We often speak about the stars, the planets, the animals, the sky, the Earth, water or snow and we forget the real sense and meaning of the word Universe. Man asks himself questions about the whole of Nature, of which he himself is a part, but he tends to lose the central idea to which it refers.
‘Universe’ means that which is going in a single direction, so what we must discover is where it is going. This was perhaps one of the first approaches that humanity had. All the ancient civilisations asked themselves, through their religions, their metaphysics and their philosophies, where the universe is going and why; but the new materialistic-type ways of seeing things, especially in the post-Cartesian age, present us with a different point of view, and then man begins to analyse the characteristics of the universe, its size, form and weight.
Man claims to know the universe, because he has given names to the stars and measured the distance from the Earth to the Moon; or because he knows the list of chemical elements and the characteristics of the physical forces, and yet, in that detailed kind of knowledge, although there has been a specialisation of knowledge in each of the areas, these areas have become increasingly separate from one another.
In mineralogy, for example, we are taught the different characteristics of the rocks and the orogenic movements that have brought about changes to the Earth’s surface; but we are not taught about the fundamental meaning of material things.
Let us suppose that we pick up any object and drop it suddenly; we will see that it falls and always looks for the lowest place; there is always a natural attraction between this little piece of matter and that big piece of matter where we are. This material attraction is untiring.
What can we extract, then, from the nature of the mineral world? We can extract a tenacity, a search for destiny; and which of us can say that we share with the stones that search for destiny? In general, when we meet a difficulty, we tend to fight it for a while, and if the difficulty does not give way, we give way. The things of Nature, the stones, for example, have the tenacity of being beyond time and of always looking for their final destination.
Our children are taught the different characteristics of plants, about the process of photosynthesis, but it is not mentioned that, beyond every phenomenon of light absorption and conversion into energy, exists the capacity of the plant to know how to wait and to know how to grow. A little seed, buried in the earth in winter, under the snow, patiently awaits the advent of spring. When it arrives, that little seed rises up and seeks the air and the sun. It is another teaching of tenacity, of verticality and from a philosophical point of view, we are interested in the final meaning of the action of things.
We also have water; wherever we pour it, water will run off in search of the sea and there, in the sea, it evaporates, rises up again, condenses and becomes part of a great cycle again. The universe has a purpose.
Obviously, in the new characteristics of the recent centuries, alienated by material things, with a psychology of production and consumption, Man has forgotten the natural elements and how to interpret them. The ancients did not ask themselves so efficiently, perhaps, about the distance between the Earth and the Moon, but they tried to understand what the Moon signifies in the Universe. Through ancient sciences like astrology and others, they tried to interpret the natural phenomena and see in what way they were connected with this phenomenon which is called Man. And that gave the man of antiquity the sensation of being accompanied by intelligent beings, and of being himself an intelligent being.
Our present problem is that we feel isolated in the midst of the universe, in other words, since we are so much in contact with artificial elements, we have lost the ability to seek a purpose in things, and the dramatic part of this is that we have lost the possibility of finding a purpose in our own lives. As we live only from instant to instant, we have lost a teleological sense of life, of our ancestral roots and of the purpose that life has. And in this way we become beings of a moment, subject to time, feeling certain that we have been created by chance and that we are going to disappear at any moment; and this subconscious thought overwhelms us and damages us. Instead of trying to interpret Nature, we try to create a series of intermediary elements which are absolutely artificial.
The leaves of trees have their respiratory pores on the lower part; why not on the upper part? Simply because the dust would cover them. By being on the lower part, they are saved and can breathe. Is this chance?
Is it chance that the colour of butterflies’ wings blends in with the flowers and the foliage so that the birds cannot catch them? Is it chance that the tips of owls’ wings are smooth, so that they do not make any noise in their nocturnal flight and are thus able to catch the rabbits by surprise? Is it chance that those rodents have their ears pointing backwards, so they can capture the slightest sound of any predators that might be coming in their pursuit? Is the number of colours into which the spectrum is divided when it is touched by white light also chance? Is the way in which we classify sounds also by chance?
It is obvious that the entire universe is coordinated in such a way that it has a wholeness about it, a kind of pyramidal sense of existence, where things, even though they are multiple, are going in search of a single end; they are all going towards the encounter of a single thing and they are all governed by a single intelligence.
In the Second World War, aviators understood that it was good to fly their planes in the V formation, whereby the plane at the front is replaced from time to time by those at the back; it has been demonstrated that this increases the speed of the squadron. Ducks and geese fly all together in the form of a great V, which works in such a way that the strongest is the one which is in the middle and the others are benefited by its slipstream.
We cannot think that all of this happens by chance. It took man centuries to be able to understand it. We could give many examples showing how nature is designed. We cannot assert that the sum of all these incidents is mere chance, on the contrary, we have to recognise that the universal intelligence has planned everything. And if we accept this universal planning, we would have to ask ourselves why, for what purpose? It is inconceivable that everything is planned for no reason, it is more logical to think that it has been designed for a purpose; and if it has been designed, it is good to try to discover what answer the universe can give us, for what purpose it was designed, where we are all headed, where we come from and where we are going.
There are seven principles or seven fundamental laws, in accordance with the natural divisions of the whole universe.
1. The first principle, the highest of all the principles of Nature, is the principle of unity. The whole of Nature is co-ordinated, in other words, it forms a vital unity and nothing is excluded from it. When things are alive, they do not destroy others, but make possible the life of all. When the wolf pursues the deer on the steppe, it does not catch the youngest, but the oldest, the sick one, the one which could transmit its illness to the rest of the herd. In other words, even what seem to us to be acts of destruction, what might seem to be acts of cruelty, are made in such a way that the species can be perpetuated.
There are no doubts in Nature, no dialogues of oppositions. Everything is given perfect expression and is going in a single direction.
2. The second principle is that of illumination; all things in Nature have that principle, whether it is a physical or a spiritual illumination. The realities exist, but they need an intellectual or spiritual light to enable us to distinguish them, and when we sometimes say that there are no truths, that there is nothing on which we can rely, that we are alone, it is because we are in darkness and we need to rediscover the principle of illumination.
3. This principle brings as a consequence the third one, which is differentiation. All things in Nature are differentiated. There are no two things that are absolutely equal, or the same. This principle exists even though sometimes we may not see it; all things are different; even the grains of sand that we step on on the beach and that seem to be all the same are not the same. If we look at them attentively with a magnifying glass, we will see that each of them has its little difference, its little characteristic. Hence, we have to be careful when using the words sameness or equality. We can be equivalent, but not equal; we can be similar, but not equal; and that does not separate or divide, it does not destroy human beings; it enriches them, like a mosaic of different colours which can have similar tones, but are never exactly the same. The concept of equality is a human invention; in Nature equality does not exist.
4. The fourth principle is the principle of organisation. Things are organised; we all see a tree, a solid trunk that rises above the earth and supports a tree-top full of branches and birds’ nests; but we do not see another inverse tree-top which lies beneath the earth and which also with its wooden branches supports all the rest and sinks deep into the earth; and although it has no birds, it has worms and insects, and nourishes everything. In other words, everything is perfectly organised, everything is designed in such a way that there is support and cooperation between one thing and another. And the mistakes we humans tend to make are due to a lack of organisation.
Organisation is not a massification, it is not the imposition of some people over others; organisation is supportiveness. The hands are opposite and yet they organise themselves to pick something up; if we had the two hands on the same side, we would have difficulty in picking anything up. So, it is necessary to recognise this principle of organisation, even when we are opposed in something. This principle allows us all to work together, without ceasing to be who we are; this is something we should apply in our lives, in the here and now.
5. There is a fifth principle, the principle of causality: all things are the cause of something that follows them and the effect of what went before them, all of us descend from something and give rise to something: anything, taken at any point, is the result of something and the cause of something else, even apparently inanimate things. Nothing is only a cause or only an effect, they are linked together. From day comes night, from night comes day.
6. The sixth principle, that of vitality, tells us that all things are alive. Absolutely everything. Until the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, people used to speak about living beings and inanimate objects. Still today, due to inertia, we continue to repeat this because we say that something is alive when it moves or when it flies or when it grows. Since the beginning of the world things have not only been alive when they act, they are also alive when they resist. All things are in constant movement, even if we cannot see the molecules or the atoms revolving in the air, which make up our hands, our bones. Everything is penetrated by vitality; this vitality which in the East is called “prana”, a life that enters into all things, that never stops, so that even the things which we call dead are not dead, they have simply changed condition, shape, or way of living.
7. Finally we have the principle of periodicity. Since we were born we have noticed that in Nature there is an alternation between night and day, summer and winter, and so many other states which in this way oppose one another and alternate with one another; and yet, we do not realise until we read Plato, until someone teaches us or until we ourselves awaken to that reality that we, too, are within that periodicity. All these cycles include a great cycle which we call human life. But why stop there? Why not understand that this human life is a short day of being awake within a great life? That after this physical life there is a spiritual life and that it is like a dream, and that then we will have a physical life and a spiritual life.
The law of cycles embraces all things and never stops, everything is cyclic: the planets revolve cyclically in the sky, and the tiny particles also move within the atoms.
This periodicity allows life to be continuous and pulsating. We have to try to take from Nature what is not easily destructible. We have to look after something, not only our physical part, but the other parts, too. Because, to what extent do we look after our psychological part? To what extent do we give food to our mind, every day? To what extent do we have spiritual food? We have to look after our dreams. We have reached such a point of materiality that we take care that a jug or a car does not get broken, but what about a dream, a hope, an effort? What happens with the crystal birds of our dreams when they are broken? They are smashed to pieces and injure our hands.
We have to have the courage to pulverise our broken dreams, and with that glass dust of our dreams, to create new birds. It is time that we understood that we do not just have to drag ourselves through the world as if we were tortoises or snakes, but we have to learn to fly with the power of wings.
Philosophy is not mere speculation; it is not to sit in a corner and watch life pass by, nor is it a discipline of sorrows and withdrawal. Philosophy is to have a strong attitude in front of life, it is to understand the spirit of things, it is to be able to conquer the fear within ourselves, to conquer death, to be able to connect with others, with the deeper part of everyone. Because we do not see each other; sometimes it is said that when Man dies, he passes into the invisible world; however, Man is always invisible; he is behind the things that he does, behind his own body, his own words, his own acts. Man is a great question, a great enigma.
The answer lies in this very universe in which we live. It is written on the walls of history and on the walls of this universe that surrounds us. We simply have to learn to read it. It is a natural attitude; it is not against any creed or statement. It is to return to Nature.
We have discernment and yet we lack it in many things; who wants a car that only works from time to time? No one. And yet we accept ideas that are sometimes good and other times not, principles that apply sometimes and sometimes not, honesty which applies sometimes and sometimes not. We have to go back to having that common sense that we use on the physical level. In the spiritual part we have to go back to requiring from ourselves, from the world around us, absolute values that are easy to understand, to handle, to assimilate, that allow us to have an exact understanding of the universe.
We need a new science, a science that will move away from the vice of vested interests, a science in which there is no sense of violence. We need art that will allow us to be united once more with beauty, which is not based on anguish, but on true investigation. We need a politics that can lead men to live together in harmony and to be elevated, rather than leading us into conflicts or artificial coexistence. We need, in short, a New World. But this world already exists: it is the universe itself, it is Nature. The only thing we have to do is to live intensely the moments which destiny has offered us. To be like a key which is inserted into the lock of the universe and springs open the door of history, to pass to another dimension, to pass into that world which is awaiting us, that world which must be not only new, but better.
Jorge Angel Livraga