Theology Reconsidered: An Introduction

What follows is the Introductory chapter from a newly published, two Volume work entitled Theology Reconsidered.  The book can be purchased from Lambert publishing via their website; Volume I here and Volume II here.


When looking at the first mythological and philosophical works from antiquity, it is very easy to get lost in the “facts” surrounding these ancient works and lose sight of their true meaning and import to the people and cultures within which these works emerged from and out of.  Much of the modern academic and scholarly literature concerning these ancient “theo-philosophical” works falls into this category.  To a large extent, the purpose of this work is to try and “recover” said meanings of these ancient works as much as possible, and to look at them within a much broader theological, mythological and philosophical narrative that we find throughout Eurasia in the first millennium BCE, the so-called “Axial Age” of modern man.

In order to do this, we take a primarily intellectual journey through the mind of ancient man, as he sees the world and as is reflected in the earliest literary evidence of man, trying to understand these works not only within the broader “Eurasian” context, but also trying to look at them through the eyes of the ancient philosophers, theologians, priests and scholars who wrote these ancient texts, or in many cases were the ones to “compile” or “transcribe” these longstanding theo-philosophical traditions, but also to try and understand them within the theological, intellectual and socio-cultural context within which these works arose.  This broader meaning we call knowledge, which from a modern philosophical perspective is referred to as epistemology.

This knowledge is what Philo Judaeus takes great pain to describe in his exegesis of the Pentateuch, Genesis in particular, what the Neo-Platonists take pains to describe in their literature which arises in defense of their doctrines as Christianity takes root and begins to supplant and snuff out their schools of learning and wisdom, it is what is alluded to in the so-called hidden, or unwritten, teachings of Plato and that which is hidden, kept secret, by the followers of Pythagoras  and also in the Eleusinian mysteries and the alchemical Hermetic doctrines attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, and also what the Upanishads refer to as Brahmavidyā, or knowledge of Brahman, that from deep antiquity is believed to be passed down from teacher to disciple – as Plato refers to in his Seventh Letter as that which is “brought to birth in the Soul, as light that is kindled by a leaping spark, and thereafter nourishes itself.”.[1]

After the author completed his first major work, the Snow Cone Diaries, we considered the writing “experiment” complete, the Work was done.  Following that exercise, and for reasons we cannot completely explain, we found it necessary to flesh out some of the ideas therein, reflecting a continued interest, and ultimately curiosity, concerning the advent, development, and evolution of what we term theo-philosophical developments of mankind which abound in the historical record, following the intellectual journey as it were up until modern times, what we refer to herein as the Information Age, where Information is at our finger tips, where activity is “informed” by its surroundings (Quantum Theory), and yet while we all for the most part (and in particular in Western academia) ignore the wisdom of the ancients.

The Snow Cone Diaries was somewhat manufactured in the sense that it was intentionally modelled after one of the most influential books that the author has read written by a modern self-proclaimed “metaphysician”, or philosophologer (i.e. one who studies philosophy) named Robert Pirsig entitled Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, initially published in 1974 but which the author encountered and read during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years in college, years of great tumult and change for most, the author being no exception.

After college, as is documented in Snow Cone Diaries, the author spent several years pursuing a career in professional tennis which in the end amounted to more so than anything else a time period of intense reading and personal analysis and introspection that led the author, in a manner that can perhaps best be described as “chance”, or if you believe in such things, Fate as it were, to Eastern philosophy and mysticism.  The author had been prepared for this adventure somewhat as he had majored in Ancient History as an undergraduate at Brown University and had written his thesis on the “Origins and Influence of Hermetism”.  In a sense then, the author’s initial, and now very persistent and long lasting, foray into Eastern mysticism was a natural extension of the intellectual pursuits of his undergraduate years.

The impetus and source of the author’s interest in Eastern philosophy, Kuṇḍalinī Yoga specifically in fact, stemmed primarily, at least at the beginning, from an interest in the mental and psychological demands of the game of tennis at the professional level, where many matches were determined by an individual’s performance at key points within a given match.  After spending a 6-9 months on the professional tour, mostly travelling in Europe, It became very clear that an individual’s success (which was of course almost entirely measured in Wins and Losses) while depending of course on physical attributes such as power, strength and fitness, at the same time very much depended upon what is referred to in sports as the mental aspect of the game.

This somewhat revealing and interesting component of the game, which arguably is an aspect of all professional sports but is more accentuated as it were in tennis given that it is mono y mono so to speak, became even more pronounced when two opponents were somewhat evenly matched as it were, and victory hinged upon just a few points – which as it turned out happened more often than you might think.  The author became somewhat intrigued by this phenomena, if we may call it that, and he became fascinated with what in professional sports is referred to as The Zone.

As such, it became very clear that in order to get into The Zone, there was a very well documented and well-studied connection between what peak performance and what we might call “clarity of mind.  In turn, this clarity was connected to, and in many respects seemed to be dependent upon, what are even in the sports psychological literature referred to as the development and cultivation of various rituals and practices, both on and off the court, before, during and after matches, in order to facilitate and/or “bring about” these states of mind where peak performance could be “attained”, or in Eastern philosophical parlance, realized.[2]

With this background then, the author while he was playing and studying, began writing – primarily about the so called “mystical experience” which was such an integral part of the Eastern philosophical tradition and its fundamental relationship to The Zone as it was understood in Sports Psychology.  The effort was centered around (and to a large extent this is also true for the Snow Cone Diaries as well as the current work) an attempt to establish a rational grounding, or intellectual footing as it were, within which these states of mind could be better understood and as such better integrated, or at least somewhat integrated, into what the author now calls the objective realist intellectual framework that underpins not just Western academia, but also is clearly the very rational ground of the Western mind, or psyche.

For despite all the author’s education and training, mental and physical gymnastics galore as it were, no one had ever even broached the topic or discussed with him this idea of peak performance and its relationship to the cultivation of clarity of mind, and the related states of consciousness that were associated to these “states” as it were, despite the fact that it appeared to be an almost empirically proven correlation between the two – at least in Sports Psychology circles.  It also became clear over time that this goal of peak performance as it were was not just dependent at some level upon these so-called states of mind, but in fact that that there seemed to be a very direct, causal relationship between the two.  Furthermore, these very same states of mind that were described in the Psychological literature around peak performance were not only clearly an exteremly significant, and somewhat undervalued and under practiced, component of competing as a professional athlete at the very highest levels, but that they were also an integral part of the mystical experience as well as it was described in almost all of the Eastern philosophical literature.  And of course, after some reflection, these states of mind seemed to be an integral component to success in life, however one might choose to define such a thing.

Following the model of Robert Pirsig then, and because the author felt strongly that the ideas that he was exploring, presenting and analyzing were best understood only within the psychological and mental context within which the author himself initially encountered and confronted such ideas, the author felt compelled to take his initial more “academic” works and wrap them around a loosely fictional character which he named Charlie, as well create additional (also loosely fictional) characters to which Charlie was “responding” and “reacting” to in order to try and establish the empirical reality and power of the nature of mind, and along with it the fundamental truth and power of the ancient art of meditation and mysticism to which it is integrally tied.  For perhaps the hallmark of the Eastern philosophical tradition is the emphasis and description of the art of meditation and its relationship to the attainment of these states of mind, what the author calls the Science of the Mind as it were, an altogether Eastern discipline.

Using Charlie as his mouthpiece then, we essentially argue in the Snow Cone Diaries, as Pirsig had done before him, that not only are our current (Western) intellectual models lacking in some very basic and fundamental ways – given the lack of emphasis and focus on the mind and experience itself as basis of reality as we understand it – but that these limitations had, again as Pirsig had argued before him as well, significant implications on how society in the West functioned and how individuals within that society behaved toward each other as well as the nature of the relationship between individuals and (Western) society as whole to the world around them in general.[3]

Given the level of effort and personal sacrifices that were made to publish Snow Cone Diaries, and given that the author is by no means a full time writer and first and foremost has a demanding professional career and responsibilities as a parent that were and are first priority, we never thought that he would embark upon a subsequent work.  We thought we were done.  However, our interest in ancient philosophy and the art of meditation did not dwindle, and the author’s meditation practice continued to flourish and grow and (as it is wont to do as any persistent and schooled meditation practitioner will tell you) the practice itself continued to have a profound impact on us in the following ways as it pertains to this work specifically:

  1. Our own personal conceptions of the nature of reality and the disconnect between it and commonly held and systematically taught “belief systems” which we are taught from early childhood and are presented as “empirically true” in the West,
  2. a continued and increased dissatisfaction of the current prevailing “Western” worldviews and belief systems,
  3. a deeper appreciation for the eternal truths that the very first philosophers from classical antiquity, as reflected in the term the Axial Age, were trying to convey and seemed to be missed or passed over in much of the scholarly work surrounding these ancient texts and authors,
  4. that in fact there were many more parallels and commonalities between these various belief systems that were compiled in classical antiquity throughout “Eurasia”, much more so than was reflected in most if not all of the scholarly and academic work surrounding these traditions, and
  5. the disciplines surrounding the study of the philosophers of deep antiquity were “siloed”, in the sense that the Sinologists (Chinese) weren’t collaborating with the Vedic or ancient Sanskrit scholars and the “Classicists” who studied the ancient Greek philosophers didn’t seem to be collaborating with either of these two disciplines either

Given these facts, and after studying the various traditions from antiquity, again as reflected in the so-called Axial Age, even from a layperson’s perspective it seemed that there were underlying similarities and patterns that were being missed primarily because these disciplines in and of themselves independently requires such a rigorous and deep level of knowledge about the specific domain.  Those that could understand and read ancient Chinese script were not necessarily the same people that knew and could read Vedic Sanskrit, and these people of course were not necessarily the same people that knew ancient Greek or Latin, and in turn these people were not necessarily the same people that could read cuneiform of the ancient Sumer-Babylonians or the hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptians for that matter.

However, given that we now live in the Information Age, and that the translations of many of these texts, as well as the underlying meaning and etymologies of the various terms and words of the ancient languages themselves as reflected in the ancient writing systems that developed in the 3rd and 2nd millennium BCE throughout Eurasia, are now readily available, the time seemed to be ripe for a generalist of sorts to pull together the knowledge from all these somewhat disparate domains and bring them together in some sort of cohesive whole, in a more comprehensive and somewhat more scholarly fashion than had been done in Snow Cone Diaries, which was more of a personal journey tan it was an intellectual or academic one.

So given that the disciplines and domains of study and research described herein continued to impress themselves upon the author, and given our continued interest in ancient philosophy, and writing even after the publishing of Snow Cone Diaries, we ended up publishing two interim works thereafter that summed up and further explored some of the more esoteric and less well known aspects of Hellenic philosophy and their subsequent influence on the development and foundations of early Christianity, as well as an exposition of the philosophy of the Far East, the latter being and area of research that was relatively new to the author and that was not considered in the Snow Cone Diaries.[4]

The Far Eastern ancient philosophical tradition, what is referred to as ancient Chinese philosophy, which is covered in detail in the current work, is intriguing for many reasons but for the sake of brevity in this Introduction, suffice it to say that the Yijing, what is more commonly known as the I Ching, is arguably the most fascinating and intriguing theo-philosophical work from antiquity, hands down.  And the more the author studied it and was exposed to its origins and influence throughout Chinese history, the more impressed he was with its place as one of the greatest and most intellectual achievements in the history of mankind, one that reached far back into Chinese antiquity (3rd millennium BCE at least) and one that undoubtedly rivaled the Vedas and Avesta as representative of some of the oldest theo-philosophical treatises of ancient man.[5]

Furthermore, as the author began to understand more and more of the nature, content, structure and origins of the Yijing, the most prolific and influential of all of the ancient Chinese “philosophical” works, if we may call it that, it became apparent that its basic architecture, particularly from a numerological and metaphysical perspective, shared many common characteristics of ancient Pythagorean philosophy, in particular as reflected in the symbol that perhaps more so than anything else has come to represent said philosophy, namely the Tetractys.  Following this intellectual thread as it were, the author published what was supposed to be a small academic piece on the similarities from a numerological and arithmological perspective between “Pythagorean” philosophy, or what we know of it, and classical Chinese philosophy as reflected in the I Ching, what is referred to in this work as its more modern Romanized form, i.e. the Yijing.[6]


This work in its current form is to a large degree an outgrowth and evolution of the intellectual journey that is documented and mapped in the Snow Cone Diaries, and in particular an outgrowth of research done after Snow Cone Diaries was written exploring the nature and origins of early Hellenic philosophy and its relationship to early Chinese philosophy as well as ancient Vedic or Indo-Aryan philosophy as reflected primarily in the Upanishads, the latter of which was rigorously and systematically studied at the Rāmakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York under the guidance of Swami Adiswarananda to whom this work is dedicated to.

So while this work can at some level be considered to be extensive revision and expansion of the academic and intellectual pursuits that are reflected in the Snow Cone Diaries, it is distinctive from the author’s first major work in many respects and represents a much deeper dive into the material covered therein, as well as covers topics and areas of inquiry that are not covered.  Having said that, this work is much more “academic” in the sense that it represents – at least from the author’s perspective – a much higher level of scholarship than is reflected in the Snow Cone Diaries, and of course the personal narrative, Charlie himself, has been put to rest (God rest his Soul).[7]

Given the extent of the material covered in this work, the author in no way intends to represent it as an exhaustive study of any of the specific topics that is covered herein.  In fact, each chapter or section of the work could be covered, and is covered, in much greater length in a variety of works that are cited as references and for further study and research.  The author has however taken great pains to try and refer to, and directly cite, the most influential and comprehensive works that cover the various topics in question and of course the interested reader can follow these lines of inquiry and these references to learn more about any given topic.

The specific source material that is used is not only cited directly throughout as footnotes, but is also covered from a much broader perspective in the Sources and Bibliography section at the end of the work.  Perhaps more so than other works from before the 21st century, an era the author refers to as the “Information Age”, this work stands directly on the shoulders of many academics and scholars that have toiled and taken great pains to open up the world of antiquity to the modern Western reader and scholar through countless translations and historical books and records, many of which are now electronically available and upon which easy access the author has greatly relied.

There are no doubt particular sections or chapters which the author has glossed over in a manner that may be considered to be “superficial”, particularly by academics and scholars who have spent the better part of their professional careers studying and writing about the specific topics in question.[8]  However, each of the lines of thought represented in each Chapter of each Part of this work represent a coherent and cohesive whole and in their entirety, and of course for the sake of brevity (as ironic a term that may be given the length and scope of this work), is intended to show as complete a picture as possible in one text.

The approach from a reference and bibliography standpoint is to have significant footnotes and references directly within the material itself rather than, as is the case with most academic works, at the end of a chapter or even at the end of the work.  The footnotes, the explanations and small intellectual excursions which are reflected in the extensive footnotes that are included directly in the text not only serve to give credit to the reference material and the work and analysis put in by other academics and scholars on whose research and work mine ultimately depends and builds upon, but also as sidebar notes that may be of interest to the reader that provide direct links and references to works that the reader can refer to if they are interested in a certain topic that is not covered in detail in this work.[9]

The footnote style that is used is essentially adopted from the writings of Swami Nikhilananda (1895 – 1973), one of the foremost Sanskrit and Vedic scholars in the West in the 20th century.[10]  Nikhilananda’s works have in no small measure influenced the author, as he studied at the Rāmakrishna-Vivekananda Center which he founded in the middle of the twentieth century which was led by the author’s teacher, Swami Adiswarananda from 1973 until his passing in 2007.[11]

In this context, Vedānta, and more broadly what we refer to as “Indo-European philosophy”  in this work, is a central and constant theme throughout this work, in particular with respect to the modern conception of ancient Indian philosophy as it is presented in the teachings and works of Swami Vivekananda (1863 – 1902), one of the foremost proponents and most influential of the modern “Indian philosophers”.[12]  From the author’s perspective, Vedānta, as reflective of one of, if not the, oldest and richest of the Indo-European theo-philosophical traditions, can (and should) be leveraged as an intellectual and theo-philosophical benchmark of sorts for the recasting of the definitions of knowledge and reality in the West, one of the main thrusts of this work.


The work is divided into 4 major sections, Books or Parts, following more or less the intellectual development of mankind since the dawn of “history”, history in this sense being marked by the invention and widespread use of writing after which we have a “direct” or “first hand” exposure to the mind of man, or at least into the minds of the authors of the works that are covered herein.

  1. On Creation and On Metaphysics, Parts I and II: how the ancients looked at the world and defined reality and knowledge (),
  2. On Theology and Physics, Part III: how we came to our current, modern conceptions of reality and knowledge in the West (Part III), and
  3. On Ontology Part IV: a deeper and more comprehensive look at the nature of reality, Being in the sense that it was looked at by Aristotle and Plato as understood through a modern Western intellectual lens, and in particular in light of the knowledge of the East.

The chapters and sections in each of the respective Parts, or Books, are designed and written as much as possible to be modular as much as possible.  By “modular” we mean to say that they are written with the intention, again as much as possible, of being stand-alone essays or dissertations of their respective topics such that the reader can read a particular chapter without necessarily reading preceding chapters.  That is to say, the design of the work itself is such that it need not be approached or “read” in a sequential fashion from start to finish.  And of course as such, some material and content is repeated in the various sections and Parts of this work so that said “modular” design is achieved.  Given the breadth of the topics covered herein, this type of modular design is not only intentional but is almost required in order for the work to have value.  For if it is not read, it of course cannot have the intended impact or influence on modes of thinking which to a large extent the intended purpose of the work.

One of the main underlying themes of the work, especially in Parts I and II, is an exploration and analysis of the potentially shared origins of not just the mythology of the first “civilized” peoples in Eurasia, which the “Laurasian” Mythos hypothesis of Witzel, but also an expanded version of said hypothesis which analyzes and discusses the potential shared the origins of “philosophy” – what is referred to again as theo-philosophy throughout following the terminology of Snow Cone Diaries which brings attention to the fact that the earliest systems of “philosophy” from antiquity are not just analytical or rational systems of thought, but are also fundamentally theological in nature.

Parts I and II of this work are primarily focused on this area in history, the 3rd to 1st millennium BCE when we have introduced into the historical record evidence and documents that outline the Mythos of these early Eurasian peoples, specifically the creation narratives (what we refer to as cosmological or theogonical narratives), which is followed by a detailed analysis of the subsequent theo-philosophical tradition which emerges from, and is fundamentally and intrinsically related to, the underlying comsogonical narrative, i.e. again the respective Mythos.

Part III focuses on intellectual developments that take place in the West post classical antiquity from the intellectual developments that characterize Hellenic philosophy, through the advent of more orthodox religious or theological developments, straight through the Enlightenment Era and Scientific Revolution periods of Western intellectual history where effectively the worldview is overturned and Science, as we define it in more modern terms, begins to eclipse the dogmatic religious and theological worldviews that had dominated the intellectual landscape in the West for some thousand years prior, the so-called “Dark Ages” .

Part III then goes on to look at scientific developments in the 20th century, Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics in particular, which call into question our modern (and pervasive) notions of deterministic, objective based frameworks of reality, what we refer to collectively as objective realism, which represent from the author’s perspective a somewhat unintended byproduct of the Scientific Revolution and which, given their limitations with respect to understanding reality from a comprehensive or holistic perspective (i.e. ontology, or the study of the nature of being or reality), require – in the same intellectual spirit and intent pursued by Kant, Pirsig and other more modern Western philosophers – a wholesale revision in order for not only the two theoretical pillars of modern Science (Classical Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics) to be understood in any meaningful way, but also such that the knowledge and wisdom of the East is integrated into our conception and understanding of reality as well.

Part IV covers in detail much of the material that was first introduced in Snow Cone Diaries with respect to the fundamental incompatibilities of Quantum and Classical Mechanics, going into (theoretical) detail not just with Relativity but also Quantum Theory, as well as some of the philosophical, and ultimately metaphysical, implications of Quantum Theory, covering two interpretative models in particular that the author thinks are relevant to the ontological questions that are the topic of Part IV – namely the Relative-State formulation of Quantum Mechanics by Hugh Everett as well as the pilot-wave theory that is attributed to Louis de Broglie and David Bohm.  The Metaphysics of Quality as presented by Robert Pirsig is also offered up as an alternate model for ontological inquiry given its adoption and incorporation of the direct perception of “intuitive” reality directly into its metaphysics as it were.

Part IV then offers up various alternative interpretations of reality that attempt to present and synthesize what we understand about the nature of reality both from a scientific perspective, as well as from what we might term a mystical or spiritual perspective, models which directly incorporate experiential reality into account when defining reality or the extent of knowledge itself, i.e. what is referred to as epistemology in modern philosophical nomenclature.  The models and analysis in Part IV directly take into account the role of active consciousness, cognition and perception, what in Quantum Theory has come to be known as the act of observation which from a Scientific perspective, at least again from the author’s standpoint, must be taken into account in any formulation of reality and in any definition of knowledge.

The alternative approaches to defining reality and knowledge that are presented and described in Part IV basically synthesize typically “Eastern” and “Western” worldviews, and from the author’s standpoint, are far better suited than existing philosophical or religious intellectual frameworks to prepare us not just as individuals to survive and thrive in the modern, Information Age, but also are much better suited to serve the society as a whole, from a national as well as global perspective, given the level of interdependence and interconnectedness of not just the human race, but also the natural world within which we live and depend upon for our survival moving forward into the future.

The last several chapters of Part IV, much more so than the author originally intended in fact, are dedicated to a fairly lengthy discussion of a relatively modern debate surrounding different ways or approaches to interpret, how best to understand, the life and teachings of the 19th century Bengali (Indian/Hindu) sage Rāmakrishna Paramhamsa, a tradition of course to which this author is closely linked from a theo-philosophical perspective.  Rāmakrishna in this sense, and how he is perceived and approached in these final chapters of this work, is the full manifestation of, and in turn the perfect example of, the limitations of Western “thinking” and the implicit epistemological restrictions and assumptions that while true, are fundamentally limited in their capacity to deal with anything that falls outside of the realm of Science proper and as such is dealt with as a case study of sorts for the need to integrate the Science of the Mind as it were into any ontological framework that we are to choose that would include the knowledge of the East along with the knowledge of the West.

This so-called mystical, or supraconscious experience, which is the intended result of the practice of the ancient art of meditation as it has been passed down to us through various classically Eastern theo-philosophical traditions – in the Upanishads in particular but also implicit in the writings and teachings of Plato and Greek Eleusinian mystery and Orphic traditions and of course in the teachings of Buddha as well – are presented as a necessary and integral component of any “redefinition” of reality and knowledge which, following any sort of rational interpretation of Quantum Theory must take into account the role of the observer and the act of cognition i.e. perception, into account in any coherent and complete model of reality.

Along these lines, various intellectual frameworks and models which include direct experiential reality are explored and discussed at length in Part IV, as well as in the Epilogue, with specific chapters dedicated to the re-interpretation of Upanishadic philosophy as presented by Vivekananda in the early 20th century as well as an objective analysis of the experiences and interpretation of the life of Paramhamsa Rāmakrishna in particular who according to tradition of course was the primary influence and inspiration for Vivekananda’s teachings and life in general.

Rāmakrishna as a mystic then, and mysticism  in general – specifically defined by the practices and experiences associated with the direct perception of the ground of reality and existence itself which is the hallmark of Eastern philosophy – is not only one of the main, recurrent (and under emphasized) themes of ancient theo-philosophy in all its forms throughout Eurasian antiquity as reflected in the material in Parts I and II of this work, but also from an ontological standpoint represents one of the other main thrusts of this work which is covered in Part IV as well as summed up in the Epilogue which follows Part IV.

This “Western” view of Rāmakrishna, which is primarily represented in the book Kālī’s Child (a work which is critiqued at length in Part IV and the first section of the Epilogue as well) is from the author’s perspective a perfect illustration of the fundamental limitations of Scientific inquiry as we understand it in the modern Ear in the West.  An intellectual domain that rests squarely on the implicit, and very often left out, assumptions of not just empiricism and rationalism, philosophical modes of thought which characterized the Enlightenment Era for the most part, but also causal determinism and again objective realism, which provide the very basis for epistemology (i.e. our scope and understanding of knowledge itself) in the West, be they recognized as such or not.

Therefore when it comes to understanding, or again interpreting from a Western intellectual perspective, fundamentally Eastern theo-philosophical constructs such as Satcitānanda, Brahman, Purusha, Dao, or Nirvana, all words and terms that fall outside of Science proper in the West given their lack of empirical, objective reality and yet at the same time reflect concepts and ontological principles that are fundamentally required to come to any sort of understanding of any great sage, saint or prophet in the history of man – Paramhamsa Rāmakrishna included.  The choices we are left with given the modern Western intellectual landscape are the need to either study these domains specifically where these words and their associated meanings originate from, or alternatively expand our intellectual domain in the West to include some sort of corollary to these ideas, what they inherently mean and signify – the latter of which is the approach that Pirsig takes by formulating a new metaphysics which he calls the Metaphysics of Quality but what he unfortunately falls short of doing, a topic covered at length in the Epilogue as well.

This analysis of course lends itself to one of the core and final arguments of this work, namely that the intellectual and metaphysical model that is applied to reality in the West, i.e. our ontological framework, while being extraordinarily powerful from a natural philosophical perspective, i.e. Science, is in fact an inadequate conceptual framework for the comprehension of the full scope of reality and therefore  is in need of wholesale revision and/or significant expansion and extension metaphysically and theo-philosophically speaking in order to support a more broad definition of reality through which a more complete and fuller understanding of existence itself can be at least approached.  Hence the title of Part IV of the work, On Ontology.


[1] See Plato, Letters.  Letter 7, aka Seventh Letter 341c – 341d.  From Plato. Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 7 translated by R.G. Bury. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1966.  See  While the actual authenticity of the letter by Plato is debated by scholars it does for the most part reflect the writing style and philosophy as presented by Plato from the author’s perspective and so while perhaps not written by Plato’s hand, still nonetheless seems to accurately represent something akin to what Plato would write, specifically with respect to the specific part of the work cited herein.

[2] The Psychology of peak performance was spear headed in the Nick Bollettieri Academy in the 70s and 80s by the now well renowned and prolific Dr. Jim Loehr, now founder and Chairman of the Human Performance Institute.  See

[3] An overview of Pirsig’s work and his invention of a new mode of thinking to address some of the inherent limitations of the modern, Western worldview which he refers to as the Metaphysics of Quality are covered in some detail in the final section of this work.

[4] These works are Philosophy in Antiquity: The Greeks and Philosophy in Antiquity: The Far East respectively.  Both published by Lambert Academic Publishing in 2015.

[5] Tradition has it that Confucius is believed to have said that if he had fifty years to spare, he would spend it to contemplating and studying the Yijing.

[6] The original paper by the author regarding the similarities between Pythagorean philosophy and the Yijing is entitled “Numerology and Arithmology in Pythagorean Philosophy and the Yijing”, published in 2016 and can be found at

[7] Two interim works were published by the author covering Hellenic philosophy and Chinese philosophy specifically that were leveraged as source material for some of the content herein, specifically some of the content in Parts I and II of this work.  See Philosophy in Antiquity: The Greeks (2015) and Philosophy in Antiquity: The Far East (2016), both published by Lambert Academic Publishing in 2016.

[8] In particular the author cites the sections on Enlightenment Era philosophy as well as Arabic/Muslim philosophy as examples of Chapters which could be expanded upon greatly and to a large extent do not do justice to the actors and individuals, and the belief systems which they put forward in their writings, described therein.

[9] The footnotes also incidentally serve as reminders and reference points to the author himself so as sections of material are revisited and/or reworked and/or revised, the pertinent sources are readily available.

[10] Swami Nikhilananda is a direct disciple of Sarada Devi (1853 – 1920), the consort and wife of the 19th century Bengali sage Paramhamsa Rāmakrishna (1836 – 1886).  He is also the founder of and subsequent leader of the Rāmakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York from 1933 to 1973 and is one of the foremost interpreters (and translators) of Vedic philosophy into English in the 20th century.  He has authored definitive translations with extensive commentaries on the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gītā, and he is also known for providing the definitive English translation of the Srī Srī Rāmakrishna Kathāmrita, commonly referred to in the West as the Gospel of Srī Rāmakrishna, a monumental work covering detailed teachings and events of the last few years of Rāmakrishna’s life as seen through the eyes of one of his foremost (householder) disciples, Mahendranath Gupta (1854 – 1932), or simply ‘M’.

[11] See for information regarding the Rāmakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York.

[12] Swami Vivekananda was the first to introduce Yoga and Vedānta to the West at the end of the 19th century.  He was the foremost student and spiritual successor of Paramhamsa Rāmakrishna, a figure who is dealt with at length in Part IV of this work.  Vivekananda’s modern conception of Vedānta and Indian philosophy more broadly, is also covered at length in Part IV of this work.

What can we do?

We look around and what do we see?
As we live our little boxes in the sky
Or our homes that we build on plotted our land
With food processed and shipped
And the environment raped to serve our needs
Until Earth herself cries out in anguish
As her forests are pillaged
And her seas exploited
And all the wonderful beasts and other wonders of life
Disappear from our planet at an ever alarming pace

But we shuttled down these high rises
We commute on trains and buses and automobiles
To get to our place of business
Which provides us the means to live
The currency to exchange for goods and services
That serve all our wants and desires
And the wants and desires of those who depend on us
To try and make it easier and better for those that depend on us
The next generation
But what d we teach them?

In our elevators and subways
Filled with clones just like ourselves
Glaring into their cell phones
Virtually connecting
With friends and colleagues perhaps
Who have well crafted personages
That show the world the pieces of ourselves
That we want them to see
Hiding behind these virtual walls
All sharing the same fears
And all looking for the same love
Which seems to slip through our fingers
That grains of sand
The tighter we grip, the more quickly it fades

Or perhaps they are simply waiting for that one message
That one like or that one comment
From that one special someone that we used to hold so dear
That will just never arrive
For to them we just filled a need a certain period of time
Satisfied that desire until it became too much
Or they just tired of us and wanted to move on

These are human emotions and challenges
That we all share
And yet we sit in our shells thinking
That our problems are real and unique
And to hell with everyone else
For if capitalism is nothing else
It is every man for himself
For the good of the economy
Which only serves to line the pockets
Of those whose pockets are so deep
They could not reach the bottom with a ladder

But we hope beyond hope
That we seek and what we are after
Will provide that elusive happiness
That is the whole purpose of this silly game now isn’t it?

From the very beginning, it was about survival
We were given brains and smarts
We built tool and weapons
And clothes and shelter
We formed social groups and gatherings
That banded together and foraged together
And protected each other in times of warfare and famine
All bound by the great laws that Darwin ‘discovered’
That allowed of the strongest of the species to propagate
To give the next generation the best possible chance to survive
By natural selection he called it
Nature’s way of giving us a chance
To live on

Qualities such as strength and protection
Prerequisites to dominance and the creation of territorial boundaries
To ensure access too food and other resources
That would allow our tribe to survive and maybe even thrive
And provide a better world for those that came after us

All of these things have been wired into us
Since we evolved from the chimps
So many millions of years ago
Without these traits
These means of survival
We would not be around today to talk about how great we are
And how great a nation we live in
And how our interests need to be protected
At all costs
Even if that means taking the war to the enemy
Overseas at great expense
To the taxpayers and the men and women of service
Who give their lives for this ‘just’ cause
Creating the mounting debt
Which in the end just lines the very same pockets
Of those that ‘protect’ our national interest

Is this no different
Than those that forced the draft upon us in Vietnam
That fought and battled in the shadows of the cold war
To the Muhammad Ali’s, Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King’s of the world
Who made great sacrifices to stand up for what they believe in
To fight for the the injustices in their homeland
To stand up against the interests of power
Who even to this day keep this great social divide in place
To serve their interests
And keep the naysayers at bay
With their powerful lawyers
And the legislative branch at their disposal
As they fill their coffers for their next election

To fight the fight of all fights
Muslim, Christian, Jew
Black, White, Yellow
None of that mattered
These great prophets, Jesus included,
Made these great sacrifices
So that the people that followed int their footsteps
hight live win a more human world
With perhaps just a trace of empathy
For our fellow man

Is this no different then
This system of ours and our great laws and justice system
Than the Great Books that were written
Inspired so they say even in ancient times
The Qur’an and the Torah
The Bible and the Bhagavad Gita
All meant to inscribe and instill
National and religious pride in its members
Laying claim to the one true word,
The One true God
Which surpasses all others
And who has handed down laws, commandments even
Which we must obey
Or face the wrath of the Lord
To protect the status quo

Look closely my dear friend
Look closely at how and why and who crafted these Great books
And what you invariably find is that they are designed to protect
Those that have power from losing it
And give them at the same time to enforce their will
Upon those that defy it

We must say yes
The rule of law and the creation of an International body of ‘peacemakers’
Is certainly a step forward
In the evolution of man and the spreading of some form of justice
To all around the globe
Even though we all know that those that are ‘protected’
And those that are not
Are separated by economic interest and national gain
Just like those the home

One of the truly great things about America no doubt
Is our self proclaimed ‘freedom’
But freedom from what exactly?
Freedom to speak our minds without risk of banishment or imprisonment?
Sure we can say what we want but what are the consequences?
Ask Curt Shilling after being let go from ESPN after a Tweet
About whether or not gender neutral, or perhaps better put gender confused,
Should be allowed to determine which bathroom they go into

Our freedoms constrained by the deep pockets
Of those to whom our attacks are directed
And while this system of law may seem fair in how we present it to the rest of the world
When you line up the lawyers and draft the court documents
It is invariably the ones with the deeper pockets and the greater commitment to their cause
That win the day in the end
Which more often that not, more often than we wish to admit
Is to protect the staus quo, and ensure the rich and powerful remain so
And that the people that serve them
Stay inter rightful places
The caste system of the 21st century
Is created before our very eyes
But we fail to see it, and we call it freedom
As if we fool everyone into believing it to be so

While teams of lawyers get behind various causes of ‘injustice’
Class action lawsuits ensure
Thousands and even millions of dollars are spent
In the name of justice and freedom
But really its to empower the lawyers
And laden their pockets full of money

And game this system of justice that we hold so dear
That has now been so saturated with lawyers and thieves
And the makers of the laws themselves
Follows to the later the advice and instructions of the powerful lobbying forces
Funded by major corporations that want nothing more
Than to keep things just the way they are
To protect their power, to protect their money
And keep their bubble world
Insulated from the harsh reality and conditions of the 99.9%
Who struggle to pay rent and put food on the table
And who try desperately to educate their young
And keep them off the streets
And out of the prisons that they all seem to end up in

Is this no different then
Then the story told in the Bhagavad Gita
And how it espouses Arjuna to fight
On the eve of battle and do his duty, follow his dharma
Obey and accept his station in life
So that those in power can stay in power
And that everlasting life, enlightenment itself can be his
If he just just stands and fights
A ‘just’ war for a ‘just’ cause

And the Judeo-Christian faith, and the Muslims too
The Church perhaps, the worst offender of them all
In the name of peace and love and faith in God
Who had their great crusades
Under the guise of Religion
But with empirical ambition the real reason behind it al
Jesus was put to death on the cross
Muhammad built his kingdom
Moses led his people from Egypt

No doubt these religious movements
Brought these peoples together
Unified them and established great city-states, nations and alliances
Bound by common religious beliefs
The great opiate of the masses

But why? To what end?
For the construction of empires of course
And the mass of wealth for those that ran those empires
The same story told over and over again
Where now even one wonders if the story can be changed
It is so ingrained in our society
So ingrained in our system of government
Here in the West and the East
One undertake guise of democracy, freedom and capitalism
And the other undertake guise of Religious statehood and Divinely inspired law

And we look from the West
With the sharia law we see
Yes it is barbaric in some cases
No doubt the stoning to death
Of women who marry without parental consent
Is bestial by any moral or ethical standards

But a democratic nation, a capitalistic one
The one we live in and find ourselves caught in
How much better is it really?
For what we have gained
In a system so fraught with greed and lust for power
That entire regulatory bodies have had to be created to reign it in
Even greater substantiating the financial burden of its citizens
As we prepare ourselves for the next major bailout
Of the financial firms that are simply just too big to fail
Line the pockets of the great new aristocracy
We have created modern times

Muhammad’s laws are dated no doubt
As most certainly are those of Moses
The Church is coming along
But still has its political motives
As it fills its own coffers in the Vatican
And looks to convert followers

And so we are left with one question, maybe two
What can we do? What is our purpose here?
Whereas the ancients that was a simpler question
Which started with survival
And progressed with the ‘advancement’ of civilization
To the pursuit of individual happiness
Which could be found in the study of ethics
Alongside the design of the perfect society
Ruled by the philosopher king in Plato’s words

Which in today’s parlance is simply Tyranny
With a naive faith in the Tyrant’s ability
To act into best interests of its people
Which runs entirely against millions years of biological evolution
Which has wired us to take care of our own first
At the great expense of others as needed
This is the mark of the human race
The true character of the human being
Homo sapiens, God’s great creation.

This is the true legacy of the Greeks in a way
Not Democracy or Philosophy
It’s the breaking down of knowledge into such small and tiny portions
Such that true knowledge and wisdom
Which Socrates so humbly professed he knew none of
And humanity and its relationship with nature
Has been almost completely lost
And hangs on by the thinnest of threads

In all the divisions and distinctions
And different modes of thought
That all subserve mother Earth and her fruits
To the pursuit of the pleasures of mankind
Backed by the Great Book
Handed down from God to Moses
Genesis all but tells us this
That these beasts and plants
These creatures of the sky and the water
Were given over to us to have dominion over
And use as we wish
And that we have done
Leaving the spirit of these beautiful verses
That have inspired us for two thousand years
In the hamper in the trash
While we continue to milk Mother Earth and all her inhabitants
Until one day they will all be gone
And the err of ways will finally be looking us in the eyes
And we will have no answer
But claim only perhaps that it was the prior generations
That did not set things straight
And perhaps they will be right

And where have we come after all these centuries?
What have we really progressed into?
What have we truly gained?
Take out Chinese – check
Mobile phones and Facebook – check
FaceTime with friends all around the world – check

And a loneliness and detachment that is beyond our imagination
As we walk through this world with our headphones on
Tuning out to the homeless on the street
And all the passers by
Ignoring all the angst and frustration
That is almost brewing over the cauldron of our cities
It can be seen in the hostility and anger
That is shout between and among fellow citizens
Ss they fight to make a red light or find a parking spot
Just to get to work
Where they can chase that mighty dollar

Perhaps Montana, Utah, Colorado, Washington, Canada even
Are all different.
Where you get a hey or a wry smile when you pass by
And humanity, what makes us human, the human condition itself
Is shared in a passing moment filled with a quick glance between total strangers
As a door is held open
As a dropped paper is picked up
As a smoke is lit by a strange
As a dollar is dropped in the cap of someone whose life has left them homeless

What can we do?
But plow on and do our duty
Provide for those that count on us
And make the sacrifices necessary to do
Use whatever means possible
To make good on our compromises
While still holding on to some moral and ethical creed
That brings us to the rest of humanity
And to the rest of the creatures we share this beautiful planet with

And keep our judgments to ourselves
And be not greedy with our well wishing
With our hellos and goodbyes
With our ‘have a nice days’ exchanged to strangers in elevators and on the street

Make the world a better place
Starting and ending with you and how you treat people
And battling those demons inside you that make you just want to run away
Run away with all the hatred that became calcified in your heart

Turn the other cheek he says
That is his greatest dictum
Not that he rose from the dead
But that he taught us the ultimate sacrifice

That for a friend, to back him up and love him still
After he betrayed you and gives you up to the authorities
The very same people you were rising up against
Even if that meant being dragged through the streets
Carrying the very same cross that he was to be nailed to
To suffocate to death in excruciating and unimaginable pain
To hold fast to his beliefs in love and truth
No matter what the cost

We need not be martyrs
We can not all find that strength
But we can be nice and kind
And forgive those that trespassed us
Just as we wish to be forgiven by those that we have trespassed
And pray that tomorrow we may be a better person
Than we were today

And maybe at the very end
As well all slowly march to that imminent doom
When the show is over and the lights go out
We might have made a difference in this world
And can find peace at last

The Storm

The Wind whips through the Sky
Pounds against the buildings and the streets
Whistling through apartment windows
Breaking the safety and piercing through

Singing and Dancing as she goes
Declaring her strength.
Showing her ferocity.

Strength and Force are her Weapons.
The howl of the wind her speech.
The rain and snow her clothing.
Her rapture.

The Sun, the Moon and the Stars her jewelry.
All Her Message.
All Her Reminder.
She is close.
Even when she is far.

We sit, safe and sound within our fortresses
Under the Illusion of safety
But she will find us.
She will catch us.
In the end, there is no escape.

With all our arrogance.
Our “mastery” of Her.
The illusion of control.
The illusion of fact.
The illusion of Science.
There is but her.

Wrapped in Nature.
Wrapped in the Stars.
Wrapped in the Mountains.
Wrapped in our Buildings, our cities.
Wrapped in our books and our Words.

Obeying laws as she sees fit.
Following Reason.
And yet when she wants, when she wills.
She buffets this world in her pleasure.

Beatings and Rumblings handed down from the beginning of time.
From these beginnings the Earth was founded.
Created by herself from herself
For her own enjoyment.

These are the gods of old.
The Wind, the Stars, the Sea.
All of these forces of Nature.
We look upon them now as the inexplicable, the ignorance.
And yet how much do we really know?

Why are we here?
From whence did we come?
Who is our maker?
What is it about homo sapiens that makes us so special?
All of these basic questions
These pillars of Science have yet to answer.
Claiming only that one day they will be answerable.

When we chase the last atom
To the beginning of time.
We will declare “look, we have found it!”
What nonsense have we latched onto as truth.
And yet the theists nonetheless
Are steeped in their own ignorance.
Their own arrogance.
Or are they?

The myths, the stories, the tales.
That were told to children
Over the Fire and the Wind and the Stars
In days gone by.

Were these Tales true?
Did they captivate the minds of the people
And did they stir the Souls?
And was this not the point after all?
And is this not what makes us human?

The Truth lies only in the storm.
In the heart of the chaos, there is calm.
If we seek to find it.
And in this calm, at the very center.
There lies the Answer.

The Soul.
Deep within the heart of the Storm
Peace can be found.
If we but look.

To Stare into the eyes of the Monster.

To What End: The Limits of Science

Charlie could remember back to when some of this had all started to germinate.  He was still in school back then.  Back in Providence.  When he was a ‘student-athlete’, whatever the heck that meant.  But in his better moments, he was an amateur philosopher.  Exploring the nature and depths of his own mind, and looking at and analyzing the scientific and analytical models that were presented before him that described reality.  There was hard science, there were the arts, and there was philosophy.  And certainly if you read something in a textbook presented by a Professor with a PHD, it must be true.  A hard fact.  Undisputed.

The sciences were a little tough for Charlie though.  He steered clear of disciplines that had lab hours or were brutally difficult to get through.  That left out most of the sciences.  He didn’t get into software engineering until much later.  Until he had to find a way to make a living that didn’t involve hitting a yellow fuzzy ball.  He did read some Einstein though, and some Stephen Hawking, just to try and get an understanding of the scientific models that underlie the physical world that we lived in.

What struck Charlie about some of these models, not that he understood them completely of course (nor did he think that he completely understood them today), was the limitations that seemed to be present in their descriptive power.  For Quantum Theory in particular, you had this embedded notion of “uncertainty”, some sort of probability distribution of outcomes that mapped the behavior of these subatomic things, a model that by design was incompatible with the tried and true notions of classical physics, that things and objects were real, had mass and velocity and “existed” beyond any act of observation or measurement, even if their “reality”, as defined by these measurable quantities really, was relative at a very basic level to the frame of reference of the observer.  The models were supposed to describe the world we lived in, at least better than any of the other theories that were out there, and yet they seemed to just beg more questions.

Quantum Mechanics even had a principle they called the uncertainty principle.  In physics?  So part of the theory is there are certain limits on what can be known?  That seemed very odd to have a principle called the uncertainty principle, which was so well defined, mathematically even (Δψp Δψq ≥ ℏ/2 if you must know) that sat right square in the middle of the hardest of sciences.

In an oft quoted passage, one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century and one of the original formulators of Quantum Mechanics, Max Born had this to say about the limits of Quantum Theory, which calls out directly the epistemological limits of science itself to some degree.


“ …To measure space coordinates and instants of time, rigid measuring rods and clocks are required. On the other hand, to measure momenta and energies, devices are necessary with movable parts to absorb the impact of the test object and to indicate the size of its momentum. Paying regard to the fact that quantum mechanics is competent for dealing with the interaction of object and apparatus, it is seen that no arrangement is possible that will fulfill both requirements simultaneously… ”[1]


So science had its limits then.  Scientists themselves recognized these limits.  And they gave the limits names.  And they named this one the “uncertainty principle” or “relativity”.  That said it all, Charlie remembered thinking.  So even hardcore theoretical physicists recognized the limits of their models and the methods that they used to arrive at and measure outcomes.  What we call science, which was based upon empirical study and verifiable evidence, what we deemed to be the boundaries of our physical world, appeared to be simply a map of the territory and smacked of some very basic underlying limitations.

And yet the Western mind, if one could generalize such a thing, was rooted in the fundamental belief of the “reality” of the physical world, believing that all experience and reality was explainable and predictable, basing its assumptions on what appeared to be Reason and Logic, built on empiricism essentially or what Pirsig called logical positivism.  So Charlie, and science itself it appeared, was presented with this philosophical problem, where the implications of this belief system, and its limits in fact, its basic assumptions about “reality”, should be well understood, and well taught.  And yet these limitations weren’t taught.  The assumptions that were built into these models that modern science directly called into question seemed to be brushed under the rug so to speak.  David Bohm’s struggle throughout the end of his career in fact reflected this struggle to have these basic assumptions, which rested at the heart and pinnacle of modern science, brought to light in some meaningful way, which in turn forced him to construct a broader theory of knowledge which incorporated physics, and the mind, and directly spoke to the basic assumptions of Western science which no longer seemed tenable.

Then there was this whole religious orthodoxy thing that remained a mystery to Charlie, and yet still held tremendous influence and sway over millions and millions of people throughout the world.  Not to pick on Christians here, as the Muslims and Jews (mainly the Abrahamic religions for the most part it seemed) all had their religious orthodoxy which held their Scripture to be divine revelation and to be interpreted literally and used as a reference guide to life itself, despite the fact that it was clear that this Scripture which they held so dear was clearly interpreted, translated and compiled by authors who were definitely not the prophets in question.  It did not take too much research to find out that neither Moses, nor Jesus nor Muhammad actually wrote anything down, they were presumably too busy living and teaching and reveling in the glory of the Creator.  These Evangelicals, who regarded the word of their God, as it was translated from the original Greek or Hebrew or Arabic as the case may be, should be interpreted literally and the ‘subjective’ experience of mystics should be ignored because it doesn’t have a basis on objective scientific truth, God reveals himself only to his chosen people.  That just didn’t seem to hold water to Charlie.  That premise seemed to lack the very rational foundations that it held so dear.

His mind rolled back to his senior year in college.  He and Jenry were roommates.  They lived in some shabby old house right by the local pub they used to go to all the time – Oliver’s it was called.  The location was great, but the place was practically falling apart.  It was college though, you were supposed to live like that apparently.  And yet in this setting, there was room for abstract thought, some exploration of the ideas and concepts that were being pressed into their formative minds.  And Charlie was doing enough reading, was exposed to enough of basic principles that formed the basis of modern science, that his mind was able to see a hole in the framework.  A hole in the model as it stood.  And yet he didn’t understand why this hole wasn’t more obvious to everyone around him, or at the very least, why this hole didn’t grab as much attention as he thought it should.


Physics as it stands today rests on the conceptually framework that physical reality is measurable and quantifiable and fundamentally “real”.  And this entire framework rests on the belief in, ultimate faith in, the predictive power of advanced mathematics to represent the physical world.  This branch of knowledge, and it was important to keep in mind that this was but one branch of knowledge, takes as given that the physical world is of three dimensions, dimensions represented by Cartesian (Euclidean) space that could be mapped in a basic x, y, and z coordinate system that could be present the location of anything in physical space.  And in turn, that time was mapped over it as the fourth dimension and always moved linearly in one direction.  This model had lasted from the time of the Greeks until Einstein’s day, more than two thousand years.

But Einstein postulated, and the boundaries of the theory were proven by later scientific experiments, that time and physical space itself was not only a function of the observer, that time and space in and of themselves were “relative” in fact, that the faster you approached the speed of light, the more your notion of time and space diverged from that of an observer at rest, the more relative time and space became.  But he also proved, that in order to build a more comprehensive model of physical reality, space and time needed to be fundamentally linked as conceptual constructs, and in fact, at the cosmic scale, spacetime was elastic, it “bended”.

Quantum Mechanics in turn showed that not only did the subatomic world operate according to very different and wholly irreconcilable laws than that of “classical physics”, but that the nature of physical reality was much more complex than perhaps we could ever imagine, that the underlying physical structure of the universe, of all of the physical world in fact, behaved not only according to the principles of matter, or particles, but also according to wavelike principles as well.  Hence the wave-particle duality paradox that sits at the heart of quantum reality and remains one of its great mysteries of science.  But Quantum Theory also shows us unequivocally that the idea of “measurement”, which sits at the very core of the philosophy of Western science, has limits, and that irrespective of the conundrum between classical physics and Quantum Theory, there remain interpretative questions about Quantum Theory itself that are still unanswered and force us to incorporate philosophy, metaphysics, our definition of knowledge and reality itself, back into the discussion.

What Bohm searched for, where he branched from theoretical physics into the realm of metaphysics, left the reservation so to speak, was in his search for unified order which he was compelled to establish after concluding that the only rational explanation of Quantum Theory was a notion which he called undivided wholeness.  He did not see a purely mathematical and theoretical answer to the seemingly irreconcilable differences between classical physics and quantum reality.  His premise seemed to be not only that a mathematical model that incorporated both the principles inherent to Einstein’s General Relativity and those that underlay Quantum Theory was not only impossible, but that in order to make sense of the “reality” of the models that described the two different domains, an adventure beyond physics was inevitable.

Bohm saw that the only path of reconciliation as it were lay outside the domain of physics and in the realm of metaphysics, where the notion of Mind and the Intellect were an integral part of the process of experience, i.e. his holomovement concept, and were directly incorporated into the theoretical model.  He effectively concluded that any study of the nature of the physical universe led one, from a rational and empirical basis alone, to the notion of an underling implicate and explicate order structure in which various explicate orders were perceived and stood unfolded from an underlying coherent implicate order structure that was characterized by some level of undivided wholeness, a concept within which thought itself was an integral part.

The implications of an explicate and implicate order framework for reality, given Bohmian Mechanics which illustrates the possibility of non-local hidden variable theories to explain Quantum Mechanics, is that the existence of a supposed “unified field theory”, or a model of “quantum gravity” so sought after by physicists since Einstein, is highly unlikely.  To take the implications one step further, Bohm’s model of reality implies that mathematics as a model for describing reality is limited, albeit powerful for describing various explicate orders such as Newtonian mechanics, Relativity (both Special and General Theories) as well as Quantum Mechanics, is limited to explicate orders and that in order to find a holistic model for describing all of reality, and in turn all explicate orders, one must look to the concepts of consciousness and integrated wholeness and interdependence, leaning on what appeared to be very Eastern philosophical principles that were fundamental principles, axioms as it were, in Vedanta and Buddhism.

Einstein’s belief in this “Unified Field Theory”, the existence of which essentially forms the basis of his criticism of Quantum Mechanics as incomplete, seemed to not only be improbable, but perhaps even impossible given the fundamental incompatibilities of the assumptions of the different theories and models.  In other words the very idea of local realism and local determinism as a construct, core to the theories of Special and General Relativity of Einstein and of course Newtonian mechanics, seemed to be at best limited to a certain domain of experience and at worst were fundamentally flawed as assumptions of the basis of physical reality.  And this violation of the principle of local realism has been empirically proven, at least at the quantum level, not only mathematically with the introduction of Bohmian Mechanics and the notion of Quantum Potential, but also subsequently experimentally by showing the relationship and interdependence of particle properties in two independent systems that were separated by classical physical boundaries.

Charlie thought that this quest for a “unified field theory” was a bit of a fool’s errand of sorts and what we really should be focused on was a quest for a “unified knowledge theory”, making it explicit that some elements of metaphysics, theoretical constructs that could provide linking and overarching themes across all the branches of science, must be included in our models of reality in order that all of our knowledge and all of our experience could be understood and comprehended in a fully coherent and consistent conceptual framework.

But in order to come up with a “unified knowledge theory”, you had to move beyond physics and modern science, and incorporate the science of mind and the act of perception itself into the overall framework.  Mathematical models of physical reality, whatever that was, appeared to only take you so far, which is the essence of Bohm’s case for an implicate and explicate order framework for “reality”, branching away from the orthodox interpretation of Quantum Theory (Copenhagen Interpretation) which stated that Quantum Theory was not in fact a framework for reality as we know it but simply a measuring tool that told us, approximately, the behavior of “stuff” at the subatomic level.

Hence Charlie’s ultimate conclusion that this search for a “Unified Field Theory”, which drives the field of theoretical physics, as well as particle physics to a great extent today, is fundamentally misguided.  String Theory and other abstract theoretical mathematical constructs represent the search for an answer to a metaphysical question using a tool that is wholly inadequate to answer and solve the problem.  The use of mathematics to answer to the metaphysical question of how the universe works and how Quantum Theory and General Relativity can be unified to explain a “unified field theory” appeared to be a fruitless effort, akin to an attempt to use a hammer and nails to build a skyscraper.

What we should be looking for, and what Bohm really provided us with, and in fact what Aristotle spoke to some 2500 years ago, is a Unified Knowledge Theory, within which physics, metaphysics, biology, psychology, etc. can be viewed as branches of knowledge that complement each other to provide a complete picture of the world we live in.  Where these seemingly contradictory and separate domains can peacefully coexist and collectively give us a perspective on the nature of reality as a whole as well as our place in this reality.


What Charlie thought he had fallen upon that seemed to go unnoticed in the modern era, the Age of Reason, the Age of Science, was that understanding starts and ends with language, the means with which we communicate ideas to one another and construct an understanding of, and are able to navigate through, the world around us.  And then language in its most concrete form was reflected in the written word, as expressed in various phonetic alphabets which were developed, invented, to express and codify language and encapsulate and communicate more abstract concepts into “systems” of thought that allowed us to express more complex ideas and to formulate models of reality.  Of course writing was most likely invented to communicate various forms of trade and economic transactions, but from a broader perspective it was then used to communicate knowledge itself, which in turn formed the basis as to how we look at the world around us and how we perceive our place in this reality, which at some level harkened back to those age old questions that have plagued man since the dawn of history, “who are we and from whence we came?”.

The Greek language, the ultimate forefather of all Western European languages, in many respects came to define how we look at knowledge itself in all its various forms.  As far as Charlie could gather this seemed to be Aristotle’s unique and lasting contribution to the West.  It is from his branches of knowledge, his epistêmai, that the language of modern science as a whole is derived.  And out of this ancient Greek philosophical movement, mathematics also originated as one of the cornerstones of metaphysics.  These mathematical principles, even the principle of the One, were a core part of the Greek philosophical schools as evidenced not only by Aristotle’s comprehensive discussion of these principles in his Physics and Metaphysics (even if he dismisses them as incoherent belief systems) but also more directly in the Pythagorean school which was influential throughout Greece in the pre-Socratic era.  It is from this tradition that Euclid and Ptolemy come from and it from these “scientists” that our modern reliance on mathematics as the ultimate expression of creation stems from.

But Mathematics as we have found is a limited and constrained abstract tool, even if it might perhaps be our most powerful abstract tool for modeling (physical) reality.  It was powerful yes, but clearly not powerful enough to explain the totality of behavior of particles and bodies in both the subatomic world as outlined in Quantum Mechanics and the world of massive bodies which warp spacetime as described in Einstein’s theories of Special and General Relativity.  In order to construct a fully coherent descriptive model of all existence it appeared that you needed more abstract symbols and more consistent, explicit assumptions about the grounding of existence, and the notion of perception, which encompassed the more scientific notions of observation and measurement, had to be built into the model somehow.

Mathematics, seen as the ultimate language to describe the physical world, a tenet solidified by Sir Isaac Newton and reinforced by the sheer beauty and elegance of the theories of General and Special theories of relativity as espoused by Albert Einstein, in fact constrained us from seeing the limits of this language in describing the ultimate source of all things and the process by which the universe itself was created.  Einstein himself fell into this trap in his immovable belief that Quantum Theory was in fact flawed, incomplete, failing to consider the possibility that perhaps some of the basic assumptions about the nature of physical reality needed to be at the very least relaxed if not abandoned entirely, something he was unwilling to even consider such was his conviction in the classical view of the world.

What Bohm searched for, and what ultimately led him out of physics proper and into metaphysics and philosophy, was some notion of unified order under which classical physics quantum reality could be explained.  He concluded that in order to explain the totality of even a purely physical reality, one had to formulate a theory of order that presumed some sort of hierarchical structure, where various explicate orders could manifest to explain a certain domain, and yet at the same time be incorporated into a single model of reality, his implicate order.  And he furthermore postulated that rather that it was more accurate to look at reality as a process of unfoldment rather than the existence of some hard and fast physical reality as had been assumed by classical physics over the last few hundred years.  And therefore Bohm had to leave the world of physics proper and enter the realm of metaphysics where the more abstract concepts of mind and the notion of perception itself could be, and had to be, incorporated into the model.


So Charlie came to what he thought to be the logical conclusion that any unified knowledge theory must encompass levels of abstraction that go beyond mathematics, and yet at the same time must be constrained by language itself, which is the means through which we communicate ideas and thoughts to each other.  In other words, any unified knowledge theory, any comprehensive and coherent model of the world must incorporate the act pf perception directly into the model – this is the Mind of Anaxagoras, the Intellect of the Neo-Platonists.  But there was nothing less empirical, less scientific, than the science of the mind, i.e. psychology, right?

Interesting enough, Carl Jung postulated that you could actually “prove” the existence of what he referred to as the collective unconscious, which as its name suggests represents the existence of an undercurrent universal mental framework from which individual psyche’s draw their source, or at least the source of what he called archetypes, or universal archaic symbols and patterns, motifs and themes, that he found common in the psyches of a wide range of his patients, too common from his perspective in fact to be the result of chance or happenstance.

Jung’s method of proof as it were, was to establish the connection of the individual psyche with what he described as universal archetypal themes that firmly established the existence of some universal ground of human symbols from which the individual symbology, the psyche, must draw.  He reckoned that the individual who perceives these archetypes, themes and motifs which he saw manifest in a wide variety of his patients in his psychoanalytic work, could have no precursory knowledge of the existence of these archetypes and therefore the symbols themselves, the common mythical themes, must stem from a source that is present in some way in all human psyches and yet still is not tied to the individual conscious mind as it were.

One of the examples that Jung found in his psychoanalytic practice that he gives to illustrate the workings of this collective unconscious, and ultimately led to his “discovery”, concerns a vision that one of his patients supposedly had in his office one day.  The patient was somewhat delusional and had visions that he was a Christ like figure and one day in Jung’s office this patient claims to see a phallic, tube like structure coming down and out of the sun.  He points out the existence of this symbol/structure to Jung, believing firmly in its existence, but Jung sees nothing out of the ordinary.  Jung then proceeds to think very little of the event until many years later he reads of an archeological discovery of a text which describes a mystic ritual that involves the vision of a tube like structure emanating from the sun.  Jung surmises that his patient could have no knowledge of the description of this ancient ritual which corresponded so closely to his vision in Jung’s office years earlier (the text had not even been discovered at the time of the original vision by the patient) and therefore must be evidence of the existence of some common symbolic denominator that individuals can tap into so to speak, and at some level underlies the psyche of all human existence, i.e. the collective unconscious.


My thesis then, is as follows: in addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals.  This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.[2]


Out of his psychoanalytic work then, emerges Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious, as evidenced by the existence of these universal archetypal themes, as well as his psychoanalytical healing technique which he called individuation which Jung used to guide the individual psyche to a better understanding of one’s connection to this collective, universal “unconscious” via the means of what he called active imagination, which as it turned out was heavily reliant on symbols, mandalas in particular which of course play such a strong role in the meditative practices and rituals of the Eastern philosophical traditions.

The existence of these motifs (or mythemes when looked at within the context of mythology which can be viewed as the expression of the collective unconscious of a society or civilization as a whole) across the boundaries of time and space, manifesting in the mind of man throughout the course of history spoke to the existence of a collective unconscious, from which these archetypal images or themes must emerge.  To Jung, consciousness and its counterpart the unconscious, the sum total of which made up the psyche of man, represented the every ground of reality.


When one reflects upon what consciousness really is, one is profoundly impressed by the extreme wonder of the fact that an event which takes place outside in the cosmos simultaneously produces an internal image, that it takes place, so to speak, inside as well, which is to say; becomes conscious.[3]


Now this was interesting.  You start with the concept of cultural borrowing, you search for something deeper, something more rich that connects the ancient cultures.  You look into their mythology (and theology because arguably the further back you go into ancient history the less distinguishable a society’s mythology is from its theology), cultural cosmology and mythology in general, and you end up with some parallels but nothing concrete per se, then you look at mythology as a whole, and you end up, as both Jung and Campbell had done really, in the realm of psychology, which as it turns out is kind of where you end up if you follow the end of modern physics as well.  That seemed strange.  And yet it seemed to point back to the idea that if you wanted to really understand the world, understand it even at the physical level, you had to establish a broader perspective than models that had a purely empirically driven and (physical) scientific basis.


This quest for ultimate knowledge, and order, is as old as mankind itself and is reflected in the cosmological traditions of all of the ancient civilizations – as evidenced by the Egyptian, Sumer/Babylonian, Greek and Judeo-Christian cosmologies which all attempt to lay down the structure of the world as we know it and how and why it came into existence – leaving aside the theological dogma whose only purpose was to serve the establishment of power and authority.

In much the same way as the ancients searched for a unified theory of order (the maat of the Egyptians, the Chronos of the Greek cosmological system, etc.) Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Newton, Darwin, Kepler, Einstein, Planck and Bohm carried the torch of this quest for a unified metaphysical structure forward throughout the development of Western civilization and led ultimately to the branching of knowledge into the different sciences today, upon which our modern society rests today and relies on to guide us through life.  In fact, Charlie’s premise was that in fact modern man, in the Information Age where empirical reality was so baked into our Western minds, we had as much blind faith in science today than as orthodox religious zealots and believers had faith in their God.

In prior eras, where mankind had understood less about how things really worked, they could rely on religion, a grand creator God, as the underlying reason behind and explanation of how things worked and how things came to be.  This is the creation myth of Genesis and provides the rational explanation to the cosmologies of all the ancient peoples, in the East and the West.  But we do not have that luxury today, we have science and science has showed us things, things about the nature of reality that must be incorporated into our understanding of not only the physical world around us, but also its socio-biological foundations, as well as the integral role of mind, of consciousness, in forming the basis of how we “perceive” the world.

But none of these great thinkers, scientists, philosophers or sages that had so marked intellectual progress sin the West over the centuries had access to and were exposed to the state of knowledge as it stood today, in the Information Age where we as a species understood not only that our species as a whole was some few hundred thousand years old, and was not crafted from the clay of the earth as the mythologies of the West would have us believe, but through the process of natural selection, evolution, engineered by our own genetic structure which incorporated the role of chance into our evolution (genetic mutation).  We came to be able to speak and communicate with each other, form abstract concepts thoughts into words and syllables that could be communicated from mind to mind, to cultivate the land and domesticate animals, followed by the invention of writing and the spread of mankind throughout the world to the point where we not only truly understood how connected and integrated we all are not only as a species as whole, but also as an organism whose destiny is tied to the planet in a very real and tangible way.

Scholars and academics of today, and to all those who are curious and have the time to explore the origins of mankind and how our own belief systems have evolved since the dawn of civilization, have a much deeper and broader understanding of how our species, which is in many respects is characterized by our ability to speak, our ability to communicate with each other, and our ability to write down and develop complex and sophisticated models of thought and concepts that have led to a profound understanding of not only how the physical universe has come to be, but also of how our minds have developed and the fundamental connection between the act of experience and our perception of the physical universe.

This is the logical conclusion that must be drawn when one takes a hard look at the sciences as they stand today, fields of knowledge which are based upon empirically verified and proven facts, facts which followed point to the inevitable conclusion that there exist intellectual boundaries and limits of science itself, and that a broader perspective must be used if we want to truly understand this world we live in, as well as how our place in it has evolved and/or should evolve moving forward.  A perspective that must integrate at some level the role of consciousness itself, upon which any understanding of anything in fact, must be based.

[1] From Max Born’s Nobel Laureate speech, reference

[2] C. G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (London 1996) p. 43

[3] C Jung; Basel Seminar, privately printed, 1934, p. i

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