Avenues to Global Peace & Harmony


Historical Background


The war protest era of the late 60’s and early 70’s was characterized by great political and moral upheaval, the pursuit of global peace emerging as a trend “the USA establishment” found increasingly difficult to control. The great rallying cry was the protest against the Vietnam War, the mounting casualty figures discouraging support for what (even then) appeared to be a futile international endeavor. The peace movement, accordingly, evolved its own fraternal symbolisms; namely, the peace sign and the peace symbol (a dove’s foot inscribed in a circle). The simultaneous availability of “the pill,” in turn, ushered in a more relaxed sexual attitude, the practice of free love flourishing in “hippy” districts such as Haight-Ashbury. This self-styled peace-love generation prided itself on such non-conformist attitudes, looking to the unconventional themes of meditation and astrology for solutions to political turmoil, promoting the quest for inner peace and tranquility. The emerging Civil Rights movement also raised the pressing issue of racial equality, an issue deliberately grafted into the peace movement as yet a further tactic to thwart the tyranny of the establishment. Blacks became “brothers” with whites in a stirring appeal to universal peace and brotherhood.







These four noble themes of the 60’s (peace-love-tranquility-equality) collectively celebrate the transcendental focus of the age, a tradition sharing much in common with New England Transcendentalism, which are shown in context with the virtues/values above. This enduring transcendental perspective proves particularly consistent with the reigning humanistic focus of the modern age, downplaying the dogmatism of orthodox religion in favor of individual conscience. Here, the cohesive grouping of peace-love-tranquility-equality is most appropriately termed the class of humanistic values, directly expanding upon the humanitarian focus of the ecumenical ideals. In more abstract sense, peace represents a more advanced modification of equanimity, whereas love attaches a parallel significance to magnanimity. Furthermore, tranquility adds a transcendental perspective to grace, whereas equality targets the related theme of free will. In final analysis, the true test of the humanistic values is ultimately found within the expanded context of their corresponding literary traditions.


The first of the humanistic values, peace, is a transcendental theme of virtually universal appeal. Its modern spelling derives from the Latin pax (peace), chiefly in the context of the Pax Romana: the peace the Romans imposed upon subject provinces within the Empire. The Roman’s self-appointed role of peacemaker was primarily seen as a moral prerogative according to political theorists such as Virgil. Indeed, the Romans specifically worshipped this concept as their abstract goddess Pax, the divine personification of peace among diverse nations. Pax represents a relatively late addition to the Roman pantheon, virtually unheard of before the time of Augustus. State support for her cult is generally credited with fostering the strength and stability of the Empire under Augustus. A Roman shrine was dedicated to Pax in 9 BCE in celebration of the restoration of peace by Augustus following his triumphant series of campaigns in Spain and Gaul. The widespread longing for peace during this period of civil unrest contributed to Pax’s great popularity among the common people. Pax, accordingly, is portrayed as a youthful maiden holding a cornucopia in her left hand and an olive branch (the symbol of peace) in her right. She is sometimes depicted setting fire to a stockpile of armaments in defiance of the prevailing militarism of the day. A major festival was held in her honor on the last day in April.

The Judeo-Christian tradition similarly celebrates the transcendental aspects of peace. The Hebrew word for peace, Salom, is directly related to the same root-stem for health and wholesomeness. The prophets of the Old Testament exalted peace as the promised blessing of the Messianic Age. In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ directly blesses the peacemakers, stating: “They shall be called children of God.” The Apostle Paul, in turn, describes Christ’s message as “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Paul also lists peace among the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it is fitting that the dove (as the chief symbolism of the Holy Spirit) figures so prominently in OT descriptions of peace, particularly the celebrated story of Noah and the Ark. Here, the dove served as God’s messenger, carrying an olive sprig in its beak symbolizing peaceful intent. Noah originally had released the dove during the Great Flood to see if it might successfully find landfall. The olive branch carried by the dove, in turn, signaled that the ordeal was finally coming to an end.

In keeping with these scriptural precedents, peace builds (in a transcendental fashion) upon the humanitarian focus of equanimity, terms that share a collective focus in austerity. This grand transcendental focus of peace suggests precisely such an austere perspective, as exemplified in the offering of the olive branch during peace negotiations. Here, the olive orchard required many years of tending to become fruitful, signifying the peace required to fulfill its potential. Accordingly, the dove and the olive branch are all revered as Christian symbolisms of peace: emblems still employed today in the amicable resolution of disputes.


The second of the humanistic values, love, is a theme that truly transcends all ages and cultures. Its modern spelling derives from the Anglo-Saxon lufu (of similar meaning). Although the English derivation has endured as the dominant form, the classical tradition is alternately represented as the Latin cupido (passion, desire), as well as amor (love). The Romans divinely worshipped this theme in the guise of Cupid, their youthful god of love. In classical mythology, Cupid is traditionally depicted as an adorable winged cherub daintily equipped with a quiver and bow. As the youngest of the Roman gods, he is described as callous or capricious, exhibiting little concern even for his mother, Venus. The gods Pothos and Himeros were named as his constant companions: the Roman personifications of longing and desire. Jupiter graciously equipped Cupid with a pair of golden wings, a magical bow, and a quiver of invisible arrows said never to miss their mark. These arrows were said to instill irresistible love in the hearts of all struck by them. One ancient legend suggests that Cupid whets with blood the grindstone upon which he sharpens his arrows. He is often described as blind or blindfolded consistent with the contention that “love is blind.”

These enduring legends surrounding Cupid serve as a colorful basis for many modern-day symbolisms of love; particularly, a crimson heart pierced by an arrow (the traditional emblem of St. Valentine’s Day). The modern conception of romantic love is actually of fairly recent origin, as well as the tradition of marriage for love’s sake. Marriage solely for love at first was considered a scandalous novelty, in contrast to the mandate it currently enjoys today. The modern age of romantic love was initially celebrated in the lyric poetry popularized by the troubadours of Southern France. The romantic exaltation of the passions eventually swept the continent, celebrating the romantic ideal of chaste womanhood. This courtly sense of love transcended mere sexual passion, wherein idealizing the chaste and inaccessible woman of fancy. The medieval lover was expected to serve his lady without recompense save the glow of her gracious approval. This elevated status of women eventually was reflected in other chivalrous themes; namely, a steadfast sense of loyalty to God, King, and Country. These noble themes of chastity/chivalry sought to control (rather than gratify) such amorous instincts. Here, romantic passion increasing in direct proportion to the obstacles placed in the way. In this latter respect, love guides one to a nobler life, its trials and tribulations curiously suggestive of the ordeals of martyrdom (both of which transcend the self in the quest for a higher good).

As is true with so many of the great love stories from the past, love is seen to transcend all political and social barriers, a transcendental expression of pure ideal passion. In the case of Romeo and Juliet, their respective families were embroiled in a bitter blood feud spanning many generations, in direct contrast to the tender and loving passion shared by the young lovers. In a similar sense, Anthony and Cleopatra were the fateful off-spring of radically different cultures, yet the flame of their love burned brightly until tragically cut short. Here (as with Romeo and Juliet), the couple chose to die together in hopes of being joined for all eternity, an extreme variation on the transcendental foundations of the love perspective.


The completed description of peace and love leaves tranquility as the third entry in the overall grouping of humanistic values. Its modern spelling derives the Latin tranquillitas, from trans- (beyond) and quies (rest). The use of the same prefix in the overall context of trans-cendentalism lends further credence to the overlapping significance of these two themes. The Romans worshipped tranquility as the abstract goddess Quies, the divine personification of calmness and tranquility. She is traditionally portrayed as a beautiful maiden in a relaxed pose, sometimes shown leaning upon a short marble column. Her chapel was located on the Via Labicana in Rome, a welcome refuge for the weary traveler. A private cult dedicated to Quies dates to the earliest days of the Republic, although official worship was not instituted until imperial times. Following his surrender to Augustus, the rival Maximian had a medal of conciliation minted with the inscription “Quies Augustorum.” A later series of coins incorporates the affiliated theme of tranquillitas into the emperor’s title of distinction.

The direct antithesis of such formal classicism involves an appreciation of tranquility within the natural environment. Perhaps no experience is more exhilarating than a visit to a still mountain lake framed with majestic tall timber, permeated with an eternal hush completely at odds with the urban environment. This pristine natural setting clearly transcends the more hectic pace of city life, offering an experience of virtually timeless proportions. This exalted devotion for nature was widely celebrated in the spirited works of the great English and German romanticists: e.g., Goethe, Wordsworth, and Coleridge. They collectively celebrated an enhanced regard for the wonders of nature, as well as a stirring empathy for its divine order.

The subsequent dawning of the Industrial Age, however, forever altered such a pastoral pers-pective. Nature was now esteemed as a source of timber and coal for fueling the furnaces and steam engines of the day. Cities grew increasingly over-crowded and polluted, attracting many unskilled laborers from the countryside. Under such trying circumstances, tranquility was chiefly achieved through chemical means: primarily with respect to alcohol, opium, or other tranquilizers.

In keeping with the preceding nature example, tranquility is clearly classified as a past-directed style of transcendental perspective true to its more elementary foundations in grace. Here, the “tranquilizer” abuser habitually acts in a solicitous fashion in order to achieve reinforcement when the drug finally takes effect. In most such cases, the calming effect of the tranquilizer targets routine stresses in favor of tranquil feelings of serenity. As suggested previously, drugs represent just one avenue towards achieving a calm disposition. Here, the appreciation of music, art, and drama provides an effective release from everyday stressful routines: as well as prayer, yoga, and meditation. The serene smile traditionally associated with depictions of the Buddha is certainly consistent with such a tranquil demeanor. Indeed, whether it be the hypnotizing radiance associated with the Transfiguration of Christ, or the mystical magnetism described in Herman Hesse’s Siddartha; this enduring sense of tranquility will still come shining through!


The final of the humanistic values, equality, definitely lives up to its transcendental billing: for in the real world, everyone is unique in terms of indiv-idual strengths and weaknesses. Its modern spelling derives from the Latin aequalitas (equal), from aequalis (even). The Romans professed a strong constitutional sense of equality, with every citizen enjoying equal protection under the law. The Jus Naturale (or natural law) insured equal rights to the sea, seashore, and com-munity property. Accordingly, the Romans divinely worshipped this theme as their abstract goddess Aequitas. Direct evidence of her cult occurs in an archaic inscription from Vulci, and Arnobius specifically mentions her as a goddess. Her name is also inscribed on many ancient coins from the era.

The modern-day conception of equality (also known as egalitarianism) dates as a postscript to the European Age of Enlightenment. Political philosopher Thomas Hobbes professed the equal rights of mankind in his natural state consistent with his unlimited sense of potential. John Locke, in turn, elaborated upon this basic premise, stating that: “all men are equally free under the natural law and therefore fully deserving of the same natural rights.” In the 18th century, these noble perspectives were further reflected in emerging theories of human development. According to Condillac and Helvetius, all men are equal in terms of the unlimited potential they share at birth: wherein equally perfectible given the proper social environment. French philosopher, J. J. Rousseau explained social inequality in terms of the pressures stemming from a stratified social order. Here, each individual (in the state of nature) fends for himself, wherefore abstaining from exploiting others (or being exploited). Rousseau further reasons that full social equality is the ideal natural state for the human species in general.

These radical interpretations proved particularly instrumental in fueling the great American and French Revolutions: themes so eloquently reflected in their respective declarations of rights. For the American Revolution, this sense of equality denied the legitimacy of any arbitrary form of government. The Declaration of Independence formally underscores this basic principle, stating: “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” This egalitarian perspective continues into our modern age, particularly with respect to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

In direct analogy to the case initially made for tranquility, equality shares a similar transcendental perspective: an ideal clearly noble in principle although seldom realized in practice. In truth, any recourse to universal principles neces-sarily entails a complete disregard for the more basic limitations governing the human condition. This egalitarian perspective necessarily specifies equal protection under the law irrespective of personal limitations or class distinctions. Such noble ideals celebrate the equal opportunity of all races and creeds, clearly denouncing any preferential treatment therein. Although such lofty ideals do not always square with the glaring gaps in the global economic system, they, nevertheless, remain principles worth aspiring to, even if only to remedy much of the prejudice that breeds in its stead.


In conclusion, the completed description of the humanistic values offers a fitting relief from the more routine rigors of everyday life. Indeed, the world would certainly appear a much crueler place without such noble ideals to strive for. Here, the transcendental authority perspective formally appeals to an idealized realm of pure abstraction, wherein overruling the more limited (organizational) power base of the lower set of levels. Its profoundly abstract nature, in turn, might serve to indicate that the upper conceptual limit of the power hierarchy has finally been reached. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a set of concepts more abstract than the cohesive listing of peace, love, tranquility, and equality. Even an authority level as abstract as the transcendental, however, must (by definition) be invested with its own unique form of follower countermaneuver: in this case, that claimed by the transcendental follower.

This supremely abstract style of follower perspective is particularly reminiscent of the emotional detachment characterizing many oriental schools of religious mysticism. In particular, the most basic precept of Buddhism states that the pursuit of pleasure necessarily invites pain, leaving emotional detachment as a principle means for achieving true spiritual balance. The mystic, accordingly, renounces the transitory passions of the everyday world in favor of a heightened experience of pure transcendence.

One of the most enduring mystical techniques towards these ends is the long-standing tradition of meditation. Indeed, meditation appears in one form or another in virtually every major religious tradition from around the world. Although the particulars can vary widely, all share some sort of preliminary focusing technique aimed at gaining entry into the mystical realm. This can be passive (as in focusing on one’s breathing), or active (as in chanting a mantra). At some point during the preliminaries, the over-stimulation (or under-stimulation) specific to the procedure permits entry into the transcendental realm. This mystical state is variously described as relaxed alertness or detached awareness, an experience completely devoid of any particulars in thought or feeling. In terms of this blissful state, full mental stillness is ultimately achieved, abandoning any reference to external form or function.

According to Zen Buddhism, this enlightened state is known as satori, whereas the Yogic tradition is defined as samadhi. Even the Christian tradition acknowledges mystical enlightenment; namely, “the peace that passeth understanding” according to St. Paul. Indeed, virtually every culture reports some form of mystical experience; variously described as joyous ecstasy or blissful harmony. This universal mystical character completely transcends all such cultural barriers: whether Christian, Jewish, Islamic, or Oriental. It ultimately proves fruitful to look beyond such cultural restrictions, rather focusing on the individual subjective accounts characterizing the mystical experience in general.


Perhaps the most definitive examination of the mystical experience is offered by William James in his Variet-ies of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. This work is a compilation of his Lectures on Natural Religion delivered in Edinburgh, Scot-land in 1901-1902. James is traditionally revered as one of the founding fathers of the American school of pragmatic psychology. The brother of dis-tinguished novelist Henry James, William was educated (and eventually achieved tenure) at prestigious Harvard University. His pioneering work into the psycholo-gical effects of nitrous oxide anesthesia provided him an unconventional (yet accommodating) access to the mystical realm. He alludes to this personal aspect of his mystical experiences as follows: “The further limits of our being plunge, it seems to me, into an altogether other dimension of existence from the sensible and merely understandable world. Name it the mystical region or the supernatural region, whatever you choose.”

In his Varieties of Religious Experience, James lists a key number of distinguishing features for the mystical experience: defined as (1) ineffability, (2) noetic character, (3) transience, and (4) passivity. The first mentioned category of ineffability refers to the inherent difficulty in finding the words to express the dramatic nature of the mystical experience. Many mystics claim that it can only be understood through direct experience, with intuition clearly taking precedent over intellect. Although the experience is not easily articulated to others, it generally has an insightful character to the mystic: an aspect that James further defines as the noetic charact-er. This term refers to “insights into the very depths of truth, unplumbed by the discursive intellect.” These insights often come in the form of illuminations or revelations overflowing with significance, although usually only vaguely remembered following subsequent transition to ordinary consciousness. This latter aspect is termed transiency in that worldly concerns must eventually draw the mystical experience to close. Although the mystical experience is only imperfectly reproduced in ordinary memory, it is instantly recognized in its fullest sense during any subsequent recurrence. Although this state can be precipitated through voluntary means (such as prayer or meditation), the actual transformation is realized through an abeyance of the will (as if drawn by a superior power). James’s final category of passivity refers to this ego-attenuation, a feature consistently experienced by mystics caught up in the throes of ecstasy.

This preliminary survey of the mystical experience, although clearly informative on an intuitive level, still leaves open the remaining issue of the identification of the four affective dimensions predicted for the transcendental follower perspective. Indeed, the affiliated theme of ineffability would seem to suggest that these additional dimensions would remain inexpressible in verbal terms. The Western tradition of Christian mysticism offers the greatest potential in this regard, particularly in terms of the personal aspect known as saintliness.


In his Varieties of Religious Experience, James devotes five full lectures to the topic of saintliness, defining it as the “ripe fruits of spirituality.” Citing a survey of the literature spanning many centuries, James proceeds to outline a number of key characteristics for saintliness. He initially describes the occurrence of an expanded outlook transcending one’s individual peculiarities for an enhanced conviction in a higher order. This further leads to a willing self-surrender to such a benevo-lent force, tempering freedom with elation as the distinctive outlines of selfhood melt away. There finally occurs a positive shift towards loving and harmonious affections clearly in keeping with such an ecstatic experience.

Although this traditional line of reasoning proves extremely enlightening, it ultimately proves crucial to examine individual accounts of saintliness in order to discern an overall pattern for the mystical states under consideration. Catholic mystics (such as St. Catherine of Genoa) advocated living in recollection; namely, magnifying each active moment so as to facilitate entry into Divine Union. A related system known as orison promoted an elevation of the soul through the systematic detachment of the senses. Accord-ing to St. Teresa of Avila, the highest of these is the orison of union: which raises the soul into mystical union with the Divine, wherein giving the appearance of complete mental inaccessibility.

The English language is fortunately endowed with a broad range of terms for describing the mystical experience, borrowing extensively from both classical and contemporary traditions. This rich abundance of synonyms apparently selected (over time) for the precise shades of meaning predicted for the ethical power hierarchy. For instance, the cohesive grouping of ecstasy, bliss, joy, and harmony represents themes specifically mentioned by James in his report on saintliness. Although these four terms all seem to share a common theme, enough marginal distinctions remain to warrant a strict correspondence with the four affective dimensions predicted with respect to the power hierarchy. In this more advanced sense, ecstasy directly expands upon the aesthetic qualities of beauty, whereas bliss similarly expands upon the knowledge functions of truth. Furthermore, joy adds a transcendental slant to goodness, whereas harmony makes a similar correspondence to wisdom. This cohesive four-part listing of terms is respectively termed the class of mystical values, in direct acknowledgement of their general unifying theme. Al-though these motivational parallels prove convincing on an intuitive level, their true test of validity is ultimately established in terms of their respective literary traditions.


The first and foremost of the mystical values, ecstasy, is traditionally defined as an overwhelming sense of rapture (primarily in a spiritual sense). Its modern spelling derives from the Greek ekstasis (displacement), from ek- (out) and histanai (to place). This theme eventually took on a mystical significance, variously described as an overwhelming sense of joy accompanied by supreme feelings of delight. According to St. Teresa of Avila, this ecstatic state can be delicately gentle or violently rapturous (as in full-blown flights of the spirit). In the throes of such divine contemplation, the mystic becomes “one” with the experience of the Absolute. The mystic generally becomes impervious to outside sensations, even to the point of ignoring pain or discomfort. Indeed, this trance-like quality of ecstasy is also suggested in its subordinate theme of beauty. In this expanded sense, the transcendental follower beauteously acts in an ecstatic fashion, formally countering the tranquil sense of gracefulness expressed by the respective authority figure.


Allied to any discussion of ecstasy is the related theme of bliss. Its modern spelling derives from the Anglo Saxon blisse, from bliths (joy). These traditional connotations survive to our modern era with respect to the related contexts of rapture and gladness. This broad focus would further appear to restrict bliss to just another synonym for ecstasy were it not for its incorporation into the popular expression “ignorance is bliss.” Here, an alternate truth function is suggested for bliss. A casual survey the mystical literature brings to light many stirring accounts of blissful states where the grand scheme of things becomes supremely apparent. Indeed, ignorance is bliss in this elementary sense, a supreme overview clearly invoking such a transcendental perspective.


The third of the mystical values, joy, traces its origins to the Old French joye, from the Latin guadium (of similar meaning). It is traditionally defined as extreme happiness or gladness, often used interchangeably with ecstasy or rapture. The ancient Romans worshipped this concept as their god Comus (the divine personification of joyous revelry). This Latin tradition, in turn, traces its origins to the Greek god Komos, the same root-stem for the related theme of comedy. In particular, this congenial god is figuratively featured on the distinctive “smiling” style of mask generally worn during the performance of classical comedies.

These classical themes find similar consideration in the field of ethical inquiry, where joy is defined as “the prevailing quality of a rightful act” (a sense consistent with its transcendental affiliation to goodness). Indeed, St. Thomas Aquinas defines joy as: “The delight that is the healthy complement of intelligent and willed activity, when the appetite is actively at rest in a good really possessed.” Furthermore, St. Paul fittingly numbers joy among the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). These rewarding aspects of the term are particularly reflected in the popular expression “taking joy in one’s work.” Accordingly, joy is figuratively symbolized as a tolling bell, a singing lark, the midday sun, or the color yellow: indicative of its related connotations to goodness.


The fourth and final of the mystical values, harmony, spans a rather broad range of meaning consistent with its transcendental placement within the power hierarchy. Its modern spelling derives from the Greek harmonia (a fitting together, an agreement), from harmos (a fitting or joining). According to classical Greek mythology, the goddess Harmonia is traditionally described as the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite: an insightful allegory in light of the fact that Ares was revered as the god of war, whereas Aphrodite was worshipped as the goddess of love. This theme also extends to the aesthetic realm of classical music and the fine arts: where agreement in form, function, and melody proves crucial to any meaningful attempts at composition. In medieval iconography, Harmony is depicted as a beautiful matron bedecked with an ornate crown, further flourishing a violin and a bow. In a more restricted relationship sense, harmony directly expands upon the humanitarian theme of wisdom, wherein reflecting a transcendental sense of agreement within a universal sphere of affairs.


In conclusion, the completed description of the mystical values effectively rounds out the stepwise description of the transcendental power realm. Any further extension of this format necessarily specifies the existence of an even more abstract form of authority; namely, that transcending transcendental authority. Although this extreme conceptual perspective definitely stretches the limits of abstract sensibility, in theory, there does not appear to be any conceptual limit governing the degree to which reflection can serve as a basis for itself. Any such upper limit must necessarily be a technical one; namely, that degree of abstraction that finally exceeds the capacity of the human intellect to distinguish the respective affective dimensions (precluding their incorporation into the collective language culture). This observed blending of meanings would, indeed, suggest that this upper conceptual limit has finally been reached. Beginning with the transcendental authority level, the respective listing of humanistic values (peace-love-tranquility-equality) all exhibit a fair degree of distinctness, even though some measure of conceptual affinity is hinted at in their dictionary definitions. For the next higher level of the transcendental follower, however, the mystical values (ecstasy-bliss-joy-harmony) collectively exhibit a greater degree of conceptual affinity: reflected in dictionary definitions that are similar (if not synonymous) in form and function.

Taking this trend to the limit predicts a complete blending of meanings at the next higher meta-meta-order level of transcendence. At this seemingly inconceivable level of abstraction, the four requisite affective dimensions effectively merge into a unified conceptual continuum, essentially unnamable except in the broadest supernatural sense; e.g., God, the Absolute, etc. One experiencing this extreme level of transcendence would certainly be impressed by the paradoxical blending of emotional states, in direct contrast to the more concrete range of experience characterizing the lower levels. In ordinary consciousness, the mind is typically restricted to entertaining only a single power maneuver (or emotion) at any given time. With respect to the supernatural dimension, however, the distinctions between the emotions become so blurred as to merge into a unified state: the “one becomes the many,” as many mystics have reported down through the ages.

This paradoxical experience of all-inclusive awareness has traditionally been documented using a broad range of themes; such as the Universal Mind, the Oversoul, Cosmic Consciousness, Brahma, the Great Spirit, etc. These collectively serve as a primordial prototype for the continuum of lower (more differentiated) states. The supremely abstract nature of this supernatural perspective (by definition) encompasses all of the lower levels as subsets; hence, accounting for the corresponding flooding of the emotions. Perhaps herein lies the basis for the tradi-tional Judeo-Christian belief that man is created in the image and likeness of God. Ordinary consciousness (with its sequential limitations) is formally theorized to differentiate out of this all-inclusive primordial state. At this supreme supernatural level, we seem to tune in to the Universal Mind as the sum-potentiality of all that is transcendent in nature.

Perhaps it is really only a matter of convention (devised by the ordinary mind) to regard the mystical state as a wholly separate entity. Indeed, William James appears to make a similar point in the following quotation from his Varieties of Religious Experience. “This overcoming of all of the usual barriers between the individual and the Absolute is the great mystical achievement. In mystic states we both become one with the Absolute and we become aware of our oneness. This is the everlasting and triumphant mystical tradition hardly altered by differences of clime or creed.” Here, the spiritually-minded can fittingly view the unified power hierarchy as rooted entirely within such a supernatural realm: where all power emanates from the Supreme Godhead as creator of all that is spiritual and material. All authority therefore filters down from this supernatural domain consistent with God’s creative command over all human endeavors. The individual mystical traditions scarcely appear to be the crucial issue here, for many a religious sage has noted that “Many roads lead to enlightenment.”

This supreme supernatural perspective further underscores the basic paradox underlying the ethical hierarchy in general; namely, its openness at both its upper and lower margins. The lower margin blends with the mysterious and materialistic realm of instinctualism, whereas the upper end extends to the supernatural domain. Although the limited human intellect clearly favors such a dualistic interpretation, this general perspective (on a grander scale) might actually amount to a grand illusion! Is it truly possible to distinguish the spiritual from the material, the mental from the physical? No matter how one frames this inquiry, these two themes always appear to remain intimately connected. So long as the mind-body puzzle remains unresolved, these issues must remain open to further speculation.


Chapter Excerpt from:

Character Values: Promoting a Virtuous Lifestyle - 2005

c. John LaMuth 2005, 2007

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