”Without religion, man becomes a disbeliever,
without metaphysics he turns into something worse than an animal.”*
”Some people* absolutely need metaphysical knowledge if they are to have a living relationship with God.”
”A society like ours denies objective metaphysical truth, and at the same time provides a vast spectrum of false doctrines.”*
Among the many words, which have undergone a considerable shift in meaning over time is the word metaphysics. This word has been first coined by Aristotle in order to describe that which is ‘beyond physics’, where physics denotes nature and everything ’becoming’, so metaphysics is that which goes beyond nature (’after nature’) or ’the super-natural’ which does neither become, nor grow - because it does not change.
The word ’metaphysics’ has always been used to denote:
“The study (and realization)2 of 'first principles’. These principles are permanent truths, statements about eternal realities.3 They have to do with Being7, and with the relationship of Being to the universe – spiritual, psychic and material – which allows it to appear. (These principles) even touch upon what is beyond Being. To use religious language, metaphysics has to do with the nature of God, and the relationship of God to the cosmos, and to humankind. Metaphysics is therefore the natural partner of theology; the only difference4 is that theology studies ‘revelation', i.e. what God has revealed to us on His own initiative, and metaphysics studies God and His manifestation starting from our God-given ability to know Him simply because He is our Creator, and therefore something of Him remains within our nature.”
“This does not mean, however, that theology and metaphysics make up two distinct worlds, since it is primarily God's Self-revelation in the great religious traditions which awakens, from the sleep of our fallen (or forgetful) nature our ‘supernaturally natural’ ability to know Him, and it is specifically through ‘Intellection’ – metaphysical intuition5 – perfectly married to Divine Love, that this Self-revelation comes to be perfected in the human soul.”
“Both were right about how metaphysics or theology can go wrong but not about what these two ways of knowing God actually are in themselves.”
“So one answer to the question ’Why is metaphysics important?’ is:
‘So that we don't lose the very concept of objective Truth.’ Metaphysics deals in absolutes, in the necessary implications of Absolute Truth. If we no longer believe in Absolute Truth, then everything becomes relative. If everything becomes relative, then Truth is replaced by power; it is reduced to whatever this or that powerful individual or government or special interest has the power to say is true. And this is exactly how we look at questions of truth today: we believe that they are nothing but masks for questions of power.”6 SAC72
A confused state of mind with many of our citicens as a result exploitation, divisions and fear (of the other) in our societies - such is the state of affairs.
This is the ultimate result of the growth of the kind of society in which metaphysics has no place. Without a sense of absolute, objective Truth, everything becomes subjectivised, which is why psychology is now replacing both theology and philosophy. And when spiritual truth is hidden, not even psychology can maintain its own level, but is pushed in a materialistic8 direction, till all that’s left of it is behaviorism, and finally psychopharmacology. Furthermore, when the Absolute is replaced by the subjective, all subjectivities are ‘absolutized'. My individual experience is just as ‘absolute' as yours, and yours as mine; this is called ‘tolerance'. But if there is no objective Reality which includes both of us because it is bigger than us, if we are nothing but separate and hermetically-sealed universes of experience, how can we relate to each other? SAC73
[Except for taking advantage of each other and finally destroying each other. But human kind does have an alternative.]
The truth of Postmodernism is not something much asked for these days. If there is any truth in it, it is the realization of multiplicity and the (infinite) variety of manifestation. However, this fact will be taken as an excuse by those in power, to change facts and bend truth itself.
Postmodernists use the same argument when it comes to human cultures: each has an equal right to exist as a unique expression of the human spirit. But here the question becomes ambiguous, because, whereas each expression of integral human culture, whether primal, like that of the Australians or Hopis, or 'developed' like North African Islamic or Greek Orthodox culture, is part of the irreplaceable heritage of the race, still, a 'culture' like that of a drug cartel, or the world technocratic 'culture' that is presently destroying the whole Earth both culturally and environmentally (itself included), do not have an equal right to exist.
But in a world where metaphysical knowledge is suppressed, everything is placed on the same level of value; the most wholesome and the most destructive beliefs or cultural manifestations have an equal right to exist, simply because they are there. The only thing the postmodernists seem to fear is the tyranny of uniformity where one dominant culture takes over everything, and suppresses all minority folkways and beliefs. This, of course, is exactly what is happening in the world today, and it is profoundly destruc- tive. SAC74
So a society's relationship to metaphysical truth has everything to do with the essential nature of that society. But social value of metaphysics, is only a refection of much deeper levels of truth, one of which has to do with the fact that some people absolutely need metaphysical knowledge if they are to have a living relationship with God. These people are not 'believers'; they are 'knowers'. Faith is not enough for them, not because they scorn faith [actually they do and are tempted to do just that.], but because they are capable of knowledge, and will not be allowed to 'bury their talent' without serious consequences. But in a society like ours which both fundamentally denies objective metaphysical truth, and at the same time provides a vast spectrum of false doctrines, either foolish, unconsciously sinister or deliberately subversive, which masquerade as metaphysics, the person with the potential to be a 'knower' is misdirected at every turn, and is in danger of becoming either a religious skeptic, since the religious doctrines he is exposed to seem childish to him (ignorant as he is of their deeper meaning), or an apologist for seemingly more sophisticated doctrines which, unknown to him, are radically opposed to traditional metaphysics.
The temptarions, tests, and pitfalls facing the 'knowers' are formidable; they have a much longer and harder road to travel than the believers. They… SAC75
They will be moving through areas of knowledge which, though not opposed to
orthodox religious doctrine, cannot in the nature of things be made explicit
to every normally intelligent adult. Consequently they will be exposed to
false ideas of every kind, some of which are extremely subtle and fascinating.9
Navigation across such a sea requires both a keen intellectual vigilance and a firm and constant responsiveness to the will of God. And they will also have to confront, at one point, the demon of Intellectual Pride, especially if they feel misunderstood or persecuted by the believers. The only things that can save them are a radical humility before God, and a clear understanding that just because they possess sophisticated metaphysical knowledge doesn't mean that they can't also be damned, while the simplest believer, if sincerely following a true doctrine, is saved even if he or she has never heard of such knowledge.10
As it says in the Gospels, to whom much is given, much will be required. This is why it is traditionally understood that the path of sacred knowledge cannot be safely traveled, except in rare and unpredictable instances, without both an orthodox doctrinal framework and the guidance of a spiritual master. SAC76
Metaphysics is also important because 'simple' faith is becoming rarer all the time. In the days when most people lived within closed religious universes there was little question about what to believe, since there were few or no 'alternatives'. One was a believer, a libertine, a scoundrel, or maybe a secret atheist, but one was not confused and uncertain about what to believe, at least not to the degree that so many are today.
To be confronted by hundreds of cults and religions, and therapies masquerading as religions, to be asked to choose from among them the one which represents Divine Truth with no tradition of Divine Truth to tell you how, and then, exhausted by the struggle, to give up the quest for objectivity and opt for the one (or the ten) systems which seem most compatible with your personal style-which means that instead of worshipping God you are actually worshipping yourself- this was not among the pitfalls facing a member of any traditional culture. SAC76
In an emerging global society where the doctrines and practices of every world religion, and every mystical path within these religions, plus dozens of forms of traditional shamanism, are becoming available everywhere to serious seekers, and also to frivolous curiosity-seekers and budding magicians on the trail of psychic power, religion becomes [trivialized and] relativized. If more than one religion is true, then no religion can be absolute - but the essential rationale for any religion is just this: that it gives access to Absolute Truth. So religious 'believers' have no recourse but to either violently denounce other religions … or else to 'relax', to become … spiritual dabblers. SAC76
Only metaphysics can demonstrate both that there is an Absolute Truth common to all true religions (remembering that not everything which calls itself a 'religion' actually is), but that this Truth cannot be reached by combining them… As it says in the Koran, ’Allah, if He had willed, could have made you one people.’ SAC77
Where religious relativism has destroyed faith, nothing but metaphysical understanding can restore it. SAC77
SAC: Charles Upton; The System Of Antichrist; Truth And Falsehood In Postmodernism & New Age; Sophia Perennis, NY 2001; www.seriousseekers.com Quoted with the author's permission.↩
Charles Upton writes: “not theory alone but also realization” – “In Eastern orthodox Christianity, the word ‘theology’ covers much more than it does in the West, since it incorporates an operative or contemplative dimension. It denotes not theory alone but also realization, making it roughly synonymous with the Islamic term ma`rifah.”↩
also sometimes called ’mystical philosophy’↩
“During most of Christian history up to the end of the Middle Ages, theology and metaphysical philosophy were either the same thing or closely related, though the temptation to separate them was certainly always there, since some metaphysicians tended to see scripture-studying theologians as people mechanically working with ’second-hand’ material, while some theologians habitually viewed metaphysicians as potential heretics, arrogantly prying into divine mysteries on their own initiative without the sanction of scripture and tradition. Each saw the ’shadow’ of the other, nor the essence.↩
or intellectual intuition↩
This is how many look at issues of _truth_ today: they believe that these are nothing but masks for the reign of power.↩
Here we would prefer the concept of wujûd . Being is always understood as the opposite of Non-Being. Wujûd however, is both Being and Non-Being. ↩
Not only ’materialistic,’ which is bad enough, but sub-normal and nefarious. ↩
Charles Upton wrote this in 2001. If he knew then what we are up against today! ↩
This scenario is all too optimistic, unclear how a ”radical humility before God” can be obtained by ”sophisticated metaphysical knowledge,” but it should not be impossible, as the roads to God are many. ↩