The Knowledge of Good and Evil


I remember the day I first clearly understood some basic spiritual ideas I had been thinking about for a few years. This came out of a discussion with someone who gave me good answers for my hard questions. After getting what seemed like a good answer for my standard hard question, asking how the universe could be both infinite and material, we got on to other things. As our discussion went on, I tentatively accepted the explanation that the real substance of the universe is not matter, which one physicist described as "nothing, moving swiftly." For some reason I then grasped the idea that spiritual love is the actual substance of reality. Not only did I understand the words, but I saw them, I sensed their actuality.

In an earlier chapter, we discussed the idea that spiritual seeing is believing. Well, it was for me. Ever after that day it has always been clear to me that, no matter what things look like, Love, Spirit, is the only real substance.

In this same discussion in my youth, I understood that it followed as a consequence of logic that if Spirit is real then the opposite of Spirit is not. My next question dealt with origins. I asked the obvious question. If matter and material error are unreal, where did this unreality come from? The answer was simple. If matter is not substance, if it is unreal, then it is not here. If it is not here, then it makes no sense to ask where it comes from; it didn't come from anywhere. The answer was obtained by making the question go away.

In a sense, this was a ridiculous answer. There was something absurd about it. The answer had followed as a logical consequence of our conclusions, but in a certain way, in trying to reconcile it to my familiar senses, it made no sense at all. It only fit perfectly with a sense of wholly spiritual logic. This conclusion was at once completely logical and yet, in another way, it was absurd. Being a teenager at the time, I decided it must be the right answer. I loved it.

The acceptance of those conclusions was vital to my having a solid foundation in what has been here called level three beliefs. I will refrain from elaborating on those ideas, because they are not my subject. It is just an example.

The example is appropriate to the subject of nonsense. Looking back on this experience, I have always attributed my acceptance of those concepts not only to my grasping the substantiality of spiritual love, but also to an appreciation, a delight, an affection, for an idea that in a funny way made no sense at all. I liked the nonsense aspect of it as well as the logical part.

Understanding those spiritual concepts was very important for me, and the beliefs that grew out of them served me well for years. But the reason I mention this at all is to bring up the important subject of nonsense.

* * *

Just as certain ideas are sensible, they make sense to us, so some ideas are nonsense, they make no sense at all. That is good because there are some ideas we would like to have become sensible to us, so we can sense them, and others that we would like to have become nonsense, so we may have no sense of them whatever.

This is not simply a play on the word sensible. When we are thinking thoughts that make sense to us, we are led to generate beliefs that we tend to live by. When spiritual ideas make sense to us they become our things. We possess them and experience them. Spiritual sense becomes our actual sense. Spiritual reality becomes our stuff.

When, on the other hand, certain thoughts become, to our reflected spiritual understanding, so ridiculous as to be completely and fundamentally unbelievable, they can no longer enter our lives. Spiritual sense makes nonsense of material discord. Infinite sense makes nonsense of human limitation. Our new sense obsoletes our old sense and makes it nonsense.

Some evils on the human scene are so extreme that we actually describe them as being unbelievable or inconceivable. Some outrageous evils we even call mindless, senseless, or meaningless acts. Our terminology in such cases stems from our subliminal yet intuitive sense that these are cases of evil drawing close to its essence. Our human concepts of the unbelievable and senseless need to be elevated to that which is infinitely unbelievable and infinitely senseless. Then we will no longer believe in things humanly senseless, and our untoward sense of them will fade away.

Consider what it would mean for the activity of infinite love to so permeate human consciousness that cruelty and inhumanity became to the peoples of the world utter nonsense. What would happen if our knowledge of spiritual wholeness so improved our beliefs that human disease and impairment became laughably ridiculous, or if we became so imbued with the affluence of infinite spirit that the idea of human impoverishment became actually absurd?

I am not suggesting that we should see humor in the sufferings of humanity or that anything is to be gained by us all becoming comedians. But there is no reason why we cannot become so filled with the knowledge of the infinite idea that untoward things will be rightly regarded as nonsense. And then they will be gone. And that is nonsense.

To be comfortable thinking about the infinite, really thinking about it, you have to have some tolerance or maybe even an affection for aspects of nonsense, for some things absurd. Most every aspect of infinity contrasts with human thinking in ways that involve nonsense. The infinite idea of evil is inconceivable nonsense. Infinite good is sensible. Infinite evil is nonsense. Infinite wholeness is the totality of the infinite I am and the infinite I am not. Infinite sense in infinite nonsense, one infinite I.

Realizing that the basis of untoward things is nonsense at its essence gives us a unique standpoint from which to work things out. In working for good and vanquishing evil, our work should have a certain no-nonsense quality to it. Understanding the infinite principles involved makes it easier to work things out.

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Our earlier discussion of spiritual causation focused on the four levels of human belief related to rational spiritual action. The analysis was intentionally dismissive of what was termed level zero, the pre-rational level of human belief. At level zero, there were three categories described: accidental, indifferent, and mystical. There is a fourth category that puts the irrational levels in some symmetry with the rational levels. It is an agnostic human condition stemming from the premise that we are basically without a clue. All these four have something to be said for them, but not as human beliefs. Because each of these viewpoints has an undifferentiated character to it, that is, because good and evil cannot be reliably separated, each is rightly apprehended only as being infinite. If you are going to cherish and exalt notions of the natural or supernatural, of mystery, ritual, and ceremony, let them all be infinite.

In mathematics, there are real and imaginary numbers, and they are both important. Decimals can be rational or irrational. An irrational decimal is one that, without ever repeating itself, goes on and on forever. The spiritual principle behind this is very important, but let all our irrationality be infinite. Let all our nonsense be infinite. To put our mental weight on a human sense of these things is to engage ourselves in beliefs at a level where we cannot effect the goodness of their outcome.

Copyright 1994, Jim Chapman

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