A Vital Reality

Imbolc and the Ancient Moon

Monday gratefuls: Early to bed, early to rise. Sacharit, the morning service. The Shema. Waking up. New life. Hello Darkness, my old friend. Shadow Mountain Home. February. Family. Murdoch. Kepler, of blessed memory. Kate, always Kate. Ruby, who needs a shower. Workout yesterday. Cardio. Labs this week. Snow. Warm weather. Books. Words.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Words

One brief shining: My son came on the screen and we talked across nine thousand miles as if he were in the room or I was in his, Seoah bounced in smiling, Murdoch came over and put a paw on the table, now a dog of some years, gray showing on his muzzle.


Prana. Love. Ruach. Neshamah. Chi. The Sacred. The Divine. Consciousness. Life Force. Psyche. Soul. Other words to add? Please. No syncretism or leveling here. No these do not mean the same thing. It is not the case, for example, that all religions have love as their main principle. We’d be better off as a species if they did, but no they don’t. I offered these words yesterday during the Ancient Brothers conversation about pan-psychism*.

My point in this list lies not in their particular definitions but what, in my opinion, they point to. That is, many cultures, probably all though I don’t know how to know that, have an intimation of a reality somehow charged with vitality. Some have explicit views. The Celts, for example, had the Other World which sits alongside this one, permeable both ways. Jews see the world as one, interconnected and vibrating with energy. Some in Judaism call that vibration, God. Not me, but some. In Taoism chi animates and flows through everything. Chardin sees love as the essential oil of the universe.

We live in a peculiar moment of history. Yes, in all those ways, too, but not my point here. In this instance I mean a world leveled by the forces of empiricistic and scientistic distortions. No God. No chi. No soul. No prana. Just what we can experience either through our senses or scientific apparatuses. In the Unitarian-Universalist movement this position had a nickname, flat-earth humanism. A world drained of color, meaning lost in a random number generator of a universe. Often with the added sea anchor of determinism, no free will. Automatons coming to life, then leaving it.

John Dewey in his book Reconstruction points to this unresolved dichotomy between science and religious views that arose say before Francis Bacon. Dewey wants to reconstruct philosophy by using it to introduce scientific method to the consideration of ethics and morals. In the wrong hands this project could end up in the flat-earth camp. On the other hand if we admit to our conversation the wild world of quantum mechanics, the possibilities of string theory’s multi-verses, and as Tom mentioned yesterday, the dominant stuff of the universe, dark matter, dark energy, too, I imagine, we might find a way forward.

A final point here. All of this requires a turn from the static ontology of being to the vital ontology of process.


*Panpsychism is the view that mentality is fundamental and ubiquitous in the natural world. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy