The world can be split into two fundamental impulses – that of the serpent and that of Christ. Yes, this is highly symbolic, but let’s go with it. The serpent is materially successful, conniving, wise, and willing and able to hurt other people. Serpentine knowledge is the only thing that allows you to get a job, to have a place and function in this world, to climb the hierarchy of dominance and become somebody you can respect.
The Christ impulse is the exact opposite of the serpent.
The Christ seeks to reverse all hierarchy, to put the lame and the broken first and the wealthy and powerful last. The message of the Gospels is of the distinction between life and Life. It may be a good life, for an imperial Roman soldier, to achieve for yourself and your family to the detriment of others. But it is not Life. Life is divine in origin, and it transcends death. Without a concept of divine Life as superior to Earthly, fallen life, the concept of resurrection is incoherent. Hence, the sublime beauty and madness of self-sacrifice upon the cross is an appeal to Life, which is utterly transcendent.
Resurrection is the superiority of Life over life. Resurrection of the body, particularly, is the resurrection of that which is consumed in the serpent’s mouth. But there are immaterial serpents as well. Forgetting and sleeping are tendrils of the central concept of death. When you forget a beautiful idea, it is akin to a minor death. When you sleep, you forget what it is to be. This is also a minor death.
The principle of resurrection is to view every death as minor. To hold that the universal essence of being is more powerful than death. Resurrection, then, is the principle mode of divine Life operant in the material serpentine world.
I’m going to try to lay out the seed of a thought here, the seed of a scientific way of understanding resurrection.
I believe that resurrection is analogous to memory. When you remember something, you are resurrecting a dead part of yourself, or an abandoned part of your mind. When you are at work, busy, and are not remembering that specific image, scene or phrase, it is dead. It dwells somewhere that you are not. But when you remember that image, it returns to the living mind, it becomes a part of you once more.
The very fact that we sleep means that we forget being every single day. We forget what it is to live, and dwell in the dream-state, the place between the potential and the actual, where the stuff of life and the stuff of all potential remembrance intermingle. In a dream, you may see a family picnic from 25 years ago. You may see a face from your childhood. Dreams are the mandala of the actual and the potential in interaction, so no wonder they’re so difficult to understand, or why they are so potentially rewarding.
Between concentration, which kills all ideas we are not concentrating on, and the dream life, which tangles all our ideas together, all the stuff of memory, when it is not actively being remembered, exists somewhere that is potential in nature. It is neither dead nor alive, it is simply a potential. Human beings alone can remember, because human beings alone are aware of potential, of the ability to make sacrifices in the present in order to gain in the future, or to treasure a young writer and help them grow because their potential exceeds their current output.
This dimension of potential leads us to an oft-cited but poorly conceived topic – the famous double-slit experiment. I won’t bore you with summary, but I’ll simply state that the conclusion of this experiment is that the world is more potential than actual, that any given phenomena does not solidify until it has interacted with a conscious observer. At the very least, a phenomenon can change when it is being perceived, as the double-split experiment, an utter anomaly in the materialist world, seems to indicate.
Now, this has led to a lot of fuzzy claims, such as the idea that all the potential of the world can be negotiated into actuality if you ‘just want it bad enough’. This is the worldview of Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s ‘The Secret’. The infinite potential of being is turned into the serpent’s wisdom – the ability to get what you want.
But I think the real consequence of this experiment is related to memory. If an act of memory is an act of resurrection, pulling the actual out of the sea of potential, of bringing an image to mind that has in some sense died, then memory is the main faculty with which human beings negotiate with time. By remembering something, we bring it back from the dead, or from chaos, or undifferentiated potential, all these designations seem to fit.
Moreso, by remembering something, we change our perception of that image. The family picnic 25 years ago may have been held at a park, but if you dream of it beside a cathedral, or remember it beside a cathedral, then you change your own perception of the past. The past, to your perception, is changing in real time. But if our perception actually has material influence on the manifestation of possibility, if things pan out differently in the physical world based on whether or not we perceive them, then remembering is actually changing the past. By resurrecting the dead, you can change the fact and circumstance of their death. You can resurrect the body – the central claim of Christianity.
Now, so much of this hinges on the pre-eminence of consciousness over the world of brute, material indifference. So much of this will not be proven or grounded for centuries. That is why I write fiction, because I prefer speculation and the growth of ideas within the matrix of symbols rather than endless experimentation and incremental logical building. The difference between a poet and a scientist may be that of patience. Fiction wants to dabble in the unproven, and so analysis is no longer enough. The trade-off is that the author/poet has far less stability in both thought and vision than the scientist.
I intend for this only to be the seed of an idea – a grand synthesis of memory and resurrection, or the scientific study of mind and the psychology of the Christ and his (alleged) resurrection. Since resurrection is one of the least-understood concepts in existence, sowing these seeds may give way to profound and fertile future development. Perhaps the final form of this theory will re-write its articulation in the present, if it is possible to change the past in the future, if time is folded upon itself, and can be unpeeled, and seeds of unknown dimensions may be found folded upon the most primitive and basic of things.
I like this idea about memory-resurrection because it synthesizes Christianity with the study of mind and the mind’s faculties, and because I so often lose myself in both memory and theological longing. There’s my biases, presented plainly.
But I mentioned the serpent at the start of this piece for a reason. The serpent is the world of determinism, without free will, of crude mechanistic science without hope of human will being able to change the world we are trapped in. The symbol of the serpent swallowing its own tail, the psychedelic basis of the image of the biological cell, is what we must strive to overcome. The fact that existentialism, materialism and post-modernism have replaced religion is reason enough to seek transcendent ideas. In the 21st century, the notion of transcendence is needed more than ever.
We have come to great terms with machines, power and suffering. When will we come to great terms with transcendence, morality, and resurrection?
Perhaps the path is through the study of consciousness, if, as Hermes Trismegistus once stated, “man is the measure of all things”. The hypothesis that conscious perception in the present can actually change the past seems to be the testing of this ancient wisdom. A new science beyond materialism may be able to get to the root of it.