Thursday, April 5, 2007



The tendency to distinguish between physics and metaphysics is becoming more and more problematic for me. If there is just one realm and one kind of reality, then there can be no physics and metaphysics. There is what is…


Westerners have been distinguishing between two kinds and two realms of realities since Aristotle wrote his works on physics (nature) and meta-physics (beyond nature) over 2,000 years ago. His teacher, Plato, did not make this distinction since Plato saw reality as One, or a continuum graduating from the lower shadow forms and moving all the way up to the Absolute Eternal Forms. He called this continuum the 'Divided Line'.
By using the notion of 'lower' on the scale of reality, it wasn't meant to suggest some things were real and some were illusions, but rather to indicate that humans operated with limited sense perceptions. Reality was unified, human perception was limited.

Plato's Divided Li ne portrays reality as a sort of ladder into the heavens. The ladder or levels exist because of our limited senses, not because one level was less real than another. The human begins at the bottom rung of the ladder with the shadow forms and moves upward, graduating to more substantial forms of sensory objects like chairs, then to mathematical universals like 2+2 = 4, then to Archetypal Ideas like Love, Beauty, Chaos and Death, and finally into the enigmatic Good or The One from which all else emanates. For Plato there was The One reality manifesting in various ways.

For Aristotle, there appeared to be two realities - physics (nature) and metaphysics (beyond nature). Most Roman Catholic, Muslim and Protestant theologies, since the Middle Ages, have been influenced by Aristotle. As a result our Western sciences and the collective Western mind are Aristotelian. We are dualists by nature . And we favor the physical side because we can 'prove' it, and because our focus on nature through science has provided so many amazing technological inventions for our physical bodies.

Therefore, the Western cosmos is divided into the realms of natural physics and of supernatural metaphysics, sometimes called faith and reason, or science and religion. This clearly suggests two separate kinds and realms of existence. Sometimes we break them into spirit and flesh, earthly and heavenly, divine and human, etc. For those of us who speak of a single reality, or make the statement, "It is all One", we must then ask how we can distinguish between physics and metaphysics.


The difference between the two positions seems to be that of perception or how we sense things. Plato seemed to teach that there is in the human make-up, especially in philosophers, a sense organ that can perceive beyond material objects and rational mathematical ideas. There is an organ that can 'see' and 'hear' on the higher levels of the Dividing Line. I call this Imagination. This is NOT the imagination of modern psychology which is comprised of material gathered by the five usual senses and then formed into fantasies and fictions limited to objects collected from the realm of the five senses. Plato's Imagination is an actual organ that perceives and gathers actual images beyond the human brain, not the imagination that is limited by data gathered by the other senses.

This distinction is huge. Let me repeat, this Imagination actually 'sees' into the imaginal realms beyond matter and mathematics. Notice that in the following diagram, the mind moves beyond sensory objects and mathematical reasoning into the Ideas that precede and stand behind the mathematical.

Plato said that most humans will perceive or experience very little beyond sensory objects and mathematical ideas. It takes a philosopher to get his head into anything above the mathematical section. The Hindu Bhagavad Gita indicates the same, "Among thousands of people, scarcely one strives for complete knowledge, and even among those who gain spiritual understanding, perhaps one will see Me (The Good)." (Gita 7:3) Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said, "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (The Good), and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

The hindu Bhagavad Gita calls this Imagination the 'buddhi' mind that goes beyond material perception and self awareness. It actually dips into the Depths. This is also the realm into which we are plunged in the mystery of 'dreamtime' during sleep. If this is true, then every human has access to the realm of Archetypal Forms, potentially. No wonder Jesus continually encouraged people to find 'ears to hear and eyes to see'. Some early Christians called this field of perception gnosis. Modern neuro-scientists today are talking about 'the God-part'of the brain, and a whole new field called Neurotheology.

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