The foundation assumption of this essay is that a person is an etheric personality entangled with a human body for a lifetime. And, that a person enters into a lifetime to gain understanding about the nature of reality through daily living experiences. It is argued here that part of gaining maturity is learning to manage the influence of human instincts while responding to the urge inherited from our etheric nature to turn toward particular experiences. Understanding is seen as the objective. Curiosity is seen as the perspective. Mindfulness is seen as a way of life.
If we are more than our body, if we are spirit beings only temporarily entangled with a human body during a lifetime as a person, it seems reasonable to think we are a person for a purpose. It is also reasonable to think this purpose relates to who we are as immortal personalities, rather than a purpose related to our human and just this lifetime.
In this essay, I will try to make the point that we have purpose and it is two-fold. First and foremost, our purpose is to live a good life, wherever it takes us and whatever we do for a living. It is through life experiences that we have opportunity to gain understanding. The second aspect of our purpose is to turn toward those experiences that challenge us so that we might gain understanding.
Point of View for This Essay
The point of view taken in this essay is that our real home is in the greater reality, which I refer to here as the etheric. The supporting concepts are concerned with our collective, but in order to have a beginning and end to who we are, I say that reality is the body of Source. In Spiritualism, this is Infinite Intelligence.
We are an aspect of Source. Well, we are more likely an aspect of a personality that is many rounds of aspectation removed from Source. To be consistent with the way we imagine things, each aspect likely produced many aspects of itself. Thus, probably the best way to look at our relationship with Source is to think of Source’s life field as a nested hierarchy of life fields.
Think of those nested groups as collectives. my collective is formed of many aspects of a single local source. Someday, I think I will once again become one with my local source, just as it will eventually become one with its local source. Think of my local source as the nexus personality for my collective. This is not a personality to be worshiped, but respected as the source of our purpose for being. I will get to that purpose in a moment.
A useful way of thinking of a nexus personality and its collective is to remember the mental process you follow to decide about something. Suppose you are thinking about going shopping. The first step is to visualize what you are shopping for and where. You might imagine yourself being there and looking at the merchandise; perhaps trying on something. Perhaps you will realize the price and forget the who thing.
When you imagine a place in your mind, in which you imagine yourself, you create a venue for learning and an aspect of yourself to experience the venue. You give that little me a purpose to experience (shop) and the self-determination to thereby gain understanding (cost). The imagined venue is an aspect or subset of your sense of reality and your little me is a subset of you.
Now here is the important part. The imagined venue is in your life field. It will forever be part of your reality as a memory and you will remember that little me experience forever. All of the experience will have become part of your sense of reality. All of this will be in the form of understanding which will ever so slightly modify your understanding of reality.
Our venue for learning is the physical universe. It appears to be an imagined aspect of reality that is shared by many nexus personalities, so that you may well be in a different collective than your neighbor. Certainly, your nexus personality will have a little different reason for expressing you into a lifetime. We have the shared purpose of gaining understanding which is probably for different aspects of this venue or from different perspectives.
We are influenced by the instincts of our human body. But we begin with different circumstances and with a different degree of prior understanding inherited from our nexus personality. So, while we share the need to assure survival of the human species, we differ in how we approach life and how well equipped we are to find meaning in daily experiences.
I once had a waking vision of the face of a clock. It was suspended in the air, face-up, but tilted toward me a little so that I could see that there were many black specks scurrying about on the white surface. My impression was that they were little stick people like those I would draw in a hurry. The space between three and four o’clock was an open hole and a few stick people had apparently fallen through. The people on the face of the clock were somehow helping the people who had fallen through the hole. As the hour hand made a complete circuit, the ones in the hole came to the surface and a few of the others jumped into the hole.
My sense was that the stick people were all part of a collective of personalities, a soul group if you want, and they were doing all they could to help their fellows who had entered into a lifetime, symbolized by falling through the hole. I knew that they were helping one another to progress by gaining understanding, and that none of them would be able to move on until all had made sufficient progress. The hour hand represented a lifetime.
Probably not all of them, but many of my helpers, friends, and guides, both on the other side and in the physical, are part of my collective. I am never very far from them, and just as I am a student, in turn, I am teacher, for we must all move as one.
Your first reaction about what I have said so far might be that you don’t want to return to your nexus personality if it means you will disappear like your little mes more or less disappear in your memory. I have thought about this a lot. As I understand the metaphysics, a good way to think of your relationship with your nexus personality and your collective … and ultimately with Source … is as a chorus.
Your nexus personality is the chorus. Individual personalities in your collective are the members of the chorus. During a lifetime, you step out before the chorus and sing a solo. You are backed by the harmonizing sounds of the other members. When you have finished your solo, you step back to join the chorus. At no time has your conscious self become anything less. Rather, your presence is made greater by the chorus.
There is nothing in the metaphysics I have studied indicating we will lose our sense of individuality.
Our Etheric Nature
To understand our purpose, we must first understand our nature.
Religious leaders tend to consider perpetuating the species and assuring supremacy of their religion sacred work of God. For them, survival is a matter of going to a heaven of one kind or another to receive our just rewards. The kind of survival we think of brings up thoughts of demons and witchcraft.
In mainstream science, the theory of evolution1 holds that organisms undergo random mutations. The rest of that theory is that survival of mutations depends on how useful they are to the survival of the species. There is no intention involved in the theory of evolution, just chance.
In a real sense, mainstream science is just as religious about what it accepts as truth. When it comes to agreement between mainstream and survival-based philosophy, experience has taught us that it is not a matter of having enough quality evidence, but rather, it is a matter of honest examination of existing evidence. So, the first idea we need to consider is that what is taught by religions and mainstream science is biased toward faith based beliefs; faith in the Bible or faith in science.
As the basic building block of reality. As shown in the diagram below, a field can be thought of as a number of elements bound together by a common influence acting as a nexus. In a life field, an intelligent core acts as the nexus for the field and is ultimately who we really are. I refer to this intelligent core as personality. From the perspective of conscious self, personality is normally an unconscious presence that maintains our form and purpose as our higher self or soul.
Conscious self is the experiencing aspect of a life field. Our conscious self is also who we think we are as our perspective of reality.
Between personality and conscious self is our mostly unconscious mind. Mind is like a computer that considers inputs from the environment and makes decisions about how to react depending on how that information compares to what is in the database called worldview. As we enter into a lifetime, our worldview is populated with human instincts inherited from the human’s body-mind. Also at birth, worldview includes what can be thought of as spiritual instincts and a degree of understanding inherited from personality.
As we gain in maturity during this lifetime, we learn to manage our human’s instincts, but in the process our worldview is populated with cultural wisdom and what we learn from friends, schools, religions and the media. Most people follow the path of their human instincts as they are moderated by cultural wisdom. Some, however, turn toward a more mindful way. It is in the nature of the mindful way that we see evidence that we have a purpose beyond simple survival of the species.
The consequences of duality and survival is that our human must be an independent life form. If it is, then it must have its own core intelligence.2 The difference, I think is that our human is part of a collective with a shared worldview. That is, our body’s life field is like ours but with many conscious selves in the form of instances of that species, rather than the single conscious self we experience. The argument for this is a complex one which I have attempted to make sense of in Your Immortal Self.3
The Mindful Way
Our mostly unconscious mind is our receiver of information. The best theory I have seen for this is that everything in reality produces a psi signal.5 Our mind receives these psi signals but ignores all but those which are important to our body’s wellbeing, and which are either directed to us or in which we have intended interest.
The body’s five senses must be translated into psi signals, presumably in the brain. A consequence of body sense being processed by mind is that it can as easily ignore what you physically sense as it can ignore information from other minds.
Mind has a set of functional areas which, in effect, asks worldview if it recognizes the information. This question and answer may occur many times in sequence until mind either ignores the information, modifies it into a form which agrees with worldview or modifies worldview to recognize the information in future encounters.
The result of this “Do you recognize this?” process is sent to conscious self, so that what we actually experience is a version of the original information based on worldview. This tends to produce conscious perception that conforms with cultural expectation.
The only influence we have on mind is the expression of our intention. In mindfulness, we learn to intend to experience reality as it is, rather than how we are taught to believe it is. The idea is that we do not necessarily know the actual nature of reality because of cultural contamination. In effect, we live in a personal reality which is a version of actual reality. Through mindfulness, we evolve our perception toward the actual nature of reality by habitually questioning the implications of our perception.
Worldview has considerable momentum, so that it tends to only change in small increments. First Sight Theory5 teaches us that we can influence worldview by intending certain behaviors. This tends to cause mind to turn toward one kind of information and away from others. By examine our every assumption with questions such as “Does this make sense?” or “How will this affect others?” while intending that we do no harm or intend that we see things as they are, we can begin the long process of aligning our personal reality with the actual nature of reality.
Natural Law is defined by the National Spiritualist Association of Churches (NSAC) as an “‘ascertained working sequence or constant order among the phenomena of nature.’ Natural laws are simple statements of the orderly working of the universe and all that is in it. They represent the constant outward expression of what we can expect to happen in any given situation.” 4
Infinite Intelligence is the Spiritualist equivalent of Source spoken of in this essay and the book, Your Immortal Self.3 It is understood that Natural law is an aspect of Infinite Intelligence. As it is in the NSAC Declaration of Principles,7 it is also understood that the goal of a Spiritualist is to learn to recognize and understand the principles and learn to live in accordance with their dictates. We have self-determination, but it is influenced by Natural Law. This philosophy is embodied in four of the nine principles of the Declaration of Principles:
- We believe in Infinite Intelligence.
- We believe that the phenomena of Nature, both physical and spiritual, are the expression of Infinite Intelligence.
- We affirm that a correct understanding of such expression and living in accordance therewith, constitute true religion.
- We affirm the moral responsibility of individuals and that we make our own happiness or unhappiness as we obey or disobey Nature’s physical and spiritual laws.
The Implicit Cosmology, described in Your Immortal Self, 3 has been developed from the implications of survival. It includes thirty-eight Organizing Principles.8 There was no attempt to adhere to known natural laws which came to us by way of the Hermetic Teachings6 and are from the human perspective. Organizing Principles became evident during the design of the Implicit Cosmology and are from an etheric personality perspective.
The concept that there are organizing principles is noted as one of the eight Organizing Principles related to formation of reality. It is defined as: Reality operates according to a body of Organizing Principles which are inherent from Source’s creative expression.
From the supporting text:
Source is modeled here in the sense of from whence it came rather than as a father god. Since reality is Source’s life field, everything in reality is governed by the same rules of behavior governing Source and its expressions. Given the existence of Source and Organizing Principles, a logical argument could be composed to describe how the whole of reality might self-organize.
For the purpose of this discussion, the most important organizing principle is curiosity: Curiosity is the source of attention. It is proposed in the Implicit Cosmology that our curiosity is inherited from Source which is seen as self-aware and curious about its nature.
The Anticipation Corollary of First Sight Theory,5 which essentially states that mind seeks to anticipate events, provides reasonably good support for this idea of a personality having a natural tendency to seek to understand its environment in order to anticipate changes.
In mindfulness, we express curiosity with the intention to understand how experiences align with what we think is true and what we actually experience. The key concepts here are intend, which is a conscious influence on mind, and understand, which is comprehension of the relationship between action and results.
Thus far in this essay, I have argued that we are spiritual beings temporarily entangled with a human during this lifetime and that we are part of a collective of personalities who cooperate to gain understand which is intended to satisfy the curiosity of our nexus personality.
If the argument is reasonably correct, then our very existence is intended to seek understanding. Understanding in this sense is characterized as natural law or organizing principles. That is, fundamental rules by which reality operates.
In the ancient wisdom schools, students are often referred to as seekers. Seeking involves the process of intending to find understanding in experience. But more important, seekers look for experiences that will help them understand specific aspect of reality. You may be familiar with the idea of initiations. Seekers undergo initiations intended to establish that they have gained specific understanding.
During an initiation, seekers are challenged to answer questions about subjects that are unrelated to what they were taught. The expected answer requires sufficient understanding about what they were taught. In this way, understanding is seen as a universal knowing that is independent of the experiences which taught the understanding.
Understanding is Relative
Understanding is relative. By that, I mean that awareness of an underlying principle often leads to recognition that even more fundamental principles are involved. For instance, borrowing something from a friend brings the responsibility to assure its safe return. You might think the understanding to be gained is the nature of responsibility. It is, but as you proceed, it may become clear that it also that borrowing obligates you to offer a favor in return, so obligation is a new understanding.
There are many possible concepts to understand that come from the initial decision to borrow something, but under all of them is the important concept of cooperative communities. I define the Cooperative Communities Organizing Principle as “An effort to express understanding is necessary for progression. Collectives are inherently cooperative communities. A person is attracted to communities of like-minded people cooperating to facilitate progression.” 3
The cooperative community concept applies to many kinds of interaction amongst people. Understanding one should enable you to apply it to others.
Purpose as Prime Imperative
Religion pretty much began with the message that our purpose is to follow the path of the Great Work, which is to understand “The one thing” as it is addressed in the Emerald Tablet.
The Emerald Tablet is widely believed to be one of the few surviving documents from the Hermetic Teaching set forth some 6,000 years ago in Egypt. The text is very esoteric if you are not familiar with metaphysical concept. I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing it in the Hermes Concepts essay. 6 The paraphrase is included here. (Line numbers in parentheses are from the Hermes Concepts essay.)
Here, Hermes as talking to his students in conversational terms.
Lesson Name: The Truly Great Work
- I can tell you as your teacher that your thoughts and your deeds are directly related so that your thoughts affect your expression, and your perception of that expression affects your thoughts. (Line 1)
- Reality is both singular as Source and the expression of Source according to its intention. This expression of intention represents ordering principles which govern the adaptation of reality to individual purpose. The world you live in is an aspect of the greater reality as it is expressed by way of the Creative Process. (Line 2)
- The Creative Process requires the visualization of the imagined purpose with the intention to make it so. (Line 3 and 4)
- You, the person as an etheric personality entangled with a physical body, are the creator in this lesson. (Line 5)
- And so, the creative influence produces all things in reality. The Creative Process finds expression through the informed intention of the person. (Line 6)
- It is necessary to learn to distinguish between that which is part of actual reality and that which is perceived as real, but which is actually illusion. (Line 7)
- Increased understanding of the actual nature of reality is contributed by the student to the collective of personalities in the greater reality, and thus merged, becomes available to the student as more profound understanding. (Line 8)
- As such, you will find that understanding leads to clear sensing which enables a person to experience reality as it is, rather than as you have been taught. (Line 10 and 11)
- Your increased understanding achieved through the Great Work may lead you to better living and increased stature in your community. (Line 9)
- And so, I have told you how the world has been created. But be mindful that these truths are not evident to those who have not stepped onto this path of learning. (Line 12)
- As the teacher of this hidden way, I represent the three parts of a teacher. That is, I represent the understanding of the One Thing and The Great Work, I am an example of how you may integrate this understanding into daily life and in me you can see the possibilities of living this path. I am three times accomplished: as a teacher, role model and a citizen. (Line 13)
- And now you understand the Truly Great Work. (Line 14)
It would be easy to translate the One Thing of the Emerald Tablet to mean god, but the Hermetic Teaching is about one god and many aspects of that god. Those aspects are the organizing principles which govern the operation of reality.
What I like to refer to as The Prime Imperative is described in Line 6. Gaining understanding means learning to see reality as it is, rather than as we are taught.
News item included in Lisa Butler’s Media Watch column:
Contemplating Existential Questions: Juli Fraga says that, as a psychologist, her patients frequently ask how they could cure their sadness so that they could feel happier and experience a deeper sense of purpose in their lives. They would say things like: “Shouldn’t I start exercising? Or maybe I should go on a Yoga retreat. Perhaps I should begin eating a clean diet?” Like many of us, they were uncomfortable with the idea that solutions might be discovered through personal reflection, but a recent study suggests that pondering the meaning of life may help depression, chronic loneliness and other emotional disorders. According to this new research, people who ask existential, spiritual questions, such as “What happens after we die?” or “Is there a higher power?” are psychologically healthier than those who avoid them. As it turns out, thinking about death, god, spirituality and the afterlife may help us to live more purposeful lives and strengthen our emotional resiliency.
From: “From The Health Benefits of Contemplating the Afterlife,” Juli Fraga, Tonic, Voice, 2017, tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/the-health-benefits-of-contemplating-the-afterlife
- Draper, Grenville, A Brief Guide to Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection (Evolution). Department of Earth Sciences, Florida International University, fiu.edu/~draper/Darwin.pdf
- Sheldrake, Rupert PhD. “Morphic Resonance and Morphic Fields.” Rupert Sheldrake. org/research/morphic-resonance/introduction?
- Butler, Tom. Your Immortal Self, Exploring the Mindful Way. AA-EVP Publishing, 2016. ISBN 978-0-9727493-8-1. org/immortal_self/
- National Spiritualist Association of Churches (NSAC). org.
- Carpenter, James. “First Sight: A Model and A Theory of Psi.” James Carpenter website. com/about/documents/FirstSightformindfield.pdf.
- Butler, Tom. “The Hermes” Etheric Studies. 2016. ethericstudies.org/hermes-concepts/.
- “About Spiritualism.” Spiritualist Society of Reno. org/about-spiritualism/
- Butler, Tom. “Organizing Principles.” Etheric Studies. 2015. org/organizing-principles/