Abstraction p.1

Human contact with the Divine has changed and evolved as man has. At one time that was through magical-animist “religion”; later it was through the monotheisms, such as the primitive religion of Ikhnaton, later Zoroaster, Abraham, the Buddha, Moses, Christ, and Mohammed.

Each prophet prescribes a new religion built upon the new spiritual capacity developed by earlier worship. The earlier paradigm still works, but it has been superseded by another more suited to the character of mankind in a new age. The esoteric knowledge that forms the inner link between them fades over time (generally a half to a full millennium) and the differences in worship between the earlier and later groups become issues to fight over as the religion degenerates into ritual and superstition. This has been called the phenomena of “Truth Decay”.

Paganisms, which are ultra-concrete (especially when deteriorated into animism, where rocks, trees, and whatnot contain gods and spiritual law has degenerated to mindless taboo), infiltrate into the esoteric studies. In time the esoteric sweetness is lost and all that remains are empty rules about what to eat or not or what color to paint your nose and when.

Primitive paganisms were, as has been said of the C programming language and the Torah, “Lots of rules and no mercy”. If there was a great harvest the year Og chopped off his big toe in the cornfield, in ten years time the whole population will be hobbling around. Worse, preliterate civilizations had to rely on memorization and didn’t have the logical tools or context to speculate very much about their beliefs. Blind repetition was the only way to ensure that you got it right. And their religion was tied to life and death issues, like getting enough rain for the harvest, so pagan priesthoods probably viewed innovations and innovators like priesthoods do today.

The mental ability to figure out patterns and make deductions and predictions is part of abstract thought, and as this faculty has developed in man we have been able to understand the Divine in a new and exciting way –  in a fundamentally more accurate way.

Why should this be so? Because the universe we live in uses abstraction to infold and unfold its meaning. The fractal dimensionality of a Mandelbrot set of images is the “packed” version, while the images (or patterns in Romanesco cauliflower) are the “unpacked” version. Likewise, the Fibonacci series is a mathematical concept, but it blooms as the arrangement of sunflower seeds.

What relevance does this have for day to day life?

(Continued in Part 2)

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One response to “Abstraction p.1

  1. You might check this out for a perspective on the development of religion in society — and how it reflects the spiritual development of individuals — that I have found extremely helpful when trying to remain patient and kind to fundamentalists: The One Two Three of God by Ken Wilber

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