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Similarity, Community, Values and Human Nature - Part VII


What About Those Different Folks?

In order to enter the journey of understanding, each person must start with the consciousness of their own self. This method or process of knowing, resides within the nature of the individual. It is within complete harmony with 'Nature', is bound by their rules and can't function outside the boundaries of the natural universe. However, this does not deny, that influences beyond the current ability for a scientific explanation, do not exist, or can influence our consciousness. Traditionally, this is the realm of the 'Mystic'. The following characterization of Karl Rahner bears on this topic:

Rahner believed that the polarity between "transcendence" and "immanence" was false, being imposed upon Christianity by secular world views. Human experience is unintelligible unless it is interpreted in light of the transcendent mystery of God through "transcendental reflection." Humans transcend themselves in every act of questioning and thinking, by which they demonstrate themselves to be both part of the natural world and yet simultaneously oriented towards the mysterious horizon of being that Christians know as God, the infinite horizon of hope and love. The dilemma of immanence or transcendence of God must thus be overcome without sacrificing either. Due to the ability of humans to discern the transcendent element of their situation, there is an implicit knowledge of God latent within humanity, which it is the function of transcendental reflection to identify. The sense of relation to God, a natural knowledge of God, he terms "transcendental revelation," but is inadequate in itself and needs to be supplemented by a supernatural knowledge of God, or "categorical revelation."

The great thinkers of history pride themselves on their rational basis for understanding. They project inquiry into an abstract environment by asking questions that transcend the temporal experience. When Metaphysics is applied to the world of the senses, seeming conflicts or the inability to demonstrate proofs of their certitude, have often become evident. For a valid conclusion to be recognized, the relationship, of the idea, 'to be real'; must be in harmony and in balance with 'Nature'. The necessity that understanding is achieved, within the inherent reality, IN the order and laws, of the cosmos; is its scientific nature. That which we have yet to discover, doesn't deny its scientific explanation, but only points out the state of our current ignorance. Rahner's approach is:

Rahner and his circle argued that the recovery of the sense of the transcendent could only be achieved through a reappropriation of the classical sources of Christian theology, especially Augustine and Aquinas. His approach fused German idealism and existentialism with Thomism.


It is because of this synthesis that I submit, he is worth reviewing. But how does this relate back to our discussion? When the notion of 'Civilization' is culture bound, how can one find the universal similarity? We will use two examples. The first is the native indian tribes of the Amazon. The Quichua tribe has existed in a 'relative' state of nature, apart from modern culture. Their shaman's practice a ritual that involves ingestion of Ayahuasca, and he enters into a mystic experience. Who would deny that this rite is outside the laws of the universe? Quite to the contrary, even if we do not comprehend the relationships involved or the level of vision attained, there is no indication that 'Nature' has been bypassed. So then, what is the significance of the 'out of body' experience, and possible revelation from another dimension? Such an example defies an adequate analysis by the current understanding of science. But that should not preclude that it's all a fraud, nor has it been proved that it's real; either.

The 'Similarity' of the Human Nature of the shaman has the same DNA commonality with all others. But his customs and culture is rooted in a 'spiritual' belief that is foreign to ours. His ability for intellectual reasoning has the same potential that does ours, certainly not within the confines of his society, as we in the West evaluate; but comparable achievement could be expected if socialized into a civilized community as an infant. Certainly different physiological abilities will be define by his genetic characteristics. Who knows, he might excel as a member of the Crew Team, as he uses his canoe talents on the Charles River. With the difference between the cultures, is there any guarantee that our world view is THE true and correct understanding? Could we not learn from this mystic tradition?

The second illustration is closer to the cultural conflicts in modern society. The Gypsy sect is more of a life style culture than a genetic ethnic heritage. Certainly there is a traditional association in several indigenous regions, but Gypsy's populate in numerous societies. Are they not from the same 'Similarity' of a common Human Nature? So what accounts for their perceived lawlessness and anti social behavior? Are they a part of the 'Community' or does their rejection of accepted norms of 'Civilization' place them outside the fold? Its it all about cultural differences !!!

C S Lewis says it best, once again:

"The wrong asceticism torments the self: the right kind kills the selfness. We must die daily: but it is better to love the self than to love nothing, and to pity the self than to pity no one."

Isn't it all about accepting the proper values? Not just any values, but those that are virtuous! But what are they and where do we find them? And where do we start the search? Well, the direct answer seems very clear, if not self evident. It starts with ourselves, since we are the embodiment of our very consciousness. It is the 'Existential' process of self reflection that allows for this journey to proceed. The first and most fundamental maxim of this inquiry is that it is achieved within the being of ourself. If the 'Similarity' of our common 'Human Nature' is consistent and truly is an inborn universality; than LIFE itself is our starting point 'Value'. No other prime value conforms with 'Nature' and the self awareness of our conscious knowledge. If LIFE is accepted as our axiom for 'Value', we can then enter into this domain of inquiry that promises to bear the fruit of life. It is up to us not to seek to eat it, before we are ready to accept the 'Nature' of that knowledge. Rahner, might very well shed a valuable insight on just how that process works, and how we may make the active choice, to accept the rules, by which this understanding is found. For this is really the more appropriate view, of the meaning of 'Existentialism'; and its relationship to find the holy grail of 'Community' in a world of 'Nature', with a 'Similarity' of 'Human Nature', lived within the 'Values' of a 'Civilization', that seeks to know the wisdom of the mystics, which is known, from their contact with the revelation of universal meaning. We are capable of more; beyond the bounds of rational thought, and with enlightenment from above.

We will now look into those qualities of 'Values', that flow from LIFE. As we still continue . . .


You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilization from barbarism.
 I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass.
 A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Saturn.
John Buchan

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