Notes, Asymptotes, and Becoming

So tonight I'm going to post some of my notes from this class I'm in conducted by Steven Phelps who serves with the Research Department at the Baha'i World Centre.  

The class is on a Tablet of Baha'u'llah, called Gems of Divine Mysteries.  Steven basically walks us through it, paragraph by paragraph, pointing out salient points.  We can ask questions, and these often lead us into equally fascinating tangents.  Anyway, tonight's class was intense. At points, way beyond my own powers of comprehension (once he started talking about quantum mechanics I knew I was in trouble) but I took some interesting notes.  And rather than paraphrase or explain them, I'm just going type up excerpts of the parts I found most interesting. (I feel it is my duty to point out that if anything is incoherent, or flat out wrong, it's probably a reflection of incorrect transcribing on my part, and not what he was actually saying.  Plus, this is all my interpretation.) Hopefully at least a few will make sense, even out of context:

--Relationship between love of the Divine and romantic love:  everything in physical world is a sign and imprint of the spiritual world.  Reciprocal and mirror relationships between the microcosm and the macrocosm, between the particulars and the universals.  Everything is interconnected; everything is a sign for us.  If we see with the perceptive eye, everything is a sign pointing us to that Ineffable Reality [God].  You can look at romantic love and say, "Oh that's not real, that's fake, the only love that's real is love for God."  [Or you can look at it as being one of the signs of the spiritual world.]  Romantic love is something to be treasured, to be embraced.  One of the most powerful signs God has placed in the universe.  Rather than becoming an obstacle, can be a pathway to recognition. [To help us understand longing, willingness to sacrifice, etc.]
--For everything that exists in this world, there is a corresponding reality in the infinite worlds of God.  Our default setting is to think dualistically--this world and the next world (good vs evil, this vs that, etc.)- but it's far more interesting, far more complex than that.
--The reason for dichotomies or seeming contradictions in the  [Sacred] Writings:  Writings are a sphere--there exist points that are poles apart; in between them are doctrines and teachings which join these poles.  [Ex of trying to capture something three-dimensional on a two-dimensional plane--physically impossible bc one point will inevitably be stretching out into infinity]  W/ certain spiritual realities, if you focus on one, another one becomes incoherent.  The "cliche" example, but so true it's worth pointing out:
Quantum mechanics has shown a precise feature of reality--in the fundamental reality of things you can have one thing exist as multiple things but not at the same time.  For instance, a photon can be observed as a wave or as a particle, but not simultaneously.  When it behaves as a wave, it does not behave as a particle, and vice versa.  This proves that the act of observation LIMITS the reality of things.  Basically, science proves that reason is limited.  That the rational mind is incapable of understanding reality completely.  ("Knowledge is one point which the foolish have multiplied").
--true meaning of life:  twofold:  1) appearance of man in the elemental body, cometh to an end with death.  Life, here, however, refers to knowledge.  Refers to one's orientation and posture in relation to the divine spark within.
...we ended on this note, so it's "to be continued..."

Our discussion tonight got me to thinking about my theory on asymptotes being one of material world's manifestations of a spiritual truth--namely the idea that you can grow closer and closer to a point (into infinity, according to the asymptote) without ever becoming, or merging with, that point.  ie- we can strive every day towards perfection, and grow closer to it, without ever actually becoming it [perfect].  Or, we can grow closer and closer to God, manifest more and more of His attributes, and manifest each one more and more accurately, without ever becoming God.  (I'm sure someone else has thought of this example/connection before, too, but I've never read/heard it anywhere else.)

Anyway, tonight was awesome.  I felt like my mind expanded just a teeny tiny bit more, thinking about these topics.  I'm so grateful to be here, to be able to take these kinds of classes with brilliant minds like Steven's.  What a blessing! :-)


Nadim said…
hectic! i'll never again look at asymptotes in the same light. i've been thinking in terms of mathematics too lately, specifically how humanity's conceptions of God over time have been similar to how kids learn numbers. it all starts off with using objects like beads to represent numbers, then progressing to representations of the digits, then just when you thought you knew everything along came negative numbers, then algebra, complex numbers, etc etc. And all the while we're working within the bounds of the finite, whilst the numbers themselves disappear into the infinite. It's deep! People have written books about this stuff.