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THE ONE IN THE MANY AND THE MANY IN THE ONE
THE SCHOOL OF ATHENS
Roman fresco by Raphael Scuola di Atene, Italian Renaisance painter
For centuries Western intellectuals... the ones who influence our precepts and cultural direction, have been divided between Plato and his student Aristotle. What do I mean by that? Take a look at their fingers. Plato has one finger pointed upwards, indicating the One in the vertical transcendence of all that is. Aristotle, however, is more worldly minded and has several fingers projected out horizontally, indicating the many. That says it all. So which is it, Plato or Aristotle?
I say they are both right but only when the vertical and horizontal are understood together, which is why I say it is all about THE ONE IN THE MANY and THE MANY IN THE ONE. The One of Plato is found in Aristotle's Many as Aristotle's Many resides in the One of Plato. Does this mystical statement not make sense? In general terms, I think it does.
All is integrated in the whole without sacrificing diversity. God the Source doesn't reside separate and above in just the mystical plane, but is also one with us on the horizontal plane of the many. As the song goes: This is my Father's world; I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas - His hands the wonders wrought. Or again in the last stanza: In the rustling grass I hear Him pass; He speaks to me everywhere.
I would argue too much of our world is fragmented into parts, having forgotten the transcendent Source from which all parts emanate and remain entangled as one. Life by its very nature is relational, but when we lose the philosophical basis for understanding that, we fall into fragmented parts. As we keep learning more and more about less and less, life becomes increasingly meaningless. It's what causes alienation rather than community; hierarchy without heterarchy; them versus us; war rather than peace.
That's why I say I'm a Platonist first and an Aristotelian second, since the whole is prior to the parts; the a priori before the a posteriori. That's what these Latin words mean. However, since we are infinite, we can't begin to comprehend Infinity and so mystery must remain implicit in the whole. As A Course of Love (ACOL) states... oneness and unity go together, the unity of creation being of the onesss of God, and the oneness of God part of the unity of creation. (Chapter 19, Oneness and Duality, page 133.) It also states here that: philosophy applies thought to mystery and that is why philosophy becomes such a muddle of words.
On the other hand, to be lost in only the mystical is to become just as disoriented. The vertical of Plato's One and the horizonal dimension of Aristotle's Many belong together where heart and mind are no longer two separate paths but one new path of Wholeheartedness. It is the only true path, bringing unity, knowingness and healing to the fragmented soul.
The Buddhist asks, after drawing water and chopping wood, what does one do after achieving enlightenment? The answer is; draw water and chop wood. There is great wisdom in this Middle Way. Life is not to be lived in duality, we are too big and resplendant... created in Wholeness.
Jesus spoke of non-dual Oneness in very personal terms. For exammple: Dwell in me as I dwell in you (John 15:3); I am in the Father and Father in me (John 14:11); May they all be one: as thou, Father, art in me and I in Thee (John17:21); I in them and them in me, may they be perfectly one (John 17:23).
It's unfortunate that in the West, ever since the time to Descartes dualism, a conceptual split was created between material and spirit. Over time, we fell under modernity's spell of material reductionism whereby Spirit is no longer given consideration as what transcends science except for the wisest of scientists who see beyond the limitations of their discipline. For example, Werner Heisenber, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics 1932, stated, I assert the nature of all reality is spiritual, not material or a dualism of matter and spirit.
So really, there is no need to choose when you understand life is not about one or the other but the dynamic of the (seeming) material parts to the absolute reality of the whole (Spirit) and the whole to the part. Even in a hologram, we can see, in the non-material light perception, an example of the whole in each part. They are inseparable, which brings us to the concept of the HOLON and an understanding of the relationship of the parts to the whole and the whole to the parts. But that's another topic for another time.
In Surreal Adventures, the second book of Elysium's Passage, there is a virtual island called The Flatlands symbolizing much of the world and especially educational institutions of higher learning where everything is flat and separate. This is the horizontal without the vertical. In fact, they (modernity) hate the Mountain in the distance that reminds them of their transcendence and refuse to look in that direction. In its intransigence, it’s not a happy place because everyone and every academic discipline is alienated from the other, making them less than they could be as a whole.
Here's a short teaser from this second unpublished book I'm editing:
As we left the streets and walked towards where our ship was anchored far from the shallow shore, I reflected on my impressions of how flat the Flatland really was, in fact much flatter and bland than I remembered while living there. At least I could now understand that life there was not just flat, but a waste of the human spirit since the soul can never flourish while it remains one dimensional. Perhaps I needed to reread what T.S. Eliot had to say in The Waste Land.
But at least I had gained a much greater insight in the nature of the Flatlands. Should I return to my job there when I return to the earth plane, I’m not sure if I would still have the patience to endure all the intellectual tripe they take for truth. George Orwell once said, some ideas are so stupid only intellectuals believe them. Mo seemed to enjoy using that quote on me whenever he thought I was being too intellectual for my own good. In other words, he was suggesting I was too much in my mind and not enough in my heart.
As we reached the shore I turned to take one last look at the Flatlands.
‘Careful,’ Rhom said, smiling, ‘lest you too be turned into a pillar of salt.’
‘I wonder,’ I said, ‘how I might view this virtual land if I saw it through the eyes of Mo. Probably not well.'
Rhom laughed hardily, as he always did when amused. ‘If you saw it just as he would, I’m sure it would be a most peculiar sight indeed. You would see all the buildings upside down, inside out with everyone walking backwards.'
I laughed too. ‘Yes, of course, that’s probably exactly how he would see the Flatlands.’
 T.S. Eliot’s lengthy poem, The Waste Land, (1922) is considered one of the most important modernist poems of the 20th Century, depicting a sense of cultural dryness and spiritual sterility in Europe at that time. Metaphors of a flat, dry wasteland are found throughout the poem as found in the following lines: Who are those hooded hordes swarming -- Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth -- Ringed by the flat horizon only.’
 In reference to Lot’s wife, who in the myth, turned into a pillar of salt as she looked back longingly at Sodom as it was being destroyed. Genesis 19:26
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Facebook: Elysium's Passage Novel Series
This blog is devoted to the Elysium's Passage book series and various ideas that relate to the content of the series. For more information see this blog's first introductory post: WECOME TO ELYSIUM'S PASSAGE.
You may purchase your copy of a hardcover, softcover or eBook on Amazon.com
ELYSIUM'S PASSAGE: THE SUMMIT
The Summit is the first in a series of five Elysium’s Passage narrations regarding a young British philosopher named James Phillips who finds himself living in an altered state of reality while still remaining on earth.
After experiencing a near fatal fall while climbing to the summit of a remote mountain in the Andes, James awakens in a new dimension. He soon encounters two mysterious beings who provide him with a very different perspective on the nature of his existence. Over the next year, before his body recovers from the coma, he is challenged to re-examine his understanding about life’s meaning and purpose far beyond anything he previously believed, or could believe.
An engaging and sometime surreal adventure with intimations of impending romance, the narrative explores the most important questions about life, death, reality and our ultimate destiny.
The Plains of Elysium (Champs-Élysées) was described by Homer, Hesiod, Virgil and many other poets as the paradisiac afterlife realm reserved for heroes. As the title suggests, this is about a journey through a passage that leads towards Elysium’s exciting realm of existence.
PENDING PUBLICATIONS IN THE SERIES
Elysium's Passage: The Summit is now available for purchase through Amazon. With the exception of the last novel, the other three have been written but still require more editing before publication.
The following titles in the Elysium's Passage series are projected to be released as follows:
THE SUMMIT now available
SURREAL ADVENTURES summer 2018
MYSTICAL ROMANCE spring 2019
HE ELIXIR fall 2020
THE RETURN sometime in 2021