Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Beyond the Beyond

Originally posted on September 7, 2012

There’s a Tibetan Mantra that, when translated, begins, “Beyond, beyond, beyond the beyond…” Recent developments in science have intensified the magnitude of its frontiers, from the vast to the minuscule. We are invited to consider theoretical constructs posed to explain phenomena that we don’t yet understand: At the micro-level,  “strings” of primordial energy millions of times smaller than sub-atomic particles, are suggested as explanations of the qualities of matter and energy. At the macro-level “dark matter” and “dark energy”  operate to explain why galaxies don’t fly apart and why the universe seems to be expanding faster, against all expectations. These are presently inconceivable to human understanding, and I really have no faith that the great scientists fully understand everything about what they’re investigating. There’s also the hypothesis of “inflation” to explain a number of phenomena related to the “big bang,” the origins space, time, and matter—and this also is challenged by a number of paradoxes, such as for a brief instant things moving faster than light.

Reading a book about Einstein and Niels Bohr, about different theories of physics at the limits of size and speed, was no more reassuring. These folks argued constantly, usually with sincerity and civility. And though a few advances seem to be made, other mysteries then open up when it comes to concepts of “quantum” dynamics. It’s not as if these and a number of other issues are tiny adjustments in what’s known: The opposite! Everything in the universe that can be seen even by new types of telescopes is now thought to be only a small fraction of everything that is really there, if you factor in what is thought to be dark energy and matter.

Then there are the mysteries of life and mind, and for all we have learned about them, the more it becomes clear that we don’t understand the essential dynamics. Some scientists still cling to the idea that we’re making significant progress, but I see nothing to back that up other than wishful thinking. It’s their job to believe that, after all.

What I’m getting at brings out a verse from a 1970s song by Paul Simon:”The closer you get to your destination, the more you keep slip-sliding away.” My approach to this is simple, but neo-Platonic, so it goes against our materialist world-view. Physical reality is only an expression of a deeper unknown reality. I further believe that the realms of mind and life have a clue to the other seemingly lifeless concerns of physics, and a number of theorists in physics follow this with the appreciation that expectation and observation—i.e., that someone is noticing—plays a part in all  this.

I am moved, finally, to re-hypothesize a god or sort-of-conscious, experiencing, “living” “everything” that mystics call God, that is consistent in many ways to the doctrines of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza, but definitely not the anthropomorphic human-oriented (and worse, particular people-preferring) god of various traditions (in which different people are preferred depending on which tradition). Rather, I see what’s emerging through the edges of science, as well as trends in our culture, as a shift towards a trans-religious spirituality, a liberation from the need to root “the more” in human history and instead to root human history into a far greater story of the cosmos.

The good news in all this is that what we should do, our purpose, our destiny, is grossly simplified: We should try to make this a nicer world and include everyone.  Duh. How to do that is not pre-determined by any laws. New technologies are deeply disruptive, and that means that whatever seemed to be more useful than what was before may in turn be found to be less useful than what has only recently held sway. It is not for the god of a zillion galaxies to fine-tune our petty disputes: “You kids work it out.” The parental (and patriarchal) projection that daddy knows best should have been shattered by a century’s worth of a million episodes of folly and fraud perpetrated on humanity by people posing as authorities, and the expectation that middle- to aged men can dictate what’s best in anticipation of changing circumstances is a child’s wish, not a reality.

So let’s get on with working it out. What about god, then—or gods? Perhaps what’s needed is a sense that the cosmos with all its mysteries is wonder-filled and evolving—that’s my myth—and within that we can do our part. It works for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *