Rumination on energy, matter, and the soul

Language is an odd construct. We use it to organize our experiences in a way to help us “understand them”, “remember them” and “communicate about them”. Why all the “s? Well, we can only “understand” our experiences within the framework of our particular language and in the context of our prior experiences. That means to me, that  our “understanding” in the way we use that word, is not necessarily enhanced by language. It may be compromised. We are all subject to our verbal understanding of the way the world works, and that particular understanding may prevent us from having an experiential encounter which might change the way we think about thing.

As for remembering, all the latest studies seem to indicate that betting on the validity of our memory is not a whole lot less risky than betting on the lottery. Again, our need to “understand” to connect the dots in a meaningful way will lead us to construct connections that may or may not exist anywhere outside of our own “understanding”

While we obviously manage to communicate something to each other we also know how often we discover that the message we sent was not the one received. True, patience and a real desire to “get it straight” can help, but we are always the liberated prisoners of our own individual experiences.

With all of that as prelude, it makes total sense for me to now launch on a short  foraging excursion looking for some satisfying understanding regarding the relationship between the mathematical formula of E=MC squared, Wisdom LIterature and some of the thoughts of Jung, Freud, and Moreno.

Brief internet research led me to the notion, that while mass has specific meanings for the formula, it can be understood in a general sense in the same way we understand matter. Therefore it seems fair to me to say that matter is a visible manifestation of energy.A tree grows in the forest transforming, with the help of the sun, the nutrients from the earth into its body: trunk, branches, and leaves. When the tree falls back to the forest floor, it decomposes, going slowly from matter back to energy. If it is cut and thrown into a fire it is easier to see that it disappears into energy. Thus the verbal formula that parallels the mathematical one is: Energy manifests as matter and matter disappears into energy.

If we hold that formulation as a magnifying glass and peer through it at certain phrases and concepts that shape out understanding of life and death interesting ideas begin to emerge. I will leave the emergence of ideas to your imagination, only prompting  you for now with certain common understandings: from Buddhism the illusions of permanence and the futility of clinging to any thing. Letting go of attachment leads to enlightenment; from Christianity, the notion that “the Kingdom of God is within you” along with an immortal soul. If you substitute “energy” for soul  there is no dispute about immortality. The question comes with the issue of “identity” and that conversation (psychologically flavored) will have to wait for another day.

One comment

  1. David Lee · · Reply

    I read your message colored by a lecture by William James I read, today (in first edition). “Human Immortality”(1898) was a bit dull and larded with late 19th century verbosity. Curiously, it was dull to James, too. He teased the foundation that paid him to blab something on the subject by saying instead of finding somebody engaged with immortality, they merely found a university official.
    However, towards there was an engaging side comment and an even more powerful footnote. Here is his penultimate footnote.
    “The truth is that we are doomed, by the fact that we doomed, by the fact that we are practical beings with very limited tasks to attend to, and special ideals to look after, to be absolutely blind and insensible to the inner feelings, and to the whole inner significance of lives that are different from our own. Our opinion of the worth of such lives is absolutely wide of the mark, and unfit to be counted all.”

    I choose to think William James offers us a multi-dimensional challenge.
    For in the body of his lecture he said, “It is the most obvious fallacy in the world, and the only wonder is that all the world should not see through it. It is the result of nothing but an invincible blindness from which we suffer, an insensibility to the inner significance of alien lives, and a conceit that would project our own incapacity into the vast cosmos, and measure the wants of the Absolute by our own puny needs.” (pp. 36 & 37)

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