How have men become gods? We claim daily to have figured out the riddle of existence yet inevitably it seems we only open more doors, with more questions that lead us into an endless maze of equations and theories. How can we look into the night sky, in all of its ominous beauty and think that it is all an accident of chance? For me; I cannot.
Just in the same manner I can't look at all that separates even the most intelligent and creative creature from humankind and think that there wasn't something, somewhere, somehow, that set a chasm in reality of an immeasurable distance between us and the animal kingdom. Sure I've heard "read this, read that" I have, and all of their theories sound nearly as incredible and unlikely as the idea of a First Thing or a Prime Mover in the Aristotelian sense.
Now is the time that the questions that can't be answered pour in like a sheet of sarcastic and biased rain, as well as insinuations of anti-intelligentsia, as well as sublime and overt insults.
If not by accident then how? If a first thing, then who? Far wiser and intelligent people have spent their entire lives trying to rent that concealing curtain of mystery. To me the hows, whys, and whos are really secondary and truly unanswerable in accordance to the flag bearer of truth known as science, that ever supposedly just, albeit at times, cold discerner of reality. Unfortunately for the acolytes of science a handful of truths evade their well meaning sight, for behind the supernaturally dictated veils the keys to these unknowns hide.
Personally, for who else can I speak of with any authority, I'm just one soul, a single cosmonaut adrift in the temporal world trying to snatch tidbits of truth from the jaws of eternal doubt. I have burned much wax and chased many a rampant thought through the night as I grappled with schools of mystery.
Among these are traditional and nontraditional Protestantism and Catholicism as well as everything in, around or between. I've embraced both Theravada and Chan schools of Buddhism. I've remained both fascinated and baffled by the Taoist. I've studied both Shite and Sunni Islam and found I preferred the Sufis. Lastly, I've studied Jainism and Hinduism though, I readily admit, these would be the schools of thought that I am least versed. I have correlated this with a comprehensive understanding of 2500 years of human history, tempering all of it with the voice of reason from the ancient Greek and Chinese philosophies, the medieval scholastic as well as a less then perfect study of the major thinkers from the Renaissance, Enlightenment and up into and through the 20th century.
All of this I have digested and tried to formulate into a method of thought and communion that I have named Transcendental Deism.
Transcendental-deism in itself is a phrase that always leaves perplexed looks on peoples face, being as it's a created phrase which could have a legion of meanings it's quite understandable. So what do I mean by Transcendental Deism? First of all we will start with what it isn't, then from there we will work our way back to what it is. From here on, for the most part, we will refer to it as TD.
TD is not a self-standing set of dos and don'ts. It is not a set of rituals with functionaries. It is not a rigid set of formalities that the adherents must drag around like a ball and chain. Nor is it a group rules and regulations set in stone that stand ready to cut the cord of a poised bladed pendulum that's ever suspended over the person. TD doesn't necessarily have a place where the believers gather, have a set of scriptures nor does it, for the most part, seek acolytes. Though in each and everyone of the just mention cases can have a place in ones belief system if that is what it takes for the individual to enter communion between their spirit and the great unknown that spans the universe. Each person must find their path on this unending road, through all of the twist and turns of doctrine, self-styled messiahs and the extraneous pursuit of weighty theologies.
So what is TD? TD is a quest, a journey, a companion to an intrepid wayfarer who wants to apply eternal reason to an illusion called reality: this reality, whether it is illusory or not, we still must play within a set of empirical rules as we sift through the concrete and often misguided precepts set down by our fellow humans as we try to define the material world.
Through TD we take what we have been taught by our elders, filter it through both our natural reason and that which material and ecclesiastic philosophers teach, then, compare it to what other traditions teach, finally bringing it back around into our own lives and applying it in real life situations. Through this method, learning is applied to reality in a scientific way in which our experimental facility is the world. By this technique truth can find its way through the various realities we are shown; both external man-made falsehoods and our own internally induced disillusions.
As always the question of morals and laws come up. Too often times I hear that moral are subjective and that morality is only something that is put upon us by the powers that be which, of course, has been shown through many ages to be true. The same is often said of good and evil. That good and evil are just a creation of culture and singularly play the role of watchdog in controlling ideas to keep the ruled in a supine position. Again, without doubt this is true in many cases but I must ask you to pause for a moment and consider this; what subjectivity can be used when observing the destruction of the weak by the strong? What subjectivity can stand stoically by as the vulnerable are abused by those who hold power in whatever way. I contend that they cannot! One can rattle off a litany of examples that destroy this argument of subjective reality but I believe the point is sufficiently made.
There is a flexibility to TD that takes the beliefs of what Arnold Toynbee called "the higher religions"and maximizes the key factors that drive our temporal existence. I am specifically leaving out particularities of the differing concepts and ideas that speak of creation, ritual, man-made law, the end of existence and finally; the afterlife. I'm leaving these items out so TD can focuses directly on what I believe to be considerably more important topics. These being the nature of the Creator or First Thing and most importantly, our interaction with our fellow travelers.
The first topic, though much further from us in relation, as the the empirical is to the ephemeral, so distant and transcendental to us that we can barely speak of it, let alone truly know the nature of this First Thing. The writings of a myriad revelations reveal nothing in the concrete yet they prolifically revel in a multitude of the abstract and poetic. From what we can glean we know that the Prime Mover is gentle in its ominousness, kind in its ferociousness and is as beautiful as it is terrifying. In other words it is complete and whole in its relationship to all things in the illusory word of its divine construction. Its goodness and longing to create and sustain gives us the very life we breath.
If the First Thing encompasses all that is then where does evil spring from? This is truly a complex question that i will dwell on at a later time. In this current essay I will touch on only a few thoughts.
I do sincerely believe that their are polarizing forces at work in the cosmos. One has created all that is and is the source of all that lives and produces sentient and non-sentient energy and life. The other force exist only to corrupt, spoil and steal away the light from the universe. Is it a once subordinate being, a fallen angel if you will? Is it an anti-god that stands on even footing, battling in a constant struggle where neither force wins yet, for whatever reason, they shall fight until eternity implodes? Or is this other force the expunged and imperfect substance that once was part of the First Thing cast out of the main host like waste or pollutants leave the body. The truth is I don't know. I can only tell you that it exist and that we must battle it if we hope to become one with the First Thing. Again, I hope to address this more fully at a later time.
The second area of supreme importance to our examination of TD is our relationships with each other. Virtually all of the faiths of world speak of treating your fellow persons as you would want to be treated. At this same time they also speak of how we are to treat those who, for whatever reason, are less fortunate than ourselves. We should cleanse ourselves of the most dangerous of anti-virtues, these being primarily greed, dominance and the well-spring for both of these - pride. If we can keep theses "demons" at bay the virtues that help us grow and flourish will sprout without hindrance inside of us and spread from person to person until we each achieve personal revelation, culminating in an enlightened, leaderless and egalitarian world.
I also believe that our path to this destination is easiest reached by the belief system one is already brought up in. Why go searching far for what is actually near? I know many systems claim that there is no truth outside of their path, but I find this hard to believe in fact it sounds rather ridiculous. How would a creating entity of divine energies deprive eternity to a soul simply because they were brought up and lived on the other side of the world that was ignorant to the "one true way". So yes, you can say I believe that the final goal of the belief systems lead to the same place but, as I said, I believe it is easier and perhaps even proper for you to follow the path of your ancestors. Of course I readily admit that I may be wrong in this point but in the workings of my mind this sounds more than reasonable.
In the beginning of what we can mentally conceive, an entity of divine energy dispensed of its own elements to create matter and energy. To the beings of sentience it gave eternal moral reason. Eternal moral reason is what has created all that is good in humankind for without it, as we see more and more each day, we are reduced to little more than ravenous beast looking out only for our own directly related interests and grinding in the dirt all that isn't. This very same Eternal Reason that cries out inside the mind and spirit of us is the very same force that holds the universe together. This energy, this soul stuff, fills the spaces between molecules and keeps reality from discontinuing.
This great mystery of the First Things is an enigma to humankind. Is it just a figment of the imagination. Is it a tool used by the the powers that be or, just maybe, is it a truth that lies behind what we see and consider to be reality? Apparently there is only one way to be sure of all of this and I'm not quiet ready to cross that threshold.
Until then let us love one another like sisters and brothers and acknowledge without fear or shame that we are tiny in the grand scheme of things yet in our fragility there are greater forces at work and they can provide a shelter in the cosmic storms or drive us into an abyss.
by Steve Cebula