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Chapter Ten: The Systems Stage

Section 10: Cosmic Priorities



How does one set priorities when cosmic consciousness attributes value and dignity to all things? Do I swat a mosquito which is biting me, or do I let it suck my blood because I. care for it and can spare the juice? --suppose I am in an area where malaria is prevalent? How do I decide to eat anything at all, since that would deprive something else of its existence? If the universe is really "unfolding as it should" -- what difference does any decision make? One can see a basis for cosmic relativism.



Cosmic parity is offset by the Uncertainty Principle, which has its analogue in modern-day quantum mechanics. Uncertainty is inherent in the unperfectability of knowledge postulated by the GS framework. A decision-making unit cannot entirely trust its ability to assess all perspectives and interests precisely. The greater scheme of things is best served by having each unit promote the perspectives and interests it knows best. One may care about other interests but realize that other entities are in a better position to understand and promote these interests. An example of this notion in practice is the legal adversary system: an attorney may believe that he/she is the best judge of whether one's client is innocent or guilty -- but is expected to know that the long-range interests of justice are best served by remaining within the role of advocate.



Returning to the food and the mosquito, one may continue to act according to one's own interests as a sort of self-advocate. In doing so, however, the mosquito or the food is not treated with the indifference that often accompanies lower levels of consciousness. There is a mixture of sorrow and joy -- sorrow at the destruction of a cared for being, joy for the higher purpose for which the sacrifice is made. This is the attitude that would accompany the decision to sanction another human according to the morality of consequences. In fact, there is a genuine meaning to the parent who asserts upon spanking one's child, "This is hurting me more than it is you." (Like the child, I am suspicious of these joy and sorrow conclusions, even as I write about them. However, it is fair to assume that the person with cosmic consciousness would lead a much richer emotional life than those of us with a way to go yet.)



All entities obey cosmic principles qualified by the Uncertainty Principle. Most entities have such limited capacity for caring and taking other perspectives that the uncertainty principle requires that they pursue only their own interest and perspective. There is wisdom in this approach, which is supported, in the social realm by social Darwinism and capitalism. Again, as with the morality of consequences, there is no condemnation; from a cosmic perspective, everything is obedient. People with broader perspectives and spheres of caring will participate in more balancing of interests in making decisions -- but the uncertainty principle remains a basis for prioritizing. This prioritizing is no longer based on selfishness, but on the sense of humility that flows from the limits of understanding the interest and perspectives of others.


The major conclusion of this interlude is that one's sense of purpose is not unitary, but, rather, forms a system of priorities corresponding to spheres of caring and understanding nested according to strength of identification. Like the contour map of a mountain, the smallest circle represents the pinnacle -- perhaps one's self; the next, perhaps one's family; further down and larger are one's nation, humanity, and the universe in the valley below. (Of course, the priority "map" will have intersectings, unlike the true contour map.) The largest circles determine ~ purpose when there is no conflict; when there is conflict, the inner circles are weighed favorably -- though not necessarily decisively so whether one is cosmic, humanist, or something more narrow, one's purpose is an identification-based priority system.






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