To Pilate's question, "What is Truth? " Jesus made no reply not because he couldn't but because debating the nature of Truth with Pilate might have delayed, or even made impossible the crucifixion; and Jesus had, for this very thing, "steadfastly set his face towards Jerusalem".
Jesus could have replied to Pilate, "Truth is the form of the Infinite Reality". Pilate, as an educated man, would have known enough Greek philosophy to have appreciated the nature of the reply. He would have known that the forms of reality are apprehended by the intellect, and that the intellect works by defining the application of terms. He would have known, therefore, that Reality, if infinite, would require an infinity of definitions. He would therefore, either have dropped the question; or entered into an interminable discussion about the subject, which would indefinitely have postponed the crucifixion. Jesus' silence took the problem out of Pilate’s hands, although Pilate's later symbolic hand-washing suggests his own uneasiness about it.
The silence of Jesus allowed the machinery of man's law to carry him swiftly to the cross. We, who are not in such a hurry to hang in the same way, may have enough time to consider some of the aspects of the Infinite Reality he had no time to discuss.
Reality has many aspects but there are certain obvious ones which may profitably claim our attention. Early philosophy considered Reality under three main aspects, the True, the Beautiful, and the Good; or Truth, Beauty and Goodness. Historically these three have engaged the attention of thinkers to a remarkable degree. Why has this been so?
Man, who was long ago said to be the measure of all things, exhibits various functions. He thinks, he feels, he has impulses to action. Modern psychology calls thinking 'cognition', feeling 'affection', and impulse to action 'conation’. For thinking or cognition we prefer to use the term 'ideation', for reasons explained elsewhere. For ‘affection', we shall use 'feeling' and 'feeling tone' and sometimes 'emotion'. For conation, we shall use 'impulse to action', 'prime urge', ‘basic drive', selecting the expression most appropriate to the given context.
The three functions, Ideation, Feeling and Impulse to action are related respectively to Truth, Beauty and Goodness. Let us see why.
Truth is the formal aspect of Reality; that is to say, how Reality presents itself to that faculty in us which sees the form or shape of things and events. This faculty is what we call the Intellect or Higher Reason. The Lower Reason is what is called 'Common Sense' about which we shall say something later.
The Intellect or Higher Reason in man functions by bringing into relation the forms or shapes of experiences in his mind. Forms or shapes of experiences in the mind are called 'ideas'. This is why we prefer the word 'Ideation' to express the formal functions of the mind in an act of reasoning. Reason simply compares ideas or forms in the mind, bringing them into relation, examines their likeness or unlikeness and classifies them accordingly. It laps ideas over each other, just as we do with triangles etc., to see if they are congruent, or fit on each other exactly. If two forms or ideas fit over each other exactly we say they are formally identical, or the same. If they do not we say they are formally different, or not the same.
The question of Truth is reducible precisely to this simple fact, the exact correspondence between a form in the mind, presented to the intellect for evaluation, with a form of ultimate Reality. If the form in the mind corresponds exactly with an indicated form of Reality we say the form in the mind, the idea, 'is truthful, or is true. Every true idea corresponds fully with some indicated form of Reality.
We say indicated form of Reality because all forms or ideas in themselves are what they are. Not until we indicate some form of Reality by an idea do we stand in danger of making a mistake, or stating an untruth. An idea in itself, not standing for something else, is simply what it is. But such an idea cannot be discussed without using other ideas. For to discuss is to strike two things together, to beat to pieces. One idea strikes on another in specific ways and betrays the nature of the ideas involved in the impact.
The word 'form' is from the Latin 'forma', which means, shape, figure or pattern. The word 'shape' is from the Old English word for a thing created, a form; and (significantly, as we shall see) destiny, a decree of fate. The word 'idea' is from the Greek word for form or shape, and also implies something which may be seen, for it has connections with the Latin 'videre', to see. Thus we may use 'form', 'shape' and 'idea' interchangeably as Latin, Old English, and Greek words for something which may be seen. For historical and philosophical reasons the word 'idea' has come to be more or less reserved for what is seen in the mind, and we shall therefore in general so use it.
'Truth is the formal aspect of Reality' thus means that Reality includes forms, shapes, or ideas, which appear in the universe, or in man's mind, where they are evaluated by the intellect.
The essential characteristic of a form, shape or idea is its definedness. Definition implies circumscription, the drawing of a contour or binding line round the thing to be defined. What cannot be defined or circumscribed with a characteristic binding contour is said to be formless. Formlessness is undefinedness.
Invisibly suspended in the air there may be water vapour. We cannot see its binding contour. If this water vapour begins to condense into fine droplets it begins to become visible as a cloud. It is beginning to form. If the cloud cools and falls as rain and forms a pool of water its formation has gained in clarity. Its binding contour is clearer. If the weather drops below freezing point and the water freezes, its clarity, we may say, its formedness, has reached its greatest degree. A block of ice is more sharply defined than a pool of water, a pool of water than a cloud, and a cloud than the invisible water vapour which formed it.
Thus there is a sense in which we can say that a block of ice is 'truer' than a pool of water, and a pool of water is 'truer' than a cloud, and a cloud 'truer' than invisible water vapour. By all of which we mean merely that one is more clearly defined than the other. By specially sensitive instruments the scientist may establish that the invisible water vapour is just as ‘real' and 'true' as the ice block. A hydra-meter would extend his senses. This shows us another fact about Reality and Truth.
For a being without sentience, without sense-organs of any kind, there would be no awareness of Reality or Truth. For a being of only one sense-organ, Reality and Truth would have only one form, or be represented only in one way. The being with only a sense of smell would live in a universe of smells. The being with only a visual sense would live in a universe of visual impressions. A normally healthy human has five sense organs and lives in a universe of smells, tastes, touches, sounds and sights. He lives in a five-fold universe. But this does not mean that his five-senses exhaust the possibilities of that universe.
Just as man's five senses give him more information than a being of fewer sense-organs may experience, so beyond man's five senses are an infinite number of motion-patterns unknown to the five-sense being.
Each of man's five sense-organs is sensitive only to a very limited range of the frequencies which constitute the possible knowable world. The frequencies to which the ear may respond, the frequencies to which the eye is sensitive, the frequencies which stimulate the senses of smell and taste and touch; all these do not in any way exhaust the gamut of the total frequencies of the universe. And between each two groups of frequencies acting on the sense organs there is a whole range of frequencies unsensed by either. Between the audio-frequencies which affect the ear and the visual frequencies which stimulate the eye there are frequencies to which neither can respond.
The universe as ordinary man knows it is a five-fold universe, with infinite gaps in it, the frequencies of which his sense-organs remain blissfully unconscious.
Truth, then, as the formal aspect of Reality, is very inadequately apprehended by ordinary five-sense man. A few mathematical physicists, being aware of this, have tried to extend their senses by exercising their intellect in fabricating equations which they hope will more adequately express Reality. But the inferences of logic, based on data derived only from the five sense organs and their instrumental extensions have not yet gone beyond the five-fold field covered by them. Order of a kind they may import into their universe but it is not the universe which would be perceived by a more highly evolved life-form, not the universe of the developed Yogi and Mystic. Truth is the formal aspect of Reality. The beings who depend for their formal knowledge on sense-organs known to be very limited in their sensitivity, have only a limited grasp of Truth. To know this fact helps to avoid arrogance and dogmatism.
Truth is the formal aspect of Reality. Form depends on definition. Where there is no defined form, the word 'Truth' cannot correctly be employed. Where there is clearly defined form, the Truth of it applies only in the area of this form. Thus either there is no form and Truth is not there, or there is form and Truth is confined to it and cannot legitimately go beyond this form to pronounce on areas beyond it.
Man, then, has occasion for humility; either because in a certain area of possibility he has not yet been able to secure a form, and therefore does not yet know the Truth of that area; or because he has gained a form, which gives no indication of what may be beyond it. For all form, being circumscribed by a binding contour, is limited in its capacity to convey information beyond itself. Which is why a man may be very knowledgeable in one field of experience and veritably a fool in another.
Every living human being may be considered as a field or zone of sentience specialised in certain ways. By 'sentience' we mean a power or energy which feels itself and its own states and changes of motion, and thereby appreciates itself as a being in some sense conscious. The word 'sentience 'is from the Latin 'sentire' which means 'to feel', 'to know'. Ultimately all knowledge is rooted in sentience.
Sentience is that whereby living beings feel or know themselves to exist and to experience the things and events of the world. Pure sentience is less particularised than consciousness, for consciousness means the state of sentience when it is experiencing a relatively clearly defined aggregate of forms. The syllable 'sci' in consciousness is from a word meaning to split or sever or cut. Thus consciousness is that state of sentience in which the forms of experience are severed from each other, so that each form may be clearly seen for what it is. Pure sentience in itself prior to the severing of the forms of experience from each other, is a continuum having no discrete elements in it.
Consciousness has a formal content which may be a post-analytic, synthetic whole. Pure sentience is a pre-analytic, non-synthetic continuum.
Consciousness is conditioned by its formal content. Pure sentience is not yet so conditioned.
The formal content of consciousness arises from the super-stressing of motion-patterns generated in the field of sentience, the motion-patterns super-stressed being so because of some purpose they promise to fulfil for sentience.
Pure sentience itself is the power-field which is the ultimate Reality underlying the universe. This power-field, self- sentient, self-mobilising, by its own motion produces within itself the motion-patterns which constitute for it the universe of objective forms.
Pure sentience experiences all its self-initiated motion patterns simultaneously and at equal stress. Thus within it are contained all forms of beings and events without one form dominating another. Here the Infinity of formal motion patterns is comprehended in and by the sentient power-field which generates them. This comprehension is simultaneous and immediate, each form being directly felt and known by the sentient power-field generating it.
By contrast, the state of the sentient power-field where a super-stress is placed on a given form or forms, the state of consciousness, is non-simultaneous and (except for the first moment of super-stress) non immediate. Thus in consciousness the forms are serialised, and therefore apprehended only one at a time. Wherever a super-stress is placed on a form in the field of sentient power, there is the beginning of a serialising tendency, for the super-stressing of a form wrenches it from its context and demands a further super-stress on another form related to it, in order to bring both forms up to the same tension. Thus each super-stressed form demands the super-stressing of another, and so develops a series of super-stressed forms. Super-stressing therefore gives rise to the serialisation of the formal contents of the power-field.
The sentient power-field itself, prior to the introduction into it of super-stresses, is in a state of equal tension of forms. The power-field is not in this state formless, for its essential nature is self-generating motion, but the forms within it, forms of its own motion, are generated at equal tension throughout the field. Because they are in equal tension, the forms do not separate themselves from their general background and are presented simultaneously and immediately to the sentient power-field as the infinite content of its sentience. This simultaneous and immediate presentation of the forms of the sentient power-field is anciently called the Divine Wisdom, or Heavenly Sophia. Wisdom differs from mere knowledge as simultaneity differs from seriality.
After the introduction of super-stress into the power-field, pure sentience is overlaid (not annihilated, for this is impossible) by the serialising process of formal presentation. This serialising process is the precondition of what we call 'consciousness'. In it the forms, which previously had been in simultaneous relation in the pure sentience, are precipitated into serialisation, that is, are presented one after the other. This is the generation or the Time-process.
The simultaneity of the equally stressed forms of the sentient power field is called Eternity. The serialisation of these forms is called Time. Eternity holds simultaneously what Time presents serially.
Time depends on the introduction of superstress into the power-field. Each super-stress demands another to complete its pattern. The interest-content of each super-stressed zone is finite and is therefore removed on the exhaustion of its interest. Every element wrenched from Eternity by Time, lapses back into Eternity on the removal of the temporal superstress. This is why Jesus said, "A man goes into his own place and his works follow him". A man in time is a system of superstresses placed on the eternal sentient power-field, and after the removal of the superstresses returns to his eternal status in Eternity, taking with him the memories of the order of superstresses which he activated in his serial temporal life, memories which are themselves merely the after-motions of those superstresses.
In the conscious state we have a constellation of forms more or less clearly defined. How do these forms arise in consciousness? We call such forms 'data', that is, "something given", because they are given by what we call 'stimuli'.
What is the source of stimuli?
A stimulus is a quantity of energy put into a zone of other energy. Within the infinite field of sentient power every zone is sending out patterns of motion. These motion patterns are the formal dynamic characteristics of each zone. When they are received by other zones they constitute stimuli to them.
Each zone is characterised by its own formal motion-pattern in certain ways, so forming an energy system or being. When the energy system receiving a stimulus is what we call a living being, it responds to the stimulus in certain characteristic ways, different from the manner in which a non-living being reacts.
For instance, if we strike a billiard ball in its centre with a straight cue, it will be impelled in the direction of the cue-stroke with a certain force. But if we strike at a living Judo expert in the same manner, he may respond in a quite different manner, to our edification.
Every existent being in the universe is composed of energy. Non-living beings are energy-patterns of relatively simple reaction-patterns. Living beings show relatively complex response-patterns.
All motions and motion-patterns are produced in and by the sentient power-field. Thus sentience everywhere underlies motion-patterns. There is no point of Reality in which sentient power is not present and causative of that Reality.
In human beings the energy-complex or motion-pattern of sentient power is sufficiently formed and articulated to confer the capacity for what we call intelligent mental activity.
In lower forms the motion-pattern is less complex and so provides fewer functions for the sentient power, but nowhere is there a form utterly devoid of sentience. This explains the intuition of certain thinkers that even the atom has a 'soul', that is, a field of sentience. Once we understand that the basis of Reality is the infinite Sentient power-field, we have no difficulty in seeing that every form or motion-pattern has its own sentience and may thus be considered as possessing 'soulishness'; for the essential of the soul is sentience. Therefore it is quite permissible to talk of the soul or sentient power not merely of human or animal forms, but also of vegetable or mineral forms. There is an electron-soul as well as an atom-soul, and an infinity of other souls or sentient power forms as yet unknown to five-sense man. And embracing all these is the Universal Soul, the sentient power-field in relation to its formal content called in the Gospel of John, the Logos.
Men whose private purposes have led to disbelief in the universal sentience of the power-field, have constructed for themselves, in self-justification, a system of thought which confines sentience to certain complex forms or organisms, of which, naturally, their own organisms are examples. These men have taken their argument to its term by declaring that the universe is made of insentient matter.
Faced with the fact of their own sentience and the sentience of those whom they try to persuade, they have declared sentience, or its special form, consciousness, to be merely the product of increasing complexity of the patterns of insentient matter. These men, the self-styled Materialists of the world, where their logic fails, resort, naturally enough, to material persuasion to make their point.
Although they deny sentience to their origin, Materialists nevertheless value its manifestations in their own organisms so highly that they find it necessary for their satisfaction to provide themselves with every possible means of stimulating its expressions. Thus the materialist is often also the expert in titillating the sentience in his own organism with the preconditions of 'high living', an index of where his real, if undeclared, sympathies lie.
Materialist scientists, who have long cherished the belief that sentience is confined to complex organisms such as they themselves possess, are not the only scientific thinkers. There are also mathematical scientists who are prepared to believe that Thought is fundamental in the universe, and some who even believe that sentience may be basic to thought. Which it is.
It is evident that some human beings act in a more intelligent manner than others. It is evident that most human beings are more intelligent than most animals. It is also evident that most animals are more intelligent than most vegetables. Can the materialist scientist truthfully declare that he has proved that the stone is absolutely unintelligent? He cannot. He can say only that the more obvious manifestations of intelligence occur in man, and less obvious signs in animals, less obvious in vegetable forms, and practically no obvious signs in the mineral world.
Where complex mental activities are found we find always a complex brain structure or nervous system. This does not demonstrate that sentience does not exist where there is no complex brain or nervous system ( the amoeba belies this ) but only that the more complex functions of consciousness run parallel with, or correspond to, or are associated with, a more complex brain structure and nervous system.
The brain and nervous system do not cause sentience or consciousness. They merely emerge as a complex of motion-patterns wherever the sentient power-field so organises itself.
It is well known in philosophy that sentience or consciousness cannot be itself proved or demonstrated or defined. It is felt or known by beings who possess it. It is undemonstrable to beings which do not possess it. Beings who have it infer it in other beings the behaviour of which runs parallel with their own behaviour when certain elements of consciousness are present in themselves.
Sentience, that which feels and knows, never itself becomes an object to itself. An object in consciousness is a motion-pattern of the sentient power-field generated by this field, but not itself giving any more information about the field than that it is such that it can generate and feel or know such motion patterns. What is defined, in sentience or consciousness is not sentience or consciousness as such but the pattern of its motion. The only content of sentience or consciousness, which may constitute an object for it is a motion-pattern generated by the sentient power-field. It is important that we repeat: What is defined within consciousness is not consciousness itself but a formal content or motion-pattern within consciousness.
Thus, if we adhere strictly to the use of the word Truth as the formal aspect of Reality we must say that sentience or consciousness, being itself not formulable, cannot be an object of Truth. This does not mean that sentience is untrue, but that, if the word Truth is used to mean only the formal aspect of Reality, it cannot be applied to sentience – which is not as such formed.
This gives another reason for the silence of Jesus when Pilate put his question. For as Truth is only the formal aspect of Reality, a discussion about the nature of Truth would have left untouched the other aspects of Reality. The unformulable aspects of Reality, feeling, emotion, sub-rational impulses, and so on, would have remained undefined, and thus elements of tremendous importance to life would not have been touched upon.
Let us suppose that the question is put to us, "Surely Feeling can be true, basic impulses can be true?" We reply, "Feeling and impulse may be said to be true only if we can define the forms of their action. Truth is the form of Reality. Feeling or sentience is that in Reality which makes possible the awareness or consciousness of its content. Impulse or drive or conation is the power of Reality, which gives rise to the changes in its content.
Let us remind ourselves a little of the meaning of 'definition'. To define is to limit, to set the bounds to mark out. It is usual to say that we define things or ideas when we use words to describe them. But actually things are already defined by the fact of their existence. What we really define when we use words to describe or indicate things is the limit of application of the words or terms.
A sculptor may actually define the form of a statue with a chisel, but when we use words to draw attention to a form, we do so only because we have already defined the limit of application of those words. The word 'triangle' is limited in its application to three-sided figures. The word 'circle' is limited in application to a figure described by a line all parts of which are equidistant from a centre; and so on. Basic geometrical forms are used to give an approximate idea of all kinds of things. We talk about round or square faces, conical hats, spherical door knobs, triangular trowels, etc.
We cannot define what has no boundaries. Thus as sentience or consciousness is not a something round which we can draw a line, we cannot define consciousness as such. But when any formal content or object appears in consciousness then we can define this content or object. We define, not consciousness, but its content or object, by applying words the meanings of which we have already fixed.
Where there is no defined object in sentience, although sentience is that which feels or knows, yet what it feels or knows is not an objective matter of Truth. This is why we have difficulty in accepting a vague undefined feeling as 'true'. A thing or idea is 'true' only insofar as it is clearly defined. How is Truth related to other aspects of Reality; to Goodness and Beauty?
Truth we have seen to be the formal aspect of Reality. What is Goodness? What is Beauty? Let us examine the idea of Goodness.
When we talk about Goodness or the Good, we mean that which subserves some purpose, that which leads to the realisation of an end of aim. The underlying idea of good was originally "to join, to combine, to put together well, to be suitable for, to be fitting". In a physical sense 'good' meant "possessing the qualities useful or necessary for fulfilment of a purpose".
A thing is good if it subserves a purpose. We say good for something, good for some purpose. Energy is good for doing work. Food is good for providing energy, etc. We cannot say a thing is good without implying that it is so for the realisation of some aim. Good is good for something.
If a theologian says "God is good", he means that God fulfils some purpose. Materialist atheists say that when theologians say "God is good" they mean that God fulfils His earthly representatives' purposes.
The idea of God has been abused by scrupulous and unscrupulous persons, innocently and deliberately. But the abuse of an idea is no proof of its untruth. Whether the letters G, O, and D placed together to form a word have an intelligent application or not does not depend on the particular purposes of partisans.
All purposes are realised by fulfilling their preconditions. Preconditions to purposes are called 'good' for those purposes. The whole universe operates according to cosmic law. This law is the supreme precondition for the realisation of all possible purposes. This supreme Cosmic Law is the Supreme Good. The realisation of all purposes is made possible by the power which brings itself into objective forms which may function in the purposed ways. This power which realises all purposes is essential to the Supreme Good. Without sentience or consciousness, whatever forms of Reality might exist would be unknown. Therefore sentience is essential for the very existence of purpose. Purpose means that which exists in a mind or consciousness as a pattern of preconditions or ends to be gained or things or relations to be created. Without the mind, or consciousness, which is rooted in sentience, no purpose could exist. ‘Sentience is essential to the Supreme Good.
What do we mean by Beauty or the Beautiful?
We judge the beauty of a thing or action, by whether it pleases what we call our 'aesthetic' sense. But this means simply by our feeling. The word 'aesthetic' is from a Greek word meaning 'capable of feeling'. 'Aesthetics' is the science of the beautiful in the arts.
Beauty is that aspect of Reality which is apprehended by feeling and which induces in us what we call pleasure. As so many different things or activities may produce pleasure the word beauty has come to receive a very wide application. Little boys say, This marble is a beauty". Little girls say their dolls are beautiful, engineers gaze at a complicated machine and pronounce it beautiful. Those who go "messing about in boats" call a 10 ft dinghy "a little beauty". Dante thought Beatrice was beautiful. Mathematicians talk about "beautiful equations". Ministers of the Gospel assure us that there is beauty in willing service to God.
All these things share the element of pleasure. It is often difficult to see what else they share, but we can say something is basic to all of them. This is the fact of the assimilation of some kind of stimulus by a living organism, a stimulus which inserts into the organism a quantity of energy characterised in such a manner that it provides sufficient assimilation exercise to hold the attention, and not so much that it induces undesirable pain.
Those people who claim to have a refined sense of beauty may actually possess it. Those who do are beings whose organisms have become, either by inheritance, or by individual study and development of their feeling, specially sensitive to minute differences in the stimulus value of the forms of things, events and activities.
Feeling may show an infinity of degrees of refinement. When it is very refined we talk of extreme sensitivity. 'Sensitivity' has the same root as sentience. Sensitivity is refined capacity to feel.
Feeling tells us only whether we like or dislike a thing. Feeling is either likeable, which means pleasant, or unlikeable, which means unpleasant. If feeling cannot detect something likeable or unlikeable in a situation, we say we are indifferent, which means that we cannot see a sufficient difference in the situation to change the state of our organism either towards pleasure or displeasure.
'Indifference' thus means that our feeling has been unable to detect a significant change in our being in a stimulus situation. Christ, when he said say 'Yea, yea and Nay, nay', expressed his attitude to indifference. For him 'indifference' means insensitivity to the potentialities of the situation. Every situation has some stimulus value to a sufficiently sensitive organism. And even the tiniest stimulus may be an essential of some large, later to be developed, change. "Journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step", says the Tao. German indifference to a little Austrian house painter gave Hitler complete dictatorial powers over Germany and created a difference felt throughout the world. Present indifferences will, if they remain so, allow other seeds of difference to grow. "Because thou art indifferent", says God, "I will spew thee out of my mouth'". Lukewarm is indifferent.
Feeling enables us to experience pleasure and pain. Beauty is that aspect of Reality which gives rise in living organisms to pleasure. Ugliness is that which induces displeasure. Is there any standard of Beauty which would be acceptable to all living beings?
Human beings differ in what they consider to be beautiful and ugly. Why is this? It is 'because individuals are differently constituted, physically and psychically, and have undergone different experiences and so been differently conditioned in their reaction capacities – Equal causes, equal effects; unequal causes, unequal effects'.
Where there are genuine differences of opinion about the beauty or ugliness of things, either the organisms of the perceivers are different, or the point of view from which they are viewed is different, or the things themselves are different. Things may change from one moment of observation to another.
Absolutely basic to the perception of beauty or ugliness is the reception of a stimulus by a living organism. A stimulus is a quantity of energy characterised in some manner, put into a living organism. What determines the perception of this energy-input as beautiful or ugly is the ease or difficulty of its assimilation into the already existing pattern of energies within the organism. If the characterised energy put into the organism enters easily into the existing energy-pattern within the organism, pleasure of some degree is felt, and the being calls the experience beautiful to the same degree. If the characterised energy put into the organism cannot be easily assimilated, or cannot be assimilated at all, the organism experiences a degree of displeasure or pain and calls the experience to that degree ugly.
All questions of beauty and ugliness reduce to how sentience experiences the input of characterised energy into its already characterised organism. "One man's fish is another man's poisson".
Let us take an example of how conditioning processes arise for ordinary human beings. Baby is being nursed by its loving young mother. She sings a popular song as she feeds the baby. She does not sing very well, nor is the song a particular work of genius. Yet the loving tone of her voice, the warmth and softness of her body, the gentle rocking movement of her arms, the words and tune of the song; all these things coalesce to produce a pleasure flux in the baby.
The baby cannot yet separate out the different parts of the situation. It cannot yet discriminate and say to itself (how many adults can?) how much of its pleasure is derived from being nursed, how much from being fed, how much from its mother's warmth and softness, how much from the rocking-movement, how much from the mother's soothing tone of voice, how much from the words of the song, how much from the tune. When the different parts of an experience are coalesced together in this way we say the response of the organism to the situation is 'protopathic'. Such a response is similar to that of the amoeba, It does not discriminate one element from another. It is indiscriminate.
The protopathic experience is not confined to amoebae and babies. Any being which cannot separate out the different elements of its experience is to that extent reacting in this primitive protopathic way.
In adult human beings protopathic responses tend to occur during illness, or where people become infected with mass emotions, as in revivalist or political meetings, or where education has failed in its object, or where the mechanisms of intelligence are congenitally deficient in function.
Years after the baby has grown up and forgotten the experience which conditioned its responses, the playing of the popular song, once sung by its mother, will have the power to evoke a pleasurable emotion, and the now grown up adult will fondly think of the song as a very good one. "One of the good old ones. We don't hear them like that these days". Pleasant unanalysed experiences from long ago have biased present appreciation. In respect of this tune, this adult is still a baby, and his assessment of the beauty of the song is subjective and musically valueless.
Human beings, then, differ in their views of what is and is not beautiful because of the conditioning effects of their differing experiences, If it were possible to remove all conditioning causes from them, human beings would reveal themselves to be substantially identical and would see the same things as beautiful in the same degree. To realise this would help the growth of tolerance.
Developed Yogis all see the same things in the same way. This is the level at which knowledge may be truly said to be objective.
As feeling tells us only whether we receive pleasure or displeasure from an experience, we cannot from feeling alone say whether a given experience has or has not a certain content of Truth. To do this we must first accurately define the form of the experience. That is, we must describe exactly the formal characteristics of the separate elements in the experience, and their relations, and then assess the nature and intensity of the positive or negative feeling associated with each element and relation.
When we are describing the form of something, we often find it useful to borrow ideas from geometry. We say a certain form or shape is circular, or rectangular, or triangular, and so on. ‘Geometry’ means 'earth measurement'. It was developed by marking out areas on the earth, as in ancient Egypt, where it was used to mark out the plots of land in the Nile delta, on which people were to grow their corn and keep their cattle. From the need for earth-measurement arose the study of the properties of the circle, the triangle, and so on. The geometrical concepts so developed greatly helped the development of man's consciousness of formal relations and so led to more precise definition of Truth. Truth is the formal aspect of Reality.
After a unit had been devised to measure out areas of land on earth, and a unit had been fixed to measure time intervals, the two units were applied in ever new fields of inquiry. A unit has a form. It extends in space or time. As a form it is a subject matter of Truth.
Mathematics applies units to make measurements and to calculate the properties of things and events. When we assess the intensity of a feeling we apply mathematics. We make a unit of intensity and then apply it to a given feeling. 'In tense' means 'in held', The intensity of a feeling is the degree to which our feeling is held into a thing.
When we apply space units to a form, and intensity units to a feeling associated with that form we are making a mathematico-geometrical assessment of a content of consciousness.
We measure things in linear units or area-units or cubic units, or time-units, and so on. Time units are generally derived from the rotation of the earth on its axis, or the movement of the moon round the earth, or of the earth-moon system round the sun, or of the whole solar system through space against the background of the stars. Thus arose our day and month and year and zodiacal cycle.
We repeat: If we can apply a unit to a thing we can bring it into the realm of Truth, for a unit is a form, and form is the subject matter of Truth. This is why scientists, who aim to discover the Truth of things, are so fascinated by mathematics and geometry.
Even psychology, once denied status as a science, because of the difficulty of finding appropriate units in which to measure the processes of the psyche, is now gradually attaining scientific recognition. The measurement of nerve impulses and bio-magnetic phenomena already begins to introduce truth into a field of knowledge where for so long only opinion has ruled.
Emotion may produce heat, chemical, electrical and biomagnetic, as well as other changes, all measurable in terms of their appropriate units.
Emotion is mobilised feeling. Feeling is the self-experience of the sentient power-field identified with its own processes. Feeling is the means of our apprehension of Beauty. When we measure the amount of feeling-energy released by the pleasurable contemplation of an object, we may determine its degree of Beauty and so subsume it under the aspect of Truth.
Can we bring Goodness under the aspect of Truth?
Goodness is that which fulfils a purpose. If we can measure the degree to which a thing or action or relation fulfils a purpose, then we can subsume Goodness under Truth.
Both Beauty and Goodness, then, maybe brought under the heading of Truth. Can Truth likewise be subsumed under aspects of Beauty and Goodness? Form is the Truth aspect of Reality.
Insofar as a form gives rise to any pleasure feeling it maybe viewed under the aspect of Beauty. Insofar as a form fulfils any purpose, it may be viewed under the aspect of Goodness.
Also, insofar as the feeling of Beauty subserves any purpose it may be viewed under the aspect of Goodness, Insofar as Goodness (power to fulfil a purpose) gives rise to a feeling of pleasure it maybe subsumed under Beauty.
Truth, Beauty and Goodness may thus each be subsumed under the other two. This, of course, is simply because all three are but aspects of the Ultimate Reality.
Because Truth, Beauty and Goodness are aspects of Ultimate Reality, whatever is real must be of three-fold aspect. Everything whatever which exists must have an aspect of Truth, an aspect of Beauty, and an aspect of Goodness, for everything which exists must have a form, apprehensible by the intellect, a feeling stimulus-value, apprehensible by feeling, and an aspect under which it is considered as fulfilling some purpose, and which induces cognitive striving towards that purpose.
Are all the three aspects of Reality equally important for us?
We say a thing is important when we are prepared to import, or carry into it our energy.
Ultimately, as Truth, Beauty and Goodness are aspects of Reality, they must each have validity for the ultimate purpose of the Infinite Sentient Power, but for man in the present stage of his evolution, it maybe that one or other of the three may be of more importance.
Let us try to determine, for our own purposes, which of the three deserves our greatest energy-expenditure. To help us in this let us consider the difference between a mature and immature human being. Maturity is the state of full development of a quality, or a thing, or a person or relation or event.
When we watch a new baby, before it has started to mobilise itself, we see that it lives at a level determined largely by the character of the stimuli which come to it. If the stimuli are easy to assimilate it experiences pleasure. If they are difficult, it experiences displeasure or pain. In either case the baby shows itself at the mercy of the stimuli which come to it. In this stage the baby may be said to be almost wholly stimulus-determined.
We human beings in general prefer not to be at the mercy of things outside our control. We say the baby is not fully developed yet. It is immature. What does it need to help towards its development? It is passive to stimuli. It is in its passive stage. It needs action.
The first action of the baby initiated from within we see to be largely impulsive, unpredictable, uncontrolled. The baby, when it first mobilises itself from within and aims to perform a given act, cannot control the quantity of energy it puts into it. For the first few years it acts with either insufficient or excessive energy for the given occasion. It continues to do this until accumulated records of failures are sufficient to establish a feed-back of displeasure or pain impulses which are able to inhibit its impulses to action and so impose a control element upon them. Before this control element appears we may say that the child is in the impulsive stage.
This control element aims to avoid painful situations and links the pains suffered to the form of the situation. So that on the presentation of formally similar situations the child expects displeasure or pain and so tends to make avoiding actions.
It is displeasure or pain which especially sharpens the child's critical faculties. Pleasure tends to cause relaxation and reduces intellectual activity and displaces it with an absorption in the feeling level of being. The experience of displeasure, of unpleasant or painful situations thus helps the development of the critical faculty and releases the child from the merely passive state which unadulterated pleasure tends to produce. This does not mean that adults should deliberately displease, or inflict pain on, children, in order to encourage the development of their critical faculties. The world is so constituted that it can provide sufficient unpleasant and painful experiences for the education of the human race as it is. And as Jesus said, "Sorrow must come; woe to him by whom".
Truth is the formal aspect of Reality. The truth is that the form of the world as it is contains all the necessary ingredients for the maturation of the human soul.
After the child has accumulated a sufficient number of unpleasant or painful experience-records, these records operate nearly every time a stimulus is presented. The naturally impulsive responses of the child are now inhibited long enough for a calculation of the pleasure-pain content of the situation to be made. The child is now in what we may call the hedonistic stage. It makes a calculas of pleasures and pains and then acts in the direction of least pain and greatest pleasure. It has developed a stage further along the way to maturity. But there is still a tong way to go.
Not only does the child discover that its own impulses can lead it into situations in which unpleasant or painful experiences are met; but also it discovers that other beings exist with similar purposes to its own, purposes which increase the probability of unpleasant or painful experiences.
The imposition upon the growing child of the knowledge that other beings pursuing similar ends also demand consideration, forces the child onward into the next stage of its development, a stage we may call the ethical stage. Here the child is required to consider the pleasure-pain effects of its actions not only on itself but also on other human beings. It is still calculating pleasures and pains but now not merely its own.
The growing child is forced into the ethical stage, not from its own Inherent consideration of the pleasure responses of others, but simply because those others, for their own sakes, take it upon themselves to edify or build into him a sense of responsibility to them. Responsibility means the state of being liable to being called to account morally or legally, for one's words or actions.
Consciousness of ethical responsibility, the liability to be called by the group or society to account, or answer for one's actions, represents the highest level of development so far attained by people who have not given themselves the still higher stage of consciousness we may call that of Spiritual committal.
We have seen that the developing human being passes through various stages. The first of these is that in which the baby's responses are almost wholly determined by the character of the stimuli which come to it. In this stage the baby's state of sentience may be thought of as a protopathic or pre-analytic whole,
The second stage, which we have called the impulsive stage, begins when energy derived from food and stored in the child's organism begins to overflow in impulsive acts over which the child has little or no control. The pattern of these acts has a central content derived from heredity, both nuclear and cytoplasmic, but on either side of this central content may take place actions which do not realise their proper purpose. The child learning to walk performs many little actions, head, arm and leg movements which do not aid the act of walking, these later being eliminated as the child's skill grows.
As the impulsive stage is largely inefficient in gaining its ends, the accumulation of displeasures attending failure gradually becomes sufficient to modify the child's action and confer upon it some measure of control. But the nature of the control is one in which pleasure-pain is determinant. Where an action has been shown to result in pain it tends to be inhibited. Where it has been shown to result in pleasure it tends to be promoted. This is the beginning of the stage we have called the hedonist or pleasure-pursuing, pain-avoiding, stage. The pleasure-pain content of a stimulus-situation is first calculated before action tendencies are allowed to become operative.
The next stage we have called the ethical stage. Here the child is made aware that other beings also make pleasure pain calculas and demand that their purposes also should be considered. It is made clear to the child that failure to take into consideration the pleasure-pain effects of its actions on others may lead to punishment, the imposition of pain where pleasure had been sought.
Beyond the ethical stage is the stage of spiritual committal. In this stage every value of the ethical stage is inverted. Instead of pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain the human being now makes no attempt to pursue pleasures or to avoid pains. He does not requite evil with evil. He has gone beyond the ethical law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Prior to reaching the stage of spiritual committal man is conditioned by the tendency to pursue pleasures and to avoid pains. To this extent he is a slave to the stimuli presented to him.
Truth is the format aspect of Reality. Insofar as the form of a stimulus presented to an already formed organism may determine the pleasure-pain experience of that organism, and that organism has only a pleasure-pain orientation, it is formally enslaved by the stimulus. The Truth is that a man who moves only towards the pleasurable stimulus and away from the painful is formally no better than a machine somehow equipped with a sentience in no way able to act freely.
Only in the stage of spiritual committal does the possibility of free action arise.
Spiritual committal means the committal of a being's will and action into the way of life which spirit itself leads. What is this way of life?
"The sun shines equally on the righteous and the unrighteous". So also the Spirit. Spirit moves to the good of all its creatures.
Spirit is sentient power. The absolute spirit is infinite sentient power which is at once the field of universal action, the cause of it, and the experiencer of it.
The infinite sentient power creates, sustains and dissolves, by its own action the infinity of formal beings which are presented in it, simultaneously in eternity, and serially in time.
How are these things created, sustained and dissolved?
The essential characteristic or property of the infinite sentient power is pure motion. The concept of the static thing is a derivative of temporal experience of things apparently at rest, undergoing no apparent change of form or action.
But this apparent lack of change arises not from any actual state of ultimate changelessness, but from the level of consciousness of the ordinary mind which geared only to certain frequencies of the universal scale of being is unable to appreciate the changes of state actually taking place.
A man's consciousness is ordinarily insufficiently sensitive to see the motion of the hour hand of a clock. It cannot detect the motion of a flower as it opens its petals to the sun. A man watching himself in a mirror cannot detect moment by moment the slow creeping of the whiteness into his own hair as he walks towards the doorway of old age and death.
Yet the reality of the manifest world is one grounded in continuous change. 'No man bathes twice in the same river'. What we call being is only a pattern of motion of the ultimate infinite sentient power. All things eternally subsist as motion-patterns of the eternal spirit. What then is creation?
'Creation' means the imposition of a superstress in the eternal motion-pattern of the infinite sentient power-field. The effect of this superstress is to circumscribe or accent a given part of the infinite motion-pattern and so make it ‘stand out" from its background. No new form is actually so brought into existence. The introduction of a superstress merely brings out of its eternal context a given form so that it may stand by this super stress in a relatively isolated state and so exhibit its form and action possibilities uninhibited by adjacent forms.
If this superstressing did not occur, every form would remain in its eternal context, completely fitting in, with its constituting motions, with every other motion environing it. This absolute fitting-in of all motion-patterns or forms with those environing them is what we call their eternal relationship. If this eternal relationship had remained the only kind of relationship, those relationships that we know as temporal would never have come into existence. Neither we nor any other existential (which means temporally super-stressed) beings would have come into the time process, and all that we mean by temporal problems would never have appeared in the field of sentient power. Superstressing of forms brings them apparently out of their eternal relationship with the forms around them, isolates them from each other, creates the possibility of contingent stimulation and so creates the possibility of temporal conflict, a conflict which must remain a possibility until the temporal superstress is removed.
"Creation", then, means circumscribing by superstress stress a given part of the eternal motion-pattern of the infinite sentient power. "There is no new thing under sun''. Nothing new, in the absolute sense, comes into being other than the superstress. The form which is super-stressed already was constituted formally by the motion-pattern of the eternal sentient power-field. Superstressing a form merely causes it to become more obvious to sentience by raising its relative intensity above that of the environing motion-pattern of the field.
"Sustaining" a form simply means continuing its superstress over a period of time, the time being measured in terms of the number of energy impulses involved in the superstress. Thus time may be thought of as energy impulses serialised by superstressing discontinuously, each moment of time being the expenditure of a unit of superstressing energy. This view of time is intimately associated, not only with the time of the astronomers, but also with that of the sub-atomic physicists and the biologists.
"Dissolving" a form simply means removing from it the superstressing energy which held it out from its eternal background and allowing it to return into its origin relation with its environing motion-pattern. (In the dissolution of the forms of the world nothing is lost, just as in the creation of them nothing new came to be). Therefore Jesus said, "Every man goes into his own place and his works follow him".
The realisation of the real meaning of the creating, sustaining and dissolving of the beings of the universe is a precondition to whole spiritual committal. For here one can see the real meaning of 'losing our life in order to preserve it', and 'striving to preserve it resulting in its loss'. He who seeks to preserve his individual temporal life will lose it. He who is prepared to lose it will find it and the eternal life of which it is part.
Real life is in relationship. The greater the relationship the greater the life. Wrenched out of its eternal context by superstress each form loses relationship with its environing forms in the eternal motion-pattern. Each loss of relationship is equivalent to a death; for death means only a division or separation of a being from its true context.
Truth is the formal aspect of Reality. The greater the relationship between the forms of being the greater their truth. To superstress a form and so bring it out of relationship with its eternal environing motion-patterns, which constitute the harmoniously contrasting ground of its formal significance, is to reduce the truth-content of that form and thus lower its value not only to the environing forms but also to itself.
Value is always to sentience. That is to say that only sentience can attach to a form or relation. Value is concentration of sentience. Concentration of sentience is the same as emotional stress, for emotion is simply mobilised feeling and feeling is sentience self-experienced.
If sentience concentrates only on one particular form to the exclusion of environing forms, it reduces its kinds of value simply to those which may be experienced by such a form in isolation.
This reduction of relationship-value created by stressing a form and so wrenching it out of relationship with its environing forms, simultaneously brings into being, along with its consciousness of its inability in its isolated state to fulfil its relational possibilities, a feeling of uneasiness and guilt. Guilt is the fear of deprivation and pain which arises from self inflicted isolating action.
This feeling of uneasiness and guilt and the accompanying dissatisfaction of the isolated state leads to an attempt to induce a superstress in one or more of the environing forms to lift them into relationship with itself. Where this attempt succeeds an adjacent form is provoked into superstress. This is the beginning of the generation of the temporal serialisation of forms. As each superstressed form tends to provoke an adjacent form into superstress a linear time-series of forms is generated. Such a linear time-series is of the same kind as that familiar to the ordinary consciousness of human beings.
As long as the linear time-series is kept in being by the progressive superstressing of forms, the beings constituted by those forms experience a fundamental dissatisfaction, uneasiness and guilt. This means that full psychicaI satisfaction is impossible for a being identified merely with the processes of time .
All motion-patterns come into being from the intersecting motions of the eternal infinite field of sentient-power. Because these motions intersect or cross each other they were anciently represented by the cross. Every form, then, as constituted by the intersection or crossing of motions of the sentient power, may be represented by a cross. This is the ultimate meaning of the crucifixion. Every form of being in the whole field of infinite sentient power or spirit is therefore crucified by the very fact of its existence. To exist is to be crucified.
Also, as the introduction of a finite superstress within the infinite field of sentient power, circumscribed a particular zone of the field, a circle may be used as a symbol of this circumscription. To circumscribe is at once to draw a binding contour, to limit and thus to isolate from the environment.
By using the cross and the circle together we express at once the fact of the crucified nature of an existent or superstressed being and the fact of its limitation, bondage and isolation from the rest of reality. If we confine the cross within the circle we express the inner crucifixion of the being as an individual in isolation. If we extend the cross beyond the circle (as in the Celtic cross) we express the entrance into the zone of crucifixion of the infinite spirit from beyond, and also the possibility of the isolated individual returning into his original relation with that spirit and all its constituent forms.
When Jesus set his face towards the cross he did so in order to engram upon the human fallen psyche the image of man voluntarily crucified.
Prior to this crucifixion man had stood in terror before the cross. Only the criminal, the malefactor, had hung upon a cross and died. The cross seemed a symbol of just punishment. The people could look at a man on the cross and feel that he should be there, that somehow by his being there, justice was being done. There was no sympathy for the man on the cross. To have thought so and to have expressed this thought would have evoked the wrath of those who had hung him there.
But Jesus saw more in the cross than an instrument of punishment for evil-doers. He saw the cross as a symbol of existence itself.
Truth is the formal aspect of Reality. Jesus saw the form of the cross as the form of existence. Not merely with Aristotle's logic, but with the all-seeing eye of absolute love Jesus saw the cross veritably as a man, a man existent crucified on his own being in time and space.
To exist is to be constituted by the intersecting or crossing of motions of the infinite sentient power-field of the eternal spirit. Every existent being, everything whatever which exists, is crucified by that fact.
In the myth of the Fall, Adam fell from the sentient comprehension of the forms of the eternal wisdom into the apprehension of the superstressed forms of serialised time. In so doing he crucified the whole human race. For the human race is nothing but an extension through space and time of the protoplasm of the original man.
Truth is the formal aspect of Reality. The Truth is that every existent living human being today is a little of the very substance, the original protoplasm of the first Man, and contains in his protoplasm the records of every experience suffered by that man and all his linear descendants leading to the present man. If Adam 'missed the mark' all his linear descendants embody his error in their present protoplasm, derived from him.
All human beings existing in space and time, have fallen short of the full relationship they might have had with the infinity of beings around them. If there is to be crucifixion of one man by another, let the man who, gazing into the depths of his own soul, can say, "I am absolutely innocent", drive the first nail.
Every man on earth is crucified in at least three ways. He is crucified in his temporal body, constituted as it is of forces of the universe which intersect in bringing him physically to be. He is crucified in his eternal body by the forces of the eternal sentient power which, being infinite, embraces all conceivable forms whatever, and of which he is eternally one. And he is crucified in the intersection of Time and Eternity in his being, a crucifixion which is at once the source of all his misery and his hope.
For the crucifixion of Time on Eternity and Eternity on Time, has created the suffering of the Eternal in time, and the hope in time of the end of man's suffering in the Eternal.
Truth is the formal aspect of Reality. The form of the cross and the circle embraces in its significance all the suffering of God and Man, and God for Man, and Man for God, and God for God, and Man for Man.
The forces which intersect their motions in the infinite eternal ocean of sentient power cannot ultimately isolate themselves from each other. Their superstresses generate Time till their significance is wholly grasped, then "there will be Time no more". "The turning wheel will stand still', and all the souls of men will see themselves in their inescapable ultimate relationships. "And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes".
But only in the fullness of time will these things actualise themselves. Before then every man has a choice to make; a choice that must be made from the heart; the choice whether he shall prefer the things and finite relationships of Time, wrenched for a time from the eternal; or whether he shall let go of the superstress bequeathed to him by the errors of his temporal ancestors, and re-establish himself within this eternal pattern of the motions of the infinite sentient power. The Old English word "shape", which means form, also means fate and destiny. The form of being to which a man commits himself determines his destiny or fate.
The eternal breathes for all. Each man's temporal breathing is only a derivative of the eternal breathing. Each man's heart-beat beats only by the impulse of the infinite sentient power.
Where a man appears to be able to subsist from himself or from his own efforts he does so really only by permission of the infinite power, the motion of which constitutes the pattern and substance of his being. And in permitting this temporal apparent self-subsistence and isolation the Infinite has its own purpose, comprehending his within Its own.
Caiphas, pursues his private ways in the name of God and of the multitude. Pilate dispatches his duty to Caesar by washing his hands of the murder of embodied Truth. The good Joseph of Arimathea begs the body of Truth for decent burial, but the Truth resurrects Itself whilst the guards sleep.
And there are those who, Nicodemus like, afraid of official opinion, yet desire the Truth sufficiently to seek it under cover of darkness.
Truth is the formal aspect of Reality, and the Reality of form itself. For his own cosmic Logos Reason before Pilate Jesus kept silence.
Christ crucified Caiphas Joseph of Arimathea Nicdemus
Psychographic drawings by Eugene Halliday