of the future? Truly, thanks for dropping in and offering such a thoughtful comment. It probably is too long a subject for a comment stream, but I've enjoyed creating a thoughtful answer for a thoughtful man.

Valerie

Although I think Robert has described it very well, if memory serves, "metaphysical" means "beyond the physical." That is to say, beyond anything we can perceive with our five known senses.

This is a good article to save and refer to whenever confronted with new sales pitches or threats to our current set of beliefs.

I remember how, as a child I was invited to play in a neighbor's yard where a woman was indoctrinating the kids into fundamentalist Christianity. I was terrified to find out I wasn't going to Heaven because I hadn't been saved, hadn't been baptised! (Quakers don't baptise.) My mother assured me Quakers believe everyone goes to Heaven. Whew.

When I entered my "enlightenment" period in the 1980's, I read everything I could get my hands on. There were a lot of strange ideas out there. I quickly realized that I should think carefully before embracing any of the stuff I was reading. I even went to a Bible study which I eventually outgrew. Some things have become core belief and the rest has fallen by the wayside.

In any case, everyone has their own path to God, and their own schedule to keep. It's a funny thing to feel one minute that you are miles above everyone else, then the next, you find what a fool you are. Evolved and humbled at the same time...

As for the end of the age, it will come and go and we won't even realize it because we will have evolved into something else. :)

Timothy

I appreciate your response Robert. I understood the sense in which you were using the word 'metaphysics." What I was wondering is if you knew where this use of the term comes from. I suspect it came from the Theosophists but I don't really know. In any case it is a misunderstanding of what the term means in the history of philosophy. A belief in that which is beyond the physical is a metaphysics but certainly not the whole of metaphysics.

I sometimes think you are confusing the teachings of Buddhism with the Upanishads. The starting point of Buddhism is a rejection of the teaching of the Upanishads. Where the Upanishads teach a metaphysics which holds that what is real is what is eternal and unchanging, Buddhism begins with an acceptance of impermanence. The self is simply a temporary arrangement of the five aggregates, each of which is empty of any permanent, independent existence. The Buddhist doctrine of Anatman (Sanskrit) or Anatta (Pali) holds that there simply is no Atman, no eternal soul or Self that is independent of prior conditions. At the end of the Diamond Sutra there is the verse:


A shooting star, a fault of vision, a lamp;
An illusion and dew and a bubble;
A dream, a flash of lightning, a thundercloud —
In this way is the conditioned to be seen.

Everything that exists is conditioned--that is what the doctrine of pratityasamutpada or "dependent arising" teaches--and everything that is conditioned is ephemeral like a shooting star, a drop of dew, a bubble or a flash of lightning. We are but shooting stars in the grand scheme of things. Not realizing this and trying to hold on to something permanent, trying to grasp what is not there, is the source of the problem of suffering.

I think it might be misleading to refer to the precepts of Buddhism as absolute Truths. The precepts themselves are but moral codes to guide conduct if one wants to overcome the problem of suffering. Sometimes it is thought that Nagarjuna, in the 2nd century CE, introduced a distinction between absolute and conditional truths into Buddhism when he made a distinction between paramartha-satya and samvriti-satya in his attempt to explain the Mahayana doctrine of shunyata. Paramartha just means "higher" not necessarily "absolute." To interpret paramartha as "absolute" might lead one to think that "shunyata" is just another name for what in the Upanishads is referred to as "Brahman." But the metaphysics (here I'm using the term in its original sense) of Buddhism is very different from that of Vedanta. Nagarjuna explains that the doctrine of shunyata is simply another way of saying what the Buddha meant by pratityasamutpada--that everything is empty of independent, permanent existence. The distinction between a conventional truth and a higher truth is not a distinction between what is impermanent and conditional from what is absolute and permanent. The higher truth is rather the recognition that our truths are conditional. The samvriti-satya are truths that are conditional or conventional but not recognized as such--but put forth as absolute. The higher truth is then the recognition that there are no absolute truths. In developing his Vedanta darshana, Shankara, I think later used the distinction between two truths in the sense you are using it, but this is not what Nagarjuna meant. So I think we find very different spiritual principles in Vedanta and Mahayana Buddhism.

robyn

the precipice is intriguing. i feel that the world is in some ascending state of motion, through time of course.

The frequency rate of all masses (humans, machines) is speeding up, creating more energy. When that happens time becomes less of what it appears because of putting forth so much energy. The speed distorts the true view of reality.

Ex. A car crash (for those of you lucky enough to experience one): Time before a crash as it speeds up, then the slowness of time at impact, then the stopping at real time are all quite fantastic states of perception through time. There's a lot to be said about physics that has yet to be known in relation to the universe at large but i think astrology and plaentary degrees have a lot to do with the electromagnetic affect on humans much like the moon does to the tides. Lots to be learned, even though we're talking yogis and mayan calendars and 2012.

This may sound corny but watching the tv show Lost has me thinking of electromagnetic fields which plunged me into the spectrums: light, xrays, gamma rays,radio; what makes up energy and how that can affect space and time. And how radiation affects all life on a molecular level, perception included.

I mean, a radio wave can make you hear something that isn't there with the right tools.

Curious how your post tied in with my current mental ponderances.

Thanks.

Mr Mark

Few folk are aware of just how Gnostic the 3 Matrix movies are. There is this "grid" we're living in, ...but it's not real. I don't think it is psychologically healthy to either ignore or reject truth - regardless of it's source, but there shall always be those who will choose the blue pill, rather than having the courage to leave the cozy dream world. In the 2nd film, when Neo meets the oracle, I believe we have 'the crux of the matter' presented to us to ponder. She tells him, "you've already made the choice - you just need to know WHY you made that choice."
The discussion about the different form of Buddhism etc. reminds me of a story told by Joseph Campbell about "big boat" and "little boat". He used the crossing of the bay between San Fransisco and Oakland. A man takes a ride "to the other side" and, for a while, he keeps looking back at where he came from. He keeps telling himself he can go back any time he wants, but will continue exploring this new realm a while longer; but eventually the day comes when he looks back across the bay and can no longer SEE San Francisco!

I count myself privileged to have known, however briefly [he left us that summer for another University] the gentleman who edited The Blackwell Reader on Metaphysics. About 50 years ago there was a "revival" of philosophical writing and discussion of the topic [which preceded the co-opting of the term by "hippies" and more contemporary "new agers"] that was the point at which philosophy, religion, science, and psychology began to collide. Inevitably we find ourselves embroiled in the age-old debate of Free Will vs Determinism [aka "predestination"]. The key (or at least one possible key) to understanding what is or is not true in metaphysics, (and for that matter philosophy in general) is in asking the right question. [If you've seen the recent film starring Will Smith adapted from the famous book "I Robot" you understand what I mean.] But there is a danger in all this of losing "the beginner's mind" in the process, b/c we perceive ourselves caught up in this intellectual whirlwind that seems to demand we take a position on this or that idea [so we can write a Term Paper] and begin to cherish our opinion so much that it causes us to believe (all-be-it erroneously) that we are seperated from "Source". But that is the very essence of what it means to be human! We made the choice to "descend into 3-D" so that we may "evolve" (for want of a better word for it) over the course of as many lifetimes as it takes us to to learn whatever is "truth" and/or "real", until we can say "yes" to all things. (The Yes band, btw, is my all-time favorite "rock group".)
Most westerners have no clue as to what "reincarnation" is all about. Nietzsche had a good handle on it. If more people understood the way He saw it, the world would certainly be a better place. Cruelty and wars etc. wouldn't be able to continue on as 'the status quoe' for very long, I'm sure. Nietzsche believed that after you "die" there is a 'life review' wherein you experience all the pain and suffering you inflicted upon others. After a while in Summerland, "go back and try again". Of course, we're all born with 'amnesia'. To be able to remember in any detail one's past lives wouldn't be fair. That's not how the game is played. But if we take to heart THIS view of "reincarnation" it would certainly have a tremendous effect on our behavior. Orthodox Christianity leads one to believe they can do almost anything short of murder, repent, be forgiven, and still "go to heaven" when we depart the body.
Critical thinking?
Practical Reasoning?
Reserving judgment until we know the facts?
What's that got to do with Metaphysics? Plenty!
One of my favorite readings [not assigned. found it in the Univ. library] was George Santayana's book "The Life of Reason". Basically, his thesis was that Reason had "taken on a life of it's own", so to speak. He followed a historical time line. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. We can analyze where we've been in an effort to understand where we might be going, and make a free will choice according to what we hope/expect will prove to be "right" or "best" as we endeavor to follow the path of unconditional love.
Fact of the matter is: Time, as we experience it here in 3-d, is something we can make our friend. It really cannot be "wasted". It is not evil. And we can make it our friend. I closing, let me just say to my readers: "thanks for your time!"

Popplagid

Great post and great discussion.

I am also aware of some things from the ancient esoteric teaching, although I am a beginner in this. I mainly try to use my intuition and plain common-sense in assuring what may be truth or not. Gladly, I am aware from other realms through some out of body experiences I have once in a while, during sleep time, of the "magic" of life and higher guidance through the sometimes fantastic coincidences of life, aware of "there is something else" by a ufo I once saw (and I am an amateur astronomer), aware of possibility of psychic phenomena through some things that already happened to me, although small, yet I felt that there are much more that people more advanced, such as eastern yogis, may already have done. I am aware of chakras and ethereal and astral energy, due to my meditations, and I believe in the sincere word of some people I already met that channeled (at least the cases I know my intuition tells me there is something fundamentally right of it, especially when it is of a neutral uplifting and does not infringe our own free-will or fill us with glamours or fear issues)

About the new age, it is probably what I know less. I am aware of the changes, I feel them, most of my friends and family members also feel there are things that may happen in soon, however besides my futuristic dreams that once in a while happen, I know little and I just follow my humble intuition concerning some practical advices, and things on life.

Well, at least I do know we are entering more Aquarian influences, at a cusp of a age transition and with more important events happening between 2008 and 2014. More I do not know, and sincerely the heart and my dearest human brothers and mother earth are more important for me than any fear of possible events.

Valerie

As Spock would say... Fascinating.

Stirred up a real hornet's nest this time, haven't you Robert! :)

Robert

Hi Valerie - Well, at least it's a vigorous discussion, even if it does go all over the place. You're right in that the term does mean "beyond physics." I believe it encompasses all that our 5 senses and minds bring us in the way of information, but related to ALL that is, both visible and invisible. Sorry you had a momentary fear as a child re: Heaven. I never bought into any church's narrow minded views anyway. Some of them seemed hypocritical, elitist, cruel, and just plain contradictory. I think where they began to lose me as a child was when I was told that animals don't "go to heaven." They cemented my exit when they kicked out the pastor for preaching civil and human rights, and replaced him with someone who ranted against civil rights and antiwar protesters and their hair. You speak truly when you write "everyone has their own path to God, and their own schedule to keep." As for the end of the age, since it takes about 500 years to accomplish the transition, in all likelihood we'll die and reincarnate at least once during this transitional period, maybe more.

Hi Timothy - While I acknowledge that "metaphysics" was coined by Greeks as a philosophical term to describe an Aristotlean work, as a pure concept that term cannot be confined to Western history and philosophy. This is not a misunderstanding of the term, except perhaps to Western academia. There has been a metaphysics of Eastern philosophy that is far older and more encompassing than our Western narrow definitions, but since we're discussing this in English, we must use the terms at our disposal.

HPB wrote or translated thousands of pages of heavy Eastern philosophy in her life, as well as referenced hundreds of Western works from antiquity and modernity, and used that term precisely referencing Eastern thought. She knew many languages fluently, especially ancient Greek and Sanskrit, and used terms with extraordinary precision. Writing for western thinkers, she had to use language westerners would understand. For one example, in 1889, HPB wrote

Our philosophy teaches us that, as there are seven fundamental forces in nature, and seven planes of being, so there are seven states of consciousness in which man can live, think, remember, and have his being. To enumerate these here is impossible, and for this one has to turn to the study of Eastern metaphysics...
These are in fact the realm of metaphysics of Eastern consciousness, an investigative discipline that predates Aristotle. I'm sure there are Sanskrit (or even Kabbalistic) terms for "metaphysics" but we choose to use the word "metaphysics" since being English speakers, we derive much of our language from Greek origins, sort of a "local" prejudice if you will.

To me and many others globally, the term metaphysics involves far vaster fields of study than being confined to whatever straightjackets Western academics has insisted that term means. I believe metaphysics is a far vaster field of study than philosophy can define. It is the study of physical and non-physical realms of existence, across space, time, consciousness, reality, matter, energy, and All-that-IS. While there is a philosophy of metaphysics, there is also the science of metaphysics and the art of metaphysics. While one could argue that everything is encompassed by philosophy, it could equally be true that everything able to be conceived has an art to it, as well as a science of it, including philosophy. These three realms forever work together, and also individually.

I am not confusing Buddhism with the Upanishads. I refuse to think in terms of "either-or" when it comes to Wisdom. It is always "both-and." My life work is about synthesizing whatever Wisdom Traditions I can and offering them in contemporary terms. While there is much wisdom in the Upanishads, they are not the final commentary on All-that-IS. Nor are the translations of the Buddhist scholars over the millennia. Nor do the Kabbalists have the Be-all and End-all in their studies and practices. Yet these and many other disciplines of Self-realization all compose the Ageless Wisdom, which is not confined to any specific dogma. HPB wrote extensively on the numerous errors and assumptions of narrow Western AND Eastern dogmas in her amazing "Isis Unveiled." Check it out if you want remarkable scholarship across many languages and disciplines, Eastern and Western.

While Buddhism does in fact teach the impermanence of all aggregates, both dense and subtle, no less an expert on Buddhism than HH Dalai Lama just taught me and others in NY a few weeks ago during his exposition on Nagarjuna's Verses on Emptiness that in fact, there are subtle aggregates that DO persist across space and time in a form of seeming permanence, this requiring a re-defining of what we mean by impermanence. It seems that while much is impermanent, there are things that are more "permanent" than impermanent, if His Holiness is to be believed. He was quite specific that there are enduring Higher states of consciousness we ARE that forever call us forward.

This parallels something I have taught for decades, that in fact what we call "the Soul" is an impermanent vehicle that can only exist in these planes of existence where our apparent "life forms" dwell, but that on higher or more subtle levels the Soul has no substantial reality. That does NOT mean that discrete energy forms of consciousness cease to exist. All of our 7 planes of existence that encompass all that is and is not, from the densest forms to the Adi, the Absolute Non-existence, are but the 7 subplanes of the "Cosmic Physical." There are also the frequencies of the Cosmic Astral plane, the Cosmic Mental plane, and so forth into infinity.

While everything that is "conditioned" does ultimately pass away, there is also that which is "not conditioned" and forever renews itself. It is both permanent and impermanent. This ties in very much with the nature of energy itself, which can never be created or destroyed, yet forms of these seemingly exist, if only temporarily, through mediums of perception. And yet, we are told that there are 3 truths from sources far older than the Upanishads or any Buddhist speculations. The translator used the term "Soul" though I suspect what the original Senzar pictograph actually "meant" was something far different. Again, we use the terms we know if we would communicate to others, and in the late 19th century there was not the level of investigation into the subtle bodies that we have now. If you used the term Anupadaka no one would have understood (how many would even now?) Yes, there are major differences between schools of Buddhist thought, as well as how these relate to Vedanta. Having discussed them for years in the 70s with my old friend the noted Vedanta scholar Raja Rao, I don't really want to get into this topic right now, since it's probably boring to anyone not familiar with this line of scholarship. Aum Namah Shivaya AND Aum Mani Padme Hum.

Robert

To others in this stream - I'll try to answer or comment as I can. For now, I have other work to do.

Juliet

Hello Robert,

On a side note - no answer needed immediately (sounds like you're VERY busy).

Have you ever heard of Truth or Consequences, NM? I 'drove' through once and it has the most unsual residents...

Juliet

Juliet

Hello Robert,

On a side note - no answer needed immediately (sounds like you're VERY busy).

Have you ever heard of Truth or Consequences, NM? I 'drove' through once and it has the most unusual residents...

Juliet

Timothy

Robert,

I think you are missing my point about the term 'metaphysics.' Of course there was 'metaphysics' before Aristotle and in other cultures. Metaphysics is any theory about reality. In the quote above from HPB she is not using the term incorrectly. Certainly one can speak of eastern metaphysics. Most of the Indian darshanas (philosophical traditions) include in their metaphysics that which is beyond the physical. Advaita Vedanta, as I'm sure you know, goes so far as to deny the reality of the physical. The Sankhya darshana says that both Purusha (Spirit) and Prakriti (Matter) are real. The Charvaka, on the other hand, deny the reality of anything beyond matter. They, too, have a metaphysics. In their metaphysics there is only the physical. To be sure, it was not a metaphysics that ever took hold in India as the others, but it is still a theory of reality and thus a metaphysics. One could look up the "metaphysics of Thomas Hobbes" too and see that there are materialist metaphysics. So to insist that metaphysics means "beyond physics" is to ignore much of the history of metaphysics, East and West. I'm not here advocating a materialist metaphysics, I'm just trying to point out how the word has been used throughout the history of philosophy and how it is used in academia today. This new-age use of 'metaphysics' to refer only to belief in that which is beyond the physical is rather recent, and a misunderstanding of an entire history of the use of the word.

As far as what the Dalai Lama said, of course, the aggregates have varying duration. The aggregates of sensation (vedana) may persist but fleeting moments, but the samskaras (thought forms, mental habit paterns) and vijnana (consciousness)may develop through many lifetimes. How else can there be reincarnation? You say the Dalai Lana said the subtle aggregates persist across space and time in seeming permanence. Did he say "permanence" or only "seeming permanence"? I would be very surprised if he said "permanence" since the starting point of Buddhism is an acceptance of impermanence. Perhaps one might say that the main difference between Vedanta and Buddhism is whether consciousness is permanent or impermanent. I've heard the Dalai Lama speak on more than one occasion, and I've read quite a bit of what he has written and I've never heard or read anything that would contradict the fundamental teaching of impermanence. Nor have I heard or read anything that would deny the fundamental teaching of pratityasamutpada (dependent arising). One could say this is the central doctrine of Buddhism. Everything else follows from it, and what it says is that there is nothing that is "not-conditioned". The subtle aggregates might last countless lifetimes, but that is still like a flash of lightning or a shooting star in the grand scheme of things. As I understand it, the point of Buddhism is to extinguish the fire of suffering, and that is done according to the four noble truths by accepting impermanence and severing the attachment that causes suffering. I think perhaps the reason why the Buddha rejected the Atman hypothesis is that he thought it just fed the attachment complex that causes suffering. If the point of Vedanta is Self-realization, which is to realize that the Self does not die, the point of Buddhism is to become compassionate, and this is done by relinquishing attachment, especially attachment to the idea of permanence. If we are but shooting stars may we shine brightly, burning with love and compassion rather than anger and hatred caused by suffering.

I think it is perfectly fine to try and find value in both the Upanishads and Buddhism. If you can work out some synthesis that would be quite interesting, but it won't be a real synthesis if it does not start out with an adequate understanding of Buddhism. It seems to me that you are interpreting Buddhism through the lens of Vedanta and thus missing what is really Buddhism.

I sincerely hope you won't take offense at my attempting to interject a bit of critical thinking into this space. I really think you are providing a valuable service here in this forum. I enjoy very much reading your reflections, especially your astrological insights. I offer my comments in humble thanks. Namaste

Robert

Hi Juliet - Yes, I am quite familiar with Truth or Consequences. You may want to email me with your insights about the residents, since I know quite a few and they are "unusual."

Hi Timothy - It seems as though we have a mutual and somewhat similar understanding of what the term means, beyond whatever misuse is common in our era. Please accept my apology if it seemed as though I misunderstood your point about the (mis)use of the term among "new age" believers. Personally, while I do believe in the impermanence of all that can be perceived by the 5 senses and the mind, I hold that we are a forever renewing, undying, essentially unchanging part of Spirit, or "Light Force" that persists beyond and behind all that changes throughout Eternity. We are never separate from That, since That is the field of manifestation, whose expression is ever-changing, while its nature simply IS. So while our perceptions of That-Which-IS are impermanent, "It" is forever, and we are not ever separate from it.

As for His Holiness, I thought He was fairly clear about his openness to the possibility of us BEING a "permanent" (such as it is) magnetic center attracting or generating aggregates that are forever impermanent. However, it was a passing comment at the end of the exposition that he felt he had to state but couldn't really get into in any depth. The terms I used above were in fact my terms, not his. Don't have that kind of photographic memory yet! ;-) He also left me with the distinct impression that he was trying to open up the concepts of "permanence" and "impermanence" to vaster possibilities of definition, and had suspended judgment as to the absoluteness of the concept of "impermanence." Again, just my subjective impression. I accept the mystery of what Rudhyar termed "pure potentiality" as a precondition of all manifestations. To me this approximates what we call "emptiness." It seems to be an enduring condition from which all things arise. It doesn't exist except as that emptiness (or "nothingness") from which all that is conditioned arises.

My understanding of Buddha, from studying his early life and socio-cultural conditions he grew up in, is that his realization arose to address our generic need to break the illusion that because of reincarnation we are bound to the wheel of samsara, and our karmas are inextricably tied to family and the formal teachings of our day. My understanding of the 4 Noble Truths is that the 3rd specifically addresses that we do not need priests or scriptures (or any external thing or belief system) to end the ignorance that is the source of suffering. I'm sure he did try to find approaches to articulate ways beyond the Guru-driven assumption that without a "teacher" we cannot experience Atman, which was the commonly held assertion of those days and places. The easiest way to bust that illusion is to deny the reality of Atman, and leave the experiencer to their own subjective realizations about what is beyond form.

Of course, I accept that all attachments are illusions, even the attachment to a concept that we are "evolving" toward more perfect forms of whatever. We may in fact be "evolving" our awareness, or remembering what we already know, but that too is a passing phenomenon conditioned by perception. Great phrase when you state "If we are but shooting stars may we shine brightly, burning with love and compassion rather than anger and hatred caused by suffering." I could never take offense at a true scholar of the Wisdom, the Way, and the Sangha. And while it has ranged far and wide, it's been a great and rousing discussion which I trust will help others who follow to consider some things they may not have before now.

Juliet

Hello Robert,

I had a 'feeling' you would. I'll e-mail tomorrow.

Juliet :-)

dcu

I have loved this initial post and the wonderful comment stream. I have returned to it several times. The following link is to an excellent piece from an indigenous newsletter here in the U.S. I have pondered frequently what all of you have pondered. What does the future hold? Will we go back to living in caves with no modern technology? I don't pretend to know the future, but as a student of theosophy I believe that Gaia will continue to exist for aeons to come. My heart resonates with the ideas put forth in the linked article below. We are not being ostriches when we refuse to give in to all the doom and gloom. We are spiritual beings remembering who we are. Yes, there are rough times ahead. But we will survive, and so will my stereo and my computer. Please take a few precious moments to read this wonderful piece linked below:

"Mother Earth Watch: Gaia will Survive"

http://www.manataka.org/page857.html#MOTHER_EARTH_WATCH

All My Relations, dcu

 Isabel Nobre

Dear Robert,

I have found your site through a good friend who has become an "habituée" of reading and commenting your interesting articles.

I must congratulate your deep and very enlightening work and I hope I will be able to comment sometimes, of course in a very civil and even Brotherly Spirit.

Times are becoming (ever more in a visible way) interesting and also full of admonitions of change... Let us calmly watch fate unroll it's surprises. Of course, one of the advantages of Wisdom studying and Astrology is to render us a bit more prepared for whatever is coming our way. Anyway, since we are all interconnected (both in terms of Energy and in terms of Karma) we already are part of those changes, and we help bring them along, even if we are rarely aware of them.

I am writing this comment on the 7th. of March, during the expected opposition of Pluto and Mars - and this day has been wielding it's own "sursprises" in violence throughout the world!

With best greetings to you,

Isabel

MarzGoat

we R multi-dimensional beings. "metaphysics" is simply the means by which we access other parts of ourselves.

We "evolve" in consciousness, first and foremost, (and physically too, over an imperceptibly long time) and humanity is just now beginning to "wake up" from the slumber of "Adam". Adam Kadmon, I mean.

Quabbala... one attempt to explain that which is un-seen, yet more real than what we perceive as "real". Transcendence of space-time is why we are in this form, on this plane, at this time. This planet is nothing less than a school! [not much more, either] We are not 'bound' by our form here as the revealing science of Astrology shows us. Genesis 15. Abram goes "outside". Not just a few steps out of his tent! Search it out. Do your own study. Life IS art. We can "create" here in the "free will zone" as we see fit. Nothing is limited by our senses. There is that "6th sense" too. NOW is all there is! Only if one is fully present in the moment, with all faculties engaged, can the psyche comprehend where the individual fits into the whole. There are "patterns".

There is that which is more "real" than what the 5 senses can comprehend. It is "constant". It is "eternal". IT is everywhere at all times and in all places, and will "never leave or forsake you". The Universe cannot contain "IT".

What we conveniently call "God" is our "Source".

Robert

Hi dcu - Glad this resonates with you, and thanks for the link. We're all going to realize the work of the future is to restore the homeostasis of the planet, which will mean we MUST as a human race come back into harmony with its rhythms, fruitfulness, and "natural" limitations. While some will indeed have to find shelter wherever they can, others will be doing as well as possible in "earthships" and other more sustainable forms of shelter. We definitely already have technologies that are opening future possibilities as the old ways slip into the rearview mirror. You are so right when you say "We are not being ostriches when we refuse to give in to all the doom and gloom. We are spiritual beings remembering who we are." That's the crux of the matter, and not all the interpretations of Nostradamus or the Mayan Calendar can take that away. We will survive, we will get by, and we will live to see better days and ways upon this Earth.

Hi Isabel - Again, welcome to the Cantina at Eternity Boulevard. I do try to keep it interesting and like a spirited civil dialog, and it seems that most who show up here are pretty interesting people with diverse experiences that can help others who show up here. Though some mistake it for a soapbox subject to power struggles, for the most part we who show up here are a wonderfully diverse group of somewhat enlightened beings striving for truth, goodness, and beauty in a very uncivil world. I believe this is a place where can can become aware of things usually not addressed in our world and its white noise. And we are all in this together, and all of us are more aware, enlightened, connected, knowledgeable, and skilled than any one of us.

Hi MarzGoat - You may want to check out some of the articles in the archives, since I suspect you'll really like some of the ones focused on the subtle and higher aspects of our reality. You may want to check out this one and continue from there. Yes, we are collectively awakening from our long slumber in the Kali Yuga, and remembering things about electromagnetism forgotten thousands of years ago after the sinking of the Island west of the "Pillars of Hercules." I believe we transcend space-time limitations by a constant mindfulness on our Eternal Nature and the Infinite possibilities in any given moment. Then what passes isn't so frightening or seemingly disconnected from "reality." Yes, life IS art. And science, and philosophy, all bound within the Circle of Culture, which belongs to us all, and is the sum total of all the higher aspirations we have strived for as a human race. And yes, "IT" is all there is.

popplagid

Curiously Robert me and my girlfriend are very much looking into making a earthship or at least some ecological, natural and sustainable home for us
Maybe the next years bring bright aquarian, piscean and aries influences upon us.

Robert

Hi popplagid - Earthships are definitely one of the housing forms of the future, since they're highly energy efficient, easy to maintain, don't require a bunch of expensive materials to build, and integrate well into the landscape. One of the prototypes is in Colorado, built by the very highly evolved Dennis Weaver, who unfortunately is no longer with us in body. And of course, there are other forms of sustainable housing as well. May you succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

Anonymous

Source: http://www.saptarishis.com/ =O= http://www.lightchannels.com/
The Message: Nearly two billion years ago, the Atman descended from Parabrahma Loka, the world of the Supreme God, to this world to experience the wonderful Creation of God, here. It found the body of an ape, the only vehicle to occupy, as those of others were extremely uncomfortable and hence it occupied the same.
The innumerable souls that entered the various bodies of apes found themselves in different and difficult situation. Therefore, they struggled hard with their Koshas (space suits) to improve or evolve their Physical, Mental and Intellectual bodies and also worked against the genetic effects. This kind of resistance to the animal nature was given by the Astral body regularly in all the lakhs of Births and thus it evolved the present human body.
The evolution of the Body, Mind and Intellect was also accelerated by other factors like the cyclic influences of the Four Yugas and the constant vigil and guidance of the Sapta Rishis, the seven great Rishis.
Just as we have the Spring season as the best of all seasons, so also the Satya Yuga is the best of all Yugas. One of the many cycles of the Four Yugas has closed recently and a new cycle has commenced from 14th April 1974. The earth and its inhabitants have once again entered the first and best of the Four Yugas.
The Rishis who are our Guides in our overall progress also help us by giving us the proper methods in our moral and Spiritual practices. They also keep watch over the climatic effects, world Karmas and do certain things from time to time to remove some obstacles and extreme sufferings and pain, to help our Karmas to work out quickly and plan and arrange for the arrival of the Avatars, the Rishis, Prophets and other great personalities who will also help our evolution directly and indirectly from time to time.
The world will presently pass through a period of unrest, upheaval of every kind – political and other. Leaders put their followers in confusion by changing their ideas and sides as quickly as chameleon changes its colour and thus lead the followers to chaos and confusion.
There will be many earthquakes, volcanic eruptions in some parts of the world. New islands may appear and some known islands and coastal towns may disappear. In some parts of the world, there will be a great famine on account of which people and cattle will suffer and also perish in large numbers. New diseases will take big toll of human lives.
The increase of population which may reach 9 billions or even more will make the life of every human being very miserable. Great wars will be fought causing destruction and death. The change of magnetic poles first followed by the geographic poles will also take place. The appearance of ominous comets will cause the disappearance of great men on earth. One comet is likely to collide with the earth and thus pollute earth’s atmosphere causing great damage to all beings.
People from outer space will land on earth and impart their knowledge to us. The knowledge thus acquired will help us materially and spiritually. The sun will once again get his importance and be worshipped all as God.
During these years of change, suffering and destruction, the Atman guided by the Rishis works hard, conquers the Arishad Vargas (animal nature) and other weaknesses in man and finally will emerge out as a Divya Purusha (Light Being). In this higher state, man will stay on earth for nearly 20,000 years in the company of God.

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