The imperative to love

It struck me the other day that the greater emphasis in much that I am reading is on consciousness and awareness and that there is little or none on relationships and love. This is only half the picture. As Marx said we are social creatures, always have been. There is some evidence that language developed in order to manage complex social relationships, and philosophy and theology developed from language in response to the cognitive imperative. While entropy seems to be the way of things as far as the material universe is concerned, there is a drive in the sentient universe towards increasing organisation, complexity and interconnectedness. Perhaps Absolute Reality is ‘That’, neither objective nor subjective, the coincidence of opposites and, transcending all categories, One. And perhaps we, in our deepest being, are oned with the One. To focus exclusively on That is to diminish our present reality, which ephemeral and transient though it may be, is the stepping stone to the truth. Even if we are, like shooting stars, brief trajectories in the darkness, emerging from and disappearing into nothingness, we need to know why. We cannot know what is this nothingness from which we emerge and into which we vanish. What was before we were cannot be part of our experience, nor what will be after we have been. All we have is this now. But if this now, while it may not be really real, is the conduit to Absolute Reality then we need to understand the why of it. And none of the great religions seem to be able to do this.

There are plenty of creation myths, myths to explain the brute facts of existence and salvation myths. But there is no satisfactory explanation, that I am aware, as to why, to put it crudely, there is God and not-God. This is not a proper dichotomy but an apparent one because ultimately everything either is, or within, God – depending on whether one is a monist, pantheist, or pan-en-theist. According to Bernadette Roberts (and, mutatis mutandis, Buddhists) the only thing that is not God, that stands over and against God, is self. So why the apparent dichotomy? Why selves? Especially ‘Why selves?’ if the self is only a relative and conditional phenomenon. I think the ‘only’ in the last sentence points to an unquestioned assumption that the relative and the conditional are not important, or at least much less important than the absolute and unconditional. This assumption may be due to a tendency to think in reified terms, misplaced concreteness again, rather than in processual terms. We have got it into our heads that Ultimate Reality, because it is absolute and transcends spatio-temporal categories, is static – the unmoved mover etc., the ground of being. Maybe. I think our categories of absolute and relative, unconditional and conditional are too crude. I have a gut feeling, no more at present and I cannot explain it, that the self, or rather the person in whom are many selves, is more important, as is the imperative to love, than the fact that it is relative and conditional would seem to imply.

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