My mind was wandering, as it often does, and I found myself thinking further along the lines of my post Converging Toward Reality. I imagined a space with an infinite number of axes (meaning: plural of axis, not the things you chop wood with) with each axis representing a different aspect of reality.
Every axis extends infinitely in opposite directions from the origin. These two directions can represent what we commonly think of as opposites, but as a single axis, can also be seen as different qualities of the same aspect of reality. Take, for example, the concept of truth as an aspect of reality. Truth is often described in terms of contrast: something is either true, or it is false. In reality, truth and falsehood are not so clearly separable; the most believable lies are those that contain some truth. In representing “truth” with a continuous axis, there are an infinite number of points that lie along that line between “true” and “false”. The same goes for all other aspects of reality.
Then I started to think about the origin – the point (0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, …) – the midpoint of every axis, where they all intersect. In that point, there is nothing which is the opposite of it. It is nothing, and yet at the same time contains every quality of every aspect of reality – in a word, the origin is God.
God goes by many names – 72, according to Kabbalah. Many years ago I read The God Book, by Rabbi Paul Yedwab. At the end of each chapter are questions and space for writing your answers and thoughts in response to the ideas of the chapter. One of these writing exercises asks the reader, “If you had to create a new name for God, …, what would it be?” I was never able to answer that until now. Imagining this point of origin, of this axis with an infinite number of dimensions, what I would name God is “That Which Has No Opposite”, i.e., “The Eternally Unopposed”.
Our physical senses are only able to directly perceive a thing in contrast to what is not that thing. So, as there is nothing which is God and also nothing which is not God, we cannot physically perceive God.
I don’t take the Bible literally. But I also don’t know of any better source of metaphor for understanding the world and our place in it. This idea of God as “The Eternally Unopposed” also led me to a new interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the forbidden tree – “the tree of knowledge of good and bad” (Genesis 2:17). Before “eating the fruit”, humans lived within that origin point that contained all that is. What “eating the fruit” did was “create” all those axes – now they perceived separation, and began to define the world and each other in terms of opposites. But in truth, anywhere other than the origin point is not complete reality.
Wherever we are along any axis, we all tend to perceive our place in contrast to its corresponding opposite point, never seeing the origin in between. Groups of all kinds: religions, races, nations, political parties, define themselves as much by what they are not as by what they are, because if there is nothing that is not part of the group then it is not a group.
Instead of seeing other people and groups in terms of how they are opposed to your own position, look for the point of origin between yourselves. That’s where the Garden of Eden is; let’s get back there.