What’s The Foundation?

“In all beginnings dwells a magic force for guarding us and helping us to live” From the wonderful poem, “Stages” by Hermann Hesse

Philosophy, spirituality, and psychology are inexorably intertwined. Each of us has a foundational conditioned paradigm that operates underneath all of our beliefs, intentions, actions, and relationships to each other and to the Earth. Because of how I was educated and guided; because of the assumptions my parents and peers transmitted to me; and because of the operating principles of my culture, I have operated from a “materialist” paradigm most of my life. I had never, until recently, questioned this conditioning. My spiritual path led me through several belief systems, none of which truly challenged the basic template of reality provided by materialism.

Materialism, as a basic principle, is not simply the accumulation of possessions and the consumption of goods. It is not an economic structure, though economic structures are usually built upon its principles. Economic greed is not what makes our society, “materialistic.”  The foundational paradigm of materialism is the assumption that everything – all life and content of the Cosmos – is founded upon matter. We may “believe” that there is a spiritual component of some sort, but matter itself remains the bedrock reality and the manipulation of matter is seen as the most important activity of human life.

If we are ill, we turn to the manipulation of matter on a biological and cellular level for better health. If we are poor, we turn to the manipulation of goods and services for more wealth. We believe, despite our spiritual statements, that any change for the better begins, at the base, with the shifting and rearrangement of matter, by matter. This belief has settled into the bedrock of society because, at a gross level, it has a certain reality that, in many ways, “works.” We are material beings. Our Great Mistake comes from our assumption that we are material at our Core. The marvelous science of biology shows us a “beginning” with the egg and sperm. Molecular biology goes deeper into the atomic structure of the cell’s genes. Unfortunately, this is where our operating assumptions usually stop. Here, we say, we have reached the foundation.

I no longer believe in this material foundation of being, though the conditioned wiring of my brain continues to protest, whine, and reason in an attempt to get me back into its solid structure. The seeds of my current transformation began more than fifty years ago in a Physics classroom on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. I forget the professor’s name, but I remember vividly an aside comment he made as he paused in the midst of strewing complicated formulas and Greek letters across the blackboard. “This,” he said, “is just representational language. Reality itself is not matter, but energy dancing beneath all existence. It is not the atom, but the dance, that is the source of life.” Then he went back to formulae and information about the next quiz. I went back to getting good grades and hoping to have sex someday.

Somehow that vaguely remembered comment set me on a journey. It was a journey guided for many years by materialist assumptions, but its germ; its essence was Mystery. That professor was lucky to be in his field at very beginnings of Quantum Physics.

Instead of digressing into the morass of Quantum Philosophy, let me return to state my transformed understanding of Being: Life does not arise from matter. Matter arises from Life. Spirit is not contained within matter. Matter is contained within Spirit. My existence is not formed by the blueprint of my DNA. My DNA is formed by a blueprint unseen but more “real” than any molecular chain.

When this paradigm shift occurs, everything changes. All action and intention now begins, not from an attempt to manipulate matter and events into a desired form, but from an inner movement of Energy/Spirit that trans-forms all forms. Far from being a denial of physical reality, this Quantum paradigm energizes physical reality. Engineers still build bridges. Doctors still work with the material body. We all still work for peace and justice. We still eat, drink, enjoy, suffer, live, and die but it is now a dance that flows from and occurs within Something Else. I am not a body who may or may not have a Spirit. I am an Dance of Energy, which has for the moment, a body formed by an this Dance.  What freedom! What power!

9 thoughts on “What’s The Foundation?

  1. Bill, I am happy to read that you are continuing to study and learn from life. Recently, in May 2018, I suffered a cerebral bleed (stroke). My ‘consciousness’ was obliterated for several days by the interruption of blood from tiny capillaries in my brain. When I woke up some days later I was in a weakened state with 1/2 the vision gone in my right eye. Today, I have gained back my speech, walking and cognitive abilities. While not totally restored I look forward to getting better.
    I had many unusual experiences while resting and coming back to consciousness and the physical world. Can you speak to my experience and the Tao perspective? I feel somewhat that while we are spiritual beings indeed we are tied to this earth by a physical bond represented by our brain and it’s creation, the consciousness. Are our true self merely this consciousness? I am confused as to what this all means, but it is clear that without the brain’s connection to ‘me’ my experience was null and void. We could all be talking into a drum and listening to our own voices generated by the brain.
    Thank-you for listening Bill and may you continue to have a consciousness.


    1. So glad you are recovering and may it continue. Let’s chat about all this stuff through email when you feel like it. It’s confusing to me as well. I sense that there is a “self” created by the brain that labels itself “consciousness.” I don’t think this consciousness is True Self, or the Consciousness (Tao) in which we exist. It is certainly a necessary mechanism for our physical experience. Even the non-dual “Field of Consciousness” (again, Tao) which I believe is the progenitor of all things, gets filtered through our brain as long as we dance as a body. I would love to hear about your “unusual experiences” some day. It is inevitable that the consciousness of the brain regains temporary primacy, but I wonder if residues of something else remain? All blessings and peace to you, my friend.


  2. What comforting line from Stages. Thank you! It reminds me of something I heard somewhere: To see things as they are…and something more.
    What a frontier and exploration you are sharing. Somehow it also soothes me. A big thanks.


  3. As a Duke student in science, and later medicine, I was gifted with a similar insight: we are ultimately beings of energy and light. As an intern, I couldn’t sleep when I was on call, because of my fear of “not knowing enough”. But during that time, I learned a prayer, that helped me sleep, and I’ve practiced it daily since. Part of its power, is in acknowledging the weakness of a materialistic paradigm. It goes:

    “I am a light being.
    I radiate light from my light center
    Throughout my being.
    I bathe in Thy light.
    I am in a bubble of light.
    Only light can come to me.
    Only light can be here.
    Thank you God,
    For everything, everyone, and me.”

    Thank you William, for your powerful, life and light giving words.


  4. When I was much younger we had a priest (Episcopal) who was formerly a physicist. He taught and worked in his field for a good many years before going to seminary. Your instructor’s comment about representational language and the energy that lies beneath and animates all things sounds exactly like something Don would have said in one of his sermons. Very small world indeed if it’s the same guy, but more to the point, thanks for stirring up good memories of an old friend.


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