Namaste, dear friends, the original Declare Peace website has gone. Please read on, if you're interested.
- Last updated: 9 Feb 2008
- Previously updated: 14 Feb 2007
- Prior update: 10 Oct 2005
"The pencil is mightier than the pen" - Robert M. Pirsig, from Lila.
This site was initially set up to support my various efforts to achieve peace in the world since I felt a desperate need for peace. My approach was to protest because it seemed as if there were so few people who acknowledged how frightful we have become to each other and to the world we live in. I believed that by waking people up to what was happening all around them we might change the way we behave; perhaps all I had to do was to find out the truth and then tell people about it whilst having the courage to face whatever reaction there might be.
So I began to write a treatise on my search for truth. The kind of truth that I pursued is that branch of metaphysics called 'ontology'. Ontology is variously defined as: the study of existence; the study of the true essence of things; concerned with the nature and relations of being; an account of being in the abstract; etc. The Rishis, Munis and Yogis of ancient Bharat (India) simply called it "The sciences of being" or 'yoga' for short.
I had written over sixty pages, including notes and quotes. I had been actively pursuing the subject on an intellectual and experiential level for some years and persuaded myself that I must become some kind of ascetic or mystic to see beyond the illusion of the world to the essence or truth that created the illusion. Eventually I began to realise that the answer to the question (what is the true nature of reality?) had been staring me in the face all the time. I had simply not seen it.
"Phaedrus had spent an enormous amount of time following what turned out to be lousy openings." - Robert M. Pirsig, from Lila.
I also discovered that I could not hope to bring peace anywhere in the world until I had a perfect understanding of peace myself. Anything less would have resulted in something less. Neither could I tell people the truth until I had discovered it for myself.
I won't bore you with more description of my search since, if you are reading this attentively, I expect you to have your own experience of searching everywhere for something, only to have found that nothing was as simple as it first appeared. There have been many epics written about the search and, whilst the act of searching is vital, details of the search are of no particular consequence. Others have authored epics that are considerably more fascinating than mine and have expressed them far more eloquently than I could hope to do.
I can't imagine why somebody would be interested in the narrative of my quest - unless they were more concerned about the activity of searching than in satisfying themselves with the results. There were a few rather ambitious ideas about how to embellish the essay as it was being written because, at the time, I was captivated as much by the process of documenting the search as I was with the idea that I was getting somewhere; perhaps because I believed that someone might wish to tread the same path that I had or simply the fear that they wouldn't understand where I reached unless they could follow the route I took. All that proved to be irrelevant to the outcome and, as I have already suggested, just the fact that I was searching and continuing to search was enough.
"... done with this corporate pseudo-science, still pursuing truth, knowing that to find it he would have to get free of the Giant first." - Robert M. Pirsig, from Lila.
So what did I arrive at?
Well, I arrived at a heresy. This always happens when one approaches the truth; it has to happen, as we shall see by examining the word heresy. Chambers 21st Century Dictionary defines heresy as: 1 an opinion or belief contrary to the authorised teaching of the religious community to which one ostensibly belongs. 2 an opinion opposed to the conventional or traditional belief; heterodoxy. 13c: from Greek hairesis choice.
Wonderful: so heresy has the meaning 'choice', which sounds exquisitely close to freedom to me; the elusive ideal that everyone longs for, even though it seems impossible to obtain.
Let's look deeper into the words that Chambers synchronically used to define heresy.
Ostensible is a very interesting word to have cropped up in illuminating heresy since Chambers defines that as: adj said of reasons, etc. stated or claimed, but not necessarily true; apparent. Oddly enough, this word appears, to me, to arise from the root os in Latin, meaning bone and osteon in Greek, which also means bone. It feels as if the Latin root, ostendere, comes out of a rigid insistence on showing something to be the case. A poet will immediately grasp what I am getting at, whilst the pedant is still struggling to understand.
"He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice." - Albert Einstein
Now let us delve into the meaning of religious. To do this we look up the root of the word religion. Chambers informs us that religion derives from Latin religio bond or obligation, etc, from ligare to bind. And religion is usually taken to describe a belief system that someone is bound or devoted to.
It is hardly surprising that there are colossal arguments over religion because it has these two diametrically opposite meanings: on the one hand, to be bound to something; whilst, at the other extreme, to be devoted to it.
Thus it will be no surprise if - in the process of explaining where the search for ultimate reality has led me - half of you think I am some kind of religious nut and the other half think I am an heretical heathen. It is also possible that there are one or two fellow heretics out there who recognise that one can only be devoted to the truth, it is impossible to be bound by it; they might see me as a hierophant.
"Theology or religious speculation bears the same relationship to real experience as pornography does to lovemaking. They're not entirely unconnected. I mean, you can get turned on." - Leonard Cohen
Finally we can evaluate the argument that the search for truth must involve heresy: a rebellion against convention (from Latin conventio meeting or agreement) and tradition (from Latin traditio handing over).
Logically, the truth - if we are considering ultimate truth - cannot arise from convention and agreement. Agreement doesn't create the reality; reality, if it is real, exists regardless of whether or not we choose to agree about the nature of it. First there is reality and then - somewhere, somewhen, somehow, in the middle of it - you and I may be able to discuss and form agreements (or disagreements) about it; but to be real something must exist.
We can argue as to whether there is such a thing as absolute truth at all but if we say there is no absolute truth then we have already defeated our own argument; it is what is called a Liar Statement. If there is no absolute truth then it cannot be absolutely true that there is no absolute truth. Get your head around that one!
Once we individually recognise the truth - any truth - we can agree on it; indeed, if it is true then we must agree on it. Something cannot be true unless it accurately represents reality; thus to see the truth is to see reality. Anyone who sees reality will see the same thing; perhaps they will see different aspects of it but the ding an sich will be the same. If this were not the case then we would find ourselves in different realities - in relative realities - rather than in ultimate reality.
You might argue that I don't exist, which is a perfectly valid point to ponder but it is also completely unnecessary to this discussion of ultimate reality. What you will have difficulty convincing yourself is that you don't exist. Even that is not necessary to this discussion: since you appear to be conscious of something then consciousness, at the very least, must exist; and, for the moment, that is enough. Consciousness confirms itself - as René Descartes discovered.
Whilst it is not possible for agreement to create reality, it is an everyday occurrence that agreement creates illusion. In fact, since there is no possibility of being certain of the other party's understanding in an agreement, we could argue that any agreement is (or undeniably contains the possibility of being) an illusion.
Agreement is simply the acceptance of something. It is how traditions are created and handed on. Its root, agreer, seems suspiciously close to that of aggregate, aggregatum to herd together, and aggression, agressus to attack (which often seems to result when things are herded together).
"Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown." - Claude Bernard
Someone once observed that expecting to see success by repeating - over and over again - steps that have always resulted in failure, is madness. In contrast, the scientific method, accepted in the West, is to postulate hypotheses and then design experiments to test them. Test, in this context, having the meaning 'attempt to disprove'; which is directly opposite to the generally held belief that experiments are constructed in order to prove things. The scientific method is to investigate possibilities; it is an exercise in rebellion against orthodox beliefs so as to replace dogma with something closer to reality.
And here we are at the key: in order to know something, rather than blindly to believe, we must destroy our beliefs and go back to first principles. We have to find things out first hand - from the original source - otherwise we expose ourselves to the possibility, perhaps even the certainty, of being deceived by the illusions of convention and tradition. We have to become heretics, to break from the authorised teachings that have created the veil which separates us from ultimate reality.
"You never reach truth; it is always truth that reaches you. But you must be at home, and mostly you are never at home." - Osho, from The Invitation.
So what of this elusive reality, this truth, this essential nature of being? First we must examine conscious reality. I will explain a concept that I refer to as parallel realities. It is important to distinguish this idea from the philosophical idea masquerading as science that quantum physicists refer to as 'parallel universes'. Universes, if such a pluralism is legitimate, I have no particular truck with in this discussion; rather I am discussing parallel realities and conscious realities in particular. I hope it will become clear that the plural is particularly apposite in this context.
You exist in a reality of some kind and of which you are somewhat conscious. I also exist, in some form, in your conscious reality at this particular time. It will come as no considerable surprise to you that you also exist in my reality, in some form, to the extent that I am conscious of you.
We have become conditioned to believe, since the above appears to be the case, that there is but one reality of which we are all a part. That may very well be ultimately true, however it does not necessarily follow from the above observations. I hope to make it obvious to you that the reality of which you are conscious is not the same reality as the one of which I am conscious. Nor, for that matter, do any of us share a conscious reality in the form in which we generally understand that idea.
Some things that are true in my particular conscious reality are utter nonsense - or, at best, ill-informed and misguided - in yours. Take, for example, the concept of wealth. To the vast majority of the population wealth is generally defined as a measure of one's financial and material assets; greater wealth indicates greater success. In my reality such financial and material assets measure one's criminality in exploiting resources, ideas and energy that are rightfully for the benefit of all creatures on this planet; greater wealth indicates a more obscene failure to respect other beings and those very resources, ideas and energy of which wealth is purported to consist.
You may argue that wealth is just a concept and that it has no real existence in consciousness, but how conscious are you of the extent to which ideas and concepts colour your perception of reality? When you look at grass, which you consider to be real, you have the idea that it is coloured green. A dog, looking at the same patch of grass, will fail to have that idea; indeed, lacking cone cells in his retina, he will fail to detect any colour at all. A scientist who is familiar with the mechanics of light absorption and reflection will observe that the grass is colourless; that it is merely reflecting light of wavelengths we describe as green whilst absorbing all other wavelengths. So is the grass intrinsically green at all? Or is greenness simply a concept that you apply to it? Hence the Zen koan "Who makes the grass green?"
And so we talk a little about money:
What is a reserve bank and how do you set one up?
Let's say you have one million dollars worth of gold in your vaults. If you are a member of the club you can set yourself up as a reserve bank. Since you have gold in your vaults you are able to lend out money based on the reserves you hold, and you can charge interest on the money you lend out. You would think that you would be able to lend out anything up to one million dollars.
What actually happens is that there is an assumption that not all of the loans will fail at the same time but some fraction of them may and you must have enough held in reserve to meet those that do. So the amount you may lend (and charge interest on) is greater than the amount you hold in reserve. How much greater? With one million in reserve you can lend 100 million to your customers. This is called the 'reverse fractional reserve' system. Find out about it.
So where does the additional 99 million that a reserve bank lends out come from? Thin air is where it comes from; nowhere. On the basis of a small reserve, phenomenal sums of money are created. In fact no money is created, debt is created and debt attracts interest. Where does the money come from to pay that interest? To pay the interest there must be 'growth'; you must have heard this word bandied about in many discussions of the economy and in connection with the financial systems of many businesses. For growth consumerism must be encouraged. What does the word 'consume' actually mean? Perhaps you are beginning to see how this system is designed to destroy our resources and entrap you in slavery.