Connections are the Quanta of Transcendance
What does this mean? Transcendence is the word we use to describe the “beyond”, the something that is above or outside our normal, physical experiences of this reality. It describes something indescribable. Something that we cannot really define. By definition, it is something outside of the realm that the scientific method can address — as this latter is grounded (rightfully) in the physical. In the “normal” world around us.
The scientific method is just one particular, logical means of answering philosophical questions. In fact, in the history of philosophy, the Scientific Method is relatively new. During the Enlightenment, and until the rise of post-modernist thought, the scientific method was equated with logic, and was thought to eventually lead us to a place where all questions could be answered. However, this is obviously not the case. Answering questions like What is the Self? What is Consciousness? And finally, what, if anything, transcends the physical world that we see? As science deals with repeatable, physical observations, it is inherently NOT capable of answering these questions. We must look to other philosophical explorations.
So what transcends? Some would suggest that we, as sentient beings, have a “soul” that lives on, with an existence that is permanent, or at least extending on past our normal lives. I have come to believe that this concept, of an individual soul, is both self-centered, and limiting. I feel rather that it is the connections that we have between ourselves and others in this world, that carry on. My Soul does not exist in isolation, but rather I (in my Soul) are comprised of all the connections and relationships I have built between myself and other humans (and perhaps, non-humans.) These relationships are what really define the transcendent essence of ME.
I do not exist in isolation. I truly exist in the connections (and love) that others have with me, and I with them. The love for my children, the love OF my children, the love between myself and my siblings… Friends, peers, people I touch in the world around me.
We all have experienced the power and joy that come from the “little” moments, when we focus on someone we love, share a deep experience, or otherwise truly CONNECT. It could be an intimate and honest talk with a loved one; or a gift to a stranger in need; or the earnest and pure love of a dog for its “person”. When we feel and experience these moments, we feel renewed — we feel the true and lasting power of connection. Doesn’t this match the definition of transcendence. After all, it is just a set of interactions in this “normal and physical” world — but it means and feels like so much more. We experience the true satisfaction (and grace) of connection. And this feeling persists. If we pursue this sort of connection actively, then one such moment leads to another, and leads to another. Soon, we are filled with the power and love of such connections. These small bits of experience lead us to a true sense of something lasting — this is transcendence.
One might say, “It’s all well and good that we ‘live on’ in the minds of those we touch, but is this real? Is there a physical existence past death?” I would first state that “real” and “physical” are not logically the same thing. This bias is the influence of the last few centuries of the prevalence of the scientific method. The question is not whether something immaterial can be real, but (a) whether something real and non-corporeal can have an influence on us in our physical existence, and (b) is there some transcendent part of ME right now, that is affected by the transcendence of others, including those that lived before us.
I argue that it is self-evident that we are affected by the connections we have made with both those that have passed from this material existence, as well as those that have simply passed from our experience (such as long-lost friends or lovers.) Of course, we are changed and guided by the summation of all these connections! Is that influence any less real because it cannot be poked and prodded within a laboratory?