Following a question from someone who came across this blog, I was inspired to revisit Resolution Theory – Gregory David Roberts’ philosophical and cosmological model shared through Khader Bhai, the Mafia don, in Shantaram: The Novel.
“The whole universe is moving toward some ultimate complexity. This has been going on since the universe began, and physicists call it the tendency toward complexity. And… anything that kicks this along and helps it is good, and anything that hinders it is evil…
“And this final complexity… it can be called God or the Universal Spirit, or the Ultimate Complexity, as you please. For myself, there is no problem in calling it God. The whole universe is moving toward God, in a tendency toward the ultimate complexity that God is…
“In order to know about any act or intention or consequence, we must first ask two questions. One, what would happen if everyone did this thing? Two, would this help or hinder the movement toward complexity?” (Roberts 2007:550-551.)
I think he makes a very good point when relating such philosophies to the various religious traditions:
“Every guru you meet and every teacher, every prophet and every philosopher should answer these two questions for you: What is an objective, universally acceptable definition of good and evil? And What is the relationship between consciousness and matter?… This is a test that you should apply to every man who tells you that he knows the meaning of life.” (Roberts 2007:708.)
Hmmm… I wonder:
1. How do the things I do in my life weigh up? What would happen if everyone lived like me? What impact would this have on our collective movement toward complexity?
As it stands my job is ok (at Sydney university whose mission is growth of knowledge) although when I make a mistake on the photocopier I cringe at the paper I wasted. And I cringe at the fact that my budget meant the other day I ordered Nescafe (definitely not fair trade coffee)… anyway, one step at a time.
My Western lifestyle needs to evolve into a sustainable cradle-to-cradle model (See: Where are we going? And how?) I do see a movement toward this, for example, with the occasional biodegradable plastic bag. It is encouraging to see the directions a growing collective care for our ecosystem is taking (while of course recognising we still have a long way to go).
2. How do I define good and evil? Is this an objective, universally acceptable definition? How do I deal with the relationship between consciousness and matter?
While Resolution Theory relates good and evil to the tendency to move toward or away from complexity, I like to think of it (which is for sure inspired by books I’ve read although I can’t remember which exact ones), as the tendency to be Creative or Destructive.
In the philosophical and cosmological model inside my head, good is defined as what is creative and evil what is destructive, which I suppose is somewhat similar to Gregory’s movement toward complexity model – as the more creative we get, the seemingly more complex we get (although sometimes the most creative solutions are the most simple)… anyway I think creativity and destruction are universal and objective definitions – a measure that can be applied to most ethical and moral dilemmas.
I think maybe inspired by Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle audio books, I imagine consciousness as inseparable from matter. I equate consciousness to the “soul”. I imagine our separate souls as being contained in the separate bodies we encompass and the collective soul (from the most macro-lens possible) as being the “soul of the universe” or if you like: “God”.
These personal answers are surely inspired by a number of books I have read and a basic understanding of different religious and philosophical traditions, which I once summarised in the post: Creativism-a-philosophy-for-life.
While recently I’ve felt like I’m drowning in the academic world, Steve’s reminder of Roberts’ theory has made me realise that my MPhil is largely aimed at providing historical religious and philosophical backing to support this philosophical and cosmological understanding of the world: What makes this understanding “true” from my perspective? and What does this understanding of the world mean for my life?
My hypothesis is that this worldview shared by Gregory Roberts, is actually already shared by the majority of the human population – just most don’t know it. It seems (to me) that this understanding underlies the major religious and scientific paradigms. It’s one thing to see this universal unity in my head, it’s another to communicate that unity with others… I know it will be a long journey. I have started and I will start sharing it with you starting next month (I want to finish the revising of peace and conflict studies first).
For a starting point of reference, I put Roberts’ questions to you:
1. Evaluating your life/choices:
a) What would happen if everyone acted the way you do – in lifestyle, job, investments etc.?
b) Would this help or hinder the movement toward complexity?”
2. Your beliefs:
a) How do you define good and evil?
b) Is this an objective, universally acceptable definition?
c) How do you understand the relationship between consciousness and matter?
They are tough questions, but good ones… so enjoy the thinking process!!!
Photo from my time in India – taken by my tour guide (like a Where’s Wally… can you spot the bridge pose?) – part of my “Bridge” series: Bridges in South America
If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend:
Roberts, Gregory David, Shantaram : A Novel (Sydney: Picador, 2007). And more of his philosophies at: www.shantaram.com