A topology of being human

We’re all used to maps, even our smart phones have them. Maps help us locate ourselves, providing a sense of what surrounds us to determine how best to get where we want to go. In addition to paper and digital maps, we also employ mind-maps. Mind-maps are imaginary, internal projections of space; we use them to navigate a particular terrain and use a version of them prioperceptively when we move. In catching a baseball, for example, we instinctively construct a complex mind-map that incorporates speed, duration, trajectory, and prediction.

Maps can be flat, two-dimensional representations, or contoured and three-dimensional. The latter category is called topographical, insofar as it provides information about locating oneself in three-dimensional space. What I propose is yet another type of map, an imaginary one that locates humanity within a topology of being. This necessarily requires the map be metaphysical rather than actual, although various visualizations are possible.

A topology of being places humanity into the continuum of time, space and consciousness, a triune reality encompassing three realms: The Real, The Intimate, and The Symbolic. These three realms are simultaneous, non-obstructing, and interpenetrating, and comprise the totality of being human. Although they can be visualized as spheres nested within each other, they are not like solid; rather, these three realms are diaphanous and radiate wave-like through and among each other seamlessly and without obstruction. They thoroughly mix their properties and character, producing the experience of being human. Permit me to describe each realm.

The first is The Real, the realm of Space, Matter and Energy. The Real is identical to the Physical Laws of the Universe, including those we now know and those we do not. Nothing in our universe is outside The Real, and in this way The Real presents the absolute Unity of Being known by many names, such as The Void, Totality, Emptiness and God. It’s underlying character is all-pervasive, self-propagating, and ultimately unfathomable – beyond complete human understanding.

The second is The Intimate, the realm of human imagination, feelings and emotions. The Intimate is an internal realm, directly experienced through self-consciousness by each individual but hidden from all other people except through forms of outward expression. It’s underlying character is experiential, subjective, holistic, mythological, artistic, imagistic, analogical, magical, artful and matrivalent. The brain’s right hemisphere processes existence in this way.

The third is The Symbolic, the realm of The Order of Things. Permeated by The Real and the Intimate, The Symbolic underlies language and speech, discriminating awareness, separation of wholeness into things, use of logic and mathematics. It has both inner and outer aspects; we think internally in words – assign objects names – and externally agree with others about naming. Social systems are its outer aspect, encompassing cultural rules, conventions, organizations, and institutions. It’s underlying character is objective, logical, rational, institutional, scientific, digital, industrial and systemic, reflecting the patrivalent operation of the brain’s left hemisphere.

The topological aspect may be further represented as a continuous braided strand, the three spheres, as it were, stretched, elongated, and twisted like multi-colored twine; Incan Khipu knots, weaving, and the thread of The Fates come to mind. Buddhist Mandalas are yet another type of map representing the topology of being, the triune reality within which each of us are forever and always located.

P.S. Not available in Google Maps.

2 thoughts on “A topology of being human

  1. This was a quite enjoyable read for me. As a fellow Buddhist, you might find it interesting to know that I have always regarded the dharma as topological map of the mind/awareness and its teachings as the map of trails to guide the gentle explorer out of suffering and nirvana transcending to enlightenment in all its vastness.

    1. Yes. The substitution of Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya works well as well, another view of triune reality.

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