I'm getting a little behind on things, so please bear with me if I'm taking a time responding to questions. There's a good question from the Wilber Forum about what exactly is non-dual practice that I want to get into, but it may take the weekend. First, I'm going to respond to a couple of really good comments on my last post on The Acausal Universe. Check them out first if you want the context of my answer.
The first issue to clear up is to define what I refer to as “levels”. My use of the term may be different from Wilber's; I'm not really sure how he defines it. I see it as synonymous with “viewpoint”, or really, fragmented attention. The simplest example is that of the material world. Friend points out that the material world is not separate from the Unity of non-dual reality, and treating it as not causally linked to any other level, as separate and distinct, therefore seems erroneous. But what I am suggesting is that the material world is not a separate world or place or thing, it is a distinctive viewpoint. It is the “material” viewpoint, or the “gross physical” viewpoint. The material world does not actually exist, but only the material viewpoint makes it seem so. And so it is with all viewpoints and worlds.
As beings who somehow seem to be grossly born, we have already assumed this gross physical viewpoint. It's not the only viewpoint we have, but it is a distinctive viewpoint that we can all acknowledge. There are many other possible viewpoints, and we take up those viewpoints one at a time, often in rapid succession, but the problem with conditional birth is exactly that: out of the infinitely possible viewpoints that could be taken, we have taken up a material, physical one as our shared commonality. And while born, we may range through many different viewpoints, not just the gross physical, but we can only take up one at a time, just as we can only take up one body at a time.
When we do science, we are taking up the gross physical viewpoint, and the answers we find in science will be answers from that viewpoint. When we write poetry, we are taking up a different viewpoint, and the answers we get are poetic answers, not scientific ones. This does not make either of them superior to the other, but they address different viewpoints, and can't be mixed, because we can't hold both viewpoints in mind at the same time. Science will not supply you the answers to poetic questions, and poetry will not supply you the answers to scientific questions. Both are important questions, and both viewpoints are valid in their own right, and even complement one another. But people tend to be parochial about their viewpoint, and think one is superior to others, and try to downgrade other viewpoints. Scientists (at least those who are strongly identified with that viewpoint) tend to think that poetry is meaningless because it cannot fulfill our need for concrete answers and solutions to material problems, and poets (who are strongly identified with their own viewpoint) tend to think science is empty because it cannot fulfill our need for artistic meaning and beauty.
Some people can see the value in both viewpoints, and I think Wilber is one of those people. But there's a fallacy that such people are prone to, a synthetic, romantic fallacy, based on their own conviction of nature is a unity (a conviction I sympathize with), but a unity based on the principle of cauality, rather than synchronicity. They think that God or some higher power (an "erotic force", say) is always intervening and causing things to happen, making things work out for us, making evolution follow certain favorable lines of growth, etc. Or they think that angels and higher beings of a metaphysical nature are working to cause things to happen in this world. Or even that devils and demons are creating havoc among us. They thinks that these two differing worlds or viewpoints must be inclusive of one another, that the “higher” viewpoint must direct the lower, and thus the lower must somehow be subject to the laws of the higher.
When Wilber speak of an “eros drive” that is at the core of the evolutionary process, he is speaking in poetic language of a poetical, metaphysical intuition. This is fine and good. In the poetic sense, and even in the higher sense of metaphysics itself, this is a valid principle, one that I can find sympathy with. I don't doubt that the nature of the universe is "Shiva-Shakti" a Unity of male and female cosmic forces, of consciousness and energy. The problem comes when Wilber tries to crossover with this poetical, metaphysical principle into the viewpoint of science, and insist that this “erotic drive” actually somehow must intervene in physical, biological processes that govern mutation and evolution in the material world, actually causing mutations, in a manner that may be more sophisticated than creationists, but not of a different order. When he does so, he is trying to mix two entirely distinct viewpoints, and the result is not meaningful to either. As I say, try as they may, scientists are never going to find an “erotic force” behind evolution, the way there are gross physical forces of DNA mutations and so on that produce evolutionary changes. Why? Because science sees the world from the viewpoint of gross material objects and forces, and within that viewpoint there simply is no “erotic force”, at least not as Wilber speaks of it. The erotic force of attraction exists in the poetic, metaphysical sphere. In the gross world, that force is simply a symbol, a metaphor, a literary allusion, not a scientific principle. But as metaphor, it has correspondences nonetheless, if one knows where to look.
So there can't be a causal link between these two worlds, not because they are truly separate from one another, but because attention and viewpoint makes them so. Unity is not the senior principle of manifest nature, separation is. Why do I say this? Because viewpoint and attention are separated and separative in conditional nature, and they create the illusion of separate beings and separate worlds. You are right that there is no material world in the true, non-dual universe. But there is also no erotic force in the non-dual universe. How could there be? An erotic force would require separation to exist, that some force would seek to bring it together through attraction. Both the material world and Wilber's erotic force are the result of a shattering of attention, a shattering of viewpoint, from a Single and Ultimate Unity, to all these infinitely modified realms of attention and energy. The material world is one such dimension. The poetic metaphysics of Wilber's erotic force is another.
An infinite number of worlds, dimensions, and levels exist, because an infinite number of viewpoints exist. For the sake of simplicity, however, we like to talk about major categories of viewpoint. But the problem with this shattering of viewpoints, as I said earlier, is that we can only “see” the universe from one of them at a time. We can conceptualize them and create systems which include multiple perspectives, but when we do so, even then we are only looking at the universe from one perspective, a conceptual overview perspective. Our inclusiveness is purely on a conceptual level, we are not actually seeing the world from multiple perspective simultaneously. What rules is not inclusiveness then, but the partialness of viewpoint itself. When we say that we are “developed” in higher levels, it means that we are able to move from viewpoint to viewpoint with greater ease, that we have many viewpoints in our repertoire. But it's like having a huge library of books. We can still only read one of them at a time. We can only think one thought at a time too. It's the same problem we have of only being able to be one body at a time, out of all the billions on the planet. Welcome to conditional reality.
It also needs to be said that viewpoint creates the world it views. Viewpoint is a way of splitting the unity beyond attention into fragments, taking the Whole and making it Many, and then focusing in on just one of those pieces. That focusing of attention creates a whole world. It's the viewpoint that is the fragment, and it creates the objects seen in accord with its own qualities. The physical world is the product of just this kind of fragmented viewing of Reality. Our poetic world is likewise a creation of attention focusing in on that fragment, and makes a world out of it. We exist in only One World, but attention makes fragments of it, and we only know one fragment at a time, one thought at a time, one experience at a time, one body at a time, one partial world at a time. Each of these could be said to be a level, a mini-level perhaps. The physical world is not actually a single thing, a single level, a single body, but a collection of fragments, each of them a separate viewpoint we lump together because of a certain commonality. So we call the “physical world” a level because of that basic commonality, but it isn't really a thing sitting out there, but a viewpoint that creates a world based on the qualities of that viewpoint.
So viewpoints and levels are not causally linked to one another. One didn't create the others. Attention did. If there is a hierarchy to attention, it isn't a causal one, it's a synchronous one. Synchronicity is the product of this fragmentation of viewpoints into a multiplicity of simultaneously existing “worlds”. All worlds exist simultaneously as viewpoints of attention, not as truly separate levels or worlds. But viewpoint makes them not only seem so, but to function in that manner. They are not casually linked to one another, because they do not arise from one another. They arise from the Source, the Unity. So their linkage to one another is through synchronicity, through a sharing of pattern, of recognizable complementary form.
An example: Wilber's erotic force may not exist in the physical universe, but fundamental forces of attraction do exist: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, etc. These are not the “erotic force” Wilber speaks of, but they share a similar pattern, that of attraction that brings elements together and ends up producing life, bodies, children, even physical sex. So when I say that in the physical universe we don't need to postulate an “erotic force” to account for evolution, it's because the physical forces that correspond to this “erotic force” already exist, and are able to produce “children” by their own innate capability. Wilber's search for some “other” force that can turn raw dirt into a poetry-writing machine fails to take into account that dirt and its constituent forces is already alive with all the erotic force it needs to do just that.
But Wilber's famous question, “How does dirt get up and write poetry” is a false question based in ignorance. Dirt doesn't ever write poetry. It can't. When we write poetry, we are not operating in the physical world. We are operating in a poetic world. We have entered into another realm of existence. That our bodies seem to physically “write poetry” is akin to the famous metaphor about an infinite number of monkeys writing on infinite typewriters producing all the works of Shakespeare. That metaphor is an excellent one, because it represents us, as physical monkey bodies, randomly producing poetry. The joke is that as bodies, we can't product poetry. Only by entering the world of poetry can we produce poetry. And our bodies only go along for the ride, working in synchronicity with our work in other realms. The fact is, if you break it down mechanically, you can't really figure out how we write anything at all. There is no “order” that my writing mind is giving to my physical body to type these words out. They just appear simultaneously. Speech is similar. Almost everything we do happens like this, as a synchronous event rather than as us trying to command multiple realms and levels to work together in some “inclusive” viewpoint.
When I was growing up I wanted to be nuclear physicist studying the great theories of the universe. I was fascinated by Einstein and the whole GUI debate. I didn't end up going down that line, but if I were to give any suggestions to anyone trying to develop the next great idea in physics, the next leap after Einstein, it would be to develop a theory of synchronicity and patterning that could be inclusive of Einstein just as he was inclusive of Newton, worked out to the same degree of mathematical elegance as the theory of relativity. It occurs to me that one might in the end find a way to eliminate the whole notion of causality altogether, even within the physical universe, and explain all seeming causation as just a special case of synchronicity.
So anyway, what I am saying is that from the point of view of attention, these levels and distinctions do exist, and they have to be respected. You cannot impose poetry on science and vice-versa. No, ultimately they don't exist at all, but then why talk about them? We talk about them because we are creatures of attention who live in fragmented viewpoints we switch between, and we can't understand how they realte to one another. We can't have it both ways. We can't talk about them as creatures of attention and then claim that the levels don't really exist, and so we can presume causation crosses all viewpoints. That's simply not possible. The conditional cosmos is the result of fragmented attention, and thus all that fragmented attention creates worlds, levels, views, all of which are distinct, and between which there is no connection except synchronicity. Within any viewpoint things function through causation, or at least they seem to, because they are all held together by a single viewpoint of attention, but not between viewpoints. My writing mind is not causing my physical body to write these words. It just coincides. My deeper mind coincides with my physical brain, it does not cause the brain to think its thoughts. Analyze my brain as deeply as you can, you will never find some “hole” through which my higher mind sneaks in and tells my brain what thoughts to think. They arise simultaneously.
The point here is that if you are looking for a principle that defines “unity” between levels, synchronicity is that principle, not causation. If you understood this, you would be rejoicing, because synchronicity is much easier to observe and understand than causation. Finding a causal relation between levels is virtually impossible. It requires ridiculous leaps of faith and imagination, as creationists are finding. But noticing synchronicity of pattern between levels is easy as pie, once you know what to look for. So what I'm saying is not bad news that the universe is some kind of materialistic reduction program, that physical evolution proceeds without any other factors involved. It's just that all those other factors arise simultaneously, not causally. We are linked together not by causes, but by simultaneous arising. And thus we don't have to waste time looking for mystical causes for physical events. It doesn't mean there is no mystical dimension that is related to the physical, it only means that it is related by synchronous patterning, not by causal reaction and “guidance” from above. The study of the interrelationship of levels and types and patterns isn't a study of causes, by a study of simultaneous correspondences. It is this simultaneous correspondence that is the true sign of unity. Don't miss it!
One more thing: when I mentioned that the Self doesn't appear in the conditional realms, but functions purely as Witness, I didn't mean that the Self is identified with the Witness as a separative point of view. The Witness is not fragmented attention anyway, it is beyond that. It's only that for us, there is no way to relate to the Self in any other practical way, because we are fixated in points of view. When we conceive of the "point of view" of the Self or God, we can't help but think of a point of view like our own, but more inclusive, or bigger, some position from which we could act and make things right. But that's an inaccurate way of thinking about God or the Self. The closest we can come is seeing Self as the Witness, as motionless being, Witnessing all states, all points of view, all worlds, but identifed with none of them. To live as the Witness, and not to try to cause action, but to allow all action to aise spontaneously, synchronistically, is the enightened way of life. Remember, action and causation are karma. The viewpoint which sees action and causation dominant is the karmic viewpoint. Freedom from karma means freedom from that viewpoint, which means mere witnessing spontaneous simultaneous synchronicity of action, just like letting the words come through without "ordering" them.
Okay, I planned to write so much more on other aspects of the comments from below, but will have to wait a little. Thanks so much for your comments. Don't imagine I find them bothersome or irritating. People who disagree with me often provide the best stimulus to working these ideas out. So thanks to all of you who bother to poke their heads in here.