We live in an age in which physical science and medicine no longer know the difference between the human body and brain on the one hand, and the inner human being on the other. New Metaphysics recognises and researches the world of beings and of meaning that manifests in the physical world of matter and energy. Its aim is to provide a fundamentally new framework of thought for the 21st century, combining direct metaphysical research with an inner understanding of the most important philosophical and scientific trends of the 20th century. In particular it integrates and develops the work of the twentieth-century German thinker Martin Heidegger with that of the Jewish spiritual philosopher Martin Buber, the Austrian seer and scientist of the spirit, Rudolf Steiner, and the metaphysical teachings of SETH, channelled by the late American poet and authoress, Jane Roberts.
Like many words whose literal denotation we take for granted, the word "matter" is itself a covert metaphor, rooted in the Latin mater - the trunk of a tree and the mother of its branches. In its current use it bears these meanings beyond itself (Greek metaphorein - to "bear something beyond") and has become a general term for the substantiality of everything that exists. But what if it is not just the word matter but matter itself that bears something beyond itself - that has its roots in another reality? This essay challenges a fundamental assumption of physical science that reality - the nature of what is - can ultimately be fully described in physical terms - as if both these terms and the reality they describe were a trunk with no roots. Instead it argues that just as the word "matter" is the outgrowth of a root meaning, so is the physical world of matter the outgrowth or emergence (Greek physis) of a metaphysical world - a world not of matter and energy but of beings and of meaning.
The word "metaphysics" means physics "beyond" or "after" physics. Its traditional focus is the essential nature of what is. And indeed the key to metaphysical thinking lies in the little word "is" itself. Understanding matter as metaphor means understanding the word "is" as a placeholder for another word with quite different implications - the word "as". Whenever we make a statement of the sort "X is Y" ("the rose is red") what we are really saying is that we are able to understand, perceive and represent X as Y ("we perceive the rose as red"). Indeed, the same is true when we make a seemingly tautological statement of the sort "X is X". Metaphysics understands each thing both as identical and as non-identical with itself - for each thing is but one manifestation of its own being. That which we perceive as a "red rose" is not merely itself but one expression of itself. Just as this paragraph of text is but one expression of what quantum physicists would call a "probability distribution" of different possible formulations of its own meaning, each of which would in turn alter the meaning conveyed to some degree. This new metaphysical understanding of the "is" as an "as", is the philosophical equivalent of the revolution in thinking we call quantum physics. Quantum physics is itself quantum metaphysics, acknowledging that what energy is depends on what we perceive it as. For "quanta" of energy can behave in a particle or wave-like manner, be perceived and represented as particles or as waves. And the way they behave - or rather are perceived as behaving - is in turn influenced by the perceiver.
The quantum physical understanding of particle-wave complementarity is but one example of what I call metaphorical perception and thinking - thinking of A as B, or alternatively, as B and C, as D, E, F etc. For example, thinking of energy (A) and matter (B), as both particle (C), and wave (D). Metaphysical thinking understands C,D,E etc. as AS-spects of the beingness or "isness" of a thing. From this point of view, however, there is really nothing very new in quantum physics. After all, the word "aspect" itself transcends the classical division of perceiver and perceived, subject and object. It denotes both an "objective" face or facet of something (for example a building or painting) and the "subjective" location or angle from which it is viewed. Understood metaphysically, however, every AS-spect of a thing is the manifestation of a metaphysical quality. We can never say with absolute certainty what anything essentially is in quantum physical terms, because its beingness is itself composed of irreducible metaphysical aspects - not energy quanta but irreducible qualities of beings that we come to know perceptually only as AS-spects. We perceive one metaphysical aspect or quality of the rose as its redness, for example, just as we perceive one side of a person as their foolishness, as their wisdom - or as both. But though our perception of a person's metaphysical aspects - their inner qualities - always takes the form of a metaphorical AS-spect, we can also be aware that there is more to a given quality than we perceive. For it is in the nature of metaphysical aspects to transcend verbal labels, differentiations and pairs of verbal opposites - "energy and matter", "wave and particle", "foolishness and wisdom", "good and evil".
When we perceive a person metaphorically - as foolish and/or wise, for example, and yet are aware that there is more to them, and indeed more to these qualities themselves than the words "foolish" or "wise" suggest - then our awareness takes on a metaphysical dimension. We are aware of an essential or metaphysical quality belonging to a thing or person without having to reduce it to a particular metaphor - to perceive it as this or as that. This type of wordless awareness is an expression of metaphysical cognition, a type of knowing that stems from metaphysical intimacy with things. The intimacy of metaphysical cognition stems from relating to beings in their beingness rather than reducing them to objects of perception and thought. Understood metaphysically, beings and their metaphysical qualities are ultimately irreducible to things and their AS-spects, just as meanings communicated by beings are ultimately irreducible to words and their given senses. But it is not just the words that enable us to see a thing as this or that. Our physical perception of things is itself a type of metaphorical language in which each thing is a "word" with its own deeper meaning. Metaphysics is the awareness and understanding of matter itself as metaphor, its physical perceived AS-spects manifesting inner qualities of both perceiver and perceived, aspects not only of its own beingness but of ours. Metaphysical qualities are even more richly differentiated than physical ones, which we perceive in terms of similarities between one thing and another and reduce to the available terms and categories of language. Behind the material multiplicity of the physically perceived world, therefore, we do not find a bland, undifferentiated nirvanic oneness in which all things lose their individuality like drops of water in a great spiritual ocean. Instead we find an even greater plurality and diversity of beings, each of which is an individual - a unique and in-divisible unity of highly distinct qualities and potentials of being.
When physical science questions the reality of other-worldly phenomena such UFOs, as it has always questioned the reality of gods and nature spirits, it does so by asking, quite legitimately: what is it that human beings are perceiving as a UFO or ghost, as angel or fairy, as a god or demon? The problem is that science can only accept answers to these questions couched in physical terms. What is perceived as a UFO, for example, must be some plain physical phenomenon. Metaphysics understands both extra-ordinary and ordinary physical perceptions as an "hallucinatory" interpretation and translation of metaphysical reality into our own perceptual language and metaphors. Science can never prove the existence of spiritual beings or for that matter, any human being whatsoever. Why? Because it does not recognise any essential distinction between beings and bodies in space. Just as we will never find evidence of human meaning by analysing the sound waves of human speech, so we will never find evidence of the human being by studying the human body and brain - nor will we discover the different metaphysical planes in which beings, including human beings, dwell. For these are comparable more to levels and dimensions of meaning within language than levels and dimensions of the physical universe.
Metaphysical science understands meaning itself as the basic energy of the universe - the "working" of beings (Greek: energeia) that allows them to manifest as material bodies in space. This science, however, is based on a different understanding of knowledge itself - on metaphysical cognition and awareness rather than physical perception and purely mental cognition. Of course, despite the increasing economic value placed on "knowledge" in our society, the sort of knowledge valued has exclusively to do with our physical sciences and technologies, or with the human physical body and brain. The claim to metaphysical knowledge - knowledge of other realities beyond the physical - is still met with equal fear and suspicion by both religion and science, and the potential value of this knowledge - not only its spiritual value but its scientific and social value - is denied. Yet whenever we understand an aspect of something - whether a person or a piece of music, a physical sensation or a verbal concept - without being able to say what it is we are aware of and to represent it as this or that, we are experiencing metaphysical awareness. And whenever we "know" something or someone in a way that does not involve perceiving them in a certain way or having thoughts or feelings about them, but is the direct expression of our inner relation to them, we are experiencing metaphysical cognition. It is this type of intimate wordless knowing that went by the name of Gnosis in the past. All other forms of knowledge are expressions of it, shaped by metaphorical perception and thinking - and yet are treated as literal truth, scientific or religious. The new metaphysics restores the challenge of Gnosis to the implicit agnosticism of scientific and religious authority, both of which are appalled at the thought that each individual, simply by virtue of being, may have their own independent source, not only of conviction or faith, but of direct spiritual-scientific knowledge. To articulate this independent source of knowing requires independent thinking - something that is far from encouraged in modern democratic culture when it defies the literal scientific and religious mind or exposes the currently fashionable metaphors that secretly rule it. "Let us have the courage to realise that what appears to be folly to those who depend upon the senses for knowledge, to us may be wisdom, light and clearer understanding of supersensible worlds towards which we will strive with all the powers of our souls and of our convictions." (Rudolf Steiner).
Introduction: meaning(s) and being(s)
How can a new understanding of language change the way we think about the fundamental nature of reality? In particular, how can a new understanding of the nature of metaphor bring in its way a new metaphysics: one that challenges the scientific understanding of matter itself and with it, the medical understanding of human physiology and psychology? Above all, what have metaphor and metaphysics to do with our everyday human experience of the world and the way we relate to each other as human beings? These are some of the questions which this essay will seek to answer.
The word metaphysics was coined by Aristotle to refer to that which came "after", "beyond" or "next to" physics. The language of the earliest thinkers of ancient Greece was neither a mythological one nor a purely "logical" one in the modern, rationalistic sense of this term. Theirs was a metaphorical and metaphysical language, one totally misunderstood by most philosophers of the scientific and technological era, scorned as immature and pre-scientific. The early Greek philosophers, in their "childlike" musings, were still touched by an inner metaphysical awareness of the cosmos, which they translated into physical metaphors. When these early Greek thinkers explained the cosmos in terms of the four primordial elements of Fire, Air, Water and Earth they were not referring to the physical phenomena we understand by these names. To assert, as Thales did, that "All things are Water" is to give a quite different meaning to the word "water", using it not simply to name one physical phenomena amongst others, but to name a common metaphysical element of all things. The name of one thing, "water", served as a metaphor for this common metaphysical essence. When today's physicists talk about the universality of electromagnetic "waves" or "fields" they are doing something very similar, for what they are naming has nothing to do with the sea or agriculture, nor is it a tangible, concrete phenomenon in the same way that a lake is, or a farmer's field.
But science remains attached to a literalistic world outlook that ignores the metaphorical dimension of language - including scientific language - and assumes a one-to-one correspondence between words and things, scientific representations of reality and "objective" reality itself. Metaphor is seen as a sort of fanciful linguistic device connected with the expression of "subjective" experience. The idea that metaphor may be involved in our very perception of the physical world, that our mental metaphors also play a part in shaping this perception is a relatively new one. Heisenberg acknowledged the influence of the observer on the observed. But the idea that our very scientific representations of reality might actually influence that reality has never been taken seriously in the scientific world. The new metaphysics goes further than this however, exploring the biggest black hole in scientific thinking about the universe - the dimension of meaning and being. Physics deals with bodies in space and time, with matter and energy, causes and effects. It has no place for meanings, because to do so would mean making space in its world view for beings. The traditional subject of the old metaphysics was the nature of Being. The focus of the new metaphysics is the nature of beings. It understands beings neither as abstract "subjects" viewing the world from a distance, nor as material bodies in space and time, reducible to "objects" of perception or scientific investigation, but as languages - the many ways or languages of Being itself. The ultimate, metaphysical meaning of our lives as human beings lies in the way we translate our language of being into the manifold languages of physical experience and expression.
No amount of chemical analysis of the matter of which this book is composed, its paper and ink, would reveal any "scientific" evidence of meaning. Similarly, the most complete physiology of the human body would reveal no evidence of the human being. Medicine is perhaps the most striking example of the black hole in scientific thinking. It looks for the causes and cures of illness as if the latter had no meaning, or as if the meaning of illness for the individual human being were merely a secondary and purely "subjective" phenomenon. This is because it has no metaphysical understanding of the difference between the human body and mind, on the one hand, and the human being on the other. As a result, it understands the body as a mere object or living "thing" - a material body which happens by chance to exist in space and time. Metaphysical awareness and thinking gives us another view of the human body, understanding it as the material embodiment of a being - not a biological machine that we own and maintain like an object, but a living biological language of the being that we are. The human body is the clue to a profound metaphysical truth - that physical matter itself is more than just a congealed or stabilised configuration of physical energy. Matter itself is material metaphor. Meaning is not just a function of language - it is the metaphysical energy that manifests as matter. Meaning matters in our understanding of the cosmos because it is the medium through which beings materialise as bodies in space and time. This miraculous working of beings into bodily form is itself the root meaning of "energy", deriving as it does from the Greek ergon: work. Mental and physical work as we ordinarily understand them are themselves metaphors of an ongoing metaphysical work of creation in which all beings constantly participate, shaping not only their own thoughts but their material reality with the metaphorical mind and the metaphysical energy of meaning - the power of intent.
The Literalist Fallacy
What is the difference between literal and metaphorical truth? Whereas we regard expressions such as "red rose" as denoting verifiable, objective facts, the same is not true of expressions such as "a threatening cloud". The use of the word "threatening" raises questions - threatening to whom and in what way? We are likely to understand its use as a "metaphorical" description of our subjective experience of the cloud rather than a literal description of a thing. And yet when we say that "the rose is red" we mean that our experience of the rose is similar to that of other things that we call "red". Similarly, to say that "the cloud is threatening" is to say that we experience the cloud in a similar way to other things that we would call "threatening". We are using language in the same way in both cases. The difference between the two statements is not one of objectivity, for both statements describe our (subjective) experience of the (objective) world. The real difference is that whilst most would agree with our description of the rose as red, not everyone would necessarily agree with our description of the cloud as threatening - that is to say, not everyone would experience it in this way and therefore choose the word "threatening" to describe it. The terms "subjective" and "objective" essentially represent an artificial division between two types of experiential truth - perceptions that at least seem to be universally shared and perceptions that seem not to be necessarily shared. Even here, the distinction can blur: you can "know what someone means" when they say that the cloud is "threatening", sharing something of their perception, even though you yourself might have chosen a different word such as "ominous" or "awesome". Similarly, people may well disagree even about supposedly "objective" or verifiable facts such as how to describe the colour of something - clouds or the sea for example. It is well known that other cultures such as those of the Eskimo have different colour vocabularies than our own, representing cruder or finer perceptions of certain tonal differentiations.
What I call the literalist fallacy assumes a fundamental distinction between "objective" and "subjective" truth, as illustrated by the two propositions below.
A. The bullet entered my stomach.
B. His gaze penetrated my soul.
A is a literal statement of fact. B is regarded as a "metaphorical" statement of subjective experience, with the term "metaphor" understood as nothing more than a trope or figure of speech. The immediate problem with the literalist view of the world is that there is a huge grey area of terms and propositions which can be seen as fitting into both categories of proposition: literal and metaphorical. An expression such as "pain management", for example, implies that (subjectively) experienced pain is some objective "thing" that can be dealt with in the same way as an (objective) wound to the skin. The psychiatric use of terms such as "depression" implies that the (objective) reality of illnesses or "disorders" of (subjective) mood can be verified in the same way as that of physical illnesses. The assumption lurks that "objective" experience - experience that can be described in terms of some nameable "thing" whose existence we agree on, is more real than "subjective" experience which might lend itself to different verbal interpretations. But are the experiences which we describe when we talk of being "penetrated" by someone's gaze, "touched" by their words or "held" in their affections any less real than the experience of being penetrated by a bullet, touched by a feather, or held in someone's arms?
The problem with understanding metaphor merely as a figure of speech is that in doing so we deny the metaphorical nature of thought and perception themselves. The cognitive process involved in perceiving a cloud as "threatening", or someone's gaze as "penetrating" is essentially the same as that involved in perceiving the rose as red, or the bullet as penetrating. The only difference is in the degree of consensus surrounding my perception and the choice of words used to describe it. Similarly, to think about the body as a biological "machine", the mind as a biocomputer with its own neural "circuitry" or "hard wiring", to think about light travelling as a "wave", is no less metaphorical than thinking about a mountain as a god or a god as a mountain. The keyword for understanding metaphor is the little word "as". We perceive something as this or that or we think of a "this" as a "that". That is to say we perceive or think of it in the same way as we perceive or think of something else, and hence give a name borrowed from or equally applicable to, something else. And yet the literalist fallacy has as strong a hold on our personal minds as on our sciences. We say to ourselves that we are suffering from stress, as if "stress" were literally a thing that has always existed and is not merely a fashionable modern metaphor borrowing the language of engineering. That is not to say that our experience of what we describe as "stress" is unreal. Quite the contrary. But there is a price to be paid for the literalisation and "thingification" of these verbal descriptions - for they lead us to regard negative experience as the product or "effect" of "things" such as stress, anxiety and depression. More importantly, by relying on stereotyped literalistic vocabularies to interpret and respond to our experience, we atrophy our capacity for creating new metaphors and thus reshaping our metaphorical perception of the world. If I believe that my perception of something as a threat is a literal perception and not a metaphorical one, I am unable to change it. I will perceive this person's, or cloud's, behaviour as threatening, whatever the evidence to the contrary. Literalism is the basis of paranoia - the literal interpretation of negative metaphorical perceptions. Metaphorical awareness, on the other hand, is the basis of metanoia - the understanding that all experience has both a subjective and objective, verbal and non-verbal, interpretative and experiential dimension. That perception as well as thought has a metaphorical character. And that by changing our mental metaphors we can quite "literally" alter our perception of the world.
The Non-Selective Universe
All scientific views of the universe are based on selecting and assigning significance to particular phenomena perceived in a particular way, defining them as "this" or "that", and constructing models of their interrelationship which (whether empirically validated or not) reduce this relationship to the terms established within a particular science. New terms are added to the languages of each of the sciences only if the concepts they represent can first be defined in terms of the old ones. The universe, as physics sees it, for example, is defined by the language or "universe of discourse" which it has evolved. The problem is that all scientific languages and "universes" represent selectively perceived and defined characteristics of the universe. The "universe" they describe is what George Melhuish called a Selective Universe. But as the latter points out "a selection is necessarily less extensive than that from which it is selected. Hence whatever particular universe is selected, it will not be the universe as a whole." The hubris of physical science lies in believing that ultimately we can know all there is to know about the universe. This is a fundamental delusion, one which fails to take into account the essential difference between any Selective Universe whatsoever and what Melhuish calls the Non-Selective Universe. The latter can never be reduced to a particular set of facts or data, theories or models, things or relationships - however large this set. For by its nature the Non-Selective universe cannot be reduced to a set of (selected) particulars, being precisely what any set of particulars leaves out of consideration by virtue of its selective nature. All Selective Universes form part of the whole - the Non-Selective Universe - but the latter is not itself any part of the former, for it is not a set of particulars. Any set of scientific laws can only represent the order perceived in a Selective Universe. No set of scientific laws can describe the Non-Selective Universe. In ontological terms, the Non-Selective Universe is Being, which cannot be reduced to any set of "things" that exists, for to do so would reduce their beingness to their particular character as things. The beingness of things is precisely what transcends their (selectively) perceived nature - their appearance in any Selective Universe. The human being also appears as a particular "thing" within our Selective Universe - a living, moving, talking material body. But the beingness of the human being - the "inner being" of the individual - is itself no part of the Selective Universe we perceive. Indeed it transcends all Selective Universes, for its beingness belongs to Being ie. to the metaphysical or Non-Selective Universe.
Selective perception is metaphorical perception. It involves perceiving and thinking a being "as" something in particular and not as something else. For example, perceiving the human being as a biological organism. Metaphor in the ordinary sense involves understanding or perceiving one thing as another (eg. understanding the body as a biological machine, perceiving the cloud as a threatening force etc.). Metaphor can give expression to metaphysical truth because by understanding one thing as another we acknowledge that no thing is simply itself. The logic of the Non-Selective universe defies the law of identity: that A=A. What "A" is, its beingness, transcends its "A-ness" and includes all that this identity excludes or selects out - its B-ness, C-ness etc. Physical perception allows us to perceive what we call a "tree" selectively - as a tree. Metaphysical cognition allows us to become aware of the beingness of the tree. This in turn allows us to become aware of it as being other things besides a tree - as a unique type of consciousness, for example, or as an organic utterance of the earth. It also allows us to recognise that what the tree is, is at the same time an aspect of who we ourselves are - an expression of the "treeness" that belongs to our own being. When poets describe things with metaphors that transcend their particular identity as things, they are seeking in disciplined and exact ways to express their own metaphysical awareness. This is just as much a scientific enterprise as the work of a mathematician or laboratory researcher. The metaphorical mind is the mind-lab of metaphysical research, but only if it is based on genuine metaphysical awareness rather than purely physical observation, on exactitude of language in expressing this awareness and not merely on linguistic flights of fancy.
Scientific Medicine and Scientific Metaphor
Whilst the sciences steadfastly ignore the selective and metaphorical nature of perception, there is not a single science that does not overtly or covertly rely on metaphorical thinking. The very idea of a cosmos consisting not just of particles of matter but of energy "fields" and "waves" is based on a metaphorical use of these words. All too often, however, new metaphorical understandings of the world, both religious and scientific, are understood and presented as if they were literal truths. Disputes then emerge about what is literal truth and what isn't. People question whether the Holy Word of the Bible or of Darwin is to be accepted as literal truth, rather than asking in which ways both may offer us metaphorical truth. At the same time, both science and religion often employ contradictory metaphors. On the one hand genetics is understood as a biological code or language. On the other hand biological medicine still understands the body as a machine rather than as a language, looking for the physical causes of illness rather than its meaning for the individual, understanding symptoms as mere diagnostic signs rather than as meaningful metaphors. Yet the language of "scientific" medicine is itself replete with metaphors, many of them military ones. It speaks of "non-self" colonising the body (cancer) or viruses "attacking" them; of the body's immunological "defences" etc., Pharmaceutical companies search for the "magic bullet" that will seek out and destroy the foreign bodies responsible for illness. Though it is known that our bodies are constantly host, happily, to millions of "foreign" micro-organisms, when something goes wrong, these are to blame. Similarly, when all is not well in the social body, governments speak of social diseases or cancers, blame foreigners or foreign bodies, or see whole groups such as Jews or immigrants, as carriers of social diseases such as corruption or crime.
The development of new scientific paradigms and of whole new sciences goes hand in hand with the replacement of old metaphors with new ones, the latter usually taken from developments in hard technology. Thus a new technical language, such as the language of computing, programming and information technology, becomes a metaphor for the workings of the mind. This is not a new story. The Newtonian model of the universe reflected the "clockwork" mechanics of the time. Freud's "dynamic" model of the psyche was inspired by hydrodynamics, with libidinal energy understood as a sort of fluid energy needing the containment of the ego.
The problem with the metaphorical terminologies of science and medicine is that they are taken literally. Borrowed from current technologies, they represent a type of standardised form of metaphorical thinking that is supposed to deliver an "objective" understanding of reality true for all, but does so by denying the "subjective" truth of each individual's metaphorical perception of the world. The meaning of the words on the printed page can never be found by chemical analysis of the paper and ink. Similarly the meaning of a piece of music can never be found by analysing the sound waves produced by a CD-player. Science can therefore never find evidence to prove that a novel is "inspiring" or a piece of music "uplifting". Yet these are not just figures of speech describing an individual's subjective "reactions" or "interpretation". They describe metaphorical perceptions that can be shared to the same degree as perceptions that are supposedly literal or objective; perceptions that are formed in essentially the same way as the latter, and have the same experiential or "empirical" foundation.
Metaphor and Metaphysics
One of the biggest problems in exposing the fallacy of literalistic thinking and the literalism of scientific and medical discourse is their use of covert metaphor. If I talk of a piece of music being "uplifting" or of being "touched" by someone's words I am clearly using language drawn from the domain of bodily experience. Lifting or being lifted, touching and being touched is something we experience in a bodily way. Much abstract academic and scientific language, however, appears on the surface to have no connection with bodily experience and therefore is not transparently metaphorical. Only when we look at the etymology of apparently abstract terms do we see that they are not abstract at all but constitute a type of covert body language that is used metaphorically. The words "abstract" and "metaphor" are themselves metaphors, created by lifting off (Latin: ab-strahere) aspects of our bodily experience and bearing them beyond the domain of the body (Greek: meta-phorein ).
The close relation between language, mind, and intellect on the one hand, and physical bodyhood on the other, holds the most profound secret of metaphor. Language itself is full of metaphors that hint at this relation. We speak of a body of knowledge, for example, or of a literary or linguistic corpus. Of body language and body speech. Christianity speaks not only of the Word and of the Flesh but of the Word become Flesh, and of the Living Word - implying an intimate relation between language and life. Speech itself is an activity at once physical and mental, requiring both language and a corporeal voice. The dichotomy of "mind" and "body" ignores the fact that language itself is a type of body of meaning, one with its own independent life. Conversely, bodyhood itself is a type of expressive, living language. But this mind-body dualism cannot itself be overcome or waved away by a Buddhist philosophical flourish. For it is embedded in our understanding of metaphor as something purely linguistic, and bodyhood as something, which by contrast is purely or essentially "physical". It can be seen, however (sic), that the language of cognitive or mental functioning ab-stracts or lifts off its vocabulary from the domain of the body's physical senses (e.g. "seeing") and of its physical, spatio-temporal experience, bearing it beyond this domain into another. The other domain is the domain of metaphysical reality, not conceived as something transcending or opposite to physical, bodily reality, but as its very basis.
What is this metaphysical domain? Quite simply, it is the spiritual world - that is to say a world of experiencing beings rather than bodies in space. A body is touched or moved in the literal, physical sense - by other bodies. Beings are touched and moved by other beings - not just metaphorically - figuratively speaking - but metaphysically. The body's senses enable it to register and react to its environment. But as Heidegger emphasised "We hear, not the ear". That is to say, it is beings who hear, not bodily ears. Beings who see, not bodily eyes. We do not see and hear because we have eyes and ears. We have eyes and ears because we are seeing and hearing beings. Similarly, we do not think because we have brains. We have brains because we are thinking beings. The human body and all its organs does not mysteriously generate a thinking, feeling, sensing human being. The human body is the living human embodiment of a being. Beings do not "have" bodies. They body their own being, and this embodiment of their being is at the same time its living biological metaphor.
Language drawn from the domain of the human body and its physical senses can provide us with metaphors that help to understand ourselves as human beings, not because these bodily metaphors merely provide helpful figures of speech, but because the human body is already and in itself a living, biological metaphor of the metaphysical - the Fleshly Word or language of a being. Both the Flesh and the Word are expressions of "spirit" - that is to say of beings able to mean something to other beings physically and verbally - to reach out to and contact, touch and move one another metaphysically, using as their medium both the language of bodyhood and the body of language. In short: both the physical world of bodies in space and the physical language deriving from this world are metaphorical expressions of a metaphysical reality, a world of beings.
Metaphysical Cognition and Metaphorical Perception
Metaphysical cognition is the direct, unmediated cognition of another being. The fact that I look at your eyes or listen to your words does not mean that I hear or see you. In fact, the more focused my eyes are on your eyes, viewing them like an optician as objects of my own physical perception, the less likely I am to really meet you in my gaze - to see you. Similarly, hearing your words does not guarantee that I hear you or that I hear what you are saying through those words. Beings cannot be reduced to objects for a subject. Nor can meanings be reduced to words or to the worldly things they describe. Meaning is not a property of language but what is meant by one being to another. It is not something contained in words or the worldly events they describe so much as something that communicates through the word and through these events themselves. For worldly events are also words, material metaphors that provide human beings with meaningful expressions of their own intents and interactions.
If metaphysical cognition is our direct cognition of other beings, then metaphysical awareness is our direct, intuitive awareness of meaning. Metaphorical perception, on the other hand, is our translation of metaphysically perceived meanings into the metaphorical forms of sensual and perceptual experience. When we feel and describe music as "uplifting", for example, we are not simply using a metaphorical figure of speech derived from the physical world of bodies in space. Nor are we making a literal reference to our own physical bodies. Our bodies remain planted on the ground, and yet the experience of uplift is a sensual and bodily one and not a purely mental or intellectual one. The sense of uplift is a metaphorical perception i.e. a metaphysical awareness of the music, translated into physical metaphors - mental and bodily, linguistic and sensory.
It is one thing for our ears to pick up sounds coming from a loudspeaker. It is another thing for us to hear those sounds as a metaphorical language (i.e. as music), to be aware of musical meaning metaphysically, and to perceive this meaning metaphorically. It is yet another thing to hear music as the expression of a being or beings - to recognise a Beethoven symphony, for example, as a Beethoven symphony, whether or not we have heard this symphony before - to know the composer in a most intimate way through their music, whether or not we know anything about his music. This is metaphysical cognition.
Physics and Metaphysics
Physico-mathematical representations of the nature of basic phenomena such as light, for example, may be far too complex for the layman to grasp. But their obscurity is not just a result of their theoretical and mathematical complexity. Instead, it lies in the fact that what science represents in its theories and equations has little to do with our experience of light as human beings. It is as if physics itself no longer uses the term light in a literal sense, but as a metaphor for something not related to tangible experiences. The fact that experiential knowledge of light is gained through the contrast of light and darkness and the fine perception of colour in nature and art is ignored - as is our experience of light in dreams, in different moods or states of consciousness, and in the darkness or radiance of a person's gaze. This is not to deny that scientific theories have an empirical basis in observation and experiment. But the scientific use of metaphor massively reduces the scope of our "empirical" knowledge of phenomena to the narrow parameter of numbers read off computer screens and measuring instruments. Deepening scientific investigation and altering our theories and mathematical modes merely gives us more knowledge about light - representational knowledge. Metaphysical cognition of light gives us a quite different, more intimate sort of knowing, one which comes from deepening our relationship to it as beings and perceiving it metaphorically. We should not be surprised then, if the picture presented by science about even the most basic phenomenon such as light and visual perception is called into question by metaphysics.
Physics tells us that light is reflected off objects in our environment and received by the eye, which focuses it on the retina. But what of the light radiated by the eye, the light of someone's gaze? This is something that ceases to be visible so long as we look at a human being's eyes only as a physical object. It is something we see only through metaphysical cognition - by looking at the human being themselves and not their eyes. Then the luminosity of our own gaze meets that of the other, and, according to its darkness or luminosity, obscures or intensifies the light that streams between us as beings. Once again, it must be stressed that the metaphorical perception of another person's gaze as "radiant", "luminous" or "penetrating", or alternatively as "dark" or "deep", is a clear and tangible physical perception, albeit a wordless one. It is not just a metaphorical or poetic use of words to describe an obscure or inchoate feeling. But if so, what sort of light is it that reveals itself in the luminosity of the gaze. A light that radiates from the eye rather than being reflected by it. A light whose source is not an object but a being, and which is visible only to another being. A light whose tones and shades reflect the feeling tones of that being, in exactly the same way that their voice tones might. A light that does not cause them to see by producing phantom images in their brains that look like things, but instead expresses their way of looking at the world and their response as beings to what they see. A light that can shine over us like the warm rays of the sun and lift our mood or penetrate our flesh to the darkest and innermost core of our being. And if it is a different sort of light, a metaphysical rather than a purely physical light, what is the relation of the former to the latter? Physics can shed no light on these questions. Only metaphysics can - not simply in the form of metaphysical philosophy but metaphysical cognition itself and the metaphorical perceptions that arise from it. Metaphysical light is not just something perceived by the "mind's eye" for it affects our bodily perception of physical light. Those with experience of hallucinogens and altered states know just to what extent the metaphysical light of consciousness can affect the quality and intensity of physically perceived light, the latter being a material metaphor of the former.
The Metaphysics of Energy and Work
The artist works on a work of art. What is the nature of their work? Like speech or music it is not so much a work "on" something designed to cause an effect so much as a work in or with something - a material medium - intended to bear a message through and beyond this medium. The work itself, as a physical product, is not the ultimate result of the artist's work, but the medium through which this intent "works" - communicates to another being. The work is a material metaphor of the message that communicates through it. If successful, it works to evoke a particular type of metaphorical perception in the perceiver, one that allows the latter to perceive the message of the work. The work does not merely evoke in the perceiver an appreciation of its matter and workmanship, but works on and transforms the perceiver's perception of its workmanship and matter, and does so in such a way as to render this transparent - revealing its metaphorical character. The work of the worker, the artist, is successful if it works through the work in this way, not only materialising the artists' own metaphorical perception, but communicating this perception to the perceiver. For this to happen, however, the perceiver must also be touched by the work - be aware in a wordless way not just of the material qualities of the work but of the work's working within them. Without this metaphysical awareness of the work's working, the perceiver's understanding of the work will at best be an interpretative perception - shaped by their own metaphorical thinking rather than by the metaphorical perception of the artist. To be touched by the working of the work is to be touched through its message by another being not merely by the matter of the work, a metaphorical perception of this message or a metaphorical interpretation of this message. The truth of metaphorical perception and thinking rests therefore on metaphysical awareness and cognition.
This digression on the metaphysical working of a work has an important bearing on our understanding of physical science and in particular the nature of matter and energy. The term "energy" derives from the Greek work energeia - "work" or "working". What works through a work of art, is the meaning of a being, translated into a metaphorical perception that is then materialised in the artistic medium in such a way as to work through this medium - touching the perceiver metaphysically, making them receptive to the message of the work and in this way awakening their own metaphorical perception of its truth - the truth of another being. In just the same way that the material substance of the work is a configuration and condensation of physical energy, so is it also a configuration and condensation of meaning - a medium and manifestation of its metaphysical working.
Metaphysical awareness is the inner awareness of "energy", not just as kinaesthetic sensation (electricity or warmth, for example) but as the meaningful working of one being on another. Conversely, it is the inner, aesthetic awareness of "meaning", not just in the form of mental understandings but as energy. To hear sounds is one thing. To hear music is another. The energy sensed in music is not the energy of the physical sounds, but the metaphysical energy of musical meaning itself. Similarly, to perceive someone's look or gaze in a certain way and find a verbal metaphor to describe it is one thing. To experience it as the meaningful energetic streaming of a message is another.
The Metabolic Process and the Metaphysical Body
The body as understood by medical science is the body as it appears from without. Even interior examinations and X-rays give only an exterior view of the body's interior, telling us nothing about how the human body is experienced from within by the human being. Metaphysiology understands the body as the embodiment of a living, experiencing being - its body of lived experience. As human beings, we do not live on bread alone, replenishing our cells and reconstituting our bodies from the oxygen we breathe, the water we consume, and the nutrients we take in with our food. For our bodily life itself depends also on taking in experience, digesting this experience and drawing meaning from it. Starved of meaning, our bodies would die sooner than if they were starved of oxygen, water or food. Conversely, we rely on our bodies to help us breathe in, absorb, digest and metabolise our lived experience, extracting meaning from it, meaning which we then experience as available energy for action and self-expression - for life. In this metabolic process, our body's organs are more than just functioning biological machines. Instead, their physical functions are the organic biological metaphor of metaphysical functions.
Just as the body's physical metabolism extracts energy and warmth ("fire") from the elements of food, water and oxygen (earth, water, and air), so do we, as beings extract meaning from "earthy", sensual experience, from the fluid "waters" of feeling, and from the social atmosphere around us (air). Our digestion can as easily be put out by not being able to stomach a situation and metabolise our experience, as not being able to stomach a certain food. The latter form is more likely a metaphor of the former, for foodstuffs easily become metaphors of experiences we seek or avoid, and our metaphorical perception of them alters our physiological response to them. The water of feeling is as essential to the metabolisation of our lived experience and the reconstitution of our sense of self, as water is to the replenishment of our cells and the reconstitution of our bodies. And our body's breathing can as easily be stifled by a dead atmosphere, devoid of meaningful communication, as it can be by lack of oxygen. The Greek word soma originally referred to a lifeless corpse. Psyche, on the other hand, denoted the "breath" on which the life of the body depended - the "life-breath". What was meant was not a chemical element in the air such as oxygen, but the metaphysical element of fire - what we sense metaphysically and perceive metaphorically as the "warmth" of a human being, meaning not merely their body temperature, but the qualities of warmth, feeling tone and light a person radiates as a being.
"We hear, not the ear." Similarly, we see, not the eyes. We breathe, not the lungs. We think, not the brain. We do not hear, see, breathe, think and speak because we have ears, eyes, lungs, brains and vocal organs. We have ears, eyes, lungs, brains and vocal organs because we are hearing, seeing, breathing, thinking and speaking beings - absorbing, digesting and metabolising meaning from our lived experience.
The life of our experience as beings is the life of meaning - the life that connects us with other beings. That is because everything we experience as beings is both an experience of ourselves, as beings, and an experience of something other than self, of other beings. In listening to a piece of music I experience myself in a particular way and I also experience something other than self, something whose source is another being. The physical side of experience - the sounds of the music and my body's response to them - is the medium linking my self-experience with my experience of others and otherness. The metabolisation of meaning from experience has to do with allowing our experience of otherness to alter and transform our self-experience, our sense of self. Just as our bodies not only replenish themselves through the metabolic process, but are reconstituted and recreated in this process, so does our experience as beings not only nourish our sense of self, but reconstitute and recreate it in new ways. The changing face of the individual over time, is not just a result of a physical ageing process which alters their bodily appearance, but a process of inner change - change in their self-experience - which expresses itself physiognomically. We change, not just our bodies. By allowing our physical experiences as beings to change us, we fulfil and embody their meaning. By absorbing and digesting the "foreign" elements in our experience, the element of otherness, we transform our perception of ourselves and others, meeting ourselves in others, finding others in ourselves, and, as a result discovering other selves within us - selves which are just as much a part of our being as the self or selves we knew and identified with before.
The primordial predatorial act of consuming and digesting the flesh of another being, vegetable or animal, in order to use it as raw material for the reconstitution of our bodies, is mirrored in the workings of the mind. We take in each other's words, for example, chew them over and then digest them wordlessly, extracting the life-blood of meaning. The metabolic process is the process by which we digest experience on a wordless, bodily level, not with our physical body itself but with our metaphysical body. In this way we allow our experiences to get to us and to change us - the meaning of the Greek metaballein.
The physical body is a living biological metaphor of the metaphysical body, our body of lived experience and the body with which we digest and absorb the meaning of our experience. Through the metabolisation of our lived experience we generate not only thoughts and feelings but the energy necessary to sustain our life, the metaphysical energy of meaning. Without this metaphysical energy our physical energies and bodily functions could not be sustained. With it, they are enhanced. The metaphysical body is the source of metaphysical awareness and metaphorical perception, which together imbue us with metaphysical senses. These include inner touch, inner hearing, and inner seeing. It is the metaphysical body that senses things not only metaphorically but metaphysically. When we speak metaphorically of "being touched", it is the metaphysical body that is touched. When we speak metaphorically of "uplifting" music it is this body that is metaphysically uplifted. When we speak metaphorically of "seeing" something clearly, it is not our eyes or even our mind's eye that is doing the seeing, it is the metaphysical body that is seeing. And when we feel something, it is the metaphysical body that is feeling - not merely giving us a feeling but feeling something in the active sense, as we do physically when we feel the surface of a table or another person's skin with our hands. Through all the metaphysical senses, we sense the energetic streaming of meaning itself in the form of metaphysical warmth, light and sound. The metaphysical body is an "etheric body"; ether being not merely the "fifth" metaphysical element but also the very substance of metaphysical energy, manifest in all the metaphysical elements. In the metaphysical body, this ether has the basic metaphorical character of inner "fire" - combining warmth, light and sound.
The Metaphysics of Matter
According to physics, there is no intrinsic meaning in being. Things are, only because there are physical explanations or reasons for their existence. According to metaphysics, material things are, precisely because of the way they matter to beings - because of what they mean to us. Matter is essentially metaphor - providing us with material metaphors of what we ourselves are, and expressing aspects of our own being. The oak bench at which I sit in the local cafe to meditate and make notes for my writing is not just an object that I perceive and which I use, mechanically, to place my coffee cup and notebook on. Physics has provided the basis for all sorts of technologies which allow us to use things, but in this way also reduce things to objects of use. But the meaning and very being of a thing as a thing, does not lie in how it can be used and what we can do with it as an object, nor with how it works - our objective view of its internal dynamics. Instead it lies in what the thing does to us and how it works on us - how, being with it, it allows us to be. The oak bench is not simply a material surface on which I rest my notebook, one comparable to any other surface, whatever its material and wherever it may be - the surface of my dinner table, for example. The surface of this bench is what allows my thoughts to come to rest in a specific way after taking my morning walk to the cafe. Its weight and solidity, dark stain and impressive grain speak of time and slowly matured organic growth in the way that only oak does. Placed here, in a social venue populated by the young people of the town in which I live, it allows me to dwell in two worlds - providing a tangible metaphor of a stimulus given (not just by caffeine but by the company of voices behind me) to the slow maturation of my own thoughts. Science dismisses such metaphorical perceptions of the bench, and of things in general, as I have given here and as might be found in works of literature - dismissing them as subjective responses or "projections" of meaning on a thing. But what if the opposite is the case? What if it is the case that we only really appreciate things as things, if we focus not only on their physical features but the meaning these bear for us. This was Martin Heidegger's understanding, echoed, as he pointed out, in the etymology of the word "thing", which referred initially to a "gathering" - one called to resolve a conflict, to raise and resolve a "matter" of concern. Later, it became a general term for any-thing - whatever it is that is there, addressing our attention or summoning us to deal with it, to approach a matter in hand. Seen from this perspective, words themselves do not name things - they are an attempt to respond to things, to explore them and confront the matters they raise. Here of course, the words "thing" and "matter" are used in a particularly English way that metaphorically transcends their literal denotation. But is this literal denotation - the "thing" as physical object, and "matter" as the substantiality of such objects - objective though it clearly is also subjective? Clearly not, since the reduction of the thing to an object goes hand in hand with the reduction of our human experience of things to our physical perception of them, and the reduction of the experiencing human being to an abstract "subject" for which all things bear the same character - perceived only as "objects".
Physical science, in sticking to the subject-object division, separates what things are - their material substantiality, from what they mean to us, how they matter to us, in a way foreign to our everyday experience. In so far as our everyday practical use of things is concerned, we do indeed reduce the depth and meaning of our relationships to things in a way that brings our experience of them closer to the scientific paradigm. In dreams on the other hand, things reassert their meaning for us, and their material substantiality - which can be sensed as much or even more vividly as in waking life - confronts us as the very expression of this meaning. The scientific mind will of course argue that the bench that I dream of is a more or less instantaneous fabrication of the psyche and not a physical product of human labour or of natural processes in time (the ageing of the tree, for example). In this sense it is less "real" than the actual bench, whatever meaning is projected into it or expressed through it. Here the world outlook of physical science stumbles into contradiction with itself, for physics itself acknowledges that the "real" bench of waking life is by no means the one crafted in the carpenter's workshop, for its very atoms have changed. Indeed, physics itself confirms that what we see as an "oak bench" is an instantaneous fabrication of the physical senses, bearing no relation to the atomic and sub-atomic structure and energetic fabric of its matter. Physics and metaphysics therefore come to uneasy consensus that there is more to the matter of the oak bench than meets the eye. The question is, what is the nature of this more? If things ultimately "are" solely because of a Big Bang that occurred billions of years ago, then things have no meaning. The fact that they do have meaning cannot be explained away as something merely subjective or as a product of the human brain. Things - including the Big Bang and the human brain itself - exist for beings and can have meaning only for experiencing beings. Once again we enter the black hole of physical science with its inability to find a place for beings and for meaning in our understanding of the universe, and to explore how they matter - materialising in the world of things. Our dreams suggest an answer to this, however, for in the dream universe things themselves are not created in a workshop or factory but emerge like "words" from the soul or psyche, as its speech.
From a physical point of view, the spoken word consists of material bodies - vocal organs and air particles - vibrating as sound. And the matter which composes things is also in constant vibration, possessing an inaudible inner sound and capable of resonating with audible, external sounds. From a metaphysical point of view things are also expressions of the metaphysical energy of meaning, tones vibrating as metaphysical tones. Physical tones are energetic vibrations and resonances of matter. Metaphysical tones are energetic vibrations and resonances of what matters - of meaning in the process of materialising itself as matter. Physical speech sounds are shapings of physical voice tones. The sounds of metaphysical speech are shapings of metaphysical tones and of the metaphysical energy of meaning. They are the speech or logos of the soul or psyche - its metaphysical "psycho-logy".
The speech of the soul is a pre-speech, a speech that precedes the spoken word and imbues it with both meaning and energetic resonance. It is the logos of which Heraclitus wrote: "men fail to comprehend it, both before hearing it and once they have heard". They fail to comprehend it before hearing it because they are deaf to this speech before speech, the inner, metaphysical word that precedes the physically uttered and audible word. They fail to comprehend it after they have heard, because they are also deaf to the inner metaphysical resonance of the audible, physically uttered word - its feeling tones and moral tones.
The Metaphoric Process
In her book, "The Metaphoric Process" Gemma Corradi Fiumara quotes the story of a child who wakes up one night, comes into his mother's room holding his ear and says "Mummy, an elephant stepped on my ear". The mother, in this case, understands that the child has what we call "an earache", and soon the child itself will learn to describe its experiences in this colder, more "objective" and literal way. Statements of the sort "I have an earache" appear to denote objective truths - facts. From an "objective" point of view an elephant did not step on the little boy's ear - it is not a truth but a falsehood. And yet, understood metaphorically the statement "an elephant stepped on my ear" communicated his experience of the earache more effectively than any clinical diagnosis could have done. It did not denote a fact truly in words but it nevertheless told the truth - communicating the boy's actual empirical experience of the "fact" more effectively - more truly - than any literal statement. The boy of course, did not say "I feel as if an elephant stepped on my ear." His metaphorical perception of a bodily experience was presented as a literal statement. That is what children do. What adults seek to do, on the other hand, is replace metaphorical language with literal language - as if the former were "childish" in comparison. The result is an increase in their ability to use language to denote facts but a decline in their power to communicate - to tell the truth of their experience. The assumption is that they already have all the words they need to denote truth - words such as "earache", and if they don't, an expert of one sort or another can provide them. Any gap between their own wordless experience of reality and the language they have available to articulate this experience is put down to a lack of literal language - the right technical term - rather than to a basic decline in their ability to read and communicate their own experience metaphorically ie. to describe their own metaphorical perceptions.
If we repeat any word or phrase often enough, however charged it was initially with personal meaning and metaphorical significance, it begins to lose meaning and becomes yet another addition to our literal vocabulary - becomes cliché. If the child continued to talk of being stepped on by an elephant whenever he had earache, this phrase too, would merely denote a fact, rather than communicating an experience - becoming a synonym for "I have earache". When our literal language loses meaning we experience this meaning loss as "depression", but the depressive process is itself a meaningful and valuable one, allowing us to get in touch with the otherwise mute and wordless dimensions of our experience. Normally we chew over our experiences mentally - in words. The depressive process is the process by which we begin to digest our experience on a wordless, feeling level, and not just in words; and in this way forms an essential phase of the whole metabolic process. Without it the metabolic process cannot give rise to the metaphoric process. This is the process by which we become able once again to invest language with new meaning and life, by articulating and communicating our own experience metaphorically. What we call mental breakdown is not a result of a depressive process but the collapse of resistance to it. It is the breakdown of the detached or "schizoid" mind, which seeks at all costs to avoid the anxiety of meaning loss and wordlessness and instead always has words on hand to label what is going on in literal terms - objectifying and explaining discomforting experiences. Both mania and paranoid-schizophrenia on the other hand are a type of breakthrough of the metaphoric process as it seeks to fill the gap between words and the wordless. Except that both paranoid and hallucinatory perceptions are themselves interpreted literally instead of metaphorically - not only by psychiatric patients but also by those around them. The psychiatrist who dismisses the paranoid's delusions or the schizophrenic's inner voices as meaningless noise - mere evidence of mental illness - can be compared with that of a mother who regarded the child's statement about the elephant as a symptom of delusory or hallucinatory madness, dangerously at odds with objective reality. Those whose inner life has been atrophied by the dominance of the literal mind often fall prey to those who offer second-hand metaphorical packages - who seek to renew the life of the Word with Biblical or psychoanalytic metaphors. There are many who have indeed been saved by the Living Word - to whom it has provided metaphors lacking in a literal world. The price they pay of course, is the obligation to believe in these metaphors as literal truths.
Fundamental Science as Metaphysical Fundamentalism
Religious fundamentalism is based on a dogmatic attachment to the metaphorical symbols of a particular cult. The key metaphors of a religion can point to metaphysical truths, alter the believer's perception of the world, and even awaken direct metaphysical awareness. But whilst the fundamental source of all religions is metaphysical cognition - wordless inner knowing - each particular religion leads its followers to identify inner knowing or gnosis with the words used to translate it, and to identify metaphysical reality with the myths and symbols which serve as metaphors for it.
Fundamental Science is a metaphysical fundamentalism. It affirms the metaphysical foundation of all religions whilst denying absolute truth to the myths and metaphors of each. The metaphysical foundation of all religions is Being, understood not simply as the sum of all that is, nor as some sort of larger than life human being, but nevertheless as a Being - one within whom all beings have their life. Just as languages are ways of speaking, so are beings the many ways or "languages" of being. Each of us does not only have or speak a language. Each of us is a language - a unique language of being. It is this inner language of being, linking us with Being, which we constantly translate into the languages of the Word and of the Flesh, into mind and bodyhood, mental and material metaphors. Metaphysical fundamentalism acknowledges the metaphysical basis of both the physical universe and the metaphysical nature of soul or psyche. The word physics stems from the Greek phusis - to arise or emerge. The physical universe emerges from the metaphysical universe in the same way that words emerge from wordless understandings, and in turn communicate those understandings. Just as the source of the word is not in itself anything verbal, so the source of the physical universe is not itself anything physical. It is a material metaphor of its metaphysical source. And just as the meaning of a sentence, its "soul", survives, even after its last word is uttered, so do our own metaphysical souls survive when we utter our last breath, completing the living sentence that constitutes our lives. They live on in other words, spoken in other tongues, through the lips of other bodies. Language allows meanings to be expressed in more than one way. Similarly, all events in our lives, whilst meant to be, are at the same time particular metaphorical interpretations of the meaning expressed through them.
The physical universe consists of material bodies in space and time, bodies which interact through the energies of which they themselves are composed. The metaphysical universe consists of beings within Being, beings which interact through the meanings they intend, meanings which have their source in their own language of being. Whatever I choose to say in a particular language, one thing that will always communicate through my words is the unique "voice" of that language. Similarly, however we live our lives as beings, and whatever forms of expression we adopt, all serve to express and communicate the inner voice of our being. The languages of physical life, languages of the body and of the word, of different parts of the world and of different worlds of work - all these serve as translations of our own inner language of being. As such they can echo or enrich this language, communicate or stifle the inner voice of our being. Whenever we identify too strongly with the languages into which we translate our inner being, we lose touch with this wordless inner voice - a voice that communicates through our words and deeds but can never be fully expressed in them.
"Being" is not merely some sort of state, but an activity - the activity of "be-ing". This activity is essentially creative and expressive, like dreaming and speaking. It is not an activity performed by an agent - a type of doing requiring a doer - but the activity through which action forms itself into agents, into centres of action. A type of creativity that imbues all that it creates with beingness - with its own independent and divine spark of creative vitality - and that constantly transforms its agents through their activity. Beings are not things - objects of perception - nor are they abstract "subjects". They are creative languages of being - endowed with the capacity to mean. Meaning itself is nothing merely subjective or mental. It is the metaphysical equivalent of energy, and its source. The meaning of life is the life of meaning, the life that links beings with one another, directly and indirectly, in the same way that energy links bodies in space and time. What we call consciousness is a being capable of meaning another being. A computer can provide its user with information that may be meaningful to us, but the computer does not mean to inform its user, it does not mean to convey a meaning through the information, nor does it mean the particular person to whom it gives the information.
Meaning and Metaphysical Communication
As beings we have four main modalities of meaning. At the simplest level we can simply mean something - convey a meaning through what we say or do. Secondly, we can mean to say or do something, be aware of an intent to say or do something even before saying or doing it. Thirdly, we can mean what we say or do - believe in it as an authentic expression of our intent. Fourthly, and most importantly, as well as meaning something, we can mean someone - intend another being. The words "I love you", for example convey a meaning, whether the person saying them meant to say them or not and whether or not they were sincerely meant. Even if they are meant, however, the person to whom they are spoken can ask "Do you really mean me ?".
The four modalities of meaning are echoed in four modes of hearing. I can hear the meaning in a person's words and understand what they refer to. But we can, if we choose, also hear to what degree the words are really meant and if they are a true expression of what the person saying them means to say. Finally, and most importantly, I can hear if the speaker is really responding to and addressing me with their words, or whether they could just as well be said to someone else. I hear that I am meant by the speaker. If I am intended, the meaning of their words will contain a specific message for me. To mean something and convey that meaning is one thing. To mean someone and convey a message to them is quite another. Of course, messages do constantly pass from one person to another through what they say and do, whether these messages are "meant" or not, and whether they are heard or not. This is called "metacommunication". What it is, is actually metaphorical and metaphysical communication, a type of communication that does not take place in words or deeds but through them. In this sense, metacommunication is not a by-product of ordinary, literal or physical communication, but its very basis. Meanings, whether conveyed verbally or non-verbally, in words or body language, are the metaphorical expression of messages. And messages communicate whether or not they are expressed in words or physical body signals - they communicate wordlessly and metaphysically.
Verbal and physical communication both ride on and symbolise a type of telepathic communication between beings, a type of telepathic communication between beings that is not only metalinguistic but also metaphysical. So-called "non-verbal" communication through body signals is just as much a metaphor of this metaphysical communication as verbal language. Direct metaphysical communication of messages between beings, is the fifth dimension of meaning, the fifth and fundamental framework of communication. It is this framework that constitutes the very fabric of the metaphysical universe, the foundation of the material universe itself and the source of the meaning to be found within it. The telepathic nature of metaphysical communication does not arise because thoughts or feelings are "transmitted" between a sender and receiver. Its foundation lies in the nature of experience and perception. Every experience of the self is at the same time an experience of something other than self. Otherness is perceived metaphorically, according to each being's metaphorical language. But every metaphorical perception acts on both self and other, perceiver and perceived, and it is this perceptual interactivity of beings that constitutes their metaphysical communication. The way one being, as perceiver, perceives another, second being, acts directly on the perceived being, and in this way communicates a message to it. The way this message is itself metaphorically perceived by the second being then constitutes a reciprocal form of perceptual interactivity - of metaphysical action - bearing its own message back to the first being.
Quantum physics has already altered our view of the material universe in a metaphysical direction, giving us a picture of the atom in which matter is no longer matter in the ordinary sense - made up of solid particles with a definite location in space and time. Instead it sees particle and wave as distinct but inseparable aspects of energy quanta, with the wave modality constituting matter's own non-localisable, non-particulate and non-particular dimension. In moving from one orbit to another, the reality electron exists first as an omnipresent non-selective probability wave or "field" of possible or "virtual" locations, from which it selects its new orbit. In this way the quantum behaviour of particles as "matter waves" therefore provides a bridge between the non-selective and the selective universe. But since matter waves are ultimately unbounded, spread out over the entire universe, each particle of matter, in its wave aspect, transcends its particulate, localisable nature - its own material character. It is this understanding of matter that gives quantum physics an essentially metaphysical character. For whilst the behaviour and patterns of interrelationship of particles in their wave or field character can be studied experimentally and represented mathematically, no-one can actually say what such waves or fields are. Terms such as "wave" and "field" serve as metaphors which continue to imbue the metaphysical reality they describe with a physical character deriving from older conceptions of matter - as if what was being described was still some sort of "thing" rather than a new, metaphysical understanding of relationships between things. The problem posed for the physical science by quantum mechanics is that relationality is now understood as belonging to the inner nature of things themselves, rather than being an effect of their interaction. Different types of particles such as bosons and fermions are defined by their non-localisable, wave relationships to other. As wave patterns, bosons can overlap completely with other bosons, losing their identity as "things in themselves".
Some physicists now see a definite relationship between quantum relationships and consciousness itself. This view is supported by experiments which indicate that even sub-atomic particles such as the photon possess their own kind of "knowing" - seemingly endowed with a type of pre-cognition of the experimental conditions set up to study their behaviour. If the set up is designed to detect them as particles, they behave as particles rather than waves. If it designed to detect them as waves, they behave as waves rather than particles. There is no doubt that quantum physics provides us with powerful metaphors, not only for understanding the nature of consciousness but also for understanding many "parapsychological" phenomena - relationships between conscious beings which seem not to be limited by location in space and time. It is quite a different matter to advance theories which then "explain" consciousness and parapsychology in terms of quantum physics and regard it as an expression of quantum relationships. This is a typical example of the reductionistic use of metaphor - using physical phenomena and their relationships as a metaphor of the metaphysical and then explaining the latter in terms of the former. The basis of metaphysical science is the very opposite of this type of metaphorical thinking. That is to say, instead of understanding consciousness as an expression of quantum relationships, metaphysics understands quantum relationships themselves, and their material manifestation in the behaviour of particles, as an expression of the interrelationship between conscious beings. No physical discoveries or theories can explain consciousness, because to explain consciousness we must first know what it is. We know what consciousness is not because we are able to create theories about it but because we ourselves are conscious beings. Our consciousness in turn, does not depend on knowing about what we are, or even knowing who we are, but consists, fundamentally of an awareness of our own being - knowing that we are. It is only because we ourselves are conscious beings that we can recognise characteristics of matter that seem to reflect the nature of our consciousness and of our inner relationships to one another as beings. These relationships belong to the very essence of our being, in the same way that the quantum relationships between particles belong to their very nature as particles.
We are relational beings, and we can understand the physical relationships between particles of matter only because they themselves are the material metaphor of the relational dimension of our being - and of all beings. Relationships between beings, however, are no more reducible to quantum relationships than they are to consciousness itself. For in the same way that quantum relationships always transcend the limited, selective observations of the physicist, our being and our inner relationships as beings always transcend our own limited, selective consciousness. The hubris of physical science consists in believing that by knowing more about the physical we will eventually learn all there is to learn about the world including ourselves. Metaphysical science reverses this idea - first we deepen and broaden our consciousness, discovering more of our inner being and of our complex inner relationship to other beings. Then and only then, do we find we can understand the world around us better - grasp in a new way the complex relationships between physical phenomena. The achievements of physics in quantum mechanics are themselves an expression of this law, for it is the depth of the individual inner knowing and their inner understanding of human relationships - even if this is only barely a conscious knowing - that surfaces metaphorically in new scientific models and advances.
Beings and their Metaphysical Aspects
The word "aspect" refers both to an "objective" face or facet of something we perceive, a house or landscape for example, and to the perceiver's own viewpoint or "subjective" angle of perception - the "aspect" from which it is perceived. That is to say, a perceptual aspect is neither something purely subjective, nor something purely objective. In this way the aspectual dimension of perception transcends the subject-object division. But whilst it is clear from everyday experience that different physical, emotional or intellectual "angles" of perception reveals particular sides or faces of the perceived, what is less obvious is how they reveal different faces of the perceiver. Thus we talk of how something appears to us from a certain angle - how it looks. But what of the perceiver's own "look"? The face and eyes of the perceiver alter according to what they are looking at and how they are looking at it. That is why Winnicott could write that when a baby looks at its mother's face, her look is a reflection of the baby itself, an expression of what - or rather who - she is looking at. Or at least partly. For the look on the mother's face also reveals her way of looking at the baby - how she sees it. Conversely, the baby's face reveals its pleasure or displeasure at what it is looking at, how it looks at the mother, and how it perceives itself being perceived. If mother and baby were merely abstract subjects perceiving each other's faces and eyes as physical objects, there would be no perceptual interactivity of this sort - for then their look would not itself be a response to what they are looking at and an expression of their way of perceiving it. Nor would it be a response to their way of being perceived. Perceptual interactivity occurs when the face of the perceiver reveals both an aspect of themselves, not as an object but as a perceiving being, and an aspect of the perceived, again, not as an object but as a perceiving being. For example, when the mother's look reveals both a face or aspect of her own nature as a perceiving being (her own way of looking) and at the same evokes a new face of the baby, getting it to look at her in a way that allows it to experience a new aspect of itself.
Early mother-baby interaction of this sort is a direct expression of metaphysical communication. It arises from their mutual attunement as beings and from the fact that they are not just looking at each other's faces but at each other i.e. at another being. The mother does not only look at her baby's face. She looks at her baby, seeing it as a being and not just a body or face. The key word in what we call "eye contact" is not looking but "contact" - contact with another being as a being and not as an object of perception. Contact allows beings to interact perceptually in a way that simultaneously reveals different aspects both of their own being and the being of the other. Metaphysical communication is an evocation and perception of metaphysical aspects - aspects of Being which unite two beings and represent a common wavelength of mutual attunement. The basis of this mutual attunement is not the physical senses as such but feeling tone. Feeling tones are not emotional responses to another being but the very wavelengths of attunement that allow us to connect to others in the first place, revealing a particular aspect of our own being and the being of the other. Metaphorical perception of other beings is always and at the same time a metaphorical perception of ourselves, and vice versa, for it is an interpretation of the aspects of our being that link us to others. Or, in a deeper sense, the aspects of Being that link us with another being are the core values we share.
Physical and Metaphysical Relationships
As the physical distance between two material bodies in space increases, the gravitational forces attracting them weaken. As the physical distance between two beings increases, the metaphysical bond between them strengthens. That is why in all relationships between beings there is an oscillation between physical nearness and distance. Being close to others physically allows their inner closeness to be expressed and embodied. At the same time it gradually weakens this inner bond, eventually turning physical and emotional attraction into repulsion and causing them to establish greater physical distance from one another. Doing so once again strengthens their inner relationship, their metaphysical bond, and the forces attracting them physically and emotionally. Harmony in relationships between human beings is a product of the balance and oscillation of physical nearness and distance, but it is also a result of their capacity to achieve closeness to one another through establishing inner distance from one another rather than physical distance. We do this by withdrawing from physical communication, going into ourselves and relinking with our own inner being. This inner distance in turn provides the conditions for metaphysical communication and closeness - reaching out to others from our inner being and getting close to them in this way.
Physical relationships between bodies in space, are essentially external relationships which then have effects on their respective internal states, processes and structures. Metaphysical relationships between beings are essentially internal relationships. Every external relationship between two beings, being A and being B, is an expression of the internal relationship between the A and the B aspect of A, as between B and the A aspect of B. This relationship allows A to relate to B through B's A aspect, and B to relate to A through A's B aspect. Expressed in personal terms: John relates to the John-like nature or "aspect" of Catherine - her "Johnness". Conversely Catherine relates to the Catherine-like nature or "aspect" of John, his "Catheriness". The Johnness of Catherine and the Catherineness of John are different expressions of the same common metaphysical aspect - the aspect of Being that unites them metaphysically. This common metaphysical aspect can be compared to a spiritual gene that they both share, expressed and embodied by each in a different way. In essence it is a common value or potential of Being, manifest in a common wavelength of attunement. It is the basis of both metaphysical and physical attraction. Relationships only progress and come to fruition however, through the acknowledgement, not only of similarity or commonality but of difference. Expressed formulaically, this occurs when A is able to relate not only to the A aspect of B, but to their own B aspect. When John is able to relate not only to the Johnness of Catherine, but to his own Catherine-aspect. This process is facilitated in two ways. One way is by relating to Catherine from this aspect. Another is by acknowledging also that the John-aspect of Catherine is an expression not only of something they have in common but also of difference - for Catherine's Johnness is not the same as John's and is also an expression of her Catherineness. Above all it requires inner awareness to appreciate the metaphysical aspects of ourselves embodied by others - the ability to sense them as qualities which transcend our own metaphorical perception ie. our own way of perceiving and labelling them, negatively or positively, as this or as that. For only then can we own and embody these sensed qualities ourselves, without imitating their perceived expression in the other. It is through reducing metaphysical aspects to AS-spects - seeing a certain quality in someone only as their irritability or calm, hatefulness or kindness, that we prevent ourselves becoming aware of them as shared qualities and potentials of being.
In physical terms we see aspects of people and their relationships as an expression of similarity and/or difference. Metaphysically, relationships are an expression of similarity-in-difference and difference-in-similarity - of "simference". If two beings were identical in all respects they would not be two beings but one. If they were different in all respects there would be no means by which they could relate to one another - no commonality. Equally, however, if beings were merely identical "in some respects" and absolutely different in others, there would be no relationship between them - for neither the respects in which they were totally similar nor those in which they were absolutely different would allow them to relate to one another as two distinct beings. The metaphysical basis of all relationships is neither similarity nor difference but simference. It is through the metaphysical awareness of simference with others that relationships between beings grow and beings grow through their relationships. As soon as we divide our perception of another being into elements we have in common and elements that set us apart, we deny what is most essential to the relationship. Catherine may begin by relating to the aspect of John that is in tune with aspects of herself - the Catherineness of John. But only by appreciating the different way in which John expresses this common aspect, can she begin to acknowledge and appreciate another aspect of herself - her own Johnness. Normally, however, the new aspects of ourselves that a relationship awakens us to are ones we only physically express and embody in other relationships. In relating to Catherine, for example, John relates principally from his own Johnness and to the Johnness of Catherine. He does not relate principally to his own Catherineness - even though this is the part of him to which Catherine relates. It is only when distance separates him from Catherine, that he begins to be aware of his own Catherineness - the Catherine within him. The same applies to Catherine. Alternatively, she may find that in relating to Jill or Robert, she does so in a way reminiscent of John - that is to say, it is in other relationships that she learns to embody and express her Johnness, and in this way grow from the relationship with John. Dyadic relationships between two beings are thus intrinsically bound up with the multiple relationships of each. If we find a latent aspect of our own being personified and embodied by another person, it is often only through distance or in relationships with other people besides that person that we ourselves learn to activate and live out that aspect. What I have called John's Johnness and Catherine's Catherineness - their respective "identities" - are also constellations of aspects connecting them with other beings, that is to say with other beings besides each other. John's Johnness in relation to Catherine is not the same as John's Johnness in relation to Peter or Paul. For it is the constellation of aspects connecting him to other beings besides Catherine - for example his parents, siblings, friends and colleagues.
Metaphysical identity is a singular plurality of metaphysical aspects, each of which link us to other beings. This plurality can be compared both to a verbal alphabet and to a biological or genetic alphabet. The uniqueness of a person as a human being is partly genetic. Genes are a biological manifestation of metaphysical aspects. Like aspects they do not express themselves through similarity and difference but as simference. John's nose may be similar to that of his father and relate to a common set of genes. But it is not his father's nose nor is it identical to it. The nose, as a phenotype, is a "family resemblance" - that is to say it expresses common genes through similarity-in-difference or difference-in-similarity. And we know also that each person's genetic blueprint is unique, however many genes they share with other family members. Similarly, the uniqueness of each being in its metaphysical identity does not lie in possessing certain physical qualities or being composed of certain metaphysical aspects as opposed to other. Instead it lies in the unique language by which we permutate and combine both physical qualities and metaphysical aspects.
Every being is related internally - metaphysically - to all beings and to Being. But just as we each have latent genes, so we all have latent aspects. A human being can no more express all its inner potentials of being - all its metaphysical aspects - than it can embody all its genes or all possible combinations and permutations of those genes. In the same way, no human being, however large their personal vocabulary, can use all of that vocabulary all the time, or fulfil all the potentials of meaning that it provides them. In this sense the individual human body and its genes is not so much a complete biological expression of the human being as one life sentence written in that biological language - activating only portions of its vocabulary. The human body embodies only a portion of its potentials as a biological language - as a physical means of expressing and embodying the individual's metaphysical aspects. The "eternal soul" is the individual's metaphysical identity. This is an "energy personality essence" uniting all their potentials of being and meaning - their metaphysical aspects - and requiring a multiplicity of physical incarnations to express itself both biologically and existentially.
As bodies, we are born, age and die. As beings we simply are, our existence is unbounded by time. As incarnated beings we embody certain metaphysical aspects of our being in our genes and express them in our lives, combining them like the letters of a nameless name. Each of these aspects of our being links us with aspects of other beings through an aspect of Being. Each of them, as an expression of Being, is also imbued with beingness. In other words, metaphysical aspects are not only inner aspects of the human being or core aspects of Being. Each aspect is also a being, as are different combinations of aspects. As individual beings, we are each an in-dividual, in-divisible gestalt of countless distinct but inseparable aspects. The organisation of this gestalt is mirrored in matter, with its multiple levels of complexity from atoms and molecules to the cells and organs of individual, social and planetary bodies. Our metaphysical identity is the energy personality essence of all our metaphysical aspects, uniting them like a language - our language of being - which speaks in a particular way through each of its words. It is the wordless resonance or voice of this language - the inner voice - that constitutes our link with Being, with all that is and all who are.
Voice is more than just physical vocalisation. The written word speaks to us in its own voice or voices too. What is voiced, whether in speech or writing, in the flesh or word always transcends what is said in words. The being that speaks is more than the self that is spoken of with the word "I". Voice belongs to this being, the being whose inner voice we must hearken to before and in order to speak, before and in order to find our words and find our tongue. Personality, on the other hand, belongs not to the being that speaks but to the self that is spoken. This is the self we refer to with the word "I", and the personal identity that corresponds to this word. It consists of the aspects of our being we express and embody and indeed personify in the very act of speaking. As human beings we are channels of our own inner being, our personalities are comparable to the trance personalities adopted by spirit guides as a bridge between this world and the next - expressing and embodying the voice of a being from the "other side". Or at least we could be, did we not identify with our human personalities to such an extent that we are in trance to them and know ourselves only as them. For, the result of over-identifying with our human personalities is that their voices begin to dominate the voice that would speak through them, and deafens us to it. Their acquired language dominates the voice of the language that it seeks to translate - our inner language of being and the language of our inner being. The energy personality essence transcends each and every persona or "mask" that we wear in ordinary life. It is the inner voice that sounds through (per-sonare) our human personalities and sub-personalities. This inner voice expresses itself in metaphysical tones, basic tones of our being which we experience as "soul tones" or "feeling tones". Feeling tones are the basic wavelengths of attunement which link us to different aspects of our being and thereby also to the being of others - the music of the soul. They are not merely psychological "feelings" of the sort we name with emotion-words such as "love" or "hate", nor are they audible sound tones produced instrumentally or with the voice. And yet it is feeling tone that expresses itself in song and music, as modulations of voice tone and of muscle tone. Music is essentially the metaphysical song of the soul - of the inner voice and its metaphysical tones.
Before a singer or musician can produce the right tone they attune themselves inwardly to the inner voice, and find within it a tone of being that corresponds to the one they wish to communicate. It is this inner tone that they allow themselves to feel with their whole bodies - to embody. Only then will their vocal organs or physical handling of musical instruments express this feeling tone. Listening to music does not "cause" us to have certain feelings. Rather, our ability to hear sound as music depends on our ability to resonate as beings with the feeling tones she communicates. To do this means imbuing what we hear with our own feeling tones, finding the feeling tones within us that allow us to hear the music and not mere sound. Finding these tones means adjusting the very wavelengths of hearing, until these are attuned to the feeling tones expressed in the music. Different types of music do not simply evoke feelings in us because we are listening. They can resonate with our feeling tones only if we first attune the tone of our listening to them. Music shows just how active the listening process is, for it is the very process by which we musically modulate our feeling tones and use them as wavelengths of resonant attunement. Again, these feeling tones cannot be reduced to psychological feelings or emotions on the one hand or to physical tones on the other - for both are an expression of feeling tone. Physically produced sound is a metaphor of the music of feeling tone. In this sense, the composer's musical scores are not an ex nihilo creation of music - they transpose the inner, metaphysical music that the composer hears, - the music of feeling tone - whether or not this hearing mimics the form of physical music. Similarly, the musician does not make music, nor is their performance an expression of the music they play, but rather an expression of their way of hearing this music inwardly. Just as physical speech sounds or "phonemes" are shapings of vocal tone, so is the song of the soul a shaping of inwardly heard tones - the metaphysical tones of the inner voice. These shapings of metaphysical tone I call "metaphones". A letter is the silent face of a physical sound. A facial expression is the silent bodily face of an inner sound - a metaphone. And just as each sound in a word links its meaning metaphysically to other words, past and present, containing the same sound, so too do each of our faces link us to others and to our other selves - to past and parallel incarnations of our inner being.
The Metaphysics of Space and Time
The words of our current language have evolved from earlier words spoken in previous historical eras. Coded in their sounds is something like a "memory" of these earlier words. Thus logic, logical, analogy, psychology etc. are all words with a definite current meaning. And yet etymology (from the Greek etymos logos - the truth of the word) reveals their relation to an earlier word with a quite different meaning, the Greek verb legein: to "gather" and "lay out". This original meaning is echoed in the English metaphor for understanding: "I gather....".
Language constitutes a singular body of meaning whose inner space not only holds infinite potentials and probabilities for the expression of meanings in the future but also holds within it the trace of previous meanings. The words of a language unite meanings they have been used to express with meanings they currently serve to express and those they could be used to express in the future. The temporal dimensions of meaning in the body of language are not dispersed in physical time but are co-present. In this way language itself is a metaphor of metaphysical time and space, which is the singular space of meaning in which beings dwell, a space in which past, present and future are co-present dimensions. Metaphysically, our every act of verbal and physical expression is not so much a movement forward along a line of time so much as a making present of both our past and our future - an act of presencing. The metaphysical time-space within which we dwell as beings, and out of which we create our present is a spacious realm of meaning uniting not only all our actual past experiences and our possible future ones but all our possible past and actual futures. For we share this spacious present not only with past selves but future ones too. Just as we draw on our past experience in shaping our future, so do our future selves draw on our experience - and we on theirs. We do not become these future selves, we use their experience in shaping our own future, just as we use the experience of our past selves to do so. This picture seems unimaginable to the self we know only because we identify with the self we know, and the physical time and space in which it dwells - not realising that that self is but one spatio-temporal actualisation of our metaphysical identity. This larger identity includes not only past and future selves but parallel selves in parallel pasts, presents and futures. Physics already acknowledges the possibility of parallel physical universes theoretically. What it does not understand is that this is no more extraordinary than the reality of co-present temporal dimensions of meaning and parallel, co-present ways of expressing that meaning. Our book of life is no more written in a straight line from the first word to the last than any book is. This linear sequence in physical time governs only the physical enactment of our lives and of the writing process. Behind this is a process that takes place in meaning space - the process of anticipating and selecting from a range of possible endings and possible middle chapters even before the first sentence is written, of revising past chapters in the light of ones freshly written or those still to come. The final book is one version of itself amidst countless others, taken as the only real one only because as authors of our lives we take our lives as the whole story, and not as one expression amongst others of our larger life and identity in a space that unites all dimensions of physical time in one singular body of meaning - the metaphysical soul.
Metaphysical Planes of Reality
Just as a book is the material expression of the author's inner reality, so is a planet. Metaphysical space consists of countless planes or "spheres" of reality. These are comparable to levels and dimensions of meaning within a text. The latter take up no physical space or alternatively, can be understood as coexisting in the same physical space. A planet is the physical expression of a metaphysical sphere of reality - or of several such spheres. Just as reading a book is no guarantee that we understand all the levels of meaning it contains, so is visiting a planet physically, through space travel, no guarantee that we encounter any beings inhabiting it - for these may dwell on a different plane of the planet's reality. What appear as blank spaces between the letters and words on a page, will appear as empty space on the planet. The planet's physical landscape will be "read" like that of the earth - understood merely as a geological composite of various minerals. We do not find out much about a book by laying out its pages and taking a walk over them, or by analysing its chemical composition. We do so by reading it - entering its meaning space. Its pages are merely the physical surface of this space, and its various levels or planes of meaning. As we read we may find ourselves both feeling the meaning of the words and creating mental images which bring the narrative to life. We lose ourselves in the book completely, oblivious to the physical environment in which we are reading it. It is as if a part of us was in an altered state of consciousness, dreaming its meaning. Metaphysical planes of reality can be experienced in a similar way, through altered states of consciousness, except that the "book" we read to enter them is not physically visible, nor is it written in printed characters representing sounds. It is composed of inner sounds, sounds which are not heard with the ears but felt and "heard" within our bodies as qualities and shapes of feeling tone. Metaphysical planes are essentially expanses and landscapes of metaphysical tone, each with their own particular atmosphere - like the tones of different languages or of pieces of music written in different keys. Sensing these planes requires us to attune our metaphysical awareness to them. Feeling tones are the wavelengths of attunement linking us to them. Journey to metaphysical planes means journeying through these feeling tones - using them as carrier waves on which our consciousness can ride into other realities. Normally we experience sounds and tones as vibrations which travel through the air, and feelings as things which pass through our bodies.
Learning to travel to metaphysical planes means learning to travel through inner sound and feeling tone, in a way we sometimes become aware of doing when listening to music and feeling that we are riding its melodies and chords. How we then perceive other planes of reality is shaped, like our dreams, by our own particular forms of metaphorical perception. The difference is only that our dreams represent a metaphorical perception of many planes of reality, including our own physical reality. Behind them is the "music" of inner sound and feeling tone from which dream imagery emerges - music which can condense and communicate concepts and inner knowledge otherwise inexpressible in words or even mental images. Metaphysical perception does not initially take the form of visual images, for these, like verbal metaphors, are a product of the physical brain and mind. It is a type of perception that precedes both word and mental images, consisting of neither and yet partaking of the qualities of both. It is comparable to what we experience if, when we listen to a poem or piece of music being recited we find ourselves really "seeing" its meaning as well as feeling it, and yet without creating a clearly contoured mental image from it in the shape of pseudo-physical objects and events. Alternatively, it can be compared to that which we see when we really understand, "seeing" in it something that is more than just a visual picture.
Matter as Metaphor
The body's physical senses are responsible for our perception of a three-dimensional physical world, of colour and light, warmth and coldness, smell and touch. Paradoxically, however, our very knowledge of the body and its organs of sense perception rely on those organs and the picture they create - for the human body is itself part of its own perceptual world, and an object of scientific study which relies on the body's senses. In considering the body, therefore, we are confronted with the mystery of something that both creates its own living picture of the world and is able to enter that picture as a perceivable object within it. Our physical perception of the world can best be compared to a language. Just as words are the expression of what we mean by them, and yet link this meaning with a set of shared meanings, so are the things of this world the material expression of what they mean to us individually - and yet at the same time they form part of a shared perceptual language within which we all dwell. Our dwelling in the world is at the same time a dwelling within the body of this perceptual language. The physical body as we perceive it in this world is the manifestation of our dwelling in this language. Dreaming, on the other hand, represents a different way of "speaking" the language of physical perception, loosening its rules of grammar in a way that then allows us to transcend physical "laws". In dreams we can defy gravity and fly. Things or persons in our waking life can be perceived as other things and persons, and this very metaphorical perception allows them, in dreams, to transform into other things and persons. But the dreaming process goes far deeper than this. Ultimately it is part of a deeper metaphoric process by which we dream the matter of our waking lives, selecting from the vocabulary of physical perception those material metaphors which will become the objects and events of our physical world, and binding them with the grammar of physical perception in which each object and event is itself and no other. This metaphorical process does not take place in physical but in metaphysical reality - the world of energetic meaning behind the language of physical perception. The fields of interrelatedness that connect objects and events within the physical world are a material metaphor of metaphysical fields of interrelatedness connecting beings and their aspects. The soul is the part of us that dwells in metaphysical reality. The metaphysical body is the body of metaphysical energy with which we relate directly to other beings within this reality.
The Metaphysical Art of Resonation
The diagram below represents two beings, each dwelling within its own metaphysical body and creating within it a sphere of physical perception. Though not shown on the diagram, each being creates and perceives an image of the other within its own sphere of physical perception. Communication and shared events experienced within this sphere are an expression of the metaphysical communication occurring between the soul bodies of each being, which can merge to create a common relational or metaphysical space. This is the space that lovers enter, experiencing an inner metaphysical merging and intercourse that can then be translated into sexual sensation and expressed physically or in words. The "bandwidth" of metaphysical communication can be broader or thinner, but wherever a relationship has at any time been established between two beings, there remains an energetic thread of inner communication connecting them. The bandwidth of metaphysical communication between beings can be broadened at any time, and used as a carrier wave by which to enter metaphysical reality. Any two human beings are capable of "resonating" with one another metaphysically and entering the metaphysical space of their relatedness on different planes. Doing so automatically deepens and transforms their physical perception of one another in ordinary space and time, revealing different faces and aspects of each other's being. The art of "resonation" is a metaphysical meditation method which makes use of the inner attunement between two people to deepen their metaphysical communication and open a portal into metaphysical space.
Normally we think of "meditation" as an almost solipsistic individual activity. The aim may be relaxation, health, inner peace or some form of higher consciousness in which the individual merges with the cosmos. People may meditate together in the same room or at the same time, but their relationship is more like that of two or more musicians practising individually than a duo or quartet playing together. The art of "resonation" embodies a completely different understanding of the very nature of meditation and its purposes. Because metaphysics understands our inner being as essentially relational, resonation is not conducted alone, eyes closed, with each person entering their own inner space, but by two people, eyes open and in continuous and sustained eye contact with one another. Its aim is to enter the metaphysical space of their relatedness as beings, using their feeling tones not only as wavelengths of attunement to one another but as carrier waves on which to journey into other metaphysical planes.
New Metaphysics recalls an ancient Gnostic understanding of man's inner being as something essentially alien to the world. From a metaphysical point of view, we ourselves are alien beings camouflaged in flesh - for as beings we are not bound to any plane of reality or any selective universe. The human being is the embodiment of their own inner being, but this inner being within us transcends our human nature. Just as the meaning of a word is not ultimately anything verbal, but something we understand wordlessly, so is the inner being or "energy personality essence" of the human being not itself anything human. That is why our human nature tends to perceive it metaphorically as holy or demonic, superhuman or subhuman, a divine person or an impersonal force, a primordial biological unconscious or, more recently, as an extra-terrestrial in disguise. Modern myths of the human race having been seeded by visitors from outer space are merely a modern metaphor of our own metaphysical source - for though our human lives have a beginning and end on this planet, as beings we have all entered this physical plane of reality from others - other metaphysical planes that is, and not other physical planets. This is not to say that there are not also other types of alien being, besides the aliens that we ourselves are. Each plane of reality allows beings to manifest in different ways. Not all beings manifest in one plane or reality are manifest in others, though all planes and all beings are linked to one another. There are civilisations more advanced than our own on other metaphysical planes, but civilisations whose "science" and "technology" cannot be compared with ours, for it is itself a metaphysical science and metaphysical technology. It is their metaphysical crafts that may take them into our plane of reality. It is us who perceive their physical manifestation as that of a spacecraft. It is a metaphysical law that just as meaning takes shape in different ways in different mediums such as words, painting and music, so do beings take different shapes in different planes of reality. Beings that dwell principally in other planes of reality to our own will not take the same shape here as they do in their native plane, and will be perceived by us in accordance with our own perceptual stereotypes or "archetypes" - whether as big-eyed grey humanoids or as angels. But we ourselves are bound to change our shape in entering our metaphysical planes of reality. Our metaphysical body is a shape-shifting, metamorphic body, able to adapt to different metaphysical environments. In the last analysis, each of us, as a being, is a unique plane of reality, a unique dimension or "idiom" of Being.
"All consciousness has aspects that are activated and expressed in all idioms or realities."
(SETH 2, quoted by Jane Roberts in The Unknown Reality, Volume 2)
But if, as humans, we are not prepared to enter and explore alien dimensions of meaning - and do so with the same commitment and discipline with which the physical sciences explore the nature of matter - we will never discover those inner dimensions of our own being that hold the key to the nature of all realities. Without metaphysics, science can never discover the source of the physical universe or learn its inner laws - let alone help us understand the meaning of physical existence. To do so requires that we first recognise the existence of a metaphysical or "spiritual" world - a world not of things but of beings. The make up of that world is as various and multi-levelled as the material world, consisting of familiar and unfamiliar beings, known and unknown beings, primordial creator beings and their no less creative offspring. All these multiple beings dwell within the awareness of the nameless One - the divine and all-encompassing Singularity of Being that we call "God".
Religious mythologies have bequeathed to us a variety of archetypes which represent our metaphorical perception of different levels or orders of "higher" beings - gods and archangels for example - linking us with the Singularity. But what today we perceive physically as empty cosmic spaces filled with stars and barren planets, was in an earlier age still perceived metaphorically - as the heavenly dwelling place of the gods. These metaphors appear childish to us today only because we lack the metaphysical awareness and cognition that underlay and gave rise to them. For us a planet is simply a planet - not the mighty body of a being, nor the materialisation of a metaphysical plane of reality. Metaphysical cosmology understands things otherwise. The beliefs of astrology may be quite unscientific in modern terms, but the language of astrology is itself a metaphor for a deeper understanding of the nature of man's link to the cosmos - for though the archaic symbols of astrology hold no truth in themselves they represent the last pictorial and mythological traces of a deeper metaphysical awareness that has been lost. Out of this awareness emerged an understanding of patterns of interrelatedness between different metaphysical aspects and levels of our being - and the metaphorical manifestation of these patterns in calculable cycles of physical time. To make use of these calculations and of the language of astrology is one thing. To recover the direct metaphysical awareness from which the symbols of astrology first emerged is another, for then the symbols themselves become dispensable.
The Iron Curtain of "Death"
Just as silence is the "other side" of language, so is death the other side of physical life, a side veiled and tabooed in silence. What we call "death" is a gateway to another plane of reality - the one closest to our own. It also represents our constant proximity to that plane and its inhabitants. Our beliefs about death, on the other hand, are like an iron wall that we have built around our lives on this plane, permitting of no commerce whatsoever with those who have passed through the gateway and perceive our own world from a quite different vantage point. Our social culture is built upon an invisible citadel of beliefs within which we go about our business, refusing to recognise the life that goes on beyond its walls. Were we to do so, were we able to see our world as it is seen by those on the other side of the wall, our perspective on world problems and on the course of our own lives would alter dramatically. The ultimate effect of metaphysical understanding and awareness is to remove the veil of spiritual ignorance surrounding death, not in order to peer into our own future beyond this life, but in order to lift the veil that separates us from what is closest to us - not only our own origins and destiny, but our own sources of a greater understanding. Within our citadels of belief there are many who worship thinkers and scientists of the past such as Jung or Einstein, and at the same time treat them as unpersons, now beyond the pale. We deny their current life in metaphysical reality and with it their current, considerably altered, ideas and perspectives. Similarly we identify knowledge of ourselves with knowledge gained in this life, with physical knowledge of our parents and biological origins, our families and social relationships, and of our culture's arts, sciences and religions. We deny the inner, metaphysical knowledge that each child brings with them into the world and do our best to deny their thinking the chance to ever bring this knowledge to expression.
Like imperial islands we see ourselves as surrounded by vast, largely uninhabited continents across the seas - judging any form of life that may exist on them as either primitive or monstrous and barbaric. We look out into space and see nothing except barren planets, with only the merest traces of life. We do not look inward, sensing within our dreams the nearness of other realities thronging with the lives of those who have passed through the gateway of death and in which beings dwell who in many ways know themselves - and us - better than we do. In this physical world facts - material commodities - are values. These are created through human industry and labour, and then imbued with a purely symbolic value by money and the power of marketing. In the metaphysical world, values are facts - huge power centres of metaphysical energy releasing particular propensities or potentials of Being within each being. But metaphysical values cannot be reduced to either material or moral terms and do not fit in to the social symbols, material and moral, that we create for them in society. Values are not inherited culturally or biologically - only their symbols are. Yet they are metaphysical facts - the spiritual genes that our DNA will never reveal, and that link us to whole spiritual families, communities, and cultures outside the mental walls of our physical lives.
Metaphysics and "Mysticism"
The symbol of the New Metaphysics is the Greek letter for "m", called "mu" ( ). In Greek, "mu" is both a letter, a syllable, and a word. The syllable "mu" is the root syllable of the words mystery, mystic, mystical and mysticism. All these derive from the Greek term for initiates - mustai - meaning the "closed mouthed ones". The Greek word "mu" refers to a type of wordless sound such as a "moan" or "groan", the sort of sound we make with the mouth closed, like the sound of the letter "m". Metaphysics understands the phonemic sounds of speech as echos of inner sounds or "metaphones". These inner sounds are shapings of metaphysical tone, imbued not only with meaning but with metaphysical energy. The "m" sound is particularly significant since it is a link between physical sound and inner sound, the physical body and the metaphysical body. Silently sounded, it seals and tones the human energy body - the metaphysical counterpart of the physical body. That is why it is a key sound in so many religious mantras such as "OM". Heard and sounded inwardly, speech sounds do not represent meanings, as ordinary words do. Instead, like mantras, they embody meanings - creating shapes or "bodies" of metaphysical energy. Both words and things, energy and matter, are an expression of their own inner sound - of the metaphysical tones of meaning. It is the metaphysical meaning of the sounds making up a word that links it to all other words containing the same sounds. "MU" is also the name of a sunken Pacific continent preceding Atlantis, and otherwise known as Lemuria or Lumania (both names also containing the sounds "m" and "u"). The best medium of physical sound is water. The medium of inner sound is feeling tone, for it is this that constitutes the oceanic currents of the soul, within whose depths our hidden past and our future are preserved. MU is a historical metaphor of a lost continent of the psyche and a lost metaphysical science - the science of inner sounds or metaphones. This science is also a practical and healing art - the art of modulating and shaping the inner tones of our being and using them to explore the depths of the psyche. This is the magic of MU, expressed through the meditational and psychic art of resonation.
© Peter Wilberg 1998