A deeper difference

Many of my online friends are people who might just say things like “I am a bird” or “I am a dragon” or “I am a woman in a man’s body” or “it is a scientific fact that my mind does not exist”. They all consider me a bit weird.

I am fed up with writing about moving. I am sure my birth family, if they even read the journal still from time to time, appreciate reading about my life. Even I would probably like to know if they move.  (One of my brothers evidently moved a few years ago, not that anyone told me for a couple years, so it is not entirely theoretical.)

But how interesting is it really? Unless you plan to visit me, or get some good ideas for your own moving, there is nothing in it for YOU. And I don’t write to get things off my chest. I write mainly because I love you and want you to know that life is not as limited as you thought when you just looked at your neighbors and relatives and wondered: “Is this all?”

To be human is to have an immense degree of freedom. There are many lifestyles, and you can mix and match and make your own … although some combinations are probably not as good as others. And of course there are some combinations you cannot technically achieve. You cannot live as both married and single at the same time. (Or at least hell will break loose when your spouse finds out!) You cannot go back to being a virgin later in life. You can’t spend all your money and save it too. So nature puts some limits on us. (That’s why we have The Sims, to try out those other options. And online journals, to see what happens when someone tries them out in Real Life.)

Wherever we go, there we are. If you are in your fifties, as I am, you cannot become quite like me, and I cannot become quite like you, although we could probably approach each other. But the paths that took us to where we are, diverged much earlier in life.

I’ve found a number of new acquaintances on Google+, more so than in all my time on Facebook. But they are basically the same as most of the old ones. There is a deep difference between us, and I have thought a bit about how to express that.

Basically, I think most of them are children of their time and proud of it, in so far as they know it at all. I am… more like a continuation of something very old. My postmodern friends have nothing but scorn for those who think the world was created 6000 years ago, and yet they seem to assume that our cultural world was created only a couple generations ago. They take for granted that there is nothing to learn from the Great Souls that appeared at critical points in the history of our civilizations:  A Lao-Tzu, a Buddha, a Socrates, even Jesus Christ. All these people lived before the modern age, so they must have been idiots.  You cannot know anything unless you got the facts right, and it is only just recently that we know everything that is worth knowing.

The truth is, of course, that every generation has known almost everything – in their own eyes. In the age between Newton and Bohr, science knew that the sun got its energy from gravity – the friction when its mass contracted heated it up to its temperature of about 6000 degrees, and when it began to cool just a little, the reduced pressure caused gravity to compress it just a little more so the temperature increased again. The idiot scientists who had lived before thought it was burning, perhaps fueled by coal. But now we knew the fact: It was gravity all along!

It goes without saying that if humanity soldiers on for another 100 years, scientists will laugh their butt off at many things we consider immutable facts today.  Currently, for instance, we assume that more than 95% of the universe consists of “dark matter” (which cannot be seen or observed in any way except through its gravity) and “dark energy” (which seems to be kind of like gravity but with the opposite effect). Come on. This is disturbingly similar to the “epicircles” that official science had to explain the movement of the planets before Copernicus began to suspect that the sun was at the center of the solar system, not the Earth.  Something is very much missing.

Our complete and comprehensive worldview based on facts is just the latest in a long series of comprehensive worldviews based on the known fact of the day. The scientific name for this is “mythology”. Each age has a mythology, a more or less unified body of myths that accounts for all the essential facts known by that culture at that time. Ours is no different. We just have dark energy instead of dark gods, as befits our particular culture.

Wisdom is not like that. It is not a collection of fact, but a way of thinking. It operates on a different dimension, and allows for “time travel” in the sense that you can make a stop in any culture, at any age, and apply wisdom to it. Or not, as is the case with most people at all times.

Aristotle honestly thought that one of the testicles made boy seed and one made girl seed, and you could decide the gender of your children by tying up one of them for a  long enough time. That doesn’t mean he was an idiot who has nothing to teach us. The truth is that you and I almost certainly believe in something equally idiotic, which is considered a scientific fact today.

Or to take a more recent example: Sir Fred Hoyle, one of the greatest astronomers of the 20th century, invented the phrase “Big Bang” to mock the newfangled notion that the universe had not eternally existed in its current form. At the time he coined that phrase, the notion that the universe had a beginning was considered a form of creationism and inherently unscientific.

So the difference between me and my friends is that they are children of their time, eager to tear down the rubbish of their mistaken ancestors. I am a children of  eons, the words of the Buddha and the Christ ring in my ears as I walk among the spires of steel and glass. “Everything that has form is subject to decay.” “What profit is there in winning the whole world if you lose your soul?”

As my body walks through space, my mind walks through time. I see the land as it was when the first farmers pulled their boats ashore, I see the small unpainted houses of a few hundred years ago, the cattle paths now hidden under the pavement. All things change. And every time the face of the world changes, people live in this new world as if it is the only world possible. This vast number of people are who I call “4-dimensional”, as they are trapped in the three space dimensions and the one time dimension. Their goals lie within the world of space and time and they cannot break the fifth wall – at least yet. That is not to say they can’t be good people, in some cases more so than I. And they certainly know a lot of things I don’t, too.

When did I take this path? My mother, before she passed on, told me that when I was little, I refused to let her read me fairy tales. “Tell me about when you were a girl, mama” I had pleaded her. Although I have read (and written) fairy tales since then, this core of my being has always persisted. When I moved away from home at the age of 15, I came to a house where there was one of those ridiculously long world history book collections, with blow by blow descriptions of ancient battles and in depth analysis of the archives of the Hittite civilization, that kind of thing. I was stuck there for hours a day. I did not think of it back then, it felt natural for me, just as when I was little, to travel in my mind to the past and back.

I was born like this, I had no choice:
I was born with the gift of a golden voice,
and twenty-seven angels from the Great Beyond,
they chained me to this table right here
in the Tower of Song.”
-Leonard Cohen, Tower of Song.