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Breaking the Chains

On the dual nature of reality and overcoming death.

by James Leroy Wilson
December 26, 2001

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Breaking the Chains_James Leroy Wilson-On the dual nature of reality and overcoming death. For something to exist in our minds, there must be something else, a contrary thing, to also be present. An idea can not be grasped if there isn't a counter-idea. Where we recognize properties that constitute one idea, we see the emphatic absence of such properties to be properties themselves, forming the contrary idea.

That is, if there is just one truly ever-present and infinite entity in the universe, something that pervades absolutely everything, and has no "opposite" or contrary idea because it would encompass even that, such an entity would not be grasped by the human mind and therefore, in any meaningful sense to humans, wouldn't exist at all.

Human beings sense dichotomies, or duality. There's not just one, but two. We can only know what life is after we see what death is. And with death, the concept of "finitude" or being "finished" comes into our head: life is, at some point, done. But if we sense that everything is likewise on the road to death, the concept itself would be an ever-present reality that we would not understand or acknowledge as existing in the first place.

The concept not only of life itself, but of the eternal, can come only with the experience of witnessing death. For with death we see that some things are finite, that things come to an end. But then we can recognize that, although life in earthly bodily form is finite, ending in death, there are nevertheless things that continue on, "infinite" things, that do not end.

An example of such would be the theorems of mathematics, another the rules of logic. They do not bend, or waver, or come to an end. They come, in the same recognizable form, to all that can comprehend them.

Likewise, there are patterns of action and inaction in human experience that most of us can grasp. A child raised in the midst of a century-long war may not see it, or have only glimpses of it during periods of relative tranquility around her own home. But to nearly all of us, even those raised to be warriors, there is enough of an experience of peace for us to grasp that the state of war, of fighting to kill or be killed, is not the best way to live. We see that war's only purpose is to achieve peace, hopefully a permanent peace. For if nothing else, wars are to be won, not continued for their own sake. If all we knew is peace, peace itself wouldn't exist in our heads; we only know peace because we know war.

Experiences are nothing more than changes from previous conditions. The new experience makes one recognize the change, and to call the previous condition what it really was: a different experience. The changes in experience is what causes us to recognize differences and create contrary ideas in the first place.

True freedom is for those who are privileged to grasp the contrary forces that tag at us - the forces of life and death, infinite and finite, states of peace and states of war, and choose the never-ending story over the absolute endings. Between accepting coercion out of fear of death, and choosing liberty in spite of death - to be liberated from the "ending" called death.

The man around whom the Christmas celebration revolves was quite mysterious. Both his enemies and his disciples found many of his parables and teachings confusing, as we do still. But his life is an example, it is the experience, which we experience in learning through reading, which shows outward-directed, eternal living can be, as opposed to self-directed, grave-bound life which looks to us to be the more obvious option. Jesus Christ, to those who believe, provides the infinite side of life, not the finite side. It is through him that the concept of genuine liberty, of breaking the chains of violence, fear, and selfishness, became known.

Aldous Huxley's dystopia in Brave New World was based on the premise that "everyone belongs to everyone else." We all feel that way, sometimes. That we must do what others do or think that we must do, or have others do as we think they should do. But no one belongs to anyone else, no one is to be used as means to another's ends. We are not slaves, and the earth is not a plantation. It is our place to show love instead of hate and pride, to serve instead of exert power, to demonstrate to others what is good instead of force on them what we think is good. To show to all that there is more than earth and death - that we can comprehend earth and death only because there is so much more to life.

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