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Bildungsroman: n. A novel whose principal subject is the moral, psychological, and intellectual development of a usually youthful main character.
American Heritage Dictionary, Fifth Edition (2016) 

The dark side of beans

What is that look on your face? Horror. Despair You don’t like hearing from an old guy with a beard? So many! So many what? Pages! Words! What have I done to deserve this? Beans. You ate too many beans, and this is your punishment. I’ll never eat beans again. I promise! 

This is an interesting story. You might enjoy it. It has lots of action. And a girl just like you. Two girls in fact. One is in big trouble, and she needs help. She will if she’s strapped to a torpedo. Don’t spoil the ending! The other is the only person in the universe who can help her. Seriously. I’m not making this up. Will I understand it? Old guys mumbling in their beards tend to lose me.

It’s a lot like Star Wars, the original episode where there was this wonderful Death Star. Cool! It blew up whole planets. That was fun. Does Torpedo Girl get to blow up another Death Star? When our girls are done with it there will be nothing left of the Death Star. OK. But fair warning: I’ll be eating a lot of beans. Oh no! You just spoiled the ending. That’s how they blew up the Death Star!

We’ll be talking a lot about “opposites.” I knew there was a catch. Opposites are just another name for the dark side of the Force. You’ll enjoy all the hot action better if we understand the “dark side” and opposites. Opposites of what? Opposites of anything they’re attached to. What are they, parasites? Yes. We think of the dark side as Palpatine and his evil galactic empire crushing pitiful rebellions. And Lord Vader breathing hard into his dorky helmet while he chokes hapless underlings without touching them. But all they are is opposites. Weak, not strong. This had better be good. 

Mind starting Creation requires thought

What-if stories stimulate our imaginations. This What-if story will put your imagination on steroids. Oh, like Tik Tok. Pah! Another pitiful rebellion! Storm troopers – remove the silly game! 

Imagine that you’re the only thing that is. I do that every day. Then we’re off to a great start. You’re Mind. Yes – pure genius! What a great story! Do you mind if I have another can of beans? Sorry, Mind isn’t matter. It doesn’t need that kind of food. What other kind of food is there? Haven’t you ever heard of food for thought? That’s what this story is. Boring. Beans generate much more excitement.

Can you handle being able to see stuff and make stuff happen without a body? Easy. I’ve always thought of myself as a great mind. Good. You’re Mind and you’d like to make something nice happen. But it won’t be nice if you don’t do it right. You mean I actually have to think? If we’re talking about Mind starting Creation, yes. You’ll have to think. And don’t forget, the Jedi Knights had to go through rigorous training. Then they had to figure out how to deliver the torpedo that blew up the Death Star. That took a lot of thinking.

Logic and Love say no one is above the law

Anything that “happens” needs a definition. A definition that says what it is and what it does. No exceptions. How come? So its definition doesn’t conflict with other definitions or duplicate them. There has to be Order so everything fits together, and everyone gets along. Already it sounds like I don’t get to do anything I want. You can do anything you want so long as it’s possible. It can’t be possible because I want it?

Everything must be part of Order including Mind that defines things. Wow! I thought Mind would be in charge of everything! How can this be? You’ll be OK with this because this is how Order defines itself, and nothing nice can happen without Order. If Mind or anything could run around and do whatever it wants, there would be no Order. Order is harmony. It’s the same principle as democracy: no one is “above the law.” Not even the president. What law? 

Think of the laws that govern making stuff happen as laws of cause and effect. You’ve heard the expression, “That’s the way it is.” Well, the laws are the way things are and that’s that. It’s Necessity. You’re frowning. You know me. I’m not happy if I can’t mess with the rules. Sorry about that. These are rules no one can mess with. Not even the Logic of Mind that laws are based on. Without this law none of the other laws can have any effect. Say it again. No one is above the law, not even the president. Not even the Logic of Mind itself.

You mean Mind is the source of laws but it can’t control them? Yes. The attribute of Mind that’s responsible for governance is responsible for its laws that make governance possible, and they’re made up of equal parts Logic and Love. “Mind” throughout implies Logic and Love combined as one. Then we should say “Mind-Love.” We could, but we might need that to refer to another character. We can infer it without stating it.

No Freedom without Order in a shared world

Definitions are like laws that establish what things are and they can’t be anything different. Mind can make stuff happen so long as it abides by the laws of Necessity. Once it’s defined a thing that’s the way it is. Give me liberty or give me death! Freedom from the tyranny of George III but not Freedom from Order. There can’t be any “liberty” without Order and any Order without laws. The good news is that since the laws are there to ensure Order and Mind can’t change them, they’re also there to ensure Freedom.

If I can’t do anything I want, how is this Freedom? OK. You can have that kind of “freedom,” but only if you decide not to make something nice happen. If you’re happy being the only show in town and having it all to yourself. If not, you’ll be sharing your world with your creations, and no one can share a world with others and be happy if some yo-yo is doing whatever she wants. People in our world do that a lot. They sure do. And it’s what gets them into trouble. Sometimes into jail. They don’t like living in a shared world. They’re a colossal nuisance.

Gertrude’s wisdom

When do I get to make something nice happen? When you learn about what’s possible in a shared, orderly world. Imagine that you’re in a classroom with a blank video screen. Oh good -- video games! Let’s get started! Would you rather have a blank blackboard instead? No video games allowed! Something blank – a blackboard or a video screen – must have been there when Logic and Love first set thinking and feeling in motion. Then I have to think logically. What’s that mean? Think with feeling logically, yes, because you’ll be thinking with values, and feeling is where values come from. Values put the “nice” into making something nice happen.

Logic tells Mind what situation it’s in. It describes circumstances so Mind can figure out where it is and what it means. Then it can use Reason to choose what to do about it. It can’t reason without having a purpose, and Logic makes sure that purpose fits the circumstances. There’s an old joke. Alice Toklas asked Gertrude Stein when Gertrude was very old and wise, “What’s the answer?” Gertrude answered, “What’s the question?” What she meant was, “What are the circumstances?” Without circumstances in the moment and Logic figuring out what they’re telling us, how can we know the question? That was Gertrude’s wisdom.

The Force can’t be a couch potato

We call purpose that fits the circumstances “context.” Even Mind that’s getting started with a blank video screen needs context to know whether and how to do anything. Making anything happen won’t be nice if it doesn’t have the right values and fit the circumstances. Our circumstances are nothing has happened yet and I’m getting bored!

Torpedo Girl is getting bored, so Mind had better get cracking. Its context is nothing is happening, and you know what? What? That would help to explain why Mind did get cracking, because “nothing happening” could be a situation that Mind, which is definitely not nothing, can’t tolerate. Maybe it can Be forever, but it can’t not Do forever. Why not? 

Because how can Mind that’s Logic combined with Love just sit around not doing anything? Not taking care of something or someone? Showing that they care? Mind’s circumstance in the classroom where nothing is happening is a whole lot of thinking and loving that needs to be doing to be what it is. You mean Mind needs stuff just like us? Logic combined with Love is passion. It’s Force. Like the Force in Star Wars? Certainly! Force can’t be Force without acting. It can’t be motivated to act if its passion to respond to circumstances and express itself is a couch potato.

Getting it right: beer, pizza, and football

Wow! I was thinking our Mind is a brain inside a bottle in school where nothing happens. This is different! Very. It’s a dynamo instead, bursting with passion and Energy eager to get going. A powerful locomotive sitting in a train station ready to take its passengers on a grand excursion to an intriguing destination. Once Logic sets up the context.

Good for you! You’ve learned one important lesson. What’s that? Deciding with Reason and acting before we’ve let Logic tell us what our situation is, is a big mistake. Doing what’s right is doing “what the situation calls for.” We can’t do what the situation calls for without first letting our situation tell us what it is. Without first getting it right. Mind needs Logic and Love for that. In our world, easier said than done. It requires lots of intuition, but more about that later.

Get it right before do it right. Are there more circumstances to tell us what our situation calls for? Pay attention to the video screen. It’s about to feed us the most important circumstance for our story. The most important circumstance for another context, too: the world we live in. Ah -- I knew it! Lipstick! Women need lipstick! Yes. And men need beer and pizza. And football. Don’t forget the chips. Beer, pizza, chips, and football. And lots of makeup. Torpedo Girl can go home. We’re already in Heaven.

The impossibility of Mind without Love

The wisdom of Logic is like a stream flowing down a dry streambed, filling each hole at a time, each in its own time. We are the stream, and this is what Wisdom requires of us. We can also think of Logic as flowing in a sequence from left to right. From premise to implication, from before to after. Indefinitely, because one implication always leads to another. Like the geometric value of Pi that never resolves to a whole number. It just goes on and on. You’re going on and on.

It matters what the first premise is, but we don’t have to be too fussy how it’s worded. “Possibility.” This could be the first premise that comes to Mind when Logic and Love have defined its context. You’re Mind and you want to make something “nice” happen, but what do you mean by “nice?” What are the possibilities? This is always the first question when minds begin to choose.

This is it? The most important circumstance? Almost. Possibility could be the first premise because of what it implies: creation, ideals, vision, hope. It’s kind of a North Star we can focus on to help us navigate through distractions, contradictions, adversity, and discouragement. If you’re Mind and you have your heart set on making something nice happen. . . . Heart?

Did you forget? Mind and heart go together. It bears repeating -- they’re inseparable. I was hoping to be a comic book super action hero with no feelings. Not possible. “Possibility” can’t be Mind without Love. Not in our What-if world where everything so far is fine. It’s very different in our world but only because it seems that way. More about that later.

The impossibility of impossibility

For now, if you have your heart set on making something nice happen, you’ll definitely want to stay focused on possibility. Then what is the video screen telling us that’s the most important circumstance? Impossibility. The opposite of possibility. Imagine “possibility” showing up like a link you can click on, and it will take you somewhere. It’s an active link. Then the same instant another link shows up beside it, faded out like it’s not active. A word that’s the first word’s exact opposite. It’s obviously meant to take you somewhere, too, but not while “possibility’s” link is active. Creepy. I’m not sure I want to know where “impossibility” goes if it’s the opposite of “possibility.” Why does it have to show up at all? Do we have to bother with opposites? 

It has to show up because of the same Logic that puts anything on the screen. If a thing is to exist and it implies the existence of its opposite, then some way must be found for its opposite to “exist,” too. The implications of Logic are Force that accounts for Creation along with the connections of Love. But the same implications can’t help accounting for contradiction. And if the definition of a thing implies contradiction, its definition must accommodate contradiction. 

The dark side is opposites 

Logic and Love don’t like contradiction any more than we do, but there you have it. Have what? The “dark side.” The dark side is opposites, and they “exist” because Logic put them there. And if Logic put them there, nothing can be done about it. What’s “logical” about a thing and its contradiction existing side-by-side in the same place at the same time? Sounds crazy to me. 

It is crazy. Order requires Logic and Logic doesn’t tolerate contradictions. The ideal of Logic is to arrive at a place of Peace where there are no contradictions, where the Force can come to rest at last. It will never happen. Not as long as Logic supports Creation. Not as long as Mind wants to make something nice happen.

Meanwhile, we’re stuck with opposites – with “impossibility.” Some way must be found to get all impossibilities – opposites -- out of the picture. How do we do that? The inactive link for impossibility on the video screen offers more than a clue. It’s already taken care of it. Logic has found a way for opposites to exist without “existing.” On a computer we would know to go to a different page on a website, to a different website, or to a different app to find where impossibility’s link is active. To another computer world.

Logic acknowledges the implication of opposites without requiring that they inhabit the same world as their hosts. The parasites are given their own world with its own properties that don’t conflict with their host’s world. Why doesn’t it conflict? 

The faded link to unreality 

If the “existence” of a parasite-opposite is entirely derived from its host’s existence, then it obviously has no existence of its own. Or attributes of its own, either, because its entire definition is derived from its host. It’s defined as its host’s opposite. It has no definition of its own, and nothing can exist that hasn’t been given its own definition. Parasite-opposites don’t get their definition from Logic. They get it from an implication of their hosts’ definition.

The faded link to impossibility takes us to another world that matches its essential attribute: non-existence. It’s unreal. The parasite-opposites world doesn’t conflict because it’s unreal. How can unreality conflict with Reality if it doesn't exist?

For now, Mind is assured that wherever possibility’s link is active impossibility’s won’t be. It may not even see it or be aware that it’s there. But it’s been forewarned. That’s why we started here in the classroom with the video screen. To wave a red flag called “impossibility,” because that’s what parasite-opposites are: an impossibility in Reality. The link will be there, inactive and waiting for the right circumstances for something or someone to make it active. A snake waiting for someone to step on it.

Can it be a cow pie? I won’t finish her story if Torpedo Girl is going to step on a snake. OK, but only if it’s a huge cow pie. I won’t enjoy Torpedo Girl’s story if she only steps in a little cow pie.

Living the dream

The inactive link is waiting for a parasite-opposite’s host to click on it by mistake and make its unreal world “real.” Not really Real, but “real” like a vivid dream. It can’t be Logic that determines whether impossibility’s link becomes active and someone clicks on it. It wouldn’t be Logic’s mistake. It depends on the parasites’ hosts. It depends on Torpedo Girl. It depends on us. It would be our mistake. We are forewarned.

Our story revolves around how understanding this basic circumstance, or fact, can be used to get our girl out of trouble. So, if I’m Mind and I’m going to make something nice happen, I have to be aware that everything has an opposite, and opposites aren’t real. Yes. There’s a dark side, but this is its essential property: it isn’t real. We can only make it seem real when we’re dreaming. Otherwise, it’s an illusion, a magic act. I’m glad we got this settled, because dark sides are everywhere in our world, and they sure seem real. They tell me that our world is a What-if world, but we don’t have to go into that now.

Freedom of Will, Freedom of Choice

Imagine that the nice thing your Mind wants to make happen is to create a world of beauty and peace, Logic and Love. A world that provides a safe, nurturing haven for Life. The miracle of eternal Life that exists in timelessness, where it’s always Now. Life that has Worth because it has purpose, it’s freely chosen and earned. Because it’s exploring, learning, and growing. Having great fun with creativity -- endless diversity evolving in an environment of exquisite Beauty, a soul-sharing sanctuary of innocent work and play. Because all this is a gift from Logic and Love that’s reciprocated – appreciated and given back. Wow! That is a nice thing.

Imagine that Creation requires another Being to achieve its purpose. To see that the Worth of Life and Creation is freely chosen and earned. A Being with its own definition, its own identity, so that Mind and Creation aren’t just patting themselves on the back. Who would that be? 

Our girl, the Child. The Child of the Mind-Love we mentioned, her parents. Father Mind-Choice and Mother Love-Freedom, whose role is to give birth to the Being that Creation requires: Free Choice. The same as Free Will? The Child is an extension of her parents’ Will, their Being. This places her in Relationship with her parents. They are inseparable, and their Relationship is inseparable from the Child’s function. She can’t do her job without it.

But because she is, and has, the capacity to choose independently, she is also Choice. And Choice can never, ever, be controlled by an external influence. Not by her parents or by their Relationship. So, while they’re in Relationship and inseparable, their roles must be kept apart. This is true whether the Child is awake, doing her job in Creation, or asleep and dreaming she’s somewhere else. Free Will and Free Choice refer to the same Child performing different functions: choosing freely while extending the Will, the Being, of her parents.

It's all about character

We will see that the Child doing her job isn’t anything like we imagine it on earth. How’s that? We think of “heaven” as a place where an old guy with a beard watches over angels with wings playing harps on little clouds. As if having a purpose and striving to attain it couldn’t compare with the satisfaction of doing nothing. There’s no change, no “action,” which here must mean some form of gambling, addiction, conflict, and violence.

The Child your Mind-Love brings into Being and Creation leads a very interesting life without any of this. No silly harps and no bullets flying around either. There’s plenty of purpose and meaning. Plenty of risk-taking, too, which requires courage as well as alertness. Plenty of change and innovation. It’s all about character, and that’s always interesting. Is there a reward?

You bet! The  satisfaction of contributing to the Worth of Life. To the meaning of Creation. Every relationship a soulmate. The rapture of intimacy with Mind-Love itself. Of loving and being loved more than you can ever imagine. Happiness! What more could you ask? Wow! She’s got a life! Yes. And Torpedo girl does, too. She’s got a job to do. They both have interesting lives, and they are about to get much more interesting.

[To be continued]

A purpose of my forthcoming book is to question the structure of our “reasoning” – its knowledge-information base and its premises -- by examining it from another perspective, the one implied and given form by A Course in Miracles.

The break we need in our circular reasoning can be accomplished by reflecting on the role of Energy-Force: in defining appearances that our bodies’ senses register; in establishing the properties-attributes that distinguish them and describe how they behave, how they interact to produce the variety of forms they take, the variety of compositions with different functions and uses; that collectively prop up our sense that we belong to a grand movement of causes and effects that must have an intelligible purpose, because they constantly change, and the changes have consequences.

Energy, whether or not it enlivens-animates appearances that mean what we think they mean, still attests to the connection to our Source, whatever or whoever it is, that cannot be broken. Even if it enlivens what mind is only imagining, Energy is still Energy, and even if our thoughts are trapped in self-referential reasoning, the Force that powers our flawed reasoning is still active, is still here.

Breaking through the circular chain of thoughts so infused with Energy and dominated by it can be accomplished by changing one assumption, one premise. This is the premise that the Mind, the Logic that produced the Energy that animates our appearances and now our reflections on what they mean, can only be in a conscious state. That because the appearances Energy makes seem so real for us, seem so consequential, only a mind in a conscious state could possibly cause them.

Have we not ever experienced vivid dreams? Have none of us ever hallucinated? Do not some of us exist in a mental state that’s divorced from “reality?” Is not the record of psychological states replete with bizarre three-act dramas that Freud himself couldn’t unravel?

Another premise that’s ripe for questioning is that Energy itself can only “exist” in one state. In a context, an environment, that clearly includes substances of endless variety, varieties that pit opposites against one another, why is it not possible that the attributes we associate with Energy, for instance, that it can neither be created nor destroyed, are only the attributes that can be “detected” in one state? What if the attributes of Energy serving the Logic, the Thoughts, of Mind in a Conscious state were distinguishable from mind that’s in an unconscious state?

What if Energy that enables the Creation of eternal Life, by joining in its extension and expansion, does just the opposite if it enables an illusion, a dream of death? What if Energy there, in Mind’s Conscious state, in Reality, is living, while here, in mind’s unconscious state, is dying? What is “entropy” telling us if not this?

What is entropy telling us about appearances? About vitality and decay, order and disorder? About how things can transform from energized to inert? Why should Energy not be subject to the same laws of cause and effect that govern everything else in our state of opposites?

What we assume about perspective is another premise that can break through self-referential reasoning. This is the assumption that the “knower” that we connect with the “known,” the mind that interprets appearances, is capable of only one perspective. Certainly if our perspective is confined to bodies consulting one another on our little planet, in our little solar system, in our little galaxy, in our little universe that may be only one of billions of universes, in a moment of time that stretches into infinity, we might draw our conclusions with relative confidence even if appearances on a human scale bear no resemblance to reality on a micro-quanta or a macro-cosmic scale.

But what if we interrupted our conversation with one another to bring in another point of view? One that isn’t bound by the attributes of our existence, by our appearances, that answers to a Reality governed by their opposites?

Just because our bodies’ senses won’t let us sit down and talk to this perspective can’t mean that it’s not there, that it’s not accessible to mind, when, actually, it may be here in a way that we aren’t. Must our little bodies that come and go, and our little planet that comes and goes, lock us into one point of view that can’t possibly admit another, that doesn’t come, declare its singularity, its infallibility, and then disappear?

Must the tortured reasoning that’s led us to a standoff on this question stand in testimony to our irrationality, our fecklessness, forever? Must we really wait for an outside force, a magical “redeemer,” to rescue us from helplessness? Or is it enough for some to lead the good life, La Dolce Vita, to amuse themselves in Rome’s Trevi Fountain while others can’t, and everyone eventually runs out of energy and dies?

Three premises: that Mind can only be in a conscious state; that Energy can only exist in one state; that sensory perception only allows us one perspective, could free us from circular reasoning if we let Logic and Intuition, with the Holy Spirit’s help, reflect on their implications. If we gave ourselves the opportunity to exercise Free Choice: the power to change our minds.