All things created are dogma, for what is created cannot be proved except from within the created system in which it resides. A man is a man, undisputed within the framework of a physical world of men. But a man is not a man. A man is a creation of the mind, and is therefore opinion, not fact. As such, all things in the physical world are dogma, created by the mind, a point of view shared by all who have chosen to live inside our physical world.
Exiting this world at night, entering non-physical dreams, created things of this world become tools of the mind, images and sounds for a communicating of ideas. A man is not authoritatively a man from within a dream; he may be a man for a moment and then be something else, morphing into some other animal or thing. Only from a framework of the physical world can a man be proved to be a man, and then he is proved only to be that which men of this world have defined him to be. A “man” is a mere word for describing the viewed form of an entity encased in this world in physical flesh.
I am a fact or truth, not dogma. I exist. But all that surrounds me is dogma. Beings such as myself I see as men, but they are not men, they are alike beings. Truth can be found in the being, or is even he, the being, a created thing? Might even I be a mere “point of view?” This seems impossible, for I think, therefore I presumably am. Just as mathematicians assume that something is equal to itself (a=a) a presumption can be made that I exist though I cannot prove it except from within a framework placing myself, the subject in question, as the authority. ‘A’ must be assumed equal to “A” for there to be mathematics. Similarly, I must be presumed to exist if I am to explore philosophy. “I am” is a presumption, a necessary one for proceeding.
I should not put the luxury of presumption on the world that I live in and explore. The world is dogma, it is opinion established without adequate grounds. As I walk about the world I see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. The five senses are my interface to the world. Through theses senses I observe, feel, and interact. I find a natural world that man defines as from God, and a man-made world shaped by man’s hands. It is the latter of the two where I spend most of my time. At this minute I am in a room, a red tiled floor, white acoustical tile ceiling, and grey walls with brown wood trim. Two ceiling fans are spinning rapidly. I am in a chair, a wooden chair with a soft red seat. I sit at a table, typing words into a computer screen. Everything in my spatial experience was first imagined in the mind of a man, then designed, then built. Looking through a window to outside I see a green shrub, a creation of God, not of man’s hands.
Without considering the shrub, everything in my present experience is of man’s imagination. A vessel sitting to my right holds coffee. It is a cup. Man defined the cup as a cup: A vessel for holding liquids. But liquids are themselves of the imagination, for liquids exist in three-dimensional space and three-dimensional space is a creation of the mind. Space is a mental creation, dogma as well. The cup is authoritatively a cup on a presumption that liquids exist and must be contained, but the presumption falls apart when I turn a cup upside down while dreaming and the coffee in it is not lost. The cup is not really a vessel for containing liquids; the cup is a symbol, a visual term for communication.
All created things are symbols for communication. A cup is not really a cup, nor is a shrub really a shrub. They are objects, but not in space, because space is a creation of the mind. Space is the blank white page, the paper for laying down “words.” Objects that we see, touch, and otherwise experience are “words,” symbolic representations of the non-spatial reality. And as words they are dogma, a point of view put forth as authoritative, but without adequate grounds, for objects, created things, are not what they are believed to be.
But “dogma” is usually more narrowly defined. Webster’s definition is “a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church.” A man sitting drinking coffee in a coffee shop is not in a church. His is in coffee shop, not a church. But I am speaking as a man consumed in three-dimensional space. Were I to understand the world as mere symbolism for a non-spatial reality then differences between the church and coffee shop would appear superficial, decorative only. Both church and coffee shop are of the same nature, providing a common place for meeting and having floor, ceiling, and walls for habitation. Religious dogma would be viewed as sound, a method of interchanging of ideas circumventing visual form, something which is also taking place inside the coffee shop. God’s presence would be sensed in both places, God’s presence being the perpetual recreation of the surrounding forms. Both coffee shop and church are dogma, points of view presented as authoritative, but without adequate grounds.
In church a preacher speaks authoritatively of a man, the Son of God, crucified on a cross. Merely accept the belief and you will not die. In the coffee shop you sip on coffee, enjoying a pleasant experience, perhaps chatting with others. The tale told is easy to spot in regard to the preacher’s sermon, but there is a greater tale being told as you live life, be it in church or the café. It is of you, a man, passing through time, enwrapped in a three-dimensional world of forms. But the man is created, by the imagination. The man is merely a symbol of what you are. The man is you, in a form that others may interpret. You are formless, the man gives you form. But the man is dogma, a belief put forth authoritatively without sufficient grounds. The man is no more you than is the crucified man the Son of God, but the man is you, as is the crucified man the Son of God. It is a story told, you the man, Jesus the Son of God. There is truth in a story.
Does eternal life come from sipping coffee? That we live for a while then grow old and die is a story. It is dogma, a point of view put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds. It may appear to us that we will die just as some may view the story of Christ’s martyrdom as the road to eternal life. Neither can be proved. Although you know you will grow old and presumably die, you cannot prove it until you do grow old and then die. And if dead you cannot prove anything at all. Growing old may be, is, an illusion. The aging process too is dogma. You may prove that the man you call yourself is growing old, aging, but you cannot prove that you, the self, is growing old, aging. You can prove that you exist. That is all.
The story you tell as you live is dogma. The self living the story is true. You exist. Yet, this too is a presumption. The presumptions that you exist and that I exist is our starting point. What truths exist is necessarily discovered through a created system of things. Here is the physical world. Here are the five physical senses. Here is extrasensory perception. All unite to build a visual symbolic language, a point of view, a shared system of communication. It may be that the religious dogma of Christ’s promise of eternal life is closer to the truth than is you or I sitting at a coffee shop waiting to grow old and then die. But neither is the truth and both are dogma, authoritative points of view made without adequate grounds. You and I may one day die but dying is a point of view. If we one day die it will be merely our belief that we die. That story will end, another will begin. And it may be that a belief in Jesus on the cross will bring eternal life – a subsequent and congruent story. Absent some such identifying belief, the former “self” may be lost as a new one commences.
The dilemma that we face of this world being dogma is resolvable. Just a believing that the world is imagined, not real, falls short. It still is dogma. The belief must be transcended. The physical world is language, and language is not dogma; it is a vehicle for expression. But words strung together become dogma as they develop into a point of view. We transcend dogma through recognition that life necessitates a point of view. We do not reject dogma, we use it. We reside in it, knowingly. Dogma is a product of life lived, dogma is the play, the story we tell as we live life, a point of view put forth as authoritative without adequate rounds. We live within the point of view, recognize it as point of view, we use it for expressing our natures, thoughts, ideas. But we understand that it is dogma.
This new perspective, a new point of view, has us, the awareness, using things of a false nature, created things, for communicating ideas and truth. Now seeing aging and death as elements of the imagination, we are positioned to pave a new path using dogma, no longer entrapped in it. The forms we have retained in memory over the past years become a basis for the language we will speak in three dimensional space, a language of the physical senses, sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste, carefully forming them with the imagination and stringing them into a story, little different from our former reality but being fully aware now. We are self-aware, having reached the seventh heaven, the Buddha plane, nirvana, paradise, but we have gone nowhere. We have rediscovered the Garden of Eden, and have triumphantly returned with a bountiful language of rich manmade forms.
In dreams we use this spatial language, our subconscious mind communicating to us through this vast wealth of natural and manmade symbols. But we cannot live and interact in such a world where the mind dictates what it sees. It is chaotic, as though words are randomly put into a string, the whole sentence being gibberish. The mind must be stilled. The fixed, repetitive reality that we call “this world” will be a springboard to our rightful inheritance which is the reality that our imaginations will create, where we will reside.
Copyright January 21, 2009, Arthur Telling