Posted by: terrapraeta | December 31, 2007

…Of Eden

So crucify the ego, before it’s far too late
To leave behind this place so negative and blind and cynical,
And you will come to find that we are all one mind
Capable of all that’s imagined and all conceivable.
Just let the light touch you
And let the words spill through
And let them pass right through
Bringing out our hope and reason …
before we pine away…

Tool, Reflection

What does it really mean to have a monist world view? How does it change ones basic assumptions about the world and more importantly, how does it change one’s actions?(Read Part 1) (Read Part 2)

{Note: Before answering these questions, I have to point out that I do not believe that one can hold a world view that sits in opposition to the realities of ones day to day life. So this is not a suggestion that a simple change of ideal can change the world, like some magic trick. Rather, I am looking at one more piece of the total system that is a ‘natural human lifestyle’.}

In modern, civilized culture, we respond to experiences and situations that we do not understand first with an appeal to Science. However, when science is unable to provide an answer (or in some cases, when that answer is too complex to appeal to the general public) the next response is to relegate the situation or experience to the supernatural. Once we have termed it supernatural, we have forsaking all effort, all responsibility to understand it within the normal rules of reality. This is our dualist response to the unknown.

By comparison, in a monist world view, there is no such thing as ‘unnatural’. When something occurs that is unexplained, there is no default, alternate way to deal with that lack of understanding. Instead, it is seen as a range of experiences that fall on a scale of known to unknown but always, unmistakably, knowable at some time and place. However, the drive to understand is lessened by the quality of the knowledge already held.

At this point, it could be very easy to simply dismiss the intuitive thought process and return to the Materialist world view. After all, intuitive thinking generally fails to meet the standards of science, and we are quite accustomed to those standards. So let’s consider a real world example.

Modern culture thinks of time and space as discreet elements. Yet, nearly 100 years ago, Einstein stepped forward and questioned that assumption. He could provide no physical evidence, no experimental proofs, only mathematics. The math was compelling, so the theory was tentatively accepted and in time, technology caught up enough to test the theory. And of course, he has been shown to be correct: space-time is a single, curved multi-dimensional ‘object.’

Yeah, so what? you ask. Einstein did not ‘discover’ curved space through mathematics. He intuitively envisioned it and then sought out the mathematics to test and prove it. He did this even though he was quite vested in the linear, dualist model of reality. In fact, later in life the philosophical potentialities of his theories caused him significant consternation. Famously, Sir Arthur Eddington replied to a colleague:

“Professor Eddington, you must be one of three persons in the world who understands general relativity.. Don’t be modest.”
“On the contrary, I am trying to think who the third person is“

However, I would suggest that the foundations of relativity would be obvious to anyone living within a monist world view: This place NOW is a different place than this place yesterday. (Of course, our language cannot express this because we describe space and time as different things.) But when space and time are unified, you change several basic assumptions: everything becomes transitory, the environment around you is in constant change, there is no stasis. Likewise, people, animals, plants are integral to that changing environment. Any change within the system becomes an obvious and dramatic change in the whole. And it becomes totally inconceivable to try to recreate something that existed previously. Not only was it another time, but it was also another place: a place-time that can never exist again.

I would suggest that if we were to approach an individual that held a monist world view for their entire life and began to describe Einsteinian Space-Time, half way through the dissertation he would laugh and say Well, of course! Silly person, everyone knows that. And your point is? (Note: I am not suggesting that they would be able to work out the equations, or make specific predictions and analyses based on relativity. Rather that they would have an intuitive grasp of the ‘rightness’ of the model)

What I have not yet figured out, is how the monist reconciles themselves to the unknown. In our own cultures, the unknown is a fearful place and we feel compelled to fill it with something (even if only skepticism). I suspect that the difference is in the way intuitive thinking works. For a monist, every experience is functionally useful. The inability to technically explain the event does not prevent the individual from applying the lesson to their life. And as such, the explanation is not a source of fear, because it is not unknown but simply indescribable It is a subtle difference but perhaps uniquely important.

(Originally Posted September 13, 2006)



  1. […] also believe, as I have written before, that we humans can understand the world around us far more effectively if we embrace and […]

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