Rediscover the Wonderful World with Metaphysics
Every year I fly back to China to visit my relatives, many years ago, when I was on the plane back to China, the air conditioning was bit too aggressive which made me uncomfortable, I tried to find something to divert my attention and then noticed the small round window next to me, it reminds me of the windows in the classroom of my elementary school, with green wooden window frame.
After I finished kindergarten and started elementary school, my uncle bought me a set of books, called “Discover the Wonderful World”, which took me through the customs and cultures of different places in the world, as well as many famous historical sites, and I was very into the mysteries, including the ancient Egyptian pyramids, Bermuda triangle, Mayan civilization and so on. Curiosity drove me to study hard and try to find answers from science. However, regardless of mathematics, physics, chemistry or natural science, none of them could answer those mysteries, although they have greatly increased my knowledge and the skills I gained enabled me to survive in the society.
At the time when I was writing this piece of text, it’s been many years since I graudated from university. There have been many things remarkable in my life as a student, success or failure, however, the most remarkable thing I could clearly remember is only the green-framed window in my elementary school. Learning could be inevitably boring, especially with a heart that wants to explore the unsolved mystery but got no answer in the end; However, through the clean window glass, I see the outside world: the branches and leaves of the tall phoenix tree almost pressed against the glass, the hawkers on both sides of the road, pedestrians rushing to work…they all gave me a feeling of vitality; even better, these scenary are not static, they vary across four seasons, not to mention the different kinds of people walking on the road, kids, young and elders; Everything I see through the green-framed window glass falls into the Four States of Phenomena in the Principle of Physics, as the Buddhist described: formation, existence, destruction and emptiness.
Nowadays, science is prosperous and technology is changing with each passing day. While people are enjoying all kinds of convenience brought by modern science and are constantly being impacted by new things, we seem to face more and more problems at the same time: war, nature disasters, environmental pollution, resource depletion, religion conflict…human society seems to be getting more and more troubles on the path of modern science, but we still expect to solve the problems and place hopes on modern science, science has dominated human cognition. In fact, apart from science, there is another cognitive system in the world, due to the dominance of materialism and dependence on modern science, many people are unwilling to accept, touch or even know it. In fact, it used to dominate and lead the development of Chinese civilization for thousands of years, and has created several mysterious civilization and countless miracles that could not be explained by today’s technology, it is another scientific system that is completely different from Western science, it’s called metaphysics.
What is metaphysics? When this article was translated from Chinese to English, I found two explanations. One is “an abstract concept that exists outside of matter”, the other is pseudo-science. The word “pseudo” feels deceptive, to me it also feels like an irony of science. Modern science is a series of human findings and summary of the physical world, based on which our civilization is built; In the eyes of many scientists, science of mankind is insignificant, compared to the unknown universe, endless time and boundless space.
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. – Isaac Newton
As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it. – Albert Einstein
From the stories of many great scientists, it’s not hard to conclude: the exploration of science and discovery of the world are endless, consider what’s been discovered so far as universal truth, disregard unknowns, or describe unexplainable phenomena simply as “super-natural”, are actually against the core value of science, or anti-science. In fact, science was often developed by new findings denying past cognition.
Some of my college classmates continued their studies after graduation, and some of them did PhD, one of the classmates is a Christian, who went to church every weekend. When I told him that I was going to write something about metaphysics, he was very curious about my thoughts and asked me from a very academic point of view, that what references were used. I told him that I refer to the Buddhist scriptures, the Bible, the ancient Chinese myths, the scenes I saw after I meditated, gossip on the internet, and the dreams people have made. Then I saw the expression on his face like the first time I ate Vegemite (although I didn’t look in the mirror to see what kind of expression I was), he said to me:
My God, have I not heard it wrong? The Bible as a reference? You can’t graduate if you write a thesis in our science department.
See the problem? As a Christian, he sighed at his God, then questioned the reliability of the Bible as reference. In western history class of my junior high school, teacher told us that people say whoever believes in God would have eternal life. I’m not sure whether my Christian friend could be saved, even though he went to church every weekend. I fully understand his statement from an academic perspective, because of this, I deeply feel the dependence on science has subtly sealed people’s mind, and human’s explorations are limited to only this material world, and only what has been recognized is studied. Meanwhile, things that are intangible or invisible in the human dimension, but that do objectively exist and do reveal themselves in real ways in this immediate world, such as spirituality, faith, divine, and miracles, are treated as taboo, for people have cast out the divine.
In the movie “2012”, when the junior lama was confused, he asked the great lama. The great lama then lifted a teapot, poured water into a cup until the water overflowed, then said to the little lama:
Just like this cup of water, you are filled with thoughts and prejudices. If you want to see the real wisdom, you must first empty your cup before adding more.
As far as I can see, science and metaphysics are not mutually exclusive, they are different ways of exploring human, life and the universe. In Jostein Gaarder’s book “Sophie’s World”, he describes the world as a giant rabbit, people live on the surface of the rabbit’s skin, thinking that this is the whole world; In the eyes of most people, life is all about diving into the skin for material possessions. There are a few philosophers who raised their heads, looked up at the starry sky - just like the apple that fallen on Newton’s head, when those philosophers saw shining star light, they realised there is a much bigger world outside. Thus they climbed onto the top of rabbit’s hair to discover the greater world. Those who drilled inside enjoyed their material life, and laughed at those who climbed towards outside. When I read the book, I also laughed at those philosophers: even if human world is a giant rabbit and there are much more outside, how does it matter, as long as people feel happy by digging inside the rabbit for material possessions? With the increase of age, I gradually realised that happiness could have different meanings at different stages of one’s life; Moreover, regardless of happy or not, one cannot escape death, which lead to the ultimate question of human being:
Where do we come from?
Where are we going?
Who are we?
All these start with a dream.
Next: Chapter 1 - The Moon (1)