Rupert Spira

Lovely video. It started out a bit mysterious: I wondered what he was getting at. But as it progressed, it became clearer.

It dovetails somewhat with thoughts I've been having recently. I could start discussing that in light of Bernardo Kastrup's version of Idealism. Even if we are Idealists, we can't help thinking in terms of the world being comprised of separate objects; can't help going along with our apparent perception of self (inner life) quite separate from "other" objects seemingly outside ourselves.

I suspect it is because of this perception that we construct our concept of causality. There seems to have to be a cause for apparent "other things" that we may not yet fully understand. Even Bernardo, despite his Idealism, seems sometimes to think in this way, and avers the truth of at least some scientific explanations of reality, which tacitly accept the idea of causality; in fact I had a difference of opinion with him about this quite recently.

One thing that his Idealism implies is that there is an appearance of things; but we can't stop ourselves thinking in terms of causal events producing that appearance. For example, we explain genetics in terms of chemistry: e.g. how DNA is composed of a sugar-phosphate backbone attached to the purines/pirimidines Adenine, Thymine, Guanine and Cytosine, and arranged in a double helix. And, we conceive apparent mechanisms for unzipping the helix involving enzymes/molecular machines, which are themselves composed of proteins coded for by DNA.

Very rapidly, we find ourselves drawn into biochemical arcana, and into thinking in terms of mechanistic causality giving rise to appearances. And when we try to step outside that framework--which corresponds to Spira's view of where we've spent all our lives, accustomed to our consciousness seeming limited--it becomes rather difficult to reverse it and think in terms of it being unlimited. In the present case, that reversal means thinking in terms of appearances being the expression of an underlying reality that can't really be thought of as causal.

It would not be that DNA is composed of chemicals, that explaining genetics: that would be making the tail wag the dog. It's more that what's important is (for whatever reason), organisms are intentioned, and appear as if they possess and pass on heritable characteristics; any explanatory framework we come up with (i.e. any model of this part of reality) would necessarily reflect that.

IOW, it goes like this: conscious intention > appearances > the impression of causality. But materialists, and even unwittingly some non-materialists, interpret things as going like this: causality > appearances. That is, appearances of everything seem to have an underlying cause or mechanism; and then we have arguments about how the mechanism arose, which according to temperament we put down to either to a divinity that produces natural law, or natural law on its own. So a kind of reversal occurs, either:

(i) Natural law > causality > appearances


(ii) Divinity (producing natural law) > causality > appearances

instead of what we had initially:

(iii) Conscious intention > appearances > the impression of causality.

Thinking in this novel way turns everything on its head. It's confusing as an Idealist trying to offer explanations based on (i) or (ii) because either reverses the proposed order of causality and appearances found in (iii). When we do science, what we're actually doing is exploring reality from the perspective that causality is what produces appearances, and causality must arise from either natural law or divinity or both. Theistic evolutionists, for example, think that God works through the natural laws he set up separate from himself, whereas an Idealist like me thinks that God is fully invested in evolution at all moments, and that how the world appears to us is a result of that. There is no such thing as "natural law" separate from God. When we regard the world, we are seeing appearances of God Himself insofar as we can perceive them. Spira is asking: why don't we view the world in that way, and see what comes of it?

Perception is partial and imperfect: a result, I believe, of the apparent dissociation of entities, such as ourselves, from God. Apparently non-living entities, which are really the source of the scientific endeavours we engage in, are just appearances that don't seem to possess, or to be in any way related to, the superconsciousness that is God or Source-of-all. We can't say that they are conscious in the sense that we or other living entities are: we can't say that we are constituted of them except in the sense that that's how living entities appear to us. By according to them a degree of consciousness (pantheism) which through mechanism of some sort manages to complexify into higher degrees of consciousness, really, we are trying to have our cake and eat it.

I'm not implying that God is a supernatural being. He is whatever He is, and completely naturally so. It is within His nature to want certain things to be, and for them to come to be. Since all apparently separate "things" are aspects of his own being, there's no reason for him not to love them. I think Spira is saying that if you choose to believe that, you have a chance of experiencing that love, but no chance of doing so if you regard yourself and others as separate; no chance if you mistake appearances for reality and try to work backwards towards an illusory causality.