MODES AND LEVELS OF BEING
ANIL MITRA, © MAY 2014—June 2014
This discussion in ‘western’ terms is basis for an account of the universe starting with the section in journey in being-detail on nature. It is preliminary to, so far as may be possible, a version in neutral terms (which will likely draw from experience, reason, and other cultures).
Psyche—experience—is taken as reference because it is the place of the beginning and end of knowing and not because it is (or is not) ontologically fundamental.
This is the background. The only constraint on the universe is possibility, of which there is a vast Unknown.
The base, in our world, of and primitive to our being. Includes matter, life, and—on the western hierarchy of modes—psyche.
Place of our significant being and realization (becoming).
In our world psyche is invariably found in association with matter (bodies).
Place of cooperative endeavor and realization, especially of human beings.
Civilization nurtures the individual, the individual fosters civilization.
Support to individual realization (instrumental aspect). Place of convergence of individual identity in large scale identity (intrinsic aspect).
The significance of the levels for realization is that while there is cross transformation (action at one level affecting another) it is essential to address all levels.
The void is primitive to nature.
Thus some very general levels are: the void, the normal, and the apex of the universal.
In secular thought: nature (including psyche) and civilization.
Trans-secular thought also recognizes the primitive and higher and apex forms and identity.
The following levels are from ‘high’ to ‘low’:
Religion and spirituality talk of higher levels—especially spirit and god.
Science and common material experience seem to find no spirit and god but from their incompleteness they do not rule these out; it is only the thought that ‘what we have seen is what there is’ that makes us think that science rules out being beyond its domain.
The metaphysics asserts that there must be spirit and gods and, perhaps above these, soul understood as that which bridges divides normally considered absolute—e.g. death and unmanifest phases of the universe. However, the metaphysics is not explicit as to their nature; in fact it is wide open on the issue—it allows an immense range. Can we say more?
Some philosophies find the idea of ‘god’ to refer to a process. Scholastic and some modern theology regard god as substance (divine simplicity with no parts) but the metaphysics shows this conception of substance and therefore of god as untenable. In Samuel Alexander’s thought divinity for any level is the next higher level of being; prior levels, however, do not conceive their divinity even though they have it; ours is the first level at which divinity is conceived. Without espousing Alexander’s view, we can use it as a source of insight.