Ok, I told my heart it could stop creating and also go on vacation, but it was right to just ignore that idea!
I must say that this thirst for writing is an entirely new experience for me. I have never liked writing this way – certainly not non-fiction. And everything you’re reading is written longhand first! I’ve used up half a bottle of ink, and I’m halfway through the second journal. This is like… sailing my old boat in the Monterey Bay, and feeling it yearn for the wind. The root feeling is the same. It makes me happy to see the words appear on the page, the turns of phrase, the connection of ideas. It’s simply… enjoyable. That’s it. It’s fun to do! Ah, that that should surprise me. It will seem silly in someday that it could have been so.
The meaning of a metaphysics of quality
The purpose of a metaphysics of quality is to make that value the sole focus of each individual’s life. If this seems isolating in any way, consider what one is really seeing when he interacts with other people. On the contrary, this focus is submerging, like a drop returning to the primordial sea – by abandoning the shores of definition-without-meaning and casting up pearls from the living depths.
Current metaphysics – and every person has metaphysical beliefs, it concerns your certainty of the world and of your knowledge of it – places the comprehension of reality between the subject and the object. You look at a tree, you see a ‘tree’. This ‘tree’ is what makes you certain that you have seen a tree, and that that tree belongs in the world. Something bizarre and distorted, that does not fit any category, would be by nature distasteful because it defies the metaphysics of reason. Any real pleasure taken in such an object likely feel like an act of rebellion.
In a metaphysics of value, the rightness of a thing’s being in the world corresponds to the quality one experiences in relation to it. Knowledge of the thing in this case is not primary, but functional. It can be used to profit by that thing, or to appreciate it more deeply, but it does not stand between the subject and the object. It is an adjunct, and might be absent entirely. Quality is the feeling of communing with something inimitable, albeit universal, in the conjunction of perceiver and perceived; in this case words may or may not be useful, according to the lover’s desire.
The whole of the world becomes a variegation of quality – a light reflecting in the mirrors of names and attributes. Every thing, everyone, reveals this quality according to his efforts and capacity, and we perceive it in measure to ours. The role of human beings? As the most perfect revealers of this quality, to a degree incomparable – if they choose to do so.
That is why the individual is both utterly alone and never alone at the same moment. His own being reflects the quality that he sees everywhere. In this scheme there is no self, there is only quality and the awareness of quality. The existence of free will allows that awareness to change its vantage point, even manipulate that-which-reveals-quality toward a greater clarity, but in his own being the perceiver cannot perceive any value other than the value whose nature is manifested everywhere.
Thus on the one hand, the world and the individual are of one substance, and there is neither distinction nor separation. Not even “the world” exists: there is only the reality of quality; there is no self, no others, no action or reaction. It is undifferentiated, like the essence of all light being of the same fundamental type of energy.
On the other hand, that light is revealed in varying degrees in each place, and in this respect we can point to this or that thing, and say that one thing reveals a greater degree of quality than another. That is, objects do not differ in their essence, but in the measure of their capacity to reveal that essence.
In one sense people are no different from a blade of grass, just as one may say that it is true for both a candle and the sun to manifest the same “light”. In the degree of revelation, however, immeasurable is the difference! This is why human beings can achieve the highest value: by the extent of their potential to reveal that value.
A metaphysics of value erases the meaning of the individual in the first sense, and places him alone as a kind of nothingness-that-is-awareness in a world of quality; in the second sense, such a metaphysics distinguishes him from all other things, and according to his faithfulness to his potential, he may become the most precious being known.
The point is that we relate, not to objects or individuals, but to the quality they manifest. This annihilates the world and gives meaning to the world in the same instant; it eliminates “others” and validates the importance of others in one metaphysical twist. However, it cannot be forgotten that nothing is important in itself; its importance is only to the degree of its manifestation of quality.
This implies work to achieve that manifestation, and that if a person gives up on pursuing quality, he gives up on having value. He is then simply not worth relating to – except that he retains the potential to manifest that quality should he endeavor to do so in the future. This explains the concept of “salvation through works”, since one saves himself from non-existence – in terms of quality – by making an effort to become a means of quality’s manifestation. In that sense he lives, and bereft of this quality he dies, in the way that an extinguished lamp succumbs to invisibility in the night.
Those who believe in “salvation through faith” would like for the lamp’s ability to shine to count for as much as its actual shining. Thus an unlit lamp, in the dark, visible only because it stands next to one that is lit, would like to be considered as equal in value to that other. According to potential they are equal, but according to the degree of quality they are obviously not. In fact, if the first is an especially beautiful lamp, he will want to be considered superior to the other. For a collector of lamps, he may choose that one; but for someone who wants to make his way through the night: by no means. Which, then, is of greater benefit to mankind?
Further, the unlit lamp considers it an affront for the other to be lighted so brightly in his presence – no matter that this other makes his existence knowable – and he will prefer to compare the “qualities” of his exterior favorably against the quality of the other’s shining. This is all he can do – or else accept the fact that he has not fulfilled the conditions of his being: to shine. He would rather choose his external “value” over the value of being lighted, whether he realizes that his “value” is only derivative of that value or not.
Such a claim to value where none exists, especially in contrast to the reality of value itself, is the “ego”, which can only exist in the minds of those who agree to accept such a baseless valuation. For ego to survive it must obtain from others their approval, and it moves and has life in direct proportion to the number of those people and the extent of their approval. This leads to a web of dependence-on-definition that begins to extinguish quality altogether, by everyone’s having accepted a lifeless substitute. They head toward death.
The use of “quality” and “value” as terms to describe the core of this metaphysics is as accurate and misleading as to say that its aim is to establish God as the true purpose of human life. We cannot define what it is this philosophy is based on, but at the same time such definition is unnecessary. Everyone knows what is meant by one thing’s being better than another – if they know it by their own, unbiased experience. It is this latter clause that justifies the existence of such a metaphysics altogether: because people do corrupt their knowledge of what is good, and they do this precisely in order to establish a false basis for the valuation of their ego.
This being the case, the aim is not to justify or establish what quality is, but to make clear to the individual why he may be unable presently to see it. After all, it is all that he sees! Lying atop that vision, however, is a hierarchy of definitions that in the end dilute the original spirit of the experience, until time itself has grown impatient and moved on.
It is not by focusing on the individual, or on his definitions, that these falsehoods are cleared away, and reality perceived in honesty. The focus must always, entirely, singly, utterly be on quality. From the beginning to the end: God, value, spirit: it is the only genuine reality, and it is our “selves” that obscure it.
There is also the real self, it must be mentioned, who does not obscure, but is the agency of perception; and while this self may also prevent a full appreciation of quality due to its limitations, these are natural and can be overcome with effort. A muscle grows stronger as you use it, but always has its limits; what is referred to above is the cast we’ve trapped our arms and legs in by the artificial valuation of the ego and what it thinks it knows.
With quality as the focus, we undertake to seek it. An absurd task when this is all that exists, but not so absurd when we see that the journey is entirely within. It is a scary idea for the ego, at first, because it must begin to die. Yet it is fun at the same time – like a return to youth. You get to do what you want, and avoid what you don’t! Within the moral system you use to improve your relation to quality, of course.
Woohoo! Watch the movies you like, listen to the music you like. The task now is to find out what that is. It is the easiest and hardest task at the same time, because it is your own “self” that you have to get past in order to know it. It will probably mean skeletons coming out of the closet to life, and other zombies returning to their graves. It is harder than it sounds.
Once a whiff of true quality is found – and it will be: pursue it, hold onto it with all your might, and savor the experience to recognize its nature. It is not where or how it is found that matters, but what – in terms of that ineffable joy – you have found. It’s everywhere, and now you can begin to pull off the lid of “self”, and catch the aromas of all that beautiful food waiting to be laid on the table of revelation.
The philosopher of value’s task, then, is the pursuit of quality’s highest expression. This will likely be found in the creations of men, and in that sense he will either himself be an artist of some kind – in physical media, or as a scientist in the fields of the mind – or he will be a supporter of those with greater ability. He will still be an artist in every aspect of his life, even if he cannot by his own creations satisfy the extent of his thirst. He runs left and right, sensible while insane, caring for nothing but his love: quality – he doesn’t even consider anything else. The philosopher becomes a mystic seeking full absorption in his beloved.
The ethics of this being are the guides to his long-term pursuit of quality; in the short-term he needs only his heart. Much more could be said on this point, but to summarize: He conforms his actions to what will best aid in the discovery, and foster the brilliance, of quality.
His social affairs, like his state of mind, are organized around this unitary principle: He seeks to give and receive experiences of quality. The justification of society’s existence, to him, is as a group effort to serve the knowing of quality – and each serves the others only for the sake of that goal.
Everything is derived from, and returns to, this principle. It is life, and all else is annihilation. Consciousness of other things begins to fade away – to be replaced by an awareness of their utility in the scheme of seeking communion with the highest value. All becomes one in purpose, one in reality. All knowledge is returned to a single point, “in the hearts of those who know”.
This leads to the conclusion that such a metaphysics, while retaining the form of words, is replaced in the end by a direct knowledge of quality. It is a metaphysics that plans its own obsolescence; as all knowledge should, whose raison d’etre is as a tool to facilitate the discovery of what will lead in the end to the highest value.
Which brings us to an appropriate place to end this rhapsody on a single theme, that only hearts may know and minds grasp for in vain: All the parts of being serve the discovery that there are no such parts, and they strive for their obliteration in the final exaltation of reunion with their highest love. As it is written in the Qur’án: “Verily, we are from God and to Him shall we return.”