Stefan Hlatky and Philip BoothThis chapter consists of four dialogues. This page contains Dialogue 3.
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Dialogue 1: Existence, activity and the original cause
Can love be one-sided?
Philip: You said a little earlier [p.71], that we can't love an object, because we can't have a mutual relation with an object.
Stefan: Yes, objective experience, that is, the experience of objects outside us, is always one-sided.
P: ...and you said that subjective relation is always two-sided, and love is two-sided. But can't love also be one-sided: when we love another person and they don't love us?
S: Yes, it can also be one-sided in that way, when it's not certain that the other loves us too. I can also believe that I am loving when I am not.
P: What are you referring to?
S: For example, when we 'fall in love' or admire somebody. Admiration is based on unlikeness. We admire someone for being something we are not. Love can never function as long as we feel unlike. And 'falling in love' is between unlikes, because generally it is accepted that the other gender is unlike, and today even that everyone is unlike, everyone is unique. When the 'falling in love' is mutual, it is one-sided admiration on both sides. Each admires something in the other. But this is not love.
If people don't meet on the natural basis I have talked about - in which they identify with their common consciousness of the ever-present whole - then love can't function. People can then only meet on the basis of an identification with some detail or details of the common consciousness of the ever-present whole.
P: So one flower-lover will feel they have something in common with another flower-lover, or one Beatles fan with another Beatles fan, or one historian with another historian, and so on?
S: Yes. And they will develop their knowledge of the particular detail they are identified with and experience that detail as their own, personal reality.
Matilda: How is your view different from the common conception that one 'gives love'?
S: You can never give love. Not even God can give love. God can give creation, but God can't give love. It's impossible to give or to take love. There is no thing, no substance - 'love' - that you can give or take.
P: So when you, Stefan, from your point of view, say 'I love this person', you don't mean 'I am giving love to this person'?
S: If you were to say that you are giving love to a particular person, then from my point of view you are confused about what love is. Love is only possible if we have a proper belief in God. If we don't have a proper belief in God, that is, if we don't have a proper understanding of the original cause and meaning of creation, then we can't have a proper understanding of anything - which makes it impossible to understand what love is.
P: So what is the situation with human beings who believe in God in the way you are suggesting, and who say 'I love the other, but they don't love me'?
S: The full feeling of love is when we also feel understood, because love is a relation between two conscious beings. Each must understand the other.
M: But from your point of view, if you love another, and they don't love you, you don't feel hurt by that?
M: Do you feel anything? Doesn't it matter?
S: It's not that it doesn't matter, because in the same way that God desires love - that is, desires to be understood as like - everybody desires love. Only one does not then start 'treating' the other person in such a way as to 'get' love. One knows that it is impossible to demand or force love. One tries rather to actualize this understanding - of God and so on - in the other person. But one never tries to 'treat' the other person, because we know that treatment and love are two different things. Treatment is to have power over, to control, and it's what we do to objects. Love is between subjects, and then only between likes. And as long as people want to have power, they are locked into a hierarchy and there are no likes. It's self-evident. Power is 'over' someone. In a hierarchy you are either 'under' someone or 'over' someone, but never 'like'.
M: It's because love is so bound up in common culture with the ego that it's quite confusing thinking of it in this way.
S: Yes, if someone experiences their ego as their identity, it is impossible to love. Nobody is confused about the desire for love, but then everybody has this quite sure conception of themselves as being able to 'give love'. And because of that, love stops. But people try all the time to give love. Or to take it. 'Taking it' is the same idea: 'I give so that I can take.' Love can only function if we understand each other as complete likes, which means thinking of each other as conscious parts of the same reality.
M: Love is a state, in a way.
S: Yes, it is a state of consciousness, the natural state of consciousness. But it is displaced by anxiety when we learn language if there is not a logical tradition about the original cause. Then we desire infinite knowledge and power and the ability to control creation, instead of understanding its meaning. We become objects that think mechanically, as Descartes suggested we are, impressed by modern science's perfect, so-called exact, objective investigations of mechanical relations.
P: You say thinking 'objects' because then we don't see ourselves as driven by either existential needs or by the subjective need for love, but just by the desire for objective power?
S: Yes. We no longer act from our identity as a conscious part of the whole, but identify with ourselves as a thinking being. We see ourselves as an ego that develops knowledge of causality, both mental and physical, in order to have either greater mental power - what we call 'charisma' - or greater physical, mechanical power - what we call energy resources.
Can we love an object?
M: I am still puzzled when you say we can't love an object.
S: You can prefer one object to another, but you can't love an object - because love is only possible between subjects who can understand and act according to what they understand.
M: Can we love somebody, a subject, who is behaving like an object, that is, a subject who experiences themselves as a thinking object?
S: If I experience the subject behind the object, then I can love the subject - even if he or she is behaving like an object. Behaving like an object starts when people have turned away from their original consciousness, their identification with their original ability to experience, and act as egos, identified with the possibility for memory- and language-based thinking. I can prefer one ego to another, but it's impossible to love an ego, because preferring and love are different things.
Every culture has talked about these problems: the difference between undivided love and preference, predilection. And preference or predilection was always said to be mixed with suffering - passion, in the old sense of the word.
M: We love creation...
S: ...if there is not this fundamental anxiety.
M: But surely in loving creation, we do love objects: a tree, or a stone?
S: Yes, because we generally don't make the distinction in language between preferences and undivided love. I mean loving creation with an undivided love. You can only love creation as a whole, connected to God. Unless you love it that way, undividedly, all you can do is prefer - that is, prefer some parts of it to other parts of it. You can't have the same feeling for an object as for a subject - but we don't make a distinction in language between these two feelings either. Love is only possible between two subjects.
M: But you said one-sided love is possible.
S: One-sided love is possible, if I think of God as behind all these objects. Just as if I also think, in relation to all these objects sitting in chairs here - I mean human beings - of a conscious mind behind each. Then I can love in a one-sided way. If the other has the same idea about creation and my body, then two-sided love is possible.
P: So if you just see a stone with pleasure, and you don't think of God as behind creation, then you prefer it, you don't love it?
S: Then you prefer it for some practical reason, but it is still impossible to love a stone.
M: But if you see God behind it, then you love it?
S: Not the stone. One is loving God, for and through his creation. As it is impossible to separate a cause from its activity, it is impossible to separate God from his creation. And the more we have checked that creation is really made for the purpose I am suggesting, the more we love God for his creation or, more precisely, the less often our love for creation is disturbed - by what is generally seen as evil, for which God is blamed.
P: It's the same with people, isn't it? If you think there is a conscious mind behind them, you can love them, and then you love their bodies too.
S: Yes. And then you can check if these other people want to know about their consciousness, their ability to experience, or only want to be thinking objects - because which they want makes a difference to their behaviour. If they want to be thinking objects, we don't know what the needs and purposes behind their behaviour are, unless they announce them. And if they announce them, either we can accept them, if they don't disturb us, or we are disturbed by them. If they don't announce them, we generally feel confusion and anxiety when we meet such people. People who see themselves as thinking objects are always experienced by us as anonymous, and we feel alienated from them.
M: Can you have a two-sided relation with animals?
S: That is all you can have with animals, unless the animal is dangerous, and then the relationship with it is disturbed. But you always have two-sided relation with animals, because you know their needs.
M: Are you loving them or God?
S: Both at the same time. I am loving God for their existence, as I love the whole creation - because there is God's consciousness behind the activity that is their physical body, and there is the consciousness that is connected to the animal's body, which directs that body as a whole.
M: Is that different from a stone again?
S: Yes, of course, because I meet only God's consciousness behind the stone.
M: What about with a tree?
S: It's not the same as with an animal. I can't have the same objective relation with a tree that I can have with a dog, because a tree doesn't react immediately to my behaviour. It's just different if you play with a dog. The dog responds. A tree responds only if you give it water and so on, and it takes a long time to respond! However that may be, as soon as we suppose 'life' to be there - that is, as soon as there is a sign of consciousness - there is an experience of two-wayness in the relationship, and three-wayness when you believe properly, without contradictions, in God.
Love and preference
P: But let's say I feel this undivided love for creation, and that includes other people, it may still be that I like some people better than others, and I don't know why?
S: You don't need to ask or say why. There is no reason to ask the question. We are forced by practical life to make choices. Preference exists because we must make choices. But we wrongly experience our 'likes' and 'dislikes', our preferences, as an expression of 'who we are', of our basic identity. We become identified with them. We don't see them simply as choices that we each can and must make because of unlikenesses that also belong to Nature.
But we don't want to meet people who behave in a completely different way from us, or people who don't want to know about reality at all, or who want to know about reality in a completely different way. We don't want contact with criminals, for example. And criminals want to have contact only with criminals. It is obvious that we want to have contact only with those who have the same, or not contradictory, ideas about life.
P: Whether we take your view or not?
S: Yes. Unless we agree about, or at least are interested in, the original cause and meaning of the whole reality, it is impossible to get rid of this alienation from each other and from reality.
Helping and understanding
M: What if I wanted to have contact with criminals in order to help them?
S: 'Helping' is possible only in relation to physical problems. In psychological terms, it is not a matter of 'helping', because only each person alone can help themselves to change their identity - that is, to realize what I believe to be their true identity: their human identity.
M: Can't I help a criminal stop being a criminal?
S: Yes, but you can't stop them feeling alienated, in the way people - criminals or non-criminals - feel alienated. You can only try to discuss with them to find out if they are interested in their human identity, rather than wanting to be an ego.
M: But it may be so rare that someone treats them as a like.
S: But it's impossible anyway to 'treat' someone as a like. As 'likes' you don't treat one another. You have mutual communication through language. You experience mutual relation with a like. 'Treatment' involves unlikeness. Then we use language to 'treat'. We can use language in many different ways to 'treat' each other, but such use of language is a misuse - although it's the only way language is used today.
P: But it may be that when the criminal is with you, they feel that you are different from other people, they have a different emotional experience, and that may lead to them asking a question.
S: Yes, if they have some idea of an alternative, and if they want to get rid of their identity as a criminal. But let's say the criminal asks me something, because they experience me as different, and I give an answer: if they don't ask me from their human identity, my answer is never directly an answer to what they ask. That is often my problem: people don't interpret my answers as answers. With my answer I want to put people back to the human identity, to our common, natural consciousness of the whole reality, in the hope that there they can come to the insight that language, if we want to use it for communication, must be anchored in the common reality. But they often ask from the personal ego, and they say I have not answered. But I have answered.
P: Is this the problem of people asking about the details of limited situations, whereas you always want to discuss the details in relation to the whole situation?
S: Yes. They ask me about my views on something particular, without understanding that I always talk about something particular in the light of the whole.
P: So this could happen with the criminal too?
S: Yes. But if they show a real interest in the whole, then the dialogue starts. But it can't be a dialogue [see Appendix B for an expansion of this definition of dialogue] until they show this real human interest, without preconceptions. And that's the only problem. But it's a constant problem. I used to give invited lectures that were attended by people who hadn't heard me before, among them atheists. The atheists often left the room saying that it was impossible to talk with me. They said I was unfair, because I didn't want to discuss their questions. Yet I always answered them, telling them what I thought their view missed or lacked. But I answered with this other consciousness. I tried to get them to understand that I don't talk from an atheistic basis, but they wanted to discuss things on an atheistic basis.
P: I suppose people sometimes don't realize which philosophical viewpoint on these questions - about the original cause - they are coming from, because the questions are not discussed in society nowadays.
S: I think that is often the case. But if people don't want to change from this ego identity to their identity as a human being, I can't do anything. And often people don't want to because they have this ego that regards itself as completely free from Nature and which sits in preferences, not in the basic state of undivided love. That is 'personality', identification with unlikenesses. And each personality is different. And if personality is the person's identity, they can't discuss anything as human beings - in the sense I mean 'human being'. When I meet a person, I see both - their personality and their human identity - but I choose to answer out of the common human identity, waiting to see whether the other person is catching the idea that we are alike. In the personality, we are unlike. The difficulty is that people usually listen to me as a stranger, as someone unlike, and they want to understand me. And they are blind to the fact that I don't want to explain myself: I want a dialogue on the basis of the natural identity.
Whom can we have exchange with?
What about relationships in general with other people? How do you think about the possibility of exchange with other people? You have a feeling about the different people you have exchange with, and what kind of exchange is possible with the different people. Some people you find it impossible to have an exchange with. What do you measure that by?
P: Why is it different, you mean?
S: Sure, why is it different? Why, for example, have the two traditions - the theological and the pantheist - also been divided geographically from each other, throughout history? Why were they forced to live in isolation from each other? It was because they had different basic ideas about reality: the one had belief in one God, the other had belief in gods. Or even if people believed in the same God, they believed in him in different ways: the one was Catholic, the other was Protestant. In fact there have been many, many more differences within Christianity: I think about three and hundred and twenty different Christian sects - that was a figure I heard. They live divided - why? It's only because they have a different idea about reality.
P: And that affects the way they see each other?
S: Yes. If a Jew becomes a Christian, immediately there is the possibility of exchange with other Christians. Our view of whom it is possible to have exchange with is very, very limited. That's why we are struck by the absence and death of those with whom we can have exchange. Of course, as regards people with whom we like to have exchange and with whom we have regular exchange, it is a great sorrow if they are absent. But how would you experience it if you could have exchange with everybody you meet? There are always a lot of people you meet on a practical basis, but how would it be if you had the experience of being able to talk to everyone in the same way - that is, from the beginning as likes, without some identification with some unlikeness?
P: Yes, I can see that it would be very different.
The bondage of love
S: We experience only difficulties if we seek to bind people's consciousness to ourselves. How would it be if we considered that we do not need to bind people to us, because they are bound to Nature in the same way that we are? We don't recognize this mystical bondage, which is love. We are clear about the common bondage to all our bodily needs, which we can see, but we tend not to recognize and reckon with our connection to human beings by the similar type of bondage that love represents. You can reckon with the fact that you are hungry, you can reckon with the fact that a dog is hungry, you can reckon with the fact that every species needs light, warmth, air, and so on. So we reckon with animals, plants, everything that has life, because we know about their bondage to these needs, to which we ourselves are bound. We can reckon with them, know about them, trust in them, because we have the same bondage. We experience in daily life that these needs are binding. But can you describe how they are binding? There is no thread that binds, there is no power.
P: It is just clear that if you don't respect the bondage, you die.
S: Yes, gradually, but not immediately. If you don't breathe, you can live for three minutes. If you don't drink, you can live for three or four days - or perhaps more, I don't know. If you don't eat, you can live for perhaps thirty days. Perhaps sixty days. But if you don't love...
P: You can live your whole life. So science does not take account of this bondage to reality through love?
S: ...this mystical bondage - which is not mystical, because we know it. Every living body is bound in principle to the same things: light, warmth, air, food, the Earth - in the Earth's case through gravitation - reproduction and movement. But we do not reckon with the bondage of love, the basic bondage. That's why I sometimes talk about it being like gravitation. It is a power that does not have any manifestation. That is why it is impossible to give love, and why it is impossible to take love. When people have that idea, they work themselves to death to realize love, without any success - in fact, only with the opposite result. They become more and more confused about what love is.
M: I am still struggling with your view of our identity and would like to go back to that. Would you say there is something separate, something detachable that can move - when this body we are now connected to dies - between the Being and creation and wherever it is we 'go to' - what is sometimes called, I think, 'the other side' of creation?
S: Try to bear in mind your original existence in the Being. In the Being your original existence can't move, can't be active, except for the movement or activity you experience as your consciousness, your ability to experience. And in creation you can't remember that it is your identity in the Being. It is only through creation that God makes it possible for us to have the illusion that we can move and remember. Through creation you can become connected to this body that you have now and experience movement through this body. But by connecting to a created body you don't lose your connection to your original existence. When you die, you have that connection to use - and you probably retire to every night without knowing about it - and you also possibly have what tradition calls the soul*.
P: You mentioned the Christian idea of soul briefly earlier, but this is the first time you have used the word 'soul' as part of your view. How do you see the soul?
S: We have a certain relation to it during our dreams at night and, in the daytime, as our personal states of judgement and understanding. It is constituted by Nature as a personal causal system of rememberable evaluations and conclusions that we have previously reached through thinking.
P: ...which follows along with our ability to experience after we die?
S: Yes, according to many traditional statements, and that's also what I suppose. But these are things that we do not have to deal with or understand in this life. We have to understand this life here as self-evident, perfect for its purpose. Therefore, the first human problem is to agree on the creator's meaning with the whole creation. That is why philosophy was called by some traditions 'the science of sciences'. Life on 'the other side' of creation must be self-evident in the same way, so we don't need to worry about it now. It's only our anxiety about death and our lack of belief in God - that is, our lack of a proper understanding of the original cause and meaning of creation - that makes us want to know. We are born to this life without any previous knowledge. This life explains itself to us adequately - if we don't confuse each other by using language to develop infinite power, in an agreement, never discussed, that the whole creation, including life on Earth, is basically meaningless. If this life explains itself to us adequately, why shouldn't the next?
M: Well, coming back to your hypothesis, Stefan: am I a separate entity in the Being?
S: Yes, only not separate. You are something, an entity in itself, without parts that belong to you - but you are an inseparable part of the Being. Therefore, you can't experience anything in the Being or have any power there. And both in the Being and in creation, you can only ever feel that you are an entity, an individual. You can never formally*, objectively experience yourself as an entity, because you can never be outside yourself.
P: What about people who talk about themselves as if they are outside themselves, such as when they say 'I want to know myself' or 'I want to find myself'?
S: This is because our created body gives the illusion of a wholeness with its own, inseparable parts. The feeling of having distance from everything, of being outside, separate from everything, can give us the idea that we are outside ourselves, that we don't belong to, or are separate from, ourselves. If we were to think that we belonged to the non-created Being, then we would understand that we are outside our own created body, in the same way that we are outside every other created body. It is simply that our connection to our own body via a nervous system is different from our connection via perception to all other bodies. But all bodies belong to creation, and every attempt to discover ourselves, that is, to have the same 'objective' connection to our own ability to experience that we have through the senses to our own body and all other bodies, is irrational.
P: And the idea of an objective connection to our mind?
S: It's the same irrational idea, because our consciousness has the same immediate connection to its own mind as it has to the body to which it is connected. In both cases, the idea of an objective connection can be appealing, because it fits with our wish to control and impose our own order on our minds and on our bodies - just as we want to do the same with creation - rather than allowing the order of Nature to control them and order them.
P: The general view is that we are a mind connected to a body. Is it your view then that we are a consciousness connected to a mind and a body?
P: So how are 'soul' and 'mind' different, in your view?
S: They are essentially the same, inseparable thing. But there are two aspects. I interpret the mind as the mental aspect, the thinking we do to understand causality. The soul I interpret as the emotional aspect, our evaluation* system - generally based on a mixture of Nature's impression on us and of memory and language - on which our understanding of causality is based.
P: So the soul is primary?
S: Yes. It's our evaluation system that gives rise to our need to think about and understand causality.
P: What do you mean by 'evaluation system'? What is it that we evaluate?
S: Basically all values are offered to us by Nature, but every living being has to make choices, personal evaluations, all the time, among the values that Nature offers. Other species make these evaluations, but because they don't have an everything-covering language, they can't make a common, theoretical problem out of it and, as humans generally do, let this theoretical problem overshadow their practical relation to reality.
M: Some people have an idea that the consciousness that we are is somewhat like a drop of water that disappears in a big pool of water, as it were, when we die, losing its separateness in the process.
S: But why water? Why a pool? Why a process? These are pantheistic ideas of Being. The pantheistic notion of drops of water and a pool stems from their experience of introspective science, where the surroundings are experienced as a fluent medium, without the experience of distance that gives the feeling of being outside things. Instead of 'water', 'drop' and 'a pool', I use the terms 'the common ability to experience', 'a part of the Being' and 'the whole Being', and I say that in this life, too, we are never cut off from, and never can be cut off from, our connection to the original Being.
In my view, there exists only the real, unchangeable object - God and the conscious parts - which together make an indivisible one. And then there is activity expressed by this object. Originally this is expressed only by the whole object, God, because the parts have no power in the original Being. But then activity is also expressed by the parts, though only within creation, through the power they acquire there.
P: Let me just check if I understand you: the parts can't create in the Being, because they don't have power over the Being. Only God has the power to create in the Being. But the parts can 'create' in creation. They can create activity, because they become connected to a body in creation.
S: Yes, and it is only possible, both for God and for the parts, to create activity. What makes for human confusion is that humans think that they can create something original, like a cup or a table. But the cup and the table are only activity - arranged and constantly rearranged by creation as what we experience as the matter of which the cup and the table are made.
P: But the non-created object - in the philosophical sense - that God and the parts is can't be compared with the relative objects or matter of creation?
S: No. The non-created object that God and the parts is can never be experienced in an objective way, from the outside, either by the parts or even by God. And that non-created object is the same all the time; it can never change. It can become active, can continue to be active and can cease to be active, but it can't create other objects of its kind, only activity.
What is confusing is that God makes in creation what appear to us to be objects. He does that because thinking needs objects as a basis. It is impossible to base thinking on the absence of objects, that is, on 'nothing': understanding requires that we are able to trace an activity back to some object. If we hear a birdsong, or any sound, we have to go back to a bird, or to something that makes the sound. So God has to give seeming objects. But at the same time, God solves the confusion that arises from our experience of seeming objects, by allowing us the insight that what we experience in creation as objects are not really objects - because they are endlessly changeable, that is, destroyable. And if they are destroyable, they can't be real objects.
P: And would you say that we have the experience of seeking to understand an activity by tracing it back to an object because God wants us to do the same in the case of the whole activity that is God's creation: he wants us to trace that whole activity back to its original cause, the original whole, himself, so that in that way we will come to understand that he exists?
S: Yes...that he exists as the whole Being, and that each of us exists as a part of his existence - so neither the whole nor the parts can be destroyed.
P: So this is another way in which creation is perfect for God's aim?
P: Pantheists also understand that real objects don't exist in creation, don't they?
S: Yes, but they draw the conclusion that there is only activity, a flow. And that's where they stop. For them, basically there is nothing that is existent. For them, everything is flowing. But they don't say what is flowing, and that is irrational. They say there is no unchangeable existence, no unchangeable Being, only one ever-changing, creative flow, a changeable, random order regulated only by impersonal physical and moral laws.
In my view, the activity that is creation is also one order, but it starts from the whole Being, from God. And it obviously takes place within God, if God is the whole. That's why the activity also obviously cannot be shown to us as starting from the whole Being. Rather it appears to start from seeming objects. It appears to start as the activities that go out from each object as an interacting closed system, as one active order.
The parts of the Being
M: Is there a limited number of consciousnesses?
S: You mean 'parts of the Being with the quality of consciousness'?
S: There must be, otherwise, given that the parts are existent, we would have to accept that something can come out of nothing, that is, we would have to accept the opposite of the axiom that no thing can arise, originate from nothing - and that would make consistent thinking impossible. But I don't think it is relevant how many parts there are. You know that however many parts you meet, each part manifests basically the same consciousness, the same ability to experience. And if you think of God, you have to think of God also as like, as manifesting the same ability to experience. The only difference is that God experiences his own existence, which includes us, the parts. But no part can experience the whole existence, God. Our relation to God in the Being can never be changed: we can never be God, the whole, and God can never be a part. But how many parts there are is of no interest.
M: But in theory is it possible that a cow, for example, could have a permanent consciousness?
S: In theory, everything is possible! But from the point of view of my hypothesis, the answer is 'no', because the cow is a form. It's only an apparent object in creation. A cow does not have a consciousness. As I said earlier, consciousness is never in anything in creation. A permanent consciousness, a permanent conscious part, is behind the cow. Think of it as being the same as it is with humans. Cows, horses, humans don't really exist - they are just activity. In the Being there exist just parts, with the same quality, consciousness. A particular conscious part is connected to a cow in creation, and what that particular conscious part is able to do is determined by the fact that it is connected to a cow's body. But the conscious part is not a cow. It can only act as a cow. As a human being, you have to take into account God's need, which leads to the idea that the whole creation is made because God wants to be understood. And if you have the desire to understand God, then you want to become connected to a human body, because only as human beings can we talk about God and his need.
P: Would you say that God himself is 'incarnated' in the whole of creation?
S: Yes, because he is originally the whole reality. But he shows himself in creation, as the manifold, through all the celestial bodies, that is, including the Earth. He can't show himself as a whole, in the way that he is able to show the parts indirectly to each other as wholes. But in our minds we can connect God to the whole creation - in the same way that in my mind I can connect the conscious part that you are to your body, and you can connect the conscious part that I am to my body. But it doesn't make sense to try to find my consciousness in my body, or yours in yours. We can think of consciousness as only fully 'incarnated' in human beings, because the human species is the only species we can talk with about the whole reality. We can therefore understand another person's interpretation, and can become conscious of whether the other person is interested in the original cause and meaning of creation or not.
P: And if I find that they are not interested?
S: Then I don't get their attention. If they say, for example: 'I'm not interested in all this philosophy, I am only interested in flowers', then I don't meet the human being. I meet someone who is identified with flowers. In a way, I effectively meet only a flower - because the other person refuses to talk about anything but flowers. Maybe the next time I speak with them it won't be the same. But in general I have no interest in meeting again those who are identified with different details of reality. I am only interested in meeting human beings. But I know that everyone on the Earth could be interested in the whole creation. So if they are not interested, I think to myself: 'They are not interested now'. So I try and awaken their interest every time I meet them.
M: If a cow dies, does its consciousness go over to the other side of creation?
S: The cow's consciousness is not in the cow's body. It is only connected to it. The connection can change, but the consciousness remains the same.
M: But does the place of the consciousness change?
S: You mean 'the place of the conscious part'?
S: You too are also now in the Being. If you dream, you are connected to your dreams on the level of the so-called transcendental or 'abstract' creation, and if you are in deep sleep - that is, sleeping but not dreaming - you remain in the Being, without experiencing any connection to creation. If you are disappointed with creation, you may just remain in the Being and have no interest in having a link to creation - until you have the interest again. In the Being there is no time, so the time-scale is unimportant. You can't remember how long you have been in deep sleep.
M: But there are no parts in creation? The parts are in the Being?
S: That's right. Within creation there are only participants in creation. We give relative names to the different objective manifestations of God's and the original parts' consciousness that exist within the unitary order of creation.
M: So 'parts' is not equivalent to 'humans'?
Consciousness and creation
S: No. The relevant idea is 'conscious part' - of the Being - without it referring to the created body of a human, of an animal, of a plant or of an object. The part has basically the same consciousness as the whole. Consciousness is a single quality: the ability to experience. God experiences the whole Being, whereas, in the Being, the parts, though they have the ability to experience, experience nothing - except, as I've said, perhaps themselves and an immediate feeling of a resistant, surrounding reality. More experience for the parts is offered only by creation. Within creation, what the parts experience varies according to what created body they become connected to. The words 'humans' and 'animals' relate only to creation. All human consciousnesses - or, to be more precise, all the conscious parts that are connected to human bodies - are parts of the Being, but we shouldn't be thinking in terms of different forms of consciousness.
P: So your idea of consciousness is quite different from that of the development theories of the pantheists?
S: Yes. For them, consciousness is developable. They have the idea of having different incarnations in order to develop an infinite understanding of causality within creation. For me, memory-based thinking can be developed, but not consciousness, the ability to experience. The thinking process, in my view, has to serve the needs of the consciousness, and that requires us to understand the original cause and meaning of creation. And the needs of the consciousness are, primarily, the need for love, and then the needs of the particular created body to which the conscious part becomes connected. This latter requires a particular understanding of causality in creation.
P: And it is how your idea of consciousness relates to human beings that is important, and not how it relates to plants and animals?
S: I am only interested in plants and animals in relation to the second problem of causality - that of causality in creation - because they are an inseparable part of the whole creation. But it is irrelevant to think too much about consciousness in relation to them. Some interpretation of the Indian tradition has the idea that one non-incarnated human consciousness not on the Earth is responsible for every species that is not a human species, and that that particular human consciousness rules the species it is responsible for from another level of creation. This could be true, but it makes no difference to us how it is. What is relevant to us is that consciousness must also be manifested objectively by the whole creation - that is, including the celestial bodies and life on our own celestial body, which express an absolute, indivisible order - and that the different levels of the whole creation can never be separated, either from the original cause, or from each other, either in their beginning or at their realized end, which we experience on the Earth via our created senses. All separation is a meaningful illusion made by the created senses.
P: And an order is an indication of consciousness?
S: Yes, because only a conscious being can have the need, and an associated purpose, for an order. We always assume that there is consciousness behind anything that expresses and maintains an order. We see it readily behind the order that is a plant or animal or human being. But a microorganism or a molecule or an atom or an elementary particle is also an order, though one that isn't generally obvious until such things combine to construct a larger order, such as a plant or animal or human body. But God expresses and maintains the order of the whole creation, which includes the celestial bodies. And the consciousness of the parts can come into this order, on the Earth's surface, as what we call 'life'. In human beings the consciousness of the parts manifests, through everything-covering language, as a responsible subject, as the reasoning, subjective background to the objective appearance of our own and other human bodies.
P: So we have to be led to the idea that consciousness is behind the order of the whole creation, otherwise we won't come to the idea of God?
S: Yes. That's why belief in God is natural. If, on the other hand, people don't believe properly in one non-created creator behind the whole creation, then people generally make a distinction, from what they suppose to be their position as outsiders on the Earth's surface, between 'not conscious' - that is, 'dead', 'mechanically interacting' - and two interpretations of the idea 'alive'. From this general viewpoint, the first relates to animals and biology on the Earth, and the second refers to human beings, when it means 'alive and conscious' - as I have said already.
In my hypothesis, I don't make such a distinction. God's creative consciousness is behind the whole creation, and consciousness must come into creation indirectly in the way that it does: basically, from the direction of the invisible whole - represented in creation by the impression of space - and relatively, through the largest objects, that is, the celestial bodies - stars, suns and planets - as light. It comes in more directly on the Earth's surface, as the chemical affinity represented by the generally invisible, smallest objects, which create, in an endless process of reproduction, the meaningful cooperation of all species.
P: Do you mean that the fact that elements have 'preferences' when it comes to organizing themselves with other elements is indirect evidence of consciousness behind them?
S: Yes, because these 'preferences' are obviously as meaningful as the fact that different species 'prefer' different types of food - and just as the light and heat of our sun or other celestial bodies is obviously meaningful.
P: Because all life needs the light and heat of the sun?
S: Yes, and because for humans the light of the stars gives us in addition an impression of the whole. As we said before, every impression of meaning is indirect evidence of there being a consciousness at work behind it. The problem is that no tradition - neither science, nor pantheism, nor theology - accepts the idea of only one, non-created consciousness behind the whole creation, as I do. That's why they talk about chance, randomness and chaos and evil - that is, about originally unorganized relations, which humans can change and organize according to their own meanings, bearing in mind only the mechanical impersonal laws, along with, in the case of pantheists, impersonal moral laws, and in the case of theology, God's commandments, which rule or should rule the unorganized relations.
P: And atheists who don't have such laws or commandments...?
S: They can't avoid confused discussions about ethics and various systems and rules for organizing relations, such as anarchy and democracy.
The problem with dualism* in theology - God and Evil - is that it doesn't have the idea of a non-created whole with parts. This means that God is not present in an understandable way in creation, which leads to the idea that either God does not control creation - the theory of deism - or that he controls it as we do socially through commandments and punishments. So in this view, too, humans have free will, bound only by the mechanical laws that rule creation, and they must therefore blindly follow God's authoritarian commandments in order to avoid Evil or punishment.
P: When you said a moment ago that the sun's light is meaningful, you don't mean that the sun is conscious?
S: No. No body in creation is conscious. So - going back to the way consciousness comes into creation - chemical affinity organizes larger orders, such as microorganisms or visible plants and animals, which give a so-called 'concrete' impression of consciousness. And consciousness comes most directly into creation in relation to human bodies, where consciousness can avail itself of an everything-covering language. Other species can only communicate their evaluations and their understanding of causality through their behaviour - so-called body-language - based on their existential needs. All they can do is accept the whole present creation as the only truth, without any possibility of being interested in its or their own body's background, or in a non-created, or past and future, reality. To have such an interest requires an everything-covering language, which can then be used in two basically different ways: either starting philosophical considerations about the background from the hypothesis of the existence, behind the created, illusorily existent creation, of a non-created reality - God, as a whole, in the way I propose - or, refusing that, accepting as the start for philosophical thinking only our objective and subjective, that is, mechanical or biological, or transcendental, experience of the created reality and people's interpretations of it. The consequence of this last is an authoritarian belief in one mystical God or pantheism or polytheism. These three types of tradition confused each other: in the case of theology, by only conceiving of God - the hypothesis of a non-created reality - as the creator of parts; or, in the case of pantheism, as the reproducer of himself in a mystical, transcendental way; or, in the case of polytheism, by being born and killed in a mystical succession. All of them are in contrast to my conception.
What I say is that only the consciousness of the parts - that is, not the parts themselves, but only their ability to receive and express - comes, through created but invisible possibilities and connections, to the surface of the Earth. There it becomes - at its other end, as it were - connected to the ongoing creation of one 'concrete' body, beginning with fertilization, gradually developing, being born and continuing to develop. From a certain state of its creation - birth - we can use the body, as a free, created whole, for receiving and expressing, in a similar way to how nowadays we use the invisible connections of the latest cordless telephones as a whole, without being a part of them.
So with human beings this unlimited consciousness - which is not predetermined by existential needs as it is with animals - becomes communicable between human beings. You can't use human language in relation to animals, plants or minerals.
P: Why did you say a few minutes ago that consciousness 'must' come into creation in the way it does?
S: Because the creator, the whole, who can't come into creation in a visible way, wants to be understood by his parts. So for this purpose, living bodies have to be built up gradually on the Earth, in order to produce human bodies to which the conscious parts can connect. Human bodies couldn't survive without the whole system that produced them.
P: And the conscious parts have to come into creation in order to understand the creator? They can't understand the creator from their position in the Being?
S: That's right. So God has to give us the idea that there is a consciousness behind the whole creation. So the whole creation has in our experience to act by itself, that is, to manifest consciousness - just as living bodies on Earth do.
P: And we take something acting by itself, moving by itself, as being conscious?
P: Summarizing then: so far in our dialogues we have come across three arguments - all of them in themselves axioms - for the existence of God as you conceive him: (1) the original cause must be a conscious subject, because only a conscious subject can be a cause; (2) an order - in this case, creation - must be evidence of consciousness; and now this third one, (3), that something - again, in this case, creation - that moves by itself, that acts by itself, must have consciousness behind it. Is that right?
S: Yes, though those aren't the only ones. I have also referred to the axioms that (4) no thing can arise, originate from nothing; (5) that which exists, is existent, can never change, become some other thing, or cease to exist, that is, become nothing; and (6) it is impossible to create anything other than activity.
P: In your hypothesis, the objective impression of consciousness starts with objects. Generally, people regard consciousness as starting with animals, or perhaps with plants.
S: Yes, but we can remember axiom (6), which says that all objects in creation must be an illusion of the senses, that the boundary between objects in creation, which seemingly cannot act by themselves, and living or conscious bodies, which can obviously act by themselves, has to be made only for practical reasons. Viewed philosophically, chemistry too acts by itself, and the whole reality acts by itself - which is why we have to make the hypothesis that there must be a consciousness at work behind the whole creation.
M: I am still preoccupied with this question of consciousness and things in creation: could a conscious part of the Being be attached to a tree?
S: The basic need of the parts is to meet other conscious beings, which we can't do in the original Being. Why should a part attach itself to a tree? What can a tree experience, compared with the experience that a human body and human language allow? We have to discuss these questions until we have some mental clarity on them. But it has nothing to do with the question of God-consciousness*.
P: What do you mean by 'God-consciousness'? To me it sounds a pantheist phrase, but I imagine you don't mean it that way.
S: God must be conscious of humans, or more precisely, the parts of his Being. Just as God lives in consciousness of us, who are conscious parts of him, we should live in consciousness of God as the whole to which we originally belong. That is what I mean by God-consciousness: being conscious of God as the whole Being behind creation.
As things generally stand, humans identify themselves simply as human beings. As children they learn to call that identity first by a personal name and then, some years later, by 'I' - which has become known as the Latin 'ego' or as 'the self'. If we don't become - by the same language-based education that gives us this other identification - conscious of God, we experience ourselves, in the face of changeable creation, as if we ourselves are original creators, that is, gods. That is the choice that only humans can have, and it is a choice that, because of language, they cannot avoid. Whatever I choose to be conscious of, that I become conscious of: either the creator - God - or myself and other people as creators, that is, as gods. The difference is that, if I choose God, I can do so only by considering things philosophically. If I don't choose God, I can't avoid choosing my own or other people's interpretations of their objective and subjective - that is, mechanical and biological - or transcendental experience of creation as a starting-point for philosophical considerations - simply because God is not present in creation in the form of an illusory object, whereas human beings are. But it is for me to choose what I want to be conscious of. At the same time, we can't avoid the consequences in our philosophical discussions of the fact that we are related to creation and to each other, because nobody can deny being subjectively conscious of their own created body as a part of the whole surrounding creation...
P: ...so it doesn't make sense to see oneself as an outsider in creation?
S: Yes... and nobody can deny being objectively aware of that whole reality as only an ongoing activity, a creation - because it changes in every detail, so it can't be an original reality. Knowledge of these two things is common to everybody, and is therefore the basis of common sense.
P: So the choice of the second identification - choosing humans as creators - goes against common sense?
S: Yes, because it forces people to deny that this reality is originally a meaningful creation, otherwise they can't deny the creator. They have to maintain that this reality came about by chance, and that it is ruled only by mechanical laws and by moral laws - in the case of the pantheists, impersonal moral laws, in the case of the theologians, moral commandments given by God - but not by a conscious meaning. But that goes against common sense, because we experience creation in all its details as perfectly purposeful in a way that we cannot copy, that we cannot reproduce as our creation.
God: the original object, including his parts
P: You talked earlier about God being the original object. But it's your view, isn't it, that the parts also exist as objects?
S: Yes, of course.
P: So God is not the only object?
S: God is the whole, real, non-illusory object, and then there are the parts, which are also real, non-illusory objects. The quality of both - consciousness, as the ability to experience - is the same. These conscious objects, the parts, are inside the whole conscious object. Everything is three-dimensional. And every object has the ability to experience.
M: That makes me think of objects with space around them.
S: That is the problem with our experience of only dissectable, illusory objects. There cannot be space between the parts, if it is a whole. 'Whole', in reference to a living organism, means an immediate, distanceless relation between parts. And, as I've said, the word 'part' implies 'part of a whole' - otherwise we wouldn't use the word 'part'. Just as we wouldn't talk about a whole, unless we were thinking that it had parts that belonged to it.
P: So we as objects always exist in the original reality, the Being?
S: An object can exist only in the original reality, because object means 'something which exists'. It is an axiom that something that exists can't come out of nothing, nor can it end, become nothing, cease to exist. Nor can it change.
This axiom leads to the further axiom that only activity can be created - which I have already referred to many times. And - another axiom just referred to - only if an object is conscious, what we call a subject, a conscious being who is conscious of its own existence as a living whole, can it have a relation to itself, and so be an original cause of activity. Within creation we call something an object even when it is not conscious - on practical grounds, to help us to distinguish between things that move by themselves and things that don't move by themselves, so that we know to treat them differently. But such 'objects' are not relevant in philosophy. From the philosophical point of view, an object can exist only in the original reality and has there the one common quality of consciousness, and, in the case of the whole, can vibrate, move in itself, and thereby express, realize creation.
As a conscious part of the original Being, you are an object. You can't experience the object you are - neither in the Being nor in creation. In creation, you can just imagine that you are a part in the whole. Isn't it a matter of indifference how you imagine your object? Isn't it only your quality that matters? 'Object' just means that it is indestructible, as unchangeable as God's existence.
M: So it's not just a quality?
Object/quantity and quality
S: No. That is the pantheist view. My view is that you can't have a quality separate from an object.
M: Can you give an example?
S: 'Walking' is one quality of a leg, 'standing' is another, 'kneeling' is another. So every activity that an object can demonstrate is a quality. But we can't separate the quality from the object that demonstrates the quality: we can't separate walking or standing or kneeling from the leg. There is only confusion if you separate them and talk, for example, about qualities as something in themselves. That's what is generally done with consciousness when it is replaced by words denoting quantity such as 'I', Self, personality, spirit, and so on.
It's also what is done when people talk about a feeling without referring to the cause of the actual feeling - that is, to the object or subject that gives rise to the feeling. Then feelings become mystical. If we know the cause of a feeling that we have, but don't refer to that cause in language, then that feeling will be mystical for other people. If we don't know, or if we have forgotten, or if we are not ourselves aware of the cause of our feeling, then it will also be mystical for us.
M: Can you be a subject and an object at the same time?
S: Yes. It is always at the same time, only we can't experience our consciousness as an object, separate from creation. We can only experience it as participating invisibly in creation.
M: Because God is an object, but also a subject?
S: Yes, in the same invisible way that you are a real object and subject behind the visible, illusory object that in creation is your body. God is the whole unchangeable Being with the quality of consciousness. And you can't separate the quality - consciousness - from the quantity, the existence, the object - the unchangeable Being. You can't separate either God's consciousness, or your own consciousness, which is basically the same quality as God's - though not the same quantity, but only a part of it.
P: We have used the word 'quality' a lot, and I realize I am not clear what is meant by it...
S: You experience, you feel your consciousness, your ability to experience, as your basic quality throughout your life - in the same way that every living being does - altering daily between the awake state, dreams and deep sleep. But language can only remind us of our immediate experience of a quality - for example, consciousness, red, hunger, running, excitement. It is impossible to create through language a mental understanding of what qualities are: words can never adequately convey the experience of a quality. We can, however, discuss qualities - but only by tracing them back to their objective origin. In the case of feeling conscious, this is to the hypothesized Being. If we don't make this hypothesis, we trace it back spontaneously to our own created body, or, when we observe the effects of consciousness in the surroundings, to other living bodies, interpreting it there as 'life'. In the case of our other feelings of qualities, we trace them back to the illusory objects in creation. For example, 'tomato' refers to both quality and quantity, but we can't describe or explain the taste of it, its quality. We can only refer to its quantity, the tomato itself.
P: What is the difference between quality and quantity?
S: Let's use the example of a tomato again. If you relate to it objectively, if you think of it outside you, it is a quantity, something that exists - in creation, that is. If you relate to it subjectively by eating it, and you then think of your experience of a tomato, then the tomato is a quality: you remember its taste or smell or texture, for example. But in fact the quantity that the tomato is and the quality of the tomato belong together. They are two aspects of the same thing. It's not possible to separate them. It is only language that makes us think they can be separated and discussed separately as quality and quantity. Other species, which don't have the human, language-based interest in causality, can't make this separation. The enjoyment of the quality, the taste - which is always experienced as activity, of which the quantity is the formal, objectively existing cause - can be separated in our mind from our interest in the construction of the quantity itself.
P: It sounds strange to say that taste is an activity.
S: All experience is of activity - creation's activity. But all thinking about causality in creation requires a single, relatively existent starting-point, and then, if we are to continue to think - in order to be able to understand cause and effect - other relatively existent points as causes. In this thinking, we break creation's activity down in our minds into quantities and qualities - physical qualities and, on the living surface of the Earth, biological or psychological qualities.
The quantity and quality of consciousness
P: You have repeatedly talked about consciousness as a quality. How does the relationship between quantity and quality apply to consciousness?
S: When it comes to the quality of consciousness, we don't have in our experience a quantity to which it corresponds. We tend to think of the corresponding quantity as our whole body. But the body is also the source of many other qualities - seeing, hearing, thinking, eating, digesting, and so on - so it can't be exclusively the source of consciousness. If we persist in thinking that the corresponding quantity for consciousness is our whole body, we are forced to decide which particular aspect of our body it corresponds to - hence science's search for the quantity and construction of consciousness in the human body.
P: But seeing, hearing, thinking, and so on, have parts of the body to which they correspond. Why couldn't we say that consciousness shares the brain with thinking?
S: The brain is the scientifically localized place of memory, and thinking is impossible without a memory of our earlier experiences. But what experiences is our consciousness. Similarly it is consciousness that sees and hears, not the ears and the eyes or the brain. And consciousness also rules thinking. Science knows a lot about thinking, but nothing about consciousness, and it tries to investigate consciousness as something, a quantity, in itself.
This search for consciousness is futile, in my view - as futile as science's search for the origin of life. My solution is to suggest that the corresponding quantity of consciousness is our non-created object as a part of the Being, and, in the case of the consciousness behind the whole of creation, God's invisible object - including the parts, our objects - as the whole of the Being. This gives us, and also our children, a rational understanding of theology's authoritarian statements about God's almighty, constant presence, and also an understanding of God's purpose with his otherwise mystical, autonomous creation.
P: What other differences does your view of consciousness - this idea of it as a quality of our object in the Being and of the object that God is - make?
S: Without the idea of a non-created quantity to which consciousness corresponds as its quality, our natural experience of consciousness of the ever-present, whole creation becomes confused by our thinking, which then becomes memory- and language-based, rather than anchored in reality, that is, in the Being. We become interested solely in how everything in creation is constructed and in our experience of everything as absolutely changeable. As a result, we lose our interest in the background to our consciousness. Instead of identifying ourselves with the hypothesis of a Being, we become identified with our memory- and language-based conception of infinitely running time. We then live only in relation to all the ongoing, running activities in creation, totally preoccupied with changeability and with human creativity based on the changeability of all objects, which reveal only a basically mystical, and never a real, background.
If we don't think of ourselves as a conscious part of God and if we don't think of God's consciousness as being behind creation, we become identified with our thinking, which in practice means our memory-based knowledge of creation and our ability both to destroy living and non-living objects and to construct non-living objects, in a generally accepted illusion that we can change the original reality and create a new reality, through our individual or collective power, solely by ourselves, that is, without Nature's help.
P: Then we will essentially be adopting the modern scientific view?
S: Yes, but with the difference that scientists and those people to whom we delegate responsibility for human cooperation in societies - what we call the authorities or politicians - generally have more regard for Nature's creativity than those who don't have this delegated responsibility and are completely identified with all the possibilities for human creativity.
Science and consciousness
P: Could you characterize then how your view is basically different on this question of consciousness?
S: At the basis of thinking, according to the modern scientific view, is the idea that non-living objects, with no consciousness behind them, are acting in accordance with impersonal mechanical laws, that is, mechanical necessities that have no meaning. All living bodies then come mysteriously into this picture of the universe on the Earth's surface. These living bodies, too, are considered to be without consciousness behind their activities and to be acting mechanically, that is, without consciousness of a meaning - with the exception of human bodies. Human bodies are generally regarded as the only conscious bodies, because humans can not only follow meanings - as objects and animals do, via mechanical and biological necessities - but can also create their 'own' original meanings, and can follow and realize those.
P: So animals, within this view, are regarded as not being conscious?
S: That's right. They are thought of as acting primarily in accordance with meaningful biological necessities and secondarily, in relation to their surroundings, in accordance with meaningless mechanical necessities.
P: But then the biological necessities, though meaningful - that is, though determined by needs - are regarded as operating mechanically, as we have said before?
S: Yes. Because human beings have an everything-covering language that enables them to communicate their experiences, predilections, memories, considerations about causality, meanings, motivations and activities, humans are considered the only conscious beings. That means, only humans are regarded as capable of acting meaningfully. But this interpretation is blind to the distinction between, on the one hand, natural needs and meanings and the enjoyment in satisfying those, and on the other, human-made meanings and the enjoyment of the need to satisfy those.
P: So the view is that only humans can determine their own behaviour? Animals act meaningfully, but their behaviour, in this view, is determined entirely by their needs and external circumstances?
S: Yes. That is more precise. So humans - in this view of reality as having basically no meaning in itself - are considered absolute strangers to each other, because, unless they ask each other, they can't know what the meaning is behind each other's creative activities. They can only understand each other when they are satisfying their existential needs, because then it is obvious to everyone what the purpose of their behaviour is. But they can't know what human nature is, that is, true human nature - as I see it: the ability to experience and the need to be understood as likes - which lies behind the way of thinking and the evaluation system that humans have. The modern way of thinking and the modern evaluation system - which are separated from Nature and are based only on a global, mechanical investigation of Nature's changeability - emphasizes human creativity and technology. And this technology is expressed alongside Nature's permanently ongoing creativity, but with the latter interpreted as absolutely 'meaningless' and mechanical.
So today, on the basis of the view of modern science, we consider the visible objects in creation - that is, quantities - to be the original causes of the activity in the whole reality. This activity is regarded as expressed by a basically 'dead' Nature - in itself an irrational idea, because something that is dead can't act by itself. Since creation is not seen as having a conscious meaning behind it, it cannot then be loved as a whole. It can only be regarded, either with enjoyment or with anxiety, as changeable in every detail.
P: But it cannot be loved as a whole because love can only be experienced in relation to a conscious being?
S: Yes. Viewed in the modern scientific way, this activity is then regarded as having three basic qualities: enjoyable, that is, good; not enjoyable, that is, neutral; and causing suffering, that is, bad. The goal then becomes to create enjoyable things, and to fight against everything that causes suffering.
A precondition for becoming free of identification with the ego and of identification with time as history, and thereby free of a constant lack of love, a constantly unsatisfied need for love - which we experience as anxiety - is to remember that objects can't interact by themselves, can't be the cause of their own interaction. A conscious meaning behind the whole creation is required in order to bring about their interaction.
P: That's a long answer to my original question! But you think it all follows from a failure to view consciousness the way you do?
S: Yes. I think it is crucial. And I know that it can be difficult to grasp what I am saying, because nobody these days sees consciousness in this way. No historical tradition presents consciousness as the non-created, non-developable, unchangeable, basic quality as the cause of knowledge, but not the same as knowledge.
As I have said before, consciousness, as I use the word - and nobody now uses it in the way I am trying to introduce it into human language - has two aspects. The first aspect is the ability to experience, to receive impressions. This allows us to be able to experience, via the nervous system, the needs of our own body, which have to be satisfied. We are also able to receive, via our senses, impressions of the whole creation. In this way, both our bodily needs and our need for love can be satisfied.
P: So we want to experience love in relation to everything that we experience?
S: Yes, we don't want our need for love to be disturbed by anything that we experience. If it is disturbed by any element of creation, we make efforts to avoid or alter that element.
The second aspect of consciousness is the ability, having received, to give out, to express, to be meaningfully active in relation to what we receive. This second aspect of consciousness relates to our need for the technology with which to satisfy all our bodily needs in the surroundings. In the case of our existential needs, we have to adopt the position of outsiders and, treating creation mechanically and practically, we have to cooperate purposefully with our surroundings to satisfy those needs. In the case of the need for love - which relates to our encounters with other conscious beings - we have to use the technology of everything-covering language to satisfy it, both in relation to humans and in relation to the whole creation. We love other species spontaneously, because we understand them. They are not mystical to us. The fact that we can't understand and love our own species equally spontaneously is due to the fact that humans can't love the whole creation in the same spontaneous, unconsidered way that other species do. We have to agree in language upon an understandable relation to the whole creation, as a precondition for an agreement about our own identity. Otherwise both creation and humans remain mystical to us. We have the need to make these agreements because it is impossible to feel undisturbed love in the face of something that is mystical, unknown.
The need to understand and be understood
P: And by 'in relation to the whole creation', you mean that we need human language in order to understand and love the original cause?
M: Is all this true only of consciousness in creation?
S: Yes. In the Being, the parts can't satisfy their need for understanding. Only God has the ability first to experience, take in the whole Being, and then, in doing that, to recognize his need to be known and understood by his parts, as the precondition for two-sided love. It is self-evident that God loves his own existence, the whole Being, and it is self-evident that one-sided love is not satisfying. So it is self-evident that God has the need to be understood and loved by the parts of his existence, which is the only possibility God has for being loved.
P: Do you mean by 'self-evident' that God simply experiences it and has no reason to question it?
S: Yes, but this is so not only for God. We experience the same need for two-sided love as self-evident in relation to conscious beings. Consciousness of this need in God's case is the cause of creation, of activity, of giving out, expressed by the power of the whole Being. God gives creation as pure activity, not as a thing. He doesn't form or make 'something'. We, in order to communicate, give out meaningful sound - which, too, is pure activity. If our talk is in accord with the meaning of creation, then we understand God and enjoy love when this communication by sound takes place. If we don't understand creation, we want to create. We then use language for realizing our own creations, for satisfying our own artificial needs, rather than for understanding each other. Therefore, we have responsibility for human language, and God has responsibility for creation - which is God's language to us. Creation is pure activity, and language is pure activity. We give nothing when we talk - just communication, just vibration.
M: It seems confusing to me, because if God made creation so that we could understand the whole, the way he made it also makes it hard for us to understand the whole.
S: But if you imagine now that you are God, the whole, and you want to give your parts the possibility to understand their situation - which includes understanding you - then you can start to think, from your situation, what God must do in order to realize this need that he has. He must show us, the parts, a reality that is not unified, if we are to have a perspective on the whole and the parts. There is no way that we can see the whole, because we are inside it, so God has to give us experiences that can lead us to conclude that the whole exists.
P: Do you think that this is more difficult for us adults because we are brought up to think out of ourselves, and not out of the whole, this unity? I know you think that a child has that sense of the unity, of living in a whole, quite naturally, so that it isn't so difficult for the child. But it is difficult for us as adults, having lost that view, to get back to it - though it would be a much easier starting point for our thinking.
S: Yes, I think that is so. But doesn't the image of the manifold, with the stars around us, give us an idea of the whole? Yet we fail to interpret it as an indirect, created image of the whole, and we fail to interpret human bodies as a more direct, but still indirect, created image of parts within the whole. And so we don't interpret the image of the manifold as a connection to God, a connection that is similar to the connection we have to each other and to every other living body that God has created.
Every part of the Being has to become connected to a body in creation in order to be able to experience company, through their body. And God creates this image of the manifold, which gives us the idea of the whole as the creator, God. God always has the same identity, always shows himself through his creation to everybody. We, by contrast, have to change bodies in creation - when our present one gets worn out and dies - but we don't change our identity as conscious parts of the whole. God doesn't change creation. It is a human idea that creation can be changed. Creation is changeable only on the surface. It also seems to be changeable fundamentally, because it is only activity - as we now at last know also from modern science.
P: 'At last', because the original aim of modern science was to find the existent start behind creation?
S: That's right. But creation is a complete, meaningful order, which we cannot change. We can change the surface of creation only up to a certain given limit, but we can't change creation fundamentally. We can never change the cause of creation, nor its meaning, which gives it its order. We can change some details of creation, for example, by eating these sandwiches we have here. Everything changes in the details on the surface. Generations come and go. But the whole creation does not change. It is always being expressed for the same practical purpose. And if it were not being expressed, we would not be able to experience anything. The meaning of creation is that we should be able to experience God - indirectly through his activity - and each other, and in this way be aware of what the need of consciousness is, this need being the same for God as for every living individual: to be loved. That means to be understood, because it is impossible to love without understanding.
P: What do you mean by 'understanding' in this case?
S: Understanding is more than just knowledge. It presumes understanding the whole causality - the cause and meaning - of all these activities that we know about. Understanding of causality must for humans, in my view, involve making the hypothesis that the same single identity is behind the active diversity that exists on the surface of creation, and that this identity gives the meaning to this diversity, this interaction, that is, it expresses it so that we know about its purpose - because he has the same basic need that we have.
First there is experience - what we call 'knowledge' when we remember, recognize, what we experience. And then there is understanding of the mechanical causality in what we experience, in what we know about. You have to experience creation, and so know about it. You have no choice about that, do you?
P: No, I can't refuse to experience creation.
S: And you have to understand the mechanical causality in what you experience, don't you?
P: Yes, otherwise I wouldn't be able to survive: I wouldn't be able to meet my existential needs, or some accident would befall me through the lack of some technical understanding.
S: Isn't it quite another form of understanding if, instead of only knowing about, recognizing an activity and understanding the mechanical causality in it, you understand its meaning: that is, the need behind it and its purpose?
P: Yes, it is.
S: What is the difference?
P: In the first case, I only know about and recognize an ongoing activity and understand it mechanically. In the second, I must also know about the need of a living being and recognize the purpose of this need in its activity.
S: Yes. Creation is shown to every living being, so every living being has to experience it, has to know about it, has to understand it mechanically to some extent. But only human beings, because of human language, can be interested in understanding the whole causality. But the whole causality is not the whole mechanical causality in creation. It is primarily the original cause and meaning of the whole creation. We need to understand that as a precondition for understanding the creator's need and purpose in creating the whole creation. Animals' understanding of creation-based, objective causality is limited to the causality they need to understand in order to satisfy their existential needs. Humans, on the other hand, have the language-based capacity for unlimited understanding.
P: 'Unlimited' in the sense of 'not limited to their existential needs'?
S: Yes. Animals have no choice but to use their capacity for limited understanding: their needs force them to it. Humans, on the other hand, once they discover their language-based capacity for unlimited understanding, can choose how to use it. They can choose to use it to understand the original cause and meaning of the whole creation and to recognize the creator's need and purpose in it, and then to relate to creation accordingly. Or they can be influenced by the anxiety generated by mistaken, language-based ideas about reality - such as the ideas of the existence of a dead reality, or the existence of 'nothing' - to concentrate their capacity for unlimited understanding on understanding solely the objective causality that is within creation, with the aim of using this causality for their own individual or collective benefit. They then act without any regard for the creator's purpose with creation, that is, without the idea of an original cause and meaning to the whole creation. This exclusive concentration on benefiting human beings makes it impossible for humans to experience undivided love for the whole creation.
P: ...whereas animals, because they don't have the language-based capacity for unlimited understanding that humans have, can't be misinformed about creation and its cause and meaning?
S: That's right. So their need for undivided love of the ever-present creation can never be disturbed: they spontaneously use creation in the way that God means them to use it. That's why we can understand other species, but not our own species - unless, that is, we agree about creation and God's meaning with creation and with human language.
Animals, love and understanding
P: But how can animals love creation if they don't understand it - because you have just said 'it is impossible to love without understanding'?
S: But understanding for animals means knowledge by experiencing. Animals experience creation and love creation without any problem, through experiencing it basically as life, without having any idea about its opposite. So they can only experience 'alive' and 'not alive': that is, they can only experience things as active, moving by themselves, showing the ability to experience; or as no longer showing this ability, becoming passive, not moving by themselves. Animals can't have the idea of 'absent', nor the idea of 'absent' transferred to the idea of time: so they can't have the idea of the past or the future. They love life without the possibility of becoming, like humans, interested in their bodies from outside, or in themselves as something separate from what they love: the whole. They love their own body because they love the whole, and they defend it because they don't like to suffer.
P: So you wouldn't say it was 'survival instinct' that made them defend themselves?
S: That is a human interpretation of animals' behaviour. But if animals can't have the idea of death, then they can't have the idea of survival either. They either flee or defend themselves because they don't like to be forced or hurt, not because they want to survive.
And animals love not just their bodies, but also the surrounding reality in the same way, because it satisfies their existential needs. They can't have the language-based idea of 'distance', interpreted as 'nothing', that would separate them from it. They can't have the feeling of being an outsider that is characteristic of humans when they become identified with the word 'I'.
M: Do animals need love?
S: Yes, they need the company of likes - which is what we call 'love' - and they get it too. We also understand their need for love, company - that's why we go up to animals and pat them and stroke them. And they also feel comforted by us when we give them food and other things they need.
P: Do they understand their need for love?
S: No, they can't reflect in a language-based way on any of their needs. They experience them when they become actual, and then they satisfy them, without reflecting any further about them. The only difference between their need for love and their existential needs is that undivided love for the whole creation is present all the time for them, along with love of their own life. And they don't lose it when they suffer, as humans do. They can never think of killing themselves, because they can't think of death, as an alternative to life. Nor can they become identified with time - the language-based memory of past reality - which creates for humans anxiety about the future.
P: So in terms of everyday life, animals understand everything they need to?
S: Yes, of course, otherwise they wouldn't be able to survive. But they can only communicate it by body-language and sounds. Animals understand Nature, because they live with their needs. All these needs guide animals' thinking, and so they understand without realizing that they understand. 'Not understanding' for them means 'failing to satisfy a need'. If that happens, they then try to satisfy that need in another way, until they are successful. They don't have a problem loving life, because all their needs give them enjoyment - because every time a need is satisfied, enjoyment is felt, with animals as much as with humans.
Humans can have a problem loving their life, because we have a problem understanding life. We have language to enable us to understand life, and we could understand life if we used language to understand the original cause and meaning of creation, and thereby the proper common meaning of our lives. Traditionally, as I have said, we use language out of our desire for power, to create meanings or purposes and to realize them all in order to escape anxiety - which is what humans suffer when they don't understand something - and to avoid physical suffering.
M: Why can't all the understanding that we need be given to us, just as all the understanding that animals need is given to them?
S: The understanding of what our body needs and how to satisfy our bodily needs is given to us. And we are also conscious of our need for love. But the understanding of how to satisfy the need for love is not given to us unconditionally, as it is given to animals.
P: By 'not given to us unconditionally', do you mean that for us there is a precondition for undivided love of creation?
S: Yes, and that is that humans have to understand the creator as the invisible, conscious whole - God - behind the visible creation. So the need for love can't be satisfied in humans in the same way that it can be with animals, who are not conscious of God. Generally, our need for love doesn't get satisfied, because we don't understand the creator's meaning with creation. All that we are generally conscious of is our lack of understanding - and without understanding, it is impossible to love what we experience, what we know about.
M: Why can't this whole question be automatic with human beings?
S: Because the cause - the non-created whole - can't be made visible from outside, which is what we mean by automatic, or self-evident, knowledge. Human beings are interested in the whole reality, and therefore have a responsibility to understand the invisible original cause, and thus the whole causality. Animals have neither this interest nor this responsibility. But they also understand causality, traced back to subjects and objects in creation, but only as much as they need to for their survival. Only humans can dream about being able to complete their understanding of causality one day and then be original creators.
P: So animals don't have responsibility to the creator? They don't have to understand the original cause of creation as humans do?
S: That's right.
M: But you said animals love automatically.
S: I didn't say 'automatically'. I said animals have no problem with their need for love. They have one feeling for themselves and the surrounding reality. They can't hate or have all these alternative feelings - such as anxiety and alienation - which we humans experience towards reality.
M: So love isn't automatic with them?
S: 'Automatic' is a typically human idea, referring to a 'dead' relation between 'dead' parts. Such so-called 'dead' parts exist only in things or functional orders - machines - that humans construct and power by energy. Such functional orders are not to be found naturally in reality. That's because creation is one order, originally powered by consciousness - basically, by the consciousness of the whole, and relatively, by the consciousness of the parts of the whole - and it is impossible to separate anything out from it as not cooperating, not interacting. 'Dead' parts are not to be found in it.
Animals don't break reality theoretically into pieces, as we do when we learn language and as scientists do practically in their investigations. They love reality as an undivided whole, not in its separate parts. They love unconsciously because they can't start and stop loving - because they never stop loving to be alive. Therefore, they can't experience a lack of love. They don't consciously experience their need for love, and they don't consciously experience satisfaction of that need. They simply give their offspring the care they need. It is only we who interpret this as a decision on their part to 'give love'.
Because humans are made conscious through language of the idea of love and of ideas about what love and the lack of love are, we become confused about love. We believe we can possess it, be rich in it or poor in it - that is, we can believe we have received a lot of it, or that we have received little of it and so still need a lot of it, and that we have a lot or little to give. So we become aware that either we or others don't love and only try to give or take love, and then we get the idea that whatever we do, we have to do it 'with love' - and not because of a natural response to a common natural need to be understood as likes.
M: You say that animals love unconsciously. How can you have unconscious love?
S: Because unconscious love is the natural state of every conscious being. It is impossible to desire anything other than love - nobody ever wants to be hated. And it is impossible ever to experience enough love - in which respect love is different from our existential needs, which can be temporarily not satisfied or temporarily satisfied. Love, as with everything else in creation, only becomes conscious in humans, through their learning of everything-covering language. This makes it possible for humans to communicate their memory and so to have a conscious idea about every thing and every need - both the need for love and all the bodily and artificial needs - and conscious ideas about what counts as satisfaction, and theories about how to achieve satisfaction.
With animals it is different. They experience their whole surroundings, but they have no concept 'the whole', because they aren't interested in the original cause of creation. They understand all the causality that they need to understand, and they can't have the idea of developing knowledge about causality as an end in itself. So animals are never conscious of not understanding, and so they can never experience lack of love.
P: And because they never experience lack of love, they are never conscious of love either - because they would need to miss it to know what it is they are missing, as we have said.
S: Yes. But because humans can become confused, through language, about Nature's purpose for human language, they then can't avoid consciousness of lack of understanding and of lack of love.
M: But doesn't being unconscious about something mean 'automatic'?
S: Okay, we can say it is 'automatic' in a way, if we mean 'spontaneous', 'unconsidered'.
M: So animals' love is automatic in a way?
S: ...because it is unconsidered. Animals don't try to express love as an end in itself, because they don't have a language-based idea of love. They have no experience of lack of love - in the way they can experience lack of light, heat, air, water, food and so on - so they have no problem with love. Love is only a problem for human beings because they generally live completely in language, interpreted as something independent of reality, rather than in reality!
You can only understand love, in my view, if you start from God as the invisible, non-created whole. You have to have God's purpose in creation clear, then you can understand why it is that we need to love all that we experience and why love is undivided and cannot be divided, measured or compared. But you can't forget God, creation and God's purpose in creation, and then try to understand how love functions. Because love functions in humans spontaneously, too - or 'automatically', if you want this word - otherwise we wouldn't be able to feel lack of love. But God doesn't want it to function automatically. He wants his parts to love him consciously, for his creation, in a common understanding that it is perfect for its purpose, and that it can't be changed and made better by its participants on the basis of the language-based idea of 'perfect' - 'perfect' being imagined as without any relation to some purpose.
P: And because God is invisible, he can only be loved consciously? That is, you have to have the idea of God first, and that idea you can only have in a language-based way. You can't have this idea of the whole unconsciously. Experience doesn't give it to you. You have to reflect philosophically on your experience to come to the idea of the whole - which you can see expressed as the absolute interaction of everything, what we call Nature. And animals can't do that kind of reflection. Humans on the other hand can't avoid creating an idea of the whole - this interaction or oneness of Nature - but then they can come to two different, mutually exclusive, ideas about it: that it is meaningful or meaningless. If they decide it is meaningless, then the questions arise: How is it constructed? and How can we give it meaning? If they decide that it is meaningful, the question arises: What is its meaning?
Love and power
S: That's right. So God has to give humans this problem with love. He has to give them the choice between love and its opposite: power, force, mechanical relation, what we call manipulation when it relates to human beings. We can manipulate other species only physically and with loud sounds, whereas with humans we can also use language.
It might also be said that generally humans love, live and function unconsciously, too, just as we breathe unconsciously. If we don't think what we are doing when we breathe, we can think that we are breathing on our own terms, by our own nature, and not on the terms of the whole Nature. In the same way, if we love, we think we are loving on our own terms, by our own nature, and not on the terms of the whole Nature. Human beings do love 'unconsciously', in my view, in many situations - just not in those situations in which they consciously believe they love!
P: ...because, as we said earlier, we make so many ideas about what love is, through our memory-based thinking, so humans think that in this situation or that situation they ought to feel love, and can even imagine that they do when they in fact don't?
S: Yes. Love is only possible when we are in our original identity, where love is a natural state. This state we lose when we identify with our thinking. Everyone knows when they experience love - if they are not confused in their thinking about love, that is. Everyone recognizes the feeling of love, of not feeling any fear or reservation when meeting living beings. But love can't be deliberately expressed, that is, it is not in our power - nor even in God's power - to express love, either in language or in anything else that we might think of as an expression of love. Love is spontaneous; it's the original state of being alive.
P: So all our efforts to demonstrate love are pointless?
S: Absolutely. Of course, it is much nicer if people try to demonstrate love rather than try to demonstrate hatred or indifference. But unless people are confused by their thinking, they can easily feel the difference between a 'demonstration of love' and the feeling of being loved itself.
P: So would you say that God experiences conscious love to his whole existence and that he wants conscious love back? But though humans may spontaneously or unconsciously love in certain situations, they can't love God spontaneously or unconsciously?
S: Yes, of course.
M: So the love animals have for creation doesn't satisfy God's need?
S: No. At the same time, God knows about his creation, and he knows how creation is built up from the Earth's surface - through minerals, plants, animals, and human beings - so God doesn't have the idea of trying to experience conscious love from animals.
M: And animals can't love God, because they can't know about God?
S: That's right. They can enjoy life in peace and harmony, with the feeling of belonging together to all species and to the whole reality - and that is the principle of love.
M: What is love?
S: If you mean 'What does love feel like?', that question can never be answered. It is as impossible a question as 'What does coffee taste like?' You can experience the taste of coffee when you drink coffee, but however much I try, I can't describe or convey to you what the actual taste of coffee is. You have to experience it. So I can only say what the precondition for experiencing love is. I can't say what love itself is.
M: Can you say more again about what you see as the precondition for love?
S: God, from his position as the unchangeable reality, understands us, as the parts of his existence, and thus he understands our need for love. But in this original situation, we can't as parts understand the whole, God. He has to give us the conditions to be able to understand and love him, which he does through creation. So we have to understand God's reason for his creation - that he has the same basic need that we have - as a precondition for understanding creation and thereby loving him, for his creation, a creation that suits his reason perfectly. Then we have the same background and have no problem understanding and loving each other, having the same feeling for other people's lives as we have for our own life. It's the same undivided love that animals have for the whole creation. But humans can't enjoy this undivided love without consciousness of God as our like, which implies satisfying God's need at the same time.
If we don't want to know about God, it's because we want to understand the original cause in the same rememberable way that we try to understand everything in creation: as mechanical causality - rather than in the way I am talking about. By attempting to trace things back to the creator on the basis of how creation is made - instead of starting with the problem of 'why?' - confusion is created about what undivided love is. We are failing to remember that we basically love all species in the same way, because they belong to the same reality as we do and because we have the same sorts of need as they have. And we are failing to remember that all our problems with our own species relate to the fact that humans live more in their own history than in the ever-present reality. Then they identify themselves, bind their identity to, voluntarily chosen predilections, which we cannot immediately know about. And we also can't immediately know which system of social order, that is, which man-made rules for behaviour, they are following as a substitute for, as they see it, Nature's anonymous 'disorder'.
P: In other words, we can't understand our own species spontaneously because their behaviour is determined by a mystical mixture of natural and voluntary needs?
S: Yes, and also mixed in are their consciousness of the ever-present reality, what they have learnt about history, and their identification with their own personal history, which is unknown to other people. When that is the case, all that is noticed is the destructive side of Nature: the suffering, death and human evil in creation. The result is that we become interested in power - in order to be able to make creation and humans better, more enjoyable. And as long as humans want to have power, they are totally closed for conscious love - that is, they make the conditions for conscious love completely impossible. Power is the opposite idea to the idea of love. We can demand and force obedience, and perhaps admiration, but not love, because it is impossible to love on demand, command or from force. But when we lack the experience of mutual love, we can regard admiration as if it were the only possibility for love. But admiration is only possible between unlikes, whereas love is only possible between likes.
P: What about the problem of suffering and evil in creation? How do you see it? The existence of suffering and evil puts a lot of people off the idea of God.
S: The problem of suffering and evil is due to the fact that creation is forced to destroy everything it creates, because it is not the original reality, that is, it is not existent. If it kept on creating without destroying, the axiom that something can never come from nothing would not be valid. There would also then be more and more of everything, endlessly!
Creation can only exist as a closed system of simultaneous construction and destruction, which is why everything in creation is destroyable. Our problem with creation is that we can't create anything that Nature constructs, not even a so-called elementary particle. We have to use creation as the material, with its natural properties, for our own creations, and whatever we create is foreign to creation, and creation has to destroy it, too. If people are identified with their thinking, they identify primarily with the destructive side of creation. That gives the irrational belief that we can change the whole reality, and build up a new, better one.
In reality, only Nature creates and destroys. Life 'forces' every living being - through enjoyable needs - to understand and love Nature's activity as one, as indivisible. It does this via our meaningful participation in both the constructive and destructive side of the same Nature - and the two can't be separated: the same Nature creates and destroys. Humans can only understand the creator's purpose. If they don't, they complain in the naive belief that Nature could only be constructive. The complaint is that God allows humans to be destructive.
P: So people don't complain about creation or Nature?
S: No. People never complain about Nature, because everybody knows that we cannot alter Nature and because Nature is not seen as the creator. They only complain about people's bad creativity and about God, that he didn't make a good enough creation and perfect humans - which becomes their aim. The complaint only has any force because of the Church's irrational idea that God is almighty and arbitrary, that is, not bound by anything in his creating.
P: ...which gives doubting believers the idea that God has a completely free hand in relation to creation, so he could have made a better job of it, particularly of human beings?
S: Yes. And we take over the idea of this supposed freedom for ourselves. It is what attracts and binds human beings to the idea of development. They want to develop power as an end in itself, so as to be able to realize whatever meaning they choose - whether that meaning is in harmony with creation's purpose or not. Unless we understand the meaning of creation, we can only have an unclear feeling - 'deeply' in what we call 'the conscience' - about what is in harmony with the meaning of creation and what not. But we can never be clear about it and communicate and agree about it; we can only predict its opposite and talk about disharmony and catastrophe. Our basic feeling is then anxiety, rather than undivided love. We seek to escape this anxiety and our consciousness of what we interpret as our transiency in the ever-present reality through identifying solely with our memory-based thinking. The purpose of that thinking is to learn to control everything that we need to control. But we want to develop power infinitely, in an effort to control everything.
P: And as part of that, we don't understand the place of ageing and illness, for example. It just seems pointless suffering.
S: Yes. The biggest source of suffering is the idea that we must die - even if people say that they are not anxious about death, but only about suffering as they die.
Use of language: to cover reality or to express oneself?
P: Stefan, I would like to go back to the subject of language. Your view is that language is given to us so that we can use it to arrive at a conscious love of God?
S: Yes, by understanding the meaning of creation. Humans, unlike animals, have the ability to reflect on life using language that covers the whole reality. Language gives humans the possibility of choosing: either 'I use language to cover the whole reality', or 'I use language to express my self to other people as an anonymous, unique being'. But if I adopt the latter view, I can never experience humans as likes. I can't experience others as likes if I think they won't understand me unless I explain my self to them. If people are 'unlike', then I want to discover, get to know, overcome resistance, acquire knowledge of - and this is something different from love. Love can only function when we don't try to discover, but when we take each other as known, on the basis of the same quality - consciousness, the ability to experience - that we have fundamentally in common. Otherwise, I have to give people my version of the human being, my unique version, my personality - there cannot be another one like it. That is to present myself as a god, since God by definition is the only one of his kind.
Only the whole, the oneness - God - can be one of his kind. The parts of the whole are many. And even though, in creation, we are in the whole and are interacting with it all the time, we can never experience ourselves as a part of it, because we can't experience the whole - we can't see or touch the whole. We can only come to the belief that we are a part of it through reflection. But, because of the freedom of thought that we have, we can believe the opposite: that we do not belong to it. In the very moment that we do that, we become like a god. We stop feeling that we are a part. We feel ourselves instead to be a unique entity, independent of our surroundings, an independent whole among other whole bodies, separated by empty space.
And if I don't think of myself as belonging to the whole, I take the whole to be the diversity. I take it to be a totality, the sum of its parts, rather than a whole. Then I think I can change it, I can do what I want with it - at least on the Earth's surface. I can have the idea that by changing the parts, I am changing the totality. But then I can't understand and love it as a whole - though perhaps I can admire certain parts of it. And I can't feel that things belong to one another, because even the parts that appear to belong to one another as parts of the totality are not real parts: they themselves can be broken into parts, endlessly. So we can never find a real part as such, that is, one that is indestructible, unchangeable or not transitory.
P: The emphasis on language is very strong in your ideas.
S: Yes. I think we should consider this idea: how would it be if, instead of using language to express ourselves, we started using language to express the purpose of reality and to understand each other in relation to the whole purposeful reality, that is, in relation to what life means seen from the point of view of the creator? Then the question, What is the meaning of my life?...
P: ...becomes a general question, What is the meaning of life?
S: No, it becomes: What is the meaning of life from the point of view of the creator? Then the question as to what is the meaning of life for everybody is answered. And then the question, What is the meaning of my life? never arises, because then we are in agreement about what the meaning of life is.
'Who am I?'
P: In the same way the question Who am I? can be put as a general question, What is a human being?, and needn't be put as a question that each person has to answer for themselves in a different way?
S: Yes, and the answer is self-evident if we think of ourselves as conscious parts of the same reality. The question is natural for a human being, because a human being can't avoid learning everything-covering language - so we want to understand what a human being is.
P: You mean, only because we have language and are given the term 'human being'?
S: Yes. Animals can't ask the question What is a human being? or even What is an animal? But if language is not used properly - that is, to understand the whole - we won't be able to understand the parts.
P: But does the child not ask, even when quite young, Where do I come from? or Where do people come from? But I suppose that's a different question.
S: Yes, yes, it's a different question, but related - because they are asking after their origins. If they get a correct answer as to where they come from...
P: By which you mean, that they are a conscious part of God's Being, and not 'from Mummy's tummy'?
S: That's right. The body comes from 'Mummy's tummy', and the consciousness, the ability to experience, becomes connected to that body. The parents can say that they wanted the child's company, and so they helped to provide a body for it, and the child wanted their company, so it became connected to that body. But there is no hurry to say this. Parents should wait for the child to put questions and for the child to have developed language enough to be able to understand and ask more.
But if children were given a correct answer to this question - starting with where creation comes from - then they would ask quite different questions, and not the question that children, and also grown-ups, ask nowadays, Who am I? They would ask philosophical questions based on their experience of the ever-present whole creation and its purpose. And when the philosophical questions about the cause and meaning of creation are clearly answered, what else would they ask? They would then need to ask only questions about practical things, based on what people sense commonly - in other words, based on common sense. That means that their questions would be based on a consciousness of the ever-present reality, and not solely on memory- and language-based thinking.
Children's questions and child-rearing
Grown-ups would then only need to give answers to practical questions, and only until the children are grown up, that is, until the children can manage life for themselves. We have to answer children's practical questions, because there are practical things they don't know about which the grown-ups do know about. This form of understanding they have to develop, for as long as it is necessary and meaningful. But as a grown-up, I am not God for them. I was just born before them, and so I must teach them. When the children are grown up, that is the end of their absolute need of their parents. But if we don't give the necessary philosophical answers to basic questions, then we get question after question after question about causality - because nobody answers the questions in a satisfactory way, which means, tracing them back to the question of meaning, so that everybody can find the answer confirmed by our impression of the ever-present whole.
P: So would you say that children ask 'why?' out of a natural wish to understand the whole creation?
S: Not just the whole creation, but every activity they come across - because we can only understand an activity if we understand its purpose, its 'why?' But if children don't ever hear any talk about the purpose of the whole creation, or don't get a satisfactory answer to their questions about it, then all our answers to their other questions fail to satisfy them, because they can't place them within one logical system. If the original cause and meaning is not agreed, the whole problem of causality is open, and then the plurality, the diversity, is regarded as the sole origin of our experience of causality, and so also of our questions. This is what has happened in science, which says that every new solution, every answer to a question, raises more questions.
P: I don't quite understand that.
S: Because science dissects and dissects thing, it keeps coming upon new cause after new cause, with every new cause always requiring further dissection in search of further parts of this new cause. Children, too, keep coming up with question after question, so long as the grown-ups reflect this scientific view in their answers - because the child's need for philosophical understanding of the total connection between all causes, with a beginning from the original cause, is not satisfied by such answers. Such answers only reflect an interest in more and more new causes. So science has to tolerate a growing gap between its various branches as its knowledge increases - in the case of science itself, in its hurry to understand more, and in the case of the technocrats and industrialists who apply science's new findings, in their hurry to create meanings, and thereby new creativity, to enhance life's qualities. And all the time both are blind to 'dead', 'meaningless', 'chaotic' Nature's creativity and destructiveness. Against this background, children come to see grown-ups as not like them, in that the grown-ups can't give answers to, or are simply not interested in, the philosophical questions that seem natural to the child. So children come to see the grown-ups as unknown, alien, mystical, and also as ridiculous, because grown-ups want to control everything, without showing any interest in the whole. It's the result of an authoritarian approach to children, whereby we try to make them believe things about meanings that are just not logical, that don't make sense to them.
P: Would you agree that if we grown-ups all agreed about the philosophical question, we too would discuss only practical questions, rather than all these individual 'points of view' that tend to characterize discussions among grown-ups?
S: Yes. In this respect we are no different from animals. Young animals also need answers to practical problems arising out of their need to satisfy their existential needs. And practical problems can be solved and the practical task of rearing offspring can be achieved even without the help of human language. With animals it is done via body-language - with each species imitating only its own, so that there is no confusion. Other species don't have this unlimited language that we have, but they can still solve the practical problems of survival.
P: And by 'unlimited language' - as with the phrase 'unlimited understanding' earlier - you mean not limited to dealing with the existential needs?
S: That's right. Humans can use language in relation to any meaning they choose. Nature forces humans to think about causality. But it doesn't force us to think on the basis of a particular meaning. We are free to choose the meaning. Animals are forced to think about causality, but only on the basis of the meanings determined by their existential needs.
P: So - going back a little - the question 'Who am I?' - put psychologically, as when people talk of trying to 'find themselves' - arises from a failure to give children early in life clear answers to their philosophical questions?
S: Yes, and it also arises through language, and through learning grown-ups' general identification with the grammatical word 'I'. That we have to understand. In fact, the question - 'Who am I?' - is not actually voiced out loud.
P: Because it is not seen as something we need to agree about, but as a personal thing?
S: Yes, and nobody can answer it in a satisfactory way. It remains a silent, personal question, along with the question 'What is the meaning of my life?' If anyone was to ask, they would be told: 'You must find it yourself, because you are free.'
P: So you would talk to children, even young children, in simple terms about these ideas?
S: Yes. For children it is easy to understand things philosophically, for the sole reason that they think of themselves as belonging to Nature. They feel they belong to Nature one hundred per cent. They haven't questioned this feeling, whereas grown-ups, who see themselves as free from Nature, have. And for children, the grown-ups are not an authority. Grown-ups are the same as themselves. In their own eyes, children are born into the same species as the grown-ups, and nobody is an authority. Children think: 'The grown-ups know more things than I do', and they accept without any problem that the grown-ups can do many things they themselves can't do. But the child thinks: 'But I can learn, I learn easily. I just need to have communication with grown-ups so that I can learn.' But in the child's eyes the grown-ups are always seen as likes. It is we who teach children alienation. And we develop alienation as far as it is possible to develop it, by emphasizing this 'I' identity.
'The god within'
P: What about the idea in some psychology of 'the god within', the idea that somehow there is a bit of God in each of us?
S: Compare it with my idea that we are parts of God in the Being, but that in the Being we lack perspective - we can't move, we can't see anything, we can't experience anything. That's why God gives creation, which allows us to have a perspective on everything and on each other. How would one then see this other, pantheistic explanation, 'God is within us'?
From the pantheistic viewpoint, God doesn't exist, and pantheists don't think of themselves as parts of him. They see the whole merely as an eternally ongoing, continually new, active interaction, ruled by impersonal laws and not by one creator's consciousness. It is not existent, but abstract. Like every activity, it is absolutely changeable. They talk about this activity as 'divine nature' or 'the Godhead', but both are impersonal. Then pantheists talk about 'divine sparks', which can develop into gods.
If we don't have the hypothesis of the conscious, existent Being, then, rather than thinking of ourselves as parts of the Being, we experience ourselves as parts of ongoing creation That can lead to the idea that God is within us, in a developable form. But because the thought of many gods interacting, independently of each other, is impossible, the idea of hierarchy can't be avoided, with some of the gods being higher gods, some lower gods, and others even lower 'gods in the making'.
This is reflected in the organization of society. The idea of a pantheistic society is not modern, it doesn't belong solely to New Age thinking. It's just that New Age tries to unify the old pantheistic theories. These had a renaissance when science declared publicly in the 1950s that it couldn't continue its search for the original cause in the direction of the details of creation. So pantheism is as old an idea as history - I don't want to say 'as humanity', because I think it is very probable that humanity at one time or another believed in God in a logical, non-authoritarian way.
P: Some people might say, Stefan, that in your hypothesis there is hierarchy, too: a hierarchy between us and God.
S: There is no hierarchy, in my view, either between human beings, or between God - the whole - and human beings. It is not a hierarchy. That's the whole point. We can never be God, because we can never be the whole. And God can never be less than God, because God can never be a part. Therefore the position of God and the position of the parts are definite, and not changeable. But every part can live in consciousness of one and the same God or in its opposite.
P: But could you not say that there is a fixed hierarchy, with God above and us all below him?
S: If people don't want to know about God in a logical, self-evident way - that is, to recognize God's need to be understood as being expressed in his creation - then they have to live in a hierarchy, as authorities for one another, unified by the task of having to organize a peaceful collaboration between humans who see in their own species only unlikes, strangers - because, in accordance with modern education, everyone wants to be unique and not like.
If people believe in God in the way I am suggesting, they will still need to form some organization whenever they undertake a task that requires cooperation. If it is creating a society together, or if it is cooperating to build a house together, or whatever, organization is required. But then the organization is set up in a common agreement about its purpose and for a specific period of time, until its aim is achieved. And then there is no difference, for example, between those who have responsibility for the whole house, those who bring the bricks, those who bring the cement, and so on. The people are not different qualities. It is the same quality, whether you choose one role or the other. And you adopt the expression of one role for a while, until the house is built. We have to take these roles, but these roles are not our identity. Human identity is not threatened, endangered, if I take a little role in a corporation; it is not enhanced, increased, if I take the role of the leader in the corporation. I take it because there must be a leader, and because there must be all these roles in the corporation.
P: Okay, but couldn't somebody say that simply to have the idea of God introduces hierarchy?
S: Yes, but only if we introduce an irrational idea of God: as a part, and not as a whole. I know that some people say that, because they don't see God as the whole. In that case, they can only see God as a superior part, and so they must say that there is a hierarchy, between parts. If there is a superior part, there have to be inferior parts, and that is the basis of the idea of hierarchy. But if they interpret God as the whole and the whole creation as starting in the whole, it is impossible to talk about God as someone superior in a hierarchy.
S: God is the whole and we are the parts. Can you change that? In a hierarchy there is always a constant changing of roles and positions. People are always struggling to get a better role.
P: So if God is the whole, he can't change his role, and if we are the parts, we can't change our role.
S: No, we can't change our role. We are parts in God's creation and God's existence.
P: But can't we say that God starts above us?
S: ...as the whole and then gradually becomes a part?!
P: Oh, I see, he can't lose his role as superordinate.
S: That's right. And apart from the role of the superordinate 'whole', the only other role that exists is that of the subordinate 'part'. And all parts must be subordinate in the same way. That's why there is the saying that the sun rises equally on the evil and the good [Matthew 5:45 '...for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust'], because there is no reason for a hierarchy.
P: So to talk about a 'fixed hierarchy' as regards God and us doesn't make sense?
S: No. Because there is no hierarchy. Hierarchy is where one person has the highest role, and there is a gradual reduction of position as you go down the hierarchy. But in relation to the whole, there are only two roles: either the role of the whole or the role of the parts.
P: And just as there is no hierarchy as regards God and us, would you say that there is no hierarchy within creation, between us and animals, for example? - even though you have used the phrase 'the highest species' in these dialogues to describe the human species.
S: The whole universe is shown by Nature to our eyes as one closed system, one order. Life on Earth is also shown as the same. If we don't reflect logically on the creator and his meaning with these orders, and if we don't understand that the precondition for a meaningful creation is to create senses to which the original distanceless whole is not shown, then we don't see the two orders - that of the universe and that of life on Earth - as one meaningful, understandable order, but as two mystical orders. In the universe we see no sign of hierarchy, because we see neither the creator - the whole - nor conscious parts. It is only on the Earth's surface that we have an unavoidable problem deciding who is creator - God or human beings - because we still don't see the whole, but we meet conscious parts. In meeting conscious parts, we can get confused by the idea of hierarchy if we don't have the idea of an original whole with original parts - and then the experience of mutual and undivided love will be rendered impossible.
P: And if it's a fixed hierarchy within creation...?
S: There is no hierarchy in creation either. Creation is one closed, interacting system, in which all the roles are allocated and no species can change its role. The closed system requires that all these roles develop from the Earth's chemically active surface. It needs micro-organisms, plants, animals, and what we see as the highest species - but nothing beyond that. This idea of one closed system - involving both the universe and life on Earth - is what Darwin missed with his theory of evolution. The idea of hierarchy and unlikeness always stems from theories of development - invariably endless development towards some undefined end-point imagined as perfection - whether they be ancient pantheistic ones, theological ones, or modern, Darwinistic ones.
P: So as regards us and animals, for example, our roles are fixed. I can't become a cow; a cow can't become a human. Humans are the 'highest' species only in the sense that they have a particular responsibility.
S: Yes...based on their unavoidable need, created via human language, to understand the original cause, that is, the creator's meaning with the obviously created reality.
So the parts in creation are forced to cooperate within the closed system, in order to satisfy their existential needs. Fixed roles are required because all the needs are different. But at the same time all the needs are in absolute accordance with one need, which the whole system serves: God's need to create and, at the same time, to destroy everything he creates, as a precondition for being understood by humans, rather than being misunderstood or neglected.
Because humans have to cooperate - and it's not a matter of whether they want to or not, because the closed system requires their interaction - they can develop unlikeness in their survival skills and can create hierarchy among themselves. If they want to, they can mark their cooperation formally in some way - for example, by issuing uniforms denoting different ranks - and can make their different roles in a cooperation their identity. In this sense, we can talk about a more or less 'fixed hierarchy'. But we shouldn't build up such fixed hierarchies. Undivided love requires that any cooperation that humans construct should not be fixed by identification with innumerable traditional or temporarily allocated roles. A fixed hierarchy is what you have in authoritarian societies. But if a society were not authoritarian, people would spontaneously create forms of cooperation. But it would be for each particular task, always with changeable roles, always for a limited time, and without being identified with the roles they have in such cooperation. Identification with all these different roles based on the skills that survival requires - that is, making them into identities, beginning with the roles that reproduction requires according to Nature...
P: ...so not seeing ourselves as basically men and women?
S: Yes... identification with such roles can only create confusion about our basic, real identity. This confusion then gets transferred to every child via language.