Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Transubstantiation and Alchemy



"Renel the Alchemist", by Sir William Douglas, 1853


Aristotle and transubstantiation - From The Times October 26, 2009

"How is transubstantiation understood from the point of view of Taoism? Taoist alchemical practices fall into two basic categories: external alchemy and internal alchemy. External alchemy involves ingesting mineral and/or herbal elixirs, for the purpose of extending life or achieving the Immortality of the physical body." Inner Alchemy & Transubstantiation by Elizabeth Reninger, About.com Guide

Substantial form Wikipedia (also see Aristotle)

Alchemy - Wikipedia

Ouroboros - Wikipedia

Formal cause - Wikipedia (also see Theory of forms)

Learning about transubstantiation is, for me, revisiting a familiar unresolved issue, namely the idea of Form (Plato), a doctrine passed on through Aristotelian Realism. Some call it "creative visualization" or "creating your own reality". Do things of this world come from our thoughts first, and if so, to what extent? Is matter, including the people in our lives, the consequence of our "thought energy" or "choice"? Is choice even a choice if it's unconsciously made? There are many schools of thought that say all matters are of the mind, such as Buddhism, The Secret (theosophy) and New Age. The problem I have with this idea (besides the "mind control" aspect of it, a discipline which is always more restrictive than it is freeing) is that it doesn't always work in what I call "actual reality", and this reality is addressed by the serenity prayer that goes like this: "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference". Transubstantiation is real to those who believe: such is faith, even if that faith is in shapeshifting magic, from Aaron's snake to the holy trinity. The idea, I believe, is that it's the thought that counts when it comes to how we view and internalize our experiences. However, that ability to "change" our perception of reality doesn't actually change the reality of what occurs to us in life, and how we act doesn't always follow our thoughts. Sometimes, we mean well and fail.

Another issue I have is that it tends to put blame (cause) on victims instead of oppressors, with the notion of karma being that bad things can only happen if you "allow" them to happen. It is related to monism. I believe the caste system works like this; if you're born a social outcast, it must be because you did something in another life to deserve your lowly status. The fault always lies with the self, even when it doesn't make sense. Obviously, if you can't remember your past life, you can't say for sure whether you did anything wrong. Besides, things sometimes just happen, without there being a good-or-bad narrative. Why should cause not make sense, if the answer lies in truth, the opposite of confusion? The idea that karma is always deserved is called Fate, something the Bible explicitly tells believers not to worship. Karma sounds just, but is it always? Is karmic justice true justice or the absence of mercy? Is life all one big circle in which we run around forever, with mysteries unsettled in circular thinking? What loving God wants ignorance for us, if ignorance can't save? People die from lack of knowledge - or so the Bible says. This knowledge that saves probably doesn't come from the tree of knowledge that leads to death. I can reason that perhaps the teachings illustrate that not all knowledge is equal nor necessarily true, and that some truths become untruths the more truths we learn.

There's a great saying I found on an online friend's Facebook page: "what defines us, limits us". We need to see the consequence(s) of all philosophies, and apply them in context and not try to artificially harmonize, or universalize, every aspect of our lives with philosophies, in an effort to substantiate them in physical reality. Such logic-only based application of a fixed doctrine upon the complexities of our world is insane. Take Codex Alimentarius, which is a trade commission NOT based on the scientific method: it's hyper-orderly food philosophy without sense in the real world where nutrition is more important than harmonization. Reasoning is logic, not science. Metaphysical alchemy is medicine for the mind. Even a soulless computer can write harmonies in perfect accordance with musical rules, but would it be music that's pleasant to our ears? To what extent can humans control Mother Nature, and if we can control nature with our minds, do victims of natural disasters ask to be victimized? Of course not, any more than perpetrators of crime are the causal effect of a victim's "victim mentality"; such deduction is not only inaccurate but merciless. We can't always have mind over matter, and so, we can't follow a food code based on Aristotelian theory of universals and expect it to nourish us physically.

No philosophy is exactly one size fits all, or even capable of achieving perfect, predictable harmony, applied to all that actually exists. It's important to remember all things can be understood within each their proper context, so that our understanding of reality can be truly holistic. What's ancient need not be erased - we can still learn from the past. The mysterious, and therefore, seductive, idea of first cause, is very old, generated long before generations of more current, evolved minds have added onto the wisdom of the past. Thanks to the emergent wisdom of human, therefore real, physical and emotional experiences, we can nurture sanity in the real world, not just make theoretical sense. "Just because" is no longer an option for me, because God never minds questions nor criticism - He can take them, because the substance of my faith is that that's what He's there for, to fulfill my spiritual need. Some say food is god, but in the spiritual / abstract realm, God is food. The question remains, then, whether God is food that satisfies forever, or if the energy we receive is for limited time only, making me keep coming back for more, like terminator seeds.

Related links:

Monism and Serfdom vs. Christian Theism and Liberty, Conservative Underground ^ | 24 November 2009 | Linda Kimball Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 12:09:43 PM by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

One Monist's Philosophy by Allen Lutins

Reductionism - Wikipedia

Emergence - Wikipedia

Problem of universals - Wikipedia

Logos and Logic - Dr. Wheeler's website

"In some representations the serpent is shown as half light and half dark, echoing symbols such as the Yin Yang, which illustrates the dual nature of all things, but more importantly, that these opposites are not in conflict." Ouroboros - Crystalinks

"Besides, things that exist with a form are endowed with the formless aspects also. Vice verse, the things that exist beyond form are not without the formal appearance. Things, though they have their inherent fundamental nature which does not change, are neither absolutely manifest nor absolutely unmanifest. Clay is a materially existent entity, but, it has, besides its visible clay form, numerous other forms inherent in it- pot, plaque, brick and a lot more. " Forms of the Formless - an Interpretive Study of the Indian Trinity - Exotic India Art