hen late in my Columbia experience I was told to write
a paper about how philosophers we had read in the course had
dealt with explaining the human condition, I decided instead
to express my own thought on the matter. I sum up these ideas
with the phrase Double Mirrors, alluding to a metaphor I finally
articulated in 1994, which explains man's spiritual experience
as being rooted in self reflection. Here is the letter to the
professor which I included in the preface:
I apologize for the delay on this paper. Its nature, however,
makes an "O.J. Up to the Minute" approach somewhat
difficult. These ideas are the culmination of a vision quest-
years of thought that very well might take even longer to communicate.
This paper should be viewed as a summary of Double Mirrors, a
result of the internal dialogue and self reflection that has
kept me from both the "real world" and the present
for the last two years. In no way should it be considered complete;
I doubt I will be able to express my ideas fully in this forum.
Nevertheless, I view this essay as a success and a major step
forward; it provides a summary of the ideas that until now were
explained only in the form of 390 pages of personal experiences,
and two hard drives worth of computer images. The day I accomplish
my goal of full communication of my ideas is the day I'm flying
back to Tel Aviv and rejoining the waves of the Mediterranean
and the New Jew. Israel, the land of the Ethiopian Woman, is,
after all, the place where man has discovered the spiritual value
of embracing the Present, the community, and nature. The Other.
This group of spiritual scouts for humanity call themselves Israelis.
I call them the New Jew. I hope someday we can all follow their
example, fulfilling the prophecy that the Jews will be a light
onto nations in a way that the author of these words never could
I am extremely thankful to you for allowing me the flexibility
to write about these ideas for your class. To those who would
disagree with your approach: If a search for truth is out of
place in this institution than it's promise of delivering an
"education" is a lie. You can read forever,
but when all the dust settles, your still stuck in the cave.
The Emperor you call Columbia is buck naked.
Mankind's inexhaustible quest for Truth / god / Love or however
else one wishes to refer to our search for the infinite,
can be accounted for by what I refer to as my theory of the Double
Mirrors. Our minds function like Parallel Mirrors, producing
an illusion that provides the potential of infinite significance
to everything in our lives. Like most animals, our senses perceive
a physical world; light reflects off tangible objects, and into
the retina, sending a chemical message that is interpreted by
the brain. This reflection causes other chemical functions leading
to all of the natural behavior of animals. The chimpanzee sees
the peanut and eats it. As Homo Sapiens, we are different ; we
reflect on our existence, analyzing our sense perception from
a distance. This ability to remember, to reflect on the past,
in effect, provides a second "mirror" which combines
with the first reflection to produce the illusion of infinity.
We are like a chimpanzee living between two parallel mirrors,
constantly viewing not only the peanut in front of him, but the
reflection of the peanut and the reflection of the reflection
and so on. As a result, we humans do not merely eat the peanut,
but ponder why we are eating the peanut, what the world would
be like if it were not for the peanut, and how we should properly
treat the peanut, etc.. Like the illusion of infinity is produced
by parallel mirrors, we construe notions of forever, immortality,
the soul, god, and spirituality, etc. Once perceived, the illusion
of infinity takes on a life of its own, and becomes a force infinitely
more powerful than the mortal through which it was perceived.
A computer can spit out 1's and 0's but only man can perceive
God. Put any of the other animals (aside from higher primates
and Dolphins) in front of a mirror and it will not know its own
reflection. Self reflection is what makes us human.
The two mirrors of our minds produce a duality in our nature.
This duality becomes metaphysical and therefore irrational, and
as a result, it becomes difficult if not impossible to translate
this spiritual experience into the rational framework of words.
Our Double Mirrors can be viewed as reflection of time- one
reflecting the Past and the other, the Present. The two continuously
reflect off of each other fueling Double Mirrors with an energy
that feeds off itself. The illusion our mirrors produce takes
on a life of its own, no longer dependent on the Past and Present
which gave it life. It becomes an omnipotent force which transcends
time. We call this force God. The internal self dialogue produced
by self reflection is what we refer to as self conscienceness.
Unfortunately Self is a term, like God, the Other, which has
been used so much it no longer means anything. The Greeks spoke
of Narcissus, the man frozen forever staring at his reflection.
Self consciousness is in fact a curse unless we are able to transcend
out of the past and into the present and maintain a fluid dialogue
between the two. Otherwise man is forever trapped in his own
head, replacing a vibrant living spirituality with a dead distorted
and faded image of his past. Self consciousness is a powerful
means towards making the present infinitely meaningful and even
spiritual, but continuing to stare at the mirror of the past
is like a pilot staring blankly at the runway, forgetting to
pull back on his flight-stick, never getting off the ground.
CRASH. Misery is when the past becomes an end and not a means,
when life in the present is overpowered by the deadness of the
past. It is he who is truly a narcissist. To live life in the
past is to kill a living organism, like plucking a growing flower
out of the ground and trying to display it in a glass museum
case. Balancing the mirrors of our mind is the challenge of humanity.
While animals need only make an orderly nest or have a good meal
to achieve a perception of harmony, humans must create harmony
in both of our mirrors of the world. We must have order not only
in the present, but in our relationship to the past as well.
This brings me to the next level of looking at Double Mirrors.
The two levels of human perception are often referred to as
the brain and the soul- the physical and the spiritual. Nobody
has examined this relationship better than Plato, most notably
in his allegory of the cave and in the Symposium. Unfortunately
thousands of years of organized religion, today's ultimate example
of the dangers of obsessive focus on the past, have distorted
the truth in his writings. As Nietzsche put it, Christianity
is Plato for the masses.
Plato writes of people who were trapped in a cave where all
we they could see is shadows of the outside world. Having relied
on a perception of shadows for their entire lives, they assumed
the shadows were in fact reality. One man, the visionary, if
you will, finds his way out of the cave, and discovers the objects
causing the shadows, and then, eventually, the light itself.
Plato's allegory might seems clear yet, it has been misunderstood
for thousands of years.
We are all chained to our physical sensory experience. This
is the first mirror. But to focus on this level of perception
is to remain trapped in the cave. Our humanity allows for an
infinite quality to everything we perceive. This can be
making love, swimming in the sea, or anything else for that matter.
Certainly, despite what Priests and rabbis would have us believe,
God is not hiding only in the rituals and dead dogma of organized
As infinite images accumulate in our lives- moments of light,
a kiss from your wife, a hug from your daughter, a beautiful
sunset- the sum of these spiritual experiences forms what we
call the soul. Our memory becomes cluttered with not only sensory
experience, but spiritual moments as well. In fact the line between
the two becomes rapidly blurred as each feed off the other. Love
is akin to the energy that fuels the sun, a force that builds
off itself, reaching infinite magnitude.
Dylan Thomas referred to the life force that "through
the green fuse drives the flower." Life is the ultimate
goal for a chimpanzee- self preservation, and eventually procreation
to ensure the continuation of life for his species. For the Chimpanzee,
this is just an instinct, but for humans, our struggle for life
takes on infinite proportions. This biological instinct is translated
by Double Mirrors into a quest for immortality. Love, truth,
and harmony, are perceived as a victory in the endless battle
of life vs. death. Even if scientists hadn't established that
love and happiness (the result of truth and harmony) lead to
health and long life, I trust that all sense this intuitively.
Spirituality can therefore also be called a life force. God,
then, is no different from the force in Dylan Thomas' poem. But
to understand God, one must understand his relationship to people.
Did God create man or did man create God?
The soul is the sum of all human spiritual experiences. God
is the sum of all human souls. After all, God originates from
our perception of Him. God is a force that was born the day the
first humans experienced love. God is irrational, and is not
affected by time. Therefore, God can never die. Once God is perceived
he is born for eternity, taking on a life of His own. A life
force. All future human experiences of love/truth/harmony only
make him stronger. Man's perception that God created man becomes
retroactively true; it is a spiritual sentiment, and the logical
argument that the moment of time when man perceived God had to
have happened after man was already created does not apply. On
the spiritual level, that which is perceived becomes true. God
is the collection of all the love energy in the universe, a force
that fuels off its own energy, that can only become stronger.
We serve God by adding love energy to the universe.
But energy flows both ways. Just as our minds create an infinite
experience for life, we create an infinite experience when we
destroy as well. A scratch on one of our mirrors becomes projected
for eternity down the infinite regression. This spiritual dissonance
takes on spiritual proportions; the demon is born. Holy wars
in the name of religion, lies in the name of God, human self
destruction on the spiritual level, this is the ultimate threat
to the survival of our species. A force of evil was born the
first time humans experienced hate. On the physical level, this
force is referred to as inertia, entropy, disease, or whatever
other physical manifestation the destruction embodies. Like God,
these forces are rooted in our perception of them. They are made
stronger as we continue to fuel their energy with anger, fear,
and destruction both of the self and the other. To ask which
force is stronger God or His opposite is the same as to ask,
are people inherently good or evil. I believe we are more good
than anything else but ultimately we each only know what is in
our own soul. The real question should be- how can I conquer
my own battle against the demons in my head. Love begins with
the Other, hate begins with the Self. The day we all act towards
the goal of Love is the day the force of Life will be victorious.
To reduce the forces of Love and the forces of Destruction
to words devoid of meaning such as "God" and the "Devil"
is to be stuck in the cave, staring at the finger instead of
the moon for eternity. Only when the meaning behind these words
is truly understood does speaking about these ideas take on any
Humanity's inherent infinite force has already been harnessed
for destruction. This was the big achievement of my grandparents
generation, in what we know as the atom bomb. Only months ago,
I was taking art classes at Columbia University in the actual
building the university used to conduct the Manhattan Project.
This was barely talked about, and everything was peachy, but
I think its a disgrace. University's, are the churches of our
cultures newest religion- Science. They are bastions of all that
we hold sacred- libraries of books, and professors who preach
enlightenment through empirical study- and the ultimate achievement
of all this was Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Science has failed. Let
us now search for a higher truth.
On a smaller scale, the effects of negative flowing infinite
energy affect all of us as individuals in our personal lives.
When we are happy, it doesn't matter why, but when we're fighting
an internal demon, what we don't know about ourselves becomes
significant. Self knowledge becomes the ultimate arsenal in this
war. To know ourselves fully, is made difficult by our inability
to differentiate between different planes of reality. What we
assume to be dissonant on the physical level often has routes
in the spiritual. A tiny distortion in one corner of one of the
parallel mirrors of our minds causes the birth of a distortion
in every one of the infinitely descending mirrors. I refer to
this scratch as demon. (This would be depressing were it not
for the encouraging prospects of the converse: harmony on all
levels of reality produces a soul of infinite power). The problem
with a vision of truth is that we can look the other way and
pretend its not there. We can lie and steal, and destroy. Fear,
the root of all destructive forces, builds off itself just like
Love. Fear and panic is what spreads fastest between people.
Hatred, anger, jealousy, and all other negative emotions are
merely a response to some sort of fear.
To speak in terms of Plato's allegory, what appears to be
true in the cave is not really understood until the light
that is causing this shadow is identified as well. Only when
we have examined both mirrors do we truly Know. Scientists and
doctors tell us all can be understood rationally, but despite
complex computer algorithms and bar graphs our society is still
in a state of decay. In medicine, treating cancer with all the
appropriate drugs is useless if the patient's spiritual will
to live has died. What makes us so open to the exploitation of
doctors and pharmaceutical companies is the same thing that has
empowered charlatans and witch doctors for centuries. We are
scared of what we don't understand; we'll listen to the first
false prophet who claims to have a cure. But the moment we all
understand ourselves, our spirituality, and where it comes from,
it is we who will be empowered. It is than that we will transcend
to a spiritual existence where we can understand that what we
assume to be true (science, rational thought,), what we believe
to be sacred (physical rituals of religion, libraries, etc.)
are in fact mere shadows of a higher irrational spiritual Truth.
Coming out of the cave and staring at a bright light is painful-
"truth hurts," they wisely say- but there is ultimately
nothing more worthwhile than this goal- transcending to Truth/Love/God.
In the Symposium Plato tackles the question of what is Love.
He writes that "through loving young boys correctly"
one can transcend to a higher appreciation of love itself. "If
anyone could become immortal it would be he," he adds. Hidden
in these few words is Plato's contribution to Western civilization's
struggle to find higher truth. Plato is arguing that it is possible
to find a spiritual Love through embracing the physical. Through
establishing harmony in the first mirror, harmony in the second
mirror will follow. This idea was eventually perverted in Judaism
and Christianity when Priests and Rabbis decided to decree only
specific physical rituals as permissible for the masses. This
was a wise political move- if such an easy and natural way of
reaching God as sex was encouraged by an organized religion,
nobody would bother spending time on less pleasurable interaction
with the religion's clergy. Why go to church if you can stay
home, have sex, and if done "correctly" as Plato writes,
accomplish the same goal. If Double Mirrors is understood, however,
it becomes clear that transcendence is theoretically possible
through attaining harmony through anything on the physical
level, and the idea of limiting the process to rote acts such
as eating matzoh on Passover or participating in Mass and eating
a wafer, the body of Jesus is understood as being nothing more
The irony (God's sense of humor) is that even as the founders
of Judaism and Christianity were actively adding to man's spiritual
confusion with lies, rhetoric and dead dogma, they unknowingly
tapped into yet another form of spirituality. When the second
mirrors of the masses atrophy in the dead system of shadows in
organized religion, a new source of spirituality is pulled into
the vacuum. The primary mirrors of each member of the community
begin to reflect off eachother, forming an infinitely complex
formation of multiple irregular reflections. Indeed this energy
is born in any close knit group with a collective memory. A spiritual
energy is born in the community which bounces off the mirrors
of each member, gathering momentum continually. So what is lacking
in the spirituality of the individual in the religion is made
up for in the community, like a group of cripples all leaning
on eachother for balance. As in the self contained spiritual
energy of the individual, this spirituality develops an energy
that feeds off itself, reaching infinite levels. Certainly, there
is no energy more powerful than the energy created between people.
Mirrors of the Self aligned with the Other, an entire group connected
to form spiritual energy of unimaginable magnitude.
One might even argue that the potential spirituality in groups
of people is stronger than in any individual. If this is the
case, just imagine how much more spirituality would exist in
a community with a system allowing for each member to also attain
transcendence individually. This is only possible in a system
where everyone is completely free to conduct his or her own spiritual
search. As with the sphere revolving around Truth, the number
of possible paths is endless. The core of the sphere can be reached
with an infinite amount of different lines from the sphere. When
all the shadows are put aside, man's vision of the infinite-
God/love/truth- exists independent of organized religion, and
is in fact rooted in the inherent double mirrors of our individual
minds. As we approach the millennium we can not depend on religion
to keep us together- organized religion has failed. We must realize
that as human beings, we are all fundamentally the same. We are
searching for the same elusive vision. We all need love. And
when we find this harmony, we are all the same. The paths vary,
but the destination is one.
At no point should the examination of the identity of our
Double Mirrors overshadow the most significant element of the
theory- its result. Let us not focus on the finger to the point
where we ignore the moon; an examination of the mechanism will
only have meaning as long as the end product is understood. The
fundamental theme established by the Double Mirror mechanism
is clear- i.e., as humans we are, by nature, spiritual. Those
who say they don't believe in God will eventually admit to believing
in some other metaphysical form of total harmony. God, Love,
Truth- these words are synonymous. Regardless of which semantics
we chose to embrace- morality, spirituality, truth, love, the
Great Spirit, Allah,- the meaning is the same. We must transcend
the shadows of these words. Atheists say they don't believe in
god. I don't believe in atheists.
But even more dangerous than atheism, is the belief that God
is a force which authorizes us to kill, destroy. Car bombs in
the name of God. Massacring Moslem worshipers in Hebron, fighting
over who has the right to dig a tunnel under a holy stone. There
is no such thing as partial harmony- if a religious act does
not embody both truth and love, it is nothing but a lie. What
makes humanity so dangerous, however, is that a sense of infinite
significance can come from destructive acts as well. In fact
this Dark Side of the Force is not rooted in a spiritual dialogue,
it is our own infinite energy turned inward, overflowing and
consuming the self. All aggression to others is actually self
destruction, considering that we only leave our Selves when we
love. A ritual like a Jihad might inspire the same levels of
manic euphoria induced by intense prayer, but outside of the
cave the lie is exposed. A killer of woman and children cannot
possibly be in harmony with both himself and his environment.
Clearly such an act is contrary to his animal nature (animals
don't murder) and obviously adds dissonance to his environment
(his community). His own perception of this evil is what will
project this stain into each of the infinitely descending mirrors
of his soul. Despite the relativism that is being preached to
us by every professor with a pen, there is an absolute. Love.
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