— Becoming and un-becoming —

The title words are used here in their sense of change, flow or evolution in creation, and, as the opposite state to 'becoming' in this sense does not have a word and unbecoming means not appropriate or unattractive, we have to invent a word such as un-becoming to represent the concept of not becoming or a desire to not become in the grand drama of creation. Non-becoming suggests stillbirth or involuntary paralyses, so un-becoming is chosen to reflect a state, which is at least partially chosen or drifted into, through self-centeredness, weakness or greed.

While the influences behind what is being written here are entirely Western European and the author has had no formative education or influences from the East, surprisingly to him, in the search for vocabulary to express this thinking, Buddhism offered the most relevant expressions. One important caveat is that free will forms a dominant part of this writer's way of making meanings and in particular the concept of free will, operating within a milieu of potentiality, affecting our becoming or un-becoming.

How can we be in a constant or potentially continuous, state of becoming when we obviously age and die, literally withering in the process? The assumption throughout what is in these pages is that our awareness, that special expression of our consciousness, which some may call our soul, is an expression of, or is connected with, the becoming in creation itself.

In the section What is going on we reflected on the great tendencies perceived and experienced through our awareness of Love, Beauty and Truth and how, within each of us, an attribute, or a capacity, for exercising free will and activating, or tapping into, potentiality could energize creativity.

This may be the vital process which decides or reflects our state of becoming.

This leads to the conclusion that the conditions for un-becoming include the opposites, or perversions of, the above ideals, which are hatred, selfishness, self-centredness, pride, rejection of beauty and/or its criminalizing, falsehood, and disingenuousness.

In the earlier section, the conclusion was that this reflects individuals, using free will, to choose between hope and despair, good and evil, love and selfishness.

So what has Buddhism to say about this?

One has to be careful not to translate the terms which follow into instant labels for states familiar to the West, because they can mean more than they appear to.

The two most interesting concepts are Tanha and Chanda and one needs to note that the 'thirst' or desire element of the first appears to apply to earthly desires, not necessarily noble ones.

Buddhism contrasts the self-centred desire of tanha with the nobler chanda types of desire. Thus, in the context of what is above, chanda is becoming while tanha is un-becoming.

We are what we become. The Buddhist teachings go on to show how Tanha can explain the causes of addiction. The hopeless addict reflects the process of un-becoming. The megalomaniacal dictator reflects not just his own un-becoming, but mass destruction and genocide. Humankind itself may be a divine experiment in becoming and un-becoming. We can have wise rulers or bigoted dictators controlling nuclear arsenals.

Buddhist teachings attempt to guide and redirect the desires that lead to un-becoming into those that lead to becoming. They even tell us that tanha is caused by dislocation, what has been referred to here as dissociation.

As the more fortunate of us who do not suffer accident or disease grow old, the distractions which can lead towards un-becoming evaporate and it becomes much easier to reflect and even focus upon becoming, ironically in the twilight of life itself. That is, earthly life in this time/gravity domain. The sense that one's awareness is linked to creation itself, often through a compassionate interchange with others, becomes stronger, while the only longing or aspiration remaining is for re-unification or a Dantean homecoming.

"A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a 'mental' construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: 'The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual'." (R. C. Henry, John Hopkins University, The Mental Universe; Nature 436:29.

Is our perception of reality created both by our observation of it and the exercise of our free will within it?

But regardless things happen, such as catastrophe,suffering and injustice.

Some of us cannot accept a Panglossian callousness which explains away suffering as mere illusion.

But while one can respond to the suffering of others with compassion, might not the regarding of one's own suffering as an illusion be a great achievement. If only!

Progress in becoming will be manifested in an enhanced and expanding awareness, which embraces such huge concepts as that above. A measure of whether we have truly achieved becoming, in tune with the becoming process of creation, may be the occasional experience of joy. The joy could come in flashes of inspiration or revelation, looking at beams of sunlight from under clouds perhaps or through some other sudden vista, and it will be filled with that sense of promise and anticipation remembered from childhood.

It is the experience of our awareness sensing its interaction with the process of creation.

In that moment we are truly becoming.

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