Femina wonders if she was willing to exchange this life for another that she could not know. It is certainly not the solution to her problem. Even being ignorant of what this new existence would be, it is not the escape she was looking or longing for. To end this life makes only sense, if really all was ended, full stop, with nothing to follow, whatever it might be. Damn it, and damn it again! She is pushed and torn, feels like a tennis ball that is slammed from one side to the other, with no rest in between. She just flies from here to there, hardly touching ground.
Besides, Phil has not really expressed his views on the question of rebirth nor reincarnation. She obviously had been far too absorbed in her own reasoning so she neglected to ask for his. But she is particularly interested in his opinion now. Femina can only hope that the film will still contain something of that nature. However, then it was just for the sake of exploring an interesting subject, now she clutches on straws for help in all the turmoil of her emotions and thought.
As her dilemma continues not coming closer to any decision making, she notices fear creeping in. Fear of the future with no relief in sight. She fears to live with illness, and now she fears another existence could be worse. It would indeed be simpler to believe in heaven and hell! Being your own master has a horrible downside, because nothing, except one’s own little self can be controlled, - and that with effort, - if at all after all. She has now doubt about that too.
Phil’s voice interrupts her thinking as the discussion on the screen continues. Who knows if it will bring the help she is after, but what other choices are there? The ice spitting her out, with nowhere to go and no future left; what else is there to do? So! Why not listening?
“May be a revision of old teachings is necessary, it is not really my concern. But, religions play a role in my considerations, be it Hinduism, Buddhism, tribal beliefs or any other. They don’t exclude, rather complement each other, and comparing them brings often surprising results. The problem with religion is not so much the content, but what man makes of it. That’s why I rather be called an atheist instead of being affiliated with any congregation.”
He takes a short breath, hesitating. “There is something that keeps me thinking”. Another breath, then he carries on: “It is the question of Beginning and End.”
Femina is puzzled, just as her on-screen persona seems to be. Why talking about Beginning and End, when there is only eternity anyway? Didn’t they just establish that?!
Phil waits, smiling, but as no protest is uttered despite apparent consternation he continues: “It is so difficult to imagine something with no beginning. I can see something without an end, but without beginning? Humans are only familiar with the concept of time, not eternity. Only time is rudimentary to us. We do not experience eternity, we live in time. Humans might perceive the universe as everlasting, but just as we are born, develop, and die, so does the universe. As it is on a larger scale of time, we get a glimpse of what eternity looks like or feels like. However! Science tells us that the cosmos started with the “Big Bang”, grows, - as we know it still goes on expanding, - and will one day end, - may be with a collapse, - scientists are not sure. Human life on that scale is no more than a fluke in time. Interestingly, the demise of the universe was and is envisioned by many prophecies, in all kinds of beliefs and cultures. Obviously they do not emphasize on an eternal universe either. Now! Evolution is action in time, a characteristic of existence, or “Being”. Eternity reaches beyond, or if you like, overarches it; Beginning and End are within it, but have in itself no importance. The constant is the Principle, because eternity is, it has no before and no thereafter. Time is linear, or on a line, eternity is circular, or on a circle. To put it simply: Evolution may simulate eternity due to its ongoing process that seems infinite. But, it has purpose, goals, and limitations, a timely order, is therefore not eternal or infinite. Interestingly, our DNA is a spiral. It has a resemblance to both, just to mention it as a concept of dimension. However, “Being a n d Nothing” i s eternal; but not “Being”; nor “Nothing”. IT oscillates, from one to the other, just like we breathe, in and out.”
“That is really interesting, what you just said and I totally agree, but I would have never thought of expressing it that way! I also like that part with the evolution. You can infer human evolution to be the small sibling of the universal evolution. I think you were implying that anyway, isn’t it?” She is wrapped. Still! She cannot understand why he is uncertain.
“So what are you concerned about, or why? That we cannot imagine some of the concepts? I agree. We want to know, not just believe, isn’t it? Actually, we want to comprehend, not just understand, right?” He nods and shrugs his shoulders.
“I know,” she says compassionately. “I feel the same way more often than not. But besides that, what you said was indeed already said, though may be not in such exemplary terms. I find the comparisons however not only interesting but also significant! Is that all what makes you hesitant?”
He takes a few deep breaths. “Indeed, it is human’s limited perspective that troubles me, because of its sinister consequences and implications.” He shakes his head as if he wanted to shake off all kinds of unpleasant thoughts, then continues:
“May be we come back to it later. Let us for now stay with the analogies in evolution. My issues are connected with it and interrelated anyway. But let me just point out how little emphasis I put on the human species! Humans play no extraordinary role as they always claim. Any organic life form has the potential to take that role. It just only happened in this cycle that a species called human developed special cognitive functioning that gave the race the tool to eventually gain dominance above all other life forms. With this development however comes the struggle with the mysterious. It goes hand in hand, naturally. Existence, and experiences thereof are not easily fathomed or explained. Hence, man’s ignorance of his or any life around him lead to religious and philosophical pondering. Initially more primitive, but more and more intricate and sophisticated as his intelligence evolved and his knowledge expanded; ranging from worshipping nature to the gods of the past to God of today. He discarded obsolete gods as he went along, and it is no surprise that the traditional religions nowadays struggle to keep their flock in line. By the way, the keepers of tradition never gave up their power without a fight, for very understandable though not excusable reasons, - just to mention it!”
He pauses. He seems to search his mind for something then continues thinking aloud while taking her along on this journey:
“Now, talking about intelligence, the intellect! We are talking about the mind and the mind’s capabilities. Mind seems to have little to do with matter. So let us replace ‘Being and Nothing’ with ‘Matter and Mind’. But note! Mind is not nothing, just as ‘Nothing’ is not nothing. Mind is just a fine substrate of matter, and ‘Nothing’ is just undefined, if you recall our previous discussion. The evolution of man shows us clearly that matter is capable of specialization in a very distinct manner: Having first the basis, the crude matter if you like, eventually refined substances and substrates emerge in their own right to allow the development of emotions and intelligence. A milestone is reached, marking the beginning of another evolution that is the evolution of the mind. It is a continuous process that fosters all progress. How refined substance can emerge, or is created, is not a miracle as one may think, it is rather bound to happen. For example, we speak of the ‘lifeless’ stone. But that is incorrect, because life being motion, we have in the stone motion with all the atoms moving all the time. That makes the stone alive from within. So, here we have a stone full of life because in it is a fine substrate that we just don’t see nor feel. And all matter consists of atoms! Now let us look at our head with the brain inside in which all the thought processes are running continuously. The head is just like the stone containing life. In this case the special life is emotion and thought.”
He smiles. “I hope, you understand that I do not degrade any of the sophisticated biochemical and bioelectrical workings of the highly specialized brain nor the achievements of our mind only because I compare it with a stone. But tell me, is a stone not as wonderful in its make up? I am all for miracles, because the whole creation is a wonder indeed!” He blinks at her amused and finalizes: “So! Mind may not be solid matter, but it is concrete; mind is and has substance. You cannot touch it, nor see it, that is why I allow myself to use it as an analogy to ‘Nothing’.”
She jumps in keenly: “Just give me a moment for m y thoughts! You say, mind and thoughts are not free of matter, meaning, they are not immaterial! Hm! I can agree as far as content goes, but is t h a t substance? You have to explain!”
“It’s no contradiction,” he says patiently. “Thoughts are after all only possible because of the special biological reactions that take place, biochemically, electrochemically, molecular and atomic, - being the substrates and substances of mind and thinking. Humans struggle to explain the content of thought. The content is elusive despite being concrete. The origin of the content and its correlation to substrate is so far unknown and therefor clad in mystery. Humans constantly think and their thoughts are never empty. Thoughts are like the river carrying the goods, in or above it. The questions nowadays focus on the “goods”, because we know now, how we think, but nothing or very little about the “goods”. Humans claim they are the only ones having emotions and thought. That is of course not the case. Animals do as well, the higher developed the more they do. Though their thought content naturally differs, their feelings basically do not. We share with them more than man wants to accept.”
“Yes indeed,” she says, “but I know plenty of people who don’t think!” They laugh in agreement.
“So,” he continues, “you can see now, that mind depends on matter and thoughts need matter to be processed in order to manifest. Just like ‘Nothing’ depends on ‘Being’ for the same reason. As I see it: I am ‘Matter and Mind’, - because, if you remember what I said earlier, I am ‘Being and Nothing’, meaning, I am the true expression of the divine principle; traditionally expressed, - I am God.”
“Have you ever tried to experience ‘Nothing’?” He asks her changing topic or so it seems.
“Yes,” she says nodding vehemently. “I tried it actually quite a few times and it ended more or less always in the same way with quite fantastic but also powerful feelings. Would you like to hear what happened?” He nods.
“Maybe it is best I describe the whole thing,” she says. “I started by visualizing that I was the only something in a vacuum of nothing, complete emptiness in limitless space, with no time, in absolute blackness; no color, no light. After some minutes of concentration, or so I presume, something strange happened, like a reversal of things. I felt myself becoming smaller and smaller, losing all significance, and increasingly exposed to a power that grew in heaviness, density, heat, and pressure. Being compressed to nearly nothing it made me believe that I was going to explode. I had to stop the experiment every time. It made me however understand, what solitary confinement in a dark cell could do to a person.” She stops while drifting off into memory. Phil’s voice brings her back quickly.
“Yes,” he says, “your experience is similar to mine. I felt the ‘Nothing’ as potency and in that state it felt to me as if it was pregnant and hence omnipotent. A friend once said to me, when we talked about the “Big Bang”, ‘probably there was too much of ‘Nothing’”
“What a beautiful thought!” She exclaims
“Exactly,” he agrees, “but not just beautiful. In my opinion also quite reasonable. If you consider the ‘Nothing’ as omnipotent, an “OMNIPOTENCE” so to speak, or ‘Undifferentiated Being’, it makes it’s power easy to understand, as it is easy to understand ‘Being’ as “DIFFERENTIATED POTENCE’’; both are in relation to and with each other. It is just like the human body develops from omnipotent cells. I guess, most of us can understand that process. As these so called stem cells differentiate they turn into specialized cell, with their specific capabilities and also limited life span. Though it seems the omnipotence is lost, it isn’t. It was actually only transformed from omnipotence into differentiated potency. You can also say, omnipotence gets blocked by differentiation. A differentiated cell cannot change anymore. It remains that special cell to which it developed and will have to die as that. Unless a way is found to reverse the process, it cannot go back to be a stem cell. Death is in fact the liberator, lifting any blockade. Now this is the history of our cells, but the same applies to the cosmos: ‘Nothing’ differentiates into ‘Being’; and all that exists, will die, transforming into the omnipotent ‘Nothing’ again. Our cells do what the universe does. What happens on the big scale, happens in the small, “Micro cosmos – Macro cosmos”, that is where the wonderful and miraculous lies!”
“Fantastic!” She exclaims excitedly. “Let me take flight into the cosmos! Having this awareness now in my existence by living it, I can consciously experience my participation in the continuing process, knowing that I am indeed immortal, because death is a liberator, not the end. Ha! I never considered immortality like that!”
“Well”, he says dampening down her enthusiasm, “it really is not what man desires. He wants immortality as he is and he does not see freedom in liberation, but as a ticket for a pleasure trip.”
“True,” she admits, “I myself wouldn’t mind to live for a few centuries either, if it was a pleasure, of course!” They laugh because even Phil could see himself being around for a while, - if it was all going his way.
Getting serious again, she continues: “I have to come back to the potencies we talked about and what it means for the evolution of the cosmos and human kind. As far as the cosmos goes, it’s still pretty much hypothesizing, because obviously not even the scientists know, what the future and the end of the universe will look like, that is, to what it will differentiate and what final expression a fully ‘developed cosmos’ will have. The evolution of human kind may be easier to anticipate: Homo erectus – Homo sapiens – HOMO DIVINUS ? This seems to me the most logical conclusion, considering the level of intelligence man has already achieved. He is on the brink of creating artificial intelligence, after having produced machines. Now he wants to breathe life into them as well. In fact, he builds an artificial image of himself. Now is that incidence or imitation? Has man already reached the status of Homo divinus? Has he truly and fully reached the end of his differentiation? One could easily presume that, because now his future can only be death; and it looks like he i s well on his way, being on the path of self-destruction. He imitates God, but unfortunately it is a bad copy of it, because he really has no clue what God is and definitely no idea, what it actually would mean to b e God.” She falls silent, pondering.
Phil smiles at her, giving her time so she can float the river, before he starts the conversation again. “I like your thoughts,” he says, “and I share them too. It is however a very pessimistic picture but only too true. The demise of man is certain if he cannot change course, if he cannot expand his mind and adjust his behavior accordingly. In my opinion he has not reached his full potential, is not fully differentiated, at least his mind is not. The true Homo divinus could indeed make this world to paradise, not only for him but for all life. He could eat the fruit he longs to have but can never harvest, growing it in an unsuitable soil. He lost paradise eating the wrong apple, as did not belong to him. Now he could grow his own, unfortunately failing miserably, being so ignorant, not knowing which soil to use.” He pauses but stops her from interrupting.
“I want to come back to my original hesitations, the ones plaguing me as I said Good that you are so patient with me, being my sounding board as we speak, because every time I touch the subject, I stumble. It is the consequence I struggle with. What does the concept of the ‘divine’ principle mean to me? What is the consequence of it? I stumble over it, I struggle with it.”
“No,” she says decisively, “the consequence is always the same. After all, it does not matter, if it is me, or the universe that dies. In any case, it starts all over again, maybe not in the same form and measure, but there is another beginning. Or maybe I don’t understand exactly what you mean by consequence?”
“Maybe,” he agrees, “but let me explain. Eternity, where coming and going never ends, means strictly speaking, that nothing ever changes. That makes rebirth, or reincarnation truly a torment. Where or what is the purpose of this?!? I cannot accept something having no purpose. Life without purpose, even death without purpose holds the worst pain for me. I cannot imagine anything crueler. The concept of eternity makes sense to me only if there is a purpose, that is, progress with a goal, and eternity as destination.”
“Still, after reaching the destination, everything starts all over again, - it has the same effect, isn’t?” She really cannot see a difference or what he tries to point at.
“Yes, that may be so, but it makes a big difference to me. If I, as part of that process, can develop from plain existence to full awareness, where I have absolute conscience and understanding of that cycle, I can put up with eternity. Like the omnipotent cell differentiating into the specialized cell. Intelligence is only a step up the ladder of the mind’s evolution! As I said already, we have not only an evolution of matter, but also an evolution of mind. Though they seem separate, they are just individual branches of the same tree. Now, if undergoing differentiation replaces omnipotence, you will, as the process goes on, in the end have the highest differentiated potency that is possible. It is the point where omnipotence and differentiated potency have the same magnitude. There is no difference anymore in the extent of their power. Then, and only then, is it possible to have a choice of what your role in this ongoing coming and going, the cycles of eternity, may be.”
“Ah, being master of Life and Death, so to speak, but in fact being master of it all”. She parches in.
“Correct!” He sees her telltale smiles. Interpreting them correctly he states: “I don’t see that as a question of power, but a question of freedom. It is most important to me, to have a choice, being able to decide. I hate the fact to be decided upon. So! When omnipotence can decide if it wants to be or die and differentiated potency if it wants to die or be, then the coming and going makes sense, because it is the fulfilment of its own wish, or will; it is its own decision.”
“Hm! I understand. It is the “Omnipotent Consciousness”, that is your trepidation. And I think you are not sure, if you believe that you can or will achieve it, right? This state you refer to is, or is close to what the Hindus call Nirvana, isn’t it? I agree. It would be nice, if one could decide about the coming and going. At the moment I can only make a decision about my death, and that only with limitations because I cannot even be sure that I am not ‘hit by the tile off the roof’ as soon as I step out of the house. And I certainly have no influence on my becoming. Can’t be even sure, if I will achieve my goals in this life! That is actually the reason why I don’t bother, or consider anything like ‘consequence’, as you call it. What for?! I can’t do anything anyway! I cannot change it, I cannot influence it! The only thing that counts is the Here and the Now. Everything else has no significance!” She falls silent, somewhat defiantly it seems.
He looks at her curiously. “You are right,” he says after all, with warm smiles in his eyes. “It is unnecessary to think too much! But I am such believer in progress, something I seem not to be able to shed. Would I be otherwise interested in the work I am doing? It goes hand in hand with my worry about the sick plant! It is part of my personality, my attempt to explore me and all around me. But in the end it is also an attempt to give purpose to my existence, turn the suffering that is in my life into something positive. Otherwise I would probably despair over the cruelty, brutality and violence that I see in this world. Though they are in a way partaking factors on my progress and destination……….” The screen goes dark.
Femina’s eyes remain transfixed, but there is no screen anymore, only the plain wall and there is no longer a sound, only soundless silence, and the room is empty as it ever was.