Transcending Transcendence

We humans have so much. But we are not satisfied. We need more!

For example, we humans already transcend time. Rocks and trees have no consciousness of time. Animals live in an eternal present. We humans are the ones who have transcended this eternal present and found the past and the future. We are not stuck in the eternal now. We are stuck in the past present and future instead.

Some people think the way to transcend time is to go back to bare animal awareness. While this may give some reprieve from horrible memories or frightening dreams of the future, it is a denial of our humanity.

Like Dr. Who we are some kind of Time Lords among the species of the Earth. Our mission like the good Doctor is to use our special ability to recognize and live in the flow of historical time, to care for the species of the planet. Time is a gift to us. We should use our powers for good, not return them.

Why is time a problem for us anyway? It is a problem because we are self aware. We know we will die. And most of us don’t want to die.

Self awareness is another way that we human beings transcend the animal world. Christopher Boehm in his book Moral Origins explains how few animals there are that have even vestiges of self awareness.

Like time, some of us wish to escape the suffering of a separate independent self by returning to some kind of bare animal awareness. And while it is true that one can through the Buddhist practice of Vipassana slowly deconstruct the self entity, apart from freeing up wasted maintenance and defensive energy, I’m not sure it is what we should be doing.

The self can be seen as a curse and a source of much of our suffering. The self can also be seen as a gift, and a source of great value and responsibility.

In the Genesis account of creation. God makes humankind in the divine image. That could mean things like spirit, love, and light.  The object and divine purpose of our life is to reflect God.

What I am saying is that there is a way back and a way forward. Going back to being a non self aware, timeless animal, is not transcendence. Going forward into the divine is transcendence.

Another way is to say transcendence is “Humanity Plus” not “Minus Humanity”.

In the Gospel of John it says, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (Jn. 17:3)

Want transcendence? Unite with God. Don’t regress.