Archive for February, 2008

All the great philosophies, in one way or another, offer the same simple message: The reality we inhabit is no more than a thin skin stretched over the substance of true reality.

This skin might be compared to the tenuous films of air and water that sustains life on the surface of our planet. Everywhere above our heads and everywhere beneath our feet lies a vast, unknown domain.

There are many ways of conceptualizing this larger domain, all of them useful to a degree and all of them ludicrously inadequate. We are creatures of the surface and never experience the depth of reality directly. Instead, we infer its existence and nature through the effects it has on our mundane world — and we devise metaphors, drawn from the things we do know, to express our inferences.

Recently, many of our older metaphors — such as “God” and “spirit” — have become decidedly creaky and started to show their age. They were made for a world in which the social relationships and state of scientific knowledge were very different from our own, and they no longer function effectively to attune us to the workings of a greater reality.

Rather than pointing towards higher dimensions of existence, as they once did, those words have become coopted by the mundane world of power and greed. They are used to justify self-promoting agendas and have a largely negative impact on our public discourse.

We need a fresh start — and a supply of new metaphors with the power to challenge these once dynamic but now degraded words and images.

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