Social Question

truecomedian's avatar

How many levels of exsistence are there?

Asked by truecomedian (3937points) November 13th, 2010

Basically. I think there are four, the “superficial” which is maybe a bad word for it but it includes the four basic elements, earth, wind, fire, and water. It’s all the planets, our planet, food, our clothing, etc. Then, there is the physical, our physical bodies. Then, there is the mental, our minds, which is kind of a bridge between our physical bodies and the last one, our spirits, our souls. Does this make any sense, superficial, physical, mental, and spiritual?? Am I missing any, or is this about right?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

21 Answers

chocolatechip's avatar

Why would our bodies and the Earth be different levels of existence? The earth, the elements, and our bodies are all made of the same stuff.

downtide's avatar

Well. Earth, air, fire and water aren’t really elements. They’re physical states usually described as Solid, Liquid, Gas and Plasma. They’re composed of elements, such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, iron etc. Our bodies are made of the same stuff as the earth and the air and the water, so I don’t see any difference between what you call “superficial” and “physical”.

Spiritual? I dunno. You’d have to convince me that souls can exist separately from bodies on that one.

Mental for sure. We all think. But mental can’t exist without physical, because in order to think we need a brain.

Maybe you could add Abstract, for concepts like love, beauty, justice and so on. Although even then, I’m not convinved that these qualities would still exist if there was no-one around to think about them. Probably this would still come under Mental.

So for me, I see only two: physical and mental.

truecomedian's avatar

Does anyone think that emotional is it’s own level? Yes there are transitions, like our bodies being made up of what I termed (for arguments sake) Superficial, and then our minds being rooted in our physical brain. But then there is the Spirit, which is hard to prove, and I don’t really know how to do that. Except it’s been said that the body gets lighter by a few onces after a person dies. Go fig.

kess's avatar

All existence is one and is spiritual, it is called Life.
Now here in this age we observe the working of Life or existence as it contrast with death, non existence.
Now because death has intertwined itself with life so as to have the appearance of it. Now we have a perspective of different levels of existence. This is so because we have not yet come to the understanding of Life and death still has dominion over us.

We are free when we realize that all things are by Life and all things work together for the purpose of Life.

Blackberry's avatar

Possibly 2. Everything physical, and possibly an afterlife…that thing everyone is arguing about and dying over lol.

flutherother's avatar

The secret is that there is just one level of existence. The material compared to the ‘spiritual’ seems course, ordinary, matter of fact and meaningless but I don’t think this is correct. Material things are amazing and transcendental too and to be ‘spiritual’ is to recognize this.

truecomedian's avatar

I think you misunderstand, I’m not asking if this is true, because I know it is. There are at least these four levels of being human. I just asked it to be an asshole and to see what other people thought. There is something profound about breaking down exsistence. And I know I’m not very educated or smart, I do know some things to be vaguely true. There is a superficial level, without it, we would be floating in blackness. We do have physical bodies that are separate from a bowl of grapes, even if we eat the grapes. We do think and thus have a mind, thus having a mental level of living. Then ah, the spirit, I don’t have a fucking clue about that.

truecomedian's avatar

I see what you’re saying, but do you see what I’m saying. You’re right, there is just one, damn it, ultimately “one” is more true. You’re right. My idea served no purpose, it didn’t make life simpler or enlighten. Thank you, honestly. But you do realize that I was breaking it down into parts, that I was simply seeing a grape as a different level of energy as my mind. It’s a philosophy and I can barely spell that word. Too many latte’s.

Zyx's avatar

“I just asked it to be an asshole and to see what other people thought.”

Stopped reading, I think you’re an asshole.

crazyivan's avatar

@Zyx one of my top 5 favorite answers of all time, and one of my top 5 favorite avatars of all time. Thanks for that!

@truecomedian Philosophy is great but it can be harmful to mistake models with reality. Reality has only the one provable, observable “level” and by dividing it up into states you might make it easier to get a grip on this problem or that for a moment, but when you start forgetting that the model is a model and not reality you deflate the value of the model itself.

I can’t recall who it’s attributed to, but there’s an old Zen saying I’m fond of: “When you see a finger pointing to the moon, remember which is the finger and which is the moon.”

truecomedian's avatar

You see I believe that this model, is reality, part of. I also believe that reality is absolute, that it’s only what we percieve of it that makes us feel positive or negative. I really do believe that there are four basic levels of exsistence, but that your right, what good does that do, it doesnt help solve a problem. I was just hopeing that someone believed that there were more than four, and then we can really trip out. Thanks for your input.

ragingloli's avatar

Eleven. One for each dimension.
oh, and mayhaps thou should change thy name. you are not funny at all

truecomedian's avatar

You see eleven is a good number, yeah, that dimension thing works. As for my name, a true comedian is truly tragic, just like this come back. Some times you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Can’t be funny all the time, and I couldn’t change my name without losing all this hard earned lurve. You see there are more than eleven dimensions so, ha. No really I’m sorry, don’t mean to be rude to someone with obviously more experience here than me. You don’t think I’m ever funny, really, that sucks.

ETpro's avatar

I don’t know that there are any clearly defined levels. There may be floors within a tall building, and one can speak of being on the ground floor, or the third, or tenth. But there are stairways and elevators as well. Most often when the building is occupied by a large number of people, some are halfway between levels, with their feet in one level and heads in another. I suppose if we did define levels of existence for man, something sinilar would apply.

Then there is the problem of the dualistic soul or spirit. There is no scientific evidence any such thing exists. If we can’t detect the existence of a spiritual level, it seems even less likely we might identify any levels beyond that, even if they are right before our eyes, or perhaps are our eyes and ears and brains and body and the floors of that building.

truecomedian's avatar

I want to know your secret, how you say the right thing even when the thread is an obscure mess. Guess that’s a lurve thing.

Joybird's avatar

You may want to delve into Wicca, Eastern spiritual teachings and Shamanism for your answers. They already have some nice ways to organize these ideas. For example in Wicca the five point star with a circle around it describes on take on what you are talking about.

The circle around a pentagram (transforming it in to a pentacle,) is a symbol of “unity, wholeness, infinity, the goddess, and protection. To earth-centered religions throughout history as well as to many contemporary pagans, it represents the feminine spirit or force, the cosmos or a spiritualism Mother Earth, and a sacred space.” The five-pointed star is representative of the four primal elements (earth, air, fire and water,) and traditionally a fifth, called spirit. The circle binds them together to create life. When pointing up, the pentagram can represent spirituality’s dominance over the material (pentagram) bound inside the laws of the cosmos (circle). The upside-down facing pentagram, meanwhile, represents the physical world ruling over the spiritual, and has therefore been associated with dark magic. Other sources point to its origin in Chinese five-element philosophy (see feng shui), as the natural balance between fire, water, earth, wood, and metal. This theory states that the direction it is pointing has nothing to do with good or evil, but rather the upside-down facing circle is for banishing. The circle is again for the concept the power within is bound by, this time for the circle of life.

In FengShui eastern spiritual philosphies are highlighted.
Polarity is expressed in feng shui as Yin and Yang Theory. Polarity expressed through yin and yang is similar to a magnetic dipole.[citation needed] That is, it is of two parts: one creating an exertion and one receiving the exertion. Yang acting and yin receiving could be considered an early understanding of chirality[citation needed]. The development of Yin Yang Theory and its corollary, Five Phase Theory (Five Element Theory), have also been linked with astronomical observations of sunspots.[32]

The Five Elements or Forces (wu xing) — which, according to the Chinese, are metal, earth, fire, water, and wood — are first mentioned in Chinese literature in a chapter of the classic Book of History. They play a very important part in Chinese thought: ‘elements’ meaning generally not so much the actual substances as the forces essential to human, life. Earth is a buffer, or an equilibrium achieved when the polarities cancel each other. While the goal of Chinese medicine is to balance yin and yang in the body, the goal of feng shui has been described as aligning a city, site, building, or object with yin-yang force fields.

In Native American indigenous cultures the medicine wheel speaks to this idea. For example in the Hopi tradition the Medicine Wheel is of the Hopi prophecy of the four peoples of the Earth, the cardinal direction North represents the body, plants and animals, the color white and ‘white skinned peoples’, and Childhood. (can also represent birth, and/or meeting a stranger and learning to trust as in infancy, explained in Erik Erikson’s stages of Psychosocial development). The East is held to represent the mind, air, the color yellow and ‘yellow skinned peoples’, learning the groups to which people belong and Adolescence. The South holds the heart, fire, the color red and ‘red skinned peoples’, and Adulthood. Finally West holds the spirit, water, the color blue or black, and ‘black-skinned peoples’ and Elderhood. West also represents the final life stage in the wheel, being an elder and passing on knowledge to the next generation so that the wheel may start again just like the circle it takes after. In many other tribes, however, the Northern direction corresponds to Adulthood (the White Buffalo), the South represents Childhood (the Serpent), the West represents Adolescence (the Bear) and the Eastern direction represents Death and Re-birth (Eagle). In terms of social dynamics, community building and the use of Circles in Restorative Justice work, the four quadrants of the circle correspond to Introductions., Trust Building, Problem Definition, and Generating Solutions.

I would highly recommend immersion in the systems of other spiritual groups as you explore your own spritual beliefs.

Joybird's avatar

I wanted to add something about Shamanism because with that system there is a belief in coexisting realms that a Shaman or apprentice travels between at will via altered brain state which is also sometimes referred to as a Shamanic journey. There is a middle plane which is the conscious world we know, the dream time which also includes day dreaming, the upper realm which is a place where angel like beings exist as well as other guides and the lower realm with is sometimes referred to as the underworld and is where beings such as animal totems can be found as well as other guides. Sonic driving while utilizing a drum is a common form of altering that state of consciousness for Shamanic journey.

truecomedian's avatar

Thank you for your risky answer. I fear I made you expose the commodity of intellect that you possess. But that’s just silly, we’re all open minded here. You gave me a lot to think about and you included an almost global viewpoint, well you did. Even racial, awesome. I hate asking questions because I fear either not getting any answers, or too many. Thanks for yours, it shows that there are different ways of thinking that work for creating a good, happy life.

wundayatta's avatar

I was going to give you a flippant answer (27.5), but then @Joybird provided her dissertation on the subject, and I suddenly realized what people are talking about.

The first part of my realization was that all these stories are metaphors (duh, but sometimes I can be awfully slow). However, they are a special kind of metaphor. Most metaphors are designed to get us to see something in a more complete way. The metaphor helps us “see” the idea.

However, there is another set of metaphors that have a different kind of purpose. They are designed to help us see through ourselves. We have different kinds of thinking, and some of the ways that we think are not very accessible. Many of our “aha” moments come from the parts of our minds that don’t use language. I call this the non-linguistic mind.

Language is a mediator between us and the world. We experience things, translate the experience into symbols and use those symbols (in this case, spoken or written words), as a way to communicate our experience.

The non-linguistic mind doesn’t have language. It experiences the world directly. It bypasses language. Experiences in this part of our minds, because they aren’t in words, generally can’t be put into words. This is where the second kind of metaphor comes into play.

The non-linguistic mind is the source of spiritual experiences. It directly experiences the world in its wholeness. When we have spiritual experiences, we directly experience the connection between us and others or the earth or even the entire universe. The shamans go on these journeys, and experience the world directly, without words between them. They tend to use chemical substances to alter their minds in order to access these experiences.

Our problem is becoming aware of the non-linguistic experience. Most of the time, our linguistic minds chatter so loudly it is impossible to get to these direct experiences. So people meditate, or do yoga, or pray, or take drugs, or make music, or walk in nature, and so on and so on in order to shut the linguistic mind up enough so they can attend to what the non-linguist/direct experience mind is doing

I could say a lot more about this, but I’m probably losing people and I need to get back to the question.

When you ask a question like this, what I think you want to know is how we experience our world. Some people might ask how we can have a true experience. The answer to this question is an answer that can only be described in metaphor. The levels of existence are not things that can be understood with mediated experience. They can only be understood with direct experience.

But most of us have our chattering minds operational at all times, and so, rather that taking the time and effort to shut the chatterer up, we try to convey, through words, what direct experience is like. Thus, metaphors. Pentagrams and elements and directions and water and chi and feng shui—it’s not exactly clear what these things are, but you can feel them. You can experience them.

You want to know how the unmediated experience can be gotten to. You want that unified experience, and so you think that if you pull together these various metaphors, it will make you understand.

It’s something, I guess. But the reality of connection can only be experienced directly. Not with metaphors. You won’t know it until you experience it, and you can never be sure you are experiencing the same thing as others experience.

There are no levels. Not even one. All is unity. All is one. We are not separate, even though that’s how we usually experience ourselves. We are what we are. We are direct. We are….

it’s all bullshit. I can’t say it in words. It can’t be said in words. You can only experience it. No one knows what I mean by direct experience—or if there are any, there only a few.

I know of many spiritual “technologies” that can bring you into direct experience. There is only one that I know personally and that I can guide personally. It’s not something I can talk about because then I’d blow my cover. Maybe some day I’ll get over this need to protect my real world self, but until then, it will have to remain a mystery, and you can choose to believe I know what I’m talking about or that I’m bullshitting. I’m not bullshitting. I’m talking about something that is very powerful, although few have experienced it. That’s because we are not good at marketing it. So it remains a secret just because we don’t try very hard.

The point, though, is that there are spiritual technologies that can help people shut down the chattering mind enough that they can be the non-linguistic mind; so that they can be the world, really, although usually it’s just becoming aware of that connection with everyone else in the room. Or maybe just one other person who isn’t your SO.

When you get to this way of being in the world, the idea of levels becomes kind of ridiculous. There aren’t levels. Instead there is a network of relations and relationships at the personal, interpersonal, social, environmental and who knows what else level. Except they are all interconnected and a touch her has ramifications throughout everywhere, and when you get rid of certain kinds of bullshit, you can experience this.

We all have a model of the world inside us. Most are unaware that this is what they do when they observe the world and figure out if they do this, that is likely to happen. Some of our models are more complex than others, and we can see further down the path of consequences. We can see not just down the road to the future, but all the cross-links to so many different disciplines that we humans like to separate from each other so that we can say what we do and what we know.

I think I do a pretty good job here. I answer questions in a way that a lot of people appreciate. I believe this because that is the feedback I get. The reason why I can do what I do is because of my model, and the extensiveness of it. I have always been a generalist, not a specialist, and this is the consequence of my way of being.

I have never participated in any official spiritual or religious practice. So I don’t have that kind of training. I am self-taught—in the sense that I didn’t take any course to get here. I just traveled and worked with many, many teachers. In fact, most of you are my teachers, too. I did not choose you in any planned way, but I experience you…. and this is a trick, both directly, and in a mediated way. Maybe I exaggerate, but it sounds cool, doesn’t it?

When you see the world this way, there are no levels. It is all one. You understand it holographically. Every little part of it contains all the information in every other part. For me, this is where understanding comes from. It is where compassion comes from. It is where knowledge comes from.

Of course, I have plenty of problems, too. The problems are also my teachers. Great teachers, in fact. But I will save some examples because I have run on too long. So just one other thing: this is the result of years and years of thinking. I’m sure many people will not understand it, or not agree with it, or just plain hate it. Still, I am giving it away just because you asked the right question and @Joybird gave the right answer.

It’s all one. I hate saying that, because it’s a useless or nearly useless metaphor, but it’s true. It’s all one.

ETpro's avatar

@truecomedian Thank you. That compliment made my day. I found your question immediately interesting, its explanation thought provoking, and I sat and pondered till I had something to say.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther