There are two truths. Equally true. But they do not speak with one another. If earth and heaven do not converse, then where do we lie?
The two theories upon which all modern physics rests are general relativity (GR) and quantum theory (QFT). GR is a theoretical framework that only focuses on gravity for understanding the universe in regions of both large-scale and high-mass: stars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies, etc. On the other hand, QFT is a theoretical framework that only focuses on three non-gravitational forces for understanding the universe in regions of both small scale and low mass: sub-atomic particles, atoms, molecules, etc.
Physicists seek to find the Final Theory. The foundation that can reveal the links and unify these two theories and thus explain everything.
The problem of unifying two seemingly irreconcilable aspects of existence is also the central problem of the human condition. The friction between being an independent self that is hunted by nature, and being nature’s way of experiencing itself. Countless beings have died on both sides of the fault lines, and both can bear poetry and beauty, but they are not whole. On one side you have the Nordic pagan fending for himself, the Nietzschean atheist, the transhumanist, and the man who watches his breath to undo his existence. On the other side you have the self-reflecting stardust, the surrendered, the non-dual oneness, the resting in the hands of God.
The ones who clench their fist are the ones who have caused the ascent of man from animalhood. The ones who believe fiction better than reality, and the ones who strive with ambition. Those who may one day create Artificial General Intelligence that tips over into the singularity, or something like it. Obviously, this half of our nature is the one with most potential, as it can expand the will of mankind to cosmic proportions and possibly explore peaks of the consciousness landscape that even a global sangha of enlightened contemplatives couldn’t compare in terms of joy/transcendence.
They are the breed from which heroes bud, and the farther they are entranced by their individuality, the higher the voltage of their potential suffering. They see themselves as definitively and absolutely ending at the edge of their skin. They can be the non-spiritual atheists that Einstein warned against, and they can be those who view God(s) as external to them, in no way the same as them, but in relation to them. Revolted at the Sufi, they pierced him through the heart.
The Hero’s Delusion:
The truth is free will is an illusion. It makes no sense physically or subjectively. The fact that you are reading this is inextricably linked to when the Big Bang smiled , symmetry broke like glass, and the Higgs Field froze the way it did. Quantum randomness doesn’t mean free will exists, it just means that billiard ball determinism may not be true. Any talk at the level of biology is not useful because biology is due to the causality of chemistry and chemistry is due to the causality of physics. The nature vs. nurture debate has nothing to do with the question of libertarian free will. And the mystery of consciousness, which I consider to be a different kind of emergent property than biology, doesn’t give us libertarian free will either. Subjectively, thoughts appear as they do. There is no otherwise. To disagree with that, is just another thought that arose by itself. Just as sound passes by of its own accord, so do the contents of our thoughts. Music has structure, and we can be lost in the pathways it carves through aesthetic-space. So too, does the voice being heard seem to guide and convince you of your will. The only way to notice that the voice is autonomous is to pay attention. Every which way we reach, and yet our roots do not abandon us. We truly are the way for the universe to know itself.
The Hero’s Sadness:
The independent-from-the-universe mentality weighs heavy on the heart once your wax begins to melt and the feathers start to split at the seams. No matter how high you soar, the sun burns off your wings and you die in the end. To be subsumed by this antagonism against the universe, is to play a reckless game. It is the act of choosing to feel insulted. To choose to perceive defeat over victory.
Stardust is intrinsically victorious. All is grace. Liked the Hindu stacked turtles, it really is miracles all the way down. The fact that anything exists at all. And that from matter and law should arise the theater of consciousness. If this is all an accident that’s okay, because we are here now and accidents happen. Such is our nature.
The Societal Perils of Acceptance:
There is the obvious hippie-bum problem with the acceptance mentality, but there is also another problem that might become much more pressing.
As technology progresses, we will be challenged to ask: What do we want? Where are we going?
Those who have grown to believe in the meaningfulness of death, of the present human body, of the present human social organization, have all been inebriated by the wine that came with the chalice of acceptance. This will be a problem from a consequentialist perspective that seeks to maximize well-being for as many beings as possible. Take, for example, human germline genetic engineering:
Expect opposition from Gaia lovers who believe ‘nature’ has an innate wisdom greater than ours and theologians who believe there is something profound about accepting the unbidden. But morally speaking, these ideologies are dead wrong. Much suffering that could have been averted by genetic engineering would be hampered if legislation listened to these voices.
With sufficiently knowledgeable genetic engineering we could predispose people to display less neurosis and more the compassion of St. Francis of Assisi; less depression and more creative intelligence to develop technologies that can make everyone’s lives better. And just what exactly is wrong about creating people comfortable in their own skin because they look like graphically-designed angels? Why is that repugnant? There are people so far down a rabbit hole of one of the many distorted acceptance-ideologies that they would find this pursuit wrong and full of hubris even if it was made available to all citizens.
The Contemplative Perils of Acceptance:
If you’ve ever read the actual Buddhist scriptures, you shockingly find what seems the opposite of sugary pop-spirituality. It places its starting point in a kind of gnostic loathing from which one adopts a mechanistic psychological technology of meditation and ethical behavior that can gradually elevate one further and further away from the normal human state. Although Theravada and other forms of conservative Buddhism have given some people the impression that there is a nihilistic core to this world-view, this school of thought actually places much emphasis on ethics because that’s an integral part of the Buddha’s theory that gets one up the mountain. To the contrary, some Mahayana and Vajrayana can lend itself to be less ethical, precisely because of the occasionally more common perception that nothing should be fixed, all is good in the world.
But the paradox runs even deeper in Buddhism because meditation implies effort and yet effort tends to create a sense of self, which is precisely what should be transcended. So someone who reaps benefit is someone who has built up enough steam so that meditation can occur by itself.
I’ve meditated for months at a time before, and testify that this does happen. The stream of phenomenology defrosts into a fluid flux without effort eventually. So I consider schools that say, “enlightenment is already here,” mostly delusional. You actually have to put in work before phrases like that can have catalytic effect. Climbing is inevitable because we are talking about rewiring neuronal pathways. To think otherwise is spiritual fantasy.
Final Theory (Unification):
As I fight you and you fight me, we learn we are the same. Being the same, we know to accept each other. This is love. Meet me between accepting everything, and tearing away from Samsara. Meet me between Sagan and splicing. Meet me between nails on my palms and wielding a sword with my mouth.