The Knowledge of Good and Evil
This discussion begins with what we will call a spiritually minded point of view and will proceed from there. This beginning point of view has been written about at length over the last hundred years, but it is still widely unknown. A few basic ideas on this will be provided here, and the rest should become apparent from the general context. There are two concepts that are probably prerequisites for understanding the theory of infinite ideas. The first is that ideas of spiritual goodness are a sort of substance - tangible, concrete, spiritually mental stuff; these spiritual ideas are an important part of what is substance in reality. The second is that you can cultivate a conscious sense of spiritual reality that can begin to predominate over a merely physical sense of things, as if infusing itself into the feelings and objects of everyday life.
Thinking based on spiritual principles is an important part of understanding spiritual reality, and we will talk about spiritual principles and spiritual understanding in later chapters. Spiritual understanding brings spiritual perceptions enabling us to improve the thoughts and beliefs that shape our experience of the world around us.
We tend to experience life within the context of our most deeply held thoughts and beliefs. The beliefs we experience as reality can be improved and shaped by the quality of our thinking and being. To understand this process, it is helpful to distinguish between the spiritual ideals or abstractions we might reach for, the concrete thoughts we may consciously seek to believe, and the actual beliefs we hold almost unconsciously.
The identity of a mind defines the extent of its ideas. To conceive of spiritual ideas, we have first to let a spiritual mind be ours. It is not so much a level of exertion that enables the spiritual thinker to reach new heights, as it is a matter of identifying with, reflecting, and showing forth the mind that is spiritual.
Spiritually mental activity generates scintillations of spiritual light that illuminate consciousness by degrees and enable us to improve our terrestrial beliefs. As we think our way through relevant aspects of spirituality, our beliefs can be regenerated and reordered. Thinking based on spiritual principles positions us to understand spiritual reality. To understand spiritual reality, we must engage ourselves mentally in its behalf. We must take a mental stand for it. This standpoint enables us to perceive spiritual ideas that can be applied to harmonize, expand, and recast the beliefs we experience as the world we sense.
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The term infinitely minded will be used here to address something that may be a step beyond a basic spiritual point of view or maybe a step deeper into it. Spiritually minded thinking and infinitely minded thinking are closely related but distinctly different, not unlike walking and running. If you were to see walking and running for the first time, they might look somewhat the same to you, except for the speed. The real difference is, with running, your feet sometimes don't touch the ground.
Individuals may be spiritually minded or infinitely minded by degrees. We are spiritually minded by reflecting a spiritual mind, and then bringing its conclusions out in our beliefs and actions. We are infinitely minded by identifying with an infinite mind, having accepted the conclusions of spiritually minded thinking - that spiritual goodness is the essence of real substance, that actual mental conception is spiritual, and that spiritual sense is the source of our best sensations.
It is, today, a radical idea to base one's best thinking on an infinitely minded point of view. Our approach here will be nothing at all if not radical. In trying to identify powerful ideas to spawn improved beliefs, we will be reaching beyond the usual boundaries of human thinking. We will be climbing up to and beyond the most rarefied reaches of traditional human thought. Venturing beyond finite thinking, we will want to choose our footings well. We will want to find solid rocks in the world of infinite abstractions.
The contemplation of such a subject as infinite ideas may seem imprecise at first. The manner of its assimilation is not superficial. Your most important conclusions about such things will come to you as revelations. Thinking about infinite abstractions entails thinking at levels and dimensions beyond the finite pictures and concepts that comprise normal human thinking. This involves thinking beyond images. The only way to do this is to reach out beyond where you may have gone before and to accept a new and larger definition of your mind.
The nature of infinity as a spiritual concept is that it is uniquely unifying. This is one of the main points of this book. Infinity has peculiar and distinctive aspects. Just starting to think about these peculiarities can whisk our thinking off to points where traditional logic falls short. The peculiarities or apparent conflicts between infinity and the world of finite thought may account for much of the subject's fascination and value.
If you have not spent time thinking about the idea of infinity, your first conclusion might be that it is not something the mind can assimilate. There is something to be said for this. It is not hard to think about infinite things. It is just hard to picture them. If you really want to, it is quite possible and natural to have your best thinking based on the logic of the infinite dimension, but it may require some effort to get up to speed.
In considering the infinite, we may use familiar words, but at levels of infinite abstractions some words have whole new meanings. To encourage our thoughts toward new ideas, this book will avoid religious terms where possible. This is to enable us to use new words as fresh seeds for thought, to be freed somewhat from the confinements of past or limited associations.
When I am trying to get a new idea about something, I try to reach beyond my old idea and sometimes even reach beyond its name to some new word or string of words. If I succeed in getting a new thought about an old subject, I can then put the old name back, but then the old name has a new meaning. This can happen for you when you reach beyond old concepts that may have lost their luster, to refresh them and make them new.
This book may use substitute words or word groups for religious terms you may like. If you reach beyond your old thought of something, you may end up reaching for new words or ideas, too. This can sometimes seem very bold, scary, or even irreverent, but it can lead to the perception of fresh views, after which old familiar terms may be seen in a new light and restored to use.
Many of the concepts, principles, and techniques relevant to the subject of infinite ideas can be learned from practice and experience with spiritual ideas. The modifiers infinite and spiritual are used here to identify thoughts we may reach for and have as our larger mental ideals. The two words together - infinite spiritual - form a string that compounds their meaning. In reaching for higher thoughts, our adjectives become all-important. When one of these two words can be used to suggest a desired meaning in this text, it will be used alone to make things sound simpler. When highlighting specific differences between infinite and spiritual ideas, the two will be put in contrast. When not wanting to move too fast, the word spiritual will be used as a modifier instead of infinite. It seems like spiritual is easier to comprehend than infinite.
Let us begin to approach the terms infinite and infinity as spiritual words. Thinking of infinity as a spiritual word or infinite abstraction, we can reach out to it and find thoughts far different from our normal thoughts. For example, what would it mean for love or truth to be infinite? Would these be everywhere and fill all space? Were our idea of love truly infinite, would it displace every instance of its opposite and fill every situation where it seemed to be missing? How is the idea of infinite good different from simply having a good day? Are terms like infinite good merely irrelevant abstractions?
Abstractions can be more useful than we might think. They can be regarded in ways that can help bring new ideas to light. The world of abstractions can be viewed across many dimensions. One primitive level has to do with good and evil. At infinite levels of thinking, the elements of good and evil are like a binary language of infinite abstractions. They are like ones and zeros that combine in a very special way to define a greater whole.
Infinity is a concept used in astronomy and physics and mathematics. One definition of infinity says it is a set that can be put in one-to-one correspondence with any subset of itself. This points out an important aspect of infinity that is beyond the usual sense of it as being simply unlimited. Infinity is endlessly divisible without being diminished. If you had infinite children and infinite loaves of bread, each child could have bread enough to last forever.
The field of mathematics has something called the Theory of the Infinite that deals with the application of number theory to concepts of infinity. This has turned up an interesting observation about infinite sets. It has been shown that the infinity of real numbers between any two integers, or counting numbers, is greater than the infinity of all integers. This means there are more points on the line between one and two than there are integers going on forever. From this, mathematicians are aware that some infinities are larger than other infinities, and that the infinity of integers is not truly infinite but is only infinite within a certain definition or within a certain boundary. The infinity of integers is called aleph-zero, whereas the infinity of real numbers, or definable points on a number line, is called aleph-one. Because these two "infinite" sets have been shown not to be truly infinite, but merely to be endless in limited dimensions, they are called transfinites. We will return to transfinites later.
When speaking of spiritual things, one can only really appreciate infinity from its own point of view. When you think from an infinite point of view, if only for an instant, you are reflecting infinity's view of itself. For this reason, you can't really think about things infinite without becoming involved in them yourself. Trying to think of the infinite apart from your true identity denies the nature of infinity. If you were to think of the infinite separate from yourself, it would be at least to that degree limited. Something would be left out - an important something.
Thinking about what it means for anything to be infinite may give rise to difficulties. If you illustrate your thinking with human analogies, you may find none that will completely make sense. At that point you can dismiss the subject as absurd or start thinking independently of human thought pictures, not an easy task.
It would be nice if this sounded more straightforward. It is one of those subjects that is straightforward mostly in retrospect, and even then it is still hopelessly elegant. But these things can be comprehended when one has the passion to do so. The basic theory can be easily assimilated. Understanding can come from thinking it through, and knowledge can come from experience.
Copyright 1994, Jim Chapman
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