Is Lifeforce Real or a Dream?
Philosophical Views of Life-force
(Lotus Sutra, Nichiren Buddhism and Emergent Natural Energy Science)
Published by www.leonsouthgate.com
Author – Leon Southgate
All Rights Reserved
This essay will explore common ground between the ‘New Physics’ of natural energy science, particularly of Wilhelm Reich’s orgonomy and the Buddhist sense of life-force. The common ground between Buddhism and quantum physics has already been outlined in detail(1). Quantum physics has been perceived to go beyond the previous ‘matter-as-building-blocks’ mechanistic notion. Its descriptions of an energy-based universe can be corresponded to the view in the Lotus Sutra of ‘Non-Substantiality’ and ‘Dependent Origination’. That is, there are no objectively independent objects (Non-Substantiality in Buddhism). There is only packets, or quanta, of energy that depend on our observation to manifest their reality. This naturally leads to the idea that all things are dependent on all other things for their existence (Dependent Origination in Buddhism). Also, quantum physics has concurred with the Buddhist view that consciousness is not separate to the observable universe (this is the Buddhist principle of ‘Two But Not Two’ - mind and environment appear to be separate but are actually aspects of the same single entity).
Quantum physics might also be corresponded to the Buddhist notion of ‘Emptiness’. The Lotus Sutra, although noting that all separate things or phenomena are non-substantial, or empty, in themselves, notes a deeper truth. Shakyamuni broke attachment to perceiving 'things' as independent objects with the teaching of the innate emptiness of all separate ‘things’. However, the Lotus Sutra ultimately transcends even the concept of emptiness, noting that the true nature of reality is not empty or substantial. It is a third entity, a fluid force, which can assume either aspect depending on our consciousness.
Some people talk of a life energy and at the everyday level this is mostly correct as far as I can tell. However, at some level even the term energy becomes redundant. A force/entity or existence which transcends space and time is everywhere and everything instantly – thus no energy transfer, or movement, is involved. I use the term 'life-force' for this reason. A force has dynamic manifestations but is itself beyond energy. However a force is not an empty psychological construct, it is still physical. Shakyamuni spoke of enlightenment, unity with the conscious life-force, as a bodily, physical experience – not an empty head-trip.
Our dualistic concepts of both the observable universe and our own consciousness are transcended in many views including those of the Lotus Sutra. For example, emptiness and substance, movement towards and movement away, self and environment are all thought to be transcended by the life-state of Buddhahood (which is the true reality of all life according to Buddhism). The actual life-state of Buddhahood is corresponded directly to life-force in Buddhism. Buddhahood is life-force in its view.
Life-force, certain leading researchers now believe, is a real and observable phenomenon. It is thought by many natural energy researchers to be a force that can be measured, perceived and utilised technologically.
The Lotus Sutra, Nichiren Daishonin and Ikeda, president of the Buddhist SGI movement, have described life-force as a central characteristic of Buddhahood. According to natural energy researchers involved in the study of Wilhelm Reich’s work there is a scientifically observable life-force with tangible characteristics. Fifty years of documented experimentation and a number of double blind, controlled studies strongly suggest the existence of a life-force(3).
There are also at least a dozen other modern pioneer scientists who have discovered various aspects of life-force (4). The existence of a tangible ether has also been evidenced by modern research. Additionally, the validity of the dismissal of the related concept of ether by Michelson and Morley has been credibly challenged by Demeo's review of Miller's work (www.orgonelab.org/miller.htm). For these pioneers and those who continue their work, life-force is a not a theoretical term. Is there a scientifically observable force which corresponds directly to Buddhahood? There are no contradictions between the observed characteristics of life-force and the Lotus Sutra’s view of Buddhahood that I have yet been able to find.
Is everywhere. Can be ‘concentrated’.
Is everywhere - the true aspect of all entities and their environments
Life-creative and positive.
Has both physical and probably spiritual aspects too.
Has both physical and spiritual aspects but is in essence neither.
Does not obey mechanistic physics - is negentropic (flows from smaller to greater concentration, from less to more ordered).
Beyond all physical rules. However, it is thought to be lawful in a functional sense, in that it has consistent qualities.
Is thought to have non-local properties - action at a distance - in this sense life-force transcends the quality of being an energy, instantaneous effects do not need to be mediated by an energy. Alternatively, virtually ‘instant’ effects may be mediated by above light-speed energy processes.
The effects of Buddhahood are everywhere at once - it is completely non-local.
Biological, cosmic, psychological and physical aspects have been identified scientifically..
Has biological, cosmic, psychological, physical and spiritual aspects.
In Reich’s research life force (orgone) could be transformed into life-negative forces by nuclear radiation, pollution and emotional stagnation.Life-force has the potential for a negative form of energy.
Buddhahood, although completely positive and transcendent has the counterpart life-state of delusion which it contains.
I tried to collate here exactly how dreams and reality relate and differ:
Has a clear beginning and end.
Time and place fluid
Commonly perceived time and place
Experienced only by the individual (unless lucid dreaming or using altered consciousness states).
Experienced by many apparently ‘separate’ entities.
Appears relatively free of rules.
Has commonly perceived ‘rules’ i.e physical characteristics.
Has a smaller degree of continuity -emotional/psychic continuity.
Has larger degree of continuity - environmental, emotional and psychic continuity.
The dream environment appears to occur ‘within’ the individual mind - ‘Inside’.
Environment appears to exist independent of any one individual - ‘Outside’.
Appears to be shaped entirely by the individual mind (exceptions may be known, such as visitations by spirit entities into a personal dream).
Shaped by forces which transcend the individual - but - as emerging research can show, consciousness can mold and change reality directly.
Time is fluid.
Time has an objective experience only under ordinary consciousness. Time can be fluid in ESP, or clairvoyant, or other states of consciousness. ‘Time’ can be transcended - randomisation and intentional experiments disregard conventional flows of ‘time’.
The main continuing quality is the sense of the self as the ‘experiencer’.
Reality appears to have common qualities of self and environment, that continue for a finite period.
All phenomena appear to be temporary except for the experiencer.
All phenomena appear to be temporary including the individual self (or experiencer).
Any state of life can be experienced
Any state of life can be experienced
Can be influenced or even directly controlled by the mind of the experiencer.
Can be influenced by many minds. Resists control.
Appears to centre around one experiencing entity.
Centres around many experiencing entities (although we could be different aspects of one entity experiencing itself)
Can be directly shaped by consciousness
Time is a fluid phenomenon
Any life-state can be experienced.
Reality centres around many experiencing entities, dreams do not.
In a dream, the experience is the actual dream and the separate self is the dreamer. In reality, separate self and the environment are like a dream.
The Lotus Sutra states that reality is not substantial (matter-based) or (mind-based). It can behave as either but is not in essence either one. I surmise that life-force would correspond to just such an entity. So if that is correct reality cannot be described as a dream. However, it is dream-like and matter-like - again life-force as a tangible aether with matter and mind-like qualities would be descriptive. Certainly, scientifically speaking, reality is matter-like at one level but is not matter-based. Matter is not fundamental, it is just a pattern of energy, lacking, it would appear, any basic building blocks.
The main argument against life being a dream is its abiding or consistent qualities. If reality was merely an insubstantial dream why would any common qualities or abiding nature be apparent in phenomena? There is the possibility that consciousness itself could have ‘abiding’ qualities however. I feel it is also likely that all matter has a degree of consciousness. Matter that has consciousness as an inherent quality is essentially no different than consciousness alone which has commonly perceived, continuing or abiding qualities.
So we can say there is only consciousness but consciousness has matter-like tendencies (common qualities, abiding nature and so on). Alternatively, we can say that there is only matter but that matter is inherently conscious (and forever fluid, having no set nature or irreducible building blocks). It would appear therefore that both matter and consciousness only partially describe reality. The true reality must be neither aspect therefore. It would likely be a third entity that has the dual offshoots of matter and consciousness. It would be like a coin, one side of which is matter-like qualities the other side of which is perceptive qualities. Neither side is a correct description of reality. Even describing both sides exhaustively is still incorrect - the sides are not the same entity as the coin. Aspects are not the whole, in other words.
The simplest explanation is likely to be the most correct according to the Occams Razor principle. If mind or emptiness is the basic reality we’d have to say that mind has lawful functioning giving it the matter-like characteristics of life-force. Whereas no such qualification is needed if we say there is only life-force. The universe is likely to be a single fluid thinking body, in other words a physical, conscious life-force entity. Perhaps this is why Shakyamuni states, in chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra that his constant thought is how to enable all living beings to gain the ‘body’ of a Buddha.
In an eternal universe the question of which came first, matter or consciousness is redundant - they are both eternal aspects of the third entity, life-force. As matter and mind are apparently opposite aspects the Common Functioning Principle (CFP) of Orgonomy would indicate that a conscious, fluid, yet tangible life-force may be the closest description of reality we have yet to conceive. The CFP of orgonomy and the Lotus Sutra are in agreement here it would appear.
The Lotus Sutra is very keen to stress that the aim of Shakyamuni was to enlighten people so that they might ‘gain the body of a Buddha’. He does not talk in the Lotus Sutra of gaining the mind of a Buddha, or that the Buddha is to be found within the mind. Rather he seeks to expand our perception of our own body. Enlightenment is therefore viewed in the Lotus as a physical, bodily, process. What is a body anyway except a localised, miniature universe, a point of perception? It is possible however to imagine that reality is only our perception of it, beyond which there is only nothingness. Many believe that Buddhism teaches that reality is essentially a state of nothingness. However, nothingness is a provisional teaching in Buddhism. It was taught to break attachments to material things. It was not meant as an ultimate description of reality. Although there are no separate parts from which to build reality, the ‘whole’, the life-force of the universe is not nothingness. It is a unified physicality. The sea of physicality cannot be broken into little building blocks but that fact doesn’t turn reality into nothingness. Not understanding this is why people can confuse the concepts of physical and material.
Have we yet answered the question, ‘Is reality a dream?’ Descartes believed that the primary unfalsifiable truth was that an observing entity, himself, must exist as thoughts continually occurred to him - ‘I think therefore I am’ when translated into popular adage. A thought is an ‘internal’ experience. So from Descartes perspective the primary knowledge is that we exist because we experience. The self is central to experience therefore only the self can be said to truly exist. Descartes and Shakyamuni both saw that the experiencing entity, or self, was fundamental. Descartes rejected as possibly false all that was not ‘thought’. Shakyamuni rejected even thought. Shakyamuni’s solution was to expand his perception of self so that it contained all experience. Both the subjective experience of ‘I’ and the objective experience of environment or ‘Not-I’ are contained within Shakyamuni‘s cosmic definition of a 'super-self'. The cosmic universal self is essentially the gnostic God. Although he perceived the impermanence of temporary phenomena, Descartes appeared not to have yet escaped the view of self and non-self. Buddhism is referring to a cosmic super-self that encompasses all phenomena and beings not the limited, separate ego-self.
So perhaps there is only the unified all-encompassing universal entity/self/God. But what of this entity, is the entity real but reality a dream? Is even the entity itself a dream? Descartes believed the existence of an experiencing entity is the only thing we can know without a shred of a doubt. However, even a universal ‘self’ can be argued to be a construct. All we know for sure is that experiences occur. We cannot even be certain of our own seperate existence - as Nichiren has pointed out. So the real question is whether these experiences are a dream or real, empty or tangible. We have established that the experience of consciousness, reality, has dream-like and matter-like properties but cannot be described adequately by either perspective. Therefore each is an aspect of a third entity, or Common Functioning Principle, life-force.
We still have two possibilities to describe this life-force:
Option 1 - there is only nothingness. Consciousness is all that exists. This consciousness obeys certain laws so as to give matter-like, continuing and lawful perceptions. This would be a dream of substance.
Option two - there is a physically real entity, or force, which is tangible but that is inseparable from consciousness. In short, a substance which dreams.
The choice is ours, a dream of substance or a substance which dreams. Can this matter be resolved?
Resolution A - Our consciousness imagines a set of experiences which conform to that of a conscious life-force.
Resolution B - A conscious life-force exists.
Resolution A is mainly describing the effects of life-force - in other words, lawful experience. (I say ‘mainly’ because it could be argued that an intangible consciousness is also the cause of all apparently tangible experience).
Resolution B is mainly describing a causative entity for that experience.
Resolution B is the simplest option it appears. However what is life-force but lawful consciousness? If we accept that consciousness is inherently lawful we can say there is only consciousness. However that is not my personal understanding at present.
Shakyamuni implied in the Lotus Sutra that to question whether life is a dream or is real is itself proof of not understanding the true entity of life. A real dream or a dream that is real - it becomes a circular argument without merit. However, what is common to both is lawful experience. Lawful experience would not be possible without a common entity to which all minds, or selves, subscribed - a common, true entity of which we are all part. Perhaps that common entity is a physically real ‘force’ which has been known by many names over the ages.
In summary, if mind is the basic reality we’d have to say mind has lawful functioning giving it the characteristics of life-force. Whereas no such qualification is needed if we say ‘there is only life-force'. Therefore, in my view life-force is the more correct description of reality as it is the simplest one which accords with our observations.