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Integral World: Exploring Therories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Imre von Soos, architect, civil engineer, research scientist, philosopher and writer is a Hungarian born, Hungarian and Australian national. His anti-communist activities have forced him to escape from Hungary, and he lived and worked since in Australia, France, Germany, Austria, England, Switzerland, Brazil, the Czech Republic and now again in Austria. Read more... .
A Fundamental Question
Imre von Soos
"How can you prove that you have got a Spirit, separable from your body?" – The question, addressed to me, came from a friend, Nubor Facure, a well-known neurosurgeon, at the introduction to one of his lectures at the association we founded together with him and some other research scientists at the University of Campinas, Brazil, to study brain-mind interaction, consciousness, out of the body experiences, thoughts and activities, and other related subjects of metaphysics, introducing also some of our findings and thoughts to the interested public.
Questions have a tendency of preconditioning their answers by implication. Such was the composition, probably out of millenary habit, of my friend's question. Habit I must call it, born out of the generally nurtured belief of the ignorant public and materialistic science alike, for whom identity and consciousness are qualities of the physical body, that "delivers his Soul to his Creator" with the last breath for those who believe in these concepts, or just simply get extinguished for those who believe in nothing. Both venerate the decaying earthly rests, neither the immortal Spirit.
But we – very much including my friend – know it differently. For us the I, the Self, the Spirit is the one who has and animates its body, and not the body that produces and has its Spirit. The Spirit might separate himself from his body temporarily during the period called life, or permanently at the event called death. The Spirit is primordial to the body: He is eternal and exists independently of it, while the body, the temporary instrument of expression of the Spirit on a physical plane, is the function of this expression and is given back to the earth out of which it has been produced for that very purpose; and not the other way around. However, this 'other way around' is the one that dominates secular, ecclesiastic and scientific thought; while the search for the Creative Principle of all that is alive is sacrificed at the altars of organized religions that dwarf the consciousness and the spirit in the name of the God of their own creation; and it is negated by science with its highly specialized knowledge – that can be only analytical and deductive – which is creating a spiritual vacuum in a purely empirical world. While religious intellect can feed only on the dogmas set by the particular faith, scientific intellect is limited to function within the dense but narrow field of specialized input. For both, only those questions are valid which can be answered within the frame of their existing belief-systems; what is inconvenient for the established dogmas or the expected results, is categorically denied existence. And humanity, misguided by all of them, ignores that the alternative to organized religions is not atheism, materialism or nihilism, but spirituality, mysticism.
Forgetting the gigantic nuance, for the lecture was my friend's and not mine, I shortly answered: "Because I can get out of my body." – "How can you prove – he forced on – that your experience is not only an illusion?" – and, without allowing an answer, he went on with his first question onto other people, because the questions were directed only to help him to start delivering his own thoughts, which I already knew and agreed with, so I went on with mine, while staying on the subject.
How I can prove something to others – who need concrete facts on their own level – was no more my self-posed question. The question that presented itself to be answered was, how can I myself know beyond any doubt that all I experience as my integral environment is not a virtual reality, fed into the information bank and consciousness that I have by a very complex computer, which reorganizes that environment according to my reactions and sets new challenges according to my development? How can I be certain that what I call my physical body, in what I experience as a waking state, is any different from that of the dream state? By what rational means can I prove to myself that I am not the one and only conscious being in whole existence – except, of course, the one who has constructed and programmed the computer – and that all the beings, objects and happenings of my experience are not only parts of the software and data input, like those of my dream-state? And if I am the one and only conscious being in existence, what proofs can I provide for myself that this consciousness of mine existed one second ago, and all my past impressions and knowledge are not only the results of an instant memory input? But even further: couldn't it be possible that this one unique I, this singular consciousness is the genie, the Spirit of the construction, the programming and of the experiences of being and growing?
What gives substance to these questions is the fact that our present day computers can already produce such a virtual reality, acting on all the senses, and producing genuine experiences from flying a real jet-plane to having a sexual intercourse with a real partner. This very fact eliminates the argument of the impossibility of the how.
The whole mental exercise resolves itself not by finding tangible proofs, but by asking the eternal star-question: why?
Why would the one singular I and unique – and consequently universal – Consciousness, Who has done the construction and the programming, and is readjusting that programming constantly, be satisfied with the watching of the reactions, antics and maybe development of a singular little being of His creation that I am – and that He obviously had to produce out of Himself –, if He can differentiate into infinite elements of countless orders of conscious being and becoming, programming and constructing, and experiencing it all?
Maybe these were the self-posed questions of Farid al-Din 'Attar, the Sufi poet some eight centuries ago, which he answered so beautifully in his immortal poem of The Conference of the Birds, the first few lines and the closing stanzas of which I present here in the translation of Edward Fitzgerald:
This for me answers my own self-posed questions. The technology of the process on the psychic plane, its connection to the physical one and the total psycho-physical reality that it paints, is presented and discussed in my books and essays, where not the who and the what and the where and the when, but the how and the why are the most played keys.