The Shift and Woody Allen

While researching topics covered in The Sage Age, I read many popular books that attempted to tie quantum physics to spirituality. They all made heroic attempts to translate the basic tenets of physics, which can only be truly understood in the language of mathematics, into accessible terms for the layman and then bind them to the ineffable concepts of spirituality, the true knowledge of which can only be gained through direct experience.

Some succeeded at this task more than others. When the author did find just the right analogy to convey the main point, it became a beautiful passage of words to highlight in yellow.

But, what I found glaringly missing from most of these books was a sufficient nod to the underlying philosophical principles behind the topics. Perhaps that’s because the masses, to whom these books are targeted, find philosophy either boring or too legalistic in nature.

Philosophy is the single most critical element in having any true understanding of the Shift we are currently experiencing. As Billy Joel sang, “We didn’t start the fire.” We didn’t get to where we are from a vacuum. With all of the attention being given right now to minding our mind and being more aware of our thoughts, it’s important to recognize that our thoughts become our beliefs that become our philosophy that shifts our culture and creates the world we live in.

At this moment, there are two main philosophical paradigms vying for dominance as the basis of reality. The first is material realism and the second is consciousness. Both have existed for thousands of years and have traded places over and over again throughout our history as the accepted theory.

The coup being waged now by the consciousness adherents, who see both matter and energy as an epiphenomenon of a wholistic something, is to overthrow the hardcore material realists, who see nature as a machine that they can bend to their greedy will regardless of consequence.

While both philosophies endeavor to vault humans to a central platform of being far more than just voyeurs in the universe, the pop culture currently co-opting the consciousness philosophy espouses that we are critically important co-creators of “All That Is.” That has spawned a multi-billion dollar industry of self-help instruction aimed at creating a self-regulation regiment that will restore Eden on Earth.

But, there’s a real danger in going overboard with that idea. The philosophy of material realism last came into prominence in the West during the Protestant Reformation, which was a revolt against science based on a moral code and idealism. Because it had gone unchecked and unbalanced for so long, the consciousness-type philosophy led to beliefs based on superstition and outright myth.

Now that a consciousness-type philosophy is attempting to rise again, it is serving the beneficial purpose of balancing material realism that is out of control. It is showing that the current way is aggressive, invasive, and destructive to the point of annihilation if it is not constrained.

There is another philosophy that can mediate this balancing act. It’s called existentialism. What most folks know of existentialism is either the famous quote from Nietzsche, “God is dead” or the neurotic parodies of Woody Allen on Nietzsche’s Being and Nothingness. In fact, if it had not been for the enduring quality of Allen’s work, existentialism may have phased out quickly as just another pop culture fad.

But there’s far more to existentialism than that. The focus is still on the human element, but it does help place humanity in its proper position with regard to the whole by leaving a little room for the great mystery of existence in general.

One of the best descriptions I’ve found of existentialism comes from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which states:

“On the existential view, to understand what a human being is it is not enough to know all the truths that natural science—including the science of psychology—could tell us. The dualist who holds that human beings are composed of independent substances—“mind” and “body”—is no better off in this regard than is the physicalist, who holds that human existence can be adequately explained in terms of the fundamental physical constituents of the universe. Existentialism does not deny the validity of the basic categories of physics, biology, psychology, and the other sciences (categories such as matter, causality, force, function, organism, development, motivation, and so on). It claims only that human beings cannot be fully understood in terms of them. Nor can such an understanding be gained by supplementing our scientific picture with a moral one. Categories of moral theory such as intention, blame, responsibility, character, duty, virtue, and the like do capture important aspects of the human condition, but neither moral thinking (governed by the norms of the good and the right) nor scientific thinking (governed by the norm of truth) suffices.”

It’s good to learn all we can from science and morality. It’s better to hone both ways of knowing in order to have a full understanding of either. It’s best to balance the head and heart equally. When we, as individuals, learn how to do that, the culture will reflect it and balance itself out too. Perhaps then we will be in a position to move beyond this dualistic pendulum swinging between two philosophies and find a new way forward together.

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