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Episode · 1 year ago

Lecture 16 THE SPONTANEITY OF BEING

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This lecture opposes, on the one hand, the traditional reliance on great religions for understanding the world and guiding our conscience and, on the other hand, the modern trust in science and political philosophy for developing a credible and sensible worldview, together with rules of conduct that follow naturally from the demands of social organization.

Meditation Time, Lecture Sixteen, the spontaneity of being. Humanity is gradually entering a phase of spiritual and intellectual maturity, though unfortunately at a snail's pace. On the moral front, every imperative traditionally associated with great religions can be derived from the rules of social organization. A pivotal example of such imperatives is this broad commandment you shall do no harm to others. Since the age of enlightenment, in the establishment of liberal democracies, these imperatives have become laws as logical offshoots of this route principle, the defense of individual liberties, essentially, everyone's freedom, hinges on the respect by one another of their respective freedoms. This...

...means that each member of society is required to abstain from violating the inalienable right of fellow members to freely pursue whatever they value most fellow members, whose complementary duty is to show the same abstention. Those who disregard this basic requirement are dubbed outlaws who have to suffer the cloud of law enforcers. Thanks to this enlightened form of political system that promotes human rights as opposed to oppressive monarchies, or dictatorships that alienate the people. And thanks to modern strides in human knowledge, including science and technology, the traditional reliance on great religions to reveal a creator that guides our conscience and explains reality is giving way, for a growing number of men and women to a type of naturalism that places the cause and purpose of everything squarely within the limits of the world as we know it,...

...empirically and theoretically. In this revolutionized context, great religions are increasingly regarded as a fanciful construct, a token of cultural infancy akin to breast milk that we can wean ourselves from by finding spiritual and intellectual sustenance in philosophy and science. In short, secular accounts for the way of nature be get a new breed of understanding that portrays the mainspring of all phenomena as a deterministic and evolutionary force that inheres in these phenomena. By contrast, religious account suspiciously portray this mainspring as an anthropomorphic and Patriarchal Creator who stands apart from his creation, like a watchmaker from the watches he makes. Christ, as the incarnation of God on Earth, is an exception in the biblical narrative that conveys the idea of divine...

...imminence versus transcendence. Thus, the secular mind no longer views the way of nature is the deliberate execution of a grand design by a rational God of infinite power and wisdom. Instead, it views this way as the spontaneous adventure of a creative principle that is immensely ingenious but has no innate knowledge. This principle combines a random process of trial and error with a determined process of internal selection that follows a specific orientation comprising attractors along two major lines, inert things and living beings. introspectively, this worldview feels intuitively correct because it matches our own innocent youth, as we learn from our mistakes to live more effectively and happily until the day we die. This time of inexperience and ignorance that we progressively...

...but never completely grow is not passed alone unassisted. We stand in solidarity with our elders, whose guidance expedites are learning process. Indeed, life is a story of both competition and cooperation between living beings, with outward experimentation and internal selection completing the storyline when we study the beginning of life on earth, nearly four billion years ago, our attention is initially drawn to the turbulent circumstances that surrounded the appearance of the first UNICELLULAR life forms, namely bacteria, in the primordial ocean, which then extensively covered the earth's crust. Most notably, we count among these circumstances salvos of asteroids, comets and meteors hurtling from outer space, fearce electrical storms and ultraviolet radiation in the Earth's atmosphere, together with constant...

...volcanic eruptions under water and above that besiege the planet. In brief, this was a violently unstable period. To help conceptualize the extraordinary character of this rough beginning, let us examine a simple yet powerful metaphor found in thermodynamics, convection cells. Under certain conditions, a heated liquid forms dissipate of structures made of large bubbles that are reminiscent of living cells. These structures remain in a state of dynamic equilibrium as long as the heat is maintained. So what started as a cause of disturbance in a liquid at rest becomes instrumental to the appearance of a new form of order that quite remarkably integrates this cause into a lively mode of being. The significance of external energy thereupon changes from destructive to constructive.

Likewise, the intrinsic genius of life consists in its ability to feed on the instability of its environment to keep regenerating itself, thereby converting this instability into a source of sustainability. Human wisdom is a mindful compliance with this intrinsic genius, a disposition to adopt a positive attitude in the face of difficulties and stay adaptable, capable of turning a bad situation to good account. In the end, the noise of contrary forces that are unsettling at the outset is transfigured, through various adjustments, into the harmony of a meaningful existence.

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