We Will Wonder, Too Buried Questions and Pure Minds
Vivian Dong with help from Jay McDaniel
Like all human beings, when we were children, we had many questions about the world. Why do we have a bright day and a dark night? If the leaves fall from trees, why don’t the stars fall, too? Why does a rainbow have seven different colors not six? All of these are questions from our purest minds and they are also the doors to a mysterious unknown power.
As time passed by, we stopped asking such questions because we see them everyday and grow accustomed with them. We started to study other things like economy, law, and engineering. In our deep heart, we buried them, never showing them to others, never showing them to ourselves. We may think these things are not questions to us any more, but when we become very old, looking at the sky again, what will think? We will think about why we have the bright day and the dark night? We will wonder why stars don't fall down but the leaves on the tree will. We will wonder why the rainbow has seven colors not six?
Religions are like human beings. When they in their original states, they have some "questions." As they develop, they transfer their concentration onto something else. All the original "questions" become buried deeply. But when the people who believe in historical religions see the culture of primal religions, their deep memories will be waken. Their collective unconscious awakens. When we stare at the eyes of those stone statues, we won't feel totally strange. These primal religions have what we buried too deeply.
Where is this collective unconscious? Do you see the photos of the people in the column to the right? Each person is in the midst of what Whitehead calls an "occasion of experience." He believes that every moment of experience contains within itself the history, not only of that person’s life, but the more collective history of the human family. He speaks of subconscious feelings or, in his words, subconscious prehensions.
His point of view resembles that of the psychologist Carl Jung. And, along with Jung, his point of view allows the possibility that we experience the feelings of our ancestors directly, through what Whitehead called "hybrid prehensions." They are "hybrid" because they are physical feelings in the present moment of the mental states of earlier people's. These feelings may be combined into movements of intelligence and energy -- Jung called them archetypes -- that surface in dreams and extraordinary states of consciousness, and that become the language of myth.
Among the feelings of our distant ancestors, surely some were feelings of wonder, of curiosity, of awe. Maybe we participate in their awe, recovering something of their pure mind. They say that a pure mind is innocent. The "pure mind" is the Adam and Eve of our imagination, the original paradise. Did religion begin with innocence? With awe? With pure mind? Can the innocence be recovered in our more complex time? Can we build buildings and design cities and solve practical problems, while at the same time feeling the questions of our ancestors. I hope so. Maybe this is part of what it means to build an ecological civilization. Maybe it is to recover the sense of wonder and add science to the mix. Is this postmodern? I don’t know. But I know it’s beautiful.