(Introductory Note: This post is about Being and beings, so it is necessary to define from the outset what I mean by being and Being. By being, or beings, when written with lower-case “b” I refer to entities as existent things; for instance, a cup, a person, an idea, a thought, etc. which are existent things though each as itself and in a particular mode of presence; a cup as perceived in my perception is a being in the space of perception, in the mode “perceived;” the same cup when imagined is a being in the space of imagination, in the mode “imagined.” In general, all objects of cognition, whether actual or possible concrete or abstract, are beings. On the other hand, when I use Being with the capital “B” I mean the existence of beings rather than beings themselves as entities. Thus, Being refers to their existence rather than their identities. For instance, when I speak of the Being of beings I am referring to their Being, their existence, their endurance in and through time, an endurance which is always manifest only in the form of an identity. We note that Being is not itself a being but rather it is that in which all beings participate and in virtue of which beings are beings. I borrow this lower-case/upper-case distinction from Heidegger’s convention. The discussion of Being and beings was the life project of Martin Heidegger, the German philosopher. But we approach the subject independently of his philosophy.)
The intention of this post is to show that the Being of human being, his/her existence, is entirely different from the Being of all other beings. The way and the manner in which we exist is of a totally different character from the the manner of existence of other things in the world. I as this human person am not just another object in the world but instead occupy a very special place among other beings and in the world as a whole.
My Being is different from the Being of other beings because the other beings are exposed to me, I am always aware of a field of beings that are in Being, while my Being as a human being is not exposed to other beings: I always have a world around me, perceived precisely as a world, but a rock does not have a world. Also the Being of the rock as a rock is not exposed to itself; a rock shows no sign of being aware of itself as a rock that is in the ceaseless flow of Being. But my Being is such that it is an exposure to an infinite field of beings while at the same time I am also exposed to my own Being as a human being. Not only am I a human being in the world, I am also aware of my being as a human being in the world; I am aware that I am aware.
A rock, or even an animal, has no perception of itself as a being with a well-defined identity among other objects constituting a world. A cow lives but it is not open to its own essence as a cow. Thus, we can summarize our view this way: Human being is that being who has a world, but other beings don’t have a world in the logical sense of the world as a horizon of all actual and possible beings and experiences; that is, other beings don’t have a logic, and hence no world-phenomenon. If we can speak of animals as having a world it is only because we confer upon them our own world-perception. We view the animal in our own image. We perceive the essence of animals, animals precisely as animals and in their characterization as species; but they cannot perceive us as an essence, as human beings with human characteristics and define us as species. In other words, human being is entirely different from other beings in that our Being is equipped with essential intuition, with an insight into archetypes of which all individual beings partake.
The Being of human beings is an opening, a window toward beings and their Being. When we are perceiving we are in fact being open to the Being of beings in the primordial space of perception; we are exposed to beings as perceived, and in this exposure we are also exposed to our own Being as that which perceives. When we imagine, we are making ourselves available to the beings of the imaginal world. It may appear to us that we are creating the imagined objects but in fact we are only exposing our own Being to the phenomena of the actually present and real world of imagination, the world of imagined beings which reveal themselves to us on their own accord. In other words, we do not create or produce thoughts and imaginations; instead we make ourselves open and available to the revelation of thoughts and imaginations. Insofar as we are directed toward the space of thought or imagination, the beings of these primordial spaces naturally and smoothly flow into our Being; all we do is to steer hither and thither within this revelatory flow. We don’t create thoughts out of nowhere; thoughts are always there, always available in infinite forms. In the act of thinking we are in fact making ourselves directed toward, and hence open to, the space of thoughts; this openness allows the revelation to flow in, and then we only steer them around. Notice that whenever and wherever you wish to think of anything the thoughts just flows naturally without you having to put any efforts in producing the form and content of those thoughts, or imaginations; it is only enough for you to adopt the proper orientation after which revelation comes forth and allows you to steer the thoughts, and hence receive that to which you are receptive. In reality, we don’t really think; rather, we let thoughts reveal themselves to us in the manner in which we intend them to be.
Thus, the Being of human being is unique in the sense that man is the site of revelation. Man is an occasion for the revelation of beings in their Being.
We are very much biased by the prejudices of modern philosophy, especially those imposed by the Cartesian divide of the subjective-objective. We are made to think that our thoughts and imaginations are subjective and relative, that they are phenomena in our own heads and without any concrete reality outside of ourselves; we are prejudiced to think this way because we have unquestionably accepted that reality is a fundamentally physical entity from which non-physical phenomena emerge by accident. We have given unquestionable priority to material existence, and hence we take less seriously anything that is not physical, such as our thoughts and imaginations, our spiritual well-being, etc. We think thoughts are just thoughts. But we must remind ourselves that the Cartesian division of reality into the two distinct realms of spirit and matter, subjective and objective, is itself a division made by a subject, and hence it is a subjective division in its character and scope. Beliefs are not just subjective, relative phenomena. They are as real as anything else, and in fact more real than everything else. We must note that the idea that our thoughts are private and subjective, that there is an objective, external world out there which exists independently of our ideas, that our minds and existence and beliefs are immaterial and irrelevant, is itself a subjective belief, a mere conviction, now held by the majority which gives it the illusion of being correct.
If we free ourselves from the sickening prejudice that world is fundamentally physical, then we can see that our thoughts and imaginations are real components of the world: When you think of an object you make that object itself present as itself, however in a particular mode of presence, now as perceived and now as imagined, etc. In other words, to cognize is recognize, namely to make present. By thinking of a thing we make ourselves open to the actual Being of that being; we allow that being to present itself precisely as itself and in its concrete reality, not as something unreal or merely subjective.
To think is to let be. When we think of God we are letting God enter into our Being. We make ourselves open and available to His grace, and God’s grace is nothing but His presence. Thus, in thinking of God we are not exposed to just an idea of God; instead, in thinking of God we expose ourselves to God himself, however he is made present according to the mode and degree of our openness and orientation. In other words, we let God be in any way that we are capable of thinking of Him or imagining Him: He gives himself to us in the manner in which we open ourselves to Him.
When we realize that the beings of the space of thought and imagination, and all cognitive spaces in general, are as real, effective, and affective as anything else in the world, then we are more careful of what we think, of what we say or imagine, etc. The prejudices of modern philosophy regarding the subjective and unreal character of imagination and thought has unfortunately allowed us to be too comfortable with what we let into our minds which is a letting into our very Being, as if it were Ok to think of an unjust act if we didn’t actually commit that act! But this is not true at all. Thinking of committing an unjust act is as real and consequential as actually committing it, though its reality has a different character. The reason we cannot see the truth in this is because we are made to give priority and superior value to physical existence, to physical harm and injury, while we don’t see and acknowledge the more serious and consequential spiritual/intellectual harm and injury caused by impure thoughts and imaginations. Physical damage and death is superficial and transitory and becomes forgotten easily while spiritual damage caused by impurity can cripple our soul forever, and hence the soul of generations to come. But we are so used to spiritual self-injury caused by impure thoughts, itself caused by the prejudice that what’s in our mind is not that important and effective, that we can no more feel our spiritual decay and decadence; instead we carry this decadence around under the guise of physical beauty or well-being. We exercise to keep the heart healthy and we take too much pride in that, but we cannot even begin, and don’t even care, to initiate spiritual exercise to keep the soul healthy. We are made to feel good about ourselves as long as we look good and healthy, thanks to modern slavery and its oppressive consumerism which is nothing short of global genocide against human spirit which deprives man of his/her essential Being and reduces him/her (and more reduces her) to just another being, a universal holocaust designed to destroy the spirit while sparing the body for a lifelong of exploitation and mandatory labor making the rich richer and the poor poorer. It is with this in mind that Christ reminded us that adultery, and any sinful act for that matter, is already committed the moment we think it.
If our Being is an openness to other beings, if our Being is a letting Be of beings, if our Being is a making present the beings that are otherwise suspended in oblivion, then we must take responsibility for the things that we let enter into our Being, whether in the form of thoughts or through any act of cognition. We make the world actually more positive and beautiful when we let only positivisty and beauty enter our Being, a Being which is an opening toward present and presence and hence itself a divine present.
We can make God to be more present in our lives if we think of Him more often, and he makes himself present to us in any way that we expose ourselves to Him, in anyway that we like to perceive Him. God just wants to Be, and more so to Be in our Being; he longs to impregnate our Being, and he can’t care less about how we wish to imagine him and his Being. God becomes present actually and as Himself in any way and through any symbolism that we intend Him. Your thought of God is God Himself. Whenever you think of Him you make Him think of you, and God’s thinking is nothing short of His Being. When He thinks of you in virtue of you thinking Him He makes your Being participate in His Being; He thinks and then you are.
Oh, mind; dive deep into the thought of God.