Last week, I published a Blog Post called “Pros & Cons of Taoism & Zen.” I compared Taoism and Zen, listing out differences between these two spiritual paths. As I went along, I stated my preferences, from the viewpoint of Continuing Creation.
I received a number of informative comments from my Blog readers. Among them was this one:
“Each ism takes its birth as the humans need of it at that time. Many isms have been born on earth as humans needed them, and they faded away after fulfillment of their service as the human mind gives up its existence within [them]. … This process is endless until the human mind reaches ONENESS.”
I agree with almost all of this, but I wonder about “ONENESS.” What is it? I’ll wager that this commentor is talking about a unity like the Hindu concept of Brahman, which Wikipedia defines like this:
“In Hinduism, Brahman (Sanskrit: ब्रह्मन्) connotes the highest universal principle,
the ultimate reality in the universe. In major schools of Hindu philosophy, it is the immaterial, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. It is the pervasive, infinite, eternal truth, consciousness and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. Brahman as a metaphysical concept refers to the single binding unity behind diversity in all that exists in the universe.”
[Buddhism doesn’t have a full equivalent to Brahman. Some Hindus argue that Brahmanism believes in “Beingness” and Buddhism believes in “Nothingness.” The search in Buddhism ends in realizing Nirvana, which is “Emptiness,” whereas in Brahmanism the search ends in realizing ”Wholeness.” The “knower” in Brahmanism is eternally present both as a “knower” and “known” whereas in Buddhism the “knower” moves into “void.”]
As I see it, however, the material world did not arise from “immaterial consciousness.” The reverse is far more likely: Consciousness arose from the material world. Nervous systems & brains are the evolved hardware; consciousness & thought are the co-evolved software.
Consciousness exists only when there is a nervous system and brain to contain the information and operate the systems of consciousness (e.g., the systems of information reception, transmission, organization, and storage).
The evolutionary chain for consciousness runs like this: Big Bang > space-time > the four fundamental forces > the stars > the 92 natural elements > molecules > systems of molecules > pre-living systems > first life > single-celled organisms > multi-cellular organisms > neural networks > increasingly complex neural networks > proto-brains > brains > consciousness.
We can only apprehend that all things are likely connected when we can see the myriad number of physical things and processes that are proven to be connected. (By the way, all those connections, all those systems, are powered by an energy flow. For us here on Earth, that energy comes directly or indirectly from the sun. Or, the energy is locked in the nuclear bonds of the natural elements that were created by nuclear fission inside other, more remote, stars.)
What is the role of human beings in Continuing Creation? In Life? Is it to seek Nirvana, (or Moksha in Hinduism) and somehow merge one’s mind and being with Brahman, thereby attaining “eternal bliss”? Or is it to live an active, constructive life improving the world around us, and creating new things for the good of the Earth and its biosphere? I vote for the latter.
What do you think?